Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Den’s Tea Shincha Kunpu

Green TeaI received this sample as part of the Official TeaChat TeaTasting Initiative so I’ve got a ton more reviews of great teas in the works. According to Den’s this tea is an 88th Night Shincha which means that it is picked on the 88th day after the first day of spring in the traditional Japanese calendar. The leaves were dark green, almost spinach-like, in color. They had a woodsy but sweet aroma. I brewed this tea in a kyusu with 158 degree water for one and half minutes. The liquor was a pale opaque green and had a pleasant vegetal aroma.

I’m an oolong person but every once in a while a tea comes along that makes me want to dive into the greens a bit more. This tea is one of them. While it lacked the grass clippings taste I was expecting, that wasn’t a bad thing. It was sweet and mellow with a slightly minty aftertaste. It almost reminded me of cucumbers. All in all this tea made for a very refreshing cup of tea. So much so that I had five kyusu full on a hot summer day. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

For All the Tea in China by Sarah Rose

US CoverI’ve accumulated a rather large collection of tea books over the years. The tea plant and how it came to be in our lives today never ceases to amaze me. However, they all contain the same lists of facts and figures for the most part. I was intrigued by For All the Tea in China by Sarah Rose because it takes a bit of a different road. It is a historical narrative of how Robert Fortune smuggled tea out of China and changed the course of world history forever. I’ve gotten bits and pieces of this story but never in such detail.
This book is engaging and very well written. I could not put it down. It is obvious that an enormous amount of research went into this book. It is factual without being bogged down by information overload. There is something for everyone here, even if they aren’t specifically interested in tea. Who doesn’t love espionage and adventure? Add tea to the mix and I’m in. I had the pleasure of seeing Sarah do a reading at a Barnes & Nobel and she certainly has a way with words. I would definitely recommend this book.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Naivetea Yuzu Oolong

This high altitude Alishan oolong is infused with pomelo peels. Pomelo is a fruit that matures only once a year during the time of the Chinese moon festival. I was immediately struck by the intense aroma of this tea as soon as I opened my sample packet. The dry leaves were tightly rolled and dark green in color. I steeped this tea using my Breville One-Touch Tea Maker with 195 degree water for 3 minutes.

I’ve never tried pomelo before but the flavor reminded me of grapefruit. It was very citrusy. In fact this tea was all zest and very little oolong. It had all the crispness and pep of a morning glass of juice. My second infusion did not reduce the strength of the flavoring at all. I would have liked to see the oolong peek through a little and I’m not a huge fan of fruit teas so this wasn’t my favorite. I would probably recommend this tea if you do like fruity teas though.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Naivetea Imperial Beauty Oolong

According to Naivetea this tea is produced in Taiwan by a very small high altitude artisan tea farm that follows traditional and organic farming practices. The dry leaves were tightly rolled and had a strong floral aroma. I brewed this tea in a porcelain gaiwan with 212 degree water using 40 second steepings. The liquor was a golden straw color with an aroma that was similar to the dry leaves but not quite as intense.

This tea was fruity, floral and sweet all at once but in a very subtle way. All of the flavors rotated in and out through each of my infusions. This is a tea that you really have to pay close attention to while you are drinking it. Otherwise I think that the complexity of it might pass you by. There was a honey-like sweetness that lingered after ever sip. I did four infusions but it could have kept going for several more. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Teatulia Organic White Tea

Teatulia is one of my favorite companies because of their commitment to fair trade and environmentally friendly business practices. I love that all of their teas come from their own garden in Northern Bangladesh. The dry leaves of this tea were a greenish grey in color and covered in downy hair. I was surprised at how thin and wispy they were. I steeped this tea using my Breville One-Touch Tea Maker with 185 degree water for 3 minutes. The liquor was a grassy yellow color.

This tea was mellow but with a complex flavor profile that really drew me in. There were floral and fruity notes as well as a very light vegetal astringency. It was sweet and very refreshing. I definitely will have to try this one iced. A second steeping did not take away much of the strength. I have an odd habit of taste testing dry leaves and these tasted exactly the same as the tea itself. I've only had a few Indian grown white teas but I’ve really enjoyed them so far. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Chicago Tea Garden Jasmine Scented Pu-erh Toucha

This tea was presented in the form of a compressed toucha wrapped in tissue paper. According to Chicago Tea Garden it contains the petals of the jasmine sambac, which is the night blooming flower traditionally used to make jasmine scented teas. I brewed this tea in a porcelain gaiwan with 212 degree water using four subsequent 30 second steepings. The liquor was a bright copper color and had a light floral aroma.
At first I was on the fence about this tea. At times it was a little too astringent but at others it was a nice balance between the sweetness of the jasmine and the earthiness of the puerh. The third infusion was the best of the four I did. All in all though it is a very decent selection, especially for a jasmine addict such as myself. The color and taste had hardly dissipated by the end of my session. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Naivetea Passion Fruit Oolong

According to Naivetea this is an Alishan oolong infused with natural passion fruit. The dry leaves were dark green and tightly rolled. Some yellow flower petals were visible. The passionfruit flower doesn’t have yellow petals so I’m curious to know what they are exactly. The aroma  hit me as soon as I opened my sample. It was overwhelmingly citrus with just a hint of oolong. I steeped this tea in my Breville One-Touch Tea Maker using 195 degree water for 3 minutes. The liquor was a light golden color.

The taste wasn’t as intense but it was still very citrusy. It was surprisingly floral as well. The oolong came through in bits and pieces but it was definitely there. I have a feeling that this selection would be fantastic iced. The thing I liked best about this tea is that it didn’t have an artificial sweetness to it. I’ve found that to be a chronic problem with fruit teas. Naivetea has managed to find a nice balance in most of the flavored teas that I have tried. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Jasmine Dream Sorbet

If you read my blog you probably already know that I have a love affair with Tavalon’s Jasmine Dream tea. The last time I logged it on Steepster I asked if anyone had any recipes that used jasmine tea. One of my Steepster peeps came through with a whole list of them but the one that intrigued me the most was sorbet. This is the recipe I used:
- 3 cups of water
- 2 1/2 tablespoons fine-quality jasmine tea leaves
-3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of sugar

In a small saucepan bring water to a boil. Add tea leaves and remove pan from heat. Cover pan and steep tea 5 minutes. Add sugar, stirring until dissolved, and strain tea through a fine sieve into a bowl. Chill tea, covered, until cold and freeze in an ice-cream maker. Sorbet may be made 1 week ahead.

I lack an ice cream maker for reasons unknown to me so I had to wing it once the mixture was made. My freezer doesn’t work so great which worked out because it kept it from getting totally solid. Once it was frozen I beat it into submission with an immersion blender. It definitely took some elbow grease but it came looking pretty close to sorbet. The taste….left a little to be desired. At first it tasted great but had this bitter aftertaste that I just couldn’t shake. I think I am on the right track though. Next time I’ll try less sugar and a cooler steeping temperature.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Teatulia Organic Neem Nectar (Loose Leaf)


This tea is a blend of organic black tea and neem leaves. Neem is a tree in the mahogany family native to India. Teatulia lines their tea gardens with neem trees to provide shade and then they distribute the neem extract to surrounding villages for medicinal use. The leaves were a uniform dark brown color and had sweet and slightly spicy aroma. I steeped this tea in my Breville One-Touch Tea Maker using 212 degree water for three minutes. The liquor was a deep brown color and slightly cloudy in appearance.

From a distance, this tea smells slightly fruity or even cake-like. The black tea provides a nice solid base for the sweetness of the neem leaves. I can definitely see why it is called nectar. It was rich and malty with a sweet finish to every sip. There was a slightly chocolate after taste that was really pleasant. It’s a perfect morning wake up brew. I wish I had saved some of this to try iced, I’m sure that would be delicious as well. I would definitely recommend this tea.