Monday, March 31, 2014

Eco-Cha Shan Lin Xi High Mountain Concubine Oolong

Country of Origin: Taiwan
Leaf Appearance: deep green, tightly rolled
Ingredients: oolong tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: deep gold

+Eco-Cha Artisan Teas has some of the best Taiwanese oolongs that I've tried so I was really looking forward to digging into this one. Concubine oolongs are interesting because the leaves are bitten by the same leaf hopper insect that brings us Oriental Beauty. Right off the bat my senses were flooded with sweet honey and fruity notes along with an interesting herbaceous undertone. It grew increasingly floral with each subsequent infusion. The mouth-feel was very thick and buttery but there was a refreshing astringency in the finish that kept it from becoming too heavy. This oolong brews up quite strong so you'll want to use just a bit less leaf than you usually would. I did at least six consecutive infusions and there were definitely a few left to be had.

Shan Lin Xi High Mountain Concubine Oolong sample provided by Eco-Cha.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Little Red Cup Tea Company Jade Oolong

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: deep green, tightly rolled
Ingredients: oolong tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: greenish gold

Jade Oolong is a term that is often used to describe Tie Guan Yin that has been lightly oxidized and that appears to be what we have here. The taste was very clean, light and floral. Although on the delicate side, the mouth-feel was very thick and there was a strong orchid aroma. My second infusion was a bit more vegetal but just as delicious. I generally prefer my oolongs a bit darker so this isn't something that I would drink all of the time but that is just my personal preference. It was still a very enjoyable sip. +Little Red Cup Tea Co. has a fairly small selection but they are all very well priced. You would be hard pressed to find a comparable tea for just under $10 for 3oz.

Jade Oolong sample provided by Little Red Cup Tea Company.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Wild Tea Qi Wild Purple Bud Puer Tea

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: large buds, varied shades of green and purple
Ingredients: puerh tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: pale gold

I've been wanting to try this offering from +Wildteaqi for some time. When I shared a picture of the unusual leaves on Instagram and Twitter, several people asked me if it was the same as Silver Buds Yabao from Verdant Tea. My photography skills and lighting were poor but I can confirm that this is definitely a different tea. The taste was sweet, mild and just vaguely reminiscent of what I would expect from a raw puerh. Although mellow, it was not lacking in flavor. There were notes of honey and interesting floral quality that lingered long after each sip. I did at least six consecutive infusions and it could have gone for several more. I really enjoy the amount of information that Wild Tea Qi provides about their teas. This one was produced by Tea Master Chen Mei. I've tried several of her other teas and they were all phenomenal.

Wild Tea Qi Wild Purple Bud Puer Tea sample provided by Wild Tea Qi

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Where I've Been and Where I'm Going

You may have noticed that things have been a little quiet around here. The blog has continued at a bit of a reduced pace and I just haven't had the time to be as active on social media. The main reason for that is that I've a taken a leap of faith, leaving my rather comfy job to take on a management role at +Tea Drunk. Change is scary, especially for a worry wart such as myself, but it is also exciting and challenging. I work long hours but it has been amazing to have the chance to do something that I love.

My boss is currently on a buying trip to China and I've been holding down the fort at the tea house seven days a week. My poor boyfriend hardly sees me anymore but he's been incredibly supportive and understanding. It's hard work but I feel happier and more fulfilled than I have in a very long time. Some folks were worried that I might have to stop +Tea for Me Please but I'm still as committed to this blog as ever.

Now that you know where I've been, I'm excited to tell you where I am going. World Tea Expo! I've been wanting to go to this event for years and came close last year but in the end I wasn't able to afford the airline tickets. I'm beyond excited to meet tea folks that I have been talking to online for years like +Geoffrey Norman+Jen Piccotti and +Ricardo Caicedo. I'll technically be going there as press but I'll also be using the opportunity to scout teaware distributors for +Tea Drunk. The Tea Bloggers Roundtable is something that I am particularly looking forward to. Check out this nift flyer for more info on that!

Tea has opened so many wonderful doors for me. I can't help but feel grateful that I have so much to look forward to. Do you have any exciting plans coming up? I'd love to heart about them, especially if they involve tea :)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Ippodo Tea Co. Unro Sencha

Country of Origin: Japan
Leaf Appearance: small, dark green, needle-like
Ingredients: green tea
Steep time: 2 minutes
Water Temperature: 175 degrees
Preparation Method: kyusu
Liquor: jade green

On a recent stay-cation in NYC, my boyfriend happened to book a hotel directly across the street from Ippodo. How lucky was that? One a previous trip I picked up some matcha but I was on a mission for sencha this time around. They had several different options to choose from. I went with the Unro because it was the least expensive choice. Japanese greens are notoriously picky about temperature so I was surprised to see that they had directions on the package for using boiling water. The aroma of the leaves was amazing, even before steeping. I must confess to sticking my nose into the kyusu more than once to deeply inhale that fresh smell that I've really ever found in sencha and gyokuro. The taste was sweet, vegetal and packed full of umami. Umami is something that I often struggle to describe even though I know it when I taste it. For more information on the "fifth taste" check out this article from +Ricardo Caicedo. There was just a touch of astringency but it never became unpleasant. If you ever have the chance to visit Ippodo's shop, I highly recommend picking this one up.

Unro Sencha purchased from Ippodo Tea Co.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Yezi Tea Dragon Well Master Grade Long Jing 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: very pale

Dragon Well is one of the first teas that I truly fell in love with and I still have a major soft spot for it. I've reviewed a few other selections from +Yezi Tea and they set the bar pretty high. Thankfully this tasty green did not let me down. The liquor was fairly pale but it was very aromatic. On an unseasonably warm winter day, it was like a breath of spring in my gaiwan. The taste was smooth and buttery with notes of spinach and chestnuts. It stayed consistent throughout at least 6 consecutive infusions. I also brewed this tea by just throwing the leaves into a glass travel tumbler and it passed that test like a champ. The wonderful thing about Dragon Well (at least the good ones) is that they aren't picky. You could do almost anything to it and the resulting tea would still be drinkable. Although this one is very high quality it also moderately priced. That makes it a great place to start for someone who is just getting into tea.

Dragon Well Master Grade Long Jing Green Tea sample provided by Yezi Tea.

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Kettle Shed Tea Company Assam

Country of Origin: India
Leaf Appearance: small, dark with some golden tips
Ingredients: black tea
Steep time: 3 minutes
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain teacup and mesh infuser
Liquor: deep reddish brown

I don't get to drink Assam very often (even though I love it) so I was really excited to receive a sample tin of this offering from +The Kettle Shed: Tea Company. Although the steeping directions said 3 to 5 minutes, I erred on the side of caution and went with the lower number. The taste was brisk and malty with just the right amount of astringency. It had a subtle sweet quality and a bright, clean finish. When I imagine what Assam tastes like, this is exactly what my mind thinks of. It's like a comforting sensory memory. No sugar or milk was necessary but it was bold enough to take them if you are so inclined. If you are a fan of English Breakfast, this one will be right up your alley. I've been very impressed with the offerings from this UK based company. If you are ever across the pond, be sure to look them up at Chiswick Fine Foods and Drink Market and Bishop’s Park Farmers and Fine Foods Market.

Assam sample provided by The Kettle Shed Tea Company.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Tea DIY: Matcha Morning Wake Up

I've seen a few tea retailers post about mixing matcha with fruit juice lately. I was skeptical but I had a morning off of work so I thought that I would give it a try. The result was actually surprisingly tasty. The matcha smooths out the citrus bite of the juice. It's a great way to get a healthy dose of Vitamin C as well as antioxidants. I don't drink coffee so this will be my go-to pick me up on days when I am feeling really groggy.

Ingredients

1 teaspoon of matcha
1 cup of orange juice

Mix together thoroughly and enjoy!

I usually take step by step pictures for tutorials but this one is pretty fool proof. I used my milk frother to make this because it gets everything blended smoothly without clumps. If you don't have one you can just as easily use a whisk, blender or other mixing contraptions. In a pinch, shake them together in a mason jar with the lid tightly closed.

If you aren't a fan of orange juice, just substitute apple juice or whatever your favorite might be. I used Think Matcha Ceremonial Matcha because that was what I had on hand but any brand will do. You could even go for some of the cheaper stuff since you are blending it.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Teavivre 2006 Fengqing Raw Pu-erh Tea Tuocha

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: somewhat dark, tightly compressed
Ingredients: puerh tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: dark orange-ish amber

I had yet to try any puerh from +TeaVivre so I was really excited to dig into the latest batch of samples. Most of the cakes that I've been drinking lately are on the young side, no later than 2011, and it's not often that I come across older toucha. The leaves were tightly compressed but readily broke apart in my gaiwan after a quick rinse. I love the smell of raw puerh after steeping and this one was extremely aromatic. It brewed up quite dark, which I suppose I should have expected given the age of the tea. Initially the taste was strong and vegetal but there was major comeback sweetness after each sip. Teavivre likened it to sugarcane and I would say that is pretty spot on. I usually try to keep track of how many infusions that I do but I actually lost count with this one. I did several rounds, ran some errands and then came back to do quite a few more. Although these are on the expensive side for toucha, the quality really speaks for itself. I might just pick up some of these for a once in a while treat.

2006 Fengqing Raw Pu-erh Tea Tuocha  sample provided by Teavivre.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

J-Tea International Minto Oregon Grown

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

Tea grown in the U.S. is a fairly new development (Charleston Tea Plantation aside) but it has been an exciting time to be in the tea world because of it. This particular one is yet another tea that +Geoffrey Norman piqued my curiosity about as it is often mentioned in his tweets and blog posts. It was produced by Minto Island Growers on their farm in Salem, Oregon. The leaves had a rather rough appearance but the taste was actually surprisingly good. It was mellow with sweet notes of fruity and honey. There was remarkably little astringency for a black tea as well. I have a feeling that it could have handled a longer steep like a champ. I was very much reminded of the black tea that I attempted to make myself with the assistance of +Boston Teawrights. This tea was a valiant effort by a fairly new grower and I'm looking forward to seeing how they progress in the years to come. Thank you to +J-TEA for making this tea available!

Minto Oregon Grown purchased from J-Tea International.

Monday, March 17, 2014

A Vintage Teacup


My teaware tastes have always been mostly Asian inspired and traditional but lately I seem to have developed a fetish for vintage teacups. Mint green has also become my thing. When I spotted this one on Etsy, it was love at first sight. The opulent gold trimming and delicate floral details combined with it being one of my favorite colors was too much to resist. I haven't been able to find out the name of the pattern but I do know that it was produced by Paragon in the 1930's. I can't help but feel fancy when drinking from it. By the way, I purchased it from Swirling Orange on Etsy. The seller was incredibly professional, packed it well and follow up with me every step of the way.

Share a picture of your favorite teacup in the comments! I'll select someone at random to win a copy of 19 Lessons On Tea by 27 Press.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Tribute Tea Company Darjeeling Moonlight

Country of Origin: India
Leaf Appearance: small, curled with lots of silvery buds
Ingredients: white tea
Steep time: 2 minutes
Water Temperature: 190 degrees
Preparation Method: glass teapot
Liquor: pale gold

In my experience, white teas that are produced outside of China are usually either really good or really REALLY bad. Thankfully this offering from +Tribute Tea Company definitely fell into the really good category. The taste was surprisingly citrusy with notes of melon and just a hint of spiciness. The signature muscatel of Darjeeling was definitely present and it had a wonderfully refreshing finish. My second infusion was just as delicious but somewhat heavier than the first. It had a sweet aftertaste that lingered in my palate long after each sip. The only thing that I could wish for is to know which estate it was grown on. This would be a perfect white tea for the summer sipping. Although I brewed it in a glass teapot, I think it would also do well if prepared using a gaiwan.

Darjeeling Moonlight sample provided by Tribute Tea Company.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Infuze Tea Personalized Tumbler

I have more gizmos and gadgets for making tea on the go than any one person should own. That being said, one thing I always wanted and never managed to get was a double walled glass tumbler. Several cute designs are offered by +Infuze Tea & Teaware but I thought that the personalized option was really unique. Who wouldn't love their initial in a pretty script font? That feature alone makes it a great gift. The lid fit very tightly and did not leak at all, even when I haphazardly tossed it in my purse. It was very easy to clean and it did a decent job of keeping my tea hot. I do wish that the infuser basket were deeper but other than that it's an incredibly useful tool.

Personalized Tumbler provided by Infuze Tea.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Jalam Teas Dien Hong

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: mottled brown and black, loosely compressed
Ingredients: black tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: deep reddish brown

The December 2013 offering from +JalamTeas was a bit unique because it was a compressed black tea. Every tea that I've received through their subscription service so far has been raw or cooked puerh so this one piqued my interest immediately. The leaves were pressed into a cake but were rather loose so I was able to easily break them off without the assistance of knife. The taste was everything that I love about Yunnan black teas. It was fruity, sweet and malty with an almost citrus-like finish. The mouth-feel was thick and tannic but I did not find it bitter at all. I was glad that I used a white teacup because it really showed off the gorgeous deep ruby red liquor. As the included postcard explained, this cake was harvested by Hani and Lahu people. Aren't the kids on the picture adorable?

Dien Hong purchased from Jalam Teas.









Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Spicely Organics Organic Tulsi

Country of Origin: not listed
Leaf Appearance: small, mottled brown and green
Ingredients: organic tulsi
Steep time: 5 minutes
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: ceramic teacup and mesh infuser
Liquor: dark amber

I don't often drink herbal teas but tulsi just happens to be one of my favorites. Although it has many purported health benefits, I simply like the way it tastes. I thought that the packaging for this offering from +Spicely Organics was really cute because of the whimsical drawing. The taste was sweet and earthy with grassy notes and a strong hint of pepper. I definitely wouldn't suggest adding milk but a touch of honey might be nice. Most herbals come off as medicinal but tulsi always seems to be the right balance for me. Spicely Organics has an entire line of teas and I am definitely curious to try the others after enjoying this one so much. When I was offered a sample I specifically requested the plain stuff but they also offer several flavored tulsi blends.

Leave a comment below and you'll be entered in a random drawing. One winner will receive a 3 month tea subscription from Spicely Organics!

Organic Tulsi sample provided by Spicely Organics.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Tea At Sea Mountain Organic Indonesian Oolong

Country of Origin: Indonesia
Leaf Appearance: deep green, tightly rolled
Ingredients: oolong tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: pale gold

I've seen +Tea At Sea posting regularly on Steepster for some time now and I have always admired their whimsically nautical packaging. How cute is that little cork sail boat? I couldn't resist floating it in my teacup. This is the first Indonesian tea that I've tried so it was doubly exciting. The taste had a somewhat odd marine taste to it, something like what I might expect from a Japanese green. It still had the floral and vegetal qualities that I associate with rolled oolongs. I didn't get the creaminess that they mentioned in their product description but the promised notes of honey were there. Oolong is one of the hardest teas to make and Indonesia is still very new to making it so it would not be fair to compare this to a Chinese or Taiwanese oolong. For country who primarily produces black and green teas for export, this is a great start in the right direction.

Mountain Organic Indonesian Oolong sample provided by Tea At Sea.






Friday, March 7, 2014

Think Matcha Ceremonial Matcha

Country of Origin: Japan
Leaf Appearance: bright green, powdered
Ingredients: green tea
Steep time: whisked
Water Temperature: 160 degrees
Preparation Method: traditional
Liquor: deep green

The name +think Matcha might ring a bell as Peter Sabbagh, their founder, contributed a guest post a few months ago. I'm a bit of a matcha addict so I couldn't resist giving their ceremonial offering a try. The first thing that I noticed was that the color was so vibrantly green. It practically glowed! This is something that I always look for when making a purchase. Dull color = dull flavor, at least in my experience. The taste was all sweetness and vegetal umami with a thick, creamy mouthfeel. I couldn't get enough of it. Matcha is known for having a decent amount of astringency but this one had hardly any bite at all. It sifted well and did not clump up while whisking. I was definitely sad when my bowl was finished but thankfully I have a little bit left to savor. While not necessarily inexpensive, I think that this tea is very fairly priced for the quality that you are getting.

Ceremonial Matcha sample provided by Think Matcha.



Thursday, March 6, 2014

Butiki Teas Potato Pancakes & Applesauce

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: thin leaves with large chunks of potato and apple
Ingredients: Organic Huangshan Mao Feng, Freeze-Dried Potatoes, Organic Saigon Cinnamon, Organic Cinnamon Apple Chips, Natural Organic Flavoring
Steep time: 4 minutes
Water Temperature: 180 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain teapot and mesh infuser
                                                      Liquor: very pale

I have heard so much about this unusual flavored tea on Steepster that I just had to give it a try myself. My boyfriend was particularly excited to try this one too because he loves potato pancakes. To be honest, I don't think I've ever eaten one but I do love applesauce. I was a bit worried about the taste because the liquor was very pale. It looked like it there would be no taste at and at first, that is exactly what it tasted like. Then it hit me like the Everlasting Gobstopper scene in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. First it was starchy followed by a cinnamon sweetness that was undeniably potato pancakes and applesauce. I have no idea how she did it but to make the story short, +Stacy Lim is nothing short of a tea Willy Wonka. I'm curious to try adding a touch of sugar or even salt as the product description on Butiki Teas' website recommends. This is one tea that I will definitely be returning to.

Potato Pancakes & Applesauce purchased from Butiki Teas.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Teamania Four Seasons Oolong

Country of Origin: Thailand
Leaf Appearance: jade green, tightly rolled
Ingredients: oolong tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 200 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: gold

It's not often that I come across a tea from Thailand. It's even rarer for them to be oolongs. This particular tea is made from Si Ji Chun, otherwise known as Four Seasons Oolong. The leaves looked a bit different than their Taiwanese counterpart as they were smaller in size. Both the dry tea and liquor were very aromatic. The taste was floral and sweet with a mellow but lingering aftertaste. Although lightly fermented it is also roasted so there is a nice balance of flavors, not too floral and not too roasty. Later infusions developed a bit of sourness, similar to what I might expect from a Tie Guan Yin. I would be inclined to use an even shorter steep time in the future because of this. Otherwise it was a very enjoyable sip and one that I wouldn't mind returning to. +Teamania has quite a large range of Thai teas so they are definitely one of your go-to online retailers.

Four Seasons Oolong sample provided by Teamania.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Takeya Modern Flip Straw with Carry Handle 18oz

I'll let you in on a secret. I love iced tea! I grew up drinking lots of the sweetened stuff. Now that my tea tastes have changed a bit I prefer unsweetened varieties but I still very much enjoy swigging a cold one. The trouble is, finding bottled unsweetened iced tea these days is like finding a needle in a haystack. Bringing my own seemed to be the only solution. I've tried both plastic and aluminum travel bottles but they were all hard to clean and added unpleasant tastes. That is why I was so excited when I saw these new glass bottles from Takeya.

I'm rather accident prone so glass makes me nervous. Thankfully this one also comes with a silicone cover. My klutzy ways have already caused it to take a few bumps and tumbles. I wouldn't recommend allowing it to fall from a large height though. It looks a bit like a grown up sippy cup when you are drinking from it but it certainly gets the job done. The lid is fairly airtight, though I did occasionally get a few smalls drips that were trapped in the straw. I hate the way plastic straws feel so I really like that this one has a silicone cover. I have a feeling that this bottle and I will be inseparable once summer time comes around.

Modern Flip Straw with Carry Handle provided by Takeya.

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Devotea Darjeeling Margaret's Hope

Country of Origin: India
Leaf Appearance: small, dark
Ingredients: black tea
Steep time: 3 minutes
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: ceramic teacup and mesh infuser
Liquor: deep reddish brown

I received this tea as part of the +The Devotea's Tea of the Month Club. I was really excited because not only is this tea a Darjeeling from one of my favorite estates but it was also sourced through +Lochan Tea Limited. Their reputation for very good quality Indian teas is well known in the tea community. The taste was bold and somewhat malty with strong muscatel notes, every bit a classic second flush. There was astringency but enough so as to add a refreshing briskness. It was full bodied enough to take additives if you were so inclined but milk and sugar are by no means required. Although this tea is from the 2012 harvest, it's still packs plenty of punch and flavor. Darjeeling is probably the only type of tea that I get actual cravings for and I will be savoring this one to the last drop. Whenever I drink any tea from this estate, I can't help but think of +Robert Godden reading about the story of how it came to be called Margaret's Hope from his collection of short stories, The Infusiast.

Darjeeling Margaret's Hope sample provided by The Devotea.