Friday, July 21, 2017

Friday Roundup: July 16th - July 22nd

THE TEA EXPLORER, Interviews with Jeff Fuchs & Andrew Gregg

Rita at Adventures in Tea Land recently had the opportunity to interview Jeff Fuchs (of Jalam Tea fame) and Andrew Gregg. I am so looking forward to watching their feature length documentary. Canadian tea friends can catch it on the CBC Documentary Channel, Sunday July 23, 2017 at 9 PM. EST.

Western Tea Culture & Tea Hermits

James at TeaDB raises some excellent points about the habits of western tea drinkers and the effects of isolation. It can be hard to find others who are passionate about tea as we are but things are changing. Living near NYC, I have the advantage of being close to a quickly developing gongfu culture.

Mao Feng vs Mao Feng: A Lesson in Pick Dates

Tea friend Dylan has been sharing his tea adventures in China on his blog and I've been reading avidly. This week he shares how a tasting in a tea house led to an important realization about the importance of when a tea is harvested.

Gongfu is not always better
MarshalN focused on the not often discussed downsides of gongfu brewing this week. Some teas really do better when brewed in other ways so it's worth experimenting. In this post, he advocates drinking aged oolongs and even puerh teas grandpa style.

A Flight Through China with Teavivre

Mel Had Tea has really been stepping up her tea review (and photography) game lately and I'm loving it! This week she takes us on a tea tour of China through three awesome selections from Teavivre. I've got a few of these in my "to be reviewed" pile and I can't wait to try them.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Pre-A-Matcha Kickstarter Launch Party

It's not often that a Kickstarter impresses me but as soon as I saw Pret-A-Matcha, I knew that I needed this bottle in my life. Matcha is a constant in my routine and I rely on it a lot to get me through a hectic work schedule. Not long after I discovered Pret-A-Matcha on Instagram, tea friend Alexis of Teaspoons and Petals reached out with an invite to their Kickstarter launch party.

The party was hosted at Luv Tea, an adorable bubble tea shop located in the West Village. I had been meaning to stop in there for ages but just never got around to it before. They have a small selection of loose leaf tea but the focus of the event was definitely on matcha. It was an incredibly hot and humid day and their staff quickly made sure that we all had iced glasses of matcha in hand.

One of my favorite things about events like this one is getting to catch up with my fellow tea bloggers. Some of the folks in attendance included:

Sara from Tea Happiness

Jo from A Gift of Tea

Jee from Oh, How Civilized

Darlene from The Tea Lover's Archives

I was so glad that I was able to attend this event because it gave me the chance to meet Lisa Henderson, founder of Pret-A-Matcha. Her passion for matcha really shone through as she explained what inspired her to develop this innovative bottle. As attendees filtered in, she needed to explain the product and her process over and over again but her enthusiasm never waned.

I already loved the design from the pictures that I had seen but it was truly much more beautiful in person. The kintsugi inspired white with gold veins particularly caught my eye. Previously the green and white "matcha latte" version had won me over. Regular readers will know I have a penchant for tiny tea things. The itty bitty tea scoop and strainer (to sift your matcha) are just too cute. It's also super convenient to easily take those tools with me everywhere I go.

In between sips, I also enjoyed a spread of delicious matcha goodies that were laid out for us. They had everything from matcha flavored Pocky, to Royce Nama Chocolate, and matcha cream puffs from Bibble & Sip. I had only had a light breakfast so this led to a bit of matcha overload but all of that deliciousness was well worth it.

Pre-A-Matcha's tea partner Matchaeologist was also there to partake in the festivities. I have not yet tried their matcha myself but it's popped up frequently in my Instagram feed for some time. Their beautiful glass chawan is also something I have had my eye on.

Pre-order your Pret-A-Matcha through their Kickstarter!

Matcha Latte w/ Almond Milk
Matchaeologist's offerings

Monday, July 17, 2017

What Do the Bubbles in Tea Mean?

Every once in a while I see the same question pop up on message boards like TeaChat and Reddit, what do the bubbles in tea mean? We're not talking about bubble tea (aka bobba) here! There are a number of substances that can cause bubbles, foam, or even the mythical "tea pearl" to form when the leaves come into contact with hot water.


Tannins are polyphenols found in plant matter. They have a bitter taste and are responsible for brown coloring, like what we see in black tea. Tannins are also a natural foaming agent. I have kept betta fish as pets on and off for most of my life. It is a common practice to place Indian Almond Leaf in aquariums in order to add tannins. This makes it easier for the betta fish to make their infamous bubble nest. Contrary to popular belief, there is no tannic acid in tea.


Saponin is a glycosides which protects plants from disease. Some studies have shown that it has an antimicrobial effect. They also are responsible for the formation of foam in tea, particularly matcha. It has a bitter taste, making plants less palatable to livestock. I've often heard of people allowing goats to graze in tea fields in order to cut down on weeds. Saponin may be why the goats leave the tea plants alone. Though, this does not apply to deer according to a tea farm in British Columbia.

Saponin - a foaming agent naturally found in tea


Pectin is a stabilizing agent that is used in jams, jellies, and dessert fillings. It is naturally found in most plants as well as fruits and vegetables. Pectin can cause a fruity flavor in oolongs and also plays a roll in the mouthfeel of good quality tea. When it comes to brewed tea, pectin is also a common foaming agent. When I first go into tea everyone on TeaChat was talking the mythical tea pearl (a mysterious bubble that remains on the surface rather than popping). Pectin is part of what makes that phenomenon happen.

Proteins and Amino Acids

Tea leaves contain proteins and amino acids. These can create bubbles or foam when they come into contact with hot water. Teas that were harvested in early spring, as well as tea where the cell walls have been broken (heavily rolled or CTC), seem to produce this effect more than others.


In the case of tea that has been microwaved, water that has been heated in this way will often boil without forming bubbles. When an object (like a tea bag) is added, it creates nucleation points which allow pockets of gas to form. Personally, I find the foam on microwaved tea to be very unpalatable.

Whether or not bubbles are a bad thing to have in your tea is something that is often debated. Many tea drinkers will skim the bubbles or foam from the rinse or first infusion in the hopes of removing dust or impurities. Personally, I don't follow this method. If the tea is contaminated you're going to be drinking some nasty stuff no matter what you do. Different ways of preparing tea give different results as well. In Morocco, tea is traditionally poured from a height in order to purposely create foam.

Where do you stand on bubbles in your tea? Do you have a favorite tea or preparation method that causes a lot of foam? Let me know about it in the comments!

Chemical structure of Saponin by Cacycle - Own work, Public Domain, Link

Friday, July 14, 2017

Friday Roundup: July 9th - July 15th

Sencha Lemonade
Bonnie at Thirst for Tea really has a knack for combining tea with amazing flavors. As always, her photography is so beautiful that I can almost taste this refreshing twist on an Arnold Palmer.

The Cocomatchasaurus (AKA Raw Coconut and Matcha Brownie)
I discovered a new blog called Biodiversitea (you've got to love those puns!) just in time to find this delicious recipe for no-bake matcha brownies.

Tea and murals. Anniversary Edition.
I must send congratulations to Anna at The Tea Squirrel for reaching her 1 years blog-iversary! I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate than with some Tung Ting Mi Xian oolong.

At the Tea Table with James Allen of Far West Tea Traders
Lu Ann from The Cup of Life continued her fantastic interview series this week with a feature on James from Far West Tea Traders. It was great to get to know a bit more about him and his company.

Matcha - An Initial Encounter
Tyas Sōsen of The Tea Crane contributed the first of a six-part series on the origin of matcha. This post was full of tidbits I don't see much elsewhere. I can't wait to see what else is in store.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Bitterleaf Teas Old Stalk 2002 Lincang Bamboo Stuffed Raw Puer

Country of Origin: Yunnan, China
Leaf Appearance: compressed, varied greens with some downy buds
Steep time: 5 seconds (increased by 5 seconds each brew)
Water Temperature: 200 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: deep gold

Out of all of the samples that I received from Bitterleaf Teas, this tea was probably the one that I looked forward to the most. Dry aged sheng? ✔ Tea that's been stuffed into something? ✔ Intriguing and catchy name? ✔ While drinking this tea I couldn't help but think about the fact that it was harvested just after I graduated from high school. I'm still a pseudo-millennial so I won't complain about being old. I just wish I had been totally into tea back then!

Monday, July 10, 2017

How to Taste Tea Like a Pro

I often get emails from people who tell me that they enjoy reading my tea reviews but they could never truly appreciate tea themselves. That simply isn't true. Being able to evaluate what you are tasting is a learned skill. While some people might be born "super tasters", the vast majority of us need to put in the work to train our palates.

This is a lesson that I learned many moons ago while working in customer service for a wine retailer. I love white wine but really struggled when it came to tasting reds. I was a total newbie and because of that, my palate had not been trained in the same way as my professional colleagues who had studied for years.

Even if you've never had a particular type of tea before, a lot can be determined just by relying on your senses. Take detailed notes and trust your instincts. This is the method that I usually use when reviewing a tea.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Friday Roundup: July 2nd - July 8th

Umami Cafe (Portland Japanese Garden)
Heather at Hanamichi gives us a tour on the excellent cafe located at the Japanese garden in Portland. I'd love to have a place like to grab tea, especially with such beautiful surroundings.

2016 Nightlife from White2Tea
Char at Oolong Owl reviewed a tea that has been on my wishlist since last year. Moonlight whites are some of my favorite teas, especially when they are compressed like this one. The 2016 is long gone but thankfully there is a 2017 version up for grabs.

Fresh Matcha at O'Sulloc Tea Museum on Jeju Island, South Korea
Mel Had Tea told us all about the tea museum that she visited on a trip to South Korea. There are so many tea places that I want to travel to. Jeju Island is most definitely on the list!

A review of Camellia Sinensis, Montreal and Quebec City
Speaking of tea places I'd like to visit, Daisy at A Tea Girl's Journal reviewed two of Camellia Sinensis' locations in Canada. I loved that she was able to compare the two experiences (and the idea of a technology free tea shop).

Crimson Lotus Gongfu2go and 2013 Xiaguan Shou Puerh
Tea-Tography posted a dual review featuring both a Xiaguan shou and a brewing device from puerh community favorite Crimson Lotus Tea. There's great photography as always plus I've always wanted to see the Gongfu2go in action. Unfortunately, they've now been discontinued.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Why Do Puerh Cakes Weigh 357 grams?

Puerh cakes can be found in many sizes and shapes, especially now that a lot of U.S. based vendors are doing custom pressings. Tuocha, puerh balls, and smaller 100g cakes are a great option for tea drinkers that just getting started. Traditionally though, bings weigh an oddly precise 357 grams. I've often wondered what the reasons are for that and this post sets out to find the answer.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Friday Roundup: June 25th - July 1st

Steep Thoughts: Ravi Kroesen
Sara at Tea Happiness and I both attended a tea and cheese pairing hosted by Royal Tea New York. This week she shared an in-depth interview with Ravi, their Director of Tea Operations.

A Wild Darjeeling
Only Geoff from Steep Stories could manage to procure a batch of special "wild" Darjeeling from the Rungeet Estate. I love the story behind this tea and how it came to be. It was also really interesting to see it compared to other Darjeeling teas.

How to Make the Very Best Iced Tea (Cold-Brew It!)
Jee at Oh, How Civilized put together a short and sweet tutorial on cold brewing iced tea. If you haven't given this method yet, you definitely need to!

How can I afford this hobby? Puerh teas on a budget.
Tea can be an expensive hobby, especially as your tastes progress. Cwyn's Death By Tea offers some practical, actionable tips to drinking the good stuff without breaking the bank.

My visit to Wuyishan and Cindy Chen (Wuyi Origin GIVEAWAY!)
I've been avidly following the travels of Jelmer from Tea Leafster. This week he tells us all about his adventure in the Wuyi region visiting with well-known tea producer Cindy Chen. Make sure that you enter his Instagram giveaway!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Ikkyu Ayumi High-Grade Sencha

Country of Origin: Yame, Japan
Leaf Appearance: deep green, needle-like
Steep time: 1 minute
Water Temperature: 140 degrees
Preparation Method: kyusu
Liquor: bright green, slightly cloudy

A few months ago I received a message through Tumblr from Joelle, one of the people behind Ikkyu, a new-to-me tea vendor. The fact that they specialize in teas from Kyushu really caught my attention. Not only was their website full of information, but they also listed an adorable cat named Marcello as one of their team members. What's not to love? Japanese green teas are a bit underrepresented here on the blog. It's not that I don't enjoy them, I just don't receive as many samples from there.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Legends of the Leaf: 3 Chinese Green Teas

One of my favorite things about Chinese tea is the rich cultural history that can be traced back thousands of years. Many teas have legends associated with them that have been passed down through the centuries. These are a few of my favorites.

Bi Luo Chun

Bi Luo Chun's original name XiaSha RenXiang translates to scary fragrance. Legend has it that tea pickers ran out of room in their baskets so they placed tea leaves between their breasts. Body heat caused a surprising aroma to be released from the leaves. I don't really find this tea scary at all but it is definitely delicious. It was later renamed green snail spring by the Kangxi Emperor.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Friday Roundup: June 18th - 24th

Last week felt a bit weird as World Tea Expo was happening in Las Vegas but I wasn't there. This is the first expo that I've missed since 2014 so I avidly followed social media and blog posts to stay up to date. This roundup is dedicated to posts reporting on this special event. I'll be sure to add in any WTE centric posts if more pop up in my feed later.

The Tea and Hat Lady
Wrap-Up of  2017 World Tea Expo

My Japanese Green Tea
World Tea Expo 2017
World Tea Expo 2017 Part 2
World Tea Expo 2017 Part 3
World Tea Expo 2017 Part 4
World Tea Expo 2017 Part 5

Cwyn's Death by Tea
Mojun Fucha Fu Zhuan
2004 CNNP Yiwu Arbor Brick Royal Tea New York

Oolong Owl
2017 World Tea Expo Day 1 – Oolong Owl Hooty Tea Travels
2017 World Tea Expo Day 2 – Oolong Owl Hooty Tea Travels
2017 World Tea Expo Day 3 – Oolong Owl Hooty Tea Travels
2017 World Tea Expo Haul – Oolong Owl Hooty Tea Travels
2017 World Tea Expo Trends and Thoughts – Oolong Owl Hooty Tea Travels

Adventures in Tealand
World Tea Expo 2017 SURVIVOR - Part 1
World Tes Expo 2017 SURVIVOR - Part 2 (Canadians at the World Tea Awards)

Did you go to World Tea Expo this year? Let me know about your impressions in the comments!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Teavivre Organic Hangzhou Tian Mu Qing Ding Green Tea 2017

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: downy buds with one or two larger leaves
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 185 degrees
Preparation Method: glass gaiwan
Liquor: pale, greenish gold

I thought the first day of summer was a perfect time to write about a fresh-as-can-be green tea. This one was only just picked on April 10th. It's not quite a pre-qing ming pluck but pretty darned close. The name of this tea is quite a mouthful so let's break things down a bit. Hangzhou is usually known for Dragonwell but many other teas produced there, including Qing Ding. The name means "green summit" which describes both the color of the leaf as well as the quality. Tian Mu is the mountain where it was grown. The name means "eyes on heaven" and refers to the pools on its eastern and western peaks.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Even More Awesome Tea Creators of YouTube

Almost three years ago I wrote a blog post called Awesome Tea Creators of YouTube. Things have changed a bit since then. Some of the channels on the original list aren't active anymore and several new channels have come onto the scene as well. It was high time that I put together another list.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Friday Roundup: June 11th - June 17th

NYC tea friends Jee, Sara, and Georgia have been dropping delicious hints about a collaboration that they had been working on. This week we finally got to read all about it!

Oh, How Civilized - Tea Pairing 101: White Tea
Tea Happiness - Tea Pairing 101: White Tea and Cheese
Notes on Tea - Tea Pairing 101: White Teas and French Cheeses

Harney & Son's English Breakfast
Sometimes you just need a good ol' cup of black tea with milk and sugar. If you haven't checked out Tea-tography's beautiful pictures out yet, you're really missing out!

Understanding White2Tea - Leading the Puer Revolution
Cody at The Oolong Drunk gives us a thoughtful breakdown of the story behind eponymous puerh brand White2Tea. I particularly enjoyed the points he made about wrapper design.

Nepali Tea Traders: Nepalese Silver Tips White Tea and Himalayan Golden Black Tea
Another blog whose photography I enjoy is Tea in Spoons. There's something to be said for the beauty of simplicity. This week Connie reviews two of my favorites from Nepali Tea Traders.

Spread Joy to your Tea Stash with Konmari
Katherine at Tea Journey gave some pointers on applying the Konmari method of organization to our tea stash. It's definitely a great reminder to keep what we love and dump what we don't (or at least find a way to repurpose them).

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

JusTea Purple Leaf Tea

Country of Origin: Kenya
Leaf Appearance: dark, twisted
Steep time: 3 minutes
Water Temperature: 175 degrees
Preparation Method: stainless steel infuser basket
Liquor: pale plum

It's been several years since the last time I shared something from JusTea here on the blog. For those of you that aren't familiar, they are a Vancouver-based company that has sought to bring about much-needed change to the tea industry in Kenya. Farmers make very little per day, largely because the leaves are sold to corporate processing plants. JusTea works to build cooperative processing centers, allowing smallholders to process specialty teas themselves.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Confessions of a Teaware Hoarder

When starting any hobby I find that we all tend to indiscriminately collect anything and everything related to our new passion. I've been through this phase in the past with other hobbies (such as collecting Breyer model horses when I was young) but nothing could have prepared me for the overwhelming miasma of stuff that the tea world has to offer. Teapots, teacups, gaiwans, books, and gadgets; if it was related to tea I just had to have it.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Friday Roundup: June 4th - June 10th

The Jade Leaf's Teaware
James from +Tea DB talked with tea friend +emilio delpozo about him fantastic teaware creations. Those side handled teapots are something that I've had my eye on for a while.

2016 EoT Wuliang Single Tree
I really enjoy Late Steep's style of reviewing. Not only do we get a picture of each steep but we also get a play by play of how the taste evolves. This sheng puerh sounds like it's right up my alley too.

Norwood Pratt and Bruce Richardson Revive the Romance of Tea
I was so happy when I saw an update from +Bruce Richardson this week. A group of tea biz greats are teaming up to revive William Ukers out of print classic, The Romance of Tea. It will be making its debut at World Tea Expo next week.

Tasting: Korean Mt. Jiri Joongjak Hwang Cha by Teas Unique
Korean teas are still pretty hard to find, particularly in the U.S. market. +sara shacket reviewed a delicious black tea from a company that I've seen making the rounds on a lot of blogs. Those chocolate notes are really intriguing!

Tea-infused Negroni, two ways
+Anna Mariani crafted two different versions of the Italian classic negroni that features tea-infused gin. I'm generally more of a whiskey person but these recipes look too good to not try.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Meet the Tea: Da Hong Pao

Da Hong Pao, aka Big Red Robe, is a type of oolong produced only in the Wuyi Mountains. Teas from this region are often called yancha, or rock tea, due to the rocky soil on the cliffs where the tea is grown. According to legend, the mother of a Ming Dynasty emperor was cured of an illness after drinking this tea. To show how special these tea trees were, he had the bushes that this incredible tea was made from draped with red cloth. Yet another version tells of a scholar who passed his exams thanks to this tea. He draped the bushes with the scarlet robes that he was awarded.

Even more incredible than these legends, six of the original mother trees are still believed to be alive today. They are estimated to be about 300 years old but no one really knows for sure. The Chinese government now protects these plants and no harvest has taken place since 2005. Although, I came across a blog post from Essence of Tea that indicates the government may still be doing non-commercial harvesting for research purposes.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Friday Roundup: May 28th - June 3rd

Pairing Tea and Savories
+Jee Choe from Oh, How Civilized is definitely one of my go to people when it comes to pairing tea with food. In this week's post she shares a beautiful, five hour long tea party for three.

Puerh Tea Vendors
+Cwyn N gave us a great list of excellent puerh vendors, a particular good place to start for those who are just getting into all of this tea-head business.

The Bigger Picture: Microlocations
Tea friend Dylan at Sweetest Dew wrote about an important takeaway from his recent trip to China. The same mountain and the same year, does not mean the same tea.

A Masterclass ~ Taiwanese Teas with Tillerman
It always makes my day when I see a blog post pop up from a blogger who hasn't posted as frequently lately. This week that post came from +Rita Fong as she shared a tasting she attended a Tea Guild of Canada event with Tillerman Tea.

Two blogs that I love wrote about what they love about tea and I just couldn't bring myself to choose between them. Their names are even similar. Go check out both of these great posts!

What I Love Most About Tea - The Cup of Life
How I fell in love with tea - Life's a cup of tea

Did I miss any great blog posts this week? Let me know about it in the comments!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Teance Tieguanyin Dark Stone Fruit

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: deep green, tightly rolled
Ingredients: oolong tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 205 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: deep gold

Teance is a tea shop in Berkeley, CA. Although I've never been there I have been a fan of what they do for a long time. Their co-owner, Winnie Wu, writes a Tumblr blog called Tea Adventures that I highly recommend checking out during tea sourcing season. Her honesty and insights into the tea world are truly valuable for an avid tea-head like me.

Monday, May 29, 2017

What Green Tea and MSG Have in Common

In elementary school science class we all learned about the four basic tastes that our taste buds can detect: sour, bitter, salty and sweet. There is also a fifth taste called umami. It's a word borrowed from the Japanese language that describes a savory or meaty taste. It can be a be a bit hard to describe but seaweed, mushrooms, and aged cheeses are all examples of foods with umami.

MSG, aka monosodium glutamate, is an amino acid that is naturally found in our bodies as well as in food. MSG is commonly used as an additive to enhance the savory effect of umami in food. It's hotly debated whether or not MSG is bad for us. I won't get into all of that because this is a tea blog. Feel free to Google "Chinese restaurant syndrome" if you feel like being buried in fanatical internet commentary.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Friday Round Up: May 21st - May 27th

White Tea Puer from Shang Tea
+Charissa Gascho reviewed a tea that has been on my wish list for a while. It's made from a white tea cultivar but processed like a puerh.

Favorite Tea Ware: Ricardo Caicedo of My Japanese Green Tea
+Georgia SS featured +Ricardo Caicedo in the latest installment of her Favorite Tea Ware series. I absolutely adore the gorgeous natsume that he shared.

In Pursuit of Tea Appreciation
Varat at The Guide to Puerh Tea waxed a bit philosophical about tea appreciation. It's important that we be aware of personal biases and other factors that could affect our tea tasting experience.

Sweet and Classic: Japanese Green Tea IN and Arahataen Green Tea Farms
Mel Had Tea wrote about some delicious sounding Japanese green teas from a new-to-me vendor and farm in Shizuoka. I'll definitely have to check them out soon.

Giddapahar Spring Gold 1st Flush 2017 Darjeeling Tea from Lochan Tea
+Tea Journeyman's review this week reminded me that I have yet to indulge in a 1st Flush Darjeeling from this year. Giddapahar is one of my favorite estates too!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Teaful High Mountain Black Tea

Country of Origin: Taiwan
Leaf Appearance: long, dark
Ingredients: black tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 195 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: deep reddish amber

I get A LOT of emails from companies who want me to write about their teas here on the blog. These days I say no more often than I say yes but sometimes a company stands out from the pack. That's what happened when Jason Chang, the co-founder of Teaful, wrote me about his experiences growing up in Taiwan. A hike in the Muzha region six years ago changed his world when he discovered the amazing Tie Guan Yin produced there. Jason's passion for tea was evident from the first email which made me all the more excited to share his teas with you all.

Monday, May 22, 2017

How Long Have People Been Drinking Tea?

When I got into tea one of the first stories that really grabbed my imagination was that of Shennong. Who doesn't love the idea of a mythical horned emperor accidentally discovering the beverage that changed the world? Some versions say that a Camellia Sinensis leaf fell into his mouth while others say that it fell into some boiling water. This event occurred at the oddly specific time period of 2437 B.C. It is fairly unlikely that a single raw leaf would add much taste, let alone cure the 70+ poisons that he supposedly ingested. Nevertheless, the fable does lead one to wonder, how long people have been drinking tea?

Friday, May 19, 2017

Friday Round Up: May 14th - May 20th

White2Tea & The Post Truth Era of Puerh
MattCha's Blog made some interesting observations about how the puerh landscape has changed over the last couple of years. I'm not sure I agree with the political correlations but there are a lot of good points made.

The Efficiency of Machines vs Our Preference of Taste
Tyas at The Tea Crane Blog pontificated a bit on how the use of machines has changed the way that Japanese green teas taste. Having had the privilege of trying some lightly oxidized selections, I can say that we share a similar preference.

Hello old friend...
+Courtney M. Powers wrote about a tea that I remember fondly. We enjoyed it many moons ago at World Tea East in Philadelphia. Talk about a blast from the past!

15 of the Best Tea Advice & Tips for Your Tea Journey
+Lu Ann Pannunzio collected some great advice from tea bloggers, vendors, and tea drinkers. You might even see a tip from yours truly.

Creating Your Own Tea Oasis
+Rachana Rachel Carter has put together an amazing oasis of relaxation around her tea tray. Check out this weeks post for a guide to making your own place to relax and enjoy tea.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Adagio Teas Hunan Gold

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: dark, curled with scattered golden tips
Ingredients: yellow tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 180 degrees
Preparation Method: glass gaiwan
Liquor: deep gold

+Adagio Teas recently sent me a gift certificate. After sifting through their site for a bit I was really excited to stumble upon a yellow tea. This one hails from the Hunan Province of China. Although it is categorized on their site as green tea, the processing differentiates it from being a true green tea. After the "kill green" step the leaves are wrapped in material, usually paper or cloth. This is repeated several times with the leaves being dried in between.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Book Review: The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See

I had heard about this book quite a long time ago and I was so excited by very the idea of it. A fiction novel based in Yunnan is right up my alley, especially if tea is involved. The author, Lisa See, did a ton of research and incorporated many real life aspects of the tea industry into her story. She even went so far as to travel there with Linda Louie of Bana Tea Company in 2014. Her efforts paid off because everything that the main character experienced felt very authentic.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Friday Round Up: May 7th - May 13th

The Correlation Between Puer and Cat People
Cody at The Oolong Drunk conducted an informal study that confirmed my own suspicions. A lot of tea people are also cat people! That makes them doubly awesome. 😊

All About Aroma
+sara shacket tackled a bit of the science behind how we experience aromas in tea and then put to use tasting a Dan Cong oolong. I'm a bit lazy about using aroma cups but it's always worth the extra trouble for this kind of tea.

Arbor Teas' Silver Needle
Michelle at One More Steep wrote a detailed review of Silver Needle. I reviewed a lot of teas from this company when I first got started blogging. This is a great reminder to revisit their offerings.

Pursuing the Moon and Good Tea: A Conversation with Nihoncha Instructor Tyas Sōsen
Jordan Hardin is fast becoming one of my favorite contributors to World of Tea. This week he shared an in-depth interview with fellow blogger and Japanese tea seller Tyas of The Tea Crane.

Puerh Tea Headlines Spring 2017 Edition
+Cwyn N's brand of tea humor always makes my day. This post reminds me the old Headlines segment on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Jalam Teas Bang Pun Unfermented Puerh

Jalam Teas Bang Pun Unfermented Puerh

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: loosely compressed, mixed greens and browns with visible buds
Ingredients: puerh tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: deep gold

I have a treasure hoard full of mini puerh cakes from +JalamTeas that I guard as though I were Smaug on Lonely Mountain. Only less violent...maybe. There are some posts coming down the pipeline that will group several teas from similar regions in Yunnan but in the meantime, I wanted to share this gem with you all. It was sent out to subscribers just after I moved into my apartment back in 2014. Time flies when you're having fun but the wonderful thing about puerh is that it is actually better to let it sit around for a bit.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Meet the Tea: Ruby #18

Ruby 18 Black Tea

When we think of Taiwanese tea all of the wonderful oolongs that are produced there come to mind. However, one of my all time favorites will always by Ruby #18. You might also see it referred to as red jade. Many people don't realize this but black tea was once a primary export for Taiwan, particularly during Japanese occupation following the first Sino-Japanese War. Var. Assamica trees were introduced to the Sun Moon Lake region of Nantou because the climate there was ideal.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Friday Round Up: April 30th - May 6th

Brewing Tea with Yixing Teapots
Rather than a blog post, I wanted to feature a video from a new-to-me YouTube channel called Gaiwans on Fleek. Why didn't I think of that name?

The Story of Ikkyu
+Ricardo Caicedo brings us a bit of a tea history lesson this week's blog post. I've seen Ikkyu's name mentioned in books a number of times but it is nice to get more in depth information.

A Wild Mountain Tea Mystery
+Geoffrey Norman made my heart happy with a film noir style sleuth into native Taiwanese tea varieties. There was even a bit of nostalgia thrown in from way back in our Teaviews days.

What Exactly is a Tea Pet?
+Lu Ann Pannunzio penned an intro to one of my favorite unnecessary (but still totally necessary) pieces of tea gear. Her Petunia reminds me of my own porcine tea pet.

2015 That's No Moon Shou Puer from Crimson Lotus Tea
Given that yesterday was Star Wars Day, +Charissa Gascho's review of this offering from +Crimson Lotus Tea was certainly timely. The wrapper of this cake definitely makes my inner nerd smile.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Making Matcha with the Sharp Tea-Ceré

Making Matcha with the Sharp Tea-Ceré

Last year I did a podcast episode on the Sharp Tea-Ceré, a nifty machine that lets consumers grind matcha in the comfort of their own home. It serves two purposes in a relatively small footprint. The right side of the machine features ceramic disks that can turn tea leaves into either a course or fine powder. The left side has a built in frother that is fed by a four cup water reservoir on the back of the unit. I'm a traditionalist when it comes to making matcha so most often I hand whisk it with a traditional bamboo chasen. However, there are times when I crave a green tea late and the Tea-Ceré is perfect for that purpose.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Friday Round Up: April 23rd - April 29th

Microwaving Your Tea, The Controversy Explained and Refuted
I'm sure you've all seen the article being passed around that claimed microwaving your tea made it better. Jordan at World of Tea lets us all know once and for all, this story just isn't true.

Puer 101 - Getting to Know Puer Basics
Cody at The Oolong Drunk penned a fantastic introduction to puerh. He even covered some of the nitty-gritty stuff like gushu and tree age.

An Evening of Tea and Cheese at The French Cheese Board
I was lucky enough to attend a tea and cheese pairing event in the company of +sara shacket recently. You've read my report, now go check out hers.

Life and death of a tree
Tea makes people happy but sometimes it seems that people can have the opposite effect on tea trees. MarshalN shared a poignant post about a tree in Yiwu that has suffered because of tourism.

Rohini Jethi Kupi 1st Flush 2017 Darjeeling Tea from Lochan Tea
After a long break from tea reviewing, +Tea Journeyman Kevin revels in the joy that is 1st flush Darjeeling. I have to agree. There's nothing else quite like it.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Tea & Fromage with The French Cheese Board and Royal Tea NY

Tea blogging isn't the most glamorous of niches but every once in a while I get invited to something that makes all of my friends jealous. Last week I attended a fantastic tea and cheese pairing event put together by The French Cheese Board and Royal Tea NY. I have no idea how I have gone this long without knowing about this studio devoted to all things French cheese. They had me at brie! I was the first guest to arrive which gave me a chance to talk shop with Ravi from Royal Tea NY. It was also a perfect time to indulge in some deliciously cheesy appetizers (along with a glass of white wine).

Friday, April 21, 2017

Friday Round Up: April 16th - April 22nd

A Short Tea Adventure in Vancouver
+Payton Swick visited Vancouver last week and shared a bit on his blog about o5 Tea. This spot has been on my wish list for a long time.

How Much Tea is in a Teaspoon?
I've been an advocate of weighing tea leaves for a long time now. +Georgia SS did an awesome comparison that shows exactly why this is important.

2016 Cream Shou Puer from White2Tea
+Charissa Gascho reviewed a shou puerh from White2Tea that definitely piqued my interest. I love her trial by fire bombproof test.

A rare tea and artisan chocolate soiree curated by The Tea Squirrel
+Anna Mariani hosted an amazing chocolate and tea pairing event in San Francisco. The pictures are beautiful and I can't wait to try some of these combinations myself.

Remembering Mary Lou-Heiss
The tea industry lost an important pioneer recently. +Jo J's tribute to Mary Lou-Heiss of Tea Trekker was both personal and touching.

Monday, April 17, 2017

What is Puerh Tea?

We've arrived at the final installment of introductory guides to each type of tea. I was worried that these posts might be too "old hat" for seasoned tea drinkers but also felt that they were important to have here for newbies. Thanks for hanging in there folks!


Puerh is a fermented tea, part of a larger category known as Hei Cha (dark tea), that is produced only in the Yunnan Province of China. Most of the tea trees used are of the larger leafed variety, Camellia Sinensis var. Assamica. Tea production in this region dates back as early as the Han Dynasty. Puerh is unique in that the leaves are often compressed into flat cakes called bings as well as other shapes like mushrooms, bricks, and birds nests.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Friday Round Up: April 9th - April 15th

DIY Tea Dyed Easter Eggs
Easter is right around the corner and +Lu Ann Pannunzio has the perfect way for tea drinkers to celebrate. I'll definitely be trying my hand at using tea to dye eggs this year.

Tea Experience: Cha Le Te
Michelle at One More Steep wrote about her experience at a new-to-me tea shop in Vancouver. Even though I'm close to NYC, I definitely have some serious tea envy when it comes to Canada.

Tasting: Tea Dealers Thurbo 2nd Flush Darjeeling
It's been far too long since I had a really good Darjeeling. +sara shacket's post this week reminded me that I need to change that immediately.

We May Have to Slap Some People
There are few who hate teabags more than +Robert Godden.  I had a feeling this rant was coming after I saw a recent news article.

Gingham Sencha Tea Cakes
+Bonnie Eng has done it again, this time with sencha infused cakes that are almost too cute to eat. The sweet gingham pattern is super fun!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Two Teas from Down Under

My favorite thing about being involved in the world of tea is the wonderful friends that I've made from around the world. Tea people really are the best kind of people! Way back in 2013 I crossed paths with an Aussie named Effie and she's exactly as effervescent as her name implies. Last year at World Tea Expo she generously shared some Aussie grown teas and I realized that I completely forgot to share them with you all here.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Friday Round Up: April 2nd - April 8th

MattCha: Can a Modest  Ol' Tea Blog Make a Comeback?
I'm loving all of the tea blogs of the past that have made a comeback lately. This week brings us a surprise post from MattCha's Blog, the first in three years!

The Tea Horse Road
I don't know how I never heard of TeaStorys before but I'm really glad that I found them. The Tea Horse Road is definitely one of the more fascinating stories that the tea world has to offer.

Three Teas from Tea Dealers
+Georgia SS reviews some very intriguing teas from Tea Dealers, including a white lotus tisane from Korea. The charcoal roasted TGY is definitely on my wishlist now.

Old Ways Tea Company: Black and White, a Wuyi Tea Review
+Amanda Freeman compared a black tea and a white tea, both from the Wuyi region of China. I've definitely never heard of a white tea from there before.

Tea Review: Organic Sun Drop Pink Tea 2nd Flush (Kanes)
+Heather Porter had a chance to try the elusive Sun Rouge, a purple tea that is now being produced in Japan. The color of the liquor after adding lemon is really eye catching. Her tasting notes remind me quite a bit of some of the Kenyan purple teas that I've had.

Monday, April 3, 2017

What is Black Tea?


The history of black tea can be traced to the late Ming Dynasty in the Fujian Province of China. There are various legends about how it came to be but the very first black tea was Zhen Shan Xiao Zhong, otherwise known as Lapsang Souchong. Fujian is still the main production area but Anhui and Yunnan black teas are also very well known. As black tea became preferred by European tea drinkers the tea plant (and black tea production methods) were spread to India, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Malawi, and more.

It is important to note that black tea has always been referred to as hong cha, or red tea, in China because of the color of the liquor. European traders called it black tea because it was darker than the green tea they were previously exporting and the name stuck. Rooibos is often sold under the name of red tea as well, further adding to the confusion.