Friday, October 29, 2010

Canton Tea Co. Jasmine Pearls

This tea consisted of green tea that has been scented with jasmine and rolled into a tiny pearl shapes. Each pearl had a silvery haired appearance with stripes of green and white. The dry leaves were very fragrant, probably more so than other other jasmine tea I have tried. I steeped this tea in a glass tea pot with 165 degree water for three minutes. One of the best things about pearl type teas is watching the leaves unfurl. The liquor was an extremely pale green in color.

The only word that I can find to describe this tea is lovely. It was perfectly balanced between the sweetness of the jasmine and the white tea. It was not perfumy as some jasmine teas can be and there was very little astringency.  There was a slightly creamy quality as well that I have never experienced with a silver needle before. I did two infusions but think that it could have withstood a few more. I would definitely recommend this tea.

You can find out more about this tea here.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Stash Tea Pure Guayusa

Photo: Stash Tea
Guayusa (prounced "why-you-suh") is a holly plant that is native to the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador. It is related to yerba maté, a similarly prepared tea that is native to Uruguay. The dry leaves were a mix of many shades of green and had a jagged, chopped appearance. I steeped this tea in my Breville One-Touch Tea Maker with 212 degree water for four minutes. The liquor was deep brown in color.

I’ve heard that yerba maté is very bitter so I wasn’t sure what I was in for with its Ecuadorian cousin. It was actually surprisingly pleasant. It was woodsy and with a bit of sweetness on the end of each sip. It almost tasted like a toned down version of rooibos. I didn’t notice a caffeine jolt like I was expecting but that is a good thing since I’ve developed a slight sensitivity lately. I would definitely recommend this tea.

You can find out more about this tea here.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Element Tea Citrus Chamomile

Citrus ChamomileElement Tea lists the ingredients of this tea as including chamomile flowers, Sudanese hibiscus, citrus peels and citrus flavors. The dried tea was a bright and cheery mix of yellows and oranges. There also appeared to be apples and vanilla bean pieces in there as well. They had a strong, woodsy aroma. I steeped this tea in my Breville One-Touch Tea Maker with 212 degree water for five minutes. The liquor was a light amber color.

I’m not a big fan of chamomile but this blend was actually quite nice. More fruity than floral, it was naturally sweet and just bit creamy. The vanilla and apple were actually the predominant flavors. This tea has inspired me to drink more herbal teas. I’ve developed a slight caffeine intolerance so that is probably a good thing. It definitely did relax me, I wound up falling asleep way before my bed time not long after finishing my last cup. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Tea Places: Radiance Tea House and Books

This post is the first in a series that I will be doing on tea places in New York City. I decided to kick off my tour at Radiance Tea and Books. This time I had the pleasure of visiting with a future tea sommelier. There is nothing better than sharing good tea with good company. I had the miso soup, a salmon summer roll and two pots of Bi Luo Chun. The great thing about filling up on tea is that it keeps me from ordering dessert.

Located on West 55th street between 6th and 7th Avenue, they are one of my most favorite places in New York. Once I step inside the door I forget all about the city buzz outside. Their staff is enthusiastic, knowledgeable and polite. The restaurant is always impeccably clean and I’ve yet to try anything on their menu that wasn’t amazingly delicious. I really could not ask for more. If you have a chance to go, their tea tastings are definitely a must see.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Rishi Tea Fuding Silver Needle Grand Cru

Photo: Rishi Tea
According to Rishi Tea, this is a premium grade of white tea from the Northern Fujian region of China. It was picked at exactly the right state of immaturity and processed during the proper time of year. The leaves were long and broad in shape with very few broken pieces. They were covered in tiny downy hairs, giving them a silvery appearance. I steeped this tea in a glass tea pot with 170 degree water for two minutes.

At first I thought that this tea would be a little disappointing but the more I drank of it the more I was able to taste the subtle complexity. At first it was melon-like and slightly floral. As it cooled it actually started to taste more like squash, maybe butternut? I love it when a silver needle surprises me. This is one of the best silver needles I’ve had because of that. I would definitely recommend this tea.

You can find out more about this tea here.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Naivetea Wen Shan Bao Zhong

Photo: Naivetea
This tea is a lightly oxidized oolong that was grown in Northern Taiwan. The dry leaves were a gorgeous deep green color, reminiscent of seaweed, and had a gnarled and twisted shape. I made this tea in a porcelain gaiwan using 195 degree water and three subsequent 40 second infusions. The liquor was a bright yellow.

The first infusion was intensely floral. There are many oolongs that are said to taste like orchid but this one truly does. The second was slightly more vegetal but still very pleasant. The third infusion was a more mellow, toned down version of the first. I have been consistently impressed by Naivetea’s offerings and this selection is no different. I would definitely recommend this tea.

You can find out more about this tea here.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Green Tea Glazed Sugar Cookies

Photo: Tea for Me Please
My penchant for cooking with matcha has found yet another outlet. I found a recipe to make a green tea glaze and decided to try it on my best sugar cookie recipe. They weren’t the prettiest cookies you ever saw but boy were they tasty! The sugar cookie recipe is actually an early Girl Scout cookie recipe. The only downside is that the dough usually turns out very sticky. I always wind up kneading in extra flower until it gets to the right consistency. I was being lazy and didn’t sift the powdered sugar or matcha. The dark colored specks are actually clumps of matcha that wouldn’t dissolve. Make sure that you learn from my mistake, don’t skip that step! I’m going to whip up a batch of these for Halloween since it kind of looks like slime. :)

Green Tea Glaze
1/2 cup of powdered sugar (sifted)
1 and 1/2 tablespoons of milk
1 teaspoon of matcha
Sugar Cookies
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar plus additional amount for topping (optional)
2 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
Cream butter and the cup of sugar; add well-beaten eggs, then milk, vanilla, flour, salt, and baking powder. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Roll dough, cut into shapes, and sprinkle sugar on top, if desired. Bake in a quick oven (375°) for approximately 8 to 10 minutes or until the edges begin to brown. Makes six- to seven-dozen cookies.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

PG Tips Pyramid Bags Green Tea

Photo: PG Tips
This tea came packaged in the traditional PG Tips pyramid tea bags. The bags had a thin, perforated appearance. The dry leaves were pale green in color. The particles were larger than you would usually find in a tea bag, more closely resembling CTC.  I steeped this tea in boiling water for one minute. I also cold brewed it as an iced tea. I basically just tossed about eight tea bags into a pitcher full of water and let it sit overnight.

As far as bagged green teas go this one is very nice. It was sweet and nutty without being overly vegetal or astringent. Even when accidentally left to steep for too long there was very little bitterness. I could see tossing one of these into a travel mug of hot water when I am leaving for work. PG Tips has surprised me yet again with the quality of their bagged tea. I would definitely recommend this tea.

You can find out more about this tea here.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Rishi Tea Chocolate Mate Chai

Photo: Rishi Tea
Rishi lists the ingredients of this tea as including organic Fair Trade Certified™ pu-erh tea, organic roasted dandelion root, organic cardamom, organic yerba maté, organic cocoa shells, organic cacao nibs, organic long pepper, organic coconut flakes and organic vanilla bean. The dry leaves were a mix of so many different colors and textures. They had an earthy and sweet aroma. I prepared this tea by bringing 1.5 cups of water and 1 cup of milk to a boil, adding the leaves and letting it simmer for five minutes.

This tea was so smooth, rich and creamy; I could have mistaken it for a latte. It wasn’t spicy in the way that you would expect from a chai tea. There just a little bit of lingering pepper after each sip. The coconut added a nice nutty element to the flavor profile that complimented the cocoa well. I’ve never tried yerba maté before but this blend has me curious now. I would definitely recommend this tea.

You can find out more about this tea here.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Puritea Dan Cong

Photo: The Puritea
According to The Puritea this tea is from the the famous Dan Cong tea bushes of the Phoenix Mountain in Guangdong, China. It has been naturally infused with osmanthus flowers. The dry leaves were dark with a thin and twisted shape. I steeped this tea in a porcelain gaiwan using 180 degree water and three consecutive 40 second infusions. The liquor was a deep gold color.

This tea was fruity, floral and sweet but not in the way that I would like it to be. The issue that I have with this tea is that I think most of it came from the osmanthus. Dan Cong is my favorite kind of tea because its flavor can be so complex and multidimensional. I don’t see the need to scent a tea that is strong enough to stand on its own. I had a perfume-like aftertaste for some time. That being said, if you like floral teas you might enjoy this selection. I would probably recommend this tea.

You can find out more about this tea here.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Boston Tea Company Earl Grey Citrus

According to the Boston Tea Company this tea contains Indian Assam black tea, citrus peel, cornflowers and natural bergamot flavor. The aroma of the dry leaves was very strong, almost reminding me of incense. The cornflowers and citrus peel added a nice bit of color. I steeped this tea in my Breville One-Touch Tea Maker with 212 degree water for four minutes. The liquor was dark brown in color and had the same strong aroma as the leaves.

This tea was both tangy and tart. There was a bit of maltiness from the Assam but that disappeared when it was prepared as an iced tea. I’m not a big fan of citrus teas but it wasn’t bad. I liked it a lot better as a cold brewed iced tea. My problem with Earl Grays is that I just can’t shake that oily mouth feel and this one was no exception. It wasn’t really for me but if you are a fan of earl grey or citrus then I would probably recommend this tea.

You can find out more about this tea here.