Friday, October 30, 2015

Friday Round Up: October 25th - October 31st

The Dignity of A Dark Forest
Jianghu is a tea and music blog that I've recently started following. I really enjoyed this review of a mysterious puerh from Tea Urchin.

TEA REVIEWS: ChaTale’s West Lake Long Jing & Bamboo Tea
+Drew Bednasek brings us a review of what sounds like a very nice Dragonwell and an herbal tea that is made from young bamboo leaves.

Tea Apps
The Lovely Teacup posted a very useful list of tea themed apps. I'm not sure that I'd pay for a timer app but it's still interesting to know that they exist.

Tasting Experience: Smith Teamaker
+sara shacket had an incredible tasting experience at Stumptown Coffee. The Mulled Black Tea definitely sounds like something that I need to try!

The Tea Book (Book Review)
+Ricardo Caicedo wrote a great review of +Linda Gaylard's new book. I definitely have to agree when he said, "This book does a wonderful job at easily covering a lot of vital information without being too technical.".

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Tandem Tea Tasting: A Series of Seven Cups

I can hardly believe it but its been more than a year since the last time that I blogged about a Tandem Tea Tasting. For those of you that are new to the blog, a bunch of fellow tea blogger friends and I hold tastings via Google+ Hangouts since we are scattered across the country in some cases across the globe. There's always lots of laughs as well as plenty of nerding out and comparing notes. These are truly some of my favorite people in the whole world!

It was a packed house this time around with +Robert Godden (and Lady Devotea), +Jo J+Rachana Rachel Carter+Geoffrey Norman+Nicole Schwartz+Jen Piccotti+Linda Gaylard+Darlene Meyers-Perry and +sara shacket all in attendance.We had ambitious roster of teas to power through this time around. They were generously supplied for us by +Seven Cups Fine Chinese Teas and shipped out to everyone by +Jo J, along with her darling tea snails. Please excuse the terrible cell phone pictures as I was feeling lazy about setting up my light tent.

Golden Peacock
Although our primary goal was to taste and compare yellow teas I think that this is the one that I was most excited about. What can I say, I'm a sucker for Yunnan black tea. I think it is safe to say that this tea was a resounding favorite. +Geoffrey Norman thought it tasted like a grizzly bear that had been struck by lightening and made into an electric blanket? +Robert Godden eloquently likened it to the electric feeling in the air before a lightening storm. Maybe ozone? As add as it sounds it totally made sense for this tea. It was malty and chocolaty with a delicious smoked yam quality that I really enjoyed.

The leaves of this Sichuan yellow tea were beautiful to look at so I couldn't resist using my glass gaiwan. I really enjoyed the thorough explanation of the intensive manufacturing process on Seven Cup's. The taste was herbaceous and sweet with a heavily floral finish that lingered long after each sip. It always amazed me what a difference that little bit of oxidation can cause. The perfumy aspect faded to the background after a few infusions. As much as I wanted to keep drinking, it was on to the next tea.

This yellow tea is from Zhejiang Province and the dry leaves differed quite a lot from the previous tea. The processing for this one sounds incredibly complex. This region is known for its green tea but I'm glad that there are still farmers like Wang Qiang Zhen that are passion the skill on to the next generation.The taste of this one was softer than the Meng Ding. It wasn't as vegetal and it still had a subtle floral quality. Most of the group much preferred it to the Meng Ding but I found that I quite enjoyed them both.

I think it's safe to say that we all stayed up past our bedtimes. I was so wired that I wound up chit chatting with +Geoffrey Norman until a little after 2:00am. It's been a really long time since I consumed this much tea in one sitting and it hit me a bit hard. Although I was a bit sleep deprived the next day the evening's festivities were totally worth catching up with all of my chums. I'll be sure to add the links to everyone's write ups as they are published.

A photo posted by Nicole Martin (@teaformeplease) on

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Dark Side of Tea Issue - Going Out October 31st!

It's almost time for the next issue of my quarterly journal. The usual focus is on growing regions or specific types of tea but this time around I'm tackling the "dark side" of tea. It's a difficult topic and I'm just hoping that I'm able to do it justice. The goal is to provide balanced information rather than delivering doom and gloom.

I'm also asking for my reader's help. I'm conducting a consumer survey on the terms fair trade and organic and what they mean to you. The results will be published in the journal with the hopes of having a better understanding of how the average tea drinkers sees these important issues.

In case you haven't already subscribed, the journal is sent as a high quality PDF download to my email list. Just use the box below to sign up!

Click here to take the survey!

I couldn't resist sharing the link a little early on social media and the results are already really exciting (and in a few cases, hilarious).

I also wanted to let you all know that the publishing schedule will be changing here a bit. Don't worry, I'm not going anywhere! Rather than posting five days a week, the schedule will be changing as follows:

-Monday: informative posts on various tea subjects
-Wednesday: tea reviews, maybe a bit more in depth than before
-Fridays: the usual blog round up

The goal is bring you guys better quality posts rather than a higher quantity. Over the next coming weeks, I'd love to hear feedback on the new changes.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Friday Round Up: October 18th - October 24th

2005 Rocket Yiwu Sheng Pu'er from White2Tea
+Charissa Gascho got wonderfully tea drunk off of a tea that has definitely be on my wish list for a while now. I love all things Yiwu and White2Tea has yet to steer me wrong.

Teacup Votives
Crafty blogger +Bonnie Eng put an interesting twist on the teacup candles that are popping up all over my Pinterest feed. I'm definitely going to have to make a trip to Chinatown soon so that I can give this a try.

Class No.2: Classification of Tea
I learn so much from the posts on Tea Masters Blog, even if I'm not able to attend the classes in person. In this session they brewed three teas all made from the Qingxin Dapang cultivar but with very different oxidation levels.

What-Cha: China Fujian Anxi 2008 Heavy Roasted Tie Guan Yin Oolong Tea in Bitter Melon, A Tea Review
A few weeks ago I shared Oolong Owl's experience with this now famous tea and this week it is +Amanda Wilson's turn. I really enjoyed learning more about bitter melon. I love the pictures in her reviews because they're always full of tea pets and interesting trinkets.

What Makes a Moonlight Tea?
+Geoffrey Norman's obsession with moonlight teas is sort of legendary, especially those that are from Darjeeling. His comparison of these two teas, hilarious and thought provoking as always, had me craving some of my own.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Udyan Tea Rohini Jethi Kupi Black Tea

Country of Origin: India
Leaf Appearance: dark green and brown with silver tipps
Ingredients: black tea
Steep time: 3 minutes
Water Temperature: 175 degrees
Preparation Method: ceramic teacup and stainless steel infuser
Liquor: amber

I am very much a second flush (or Autumn, or Monsoon...) Darjeeling person. It's not that I dislike first flush but the ones that I've tried tend to be a bit too green for me. This one from +Udyan Tea was a bit more oxidized so it was right up my alley. The leaves were quite beautiful, both before and after brewing. Floral and malty notes danced around a robust vegetal background. There was a pleasant crispness without being overly astringent. Honeycrisp apples came to mind, making it perfect for this time of year. My second and third cups were just as enjoyable as the first. In a way, this tea had big shoes to fill because of how much I adored the AV2 Exotic Black. Whenever that happens I have to remind myself that each tea needs to be appreciated it its own right. They can't all be incredibly complex or have amazingly beautiful leaves. That being said, this tea is an excellent example of a first flush tea that I enjoyed very much. Sometimes that's all that really matters.

Rohini Jethi Kupi Black Tea sample provided by Udyan Tea.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Reader Questions: Do You Ever Get Tired of Tea?

I think this may be the question that I get asked most often, especially by non-tea drinkers. It's an understandable thing to wonder about. I started this blog a little over seven years ago and to date I've reviewed over 940 teas. When I first started this journey I assumed that there would come a point of saturation. How much tea could one person drink? I'm happy to admit that I was very wrong about that. The world of tea is seemingly small but in reality it is unfathomably huge. It's also constantly evolving. Although there have a been a handful of repeats for me, they have been fairly far and few between.

I think a big part of why I'm still so interested in tea is that my approach is not about health or its purported benefits. Those are a great side affect but my mentality is more like a wine or beer connoisseur. The motivation behind a lot of what I do is expanding my knowledge, improving my palate and diving deeper down the rabbit hole. The history and culture behind the leaf still captivates me just as much as it did when I first started. Even after making the jump to working in tea retail, I still go home and gongfu whatever I'm in the mood for. There isn't a day that goes by without me learning something new about tea. That comes not only through reading books but blog posts, tweets and a ton of other sources. It's impossible to know it all and in a way, that is what keeps me going.

I'd love to hear what you guys think. Could you ever get tired of tea?

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Jalam Teas Bulang Cooked Shou Puerh

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: dark with golden tips, compressed
Ingredients: puerh tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: very dark brown

I will almost always reach for raw puerh before I reach for shou but the weather seems to call for it lately. The cake was pretty to look at with lots of golden tips. I know that doesn't really do anything for what's in the cup but there's always something to be said for aesthetics. The taste of this one was rich and earthy with quite a bit more punch than I was expecting. I forgot that Autumn teas, especially from Bulang Shan, can do that. There was an interesting sweetness that reminded me of the smell of damp potting soil. That probably doesn't sound very appetizing but trust me, it was delicious! It brewed up an inky dark brown that stayed consistent through many infusions. Even after it started to loose its strength I was able to squeeze out a bit more by letting the leaves rest for a bit. I have a feeling that this tea will find its way into my travel mug many times, especially on those chilly mornings when I'm waiting for the bus to work. +JalamTeas only offers a few cooked puerhs each year. In a way, I think that helps me to enjoy them more.

Bulang Cooked Shou Puerh sample provided by Jalam Teas.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Global Tea Hut: September 2015 - Morning Dew

I don't think I've ever been more excited to receive an envelope from +Global Tea Hut than I was for September's shipment. The gift for this month was a translation of Lu Yu's The Classic of Tea, also known as the Cha Ching. I was lucky enough to find a copy of the Francis Ross Carpenter translation a few years ago but it has been out of print for some time. I'll be working through this one slowly. The drawings in particular do a great job of illustrating the tools that were used during that time period. For those of you that missed this issue, I'll be sure to add the link here once it is available online. That's the wonderful thing about Global Tea Hut. They share everything they do with the world.

The tea, Morning Dew, was also exciting but scary at the same time. It was a powdered green tea that was designed to help us replicate (in a way) Tang Dynasty style brewing. I must confess to waiting some time before giving it a try because I was nervous. Boiling green tea powder did not sound like a very appetizing thing to drink. After I finally bit the bullet, it wasn't that bad after all. It looked a bit like muddy matcha but the taste was surprisingly mild. It was smooth, sweet and vegetal with a powerful chi. It's been a long time since I got that feeling from anything that wasn't puerh. Funnily enough, I tried preparing it exactly as I would matcha but that backfired terribly. You can't win them all!

You can find out more about Global Tea Hut here.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Friday Round Up: October 11th - October 17th

A Perfect Blend...My Tea Themed Bridal Shower
+Nichole Miller's family threw her what looks like a tea lover's dream of a bridal shower. The fountain of tea plates, tea cups and flowers is really beautiful.

Colombian Grown...Tea?
+Geoffrey Norman shared a bit about some teas that took us all by surprised at World Tea Expo. Colombian grown tea is not very common but I have a feeling that we'll be hearing more about it in the future.

An American Moment - LA Style
+Jen Piccotti got to attend the grand opening for +American Tea Room's snazzy new LA tea bar. This place looks so cool! I couldn't be there myself but living vicariously through her post was the next best thing.

North West Tea Festival 2015
Speaking of living vicariously, I also missed out on the Northwest Tea Festival. Heather of Hanamichi wrote a great wrap up that showed a good portion of the work shops and vendors. Maybe I'll make it there next year!

Pu-erh Chocolate Brownies
This delicious recipe from +Bonnie Eng makes me wonder if I could managed to slip this one past my boyfriend. He isn't much of a tea drinker and he doesn't enjoy spinach but I love both. We'll have too see how that works. ;)

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Why Tea Education Is Broken and What We Can Learn From the Wine World

There comes a point in every tea enthusiast's journey where we come to a crossroads. Is there enough passion there to pursue a formal education in tea? Do I need some kind of certification? Where do I start? What organization should I trust? I know that I've been there (in many ways I still am). The trouble is that there is zero standardization when it comes to tea education. The other day I was watching Somm, a documentary about candidates for the Master Sommelier Exam, and that is what inspired this post.

Too Many Eggs, Too Many Baskets

Did you know that there are many different organizations or individuals that offer tea certifications? I counted at least ten just in the process of writing this blog post. Each of them has a different curriculum and the costs can range from a few hundred dollars to thousands depending on how deep you want to go. The fact that there is no real consensus in the industry dilutes the meaning of these certifications. To someone outside of the industry, they might seem impressive but I find that most folks within the tea community do not seem to take them seriously.

In the U.S. we are starving for tea knowledge. Many of the really important books and studies are still only available in Chinese or Japanese. Despite how long tea has been consumed, the concept of something elevated beyond a grocery store black tea bag is still very new. Things have certainly improved from when I first started seven years ago but there is still a long way to go. There is still a lot of misinformation being passed around, even by the organizations that are setting out to educate.

Can You Really Master Anything?

I struggle a lot with the term "master". No matter how far I am on my tea journey, I don't think I would ever call myself one. In western terms that usually implies knowing everything that there is to know about a particular subject. Can someone who sat in their living room, taking Skype classes, really be considered a tea master? I have a hard time believing this to be true, especially if they've never set foot inside of a country of origin.

What We Can Learn from the World of Wine

Humans have been consuming wine for just about as long as we have been consuming tea. Both beverages have a long and complex history that is deeply tied to the places where they are cultivated. While the wine world has its own issues to deal with, I think the one thing they are getting right is education. The Court of Master Sommeliers offers a very intensive series of courses culminating in their highest honor, the Master Sommelier Diploma. In order to earn this title, candidates must pass a three-part exam.

1. Practical wine service and salesmanship
Candidates must demonstrate a thorough knowledge of how to properly serve wine, liquors, and spirits. This includes food pairing as well as handling questions and complaints.

2. Theory
Candidates must demonstrate that they know how wine is produced as well as a deep knowledge of wine producing countries and the laws that regulate wine in each of them. Cigars are also included in this section.

3. Practical Tasting
Candidates are given a blind tasting flight of three white wines and three red wines. They must be able to determine grape varieties, country and appellation of origin as well vintage.

I've worked in a wine store in the past and I can tell you that everyone knew exactly what this certification meant. Most candidates do not pass on the first try. Many attempt four or five times before they are successful. I ask, dear reader, does anything in the tea biz come close to this level of intensity? I have yet to find any certification that does. What I would like to see is a pooling of resources rather than the separatist systems that we currently have. 

I'd love to know your thoughts on this subject. Please let me know what you think in the comments!

Disclaimer: The idea behind this post was not to call out any particular person or organization. My intention is to the discuss the issues that exist and to show the possibilities that exist if the tea industry could ever actually come to a consensus. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Zhen Tea Rou Gui - Ma Tou Yan

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

I was introduced to the kind folks at +ZhenTea when they exhibited at the New York Coffee & Tea Festival. When I ran into them again at World Tea Expo I was amazed that they had remembered my love of Rou Gui. They brought a sample for me all the way from Ottawa. How sweet is that? Fall is here and this tea was exactly what I needed. The roasting was on the subtle side, allowing the complexity of the tea to shine through. Dark chocolate was my first thought but then I started picking up hints of orchid-like florals. Lemony citrus popped up in the later brews. There was a nice minerality that oddly enough reminded me of white wine. After at least ten infusions I was certifiably tea-logged. There was an expansive warming sensation that started deep in my chest. I started the session bundled up in a fuzzy hoodie and wound up having to take it off by the time I done. I love my Wuyi oolongs but they are usually a bit more spendy than other types. This one is expensive but not the most expensive that I've seen, especially for the quality. The fact that you only need to use 3g of leaf helps a bit too.

Rou Gui - Ma Tou Yan sample provided by Zhen Tea.

A photo posted by Nicole Martin (@teaformeplease) on

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Tea Book by Linda Gaylard

One of my favorite things about being tea blogger is having friends who do awesome things. +Linda Gaylard of The Tea Stylist fame recently published a truly awesome book. First let me say that I <3 hard cover books! They're infinitely better than paperback books, especially because they're less susceptible to shelf wear. Don't let the number of pages intimidate you. This book reads like a gorgeous coffee table book. The text portions are short, sweet and accompanied by fantastic photography. Linda does a great job of being factual without droning on or getting caught up in the details.

Each page is beautifully laid out and there are tons of illustrations that make my tea-filled heart very happy. I particularly enjoyed the section on Korean Darye as this is an aspect of tea culture that is often ignored. U.S. grown tea also makes an appearance which is always nice to see. Most books on tea contain recipes but Linda put a fresh spin on that by providing recipes to custom blend your own flavored teas. How cool is that? This would be a great book to gift to someone who is just getting into tea. It covers the basics and then some without being intimidating or super nerdy.

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

Monday, October 12, 2015

Sunday Sundae at T Shop - Round Two

Back in August I attended an awesome ice cream social type event called Sunday Sundae. It was a blast so I was super excited when I found out that there would be a round two. It also just happened to be on my day off. Somehow I was the first one to arrive. I was ok with that since +T Shop is a great place to just relax and hang out. I had a chance to chat a bit with the master ice cream maker himself, Max Falkowitz (formally of Serious Eats, now at Saveur). Although I was excited to dig into the cold stuff, the fall weather had me seriously craving the Royal Milk Tea served on the patio by +Tiny Pinecone Teahouse and Bakeshop. It was rich, creamy and everything that I wanted it to be.

Now that I was sufficiently warmed it was time to move on to the ice cream and cookies. The offerings this time around were Cointreau White, Roasted Oolong, Hong Kong Breakfast and Ripe Puerh. The ripe puerh was the first one that I tried. I couldn't believe how chocolaty it tasted. There were quite a few other guests who stated that they hated puerh but loved this ice cream. The Honk Kong Breakfast would have to be my favorite though. It was made with the High Mountain Black Tea from last time along with lemon. The taste was incredibly bright and refreshing.

Lisa at Tiny Pinecone is an incredibly talented baker. The matcha tuiles and genmaicha white chocolate cookies were to die for. My stomach was a bit overloaded with all of that dairy filled goodness so I indulged in several cups of Theresa's excellent teas. The moonlight white is a favorite that I always turn to but the roasted oolong really hit the spot that day. To make things even better I was able to sit down for a nice long chat with my friend +Jo J. We both had excellent news to share and I was glad to get to see her before her trip to Taiwan.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Friday Round Up: October 4th - October 10th

Let's Talk Taiwanese Oolong: Tie Kuan Yin Oolong
I've really been enjoying +katherine bellman's series on Taiwanese oolongs. This tea is usually associated with China but can also be found being grown in Taiwan.

Penton Acquires World Tea Expo – Need to Know
The tea world was buzzing this week with news of the recent sale of World Tea Expo to Penton. It will be interesting to see what changes this acquisition will bring in the future.

Green Tea and Weight Loss
+Ricardo Caicedo hit the nail on the head this week with his thoughtful discussion on green tea's purported weight loss abilities. I think he summed it up best when he said "Concentrate on diet and exercise, which isn’t easy, but it’s the surest way to succeed. The miracle weight loss pill hasn’t been invented yet, sorry.".

Pumpkin Tea Latte Recipe
It's that time of year. Everyone is rolling out their PSL's. +Lu Ann Pannunzio shared a video for a creative recipe that uses real pumpkin puree. Yum!

A Moment to Fixation on Assam
+Jen Piccotti and I must be on the same wavelength this week. I've also been obsession over +Joseph Wesley Black Tea's Assam. Does that make me a Bong girl? :)

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Yunnan Sourcing 2014 Autumn Moonlight Pavilion Pure Bud Bi Luo Chun White Tea

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: varied shades of green with lots of downy buds
Ingredients: white tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 175 degrees
Preparation Method: glass gaiwan
Liquor: pale gold

As my Instagram followers can attest, I've been obsessing over this tea the last few months. You might say to yourself, I thought Bi Luo Chun was a green tea? The term can also refer to the leaf shaping method. I experimented with brewing this tea every which way, from a glass teapot to kyusu, test tube steepers and gaiwans. By far the glass gaiwan produced my favorite result but "grandpa style" is always fun too. The taste was delicate and light with a refreshing cooling affect. Floral notes danced around a hint of honeydew melon. There was a slight vegetal aftertaste but it reminded me more of fresh veggies than grass. I love Yunnan white teas because they have a bit of a different energy and this tea was a great example of that. After brewing the buds unfurled completely and they were beautiful to look at. My boyfriend caught me playing with them on more than one occasion. He thinks my tea obsession is odd but at this point he pretty much accepts it (as if there was any other option). :)

2014 Autumn Moonlight Pavilion Pure Bud Bi Luo Chun White Tea purchased from Yunnan Sourcing.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

What-Cha Georgia Natela's Gold Standard Black Tea

Country of Origin: Georgia
Leaf Appearance: dark, long and twisted
Ingredients: black tea
Steep time: 3 minutes
Water Temperature: 205 degrees
Preparation Method: stainless steel infuser basket and ceramic teacup
Liquor: reddish brown

It's hard to believe but this is the first Georgia (the country, not the state) grown tea that I have ever reviewed here. The taste was malty and slightly sweet without any astringency or bitterness. I was very much reminded of Assam but there were subtle differences. There was an indistinct fruity undertone, not quite peach but something close to it. My second cup was just a hair lighter in body but just as enjoyable as the first. There was just something so comforting about the taste. After a long day at work it made my insides all melty and the stress just slipped away. Sometimes a super simple black tea is all that you need to make things better. It was bold enough to support milk and sugar but it's really not necessary at all. I know that I've said it before but What-Cha really has a knack for affordable yet unusual teas. I have my eye on their China Fujian Anxi 2008 Heavy Roasted Tie Guan Yin Oolong Tea in Bitter Melon and I definitely think that I'll be picking up some of this along with it.

Georgia Natela's Gold Standard Black Tea sample provided by What-Cha.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Little Red Cup Tea Company Premium White Peony

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: varied greens and browns with some buds
Ingredients: white tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 180 degrees
Preparation Method: glass gaiwan
Liquor: gold

The first time that I tried this tea using a good ol' teapot and the directions provided I was a little underwhelmed. It's not that it was bad but it just didn't jump out at me. Not being one to give up after the first go, I thought that it might perform better in my glass gaiwan. I'm very happy to report that my hunch was right. The taste was light and refreshing with cooling notes of honeydew melon. A honey-like sweetness lingered in the aftertaste. There was no bitterness or astringency to speak of. I was able to get at least six infusions so these leaves definitely had some staying power. Something tells me that this would also make a great cold brew iced tea. If only there were more leaves left to play with! It can be hard to know if your tea is sourced in a way that respects the people who produce it. I was happy to see that this tea is Fair Trade Certified. The premiums are used by the growers in Hunan for equipment purchases and much needed public works and sanitation projects.

Premium White Peony sample provided by Little Red Cup Tea Company.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Nepali Tea Traders Nepalese Silver Tips

Country of Origin: Nepal
Leaf Appearance: small, mostly whole downy buds
Ingredients: white tea
Steep time: 3 minutes
Water Temperature: 180 degrees
Preparation Method: mesh infuser basket and porcelain teacup
Liquor: bright gold

I'd heard a lot of good things from fellow bloggers about Nepali Tea Traders but never had a chance to give them a try myself. I was able to briefly meet them at World Tea Expo last year and they were kind enough to leave me with several samples. I'm a lover of (almost) all silver tips tea so naturally this was the one that I gravitated to first. The leaves were like a miniature version of your typical Chinese silver needle. Smaller and a bit more delicate but still covered in downy hairs. The taste was wonderfully complex, starting out with herbaceous notes of sage and lemon grass. Honeyed peaches popped up in the midpalate while the finish brought hints of vanilla and clove. I couldn't help but be reminded of a really good white wine. The mouth-feel was smooth and buttery without any astringency. My second and third infusions were just as good as the first. Sadly there weren't enough leaves to experiment with brewing methods but I have a hunch that this would do really well in my glass gaiwan.

Nepalese Silver Tips sample provided by Nepali Tea Traders.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Friday Round Up: September 27th - October 3rd

Sunday Tea Hoots 7 - Matcha Ranting
I love a good rant, especially when it's about tea. +Charissa Gascho was right on the mark with this post, especially when it comes to transparency.

Scouring the Web for the Best Tea Reviews
Two Dog Tea Blog gives us some food for thought about how to select the tea reviewers that you use to guide your purchases. I think the most important take away is "Don't follow the crowd".

A Visit to David's Tea
Angela at Tea with Friends shared a bit about her very first experience visiting a David's Tea store. I must confess to being a sucker for Pumpkin Chai too.

Cha Doraku Yamabijin
+Ricardo Caicedo wrote a great review this week of a Japanese black tea from Cha Doraku. I first learned about this company when he interviewed the owner on his podcast and now I'm a big fan of their teas.

Matcha Review: Gracious of the Court (2011) by Kaburagien
Did you know that tencha is sometimes aged before being made into matcha? I really enjoyed reading +Oca Ocani's informative and thorough review of this tea.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Jalam Teas Bulang Mountain Sheng

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

It sounds a bit silly but there is something that always makes me smile when shooting pictures for a Jalam Teas review. My camera thinks that the people depicted on the postcards are not just a picture, putting the requisite little boxes around their faces. I think this speaks to the quality of the photography as well as the focus that they bring to those who work so hard to make our tea. This particular offering was sent to subscribers in July (I'm making some progress on my backlog guys!). There was a lot of vegetal astringency upfront but it was tempered by a pleasant hui gan (comeback sweetness). It never became uncomfortable or overly drying. Floral notes along with cooling camphor picked up in the finish. I tend to have a "go hard or go home" when brewing Jalam's teas since I have a fairly high tolerance for astringency. If you aren't as used to it as I am I would suggest dialing back the water temperature to around 185 degrees. Hot tea can be a tough sell in the summer so I thought it was smart of them to recommend trying this one iced.

Bulang Mountain Sheng sample provided by Jalam Teas.