Wednesday, October 31, 2012

David's Tea Pumpkin Chai

Country of Origin: not listed
Leaf Appearance: dark, lots of fruit pieces
Ingredients: black tea, cinnamon, cloves, lemon peel, squash, carrot, caramel bits, pumpkin candies, natural and artificial flavouring
Steep time: 6 minutes
Water Temperature: 205 degrees
Preparation Method: Breville One-Touch Tea Maker
Liquor: reddish brown

You know that fall is here when I start breaking out the chai tea. I was really excited to try this blend because pumpkin is one of my favorite seasonal flavors. The smell of the loose tea was intoxicating, like Thanksgiving dinner in a bag. It was earthy and spicy but not overdone. The squash and carrots are not something that I've ever seen in a tea before. They added an interesting meatiness that made the tea heartier than I would have expected. The pumpkin candies are absolutely adorable but did not really sweeten the tea nor did the caramel. So far I have been in love with everything from David's Tea's fall collection. I still have a few selections left to try but all of the flavors have been spot on.

You can find out more about this tea here.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Handmade Tea Harvest Brew

Country of Origin: black tea is from Central Eastern Africa
Leaf Appearance: dark tea leaves, very fall looking with all of the spices mixed in
Ingredients: black tea, allspice, cinnamon chips, ginger root
Steep time: 5 minutes
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: mesh infuser and ceramic teacup
Liquor: reddish brown

October's blend from Handmade Tea was inspired by two of Caleb's (the founder of Handmade Tea) favorite pumpkin beers, Southern Tier Pumking and Dogfish Head Punkin Ale. If you like cinnamon spice then this blend is for you! The base black tea is a touch peppery which echoes the strong allspice. The cinnamon ginger add a warm sweetness that tempered all of that spice. It packs a bit of a punch but it isn't overwhelming. There was some astringency but it wasn't bitter. This was another fantastic handmade blend. It was everything that I love about pumpkin pie, minus the pumpkin. Every month I look forward to my shipment and I have yet to be disappointed. I highly suggest subscribing if you love tea and are looking for something unique. It would also make a great Christmas gift since the holidays will be here before we know it.

You can subscribe to Handmade Tea here.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Peony Tea Shop Phoenix Dan Cong - Honey Orchid Fragrance

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: dark, long and twisted
Ingredients: oolong tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 185 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: pale amber

This tea was an interesting contrast with the Heavenly Fragrance Dan Cong from this company that I reviewed previously. It started off very delicate and wasn't nearly as aromatic. At first I found that a little disappointing. Following Peony Tea Shop's brewing instructions, I increased the steep time by 10 seconds with each infusion. I was happy to find that notes of honey and apricot began to emerge along with a floral sweetness in the finish. It had a rather thick mouth-feel but was not very astringent. There is nothing I love more than a tea that surprises me and this one did just that. I was able to get five really decent infusions and certainly could have squeezed out a few more. I love that Peony Tea Shop provides specific information about their teas such as harvest time and cultivar. I wish more retailers would because it helps ensure freshness and authenticity.

Find out more about this tea here.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Tea Places: Teavana Lexington Avenue

It's been open for a few months but I finally had a chance to stop by Teavana's new Lexington Avenue location. While I'm not a frequent customer of this particular retail chain, I was inclined to stop in since this is their first Manhattan shop. While a little on the small side, the interior was airy and well organized. Teavana is known for its pushy salespeople but I found the staff here friendly and unobtrusive. Being on a busy corner in the Upper East Side, they probably don't need to resort to the same sales tactics as a mall based location.

I picked up a copy of The Tea Companion by Jane Pettigrew (review coming) as well as a Taylor tea thermometer to replace one that I had broken. I fought multiple urges to buy any teaware because I'm generally out of shelf space. Before leaving I got a cup of dragonwell to go. While I tried hard not to make a face when asked if I would like it to be sweetened, it was well prepared and delicious. I'm rarely in that part of town but I won't hesitate to stop in again.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Atlantic City, Here I Come!

This time next weekend I will be headed a few hours south to Atlantic City for the for the Coffee & Tea Festival AC. Bally's Casino will be home to the event on November 3rd and 4th. I'm a huge fan of the Coffee & Tea Festival NYC so I'm sure that this brand new event will be just as enjoyable. Some of the things I'm most excited about are the Tea Blogger's Choice Awards and the class I'll be taking on East Asian tea and tea culture. Thankfully the Steeler's game will be on at that time so my poor boyfriend won't be TOO bored. We are also celebrating our anniversary that weekend so this is a great excuse to get away for the weekend.

I already see some familiar names on the exhibitor list along with several new ones. It's going to be a great event and I plan to have a blast. I hope to meet up with some of you there. When you purchase your tickets, enter the promo code ATB12 and you'll receive a 50% off discount. I'll be live tweeting throughout the event so be sure to keep an eye on the hashtag #CoffeeTeaFestAC.

If you can't attend but want to check out pictures and other fun stuff, I'll be posting them all in a Google+ event. Now I'm off to find out if any of the hotels there do a high tea...

Friday, October 26, 2012

Celestial Seasonings Citrus ENERJI Green Tea Energy Shot

Country of Origin: not given
Ingredients: Purified Water, Evaporated Cane Juice, Natural Citrus Flavor With Other Natural Flavors, Citric Acid, Green Tea, Green Tea Extract (With Natural Caffeine From Green Tea), Natural Sweetener (Stevia Extract), Niacin (Niacinamide), Ginseng, B-Vitamin Blend (Vitamins B6 {Pyridoxine Hydrochloride}, B5 {Calcium Pantothenate}, B12 {Cyanocobalamine}) and Inositol
Preparation Method: bottled
Liquor: light brown

The citrus flavor of this energy shot is strong and sweet, very reminiscent of orange. It all but masked the green tea underneath. There was a mild tartness at the end of each sip but it wasn't unpleasant. I prefer the berry flavor that I have tried previously but this one was decent. It does taste a little better than its Kombucha cousin. I love these shots because they are an immediate pick me up but there is no crash and burn like I'll often experience with Red Bull or Five Hour Energy. I also think that they taste a lot better than either of those options. For now the green tea shots are only available online but they should be in stores soon.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

iHeartTeas I Dream of Milk & Coconut

Country of Origin: Taiwan
Leaf Appearance: dark, green and tightly rolled
Ingredients: milk oolong, coconut flakes
Steep time: 3 minutes
Water Temperature: 195 degrees
Preparation Method: glass teapot with glass strainer
Liquor: deep gold

The smell of the dry leaves of this tea was absolutely intoxicating. It reminded me of coconut creme pie. The coconut flakes had a unique, string-like appearance. I'm happy to report that this tea was just as delicious as the name suggests. It was creamy and sweet with a very nice vegetal aftertaste. The coconut was present but not overdone. I loved that the milk oolong was the star of the show. The coconut flavor started to fade after the first infusion but the tea leaves themselves definitely kept going for more. This tea is very well priced, especially for one that contains a milk oolong. It's obvious that the base tea is very good quality. Even if a tea is flavored, that can make a huge difference in the end result. This is the first tea that I've tried from iHeartTeas but I was very impressed.

Find out more about this tea here.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

MarieBelle White Chocolate with Japanese Matcha

I love white chocolate and matcha so when I saw this bar at Whole Foods I just had to grab it. The green tea flavor was present but not super strong. At first first it was all sweet white chocolate and then the matcha came through as a fresh, green aftertaste. Having previously tried a milk chocolate matcha bar, I think that white chocolate is definitely the better partner. The flavors compliment each other well and they are both able to share the spotlight. My boyfriend is petrified of all things matcha because of the color but he thought that it was pretty tasty too. I loved that it was scored and easily breakable, allowing me to continue to savor it through several tea times.

MarieBelle has a tea salon inside of their shop in SoHo. I will be adding it to my to do list for the next time I am in the neighborhood. Until I can get there myself, check out this great post by Jee at Oh, How Civilized.

Ingredients: Sugar, cocoa butter, dry whole milk, nonfat dry milk, matcha green tea powder, natural soy lecithin

You can find out more about this chocolate here.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Teavivre Taiwan Jin Xuan Milk Oolong Tea

Country of Origin: Taiwan
Leaf Appearance: deep green, tightly rolled
Ingredients: oolong, milk flavor
Steep time: 25 seconds
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: pale gold

This milk oolong was very interesting because it is actually flavored with milk. While some unscrupulous tea companies will do this without saying so, I'm ok with it here because Teavivre is very upfront. They even offer an unflavored version if you prefer that. I was surprised to find that the fragrance of the dry leaves was not very strong. My first infusion was 25 seconds and I increased the time by 10 seconds for each subsequent steeping. At first this tea was delicate with a vague creaminess but it really woke up on the second infusion. It was floral and slightly sweet with a very creamy finish. The third infusion added a bit of minerality and a reduction in the creamy aftertaste. I was a bit tea logged by that point but I think I would have been able to get at least seven steeps out of these leaves. With an aromatic tea like this, I definitely suggest using aroma cups because they really add to the experience.

You can find out more about this tea here.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Sweet and Savory Baker's Tea at the James Beard House

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending a Sweet and Savory Tea at the James Beard House. The food for the event was provided by Flour Bakery and the tea was supplied by Le Palais des Thés. The place settings were simple and elegant. Everything was served buffet style but the wait staff were attentive and quick to refill my tea and sparkling water. The spread was quite large somewhat overwhelming. I wanted to eat it all but knew that I wouldn't be able to so I picked and chose what I thought that I might enjoy.

For most of the tea I drank an excellent Genmaicha and finished with their brisk Brunch Tea. My choice of wine was the 2011 Gramona Gessami. It is a very nice white wine that I had tasted previously at work. Everything I ate was delicious and I had a hard time singling out favorites. The quiche and miniature cinnamon creme brioche were among them. There is nothing I love more than sharing tea and good conversation. Events like this are part of why I love what I do. It was especially exciting to speak with Aurelie of Le Palais des Thés about the shops they will be opening in New York.

The end of the meal included a question and answer session with Joann Chang, Nicole Rhodes and the rest of the Flour Bakery team. Being a recreational baker, it was great to get insights from some of the best in the business. Overall it was a great evening and I left in a bit of a food coma. The James Beard House does a Valentine's Tea in February and I think I may just need to drag my boyfriend. If it's anything like this decadent tea, we will have an amazing time.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Everyday I'm Tea Tumblin'

Up until fairly recently, Tumblr was the one form of social media that my love of tea has not spilled into. For those of you who aren't familiar with it, Tumblr is a microblogging site. I like to think of it as Twitter meets Pinterest (I'll have a blog coming about that addiction too). If you enjoy a blog someone posted, you can like it or reblog it, which is like the Tumblr version of a retweet. Most posts tend to be very graphic heavy so there is always lots of eye candy to be found.

I finally caved and created a tea themed Tumblr page for this blog. I've been blown away by how large the tea community on Tumblr is, especially when it comes to Adagio's custom blends. There are some incredibly creative people out there. I follow just over 100 blogs but I thought I would list a handful of my favorites.

Teavenger is probably one of the most unique blogs that I've ever seen. Be prepared for tea drinking action figures, Dr. Who and Avengers. Their pictures of action figures posing with the tea they are drinking never fail to crack me up.

Tea Porn is a term that I've seen tossed around Twitter and the Tumblr by this name certainly lives up to its moniker. The tea photographs they post are a feast for the eyes and I am forever reblogging them.

Tea Moth is the blog documenting the tea journey of a 17 year old Canadian girl. She posts some really great tea reviews and pictures.

Fuck Yeah I Love Tea! and Fuck Yeah Matcha! are also perennial favorites for me. They both post some really great pictures. The goodies on the matcha blog always leave me hungry.

I was already addicted to Tumblr but getting tea involved has made it even worse. If you're on Tumblr, you can follow me here. My ask box is always open and I accept submissions so don't be shy!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Mountain Rose Herbs Vanilla Rooibos

Country of Origin: South Africa
Leaf Appearance: small, brown and needle-like
Ingredients: rooibos, vanilla beans, vanilla flavor
Steep time: 5 minutes
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: ceramic cup and mesh strainer
Liquor: deep reddish brown

I'm in love! The rooibos blend was very well balanced and natural tasting. It was woodsy with a mellow creaminess. The vanilla lingered long into the sweet aftertaste. I had a cup before bed and it was the perfect tea to wind down after a long day. Rooibos plays well off of vanilla but it can be easily overpowered. I'm glad that did not happen here. In looking at the reviews on Steepster, I thought it was odd that so many people felt the need to cut in additional vanilla beans to this tea. I felt that the flavoring was perfectly done, not too light and not too strong. Vanilla beans are very expensive so I don't really see the benefit of doing so when the tea was just fine the way it was made. If you are a fan of sweetening your tea, this could probably stand up to some light additives but I wouldn't recommend using any milk or creamer. This is the second tea that I've tried from Mountain Rose Herbs and do so far I've been very impressed.

You can find out more about this tea here.

Friday, October 19, 2012

David's Tea Banana Nut Bread

Country of Origin: not listed
Leaf Appearance: nutty :)
Ingredients: dates, currants, almonds, banana pieces and slices, artificial flavoring
Steep time: 7 minutes
Water Temperature: 205 degrees
Preparation Method: Breville One-Touch Tea Maker
Liquor: pale yellow

I was really intrigued when I saw this in my fall tea collection that I picked up at Davids's Tea. It is comprised entirely of fruit and nuts (apart from the artificial flavoring). That is not something that I had ever seen before. The result was just as sweet and somewhat less nutty than I expected. It was reminiscent of my favorite baked treat but not in an "in your face" kind of way. The nuts came through almost as an aftertaste. This would make a great dessert substitute for someone with a sweet tooth. One word of advise though, make sure you use a strainer that will be easy to clean! The first time I made this I used a fine mesh strainer and it made a bit of a gooey mess. I'm not big on flavored teas but a lot of the ones that I've tried from David's Tea have been pretty spot on.

You can find out more about this tea here.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

McNulty's Tea & Coffee Co. Golden Monkey

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: dark and curled with some golden tips
Ingredients: black tea
Steep time: 5 minutes
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: Breville One-Touch Tea Maker
Liquor: deep brown

Golden monkey is a black tea hailing from the Fujian and Yunnan Provinces of China. Its name comes from the leaves resemblance to monkey claws. This tea was smooth and malty with a lingering, sweet aftertaste. The mild citrus and earthy cocoa notes added  a nice complexity. There was very little astringency which I loved because I tend to dislike teas that are overly tannic. This would not be a tea suited to milk or sweeteners as that would likely mask its subtle nuances. I picked it up with the intention of using it to make tea sangria (which worked out great) but it has become my go to morning sip. It wakes me up without being a harsh kick in the teeth like many traditional breakfast teas. It wasn't cheap but I was impressed with the quality of the tea. I pass by McNulty's shop in New York City fairly often so I plan to stock up on this tea often.

You can find out more about this tea here.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Steep & Go

My schedule is really busy so I'm always looking for ways to make tea on the go. When I saw this little doodad I knew that I had to have it. The Steep & Go is basically a modified water bottle cap that strains out tea leaves, making cold brewing a breeze. I actually had to pick up an Evian bottle to use this because the only bottles that I had were ones with short eco-friendly caps. I'm happy to report that it works like a charm. No accidental tea leaves in my teeth and now I can make cold brewed tea anywhere I want.

The instructions said that the tea would be ready in 10 minutes. I prefer my tea much stronger so I will usually leave it steeping on the counter for about an hour. It's fairly easy to clean and I use it almost daily. I've had a lot of fun experimenting with cold steeping different types of teas now that I have such an easy way to strain them. Although it is made out of plastic, I am very happy that it is BPA free. The Steep & Go comes in four bright colors and is dishwasher friendly.

I purchased my Steep & Go from iHeart Teas.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Beautiful Layers Top 5 Fall Teas for Fall

I recently contributed an article on my favorite teas for fall to Beautiful Layers, a really great blog and online magazine. They are geared toward women seeking an extra dose of creative energy and inspiration in their personal and professional lives. I met the editor, Lorrie, at an event several years ago and I have been a fan of her work ever since. I'm really excited about this collaberation because it is technically my first published article (other than ye old blog). Please check it out and let me know what you think. What are your favorite teas to drink this time of year?

Check out the article here.

I'd like to thank my friend Lee Reyes from helping me out with my headshot for the magazine. Can you believe he shot it at night in the driveway of my apartment building?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Boozy Tea: Golden Monkey Black Tea Sangria

Ever since I attended a tweetup at Bosie Tea Parlor I've been itching to try making golden monkey black tea sangria. Hours of scouring the internet did not give much inspiration so I sort of winged it. I live in a house full of clumsy folks (myself included) so this souvenir glass was the closest thing to a wine glass I could dig up. My recipe isn't quite there but it wasn't half bad. I suspect that using a better quality wine would work out better. This was my first attempt so I went with a bottle of Sutter Home from the grocery store. I'm sure that Bosie used something at least a little more high brow so I might be reattempting this in the future with something I pick up at work. Give the recipe a whirl and let me know what you think or if you would change anything.


1 bottle of red wine (I used Cabernet Sauvignon)
2 shots of Triple Sec
4 cups of water
4 teaspoons of golden monkey black tea
1 navel orange
1 gala apple

  • Heat the water to 212 degrees and steep the tea for 4 minutes. Strain and set aside to cool.
  • Combine wine and Triple Sec in a pitcher
  • Add room temperature tea
  • Chop up fruit and add to pitcher
  • Allow to chill and then serve over ice
For some reason the tannins in the wine and tea almost cancel each other out. The result is fairly smooth and very refreshing. It's officially fall and I really wish I had thought to do this on a warm summer day. Maybe my next project should be some tea infused mulled wine :)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Guest Post: Fujian Province - The Mecca of Chinese Tea

Today I'm featuring a guest post written by my friend Derek Chew of Peony Tea Shop. He's an excellent writer and very knowledgeable.

Fujian Province- The Mecca of Chinese Tea

To single out any tea producing province for special mention is tricky; after all there are 18 main tea producing provinces in China.You could jointly make a case for Yunnan-Sichuan-Chongqing since there is quite a bit of historical and scientific evidence to suggest that these provinces were the original birth place of the Camellia Sinensis plant. Making the case of volume would be tricky, since Fujian and Zhejiang frequently jostle for pole position. In terms of size of tea fields, it would be Yunnan (at least at point of writing).

Making the case for Fujian (not that there is any prize to be won) I would argue from 2 aspects:
  1. Birthplace of 3 categories of Tea
  2. Global Influence
Birthplace of 3 categories of tea

Of the 6 basic categories of tea- green, white, yellow, oolong, black and dark (also known as post-fermented) tea- 3 of them are believed to have originated from Fujian province.

Most researchers believe the first black tea originated from Tong Mu Guan in Wuyishan, Fujian which is what is often known in the western world as Lapsang Souchong. Wuyishan or Anxi- both located in Fujian- are often held up to be the originator of oolong or wulong tea. Moving eastward, we have Fuding which is the birthplace of the white tea.

With 3 out of the 6 basic categories of tea originating in Fujian, it is hard to argue against its importance towards the tea industry. In fact, even today, white tea and oolong tea are predominantly produced in Fujian province.

Depending on where you stand on scented tea- Fuzhou, Fujian produces the bulk of top grade jasmine tea in China as well. Hence, in terms of diversity, no other province comes close to Fujian.

Global Influence

How influential is Fujian on the global tea landscape? For starters the word ‘tea’ originated from the Fujian dialect pronunciation of the Chinese word (cha), which of course means tea. Xiamen (or Amoy as it was known then) was also one of the early export ports of tea way back in the 17th and 18th century.

Closer to today- the 20th century to be exact- Chinese of Fujian descent were among the first waves of Chinese immigrants, settling down in South East Asia as the Sino-Japanese and Chinese civil wars devastated the nation.

Among the many influences the migrant Chinese community- especially the Fujian and Guangdong people- had on their new countries was the love for tea, particularly tea popular in those 2 provinces. Consequentially, Fujian (and Guangdong) teas- noticeably Tieguanyin, Shuixian and Jasmine Tea- quickly became staples of Chinese tea in overseas communities.

Of course when you brew a pot of Tieguanyin, Wuyi Yancha, Huang Jin Gui, Silver Needles, Jasmine Tea or so many of the wonderful varieties of Fujian tea, you might be inspired to make a case on its gastronomic merits, I know I would.

Author bio:
Derek Chew has never met a well-made oolong tea he didn’t adore and counts Wuyi Yancha, Tieguanyin and Phoenix Dancong among his favorites teas.

Disclaimer: Derek Chew owns and operates Peony Tea S.- an online tea shop selling oolong tea, green tea among other categories of Chinese tea but his ancestors came from Guangdong province, not Fujian.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

David's Tea Toasted Marshmallow

Country of Origin: not listed
Leaf Appearance: dark leaves with lots of marshmallows and other goodies
Ingredients: black tea, marshmallows, brittle pieces, cinnamon, allspice, roasted kukicha green tea, natural flavoring
Steep time: 5 minutes
Water Temperature: 205 degrees
Preparation Method: ceramic teapot and mesh stainer
Liquor: reddish brown

Fall is here and I have been craving smores like crazy. This tea totally hit the spot. It was super sweet and definitely brought my favorite fireside treat mind. It was spicy but not in an overdone way, think cinnamon graham cracker rather than chai. The marshmallows melted completely and they lent a creaminess that I really enjoyed. What really amazed me was that there is no chocolate in this blend at all. The base tea gives a little bit of rich, cacao flavor so I didn't even mind. The kukicha brought in a toastiness in the background that complimented the other ingredients well. Talk about a desert tea! This tea was incredibly decadent and I am officially addicted. Now I'm dying to go back to David's Tea so that I can order it in latte form.

You can find out more about this tea here.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Tiesta Tea Gojiberry Superfruit

Country of Origin: Japan
Leaf Appearance: deep green with lots of colorful berries
Ingredients: green tea, gojiberries, lemongrass, pomegranate seeds Steep time: 5 minutes
Water Temperature: 175 degrees
Preparation Method: Breville One-Touch Tea Maker
Liquor: deep gold

Borrowing a term from wine drinking friends, this tea was a real fruit bomb! It was juicy and sweet but balanced enough that I was still able to taste the sencha base tea. It had a pleasant tartness with a lingering finish.  I love that they managed to make such a sweet tea without having to add sugar. Also known as wolf berries, the gojiberry is a fruit that is native to southeastern Europe and Asia. I haven't seen it in a lot of teas but it seems to have become trendy due to its purported health benefits. I'm not one to drink teas for that reason but this one was absolutely delicious. I've really enjoy all of the teas that I've tried from Tiesta Tea.

You can find this tea here.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

World Tea East 2012

Last week I made the trek to Philadelphia for World Tea East. This show wasn't quite as successful for me as it was last year but I did find a handful of really great companies. Next year I'm going to focus more on the education conference as I was unable to attend any of that this time around. I noticed a big increase in the number of tea companies based in Africa. Many of them focused on improving the lives of the tea growers which is always great to hear.

One thing that was a little disconcerting was that many vendors had tea bags but did not understand that loose leaf is something people want or are interested in. When I inquired about loose leaf, several people told me that they don't offer it but their tea bags taste the same. I know better than that but imagine if I had been a brand new retailer who doesn't know the ropes yet. The spread of misinformation is not my cup of tea.

One of the things that I enjoy about this event is that it isn't crowded. I was able to meander the aisles freely without bumping into people or waiting on long lines. I was also able to have some really great conversations with some of the vendors.

One of the highlights for me was the Dragon Tea Ceremony performed by Haiyan Grzelak of Lotus Leaf Tea. Her enthusiasm for life and tea radiated off of the stage. The audience was first treated to a musical performance on the Guzheng, an ancient Chinese instrument. Haiyan then performed a gongfu ceremony using aroma cups. She explain every step along the way and thoughtfully included both the Chinese and English descriptions.

Vintage Tea Works was the hit of the show for many people that I spoke to. Their blends are inspired by wine and very well crafted. The owner of the company was knowledgeable about both wine and tea and I was very impressed.

I have a major sweet tooth and I am a sucker for good ice cream so I was super excited to see Tea-rrific! Ice Cream. Their flavors were well done. I loved that they respected the tea while making varieties that were different from others that have been available in the marketplace. We also had a funny coincidence because the owner of the company used to live in the town in New Jersey where I am from.

My favorite tea of the whole show was the ancient moonlight white tea from Wild Tea Qi. I have never had anything quite like it. It was aromatic and had an incredibly complex floral taste. It made me wish that I hadn't had any other tea that day as my palate was a bit overwhelmed. I've seen this company at a number of shows and have been very impressed by their knowledge of tea and the tea making process. They know the names of all of their farmers, which is something  that you don't often see.

A trip to Philadelphia wouldn't be complete without a cheese steak. I took a break from tea to scarf one down at Carmine's Famous Italian Hoagies in the Reading Terminal Market. This place is foodie heaven and I had a hard time choosing where and what to eat.

Before heading home, I took a rainy wander through Chinatown in hopes of finding some tea. Unfortunately I did not find anything that couldn't be found close to home but I still enjoyed checking out all of the stores.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Four Years of Tea and Fun

Tea for Me Please came into being exactly four years ago today! My first post was made pretty early in my love affair with tea. I had just purchased my first yixing (which is still my favorite) and I was a staff tea reviewer for To date I've written just over 500 posts. That's a lot of tea! My palate and tastes have definitely evolved since then. I was very into flowering and flavored teas. I suppose those are gateway drugs for many of us.

Aside from all of the amazing tea that I have tried over the years, the most important thing about this blog has always been the people. Whether it's emails from readers, connecting on twitter or sharing a pot of tea in person; this blog has given me the opportunity to meet some of the most wonderful people I have ever come across. That has meant more to me than I could probably ever find the words for. There are too many to name but you've all helped me learn and grow, both as a person and a lover of tea. I'm not sure where this blog or tea will take me in the future but I'm grateful for everything that I've experienced along the journey so far.

Just for laughs, these are my first two logos. My complete lack of artistic ability is pretty apparent but I think the current one is an improvement :)

Friday, October 5, 2012

Wanja Tea of Kenya Purple Tea

Country of Origin: Kenya
Leaf Appearance: small, dark with some golden bits
Ingredients: purple tea
Steep time: 3 minutes
Water Temperature: 160 degrees
Preparation Method: ceramic teapot and mesh strainer
Liquor: reddish brown

I've seen talk of purple tea on Twitter and a few forums but never had the opportunity to try some for myself until now. Purple tea is made from the Camellia Sinensis plant but the particular variety used is high in anthocyanin, giving the leaves a purple appearance. It was developed 25 years ago and is purported to be more resistant to frost, disease, drought, and pests than other varieties.The dry leaves of this tea resembled a typical black tea but they became quite green post-steeping. I found the flavor really hard to describe. Darjeeling without the muscatel, perhaps? It was earthy with woodsy and somewhat fruity notes. There was quite a bit of astringency but it wasn't unpleasant. Overall this was a really nice tea. Given the explosion of the high end tea market, there has been a lot of exciting things going on in Kenya and other tea growing countries in Africa. I can't wait to see what else they will come up with.

You can find out more about this tea here.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Le Palais des Thés Thé Du Hammam

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: small and flat, dark green with bright flowers
Ingredients: green tea, rose, berries, orange flower, green dates
Steep time: 3 minutes
Water Temperature: 170 degrees
Preparation Method: Breville One-Touch Tea Maker
Liquor: yellowish gold

I had previously tried this tea in the form of an iced tea bag so I was really excited to try it "loose and hot", so to speak. It was fruity, floral and sweet all at once with a pleasant vegetal finish. I'm obsessed with the green dates because I think that they are a very unusual and tasty addition. The astringency was light and pleasant, though I would be careful not to oversteep this one as I have a feeling it would get quite bitter. I felt that the flavor profile had more dimension to it than the iced version. The aftertaste was lingering and somewhat perfumy but not overwhelmingly so. Since I was in need of a snack while sipping this, I paired it with some mango cream cookies and the combination really made the fruitiness come alive. The blue metal canister that this tea came packaged in was beautiful. No need to hide this one in the pantry!

You can find out more about this tea here.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Hayes Tea Keemun Black Tea

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: small, dark and somewhat curled
Ingredients: black tea
Steep time: 3 minutes
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: Breville One-Touch Tea Maker
Liquor: deep reddish brown

This tea was smoky and spicy with earthy and mineral notes. There was just the right amount of astringency to make it brisk and refreshing. The aftertaste had a sweet, lingering fruitiness that brought to mind plums. I love Keemun tea because it is a robust, full flavored tea but isn't overly tannic or bitter. It could certainly stand up to milk and sugar but doesn't need it at all. This is the second offering that I have tried from Hayes Tea. They are a very small company but I think they are off to a great start. I love that they are growing their catalog slowly rather than offering lots of mediocre tea.

You can find this tea here.