Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Shan Valley Kokang Green Tea 2014

Country of Origin: Myanmar
Leaf Appearance: jade green, lots of buds
Ingredients: green tea
Steep time: 3 minutes
Water Temperature: 185 degrees
Preparation Method: Teavana Perfect Steeper
Liquor: deep gold

+Shanvalley is a family owned business that directly imports tea grown in Myanmar, also known as Burma. I've reviewed several of their teas and found them all very drinkable and economical. This one piqued my interest because it one of their higher end selections. The leaves were mostly whole and I was even able to spot a few silvery buds. It was vegetal and sweet with notes of asparagus and honey. There was also a mild roasted quality that stayed in the background. There was no bitterness or astringency at all, making this a very smooth cup of tea. My steep time of three minutes was on the conservative side so I'd suggest going closer to five minutes if you prefer your tea to be a bit stronger. SororiTea Sisters described this tea as brothy in their review and I can definitely agree with that. Of course, the brewing method used can have a big affect on the final taste. Amanda at My Thoughts are Like Butterflies prepared this tea using a gaiwan in her review and she got some really interesting notes from it.

Kokang Green Tea sample provided by Shan Valley.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Golden Tips Teas Okayti Muscatel Darjeeling

Country of Origin: India
Leaf Appearance: small, dark and somewhat twisted
Ingredients: black tea
Steep time: 5 minutes
Water Temperature: 195 degrees
Preparation Method: Teavana Perfect Steeper
Liquor: dark amber

I can't put my finger on the reason why but Darjeeling will always be a soft spot for me. I was excited to dig into this sample because I have never tried anything from +Golden Tips Tea Co Pvt Ltd or from the Okayti Estate. I found that a bit strange given my love affair with the region and the fact that their website states it is one of the largest estates. The grade for this is FTGFOP1, so Fine Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe. The taste was fairly straight forward. There were fruity and floral and floral notes and just the right amount of astringency. It wasn't quite muscatel but there was a certain grapiness. Although this is a second flush tea, I don't think it was bold enough to stand up to milk and sugar. Personally, I consider this to be a very good thing. I'd much a rather a smooth, self drinking cup of tea. I love that Golden Tips lists the exact date that the tea was harvested as well as the invoice number. This makes it a lot easier for consumers to compare to their past experiences.

Okayti Muscatel Darjeeling sample provided by Golden Tips Teas.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Crimson Lotus Tea 2012 Bulang Gushu "Ancient Tree" Ripe Puerh

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: dark, tightly compressed
Ingredients: puerh tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: very dark, almost black

You all know how much I love raw puerh. Shu has never really been my thing, mostly because a lot of what is out there simply isn't good tea. +Crimson Lotus Tea threw a sample of this in with my recent order and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. It was the first really cold day of fall and a darker tea just felt more appropriate. After a quick rinse it brewed up incredibly dark, so much so that it was almost opaque. The taste was much more complex than I would have expected. It was sweet and earthy with notes of molasses and just a hint of a smoke in the background. The leaves went on forever too. I drank this one all night and it never seemed to loose steam. It's rare to see a shu puerh that is made from gushu leaves but the difference in quality really shows. The main reason for placing my order was that I had fallen in love with the adorable piggy tea pets they had. I'll be holding a contest soon to name the happy little fellow.

2012 Bulang Gushu "Ancient Tree" Ripe Puerh sample received with order from Crimson Lotus Tea.

A photo posted by Nicole Martin (@teaformeplease) on

Friday, December 26, 2014

Friday Round Up: December 21st - Deccember 27th

Mini Matcha Golden Toast
I had never heard of honey toast or brick toast until +Jee Choe posted about the one she had at Cha-An. She created this mini version and it sounds to die for.

Review: Teagora
+The Snooty Tea Person is always informative and entertaining. In her newest video she reviews three teas from +Teagora Teas. I wish I could be as comfortable talking to the camera as she is.

Yixing Teapots
The guys at +Tea DB have been bringing us some great InBetweenIsodes lately. I particularly enjoyed this super informative video from James about one of my favorite teaware items.

I'll Fire You All for Christmas
The rantings and ravings of +Robert Godden always tickle my funny bone. This post in particular was very timely considering the news headlines lately :P

Taste Calibration
MarshalN raises some interesting questions about water quality. I've been pretty lucky when it comes to water quality. I rarely even filer my tap water because of it. My results have been quite the opposite while visiting relatives in other states.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

I hope that Santa brings all of you some fantastic tea for Christmas! We'll be back to our regularly scheduled posts tomorrow.


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Adagio Teas Cucumber White

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: varied greens with silver buds
Ingredients: white tea, natural cucumber flavor
Steep time: 5 minutes
Water Temperature: 180 degrees
Preparation Method: Teavana Perfect Steeper
Liquor: pale gold

I enjoyed the White Blueberry from +Adagio Teas so much that I had to pick up this one with a store credit that I received recently. The combination of cucumber and white tea sounded just crazy enough to work. Luckily for them, it really did! The taste was wonderfully light and refreshing. I was still able to taste the vegetal and floral character of the base tea. Taking a sip reminded me of the fancy spas you see in movies where everyone is handed a glass of cucumber infused water. The finish was crip and cooling, almost like the real thing. I can only imagine how tasty this would be as an iced tea. That will probably have to wait until the spring as winter is rapidly approaching. Some of the reviews on their site noted an aroma of pickles on the dry leaves. I detest pickles and I can tell you that I did not notice this at all.

White Cucumber sample provided by Adagio Teas.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Satemwa Estate Zomba White Pearls

Country of Origin: Malawi
Leaf Appearance: deep green, tightly rolled
Ingredients: white tea
Steep time: 3 minutes
Water Temperature: 175 degrees
Preparation Method: glass teapot
Liquor: gold

When Satemwa Estate reached out and offered to send some samples, I jumped at the chance. I previously reviewed their White Antlers, sent to me by +Tea Journeyman Shop, and I was really impressed with how well they treat their workers when I met them at World Tea Expo. The leaves are hand rolled into little cocoons. They were not quite a pearl since the shape was more oblong but it was close enough. I used eight pearls in my two cup teapot and that seemed to be the right balance. The taste was incredibly complex with a ton of sugar cane sweetness. Fruity notes filled the mid-palate and finished in a unique creaminess. Their description likens it to lemon meringue and I can definitely see that connection. I enjoyed three consecutive infusions and it only grew sweeter each time. Once unfurled, the leaves were quite large and mostly whole. This tea is a great example of the things that are being accomplished in growing regions when the focus is shifted from CTC production. I think we will see some amazing things from Malawi in the coming years.

Zomba Pearls White Tea sample provided by Satemwa Estate.
A photo posted by Nicole Martin (@teaformeplease) on

Monday, December 22, 2014

Teavivre Silver Needle White Tea 2014

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: pale green, covered in silver hairs
Ingredients: white tea
Steep time: 3 minutes
Water Temperature: 165 degrees
Preparation Method: glass teapot
Liquor: pale gold

Many tea drinkers struggle with silver needle because until your taste buds have been trained for tea a bit, it might just taste like nothing at all. The flavor is extremely delicate but once you can pick up those hidden complexities it's a real treat. Even though this isn't +TeaVivre's highest grade silver needle, I thought that the leaves were super fluffy and pretty. At first the taste was very, very light. The mouth-feel was incredibly soft. That's because all of those silver hairs wind up in your cup. Don't worry, tea won't give you hairballs! I tend to let my white tea leaves sit in the water without a strainer. It won't really get bitter or unpleasant, especially when using lower temperature water. Notes of sweet hay and melon popped up along with a lingering floral finish. This silver needle is middle of the range as far as price goes. I wouldn't call it a daily drinker but it's fair for the level of quality.

Silver Needle White Tea 2014 sample provided by Teavivre.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Friday Round Up: December 14th to December 20th

Magnetic Tea Chalkboard
+Bonnie Eng's creativity strikes again! I LOVE her latest DIY project. It would make a great gift for your favorite tea lover (or even for yourself) If only my tea collection was that small... :)

Obscurantism: What Tea are you Really Buying?
+Tea Guardian posed a very interesting question that has been a subject of debate for some time. Can any partially oxidized tea really be called oolong? The answer is not really but there's still a lot of companies that do so.

How oolong got its name
+Global Tea Hut shared on T Ching the story of how oolong got its name. I just love these myths and legends that accompany Chinese tea culture.

Not Your Typical Smoothie
+Darlene Meyers-Perry's Green Sand Egg Nog Smoothie sounds absolutely delicious. I love egg nog, especially this time of year.

Really Need a Chasen Bamboo Whisk?
Kohei at Tales of Japanese Green Tea did a fun experiment comparing the different methods of making matcha. What do you think? Is a chasen really necessary?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Aiya Tea Matcha to Go Stick-Packs

Country of Origin: Japan
Leaf Appearance: deep green, powdered
Ingredients: matcha green tea, soluble corn fiber
Steep time: n/a
Water Temperature: cold
Preparation Method: waterbottle
Liquor: deep green

I really love matcha but it can be hard to make on the go. When I'm at work, my prep area is virtually non-existent so ease of use is a must. That's why I was so happy when +Aiya America Organic Matcha green tea came out with these stick-packs. Each packet is individually wrapped and not very large so they are perfect for tossing in my purse on my way out of the door. I've tried products like this before but no matter what they all became clumpy and did not mix all of the way. Aiya's solution was to add dietary fiber. This doesn't interfere with the flavor at all but it helps the matcha to become suspended in the water. The taste was everything it should be; crisp, vegetal and sweet. My box is already almost empty so I'll need to pick a few soon. I recently developed a taste for mixing matcha with orange juice (it sounds weird, I know), like with my Matcha Morning Wake Up. This would be a great way to be able to do that even while traveling. All I'd need to do is pick up a bottle of juice from a convenience store and shake.

Matcha to Go Stick-Packs sample provided by Aiya Tea.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Sense Asia All of Vietnam in One Box

It's usually my policy to never write about something here without trying it myself first. In this case I'm making an exception because this is a truly extraordinary collection of teas. Sense Asia has put together 32 different teas, all from Vietnam. I was immediately struck by their unique approach. Included with the collection is a book containing profiles of Vietnamese people from all walks of life. From poor farmers to wealthy business people, you really get a sense for the country and its citizens. The packing was incredibly beautiful and well thought out. Each tea had its own little cube that lists steeping information and features the face of Vietnamese people that were interviewed. When you flip the cubes over, they make a picture map of Vietnam. How cool is that?

For an adventurous tea drinker this is a great way to get to know the terroir of this region. Needless to say, it's going to take me quite some time to review all 32 teas. There's everything from greens and oolongs to puerh. I'm really excited to dive in as I have not had many opportunities to try Vietnamese teas. I'll be adding the link to each individual review to this post as I publish them.

On a side note, rumors are often heard in the tea world about Vietnam teas being contaminated with dioxins. Blogger friend +Linda Gaylard recently shared an article that strongly disputes that claim:

http://www.talkvietnam.com/2014/11/insiders-give-evidence-to-prove-vietnam-tea-is-dioxin-free/

Here are the teas from this box that I've reviewed so far:

Shan Snow Old Tree

All Vietnam in One Box sample provided by Sense Asia.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Hankook Tea Teuksun Green Tea

Country of Origin: South Korea
Leaf Appearance: small, deep green
Ingredients: green tea
Steep time: 3 minutes
Water Temperature: 180 degrees
Preparation Method: kyusu
Liquor: pale green

Korean teas are fairly new to me but I've been enjoying them very much lately thanks to +HANKOOK TEA. This one hails from the Honam Tea Estate in South Korea. I thought it was interesting because it is a blend of 1st and 2nd flush teas (before and after the first day of summer in the lunar calendar). The taste was vegetal and sweet with just a hint of salinity. The marine element wasn't anywhere near what you'd experience in a Japanese green but that makes sense as these leaves do not appear to have been steamed. There was a sort of squash-like note that reminded me of Hou Kui. This tea was strong enough to stand on its own but mellow enough to pair with food as well. It's been months since I had sushi and I found myself craving a really nice salmon roll. My second and third brews did not loose any of their strength. At just under $20 for 100g, this is a fairly cost effective option.

Teuksun Green Tea sample provided by Hankook Tea.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Cameron Tea Taiwan Beipu Black Tea - Oriental Beauty

Country of Origin: Taiwan
Leaf Appearance: small, curly and dark with scattered white tips
Ingredients: black tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: dark reddish amber

Oriental Beauty is one of my favorite oolongs. This one was interesting because it is actually a black tea, meaning that the leaves have been 100% oxidized. Just as with the traditional oolong version, the leaves were bitten by leafhopper insects. This causes the oxidation process to begin while the leaves are still on the tea plant. The dry leaves looked fairly typical, dark with scattered white tips. At first it tasted like a typical Taiwanese black tea. With each sip a really nice honeyed fruit quality became more and more prevalent. If I stopped drinking for a bit, a really nice floral after affect popped into my palate too. It took about ten consecutive infusions for the flavor to start subsiding. I'm a sucker for pretty leaves and these were gorgeous once they had a chance to fully unfurl. Gongfu'ing this tea is definitely the way to go. Gaiwans concentrate the flavor in a way that you would never be able to create with western style brewing. Taking small, slurpy sips will also help you to taste all of the complexity it has to offer.

Taiwan Beipu Black Tea - Oriental Beauty sample provided by Cameron Tea.

A photo posted by Nicole Martin (@teaformeplease) on

A photo posted by Nicole Martin (@teaformeplease) on

Friday, December 12, 2014

On The Daily Tea - Tea Tutorial: Gaiwans

Following the theme of my latest podcast episode, I've penned an article for +The Daily Tea all about gaiwans. They have been my go to brewing method for many years now. I really enjoy the concentrated flavor and increased level of control that they provide. Have you ever used a gaiwan? Let me know about your experiences in the comments over there!

Check it out on The Daily Tea here

Friday Round Up: December 7th through December 13th

A Call for Standards
Austin Hodge of +Seven Cups Fine Chinese Teas shared a very intriguing post on Tea Biz about the need for standards in the tea industry. I agree with much of what is said here. Making it happen will not be that easy though.

Ippodo in Triplicate
I follow a ton of tea blogs and there is always a dizzying variety of teas to read about. December 9th brought a funny coincidence where three blogger friends all shared content about the same teas from Ippodo:

+sara shacket, Tea Happiness - Tasting: A Tale of Two Ippodo Senchas
+Georgia Silvera Seamans, Notes on Tea - Tea Review: Ippodo Unro and Hosen Senchas
+The Snooty Tea Person, The Snooty Tea Blog - Review: Ippodo Sencha Set

Bizen-yaki ware by Yoshimoto Shûhô & Atsuo
Not long ago I discovered the blog of Florent, a tea sommelier living in Japan. I really enjoyed this post about a traditional potter.

Bamboo Tea Trays - Teaware Review
+Awkward Soul, aka Oolong Owl, shared an interesting post about tea trays. They can be hard to find in the U,S, but are definitely a great investment if you enjoy preparing tea gongfu style.

Botanical Council Tea Market Report
+World Tea News shared some interesting facts from the American Botanical Council's annual report. I wonder how long it will take for puerh to make it to their lists?

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Jalam Teas Yi Bang Raw Puerh

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

Jalam Teas was and still is a huge part of my discovery of puerh. Getting to taste around each of the mountains and different harvest seasons has really helped me to grasp the terroir and culture of Yunnan. Each month's mini cake is accompanied by a postcard featuring beautiful photography. The back of each card includes detailed information about the tea, where it came from and the ethnic minority tribe that produces it. This tea wasn't as sweet as the Yiwu that preceded it but it was still very mellow. Notes of straw ended in an almost floral aftertaste with hints of camphor. I tend to be a bit heavy handed with the amount of leaves that I use and that didn't negatively affect this tea at all. The dry leaves were not very tightly compressed so I was able to see each individual bud and tip. I couldn't resist a late night photo shoot with this beauty.

Yi Bang Raw Puerh sample provided by Jalam Teas.










Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Global Tea Hut: November 2014 - Peaceful Slumber

GABA teas are one bandwagon that I had yet to jump onto until I receive my November shipment from Global Tea Hut. The USPS lost my package in their usual ineptitude but the kind folks at Global Tea Hut were quick to address the issue and send out a new package. For those of you who are not familiar with GABA, it stands for Gamma Amino Butyric Acid. It is a neurotransmitter that prevents over-excitement of the nervous system. All teas contain this substance but GABA teas are withered in vacuum. This causes an increase in the levels of GABA in the finished tea.

Teas like this can always be tricky. Is what I experience brought on by the power of suggestion or is it an actual effect of the tea? As per their usual recommendation, I bowl brewed this tea in one of my favorite hagi chawans. The taste was surprisingly mellow. There fruity notes along with a slight biscuity quality. I was left wondering if the lack of oxygen affected the taste at all. Despite it being so subtle, I was able to brew the same leaves several times. While I wouldn't say that it made me sleepy, I did feel very relaxed while enjoying this tea. It reminded me of being tea drunk off of a very good puerh. I wouldn't say that it knocked my socks off but I am definitely intrigued enough to try more GABA teas in the future.

The gift for November was a microfiber cloth for cleaning teaware. I love these things! They are super absorbent and come in handy for everything from small spills to polishing yixing. The magazine offered a wealth of knowledge as always. I especially enjoyed learning about Mr. Yu, the organic farmer who produced Peaceful Slumber.


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Podcast Episode 11: How to Pour with a Gaiwan

My first how to video! Several of you have asked me about pouring with a gaiwan so here's a quick guide. It looks intimidating but you'll get the hang of it in no time. As I mention in the video, practicing with cold water first is a really good idea. Learn the ropes before you risk burning yourself. Are there any tips that I missed? Let me know in the comments!


Monday, December 8, 2014

Tea Box Express

Tea Box Express is a new monthly subscription service that recently caught my attention. Each month they send a themed box that includes tea and accessories. They recently sent me a sample of their first box. The theme was "Bee Happy". It included a fun bee sugar cookie, yellow teabag rest, honey from Savannah Bee Co., a honey dipper and Teatulia Black Tea.

Everything arrived packaged perfectly. The inside lid of the shipping box had a detailed explanation of all of the components and why they were included. A little note card was included with the following quote, a nice reminder to be happy:

Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be. - Abraham Lincoln

Most subscription services only include tea so this one was a bit of a unique experience. I don't usually put honey in my tea but I love it in just about everything else. This jar will definitely be put to good use. The only thing that I would possibly change is to include more information about the tea. This one is a tea that I already know and love but most people receiving it probably wouldn't know much about it. Teatulia has a great mission and it's something that should be shared.

Price: $25.50 for month-to-month, $74 for 3 months, and $139 for 6 months. Shipping is $5.99/month.

Sample provided for review by Tea Box Express.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Friday Round Up: November 30th to December 6th

Prelude to a Tea Bar
+Geoffrey Norman knows all of the cool Portland tea spots. Tea Bar sounds like it's my kind of spot.

A Naivetea Showcase Moment
Blogger pal +Jen Piccotti has been doing an awesome series on the companies that mentored her when she first became interested in tea. In the latest installment she talks about Naivetea, a company who introduced her to oolong.

Jack of Direct Trade
Sarah of Firepot Chai penned a thought provoking post on Fresh Cup Magazine about direct trade and the different roles that are played. Is buying direct really more cost effective?

Yunnan Tea Tour - April 2015
+Shiuwen Tai of +Floating Leaves Tea shared some exciting news about her upcoming tour of Yunnan. It's been my dream to visit there for a long time. This April won't be my year but I'll make it happen some day.

Old Man Camphor
Due to my recent move and the ineptitude of the USPS, I've been without my Global Tea Hut shipments for far too long. I'm living vicariously through +Payton Swick's post until I can finally dive into December's tea.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Tea Lover's Holiday Gift Guide

Knowing what Christmas gifts to buy for your favorite tea drinker is never easy. We're a picky lot and the things that we love are not always easy to find. Here's a few things that are sure to please. I have every one of these so +Jason Wilson, if you're reading, don't get any ideas :)

1. Explore Vietnam
Sense Asia's All of Vietnam in One Box is one of the best packaged tea collections that I've seen. It includes 32 different varieties of teas along with a book full of fascinating interviews with Vietnamese people from every walk of life.

2. A Tea Pet of a Different Sort
Tea pets usually come in the form of cute animals but +Joseph Wesley Black Tea worked together with Dayna Wagner to create these unique house shaped tea pets. The proceeds are donated directly to Detroit Freedom House, a home for refugees from around the world.

3. Jot It Down
Moleskin's Passions Tea Journal is a great way for your favorite tea lover to keep track of the teas that they enjoy. There's even space for recipes and other fun tea related notes.

4. Read All About It
Whenever I'm asked to recommend a book on tea, Tea: History, Terroirs and Varieties is always my first choice. It's big and beautiful enough to be a coffee table book but full of enough info for the nerdy set.

5. Drink On The Go
A travel gongfu like this one makes it super easy to enjoy quality tea while on the go. This set goes everywhere with me. They're available in lots of colors and patterns so you can customize it for your tea lover's taste.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Tea Places: MatchaBar

MatchaBar - Brooklyn, NYYou all know how much I love matcha so I was really excited when I heard about MatchaBar, Brooklyn's newest tea spot. I spent a great Sunday afternoon there with the NYC Tea Social Meetup last month. The staff greeted us warmly and explained how their drinks work. They had everything from matcha shots to lattes and fruity specialty drinks. I opted for a matcha chai latte because the unusual combination intrigued me. It was somewhat spicy but the matcha definitely dominated. MatchaBar was kind enough to give us a private area in their office since we had a larger group.

We shared a nice spread of mostly matcha themed sweets. All of them were delicious. Their menu is seasonal so the items pictured may or may not be available depending on when you visit. One of the owners, Max, introduced himself and explained how their business came to be. I was impressed with his passion and knowledge. They source all of their matcha themselves, directly from a family-run farm in Japan. After our sweets, we indulged in even more tasty green stuff as Max served us matcha shots. A lot of the people in our group were new to matcha so it was interesting to see their reactions. I definitely had a good caffeine buzz going after finish both my latte and the shot. MatchaBar does a great job of making a very intimidating tea modern and user friendly. They are even offering classes so that customers can learn how to enjoy matcha at home. I definitely suggest checking them out the next time that you are in Williamsburg.

Matcha Chai Latte

Matcha Baked Goodies

Matcha Baked Goodies

Matcha Shot


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Tea Lover's Guide to Reddit

Part news website, part social network, part message board; Reddit is all of these things rolled into one. Following reddiquette can go a long way towards making sure that you enjoy your experience. Like any public forum, there are trolls but if you ignore them they will usually go away. Everyone gets along pretty well for the most part though. Overall, I've found it to be a great place to connect with fellow tea lovers and share information. There does seem to be a bit of a group bias against Teavana but they usually keep things within reason.

Reddit is a little hard to navigate at first but once you've subscribed to a particular subreddit it will automatically show new messages from there on your home page. I spend a lot of time commuting by public transit so I use a mobile app called Reddit Is Fun. It's a great time killer for when I'm waiting for my bus home.

Here's some of the subreddits involving tea to start you off:

/r/tea
This is where the bulk of the conversations about tea happen.

/r/greentea
Not as active but this a great place to post anything that is specifically about green tea.

/r/oolong
Slightly more active than /r/greentea. If you have a question specific to oolong, post it here.

/r/teaporn
This is the place to share all of your pretty tea pictures.

/r/puer
A place for fans of dark teas to hang out.

/r/teaexchange
Got anything to trade? This is the place to post it.

/r/GongFuCha
A place for the traditionalists to discuss gongfu brewing,

/r/Teawrights
My friends at +Boston Teawrights recently set up a subreddit for their customers to be able to share and learn about teacrafting.

To make things even easier, check out my curated multireddit!

A Note for Retailers:
Just as with any other social network, there are right ways to use Reddit for business and there are wrong ways. Be human, be authentic and share your knowledge. The community will see right through deceitful tactics (such as pretending to be a consumer and recommending your own company/product). Answering a newb's questions gives a better impression than a sales pitch. There are a number of retailers who have done really well thanks to this forum. You can be one of them if you keep it real!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Pairing Marshmallows with Tea

I often work at the Kusmi Tea location in the food hall at The Plaza. It's a fun place with lots of good eats but I rarely get to indulge. I pass Three Tarts on my way to the restroom and their jars of fluffy marshmallows always catch my eye. After finally given in, I munched on a few at work and took the rest home with me. I couldn't help but think about how well these sweets would go with tea. I enjoyed eating them all on their own rather than putting them in the tea. These are some pairings that I came up with:

Cinnamon Marshmallow with Chai Tea

Cinnamon Marshmallow and Chai

One of the easiest ways to arrange pairings is to put like with like, I paired the cinnamon marshmallow with my favorite chai, Yogic Chai Original Masala Chai. The spice in both components mirrors and compliments each other. While I really liked the marshmallow on its own, I could see it going really well inside of a nice big mug of chai latte.

Chocolate Rosemary Marshmallow with Black Tea

Chocolate and rosemary seemed like an odd combination but they worked together really well. I wanted to pair it with a tea that had notes of cocao so I went with Joseph Wesley Black Tea Classic Chinese Black Tea No.3. This is definitely one to take your time with. The chocolate hits first with sweetness and the rosemary follows up with a refreshing savory note.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Friday Round Up: November 23rd to November 29th

Pumpkin Tea Latte
Who doesn't love a good latte this time of year? Inspired By Tea shared this tasty sounding recipe.

You have just two hands
SweetPersimmon is a blog about Chanoyu that I've been reading avidly for some time. This thought provoking post inspired me to pay more attention to how I handle my tea utensils (and TV remotes!).

Cheap Taco Syndrome and the Trouble with Expensive Sheng
Tea Closet draws an excellent comparison between tea and tacos. Are the expensive ones really worth their price tags? I much prefer sheng to tacos myself :)

Fake Puerh Tea: 3 Ways to Avoid Common Scams
White2Tea shared some excellent tips on how to avoid scams when it comes to puerh. This is something a lot of folks are concerned about, especially when buying off of sites like AliExpress.

Puerh Budgeting. Buying Psychology, Hoarding  & A Calculated Strategy
I love the analytically minds of my friends over at TeaDB. Their cost analysis really helped to put some things into perspective.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Contest: Name My Tea Pet!

Most of you are probably familiar with the squirting frog tea pet that I had for many years. Dubbed Ribbit, he was a constant companion on my tea table. Somehow he never made it back to New Jersey after World Tea Expo. I ordered a very close copy but the attachment that I had to him was gone. After spending months in search of a new tea companion, I bought this very happy pig from +Crimson Lotus Tea. Who can resist those chubby cheeks? I adore him but haven't been able to come up with a suitable name.

That's where you guys come in. Leave me your name suggestion for this piggy in the comments section of this post by midnight EST on December 11th. The person who submits the best name will receive a copy of 19 Lessons On Tea and I'll throw in some samples of tea too.


And the winner is Jacqueline C. with the suggestion of Zhu (豬) which is the Chinese word for pig. Why didn't I think of that? Thank you to everyone who entered!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Teavivre Organic Superfine Keemun Fragrant Black Tea

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: small, wiry
Ingredients: black tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 185 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: reddish amber

I was excited to dive into this one because it is one of the few types of tea that I had yet to try from +TeaVivre's extensive catalog. The first thing that I noticed when I poured the leaves into my gaiwan was the aroma. When I think of the smell of tea, this smell is exactly what comes to mind. Although they were somewhat broken, probably from shipping, there were plenty of whole leaves. Quite a few golden tips were visible as well. The taste was earthy, malty, fruity and smoky all at once. It was very smooth with no bitterness to speak of. A hint of astringency added a refreshing lightness to the finish. One of my favorite things about Keemun is the color of the liquor. This one brewed up a deep coppery red that my cell phone camera was completely incapable of doing any justice. Given its complexity, I strongly suggest drinking this tea straight up. Milk and sweeteners would undoubtedly drown most of that out.

Teavivre was kind enough to give me a few $5 gift cards for my readers. They're good for any time during the month of November, perfect for Black Friday! Just shoot me an email at [email protected] if you'd like to receive one!

Organic Superfine Keemun Fragrant Black Tea sample provided by Teavivre.

A photo posted by Nicole Martin (@teaformeplease) on