Friday, May 30, 2014

Infuze Tea White Peony

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: mixed greens and browns, mostly larger leaves
Ingredients: white tea
Steep time: 3 minutes
Water Temperature: 190 degrees
Preparation Method: ceramic teacup and infuser
Liquor: pale gold

The taste of this tea was mellow with floral notes and just a touch of fruitiness. In addition to brewing it in a teacup I also brewed it "grandpa style" in my glass tumbler. Infuze Tea compared it to an oolong but I really did not see that aspect of it. A bit of unpleasant hay-ishness came out if it was left for too long but otherwise that worked fairly well. I generally prefer a white peony that has a larger number of needles but this is an economical choice, especially for iced tea. This is one of those teas that can be polarizing. While it wasn't what I would call a bad tea, I really can't call it a good one either. That being said, one has to take the price into consideration. At $4.99 per ounce, it would not be fair to compare this tea to a much higher end version. They are two very different animals.

White Peony sample provided by Infuze Tea

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Tea Sommelier by Gabriella Lombardi

There are few things that I love more than a big and beautiful book on my favorite subject, tea! I had heard some buzz about this title from several fellow tea geeks so I just had to order it. It was quite large so I was impressed that the post office managed to squeeze the package through the bars of the security gate at +Tea Drunk. The photography is absolutely stunning. Beautiful photographs of every type of tea and teaware that you can possibly think of are enough to make any tea lover happy. The content was for the most part factual. There are a few things that I personally disagreed with but they were matters that are always subjects of debate in the tea world so I won't nitpick.

She covers many of the world's tea growing regions and shows examples of teas produced in each of them. At the end of the book is a collection of recipes that look both beautiful and daunting. I particular want to try the stuffed pasta that uses Shui Xian oolong. The one thing that I did take issue with was the color of the tea liquors shown. Most of them were all wrong. I realize that achieving the correct color is a very difficult thing. In fact it is every tea blogger's nightmare. However, a professionally photographed book should be held up to an even higher standard. That one issue (that is mostly my inner nerd showing) did not take away from the overall affect of the book though. It would make a great gift for any tea lover.

You can find out more about this book here.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Tea At Sea Mountain Organic Indonesian Green Tea

Country of Origin: Indonesian
Leaf Appearance: deep green, tightly rolled
Ingredients: green tea
Steep time: 5 minutes
Water Temperature: 185 degrees 
Preparation Method: glass teapot
Liquor: bright yellowish green

The selections that I've tried from +Tea At Sea have all been really interesting in that they all bear an uncanny resemblance to rolled oolongs, even the ones that aren't actually oolongs. This green tea even sort of tasted like one. It was fruity and sweet with delicate floral notes that lingered long after each sip. The mouth-feel was smooth with a clean and refreshing finish. It grew increasingly vegetal with each infusion but it never crossed the line into unpleasant. The sweetness became more prominent as it cooled so I have a feeling that it would make an excellent iced tea. My personal preference leans more towards Chinese or Japanese teas but this was an interesting foray into Indonesian tea. I'll definitely be keeping an eye on this region as they transition more towards making "specialty teas" rather than tea bag style CTC.

Mountain Organic Indonesia Green Tea sample provided by Tea At Sea.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Socially Speaking: Adagio Teas' Twitter

Twitter is one of those social media platforms where we constantly see brands fail. Whether its an intern sending an impersonal tweet or a poorly time sales pitch, it can be easy to negatively affect your brand. For my third installment of Socially Speaking, I'm focusing on +Adagio Teas. They were an early adopter on Twitter and I think that they make a great case study.
  • Get There First
Adagio joined Twitter around the same time that I did, September of 2008. Those were the good ol' days. Tea culture in the U.S. and Twitter were still in their infancy. No one really knew what they were doing back then but we knew that Twitter was one of the few places where we could connect with other tea lovers. Know where your customer is and be present there as soon as you can. Whether that platform is +Twitter+Steepster or some other platform; try to put down roots before your competitors do.
  • Keep Your Username Simple
Keep your username short, simple and to the point. That can be difficult as there is a limit of 15 characters but it is important that your Twitter handle be as close to your company name as possible. The kicker is that there is not much you can do if your name is already taken. The name @adagio is taken by an inactive account so they went with @AdagioTeas.
  • Be Responsive, Be Human
I know I say this about all social networks but it's really the one concept that every one should learn, social media is for interacting! No one wants to follow a brand who does nothing but tweet links to their own website. Adagio does a great job of replying to most of the tweets they receive in a fun and engaging way. One look at their tweets with replies shows that they are very active. One way to check how your brand is doing is see what your rating is on Twtrland. 83.3% of Adagio Teas' tweets are replies. That is huge for a brand! My own rating is 74.3% and I am fairly active myself.
  • Cut Down On The Clutter
Less is more when it comes to Twitter. Adagio sends out an average of 1.5 tweets per day. There's room for a bit more chatter there but it's better than talking too much. Auto-sending posts from your Facebook page to Twitter is a big faux pas. If your followers wanted to see those posts they would like your page there! The same thing goes for RT's. Sharing the love when your customers having something awesome to say about your brand is great but don't over do it. I'll let you in on a secret, I turn retweets off for almost all of my followers. It helps me to cut down on the clutter so that I don't miss updates that are important to me.
  • Give An Insider's Perspective
Twitter gives you a chance to get up close and personal with your customers. Give them an insight into the daily goings on at your company. Adagio has done a great job of this by sharing the stages of their recent warehouse move as well as random shots around their Garfield, NJ facility. Showing how the tea is stored and the way that orders get packed helps to build familiarity and trust.

Adagio does a lot of things right when it comes to Twitter but there are two small things I want to point out two things that could be better. If you look closely, the word Farm-fresh is spelled wrong on their profile description. This is a really small detail that takes away some polish from what would otherwise be a very well designed page. My other nitpick is that they are are only following 78 people despite having 20.3K followers. These profiles are seemingly random and often not even related to tea. Show your followers some love! Everyone does a little happy dance when their favorite brand follows back.

Is there something you'd like to see covered in this series? Let me know in the comments and you just might see in the next installment!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Tribute Tea Company 2012 Bulang Village Ancient Tree Raw Puerh

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: mottled, lots of silver tips
Ingredients: puerh tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 200 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: pale gold

This tea started out very much on the mellow side. There were mild notes of hay and a hint of mushroom-like umami lingering in the aftertaste. I found that it had a pleasant earthy quality without coming across as musty. An interesting floral aroma also popped up from time to time. It took three or four infusions to really open up. This wasn't a loud tea by any means but it did pack a bit of an astringent punch. It didn't have as much huaigan (comeback sweetness) as I was expecting so this would a great choice for those who prefer theirs teas that way. I did at least ten consecutive infusions before it started to loose steam. This tea is still fairly young so I would expect it to change a bit in a few years. It's no surprise that I have very much enjoyed the puerh offerings from +Tribute Tea Company as they were sourced for them by Jeff Fuchs of +JalamTeas fame.

2012 Bulang Village Ancient Tree Raw Puerh sample provided by Tribute Tea Company.

Friday, May 23, 2014

DōMatcha Organic Ceremonial Matcha

Country of Origin: Japan
Leaf Appearance: powdered, brilliant green
Ingredients: green tea
Steep time: n/a
Water Temperature: 180 degrees
Preparation Method: traditional bowl and whisk
Liquor: deep green, good foam

I love matcha but it is probably the one type of tea that I'm still not completely comfortable with. That is definitely something that I've been working on so I was excited when I had a chance to sample this offering from +DoMatcha. They were kind enough to throw in a whisk and whisk stand too. I'm a firm believer that one can never have too many chasen. Freshness is key so I was happy to see that the tea was in a sealed bag inside of the pop top tin. The color of the powder was brilliantly bright green with a velvety texture. It hardly needed any sifting at all. Color and texture are very important with matcha and they are often a good indicator of the quality of the tea. The taste was deeply vegetal and full of umami, just what the doctor ordered. There was some astringency but I didn't find it unpleasant at all. If spring could be distilled into a single sip this would be it. I don't often wax poetic about tea but matcha has that affect on me. Reading reviews on Amazon for this tea was an exercise in frustration. Not liking matcha or not bothering to take the time to read the clearly stated packaging size does not make this a bad tea. Don't listen to those yahoos!

Organic Ceremonial Matcha sample provided by DōMatcha.

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Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Soul & Spirit of Tea

I admit it, I'm addicted to books about tea. I've been on a real shopping/reading spree lately and one of the books I recently finished was this collection of essays put together by the same tea that brought us The Meaning of Tea. I was really excited to dig in as I recognized many of the writers involved. Some of the essays were extremely engaging and thoughtful. I particularly enjoyed the ones by James Norwood Pratt and Eliah Halpenny/Cam Muir. Unfortunately there were quite a few that I found to be rather boring and directionless.

As a whole, the book was not a cohesive collection but more of a mish mosh of many different things. Perhaps it was put together in a bit of a rush because I found several errors as well. I'm a bit nitpicky, so things like typos really glare out at me. It's important to keep in mind that this just my personal opinion and other readers may not feel the same way about it. I still think that this book is worth reading for any tea lover. It would just be better to consume it in bits and pieces rather than all at once. Do you have a new favorite tea book that I might not have read yet? Let me know in the comments!

You can find out more about this book here.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Conceptteas Bailin Gongfu

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

Although not currently listed on their website separately, this tea is part of the Four-Virtue Feast gift set. The leaves were teeny tiny with lots of golden tips throughout. I know they don't add much more than aesthetics but I just love a pretty tea. Its taste was sweet and somewhat fruity with no bitterness or astringency. Winey notes and a subtle maltiness made for a very comforting cup. A touch of honey might be nice if you have a craving for sweet but milk would not be recommended here. Using a gaiwan is always my default but I think this tea would perform well if brewed in a western fashion. The white teas that I've tried from +Conceptteas have been extraordinary so it is definitely worthwhile getting this collection of teas and seasonal tins. Their silver needle is one of the best that I've ever had!

Bailin Gongfu sample provided by Conceptteas.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Teavivre Taiwan High Mountain Oolong

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

I love all teas, especially oolongs, but sometimes there is nothing that hits the spot quite like a Taiwanese high mountain oolong. This offering from +TeaVivre was produced using Si Ji Chun, otherwise known as Four Season Oolong. The taste was wonderfully clean, sweet and subtle. Its aroma had a light floral quality without being too heady or perfumy. The finish was surprisingly brisk with a lingering sweetness. Although the flavor profile was fairly simple it was by no means boring. I just may be picking some of this up in bulk for summertime cold brewing. It's a matter of personal taste but I really prefer Taiwanese teas like this one when it comes to greener oolongs. Similarly styled oolongs from China tend to be a bit too cloying and one note for me. So what makes a high mountain oolong a high mountain oolong? They have to be grown at an elevation of 800m or higher. The cooler weather and reduced sunlight make the leaves work harder, producing a better tasting end result.

Taiwan High Mountain Oolong sample provided by Teavivre.

Monday, May 19, 2014

T7 Tea Golden Monkey Black Tea

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: very small, golden tips
Ingredients: black tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 195 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: coppery reddish brown

I have a soft spot for tippy, golden black teas from China and this one definitely fit the bill. Golden Monkey's name refers to the supposed resemblance of the leaves to monkey claws. I don't quite see it but then again, I'm not that familiar with monkeys. The taste was malty and winy with just hint of chocolaty sweetness. It was tannic and full bodied without being bitter. I did six consecutive infusions in a gaiwan and probably could have squeezed out a few more by lengthening the steep time. If brewing in a western fashion, you should be able to steep it at least twice. No milk or sugar are needed with this one. I think you'd loose a lot of the nuances if you added anything to it. This is another very well priced offering from +T7 TEA. You can't beat $4.25 an ounce for a tea this tasty. That makes it a great candidate for making my Golden Monkey Black Tea Sangria.

Golden Monkey Black Tea sample provided by T7 Tea.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Happy Earth Tea Arya Ruby 1st Flush Darjeeling 2014

Country of Origin: India
Leaf Appearance: wiry, green and grey with silver tips
Ingredients: black tea
Steep time: 3 minutes
Water Temperature: 180 degrees
Preparation Method: bone china teacup and mesh infuser
Liquor: gold

I've already reviewed four 1st flush's this week and I saved one of my favorite estates for last. The leaves were wiry and somewhat darker than I expected. Its taste was less floral than the other selections that I tried. There was a pleasant apple-like sweetness that lingered into the finish. There was little astringency but I still found it refreshing. If I had to choose a favorite out of all of the teas that I reviewed this week, it's a close tie between this one and Puttabong. It's hard to explain but this tea had a depth to it that I very much enjoyed. Last year's 1st Flush from Arya Ruby was much greener, very different from this one. I find it fascinating how much they can change from year to year. Did you know that +Happy Earth Tea has a tea studio? If you are ever in the Rochester, NY area make sure that you stop by to see +Niraj Lama! He's definitely one of the nicest folks in the tea biz and super knowledgeable to boot.

Arya Ruby 1st Flush Darjeeling sample provided by Happy Earth Tea.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Happy Earth Tea Singbulli 1st Flush Darjeeling 2014

Country of Origin: India
Leaf Appearance: small, varied shades of green and brown
Ingredients: black tea
Steep time: 3 minutes
Water Temperature: 180 degrees
Preparation Method: bone china teacup and mesh infuser
Liquor: gold

The leaves of this SFTGFOP1 from Singbulli estate were slightly larger than the other selections in this batch of samples. Its taste was mellow, sweet and floral. Hints of citrus added a bit of refreshing crispness. Although this type of tea is usually prepared in a western fashion, they often perform quite well when using a gaiwan. For some reason the mood struck to gongfu this one and I'm glad that I did. With a 30 second steep it really came to life. The taste was somewhat bolder and complex, especially on the second infusion. The sweetly floral aroma lingered in my palate for some time after each sip. Last year's 1st Flush from this estate was a little more my taste but this was still a very enjoyable cup. Yet again, another great offering from +Happy Earth Tea that is organic, Fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance certified.

Singbulli 1st Flush Darjeeling sample provided by Happy Earth Tea.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Happy Earth Tea Risheehat 1st Flush Darjeeling 2014

Country of Origin: India
Leaf Appearance: small, varied shades of green and brown
Ingredients: black tea
Steep time: 3 minutes
Water Temperature: 180 degrees
Preparation Method: bone china teacup and mesh infuser
Liquor: gold

Three down, two to go! These leaves from Risheehat estate were slight greener with more silver tips than the previous two. The taste was delicate, light and sweet with a refreshing but subtle astringency. There were pronounced floral notes along with a peach-like fruitiness. The finish had an almost winey which is about as close to the elusive “muscatel” as I was able to pick up in all if these teas. Sometimes you’ll see Darjeeling referred to as “China Classic” like this one or Chinary. This simply means that the trees are Camellia Sinensis var. Sinensis rather than var. Assamica or a hybrid. +Happy Earth Tea's commitment to organic, Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance certified teas is appreciated here as always. Another thing I love is that they list the lot numbers for each of their teas. Very few retailers give this information but for those who get really nerdy about Darjeeling, it's nice to have.

Risheehat 1st Flush Darjeeling 2014 sample provided by Happy Earth Tea.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Happy Earth Tea Sungma 1st Flush Darjeeling 2014

Country of Origin: India
Leaf Appearance: small, varied shades of green
Ingredients: black tea
Steep time: 3 minutes
Water Temperature: 180 degrees
Preparation Method: bone china teacup and mesh infuser
Liquor: gold

The 1st Flush odyssey continues with a SFTGFOP1 from Sungma Estate. This garden has some of the highest elevations in Darjeeling. The leaves were a bit darker and more wiry than the selection from Puttabong estate that I reviewed yesterday. Oddly enough the taste was actually a bit lighter. There were notes of honey and fruit with a lingering sweetness. It was somewhat reminiscent of citrus but not exactly. The finish was bright and clean without being astringent or overly tart. This type of Darjeeling is closer to a green tea so I would say that milk is a no-no. Sweeteners might be ok but please give the tea a try on its own first. Once again, I am so glad that +Happy Earth Tea was able to source so many teas that are organic, Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance certified.

Sungma 1st Flush Darjeeling sample provided by Happy Earth Tea.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Happy Earth Tea Puttabong 1st Flush Darjeeling 2014

Country of Origin: India
Leaf Appearance: small, varied shades of greens and browns
Ingredients: black tea
Steep time: 3 minutes
Water Temperature: 180 degrees
Preparation Method: bone china teacup and mesh infuser
Liquor: sunny gold

Today’s post kicks off an entire week of 1st Flush Darjeeling from +Happy Earth Tea . Believe it or not, I drank all five of them in one night. In many ways this type of Darjeeling more closely resembles as a green tea. Most retailers still categorize them as black tea though. The first one up to bat was a SFTGFOP1 from Puttabong, one of the oldest estates in Darjeeling. The taste was delicate and sweet yet wonderfully complex. There were floral notes along with surprising hints of green pepper. Talk about spring in a cup! The finish left an almond-like affect that reminded of the Phoenix oolong called Ju Duo Zai. I must confess to being more a 2nd Flush person but this one was truly exceptional. I love that it is organic, Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance certified.

Puttabong 1st Flush Darjeeling 2014 sample provided by Happy Earth Tea.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Preparing for World Tea Expo

My upcoming trip to World Tea Expo is becoming more and more real as the event approaches. I still have a ton of prepping to do (like buying the ticket for my return flight). Of course, my top priority has been figuring out how to make tea while I'm on the go.

I needed something to make tea in so I ordered a travel set on Amazon. I was so happy when I received it because the gaiwan was about as close to full size as I could hope for. Of course, I wouldn't be me if I did not already break one of the cups. Thankfully there are five more so I'm covered. Much to my surprise it wasn't from some random seller but a full fledged tea operation based just outside of Memphis, Music City Tea. Jenny, the owner, was super sweet and very excited to hear where her tea set would be going.

I love this cute little travel set with its pretty pink flowers but the sharing pitcher does spill a bit. This is mostly due to my ineptitude. Now I had a dilemma because I wanted to use the set but did not want to make a mess whenever I make tea. Then I remembered the creative creations of Water, Earth & Light Teaworks that I have been admiring on Facebook.

Waiting right in their Etsy shop for me was a tea tray made out of an old cigar box. How cool is that! I'll easily be able to fit the tray into my suitcase or even a tote bag. I'm always amazed at how Omar manages to make found objects into the most beautiful tea trays. This one hasn't made its way to me yet but I can't wait to show it off once it arrives. I don't really need any new teaware but I have a feeling that I'm going to get a lot of use out of it.

Will you be going to WTE? I'd love to hear about the preparations that you are making! Any great tea places in Long Beach, CA that I should know about?

Next week I'll be reviewing five different first flush Darjeelings from +Happy Earth Tea so be sure to keep an out of that!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Teasenz Blue Spring Bi Luo Chun

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: varied greens, curled
Ingredients: green tea
Steep time: 3 minutes
Water Temperature: 175 degrees
Preparation Method: glass teapot
Liquor: pale, greenish

On a warm day a pot of green tea can be incredibly refreshing. That is exactly what this tea did for me when I was writing this review. The taste was crisp and vegetal with just barely a hint of the toasty taste I've come to expect from Bi Luo Chun. Mellow fruity and floral notes alternated throughout each of my sips. It wasn't bitter at all but there was just a touch of astringency. These were not the nicest leaves that I've ever seen but I wouldn't expect them to be. At just $8.95 for 2.5oz, it's an extremely economical buy. That makes it a great option for iced tea or for a daily drinker. I thought that it might be interesting to compare this with a higher end version of the same tea. In the photo below I have this tea (on the left) and the Early Spring Bi Luo Chun from +Tea Drunk (on the right). The tea on the right retails for $45 per oz. Notice how much larger and more broken the leaves on the left are. That doesn't make it a bad tea, but it is important to be able to recognize the differences.

Blue Spring Bi Luo Chun sample provided by Teasenz.


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Chambre De Sucre Mon Frère

Country of Origin: not listed
Leaf Appearance: tightly rolled
Ingredients: oolong tea, hazelnut pieces, natural flavor
Steep time: 3 minutes
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: bone china teacup and mesh infuser
Liquor: pale amber

Chambre De Sucre has long been known in my tea social circles for their artisan sugars but did you know that they also have a line of teas? This particular blend called to me on a miserably cold and rainy night. Welcome to spring in the Northeast! The base oolong was super roasty with mellow floral notes. Flavored oolongs are usually not my thing but this one worked perfectly. There is something about the combination of hazelnut and vanilla that I found super comforting. Adding one of their sugar flowers made the sweetness of the vanilla really pop. It was late so I only got to enjoy one cup but I was so glad that I had taken the time to indulge a bit. It really helped me to unwind and get my mind off of the craziness that my life is lately. I love that the owner of the company, Lisa Kunizaki, names all of the teas after family members. This one was named in honor of her brother. No milk should be added to this blend but a touch of sweetener does very nicely.

Mon Frère sample provided by Chambre De Sucre.




Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Peony Tea Shop Wuyi Zhengyan Rougui

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

I've never been into Yancha but ever since working at +Tea Drunk I've developed a penchant for Rou Gui. +Peony Tea S. has yet to steer me wrong so I dove into this one readily. I usually do a quick rinse with cliff teas and it was definitely helpful with this one. I tasted the rinse and it had an interesting floral component that I was not expecting. The first round after the rinse was much darker and roasty with subtle hints of spice. It had a bit of the "cliff tea bump" but wasn't overly astringent. Although this one wasn't as heavily roasted as other examples that I've tried, it still had the comforting quality that I love so much. The name Rou Gui translates as cassia, otherwise known as Chinese cinnamon. This is a tea that really shines best when prepared in a gaiwan, sans milk and sugar. Cliff teas can be a bit pricey and this one is no different. I would most likely reserve this one for special occasions.

Wuyi Zhengyan Rougui sample provided by Peony Tea Shop.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Adventure Tea Washington State White

Country of Origin: United States
Leaf Appearance: varied, somewhat broken
Ingredients: white tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 195 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: gold

I've been intrigued by this tea for some time, especially after reading the tweets and ravings of +Geoffrey Norman. I also have a penchant for trying as many U.S. grown teas as possible. As luck would have it, he gave some to +The Snooty Tea Person who in turn gifted a tiny bit to me. Aren't tea friends the best? The leaves very much resembled Shou Mei or Bai Mu Dan. This seemed promising because much of the non-Chinese white tea had a very different appearance. The taste was very subtle with grassy and floral notes. What really blew me away was the candy-like sweetness that lingered in the end of each sip. There was no bitterness or astringency at all. The taste was definitely more refined than most Shou Mei that I've tried. +AdventureTea, LLC's description explains that this tea endured record low temperatures. Struggle always seems to have a way of improving the taste of tea. These little leaves must have fought hard because they are delicious :)

Washington State White sample received thanks to the kindness of tea friends.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Happy Earth Tea Lu An Gua Pian

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: deep green, slightly rolled
Ingredients: green tea
Steep time: 2 minutes
Water Temperature: 170 degrees
Preparation Method: glass teapot
Liquor: pale, greenish

I've never had Gua Pian before working at +Tea Drunk but it is quickly becoming one of my favorite Chinese green teas. That's why I was super jazzed when +Happy Earth Tea sent me a sample of their offering from the Summer 2013 harvest. The name means melon seed, which refers to the shape of the leaves once they are unfurled. Its picking standard is unusual in that only full leaves are used, no buds. The taste was sweet with grassy notes and a mellow fruity undertone. There was no bitterness to speak of and the finish was refreshingly clean. It had just a touch of smoke from the pan frying but that element was very subtle. This is a tea that you'll want to brew in class as the leaves are quite beautiful to watch. I used a glass teapot but a test tube style steeper would also work well. I try to avoid gaiwans for most green teas as I want to avoid cooking the leaves.

Lu An Gua Pian sample provided by Happy Earth Tea.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Tribute Tea Company 2004 Yiwu Mountain Raw Puerh

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: small, dark
Ingredients: puerh tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 200 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: deep orangish gold

In case you couldn't tell by the amount of puerh reviews that I'm doing, my obsession with this category of tea is steadily growing. I was really excited to try this offering from +Tribute Tea Company because Yiwu was heavily discussed in a book I reviewed last week, Puer Tea: Ancient Caravans and Urban Chic. I was also jazzed to get to try some slightly older stuff than my usual. The leaves were fairly dark in color and brewed up a gorgeous orangish gold. The taste was mellow and sweet yet pungent at the same time. I was surprised to find that there was no bitterness at all. I had heard that Yiwu puerh is generally sweeter than other areas but this one almost bordered on fruity. The finish had a cooling menthol-like affect that I found very refreshing. It's hard to explain but this one of only a few teas that I truly felt physically affected by. Sometimes I feel as though the English language is too limited to explain such things. Simply put, this is a damned good puerh and a relatively well priced one at that. I highly recommend it!

2004 Yiwu Mountain Raw Puerh sample provided by Tribute Tea Company.