Saturday, April 30, 2011

O-Cha Kagoshima Sencha Sae Midori

kagoshima green tea
This sample is was most likely from last years crop. It was still an excellent tea but probably not as good as the fresh stuff would be.

According to O-Cha’s website this tea is a cross between Yabukita and Asa Tsuyu varieties and grown in southern Kagoshima. I made this tea in kyusu using 175 degree water and 45 second steepings. The dry leaves were small and slender with a deep forest green color. Even before steeping they had a strong grassy aroma. The liquor was a cloudy yellow-green.

This tea is deeply vegetal, both in aroma and taste. It was naturally sweet, almost reminding me of fresh baby spinach. There was very little astringency. I love a tea that is mild but savory and flavorful at the same time and this one certainly fits the bill. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Hampstead Tea Earl Grey


According to Hampstead Tea, this organic and fair trade certified tea was grown at the Makaibari tea estate in Darjeeling. This estate is also certified biodynamic. The dry leaves were uniformly dark in color and had a strong citrus aroma. I made this tea in my Breville One-Touch Tea Maker with 212 degree water for three minutes. The liquor was a deep reddish brown.

This tea was bold for an Earl Grey but I mean that in a good way. The black tea base was rich and nutty while the bergamot provided a nice bit of zing. Earl Greys are probably one of my least favorite kinds of tea because they are usually overdone.  It is a relief to drink one that is nicely done. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Authentic Teas Wild Mint

Like most of Authentic Tea’s offerings, this selection is USDA Organic and sourced from the Armenian highlands. The dry leaves were sage green in color and bore a close resemblance to catnip. This isn’t surprising since catnip is in the mind family. I made this tea in my Breville One-Touch Tea Maker with 212 degree water for five minutes. The liquor was a deep golden yellow.

This tea was sweet and minty but not to the point of being bitter or medicinal tasting. Each sip was very refreshing with a very fresh aftertaste. This would make a perfect after dinner tea or summery iced tea. I love that it was so naturally sweet that it really wouldn't need any sweeteners. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Adagio Teas Masters Collection Formosa Ali Shan

Photo: Adagio Teas
This tea is a lightly oxidized (green), high mountain oolong grown in Taiwan. The dry leaves were rolled in tight balls and were many shades of green. Their floral fragrance was intoxicating. I prepared this tea in a porcelain gaiwan using 180 degree water and three consecutive 40 second steepings. The liquor was very pale greenish yellow.

This tea started off very delicate, floral and just slightly vegetal. The second infusion was a much stronger cup, with notes of honeysuckle really coming to the forefront. There was a slight creaminess to each sip, not quite like a milk oolong but still very smooth and rich. The third steeping brought out a slightly roasted taste. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Shanti Tea Jasmine Dragon Pearls

The dry leaves of this tea had the appearance of tightly rolled balls. They were mostly dark  with some silvery white hairs visible. The strong jasmine aroma was apparent even before steeping. I made this tea in my Breville One-Touch Tea Maker with 165 degree water for four minutes. The liquor was a deep yellowish-gold color.

This tea was pleasantly sweet and floral without being overdone. The jasmine flavor was definitely there but what I loved most about this tea is that there was more to it than that. There was a creamy mouth feel with hints of vanilla and mint. More often than not scented teas use lower quality leaves because the perfuming masks their imperfections. I was very happy to see that was not the case here. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Chicago Tea Garden You Zi Cha Pomelo Pu-erh


As Chicago Tea Garden explains on their website this tea is made by hollowing out a pomelo, mixing the fruit with oolong tea and then putting it back into the rind. The fruit is wrapped in wire, slow-dried over a hearth, and allowed to age.The dry leaves were very dark in color and tightly packed. I made this tea in a porcelain gaiwan using 212 degree water and three consecutive 45 second steepings. The liquor was a light bronze color.

This tea had the earthy flavor that one would expect from puerh with an added hint of citrus flavor. This became more and more pronounced with each steeping. It also had a thick mouth feel and a slight dryness at the end of each sip. For some reason maple syrup kept coming to mind. I’ve always enjoyed Chicago Tea Garden’s slightly unusual puerh offerings and this one was no exception. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Rishi Tea Silver Needle Premium Organic


According to Rishi Tea, this tea is sourced from the Fujian Province of China and consists entirely of first flush spring buds. All of the leaves were covered in downy, silvery hair. Curiosity got the best of me and I looked at these leaves under a microscope. Boy were they hairy! I really wish I had the capability to share an image of it. I steeped this tea in a ceramic tea pot with 185 degree water for four minutes. The liquor was pale gold in color.

This tea was delicate but flavorful at the same time. It was surprisingly vegetal but in a pleasant way.  There was a subtle vegetal sweetness that almost reminded me of edamame without the salt. This flavor became more pronounced as the tea cooled. The leaves can be left steeping for a long time and they never become bitter, making this a perfect throw leaves in your cup and go tea. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Tea iPhone App

After much anticipation, Tea for iPhones (and iPod Touch) has finally been released. I have currently have a Blackberry but I find myself wanting an iPhone just so that I can get this app. The crazy things that tea will make us do! It features a steep timer, tasting notes, brewing suggestions and an inventory tracker. I don't think there is more that I could possibly ask of a tea app. Check out the video below to see how it works.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Tay Tea Berber

Berber Green TeaTay Tea describes this tea as aromatic blend of wild Moroccan spearmint blended with Chinese gunpowder green tea. The dry leaves were mostly small pieces and a mix of various shades of green. The gunpowder was easily recognizable in its traditional tightly rolled balls of leaf. I made this tea in my Breville One-Touch Tea Maker with 175 degree water for three minutes. The liquor was a pale gold color.

This tea was sweet and minty in a pleasant and mellow way. It was only slightly vegetal and there was very little astringency. I was happy to find a slight smokiness in the flavor profile as that is one of my favorite aspects of a gunpowder tea. This blend was both delicate and refreshing. A second steeping was just as delicious and didn't loose any potency. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Arbor Teas Organic Masala Chai

Arbor Teas lists the ingredients of this blend as including organic black tea, organic green cardamom, organic cinnamon, organic ginger, organic clove, and organic black pepper. The dry leaves were very small in size, especially compared to the cardamom pods and cloves. It had a sweet and spicy aroma that was very pleasant. I made this tea in my Breville One-Touch Tea Maker with 212 degree water for four minutes. The liquor was deep brown in color.

I’m always a  little apprehensive to drink chai teas straight without milk or sweeteners, but this one was actually quite good. It still had the requisite amount of kick without being overbearing or throat searingly spicy. There was very little astringency. That is unusual because I find a lot of chais use lower quality tea that has a harsh bitterness to it. Overall I was very impressed with this blend, as I have been with most of Arbor Teas’ offerings. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Den’s Tea Sakura Sencha (Cherry)

Sakura Sencha from Den's TeaDen’s Tea lists the ingredients of this seasonal blend as including green tea, cherry leaf, heather and cherry flavor. The leaves were very dark green and had a flat appearance. The tiny, pink heather blossoms added a bit of visual interest. I made this tea in a kyusu using 180 degree water and three consecutive 45 second steepings. The liquor was a pale green.

I thought it was interesting that this tea uses heather instead of cherry blossoms. It was sweet and fruity but not in an artificial or overdone way. The sencha was still able to shine through with its grassy and buttery notes. I love a well balanced flavored tea and this one definitely fits the bill. I’m glad that I ordered some when I did because they are already sold out for the season. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Life Always Seems to Get In the Way of a Good Cup of Tea

Due to some changes at work my ability to drink tea (that doesn’t come from Starbucks or Argo Tea) has become very limited. While this saddens me a bit, it makes me appreciate every cup all the more. It also reminds me of the importance of slowing down to enjoy the little things. I’ll try my best to keep the reviews coming. In the meantime, I’m going to mix in some other tea related content to get me and the blog through the dry spells.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Arbor Teas Organic Greenfield Estate Ceylon


According to Arbor Teas, this selection is a organic and fair trade certified black tea that hails from from Sri Lanka's eastern Uva District. The dry leaves had a twisted appearance and were a uniform dark brown. They had a rich, nutty aroma. I made this tea in my Breville One-Touch Tea Maker with 212 degree water for four minutes. The liquor was a deep reddish color.

This tea was full bodied and brisk without being overly bitter. There were notes of chocolate and chestnuts that became more pronounced as the tea cooled. It had just the right amount of astringency to get the taste buds going. There was a subtle sweetness at the finish of each sip. This would make a perfect breakfast tea. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Learning Tea







I recently learned about a really great tea related charity and just had to share.
The Learning Tea is a humanitarian project started by Katrell Christie to help impoverished children of Darjeeling India. Raising funds through her photography and the sales of Darjeeling green and black tea, this project will put three orphaned girls through college per year. It will also repair an elementary school in Darjeeling and buy uniforms, supplies, books and food for its students.
What could better than tea that supports such a great cause? 100% of the proceeds go directly to helping the children of Darjeeling. As a Girl Scout leader, charities that help girls are particularly near and dear to my heart. Here are some eye opening facts from The Learning Tea’s website:

- One quarter of all Indian girls do not live past the age of 15 and one third of these deaths occur before a girl reaches her first birthday
- Nearly 2 in every 3 women in India are illiterate
- Only 82 girls for every 100 boys are enrolled in school. 35 million girls do not attend school in India
- Girls aged between 1 and 5 years old are 50% more likely to die than boys

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Authentic Teas Aroma of Armenia

Authentic Teas lists the ingredients of this tea as including organic wild Armenian ­chrysanthemum, organic wild mint and organic wild cherry leaves. I made this tea in my Breville One-Touch Tea Maker with 212 degree water for five minutes. The dry leaves had a slightly fuzzy, green appearance with yellow chrysanthemum petals mixed in . The liquor was bright gold in color.

I was expecting really bold flavor from this herbal blend but it was actually very mellow. The dominant flavor was mild mint with just a touch of sweetness, presumably from the cherry leaves. I can see myself reaching for this when tummy trouble calls for a mint based tea but as a daily drinker I’d want something with a bit more oomph. Otherwise this is a very nice tea and I would definitely recommend it.