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!

Part of the trouble is that tea is subjective. Two people can taste the same tea that has been prepared in the same way and experience completely different things. Tastes and sensations are an individual experience. They can even change from session to session with the same tea. For that reason, my usual method of understanding something is to gather information from as many places as possible.

According to Babelcarp (a great resource for decoding Chinese tea words), Hui Gan is a "pleasant aftertaste, literally Returning Sweet". It also says that it is also "a non-specific label for virtually any effect after the liquor has been swallowed, literally Returning Feeling".

In her book, Puer Tea: Ancient Caravans and Urban Chic, Jinghong Zhang describes it as "a lingering sweetness after an initial bitterness or astringency, which is said to be much better than that from Iron Goddess of Mercy and other types of tea". In a later passage, hui gan is defined as "a deep and long-lasting sweetness in the throat that follows the strong and bitter flavor".

Angie Lee of 1001 Plateaus gives us this rather poetic description in an essay for Cleaver Quarterly:

"Select foods are known to produce gan 甘, this sweet-tasting, air-chilled sensation that follows an initial sting of bitterness. Gan is peptic, but also poetic – the quicker the conversion from bitter to sweet, the more desirable, but there is no shortcutting the bitterness. Gan is an afterimage. It’s the “every action has an equal and opposite reaction” flip side, sonic boom, sugary echo or funny tingling which proves that after a period of suffering comes joy. And burping. In Chinese, gan is often paired with the word hui 回, which means “returning.” Yes, gan is acid reflux that’s good for you."

Hui Gan is most commonly used in reference to puerh tea
Linda Louie of Bana Tea Company writes "The two adjectives commonly used by Chinese to describe the aftertaste are “hui gan” and “hui tian.” Hui gan refers to a cooling sensation that penetrates the entire mouth and in the back of the throat. "Hui tian" refers to the subtle sweet finish of the teas.".

In a recent blog post, Anna at The Tea Squirrel asked Rou Fong of Imperial Tea Court what hui gan is. His response was that "hui gan" refers to “the sweet cleansing finish in the throat”.

Olivier at Puerh.fr defines hui gan as "a soft return usually occurs echoing a complex and generous tannic base is particularly popular tea lovers puerh and often considered a major quality criterion."

Colin of Living Tea wrote in a blog post earlier this summer:

Fine teas have a very important feature that the Chinese call "hui gan." Gan is akin to the minty, cool feeling of peppermint or the air on a cold winter's day. The word "hui" means "remembrance," so this terms refers to the return of the gan on the breath. If you breathe out of your mouth after swallowing a fine tea, you'll find your breath is very comfortable, cool and refreshing.

To get a few more takes on this, I also polled the tea Twittersphere. Reply to my tweet and I'll add your response here!



So now that you have a variety of other perspectives, what's my take? I personally define hui gan as a sweetness in the back of my throat. This usually occurs after bitterness in raw puerh. Although a menthol-like cooling sensation can be part of that, I tend to think of them as separate effects that sometimes coincide. I do not see hui gan as a "reflection" of the tea. If I taste a tea after time has passed that usually has more to do with my sinuses being stuffy than anything else.

If you'd like to experience hui gan for yourself, I recommend seeking out puerh from the Bulang Mountain village of Lao Man E. Teas from this area can be incredibly bitter but they also offer some of the most strongly pronounced hui gan that I've ever come across. Start out with flash brewing and then work your way up to your own tolerance from there. Rather than focusing on the upfront bitterness, try to pay attention to how your throat feels afterward. Breathing out of your mouth can help a bit too.

Is there another tea nerd term that you'd like to see added to the dictionary? Let me know about it in the comments!

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.