Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Kettle Shed Tea Company Keemun Congou

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

Keemun is one of my favorite types of Chinese black tea. I was incredibly sad when I opened my package of samples from +The Kettle Shed: Tea Company and saw that the lid had popped off of this tin. There's no use crying over split tea, thankfully there was still enough leaf left to brew. The taste was earthy and sweet with just a touch of astringency. A slightly fruity note ended in a wine-like aftertaste. I had to lighten up on leaves a bit while brewing in a gaiwan. Shorter infusions would also do the trick. This tea would be well suited to preparation in a western style and could easily stand up to the addition of milk or sweeteners. The Kettle Shed's product description compares it to Indian black teas and I can certainly see that correlation. It would be a great choice for someone who wants a full bodied black tea without the kick of Assam.

Keemun Congou sample provided by The Kettle Shed Tea Company.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Socially Speaking: Bellocq's Instagram

It's time for the second installment of my Socially Speaking series. Instagram is a platform that many retailers struggle with so I wanted to focus on one who I think does a really fantastic job. I've heard so many tea company owners say that they are too old for Instagram or that they had tried briefly but couldn't get the hang of things. I hope that this example shows that its not that hard!

Brooklyn based +Bellocq Tea Atelier is one of my favorite tea shops, mostly because their interior design is breathtakingly beautiful. Their very popular Instagram account is just as gorgeous. Here are some of the reasons why:
  • Thoughtful use of lighting and color
You don't have to be a professional photographer to know when something looks pretty. That is basically the entire point of Instagram, to empower the average smart phone user to take beautiful pictures. What looks kind of pretty to the naked eye can often look quite amazing when one of the app's filters is applied. A quick scan through Bellocq's stream shows that each photo is very thoughtfully yet organically composed. It helps if you start thinking in Instagram filters.
  • Infuse personality without making it too personal
Your Instagram account should reflect your personality and that of your business. That being said, it's easy to cross the line into TMI (Too Much Information) territory. A few scattered personal pics can help your followers feel more connected to you. No one wants to see what you have for dinner every night.
  • Share things other than your products
In additional to photographs of their own teas, Bellocq frequently shares sunsets and countryside views. While not directly related to their products, the pictures still fit in with the general aesthetics of their account. Sourcing trips are a great opportunity to show what your company is all about. Don't limit yourself to just sharing tea. People, animals and architecture all help you to tell your story.
  • Use hashtags appropriately
Hashtags are a great way to find new followers. Bellocq frequently uses #nyctea, #bellocqtea and other tea related hashtags. Do not use unrelated hashtags as a thinly veiled attempt to gain more followers. #Paleo, I'm looking at you!
  • Be responsive
Respond to every comment that your pictures received. If someone took the time to comment you should at the very least take the time to thank them. If you have a brick and mortar, it's even more important to stay on your game. Anytime that I have mentioned Bellocq in a photo, they've always been very quick to respond. Even if it's just with a quick "enjoy! xoxo", their responsiveness makes me like their brand that much more.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Puer Tea: Ancient Caravans and Urban Chic by Jinghong Zhang

I'm always on the look out for new tea books to read. This one was ordered after a recommendation from +Tony Gebely of +World of Tea fame. I was especially drawn to it because I had never seen an English language book devoted exclusively to puerh tea. Although it is a scholarly study, I found it to be an engaging and fascinating read. Focusing mainly on Yiwu, Zhang gives a through analysis of the recent peaks and valleys of the puerh industry in China. I was previously aware of the 2007 market crash but I did not have all of the details.

The videos that the author shot during her research add another layer. Part of my enjoyment of tea stems from gaining an understanding of the people and culture that produced it. Whether it's a woman picking tea as she complains about her daughter-in-law or a tense tea room negotiation, each video demonstrates the talking points in the book extremely well.

You can view the companion videos to this book at this link:

http://www.washington.edu/uwpress/books/Zhang_PUER_TEA_videos.html

Book reviews are always hard because I don't want to give too much away. Simply put, this is a book that every tea lover needs to read. Even if you aren't a fan of puerh it gives an excellent window into the workings of the Chinese tea industry.

Find out more about this book here.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Late Night Waffles and Tea

I've been working crazy long hours at +Tea Drunk lately so needless to say I was beyond happy that I actually managed to get home early one night. While getting to sleep early would have been the smart option, I just couldn't bring myself to settle down just yet. The house was quiet and everyone else was asleep so there was nothing else do but make some tea. This is also the time of night that my sweet tooth rears its ugly head. Thankfully I remembered that I had some +Rip van Wafels waiting to be enjoyed.

These ingenious cookies are designed to be warmed on top of your tea cup, melting the filling and making them even more indulgent. Why didn't I think of that? Remembering that +Tealet had done a gift pack with them a while back, I followed their lead and paired the caramel filled treat with Doke Rolling Thunder. They were a match made in heaven! The sweet, fruity notes in the tea went perfectly with the gooey caramel. It's amazing how much of a pick me up something like this can be but one little cookie really did make my night.

I still have two chocolate filled waffles left to devour. What kind of tea do you think will go well with them? I'm thinking Dian Hong or maybe even a strawberry and chocolate flavored puerh.


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Teavana Jeju Island Green Tea

Country of Origin: Korea
Leaf Appearance: deep green, slightly rolled
Ingredients: green tea
Steep time: 1 minute
Water Temperature: 175 degrees
Preparation Method: glass teapot
Liquor: bright green

Many tea drinkers are surprised to hear that Korea grows tea because little is exported and they are not very well known. Needless to say, I pretty much did a happy dance when +Teavana sent me a sample tin. The leaves almost resembled a Chinese green tea called Gua Pian. They had a very sweet aroma, even when dry. The taste was somewhat of a cross between the sweetness of Gua Pian and the deeply vegetal quality of sencha. I didn't quite pick up the chestnut notes that they describe on the product page though. It stood up to several infusions and only developed bitterness if left to steep for too long. I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed this one. Much like the Golden Dragon Yellow Tea that I reviewed previously, Teavana seems to have stepped up their sourcing game lately. I am really curious how this tea was processed. The vegetal notes suggest that it might have been steamed like a typical Japanese green tea.

Jeju Island Green Tea sample provided by Teavana.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Teavivre Fengqing Wild Tree Yesheng Raw Pu-erh Tea Cake 2013

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

The last year or so has been a major period of puerh discovery for me. Up until now I was rather terrified of this category because the examples that I tried years ago were really terrible. Thankfully I now have companies that I trust like +TeaVivre. I've tried a few of their puerh from Fengqing and they were all very good so I was really excited to dig into this one. It stayed sweet throughout all of my infusions but developed a strong, stimulating astringency in the middle. There was a pleasant earthiness and it never got offensive or unpleasant in any way. I always love Teavivre's upfront honesty in their tea descriptions. This line is a great example:

As the workers use iron pan for fixation, and roll the tea with their hands, the leaves do not have good looks as machine-made leaves. Yet regarding on quality, this Wild Tree Yesheng Pu-erh Cake is a green food from nature, in the mists and clouds on high mountains. It is a tea worth being in your collection list.

If I didn't have so much tea on hand already, I'd consider buying several cakes of this. For $62, it is a bit of a steal because it's drinking great young (relatively speaking) and 357 grams goes a long way.

Fengqing Wild Tree Yesheng Raw Pu-erh Tea Cake 2013 sample provided by Teavivre.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Infuze Tea Pouchong Formosa

Country of Origin: Taiwan
Leaf Appearance: dark, somewhat twisted
Ingredients: oolong tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 190 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: deep gold

Formosa means beautiful island and it is the name that was given to Taiwan by the Portuguese. Although this name is no longer used to describe the country it is often given to its teas, particularly pouchong. The leaves of this one were dark in appearance but became quite green after steeping.  Floral, sweet and just slightly vegetal; this tea was everything that I would expect from a pouchong. The aroma lingered in my palate long after each sip. I don't drink this type of tea often because they are usually too sweet for my taste. That being said, on a warm spring day it was very enjoyable. Be watchful while steeping as this tea can develop a sour edge if left to brew for too long. It might actually do better in a teapot because the brew will be less concentrated. At just $5.99 per ounce, this tea would make a great daily drinker for someone who really loves floral oolongs.

Pouchong Formosa sample provided by Infuze Tea.

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Daily Tea and Me

As many of you know, +Tea Magazine is now becoming the +The Daily Tea. If this is news to you there's an explanation of the changes here.

I'm excited to announced that I've been asked to be a contributor to the new site and my very first article has just gone live. This will be a great opportunity to reach a larger audience and exercise my writing chops. Creating content outside of the blog has always been a challenge for me because I tend to over-think things. I should be publishing there about once a month or so. Be sure to bookmark my author profile so that you can stay up to date.

Check out my first article:

Getting Started with Loose Leaf Tea

Friday, April 18, 2014

Adagio Teas Ti Kuan Yin

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: deep green, tightly rolled
Ingredients: oolong tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 195 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: pale gold

This tea was sweet, smooth and refreshing with a really nice lingering floral aroma. There was no bitterness or astringency to speak of. Lightly oxidized TGY is usually not my thing as they can be almost too sweet but this one was very balanced. I prefer to use a gaiwan but this tea would also do well if prepared in a more western style. Adagio's teas are great way to get your feet wet because they are usually priced very well. Was it the best Tie Guan Yin I've ever had? Definitely not. Was it a really decent cup of tea with an affordable price point? Absolutely! This tea is part of their Roots campaign. As always, I really enjoy reading the Q & A's with tea farmers. I've also noticed an interesting new feature on their website. The price per pound is compared with other popular tea companies such as Teavana and David's Tea. I couldn't help but giggle when I saw that Teavana was 212% more expensive. :)

Ti Kuan Yin sample provided by Adagio Teas.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Jalam Teas Zhang Lang Fermented Puerh

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

Most of the offerings that I receive through my +JalamTeas subscription are raw puerh so I always get excited when they throw in something a little different. This fermented puerh brewed up as dark as blackstrap molasses. I have to admit that made me hesitate a bit before taking my first sip. Thankfully I was pleasantly surprised to find the taste unbelievably smooth. It was sweet and richly earthy with no bitterness whatsoever. I lost count of the number infusions that I did but I can tell you that there were a lot! This tea was produced by the Pulang people of the Bada/Pulang Mountains. It is a fermented version of the raw Zhang Lang that I reviewed last year so it was interesting to have a chance to compare the two. I adore the photo postcards that are sent with each month's shipment and this card in particular was really striking. The muleteer looks so worldly and wise. He must have so many stories to tell of the old Tea Horse Road.

Zhang Lang Fermented Puerh purchased as part of Jalam Teas subscription.






Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Meet The Tea: Dian Hong

Dian Hong has been one of my favorite types of black tea ever since I first started drinking loose leaf tea. It is produced in the Yunnan province of China. Dian is a short name for this region and Hong means Red. In China, black teas are usually called red teas so that can cause some confusion for tea drinkers. Many of us think of rooibos, an herbal tea from South Africa, as red tea. Relatively speaking it is a fairly new tea for Yunnan. This region is most commonly known for its puerh tea.

The leaves are usually dark and twisted in shape with trademark golden tips. The amount of golden tips vary widely but this doesn't have much of an affect on taste, it just makes them look pretty. I have to admit that I am a sucker for them. The taste is full bodied but sweet with fruity notes that are often compared to raisins or dates. Some Yunnan black teas also have a yammy or sweet potato-like quality. They aren't very bitter so this is a black tea that you can drink all on its own without milk and sugar. One of my favorite things about this tea is the gorgeous deep reddish brown color of the liquor.

Dian Hong is typically brewed using boiling water and steep times are anywhere from 2 to 5 minutes. For starters, follow the instructions provided by your tea vendor and then adjust to taste from there.

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Yezi Tea Yi Fu Chun


Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: small, dark with lots of golden tips
Ingredients: black tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 200 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: deep reddish brown

I've been on a big Chinese red tea kick lately so I was excited to dig into this one. The dry leaves were tiny in size but quite beautiful to look at. Golden tips don't seem to add much flavor-wise but they certainly look nice before brewing. The taste was wonderfully complex with fruity notes and a deep yet subtle earthiness. I wouldn't call it malty but there was an interesting grain-like quality that I found very comforting. It was full bodied but there was no bitterness at all. Please don't add milk or sugar to this one! They are really not needed and you would loose a lot of those great nuances. I've tried several selections from +Yezi Tea now and their black teas have definitely been standouts. It's a close tie between this one and their Qing Pin. I really can't choose a favorite between the two.

Yi Fu Chun sample provided by Yezi Tea.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Conceptteas Silver Needle

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: large, covered in downy hair
Ingredients: white tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 195 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: gold

Being a tea blogger is a lot of work but it does have its perks. One of them is having the opportunity to taste some truly amazing teas. Over the years I've reviewed hundreds of teas and Not all of them were memorable but a select few stand out from the crowd. This was one of those teas. I struggled to find the words to describe it but it was quite possibly one of the best examples of silver needle that I have ever tasted. The taste was incredibly fruity with floral notes and a lingering sweetness. The mouth-feel had an almost velvety quality to it that was really enjoyable. This tea performed well using both rapid infusions and my standard 30 seconds. Only drink this tea when you really have the time to focus on it. The infusions go on forever and it would a shame to waste all of that amazing tea! I lost count after ten but that gives you a fairly good idea of the staying power this one has.

Silver Needle sample provided by Conceptteas.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Seven Cups Dian Hong Gong Fu 2012

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: small, dark with scattered golden tips
Ingredients: black tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: deep reddish brown

I couldn't resist picking up a bag of this tea when I ordered my annual indulgence of Huang Xi Zhang from Seven Cups. Chinese red tea is an interesting category because there are so many different kinds. At +Tea Drunk we have a fairly large leafed Dian Hong. They look giant compared to these tiny "gong fu" type leaves. The taste was bold and sweet with fruity notes and an almost brown sugar-like finish. On a cold and rainy day, this exactly what I needed! It wasn't as yammy or raisiny as other Dian Hongs that I have tried but that wasn't a bad thing in the least. There was a just a touch of astringency but I did not find it bitter or unpleasant. If you really must, it was full bodied enough for milk or sweeteners but please try it on its own first. You won't be sorry!

Dian Hong Gong Fu 2012 purchased from Seven Cups.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Tribute Tea Company Scarlet Robe Oolong

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: dark, twisted
Ingredients: oolong tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 190 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: gold

When I first opened this tea I had to double check the listing on Tribute Tea Company's website. The name seemed to imply that it was Da Hong Pao but the leaves looked almost like a Phoenix oolong. It was unusual mostly because it wasn't roasty at all. Then I remembered that a co-worker had once shared a similar tea from Teance with me. The oxidation is ow so the taste was mellow and fruity with slight floral notes. It lacked the usual cliff tea bitterness but for me that made it rather boring. I found myself missing the deep, multi-layered roastiness that I know and love. This could partially be blamed on the cold, rainy weather but it just wasn't my cup of tea. That's not to say that it was a bad tea. I just don't think it should be called Da Hong Pao if it is not manufactured like one. Realizing that I'm a bit persnickety about that, you might enjoy this tea a lot if you don't like a very roasted taste.

Scarlet Robe Oolong sample provided by Tribute Tea Company.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Teavivre Fengqing Zhuan Cha Raw Puerh Brick Tea 2005

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

This tea is a rare treat in that I hardly ever see brick tea and it is a bit older than everything that I have been drinking lately. The dry leaves were quite dark in color but they resembled a typical raw puerh after a quick rinse. Herbaceous and vegetal, I picked up interesting notes of liquorice. Initially the taste was on the astringent side but the finish of each sip was very sweet. This kind of complexity is one of my favorite features of raw puerh. I found myself continuing to brew even after the majority of the taste had faded as it still had a really nice sweetness. As always, I love the amount of background information that +TeaVivre provides. Production area, picking time and the type of storage are all things that puerh buyers need to know. This vendor also has a ripened version of this tea. I think it would be very interesting to compare the two.

Fengquing Zhuan Cha Raw Puerh Brick Tea 2005 sample provided by Teavivre.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Steeped In Evil by Laura Childs

I'm usually not much of a murder mystery reader but when I was asked to review this tea infused novel, I just couldn't resist. I am so glad that I did because it turned out to be a real page turner. The main character, Theodesia Browning, is a redheaded tea shop owner with a penchant for getting tangled up in murder investigations. I was worried that I might be a little lost having never read other books from this series but that was not an issue at all. The author's style is wonderfully colorful and descriptive. Every time that I picked up this book I was transported to Charleston, South Carolina.

The timing couldn't have been better as I leave my job in the wine industry to manage a tea house. Both tea and wine are intricately and factually woven throughout the story. I don't want to give too much away but I will say that I was left guessing until the very end. I've been working a ton lately and a light, fun read like this was just what the doctor ordered. Don't let the 350 page count scare you, I breezed through it in about a week of reading just on my commute. A collection of delicious sounding recipes is included at the end of the book, many of which are featured in the story. I will definitely need to give a few of those a try myself!

You can find out more about this book here.
Book provided for review by author.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Tea Setter Old Capital Pu-erh Tea

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: dark reddish amber

The taste of this tea was mellow and sweet with just the right dose of earthy. Think fresh, moist potting soil rather than moldy forest floor. Although it was on the mild side, it stayed consistent throughout several infusions. I only had 4g of leaf to play with but a normal sized gaiwan still worked well. Just as I've experienced with other puerhs from +Tea Setter, this is a fantastic beginner tea because it takes away the scary factor. +Matt Kitchen does a great job of seaking out teas that do exactly that. There is nothing worse than fishy, weird puerh because they tend to scare people away from an entire category of otherwise amazing teas. This tea is fairly inexpensive and a little goes a long way so it makes a great everyday drinker.

Old Capital Pu-erh Tea sample provided by Tea Setter.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Socially Speaking: Joseph Wesley Black Tea's Facebook Page

A number of my readers are in the "industry" and I often get asked for advice about social media so I thought that now would be a good time to start a little series on the subject. My goal is to highlight the folks who do it right as well as to spark discussion. I think that is something we can all learn from. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments!

+Joseph Wesley Black Tea is a very small company based in Detroit that specializes in single source, estate grown black teas. Facebook can be really hard to do right but founder Joseph Uhl does it without even realizing that he does.
  • Style 
Joe's product packaging is impeccable and he carries that same sense of style to everything he does on Facebook. All of the photographs are beautifully done and he uses logo placement well without coming across as pushy. Seemingly unrelated photos, like the current gritty snapshot, carry across the urban feel and hand crafted message of the brand.
  • Authenticity
Every status update is in Joe's voice and by extension of that, the voice of the brand. Candid Instagram shots (like when Joe and his wife stopped in to see me at +Tea Drunk) and a healthy dose of outside links prevent the page from feeling like an advertisement.
  • Responsiveness
One thing you'll notice about this Facebook page is that every comment is responded to. Even if it is just with a jolly "Ha!", responding makes your audience feel valued. That will make them much more likely to interact with your page in the future.
  • Using Reviews Wisely
Review apps like Yotpo are a great way to get the word out about your tea but if used incorrectly, they give the impression that your hard earned reviews are spamy or fake. A small scattering of reviews will have a bigger impact that posting hundreds of them consecutively. Watch your app settings to make sure that you are in control of how frequently they post on your behalf.
  • Giving a Shout-out to those who help your brand
There is nothing more frustrating as a blogger than to pour your time and energy into a review only to have the company barely acknowledge its existence. Joe does a great job of giving props whenever someone writes anything about his brand.
I'd love to hear some other perspectives on this too! Is there a brand that you would like to see highlighted? Leave it in the comments or just shoot me an email at nicole@teaformeplease.com.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

World Tea Expo Announces 1st Annual World Tea Awards Dinner

I'm super excited to be attending the World Tea Expo this year. Even if you aren't able to attend, you can participate in voting for the awards dinner.
Long Beach, CA – There is more than just a new location for this year’s 12th edition of the World Tea Expo. A new black-tie Awards Dinner will be held on the historic Queen Mary recognizing some of the best in the industry on Friday, May 30th at 7 pm.

The Oscar-style event will be hosted by George Jage, founder/director of World Tea Media, and Gail Gastelu, publisher of The Tea House Times. The Expo’s Best New Products will be recognized along with a number of community-voted categories. Nominations are now being accepted for the following:
  • Best Tea Publication
  • Best Tea Book
  • Best Social Media Reach
  • Best Tea Room Website
  • Best Tea Retail Website
  • Best Tea Blog
  • Best Tea Educator
  • Best Tea Room Menu
  • Best Tea Short / Commercial
  • Best Tea Spirit
The nomination period will end April 24th. Finalists for each category will be announced, and voting by the community will follow. The Awards dinner will culminate with the recognition of Devan Shah with the Cha Jing Lifetime Achievement Award.

This is a tremendous opportunity for us to recognize and show appreciation to our industry overall, get dressed up, and celebrate what makes our community so special,” stated Gail Gastelu.

We have been looking to create this event for years, and with our move to Long Beach, the Queen Mary provides the perfect setting for a black-tie affair,” added George Jage. “Our longer term plans are to build the awards around recognizing the retailers and businesses on the front lines of the tea revolution. We will expand this significantly in future years, but this first one is not to be missed. I still have people come up to me and proudly say they were at the first Tea Expo and I am sure this micro-event will attain the same passion as our trade show.”

This is a ticketed event and you do not need to be a delegate of the World Tea Expo to participate. Delegates of the Expo can add the event to their registration online or individual or table reservations can be made by sending in this form.

For more information, contact World Tea Media at 702.253.1893.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Butiki Teas Mi Xian Black

Country of Origin: Taiwan
Leaf Appearance: dark, long and twister
Ingredients: black tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: amber

I've been on a massive Taiwanese black tea kick lately so I couldn't resist picking up a sample of this with my recent order. It is a newer style of black tea that uses leaves bitten by the ever helpful leaf hopper (the same little guy that brings us Oriental Beauty). The leaves were long and twisted, almost reminding me of a phoenix oolong. Delicate notes of honey and fruit ended in a smooth, sweet finish. The mouth-feel was fairly thick and there was no bitterness or astringency. Although mild mannered, I was still able to get at least six consecutive infusions. Gaiwans are always my go-to method of preparation but this tea would do really well if brewed in a more western way. Another Taiwanese black tea from this company, Taiwanese Wild Mountain Black, but this one was still a very good cup of tea. Sadly this tea was out of stock at the time that this tea was reviewed. Keep an on +Stacy Lim's site to see when it becomes available again.

Bi Xian Black sample received with an order from Butiki Teas.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Tea At Sea Mountain Organic Indonesian Black

Country of Origin: Indonesia
Leaf Appearance: small, dark and slightly rolled
Ingredients: black tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: dark amber

I've really been enjoying the selections from +Tea At Sea because Indonesian teas are fairly hard to come by. I was expecting something a bit on the strong side but it was surprisingly mellow. The taste was light yet complex with notes of malt and smoke. The sweet, woody aftertaste almost reminded me of rooibos in a very strange way. I found myself testing longer and longer infusions but it never got bitter or unpleasant. I prepare almost all of the teas that I review using a gaiwan but this is one that I think would actually do better when brewed in a plain ol' infuser basket. Their recommended steep time is 5 to 8 minutes so I would lean towards the higher end This is definitely one that won't need milk and sugar with. It would become much too watered down. I know that I said this last time, but I still can't get over those cute little cork sail boats! Mine keeps me company on my desk at home and it always makes me smile.

Mountain Organic Indonesian Black sample provided by Tea At Sea.