Sunday, June 30, 2013

June Instagram Photo Challenge Results

My first Instagram photo challenge is over and results are in. It was a lot of fun and a bit of a challenge to keep up with each day's theme. I definitely think that this something I will be doing again. Thank you to everyone who participated. I loved seeing your pictures! Check out all of the entries below. You can also see them by searching the hashtag #teaformeplease on Instagram.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Numi Organic Tea Spinach Chive

Country of Origin: not listed
Leaf Appearance: small, dark green
Ingredients: organic spinach leaves, organic chives, organic dried lime, organic dill, organic onion, organic decaf green tea, organic coriander, organic tumeric and organic garlic
Steep time: 10 minutes
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: ceramic teacup with lid
Liquor: deep gold

I received a sample of this tea in my goody bag when I attended the New York Coffee and Tea Festival. Numi's new Savory Tea line has had my intrigued for some time. The flavors are so different from those that you would ordinarily see in tea. The instructions on the filter teabag were also unique in that they state that the tea should be steeped for 10 minutes while covered. After the time was up I took a whiff and the first thing that came to mind was soup. Considering the ingredients of this blend, that wasn't all that surprising. The taste carried the soupiness a bit further. It was salty, spicy, sweet and incredibly savory all at once. I felt like I was drinking a cup of broth. This is not necessarily something that I would drink on a regular basis but I could imagine nothing that would be more comforting on a day when I am feeling under the weather. I'm definitely curious about the other blends in this line now, especially the tomato mint.

You can find out more about this tea here.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Prince Teas Organic Sencha + Organic Tumeric

Country of Origin: not listed
Leaf Appearance: deep green, needle-like. deep orange tumeric pieces
Ingredients: organic sencha, organic tumeric
Steep time: 3 minutes
Water Temperature: 175 degrees
Preparation Method: ceramic teacup
Liquor: bright gold

The taste of this tea was light, sweet and vegetal with just a hint of ginger-like spice. Overall it was a much milder tea than I expected but it was still very tasty. I've never experienced tumeric in a tea before but I found it to be a pleasant addition. There was no bitterness or astringency. I would not recommend using any kind of sweetener with this tea. It was so mellow that sugar, honey or agave would completely mask the taste of it. Although they were packaged in pyramid sachets, the leaves were large and mostly whole. I appreciated that the strings were not coated with wax as I have often seen other companies do. There is nothing worse than getting a film of wax on top of your tea because the string fell in. I never would have thought of pairing tumeric with sencha but it worked very well. Leave a comment either on the blog or through Google+ and one random winner will win a tin of Prince Teas Organic Sencha + Organic Tumeric.

You can find out more about this tea here.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

LoveTea Jun Chiyabari Himalayan Imperial Black

Country of Origin: Nepal
Leaf Appearance: long, dark and somewhat twisted
Ingredients: black tea
Steep time: 3 minutes
Water Temperature: 205 degrees
Preparation Method: ceramic teacup and mesh infuser
Liquor: deep reddish brown

LoveTea is a UK based company that offers a monthly tea subscription service. I don't often get to sample Nepalese teas so I was really excited to give this one a try. I was impressed before I even steeped the tea because the included information card gave a lot of interesting background on Jun Chiyabari as well as tasting notes and recommendations for preparing the tea. It explained that this boutique tea garden is setting out to differentiate from Darjeeling and create new methods of tea production. Judging by this tea, they certainly seem to have done just that. The taste was rich and earthy with notes of chocolate. There was also a fruity sweetness that was almost reminiscent of wine. A mild astringency made for a brisk and refreshing finish. This tea could stand up to milk and sugar if you really have to but I definitely prefer it all on its own.

You can find out more about this tea here.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Tiesta Ginger Sweet Peach

Country of Origin: not listed
Leaf Appearance: lots of fruit chunks and flower petals
Ingredients: apple pieces, hibiscus blossoms, rose hip peels, ginger pieces, peppercorns, honeydew melon cubes, rose blossoms, orange blossoms
Steep time: 5 degrees
Water Temperature: 205 degrees
Preparation Method: ceramic teacup and mesh infuser
Liquor: reddish

I'm not normally a fan of ginger tea but I was feeling under the weather so I thought that I would give this one a go. The taste was spicy and sweet with a bit of bite in the finish. Each sip left an odd, tongue tingling sensation. Although it was fruity and sweet, I definitely found myself missing the peachiness that was promised by the name. A touch of sugar could work well with this tea and might help soften the bitterness. That being said, if you a ginger tea lover then you might really enjoy it. I'm usually a big fan of Tiesta but unfortunately this blend just wasn't for me. Their Fruity Pebbles and Nutty Almond Cream are much more my style. This is the first sample from them that was not my thing but I still think that they are a great company. The wonderful thing about tea is that there is something out there for everyone, no matter what your tastes are.

You can find out more about this tea here.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Physical Graffitea Ancient Emerald Lily

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: deep green, curled and twisted
Ingredients: green tea
Steep time: 3 minutes
Water Temperature: 175 degrees
Preparation Method: glass teapot
Liquor: gold

A few ounces of this tea followed me home when I visited Physical Graffitea's New York City shop. I love teas with twisted and curled leaves like this one. They consisted mostly of large, unbroken buds. The taste was vegetal and sweet with notes of orchid and toasted nuts. I found it surprisingly floral for a unscented green tea. I had to do a double take because I almost thought that I had accidentally gotten jasmine tea instead. A mild astringency added a refreshing bit of crispness to the finish. I believe that this tea is the same as the Ancient Emerald Lily that is sold by Rishi. They are virtually identical, even down to the tasting notes. Although Physical Graffitea sells for it for a few bucks more, I'd much rather support a small, local business. I've enjoyed both green teas that I've tried from them and I will definitely be visiting again soon.

You can find out more about this tea here.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Zentboutique Dong Ding

Country of Origin: Taiwan
Leaf Appearance: dark green, tightly curled
Ingredients: oolong tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 205 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: pale gold

This tea was part of the March shipment for Zenboutique's monthly tasting club. The sample tin didn't allow for very much of this tea to be sent I used my smallest gaiwan to prepare it. Once unfurled, the leaves were quite large and there were many complete bud sets. The taste was very different from other Dong Dings that I have experienced. Rather than being intensely floral as I expected, it was much more mellow and fruity with just a touch of spice. The mouth-feel was smooth and buttery and there was no bitterness or astringency to speak of. This was a very good tea but it just wasn't what I prefer for Dong Ding. Their Bai Hao Oolong was much more my style. That being said, if you aren't a fan of floral oolongs this tea would be great way to experience Taiwanese teas.

You can find out more about this tea here.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Mr. Green Tea - Green Tea Ice Cream

I could not resist picking up a pint of this green tea ice cream when I spotted it at my local Shop Rite. The color was a really rich, dark green. My family thought it looked rather gross. This is a good thing in my book because that means that they won't eat it on me. The flavor was refreshingly vegetal and sweet. I was happy that it was not very sugary. While the taste was very enjoyable, I thought that it had a gritty texture. It was a bit odd but not enough to make me stop eating my entire bowl. Green tea milk shakes made with this will be coming my way in the near future. I really appreciate that this ice cream emphasizes natural ingredients. In looking at their website, I saw that Mr. Green Tea also makes a mochi ice cream version. It sounds delicious and I'll definitely need to track down some soon.

Ingredients: milk, cream, sugar, skim milk, green tea, locust bean gum, guar gum, carrageenan

You can find out more about this ice cream here.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Peony Tea Shop Jasmine Pearls

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: mottled green, tightly rolled
Ingredients: green tea
Steep time: 2 minutes
Water Temperature: 175 degrees
Preparation Method: glass teapot
Liquor: pale gold

I don't often have scented teas but when I do they are a bit of a decadent indulgence. This version from Peony Tea Shop was exactly that. The base green tea was delicately vegetal. There was just a touch of refreshing astringency but it was not bitter at all. According to their website, these pearls were made by rolling the leaves with freshly bloomed jasmine petals up to seven times. The jasmine added a sweet and almost creamy floral note that lingered in my palate after each sip. It wasn't overdone or perfumy, just. As they unfurled I was happy to see that the leaves were primarily made up of whole bud sets. No matter how many times I've had this type of tea, I'm still amazed at how they get the leaves to roll up into such tiny balls. One can't help but be filled with gratitude for the artisans who craft these teas for us to enjoy.

You can find out more about this tea here.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Verdant Tea Five Year Aged Tieguanyin

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: dark, tightly rolled
Ingredients: oolong tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 205 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: very pale amber

This tea was originally harvested in the spring of 2008. The taste was surprisingly subtle and sweet. Very faint floral and fruity notes came to the forefront along with a pleasant woodiness. With each subsequent infusion it became fuller bodied and earthier. There was a roasted quality but it was not as deep as what I've experienced with other aged Tieguanyin. The finish was dry and had a lingering raisin-like aftertaste. Although this tea was fairly mellow, I was able to get around ten consecutive infusions. I enjoyed this tea but I generally prefer a darker roast. It's just a matter of personal preference but there are certainly days where I would crave a more mellow tea like this one. One of the things I love about Verdant Tea is that they often share the stories behind their teas. The owner of the company, David Duckler, wrote an excellent article on how this tea was sourced with the help of tea master Wang Huimin.

You can find out more about this tea here.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Norbu Tea Jungpana Imperial Gold - Darjeeling Tea - Autumn, 2012

Country of Origin: India
Leaf Appearance: dark, somewhat curled with lots of golden tips
Ingredients: black tea
Steep time: 3 minutes
Water Temperature: 195 degrees
Preparation Method: ceramic teapot and mesh infuser
Liquor: amber

I'm usually bustling through my day and manage to squeeze tea in when I can but every once in a while a tea makes me drop everything that I am doing. That is exactly what this tea did. It was subtler than most Autumn Flushes that I have tried yet it was incredibly complex. There were musky and floral notes along with a pleasant nuttiness. A fruity and sweet aftertaste lingered long after each sip. It didn't quite have the standard Darjeeling muscatel flavor but in a way that is what made it stand out. There was just a touch of astringency but I did not find it bitter at all. Considering that this is last year's crop, this tea definitely exceeded my expectations. I love the background information the Norbu Tea provides on the places were their tea is obtained. According to their site, the Jungpana tea estate was planted in 1899 and is only reachable by a single road. I can't help but feel connected to the world through my cup when I think about all of the history that brought these leaves to my door. It's a good thing that I decided to make a whole pot of this rather than a single cup, I just could not get enough of it. The laundry can wait until I'm done with my tea.

You can find out more about this tea here.


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Teavivre Organic Nonpareil Ming Qian Dragon Well Long Jing Green Tea

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: flat, sage green
Ingredients: green tea
Steep time: 20 seconds
Water Temperature: 175 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: very pale

Following the steeping directions on Teavivre's site, I brewed this tea in my trusty gaiwan using progressively longer steeps. It was delicate and vegetal with just a touch of brisk astringency. There was a subtle sweetness that lingered long after each sip. I'm a big fan of playing with your leaves and these were extra fun. There were so many complete bud sets and teeny tiny sprouts. There is nothing I love more than a really good Long Jing and that is exactly what this was. I wasn't familiar with the term nonpareil in a tea name before sampling this tea. Stella from Teavivre was kind enough to explain that because this tea is Te Gong (tè gòng) grade, which means the tea's grade is nonpareil. Also in ancient China, if a tea is Te Gong grade, then it means the tea was used to be paid as tribute to the emperor. I absolutely love that you can view the actual USDA organic certification on Teavivre's website. That's something I've seen other companies do but it's definitely something that I'd like to see more of.

You can find out more about this tea here.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Podcasts for Tea Lovers

When I first got into tea, there were several really cool podcasts that helped me learn and grow as a tea drinker. Sadly some of them are no longer operational but there are still several gems that are worth checking out.


Seven Cups is a retailer in Arizona who has been producing videos for quite some time. Although their iTunes podcast is no longer updated, they still post to YouTube Regularly. Delve into the archives a bit and check out some really great videos. I especially love the videos of their tea tours.


+Ricardo Caicedo of the My Japanese Green Tea blog has launched a podcast. His guests have been varied and very interesting. I've been very impressed because the podcasts are English but Ricardo is not a native speaker. He has done very well so far and I'm excited to see what else he comes out with.

Ricardo had me on one of his episodes! You can listen to it here.



Talking Tea with +Ken Cohen has been one of my favorite audio podcasts. I love the variety of people that he has interviewed. I particularly enjoyed the episode where he spoke with Morgan Beard of Urasenke Philadelphia. I had the good fortune to meet Ken while I was working at a tea house last year. His passion for tea is infectious.







Steeping Around is a great podcast run by Manish of the Maya Tea Company. The banter between the host and the Sarah, the producer, is always entertaining. It's probably the most professionally run podcast on tea. I really enjoyed their episode on pairing cigars with tea.


I met my Canadian tea friend TJ at World Tea Expo last year while were both bunking with team Tealet. He is the host of World Tea Podcast as well as one of the guys behind The Tea Kings. I've really enjoyed the recent episodes where he focuses on the specific tastes found in tea.

TJ had me on Episode 7 of his podcast. You can listen to it here.



I recently discovered an awesome nerdy podcast called Tealife Audio. They focus specifically on the Japanese tea ceremony and related arts. The hosts are all very knowledgeable and I really enjoy the informal banter style. I'm looking forward to listening and learning more. The Japanese tea ceremony is something I hope to study a bit more seriously in the future.




Hot Leaf Juice is a fantastic podcast that I often listen to on my commute to work. Barry has interviewed a number of my tea friends which makes it all the more interesting. Episodes are lengthy but worth the listen because the questions he asks really get in depth. I always learn something new!


Monday, June 17, 2013

A Gift of Tea's Spring White Tea 2013

Last year was my first time attending +A Gift Of Tea's Spring White Tea. I was particularly excited for this year's event because I would have a chance to finally meet +Robert Godden, also known as The Devotea. My boyfriend also joined in on the fun. This was his first formal tea party and although he's more of a steak and potatoes kind of guy, he enjoyed it very much. A delicious passion green tea juice was served while we waited for the final preparations and Jason positively flipped for it.

I'll let the pictures speak for themselves but both the savory and sweet courses were absolutely delicious. Out of everything I think the the tuiles were my favorites. They were expertly made by Pistache and incredibly delicate. Alongside all of this wonderful food we were served two of +The Devotea's blends, 1001 Nights and Lord Petersham. Lord Petersham is a personal favorite of mine and Jason adored it too. It has been suggested that we purchase a bag to stash at his house.

Getting to meet old friends and new is always the highlight of events like this. The wonderful event organizer +Jo J was in attendance as well as fellow bloggers +Katrina Ávila Munichiello+Verna L. Hamilton and +Darlene Meyers-Perry. We were treated to readings from Verna Hamilton as well as from the guest of honor, Robert. I enjoyed Verna's reading from her inspirational journal very much. If you aren't already following her on Twitter, you should because her daily tidbits are something I look forward to every morning. Robert's wit and sense of humor were evident to everyone as he read the introduction to his new book, The Infusiast : Diatribes from The Devotea. He also shared some lovely stories ranging from cuff links to the history of Darjeeling tea estates.

I love seeing how tea brings people together and this event was a great example of that. We all took the time out from our busy schedules to share cups of tea, laughter and friendship. Next year's white will definitely be on my to do list.



Sunday, June 16, 2013

Butiki Teas Pistachio Ice Cream

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: dark green, curled with lots of nut pieces
Ingredients: Organic Green Tea, Pistachios (roasted, unsalted), Lotus Stamens, Natural Flavoring (vegan)
Steep time: 3 minutes
Water Temperature: 180 degrees
Preparation Method: ceramic teapot and mesh infuser
Liquor: very pale

I received a sample of this blend as part of an Amoda Tea Monthly Tea Tasting Box. Although I'm not a huge fan of pistachios, the idea of an ice cream flavored tea certainly was intriguing. The taste was sweet, creamy and nutty all at once. The green tea was vegetal and mellow. I appreciate that they used Mao Jian, a higher quality tea than you would find in most flavored blends. It provided the perfect base for the other ingredients to shine. There was just a hint of astringency but it did not come off as bitter at all. I don't really like pistachios all that much but this tea was very enjoyable. Lotus stamens are an unusual ingredient choice and I don't think I've seen them before in a tea. They had a sticky sweetness that lingered in the back of my throat. A touch of sugar would make the flavoring really pop but since this is a green tea I definitely wouldn't suggest adding milk or any kind of creamer.

You can find out more about this tea here.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Wanja Tea of Kenya Floral Pekoe Green Tea

Country of Origin: Kenya
Leaf Appearance: small, dark green. somewhat twisted
Ingredients: green tea
Steep time: 3 minutes
Water Temperature: 180 degrees
Preparation Method: ceramic teacup and mesh infuser
Liquor: gold

The first thing I noticed about this tea was its strong fruity aroma. That fruity sweetness was echoed in the taste. It brought to mind apples or pears. This is going to sound a bit strange but the buttery, vegetal aspect of this tea almost reminded me of string bean casserole. Just add some frizzled onions and I'd be in comfort food heaven. A mild astringency added a refreshing, somewhat dry finish. At just $4 for 1 ounce, this tea would be an economical daily drinker for someone who loves a robust green tea. It is a great example of how the tea industry in Kenya is growing by leaps and bounds. High quality loose leaf demands a higher price and I hope that will ultimately filter down to the workers in the fields. Wanja Tea's commitment to the socio-economic development of Kenya's tea growing regions is a part of that.

You can find out more about this tea here.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Mellow Monk Blissful Buds

Country of Origin: Japan
Leaf Appearance: very small, deep green
Ingredients: green tea
Steep time: 2 minutes
Water Temperature: 165 degrees
Preparation Method: kysusu
Liquor: bright, cloudy green

According the product description for this tea, Blissful Buds™ is a mecha, or bud tea, made from young buds and shoots. For more information on mecha, check out this great article from +Ricardo Caicedo at My Japanese Green Tea. This type of tea is often served alongside sushi (which I'm really in the mood for now). Just as with +Mellow Monk Frosty Garden, I prefer to let the small leaf particles settle before sipping. The taste was grassy, vegetal and somewhat fruity with a lingering sweetness. It had a fresh crispness that brought mind slices of green apple. There was quite a bit of astringency but not so much so as to make it unpleasant. If you enjoy sencha or gyokuro then this tea is definitely worth giving a try. It was very refreshing and I'm sure that I will be reaching for it as the warm summer weather heads my way. It would be particularly good when cold steeped.

You can find out more about this tea here.