Friday, November 29, 2013

Wild Tea Qi Mengku Rich Valley Raw Puerh

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: dark, long and twisted
Ingredients: puerh tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: gold

I've been on a major puerh kick lately and the selections that I've tried from +Wildteaqi have been a big part of that. This one is unusual in that it was a raw loose tea, not pressed into a cake as you might expect. I was immediately struck by how aromatic the steeped tea was. My mother even took notice and she usually only comments on strongly flavored teas. The taste was sharp and vegetal but not overly astringent. Woody notes dominated and a sweet lingering finish kept it from being too overbearing. I did four consecutive infusions which about my maximum with a powerful raw puerh like this one. I had this tea straight after a butter saturated breakfast and it really did the trick to get my digestion moving again. The leaves after steeping were gigantic and absolutely beautiful. I couldn't resist pulling a few out of the gaiwan to photograph. I often forget to document my tea experiences in this way but I always really enjoy it when I do.

Mengku Rich Valley Raw Puerh sample provided by Wild Tea Qi.





Tea Places: Grounded

New York City seems to have had a boom in new tea places as well as coffee places that are now serving tea. One place I have been meaning to check out is Grounded, a coffee and tea house in the West Village. The shop was cute and eclectic with chalk board menus and mustachioed baristas. I was impressed with the size and depth of the tea menu. Spotted among some of the more typical offerings were rare treats like Darjeeling white tea and Lapsang Souchong. Although the line was long it moved quickly and without much fuss.

There weren't any seats available and I wanted to make sure I wouldn't be late for work so I grabbed a cup of Golden Yunnan to go. The green tea cookies in their bakery case also called my name. I hopped the subway and stopped in Tompkin's Square Park to enjoy my cuppa. Much to my dismay I discovered that the "fill your own" teabag had been tucked into the sleeve so I did not see that my tea had been steeping all of that time. The tea wasn't bitter but it just wasn't as enjoyable as it would have been if I had been able to remove the leaves in time.

I'll definitely be returning to this place in the future and hopefully next time I'll be able to grab a seat. If not, I now know that I need to check under the sleeve!

You can find out more about Grounded here.

Speaking of tea places, have you followed Tea for Me Please on FourSquare yet? Save my Tea in NYC list and you'll always be able to find a cup of tea :)

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Top 10 Reasons Why I'm Thankful for Tea

Since today is Thanksgiving, I thought that it would be the perfect opportunity to reflect on all of the things that tea has brought into my life. There is simply so much to be thankful for. It was much harder than I thought it would be to keep the list down to ten. By the way, this is the apple pie that I baked last year.

  1. I am thankful for the person who first discovered tea so many thousands of years ago
  2. I am thankful for the amazing people that I have met through tea, both online and off.
  3. I'm thankful for the wonderfully close knit community of tea bloggers who have become more like family.
  4. I'm thankful for my readers. You are all so supportive and encouraging. I never would have made it to the five year mark without you!
  5. I'm thankful to the people in the tea industry who have generously shared their time, resources and knowledge.
  6. I'm thankful for the farmers and tea pickers who make every cup that I drink possible.
  7. I'm thankful that I have had the opportunity to drink some of the most amazing teas in the world.
  8. I'm thankful for the internet and social media. Before you, I was on a very lonely tea island.
  9. I'm thankful that I still have so much left to explore. When I first started, I never could have imagined that so many different teas existed.
  10. I'm thankful that I live close to New York City. It's burgeoning tea culture is so exciting!
What are you thankful for? I'd love to hear about it! I hope that everyone has a happy and safe holiday. The blog will be back to its regularly scheduled programming tomorrow :)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Capital Teas Lady Orchid - Ginseng Oolong

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: bright green balls, somewhat fuzzy
Ingredients: Ground oolong tea leaves, thin coating of powdered American ginseng and licorice grass
Steep time: 5 minutes
Water Temperature: 195 degrees
Preparation Method: Teavana Perfect Steeper
Liquor: dark amber

The friendly chap at +Capital Teas's gave me a sample of this tea when I visited their National Harbor location. I've had a few ginseng oolongs before and they weren't quite my thing but I always try to keep an open mind. It was interesting to watch the leaves unfurl because they had to shed their coating. The taste was floral, sweet and slightly spicy with a lingering aftertaste of the licorice. It wasn't bitter but the brew did develop of a bit of astringency as it cooled. While this probably isn't a tea that I would purchase on my own, at least now I know that I have one ginseng oolong that is tolerable. The licorice was the culprit for me here but I'm usually not a fan of this ingredient in teas. If you are nutty about licorice (and I know many of you are) then you would probably really enjoy it.

Lady Orchid sample provided by Capital Teas.

The Ancient Tea Horse Road by Jeff Fuchs

The hardcover version of this book is out of print and extremely rare but thankfully there is a Kindle version available on Amazon. My obvious motivation for reading it was the tea but I quickly found myself drawn in by the people, their stories and the element of adventure. Jeff's voracious appetite for tea and knowledge of the many ethnic minorities of China and Tibet made him the perfect person to tell this tale. Peppered with humor and lots of puerh, it follows his journey along the ancient tea horse road (also known as Cha Ma Gu Dao).

Mountain passes and small villages help put together a picture of what life was like when this road was a vital lifeline of trade in China. In writing this book, he has preserved an oral history that might otherwise have been lost. The Kindle version had a few typos (yes, I'm THAT person) but otherwise was a very good rendition. There a few small photographs scattered throughout but they are all beautiful shots. If you enjoy the book, I recommend perusing Jeff's website, Tea and Mountain Journals. His company, +JalamTeas, is also definitely worth checking out.

You can find out more about this book here.

 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Peony Tea Shop Big Red Robe

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: dark, long and twisted
Ingredients: oolong tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 200 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: dark amber

I always look forward to teas from +Peony Tea S., especially Chinese oolongs. The taste of this particular tea was full bodied and complex with strong floral notes. This one wasn't quite as a fruity as other Da Hong Pao that I have tried but it still had the classic taste that I had expected. There was a pleasant roasted quality to the finish and just a touch of astringency. Sadly I only had enough time for three steeps when I wrote this review but there was definitely still several more left to be had. I couldn't resist saving leaves and going at it again the next day. After a rinse, they came back to life and produced a few more beautiful rounds of tea. I strongly recommend preparing this tea in the traditional way in order to get the full flavor. If you don't have a gaiwan, a very small teapot can serve the purpose if you use a higher amount of leaves than you would in a western style brew. This reminds me, I need to write up a post about this type of tea for my Legends of the Leaf series.

Big Red Robe sample provided by Peony Tea Shop.

Mellow Monk Kuma Green 1228 Sencha

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

+Mellow Monk is definitely one of my go-to's for Japanese green tea. I've reviewed quite a few of their teas but I think that this one just might be my favorite so far. The leaves, both dry and while steeping, were incredibly aromatic. If you could bottle the smell of spring this tea is what it would smell like. The taste was incredible smooth with a pure and sweet vegetal character. I was surprised at how many fruity notes there were. I was reminded of crisp apples and honeydew melon. There was no bitterness or astringency to speak of. I absolutely adored this tea hot but I really want to try in my cold drip iced tea maker. I couldn't resist having a tea session on my windowsill, shared with no one but my African Violet. Paul from Mellow Monk puts a lot care into where his teas are sourced from and I really enjoyed the information that he provided:

Kuma Green 1228™ is the culmination of all the teamaking skills of a stubbornly old-fashioned artisan, Kazuo Watanabe, who personally tends to his plants, harvests the leaves, and turns them into guricha-style sencha green tea of the highest quality.

The name "Kuma Green 1228™" refers to the address of Mr. Watanabe's estate in Sagara Village, in Kumamoto Prefecture's Kuma district. This area is renowned for traditional tea estates ensconced among its gently rolling hills, whose rich soil and ideal water drainage provide the yabukita plants with a wonderfully nurturing environment in which to thrive.

Mr. Watanabe is a two-time recipient of Japan's prestigious Minister's Award for his dedication to quality. He tends to his plants with what can only be called tenderness. In the documentary Japan, Where Japan's Green Tea Grows, he says his tea plants are like his children, and this dedication to high-quality teacrafting is abundantly evident in every sip of this smile-inducingly delicious tea.

Kuma Green 1228 Sencha sample provided by Mellow Monk.






Monday, November 25, 2013

KEDOÇAY Bai Mu Dan

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: varied mix of silvery buds and darker leaves
Ingredients: white tea
Steep time: 3 minutes
Water Temperature: 185 degrees
Preparation Method: glass teapot
Liquor: pale gold

I receive samples of tea from all over the world (much to the bewilderment of my local post office) but I believe that this was the first time I've received anything from Turkey. I was really excited to try some teas from this company, especially after reading Jen's review of some of their teas on An International Tea Moment. There was a large amount of silvery buds in the dry leaves and while steeping I saw able to see the tiny hairs float off in the water. They were really beautiful to watch so definitely recommend using a glass teapot or gaiwan. The taste was delicately sweet with floral notes and a hint of honey. The aftertaste had somewhat of a hay-like affect. I know that may sound like an unpleasant thing but it's actually quite nice. The mouth-feel was fairly thick with no bitterness. Bai Mu Dan is one of my favorite white teas because it is mellow yet fuller bodied than something like a silver needle. This was a very high quality tea and +KEDOÇAY has certainly made a great first impression.

Bai Mu Dan sample provided by KEDOÇAY.

Tea and The Great Comet of 1812

Would you like to see this show? Sign up for my monthly newsletter and watch out for the November edition later this week. I'll be giving away two tickets!

It's not often that a tea blogger gets invited to an off Broadway show, or any show for that matter. This show was special in that they offer a tea service at their matinee performances. Natasha Pierce and the Great Comet of 1812 is a musical based on War and Peace. +Jo J and +The Snooty Tea Person join in on the fun and my boyfriend Jason rounded out our table, even if musical theater isn't really his thing. What could be better than sharing tea and a show with friends?

I had been expecting the usual old fashioned theater so I was surprised to find that this show located in a tent. However, once we stepped inside we were transported to an opulent supper club. The restaurant was covered in draped velvet and eclectic framed pictures, suggesting another time and place. I was fascinated by the seemingly art deco inspired lighting. How cool looking are they? I felt like we weren't even in Manhattan.

The stage was set up around the tables so we all felt like a part of the action. Actors sat our table and several others as part of the performance. Without giving too much away, I can tell you that the play was raucous and had all of the scandal of the original story. It had a bit of a modern twist the costuming is a bit avant-garde. There are also some scenes that you wouldn't expect, like a strobe light flashing night club.

I can't forget the most important part, which for me is always the tea. They served +Mighty Leaf Tea and although bagged it is pretty high quality stuff. Once we realized that the tea was served individually, I quickly swapped out the chamomile tea picture for Darjeeling. It's important to note that tea service is offer a la carte and is not included with admission.

 We shared a tray of very tasty scones (which Jason proclaimed as delicious because they taste like cookies) and a tower of sweets. I really liked the tiny pumpkin pie bites and I am now trying to figure out how to replicate them for Thanksgiving.

You can find out more about this show here.



Friday, November 22, 2013

Little Red Cup Tea Company Green Mao Jian

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

It's been a while since I have tried anything from +Little Red Cup Tea Co. so I was excited to dive into this one. It was delicately vegetal and sweet with just the right amount of mild astringency. There was a vague floral quality but I think that their description of green meadow notes and light forest scents was very accurate. The leaves were beautiful to look at, especially while steeping. They quickly expanded and looked like they had just been picked. My second infusion was just as delicious as the first. I left the tea steeping without an infuser basket for over an hour and the brew never turned bitter. This tea is both organic and fair trade certified. In case you missed it the first time make sure that you check out my interview with Martin Connelly from this great little company. In a recent blog post about their three newest teas, Martin explains that the fair trade premiums were going to help put in a modern concrete latrine and to purchase a truck for the cooperative.

Green Mao Jian sample provided by Little Red Cup Tea Company.

Capresso froth PRO Automatic Milk Frother

My very understanding and indulgent boyfriend bought this milk frother a few weeks ago for our three year anniversary. Most girls want something shiny but if it has something to do this tea, it is on my wish list. I have been playing with it like a tea-crazed mad scientist ever since. The possibilities seem endless and I'm sure that I'll be posting recipes for my creations soon. Since I'm usually a straight up kind of gal, it's given me the freedom to do things that I'd normally consider a bit taboo, like sweetening a green tea latte with chocolate syrup.

I have yet to find something about this baby that I don't like (other than that I don't have one at the office). It's easy to use and clean. It has a small footprint which is great because I need another kitchen appliance like I need a hole in the head. Tiny parts are easily lost in my house so I adore that the extra whisking and heating disk store magnetically in the base. The small size is perfect since I'm usually the only latte drinker. This model is fairly low priced compared to a lot of frothers that are out there on the market.
You can find out more about this milk frother here.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Kettle Shed Tea Company Organic Korea Jeju

Country of Origin: Korea
Leaf Appearance: small, dark green
Ingredients: green tea
Steep time: 2 minutes
Water Temperature: 175 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain teacup and mesh infuser
Liquor: deep gold

I was really excited to try this one because my exposure to Korean teas has been very limited. In fact, the last Korean tea that I reviewed was Boulder Tea Jeong Seon way back in 2009. According to the product description, it was grown on Jeju Island using controlled organic farming techniques. The taste was mellow and vegetal with a sweet, buttery finish. There was also a pleasant toasty quality that made it a very comforting cup of tea. It had just the right amount of astringency but I did not find it bitter at all. The preparation method seemed to be more similar to Chinese methods rather than Japanese. This is the second selection that I've tried from  +The Kettle Shed: Tea Company and they were both excellent. Their tins are absolutely adorable and sealed very well but I'm glad that they also offer refill bags for those who already have tins on hand.

Organic Korea Jeju sample provided by The Kettle Shed Tea Company.

iHeartTeas Apple Pie Chai

Country of Origin: not listed
Leaf Appearance: small, dark with lots of visible spices
Ingredients: black tea, cinnamon bark, ginger root, cardamom pods, orange peels, cloves, apple pieces, natural apple flavor, natural cinnamon flavor, natural vanilla flavor
Steep time: 5 minutes
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: ceramic teacup and mesh infuser
Liquor: dark reddish brown

When I heard that +Rachana Rachel Carter of +iHeartTeas had developed an apple pie flavored chai I knew that I just had to give it a try. Her teas are always unique and artfully blended. This one was more chai and spice than fruit but that's just the way I like it. There was just a touch of appley sweetness and a slight creaminess in the background from the vanilla flavor. Talk about a comforting sip! The best way that I can describe it is the spicy, sweet aftertaste that you get after eating a bite of pie. It's definitely strong enough to stand up to milk and sugar but I also found it enjoyable all on its own. A small bit of whipped cream on top turns it into a decadent treat. I'll definitely need to try this as a latte using the stove-top method. This will be a perfect tea to share with my family after Thanksgiving dinner.

Apple Pie Chai purchased from iHeartTeas.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Tea Places: Birch Coffee - 7th Avenue

So...I went to a coffee shop. Gasp! Don't worry, I stopped in because rumor had it that Birch Coffee serves up loose leaf tea. I probably shouldn't have started with their smallest location but I wasn't familiar with this new chain at all. They have three locations in Manhattan and I definitely plan on visiting them.

The tea menu was small and basic so I went with the "Green Dew. Other offerings included a black tea, white and and several herbals. Although the shop was small and fairly crowded I was lucky enough to get a table. The cup my tea was served in was positively giant. It was loose leaf and the leaves looked like they were fairly high quality. However, I was disappointed to see them served in a tea filter knotted on top. The water also seemed much too hot for green tea. Since my cup was definitely more than 8oz, they really should have used more than a scant teaspoon of leaves.

If you go to this location, I definitely recommend getting it to go. Since seating is so limited I was edged out of my seat before finishing my cup of tea by both the staff and other patrons. Although apologetic, they didn't do anything to address the situation.

You can find out more about Birch Coffee here.

Speaking of tea places, have you followed Tea for Me Please on FourSquare yet? Save my Tea in NYC list and you'll always be able to find a cup of tea :)

Ippodo Tea Co. Tsukikage Special Matcha

Country of Origin: Japan
Leaf Appearance: bright green, powdered
Ingredients: green tea
Steep Time: n/a
Water Temperature: approximately 175 degrees
Preparation Method: traditional, bamboo whisk and bowl
Liquor: dark green

I picked up this seasonal matcha when I visited Ippodo Tea Co.'s shop in New York City. It's only available in autumn and the sample I had tried in the store was delicious. I'll be honest, I bought it mostly because of the adorable box that is decorated with tea blossoms. As often as I make tea, I am generally pretty terrible at making matcha. That doesn't stop me from trying though. The color was so vibrant that it was impossible to capture the exact color. It tasted very much like classic matcha but with a deeper flavor that had a slightly sharper astringency. There was umami out the wazoo and it never bordered on overly bitter despite my ineptitude. If you are at all able to get to their shop, I definitely recommend giving it a try. They advise to finish the package within two weeks of opening so it looks like I'll be drinking a lot of matcha :)

Tsukikage Special Matcha purchased from Ippodo Tea Co.





Tuesday, November 19, 2013

JusTea Kenyan Black Tea

Country of Origin: Kenyan
Leaf Appearance: small, dark
Ingredients: black tea
Steep time: 3 minutes
Water Temperature: 195 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain teacup and mesh infuser
Liquor: bright reddish brown

At long last I was able to try the tea from +Jus Tea that I was looking forward to the most. The taste was brisk and malty with an interesting aftertaste that almost reminded me of pumpernickel. Notes of chocolate and a slight fruitiness rounded out the flavor profile. This would make an excellent breakfast tea. It had a good bit of astringency but wasn't unpleasant in any way. You don't even need to add milk or sugar. Some days nothing beats a good basic black tea and this is definitely a good candidate when I'm in that sort of mood. I love knowing that my cup of tea does good in the world and JusTea was established to do just that. They are working to train the farmers to produce high quality, loose leaf tea using traditional hand methods. This will be a new business opportunity to help the Kenyan's regain control of their tea, and to earn enough to support their families.In case you missed it last time, I included the video of the interview I did with JusTea for my podcast below.

Kenyan Black Tea sample provided by JusTea.

Tandem Tea Tasting: Le Palais des Thés Thé Du Hammam


The Tandem Tea Tasters (is that what we are calling ourselves?) took a bit of a break while we awaited the arrival of +Rachana Rachel Carter's bundle of joy. There was a lot of catching up to do and the usual contagious giggle fits started early on. Our tea this month was Thé Du Hammam from Le Palais des Thés. Some of might remember that I have already reviewed the tea in both the loose leaf and iced tea bag. Thanks to the tea's French origins, we were treated to several Pepé Le Pew style outbursts from +Geoffrey Norman+Darlene Meyers-Perry shared with us the amazing Turkish style glasses that she found at Goodwill and +Jo J did well as always to keep us (sort of) on topic.

The group reactions to this tea were mixed. There was much pondering over the Turkish description on the product page. We all agreed that it was a decidedly French style tea, very fruity and floral with an almost perfumy quality. I really didn't mind that aspect but I can see why others might not have enjoyed it. Our hangout lasted longer than the tea as we gossiped and Googled into the night. Rare oolongs and unusual puerhs were frantically searched for and in doing so, I think we all learned more than we had expected to.

There really is nothing better than nerding out with your friends, especially when it comes to tea. Even though we are all miles apart these monthly get togethers make it seem like the distance is not very far at all. Next month's tea will be a puerh that we are told tastes like it might have been made by Willy Wonka.

Edit: It's actually a compressed black tea!

+Geoffrey Norman of Steep Stories, Tandem Tastings and Tea Moment Tags
+Rachana Rachel Carter of +iHeartTeas, A French Tandem Tea Tasting
+Darlene Meyers-Perry of The Tea Enthusiast's Scrapbook, Hanging Out with the Tandem Tasting Crew
+Jo J of Scandalous Tea, Tandem Tea Tasting

Monday, November 18, 2013

Jalam Teas Jing Mai

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: dark, tightly compressed
Ingredients: puerh tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: very dark reddish brown

Most of the teas that I've tried from +JalamTeas have been sheng, or raw, puerh so it was a surprise to receive a cooked (otherwise known as shu) cake. A change of pace is something that I appreciate and this one was particularly enjoyable. The leaves were well compressed but I was still able to break pieces off with my hands. It was surprisingly mellow and sweet with a pleasant earthiness. I was reminded of garden soil after it rains rather than the usual forest floor affect that many cooked puerhs have. There was no bitterness, even when I left it steeping too long in a travel mug. The amount of infusions that I've gotten out of each serving have been innumerable. One of my favorite things about receiving these monthly shipments from Jalam Teas is having the opportunity to learn more about the people who produce puerh in Yunnan. This cake was harvested by people of the Dai minority.

"Like many of the hidden tea regions, elders play a huge role in both the production of tea, and in my documentation of tea’s uses and roles in people’s lives. Women play a great role in the production and selling of teas, and it is often the case that grandmothers will sit sorting out tea leaves on the ground floor, chatting as they do."

The postcards that come with each tea provide a window into the origins of the cake. I now have a growing collection and have been trying to come up with a way that I will be able to display them.

Jing Mai sample provided by Jalam Teas.


Tealet LongWu Dragon Well Green Tea

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: jade green, flat
Ingredients: green tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 175 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: pale gold

There's nothing quite like a good dragonwell and this one was fantastic. I was generously given a tin of this tea at a spur of the moment food court tea tasting at the Javits Center. I just love the flat, broad shape of the leaves. A small amount of fuzz was visible. This is often an indication of the quality. The aroma before and after steeping was so clean and fresh. Full bodied with strong notes of chestnut, the taste was classic dragonwell all the way. It wasn't bitter at all but there was still a nice vegetal component. I did three infusions with my gaiwan but this tea wold also work well in a teapot or even brewed "grandpa" style. As always, I really enjoy the connection that Tealet provides to the growers that produce their teas. Farmer Ge is the third generation of his family to grow tea. In case you missed it, I've included my podcast interview with Elyse from +Tealet below. Check it out!

LongWu Dragon Well Green Tea sample provided by Tealet.

 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Favorite Friday: Tea Toys


I have a habit of collecting tea things that are completely unnecessary and yet I can't live without them. My family, friends are co-workers all find these things completely ridiculous but my fellow lovers always think they are pretty neat. What's your favorite tea toy?

1. Yama Glass Cold Drip Coffee and Tea Maker
2. Takeya Flash Chill Iced Tea Maker
3. Squirting Frog Tea Pet
4. Breville One-Touch Tea Maker
5. DCI Tea Duckie Floating Tea Infuser

Click here to see all of my Favorite Friday posts.

Teavana Sakura Allure

Country of Origin: not listed
Leaf Appearance: small, dark green with lots of flower petals
Ingredients: Green tea, hibiscus blossoms, cherries, artificial flavoring, candied mango pieces (mango, sugar), candied pineapple pieces (pineapple, sugar), rose blossom leaves, lemon peels, rosebuds, cranberry pieces
Steep time: 2 minutes
Water Temperature: 175 degrees
Preparation Method: Teavana Perfect Steeper
Liquor: deep red

I have heard the name of this tea so many times over the years and only just got a chance to try it when I attended the preview event for the new Teavana Fine Teas +Tea Bar in NYC. What I was expecting, based solely on that name, was a run of the mill sakura green tea. What I got was floral and fruity punch with a touch of green tea. As much as I did not want to, I found it to be quite delicious. The dry leaves smelled amazing as did the steeped tea. It was sweet and light with a refreshing tartness and I loved the vibrant color. However, rose petals and cherry flavoring do not a sakura tea make. I've had this problem with other teas from Teavana, David's Tea and a few other retailers. If the tea had been called anything else, I probably would have enjoyed it a lot more. Be careful with oversteeping. I only steeped for two minutes but I felt like any longer would have made the resulting brew unpleasant.

Sakura Allure sample provided by Teavana.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Confessions of a Tea Blogger - TAG!

You know what I haven't see in a while? A good old fashioned blog tag. Lu Ann from The Cup of Life has tagged me to do a confessions of a tea blogger post. Here's your chance to learn a bit more about me. Make sure that you check out the blogs that I've tagged at the end!

1) First, let's start with how you were introduced & fell in love with the wonderful beverage of tea. 

I've always been a big tea drinker but I grew up drinking bagged Red Rose and Lipton black tea. I didn't really fall in love with tea until I went away to college. Tea helped me focus in class and stay awake during all nighters. After seeing an advertisement for flowering tea, I ordered some and thought that they were the bees knees. Then some Google searching revealed that there was much more to tea and my mind was blown!

2) What was the very first tea blend that you ever tried? 

I'm really not sure what my first blend was but chances are it was something Celestial Seasoning when I was in colleage.

3) When did you start your tea blog & what was your hope for creating it? 

I started my blog in October of 2008. The initial idea was to have a personal log for myself of what teas I drank but eventually it evolved into a way for me to connect with people who love tea just as much as I do.

4) List one thing most rewarding about your blog & one thing most discouraging. 

The most rewarding thing about my blog is hearing from readers who have told me how much I helped them on their journey with tea. Nothing beats that feeling! There aren't many discouraging things but I've had some frustrating moments to be sure. Things like crazy copyright disputes and impatient tea company owner's can make it more work than I want it to be.

5) What type of tea are you most likely to be caught sipping on?

I drink so many different kinds of tea on a regular basis that it can be hard to tell. If I had to guess I would say an oolong or Darjeeling.

6) Favourite tea latte to indulge in?

Green tea lattes are definitely my guilty pleasure.

7) Favourite treat to pair with your tea?

I actually tend to not eat with my tea very often but when I do, scones or simple cookies fit the bill.

8) If there was one place in the World that you could explore the tea culture at, where would it be & why?

This is such a difficult question! Can I say anywhere that tea is grown? China, Japan, Taiwan, India, Hawaii...they're all on my wish list.

9) Any tea time rituals you have that you'd like to share?

At least once a week I try to set aside time for a quiet personal tea ceremony. The tea I'm drinking and the way I prepare it changes all of the time but it's something that I always look forward to.

10) Time of day you enjoy drinking tea the most: Morning, Noon, Night or Anytime?

I drink tea at all hours of the day. Caffeine doesn't prevent me from sleeping at all so I'll keep sipping right up until bed time.

11) What's one thing you wish for tea in the future?

One thing that I wish for tea in the future is for it to become a vehicle for peace. So many countries and cultures around the world celebrate tea. I think it's the perfect way to promote understanding between people.

-- Who do you tag?

 I TAG:

Danielle from Sage and Spice
Kevin from Tea Journeyman's Tea Reviews and Blog
Melissa from Stone Tracery
Amanda from My Thoughts Are Like Butterflies
Laura and Kayla from The Tea Sisters

*Side Note: When you create your own tag post, please start by letting your readers know who you were initially tagged by. Feel free to use the photo above as well.
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Adagio Teas Wuyi Ensemble

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: long, dark
Ingredients: oolong tea
Steep time: 5 minutes
Water Temperature: 195 degrees
Preparation Method: Teavana Perfect Steeper
Liquor: amber

+Adagio Teas has a reputation for crafting flavored teas but I've been sampling quite a few of their traditional Chinese teas and so far I have been very impressed. I usually brew this type of tea in a gaiwan but I decided to give it a go with the western style brewing directions that were provided. The taste turned out to be so complex that I wished I had brewed it in the traditional way. There were rotating notes of honey and florals along with an earthy, mineral undertone. I even picked up hints of chocolate. It also had a pleasant toastiness that made this a very comforting cup on a chilly fall day. I did three infusions in a two cup steeper and they were all fantastic. No milk or sugar should be added to this one. Doing so would all but loose those delicate flavors. The price is very affordable compared to a lot of the comparable oolongs that out there so it would make a great daily drinker. I'll definitely be gongfu-ing this one in the future.

Wuyi Ensemble sample provided by Adagio Teas.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Going Gongfu by Babette Donaldson

I'm always scouring the Kindle store for new books about tea to read. Recently I came across this treasure of a book when it was mentioned in a Facebook group. How had I never heard of the Emma Lea series? Babette Donaldson's name is certainly familiar as I've often seen her articles in industry magazines. This is the preview copy as the illustrations are still being finalized. Although this is technically a YA novel, I think any tea lover won't be able to put it down. It tells the story of Emma Lea, a character that I immediately identified with because she loves tea about as much as I do.

This book was the author was on an actual tea tour so the amount factual information woven into the pages is astounding. I love that it was still written in a fun, easy to read manner. There was a little bit of innocent romance, an element of mystery and so much tea! I don't want to give the story away but one of my favorite takeaways from the book was the term Tea Land.

"Some of use it as nickname for our obsession with the leaf. We’re careful to laugh at ourselves, of course. But I like to think that Tea Land is our own network of tea lovers around the world - growing stronger as we discover new ways to communicate. Like this tour. Like Internet bloggers. Something we all share, just in different ways. I think of our Tea Land like our own little country that stretches around the globe. Perhaps, it can become a model for a more peaceful planet.”

I couldn't have put it better myself. I definitely suggest giving this book a read if that passage sounds familiar to you at all. This would a perfect book to share with a tea loving pre-teen (you could even drink the teas that are talked about as you go). For $0.99 it was a steal!

You can find out more about this book here.