Friday, October 31, 2014

Friday Round Up - October 26th through November 1st

Gaba in Tea
+Ricardo Caicedo explains all about GABA, a substance found in some teas with a lot of purported health benefits. I have yet to try one myself but I'm looking forward to his upcoming review.

Learning to Understand Hong Cha
We all have a certain type of tea that we struggle with but eventually begin to understand. The Dragon's Well talks about their struggles with Chinese red tea.

Orientalism in Tea Marketing Language
+Alex Zorach shared his thoughts on one of my biggest pet peeves. With the possible exception of Bai Hao being called Oriental Beauty, companies really should know better than to use these antiquated terms.

Digital Table: Global Tea Hut October
I'm a big fan of Global Tea Hut and I love reading about others experiences with these teas. +katherine bellman shares her thoughts on each month's shipment in her Digital Table series.

Boba Thai Tea Shooters
Thirsy for Tea is one of my favorite blogs because Bonnie always comes up with the most amazing recipes. These festive tea shooters would be perfect for a Halloween party.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Tea People Makaibari First Flush Vintage

Country of Origin: India
Leaf Appearance: small, mottled greens and browns
Ingredients: black tea
Steep time: 3 minutes
Water Temperature: 200 degrees
Preparation Method: Teavana Perfect Steeper
Liquor: amber

You all know that I absolutely love Darjeeling. +Tea People was kind enough to send me a batch of samples that included several different selections from the Makaibari Estate. I've already reviewed their Darjoolong and Bai Mu Dan so it was high time that I dove into a 1st flush. The dry leaves and liquor were quite a bit darker than I was expecting. Most 1st flush teas that I come across these days look more like a green tea. The taste was floral and sweet with a mildly woody finish. There was a small amount of astringency but that aspect was very mellow. Overall I would say this was a really nice cup of tea and a great choice for those that prefer a second flush. There was a nice amount of complexity and although it is bolder than expected, I wouldn't recommend adding milk or sugar. This is a tea that should be appreciated on its own.

Did you vote in the Darjeeling poll in the +Tea for Me Please Google+ Community? Check it out now!

Makaibari First Flush Vintage sample provided by Tea People.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Seven Cups Huang Guan Yin Wulong 2012

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

A few weeks ago I posted that Seven Cups chose me as their customer of the month for October. After I was done fan girling, I was faced with a major dilemma. Which tea out of their extensive catalog would I choose for my reward? Ultimately I went with Huang Guan Yin and it's lucky that I did. it was their very last bag. This tea a fairly new tea variety that is a hybrid of Huang Jin Gui and Tie Guan Yin. Being from the Wu Yi Mountains, it's prepared in style typical to most other yancha. I've only ever had it one other time but what I liked most about it is that it wasn't as cliff-y as something like Shui Xian or Tie Luo Han. The mineral aspect that I expected was definitely there was it was balanced by a pleasant floral note and a hint of fruity sweetness. As it cooled, it almost became a bit creamy. I don't have an yixing teapot dedicated to cliff teas but this tea made me wish that I did. I think it would really shine if brewed that way.

Huang Guan Yin Wulong 2012 received as prize from Seven Cups.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Teas to Celebrate Halloween

It's almost time for trick or treating already. Here are some tasty teas that bring the season to mind. Of course pumpkin teas are a must but nothing says fall like cinnamon and chai spices. These are some of my favorites. What will you be drinking this Halloween? Let me know about it in the comments!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Ippodo Tea Co. Unro Sencha - Take Two

Country of Origin: Japan
Leaf Appearance: small, deep green
Ingredients: green tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: kyusu
Liquor: bright green

When I'm craving a really good Japanese green tea, Ippodo's NY shop is always my go to place. I was super psyched when they recently sent me samples of two of their senchas. I reviewed this tea previously back in March but I thought that it would be interesting to do a second take, using different parameters, as this is most likely a different year's harvest. Part of a set of two, the Unro stood out to me again because the brewing directions called for boiling water. That's never something I expect of a Japanese green tea since they tend to be finicky. The resulting brew this time around was different but just as enjoyable. This tea really packed a punch! It was a incredibly bright and astringent with umami for days. There were heavy vegetal notes but a lot natural sweetness to. Dare I say it, I actually prefer this method to my usual standard sencha treatment. After three kyusu's full, I was fairly tea drunk. I really want to try this in my cold drip brewer as I think it should make a fantastic iced tea.

Unro Sencha sample provided by Ippodo Tea Co.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Friday Round Up - October 19th through October 25th

Steeped in History: A surprise in every box!
The Teapothead posted about a blast from the past, those little Wade figurines that came inside of boxes of Red Rose teabags. That was how I started my tea journey. My mother and I avidly collected the animals series.

Tea Travels: United States
Tea Explorer recently visited New York and stopped into a few of my favorite places. I think his observations on the state of the tea market here in the U.S. were spot on.

Starbucks, Green Tea Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino
The Everyday Tea Blog did some off menu experimenting at Starbucks. This combo sounds strange but I might just have to give it a try since I love both matcha and pumpkin.

Caffeine Content in 39 Tea Samples
+Tea Guardian shared an interesting analysis of the caffeine content in a broad spectrum of teas. This is a topic of discussion that often comes up in tea circles. There's still more research to be done but the studies cited are definitely a good start.

Teenager Tea
If you are a fan of puerh, you definitely to check out the musings of Hobbes over at The Half-Dipper. In this post he discusses a few different teas that are coming of age.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Podcast Episode 10: Teacrafting with Boston Teawrights

Boston Teawrights is an awesome company who imports fresh tea leaves so that tea drinkers can try their hand at teacrafting. Most of my episodes are interviews but for this one I wanted to show a bit of the process that goes into making your own tea at home. It's fun and relatively easy to do using equipment you already have in your kitchen.

If you're interested in giving teacrafting a try, make sure that you check out my posts about my previous two attempts:

Teacrafting with Boston Teawrights

Another Try at Teacrafting with Boston Teawrights

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Matcha Bowl from Studio KotoKoto

Way back in February, I was completely starstruck when I first saw Sakai Mika's matcha bowls on +Studio Kotokoto. The designs were so uniquely modern yet classic at the same time. Unfortunately the particular pattern that I wanted was sold out very quickly. They were very kind when I emailed inquiring if there might be any left but I pretty much forgot about it since then (other than the occasional weep while going through my Want! board on Pinterest).

A few weeks ago I was surprised to see an email in my inbox letting me know that one had become available. Needless to say I did a happy dance and promptly Paypal'd the dough. It arrived meticulously packed with a lovely handwritten note. Studio KotoKoto has some really lovely wares from a variety of Japanese artists. I cannot say enough about the level of customer service. Make sure that you check them out!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Teavivre Organic Superfine Dragon Well

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: jade green, flat
Ingredients: green tea
Steep time: 1 minute
Water Temperature: 185 degrees
Preparation Method: glass test tube steeper
Liquor: very pale, greenish

I tend to not be much of a green tea person but there is nothing like the smell of Dragonwell brewing. With good quality green tea subtlety is key. At first, I was hardly able to taste anything at all. After each sip, I noticed a lingering sweetness. This eventually developed into complex notes of asparagus and chestnuts. There was even a hint of a floral aroma. This became even more prominent as the tea cooled. There was no bitterness and hardly any astringency. You all know that +TeaVivre is one of my go-to companies when it comes to Chinese teas. Earlier this year I reviewed their Organic Nonpareil She Qian Dragon Well. I almost wish that I had tried them in the reverse order. While this tea was very good, that one was a higher grade that set the bar very high. That being said, this version is also much less expensive. If you have a taste for Long Jing but a limited tea budget, this would make a much better choice.

Organic Superfine Dragon Well sample provided by Teavivre.

Monday, October 20, 2014

A New Way of Displaying Teacups

Displaying teacups has always been a challenge for me, especially on shelves that are higher up. I recently found some nifty stands on Amazon that were a great solution. They're just simple plastic pieces that allow the saucer to stand up behind the teacup. Not all cups will fit perfectly but I didn't run into any where I couldn't make it work. Some of my saucers have pretty designs that were hidden until now. That definitely makes me happy. I'll need to pick up one more pack to finish everything but my teaware collection is already looking more organized.


Friday, October 17, 2014

Friday Round Up - October 12th through October 18th

Obsessed by Tea and How to Know
Cwyn's brand of wit and sarcasm are just my cup of tea. This list definitely speaks to much of my life as an obsessive tea drinker. Especially the part at the end about having to pee...

Matcha Cornflake Clusters
+Bonnie Eng is at it again! This recipe had me drooling (and making a mental note to pick up some culinary matcha). I thought that the poppy seeds added a unique touch.

Teaity's Quick Guide to Tea Certifications
There are so many tea certifications out there, its hard to keep all of those logos straight. +Teaity posted a really handy guide that clears everything up a bit.

A Complete Guide to Loose Leaf Green Tea
+Scott Anderson over at Tea Minded recently penned an incredibly thorough guide to green tea. I love how much effort to went into this post! He covered everything from the different grades of sencha to health benefits.

Chinese Marbled Tea Egg Recipe
I still haven't tried making tea eggs but Tea Galaxy gave me some inspiration with this guest post from +MayKing Tea. I'm not a fan of hard boiled egg yolks but I'll eat anything if you put tea in it :P

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Beau Bien Fine Foods Apricot Darjeeling Preserves

I love finding tea infused treats almost as much as I love finding new teas to drink. Recently +Joseph Wesley Black Tea was serving uptea in NYC at Michele Varian Home Design. I stopped by to say hello but my eyes lit up when Joe told me to try these apricot preserves that were made using his Darjeeling. It was amazingly delicious! The texture was perfect and I loved that the Darjeeling was really able to shine through. I've been spreading it on toasted English muffins and sipping his 2014 Classic Chinese (review is in the works). If you are in the Detroit area I definitely recommend picking up a jar...or two...or three...or four.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

White2Tea 2007 Repave Cake

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: somewhat dark, mottled greens and browns
Ingredients: puerh tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: dark amberish gold

Ah puerh, how I've missed you! I had heard a ton about this tea from friends on Steepster and Instagram. The base material was stored in Menghai for seven years before being pressed in 2007. The taste was vegetal with woody notes and a hint of camphor. There wasn't a lot of bitterness but it still packed a punch. It was slightly smokey but not unpleasantly so. The mouth-feel was fairly thick and brothy. I lost count after ten consecutive infusions but the leaves definitely could have gone for a few more rounds. One of the things that I love about +White2Tea is that they are very upfront and honest about the sourcing of their teas. For example, on this tea's page they say "We are unable to say with certainty the age of the trees, but the material is very good quality.". It's become far too common for companies to babble about ancient trees. Unfortunately it is now out of stock but there is more on the way.

2007 Repave Cake sample provided by White2Tea.

Several infusions into Repave from @white2tea. I may be tea drunk :-P #ilovetea #puerhaddict

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

I'm the Customer of the Month for Seven Cups!

Seven Cups Fine Chinese Teas (+sevencups), one of my favorite tea companies, chose me as their customer of the month for October. How exciting is that!?! They featured a little snippet about me in their newsletter and I got a free bag of the tea of my choice. I picked their Huang Guan Yin since it's been on my wish list for a while now. Lucky for me it was the very last bag. A review will be coming soon. I love when brands take the time to recognize their customers and they do it every single month. If you haven't given their teas a try I highly recommend them, especially the Huang Zhi Xiang. There is a review in the works for the 2012 harvest but the 2007 is one of the first teas that I really fell in love with.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Tearroir Everspring (Spring 2014)

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: pale greenish gold

I'm a sucker for a tea with a good story and I just had to give this one a try. According to Tearoir's website, "The teamaker behind the Everspring is known as “Grandma Fang,” one of Taiwan’s only female tea-master entrepreneurs.". 'Nuff said, take my money! At $8 for 50g, it's an absolute steal even without a great story. The leaves looked like a typical Nantou style rolled oolong. They were quite tiny but don't be fooled, oolongs expand quite a bit. The taste was really mellow at first, a bit vegetal and sweet. Baby spinach and sugar snap peas definitely came to mind. Then I started picking up a wonderful floral quality in the aftertaste that lingered long after each sip. Rather than a perfumy orchid like I had been expecting, it was much much lighter. I had a hard time pinning it down to a particular flavor note. Weirdly enough, I had visions of the Queen Anne's Lace that I used to pick as a child. If you are in the market for a Taiwanese oolong, I definitely suggest giving this one a try. In case you missed my podcast interview with the guys from +Tearroir Tea, you can check it out below!

Everspring (Spring 2014) was purchased from Tearroir.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Friday Round Up - October 5th through October 11th

NW Tea Festival 2014
The Northwest Tea Festival was definitely the place to be last weekend. I live on the opposite coast but lived vicariously through my fellow tea lovers. Steph's Cup of Tea shared her experience as a speaker.

A Tealet Potlock
+Geoffrey Norman told the tale of a backyard gathering featuring team +Tealet and the teas of +Teaneer Suresh. The west coast kids have all of the fun! It sounded like an absolute blast and his description of the Nilgiri Puerh definitely has me intrigued.

What-Cha's Kenyan Purple Bud Silver Needle
Speaking of unusual teas, my friends over at +Tea DB drink a ton of puerh and oolong on their show so it was interesting to see a change of pace this week. The Kenyan tea that I've had myself has been a mixed bag but it definitely seems like we'll see some really cool things from this region in the future.

Tea Drinker: Souheki Mori
+Jason Walker of +Walker Tea Review wrote a feature on one of my favorite local tea people. I lovr that he kept it simple, letting her answers stand on their own. You might remember that I wrote about Souheki's Chari-T class last year.

The Romantic Side of Tea or the Microsociology of Tea
I recently discovered the blog of tea sommelier Gabriela Prieto. Her post on the romantic side of tea echoes many of my own sentiments about that wonderful leaf.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Adagio Teas Yunnan Pu Eerh Gold

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: brown, large and twisted
Ingredients: puerh tea
Steep time: 5 minutes
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: Teavana Perfect Steeper
Liquor: very dark brown

This tea is part of +Adagio Teas' Masters Collection. The leaves were loose rather than compressed and had very different appearance than I had been expecting. They were mostly whole and had a needle-like shape. It's unusual to see that in a cooked puerh. The taste was very earthy but mellow and smooth at the same time. Top soil after a spring rain and dark roasted coffee both came to mind. There was hardly any astringency, even when it was accidentally over steeped on the second round (oops!). A tea like this would usually have some unpleasant fishiness but there wasn't any to be found. Puerh can be really scary for beginners and this one is just non-offensive enough to be a great starting point. That being said, it is very expensive for what you get. If you have the budget (or a gift certificate to burn through) then I'd say go for it. A sample is $12 and will get you about ten cups of tea.

Yunnan Pu Erh Gold sample provided by Adagio Teas.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Some Much Needed Tea Toys

A few weeks ago eBay had an issue where almost everyone was locked out of their system. As frustrating as it was at the time, I was happy to find a coupon in my inbox for $15. Of course my first thought was to pick up some long needed tea tools. Although I've been gongfu-ing my tea for a while, there are a few essentials that I never managed to pick up. How is it that I've never owned a puerh knife? Dragon Tea House is one of my go to vendors for inexpensive but decent quality teaware. I picked up a puerh knife, bamboo tongs and a cleaning cloth. My order with shipping came to just over $16 so I only paid a few bucks for everything. My non-tea friends have been fairly impressed as they didn't know that tea required weapons. :)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

On The Daily Tea: Tea Tutorial - Oolong

My latest piece for +The Daily Tea is all about my favorite type of tea, oolong. It was definitely a challenge summarizing the largest category in just one short article. Do you have any oolong brewing tips? Let us know about them in the comments over there! Check it out here:

Tea Tutorial - Oolong

Monday, October 6, 2014

What-Cha Nepal Monsoon Flush 2014 Pearl Oolong Tea

Country of Origin: Nepal
Leaf Appearance: mottled, loosely rolled pearls
Ingredients: oolong tea
Steep time: 3 minutes
Water Temperature: 195 degrees
Preparation Method: Teavana Perfect Steeper
Liquor: pale amber

This tea is all kinda of unusual so I was really excited to give it a try. Nepalese teas seem to be all the rage these days but I've rarely seen oolong and never in pearl form before. The taste was really mellow at first. After a few sips I started getting really nice notes of stone fruit. There was a subtle sweetness as well as floral notes in the background. The second infusion allowed the tea to open up and the peachy stone fruit quality became ever more pronounced. There was no astringency or bitterness to speak of. Pearl teas take some time to open up so I would definitely suggest going for at least two rounds with this one. I almost wished that I had done a rinse first. No milk here but you could use some sweetener if you really wanted to. This is the first tea that I've tried from What Cha but there is a whole bunch of Nepalese teas from them waiting in my "to do" pile. I can't wait to share them with you all.

Nepal Monsoon Flush 2014 Pearl Oolong Tea sample provided by What-Cha.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Friday Round Up - September 28th through October 4th

Drinking Oolongs at The Mandarin Tea Room
Georgia blogged about her visit to The Mandarin's Tea Room. This place has been on my to-do list for while and now I want to go there even more.

Music City Tea - Nashville, TN
Cody over at Oolongchaser recently stopped into another place I've been meaning to go to, Music City Tea in Nashville. I accidentally found this shop when I purchased a travel gaiwan set on Amazon.

San Francisco // Song Tea & Ceramics
+Jee Choe recently posted about her visit to +Song Tea & Ceramics in San Francisco. Why are all of the coolest places on the west coast? I've been a fan of their gorgeous Instagram for a while now. The pictures she snapped in their shop are beautiful too.

Drink Tea. Be Flavorful
If you haven't checked out +Verna Hamilton's words of wisdom yet, you need to! They never fail to inspire and motivate me when I'm feeling down. They're all tea themed of course :)

A Morning In Kyoto
François-Xavier Delmas is the founder of Le Palais des Thés. He's been blogging about his travels around the world for years and I am an avid reader. His pictures are truly breathtaking. I especially love the posts about India.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Ocean of Tea Ti Kuan Yin

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: deep green, tightly rolled
Ingredients: oolong tea
Steep time: 3 minutes
Water Temperature: 195 degrees
Preparation Method: Teavana Perfect Steeper
Liquor: deep gold

I've had a lot of Tie Guan Yin over the years but this one made me sit up and take notice because it is from the Wuyi Mountains. What's so unusual about that? Nearly every example I've ever had was from Fujian Province. The taste was floral with a nice bit of toastiness but there was also a very unusual spicy quality. I've never experience that from this type of tea before. There was also a hint of vegetal notes but not much accompanying astringency. The oxidation level was somewhere in the middle, not super light but not very high either. At just $5.50 per ounce (and even cheaper for bulk), it seems that this tea is quite a bit cheaper than its Fujian cousins. The unusual spiciness I noted is exactly what I was talking about in my What is Terroir? post last week. Producing the same tea in a different region made it taste very different.

Ti Kuan Yin sample provided by Ocean of Tea

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Jalam Teas He Kai Unfermented Puerh

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: mottled green and brown
Ingredients: puerh tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: bright gold

Ah puerh, how I've missed you! I've been so busy with my recent move and career changes that I haven't been able to indulge much at all. Shipments from +JalamTeas are something that I always look forward to. They make me feel more connected not only to my love for tea but to the land and people that produced it. This cake was produced by Lahu people in the Bulang Mountain range. The accompanying postcard forewarned that it packed a punch and boy did it ever. The first infusion was fairly mellow but after that it opened up quite a bit. There was plenty of vegetal astringency along with an interesting fruit-like aftertaste. After a several rounds of infusions I was deliriously tea drunk (in a very good way). There was also a tiny hint of a floral quality. I found it very interesting to read that orchids are known to be abundant in the area where this tea was produced. This is a tea that I could drink all day. In fact, I think I will...

He Kai Unfermented Puerh sample provided by Jalam Teas.