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Maple Vanilla Honeybush from 52Teas

SororiTEA Sisters - Thu, 11/27/2014 - 23:00

Tisane Information:

Leaf Type:  Honeybush

Where to Buy:  52Teas

Tisane Description:

This week’s tea is a new blend of caffeine-free honeybush, vanilla bean pieces, marigold petals and organic vanilla and maple flavors. This is an awesome relaxing night-time blend.

Learn more about this tisane here.

Learn more about 52Teas’ subscriptions here.

Taster’s Review:

I’m not generally all that excited about the honeybush blends from 52Teas.  I mean, I usually like them alright and some of them I enjoy quite a bit.  But when I read the announced flavor of the week and it happens to be a honeybush flavor, I can’t say that I’m all giddy about it.  But this one … this one I was excited about.  I love maple.  I love vanilla.  And the idea of maple and vanilla together with the naturally nut and honey notes of honeybush?  Yeah, that sounds pretty darned tasty!

And it is.  This is the perfect late-night snack when you want something yummy to satisfy that sweet tooth craving.  Sweet, creamy vanilla.  Nutty flavors from the honeybush.  The maple … mmm!  And there is a light honey-like note in the background that sort of melds with all these flavors.  This is deliciously, decadently sweet!

To brew this, I put 3 bamboo scoops of the tisane in the basket of my Breville One-Touch tea maker, and then added 500ml of freshly filtered water to the kettle.  The reason I added 1 extra scoop of tisane is that I generally do add a little extra leaf to honeybush and rooibos blends.  They tend to have a slightly thinner body and I feel that the little extra leaf really helps enhance the flavor.  I set the parameters for 10 minutes steep time at 195°F.

And like I said – yumminess!  This would make the ideal dessert substitute for someone who is looking to cut the calories and fat without losing out on the flavor of a delicious dessert.  This really does taste like an indulgent dessert.  Like vanilla bean ice cream that’s been topped with real maple syrup and a sprinkling of chopped nuts.

Because it has that decadent flavor, I think that this is best hot.  Sure, it still tastes good as it cools, but there’s something remarkably cozy about it when it’s served hot.  It’s like comfort food.  It’s like that big chunk of cake that you eat to coddle the broken heart after a break up, but it won’t keep you from fitting in that little black dress next weekend!

Matcha: The Way of Tea

Tea Guy Speaks - Thu, 11/27/2014 - 18:04
From DoMatcha:

A travel style mini-documentary that uncovers the history, production and future of matcha tea. This spectacular journey takes you from amazing organic mountain tea fields, stunning forestscapes, and the natural spring fed wells of Kagoshima, to the bustling tea shop filled streets of ancient Uji City, Kyoto.

The Breville One-Touch Tea Maker

Contest: Name My Tea Pet!

Tea For Me Please - Thu, 11/27/2014 - 17:00
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 Nicole Martinhttps://plus.google.com/103097147251455801975noreply@blogger.com0

DAVIDsTEA Winter Collection

Notes on Tea - Thu, 11/27/2014 - 15:00

The Winter Collection + the Nordic tea mug with infuser and lid from DAVIDsTEA is a perfect gift for tea folk who like blends and want to prepare them easily at the office or at home.


I don't work in an office but I've been using the mug often. I like the lid - I can cover my mug while the tea is steeping and it's a convenient saucer for the infuser. Another neat feature of the mug is its heat sensitivity; the reindeer design on the exterior change color when you pour in hot water.


The teas in the collection are sugar plum forest (Rooibos), apple custard (tisane), cocomint cream (tisane), bubbie's baklava (oolong), and vanilla chai (black). The serving size is curious - 1.25 teaspoons. I would suggest a heaping teaspoon for the tisanes. Also the tisanes would make refreshing iced teas. For the oolong and black tea based blends, I would suggest using two teaspoons to extract more of the base tea flavors.

All the teas are very aromatic and put you in the season, so to speak.

Tea and tea mug c/o of Bratskier & Company. Images from DavidsTea website.

Family, friendship, feast

T Ching - Thu, 11/27/2014 - 13:03
Thanksgiving is a holiday unique to the United States: it falls in the middle of the work week and ties most of its tradition to the meal served to an extended gathering of family and friends.  In the contiguous 48 states, Thanksgiving still rates way up there as a “driving holiday,” when families load up the kids and head “over the river and through the woods/to grandmother’s house we go.”  Here at T Ching, we are grateful for all the people who contribute to our daily cups of tea: thank you. 

An Old Irish Blessing May love and laughter light your days,
and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours,
wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world
with joy that long endures.
May all life’s passing seasons
bring the best to you and yours!

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The post Family, friendship, feast appeared first on T Ching.

Irish Breakfast Green Tea from Culinary Teas

SororiTEA Sisters - Thu, 11/27/2014 - 11:00

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  Culinary Teas

Tea Description: 

Irish Breakfast Green is full bodied with the ‘umpf’ of black tea but the gentleness of green tea. Enticing toasty hint of flavour. Massively Irish.

Learn more about this blend here.

Taster’s Review:

I don’t usually turn to a green tea as a breakfast tea.  I usually want the kind of gusto a black tea provides, but this green tea packs a swift kick!  Yes, the “kick” is a bit milder than what I’d get if I were drinking a strong Assam black tea, but I could see grabbing this tea as a breakfast tea (even though I’m drinking this as an afternoon tea at the moment.)  It has a very satisfying flavor.

Yes, this is a blend, but that doesn’t make it complicated to brew.  I grabbed my Kati Tumbler – really, this is one of the greatest tea brewing systems that I own!  I turn to it frequently because it works great for teas that I have just enough for 1 serving of.  And since I’ll be sharing this sampling with my SororiTea Sister, TeaEqualsBliss, I want to make sure I have enough left to send her way!

I used 1 bamboo scoop of tea for 12 ounces of hot water.  I heated the water to 180°F and I steeped the blend for 1 1/2 minutes.  And wa-lah!  A lovely green tea!

This really is lovely!  A very flavorful green tea blend.  I knew when I brewed the tea that the teas were from China, Japan and Kenya, but I wasn’t sure which teas from these regions were used int he blend.  From looking at the dry blend, I would guess that the Chinese tea is a Gunpowder.  It’s a little harder to distinguish which teas from Japan and Kenya were used, but I think that the Kenyan is the larger, rolled green tea (see the photo above) and I think that the Japanese tea is a Houjicha (or a roasted Bancha type tea).  Of those three guesses, the only one that I’m pretty confident about is the Gunpowder.

I like the way the flavors come together.  The sip starts out sweet.  Right away I start to pick up on the toasty, nutty flavors.  It’s not an overly vegetal/grassy tasting tea but there certainly is a “green” sort of taste to it that’s a little vegetative.  There’s a hint of buttery flavor.  After my palate becomes acclimated to the nutty, buttery, and vegetal notes of the tea, I start to notice floral notes.  There is also a fruity note that I taste that is vaguely reminiscent of melon.  In the distance, I pick up a light “smokiness” to the cup that is quite intriguing.

Overall, I found this tea to be a rather enjoyable cuppa.  If you’re looking for a way to start your day with a green tea, this would be a great choice.  I wouldn’t add milk to it the way many do with a breakfast blend – I think that milk would really overwhelm the tea.

Plus:  Milk + Green Tea usually = ICK.  So best not to try that.

Instead, try this one straight up.  It’s got a really nice flavor without any additions at all.  If you must add something to your breakfast tea, try a dollop of locally harvested, raw honey (added health benefits with that!) or even better:  a thin slice of lemon or lime!

Tea Review: Golden Tips Tea CTC Assam Exotic

Notes on Tea - Wed, 11/26/2014 - 23:16

Golden Tips Tea has one of the most creative packaging I've seen. The teas arrived in a cardboard box which was wrapped in cotton that had been hand-sewn closed. The company provided several Darjeelings, three Assams, a Nilgiri and an herbal a rose-flavored green tea. As I mentioned on Twitter, I haven't figured out how to properly steep the Nilgiri but I have finished the Mankota Exotic Assam and the CTC Assam Exotic. The Mankota Exotic Assam is a loose leaf and well flavored tea. The CTC Assam Exotic also has a good flavor given that is a CTC.

I prepared the CTC Assam three ways: (1) steeped in a teabag; (2) steeped in a glass kettle; and (3) boiled in a pot with milk and sugar as suggested by Golden Tips Tea via Twitter. To the pot I added cardamom, cinnamon, and clove to make masala chai.


The masala chai was very good. You might consider adding a bit of condensed milk, about a teaspoon, to sweeten the experience (pun intended).

I will post about the Darjeelings soon - stay tuned.

Beauty & The Beet White Tea from Lemon Lily

SororiTEA Sisters - Wed, 11/26/2014 - 23:00

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  White

Where to Buy:  Lemon Lily

Tea Description:  

Organic, delicate, earthy but not grassy. This blend of organic white tea is gently paired with organic beetroot Powder, organic lavender, organic passionflower, organic rosehip, organic rose buds Dry, it’s beautiful to look at. Steeped and allowed to rest for about ten minutes and you really start to taste the floral notes. But the touch of earthy sweetness from the beetroot balances out the floral, keeping it from tasting soapy.

Learn more about this month’s Postal Teas shipment here.

Learn more about subscribing to Postal Teas here.

Taster’s Review:

The photo above doesn’t really show the beetroot powder.  When I received my pouch of this tea in my Postal Teas box this month, I was kind of surprised by the hot pink dust that had settled to the back of of the pouch.  It kind of looked like freeze dried lipstick that had been pulverized into a powder.

I guess I could have said it looks like powder blush in the pouch, but, I couldn’t see anyone wanting to wear this particular shade of pink on their cheeks, but I could see it on someone’s lips or possibly their fingernails.  Then again:  freeze dried nail polish that had been pulverized into a powder – that seems like it would be a lot more effort to pulverize nail polish into a powder than it does lipstick.

Anyway … this blend has been dusted with powdered beetroot and it’s a vibrant shade of pink.  And when you steep the tea, the tea becomes a ruby red color.  It almost looks like it has hibiscus in it.  Almost.  Fortunately, beetroot doesn’t taste like hibiscus.  I prefer beetroot.

This is one of the more interesting teas I’ve reviewed lately.  First of all, love the name.  Love it.  And I can’t recall having a tea blended with beetroot powder.  I may have.  It’s just nothing comes to mind immediately.  And you would think that something as unique as beetroot powder would stick in the memory, you know?

Similar to the Maple Leaf tea that I tried a few days ago from the same company, this tea is very floral.  I am tasting notes of lavender and rose distinctly.  The passionflower is a bit more demure in this blend, which is not surprising as it tends to be rather mild tasting.  I like how the beetroot softens the flavors of the flowers a little and brings it’s own unique flavor to the cup.  It’s sweet and I can taste a hint of the vegetable flavor of the beet.

The white tea is a little less discernible in this blend, but I do taste it.  The light, airy, hay-like note of the white tea seems to complement the floral notes.  This tea is earthy (which also complements the floral notes), floral, very slightly vegetal, and very enjoyable – albeit different! – to drink.

I steeped this in my Kati Tumbler and I chose to steep it in this cup for one reason:  the beetroot powder.  I didn’t want to have to scrub the jug of my Breville One-Touch after beetroot powder had steeped in it!  It’s a lot easier to scrub my Kati Tumbler!

After shaking the pouch thoroughly (to redistribute the powder that had settled), I measured out 2 bamboo scoops of tea into my Kati and heat the water to 170°F and steeped the tea for 3 1/2 minutes.

Postal Teas recommends letting these teas cool a bit to let the flavors develop and I agree with that.  As this particular tea cools, the flavors not only develop but the texture develops too.  The beetroot seems to thicken somewhat to create a pleasant, brothy type texture to the cup (without it feeling syrupy the way a hibiscus blend would).

I’m really happy that I had this opportunity to try this tea!  Thank you, Postal Teas!

Teavivre Organic Superfine Keemun Fragrant Black Tea

Tea For Me Please - Wed, 11/26/2014 - 17:00
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 gaiwanNicole Martinhttps://plus.google.com/103097147251455801975noreply@blogger.com0

Natural tea farming

T Ching - Wed, 11/26/2014 - 13:05

We are about an hour out of crazy-hectic central Taipei, Taiwan’s super-modern capital of 8+million. It couldn’t seem further. This is truly lush, thick Nature. We drive up a steep and winding road through ever-smaller villages and into ever-thickening forest and sweet air. I’d like to imagine that the aroma comes from the tea trees I’ve come to see, but I can’t be certain.

We get out of the car on a particularly tricky turn of this road which has been carved through the forest and rock, and wait for Gao Ding Shi to arrive. I’d been told that he is a true proponent of a natural, wild tea farming technique dubbed ‘shengtai’, or ‘arbor’, and that to meet him would be . . .  an experience.

Waiting, we look around us: there are enormous butterflies, baseball hat-sized marvelous beauties; there are small snakes disappearing as if from nowhere into the shrubbery. When standing in the sun, the heat is uncomfortable. Today is about 38C. Again. In the shade by the side of the road, however, the air is suddenly cooler, and the sweetened moisture from the trees provides embracing umbrage. My guides explain that Mr. Gao might take a little while. “He likes to do things slowly, to take the time needed to do them.” We wait patiently, drinking in the Nature around us. The constant, rhythmic sound of crickets sets the brain waves to alpha. One of us goes off looking for multi-colored caterpillars.

I wasn’t expecting someone as young and lively as the handsome, affable man who eventually drove up to greet us. Mr. Gao has considerable presence and seems to be deeply comfortable in his skin. He looks us over, nods, smiles and suggests that my thin sandals might be good for a day at the beach but not for where we’re going. He opens his car and pulls out a mud-lathered pair of thick rubber boots, knee-high, and hands them to me. “I wouldn’t want a snake to snap at you.”

This is a Wild Tea Garden

His neighbors think his patches of land are ugly—unruly, unkempt, bug-ridden . . . and not even producing much tea at that; a waste of land. We walk to the most accessible of his tea gardens; the others would be an hour’s uphill hike. We need to push through the thicket of leaves and bushes, be wary of our footing, be careful not to walk into spider webs the size of my torso, and keep an eye out for snakes. The tea is in the form of trees here, much taller than the meter to meter-and-a-half high bushes most of the world’s tea plants are artificially kept. There are palm-sized, bright green frogs at first indistinguishable from the tea leaves on which they placidly sit. God is indeed the DJ here; the soundtrack is wall-to-wall crickets interspersed with birdsong.

This is not really a garden, nor certainly is it a plantation. It is simply a hilly area on which tea plants are growing wild, into trees, and from which Gao Ding Shi plucks and processes his fine teas. There are Camellia sinensis here, certainly—everywhere—but not only. Other types of foliage grow exuberantly. “Whatever belongs here is welcome,” says Mr. Gao with a smile, “whatever wants to grow here, please grow!”

That philosophy doesn’t end with foliage; there are worms and bugs which want to live here too, and munch on the tea plants, and to that Mr. Gao says, “Please, let them come. If bees wish to make their hive in one of the trees, beautiful! If the worms and bugs are happy eating from the trees, let them eat. I also wish to drink from the tree, why shouldn’t they?”

He bends close into the shrubbery, turns up a few leaves and branches before finding what he wants to show me. Turning over a leaf with one hand, he beckons me closer with the other. “Look at this.” At first I make out nothing: large tea leaf with thick veins running along its underside. I squint but still don’t see anything out of the ordinary… until his calm smile and focused gaze lead my eyes to one thin, unusual, vein-looking bulge, very slight, the thickness of a pin; the home of a little bright green pinworm.

Indeed the tea plant is favored by many bugs, some of them seemingly out of Star Trek. There’s another worm which lives inside the branches, one that looks like a crawling piece of fluff, a kind of caterpillar which lives inside the vein of tea leaves, and another worm which imitates the look of a small branch. There are even tiny, scampering green bugs called jassids which are allowed to bite into the leaves as the chemicals produced by the plant’s natural defense mechanism lends a uniquely sweet aftertaste for us tea drinkers—that is the unique case of Dong Fang Mei Ren (Oriental Beauty), a famous Taiwanese Oolong tea. “In any case,” says Mr. Gao with a shrug and grin, “that bug eats only the bud and first two leaves. That means he has good taste! And he helps me make delicious teas!”

Indeed, bugs and the tea plant have lived in symbiosis for millennia and tea has been humankind’s best friend all along. Before mass-production came along, bugs were either not feared as much, or controlled using natural methods. In Mr. Gao’s case, they are not such a problem that he can’t process his tea; there are plenty of leaves left for him. But that leads us to another philosophical aspect of the small-scale organic tea farmer, a mindset more environmentally friendly than any organic farming technique: enough.

This post was written for Global Tea Hut by Steve Kokker.  It was first published in November of 2012 and is re-posted here with permission.  Part Two of this post, “Enough” will publish next Wednesday, December 3, 2014.  Images courtesy of Global Tea Hut.

Loading image from T Ching archives.

The post Natural tea farming appeared first on T Ching.

Armando’s Original Blend Coffee Leaf Tea from Wize Monkey

SororiTEA Sisters - Wed, 11/26/2014 - 11:00

Tea Description:

Leaf Type:  Coffee Leaf Tea

Tea Description:

Coffee leaf tea has more antioxidants than green tea and has very little caffeine. It has a smooth flavour without bitterness or dry aftertaste like regular teas.

Learn more about Wize Monkey here.

Support Wize Monkey’s Kickstarter Fundraising Campaign here.

Taster’s Review:

I was both intrigued and nervous about this product.  I have mentioned more than once the issues that I’ve experienced with coffee.  I used to drink a cup of coffee every morning and by 11 am, I was feeling quite nauseous.  So, I worried that since this product comes from the same plant as the beans that caused that late morning yucky sick feeling, I was a little concerned as this tea brewed that what I was steeping was a cup of nausea.

But I decided to be brave and try it.  And keep my fingers crossed that I wouldn’t be feeling horrid a few hours later.

The sample that I was sent from Wize Monkey came in a DIY loose leaf teabag so I decided to go ahead and steep it using the teabag.  I put the teabag into a teacup and heated freshly filtered water to 195°F which is my “go-to” temperature for “herbal” teas and since this is not technically a tea leaf, I thought, eh … I’ll see what happens at 195°F.  I steeped leaves for 4 minutes.

The aroma is … different.  I’m trying to come up with a comparable scent so you can get an idea of what I’m smelling.  It smells earthy, similar to the earthiness you’d detect if you had brewed a cup of guayusa or yerba mate.  It smells kind of grassy.  Like a mossy, damp earth with notes of dried hay.

The flavor is a little reminiscent of guayusa, only a little more herbaceous.  Guayusa tastes a little more like coffee to me only not as bitter as a cup of joe.  This on the other hand does have some a touch of bitterness to it, at least in the earliest sips.  I find that as I continue to sip, the bitter tone sort of dissipates, and I find that I enjoy it the more I drink it.

It has a definite herb-y sort of flavor that reminds me a bit of bay leaf.  There is a light honey note to it too, and I like that this honey note develops as I continue to sip.  Again … the more I drink this, the more I like it.

This product as been compared to black tea in flavor, but, I am not getting that.  It has a similar texture as a black tea but not so much the flavor.  I find that there is a certain invigorating quality to it even though the caffeine content is supposed to be about the same as decaffeinated coffee.

It’s a tasty ‘tea’.  Different from anything that I’ve tasted, but it is vaguely reminiscent of guayusa.  I enjoyed my sample of this coffee leaf tea and I’d definitely be interested in some blends using coffee leaf.  Right off the top of my head, I think that this would taste good with cacao shells (a chocolate-y experience!) or with peppermint.  Or perhaps a combination of both.  And with the honey-like flavors, I think it would also taste awesome as the base of a masala spice blend – coffee leaf chai!

***

Please consider helping Wize Monkey reach their goal on Kickstarter!   The deadline is rapidly approaching.

This Just In!

Joy's Teaspoon - Wed, 11/26/2014 - 07:43

Amba OP1 with tea flowers

by Naomi Rosen

We’ve been slowly swapping out teas that were being sourced through outside blenders and replacing them with teas that are being sourced directly from the growers. It has been an extremely educational process and I am continually learning through every encounter with a new tea garden. The hard work has paid off too! Introducing the newest members to our tea line-up:

Amba OP1 

This black tea from Sri Lanka is incredibly unique, just like the tea garden it is grown in. About a year ago, I came across Amba Estate and shared their wonderful story. I’d encourage you to read about the revoluntionary steps being taken to cross-train employees and their profit sharing initiatives! The tea itself is true to Ceylon – brisk, honey and apple notes with beautiful dried tea flowers to make it so very different from any other tea you’ve tried!

Pucker Up

Also from Amba Estate, this herbal creation is organically cultivated lemongrass that has been hand plucked and processed. The expected citrus notes are simple and refreshing, and this lemongrass serves double duty as it can easily be used for cooking or garnishing a favorite dish or soup!

 

Suprabhat

Suprabhat, translated from Hindi, is “good morning”. This breakfast blend of Darjeeling and Assam teas, grown by the Prakash family, puts the “good” in “good morning”. If you are familiar with teas from either region, you know that each has a unique flavor profile and aroma. When I cupped these teas for the first time, I was ecstatic to find that you can still pick out those characteristics even though the teas have been blended. It takes cream/sugar very well…but I loved it on its own merits.

 

 

Black Pearl

I swear we didn’t name this tea after Johnny Depp, although, as I type, I’m jotting down my idea for a Johnny Depp inspired tea line. This black tea is our first single orthodox/unblended tea from Indonesia and it does not disappoint. The leaves have been rolled into a ball, similar to an oolong, and offer a honey-like sweetness that we fell in love with. Also similar to an oolong, these leaves take awhile to release all of their flavor so we were able to re-steep up to 4 times and were pleasantly surprised with each of those cups.

 

Monsoon Magic

The first loose leaf teas that I ever tried were Chinese (Dragonwell). The first loose leaf tea I ever tried that I became obsessed with was an Indian Assam. In my 4+ years in the tea biz, I have become acquainted with some amazingly passionate people trying to make a difference in the conditions, pay, and benefits for Indian tea workers. It is through these people that we came across Monsoon Magic and Heritage Teas. Having been plucked after the summer rains (thus monsoon), it is malty and brisk but lighter than the first and second flush Assams that would be close relatives.

 

Sencha Ikkyu

I’ve been on the lookout for some great Japanese green teas. This is the first Sencha we’ve carried from Japan (the others have all been Chinese). While both countries can produce beautiful Sencha’s, we fell in love with this one at World Tea EXPO. It’s sweet and the vegetal/grassy characteristics aren’t overwhelming. The steep time is 1 minute at the most and subsequent steepings literally just took a hot water pour over. We’re impressed with this tea and we think you will be too!

 

Genmaicha

Genmaicha has been a part of our tea family since the first 32 teas were launched! We did the old switcheroo on this one and discontinued the old blend and replaced it with this tea from an organic green tea farmer in Japan. We know that there was a bit of a price increase once we switched to this blend, but we think it is worth the increase. The flavor is toasty, nutty, and the green tea base is fresh and the perfect compliment on this tea. Added Bonus: this blend is organic!

 

We offer both Cinco (5) and Ocho (8) sampler packs if you would like to try out the full line of new teas. And we want your feedback! How’d we do?

Taiwan DongDing (TungTing) Charcoal Baked Oolong Tea from Fong Mong Tea

SororiTEA Sisters - Tue, 11/25/2014 - 23:00

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Fong Mong Tea

Tea Description:

The hand-plucked leaves of Dong Ding Oolong are grown in the Dong Ding region of Taiwan at the elevation of 740 meters. At this elevation, the leaves absorb moisture from the surrounding fog and clouds every morning and afternoon which is ideal for Oolong plants. Due to the unique geographic location and stringent selection of leaves, this is the finest Dong Ding Oolong from the Dong Ding estate. 

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This Dong Ding from Fong Mong has been charcoal baked and you can really taste that element in this tea!  It’s a really nice complement to the natural nutty flavors of the Oolong tea.  This is really one of the tastiest Dong Ding Oolong teas I’ve tasted in a while and I think that the fact that it was charcoal baked makes all the difference.

My first cup was sweet and nutty with a distinct charcoal note.  I could taste the charred wood and a hint of smoke.  There was a creaminess to the cup, but it wasn’t like a heavy creamy note or a buttery note.  It was more like browned butter.  Smooth and silky; it didn’t feel heavy on the palate.

The sip starts out sweet with notes of honey.  I start picking up on the nutty flavors almost immediately.  By mid-sip, the sweetness is fully developed and I start to pick up on a hint of smoke which transcends into a charcoal note.  The aforementioned browned butter notes weave their way in and out of the sip.  The finish is almost “fruit-like,” tasting a bit like a roasted, caramelized peach.

The second cup seemed a little more unified.  The flavors were seamless.  It was a very smooth transition from notes of honey to toasted nutty flavors and hints of smoke.  The smoke was a little more subtle this time, and the notes of charcoal were stronger, even though they seemed “fused” with the other flavors.  Still sweet, still a fruit-like finish.  Delicious.

The third cup was very much like the second.  The browned butter notes have diminished by this point but they seem to have made way for more definition of the peach-like flavor.  I experience a slightly dry sensation toward the finish, almost mineral-y.  Still a sweet, lovely Oolong.

I brewed this Dong Ding the way I’d brew most Oolong teas, using my gaiwan and following a 15 second rinse, I started the infusion time at 45 seconds and added 15 seconds onto each subsequent infusion.  I combine 2 infusions for each cup, so my first cup was made up of infusions 1 and 2, and the second cup was infusions 3 and 4 … you get it, right?

Fong Mong offers quite a few amazing Taiwan Oolong teas that are well worth checking into!  I highly recommend them!

Yezi Tea Tie Guan Yin High Grade

Tea For Me Please - Tue, 11/25/2014 - 17:00
Country of Origin: China Leaf Appearance: deep green, tightly rolled Ingredients: oolong tea Steep time: 45 seconds Water Temperature: 200 degrees Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan Liquor: greenish gold It's been a while since I reviewed something from +Yezi Tea and this Tie Guan Yin was calling my name. I previously reviewed and very much enjoyed the Master Grade Tie Guan Yin from this Nicole Martinhttps://plus.google.com/103097147251455801975noreply@blogger.com0

how to choose the perfect matcha

T Ching - Tue, 11/25/2014 - 13:01

For those new to matcha, it can be a challenge to understand the different varieties of matcha and determine which one is right for you. We hope to help you with this guide to matcha.  An authentic matcha will always have distinct characteristics. These are:

1. It will always be made from the tea plant (Camellia Sinensis).

2. The tea plants are grown slowly on shaded tea plantations. The process of shading – unique to only matcha green tea – promotes the production of extremely high levels of chlorophyll within the leaves. The fresh leaves are hand picked and steamed very briefly to preserve their nutritional properties and taste.

3. The leaves are milled using granite stone mills into an ultra fine, jade green powder. This creates matcha’s unique molecular structure.

4. Fresh, spring taste – there will be no bitterness.

5. Bright, beautiful green colour: This indicates the tea maintains its full nutritional profile

There are broadly three grades within matcha:

Ceremonial-grade : Used by the majority of tea schools and Buddhist temples. It is extremely rare and very expensive. Similar to wine connoisseurs, those who are not matcha experts may not notice the subtle additional flavours of “Umami” which characterize the ceremonial grade

Premium grade: A very high quality matcha which is best for daily consumption. It is packed full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals and is characterized by a fresh, subtle flavour. It’s perfect for the new – and every day – matcha drinker! Zen Green Tea uses premium grade matcha in all its products.

Ingredient grade: This matcha is best used for cooking purposes.

In addition to these three grades there is two styles of matcha tea preparation: koicha and usucha.

Koicha is used in only tea ceremonies and produces the thick emerald brew.

Usucha is less sweet and is whisked vigorously to create a thinner, frothier tea.

What is best for you?

We know you’ll love our premium grade matcha. We offer a full money back guarantee on all our products so order online and start your health and tea journey today!  Please visit our store and view all our products.

Images courtesy of the contributor.

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Keith’s Delicious Tea from Because UR Priceless

SororiTEA Sisters - Tue, 11/25/2014 - 11:00

Tisane Information:

Leaf Type:  Herbal Tisane

Where to Buy:  Because UR Priceless on Etsy

Tisane Description:

KEITH’S DELICIOUS TEA is a sunny, uplifting combination of lemon balm, calendula blossoms, and peppermint. This blend is particularly good when you add a spot of honey to your tea cup. This is my husband’s favorite herbal tea blend. (I’ll let you guess who it’s named after, lol.)

Learn more about this tisane here.

Taster’s Review:

This is a nice, mild-tasting tisane.  It kind of surprises me to say that about a tisane with peppermint in the mix because peppermint can be a very strong and assertive herb.  But here, there is a nice balance between the lemon balm and the peppermint.

The sip starts out with an herbaceous note.  This herb-y flavor remains throughout the sip, with specific flavor profiles developing as the sip progresses.  A moment or two after I’ve taken a sip, I start to pick up on notes of peppermint.  Just before the midway point, I can taste the citrus notes of the lemon balm.  The finish is crisp and cool from the peppermint and these minty notes linger into the aftertaste.  It is in the aftertaste when I can really taste the bright lemon-y notes too.

It’s a refreshing herbal blend that’s naturally caffeine free.  It has a soothing quality to it, and the minty notes continue to build as I continue to sip.  Now that I’m more than halfway through the cup, I can draw a breathe inward and I taste and feel the minty sensation on my palate.  But even though I’m getting a strong essence of mint, the presence of the lemon keeps it from tasting like mouthwash.

To prepare this tisane, I poured the sampler into the basket of my Kati tumbler and my ‘eyeball’ measurement told me that it looked just right.  Trust me, I’ve been doing this a while.  I heated the water to 195°F and and poured 12 ounces of water into the tumbler and let it steep for 10 minutes.  Then I strained the tea and enjoyed.  The description above suggests adding a dollop of honey to the cup and I think that would make a very nice addition.  I drank the tisane straight up and it was enjoyable but I think that a little sweetness is called for with this.  The crisp peppermint and the sunny lemon-y notes of the lemon balm would benefit from the contrast of a little honey.

Overall, an enjoyable cup.

Garlic Toast Flavored Iced Black Tea from Southern Boy Teas

SororiTEA Sisters - Mon, 11/24/2014 - 23:00

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Southern Boy Teas

Tea Description:

Er, yeah, we went there. On our recent trip to the ASD tradeshow in Las Vegas, we met some folks who were from the “Garlic Capital of the World”. They challenged us to make a tea with garlic in it, and here it is. It’s our premium organic Iyerpadi black tea with organic garlic, bread and butter flavors. If you like garlic, you’re going to have to try this one. It made the whole office smell like a pizzeria or something.

Learn more about this tea here.

Learn about SBT’s subscriptions here.

Taster’s Review:

OK … this is the weirdest flavor that 52Teas/Zoomdweebies/Southern Boy Teas has ever come up with.  And if I’m going to be honest, I’m a little jealous.  I admit it!  I wish I had come up with it.

Yes, this is weirder than bacon tea.  It’s weirder than chocolate covered bacon tea.  It’s weirder than the pineapple bacon tea.  It’s weirder than Jalapeno Tea.  It’s even weirder than my beloved Tomato, Basil and Black Pepper tea.

When I opened the pouch, WOWIE!  This smells like garlic toast.  Like fresh from the oven garlic toast!  I steeped it the way I usually steep these large tea bags:  I heated 1 quart of water to 212°F and dropped the teabag into the water and let it steep for 2 minutes.  Then I removed the teabag and poured the hot tea into my favorite iced tea pitcher and repeated the process, adding 30 seconds onto the “resteep” time.

The brewed tea smells less like garlic toast than the dry tea.  Oh, it still smells like garlic toast, but it’s just not nearly as potent.

After allowing the tea to chill in the refrigerator overnight, it was time for testing!  I admit I’m excited and nervous and a little weirded out about trying a Garlic Toast flavored iced tea.  When I opened the pitcher, I could smell the garlic!  It’s still a rather distinct aroma, even though it’s not quite as strong as the dry tea was.  The odor of garlic is still there.  Then again, it should be, right?  I mean, I’m about to take a sip of garlic flavored tea.

OK.  Here goes …

Hmm … OK, here are my first impressions:  the garlic doesn’t hit you right at the start.  The smell of garlic hits you before you even take a sip, mind you, because the aroma, as I said … is THERE.  But the flavor of garlic doesn’t smack you upside the palate from the onset.

The first flavor I notice is the black tea.  The flavor is smooth and brisk and refreshing.  I am picking up on sweetness from the black tea that I hadn’t noticed from this particular black tea base before this tasting.   (The Pumpkin Cheesecake iced tea uses the same Iyerpadi black tea base.)  I suspect that the different flavoring has inspired the palate to pick up on different flavors from the tea.

Makes sense, doesn’t it?

After about a half a second of tasting the black tea, I start to pick up on delicate garlic notes.

Yeah, I used delicate and garlic in the same sentence, and one was used to describe the other.  I don’t know that I’ve ever used the word “delicate” to describe garlic before.

  And really, delicate is the right word to use for the garlic flavoring here.  Although the pungent odor of the garlic in both the dry tea and the brewed tea wouldn’t really suggest a delicate garlic presence, the flavor itself doesn’t overwhelm the palate with garlic-y … um … goodness.  Yeah, that’s the word I was looking for.

It’s garlic toast but it’s not all about the garlic.  It is also about the tea.  And SBT has managed to create a balance to bridge these two seemingly opposing forces.  I mean, really … when was the last time you sat down with a cup of tea and thought:  you know what would really go well with this tea?  A piece of garlic toast!  No.  I might sit down to a plate of spaghetti and think, ‘I need garlic toast.’ A cup of soup perhaps, but a cup of tea?  No.

But I like this.  The zesty, savory flavor of the garlic brings flavors of the tea into focus that I might not have otherwise picked up on.  Like I mentioned earlier, I’m noticing the sweetness of the tea itself more now.  When you have sweet flavor elements in the tea – such as pumpkin and cheesecake – you miss some of the sweet nuances of the tea.  But with the garlic tasting like … well, tasting like garlic … I am noticing some of the sweeter qualities of this tea base.  I like that I taste the garlic but it’s not a garlic-y assault on my palate.

I will actually be buying at least one more package of this tea because I want to try it as a cold-brew.  I noticed that an iced tea that I didn’t really care for (the bacon iced tea) tasted much better when it was cold-brewed so I want to see how this one works with the cold-brew process.

It’s definitely different – but really tasty.

Adopt of a Tea Plant and Support U.S. Grown Tea!

Tea For Me Please - Mon, 11/24/2014 - 17:00
My friends at +The Great Mississippi Tea Company have launched an exciting new "adopt a tea plant" program. For as little as $12.95 you'll receive a personalized certificate, one lifetime pass to the farm, 1oz of tea once it is available and a coupon for 25% off at +Boston Teawrights. Higher level donations will receive even more tea and more passes to the farm. I definitely hope to visit them Nicole Martinhttps://plus.google.com/103097147251455801975noreply@blogger.com0

Hot pot by any other name

T Ching - Mon, 11/24/2014 - 13:01

Hopefully the set theory symbols are correctly specified below . . .

Hot Pot = Nabe

Shabu Shabu ⊂ Hot Pot

Sukiyaki ⊂ Hot Pot

Fondue ⊂ Hot Pot

Fondue Bourguignonne ∈ Fondue

[“⊂“  denotes a “is a subset of” relationship, and “∈“ the “is a member of” relationship.]

The last time I had hot pot, or was it shabu shabu, was a few months ago in Southern California’s San Gabriel Valley.  I prefer not to have any kind of hot pot during summertime, personally, but this particular region’s residents and business operators – maybe tourists, too – seem to feel and think otherwise.  Like pearl milk tea shops, new hot pot eateries are holding grand openings practically every other week.

According to the eatery’s website, the hot pot I had this past summer is actually a fusion shabu, which I have had countless times, and I might have tried all of the flavored stocks – creamy milk, Thai lemon & lemongrass, kimchi, miso, French onion, creamed corn, curry . . .   Interestingly the broth choices almost always include Chinese herbal, and this particular establishment’s menu listed “herbal and floral tea,” which I ordered with hesitation.   As predicated, the server brought out a pot filled with plain water and one big tea bag.   He then reminded me not to steep the tea bag in boiling water for too long.  The tea’s mediocre aroma amplified my disappointment, as did the first few pieces of meat and vegetables cooked in this so-called tea broth.  I ended up adding so much sauce that the end product could no longer be called a “herbal and floral tea hot pot.”

In Southern California, there is even a restaurant serving chanko nabe – sumo wrestlers’ hot pot.  What I really would like to try are some of Japan’s seafood-based hot pots, for example, Hokkaido Prefecture’s ishikari nabe (salmon), Akita Prefecture’s shottsuru nabe (hatahata), and especially, especially the traditional ishiyaki nabe! The broths of Chinese hot pots, on the other hand, seem much more heavily flavored.

Once I asked my mom why shabu shabu is called “shabu shabu.”  Mom said it was the sound of dipping and rinsing a thin slice of meat in boiling water – a cute answer.   Later I read in an article that the very first shabu shabu chef was inspired by the sound and motion of his employee washing cleaning cloths in the kitchen sink, thus the onomatopoeia!

Images courtesy of the contributor.

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Kenya Hand Rolled Purple Varietal Oolong Tea from What-Cha Tea

SororiTEA Sisters - Mon, 11/24/2014 - 11:00

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong (Purple)

Where to Buy:  What-Cha Tea

Tea Description:

A unique oolong unlike any other we have tasted before, made from the purple varietal tea plant which gives the tea a unique plum taste and purple tint. A rare and unusual tea which is not to be missed.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Wow!  What a delightful purple Oolong!

I steeped this the way I would usually steep an Oolong tea, using my gaiwan.  I “eyeballed” a measurement of leaves.  These leaves are so long and wiry that it would be difficult to measure them using my bamboo scoop.  So I poured out an amount that looked like it would be a bamboo scoop into the palm of my hand and then I put it into the bowl of my gaiwan.  Then I heated water to 180°F.  I poured in just enough of the heated water to cover the leaves and I let this sit for 15 seconds – to awaken the leaves – and then I strained off the liquid and discarded it.  Then I steeped the leaves for 45 seconds for the first infusion and added 15 seconds to each subsequent infusion. I combine two infusions in my teacup – so my first cup is infusions 1 and 2, and the second cup is infusions 3 and 4 … and so on!

The brewed tea takes on a purple-ish color and has a sweet, floral aroma with notes of fruit.  There is a strong flavor to this tea:  tasting primarily of stone fruit and flower.  Just as the above description suggests, there is a strong and distinct plum note.  It is sweet with notes of tart.

The texture is lighter than a typical Oolong.  It doesn’t have that buttery mouthfeel like you might experience from a greener Oolong.  This doesn’t taste or feel “creamy.”  It tastes strongly of fruit.  The fruit notes bring a lot of sweetness to the cup and there is a slight “sugary” sweetness to the cup as well.  There is a moderate astringency to this tea – I can feel the insides of my cheeks pucker a bit at the finish.  But don’t let that dissuade you, because I find that the sensation enhances the fruit notes.

The plum notes were even more focused in the second cup.  Still sweet with notes of sugar cane.  The astringency is about the same in this cup as it was in the first.

The third cup turned out to be a bit different than the first and second cups.  This cup is not as astringent as the first cup – this is much smoother from start to finish.  The plum notes are softening somewhat now.  Still lots of fruit flavor, I’m noticing the flavors starting to become unified.  This is slightly less sweet and a little lighter.  I’m picking up on a slight creamy note now and an ever so slight vegetative note.  Neither of these new flavors are very strong – they’re off in the distance.  Floral notes are slightly more noticeable this time too.

This is a really delightfully different Oolong – one I’d recommend to those who are looking for something just a little off the beaten path!

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