Tuesday, February 28, 2012

New York Coffee and Tea Festival 2012

This past Sunday I was very excited to once again attend the Coffee & Tea Festival NYC. The day started with tweetup that turned into a tea party for three. We shared great conversation and delicious matcha cake. Next up was the informative lecture From Garden to Cup: Tea 101 presented by Yoon Hee Kim. After that it was time to wander the aisles of vendor booths. There was lots of great teas to try. Every year I promise myself that I'm not going to buy anything and yet again, I caved in and indulged in a few teas that I thought were unique.

It was quite crowded so I had a hard time taking pictures but I've included a few in this post. I noticed a heavy lean towards promoting the health benefits of tea, especially in terms of antioxidant levels. It's all a bunch of hooey if you ask me but that is what sells right now.The highlight of the day was having the opportunity for a semi-private class on deconstructing the Korean tea ceremony with Yoon Hee Kim. I learned a lot and tried some amazing teas, included red ginseng matcha (wow!) and Amber Gold oolong.

If you are able to get to NYC, this annual event is a must see. I think that next year they will need to move to a larger venue, especially considering that tickets for this year sold out. There will definitely be lots of reviews to come of the goodies that I found. If you click on the pictures it should open up a larger version. The organizers have just announced that they will be holding another festival in Atlantic City on November 3rd and 4th. Being a New Jersey native, I am super excited for all of my tea friends to come visit the garden state.

Our tweetup tea party setup

Coffee and tea together? Sac le bleu!

Tea infused chocolate makes me happy

Capital Tea's very festive booth

Tavalon's booth is always crowded

Lots of folks seemed interested in the teas that Tea Classics and Hancha Teas had to offer

Runa was repping the guayusa

Yoon Hee Kim making red ginseng matcha

I have a terrible habit of closing my eyes in ever picture taken of me

Let's try that again, eyes not closed this time :)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Disney Wonderland Topsy Turvy Tea Blend

Country of Origin: India
Leaf Appearance: small, dark leaves with colorful petals
Ingredients: black tea, safflower and calendula petals, oil of bergamot and orange flavors
Steep time: 4 minutes
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: Breville One-Touch Tea Maker
Liquor: very dark brown

My sister picked me up a tin of this tea for my birthday on her recent vacation to Disney World. The packaging was adorable and had all sorts of Wonderland-esque phrases. The first thing that hit me about the dry tea was its overwhelming aroma. I was hit with a wall of bergamoty orangeness as soon as I opened the foil bag inside of the tin. This made me a little nervous since I'm not huge fan of bergamot to begin with. Thankfully the steeped tea was not nearly that strong. The base tea was earthy and somewhat smokey with a crisp astringency. The citrus flavor was very strong and lingered in my palate. It was not too heavy or oily feeling though. I would definitely recommend this tea if you are a fan of early grey.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Celestial Seasonings Peach Blossom Green Tea

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: dark green, very small
Ingredients: Green tea, white tea, natural peach flavor with other natural flavors (contains soy lecithin) and peaches.
Steep time: 2 minutes
Water Temperature:175 degrees
Preparation Method: ceramic mug
Liquor: gold

I couldn't believe how aromatic this tea was when I poured the water onto the tea bag. Unfortunately, the flavor of both the base tea and the peach were barely there. There was a slight dryness at the end of each sip. Most tea bags are designed to infuse almost immediately but I struggled to get anything out of this one. Higher water temperatures yielded the same results. That being said, something tells me that this might be much better as an iced tea. I would wind up using quite a few tea bags though. I probably wouldn't recommend this tea.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Adagio Teas Green Pekoe (Pyramid Bag)

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: variegated leaves with lots of down covered buds
Ingredients: green tea
Steep time: 3 minutes
Water Temperature: 180 degrees
Preparation Method: ceramic mug
Liquor: buttery yellow

The term pekoe is most often associated the black tea but it is really just grade of tea. The first that struck me about this tea was its sweet, vegetal aroma. The color of the liquor almost reminded me of melted butter. This tea was interesting because it was delicate and brothy at the same time. Although it tasted very much like a typical mellow green tea, there was an underlying earthiness and a darjeeling-esque floral aspect. I love a rich, multidimensional tea and this one is a perfect example. This quickly became one of my favorite breakfast sips at work. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Stash Tea Red Chai

Country of Origin: South Africa (presumably since the base tea is rooibos)
Leaf Appearance: bright red, needle-like
Ingredients: organic rooibos, cinnamon, clove, ginger root, natural cinnamon flavor, natural clove flavor, natural cardamom flavor
Steep time: 5 minutes
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: Breville One-Touch Tea Maker
Liquor: bright reddish brown, very clear

This tea was incredibly aromatic. The smell filled my kitchen as it was steeping. It had all of the warm, spiciness you would expect from chai but the rooibos added a woodsy sweetness. For some reason, carrot cake kept coming to mind as I sipped. The flavor was not exactly the same but I think that the combo of cinnamon and rooibos are very similar to it. I don't think it would stand up well to milk as you might do with a traditional chai but honey or agave might make a nice addition. This blend would be a great alternative for late night chai cravings or for those with caffeine sensitivities. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Handmade Tea Murmur

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: large, pale greenish brown and covered in fuzzy down
Ingredients: white peony, strawberries, cacao nibs
Steep time: 5 minutes
Water Temperature: 200 degrees
Preparation Method: Breville One-Touch Tea Maker
Liquor: gold

My February shipment from Handmade Tea featured Murmur, a Valentine's Day inspired tea featuring a white peony base. It was a nice contrast to the strong black tea versions in my last two reviews. The first thing that struck me about this tea was the big, bright chunks of strawberry. They were unlike any that I had ever seen used in a tea. Subtly is the keyword when it came to the taste of this tea. The white peony was sweet with notes of melon which was really complimented well by the tartness of the strawberries. I couldn't taste any chocolate right off the bat but there was a rich, nutty cacao flavor that popped up midway through each sip. After steeping, the strawberries completely re-hydrated and looked like they had just been chopped up a moment ago. This was really amazing since the strawberries in similar blends that I have tried turned a worrying brownish color. I love that all of this was accomplished without artificial flavoring. This is my third shipment from Handmade Tea and I continue to be impressed. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Adagio Teas Valetines

Country of Origin: Sri Lanka
Leaf Appearance: dark, curled shape with pinkish rose petals throughout
Ingredients: black tea, rose petals, natural chocolate flavor and natural strawberry flavor
Steep time: 212 degrees
Water Temperature: 3 minutes
Preparation Method: Breville One-Touch Tea Maker
Liquor: deep reddish brown

The aroma of the dry tea was incredible. It was as if I had just opened a box of fresh chocolate covered strawberries. I really wish that the taste followed through on that sweet smelling promise. There were notes of very dark chocolate but the Ceylon base tea was malty and astringent. It all but overpowered the strawberry flavoring. I decided to try steeping for 5 minutes but the result was not any better. Adding just a touch of milk and sugar helped to cut the bitterness and did bring out a very slight hint of fruity sweetness that stayed on the tip of my tongue. This blend was not bad once it was doctored a bit but I would say that David's Tea has definitely won the battle of the chocolate/strawberry teas.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

David's Tea Love Tea #7

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance:
Ingredients: black tea, dark chocolate, freeze-dried strawberry, red rose petals, natural and artificial flavouring
Steep time: 6 minutes
Water Temperature: 200 degrees
Preparation Method: Breville One-Touch Tea Maker

Chocolate, strawberries and rose petals; what more could a girl ask for? My wonderful boyfriend indulged my tea habit and bought me a sample of this (and several other awesome teas) on our recent visit to David's Tea's Bleecker Street location. The flavoring of this tea wasn't overpowering but it delivered the promised chocolate covered strawberry taste. The base black tea added a nice bit of earthiness to break up the sweetness and the rose petals are a nice romantic touch. On my second steeping I was able to pick up a lot more of the dark chocolate. I would definitely recommend this tea. I'll be writing a post about this tea shop soon as well so keep your eyes peeled.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Celestial Seasonings Kombucha Energy Shot Citrus

Country of Origin: not given
Ingredients: Organic Kombucha, Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Guarana Extract, Citric Acid, Natural Citrus Flavor With Other Natural Flavors, Niacin (Niacinamide), Asian Ginseng, Rebiana (Sweetener from Stevia), B-Vitamin Blend (Vitamins B6 [Pyridoxine Hydrochloride], B5 [Calcium Pantothenate] and B12 [Cyanocobalamine]) and Inositol.
Preparation Method: bottled
Liquor: light brown

I've previously tried the pomegranate flavor of this same product and enjoyed it a lot so I was excited to give the citrus version a try. The first thing I noticed was that this flavor seemed more carbonated but it may just be that I shook it more vigorously. The taste was super citrusy, almost reminding me of grapefruit. There was a slight bitter edge to it that I hadn't noticed in the pomegranate. So far, I am loving these kombucha shots. The only downside for me is that they really should be refrigerated. I'd love to be able to keep some in my purse for energy emergencies. This is probably for the best though because kombucha is the yogurt of tea and contains live bacteria.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Culinary Tea by Cynthia Gold and Lisë Stern

I have been meaning to pick up Culinary Tea by Cynthia Gold and Lisë Stern from some time. The first part of this book serves as an introduction to tea, suggested food pairings for each type and tips on using it as a cooking ingredient. I love the attention that was paid to the individual types of tea (i.e. Yunnan and Keemun instead of just Black). This section would be really useful for people who aren't all that familiar with tea in its various forms. It was well written and very accurate, a surprisingly hard thing to find in a book on tea.

The second part is a collection of well written, easy to understand recipes for everything from appetizers and entrees to desserts and cocktails. I'm a rather visual chef so the only thing that I would change would be to include pictures of the various dishes. However, without pictures I'm less likely to cover my book with drool so perhaps that is for the best. I cannot wait to try out all of these recipes. The Lapsang Souchong eggs look particularly interested. I'm sure you'll be seeing some blog posts showing the results of my labors soon. This book is a definitely must for tea makers and amateur chefs alike.

You can see this and other tea-ish books on my Goodreads list.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Foreign Office Zürich

Country of Origin: not given
Leaf Appearance: small, greenish brown
Ingredients: black tea
Steep time: 5 minutes
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: ceramic mug
Liquor: reddish brown

The first thing that I noticed about this tea was how aromatic it was. There was a strong, somewhat fruity aroma unlike anything that I've ever gotten from an unflavored teabag before. The taste was peppery and smokey with an earthy fruitiness. There was also a floral sweetness in the finish of each sip. It vaguely reminded me of Keemun but it was hard to know for sure since the leaves were chopped rather small. This was brisk cup with plenty of astringency but not so much so as to make it unpleasant. For those of you like to add milk and sugar to your tea, this one would probably be up to the task. As far as teabags go, this selection was very good and I would definitely recommend this tea.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Min River Tea Lapsang Souchong

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: twisted and very dark with some golden tips
Ingredients: black tea
Steep time: 40 seconds
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: reddish amber

I know many tea drinkers who do not enjoy Lapsang Souchong. While I agree that it can be an acquired taste, I think that a lot of this stems from the fact that many Lapsangs are overly smoked to mask a lower quality leaf. This tea was smokey, but in a much more mild way than most examples that I have tried. It was woodsy with notes of hazelnut and a lingering sweet aftertaste. There was none of the burnt rubber tire taste that is most often associated with this type of tea. I've been really impressed with the teas that I've tried from Min River Tea Farm and this one was no exception. I would definitely recommend this tea.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

New York Coffee and Tea Festival

It's almost time for the New York Coffee and Tea Festival. This is one of my favorite tea events of the year and is definitely a must see. I'm especially excited for the Korean powdered green tea ceremony. Check out the press release below for more information on all of the festivities.

If you plan to attend (and I highly recommend that you do), there is a group of tea Twitter folks trying to put together a tweetup. It will be at 10:00am on Sunday, February 26th. We will need to put your name on the guest list so don't forget to RSVP! You can do that on the Facebook event or by shooting an email to nicole@teaformeplease.com. One of my favorite things about tea events is getting to meet the people that I talk to all of the time on Twitter. I hope to see you there!

Coffee And Tea Festival Hosts 2012 Competition

Starfish Junction Productions, producer of the Coffee and Tea Festival NYC, recently confirmed that the upcoming 7th annual Coffee And Tea Festival being held in New York City on February 25 & 26, 2012 will host the 2012 United States Barista Championship (USBC), Northeast Competition. The Championship is sponsored in part by the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) and the Barista Guild of America. The Coffee and Tea Festival will be held at 7West, 7 West 34th Street, New York, NY 10001. The event is open to the public and the trade. Tickets and information is available at the event website: www.CoffeeAndTeaFestival.com.

The USBC is a regional and national competition designed to highlight the craft of the barista and espresso-based beverage production. The annual competition cycle consists of 6 regional events that lead up to the final USBC. The winners of each competition will have proven their professionalism, passion and skill through various criteria as outlined in the USBC rules and regulations. In a 15 minute presentation, competitors will prepare and serve three courses of espresso based beverages to a panel of judges who will score them on technique—the top six advance to the national competition. SCAA director of community and events, Marcus Boni, explains that the focus of the event will be much more than just the competition, it will also be “a gathering of like minded coffee enthusiasts focused on a common message of respect for the product they serve, the people who help produce it and the consumer who purchases it."

As seen on the Food Network’s hit show Unwrapped and selected as one of the 10 Best New York Events April 2009, by www.10best.com, “the Coffee And Tea Festival is a celebration of everything related to coffee and tea,” said event producer Lynda Calimano. “We’re especially delighted this year that our event was selected to host the United States Barista Championship’s Northeast competition. Attendees are in for a real treat,” she added.

The 7th Annual Coffee and Tea Festival also welcomes the cast of the upcoming Broadway show, Coffee: The Musical. With its goal set firmly on landing on Broadway in the fall of 2012, select cast members of the upcoming musical will join in the day’s festivities, including scheduled performances the lead female vocalist of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Jodi Katz.

The Coffee And Tea Festival has also partnered with the Specialty Tea Institute to offer the STI Certification courses for Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3 Cupping on Friday, February 24th and Saturday, February 25th. Advance registration and material review is required for those interested in taking the STI certification courses.

Tickets are $20 each and include sampling from the international lineup of coffee and tea exhibitors as well as attendance at the classes/seminars/demos. Tickets for the event can be purchased at the festival website: www.CoffeeAndTeaFestival.com. Goodie bags will be distributed to the first 1500 attendees each day.