Monday, May 30, 2011

Shanti Tea Roasted Kukicha


Although this organic offering from Shanti Tea it is listed as an herbal tea on their website, Kukicha is a green tea that is made from the stems of the Camellia Sinensis. The dry tea was uniformly brown and literally looked like a bunch of tiny twigs. They had a strong nutty aroma. I made this tea in my Breville One-Touch Tea Maker with 175 degree water for three minutes.The resulting liquor was deep amber in color.

This tea was toasty and sweet at the same time. There was also something else there that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Although I don’t like to eat mushrooms, that is the closest description I can come up with for the way this tea tastes. There was a hint of vanilla that added some creaminess to the flavor profile. It was just as delicious when I tried it iced. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Obubu Tea Sakura Tea


I’ve been curious about this tea for a while and finally got a chance to try it. It is made using salt pickled cherry blossoms. They also contain plum vinegar, which likely acts as a preservative. First, the salt needs to be removed by soaking a blossom in warm water for five minutes. After the salt is removed I poured hot water into the tea cup with the petal inside. Then the salted water can be added back to the tea to season it to taste. I have to say that this tea is really beautiful to look at as the petals unfold. The liquor was clear.

This tea was sweet and slightly floral. It was almost as though the blossom just very lightly scented the water. A lot of teas use artificial cherry flavoring and this tea tastes nothing like those. I was expecting it to be extremely salty tasting but it was actually rather subtle. In Japan, sakura is added to just about everything including Kit-Kats and Starbucks lattes. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Authentic Teas Ani Blend

The ingredients of this herbal blend include organic wild oregano, organic wild cherry leaves, organic wild black currant and hibiscus. Authentic Tea's site states that this tea is used as a digestive remedy. The dry leaves are comprised mostly of very small, uniformly green leaves. I made this tea in my Breville One-Touch Tea Maker with 212 degree water for five minutes. The liquor was a very deep red in color.

This tea was naturally sweet and refreshing. The cherry leaves and hibiscus added a bit of fruity tartness while the oregano and currant provided a mild spiciness. For some reason black liquorice candy kept coming to mind. I think it had something to do with the combination of spicy and sweet. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Arbor Teas Organic Earl Grey

Arbor Teas lists the ingredients of this blend as including organic black tea and natural bergamot flavor. One of my favorite things about earl grey is the distinctive aroma. I can sniff one out immediately and this one was no different. The dry leaves were uniformly brown and of mixed size. I made this tea in my Breville One-Touch Tea Maker with 212 degree water for three minutes. The liquor was very dark in color.

This tea was crisp with a citrusy tartness that was not perfumey or overpowering. The black tea base was robust enough to stand on its own. There was a dry finish to each sip and just the right amount of astringency. A well balanced earl grey is very much appreciated. Like the rest of Arbor Teas offerings, this tea is organic and fair trade certified. Their packaging is even compostable. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Meaning of Tea Golden Monkey

This is an organic black tea that was sourced from Yunnan Province in China. The dry leaves were really beautiful to look at. They were various shades of golden brown with a curly and slightly fuzzy appearance. I made this tea in my Breville One-Touch Tea Maker with 212 degree water for four minutes. The liquor was a deep reddish mahogany.

This tea was smooth and malty with pronounced notes of citrus. I’ve never experienced such a strong fruit flavor in an unflavored black tea. There was a dry finish to each sip but very little astringency. It wasn’t as robust as some Yunnans that I have tried but it was crisp and refreshing. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Meaning of Tea Organic Moroccan Mint

The Meaning of Tea now also offers a line of loose leaf teas. This blend consists of organic green tea (gunpowder) and organic peppermint leaf souced from Anhui, China. The leaves of the green tea were rolled into very tiny balls. I made this tea in my Breville One-Touch Tea Maker with 175 degree water for three minutes. The liquor was bright gold in color.

This tea is a by the book Moroccan mint. Everything was exactly as it should be, light bodied but  incredibly sweet and minty. There was hardly any astringency and the cooling aftertaste lingered long after each sip. I am looking forward to making some of this iced on a hot summer day. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Music of Tea

Music of Tea is a cd of the soundtrack for the documentary The Meaning of Tea. It features 16 tracks of original world music and two bonus songs. They are all very soothing and relaxing, especially with a cup of tea in hand. Each one transports the listener to another place because the instruments used reflect many of the countries and cultures highlighted in the film. I really couldn’t single out one track as my favorite. While I’m no music critic, this is definitely a cd to drink tea to and I highly recommend it.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Meaning of Tea: The Book

Having really enjoyed The Meaning of Tea documentary I was very excited to read the companion book. It is a lengthy read at 321 pages plus three appendices. Just like with any other movie, the book has a lot more detail that didn’t make the cut. The interviews are lengthier and more in depth. I learned new things with each chapter and new perspective.

It really is amazing how tea serves as a connective tissue across borders, languages and cultures. This book beautifully illustrates that point. The sepia toned photographs and tea related quotes sprinkled throughout the book add to the stories being told. For any lover of tea this book is a must read.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Meaning of Tea: The Movie

This post is the start of a series on The Meaning of Tea. One of my favorite things about tea is how each culture celebrates it in a different way. Love of the leaf ties us all together and that is what this film is all about. Through interviews with tea people from all over the world director Scott Chamblerin Hoyt  journeys to India, Japan, Taiwan, Morocco, England, France, Ireland, and Tea, South Dakota.

The people featured are from many different walks of life. It is easy to see the passion they all have for life and tea. I always enjoy watching interviews with James Norwood Pratt. I could listen to him pontificate about tea for hours. Not only is this documentary informative but it is visually stunning. I also love that fact that it isn’t just about tea, it is about taking the time to slow down. That is something tea definitely helps us accomplish.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Authentic Teas Armenian Blend

According to Authentic Teas’ blog, the ingredients of this tea were used by ancient herbalists as an anti-inflammatory especially for the treatment of colds and flu. That makes this tea particularly timely since I am fighting off a terrible cold. The ingredients of this herbal blend include wild mountain thyme and organic linden flowers. The dry leaves were small and sage green in appearance. I made this tea in my Breville One-Touch Tea Maker with 212 degree water for five minutes. The liquor was deep amber.

I was really curious about this selection because I have never tried a tea with thyme or linden flowers. It was herbaceous but mild with a cooling aftertaste. The thyme was the dominant flavor but there was a hint of floral sweetness, presumably from the linden flowers. Herbal teas aren’t usually my first choice when reaching into the tea cabinet but I’ve been impressed with the teasans that I have tried from Authentic Teas. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Den’s Tea Fukamushi-Sencha Yame

JAPANESE GREEN TEA: FUKAMUSHI SENCHA YAMEDen’s Tea describes this selection as their best quality Fukamushi-Sencha. I prepared it in a kyusu using 160 degree water and 45 second steepings. The dry leaves were slender in shape and dark green in color. The liquor was yellowish green and so cloudy with leaf particles that it was almost translucent.

This tea was both vegetal and nutty at the time time. There were notes of spinach and chestnut along with a pleasant grassy finish. I've never experienced a sencha with a such a pronounced toasted quality before. It was full bodied without being overpowering or bitter. It wasn’t as sweet as I was expecting but I think that is a good thing. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Tea Places: Sanctuary T

I had some time to kill in between jobs so I decided to grab dinner at Sanctuary T at 337B West Broadway. The space was relaxed and cozy. I’m a sucker for exposed brick. All of the staff were very pleasant and polite. The menu had a lot of interesting choices but I wanted something relatively light so I went with the grilled cheese sandwich. I loved that it was made with brie instead of plain old American cheese. Of course no grilled cheese is complete without tomatoes and bacon.

The tea menu was small but diverse. I chose the Lung Ching Super Fine, which was a dragonwell green tea. It was quite a large glass so I actually only had one throughout my entire meal. My sweet tooth always gets the better of me so I also indulged in an earl grey crème brûlée for dessert. Unfortunately I gobbled it all down before I remembered to take a picture but I did snap one of the very empty ramekin. It’s a little pricy but for the quality of the food I would say it is worth stopping by if you are ever in Soho.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Adagio Teas Huang Jin Bolero

Huang Jin Bolero from Adagio Teas
Photo: Adagio Teas
This oolong tea hails from Anxi County in Fujian, China. The dry leaves were dark green and tightly rolled. They were somewhat smaller in size than most oolongs that I have tried before. I prepared this tea in a porcelain gaiwan using 180 degree water and three consecutive 40 second steepings. The liquor was pale, brassy gold in color.

This tea was sweet and light with a vaguely creamy mouth feel. It had a perfect balance between the floral flavors and an earthy nuttiness. I love an oolong that lingers in your palette and this one certainly fits the bill. I only did three infusions but this tea had enough flavor to keep going for more. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Chicago Tea Garden Keemun Hao Ya A Grade

Keemun Hao Ya A Grade "Chinese Breakfast Tea" from Chicago Tea Garden
According to Chicago Tea Garden this tea was grown in the Anhui Province of China. The dry leaves were small and very dark in color with a slightly curled appearance. I prepared this tea in a porcelain gaiwan using 212 degree water and three consecutive one minute steepings. The liquor was coppery red in color.

This tea was light and smooth with a very complex flavor profile. It was at once fruity, floral, smoky and malty. At times it reminded me of freshly baked bread as well. I love a tea like this because without realizing it you automatically slow down and focus your attention to catch all of the little changes in flavor. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Shanti Tea Iron Goddess


This oolong tea is organic and fair trade certified. The dry leaves were various shades of green with some brown mixed in and tightly rolled appearance. I made this tea in a porcelain gaiwan using 190 degree water and three consecutive 30 second infusions. While I was preparing it, the non-tea drinking people in the room observed that it smelled like spinach. The liquor was pale gold in color.

This tea had a very light floral taste. It was almost a little too delicate. Most Tie Guan Yin teas are a bit bolder and complex than that. That doesn't necessarily make it a bad tea, it was just not what I was expecting. There was no astringency to speak of and very little after taste. After steeping, the unfurled leaves were very large. I would probably recommend this tea.