Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Adagio Teas Vanilla Rooibos (Pyramid Bag)

Photo: Adagio Teas
Rooibos is an herbal tea that is grown in South Africa. This herbal teasan is part of Adagio's Sweet Medley Gourmet Tea Collection. It was packaged in an individually wrapped pyramid tea bag. The dry leaves were light brown and needle-like in appearance. I made this tea with 212 degree water and steeped it for five minutes. The liquor was

The flavor of this tea almost reminded me of a sugar cookie. The vanilla was aromatic and strong but not perfumey or overpowering. The rooibos was still able to shine through with its sweet and nutty flavor. I’m not always the biggest fan of rooibos because it can because it’s often too sweet but this blend was actually very enjoyable. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Adagio Teas Anteadote Organic Oolong Tea

Anteadote Oolong Tea Iced from Adagio Teas
Photo: Adagio Teas
On a recent trip to Whole Foods I was in need of some refreshment so I grabbed a bottle of Adagio Anteadote. The ingredients are listed as including purified water, organic oolong tea, vitamin c (antioxidant) and baking soda (acidity regulator). It was surprisingly pale in color for a bottled oolong. I really like that they explained the purposes of the vitamin c and baking soda on the package.

While some may question the addition of the baking soda, it is a little known fact that this is a common practice in restaurants to keep the tea from becoming cloudy and bitter. This tea was light and nutty with some floral notes in the background. There was very little astringency. It wasn't quite as good as a fresh hot cup but then very few iced teas are. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Nuclear Tea?

It seems like tea has been in the news a lot lately, especially concerning the fallout after the nuclear plant disaster. I really don’t know how I feel about it all. For the average single tea bag a day drinker there probably isn’t much to worry about. But what about the loose leaf consumer like myself? I know many fellow tea drinkers who do consume very large quantities of green tea on a daily basis. The CNN video below states that you would have to drink 200 bottles of green tea every single day for an entire year in order for it to affect your health. That doesn’t take into account the fact that our bodies are bombarded with radiation on a regular basis. Or what about matcha, where the drinker is consuming many whole ground leaves?

I worry sometimes that all of these events will have a drastic affect on the tea industry in Japan. Will the small farmers whose families have been growing tea for generations be forced to retire? There are tea making skills passed on between family members that may be lost forever if that is the case. I hope that this is something they can all recover from soon.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Zhi Tea Tropical Green

This tea is organic and fair trade certified. The ingredients of this blend include sencha green tea, pineapple pieces, papaya pieces, rose petals, calendula, safflowers, and natural pineapple and passionfruit flavors. The dry tea smelled absolutely delicious. The tea leaves were dark green and needle shaped in appearance. The fruit pieces and flower petals added a nice punch of color. I made this tea in my Breville One-Touch Tea Maker with 185 degree water for three minutes.

This tea had a perfect balance of fruity sweetness and gentle greenness. The pineapple and papaya were the dominant flavors but the sencha was still able to shine through. The flowers provided a sweet background for all of the other ingredients. There was no astringency, even when made with hotter temperature water than recommended. It was just as tasty, if not even more so, as an iced tea. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Norbu Tea Imperial Dian Hong

According to Norbu Tea this black tea was hand crafted from estate grown tea from the Feng Qing area to the south of Dali in Western Yunnan. The dry leaves were dark in color with a needle-like appearance. I made this tea in my Breville One-Touch Tea Maker with 212 degree water for three minutes. The liquor was a dark reddish brown.

This tea was very sweet and mild with no bitterness. It had the expected Yunnan maltiness but in a quiet and refined way. There was a slight dryness that added a brisk quality that made this tea very refreshing. It would be a perfect daily drinker for someone who really loves black tea. I would definitely recommend this tea.

P.S. It's on sale on Norbu's site right now!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Authentic Teas Pomegranate Tea

Authentic Teas lists the ingredients of this teasan as including rose petals, pomegranate flowers and hibiscus. According to their site, these were used to improve respiratory and digestive health. The dry “tea” resembled potpourri with it’s pinkish color scheme and bounty of petals. The liquor was a vivid dark red in color, almost resembling wine. I made this tea in my Breville One-Touch Tea Maker with 212 degree water for five minutes. 

This blend was very sweet and tart, almost a little too much so. The flavor reminded me very much of cranberries. I’m not a huge fan of pomegranate or hibiscus teas because they are a bit too tart for me. If you are someone who prefers that kind of taste then I would probably recommend this tea.

Friday, June 17, 2011

In Pursuit of Tea Nantou Si Ji Chun Oolong

This is a lightly oxidized oolong from Taiwan. The dark green leaves were small and tightly rolled. According to In Pursuit of Tea, they are hand sorted. This results in a more expensive tea but a much higher quality end product. I made this tea in a porcelain gaiwan using 190 degree water and three consecutive 30 second infusions. The liquor was pale gold and darkened with each steeping.

This tea was incredibly aromatic and floral. It was smooth and buttery with no noticeable astringency. There were notes of orchid, lavender and vanilla with a fresh greenness in the background. The floral aspect became stronger with each infusion and lingered in my palate. I love all teas but for me there is nothing better than a complex oolong. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Health Benefits…Shmealth Benefits

It seems that everyone has become obsessed with the purported health benefits of tea. There’s not a day that goes by without someone asking me if tea will help them lose weight or keep them from getting cancer. Green tea is the healthiest kind of tea, right? There're lots of studies claiming to “prove” how good tea is for you but let’s be honest, these studies are likely to be done by companies with a vested interest. Tea is popping up in all sorts of creams, lotions, and supplements because of it. This is why I always recommend everyone take the whole health benefit thing with a grain of salt.

Tea absolutely does contain many things that are helpful to the human body. Antioxidants, L-Theanine, and caffeine are all part of why we've been drinking it for thousands of years. The wonderful thing about tea is that regardless of the type, they all contain some level of these substances. My theory is that the healthiest tea is the one you enjoy because you're actually going to want to drink it. Akin to a well-meaning New Year's resolution, don't let the tea you don't like very much become the gym membership you never use. Replace it with one that is so tasty you'll want to drink it all of the time.

For me, the attraction to tea is all about the taste, the history, and the culture. Any health benefits I may get are simply a pleasant side effect. Just look at how many wine and beer connoisseurs have made consuming alcohol their passion. We've all read articles about how red wine benefits the heart but is that really why any of us drink it? Drinking isn't really good for you but we do it anyway because we enjoy it. Much like alcohol, tea has a social lubricant. What is the point if you don’t truly enjoy tea? Tea will always be a healthier choice than soda, energy drinks, and other sugary substances. That lifestyle change alone just may be the greatest health benefit of all.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Interview with The Cup of Life

The Cup of Life

Recently I was interviewed by Lu Ann from The Cup of Life about my history with tea. Her blog is relatively new but she’s already off to a great start. Be sure to check it out!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Shanti Tea Kung Fu Black

Shanti Tea’s website doesn’t have any information about this selection but it does say that it is certified organic. The dry leaves of this tea had a mottled brown appearance and an aroma that reminded me of cocoa. I made this tea in my Breville One-Touch Tea Maker with 212 degree water for three minutes. The liquor was very dark brown in color.

This tea was rich and toasty with notes of chestnut. There was also hints of druit and cocoa that gave the flavor profile a nice roundness. I love a black tea that is as bold and complex as this one is. There was a slight astringency, making it brisk and refreshing. I think it would make an excellent iced tea. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

American Tea Room Milk Oolong

Milk Oolong TeaI’ve been wanting to try this tea for some time because everyone on Twitter always raves about it. The dry leaves had the typical appearance of a rolled style oolong but I was struck at how much cream there was even just in their aroma. There are some teas that I can sniff forever and this is one of them. I made this tea in a porcelain gaiwan using 175 degree water and three consecutive 40 second infusions. I always sip my tea using aroma cups when I am having one that is so aromatic. The liquor was bright yellow in color.

The tea was sweet and floral as would be expected of a Tie Guan Yin but with added notes of almond and vanilla cream. These flavors grew even more pronounced after the first infusion. I normally only do three infusions, especially when doing reviews, but I just couldn’t stop drinking this one. The creaminess was still present even on the fourth and fifth infusions. Needless to say, I was not at all disappointed. This is one of the best oolongs that I have ever tasted. It is pricey but I can honestly say that it is worth it just for the experience. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Authentic Teas Mountain Melody

This herbal blend is comprised of organic wild oregano, ­organic wild thyme and organic wild elderflowers. The dry leaves looked and smelled like something right out of the spice rack. According to Authentic Teas’ site, it was used in ancient Armenia to promote respiratory health. I made this tea in my Breville One-Touch Tea Maker with 212 degree water for five minutes. The liquor was deep gold in color.

This tea was herbaceous and spicy. The elderflowers added a bit of sweetness and kept it from being too hot to handle. Being from New Jersey, the land of pizza, I was craving a slice thanks to all of that oregano flavor. I’m always cautious of tea that makes health claims but it did temporarily clear up stuffy, allergy prone nose. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Tea Enthusiast’s Handbook by Mary Lou Heiss and Robert J. Heiss

I’ve been meaning to pick this book for some time and finally found a copy at Eataly in Manhattan. This book is well organized and written in a way that is understandable for both the beginner and the expert. Each type of tea is given its own chapter that features information about history, plucking style, common (and not so common) teas of that type, preparation and storage. I love that they talk about yellow tea as many books never discuss it at all. Each tea major growing region is discussed in relation to the types of tea that they grown.

It’s a relatively quick and practical read but packed with lots of information. This is probably one of the most in depth books about tea I have ever read. I have a shelf full of books about tea so I think that speaks volumes. I only wish I had come across it when I first started my tea journey. It would make a perfect gift for the budding tea connoisseur. I would definitely recommend this book.


Friday, June 3, 2011

Den's Tea Iced Green Tea Bags

I've become a big fan of cold brewing iced tea so I was excited to give these tea bags a try. They silky pyramid bag had small, dark green whole leaves inside. It closely resembled sencha. To prepare it, you just place the tea bag in a 20oz bottle of water and let it steep for 60 minutes. The finished tea was cloudy and pale in color.

This tea was light and vegetal, just the thing to add a little sweetness and flavor to an otherwise humdrum bottle of water. Although it looked like sencha, it actually tasted a lot more like matcha.There was a bit of astringency but it never became bitter, even after being left steeping overnight. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Tazo Matcha Green Tea Latte

I must confess, I have a serious green tea latte addiction. When I saw this carton of concentrate for sale at the Starbucks inside of my local Barnes and Noble I just had to give it a try. The ingredients are listed as including water, matcha and other green teas, organic cane sugar, honeydew juice concentrate, natural fruit flavors, gum, Arabic, xanthan gum, guar gum and citric acid. The liquid straight out of the container is a rather greyish shade of green which my family found disgusting looking. To prepare this tea you simply dilute it with equal parts of milk. Once diluted it has the spring green color that we all know and love.

I prepared this iced because the weather has been just a little too warm for heating up tea on the stove. I was very surprised at how much I liked this tea. The green tea flavor was light and refreshing and it had just the right amount of sweet. I always get my lattes unsweetened because the melon syrup that they use at Starbucks is overkill for me. In the concentrate they use honeydew juice which is much more pleasant. I love matcha in milk but getting it to stir in all the way is a arduous task and this stuff is much easier, especially when I’m on the run. I would definitely recommend this tea.