Thursday, July 31, 2014

Eco-Cha Da Yu Ling High Mountain 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: gold

When it comes to "green" rolled oolongs Taiwanese high mountain teas are definitely my favorites. Although this is the 2013 harvest, my sample was vacuum sealed and still seemed very fresh. The taste was wonderfully complex and exactly what I needed after overloading on some very heavy teas earlier in the day. It was incredibly smooth and sweet with interchanging fruity and floral notes. The finish had just a hint of creaminess to it. Its aroma lingered in my palate long after each sip. Later infusions developed a bit more of a vegetal quality but it never crossed the line into unpleasantness. One of the things I love about +Eco-Cha Artisan Teas is that they explain exactly how their tea sourced. Here is what their website says about this tea:

This batch of tea was procured through a friend whom we've known for almost 20 years. He grew up on a tea farm in Lu Gu and is now a professional tea judge and specialty tea merchant. Over the last several years, we have gained particular respect for his discernment of quality tea and unique tenacity in sourcing it. He has been a valuable teacher in this respect, sharing his knowledge and experience - as well as his tea with us.
He reserves batches of tea and has them specially processed as per his request from farmers he chooses carefully and with whom he builds working relationships. Without this kind of history of connections in the local industry, it is quite difficult to source this level of exclusive quality. Being a consistent customer with discriminating taste, the farmer contacts him on a given day when weather conditions are favorable for harvesting. He then gives the go-ahead to purchase the day's harvest if it is processed to his specifications. These requirements are mainly in relation to the amount of oxidation that the leaves undergo, and other detailed guidelines that will produce the character of tea that he seeks. The producer and the buyer share their tea making experience and mutually agree on the methods to be employed.
It's important for tea drinkers to have an element of trust with their suppliers. Eco-Cha certainly accomplishes that.

Da Yu Ling High Mountain Oolong sample provided by Eco-Cha.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Podcast Episode 9: Interview with Misty Peak Teas

I know, I know! I've been behind on filming new podcast episodes. Isn't it the worst when life gets in the way of tea? Earlier this week I sat down with Nicholas from +Misty Peak Teas. His story is fascinating to say the least. I love his passion and commitment to selling puerh that is made just by one family. I hope that you all enjoy it!

You can find out more about Misty Peak Teas at their website:

http://mistypeakteas.com/

P.S. I've been slacking on my email newsletter too but I promise that there will be one going out tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tea People Makaibari Darjoolong

Tea People Makaibari Darjoolong
Country of Origin: India
Leaf Appearance: mottled green and brown
Ingredients: oolong tea
Steep time: 3 minutes
Water Temperature: 195 degrees
Preparation Method: ceramic steeper mug
Liquor: reddish amber

I've got to hand it to +Tea People, Darjoolong is simply fun to say. This one hails from Makaibari, one of the oldest tea estates in this region. You might remember that I reviewed their Bai Mu Dan last month. Regular readers will know that I have a silly soft spot for Darjeeling oolongs so this one is right up my alley. The liquor was a very pretty reddish amber. I don't think I've seen that exact shade before, even from other Darjeeling oolongs. Its taste was earthy and sweet with notes of fruit and florals. I wouldn't quite call it muscatel but there was a certain grapiness to it. Oddly enough I found the had the same hint of citrus in the finish that I noted in the white tea. You've got to love terroir! Milk and sugar would not be recommended here as the flavors are too mellow for that. I've still got lots of teas in the works from this vendor but so far I'm impressed.

Maikaibari Darjoolong sample provided by Tea People.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Teavivre Organic Nonpareil She Qian Dragon Well Long Jing Green Tea 2014

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: jade green, flat
Ingredients: green tea
Steep time: 3 minutes
Water Temperature: 185 degrees
Preparation Method: glass teapot
Liquor: pale greenish gold

This tea is a bit unusual in that it was harvested on March 23rd. This is very early in the Spring, prior to the Qing Ming harvest period. Production is extremely small at that time. The resulting tea was nothing short of amazing. Not only was it intensely aromatic but it had a very complex flavor profile. It was nutty, sweet and crisp with floral notes, a touch of melon and even a bit of creaminess. It lingered in my mouth for so long even after finishing the last sip. While it's a bit expensive compared to this other offerings, this one is worth every penny. This was a truly enjoyable tea and organic to boot. It's tempting to load up on this tea but green teas do not keep as long as other types. It would be a terrible waste if I couldn't drink it all while it is in its prime.

Organic Nonpareil She Qian Dragon Well Long Jing Green Tea sample provided by Teavivre.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Handmade Tea Along the River

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: small, dark green with lots of lemongrass and huge pieces of fruit
Ingredients: Mao Feng green tea, cantaloupe pieces, lemongrass
Steep time: 3 minutes
Water Temperature: 175 degrees
Preparation Method: Teavana Perfect Tea Maker
Liquor: pale greenish yellow

I'm terribly behind on tea reviews which means that I have not been able to indulge in my +Handmade Tea shipments in a timely fashion. This particular blend was sent out in April. Oy vey! Cantaloupe is one of my favorite fruits to eat in this summer so it appealed to me before before tasting. The base was a pre-qingming Mao Feng green teas. I was a bit worried about what the balance would be like because this tea tends to lean very much on the mellow side. The cantaloupe pieces were gigantic. I had to did for some since they didn't quite fit onto my measuring teaspoon. Lemongrass isn't my favorite but Caleb is a flavor combination master so I trusted that he would not lead me astray. The tea was mildly vegetal with a bit of a lemon pepper kick. As it cooled, a sweet melony aftertaste became more and more apparent. It was delicious! My ever skeptical boyfriend even enjoyed it. I can't wait to try it as an iced tea. I have a feel that will help it to really come into its own.

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


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Global Tea Hut June 2014 - Mi Xiang Oolong and Red Tea

Global Tea Hut June 2014 - Mi Xiang Oolong and Red Tea
I was really excited to dig into the June shipment from +Global Tea Hut because they sent an oolong and a red tea, both made from Mi Xiang leaves. Before I even opened my envelope I received an email from them letting me know that there may be an issue with the packaging. Sure enough when I opened my tin the two teas were hopelessly mixed together. When I let them know about it they were very quick to apologize and send a replacement, even including a bonus of purple red tea.

The difference in the dry leaves was really obvious here. The oolong had the characteristic deep green leaves in a tight ball shape of a Taiwanese oolong. The red tea was dark and in even tighter balls than the oolong.

Global Tea Hut June 2014 - Mi Xiang Oolong and Red Tea

Global Tea Hut June 2014 - Mi Xiang Oolong and Red TeaGlobal Tea Hut June 2014 - Mi Xiang Oolong and Red Tea

Brewing two teas at once is a lot of work (and dishes)! I'm so glad that I reserve these shipments as my day off tea. I got so involved in what I was doing that I completely forgot about everything else that is going on in my life. It's important to take a moment to really enjoy tea from time to time.

There was definitely a stark contrast in the colors of the brewed tea. The oolong was a pale gold while the red tea was more of a reddish dark amber.

Global Tea Hut June 2014 - Mi Xiang Oolong and Red TeaGlobal Tea Hut June 2014 - Mi Xiang Oolong and Red Tea

The oolong opened up quite a bit more than the red tea which makes sense since it is not as heavily oxidized.


Both teas were very tasty, different sides of the same coin if you will. The oolong was aromatic and lingering while the red tea was earthy and sweet. Both shared a honey-like quality that I really enjoyed. It was interesting to compare them with each other because another thing that they had in common was texture. We don't usually think of tea having a texture but it does. These both had the same silky smooth, somewhat thick mouth-feel.

I know I've raved about them here before but I really can't recommend Global Tea Hut enough. The teas are carefully curated and delicious. Each shipment brings new surprises and tea knowledge. It is donation based so it's really up to you how much you want to give to support their work. I'm looking forward to one day being able to visit their center in Taiwan.

Mi Xiang Oolong and Red Tea purchased through a paid Global Tea Hut subscription.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

White2Tea 2013 Jingmai - Old Arbor vs Plantation

I posted some questions about how to the age of puerh tea from the leaves on TeaChat and Paul from +White2Tea was quick to respond with information and an generous offer of samples to illustrate the differences. I've got a whole batch of goodies to write about from him but in this case I did a comparative tasting of 2013 Jingmai raw puerh. One is an old arbor tea (many vendors will call this "ancient") and one is from a plantation.

White2Tea 2013 Jingmai Old ArborWhite2Tea 2013 Jingmai Plantation

In all of the photos the old arbor version will be on the left and the plantation on the right. Right off the bat, there was a definite difference in the dry leaves. The old arbor leaves had a nice shine to them while the plantation leaves looked quite dull in comparison.

White2Tea 2013 Jingmai - Old Arbor vs PlantationWhite2Tea 2013 Jingmai - Old Arbor vs Plantation

The differences in taste were very subtle at first. The plantation tea was just a shade paler and as the later infusions came, it seemed to have a lot less impact that the old arbor. I was almost reminded of the difference between true cliff and half cliff for Wuyi Mountain oolongs. The plantation tea is close but not quite there. Puerh is one of the most misunderstood types of tea and I find myself diving into it more and more lately. Hopefully as the academic interest in this category increases, we will see more agreement about what is fact and what is fiction.


Some of you might remember my tea pet who unfortunately decided that he wanted to stay in Long Beach after the World Tea Expo. I ordered a close approximation on Amazon and it finally arrived. The original was the same design but a bit nicer. This guy is chubbier and less refined but still cute. Welcome to the world of tea Ribbit II.

Jinmai Old Arbor and Plantation samples provided by White2Tea.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Reader Survey: What Would You Like to See Here?

There other day I asked on Twitter what questions people had about tea that they would like to see answered in a blog post. I got some really awesome responses (thanks guys!) but I thought that I would post it here too for those of you that are tweet-less. What would you like to see here on +Tea for Me Please? Is there a tea topic you'd like to know more about? Give me your feedback! Readers are what keep this blog running so keep those comments and emails coming. I love hearing from you all.

Life has been a bit crazy lately but I'm working on getting back on track with my monthly podcast and email newsletter. My boyfriend and I will be moving in together towards the end of next month. He knows I love tea but I'm not sure he's quite prepared for how deep my obsession with the leaf really is. I'll be sure to share what me new tea set up looks like once we are settled in. :)

Monday, July 21, 2014

Misty Peak Teas 2013 Sheng Yiwu Mtn Autumn Pu'er

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

Yiwu is probably my favorite mountain for puerh but the good stuff is getting harder to find these days. All of the offerings +Misty Peak Teas are hand made from start to finish by the Bin family. This is a bit unusual in the world of puerh so I was excited to give this tea a go. My sample had been broken off of a cake but the dry leaf was mostly whole and had a nice shine to it. The taste had the sweetness that I've come to expect of Yiwu but there was also a robust, brightly astringent quality to it. Part of that may be because this is an autumn harvest. There was some interesting fruity notes that helped break things up a bit. Although it had a lot of strength, it's not as funky as I was expecting. The flavors stayed true right up until the end and I must admit that I gave out before the tea did. I'm really tempted to indulge in an entire tong of this tea. Maybe once there's some room in the tea budget...

2013 Sheng Yiwu Mtn Autumn Pu'er sample provided by Misty Peak Teas.

Friday, July 18, 2014

A Gift of Shou


One of the advantages of managing a tea house is that I now have a place where I can meet up with tea friends on a regular basis. Sometimes those meetings are unexpected. Last Saturday I was pleasantly surprised to see +Payton Swick from the excellent blog Someteawith.me. We had several mutual friends in common and it was great to have a chance to talk shop. He was kind enough to share a bit of 1995 shou puerh that he had obtained on a trip to China. When I brewed it the tea was inky dark but surprisingly light and sweet tasting. On a hot summer day, it was exactly what I needed to recharge.

This was a great reminder that I don't give cooked puerh enough credit. I lean much more towards sheng but shou can be delicious it is own right. This was a great day at the tea house because not only did I get to meet Payton but +Mario Nicholas+Chante Ramsey and Lisa from Chambre de Sucre stopped by.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Lochan Tea Doke Silver Needle 2014

Country of Origin: India
Leaf Appearance: large, silvery needles covered in downy hair
Ingredients: white tea
Steep time: 5 minutes
Water Temperature: 175 degrees
Preparation Method: glass teapot
Liquor: gold

I have been itching to try this tea for the longest time. +Lochan Tea Limited has a reputation for making some really amazing teas at their Doke Farm in Bihar, India. Their Rolling Thunder is one of my favorites so I was really excited to dig in. The dry leaves were quite large and super fuzzy. I didn't quite become Lenny from Of Mice and Men but they were unbelievably soft to the touch. I was expecting the taste to be similar to a typical Bai Hao Yin Zhen but this was a whole other animal. It was creamy and nutty with a really pleasant fruitiness. There was also just a hint of floral lingering in the finish. I was having a very bad day at this point and this tea completely made me forget about everything. My day turned around shortly after that. It definitely must have been the tea :)

Doke Silver Needle sample provided by Lochan Tea.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Non Fiction for Tea Lovers

A few weeks ago I posted a neato interactive image of some of my favorite books called Fiction for Tea Lovers. It occurred to me that I should do one for non fiction as well. Have you read any of these? Is there one that I've missed? Let me know in the comments!
 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Trouble with Dr. Oz and Why He is Bad for Tea

The Trouble the Dr. Oz and Why He is Bad for Tea
There's something that has been troubling me for a while and I was happy to see that congress agrees with me. I am completely unable to watch The Dr. Oz Show because I cringe every time he touts tea as a miracle weight loss cure. The claims that he makes are outrageous and in many cases downright bogus. There's no doubt about it, this man has some serious power. Many tea retailers have told me about their experiences with the "Oz Effect". Now you might say to yourself, "He's promoting tea, what's so bad about that?".

Telling your audience that they will drop a dress size just by drinking tea is setting them up for failure. Without a change in lifestyle, weight loss does not happen that easily. Obesity would not be an issue in this country if this was truly the case. Even worse is telling them that drinking a particular type of tea will cure or prevent disease. Then there's the episode where an expert shows everyone how to make matcha incorrectly.

Every time he talks about a particular tea, people run out and buy it. Unfortunately, he doesn't show them how to make the tea properly and most of the examples shown are tea bags. An uneducated consumer purchasing a tea solely for the potential weight loss benefits is a recipe for disaster. This is especially true of unusual or temperamental teas like puerh. If the tea purchased is poor quality and they brew it incorrectly, the consumer will force themselves to choke it down for a few days before giving up. They'll be led to believe that they just don't like tea.

Tea and the culture around it are still in their infancy here in the states. We've come a long way but there is still a lot of work to do. There is so much misinformation out there and the last thing the industry needs is a talking head as powerful as Dr. Oz to spread even more of it. Here are some things that would help him step up his tea game:
  • Stop making unfounded claims (and site actual scientific studies)
  • Show loose leaf options whenever presenting a tea
  • Give clear brewing directions
  • Rely on industry experts for info. There are so many wonderful tea companies out there with real knowledge who would love to help.
Tea is a healthy thing in and of itself. This goes for every single category. The healthiest tea is the one that you enjoy because you're actually going to drink it. Much like a New Year's resolution, forcing yourself to do something will never last. Don't make tea the treadmill that holds your clothes.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this issue. Let me know what you think in the comments!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Cameron Tea Taiwanese Sun Moon Lake Black Tea - Ruby

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

I've been on a real Taiwanese black tea kick over the last few months so I was really excited to dive into this one. It was fairly robust with notes of cocoa and a hint of spice. Their product description pegs it as a evoking cinnamon. I was reminded more of cloves but I could definitely see where they were coming from. There was some astringency but it never crossed the line into bitterness. I'm not able to read most tea packaging that isn't in English but this one does say that it is the famous Ruby 18. This cultivar is a hybrid between Assam and the native plants. Although this is on the stronger side as far as Taiwanese teas go, I would not recommend adding milk or sweeteners. While I've had other versions of this tea that were higher quality, they were also much more expensive. Overall this was a very tasty cup at an affordable price. There's a fully oxidized Oriental Beauty from Cameron Tea waiting in the wings. I've been a bit behind on reviews but hopefully I'll get to enjoy that one soon as well.

Taiwanese Sun Moon Lake Black Tea - Ruby sample provided by Cameron Tea.

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Darjeeling Distinction: Labor and Justice on Fair-Trade Tea Plantations in India by Sarah Besky

I finished this book months ago and for some reason I thought that I had already written about it here. It turns out that I had not, which is a shame because it was one of the most mind opening tea reads that I've had in a long time. We all drink tea but it is important that we also think about where that tea came from and the affect that each purchase has on the world. Fair Trade seems like a good solution but it's not a one-size-fits-all cure. Darjeeling is one region that presents unique challenges.

Sarah Besky gives the most thorough explanation of all of the environmental, political, cultural and socioeconomic factors that contribute to the current situation in Darjeeling. The first thing that made me sit up and take notice was that she took much of her findings from the perspective of the tea pickers themselves. I've read many articles about these issues and not one of them took the time to speak with the people who are affected the most. This book is an anthropological study but it reads in a engaging, approachable way. You don't have to be a scientist to understand the principles and events that are discussed.

This is a book that every Western tea drinker needs to read. While a clear solution has not yet been reached, knowledge is power. The more facts that we have about a particular situation, the more likely it is that someone will be able to do something to enact positive, sustainable change.

You can find out more about this book here.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Growing Tea In New Jersey: One Month Later

My tea seeds have officially been in the dirt for a little over a month now. Their growth has been relatively slow but one of them has sprouted up much faster than the rest. I've transferred it to its own pot because I want to make sure the root has room to grow. It now has two full sized leaves and a bud. This is the kind of thing that makes me do a happy dance when I check on them every morning.

Many of friends and family have been asking how long it will before I can make tea from these plants. My answer is usually about three years. Tea plants grow at a snails pace and I don't want to harvest at all before they are ready for it. Only time will tell if they will continue to do well indoors. I was contemplating ordering more seeds or some full sized plants but I'm not sure if there will be enough room for that.


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Global Tea Hut July 2014 - Daughter of the Forest

My June shipment from +Global Tea Hut arrived a bit jumbled up but they were kind enough to notify me that there might be an issue before I even opened the tin. A replacement is already on its way to me now. Talk about good customer service! Thankfully I've got the July tea to keep me company until then. The gift was a very nice bamboo trivet. I don't usually use one when making tea so I passed it on to my mother.

This month's tea was originally going to be raw puerh but the weather did not cooperate so the leaves were made into a red tea instead. This particular type of tea is called Dian Hong. Dian is a nickname for Yunnan Province where this tea is made and Hong means red. Compared to the Golden Vajra from May, this one was sweeter with a more refined taste. Even though the weather has gotten much warmer I am still finding myself craving and loving darker teas.

I was enjoying my bowl of tea by the window when I caught a shot of a the clouds and blue sky in my teacup. Who knew that my cup of tea was also a reflecting pool?


Global Tea Hut just started doing videos to accompany each tea and magazine. I've embedded it below so that you can easily take a look :)


Daughter of the Forest was purchased through a subscription to Global Tea Hut.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Tea DIY: Leaf Print Tote Bag

Now that I've put together a handy little travel tea set, I realized that I need something to keep it all in. My inner Girl Scout leader decided to get a bit crafty. Why not use tea to make prints on a tote bag? I had never thought of doing this before but two teas immediately came to mind because of their large leaves: Mauna Kea Organic Premium Green Tea - 2014 1st Flush and Wild Tea Qi Mengku Rich Valley Raw Puerh.

Water based acrylic paint is the best kind to use for this type of project. It cleans up easily in case there is a spill or mess and the final product will be fairly durable. The colors that I chose are DecoArt Dazzling Metallics in Splendid Gold and Festive Green. I purchased them at my local Michael's but they are pretty easy to find at other stores as well.

Step 1 - Make the Tea
You'll need to get your tea leaves soft and completely unfurled so the first step will be to make some tea. The puerh tea took several rounds in the gaiwan while the green tea only took two teapot brews to reach the right consistency.

Step 2 - Select Your Leaves
Now comes the fun part. Sort through your spent tea leaves and try to pick out the largest leaves that are the most whole. Connected bud sets will work well too. Lay them out on a wet paper towel to prevent them from drying out while you work.


Step 3 - Paint Your Leaves
Working one leaf at a time, gently brush the acrylic paint onto your leaves. Make sure that you get a thin and even coat without making them too gloopy.


Step 4 - Print Your Leaves
Gently press the leaves onto the surface of your fabric. If you press too hard, the leaves will tear and the paint will smudge. There's no rush to get it all done at once so take your time with this step.


Step 5 - Get Creative
This is where you can let your imagination run wild. I alternated colors and scattered my leaves all around the tote. Have fun with it!


 Step 6 - Admire Your Handiwork
I liked the affect of the puerh leaves  a bit more since they were quite a bit larger. If you give this project a try, I'd love to see what you come up with. Send me a picture and I'll add it on to this post!



Mona shared this super creative pressed tea leaf gift tag

Monday, July 7, 2014

Mauna Kea Tea Organic Premium Green Tea - 1st Flush 2014

Country of Origin: United States, Hawaii
Leaf Appearance: dark green, very curled and twisted
Ingredients: green tea
Steep time: 2 minutes
Water Temperature: 175 degrees
Preparation Method: glass teapot
Liquor: pale green

You might remember from last year that I was completely obsessed with the 2013 1st Flush of this tea. Although it is on the pricey side, I am now in the habit of treating myself to small bag every year. Last year's batch was a bit more tippy but they leaf style is still very similar. The brewed tea was just a aromatic and delicious as I remembered. Its taste was freshly vegetal and sweet with just a hint of roasty spice. This tea resteeps very well, especially if you leave a bit of water in with the leaves in between pots. It is one of the smoothest green teas I've ever had. There was no bitterness and very little astringency, even after being steeped a little too long. A co-worker who hails from the home of Dragonwell was very skeptical but she was blown away by the quality and taste of this tea. I placed my order prior to their packaging change but I have to say that the new boxes and bags look awesome!

Organic Premium Green Tea - 1st Flush 2014 purchased from Mauna Kea Tea.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Reader Questions: Can Tea Be Grown In the U.S.?

One of the most common questions that I get asked about tea is, "Can tea be grown in the U.S.?". I thought this was an appropriate post for 4th of July because as +Geoffrey Norman puts it, 'Merica. The answer to that question is a resounding, absolutely! Some people would have you believe that the only tea plantation in the United States is the fairly well known Charleston Tea Plantation in South Carolina. While this is one of the oldest, it most certainly is not the only one out there.

There are farms in Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, California, Alabama, Mississippi, Michigan and even New York. With tea increasingly on the rise in both the hearts and wallets of Americans, there are more and more people experimenting with growing tea in the U.S. That's where the United States League of Tea Growers comes in. They are working to bring tea growers together, share information and promote U.S. grown teas. Their blog has some really fascinating posts and they are only just getting started. I was lucky enough to attend their second annual meeting at the World Tea Expo this year.

At the expo, I obtained seeds of my own from Christine at Camellia Forest Nursery. They have been doing quite well on my windowsill in New Jersey. The tallest one is almost two inches high and is already sporting its first real bud. How exciting is that!



Thursday, July 3, 2014

Fiction for Tea Lovers

I recently discovered a tool called Thinglink that makes it super easy to create interactive images. In the image below you'll find some of my favorite fiction books for tea lovers. Just mouse over each of the book covers and my review of the book will open in a new window. Is there a book that I missed? Let me know about it in the comments!
 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Le Palais des Thés Cinnamon Black Tea

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: small, dark
Ingredients: puerh tea, natural cinnamon essence
Steep time: 5 minutes
Water Temperature: 200 degrees
Preparation Method: Teavana Perfect Tea Maker
Liquor: very dark, almost black

I'm terribly behind on tea reviews and this one has been calling to me for months. Sorry about the wait +Palais des Thés! Even though the weather is warm now, the comforting cinnamon spice really hit the spot. The base puerh was very dark and earthy but a little one dimensional. In the case of flavored tea, that is not necessarily a bad thing. A big, complex puerh would not have allowed the cinnamon to shine through. I did find myself wishing that there actually cinnamon here rather just the natural essence. Cinnamon bark when added to tea not only adds taste but it also changes the texture. This blend was enjoyable but that definitely would have stepped things up a notch. I wouldn't add milk to this one but a touch of sweetener could make the cinnamon essence pop a bit more.

Cinnamon Black Tea sample provided by Le Palais des Thés.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Socially Speaking: AOI Tea Company's Tumblr

Tumblr has been around since 2007 but many brands are just now starting to utilize it. Content consumption on this micro-blogging site works is very different from Facebook and Twitter. There are many companies that get it completely wrong but +AOI Tea Company is one of the few who I think does a bang up job on their Tumblr blog.

Stand Out from the Crowd
One of my biggest pet peeves is when a company uses the stock layout. This screams of laziness and shows that you don't really care about anything but gaining extra customers. AIO's layout is big, beautiful and looks like it made just for them. This your chance to show off your product and logos!

People Like Pretty Pictures
+Tumblr is a hyper-visual platform. Users endlessly scroll through a stream of pictures with very little text. Although there isn't a character limit, this is not the place to get wordy. Tea is a beautiful product so this should be easy for most companies to pull off. AOI does a great job of making their posts short and sweet.

Give an Insider's View
Social media is an opportunity to really connect with your fans. There's lots of boring behind the scenes stuff that no one needs to see but when there is something exciting, make sure that you share it. AOI's recent post about an employee's anniversary and birthday celebration is a perfect example of that.

It's Not All About the Sale
Some social media platforms are better for selling than others. Tumblr is not designed as a place to get sales. It's a place for you to build brand recognition and build your following. If every post you make is nothing but a sales pitch with product links, no one has any reason to follow you.

Reblog, Reshare, Recycle
One of the most important things to know about Tumblr is that is mainly a content consumption platform. Don't just create content, make sure that you are also consuming. Reblogging is an easy way to fill in the gaps between your own original posts. You can even add these to your queue so that they will automatically get posted on the schedule that you set. AOI does a great job of reblogging lots of great content about matcha. Yummy baked goods, packaged treats, and recipes are all easy to find and a great way for them to find Tumblr users who also love matcha.