Saturday, April 30, 2016

Saturday Surprise (Or Why There Wasn't a Round Up This Week)

Yesterday I realized with a feeling of horror that I had completely forgotten to put together the Friday Round Up. A number of thoughtful folks even tweeted letting me know about my faux paus. I'm generally pretty on top of things but it's been a crazy week. The April issue of Tea for Me Please Quarterly was my largest edition yet. A lot of late night sessions were spent trying to pull everything together. My work schedule has been pretty hectic lately as well.

Life outside of the blog was bit of a whirlwind this week. My boyfriend Jason popped THE question! There was much excitement and celebrating, all of which kept me away from my computer. That's a good enough reason for letting the weekly round up slip my mind, right? Over the years Jason has put up with tea taking over our apartment, even willingly giving up shelf space for my teaware. He doesn't always understand it and he rarely drinks tea at all but he's always supportive of everything that I do. Jason is even letting me drag him to World Tea Expo this year! I'm very lucky to have him in my life.



It will probably be a year or so before we tie the knot but my tea addled brain has already started thinking about ways to incorporate tea into the proceedings. After giving it some thought I don't think that I'll be making it part of the ceremony like +Tony Gebely did. There's definitely some potential in favors and a tea bar at the reception though.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Tea Descendants Smooth Floral Touch

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: deep green, tightly rolled
Ingredients: oolong tea
Steep time: 15 seconds
Water Temperature:
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: greenish yellow

Upon first impression, I just had to squee at the beautiful packaging of this offering from +Tea Descendants. Clean and modern labels combined with a very nice double lidded tin are always something I like to see. I also really liked that the tea inside was packaged in individual vacuum sealed packets. A handy little pamphlet inside gave thorough directions for gongfu preparation. Smooth Floral Touch seems like a most unusual name for tea but in this case I have to say that it was a pretty accurate description. Vegetal notes of sugar snap peas faded into an intense orchid aroma. The mouth-feel was buttery and thick with no dryness or astringency. I lost track of the number of infusions but that alone should tell you that there was a lot of them. There's nothing quite like a tea with a good story and I was drawn in by Tea Descendants. Their family has been making tea in Hemei Village in Anxi for generations without the use of pesticides. The company was born of a trip to retrace with those roots. Check out the video of their beautiful tea fields below! I must confess to not usually being a fan of Anxi Tie Guan Yin. This tea was a very rare exception to that rule. It isn't neon green as they are often are now but also not roasted beyond recognition. The company sells a lighter tea as well as a darker version. I'll definitely have to check those out to see how they compare.

Smooth Floral Touch sample provided for review by Tea Descendants.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Podcast Episode 19: Interview with Emilio Delpozo of The Jade Leaf

I've been a fan of The Jade Leaf for some time. Not only do they have a reputation for having some really incredible teas but the man behind the leaf is also well known for the beautiful teaware that he creates. I'm a sucker for those teapots with the wooden side handles! The differences in time zones always amuse me when I'm interviewing tea folks in other countries. Emilio is based in Taipei so we filmed at 11am EST (11pm Taiwan time). Keep an eye out for reviews of The Jade Leaf's teas here on the blog soon.

You can find out more about The Jade Leaf at http://thejadeleaf.com/.

I'm so proud of myself for actually maintaining a semblance of a schedule for the podcast the past few months. If there's anything (or anyone) that you would like to see on future episodes, I'd love to hear about it in the comments. Thank you all for watching!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Friday Round Up: April 17th - April 23rd

Chadō in Lillestrøm
Cha Oslo recently visited Marius, one of the hosts of my favorite tea podcast. He built his own tea house and achieved the incredible feat of performing a tea ceremony every day for a year. It sounds like they had a wonderful experience.

Matcha Waffles
+Jee Choe's blog is frequently drool worthy and this week's recipe definitely falls into that category. I'll be giving these a try soon (much the chagrin of my matcha-hating boyfriend).

Jalam Teas amazing Shou Puerh, Nannuo Summer 2014 Harvest
+Hannah Goldfarb Gerber of Buddah-Mom Tea always draws me in with her visceral and vivid tea write ups. Mr. Nannou is a friend of mine too!

Favorite Tea Ware - Lisa Chan of Tiny Pinecone
+Georgia SS posted the latest installment of her favorite tea ware series. It was great to get a chance to see some Lisa's favorite pieces. I miss those wonderful cups from +Tiny Pinecone Teahouse and Bakeshop.

Your Love Won't Fade for "Fade"
I've heard so many good things about +White2Tea's monthly tea club and this review from Cody at The Oolong Drunk makes me want to try it even more. Who would have thought that Kanye West could inspire producing such an awesome tea?

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Nepali Tea Traders Dhulagiri White

Country of Origin: Nepal
Leaf Appearance: silvery green, somewhat curled
Ingredients: white tea
Steep time: 3 minutes
Water Temperature: 180 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain teacup and mesh infuser
Liquor: pale gold

So many teas, such little time! Somehow my review of this little gem never left my offline notes. Any of my fellow bloggers ever have that happen? I had the pleasure of meeting Maggie from Nepali Tea Traders one year at World Tea Expo. She was kind enough to give me samples of several of her teas and this is one I was particularly excited about.

The leaves were beautiful to look at before I even brewed them. There was a quite a lot of diminutive buds along with some silvery larger leaves. White teas are always intriguing for me, especially those that are not exactly traditional, because they are subtle but can offer a ton of complexity at the same time. The taste was of this one was floral but in more of a woodland meadow kind of way. Days sent camping on fields of red clover blossoms came to mind. No hot house orchids here! Isn't it neat how tea can spark a totally unrelated sensory memory like that? A slightly nutty undertone ended in a sweet and cooling finish. Tragedy struck as my second infusion was prematurely knocked off of the kitchen counter and into the sink. I guess I'll have to wait a while before I find out what that second brew tasted like but I have no doubt that it would have been delicious.

If you've never heard of Nepali Tea Traders before, I really suggest checking out their website. I love their passion for what the do and their commitment to helping the people of Nepal to build a sustainable tea industry.

Dulagiri White sample was provided by Nepali Tea Traders.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Viva Las Vegas! World Tea Expo 2016


I'm super excited to be making my third trip to +World Tea Expo this year. 2016 will different for a few different reasons. The show has been held in Long Beach, California for the last two years. Although I enjoyed getting a few days in California, it's excited to travel to somewhere new. Las Vegas should make for a very interesting time. As always, I'll be sure to report everything back here once I return home.

My non-tea drinking boyfriend is joining me this year. I'm excited to introduce him to my tea friends from around the country (and world). I don't think Jason quite knows what he's in for though. Maybe this is just one step in my secret plot to convert him...for the record, he volunteered!

I'm going to be speaking solo for the first time ever! As nerve-wracking as it is, I can't wait to share what I have to say with everyone. My seminar is called Utilizing Social Media to Connect with Customers Authentically and Grow Your Tea Business and will take place on June 16th at 11:00pm. My goal will be to cover the basics of social media for tea companies so that can better connect with tea lovers.

The educational conference is probably my favorite part of the expo. Where else can you nerd out with so many industry experts? I've already filled in my Google Calendar with all of the seminars that I am planning to attend. +Jo J's panel Re-Evaluating Tea Education and +Darlene Meyers-Perry's seminar Tea Vessels = A Way to Steep Up Sales are two definitely must sees. I'm also really looking forward to attending Dr. Selena Ahmed's  talk on Climate-Smart Tea Systems.

The Tea Blogger's Roundtable will be a returning fixture this year. I'm be sitting on the panel with more than a few of my favorite bloggers.

+Jo J of Scandalous Tea
+Geoffrey Norman of Steep Stories
+Naomi Rosen of Joy's Jabberings
+Gary Robson of Tea with Gary
+Chris Giddings of Tea Guy
+Nicole Schwartz of AmazonV tea taste tracking
+Darlene Meyers-Perry of The Tea Enthusiast's Scrapbook
+Rachana Rachel Carter of iHeartTeas The Blog
+Ricardo Caicedo of My Japanese Green Tea
+sara shacket of Tea Happiness
+Linda Gaylard of The Tea Stylist

Will you be going to World Tea Expo? Let me know! I'd love to meet up with as many tea folks as I can during my time there.


**Please note that World Tea Expo is an industry only trade show and is NOT open to the general public**

Since it will soon be time for World Tea Expo, it's also time for the World Tea Awards. Winning the award for Best Social Media Reach while surrounded by some of my favorite tea friends was definitely the highlight of last year's trip. I can't thank those who nominated me enough!

Nominations for this year's awards are now open. This is great chance to recognize your favorite tea companies, publications and more. I'd be truly honored if you would consider voting for +Tea for Me Please for Best Tea Blog. Nominations will close May 1st and final voting will take place shortly after.

Submit your World Tea Award nominations here!

Friday, April 15, 2016

Friday Round Up: April 10th - April 16th

Tea Blog Confession: I Don't Like Sheng Puerh
Tea blogging can be a tough gig! +Amanda Wilson posted this week about the total bummer realization that sheng puerh does not agree with her body.

2012 Huron Golden Needle from Whispering Pines Tea Co - Tea Review
+Charissa Gascho of Oolong Owl wrote a great review of a company that has definitely been on my radar lately. I always love her vivid descriptions and this shou sounds like it's right up my alley.

APCC Tea Experience: Korea
Heather at Hanamichi wrote about an incredible Korean tea ceremony experience that she had. I had never heard of Tulkkae Ch'a before but it's definitely something that I plan on researching a bit more.

2015 Autumn Ge Deng, Yunnan Sourcing
Ginko-san of Cukoo's Song Tea Blog is a fairly new-to-me writer but I've really been enjoying their in depth style. I enjoy puerh but I'm no expert so I often rely on knowledgeable reviews like this one to guide my purchases.

Interview: Kyle Brown of Oliver Pluff & Company
It makes me so happy to see one of my tea friends connect with another tea friend! +sara shacket has been doing some serious digging into tea history so it makes perfect sense that she interview Kyle of Oliver Pluff & Company.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Golden Leaf Tea Honey Red Jade

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

I seem to have a bit of an obsession with honey aroma teas from Taiwan lately. Whether they are blacks or oolongs, I want to drink them all. This one is a very unique bug bitten black tea. My late night tasting notes humorously included the phrase "holy crap!". It's no wonder that it won 3rd place at the 2015 North American Tea Championship. The taste was sweet and slightly fruity with a very strong, lingering aroma. Honey definitely dominated the flavor profile but there hints of bright citrus that in a pleasant floral note. That natural sweetness became more apparent as the liquor cooled. The aftertaste reminded me very much of the burnt sugar topping of crème brûlée. There was no bitterness or astringency to speak of. I found myself drinking what seemed like infinite sips. Towards the end my infusion time was well over a minute and the taste still remained very pleasant. This tea was very no fuss and I think it would do very well when brewed in a more western style if you were so inclined. +Golden Tea Leaf Co. describes it as highly addictive and they couldn't be more right. I immediately found myself wishing that I had more Honey Red Jade for my private stash. Thankfully  I've got several other teas from them that I'll be sharing with all of you soon.

Honey Red Jade sample provided for review by Golden Leaf Tea.



Monday, April 11, 2016

10 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Drinking Tea

1. Don't be intimidated.

The world of tea is massive and I was definitely intimidated when I first started. It took me a few years to figure out that it's all part of the journey. Everyone has their own path and the experiences along the way are all part of the fun.

2. Have fun with it.

It's easy to get so wrapped up in all of the little scientific details like weighing leaves and measuring milliliters of water. The truth is that tea doesn't need to be so serious, especially when it's not for a review. Standards have their place but the whole point of drinking tea is to enjoy it.

3. There's so much out there!

When I first got into tea I had no idea how endless the number of varieties of tea really are. Would you believe that I've reviewed over 900 teas? Sometimes I wish that I had started digging deeper sooner for that reason.

4. Don't be afraid to try things outside of your comfort zone.

As a lifelong picky eater, I spent a number of years in my comfort zone. Some of the teas that I avoided most are now my favorites. Puerh, where have you been all of my life!

5. Skip the sketchy bargain tea (and teaware).

We've all been there. I wasted a ton of money on terrible tea from Asian grocery stores and cheap eBay teaware. Deals are great when you can find them but sometimes you get what you pay for.

6. Meet other people as nerdy about tea as you are.

I was already a few years into blogging before I met anyone in person who liked tea as much as I did. If it weren't for the internet and social media I would have been one lonely tea drinker.

7. Travel while you can.

Travel would have been a lot easier back when things were less complicated. I wouldn't change my life for anything but in hindsight I definitely should have made it a priority to do some tea traveling.

8. A variable temperature tea kettle makes all the difference.

I once thought that variable temperature kettles were superfluous but they are godsend. After spending years fumbling with thermometers and my mom's old stove top whistler, my Breville One-Touch is now my best friend.

9. Really good tea is > stuff.

Every new hobbyist goes through an accumulation stage. We buy lots of things without any sort of clear purpose. I find that I've actually given away or sold a lot of my first tea acquisitions. All of that money would have been better spent on some really good tea.

10. Don't be afraid to share your passion, no matter what anyone else says.

There was a time when I was a bit embarrassed by my passion for tea. Part of that stemmed from the criticism of people who are no longer in my life. Now I proudly wear my tea geek badge loud and proud. My family and friends are also super supportive of my obsession.

Is there anything that you wish you knew when you started drinking tea? I'd love to hear about it the comments!

Friday, April 8, 2016

Friday Round Up: April 3rd - April 9th

Wild and Loose
Lisa of +Tiny Pinecone Teahouse and Bakeshop has been sharing some truly incredible blog posts about her travels in Taiwan. I'm living vicariously through each one of them.

Journeys and Passings
+Geoffrey Norman definitely has a way with words. He managed to respectfully discuss the recent passing of tea industry great Devan Shah alongside the exciting new beginnings of Tea Journey Magazine.

Zhang Ping Shui Xian Production in Photos
+Tony Gebely shared a very interesting collection of pictures showing how an unusual compressed oolong is made. Those little pillows of tea look absolutely delicious!

Bellocq Tea Atelier in Brooklyn
+Bonnie Eng visited one of my favorite NYC tea shops. It's a place that is hard to describe to those who haven't seen it. Now I can just send them this post. Her beautiful pictures really do their space justice.

Gardener's Intuition & The Ancient Tea Bud
+Linda Gaylard had a very timely post this week as there's been a lot of debate lately about Ya Bao. Some claim that it isn't really tea at all. She brings up some excellent points and my inner tea nerd really loves the cross section photograph that illustrates them so well.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Jalam Teas Zhang Lang Sheng

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

There a lot of teas waiting in the wings to be written about and shared with you all. I think the ones I feel most guilty about are my the ones from +JalamTeas. There is an entire drawer full of little cakes just waiting for their moment to shine. Most recently this Zhang Lang called my name. It was harvested in the summer of 2014 near Bada Mountain. The leaves were fairly large and mostly whole. They turned out a bit of a weird green color in the pictures (maybe due to lighting?) but it didn't really look quite so mossy in person. I was surprised at how smooth this tea was, especially for a young sheng. One of the first things I noticed was a nice returning sweetness that really made my mouth water. This effect is known as hui guan and it is one of the things that I enjoy most about raw puerh. The taste was vegetal and slightly grassy with hints of dried straw that ended in a sweet and floral finish. The second infusion brought big burnt honey notes that lingered in each cup until the leaves were just about finished. There was some astringency but it never bordered into unpleasant territory. That says a lot since their recommended 8g of leaf can be a lot for some teas. I usually prefer gongfu brewing methods for puerh but I can confirm that this one performed equally well in a western style travel mug. As always, I found myself eagerly taking in the beautiful pictures and detailed information on Jalam Teas' website about this tea. The connection to the people who produce each tea is a really important part of the experience for me. I know I've said it before but I cannot recommend their subscription service enough if you are looking to dive into the world of puerh. It's all their fault that I've become so obsessed with this stuff!

Zhang Lang Sheng sample provided by Jalam Teas.





Monday, April 4, 2016

Tea Journey: Exactly What the Tea World Has Been Waiting For

I've been seriously studying tea for many years now and one of my biggest frustrations has been the lack of quality information in the west. While there have been some excellent books published recently I still find myself thirsting for more. Over the years I've poured through back issues of Art of Tea or struggled with Google translate more times than I can count. When I first heard rumors of a new magazine for serious tea drinkers I might have done a back flip or two. All I could think was, it's about time!

Needless to say I've already subscribed to Tea Journey and taken a thorough look at the inaugural issue. The information presented kept me reading page after page. A variety of topics were covered but they all involved tea and tea culture in some way. I spotted familiar faces among the authors but there were quite a few "new to me" names as well. Three 150 page issues will be published every year. My only issue with that is I want more! I love that it is digital so I was able to read it on the go as well as on my computer.

This quote from their editor and publisher Dan Bolton summed it up best:
Think of us as a digital caravan of story tellers who travel to origin and return with authoritative, elusive and exclusive articles, photos and video that will help you to discover your tea destiny.
A beautiful preview of Tea Journey's layout
Tea Journey very much depends on the support of the worldwide tea community. It is a self-financed collaborative venture, not a large corporation looking to make a quick buck on the rising tea trend. If we want knowledge we all need to make sure that projects like this one succeed. I'm looking forward to diving deeper and hope that you are too.

How can you help make Tea Journey a reality?
-Subscribe!

-Contribute to their Kickstarter campaign.

-Spread to the word to every tea lover you know.

-Follow them on social media.

Twitter: @teajourneymag

Facebook: Tea Journey Magazine

Instagram: @teajourneymag


Friday, April 1, 2016

Friday Round Up: March 27th - April 2nd

Awa Bancha
This week +Ricardo Caicedo gives us a great introduction to an unusual type of Japanese dark tea from Tokushima prefecture. I've only tried this tea once but it was definitely an experience.

Teavivre: Tangerine Peel White Tea, A Tea Review
+Amanda Wilson reviewed a tea that definitely piqued my interest. I've had puerh tea stuffed into an orange but never a white tea in a tangerine.

How to Use this Innovative Pen to Literally Write with Tea
I've heard of using tea ask ink before but did you know that there's a special pen that makes it super easy? +Lu Ann Pannunzio tells us all about it in her latest blog post.

A Bit of NYC Tea History
+sara shacket dug into an interesting part of NYC tea history that not many people know about. We had special water pumps just for making tea! Reading her post makes me wish that they were still around.

Tea Experience: The Urban Tea Merchant
Michelle at One More Steep wrote a great post about her tea experience at one of Vancouver's tea spots. This place has definitely been on my to do list for a while.