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Simmer Down from The Random Tea Room

SororiTEA Sisters - Sun, 07/05/2015 - 22:00
Tea Information:

Leaf Type: Herbal

Where to Buy:  The Random Tea Room

Tea Description:

A blend of chamomile, lemon balm, motherwort, peppermint, lavender, and passionflower. Designed to assist the body in alleviating stress and worn nerves.  Very relaxing. This is calm in a cup!

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

First off, I am not a fan of lavender in teas.  I feel that the lavender adds a bite to the tea and creates a overwhelming fragrance to the tea.  When I received this tea and noticed that there was lavender in it, I was a bit worried.  Lately I have been really trying to get myself to not drink the teas that I know I will like.  Like how you encourage a child to try different foods, I’m taking that same plane of thought in my tea drinking.  I have been trying some pretty unusual teas and having a fantastic time. I have discovered that I enjoy rose petals in tea.  After having this tea, I am ok with lavender now being in tea.

This tea is presented in a marvelous tin.  The label on this package is awesome.  I love the way The Random Tea Room packages their teas.

I added two scoops of tea into my Breville One Touch and hit the herbal button (212F-5 min).  Once the tea was ready, I poured the liquid into two mugs, admiring the coloring of the tea.  There was an almost purple color to it.

Jason and I took our first sips and we both looked at each other and smiled.  First sip and I’ve fallen in love with another tea.  This tea is a perfect herbal tea.  Relaxing, soothing, comforting, and cooling.  Everything you would want in an herbal tea and more.  The chamomile provides a baked dessert background while the peppermint (which is subtle) adds in just a touch of a cooling aesthetic.  There is also a touch of a fruity flavor through the sip and the lavender delivers an ever so slight floral note.  A lot of flavors in this blend, but they all work together and play nicely in my cuppa.  I’m impressed with yet another of The Random Tea Room’s blends.

I was able to get about 4 infusions out of this one session with this tea.  Even tried it iced and thought this herbal tea delivered a solid flavor.  You can’t ask for a better herbal!

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Enlighten Mint Yerba Mate from Guayaki

SororiTEA Sisters - Sun, 07/05/2015 - 10:00
Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Yerba Mate

Where to Buy:  Guayaki

Tea Description:

Enlighten Mint has a minty flavor with a touch of honey flavor, and an earthy note from the yerba mate.   It’s easy drinking and clean tasting, and not too sweet.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Continuing with the exploration of  Guayaki drinks, this is the one I was most skeptical about of the three I picked up. I’ve tried a few yerba mate and spearmint blends, and actually have one stocked right now so I know that it’s not a terrible pairing; in fact it’s a pretty popular pairing. It’s actually the honey aspect of this that scares me; when it comes to more commercial tea beverages, ‘honey’ usually means very sweet.

However, because Revel Berry maintained a respectable level of sweetness I was open to this one; hopefully it would do the same. I was poorly mistaken in my assumptions, however. This was assaulting; the spearmint was ridiculously strong and sweet in and of itself; like those Spearmint leaf five cent gummy candies that come in giant bulk bags. I’ve never been a fan of those. They taste so fake. On top of that the sweetness of the honey was equally as intense. The yerba mate, while pretty drowned up, did come through a little bit but it felt kind of grimy, and yet at the same time all three notes together conjured up the image of neon green slime.

To me, it tasted like one of those five cent candies dipped into a bottle of raw honey and then sprinkled with a little dirt. Why would you willingly put that in your mouth? I struggled through a third of the can and then finally called it quits and tossed it. It makes me more skeptical to try the third, and last, one I bought now knowing just how big the range between ‘hit’ and ‘miss’ from this company can be. Personally, I’ll be avoiding (and internally wincing) this flavor every time I pass it in the aisles at work – but if you’re feeling bold enough, and you like super sweet mint flavored things, I guess giving it a try couldn’t hurt.

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Making jam for the tea party pantry

The Hour For Tea - Sun, 07/05/2015 - 00:34
Now that summer is here and those delicious summer fruits are in season, it’s time to stock up on homemade jam for the tea party pantry!  San Jose’s history as “The Valley of Heart’s Delight” is no longer visible in … Continue reading →

Cotton Candy Matcha from Red Leaf Tea

SororiTEA Sisters - Sat, 07/04/2015 - 22:00
Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green/Matcha

Where to Buy: Red Leaf Tea

Tea Description:

Cotton Candy Matcha’s sugary flavor makes the perfect sweet snack for any dull day. This is because, this supremely sweet flavor is ideal for those who love all sweet things and relish their uplifting quality. The sheer variety of Cotton Candy Matcha makes it an instant favorite for those who want to sample the sweet delights that can be enjoyed by their palates. This is an excellent flavor for occasions of the young and young at heart who want to enliven their taste buds with something pleasurable.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Continuing with the “Choose Your Own Matcha” sampler from Red Leaf Tea, I thought it’d be a cool idea to make some of the five flavors I chose ones I had previously tried to do a comparison and see how my tastes have changed personally. Here are some of the highlights from my old tastings/reviews on Steepster from over a year ago:

“…there’s also a slight vegetal taste in the first part of the sip”, and

“…in the aftertaste you get more of a true cotton candy flavour”.

The first time I tried this was in cold milk, but for this tasting I’ll be using cold cashew milk like I have for all the other flavors so far. Dry, I think this smells pretty rich but in a generically sugary way; it’s hard to capture a smell that’s clearly cotton candy when, realistically, all cotton candy is just hot, spun sugar.

Funnily enough, my initial impression/observation is true to my old review: I think the first thing you taste is a very grassy top note which eventually does lean into a more sweet body flavor. It is very generic for me though; I don’t think if I was trying this blind I’d be able to pinpoint it as cotton candy flavor. That said, I did actually like it and I appreciate the nice balance between the flavor of the matcha and the added flavors. It’s not as accurate as it could be though, so that is a bit disappointing.

I’m happy I revisited this one though! And I look forward to trying out the last sample to see if my observations from a year ago are also accurate for that one.

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Caramel Apple Almond from Full Leaf Tea Co.

SororiTEA Sisters - Sat, 07/04/2015 - 10:00
Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Full Leaf Tea Company

Tea Description:

This black tea blend steeps to a rich caramel color with subtle hints of apple to the taste. 

The tea in Full-Leaf is a mix of marigolds, apple bits, caramel bits, and almond chips

Country of Origin: India

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I love discovering new companies and new tea company owners that really care about what their customers think.  Matt@ Full Leaf Tea Company is just that kind of owner.  He cares about what his customers think and really takes the time and care to listen.  When I come across that kind of a company, I tend to keep going back.  On top of the awesome customer service you reciceve, there is also an amazing selection of teas to try.  And I have tried several.

Recently I had their Caramel Apple and Almond Black Tea.  I couldn’t wait to try this one.  Threw some tea leaves into my Breville One Touch and set this up with the black tea setting (212F-3 min). The dry leaves had a slight almond like aroma with hints of a sweetness.  Didn’t exactly smell like caramel or apple but you can tell there was something there.  You could actually see the caramel bits, apple bits, and the almond chips right in the blend.  You have to love that!

Poured myself and Jason (my boyfriend) a cup.  Brewed up hot, this had a very pu erh flavor and smell.  The tea was very earthy and I couldn’t taste any of the caramel, apple, or almond.  We both thought this tasted like a pu erh blend so much that I actually emailed Matt and asked him if pu erh was in the black base tea.  He said there wasn’t.  I was a bit confused by this.

Typically when I don’t like a tea brewed hot, I will enjoy it cold brewed.  Threw some leaves in my cold brew bottle and let it steep overnight.  In the morning I had a fantastic blend of sweet and earthy caramel apple tea.  The earthy flavor was still there but the flavor blended so well with the sweet caramel apple.  I didn’t taste the almond but I have a feeling the almond was more subtle and aiding in the rich earthy flavor.

I think I just need to go back and play with the steeping parameters on this tea.  I have a feeling that the 3 min steep was too long and maybe should go with a 2 min steep when trying to brew this up hot.  I also want to try and steep this up in my glass tea pot instead of the Breville.    This is a tea that just needs a bit of experimenting to bring out all of those lovely flavors and I am up for the task.  Just need to get some more.

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Friday Round Up: June 28th - July 4th

Tea For Me Please - Fri, 07/03/2015 - 23:59
The T Project Grand Opening I received an email about the grand opening for a very interesting new place but was disheartened to see that they were located on the west coast. Why do they get all of the cool places? Thankfully I was able to live vicariously through the adventures of +Geoffrey Norman. Japanese Oriental Beauty But Tea is the blog of few words but many beautiful pictures. I was Nicole Martinhttps://plus.google.com/103097147251455801975noreply@blogger.com0

A Simple Solution For The Greek Economy

The Devotea - Fri, 07/03/2015 - 22:04

  Before we start, here’s some clues. ‘Solution’ has several meanings, and one involves dissolving stuff in water. There’s all the hint you need. So, the European Central Bank, the IMF and the European Union generally are all owed money by Greece, which doesn’t have any. To quote some sage advice from my Dad, if someone owes you money and they don’t have any, then it’s BOTH of you who...

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Prickly Pear Herbal from Simple Loose Leaf

SororiTEA Sisters - Fri, 07/03/2015 - 22:00
Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Herbal

Where to Buy:  Simple Loose Leaf

Tea Description:

A remarkable tea that shines with desert pride and spotlights one of our most unique herbal teas. Hibiscus and Rose Hips are blended to create the vibrant magenta base for our one-of-a-kind Prickly Pear Herbal Tea.

Hibiscus, Rose Hips, Chicory Root, Chamomile, Dried Prickly Pear Fruit, Natural and Artifical Pear Flavor.

Learn more about this tea here.

Learn more about Simple Loose Leaf’s monthly plan here.

Taster’s Review:

Recently I received a promotional email from Simple Loose Leaf announcing a sale.  Their monthly box that is typically $15 a month.  I couldn’t pass up the deal.  I jumped on the sale and a couple weeks later my box arrived.  There were 4 tea blends in the box.  This one was the one that I couldn’t help but tear right into.  Mountain Witch Tea Co has an amazing Desert Mojave Prickly Pear that I just adore.  So much so that I picked up a 4 oz pkg of that tea without hesitation.  Since that particular tea, any tea that I see has prickly pear in it, I’m sold.

What I love about these monthly subscription boxes is that you just get enough of a tea to “wet your whistle” but not add a ton of tea to an overflowing tea stash.

Brewed this up like a herbal-212F-5 min in my One Touch Breville.  Let the brew cool for a few minutes and took my first sip.  Wow, can you say tart? This blend not only has dried prickly pear but also has quite a bit of hibiscus.  I love my hibiscus but this was even too much for me.   I continued to try to drink this and hoped other flavors would become present.  That never happened. To me this tasted like a straight hibiscus blend.  For me, I think this blend would be phenomenal if there was more of the dried prickly pear fruit than the hibiscus.

I did try this tea cold and ended up with the same result.  Just to tart of a tea for me.  I really don’t like adding sweeteners to my tea and on the rare occasion will I add honey.

If you love really tart teas or hibiscus blends, this tea is for you.  For me, it was just too tart.

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Friday Round Up: June 28th - July 4th

Tea For Me Please - Fri, 07/03/2015 - 16:00
Country of Origin: Leaf Appearance: Ingredients: Steep time: Water Temperature: Preparation Method: Liquor: You can find out more about this tea here. { "@context" : "http://schema.org", "@type" : "Review", "name" : "title", "author" : { "@type" : "Person", "name" : "Nicole Martin" }, "datePublished" : "date", "image" : "image url", "itemReviewed" : "item", "Nicole Martinhttps://plus.google.com/103097147251455801975noreply@blogger.com0

Sen no Rikyū in Cinema

T Ching - Fri, 07/03/2015 - 12:00

The two Japanese films, 1989’s Rikyu and 2013’s Ask This of Rikyu, could have been written by the same screenwriter as the plots tell almost identical sequence of incidents in Sen no Rikyū‘s life.  I know because I binge watched the two movies one Saturday morning last year, and I wish I had written this post back then, but as always procrastination prevails.

Critics, if they haven’t done so already, will probably give the 1989 film an 8 on a scale of 10, and the 2013 film a 7 or 6.  Illuminated by that indelible Japonais sensibility – punctilious, arcane, eccentric – the decades-old production attains cinematic art-house distinction that bars any critic from favoring the more visually stunning 2013 work.  In my opinion, superb casting cast the die.  A thespian maven who conveyed sentiments with reticent disposition, subtle bodily movements, even his baggy eyes, the older and wiser actor portrayed the tea master’s devoir exquisitely. By comparison, in the 2013 film, Kabuki actor Ebizô Ichikawa underestimated the effort required to deliver the film’s theme – desiderium.  How could he look almost the same at the age of seventy when Sen no Rikyū  committed seppuku as at the age of twenty when he was a coxcomb?  Tea must not be mistaken for the fountain of youth.  The plot’s most extraneous love affair became the ultimate culprit after injecting the extravagant production with a fatal dose of melodrama.

Via different implementations, both films successfully depict my favorite Rikyū anecdote – the 1586 tea ceremony that Hideyoshi performed for the emperor inside the Golden Tea Room, a space so confined yet laden with such grandeur and earthly desires!  Only after watching both movies did I learn that a Rikyū statue/idol, which some believe to be commissioned by Rikyū himself, greatly contributed to his demise.

It never occurred to me to write another post on tea-themed films as I have previously reviewed the very disappointing Tea Fight! and Green Tea, and the pretentious The Taste of Tea.  Another 1989 cinematic piece, Death of a Tea Master, should have been assessed as well, but I was not aware of its existence until a few days ago.  Anyone interested in reviewing it?

Images courtesy of Ifang Hsieh.

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Funnier in Enochian: Castiel Supernatural Inspired Tea Rose Blend from Fandom Teas

SororiTEA Sisters - Fri, 07/03/2015 - 10:00
Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy: Fandom Teas

Tea Description:

A tea fit for our favorite Cas! If Cas found this tea shop, he would drink it. This special blend fits Cas’s angel attitude with a pleasant rose aroma and delicious soft flavor.
-Part of the Supernatural Series of teas inspired by the hit TV series Supernatural
-Available in 1oz and 2oz loose leaf or 10 individual tea bags
-Great gift for the Supernatural fan!

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I admit it, I am not a Supernatural fan.  Only because of time.  I have engulfed myself in so many other shows that this one has just gone by the way side.  Specifically as of late, we have been watching a ton of Northern Exposure and Game of Thrones.  Jason and I have been binging like mad on Northern Exposure and now with GoT over and we have just about finished up with the whole Northern Exposure show, I’m hoping I can jump right into Supernatural.  So please forgive that I’m in the dark with the references to Cas.

What I can talk about is the tea itself.  I have been craving rose petals in tea as o f late.  Something that I’ve touched on in my blog-CuppaGeek.  I tried a rose herbal that turned my thoughts completely about having rose petals in my teas that I drink. Typically I wouldn’t give them a second look.  Anymore, I am reaching out and craving for those beautiful flowers to be in my tea.

This is a black tea with rose petals. These particular rose petals are more of a peach color than the pink or purple ones I have had in the past.  I brewed this up like a typical black tea- 212F-1 cup water-2 min in my glass teapot.   Let this cool just for a few seconds before taking my first sip.

First sip in and this is the flavor I have been craving.  The black tea providing a smooth background and the rose petals added a slight sweet flavor.  Simple but very well done.  This is a tea that could get muddled pretty quick with having too much of the black tea in and not the proper ratio of black tea to rose petals.  What I would love to see is maybe a touch of vanilla or honey added in to kick the sweetness up a notch and giving the tea more dimension.  But even as it sits, this is a subtle tea that would be perfect tea for any time of the day.  Another gem found on Etsy.  Great job Chris & Alexa@ Frandom Teas.  Can’t wait to try the rest!

The post Funnier in Enochian: Castiel Supernatural Inspired Tea Rose Blend from Fandom Teas appeared first on SororiTea Sisters.

Carolina Honey® Bottled Black Tea from Argo Tea

SororiTEA Sisters - Thu, 07/02/2015 - 22:00
Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black (Ready to Drink)

Where to Buy: Argo Tea

Tea Description:

Argo Tea’s Carolina Honey® is an energizing Nilgiri black tea from the highlands of Southern India, which is blended with sweet grade A wildflower honey and a splash of tart lemons. Each ready-to-drink Carolina Honey® comes in a 13.5 oz signature Argo Tea glass bottle. One case contains 12 bottles.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Earlier this year I decided to quit drinking diet soda. I can’t say I’ve been perfect at it, but I am drinking much less than I used to. One way I’ve said “no” to the carbonated stuff is to say “yes” to bottled teas when I’m out running errands and want something cool to drink. On a recent trip to the drug store I picked up this tea. I have tried loose leaf teas from Argo, but I’ve never had the opportunity to try one of their bottled offerings. I was excited to see a good quality tea product in the case next to all the sodas and juices.

The first thing that impressed me was the container. It’s made of a fairly heavy glass with a thick plastic twist-off lid, and I knew it would be perfect to keep and reuse for other drinks. The lid fits securely on the bottle, so I don’t have to worry about the tea splashing out or leaking. As I’ve said before, I’m a sucker for good packaging, and this one is a winner for being both pretty and functional.

As for the tea inside the bottle, it was good. The base tea was a Nilgiri black tea which was smooth and well suited to iced tea. Any subtle notes that might have been present in the tea were lost to the honey and lemon flavors, but the clean, fresh taste of the tea did act as a good foundation for the other flavors. The honey had a wildflower taste to it, and while I enjoyed it I found myself wishing I had continued to shake or stir my tea as I drank it because the last few sips were overly sweet due to the honey settling to the bottom of the bottle. The lemon was my least favorite flavor in this tea. It had a slightly artificial taste to it, and at times I felt that it clashed with the flavor of the honey. I’d definitely prefer this tea without the lemon.

Overall I found this tea to be nice. It definitely peaked my curiosity about Argo’s other bottled tea flavors, and I’m looking forward to giving them a try. The next time I’m out and about it’ll be easy to pass on the diet soda and reach for a bottle of tea instead.

If you’re interested in trying Argo’s bottled teas you can buy it by the case on their website (there’s a link to their site at the top of this post) or you can check out your local Walgreens to purchase individual bottles.

The post Carolina Honey® Bottled Black Tea from Argo Tea appeared first on SororiTea Sisters.

Golden Tips Tea Thurbo Moonlight 2nd Flush Darjeeling 2014

Tea For Me Please - Thu, 07/02/2015 - 16:00
Country of Origin: India Leaf Appearance: large, varied greens and browns Ingredients: black tea Steep time: 5 minutes Water Temperature: 212 degrees Preparation Method: Teavana Perfect Tea Maker Liquor: amber The first thing that I noticed when brewing this tea was how pretty the leaves looked as they danced in the water. They were large and mostly whole, especially for a Darjeeling, with Nicole Martinhttps://plus.google.com/103097147251455801975noreply@blogger.com0

The Economic Future of Direct Trade Tea: A Look at Chinese Quality Tea

T Ching - Thu, 07/02/2015 - 12:00

The sustainability of the commodity tea industry is in question as the cost of production continues to grow and the global market price of tea has not changed much in the past decades. Like with the coffee industry, many are advocating that the sustainability of the tea industry doesn’t require certifications but rather a focus on quality and doing trade directly with the producers of the product. Direct trade tea serves as an opportunity for tea producers to find better margins in their business as they struggle to find a profit and keep their younger generations on the farm propagating the culture of artisan tea making. The prices tea producers can get for quality tea versus commodity tea can be dozens of times higher, so there must be an economic case for direct trade, quality tea. Is a drastic increase in profit sustainable for the culture of these tea-producing communities? A look at the booming Chinese tea market gives some insight that culture can be maintained, but there is a risk for unsustainable growth that can have damaging effects on the community.

China is the origin of traditional, quality tea cultivation and processing. Its history spans thousands of years but has not been continuous, especially in modern times. During the Cultural Revolution, there were many changes made to the tea industry in China that discouraged the art of tea making and treated tea as a commodity. The production of tea was highly regulated by the government and no tea producer was allowed to sell their product directly to the market; instead, they were required to sell all outputs to commerce departments of the government. The amalgamation of the industry increased outputs significantly, but reduced the focus on quality and put the tea growers in a poor position because it was difficult for them to get a high price for their green leaf. Up until about two decades ago tea growers in Yunnan, for example, only sold their green leaf to large government factories. Post-Cultural Revolution, the domestic market for tea was growing as buyers sought higher quality and went directly to the source to buy it instead of procuring from the government factories. Over time, tea growers realized the potential of making quality tea in their homes using traditional processing techniques as more and more buyers came directly to their villages to buy. Two decades later, villages that were once poor are now sprawling with large, modern homes, vehicles in each driveway, and cable tv in the homes.

A combination of a growing domestic market and direct trade practices turned around the desolate situation for Chinese tea growers, but the growth hasn’t been 100% sustainable. Some say the tea market of China is inflated and the market could collapse at any moment. The high prices in the market are mostly dependent on the level of fame of the mountain from which the tea was grown and not solely on the level of quality of the tea. The economies of these communities have the potential to become artificially inflated, providing an unstable future for the economy. In order to avoid these issues, it will be important for tea growers to focus their market success not on marketing alone, but on the skills and craftsmanship of their product.

Tea growing communities in countries suchas Kenya, India, and Nepal are excited to improve their living conditions and economic future. As with what happened in China over the past two decades, entrepreneurial individuals will focus on improving their quality and forming a direct trade network in order to realize a similar opportunity. These communities will not become artificially inflated if the focus is on quality rather than quantity. Instead of producing more tea at a lower price, these communities will be producing less tea at a higher price. What will result is a higher standard of living which is centered on empowerment. To learn more about direct trade, you can follow my journey to build a transparent supply chain technology platform for the industry called Tealet.

 

Photos courtesy of Elyse Petersen.

The post The Economic Future of Direct Trade Tea: A Look at Chinese Quality Tea appeared first on T Ching.

Assam 1860 Bagged Tea

SororiTEA Sisters - Thu, 07/02/2015 - 10:00
Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Assam 1860

Tea Description:

We’ve been growing tea for more than 150 years. That’s right, 150 years of experience and expertise that goes into making a cup of tea with pedigree. And it tastes delicious.

Assam 1860 is a black tea that celebrates tea itself. It is made only from leaves plucked in the picturesque Thowra Estate, a chai bagan set up in 1860. We ensure that the phrase ‘garden fresh’ lives up to its every promise.

The leaves are plucked, processed and packed in the estate itself, ensuring quality and freshness that is unparalleled. So wherever you are, you might as well be drinking your cup of Assam 1860 on the verdant verandah of the Thowra Bungalow, overlooking graceful rolling greens on our lush terraces.

We can’t wait for you to try our new offering. The plucking of tea leaves has begun in earnest!

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I sometimes wonder how serious tea purveyors take their packaging choices.  Tea drinkers are truly an aesthetic bunch of people….the ritual of tea practically begs you to be appreciative of ALL aspects of the tea that will be filling your cup next, including the packaging.  What makes us reach for a certain box of unexplored tea is arbitrary….a certain animal on the logo, a color of font… it’s a science somewhere, I’m sure, but for me, it makes a huge difference in where my eye travels to.

I would have bought this tea.

Assam1860 has a very clean visual aesthetic, with it’s white and green on black modern approach to visual marketing, the tag line “Tea As It Should Be” and the catchphrase “Still Plucking”.  It looks not like the older packaging from the well-established Assam tea plantations…it looks like something NEW.  And we all love to try something new!

The tea bag is also modern looking, with whip-stitching around the edges and a good portion of CTC assam waiting inside.  Again, aesthetically pleasing and already making my tea experience enjoyable!

In the cup, Assam1860 is dark amber and smells of malt with a touch of citrus.  A 2.5 minute steep brings a lovely malt flavor that Assams are known for.  This is not a powdery CTC but a true CTC that gives a well-rounded mouthfeel with a touch of astringency.  This tea would be a wonderful “toss in your purse/pocket” to replace the usual suspect teas at your favorite restaurant. Bold, but not overwhelming, Assam1860 is a solid citizen in the Assam world.  If you are a fan of hearty black teas, this tea is a good bet. Quite honestly as the packaging says, “Tea As It Should Be”.

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Tea Processing Chart

World of Tea - Wed, 07/01/2015 - 23:41

Tea processing is the most important quantifier when determining or producing a tea type. Green tea, yellow tea, white tea, oolong tea, black tea and post-fermented teas all begin as fresh camellia sinensis leaves and go through different processing steps. While there are an infinite number of variations that result in an infinite number of tea styles, the same underlying processing methodologies largely define the tea’s type.

There are many tea processing charts that attempt to accurately depict the tea process, but many of them add unnecessary levels of complexity, or skip steps. The goal here was to depict very general processes that all tea styles within a particular type would fit into.

This chart outlines the minimum steps that fresh tea leaves must go through to be considered a tea of a specific category.

I believe that it is important to begin with an overly simplified and correct processing chart and add details later on. This is the most efficient and beneficial way to teach tea.

Feel free to challenge any part of this and to share it, just please link to this webpage. If you find this interesting, be sure to check out my posts on some of these individual processing steps: withering, oxidation, and kill green and drying.

 

Download Tea Processing chart [PDF] [JPEG] [Latest Revision: 4/28/2015]

Tea Processing Chart by Tony Gebely is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at worldoftea.org.

 

Drying in Tea Processing

World of Tea - Wed, 07/01/2015 - 23:28

In all of our talk of tea processing thus far, we’ve been dealing with tea leaves that contain some water. In order for processed tea leaves to be shelf-stable, they must be dried. There are two reasons for drying tea though, to dry the leaf, making it shelf stable, and to enhance the flavor. At times, these can be two distinct steps in processing and at other times, it can be seen as more of a continuum, and sometimes teas are only dried for shelf-stability. For our discussion here, I’ll explain each separately.

Photo Credit: Michael Petersen, Tealet.

Most common drying methods:

  • Commercial dryers: where perforated conveyors move the tea leaves through a heat source in an endless chain, or fluidized bed dryers where tea leaves are dried on a bed of hot air (see above photo).
  • Oven drying: where tea is set on perforated trays in an oven and hot air is circulated through the tea via convection.
  • Sun drying: where tea leaves are spread outdoors usually on shallow bamboo baskets to dry in the sun (see photo at top of post).

Less common drying methods:

  • Charcoal firing: where tea leaves set in a shallow bamboo basket are heated slowly over hot coals.
  • Drying on heated floor: where tea leaves are dried on a thick masonry floor heated from below.

Drying For Shelf-Stability
Drying for stability means reducing the moisture level in the tea leaves to 2-3%. Doing so makes the leaves shelf stable and slows oxidative processes within the leaves to nearly a full stop. Tea makers control the temperature of the air, the volume of air moving past the tea, and the amount of time that drying occurs to produce a palatable tea. Drying the tea too slowly results in stewing, and drying it too quickly results in the outside of the leaves drying much quicker than the inside, a condition known in tea production as case hardening. In fact, “an average loss of more than 4% moisture per minute leads to bitterness and harshness in made tea. Moisture loss at 2.8-3.6% per minute has been found to produce teas with good quality.

Drying For Flavor Enhancement
Drying for flavor enhancement refers to two optional processing methods known as finish-firing and roasting. Both involve heat, and can be seen as distinct processing steps, or part of drying for shelf-stability. Not all teas are finish-fired or roasted, typically these processes are reserved for higher-end teas and are skipped in commercial tea production.

Finish-firing refers to a very low temperature heating of tea leaves for several hours, typically in an oven or in shallow bamboo baskets over hot coals before being packed and shipped. This enhances the flavor and aroma of the leaves but doesn’t necessarily change it.

Roasting on the other hand refers to a method of heating that is meant to change the flavor and aroma of the tea, typically adding toasty, burnt notes and resulting in a darker tea and a darker infusion depending upon how long the tea is roasted and at what temperature. Roasting also occurs in an oven or in shallow bamboo baskets over hot coals.

If you found this interesting, be sure to check out my posts some other individual processing steps: withering, oxidation and kill green. And finally, my tea processing chart.

Featured image credit: Michael Petersen of Tealet.

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