Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Year In Tea: 2013

2013 has been a crazy whirlwind of a tea filled year for me. My New Year's resolution was to post twice daily, Monday through Friday. With the exception of a few days in January I accomplished that goal. It was challenging and stressful at times but also a ton of fun. I launched my podcast, published an article in TeaMuse and attended the grand opening of Teavana's new tea bar. October was the five year anniversary of the launch of this blog. Time flies when you are having fun! It's been a very social tea year as well since I've started holding monthly video meetings with my friends and attending monthly Steepster meetups. Thank you all for following my journey and sharing your experiences with me!

Connecting with my readers has always been the best part of having this blog. I reviewed 293 teas this year and posted a total of 436 blog posts. The blog was visited by just over 17,000 unique visitors from 121 different countries.

As always, this time of year I send a big thank you to all of the tea companies whose generosity keep +Tea for Me Please running.

Adagio Teas
Aiya Tea
Amoda Tea
Argo Tea
Art of Tea
Boston Tea Company
Boston Teawrights
Brew Lab Tea
Chah
Chai Diaries
Darjeeling TeaXpress
Drink Me
Eco-Cha
Happy Earth Tea
iHeartTeas
Jalam Teas
JING Tea
Joseph Wesley Black Tea
JusTea
Le Palais des Th├ęs
Little Red Cup Tea Company
LuLin Teas
Matcha Factory
Mellow Monk
Modern Tea Girl
Nature's Tea Leaf
Nudo Darjeeling
Numi Organic Tea
Octavia Tea
Peony Tea Shop
Pukka
Raizana Teas
Sencha Naturals
SerendipiTea
Shan Valley
Single Origin Teas
T7 Tea
Takeya
Tea Horse
Tea of a Kind
Tea Pigs
Tea Setter
Tealet
Teamania
Teamotions
Teavana
Teavivre
T-We Tea
Tiesta Tea
The Devotea
The Kettle Shed Tea Company
The Persimmon Tree
The Republic of Tea
The Tea Spot
Wanja Tea of Kenya
Wild Tea Qi
Yezi Tea
Yunomi
Zentboutique

Monday, December 30, 2013

Just Say No to Tea Snobbery

I don't often post rants here but this a topic that has been bothering me for some time. Please feel free to use the comments to discuss and share your opinions (in a respectful manner).

There is an epidemic that seems to be spreading in the online tea community. The plague that I am speaking of is tea snobbery. An innocent, tea curious person posts on an online forum inquiring about where to find the best teabag or raving about their latest trip to Teavana. All too often that enthusiastic soul is met with crushing sarcasm, disdain and downright snobbery. "Buy some real tea" is a response that I have seen many times over. How does that kind of comment help anyone?

Tea is seen as a luxury item and just as with wine or craft beer, there are folks who get quite nerdy about it. Yours truly could be lumped into that group. That being said, let us not forget that tea is ultimately just water that some leaves have been soaking in. I don't say this to knock the wonderful beverage that for the last five years has occupied so much of my life. To put things into perspective, tea has been drunk and celebrated by different cultures in many ways for much longer than any of us have been in existence. Who are we to say, "You're doing it wrong!"?

My mother religiously sips tea throughout the day. By volume, she easily exceeds the amount of tea that I drink on a daily basis. Does the fact that she chooses bagged tea with milk and sugar make her any less worthy of the leaf? The wonderful thing about tea is that there really is something for everyone. She has her rituals and I have mine.

As a blogger, I've assumed the role of helping to educate the world at large about tea. I'm no expert but I do my best to share the knowledge that I've gained over the years. I simply cannot stand when I see a fellow blogger or any member of the tea community stoop to snobbery. We all have to start somewhere and there is a natural progression for most tea drinkers. Many of us do start out with teabags and flavored things. Over time tastes change and evolve, becoming more refined. Sugary sweet blends will get replaced with high mountain oolong and 1st flush Darjeeling. But what if someone had scared you away from tea with their snobbery before you have a chance to make that connection?

When I bought my first yixing, I was labasted on an internet forum for using the wrong kind of tea for the shape of my pot. I was so disheartened that I did not return there for some time. I could write pages and pages about various instances where I have seen or experienced tea snobbery. However, I don't think that would do anyone much good. Many people have helped me learn and grow as a tea drinker along the way. What I'm asking is, take the time to help the newb instead of demeaning them or scoffing at what you perceive to be their failings. Peruse the forums on Steepster, Reddit and Tea Chat. Offer your assistance where you can. The industry as a whole will be better for your efforts.

Ok, Thanks for listening folks. I'm stepping off of my ranty soap box and going back to my usual calm, collected sips.

Wild Tea Qi Organic Green Jade

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: jade green, lots of buds
Ingredients: green tea
Steep time: 2 minutes
Water Temperature: 180 degrees
Preparation Method: glass teapot
Liquor: very pale gold

Wild Tea Qi's selections have consistently impressed me ever since I first met them at a tea festival several years ago. Not only are their teas unique but the quality is outstanding. This one was no different. Green tea is admittedly my least explored category so I was excited to jump into this one. The leaves were beautiful both prior to steeping and afterwards. Consisting almost entirely of buds, they were quite plump and fresh looking. The way they floated vertically in the water was also very interesting. The taste was light and sweet with a refreshing and brisk astringency. It was somewhat vegetal, reminding me of fresh, crisp sugar snap peas. The nuances were hard to describe because they were very subtle. This is one that you'll want to be careful of oversteeping with. I almost wished that I had used my gaiwan for that reason but then the leaves were so pretty in my glass teapot. I always love when I see a tea company put their farmers up front and center. Here is what they posted about the farmer who produced this tea:

Farmer
Tea Masters Cai and Mei Yuan
Living on top of a beautiful mountain in Sichuan about 2,500 feet high Cia 
and his wife Mei Yuan care for an incredible organic green tea garden. 
Raised since children harvesting and processing tea, for them tea 
brings happiness as their daily life revolves around tea. They tea gardens 
they tend are a former Emperor's personal tea garden.  Just one look at 
the quality of their  Green Jade buds and you can see the quality 
craftsmanship that goes into their tea. They produce a variety of 
green teas from several of their gardens which are all on the same 
mountain and certified organic.
Location
Daba, Sichuan, China.

Green Jade sample provided by Wild Tea Qi.









Friday, December 27, 2013

Jalam Teas Pulang Old Tree

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: varied shades of green, tightly compressed
Ingredients: raw puerh tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: golden amber

Since I've started subscribing to +JalamTeas's monthly service, I find myself really looking forward to each cake and the stories behind it. I found the postcard that came with this one particularly striking. This is the first "ancient" tea that they have offered. Although I'm always wary of that buzz word, I really liked their concise explanation that it is not the leaves which are ancient but the trees are over 100 years old. The taste was vegetal and woodsy with mellow citrus notes. Although it was not as astringent as some other Pulang puerh that I have had, it still had a pleasantly brisk bite to it. The mouth-feel was fairly thick and well rounded. I lost count but I must have done fifteen or so infusions. This is definitely a tea that you can drink throughout the day. Playing with the leaves is always fun. I found many whole leaves and buds in my gaiwan after steeping.

Pulang Old Tree purchased from Jalam Teas.





Happy Birthday to Me (Tomorrow)!

Tomorrow is my 30th birthday. It doesn't feel much different from 29 but it occurred to me that I would like celebrating by doing some good. Earlier this year I created a Kiva team for Tea for Me Please and I was so happy to see that several of you contributed. We have made ten loans totaling $325 so far. That was with only six team members. Imagine what we could do if more people became involved!

Christmas has just passed and it is a time of giving so I'm asking my readers if you are able to, please consider joining my team and making a loan of your own. For as little as $25 you can make a big difference. There are a few tea farmers listed, mostly in Kenya, but there many different people around the world that you'll be able to help. If you sign up using this link, you'll get a $25 bonus just for signing up. I'll also get a bonus that I can then use to lend to another person in need.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Teaneer Shining Arrows

Country of Origin: India
Leaf Appearance: large, covered in downy hairs
Ingredients: white tea
Steep time: 3 minutes
Water Temperature: 160 degrees
Preparation Method: glass teapot
Liquor: very pale

A silver needle white tea from Nilgiri? This tea was as unusual as it sounds. Teaneer is a line of teas produced by Vijayalakshmi Natural Farms using bio-dynamic cultivation. I couldn't believe how large and beautiful the leaves were. Tucked inside of each leaf was a tiny new bud. They seemed to be a bit more oxidized than the standard variety you'd see from China but they still had the signature downy white hairs. The taste was very delicate and light with a subtle vegetal sweetness. Hints of honey and a very faint floral note rounded out the flavor profile. An interesting cooling affect occurred in the finish. I wouldn't quite call it menthol but it was long those lines. There was no bitterness, even when the leaves were allowed to sit in the water for some time.

You can find out more about this tea here.


Meet the Tea: Tai Ping Hou Kui

One of my favorite types of green tea is Tai Ping Hou Kui. It is made using the Shi Da Zhong, a variety with particularly large leaves. The long, flat shape is created by pressing them between pieces of mesh with a roller. An impression of the fabric can be seen on the surface of the leaves which always makes for a fascinating tea session. I've seen several different sizes of this tea and some of them can be quite massive. The taste is sweet with vegetal and floral notes. Although fairly delicate, there isn't much danger of over-steeping.

The name is most often translated as peaceful monkey leader. You might ask yourself, what does that have to do with tea? A local legend holds that the monkey king fell ill and died after losing his son. A farmer discovered his body and carefully buried it. Tea trees grew from this spot the next year and the farmer harvested the leaves, making them into the distinctive blade-like shape.

So far I have tried this tea from Peony Tea Shop, Teavivre and Bellocq. All of them have been absolutely exquisite. I suggest using a glass brewing vessel because they are quite beautiful to watch. The taller it is, the better you'll be able to view them. 175 degrees for 3 to 5 minutes seems to be the average but you should generally stick to the recommendations of the retailer you are purchasing from.


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

I'm taking a little break from my regular posting for today but I couldn't resist sharing a picture of my newest teacup. It's the Old Country Roses Christmas Tree pattern from Royal Albert. I've been wanting this one for a while and couldn't resist snapping it up when it went on sale on Amazon. I hope that you all get the tea things that you were wishing for. I know that I will have some goodies to post about soon :)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Tealet OP1 with Tea Flowers

Country of Origin: Sri Lanka
Leaf Appearance: long, dark and somewhat twisted
Ingredients: black tea, tea flowers
Steep es
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain teacup and mesh infuser
Liquor: bright reddish brown

As soon as I saw +Tealet post about this one, I just knew that I had to try it. Not only is it from the Amba Estate in Sri Lanka that I have heard so much about but it also has Camelia Sinensis flowers blended with it. Although not very large, they still made me do a little happy dance when I opened my tin for the first time. It's not often that you find such large, whole leaves from this region. Once steeped, this tea was incredibly aromatic. The taste was earthy and sweet with strong honey and floral notes. No milk or sugar are necessary but it still had a pleasantly brisk finish. One of my favorite things about Tealet is the tea farmer trading cards that they send with every order. Here is what they had to say about the producer of this tea:

Plucky Teas are made on site at Amba Estate, their organic farm in the Uva highland of Sri Lanka. The estes nestles in a little valley below Lipton's Seat ( site of Sir Thomas Lipton's first tea estate) and above the famous Ravana Ella Waterfalls (refuge of the Goddess Sita in the Ramayana).
Maintaining these ancient fields according to strict organic guidelines requires enormous extra effort. We use no artificial fertilizers, pesticides or weedicides. To maintain and improve soil fertility, we make our own compost and organic sprays, using green material from the Estate and manure from our own herd of ‘rescue cows’. We weed the fields manually and we leave the cuttings as mulch between the bushes, to improve water and nutrient retention. We also plant gliricidia and other nitrogen-fixing plants between the tea.
All of their teas are truly artisanal and are made in small batches by hand.

OP1 with Flowers purchased from Tealet.

Twinings Christmas Tea

Country of Origin: not listed
Leaf Appearance: very small, dark
Ingredients: black tea, natural flavoring
Steep time: 5 minutes
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain teacup
Liquor: reddish brown

I got a sample of this tea at the Fancy Food Show earlier this year but I thought that it would be best to save my review until now. While paper filter tea bags aren't quite my thing, this is just the kind of tea that misguided but well meaning folks will give me to me for Christmas. I'm not going to give you the whole "tea bags are evil" speech because they do have their place. However, I really dislike the lack of depth in the ingredient list. It is not stated what kind of black tea was used or exactly which natural flavorings. Their description names cinnamon and cloves but it's anybody's guess as to what is in there. For folks with allergies and sensitivities, that can be a real problem. The verdict? It wasn't terrible. The taste was earthy and spicy with a subtle sweetness. The spices certainly evoked the season. Why is it that we always seem to associate cinnamon with the holidays? Sweeteners like honey or agave might brighten it up a bit but I did not think that it had enough body for milk. If I was at someone's house and they offered me a cup, I definitely wouldn't refuse. Plus that might save me the awkwardness of whipping out my tea wallet.

Christmas Tea sample provided by Twinings at Fancy Food Show.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Do You Tea? Darjeeling Chai

Country of Origin: India
Leaf Appearance: small, dark with lots of spices
Ingredients: Darjeeling black tea, cardamom seeds, cinnamon, black peppercorns, cloves, and vanilla
Steep time: 5 minutes
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: Teavana Perfect Steeper
Liquor: deep reddish brown

I just love finding local tea blenders. Do You Tea? is based a few cities away from me in Hoboken and I was excited to see their table at the Not Yo Mama's Craft Fair. If you are in the area, they always have the most unique gifts and crafts. This one grabbed my attention because it seemed to be the only one that my boyfriend Jason was interested in. It also combines two of my favorite things, Darjeeling and Chai. I loved the big chunks of cinnamon sticks as that is not often seen. The taste was rich and spicy with a very subtle sweetness. It didn't quite have the bite of a tradition Assam base so it made for much easier sipping. That being said, it was definitely still bold enough to stand up to milk and sweetener. I have a feeling that the 2oz tin I bought will be gone very quickly.

Darjeeling Chai purchased from Do You Tea?

Peony Tea Shop Xing Ren Xiang

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: dark, long and somewhat twisted
Ingredients: oolong tea
Steep time: 15 seconds
Water Temperature: 200 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: golden amber

Dan Cong is definitely one of my favorite types of oolong. I love that there are so many varied tastes and aromas, even just within this family of teas. If you'd like to learn more about the different varieties, Derek from +Peony Tea S. wrote an excellent article. This particular one is known as almond fragrance. It can be a hard concept to understand because this tea did not necessarily taste like a mouth full of almonds. Tea is much more subtle than that. Try to imagine the aroma that would be in your sinuses after eating a bunch of almonds and that would be a bit more accurate. Floral undertones added complexity and a slight sweetness. The mouth-feel was fairly thick, another one of my favorite things about Dan Cong. I lost of how many infusions I did but it was likely to be around six or eight. This type of tea often develops an astringency once it is finished and that had not popped up yet so there were definitely a few rounds left.

Xing Ren Xiang sample provided by Peony Tea Shop.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Miss Tea Green Pear

Country of Origin: China, Himilayas (not sure which country)
Leaf Appearance: small, dark green with lots of flower petals
Ingredients: organic China sencha, organic Himilaya green tea, organic pear pieces, organic flavoring, organic calendula petals
Steep time: 3 minutes
Water Temperature: 180 degrees
Preparation Method: Teavana Perfect Steeper
Liquor: gold

I was perusing the holiday market at Union Square when I saw my boyfriend's signature eye roll. He spotted Miss Tea's booth even before I did. The folks there were knowledgeable and enthusiastic. I hadn't had a good fruity green tea in a while so I picked up this blend. The taste was vegetal and sweet with a light fruitiness that definitely did bring a crisp pear to mind. I loved that the flavoring did not come off as artificial or overdone. I also love that all of the ingredients are organic. When I spoke with them at the booth they explained that they do not put any non-organic ingredients in their teas. The glass jar is adorable but glass is not the best container to keep tea in. These should always be stored in a cool, dark place.

Green Pear purchased from Miss Tea at the Union Square Holiday Market.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Persimmon Tree Thai Chai

Country of Origin: not listed
Leaf Appearance: small, dark with lots of spices and lemongrass
Ingredients: Black Tea, Cinnamon Bark, Ginger Root, Dried Coconut, Lemon Grass, Cardamon Pods, Natural Coconut Flavor
Steep time: 5 minutes
Water Temperature: 195 degrees
Preparation Method: Teavana Perfect Steeper
Liquor: reddish brown

This isn't quite your traditional chai because it has the somewhat tropical flavors of lemongrass and coconut. Spicy yet sweet, it was much more smooth and mellow than I was expecting. The base tea was earthy but not overly robust. Cinnamon seemed to stand out the most among the spices but the ginger did add a pleasant zing to the finish. The ingredients all came together quite well but I couldn't help but feel that Star Anise was missing. Not all tea drinkers are a fan of that spice so this would be a great blend for those types of folks. No milk is necessary with this one, in fact it might be detrimental. A tiny bit of honey or agave might do nicely though. It's fairly moderately priced so it would make a good daily drinker at the office if you wanted something with a kick but not too much.

Thai Chai sample provided by The Persimmon Tree.

Taking Tea InStyle Ice Wine Delight

Country of Origin: not listed
Leaf Appearance: small, dark with visible grape pieces
Ingredients: black tea, freeze dried grapes, luxury white tea, Ontario ice wine, natural flavors
Steep time: 5 minutes
Water Temperature: 195 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain teacup and mesh infuser
Liquor: bright reddish brown

I work with wine for my day job so I'm always really curious when I see anything that combines wine with my love of tea. The freeze dried grapes in this blend looked good enough to eat. The tea was light, tangy and sweet with a finish that definitely came across as wine-like. It's hard to imagine a black tea tasting like white wine but that is what was accomplished here. There was just the right amount of refreshing, crisp astringency without bitterness. Although I've only tried it hot so far, this blend would make a fantastic iced tea. This is the first selection that I've tried from Taking Tea InStyle (who is automatically awesome because they are also based in New Jersey) and I am very impressed. I've got a few more of +Sharon Levy's teas waiting in the wings and I can't wait to try them.

Ice Wine Delight sample provided by Taking Tea InStyle.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Tea DIY: Green Tea Honey Mask

I'm seeing green tea being used in beauty products more and more but it's really easy to make your own. This mask is simple to whip up and i just love how it smells. It also makes you look a bit like swamp thing so it's fun to scare unsuspecting people :)

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon of green tea powder
1 tablespooon of warm water
1 tablespoon of honey

 Step 1: Spoon green tea into glass bowl

I love matcha too much to use it in this way so I picked up a bag of super cheap green tea powder in Chinatown. There's no real need to sift the tea since it's going to wind up a bit muddy anyway.
 Step 2: Add tablespoon of honey to green tea

Since honey is a bit sticky I like to stir into the green tea a bit before moving on to the next step.


 Step 3: Add warm water to green tea and honey mixture

The consistency should be about the same as a regular mud mask. It's hard to be exact but you can always add more water if it is too dry or add more tea if it is too runny.
Step 4: Smooth mask over face and allow to dry

This step usually takes about 10 to 15 minutes. It's messy so wear an old shirt and tie your hair up out of the way.

Step 5: Wipe off mask with soft wash cloth

If you have very sensitive skin, you might want to do a test spot before covering your whole face.

Jalam Teas Zhi Ye (Purple Leaf)

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

Have you ever heard of purple tea? I previously reviewed one from Kenya but I had never heard of purple tea being used to make puerh. Although it is raw, the cake was so dark it appearance that it could almost (but not quite) pass for shu. +JalamTeas noted on their usual postcard that this is a somewhat different varietal from the standard Yunnan big-leaf Assamica. Harvested by the Hani people, it is purported to aid in ailments of the heart. The taste had the familiar vegetal sharpness but it seemed to be somewhat less astringent. There was also a fruity quality that I found very interesting. It's hard to explain because I do not mean to say that it was overtly fruity. Ah, the complexities of tea. I did around 6 or so consecutive infusions but definitely could have gone a few more rounds. My boyfriend Jason tried it and was not very impressed but he generally doesn't like anything remotely green. After steeping the leaves were quite a bit greener but they still had a fairly dark color.

You can find out more about this tea here.





Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Tea Places: The Tea Shoppe

The Tea Shoppe popped up on my radar when I was scouring FourSquare for places to add to my Tea in NYC list. I happened to be wandering around Nolita a bit before work so I grabbed the opportunity to stop in. Overall I thought that this place was very cute and well organized. They had many different brands of tea that I am familiar with and even some that I had not heard of. Rishi, Adagio and Elmwood Teas were among those spotted.

They had a pretty large teaware collection most of which was priced very fairly. I'll be making it a point to check back to see if any teacups catch my eye. There was only one staff member at the time but she was friendly and let me browse at my leisure. I don't buy tea very often but this would be a great place to grab a quick gift whenever the need arises. I wound up bringing home a glass "test tube" steeper and a box of fill-your-own teabags. They have a branch in Howell, NJ that I will definitely need to check out.

Lipton Yellow Label Black Tea

Country of Origin: Sri Lanka
Leaf Appearance: small, dark
Ingredients: black tea
Steep time: 5 minutes
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain teacup and mesh infuser
Liquor: bright reddish brown

I bet that Lipton is the last tea that many of you ever thought you would see here. I thought so too until recently when I had the opportunity to try their Yellow Label loose tea. A friend generously offered to pick me up some from Chinatown. This particular tin was designed for the Hong Kong market. For those of you who are unfamiliar, Yellow Label is the tea that Lipton sells to the rest of the world but it's not even mentioned on their US website. It is sourced entirely from Sri Lanka, whereas the tea that we are used to usually does not state what country the tea was grown in. Other coming in a neato tin, the appearance was fairly standard for a CTC style tea. The taste was earthy and sweet with just a touch of astringency. Overall it was a fairly mellow cup but still bold enough to stand up to milk and sugar. It had none of the mouth puckering astringency that I had come to expect from the American tea bag. As far as CTC teas go, I thought that it was actually quite good. While I may not seek this tea out on a regular basis, it's good to know that there is something in their line that I find tolerable. Perhaps it could even be a middle ground with my teabag steeping family?

You can find out more about this tea here.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Yezi Tea Qing Pin Black Tea

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: small, dark with lots of golden tips
Ingredients: black tea
Steep time: 15 seconds
Water Temperature: 200 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: reddish amber

There's nothing quite like a fine Chinese black tea and this one was an excellent example of that. The dry leaves were quite tiny in size and there were lots of fuzzy golden tips mixed throughout. The taste could only be described as an amalgamation (bet you thought you'd never see that word in a tea review) of some of my favorite teas. Throw together Keemun, Golden Yunnan and just a touch of a really fine Lapsang Souchong and that would probably give you an idea of the subtle complexity of this tea. It was earthy and sweet with heavy notes of chocolate. There was a hint of spicy smokiness but overall the finish was smooth without any bitterness. I did four or five consecutive infusions and definitely could have squeezed out a few more. Although you could steep this western style, it really won't shine in quite the same way. Gaiwans or a gongfu sized teapot would be the way to go. And for heavens sake, don't even think about adding anything to it!

Qing Pin sample provided by Yezi Tea.

The Devotea USA Tea of The Month Club - December 2013

Monthly tea subscriptions have grown popular lately and I was excited to see a new one from one of my favorite companies, +The Devotea. This December box is their inaugural shipment. Tucked among awesomely sparkly tissue paper was four 1oz packages of tea. I'll be updating this post with links to the individual reviews as they are posted. The selections included in this box were:

They even threw in a piece of Ghirardelli chocolate which I may have eaten prior to snapping the picture below. The flyer that was included gave a description of each tea as well as thorough steeping instructions. Several different pricing levels are available. so there is something for every budget. Future shipments will include single origin teas, exclusive club-only blends and previews of blends prior to their release. The packaging was lovely and it would make a perfect gift, either for yourself or for someone else.

You can find out more about this tea subscription service here.



Friday, December 13, 2013

Peony Tea Shop Pre Qing Ming Dafo Longjing

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

Did you know that there are different types of Dragonwell? I wasn't very familiar with them until until I read an article posted by +Peony Tea S.. This particular one is a Dafo Longjing which means that it is from Xichang county. Although not from the traditional West Lake, this region still produces a very high quality tea. The taste was smooth and sweet with heavy notes of chestnut. There was also a very slight floral aspect that I've not often experienced with this type of tea. A light vegetal astringency added a somewhat drying yet refreshing finish. I did at least four consecutive steepings in my gaiwan and there were definitely a few more left to go. Peony Tea Shop is often my go to for Chinese oolongs but the greens that they stock are petty fantastic too.

Dafo Longjing sample provided by Peony Tea Shop.

Happy Earth Tea Arya Black Organic Darjeeling, First Flush 2013

Country of Origin: India
Leaf Appearance: small, varied shades of green
Ingredients: black tea
Steep time: 3 minutes
Water Temperature: 180 degrees
Preparation Method: Teavana Perfect Steeper
Liquor: gold

Although usually categorized as a black tea, first flush Darjeeling can behave like a green tea in disguise. This one from +Happy Earth Tea was some of the greenest that I've had. Arya is one of my favorite estates so I was really looking forward to digging (or sipping) in. It was fruity, floral and just a touch vegetal with a pleasant, brisk astringency. The classic muscatel taste you would expect from Darjeeling was present but subtle. I didn't find it bitter at all but be careful about your steep times. I think any longer than three minutes might not yield such a nice cuppa. I resteeped this a second time so that I could take a travel mug to go and it was just as tasty as the first. Icing Darjeeling isn't something that I usually do but something tells me that this one would be quite good that way.

Arya Black sample provided by Happy Earth Tea.