Friday, February 28, 2014

Sencha Naturals Green Tea + C

Cold and flu season is here and it seems like everyone around me has the sniffles. We often turn to supplements and vitamins to keep us healthy this time of year, especially vitamin C. Pills, chewables and powders are all things that I've used in the past. Although thye do the trick these things tend to not taste very good. When +Sencha Naturals offered me a chance to try their new Green Tea + C line I jumped on it.

The powder very much resembled matcha. I mixed it with cold filtered water using an electric hand held drink stirrer. It dissolved fairly quickly and only needed occasional stirring towards the end. It is available in original, dragonfruit and citrus ginger. Luckily I was able to try all three varieties. The dragonfruit was definitely my favorite, closely followed by the original. I'm not much of a citrus kind of gal but the citrus ginger was still very drinkable.

I felt a great energy boost after drinking and I loved that there was no yucky aftertastes. While I wouldn't call myself a health nut, I do try to be a conscientious consumer. In reading the ingredient lists, I found that they looked very different from similar products that I have looked at. I actually knew what all of the ingredients were!

My sister happened to have some Emergen-C on hand so I compared them and the differences were very noticeable.

Green Tea + C (Dragonfruit): Organic Green Tea Powder, Acerola Cherry, Natural Citric Acid, Natural Sodium Bicarbonate, Dragonfruit Extract, Natural Malic Acid, Ginger Root, Coconut Water Powder, Organic Orange Peel, Turmeric Root, Stevia.

Emergen-C (Raspberry): Cane sugar, fructose, citric acid, raspberry juice powder and other fruit juice powder, natural raspberry flavors, tartaric acid, malic acid, tapioca maltodextrin, vegetable juice color, silica, stevia (leaf extract), caramel color, glycine, aspartic acid, and cysteine hydrochloride.

I'm sure that Emergen-C works great but I've never been a fan of the taste myself. The nutritional information stated that Emergen-C contains 1,667% of the recommended daily value for vitamin C. I found myself asking, does anyone really need THAT much of it? Green Tea + C still provides quite a bit, at 300%, but I much prefer their natural, whole foods approach. If you have a chance to give these a try, I definitely recommend it.

Green Tea + C sample provided by Sencha Naturals.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Harney and Sons Temi Sikkim

Country of Origin: India
Leaf Appearance: small, dark
Ingredients: black tea
Steep time: 5 minutes
Water Temperature: 200 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain teacup and mesh infuser
Liquor: dark reddish amber

During a recent visit to +Harney and Sons Fine Teas in SoHo, I couldn't resist picking up a tin of this tea. My friend +Robert Godden mentions this tea so frequently that I just had to give it a try. Sikkim is located just north of Darjeeling so its properties are similar to what you would expect from its more famous neighbor but the teas do not cost nearly as much. Could you believe that I only paid $8 for 3oz! The brew was brisk and somewhat floral with a sweet finish. I wouldn't quite call it muscatel but it did have a sort of grape-ishness. Milk or sugar aren't necessary here because it is not very astringent. While I enjoyed this tea very much hot, it was even better when I tried it iced. The flavors all became more pronounced and even more pleasing to the palate. Once the warmer weather is here I will definitely be restocking so that I can keep a pitcher of it iced in the refrigerator at all times.

Temi Sikkim purchased from Harney and Sons.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Adagio Teas Sleeping Dragon

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: jade green, tightly rolled
Ingredients: green tea
Steep time: 3 minutes
Water Temperature: 180 degrees
Preparation Method: glass test tube steeper
Liquor: pale gold

This green tea was a bit unusual. The dry leaves resembled something between gunpowder type tea  and rolled oolong. As they slowly unfurled in the water, I was reminded that the Chinese name for oolong means black dragon. I see what you did there +Adagio Teas! The taste was light and refreshing with a mild vegetal astringency. Mellow fruity notes added a subtle sweetness and just a hint of smokiness. Otherwise this was a fairly uncomplicated cup. By that I meant to say that this tea is easy going and understated. There are times when I just want a simple cup of green tea and this tea suits that purpose perfectly. I used a small test tube style steeper so I was able to get three consistent infusions. It would work just as well if you opted for a gaiwan or even an western style teapot. This would be a great choice for those who do not like grassy greens.

Sleeping Dragon sample provided by Adagio Teas.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tea Setter Ethical Agriculture's Wild Grown Puerh Tea

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

I'm a stalwart raw puerh drinker but the cooked stuff isn't usually my thing. This one was a whole other creature though. It is from 2010 so it has had a chance to mellow out a bit. It was earthy, sweet and surprisingly mild. Rather than fishy or compost flavors, it came off as woodsy with an interesting herbaceous quality that reminded me of sage. After a few infusions an unusual fruity quality appeared in the finish. I couldn't believe how sweet and lingering it was. +Natasha N called it mango tango in her review and I would say that description is pretty spot on. +Tea Setter has a relatively small selection but I know that +Matt Kitchen put a lot of time and effort into every one of them. Last year I interviewed him on my podcast. The video is included below in case you missed it the first time!

Ethical Agriculture's Wild Grown Puerh Tea sample provided by Tea Setter.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Podcast Episode 8: Interview with Tearroir

+Tearroir Tea is an international tea brand dedicated to providing authentic teas to curious people who yearn for new experiences, & dream of global exploration. Austin and David really know their stuff and I'm excited to share their story with you. We all shared their Dong Ding, my first ever live tasting! Make sure that you check out their website.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Butiki Teas Taiwanese Wild Mountain Black

Country of Origin: Taiwan
Leaf Appearance: dark, large and wiry
Ingredients: black tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: reddish brown

I bought this tea thanks to notorious enablers +Jo J and +Darlene Meyers-Perry. They raved on and on about it so much that I just had to experience it for myself. It is made from indigenous wild tea trees in the mountains surrounded Yuchi Township in Taiwan. The leaves are bitten by the same leaf hopper insect that is involved in Oriental Beauty. I think I'm in love! This tea was wonderfully complex and absolutely delicious. It had a raisin-like sweetness with notes of honey and caramel. It had an almost biscuity quality, similar to what I would normally find in Assam black teas. The flavor was consistent throughout at least six infusions. +Stacy Lim from Butiki Teas was kind enough to throw in some samples with my order so I've got several Taiwanese teas to review as well her infamous Potato Pancakes and Applesauce.

Taiwanese Wild Mountain Black purchased from Butiki Teas

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Jalam Teas Meng Song

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: varied shades of green,
Ingredients: raw puerh
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: deep gold

I've been on a massive raw puerh kick lately and my monthly shipments from +JalamTeas have been a big part of that. This is the first cake that they sent out to subscribers in February of 2013. As Jalam Teas' website explains, it was produced by the Hani people of Meng Song Mountain. I cannot say how much I appreciate knowing exactly where the tea comes from and who made it. I feel more connected to the place while I am drinking. Jalam's beautiful postcards help deepen that feeling even more. The taste of this tea was vegetal and full bodied with interesting malty notes. Although there was a lot of strength, it was not unpleasant or overly astringent. The mouth-feel was thick and buttery. After doing eight infusions consecutive infusions, I was definitely feeling a bit "tea drunk". Speaking of which, Aurelien from Jalam Teas visited New York recently. He gave me this cake when he stopped by during my shift at Tea Drunk. I love talking tea and it was great to be able to catch up for a bit.

Meng Song sample received from Jalam Teas.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Tea Trail with Simon Reeve

When I read tweets from UK friends about this BBC documentary, I was really excited to see it. It focuses on the ins and outs of the Kenyan tea industry. I thought that it was an interesting approach since most films that I've seen try to take you on a tour of many tea producing regions. The panoramic shots of Kenya's beautiful tea fields were truly breathtaking. Although only an hour long, they touched on some really important issues. Imperial rule, global warming and aids epidemic are all discussed. Poverty is a hard thing to watch but hopefully this will encourage more people to do something about it. I don't want to give too much away but I think that every tea drinker needs to see this. I had an uneasy mind and a bit of trouble sleeping afterwards. There are no easy answers to any of the questions raised. For Britain in particular, it is important to think about where your tea comes from because they consume a large portion of the tea grown in Kenya.

One group that is working to improve the state of things in Kenya is +Jus Tea. Last year I interviewed +britt Flu for my podcast and she told me about their mission to empower the tea farmers who struggle under the current system. If you are ever in need of a good basic black tea, their Kenyan Black Tea is fantastic.

You can find out more about this tea documentary here.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Tandem Tea Tasting: Maison de thè THEODOR Je T'aime

I've been so busy lately that I never even got around to blogging about last month's group tasting. February's was unique in that it took place on a Sunday morning and because we were joined by +Xavier Lugherini. The time differences when gathering tea drinkers across the country and bridging continents can make things difficult. Thankfully we scheduled things just before I had to leave for work so I was able to join from the comfort of home.

Xavier generously sent us all samples of tea from Maison de thè THEODOR with the assistance of +Jackie D. Since time was restricted I opted for a tea called Je T'aime because it was flavored like macarons. If I can't eat one of my favorite treats, I might as well drink it! I also thought the name was particularly appropriate as Valentine's Day drew near (it means I love you). The usual laughs and camaraderie ensued but eventually we got around to the tea.

The base was a fairly mellow black tea accompanied by interesting floral and nutty notes. They seemed to alternate a bit between almond and pistachio, though I'm not sure I was have picked up the pistachio if someone else had not mentioned it first. It was very much in style of teas that I've tried from other French retailers like Le Palais des Thés. Although this is not the kind of tea that I usually drink, it was nice to take a bit of a break from the norm. I did not get to try the Thé Du Loup but it is something that I will look forward to drinking at another time.

+Darlene Meyers-Perry seemed to really enjoy these teas as did +Jo J, and +Rachana Rachel Carter.  +Geoffrey Norman was noticeably missed as he had to work but I think his post is fantastic so make sure that you give it a read! Although not she is not a blogger we were also joined by the lovely Julia, aka +Tea Temptress.

+Geoffrey Norman of Steep Stories, “All’s Fair in Love and Wolves” – An Open Letter to the Tandem Tea Tasters
+Rachana Rachel Carter of +iHeartTeasFrom Paris with JE T’AIME (Love)
+Darlene Meyers-Perry of The Tea Enthusiast's Scrapbook
+Jo J of Scandalous Tea, Tandem Tea Tasting Vive la France
+Xavier Lugherini of Teaconomics, Drink me I'm famous

Monday, February 17, 2014

Teaity Hosts Online Twitter Party for Tea Lovers

I am beyond excited to host this Twitter chat with +Teaity and my friend +Naomi Rosen.

Cincinnati, OH – Teaity, an online tea steeping resource, announces today they will host a live Twitter chat on “The Tea Experience” on February 25th

Teaity (@teaity), in conjunction with Nicole Martin of Tea For Me Please (@teaformeplease) and Naomi Rosen of Joy’s Tea Spoon (@joysteaspoon) will co-host the chat under the hashtag #TEAityChat. 

"I'm pretty excited for this chat. Naomi and Nicole are two great opinionated bloggers who love their tea. Together we'll work to make tea a trending topic as often as we can”, says Chris Giddings, Founder of Teaity. 

Throughout the virtual event Martin, Rosen and Giddings will not only pose questions about creating the best tea experience, but they will also provide tips and advice. Additionally, there will be five prizes packs that include items from from TeaSource, Joy’s Tea Spoon, 27Press and more, that participants will have the chance to win. 

"This is my first time co-hosting a Twitter chat and I can't wait to work together with Chris and Naomi. It will be a great way to bring together the tea community and meet new people,” says Martin. 

Whether participants are novices or gurus on the subject of tea, everyone is encouraged to join in on the conversation. The #TEAityChat is expected to reunite tea lovers around the world in a venue where they can share tips and most loved stories about one of their favorite things--tea. Rosen states, “Aside from being a Twitter-holic, I am also addicted to anything that makes drinking tea easier and adds a little high tech!” 

To get involved, and be entered to win one of the five prize packs during the live #TEAityChat, RSVP and follow the co-hosts by February 25th at 8 PM ET here:

For more information about Teaity or to schedule an interview with Chris Giddings, please call Daniella Alvarez-Castillo at 513/779-2444 or email Daniella at

About Teaity

Conceived at the World Tea Expo in 2009, Teaity started out as a simple vision to help tea drinkers discover and prepare new teas with more nuances while expanding their palates.

Officially launched in October 2012,Teaity is dedicated to providing tools and resources to convert tea drinkers into educated tea enthusiasts. Tea enthusiasts are a valued target market. They tend to have greater discretionary income and thereby are able to purchase higher margin products.

About Joy’s Tea Spoon

Joy's Teaspoon, based in Las Vegas, NV, is a web-based tea company specializing in loose-leaf teas and spices. We enjoy working directly with the growers and make every effort to ensure that the teas and spices we offer are safe, socially responsible and environmentally gentle. We are proud to be a small part of a drink you share with friends and a meal you share with family. 

About Tea For Me Please

Tea for Me Please is a primarily a tea review blog and the story of Nicole's journey with the leaf. Started in 2008 as a personal log, it has turned into more than she could have ever dreamed of. In addition to reviews, Nicole writes about everything related to tea and produces a monthly video podcast.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Min River Tea Jasmine White

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: large downy buds
Ingredients: scented white tea
Steep time: 2 minutes
Water Temperature: 175 degrees
Preparation Method: glass teapot
Liquor: pale gold

I don't drink nearly as much jasmine as I used to but I still find a pot now and then very enjoyable. The base tea for this was a visually appealing silver needle, full of large downy buds. Their floral aroma when dry was faint but very pleasant. The taste was sweet, vegetal and floral with notes of hay and a somewhat dry finish. I loved that the tea was able to shine through, even with the jasmine scenting. It did not come across as artificial or perfumy at all. I think that even those who don't enjoy flowery teas would be likely to enjoy it. +Min River Tea has always been a source of high quality tea for me and I was happy to find that their scented teas are also fantastic. It's important to know where your tea comes from and they provide very specific sourcing information as well as beautiful images of jasmine blossoms. While you can certainly find jasmine white teas that are less expensive than this one, I can almost guarantee that they will not be nearly as nice.

Jasmine White sample provided by Min River Tea.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Mandala Tea Wild Monk Raw Puerh 2012

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: dark, compressed
Ingredients: puerh tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 190 degrees
Preparation Method: yixing teapot
Liquor: dark amber

This tea has been on my wish list ever since I read about it on +Awkward Soul's Oolong Owl blog. When my boyfriend needed some inspiration for Christmas gifts, it immediately came to mind. I used this cake to christen the yixing that he bought me as well. It is a purple puerh so although it is indeed raw, the appearance of the leaves is quite dark. The taste of was really interesting. Unusually sweet for a puerh, it lacked the astringency that I would have expected. There was a light smokiness along with a pleasant vegetal quality. Puerh is said to have an empty front and a full back (as in the flavor is all in the back each sip) but this one was very full from beginning to end. The mouth-feel was thick and very smooth. I've tried one other purple puerh, Zhi Yeh from Jalam Teas. The two are similar yet different at the same time. Jalam's had a sort of fruity quality that I found also appeared in the Mandala tea as it cooled. +Mandala Tea offers the mao cha form of this tea so I will definitely have to give that a try after enjoying the cake so much.

Wild Monk Raw Puerh purchased from Mandala Tea.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

T7 Tea Golden Spring

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: small, curled and covered in golden hairs
Ingredients: black tea
Steep time: 5 minutes
Water Temperature: 195 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain infuser mug
Liquor: deep reddish brown

This tea was quite interesting in appearance. The tiny leaves were curled and covered in golden hairs. The resemblance to Bi Luo Chun, a similarly curled green tea, was uncanny. Their aroma was surprisingly chocolatey, even before brewing. I decided to try brewing it the same way that I would a Bi Luo Chun so the leaves were added to the water rather than the other way around. This worked well as it kept them from slipping through the rather large holes in my infuser mug. Earthy, aromatic and full bodied; this tea was exactly what I was hoping it would be. The chocolate that I picked up in the dry tea were even more pronounced once brewed. I also picked up a fruity sweetness, reminiscent of golden raisins. There was just a touch of astringency but it never came close to becoming bitter or unpleasant. At $16 for 3oz, this tea is a steal. I'd definitely recommend it if you are fan of any of the golden Yunnan type teas, even if this one is from Fujian :)

Golden Spring sample provided by T7 Tea.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Tea Wing Karigane 22

Country of Origin: Japan
Leaf Appearance: small, deep green with some yellow green stems
Ingredients: green tea
Steep time: 1.5 minutes
Water Temperature: 175 degrees
Preparation Method: kyusu
Liquor: deep yellowish green

When a sample of this was up for grabs at a recent Steepster meetup, I couldn't resist taking it home. I have been wanting to try Tea Wing's offerings ever since I read about them on Kathy YL Chan's blog. Karigane is type of kukicha that is made from gyokuro. The taste was wonderfully sweet and vegetal with tons of umami lingering in the aftertaste. A slight nutty note in the finish added a nice bit of roundness and kept it from coming off as too grassy. There was no astringency or bitterness to speak of and the mouth-feel was fairly thick. On a cold winter day a tea like this is like a brief moment of spring, just enough to life the spirits. I have expensive tastes in tea which can be a real bummer at times but this one makes an excellent substitute daily drinker substitute for gyokuro.

Karigane 22 sample was received at Steepster Meetup.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Mandala Tea Green Legendary Beauty Yixing

I have been wanting to dedicate an yixing to raw puerh for some time so I asked my boyfriend to get me this little pot for Christmas. Isn't he the best? I really wanted this one because it a very similar shape to the yixing that I have dedicated to Dancong oolong. It is made from Ben Shan clay which gives it a greenish color and somewhat sandy appearance. The color is a bit paler than their picture but it is exactly what I wanted.

My first brew after seasoning was very good and it did not have any muddy or clay aftertastes. It pours wonderfully and the lid makes a fairly air tight seal. If I place a finger over the air hole in the lid the tea will stop pouring out completely. At just 5.1oz it is probably my smallest teapot. For my birthday I received a cake of +Mandala Tea's Wild Monk raw puerh and I am looking forward to many tea sessions with this little guy.

You can find out more about this teapot here.

Friday, February 7, 2014

T-We Tea Flailing Princess

Country of Origin: India
Leaf Appearance: small, dark with lots of rose petals and coconut
Ingredients: autumn flush Darjeeling, coconut ribbon, rose petals
Steep time: 5 minutes
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: bone china teacup and mesh infuser
Liquor: dark amber

With blend names like Bicurious George and Guurl Grey I think it's safe to say that +Christopher Coccagna and the rest of the team at T-We Tea are among the most creative in the business. Could they be any more San Francisco? This blend caught my attention because its base is an autumn flush Darjeeling. The taste was floral, fruity and sweet with a buttery soft mouth-feel. Everything was very well balanced and I really loved that the natural muscatel of the tea was still able to shine through. Coconut has a tendency to come across as very artificial but its use was very subtle here. Overall it was a delicate and feminine cup and while it isn't the kind of blend that I would ordinarily seek out, sometimes it's nice to feel like a pretty princess for a few moments. Something tells me that this might be fun to make a very girly cocktail with. What do you think?

P.S. I love that they list bippity boppity boo on the ingredient list!

Flailing Princess sample provided by T-We Tea.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Nudo Darjeeling Second Flush - Nurbong Estate 2012

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

Second Flushes really seem to be my sweet spot when it comes to Darjeeling so I was looking forward to try this one. Having already reviewed and enjoyed the Autumn Flush and First Flush from this same estate, I had a pretty good idea of what to expect. This would ordinarily be Nudo's fall delivery if you had purchased the subscription service. I think the flavors of a second flush match perfectly with that time of year. The faint muscatel that I had noticed in the previous flushes was much more pronounced. Although I still wouldn't add milk or sugar, it was bolder and fuller bodied as well. There was an underlying sweetness as well as subtle nutty notes. It was a rather cold and snowy day when I wrote this review and this tea really hit the spot, especially when paired with a lazy brunch of bacon and eggs :)

Sample provided by Nudo Darjeeling.
You can find out more about this tea subscription service here.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Conceptteas 2013 New-born White Tea Cake

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: varied shades of green, lots of downy buds
Ingredients: white tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 195 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: gold

There are some teas that you hear about and dream of someday seeing. White tea cakes are definitely one of those elusive creatures for me. I was beyond thrilled when a kind introduction from +Jeff Fuchs led to one of them being sent to my door. It took a few weeks for me to find a time where I could really focus on tasting but I must admit to sneaking sniffs from time to time. The taste was mellow and sweet with delicate floral notes and an interesting herbaceous quality. After four consecutive infusions these leaves still had a lot more to give. I will have a hard time not drinking it all at once but I'm going to try to hold on to it for a bit so that I can see how it changes over time. +Conceptteas is a Swedish company that specializes in Chinese white tea and if this cake is any indication, they will definitely be one to watch. I also received a small sample of a 2009 vintage of this cake. How cool is that!?! I'll be publishing a review soon but I think my friend +Geoffrey Norman put it best when he compared these two teas to the movie Looper.

2013 New-Born White Tea Cake sample provided by Conceptteas.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Yunomi Chakouan – #14 Ureshino Gyokucha: Ochatama

Country of Origin: Japan
Leaf Appearance: deep green, large balls
Ingredients: sencha green tea
Steep time: 1 minute
Water Temperature: 160 degrees
Preparation Method: glass test tube steeper
Liquor: pale, greenish

I received this tea as part of a shipment from Yunomi's Tea Club. It is definitely one of the most unusual green teas that I have come across. The leaves are rolled into balls as a by-product of sencha processing. I'm reminded of Cha Tou, or puerh nuggets, which are also a by-product of tea production. I have a feeling that these will taste much nicer though. The taste fell somewhere between gyokuro and sencha. It was delicate and light but still had a nice bit of vegetal astringency and plenty of umami flavor. The second infusion was actually a bit stronger than the first because the tea balls had unfurled. suggested eating this tea as a snack and I decided to give it a try. I found it a bit too bitter for my liking but it might not be bad as part of a trail mix type mixture with something sweet.

Gyokucha sample provided by Yunomi.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Handmade Tea Pomegranate Orangelong

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: dark green, tightly rolled, lots of fruit pieces
Ingredients: Tie Guan Yin, dried pomegranate, orange peels
Steep time: 3 minutes
Water Temperature: 195 degrees
Preparation Method: Teavana Perfect Steeper
Liquor: gold

I always look forward to my shipments from +Handmade Tea every month but January's tea actually made me say "Ooh!". Flavored oolongs aren't usually my thing but the idea of pomegranate and orange with Tie Guan Yin really a-peel-ed to me (sorry, I had to do it!). The taste was unbelievably light and refreshing. Tie Guan Yin dominated with it's sweet, floral notes while the fruit added a really nice lightness. The mouth-feel was thick and there was an interesting creaminess in the finish. It all came across as very natural because actual ingredients are used rather than chemical flavorings. That is one of my favorite things about what Handmade Tea does. +Caleb Brown is something of a Willy Wonka of tea, he comes up with flavor combinations that no one else would ever dare to try. I cannot wait to try this blend as an iced tea.

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