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Making Rock Oolong: An Interview with Cindy Chen

T Ching - 5 hours 12 min ago

The following relates to asking an online tea friend questions about tea, Cindy Chen.  She lives in Wuyishan, the village area beside the mountains where amazing Wuyi Yancha / rock oolongs are grown and produced.  She makes this tea; it’s her family’s business. And what a business it is: Cindy Chen’s family just won two different awards for best Wuyi Yancha teas produced in one of the main Wuyishan competitions recently. Their Rou Gui was judged 1st place, and Shui Xian 2nd place, among over 100 local producers.

Actually, Wuyishan is the city, and she lives in the Tian Xin Yancha village, but there are complications related to tea growing areas versus where people live and how cities and villages are designated, perhaps varying with how terms for districts and counties are used in other countries.  I’ve written about a few of her teas in my blog earlier this year: a Rou Gui, a Da Hong Pao, and a Shui Xian.

I’ve been drinking Wuyi Yancha teas for a while, but to be honest. these teas are probably better than I can fully appreciate with my current sensitivity to the other aspects, so I have to make due with enjoying them to my current potential.  A follow-up review of a Da Hong Pao will say more about the more subtle and interesting aspects of these teas beyond taste components, some of which Cindy goes into here.

Cindy is very kind but of course there is a limit to how many questions she could answer, so this is just intended as discussion of some interesting points, which really leads to a lot of other questions.  

The content is edited slightly for verb tenses and such but it’s amazing that she really can write like this in English.  She starts with a little about the area and teas in general:

Cindy, making tea.

The reason why the rock tea from Wuyi Zheng Yan Circle Mountain cost is so high a price is that they have the best appropriate environment for growing the tea, with moderate sunshine and humidity.

Another important factor is the land and the soil type.  The soil in the Zheng Yan Circle is very rocky, and the land is not so hard, so the plants can have good air and water circulation.  

The soil also has plenty of  mineral composition, so the high quality rock teas have a mineral feeling.  I do not know how to use the words to express this mineral feeling, but if you drink Wuyi Rock teas for a few years your mouth can appreciate the feeling.

How old are the oldest tea trees?

It is a pity I really do not  know the exact age, but in Wuyishan the early documents about Wuyi trees are from the Song dynasty,  about 400 years ago.  My family Laocong Shui Xian plants we normally understand to be about 100 years old.  Yunnan is where the older tea trees might be; those used for making pu’er [versus the Fujian Province, where she lives].  

In some follow up discussion Cindy talked more about prior history with tea in the area, so this isn’t really intended as a full historical account, just her immediate simple response to a question.  She also later noted separately the Camellia Sinensis var. Assamica plant type is grown in Yunnan versus the var. Sinensis type in her area, also not really a detailed part of this discussion.

It’s interesting that no teas in Thailand are processed the same way [relating to me currently living in Thailand].  All are typically produced as lighter oolong, almost always rolled, like Tie Kuan Yin.  I’d assume that relates to plant type.  Could the teas there be made into green tea instead?

No.  Any kind of tea in my family normally has three different baking styles:   lightly-roasted, middle-roasted, and highly-roasted, according to the tea characteristics.

Technically it would be possible to make different teas out of them, as she goes on to explain:

I think it is possible to use other types of tea leaves to process into darker Oolong tea.  A few years ago the rock tea market tea prices went up sharply so some tea business people in Anxi started using the Tie Guan Yin leaves to process into Wuyi Oolong.  It looks okay, and it’s very similar to Wuyi rock tea, but the taste is quite different.

There are only two styles of this tea, one very light, almost like water as a brewed tea, and another style very high roasted, with nothing in the brewed tea except a charcoal fire feeling.

So the idea is that technically other plant types or tea from a different area can be used to create a similar processed tea but it’s not the same, not nearly as suitable, with a much different final product.

A tea-roasting area.

Do the tea plants need direct sunlight?

I can use Rou Gui as an example.

People think the Rou Gui grows in a tea land like a valley, which doesn’t have abundant sunshine through the whole day, and the land where the tea grows is high in humidity.  The Rou Gui style of tea produced from land like this is like this:  the tea soup is soft and sticky, and the Chaqi comes out gradually [also referred to as Qi or Cha Qi].  The tea can stand a least eight infusions, and the tea soup can keep a good balance, without sharply changing in taste and aroma.  We always bake this kind of Rou Gui in middle-roasted style, which can help keep the aroma, like a flowery aroma, or fruit aroma.

Some Rou Gui grows in a tea land like flat ground, which has abundant sunshine the whole day.  The Rou Gui styles from this type of area are like this:  the tea soup is very strong; some people cannot stand this style.  Chaqi come up very very quickly, in the first few cups, and you will get hungry and it will increase body circulation.  Most of the time, this kind of tea changes sharply after 6 infusions.  Most of the time, we bake this kind of Rou Gui in highly-roasted way, and most Chinese people like this style very much.

In Wuyishan we bake the tea according to characteristics, like Qilan, Huang Guanyin, Baijiguan, and Huanmeiguan, these all are high aroma teas, so it is better to bake them in the middle fire, not too high, to retain the fragrance. 

But some other varieties like Da Hong Pao and Rougui the teas have a very very strong body, so we need to highly-roast them, and keep them to sell in the second year [as she already mentioned, with variation for growing area difference that changes leaf character].

We discussed a number of other issues, some of which will be included as a separate post about tea cultivars, plant types used to make different teas.  

The issue of aging of Wuyi Yancha is particularly interesting to me but it’s only introduced here, as saying for more roasted versions it’s best to store the tea for a year for the “fire” to subside and other elements to become more pronounced.  Of course, the issue of aging is more complicated than that, as she covered in further discussion, but this is a good place to stop for now.

The post Making Rock Oolong: An Interview with Cindy Chen appeared first on T Ching.

Maple Splash Tea from Tealuxe

SororiTEA Sisters - 6 hours 59 min ago
Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black Tea

Where to Buy: Tealuxe

Tea Description:

This tea is no longer on their website but the package states it was a result of the company’s fascination with the Canadian tradition of making Maple Taffy.  The ingredients in this tea are as follows…black tea (71%), cinnamon pieces, dehydrated maple syrup, cinnamon rods, flavoring, popcorn, and white cornflower blossoms.

Learn more about this company here.

Taster’s Review:

The tea I’m reviewing today is called Maple Splash Tea from Tealuxe.  Maple Splash Tea from Tealuxe is no longer listed on their website but I thought it was worth a mention anyways.  If you like Maple you will like this tea.  Maple Splash lives up to its name that is for sure!

I love the aroma but that is because I love maple but I also adore the addition of popcorn in this tea.  The tea leaves are a drab brown  and are smaller in length while still being tightly dried and semi-twisty.  Some of the wet leaves look like twigs while the others look like your typical small to medium sized black tea leaves.

After infusing Maple Splash for about 3 minutes I noticed the cinnamon aroma pop thru a bit better.  The Maple aroma deteriorated a little but was still in the forefront.

This is a sweet, warming, comforting flavored black tea with Maple Splash, indeed!  Maple Splash Tea is a ‘party in your mouth’ and I sure wish that Tealuxe kept it in their shop!  Another noteworthy flavor to mention is the aftertaste of sweet-woody, too!  The flavor and aroma linger and I like that!


The post Maple Splash Tea from Tealuxe appeared first on SororiTea Sisters.

Catherine’s Blend Specialty Black from Tea For All Reasons

SororiTEA Sisters - Mon, 11/30/2015 - 23:00
Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black Tea

Where to Buy: Tea For All Reasons

Tea Description:

Strawberry Rose – A lovely blend of strawberry Black tea decorated with Rose petals and Cornflower blossoms that resemble the bride’s blue sapphire engagement ring!

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Catherine’s Blend Specialty Black from Tea For All Reasons!  YUP!  This Catherine’s Blend is a Specialty Black from Tea For All Reasons and there are only 2 left in stock over at Tea For All Reasons!  According to the website it’s one of the 50 percent off teas TODAY!  I would NOT be shocked if they sold out of this TODAY!  If you want it – get it before it’s GONE!

The aroma of this tea is worth it alone!  With the medium strength black tea base paired with strawberry and rose you can’t go wrong!  And thrown in for a little extra color are some beautiful cornflower blossoms!  I believe this was part of the Downton Abbey SpecialTEAs that was offered thru Tea For All Reasons.

The flavor of Catherine’s Blend Specialty Black from Tea For All Reasons is comforting.  It’s sweet and slightly floral and is very silky on the tongue.  It’s thirst-quenching yet makes you crave more of the delicious flavor.  Just like in a classy bar there is a ‘top shelf’ for the best tasting liquor…I save Catherine’s Blend Specialty Black from Tea For All Reasons for my personal ‘top shelf’ of teas to only be shared with the closest of friends.

The post Catherine’s Blend Specialty Black from Tea For All Reasons appeared first on SororiTea Sisters.

How To Brew Loose Leaf Tea

Tea For Me Please - Mon, 11/30/2015 - 17:00
Making tea without the help of tea bags can seem daunting at first but it's actually super easy. There's a lot of different accouterments out there but the truth is that you don't really need much equipment at all. At its most basic level, the requirements for making tea are: - Brewing vessel - Hot water - Something to hold the leaves That's it! The main reason that you'll need a way to Nicole Martinhttps://plus.google.com/103097147251455801975noreply@blogger.com0

No. 07 Lapsang Souchong Black Tea from Joseph Wesley Tea

SororiTEA Sisters - Mon, 11/30/2015 - 13:59
Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black Tea

Where to Buy: Joseph Wesley

Tea Description:

Joseph Wesley’s Black Tea No. 7 is a malty, robust, full-bodied tea that is as sensual in its appearance as it is seductive in its taste and aroma. A uniquely crafted iteration of the famous and oldest of all Chinese black teas Lapsang Souchong, this tea beautifully balances its smoky undertones with rich malty plum and chocolate overtones. Harvested in the famed tea gardens of the Wu Yi Shan rock cliffs and crafted by the tea masters of the Tong Cheng Village in China’s Fujian Province, this tea’s large, dark leaves provide both a mesmerizing texture as well as a lush and rich amber liquor.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

No. 07 Lapsang Souchong Black Tea from Joseph Wesley Tea is pretty special.  So special that I have it tucked away in a safe place that only I know of.  I classify this tea as a hidden gem no only in my personal collection but to find and buy online.  Many tea drinkers have heard, tasted, and more importantly SMELLED a good, solid Lapsang Souchong but this one separates itself from the others.  It’s smoky, yes, but it’s more than just that.  No. 07 Lapsang Souchong Black Tea from Joseph Wesley Tea is malty and robust while still offering a hint of ripe plum and dark chocolate notes in the mix.  It awakens all the senses without overdoing any one of them.  This is also a very ‘forgiving’ tea and what I mean by that is it’s hard to over-infuse.  Some strong black teas tend to go bitter if over-infused but not this one!  No. 07 Lapsang Souchong Black Tea from Joseph Wesley Tea is certainly in a category of its own!


The post No. 07 Lapsang Souchong Black Tea from Joseph Wesley Tea appeared first on SororiTea Sisters.

Try Vegas’ “Mandarin Oriental Tea Lounge” for Something Completely Different

T Ching - Mon, 11/30/2015 - 13:00

Over two years ago during a visit to Las Vegas to attend a wedding, I discovered the Tea Lounge at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, right on the Strip. At the time, a half dozen or so of us piled into a taxi and headed over to the Mandarin Oriental from the Trump.  It was a bit rushed because there were wedding activities planned for that evening and we had chosen a mid-afternoon tea time, ordering pots of tea and only a snack to accompany them.  However, the visit left a positive impression and the desire to return.

Earlier this month, I had that opportunity.  My friend and I were attending a conference in Las Vegas for several days.  Since my friend also enjoys tea, I arranged a trip there on Thursday, the day after our presentation and during our mid-day break from conference sessions.  The weather was chilly and overcast – perfect for a nice pot of tea and a tranquil setting.  Thanks to the many enclosed passageways and trams that snake between the hotels on the Strip, we managed to avoid the cold, but the journey took a bit longer than we expected.  We called ahead to apologize for our tardiness, but were reassured that there was no rush.  Sure enough, when we arrived, our table by the window was ready for us and we sank down into the comfortable seats with a sigh.

Before long, our attentive server delivered the menus.  Selecting the Classic English Afternoon Tea service was the easy part.  Choosing the tea to accompany it was a bit more challenging.  The Mandarin Oriental Tea Lounge knows its teas and offers a meticulous selection.  I decided on the Monkey-Picked Oolong and was not disappointed.  It was subtle, flavorful, clean, and exquisite.  I had no trouble emptying the very large pot.  My friend chose the Organic Lychee Green that was sweetly floral.  It is always a pleasure to enjoy tea prepared by someone who appreciates fine tea and knows how best to serve it.  No bags or filters to fiddle with, just perfectly steeped tea.

The sandwiches, scones, and desserts we enjoyed were equally impressive and imaginatively presented – innovative twists on some of the old standards as well as items entirely new.

The Mandarin Oriental Tea Lounge is the antidote to the hustle and bustle of the Strip.  Next time you are in Vegas, slip away for some heavenly tea.

The post Try Vegas’ “Mandarin Oriental Tea Lounge” for Something Completely Different appeared first on T Ching.

Small Business Saturday spent at Antique Depot: My favorite shopping day of the season!

Barb's Tea Shop - Sat, 11/28/2015 - 22:35
Rachel outside the Antique Depot in LewistonIn between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, there's Small Business Saturday -  my favorite shopping day of the season. It serves as a great reminder to patronize the independent retailers in your town and the reward is the unexpected treasures you'll come across. Unlike the "doorbuster' merchandise that the Big Box stores advertise ahead of time, you won't always know what you'll see at the small, local shops - and that's half the fun. In honor of this designated shopping day, our afternoon was spent at the  Antique Depot,  our choice retailer in northern Michigan.

New Paragon tea cup among my treasures for the dayAs we've noted in several of our blogs over the years, starting in 2010 (A short scenic trip. . . to the Antique Depot), we love coming to Lewiston, in northern Michigan,  to meet up with Deborah K, owner of the Antique Depot and view not only her latest merchandise, but her most current displays. Almost every visit is a new experience due to Deborah's keen eye for design. Tea cups, depression glass and crystal are artfully displayed among the antique furniture that anchors each room throughout the store. Other merchandise featured at the Antique Depot include vintage clothing, rustic knickknacks, and estate jewelry. There's a full inventory, but it's incredibly organized and sparkling clean.

Our treasure today was a beautiful pink rose Paragon tea cup that adds to my collection of that lovely English bone china. I also secured another gem, but that one I'll keep secret until after December 25th.

Hot cuppa in my "new" tea cup - a great way to unwind!In the meantime, I'm keeping in the less hurried, more relaxing spirit of Small Business Saturday with a hot cup of tea in my new china cup. Small wonder why  SBS is my most favorite shopping day of the season!

‘Tis the Season To Be Hinting

The Devotea - Sat, 11/28/2015 - 20:38

This is my fifth Christmas as a tea blogger, and I must say, I’ve done an awful lot of work on your behalf to make Christmas better. Over the years I’ve published bad Christmas Poetry time and time again, shared my long lost childhood letters to Father Christmas. My Steps To A Tea Spangled Christmas is of course a modern literary classic, and my Ultimate tea Poem should be in every tea shop at...

The post ‘Tis the Season To Be Hinting appeared first on Lord Devotea's Tea Spouts.

Tea Book Buying Guide

Tea Guy Speaks - Sat, 11/28/2015 - 18:00
Welcome to our Tea Book Buying Guide. It's not a comprehensive guide to tea books, mind you. Just a look at some of the more interesting titles I've reviewed or otherwise encountered over the course of the past few years.

The Empire of Tea:The Remarkable History of the Plant That Took Over the World
by Alan MacFarlane & Iris MacFarlane
You know you've read too many books on tea history when you find yourself getting weary of that quaint little myth about tea's origin. You know the one - the Chinese emperor who just happened to be boiling water...outside. A few tea leaves just happen to blow off of a conveniently located tree and land in the water. The emperor drinks it and oila, thousands of years later everyone's got their drawers in a pinch about how good this stuff is for you.
buy it

The Story of Tea: A Cultural History and Drinking Guide
by Mary Lou Heiss and Robert J. Heiss
In the two years I've been publishing a Web site about tea I've learned enough about it to make me realize that I really don't know much about it. Which is a roundabout way of saying that tea is a vast subject. This point was driven home recently when I read The Story of Tea, by Mary Lou and Robert Heiss. As "A Cultural History and Drinking Guide," it's got to rank right up there with the best of them. But there's really no way that such a work can do much more than scratch the surface of this topic.
buy it

Tea: Aromas and Flavors Around the World
by Lydia Gautier
It would be a bit of a stretch to call Lydia Gautier's Tea the ultimate book on the topic. But in less than 200 pages she and photographer Jean-Francois Maliet have managed to put together an entertaining, informative, and lavishly illustrated overview of a very expansive subject.
buy it

Tea: The Drink That Changed the World
by Laura C. Martin
Tea is an exceedingly wondrous substance, or so we're led to believe. Rarely does a day go by anymore, it seems, that we're not assailed with reports of the assorted and sundry miracles this noble beverage is said to wreak upon your body and psyche.
Tea will cure your lumbago and strengthen your frail and nervous constitution. It will enhance your virility and cause your you-know-what to grow. It prevents hangnails and may even aid in cases of boanthropy, the bizarre and often mistaken belief that one is a cow.
buy it

The Tea Drinkers Handbook
by Francois-xavier Delmas, Mathias Minet, Christine Barbaste
from the publisher's description:
In a skinny-no-whip-mocha-latte world, The Tea Drinker's Handbook is a refreshing return to America's roots in tea-drinking. Though tea is one of the most-consumed beverages in the world, second only to water, it is far from mundane. For both the lifelong tea drinker and the recent convert, The Tea Drinker's Handbook is an indispensable reference for anyone interested in all things tea.
buy it

The True History of Tea
by Erling Hoh
from the publisher's description:
A lively and beautifully illustrated history of one of the world's favorite beverages and its uses through the ages. World-renowned sinologist Victor H. Mair teams up with journalist Erling Hoh to tell the story of this remarkable beverage and its uses, from ancient times to the present, from East to West.
buy it

The Meaning of Tea: A Tea Inspired Journey
by Phil Cousineau & Scott Chamberlin Hoyt
from the publisher's description:
The Meaning of Tea explores the calm and purposeful nature of tea through the words of tea growers, tasters, entrepreneurs, shopkeepers, scholars and experts from eight countries. Through more than 50 interviews, these engaging characters reveal a remarkable reverence for the plant, the ceremony, the manufacturing, the distribution of tea, as well as its ability to bring peace, calm, health, friendship, and often wisdom into their lives.
buy it

Cha Dao: The Way of Tea, Tea as a Way of Life
by Solala Towler
from the publisher's description:
In China, the art and practice of drinking tea is about much more than merely soaking leaves in a cup of hot water. The tradition is rooted in Daoism, and emerged from a philosophy that honoured living a life of grace and gratitude, balance and harmony, and fulfilment and enjoyment - what the ancient Chinese called Cha Dao, or the Way of Tea.
buy it

Great Teas of China
by Roy Fong
from the publisher's description:
Great Teas of China is an authoritative guide to the extraordinary tea world of China, written by the leading master tea merchant in the United States, Roy Fong. From hand-picked white teas from Fu Ding and expertly crafted oolong from Taiwan, to patiently aged puerh from Yunnan and everything in between, Fong offers his insights on choosing, brewing and enjoying over a dozen of his favorite Chinese teas.
buy it

All The Tea In China
by Kit Chow & Ione Kramer
buy it

Liquid Jade: The Story of Tea from East to West
by Beatrice Hohenegger
buy it

Tea Guy Speaks Amazon Store

How To Read Tea Leaves: Nine Books About Tasseography

Tea Guy Speaks - Sat, 11/28/2015 - 17:00

Who knew there were so many books about tasseography (tea leaf reading)? Here are nine of them, spanning nearly a century. Note that the first two are available in free electronic editions.

Tea-Cup Reading and Fortune-Telling by Tea Leaves
by a Highland Seer (1921) link

Telling Fortunes By Tea-Leaves
by Cicely Kent (1922) link

Tea Leaf Reading
by William W. Hewitt (1992)

Tea Cup Reading: A Quick and Easy Guide to Tasseography
by Sasha Fenton (2002) link

The World in Your Cup: A Handbook in the Ancient Art of Tea Leaf Reading
by Joseph F. Conroy (2006) link

The Art of Tea-leaf Reading
by Jane Struthers (2006) link

Simply Tea Leaf Reading
by Jacqueline Towers (2008) link

The Cup of Destiny
by Jane Lyle (2008) link

Tea Leaf Reading For Beginners: Your Fortune in a Tea Cup
by Caroline Dow (2011) link

Get books about tea leaf reading at Amazon

Free Classic Tea eBooks II

Tea Guy Speaks - Sat, 11/28/2015 - 16:00

Here's part two of the list of old tea books that I've reviewed at The English Tea Blog. Most of them are available in free online or ebook editions. Check out part one of the list here.

Tea-Blending as a Fine Art
by Joseph M. Walsh link

An Essay on Tea
By Jonas Hanway link

Tea; Its Effects, Medicinal and Moral
by George Gabriel Sigmond link

Letter to a Friend, Concerning Tea
by John Wesley link

A Popular Treatise on Tea
by John Sumner link

The Book of Tea
by Kakuzo Okakura link

Tea and Tea Drinking
By Arthur Reade link

The Breville One-Touch Tea Maker

2015 Tea Book Roundup

World of Tea - Sat, 11/28/2015 - 15:56

In this article, I cover 9 tea books that came out in 2015. Tea writers are raising the bar with each passing year and there are a few that came out in 2015 that will prove a valuable asset to your bookshelf (or kindle). Hopefully my own book will be in this list next year. 

The Art and Craft of Tea: An Enthusiast’s Guide to Selecting, Brewing, and Serving Exquisite Tea by Joseph Wesley Uhl

This book, authored by the man behind Joseph Wesley Black Tea, an online tea shop out of Detroit is one of the shining stars of 2015. The book is centered on Chinese tea and out of all the books that came out in 2015, this one did the best job explaining each tea type in a technical, yet simple manner. The book finishes with 50 pages of tea recipes, roughly half are tea preparations from world tea cultures, the rest are contemporary concoctions and cocktails. How to Make Tea by Brian Keating and Kim Long

This book is the second installment in Abrams’ “How to Make” series after “How to Make Coffee.” Authored by Brian Keating, owner of The Sage Group, a consultancy firm focused on the specialty tea industry and Kim Long, a writer, researcher, and graphic artist, this book is a beautiful overview of tea production and preparation. While there are no color photographs in this book, it is interspersed with beautiful line drawings. Myths & Legends of Tea, Volume 1 by Gary D. Robson

In this book, Gary covers the Japanese Tea Ceremony, Iron Goddess of Mercy, Earl Grey, Sweet Tea, Oriental Beauty, and er.. hmm.. Post-Apocalyptic Earl Grey. Gary owns Red Lodge Books and Tea in Red Lodge Montana and has authored many books, this is his first tea book and judging by the “Volume 1” in the title, we’re in store for more. Gary adds his voice to long-held tea legends (save for the Post-Apocalyptic Earl Grey) and follows each legend with a section about how to prepare the tea. Don’t miss the hilarious foreword by Geoffrey Norman

  Tea in China: A Religious and Cultural History by James A. Benn

James A. Benn is professor of Buddhism and East Asian religions at McMaster University in Ontario Canada. This book he authored contains a well organized, well researched, and well written religious and cultural history of Chinese tea from Lu Yu to the Ming Dynasty. The Tea Book by Linda Gaylard

Known in the blogosphere as The Tea Stylist, Linda Gaylard has authored this beautiful book with DK Publishing. The contents are very diverse, the book begins with a practical explanation of tea, continues with infusion techniques, then we take a trip around the world to each major tea producing country and then we dive into tisanes, recipes, and world tea cultures. What I like most about this book is that the entire thing is written in infographic format, so it’s easy to read and comprehend. I especially love how Linda broke down the ingredients in a few popular tea blends in the Tea Blending section. Green Tea: A Quest for Fresh Leaf and Timeless Craft by Kevin Gascoyne, Hugo Americi, Jasmin Desharnais, and Francois Marchand

The second offering from the Camellia Sinensis crew in Montreal, Green Tea: A Quest for Fresh Leaf and Timeless Craft is an in-depth look at the green teas of China and Japan and their surrounding culture. The book offers a good mix of mythology and practical, objective information about the teas as well as a 5 page biochemical analysis of many popular green teas. This book is the first in a series of tea type books. Tea Sommelier Handbook: Manual del Sommelier de Té by Victoria Bisogno and Jane Pettigrew

The Tea Sommelier Handbook was written by Victoria Bisogno, President & Founder of El Club del Té in Buenos Aires, Argentina and veteran tea author, Jane Pettigrew. This book is actually two books, the first half is written in Español and the second in English. The English half is comprised of 15 chapters and provides a solid overview of the tea history, tea production and tea preparation. Darjeeling: The Colorful History and Precarious Fate of the World’s Greatest Tea by Jeff Koehler

This fantastic book by Jeff Koehler begins with the history of tea production in Darjeeling, covers the present tea industry in Darjeeling (including the labor issues the industry faces) and speculates on the future. The book, as if by necessity ends with a number of tea recipes. Darjeeling: The Colorful History and Precarious Fate of the World’s Greatest Tea offers by far the best account of Darjeeling and it’s tea. The Matcha Miracle: Boost Energy, Focus and Health with Green Tea Powder by Dr. Mariza Snyder, Dr. Lauren Clum, and Anna V. Zulaica

This book is largely a land-grab during the apex of the matcha craze that has gripped America in the past few years. The book begins with an 18 page overview of matcha production and matcha health benefits. The remainder of the book is made up of matcha recipes.

Free Classic Tea eBooks I

Tea Guy Speaks - Sat, 11/28/2015 - 15:00

In addition to writing about tea at this site, I contribute frequently to The English Tea Store Blog. One of my favorite topics there is old books about tea. Now that every bit of text in the known universe is being (or soon will be) digitized, it means that quite a few of these dusty old tomes are readily available in free electronic editions. Here are links to some of the reviews I've written about them and here's part two of the list.

Tsiology; A Discourse on Tea
By A Tea Dealer link

Tea, Its Mystery and History
by Samuel Phillips Day link

A Journey to the Tea Countries of China
By Robert Fortune link

Tea and Coffee
By William Andrus Alcott link

Panacea: A Poem Upon Tea in Two Cantos
By Nehum Tate link

The Natural History of the Tea-Tree
By John Coakley Lettsom link

The Tea Cyclopaedia link

Cuisinart TEA-100 PerfecTemp Programmable Tea Steeper

Friday Round Up: November 22nd - November 28th

Tea For Me Please - Fri, 11/27/2015 - 17:00
Podcast 026: Teforia +Ricardo Caicedo interviewed Allen Han, founder of +Teforia. I was luck enough to see the machine in person and it is awesome. Jugetsudo Kabukiza I haven't yet been able to travel to places like Japan so I love living vicariously through others. Heather of Hanamichi shared this week about her experience at a gorgeous tea house in Tokyo. What-Cha's Malawi Satemwa Antlers Nicole Martinhttps://plus.google.com/103097147251455801975noreply@blogger.com0

Blast from the Past: Tea-sing Your Turkey

T Ching - Fri, 11/27/2015 - 13:00

As the holiday season nears, many of us look back to family traditions.  So even as a nominal vegetarian, I’ve ordered a free-range turkey, and am experimenting with salt-rubbed poultry techniques, since that’s the way my Mom prepared our amazing Thanksgiving turkeys.  They were moist and tasty, without fail.  Amidst the brined turkey recipes rage, her salt-rubbed technique seems so much easier, and yields a more tender meat than I’ve ever achieved with brining.  And who wouldn’t welcome a few less stressful hours in preparing the holiday feast – giving us more time to sip some tea – or tea-infused beer – on the holiday?!

Each generation might add their own twist to the traditional recipes, and my addition, of course, involves loose-leaf tea.  Thanks to its tannin content, tea is known for its meat-tenderizing qualities.  Two of my three techniques use real tea, and the third uses an herbal mate blend.  Each resulted in very flavorful meat, and all are entirely different.  Interestingly enough, my favorite is the one I threw into the mix out of whimsy, and thought from the beginning would flop – the green jasmine salt rub!

Tea-Rubbed Roast Turkey

Salt-rubbing a turkey is the easiest way you can go!  The prep is less than a half hour, although you do need to start the Monday before Thanksgiving (or three days before your turkey feast)– as well as clear space in your refrigerator.

Prep Time: Less than 30 minutes; Refrigeration time: 3 days; Roasting time: about 3 hours


One 15-pound turkey
Ingredients for salt rub (choose one of the three options below)
2 tablespoons olive oil, or melted butter

Green  Jasmine Salt Rub: 1/2 cup kosher salt or sea salt, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup Green Jasmine Petals organic tea leaves, 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon fresh chopped rosemary

Smoky Salt Rub: 1/2 cup kosher salt or sea salt, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 2 tablespoons organic Lapsang Souchong tea leaves, 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Tangy Salt Rub: 1/2 cup kosher salt or sea salt, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup Mate Limon Chai organic tea leaves, 1.5 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Prep: Combine the salt rub ingredients and crush with a mortar and pestle.  Remove everything from inside the turkey cavity, and rinse – inside and out.  Pat the turkey dry.  Sprinkle about 1/4 of the salt rub inside the cavity, and with the rest of the rub, coat the entire exterior of the turkey well.  Cover the turkey tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 3 days.  Turn it over once a day.  You’ll see liquid accumulating in the plastic.

Roasting: To roast the turkey, first pat it dry, then rub it with olive oil or melted butter, inside and out.  You don’t need to stuff it, but if you choose to, stuff it lightly.  You don’t need to baste it either.  Begin roasting the turkey, uncovered, at 450 degrees F to brown it and seal in the juices.  After a half hour or so, and once you see it browning, cover the turkey lightly with foil and reduce the heat to 325 degree F to cook it through, about 2.5 to 3 hours, until a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the bird shows 165 degrees F.  Uncover the turkey for last 20-30 minutes of roasting.

All of us at The Tea Spot wish you a tasty, happy, safe, and healthy holiday!

This article was originally posted to T Ching on November 22nd, 2010.


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Is the Rooibos Supply Really Threatened?

World of Tea - Thu, 11/26/2015 - 16:04

Rooibos is a tisane made from the oxidized leaves of the Aspalathus linearus plant. The plant is native to South Africa and rooibos production is protected by a Geographical Indication. The Geographical Indication states that rooibos must come from the Western Cape’s Cederberg region in a 20,000 square kilometer production area.

Rooibos is a hardy dry land crop and is grown without irrigation, thus crop yield is directly correlated to rainfall amounts. The plant’s main survival mechanism during extended periods of drought is it’s large tap root that can reach down 3m into the soil. South Africa is currently seeing a drought the likes of which have not been seen in 23 years and some say that the rooibos supply is in grave danger.

I spoke with Suzanne Herbst of the South African Rooibos Council and Richard Bowsher, owner of Klipopmekaar– one of the largest growers of Rooibos to find out just how serious this drought is and what affects may be felt in the West.

Suzanne Herbst confirmed that the drought is resulting in much smaller yields, and said that farmers are “minimizing tillage in order to preserve moisture in the soil.” Herbst also said that much of the Cederberg region received little or no rainfall during the planting months of July and August and quoted Rooibos expert Dr. Rhoda Malgas, a researcher at the Department of Conservation at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa: “Climate change is likely to have a negative impact on those exports because of the plant’s geographic limitation, but also because there exists only one species of Rooibos. If it gets wiped out, that’s it,” warned Malgas. One option to save South Africa’s Rooibos plant is to conserve the wild Rooibos plant, Malgas believes, which has been growing naturally in the Suid Bokkeveld for centuries. Wild Rooibos is hardier and more heat resistant than its cultivated cousin, with a more elaborate root system that can survive less rainfall. “It would be wise to start building seed banks. If you conserve wild Rooibos, you can conserve the genetic material from which the cultivated Rooibos tea is derived,” the scientist suggests.

Richard Bowsher also confirmed that the drought is resulting in much smaller yields, and added: ““One has to distinguish between farm gate prices and market prices. There are differences between the two (and the forces driving their respective cyclical patterns). As both a rooibos farmer and an international rooibos beverage brand owner, I can confirm that rooibos is currently in short supply and will most likely remain in short supply for the near future. This is due to two primary factors. Firstly, farm gates prices have been below the actual cost of production in the recent past, while global market demand remained somewhat steady. As a result of farmers having received below-production-cost prices for their rooibos, production had fallen below demand and stored reserves had to fill the supply gap in the last few years. The farm gate pricing issue has been exacerbated by a two year drought (most likely correlated to El Nino). Our farm has received about 190 mm rain this calendar year 2016, and our annual average is about 300 mm. Rooibos is a drought-resistant dry land crop but nevertheless yield is correlated with rainfall. Of course some growing regions (and farming practices) are better suited to dealing with drought than others. In summary, I am confident farm gate prices will rise and market prices will rise in the near term; and within a few years production will catch-up or even exceed market demand thus creating a downward pricing cycle. Pretty much like most commodities. That being said, foreign (i.e. non South African) purchasers of rooibos will most likely to some extent be sheltered from the price increases as the South African Rand has depreciated considerably against the US dollar and Euro.”

From these accounts, it seems far-fetched that consumers in the West will be affected by the full brunt of a predicted 90% increase in rooibos prices. The blow will likely be softened by multiple layers of the market before it reaches retail, especially as the South African Rand has depreciated. So, while there is a great shortage in production due to the historic drought, the Rooibos industry is far from being destroyed.

Thanks to Suzanne Herbst, Senior Consultant at the South African Rooibos Council and Richard Bowsher, Owner/Farmer of Klipopmekaar Organic Rooibos Farm for providing the answers to many of my questions regarding rooibos production and the drought. Also thanks to Winfried Bruenken for the featured image, and Wikimedia Commons user Amada44 for the Aspalathus linearis field shot.

Happy Thanksgiving from T Ching!

T Ching - Thu, 11/26/2015 - 13:00

No matter where you are in the world, Happy Thanksgiving from everyone here at T Ching!


For the past couple years, instead of going through the gauntlet that is Black Friday, I’ve spent the day with friends holding a second Thanksgiving dinner (It has been dubbed “Friendsgiving”). One of my favorite things to do is bring my electric kettle and a big old pile of tea for sipping after another filling meal. I am quite partial to a nice roasty oolong or possibly some yerba mate to cut through the inevitable post-meal lethargy.

Is there a tea you love sharing with your guests on Thanksgiving (or any meal-based holiday for that matter)? With a small group, there is something very fun about putting out a huge variety and letting everyone have at it, but on a day like Thanksgiving it just feels proper to serve a big ol’ pot of something to sip by the fire after sharing a turkey with all the trimmings.

We’re all extremely thankful to be a part of the tea community. For me personally, just to see where the industry has gone in the few short years I’ve been aware of the tea world has been fascinating, and to be a part of it here in my own small way feels like an honor.

It’s been especially fantastic to see how much people have taken a shining to our social media presence (all the credit to James and Connor, who have done wonderful things to our Facebook, Twitter, and even our Instagram). If you haven’t yet, check them all out! And if you have some tea-related Thanksgiving stories to share, let us know!


The post Happy Thanksgiving from T Ching! appeared first on T Ching.

Wild Tea Qi Black Needle Pagoda Tea

Tea For Me Please - Wed, 11/25/2015 - 17:00
Country of Origin: China Leaf Appearance: dark with gold tips Ingredients: black tea Steep time: 30 seconds Water Temperature: 212 degrees Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan Liquor: deep reddish brown I have to admit to being a bit obsessed with this tea long before actually having the opportunity to drink it. That pagoda shape is just too cool! Being a Yunnan black tea, I knew that it wouldNicole Martinhttps://plus.google.com/103097147251455801975noreply@blogger.com0

Dutch Confirmation on the Health Benefits of Tea

T Ching - Wed, 11/25/2015 - 13:00

I was delighted to see yet another confirmation about the profound health benefits of tea which appeared in the British Telegraph:

“The Health Council of the Netherlands, an independent scientific body that advises parliament, this week published new guidelines recommending that people drink between three and five brews each day.”

They went on to report that children as young as age 4 are actually given tea to drink during school hours. Add the Japanese who’ve been doing so for years and it’s painful to compare U.S. beverage choices that are given to kids in our schools.  Yes, our kids can take their prescription drugs at school but tea? That might be too dangerous.  I find this so very disturbing on so many levels. The power of the pharmaceutical industry in this country is profound.  Although more people die from side affects of prescription drugs than in automobile accidents each year, the FDA feels they’re sufficiently safe to give to children. But when it comes to tea, they just don’t feel comfortable confirming that it has health benefits and won’t kill us.  How did we ever get here?  What can we do about it?

I think, for the general public, we’ve passed the tipping point and just about everyone, except our FDA it seems, has acknowledged that the research is clear.  Tea is the health beverage of the 21st Century.  I guess if people can still continue to argue about the existence global warming, then it’s no wonder the FDA won’t give tea its seal of approval.

So introduce this health beverage to your kids.  They’ll become life long tea drinkers which will enhance their lives on multiple levels. Create a family tea ritual that everyone can enjoy. One option might be to nix the cookies and milk after school and turn them onto whole leaf tea.  Perhaps a trip to the local tea shop might uncover a wonderful Yixing tea pot that would inspire and fit little hands.  Teaching your children about whole leaf tea and how to prepare it, complete with a thermometer to check water temperature and timer to insure correct brewing.  This will be the first step in their journey into the world of tea. Add some organic nuts to quell their hunger and they’ll be good to go until dinner.

Another good time to create a tea ritual might be after dinner.  Let the family sit around and share stories about their day while enjoying some delicious tea for dessert. Add some organic fruit for sweetness and it’s the perfect topper to a nice dinner. These days, families often don’t even share an evening meal, making a tea ritual even more meaningful for the family to engage and connect. These can become memories that your children will remember and cherish throughout their lives.


The post Dutch Confirmation on the Health Benefits of Tea appeared first on T Ching.

Cardamom French Toast from DAVIDsTEA

SororiTEA Sisters - Wed, 11/25/2015 - 11:00
Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy: DAVIDsTEA

Tea Description:

Something about cardamom just puts us in a festive frame of mind. We love its rich, fragrant taste any way we can get it. One of our faves? The buttery, cardamom-scented Christmas breads popular in Sweden and Finland. And cardamom toast is great,it only stands to reason that cardamom French toast would be out of this world. With black tea, cardamom, cane sugar and cinnamon, this rich, sweet blend tastes just like the decadent breakfast of our dreams. Only this is one brunch item you’ll be wanting all day long.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This is one of those teas that is getting quite a lot of positive reviews, so despite my dislike for cardamom (generally speaking), I did want to give this one a go. I have a feeling that the cardamom will be tolerable in this blend because it’s mixed with something sweet. The scent of this tea is delicious! Bready, sweet and a tiny bit of that playful cardamom in the background. I have high hopes!

Sipping… oh this is very nice. This tea has such a great combination of cinnamon, cardamom and sugar. I also taste a little bit of the lemon peel which adds just the lightest tang. The black tea doesn’t really shine at all, though, and prefers to stay hidden behind everything else. I really like this tea and believe it’s the closest I’ve been to tasting french toast in a tea. The aftertaste is a bit weird… I am thinking it might have to do with the lemon and the spices mixing. It’s not really artificial, but is just an odd flavor combination. I would have liked for there to be a stronger custardy, eggy flavor to further enhance the french toast, but it’s pretty darn good without.

If you’re interested in a sugary sweet and lightly spiced holiday tea, I would pop this into your shopping cart. It’s very unique, drinkable and delicious! Yum!

The post Cardamom French Toast from DAVIDsTEA appeared first on SororiTea Sisters.

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