Thursday, April 15, 2010

Naivetea Golden Lily Oolong

According to Naivetea, this tea is produced by a very small high altitude artisan tea farm that follows traditional and organic farming practices. As someone who consumes large quantities of tea on a regular basis, that is important to me. Who wants a side of pesticides with their tea? The dry leaves resembled a typical rolled oolong appearance and smell. I brewed this tea using a gaiwan. The first steeping was 30 seconds and each subsequent steeping was given an additional 10 seconds. The resulting tea was a bright green color and had a slightly fruity aroma. After steeping, the leaves slowly unfurled to reveal large leaves that were mostly whole. The majority of the leaves were still attached to their stems in groups of three or four.

I’ve never had a tea quite like this and I struggled to describe it. It was quite milky tasting and had a thicker mouth feel than I had ever experienced in an oolong. Naivetea describes it as having a hint of pineapple. That is the closest I could come to a description for the flavor. This tea definitely stood up to multiple steepings. I completed seven before I could drink no more. I was very excited to try this selection because it is my first foray into the seemingly trendy world of “milk” oolongs. There is a lot of misinformation circulating the web about these teas. A true milk oolong does not have anything needed, it is the altitude and processing methods that produce the unique milky flavor. Needless to say I was not disappointed and would definitely recommend this tea.

Adagio Teas – Plant a Tree

2010 Earth DayIn honor of Earth Day (April 22nd), Adagio has launched a really neat program. You register on the site and “plant” a tea tree in the region of your choice. I’ve never seen a tea vendor run a program quite like this and I love it!
This is no ordinary Earth Day celebration. Join a program where stewardship of our Planet is a year-round activity. Help us plant 1,000 trees in three tea-growing regions — China, India, and Taiwan. Once the seeds are in the ground, we'll invite you to cultivate it virtually, nurturing your tree to maturity. Do this responsibly, and once your tree begins harvesting, you'll reap the fruits of your labor — fresh tea from the tree you've nurtured from birth.
The “owners” of the trees that survive to maturity will get 4oz of their tea for the cost of shipping. I planted a tree in China and my boyfriend planted one in Taiwan. In three years time I will probably completely forget all about my tree but what a happy surprise that will be.  It sounds like China will be white tea, Taiwan will be oolong and India will be Assam.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Classic of Tea by Lu Yu

I have been in search of this book ever since I began my journey with tea and finally managed to locate a copy on The Classic of Tea is the first known definitive work on the cultivation, manufacturing and drinking of tea. Although a very old text,  this translation wasn’t as dry or wonky as some that I have seen. I can’t say that it was ground breaking reading but it certainly was interesting. I love hearing about the history of tea because every time I drink tea myself I feel connected to it in some way. Lu Yu’s exactness concerning every detail of tea preparation is something that has been lost over the centuries. Roy Fong of Imperial Tea Court is admirably trying to reestablish this ancient art. What I take away from this book is the motivation to apply some small part of it to my own tea drinking. In my rush to get through the day or whatever tasks need to be done, I often forget to pause and truly appreciate this wonderful drink known as tea. I think that is a lesson any tea drinker can use. I think I just saw my Lu Yu statue smile a little about that one.

You can find out more about this book here.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Chicago Tea Garden Golden Bi Luo

Chicago Tea Garden is one of my new favorite tea vendors. I recently ordered a couple of tea cups and a whole bunch of samples from them. I love that they package their samples with a card for writing tasting notes. It certainly came in handy when trying this unusual tea. I prepared it using a gaiwan and successive one minute steepings. The dry leaves were varied shades of brown with silvery white hairs visible. Each leaf was rolled into a snail shell-like curl. According to their website, this unique shape is created by using three different hand movements in a heated wok. They did not have a noticeable aroma to them prior to steeping.

Once completely unfurled, the mostly whole leaves were a uniform chocolate color. This tea was almost puerh like in both in taste and it’s ability to withstand multiple infusions. I reached seven infusions before I thought that I had gotten all that I could out of it. I had the feeling I could have squeaked out a few more weaker infusions as well. The flavor was complex and evolved with each and every infusion. It started out earthy and nutty and changed to a rounder and more gentle flavor that had hints of vanilla. I would definitely recommend this tea.