Sunday, May 30, 2010
The liquor was a light golden color and had a slightly grassy aroma. This tea is everything that a dragonwell should be. Sweet, mellow and roasty; it is just what the doctor ordered on a spring morning. The second infusion didn’t reduce the flavor by much, but I don’t think it would have held up to a third. I’ve been neglecting my greens lately and this one has made me want to make up for lost time. I would definitely recommend this tea.
Friday, May 28, 2010
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Luckily for me there wasn’t much to worry about. This was actually a very enjoyable tea. It was strong but sweet, reminding me of a good Irish breakfast. The end of each sip had a slight astringency that added a nice bit of interest. Oddly enough I can see where the image of a camel’s breath comes to mind. I used to work at a barn and this tea had a pleasant grassy quality to it that reminds me of horses. I guess a camel wouldn’t be such a stretch. If Chicago Tea Garden keeps this up I may just wind up being a pu-erh convert yet. I would definitely recommend this tea.
Monday, May 24, 2010
Did I mention that I love the Chicago Tea Garden? This is yet another tea sourced from David Lee Hoffman. This a lightly oxidized oolong tea that is rolled into tight little balls. The dry leaves were varying shades of deep green and had a lightly floral smell to them. I brewed this tea in a porcelain gaiwan using 190 degree water and 30 second infusions. The resulting liquor was a deep gold color with a sweet aroma. I must have done at least eight steepings.
Even though I am an oolong fanatic, Tie Guan Yin is probably one of my least favorites. I often find the floral aspect of the flavor profile overwhelming. Because of this I’ve only had a handful that I have throughly enjoyed. All I can say about this one is wow. This is probably the best oolong I have ever tasted. The floral flavor was intense but delicate at the same time. It was also slightly vegetal without being bitter. This tea just kept giving in terms of the number of infusions. It was exactly what I needed on a nice spring day like today. I would definitely recommend this tea.
Saturday, May 22, 2010
This tea was overwhelmingly mint, so much so that it all but consumed the oolong. The cooling taste lingered after each sip. After three infusions the flavor was just as strong. While I enjoyed this tea I found myself wishing that the oolong was more apparent. That being said it is hard to achieve that in a mint blend, even with a stronger background tea. It did have a creamy texture that can definitely be attributed to the oolong. I would probably recommend this tea.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
I was lucky enough to win one of these at a recent Steepster Meetup. This review has been much delayed but I really wanted to put it through its paces. I’ve had a Zarafina for years and still like it a lot but I feel that I’ve outgrown it in a lot of ways. Plus who doesn’t like to have something shiny and new? I have to say that this is just about the coolest tea gadget I have ever owned. Here is a list of everything I love about it :)
- It looks great. The combination of the glass and stainless steel is great to look at. I’ve already had several guests exclaim “Wow, what is that?”
- There are both preset times and customizable settings as well as a hot water button
- There is a timer function, i.e. you can set it to have tea ready for you in the morning
- It has a “keep warm” button
- It emits a fairly loud but not annoying beep when done
- It’s super easy to clean. The plastic on my Zarafina stained easily
- Watching the basket mechanism in action is vastly entertaining
- It has a small footprint. Space is at a premium in my kitchen so I appreciate that isn’t gigantic
- The glass kettle (made of good thick glass too I might add) is very portable
- Water circulates through the tea leaves very well
Honestly, one of the only faults that I could find was that the measurements are in milliliters. Being the silly American that I am this leaves me completely clueless. The minimum line is 500mL which works out to be a little over two cups. The line is so low that I constantly feel as though it isn’t enough even though two cups is more than ample for a single tea drinker. I don’t think I shall ever actually fill it to the maximum line. I also slightly wish that it boiled the water and then cooled it down rather than just heating it to the desired temp. These two are pretty minor complaints though. The Breville really is one of the best tea makers I’ve come across. Bottom line, even though this baby is pricey it is definitely worth it if you are in the market for a tea maker.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
When I finally did get it right, the flavor of this tea was really nice. Each sip started out tasting like vaguely floral oolong and ended strawberry. The flavor stayed in my palate in a pleasant way.It wasn’t sickeningly sweet like a lot of fruit flavored teas are. There was very little astringency, but perhaps that is what was missing. Strawberries are sweet but they are also a little tart. This blend was just a little too candy like. It wasn’t something I’d seek out on my own but I would probably recommend this tea.
Friday, May 14, 2010
The liquor was a deep gold color and smelled exactly like sticky rice. The first infusion was quite bitter and grassy tasting but after that it mellowed out dramatically. It was reminiscent of genmaicha but even nuttier tasting. There was a lingering sweetness in the back of my throat after each sip. I lost count at six steepings and the flavor did not dissipate in a noticeable way. My gaiwan pouring technique isn’t so great so there were lots of tiny leaf particles. That was quickly remedied with a strainer. I would definitely recommend this tea.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
The liquor was a very pale yellow and the lavender aroma was much more apparent. This tea was smooth and sweet with no noticeable astringency. Each sip started out tasting like oolong and ended with lavender. The second infusion had the best balance of flavors out of the three that I did. It had a really nice, cooling aftertaste that stayed with me for some time. I wished that I could have kept going but six cups of tea is the limit before I get that “I’m going to explode if I take one more sip” feeling. I would definitely recommend this tea.
Monday, May 10, 2010
The two that I received were filled with lavender and tie guan yin oolong teas. Both of them smelled amazing. Whether or not these pillows will work for you depends on your firmness preference. They are very firm, reminiscent of the trendy buckwheat pillows from a few years back. I tried them out on a long road trip as well as just lounging around at home and I really liked them. They made a great air freshener for the car too! The packaging for these pillows was absolutely beautiful. If you are looking to give a unique gift for a tea lover, they certainly fit the bill.
Tea GW Travel Pillow sample provided by Tea GW
Friday, May 7, 2010
PG Tips has been an established brand in the United Kingdom since 1930 but has just recently offered their teas to tea drinkers in the United States. These tea bags are a little different in that they are pyramid style but constructed of the a paper-like material typical of tea bags. Tiny holes are visible throughout the bag. I brewed this tea the plain old fashioned way with boiling water and a coffee mug, allowing it to infuse for about a minute. I do miss the presence of a string but a spoon is an easy enough remedy for that.
I was surprised by how much I liked this tea. The flavor was full, rich and nutty without being overly bitter. This is a well balanced black tea with just the right amount of astringency. While I consider myself a loose leaf convert I’m not above using a tea bag at work or when I on the run. However, it is hard to find a tea bag that I enjoy very much. I absolutely loved this tea iced. Since New Jersey’s recent heat wave has hit I’ve been making big pitchers of it on a regular basis. They also happen to have the cutest monkey mascot ever! I would definitely recommend it.
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
This tea is a private reserve tea from David Lee Hoffman’s Phoenix Collection. According to Chicago Tea Garden, it is comprised entirely of buds that have been pan fired in Fujian province. The dry leaves had a crisp, clean aroma. I brewed them in a gaiwan using four consecutive one minute steepings with 170 degree water. Once steeped the leaves plumped up really well, they appeared fresh and green as though they had just been picked. There were very few broken pieces visible. The resulting liquor was a pale yellow-green color.
This tea was surprisingly mellow. The taste was unique in that it leaned more towards the sweet end of the spectrum than vegetal. There was some of the nutty flavor typical of dragonwell but it was more of an undertone. There was very little astringency here, even in the last steeping. There wasn’t a great reduction in strength between steepings either. Who wouldn’t love a green tea that just keeps on giving? I have been on a major green tea kick lately and this tea only served to feed the addiction. I would definitely recommend it. Chicago Tea Garden is a fairly new player in the huge field of tea vendors but I have to say that I’ve been really impressed by their offerings so far.
Sunday, May 2, 2010
Silver Needle white tea
Dragonwell green tea
Golden Lily oolong tea
Phoneix oolong tea
Lapsang Souchong black tea