Friday, September 22, 2017

Friday Roundup: September 17th - September 23rd

Botanical Tea Fragrances | Ravenscourt Apothecary

I have a thing for tea infused beauty products. When I see them for sale at Sephora or other stores, I just have to have them. This week's post from Chelsea at Taste the Tea caught my attention because tea perfumes are still a bit hard to come by.

Why This Tea Will Sell Out First: 2017 White2Tea (Yiwu) "Pussy"

I'm so glad that we have MattCha's Blog back. A pragmatic voice is needed among the fervent puerh fanatics. He placed his first order with popular vendor White2Tea and his findings were really quite interesting.

The Spirit of Tea Tour by Spirit Tea & Marco

I've said it before and I'll say it again, the west coast gets the best tea festivals. The latest post on World of Tea is a must read if you live anywhere near Los Angeles, Denver, Portland, or Seattle. There will be matcha latte throwdowns and workshops on tea brewing. I so wish I could be there!

In Pursuit of Tea Tasting Session, Countryside Edition

Georgia at Notes on Tea previously posted about a fabulous tasting that she did with the folks from In Pursuit of Tea. In this new installment, she shares the latest tasting with the backdrop of the New England Countryside. Sounds like heaven to me!

Matcha Paloma Recipe

Alexis at Teaspoons & Petals concocted a delicious matcha mocktail twist on the traditional Paloma recipe. She worked with American Tea Room to develop this recipe and you can try it yourself at their cafes in California.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Arbor Teas Organic Silver Needle White Tea

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: whole buds, covered in downy hair
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 180 degrees
Preparation Method: glass gaiwan
Liquor: pale gold

Time flies really flies when you're having fun but it's still hard to believe that it has been six years since I have written about anything from my friends at Arbor Teas. This blog and my own journey with tea have changed so much in that time. The last batch of samples included teas like masala chai and earl gray. There's nothing wrong with flavored teas but my tastes have changed quite a bit since then. The focus of the blog has shifted to the unflavored and unblended end of the spectrum. I'm looking forward to sharing some of Arbor Teas' current offerings with you all here.

Monday, September 18, 2017

5 Things Tea Companies Need to Stop Doing on Instagram

Instagram is probably the social media platform that I use the most. There's an awesome sense of community there and I love being able to connect with other tea fanatics around the world. It's also a great way to discover new tea companies. That being said, there are some things that tea companies do on Instagram that drive me crazy. I'm writing about it here in the hopes that I can get through to at least a few of the perpetrators.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Friday Roundup: September 10th - September 16th

Understanding Gyokuro

I was really fascinated by this post from Florent of Japanese Tea Sommelier because it calls attention to a common misconception I see. Gyokuro is often favored by tea lovers because it is believed to be the "highest grade". Of course, nothing in tea is so cut and dry but he does a really great job of clearing it up.

Momo Tea Matcha Green Tea Mug Cake

I have a major sweet tooth. As much as I love baking, I avoid making big batches so that I don't wind up munching everything myself. This recipe from Katherine at Tea Journey sounds like the perfect solution!

Review: everydayteas 2016 Nan Nuo Shan

I am perpetually jealous of the weekly office tea club that Sara at Tea Happiness hosts. In this post, she shares their experience with an excellent daily drinker along with an epic shot of the tea being poured with NYC as a backdrop.

My tasting notes: Oriental Beauty oolong

Anna at The Tea Squirrel also wrote a beautifully photographed post, this time about one of my favorite Taiwanese oolongs. I'll definitely have to check out the one that she tasted from American Tea Room.

Kiss Me Organics Ceremonial Matcha

Ricardo at My Japanese Green Tea reviewed a matcha that I've often seen advertised online. Like him, I was a bit skeptical of the health claims they use in their marketing but it's nice to know that the tea in the tin delivers.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Tillerman Tea Bai Hao (Oriental Beauty) Summer 2017

Country of Origin: Taiwan
Leaf Appearance: dark, twisted with scattered white tips
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 195 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: dark amber

It's been a little over a year since I've written about an oriental beauty here on the blog. Funnily enough, I consider it one of my favorite oolongs but only a few have ever been sent to me for review. I think a large part of that has to do with the fact that there is actually very little authentic O.B. produced every year.

Monday, September 11, 2017

3 Easy Ways to Keep Your Teaware Clean

Tea stains are a fact of life when you drink as much as I do. While they aren't bad for us per se, stains on teaware definitely aren't attractive to look at. A good old sponge and dish detergent work fine for utilitarian mugs and stainless steel filters but I really don't like using chemicals at all when it comes to gongfu gear. Over the years I've come up with a few tricks to keep my stuff in tip top shape.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Friday Roundup: September 3rd - September 9th

Homemade Matcha Sprinkles

Nazanin of Tea Thoughts posted a tasty looking recipe for homemade matcha sprinkles. FYI, she's currently running a Kickstarter campaign as a pre-order for the super adorbz succulent teacup pin that she designed. I can't wait to get mine. ☺

Ten Days without Tea

Tea bud Geoff of Steep Stories has been struggling a bit with health issues that required him to quit caffeine cold turkey. The horror! He breaks his fast with an accidentally aged silver needle.

Zushan Spring Oolong -Totealy

I always get excited when I see a new post in my feed from Jordan at Tea-Tography. Her photos are really amazing! Her review style is short and sweet but they somehow always seem to answer everything I want to know about a particular tea.

Fall Tasting: An Evening of Cheese, Tea, Honey, Bread & Linens

Tea lovers in the Philadelphia area are in for a real treat. Alexis of Teaspoons & Petals will be hosting an event. The title alone contains all of my favorite things! I am super sad that I won't be able to make it myself.

2016 Space Girls Sheng Puer from Crimson Lotus Tea

This week Char at Oolong Owl wrote about one of my tea regrets of 2016. I adore the artwork that Crimson Lotus did on their Space Girls wrapper and really wish that I had gotten around to ordering it before it was sold out. At least I can live vicariously through her descriptions!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Tea Dealers Dong Ding Amber

Country of Origin: Taiwan
Leaf Appearance:
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: deep gold

A few months ago I wrote about my visit to Tea Dealers, a must visit tea spot located in NYC's Canal Street Market. I couldn't help but bring some home after spending time tasting some of their well-curated collection. My tea budget is fairly low these days, especially with the wedding coming next year, but a girl has to splurge every once in a while. The "amber" part of the name really drew me in because my tastes lean towards the more traditionally roasted side.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Tea Nerd Dictionary: Hui Gan

There are a lot of tea terms that are hard to understand at first, in part because they might be ideas or feelings that are foreign to us. This post is the start of a new series that I hope will be a useful resource for all of you. Hui Gan is a term that you'll most often see used in association with puerh. It is sometimes confused with the concept of qi but they do mean different things. Look for another installment on that in the future!

Friday, September 1, 2017

Friday Roundup: August 27th - September 2nd

Tea Pairing 101: Green Tea and Mochi

My favorite trio of impeccable palates is at it again, this time pairing different kinds of green tea with mochi. Their posts are even more enjoyable giving the setting in a super chic art gallery.

Sara at Tea Happiness
Georgia at Notes on Tea
Jee at Oh, How Civilized

Podcast 032: The State of the Matcha Market in the US

Ricardo at My Japanese Green Tea hosts a podcast that I always look forward to listening to. In this episode he speaks with Noli of Sugimoto America on the trends in matcha.

Sip a Cuppa with Me at the Plentea Tea Bar

Ingrid at The Steap visited a tea bar in Toronto that I found really intriguing. Their specialty is lattes and I love that they actually boil the ingredients in milk rather than just steaming it with a concentrate like most places do.

5 Things You Might Not Know About Me
Last week I shared 5 things you might not know about me and challenge my fellow bloggers to share a bit about themselves. I was beginning to think that no one would but I was elated to see a post from Anna at The Tea Squirrel. Did you know that she can speak 3 languages?

2007 Liming Golden Peacock Qi Zi
I get a bit overwhelmed combing through a large selection of puerh like the one Yunnan Sourcing has. I rely heavily on reviews from blogs like Cwyn's Death by Tea to narrow things down a bit. It definitely sounds like this one I need to stock up on.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Teaful Bi Luo Chun Green Tea

Country of Origin: Taiwan
Leaf Appearance: dark green, slightly curled, downy buds scattered throughout
Steep time: 3 minutes
Water Temperature: 175 degrees
Preparation Method: glass infuser mug
Liquor: pale greenish gold

I was definitely intrigued when I saw that Teaful included a Taiwanese Bi Luo Chun in a recent batch of samples. This is the first one I've reviewed here on the blog that wasn't from China. That being the case, I really wasn't sure what to expect. Teaful's High Mountain Black really wowed me so I had high hopes that this would be another home run.

Monday, August 28, 2017

The Real Lapsang Souchong and the Dangers of Mistranslation

Lapsang Souchong is often referred to as campfire tea. It is common to find examples so heavily smoked that they are evocative of burnt rubber tires and tar. Did you know that this tea's true origin is actually one of the highest quality teas that China has to offer? It is also widely believed to be the first black tea ever created. This is a long and confusing story but a recent Twitter exchange inspired me to try to tackle it here on the blog.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Friday Roundup: August 20th - August 26th

At the Tea Table with Nazanin Yousefnejad from Tea Thoughts

I was excited to see Lu Ann from The Cup of Life interview one of my favorite Etsy creators. Nazanin makes the most adorable pins, cards, and other gifts. Her blog is definitely one to follow as well!

Why I Almost Closed Joy's Teaspoon

My wonderful friend Naomi of Joy's Teaspoon shared about how she almost closed her tea company's doors for good. I'm so glad that she didn't and so very proud of her for the new challenges she is taking on.

150 Years of Ceylon Tea

I've been living vicariously through Tony at World of Tea's social media updates. He recently had the opportunity to travel to Sri Lanka to celebrate the 150th anniversary of tea being planted there. There's more to come so make sure that you stay tuned.

[Tea & Food Pairing] Fig Toasts with White Peony Tea

I briefly met Joo at an event held by Rishi Tea in NYC. Since then I've become a fan of her impeccable palate and sense of style. This week's tea and food pairing had me positively drooling. Brie is one of my favorite cheeses and I love the idea of pairing it with figs, honey, and white peony tea.

Westholme is Where the Heart Is

Robert of Lord Devotea's Tea Sprouts has been quite the travel bug lately, adventuring all around the Pacific Northwest and Canada. I've been wanting to visit Westholme Tea Farm for a while but his post really convinced me. I must make a trip there soon!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Teavivre Fuding Shou Mei White Tea Cake 2012

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: varied browns and greens with scattered visible buds
Steep time: 10 seconds, increasing 5 seconds with each infusion
Water Temperature: 200 degrees
Preparation Method: glass gaiwan
Liquor: orange-tinged amber

Did you know that white can be aged? It's become quite the rage but also very expensive. Reflective of the popularity of puerh, the leaves are commonly pressed into cakes and wrapped in paper. I've written A LOT of reviews of Teavivre's teas over the years but this was my very first aged white tea from their catalog so I was really excited to dive into this one.

Monday, August 21, 2017

5 Things You Might Not Know About Me

If you read this blog, you more than likely already know that I love to drink tea...a lot. A friend pointed out that it might be interesting to let my readers get to know me a bit more, outside of tea. I've got to be honest, it actually took me a while to come up with enough things for this post. Tea really does dominate a large part of my life but people are like onions and ogres, we have layers. ☺

Friday, August 18, 2017

Friday Roundup: August 13th - August 19th

Favorite Teaware - Philip Aba of ZeroZen Artlab

Georgia at Notes on Tea interviewed ZeroZen Artlab for the latest installment of her Favorite Teaware. I was super excited to check out this one because I have been admiring his amazing Instagram pictures for some time.

Tennessee Oolong from Steven Smith Teamaker

I've said it before and I'll say it again, west coast tea folks get the coolest stuff! Char from Oolong Owl wrote an awesome review of a whiskey scented Jin Xuan. Although pricey, it sounds like it was definitely worth the try.

7 Best Online Puer Shops of 2017
Looking for a good place to get your puerh fix? Look no further than The Oolong Drunk's latest post. The big players are there along with a few smaller companies. Funnily enough, my list would look just about the same.

Matcha Victoria Sponge Cake

I love to combine my passion for tea with my love for baking (much to my fiance's chagrin). This matcha twist on an afternoon tea classic sounds like a definite must try. If Anna at The Tea Squirrel came up with it, it's got to be good!

Brothers in tea

One of my favorite things about tea is that it brings together people from across the globe. Stéphane from Tea Masters Blog shared a little tea event he had in Taiwan with tea lovers from Spain and Finland. There are always nuances to making tea on this blog that I don't see written about anywhere else.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Teance Burnt Sugar Red

Country of Origin: Taiwan
Leaf Appearance: long, dark, slightly twisted
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: dark amber

I have a funny habit of saving the tea that I think I would like the most for last. I previously reviewed and really enjoyed Teance's Tiegunyin Dark Stone Fruit but something about the name Burnt Sugar Red told me that it would be a special one. The red part of the name might seem confusing but what we call black tea in the west is usually called red tea (or hong cha) in countries like China and Taiwan. Not to mention the fact that rooibos is often labeled as red tea.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Tea Places: Floating Mountain

I don't get to NYC as much as I used to these days so I try to take full advantage of the time that I am there. After I attended the Pret-A-Matcha Kickstarter Launch Party and visited Tea Dealers, I still had one more tea place on my to-do list. Floating Mountain first hit my radar when I started seeing posts about it on Instagram. From what I could gather on their website, this was definitely my kind of place.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Friday Roundup: August 6th - August 12th


I've been eagerly awaiting the report of Lord Devotea's recent visit to Portland and at long last, it is here. He couldn't have had a better tea tour guide than fellow blogger Geoff Norman.

Tea Teaching: Big Red Robe - Da Hong Pao

Chelsea at Taste the Tea gives us a short and sweet introduction to one of my favorite Wuyi oolongs. I love the tasting note visual and accompanying review of Adagio Tea's Da Hong Pao.

Bad Marketing Part 2

On this new-to-me blog, Tristan examines some of the outlandish claims made by tea vendors when it comes to how many times the tea can be infused. This is a sore subject for me as well and I am glad that someone is questioning these "bad marketing" practices.

Matcha (Green Tea) Latte Ice Cubes

Jee from Oh, How Civilized must be a mind reader. I've been on a big matcha kick lately but lattes are difficult to enjoy in the heat because they quickly become watered down. I love the decadent idea of condensed milk instead of my usual 2%.

Interview: Tyas Huybrechts of The Tea Crane

Sara at Tea Happiness did a very interesting interview with Tyas Huybrechts, a Belgian ex-pat living in Japan. Not only is he a Nihoncha instructor but also sells teas in order to further his vision of spreading Japanese culture.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Teanami Palace Grade Pu Erh (Ripe 2005)

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: small, dark and golden with visible buds
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: dark, almost opaque

I had a love-hate relationship with cooked puerh for a very long time. The primary reason for that is that there's a lot of poor quality stuff out there. It took a while for me to learn that lesson but it is an important one. Since then I've gotten much pickier about what I'll subject myself to. Life is too short to drink bad tea!

Monday, August 7, 2017

3 Teas That Sound Like They Wouldn't Taste Good (But They Totally Do!)

Mandarin can be quite a bit more poetic than the English language so sometimes things get lost in translation. I thought it might be fun to explore a few teas whose names might sound a bit odd when we first hear them. Rest assured, every one of these teas is actually quite delicious.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Friday Roundup: July 30th - August 5th

Hugo: the European summer cocktail gets a tea makeover

I've been living vicariously through the European adventures of Anna at The Tea Squirrel. She discovered a summer cocktail that sounds like it's right my alley. Cold-brewed silver needle is the perfect tea twist to make it even better!

Matcha Ninja Cold Brew Matcha

One thing I really appreciate about Char at Oolong Owl is her thorough reviews that are tough but fair. Given the side by side comparison that she made with a Japanese matcha, I don't think this one is for me.

Story of My Tea: Hello! Iced Tea Pure Camellia Collection, a Tea Review

Amanda at My Thoughts Are Like Butterflies reviewed an interesting collection of pure teas that are designed for cold brewing. I've been doing a lot of that this summer, especially experimenting with different varieties.

Rediscovery of Japanese Tea

Tomo at Japanese Tea Story attended a tasting held by Oscar Brekkel. We haven't yet had the pleasure of meeting but I've heard so much about his work in promoting Japanese teas from friends around the globe. I love the idea of serving tea in wine glasses!

Tea, Coffee, and the Arakai Estate Terroir

Geoff at Steep Stories wrote about coffee (gasp!) this week but I'll give him a pass this time. It was all in the name of science. He explored the terroir of the Arakai Estate in Australia by comparing their teas alongside two different roasts of coffee.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Mellow Monk Artisan's Reserve

Country of Origin: Japan
Leaf Appearance: deep green
Steep time: 1 minute
Water Temperature: 165 degrees
Preparation Method: kyusu
Liquor: deep green, somewhat cloudy

I've been posting quite a few blasts from the past lately. Mellow Monk is definitely among those. All of my previous reviews of their teas are from 2012 and 2013. Although it has been a while since I tried any of their offerings, I've been avidly following their adventures in Japan through social media. Paul Kotta, Mellow Monk's co-founder, is a genuinely nice guy and very knowledgeable. He was kind enough to give me the pick of any of his teas. When I saw that the Artisan's Reserve was a blend of fukamushi and kabusencha, I just had to give it a try.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Tea Places: Tea Dealers

There are so many tea places in NYC now that I sometimes have a hard time just choosing where to go. While this is an excellent problem to have, it sometimes means that I don't get to visit a shop for quite a bit longer than intended. Tea Dealers is a perfect example of this. They opened up in Brooklyn several years ago and although I was aware of their existence, I just never got around to visiting. When I noticed an address change to Canal Street, I made immediate plans to visit after the Pret-A-Matcha Launch Party. Jo from A Gift of Tea and Darlene from The Tea Lovers Archives came along for the fun. Lucky for me it was a good pick, especially considering how hot it was outside that day.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Friday Roundup: July 23rd - July 29th

Matcha Avacado Toast

It made my heart happy to see a post pop up in my feed from Alexis at Teaspoons & Petals. She's one of the hardest working and busiest gals in the biz but this week she gifted us with a delicious recipe. Impeccable, as always.

Pine Oolong - Golden Tea Leaf

Tea-Tography's posts always make me wish that I had a better setup for taking pictures. This week's entry proves that even tea bag tea can be beautiful. Her honeysuckle tasting notes definitely make me want to give this one a try.

Historical Thieves of the Tea World

The history of tea is filled with some pretty interesting stories. Tea Stacks penned a very interesting post about a trio of thieves, two of which I had only read about in passing. Robert Fortune usually gets all of the limelight but I'm looking forward to learning more about Jacobus Jacobson and Mohammad Mirza.

Pussy...By White2Tea

I've been waiting for the reviews to start rolling in for White2Tea's 2017 lineup. Despite the name, the tea definitely sounds like it would be up my alley. Cody's descriptive tasting notes (and excellent pictures) only added to the fun.

Tea Fest PDX

The western half of the country has way cooler tea festivals than we get here on the eastern seaboard. I'll be adding any posts I find about Tea Fest PDX here:

Hooty Tea Travels - Tea Fest PDX 2017 in Portland Oregon

Tea Fest PDX, a longer post!

Tea Fest PDX: A Great Celebration for Us All

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Adagio Teas Snowbud

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: jade green, downy buds with some larger leaves
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 180 degrees
Preparation Method: glass gaiwan
Liquor: very pale, greenish

When I had the opportunity to review some samples from Adagio Teas, I really dug through their website to find some cool stuff. It had been a few years since I wrote about anything of theirs and the direction of the blog has changed quite a bit. I was curious to see if I could find teas that fit into my unflavored specialty tea focus. That led to discovering some hidden gems like their Hunan Gold. The description of this one being their lightest white tea automatically made me add it to my cart.

Monday, July 24, 2017

How Does Tea Affect the Brain?

As many of you know I'm pretty strict about not covering health benefits here on the blog. They aren't why I drink tea and in most cases, I think they are overemphasized for marketing purposes. That being said it is undeniable that tea does affect our bodies in many ways. I thought it might be interesting to dive a little deeper into what substances in tea have an effect on the human brain.

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.

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.

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)


World Tea Expo 2017 Day 1
World Tea Expo 2017 Day 2
World Tea Expo 2017 Day 3

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.