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Sneak Peek - UNYtea Chou Shi

Notes on Tea - 1 hour 25 min ago

My first order with UNYtea contains my first fixing teapot, simple and small, and two dancong oolongs. I ordered the Mi Lan Xiang and Jeffrey kindly added a sample of another dancong, the Chou Shi. Dancong are strip style oolongs sourced from Guangdong Province. I don't know if either of the dancongs I now have are true phoenix teas. The Chou Shi is not yet available in the store and is a new to me tea. Chou Shi has brilliant emerald and deep forest green leaves.

Jeffrey said to prepare the Chou Shi like any other dancong oolong with suggested steeping times of 15s, 30s, 45s, 60s for the 4 gram sample. Honestly, I don't have much experience with dancong oolongs so I was glad for the suggested steep times. During the session, I adjusted infusion time and temperature down to reduce bitterness. The first, second, sixth, and seventh infusions were the most enjoyable. I tasted the floral and vegetal notes associated with a tieguanyin and Taiwanese gao shan oolongs. Thirty second infusions at a lower temperature which was the case for the sixth steep yielded a smooth, floral, sweet, vegetal liquor. At this point in the session, Jeffrey's description was spot on: "a cross between a TGY and a light Baozhong."

I steeped the leaves nine times but the eighth infusion was the last one with noticeable flavors and aromas. The tea had a drying effect on the front and back end with a bitter melon flavor. I have not eaten this fruit but I imagine the liquor from the eighth steep is what bitter melon tastes like. Also, the tea left my lips feeling silky which is a nice benefit on a blustery day like today.

For the dancong aficionados out there, have you drunk Chou Shi?

P.S. My infusion time and temperature were: 15s/195F x2, 30s/195F, 30s/185F, 45s/185F, 30s/185F x3, 30s/195F.

Tea Party: A Color, Punch Out, and Play Set, an Activity Book by Margaret Peot

Notes on Tea - 1 hour 25 min ago

Have you noticed that the coloring book genre has expanded to include coloring books for grownups?  I got into the activity with gifts from my sister-in-law and books courtesy of Skyhorse Publishing. Even youth coloring books have changed; simple line drawings are being replaced by more complex scenes. As a parent to young children who enjoy arts and crafts, I don't mind that children's coloring books are more intricate. If we are coloring together the activity is more engaging for me. Now enter artist, writer, and teacher Margaret Peot with her Tea Party: A Color, Punch Out, and Play Set published by Pomegranate Kids. This kit incorporates coloring and dramatic play with a tea theme. How perfect is this activity for me and my family? This is a rhetorical question.

Pomegranate Kids provided me with a boxed set. My son was excited to create a stage with me to display during Thanksgiving. He chose the English Manor House Tea and the Castle tea pot, cup, and serving plate.  Peot's Tea Party play set is a great collaborative activity. We had to make several decisions before we could color. Which stage should we chose? Which serving ware? What colors, and should we use markers or colored pencils? We selected markers. It's my experience that it's easier for children to color with fat markers. Who would color which parts of the stage and serving ware? At no point did these choices become stressful. The design of the box and informational brochure within set the stage for a happy experience. Our musical selections also helped. Thanks, Ray Charles and Johnny Cash.

After completing the stage and selected tea ware - we did not color all the white space - we displayed the items on the dining table. We did not set the stage with any of the paper teatime treats. We had several real desserts on the table: chocolate peanut butter tart, apple crisp, and a raspberry pistachio tart. The paired tea was Lupicia's black tea blend, La Belle Epoque.

There are two stages and seven cardstock pages of teaware and treats remaining in the boxed set. Another clever feature of this set is that you can mix and match stages and teaware. I foresee many more tea parties this winter. If you have a young child in your life and are looking for a collaborative, creative activity, I recommend Margaret Peot's Tea Party play set.

Tea Party: A Color, Punch Out, and Play Set provided by Pomegranate Kids.

Vahdam Tea Raises $650K

World of Tea - 1 hour 38 min ago

Indian tea brand, Vahdam Tea has raised $650,000 USD from Angel Investors. The company is owned by 4th generation tea entrepreneur, Bala Sarda and shipped 15,000kg of tea in 2016. Vahdam prides itself in it’s procurement if fresh tea sourced within 24-72 hours of production and shipped directly from India to customers around the world. Vahdam is set to go head to head with competitor, Teabox.

“Vahdam Teas has raised USD 650,000 from a clutch of eminent angel investors including Kanwaljit Singh’s Fireside Ventures, Mumbai Angels, Singapore Angel Network, Ananda Ladsariya, Ajay Pandey,” the company said in a statement. Vahdam Teas said it has already shipped garden fresh Darjeeling and other teas to more than 76 countries and will use the funds to focus on marketing, product development and open a warehouse in it’s top market, USA.

Read the full article here.

A Unique Tea Adenture! Lychee Burst from Persimmon Tree Tea Company. . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - 2 hours 4 min ago
There’s a Chinese place in my town named Lychee, and when I rent to try/review this tea, I suddenly realized I had no idea what a lychee even was. It’s a soapberry fruit, guys. It’s a pink/red berry that you pull apart to reveal — and I’m quoting Wikipedia here — “a layer of sweet, translucent white flesh.” Let’s all take a moment to mull on the fact that “sweet, translucent white flesh” is totally something Hannibal Lecter would say. Am I alone in experiencing a frisson of fear upon reading that? Anyway, to my best guess, a lychee effectively Read More

The Jade Leaf Shan Cha Summer 2016

Tea For Me Please - 5 hours 5 min ago
Country of Origin: Taiwan
Leaf Appearance: dark, long and twisted
Ingredients: black tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: dark reddish amber

Taiwanese black teas have become something of an obsession for me over the last few months. They were always something I enjoyed but for some reason, they just seem to hit that sweet spot. I really enjoyed the Red Jade #18 from this company so that set the stage for high hopes for their Shan Cha.

The Jade Leaf's website explains that it was made exclusively from Taiwan's indigenous tea variety. They went on to explain that this variety has been crossed to produce hybrids such as Ruby #18. After reading that I was really intrigued! For a bit more on native tea varieties in Taiwan, check out this guest post that Eco-Cha contributed a few years ago: Taiwan Mountain Tea - The Indigenous Plant.

The taste of this tea was malty and sweet with notes of maple syrup. There was also a really interesting fruitiness that I couldn't quite put my finger on. Maybe lychee? It was relatively low in tannins, leaving a very smooth finish with little astringency. Later infusions brought hints of dark chocolate and a comforting biscuity quality.

If you're a fan of Taiwanese hong cha, I highly recommend giving Shan Cha a try. This tea's mellow nature makes it a great candidate for bowl brewing or enjoying grandpa style. Don't be afraid of hotter water or longer infusions. These leaves can really take a beating, though you might want to use a bit more grams per ml of water if brewing with a gaiwan.

Did you miss my podcast interview with Emilio of The Jade Leaf? Check it out here! 
Shan Cha Summer 2016 sample provided for review by The Jade Leaf.

In a Taiwanese black tea kind of mood today. How about you?A photo posted by Nicole - Tea for Me Please (@teaformeplease) on Nov 20, 2016 at 11:45am PST

Guangxi Golden Pearls from Tea Shirt. . . Rolled Tea Pearls!

SororiTEA Sisters - 6 hours 4 min ago
So far the teas I have had from Tea Shirt have been tasty and I am eager to try more so today I am reviewing Guangxi Golden Pearls from Tea Shirt. I have really liked other Golden Pearl teas I have had from other companies and this one is just as good. Guangxi Golden Pearls from Tea Shirt is made up of black tea leaves that is hand rolled into little ‘balls’ or ‘pearls’ as the product description says on their website. Dry – Guangxi Golden Pearls from Tea Shirt – smells a bit like chocolate and fruit. Once infused Read More

Perfect for Valentine’s Day! Heart Tea Goodness from Cup of Love Tea. . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - 9 hours 33 min ago
I’ve been on a kick with flavored Lapsang Souchong’s as of late. Not sure WHY but I am. I can’t say as I have ever been on a flavored Lapsang Souchong (specifically) kick before. So this time around I want to share Heart Tea Goodness from Cup of Love Tea with you. Cup of Love Tea is a subsidiary of Vampyre Tea Company so I was pretty darn excited to try it! Heart Tea Goodness from Cup of Love Tea contains Lapsang Souchong Black Tea, Cinnamon, Apple, Orange Peel, Hibiscus, and Coconut Tea & Pieces. Dry – the aroma was Read More

The Legend of Darjeeling

T Ching - 13 hours 4 min ago

Legend says winter comes from the hands of Chys Khan, the master of the cold. It is passed from his hands to those of Father Christmas, who is responsible for distributing it throughout the rest of Europe. Both have a white beard, but Chys Khan is wrapped up even warmer. He ‘lives’ in the coldest inhabited region on the planet, in the Sakha Republic, Siberia. Although several towns contend for this honour, the -71.2 °C recorded at Oymyakon back in 1924 place it first on the world thermometer (or last, depending on how you look at it). It is located 750m above sea level, in a valley. This causes the air coming from the mountains to get ‘stuck’ there and make it even colder.

This “stuck” word is parallel to the “trapped” cold winds of high peaks of the Kanchenjunga Himalayas which after getting reflected when hot air coming from Gangetic plains of central India, gives the unique flavour compounds to those Darjeeling teas which are rarest of rare in the world.

A coincidental introduction of Chinery tea bushes in Darjeeling during the 1850s when local Assamese tea bushes were being planted in the plains of Assam made the contrast in quality so evident that to date “China” is suffixed to Darjeeling leaf grades to identify its better flavour and cup. A good summery of this phenomenon was made in a writeup by AC Cargill some time back, and we found that the long-abandoned multi-stammer China bushes has failed to grow high like single stammer Assam trees found in the mountains of Xishuangbanna, Yunnan, China. Thick cell sap found in the un-plucked leaves of these China bushes is so extraordinary that Jeff Fuchs could not control himself and shot lot of close-ups and sent Alexey Sebekin to Rungneet to study the potential of this rare 2017 crop which will be harvested soon. A crop that Dan Robertson will be checking soon this coming April for the members of International Tea Cuppers Club and his shows the world over.

Cold is the key to Himalayan teas, be it Darjeeling, Nepal, Kangra or Sikkim. Cultivars play the role and this added with altitude, aspect, location and soil make up the world of Darjeeling flavours.

The post The Legend of Darjeeling appeared first on T Ching.

Red Miso is Done!

Black Dragon Tea Bar - Tue, 01/17/2017 - 20:49

After 3 whole years fermenting in my basement I am excited to announce that my homemade Red Miso is finally ready! Yesterday I packaged up the entire batch into 3 quart sized mason jars. That's a lot of Miso. I'll definitely be sharing with local friends and family.

For more information on how I made this Miso please check out my post from last January called Red Miso's Second Birthday

It turned out great! I tasted it side by side with an all natural, no preservative, store bought Red Miso that I had in my fridge. Mine is bolder, smokier, saltier, and less sweet, but still a little sweet, very rich and delicious.

Miso Selfie!

Dining Dos and Don'ts: Etiquette Series with Afternoon Tea begins this month at The Townsend Hotel

Barb's Tea Shop - Tue, 01/17/2017 - 19:03

Rachel &  Barb Gulley of Barb's Tea Service will present dining etiquette at The Townsend
  • What do you do when the person on your left appropriates your bread plate?
  • If  both the salad fork and the knife are placed next to the plate, what does that mean?
  • Where do you place your cell phone? 

Have you ever wondered if there were answers to the dining perplexities cited above? Barb's Tea Service and The Townsend Hotel are here to assist. Starting this month, a delightful and delicious combination of instruction and afternoon tea will be served up at Birmingham's luxury hotel with presenters, Barb and Rachel Gulley.

The first in a series of monthly etiquette programs starts the last weekend in January at The Townsend Hotel. Barb's Tea Service  will instruct guests on proper dining protocol. The course will teach table manners to young people as well as serve as a refresher for veteran social diners.

Afternoon tea at The Townsend:  beautiful and scrumptious
In truly the most elegant and beautiful "classroom", guests will enjoy the scrumptious sweets and savories from the Townsend. The first program will cover dining do's and don'ts. Future topics will include table talk, finessing the business meal and forms of service.  We'll also slip in a few tea etiquette tips at each event.

Tea etiquette tips will also be shared. How DO you eat a scone?
Bring your friends and family to afternoon tea at The Townsend Hotel. BTS will present the mini-etiquette programs starting January 29th at noon.

And, yes, there are answers to the questions above. Join us and we'll unlock the mysteries!

For more information, see The Townsend Hotel Afternoon Schedule or The Townsend Hotel website.

Barb Gulley, author of this blog, is certified by the Protocol School of Washington in etiquette instruction.

Maple Cheesecake Tie Guan Yin from 52Teas . . . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Tue, 01/17/2017 - 18:00
This tea makes me want to use hip words like “yaaaaaaaaaaassss” and “slaaaay, queen.” It makes me want to actually USE my SnapChat account so I can post a picture of my mug and put, like, an overjoyed smiley on it and some sort of catchy phrase underneath. Maybe “tea on fleek”? This tea comes in cute rolled-up little balls that remind me of hedgehogs when they’re all snuggled in. When you get them in the water, they majestically unfurl into pretty leaves. The resulting taste is a vegetal, sweet, syruppy, ever-so-slightly nutty flavor. I’m not really getting cheesecake from Read More

Dragon’s Palm Tree from Adagio Teas. . .A Signature Blend

SororiTEA Sisters - Tue, 01/17/2017 - 16:00
What a light, sweet, darling delight of a tea! This white/peach/strawberry/apricot delight is the tea equivalent of that coral color all the cool kids are wearing these days. Almost pastel, but with that punch of color. Every time I sip it, I’m a little surprised. I feel like I’m getting POW!ed in the face by a cartoon character. Like those old Batman onomatopoeia typographic masterpieces: Robin would be like “Holy unexpected flavor blast, Batman! This dragon tea is fierce!” And Batman would say, “not NOW, Robin! Get the Bat Shark Repellent!” Robin would say, “Will that work on dragons?” Batman Read More

Tea in Mexico: Part Two

T Ching - Tue, 01/17/2017 - 09:00

This continues an interview with Claudia Aguilera, a trained tea professional and tea vendor in Mexico, talking about tea culture and her experiences in the industry in Mexico.

  1. Is there a connection between Mexican tea drinking and teas produced in South America?

Not really. Teas in Mexico come basically from American and European tea brokers. There is very little concern about tea production in our continent. In our case, only Mexicans attending tea expos get to know there are important places like Argentina and Colombia producing tea. 

  1. Per my understanding there is essentially no tea production in Mexico, not even small experimental farms.  Is that correct?

Right! There is no official data about it and no propaganda either. I’ve heard there are foreigners interested in our land for tea production but nothing concrete so far. Although our country has all the potential to start producing, we would need some support from experts.

  1. Part of my own adopted project is trying to expand on tea awareness in Thailand, using different means.  How do you help develop awareness there?

It’s been a hard and very patient work here. I have always been interested on different ways to share tea knowledge. I started offering tea tastings, short courses, tea pairings at restaurants, cooking with tea classes, master classes etc. The objective in my case is to help people get closer to this amazing product and create awareness about the infinite possibilities. 

Having this as a purpose, I developed a tea Brand (Té en Hebras Hindie) with a fresh and friendly image, and that has established a stronger base to increase tea consumption. With the brand, I can supply restaurants and coffee shops with good quality tea. This has been a very important tool helping me reach more people, achieving better tea consumption instead of bad quality tea bags. Loose tea leaves needed to be introduced and carefully respected. I think we, as tea experts, are making it happen. 

  1. What tea type pairs best with spicy Mexican foods, or is that just an American stereotype about the general character of Mexican food?

I can say Mexican food is a fest of flavors; spicy can be definitely a way to describe it since we use many types of chili as a base of every sauce. Anyway, the variety is huge. I recently worked with the Mexican chef José Hernández on a tea-pairing event and we really liked the results. Our favorites: 

Torta de Chilaquiles with avocado paired with a Darjeeling FTGFOP
Chilaquiles is one of the favorite dishes for breakfast, it is basically fried tortilla chips with red sauce; there are many options for the sauce. In this case the sauce is made of different chili, spices and tomato.

Churros de Yuca with Pu’er Blend (Pu’er, vanilla, strawberry and orange)
The Yuca is a fruit and churros is the name given to this typical food, churros actually came from Spain but we have our Mexican version, these are made with the pulp of the Yuca fruit and a little bit of sugar on the top. Since it has some greasy and sweet flavor, the tea totally matches and leaves a clean and delicious after taste.  

  1. Is there any project, or business, or training initiative you’d like to share something about?

One of my projects as a tea sommelier is to keep on sharing the knowledge and of course, to never stop learning. So, in this journey I plan to support awareness and care for our mother nature, looking for the least environmental impact in our practice.  Also, I am planning to develop a campaign against excessive sugar consumption, especially for kids.

Others I’ve spoken to are ready to do their part, related to tea education and running tea businesses.  Lorena Foglio, owner of the BeauTea Full tea business, and Tea Sommelier and Tea Master, contributed pictures of her tea garden, shown here.  It’s the only example of tea growing there that I’m aware of, based on limited research and discussion with some others working in the local industry.  It’s not really for tea production on a significant scale–it’s her garden–but that’s inspiring enough to me.  Once the plants gain some size she can borrow some leaves to experiment with.

One person can only do so much in bringing tea awareness to an entire country, and the means to try better teas, but it sounds like Mexico has some great tea awareness advocates working on it.

The post Tea in Mexico: Part Two appeared first on T Ching.

Strawberry Cheesecake from Allegheny Coffee & Tea . . . .A Sweet Treat

SororiTEA Sisters - Tue, 01/17/2017 - 00:00
While wandering around Pittsburgh’s Strip District the drizzly day after Christmas, my in-laws and I noticed a tea and coffee shop, Allegheny Coffee & Tea Exchange. “Oh no,” whispered my husband, jokingly. “Too late,” whispered my father-in-law, a little less jokingly. “We have to go in there,” I said. “Coffee,” my mother-in-law drooled. “We’re going to keep walking down the street,” my husband’s brother said. “We’re going to keep walking down the street,” my husband’s brother said. My mother-in-law and I rushed into the store, which had big barrels of coffee and lovely sniffers of tea. We split into our Read More

Vanilla Creme from Teavana. . . . A Honeybush Blend

SororiTEA Sisters - Mon, 01/16/2017 - 20:00
Every August in my childhood, my family would spend a week or two at my grandparents’ cabin in the north woods of Wisconsin. My sisters and I would spend days catching sand toads, splashing in the river, hiking through pine forests, gorging ourselves on cheese curds & ice cream, and staying up way too late to stargaze and– even more importantly (to 6-year-old Mary), make s’mores. I was obsessed with roasting the perfect marshmallow– brown and toasty on the outside, nice and gooey on the inside. Never burnt (yuck)– those got immediately relegated to my dad’s plate, undiscerning-marshmallow-eater that he Read More

Video - Episode 24: Interview with Lauren Purvis of Mizuba Tea Co.

Tea For Me Please - Mon, 01/16/2017 - 17:00
I've gotten a bit off schedule when it comes to videos over the last few months. 2017 is a new year so let's start off on the right foot! I'm going to change the format a bit going forward. For starters, I'll only be publishing episodes here (and on YouTube, of course). I discovered that the majority of viewers were watching there anyway.

This will help me to avoid having to pay podcast hosting fees and I won't have to render two different versions of every episode. For that reason, I won't be calling it a podcast anymore but the content will remain largely the same. You can still expect tea industry interviews, how to's, and more.

I first met Lauren on Mizuba Tea Co. at World Tea Expo a few years ago. It turned out that we had been following each other on Instagram for years! Her effervescent personality and passion for matcha made us fast friends. In this episode, we talk about how Lauren discovered tea and the happy accident that led her to start her own matcha company.

Read more about Lauren and Mizuba Tea Co. here:

A Mizuba Matcha Moment with Friends
Guest Post: The Chasen by Lauren Danson

Is there something (or someone) that you'd like to see in a future video? Let me know in the comments!

Pop Goes Life! from TeaTaxi. . . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Mon, 01/16/2017 - 16:00
I am always excited for a flavored genmaicha. Now 52 Teas is normally where I find them but every so often they pop up at other companies too. This is Tea Taxi’s take on one and it is quite nice. With this blend the genmaicha seems to be the focus. The main flavor is the roastiness of the popped rice. There is also an underlying note of cereal that I would attribute to the rice as well. The green tea base is really quite mellow but is contributing a slight vegetalness that compliments the roastiness. However, it conflicts slightly with Read More

Smoking Coconut Black Tea from 52Teas. . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Mon, 01/16/2017 - 12:00
I loved everything about this warming tea. I loved seeing the big coconut pieces, the delicious coconut aroma, and of course the taste. As soon as I poured the boiling water over this tea, all I could smell was coconut. I associate coconut with all things sunny and warm, so it was very soothing on a cold, grey, snowy winter day. I added a little raw sugar and a splash of coconut milk and just enjoyed the heck out of this cup. I never thought of combining any kind of tea with coconut(other than milk) but it really works out Read More

Lucky Bags

T Ching - Mon, 01/16/2017 - 09:00

More than one friend had told me that what they missed the most, after they left the States, were the freeways.  While galloping on deserted Interstate 10 early morning on New Year’s Day, I pondered how I would never miss the freeways because I would never leave the States.

When I reached the day’s destination – one Japanese supermarket in the Valley – it was exactly quarter till 9 a.m.   There were only 11 strangers waiting in line; I was destined to purchase one of the 30 fukubukuro (福袋), or lucky bags in English, the store would be selling that day.

After acquiring my very first lucky bag in this life, I hit Interstate 10 again to reach the other side of the Valley where another Japanese supermarket had started offering its limited number of mystery bags, also at 9 a.m.   At 9:50 a.m I parked.  One of the seven strangers congregated in front of the entrance told me the store would be open at 10 a.m. instead.  I was destined to purchase a lucky bag at this store too?!

For me, Fukubukuro is a concept almost as old as my knowledge of the nation named Japan, but not until 2017 did I gather enough interest to pay for one.  A lucky bag laden with expired merchandise will not vex me as much as its unavailability, its being sold out.

The first mystery bag at $20 contained only food products.  I quickly identified the three tea-related items:  canned green tea, matcha hard candy, and kukicha.   Having written the Canned Green Tea post, I am no longer befuddled by any Japanese beverage.  The caption on this small can reads, “Matcha is made from ground tea leaves.  When you drink matcha, you ingest the whole leaf.  Matcha enhances mood and gives you energy.”   Japanese bekkouame candy, often redolent of inedible artistic glasswork, is almost always yummy.  I have not opened the bag of kukicha.

I paid $30 for the second mystery bag and received full-year supply of shampoo and conditioner.

This is inscrutable – in Japan, Starbucks’s fukubukuro seems once again the most coveted lucky bag this New Year.   Won’t you be disappointed if you end up getting this bag, or this one?  Maybe the experience is not as frustrating as playing the Starbucks for Life game during a holiday season.  There are of course lucky bags for every product line from every industry:  Appliance, clothing, toys, etc.   Manufacturers and business operators must make a final attempt to rid of unsalable merchandise!

The post Lucky Bags appeared first on T Ching.

Hibiscus Fruit Punch from Hackberry Tea. . . . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Mon, 01/16/2017 - 00:19
I either love or hate hibiscus tea. Some I find way too tart, and others are perfect. I was excited to try this blend because it had fruit punch in the name. It seemed like it would be fruitier and less tart. This blend includes apples, orange peel, raspberries, lemongrass (my love) and other fruits and berries. I made a pitcher and iced it because i think iced is the only way to drink hibiscus tea. I was not disappointed at all. It still has the typical hibiscus tartness, but the fruits balance it out. I made it with just Read More
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