Friday, November 17, 2017

Friday Roundup: November 12th - November 18th

2017 Little BingDao Sheng Puer from Bana Tea Company

Char at Oolong Owl wrote a review of a puerh cake that I've had my eye on. We have many of the same boxes that we look to check off when purchasing tea. It will likely have to wait until after my wedding next year though as that is eating up quite a bit of the tea budget.

The 2017 San Francisco International Tea Festival - The Tea Letter

The San Francisco International Tea Festival 2017 - The Tea Squirrel

It's still tea festival season. This week brings us reports from a couple of my favorite Bay area bloggers. Anna had the pleasure of taking a puerh seminar with Roy Fong while Mike took home an impressive haul.

Teabento Pika Cha

Ricardo at My Japanese Green Tea reviewed a kamairicha from Teabento, a company whose teas I've been enjoying lately as well. This uncommon type of tea is pan-fired rather than steamed during processing.

A Mabian, Sichuan Tea Flight

Geoff at Steep Stories of the Lazy Literatus has a nose for sniffing out unusual teas. Sichuan is known for its green tea and heicha but thanks to West China Tea Company he was able to try a white tea, yellow tea, and black tea.

Afternoon Tea LA Style

Tiffany at #SheBlogsTea wrote about her experience at a very cool sounding tea spot at the W Hotel in Hollywood. I very rarely visit California but this is definitely a place I'd like to see when I do.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Meet the Tea: Dragonwell

Dragonwell, aka, Longjing, is a green tea that hails from the West Lake region of China's Zhejiang Province. It is well known for both the flat shape of the leaves and its distinctive chestnut aroma. The taste is mellow and sweet, making it a perfect starter green tea. Floral notes and a crisp vegetal character are also to be expected but a well made dragonwell will have no bitterness.

There are several legends that surround this famous tea. In a city by the same name, there is a well that was said to be inhabited by a dragon. The local people would pray to it for rain when there is a drought. I have heard from several people who have visited the well that after rain, the lighter rainwater floats on top of the dense well water creating a rippling effect. It is this curious phenomenon that is believed to be the source of the legend.

Another story tells of Emperor Qian long visiting a temple and watching the ladies picking tea. He enjoyed it so much that he decided to give it a try.While he was picking the tea he received a message that his mother was ill. In his haste to leave he shoved the leaves into his sleeve. When the Emperor visited his mother, she noticed the smell of the leaves and he had it brewed for her. It is said that the distinctive flat shape of Long Jing is designed to mimic those leaves.

Leaves that are destined to become Dragonwell are roasted within a few hours after plucking. As they are heated on the wok-like roaster the tea maker firmly but gently presses them against with sides of the pan. Repeating this step many times effectively folds the leaves into a sword shape. Although this step was traditionally done by hand, machines are often used now in order to increase production.

Eric from Tea Geek posted a great video of his experience making Dragonwell in Hangzhou last year.

There are five mountain peaks in the West Lake region where Dragonwell is made. Not all tea companies will reveal where their dragonwell is from but the good ones will give you very specific information.  In order of desirability they are:
  • Shifeng - Lion's Peak
  • Longjing Village - Dragon's Peak
  • Yunxi - Cloud Peak
  • Hupao - Tiger's Peak
  • Meijawu - Plum Peak

The plucking standard is another important factor in Dragonwell. Higher quality examples are comprised almost entirely of terminal buds. Larger leaves that are more than "two leaves and a bud" are generally considered to be a sign of a poorly made tea. The first Dragonwell harvest of the year is generally the most prized. This is referred to as "pre-Qingming" as the tea is made before tomb sweeping day (April 4th or 5th). Many tea sellers will sell pre-orders of this tea before the leaves are even taken off the bushes. For this reason, the early budding cultivar Longjing #43 is often favored over classic varieties.

Dragonwell is typically prepared with water that is less than boiling, around 175-180°. Western-style steep times will range between 1 and 3 minutes. If you're going gongfu, infusions of 15 to 30 seconds are par for the course. My personal preference is to use glass vessels. The leaves are just too beautiful to not watch them dance around. You'll want to avoid heavy materials like yixing clay because they retain too much heat. One of the most popular ways to drink Dragonwell is "grandpa style". Just place a small amount of leaves in a tall glass and fill with hot water. Strain with your teeth as you drink and refill with more hot water as you go.

These are some of the dragonwells that I have reviewed here on the blog:

Firepot Nomadic Teas 2017 Pre-Qingming Lotus Heart Dragonwell

Teavivre Organic Nonpareil She Quan Dragon Well 2015

Le Palais des Thés Long Jing Premium Green Tea 2014

Yezi Tea Dragon Well Master Grade Long Jing Green Tea

Jing Tea Dragonwell Supreme Organic Green Tea

Do you have a favorite dragonwell? Let me know about it in the comments!

Friday, November 10, 2017

Friday Roundup: November 5th - November 11th

Sara, Georgia, and Jee present green teas and mochi cakes

Virginia's Pairteas is a new to me blog that I discovered when she wrote about a pairing that some of my tea friends did together. The science of taste is absolutely fascinating and she does a great job of making it easy to understand.

Puerh Wrapping Paper. The art of manufacturing paper to pack Puerh. Manzhao Village, Yunnan

Gixlovestea is another blog that I just discovered this week. I was drawn in by this post about how the paper for puerh wrappers is made. I've read about the process before but the pictures and video make it so much more clear.

2017 Vancouver Tea Festival: Recap

Michelle at One More Steep wrote a thorough and very enjoyable recap of her experience at the Vancouver Tea Festival. The pictures she included of the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden are beautiful as well. This is one Canadian event, among others, that is definitely on my wish list.

Royal Botanical Gardens Tea Festival 2017 Recap and Thoughts

Speaking of Canadian tea festivals, Lu Ann at The Cup of Life posted a recap of her own. The 2nd annual Royal Botanical Gardens Tea Festival sounds like such a great time. I really wish I could have been there to see her presentation.

In Search of Artisan Specialty Tea in Sri Lanka

Tony at World of Tea recently traveled to Sri Lanka so we've been treated to some really great content on Ceylon tea. This week he walks us through some of the more unusual offerings that can be found there. I'm partial to those from Lumbini Estate, especially the rings and flower bud shaped leaves.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Friday Roundup: October 29th - November 4th

A Tea Renaissance is Underway in the San Francisco Bay Area

The lovely Anna at The Tea Squirrel contributed this awesome article to the last issue of my quarterly journal. For those of you that missed it, here's your second chance. Now I want to visit San Francisco even more!

Tea Tin Clock DIY

Bonnie at Thirsty for Tea is one of the craftiest bloggers I know. Seriously, she's like the Martha Stewart of tea. This week she shared a step by step guide to transforming your old tea tins into a clock.

A brief history of Japanese black tea

Japan is definitely not well known for their black tea. Florent at Japanese Tea Sommelier gave us a brief but very thorough history. There was a lot of info here I had not seen before and I'll definitely be digging into the subject further.

2017 Nannuo Mini Mushroom Shou Puer from Crimson Lotus Tea

I've been hearing rave reviews of these adorable little mushrooms from Crimson Lotus Tea. Char at Oolong Owl is always very thorough in documenting her experience. That's something I really enjoy about her reviews. In truth, I don't drink much shou puerh these days but I'm definitely intrigued.

A Series of Single Origin Tea Sonnets

Tea has inspired poets for centuries. This week Geoff from Steep Stories of the Lazy Literatus was inspired to churn out some Shakespearean styled sonnets. Drinking five different teas from Nannuo Mountain will do that to a person. I don't think I could pick a favorite among them though.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Firepot Nomadic Teas 2017 Pre-Qingming Lotus Heart Dragonwell

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: flat, jade green
Steep time: 3 minutes
Water Temperature: 130 degrees
Preparation Method: glass pitcher
Liquor: pale, greenish

I love Dragonwell. A lot. That's why I was super excited when Sarah of Nomadic Tea Party offered to send me some of the pre-Qingming dragonwell that she sourced for her company Firepot Nomadic Teas. She was able to secure just one pound of it! It is so limited that they are actually selling it at cost so that others can experience it for themselves.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Tea, By Any Other Name

Tea, or some variation of it, is the word used to describe a beverage made from the leaves of Camellia Sinensis in many languages. In other parts of the world cha and chai are used instead. Have you ever wondered why that is? Chá, or 茶, is the word for tea in both Mandarin and Cantonese. Where it evolved from there had a lot to do with where we got our tea from.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Friday Roundup: October 22nd - October 28th

The Solitude of Western Tea Culture

Mike at The Tea Letter penned a story that I think hits home for a lot of tea drinkers. We tend to be solitary sort, not by choice but rather because it can be hard to find others as enthusiastic as we are. That isolation is part of what inspired me to start this blog just over 9 years ago.

The Evolution of Taste

Gary Robson recently revived his blog so I was really happy to see this post in my feed. Black tea is definitely an underrated choice that many tea drinkers leave behind once they discover oolongs and puerh. The two suggested here are a great reminder that black tea still has a lot to offer.

Rishi Tea, rediscovering a brand

My friend Jo, of Scandalous Tea, and I have had the pleasure of enjoying not one but two tastings with Rishi Tea this year. They have definitely helped us to rediscover an amazing brand that was the starting point for many serious tea drinkers.

Cha Garden at Lucky Dragon Hotel & Casino

Heather at Hanamichi wrote a great overview of her visit to the much anticipated Cha Garden at Lucky Dragon Hotel & Casino. This spot was not yet open the last time I visited Las Vegas but there was already a buzz at World Tea Expo about it. I'm looking forward to visiting in the future.

My three favorite tea pairing experts are at it again. This time they explored matching up oolongs with fruit in a dreamy NYC penthouse. Pears, persimmons, and plums...oh my! You can read all about it on each of their blogs here:

Tea Pairing 101: Oolong and Fruit - Tea Happiness
Tea Pairing 101: Oolong Tea - Oh, How Civilized
Tea Pairing 101: Oolong Tea and Fruit - Notes on Tea

Is there a great post I missed this week? Let me know about it in the comments! One rule, it can't be your own. 😉

Friday, October 20, 2017

Friday Roundup: October 15th - October 21st

Green Tea Furikake

This week Anna at The Tea Squirrel brings us a recipe jam-packed with umami deliciousness. I have an aversion to most seafood but those of you that enjoy shrimp and bonito flakes definitely need to check this one out.

Ruby 8 Black - Totem Tea

Jordan at Tea-Tography got some really incredible shots of this black tea and incense combo from Totem Tea. I thought it was interesting because it was made with the #8 TTES cultivar rather than the much more typical #18.

Sugiyama Hikosaburo: The Discoverer of Yabukita

Did you know that the yabukita cultivar comprises approximately 75% of the tea grown in Japan? Ricardo at My Japanese Green Tea posted an excellent biography of the man who discovered it. I'm so grateful for the knowledge that he shares with all of us. I have yet to find a better resource about Japanese green tea than his blog.

Puerh? I Barely Know Her!

One thing that definitely made me smile this week was seeing Geoff from Steep Stories of the Lazy Literatus getting back to his usual antics. He got wonderfully tea drunk at a tasting held by Jeffrey McIntosh of Teabook. Somehow nipple-chakras came up in conversation. Don't say I didn't warn you...😝

Black Teas from Teabento

Char over at Oolong Owl reviewed a trio of black teas from a new online tea retailer called Teabento. Their adorable animals made out of tea leaves make me want to drink everything on their website. I've got some reviews of their teas in the works so keep an eye out for those!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Mandala Tea 2013 Autumn Song Mao Cha

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: large and wiry, abundance of buds
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: deep gold

Mandala Tea just recently reopened their website and many tea drinkers celebrated the occasion by ordering A.S.A.P., myself included. I needed some puerh mao cha to photograph for a blog post so it was the perfect excuse to load up. Simply put, mao cha is the raw material that is compressed to make a puerh cake. Although there were a few to choose from, I had to go with Autumn Song. The compressed version is still one of my all-time favorites (and I had recently finished the last of a cake).

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

An NYC Afternoon of Tea and Friendship

I live in a quiet little corner of New Jersey. It's not always perfect but it does have the advantage of easy travel to NYC. I am also lucky enough to have a small tribe of wonderful women there who all love the leaf as much as I do. From time to time an email will go out like the Bat-Signal, gathering us all together for tea.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Friday Roundup: October 8th - October 14th

Tea Recipe: Chocolate Masala Chai with Turmeric

Sara from Tea Happiness posted a recipe this week that really grabbed my attention. I rarely drink flavored teas anymore but there's definitely still a soft spot in my heart for a well-done masala chai. She really upped the ante by adding chocolate and turmeric.

How to Season and Clean Clay Kettle Boilers

I've been wanting a clay kettle for some time now. Cwyn's Death by Tea must have read my mind. She posted a comprehensive guide to caring for and cleaning them. Who knew that a potato would come in handy?

Just a quick note: Last week's roundup and regular posting schedule didn't happen due to my little sister's wedding festivities. Now that my maid of honor duties are completed I'm hoping to get things back on track. Thanks for bearing with me folks!

Tea Review: Yunomi Teas from Yumomi Farm Direct, Tsukigase Kenkō Chaen, and Kurahira Tea

Connie at Tea in Spoons reviewed three different teas from Yunomi, one of my favorite Japanese specialist vendors. I know I've said it in past roundups but I really love her photography style! The tencha, in particular, is something that I'd like to try since I have had relatively little experience with it.

Earl Grey Milk with Cotton Candy

Jee from Oh, How Civilized always comes up with the most decadent recipes. Tea-infused milk topped with a cloud of cotton candy just might take the cake though. I have got to give this one a try!

Tea Infused Deserts: Panna Cotta & Pots de Crème

Speaking of decadent sweets, Lu Ann at The Cup of Life shared two amazing sounding recipes with the help of blogger and cookbook author Tracey Ceurvels. I love her suggestion to experiment with different types of tea.

A quick note: Last week's roundup and posting schedule couldn't happen due to my little sister's wedding festivities. Now that my maid of honor duties are completed I'm hoping to get things back on track here. Thanks for hanging in there folks!
Jason and I at the reception. We clean up well :)

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Sonwu Tea Rou Gui, Spring 2016, Tea Master Zhou, Wuyi Mountain Inner Circle

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: dark, slightly curled
Steep time: 3 seconds, increasing with each infusion
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: deep reddish brown

Things have changed quite a bit since I first started reviewing tea. For a long time, email was the primary method of communication between tea companies and bloggers like myself. Nowadays I am more likely to receive a direct message on Instagram. Being a pseudo-millennial, I am OK with this. When I received such an inquiry from new-to-me Sonwu Tea my interest was definitely piqued. A glance at their website showed a focus on single-origin Chinese teas.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival with Pearl River Mart and Silver Needle Tea Co.

The Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated on the fifteenth day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar. It usually falls somewhere in late September or early October. For 2017, today is the big day! Many activities are enjoyed including sharing a family meal, gazing at the full moon, lighting lanterns, and eating a special type of pastry called mooncakes. The roots of this festival actually go back over 3,000 years. In the past, emperors worshipped the moon in order to ensure a good harvest. Although most people no longer depend on the agricultural harvest for their livelihoods, the tradition continues to this day.

When Pearl River Mart reached out to me about reviewing the Mid-Autumn Festival edition of their Friendship Box, I jumped at the chance. I was even more excited when I saw that they collaborated with my friends at Silver Needle Tea Co.  Pearl River Mart was a fixture in SoHo for many years and I was heartbroken when they closed their shop. They had a fantastic selection of teas, teaware, and other goodies. The good news is that they'll be reopening at Chelsea Market next year.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Friday Roundup: September 24th - September 30th

Chai Tea Pumpkin Macarons

Fall has arrived (even though it's still quite warm here in New Jersey) and that means pumpkin flavored everything! Sara at Beginning at Bergamot wrote a great recipe and tutorial for making your own tea-infused sweets.

Podcast 034: Oscar Brekell

Ricardo of My Japanese Green Tea posted the latest episode of his extremely focused podcast. His guest, Oscar Brekell, is a Japanese tea expert who has just released his first book. It was fascinating to hear how he got his start and what made him so famous in Japan.

Material Matcha Uji MMU03 Blend & Kickstarter

Char over at Oolong Owl has probably tasted more matcha than any human outside of Japan. For that reason, I always pay attention when she reviews one. I have some of this tea in my "to review" pile so I was very happy to read that she enjoyed it so much.

Anatomy of the Ideal Loose Leaf Tea Storage

Wondering if you store your tea properly? Check out this week's post from Anna at The Tea Squirrel! I can definitely sympathize with the organization struggles that she describes. I haven't found the perfect solution for my own collection yet either.

Jasmine tea's many secrets

I rarely write about anything but pure teas here on the blog but I do occasionally indulge in a traditionally scented tea like jasmine. Stéphane at Tea Master's Blog wrote a very interesting post this week detailing the history of jasmine tea in Taiwan and how it is made. I've never seen pictures of the scenting processing before.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Yatra Tea Company Goomtee Estate Darjeeling - 1st Flush 2017

Country of Origin: India
Leaf Appearance: mostly dark with scattered greens, buds throughout
Steep time: 3 minutes
Water Temperature: 195 degrees
Preparation Method: stainless steel infuser basket
Liquor: amber

My mind has been on Darjeeling a lot over the last few months. After a tumultuous summer where the tea industry came to a grinding halt, things are slowly beginning to move forward again. Thankfully we do still have some 1st flush to carry us through until 2018. Vikram Mathur of Somerville, Massachusetts based Yatra Tea company must have read my mind when he reached out to see if I was up for reviewing some of their teas.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Tea Nerd Dictionary: Mao Cha

Tea Nerd Dictionary is a series on the blog where I try to define tea world jargon. The main goal is to help those that are just diving into tea to deepen their understanding and to hopefully make it less intimidating for them as a result. Each installment will be indexed on my Learn About Tea page.

Mao Cha is a word that I often read when I first started drinking tea but it took me a while to understand what it actually means. For starters, let's begin by tackling the second part of this term. Cha (茶) is the word for tea in Cantonese as well as many other languages spoken around the world. I really have no idea where the below graphic originated as I've seen it used in many places over the years. It's still a nice breakdown of the meaning of the kanji logographic for tea.

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.