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What’s Not In The Bag

The Devotea - Mon, 07/25/2016 - 04:05

Regular readers will be familiar with my complete hatred of teab*gs, and usually, I mention that it’s the things they add: paper, plastic (usually described as ‘silken’ or silky to fool you into thinking it’s silk) string, tags, staples, glue, sneaky unlabeled sugar etc that have no place in my cup of tea. I even […]

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Earl Grey Organic Black Tea Crystals from Pique Tea

SororiTEA Sisters - Sun, 07/24/2016 - 09:48
Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black Tea

Where to Buy: Pique Tea

Tea Description:

Citrusy. Cherry-infused. Your day just got fancier.

Polyphenol Antioxidant Level: 245mg

  • 14 sachets (servings) per carton
  • Organic, premium tea leaves brewed and crystallized for a perfect cup of tea
  • Simply open, pour in cup, and add water
  • Free of artificial flavors, preservatives and sugar

Our delicious Earl Grey is made from the finest Organic and Fair Trade certified leaves from the world-renowned Idulgashinna Estate in the Uva region in eastern Sri Lanka. A really special area, at 3,300-6,500 feet in elevation, the Uva region receives tons of rain in winter very strong, dry winds in late summer. This garden produces a very smooth cup with light fruity hints and delicate pungency. The finish is long and clean, with a hint of fresh-cut pine and a nice accent of orange zest.

  • 100% certified organic ingredients
  • Sourced from Fair Trade Certified tea farms
  • Batch tested to ensure antioxidant levels and no heavy metals

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Boy do I have a product for you – Earl Grey Organic Black Tea Crystals from Pique Tea – is something I will tell EVERYONE about today!  Pique Tea takes LEAF to crystal!  Pique Tea Crystals are the intersection of modern science and ancient tradition—a proprietary process that slow brews and extracts the fresh flavor and nutrients of whole leaf tea at optimal levels and locks it in a crystal form.

This in itself made me categorize this product in with the black tea rather than only putting them in with tea products.  I have tried other products that are crystals for your tea which would be specifically a tea product but Earl Grey Organic Black Tea Crystals from Pique Tea are crystals that are ACTUALLY made from tea leaves.  That is the most important and deciding factor here, I think.

Another thing I want to point out about Earl Grey Organic Black Tea Crystals from Pique Tea is that the crystals that you pour in your cup – heat up – and enjoy – are just that – crystals – or what may look to many – as powder.  After closer examination you will see that the ‘dust’ varies in size and the more sizable crystals may (or may not) have a glimmer to them.

Now…let’s talk about the more sizable glimmery crystals – shall we?  I’ve had other products that you pour into a cup and have had minimal tea in them but have been completely overpowered by sugar and other additives.  I have had novelTEA products that have been a groovy concept but not that great in flavor.  I have had MANY ‘convenient’ pour-in-and-go packaged tea or tea-like drink mixes that have collected grit in the bottom of my cup.  But let me be clear when I say that Earl Grey Organic Black Tea Crystals from Pique Tea blows all of these other product away!  Sure…the directions say stir but I have to tell you I didn’t even have to do that!  As soon as my hot water splashed these fine crystals they dissolved!  Nothing was found at the bottom of the cup!  The liquid looked like PURE and clean black tea!

And I rejoiced when I tasted NO sugar in this cuppa!  If you have been reading this blog for a while you may know that I do NOT add ANYTHING to my teas!  I drink them straight up!  No sugars or other additives – no milk or milk alternatives!  I really think this little packet of wonder was made for me!

Another comparison I would like to point out here is the trendy and mainstream K-Cups that we’ve all seen on the shelves!  I have a problem with these.  I have tried just about every tea based K-cup out there HOPING that I can find one at least acceptable but I haven’t yet.  (If you know of one – or are from a company that uses quality tea in K-cup form please leave a comment and/or contact us).  Anyhow…enough about my Tea Based K-Cup rant – I was going somewhere with this!  And that is that Earl Grey Organic Black Tea Crystals from Pique Tea shines brighter than ANY K-Cup or drop-and-heat product out there!

Now…on to the actual smell and taste!  As for aroma – Earl Grey Organic Black Tea Crystals from Pique Tea – isn’t an in-your-face Earl Grey punch to the nose but I am ok with that.  The taste, however, is pretty good!  It DOES taste like Earl Grey!  It’s not an overdone Earl Grey flavor but it’s not underdone either.  The one thing that I seemed to have missed is the cherry infusion that the product description mentioned but I’m not worried about that.  I would put this on the ‘just right’ flavor scale!  I bet if I wanted it stronger I could probably just use a little less water.  I have yet to experiment with this.  This Earl Grey Organic Black Tea Crystals from Pique Tea is a real winner!

I was quite surprised with this product and will be mentioning it to MANY.  I was able to sneak one of their other flavors and will be doing a review of that in the neat future, too, and let me tell you that was impressive as well!  Pique Tea is a game changer!  There…I said it!

 

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2006 Xinghai Golden Peacock Ripe Pu-Erh Tea from Yunnan Sourcing

SororiTEA Sisters - Sat, 07/23/2016 - 10:00
Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Pu-Erh

Where to Buy: Yunnan Sourcing

Tea Description:

A classic Xinghai ripe tea produced from the late 90’s until.  Xinghai tea factory is the 2nd producer of ripe tea in Menghai town (after Menghai tea factory), and has an excellent “wo dui” fermentation process.  Our 2006 Golden Peacock was aged Donguan town in Guangdong.  It’s a “Guangdong dry-stored” tea that has already lost it’s “wo dui” (fermented) taste.  The tea brews up a deep, dark but clear burgundy-brown tea soup.  The taste is sweet with a expansive lubricating taste and feeling in the mouth.  Both subtle and complex at the same time, a high quality tea leaf was used, each session lasting many infusions.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Hello tea friends!

Whilst sorting (more like rummaging) through my tea cupboards I spotted this tea had been pushed to the back. Probably when I had my aversion to all Pu-Erh tea at the start of the year. I cannot say what made me feel that way but it does happen from time to time, at the moment I dislike Jasmine teas but give it a few months and that will change. Perhaps it has something to do with the change in weather? I digress, this tea was still sealed in it’s sample packet and the words ‘Golden Peacock’ left me with some fascinating images in my mind. That is how I settled on reviewing this tea today. I also want to made a note before I begin that I am not at home while I do this review, I’m at my parents house dog sitting for the day while they go shopping in Birmingham and may not be back until late. I mention this as it changes a few things, I do not have filtered water for an example, nor do I have a self boiling kettle for each steep. At least I bought my tea ware with me in preparation.

Opening the packet is tricky but I do it eventually. Once opened I pull out a large piece of cake which has remained whole despite it’s journey. There are quite a few golden tips present on the outside of the cake and a beautiful shine. Some of the golden tips have downy hairs that I can stroke, as though the Pu Erh were an animal. I don’t know why I decided to stroke it…perhaps the heat is getting with me? Further inspection shows dark brown leaves the colour  of old, dark chocolate. The cake remnant bares a soft, dry wood and clay scent.

Steeping Parameters: 220ml Glass Gongfu Teapot. Tea Leaf 12g. Boiling Water. 2 Rinses each of 15 seconds. 

First Steep – 15 seconds

Colour is golden orange with a soft clay scent.

Flavour is mild with some sweetness and an earthy, dusky wood tone toward the after taste. The more I drink the more I can define the sweetness to being brown sugar like.

Second Steep – 20 seconds 

Still soft with brown sugar and dusky wood tones, but with added dryness.

Third Steep – 30 seconds 

Darker though still soft. Less sweet and more musky now, with old wood and dry earth notes that linger in the after taste. Also the tea liquid is dark at this point too, like red soy sauce.

Fourth Steep – 45 seconds 

Slightly sour in this steep and the wood is coming through with some cocoa notes. Still dry and mildly sweet.

Sixth Steep – 1 minute 

Similar to the previous steep though with more clay and dryness. It reminds me of autumn, the dry, musky leaves crunching under my feet as I walk through a forest. The smells of an autumn forest match this flavour quite nicely.

Seventh Steep – 2 minutes

An increase of musk though still soft and the sourness is slight. Very wooden.

Overall – I found this Shou to be mild and delicate throughout the steeps which made it difficult to describe the flavours. At least it was consistent throughout. I would say this is an everyday Shou for Pu new drinkers or those that prefer softer teas. Personally I like strength and depth in my tea which this just didn’t have, though despite that it was drinkable and pleasant enough. I had some difficulty breaking up the cake piece so I did it by hand in the middle of my steeps, partly to see if it increased strength.

I honestly cut this steeping short, originally I planned on 10 steeps rather than 7. Don’t get me wrong, it really isn’t a bad Shou when it comes down to it; my personal preference is just that and I can’t like them all. I still think that for the price it’s a decent every day Shou for new drinkers and would recommend it for that. If I can be nothing else then at least I’m honest.

Happy Steeping!

The post 2006 Xinghai Golden Peacock Ripe Pu-Erh Tea from Yunnan Sourcing appeared first on SororiTea Sisters.

Friday Round Up: July 17th - July 23rd

Tea For Me Please - Fri, 07/22/2016 - 16:00
My tasting notes: Gyokuro
I recently discovered a new blog called The Tea Squirrel, written by +Anna Mariani, and I've really enjoyed her posts so far. The photography in this post is so beautiful. It makes me want to run out and get some irises of my own.

Cha Do: The Way of Tea
Warren over at SimpleSubtleTea attended an event in California where he got to see Wu De of Global Tea Hut speak. Talk about jealous! Hopefully there will be a similar event on the east coast soon.

Tea Flavour Ice Lollies
It's been incredibly hot and humid here in NJ the last few weeks. Jaye at +Cardiff in a Tea Cup shared some recipes for tea ice pops that will definitely come in handy. Coconut milk and matcha sounds like a match made in heaven.

Spring Long Jing (Dragon Well) Green Tea
Microshrimp's Book of Tea put together an interesting comparison of Dragonwell teas from two different vendors. I really enjoyed the fair, balanced approach. It's easy to want to declare a winner but this post was a great reminder that every tea has its place.

DIY Green Tea After Sun Spray
This post is timely as I recently found myself with a bit of sunburn after a long day playing Pokemon Go. Yep, I said it! +Lu Ann Pannunzio hosted this fantastic guest post written by Jen Fitch of A Sip of Bliss.

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Blast from the Past: Jasmine Tea is Not Green Tea

T Ching - Fri, 07/22/2016 - 12:30

It is believed the jasmine flower bush was brought to China from Persia during the Period of Disunity (220-589).  Numerous jasmine varieties exist, but the Arabian jasmine is what gives Chinese jasmine teas their rich aroma.  Chinese emperors prized jasmine-scented teas.  During their reign, they offered them as a gift to foreign officials.  Delicious jasmine teas are scented just enough to pleasantly caress your senses with their sweet floral aroma.  Tea masters in Fuijian province worked for several hundred years to develop this technique.

Manufacturing jasmine tea is a complicated and delicate process.  Since the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), tea masters in the Fujian province have specialized in jasmine flower cultivation and jasmine tea manufacture.  Traditional jasmine tea is scented with fresh jasmine blooms and a special base tea called zao bei, or “tea readied.”  Jasmine tea has two categories:

  1. Premium, traditional jasmine tea
  2. Standard-grade jasmine tea

Premium, traditional jasmine tea is plucked in the early spring before the first spring rains.  Standard-grade jasmine tea uses summer-harvested tea leaves.  After plucking, the leaves are de-enzymed, put in a rolling machine, and then passed through a drying machine.  Heat is blown above the leaves, decreasing rolling and curling, which exposes more surface area to absorb the jasmine scent.  These leaves are slightly oxidized, but look like green tea.  This process creates a distinct flavor to counterpoint the sweetness of the jasmine.  Jasmine flowers bloom in late summer in the Fujian province, so spring-picked zao bei is stored in cool storage until summer.

In July, flower pickers begin harvesting new jasmine buds at noon.  Noon is an ideal time to pick new buds because the dew has evaporated.  Perfect flower buds are snow white and a certain length.  Picking ends around 4:00 PM, at which time the flower buds are brought to the factory.  The flowers are kept in a room at around 100 degrees F to encourage the aroma.  Ideally, the flower buds begin to open before the scenting begins.  In the evening, room temperature zao bei-based tea is mixed into piles with jasmine flower buds.

The zao bei and jasmine buds co-mingle in a pile for six hours with in internal temperature of about 113F.  The increased heat encourages the flower buds to open, releasing perfume and promoting a moisture transfer between the flower and the base tea.  Workers adjust the tea piles to be in sync with the ambient temperature in the room.  If the base tea overheats, a bitter flavor develops.  After about six hours, the tea is flattened, allowing the leaves to breathe.  Each pile is then reformed for four to six hours of additional scenting.  After 10 to 12 hours, the flowers are sifted out.  The tea rests for a day and then fresh flowers starts the process again.  Premium, traditional jasmine teas are scented over five times.  Standard-grade jasmine teas are scented two or three times.  At the end of scenting, the tea is fired one last time to seal in the flavor.  Premium, traditional jasmine tea has a shelf life of about three years.  Lower-quality jasmine teas stay fresh for about a year and a half.

Traditionally, the jasmine flowers are sifted out of the tea in China.  For western markets, the buds stay in the tea for visual appeal.  Jasmine flowers are added to green and oolong teas.  Beware of jasmine teas coated in jasmine oils or flavorings.

In northern China, it is customary to serve a cup of fragrant and refreshing jasmine tea as a welcoming gesture to guests.

This article by Tiffany Williams was originally posted to TChing in July of 2011.

MAIN | IMAGE 1 | IMAGE 2

The post Blast from the Past: Jasmine Tea is Not Green Tea appeared first on T Ching.

Super Fancy Oolong from Solstice Tea Traders

SororiTEA Sisters - Fri, 07/22/2016 - 10:00
Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy: Solstice Tea Traders

Tea Description:
  • Loose Leaf Oolong Tea Sampler-Solstice Tea Traders loose leaf oolong tea sampler pack, a selection of awesome oolongs, including both China Oolong, and Taiwan Oolong. Includes an incredibly array of Oolongs. Sure to please.
  • Loose Leaf Oolong Tea Packed in 4oz Teas-Our Oolong tea sampler is packed in 4oz metal tea tins, each filled, sealed, and labeled..

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I’m a sucker for samplers. So when I had the opportunity to review a few samplers for Solstice Tea Traders, an online Amazon store, I was all over it. The first tin I grabbed out of the set was this one, the Super Fancy Oolong variety. I was pretty excited to try it.

This is really a no frills sort of sampler. In the sampler, you get 4 nice 1 oz tins full of different kinds of oolongs. None of them are exotic by any means, but this sampler is a great start. So far I’ve tried a few teas from Solstice Tea Traders and have been more than impressed by the taste, quality, and the value you get.

Super Fancy Oolong has a gorgeous look to it.  I love looking at the longer dry leaf and how the white pieces really pop against the darker browns. The aroma I picked up from the dry leaf was that familiar oolong smell that I have grown to love.

I brewed this up with the help of my Breville One Touch and the oolong setting. Allowed the tea to steep for a few minutes and took my first sip. Simple, subtle, and fresh-this oolong delivers those familiar notes of a nutty underground with a sweetness from a stonefruit.  I can pick up a very soft floral hint here and there- A lovely contrast to the nuttiness that greets you first.

This isn’t a new flavor by any means, but a solid tea to lean on when you want a flavor you can count on.  So far, I’m impressed. I shared this tea with a few loved ones and the tea was greeted with smiles.  I can see this sampler being a great one to introduce others to oolong teas.

 

The post Super Fancy Oolong from Solstice Tea Traders appeared first on SororiTea Sisters.

Favorite Tea Ware - A Taste of Mz Priss

Notes on Tea - Thu, 07/21/2016 - 15:01
As a tea drinker, and I am sure this is true for you, I adore teaware, from the bombilla to the whisk (aka chasen). Everyone has their favorites! This series showcases the favorite teaware of folks in the tea blogging community as well as people who enjoy drinking tea. It's a pleasure to share the favorite tea ware of Mz Priss of the (occasional) blog A Taste of Mz Priss. She has been seriously drinking tea since 2010 and has a serious addiction to beautiful teaware. Her tea heart belongs to middle aged shengs and great oolong, especially yancha.


This gaiwan was my very first and remains my very favorite. When I started drinking puer, I was improvising with a glass pyrex custard cup and little flower-shaped tea bag holder as the top. I decided I needed some proper tools and went searching on Amazon. I had beginner's luck with this one. I can't find it anymore so I'm really glad I snatched it when I did.


Two of my passions are tea and rocks. Most of the tea session photos I post on Instagram have a crystal or two in them. This piece combines both of my loves - it is a cup carved from lapis lazuli. I got it from Ebay and it is so special that I only drink one tea from this cup. The tea is Rivendell from Whispering Pines and it is as lovely as this cup.


This gaiwan set has a ruyao (ru) glaze that develops crackles as you use it over time. I adore the lotus shape. I use this set often and it becomes more beautiful to me the more I use it.


This pot is a very recent acquisition. When I saw a beautiful pot that my very best tea friend got from Crimson Lotus last year, I asked Glen of Crimson Lotus to keep an eye out for a small (no larger than 125 ml) gorgeous pot with beautiful carving on it. He came through mightily! This beauty is a handmade jian shui pot that has not been polished to smoothness with stones on the outside. I love this texture, the amazing carving and the shipaio shape.


This very sweet little set came fromTaiwan Tea Crafts and I use it ALL the time. It has an ash glazed finish and it goes perfectly with the rainbow cups from Teaware House. I love the little tea boat.

Thank you very much to Mz Priss for sharing five of her favorite tea objects. She told me it was a difficult decision. I have been wishing for a rice pattern gaiwan, have seen the rectangular sharing vessel all over social media, and because I went to the Lotus and Water Lily Festival at the Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens last weekend, am drawn to the lotus teapot.

P.S. The Favorite Tea Ware series will take a break in August and return in September. Read all the posts in the series here.

Energy Boost with Matcha

T Ching - Thu, 07/21/2016 - 12:30

With busy lives and demanding jobs, everyone is constantly seeking for energy boosters in order to get through the day. Caffeine is the one that helps us stay awake and gives us enough energy to focus on our obligations, but usually, people overuse it in the form of coffee and energy drinks. Those sources of caffeine can be quite harmful, and that is why we need a better, more nutrient solution – Matcha.

The first thing to understand is that the caffeine found in this tea is not the same as the one found in energy drinks and coffee. The caffeine in Matcha is alkalized and provides enough energy for your mind and body, without causing crashes after an hour or so. Additionally, the caffeine from Matcha works in synergy with the amino acid L-theanine resulting in a gradual release of energy, thus providing the right amount of caffeine and energy for your body.

If you replace your morning coffee with a cup of hot matcha, the caffeine will be slowly released into your body over a longer period of time, keeping you awake and focused. The coffee and energy drinks, on the other hand, just dump great amounts of caffeine on you, causing you to be jittery and suddenly crash. With matcha, you will have immediate boost, but no rush and no crash.

This nutritious tea can improve your mind as well. How? It contains up to five times more L-theanine than ordinary green tea. This amino acid has psychoactive properties and it is capable of inducing the alpha wave activity in the brain. Those alpha waves are of an utmost importance when it comes to reducing stress and keeping your mind healthy because the stress induces beta wave activity which can be neutralized by the alpha ones.

Aside from keeping your stress levels low, your mind healthy and your caffeine intake under control, matcha brings many other health benefits to the table. Just a cup of this green tea a day can boost your metabolism, help you burn calories and lose weight in a healthy manner. It is filled with chlorophyll, which can encourage detoxification of the body, thus leaving your body free of any chemicals and bad substances. It can provide your body with plenty of fiber, vitamins, zinc, and magnesium. Additionally, it is good for your cardiovascular health, because it lowers the cholesterol and keeps your blood sugar under control.

Basically, you will not make a mistake if you choose matcha. Replace the coffee and energy drinks with a cup of this delicious tea and fill your body with positive energy throughout the whole day. It will clear your mind and help you focus while giving your body enough nutrients to stay healthy.

 

The post Energy Boost with Matcha appeared first on T Ching.

Spiced Coffee From Handmade Tea

SororiTEA Sisters - Thu, 07/21/2016 - 10:00
Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where To Start A New Subscription:  Handmade Tea

Tea Description:

Spiced Coffee from Handmade Tea begins with a smooth and silky Chinese black tea as the base. The base tea has sweet vanilla-like notes. Costa Rican coffee beans are blended into the base adding rich coffee flavor without being overwhelming. Lastly, cinnamon chips are blended in for a warm and spicy flavor. Together these flavors work quite well together. The vanilla notes from the base tea plays nicely with the cinnamon and the bold coffee notes balance things out a bit.

Taster’s Review:

Spiced Coffee from Handmade Tea has been sitting in my stash for sometime. I know shame on me but coffee flavored teas are not my cuppa. I’ve tried several in the past and most of them are just meh.

Now let’s put some perspective on this tea. I’m a coffee drinker in the mornings. I  start every morning off with 2 cups of coffee then I switch to tea for the rest of the day. So I like the taste of coffee, but I don’t exactly like the idea of mixing coffee and tea together. Those profiles to me really don’t match.

Which is why the fact that I loved this tea so much completely surprised me.  This tea is the perfect combination of rich coffee notes followed by a brisk tea malty flavor sweetened by subtle vanilla cinnamon notes.  A treat to say the least.  The flavors are gentle and bold but on point each sip.

I don’t always like the flavors that I receive from my monthly subscription from Handmade Tea. To be honest, I’ve cancelled my subscription once, but I found that I really missed receiving a uniquely different tea each month.  This is just one of the wonderful examples you can expect when you subscribe!

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Xin Mu Cha Vivid Retention 2015

Tea For Me Please - Wed, 07/20/2016 - 16:00
Country of Origin: Taiwan
Leaf Appearance: deep green, tightly rolled
Ingredients: oolong tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: deep gold

Some of you might remember my review of Xi Mu Cha's Nonpareil Lalashan Oolong. Both teas are from the same region and were made with the same cultivar. I think I might have to declare Vivid Retention my favorite. First of all, isn't that a completely epic name for a tea? You won't just remember it, you'll retain the memory vividly!

The dry leaves had an intriguingly strong smell that I couldn't quite put my finger on. I immediately thought to myself, "This is going to be good!. Even before drinking my senses were flooded with heady floral notes. Green oolongs similar to this one are usually likened to orchid but I felt like lavender was a more apt description in this case. I used a tapered teacup (basically a giant aroma cup) and it did a fantastic job of trapping all of those aromas for my nose to linger upon. If you don't have a similarly shaped cup you'll definitely want to take advantage of sniffing your gaiwan lid to get the full effect.

That intense floral character carried through in the taste as well. Vegetal and creamy notes danced around a lingering sweetness. Visions of lavender and honeysuckle danced in my head. There was no bitterness or astringency, even with stretched out steep times. This is an oolong that should definitely be gongfu'd in order to extract every bit of deliciousness. Although it would definitely hold up to western or grandpa style brews, I think you would loose some of that incredible intensity. As they unfurled the leaves were large and leathery with lots of visible bud sets. I could even spot oxidation spots and naturally serrated edges.

Have you ever tried a tea from Xin Mu Cha or Lala Shan? Let me know about it in the comments!

Vivid Retention 2015 sample provided for review by Xin Mu Cha.

Late night oolong sips. What's in your cup (or gaiwan)?A photo posted by Nicole Martin (@teaformeplease) on Jul 9, 2016 at 9:37pm PDT { "@context" : "http://schema.org", "@type" : "Review", "name" : "title", "author" : { "@type" : "Person", "name" : "Nicole Martin" }, "datePublished" : "date", "image" : "image url", "itemReviewed" : "item", "reviewBody" : "text", "url" : "http://www.teaformeplease.com" : { "@type" : "Organization", "name" : "Tea for Me Please" } }

The Art of Tea is in the Making…Or Serving?

T Ching - Wed, 07/20/2016 - 12:30

High-quality, loose leaf tea is becoming more popular as people learn to appreciate the art and grace of tea. As an advocate for direct trade and a seasoned tea traveler, I have learned that for some the art is in how the tea is cultivated and processed while others focus on the art of serving the brewed tea. Both require great skill and are important to the sweetness in the final cup, but which one is essential to the aesthetic of the tea leaves? Related to this question is the accepted nomenclature of the artist behind the tea, or “Tea Master”. New Tea Lovers in the Western world have been introduced to the art of tea from a local tea merchant, or “Tea Master” (certified or not), but if you travel to source, the Tea Master is often referred to as the person that has an intimate understanding of the tea leaves for processing the tea to bring out the best of its terroir.

Google search the term “Tea Master” and you will find several listings for “Tea Master” certification courses. I have never taken any of these courses and so can’t speak on their content, but I have met several people that have been certified. Their knowledge of tea is rich and many of them have traveled to the source to truly understand the origin of tea, but at the end of the day, their art and practice revolve around the service of tea. Uncertified “Tea Masters” in the United States also exist as tea merchants that have a solid knowledge of tea and its culture and use this knowledge to introduce customers to tea. If your exposure to tea is limited to what was available in the United States, you would see that more focus is put on the service and knowledge of tea culture.

Let us now take an adventure to the origins of tea. If it wasn’t for the origin there would be no leaves for the tea server to brew and no culture to share. At the origin are a few simple things; soil, water, air, tea plants, and people handling the tea. There are many ways the tea is handled and in most cases there is a leader, an experienced craftsperson that recommends the standard to which the green tea leaves will be plucked, the amount of time and style of withering that will be applied, the amount of pressure applied and duration of rolling, the halting of oxidation, the heat and method of kill green, and the amount of drying needed. If there are any variations in any of these steps the final product in the cup will be completely different. A Tea Master can also brew a fine cup of tea with a deep appreciation of the art of service, but you may see more often than not that they brew and share tea in a crude manner, not paying mind to the temperature, brewing time, and brewing vessel. If they put a positive intention and attention to detail in the processing of their tea its beauty should shine through in any brewing method.

As direct trade tea and authentic storytelling become more prominent in the Western World more focus will be put on the art of the Tea Master at origin. This does not mean that the art of tea service will be devalued, it just means that the perceived art of tea will expand. All will see that a beautiful cup of tea can be brewed in any fashion as long as there are positive intentions and good quality leaf. As far as nomenclature I think a division between the making and service of tea would be useful. For this reason, I have adopted the term of “Tea Artist” and/or “Tea Expert” as one that practices the service and culture of tea while reserving the term “Tea Master” for the maker of the tea from green leaf to loose leaf. If you would like to contribute your thoughts on this subject, comment on this article or email me at elyse@tealet.com, I would love to hear your ideas.

The post The Art of Tea is in the Making…Or Serving? appeared first on T Ching.

Strawberry Guava White Tea from Simpson and Vail

SororiTEA Sisters - Wed, 07/20/2016 - 10:00
Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  White

Where to Buy:  Simpson & Vail

Tea Description:

This delicate pink cup is truly scrumptious! Our Pai Mu Tan white tea is the perfect base for the delicious guava and strawberry flavors, with their complex, fruity aroma and full flavor. Delicious hot or cold!

Ingredients: White tea, organic hibiscus, cornflower petals, marigold flowers and Guava and Natural Strawberry flavors.

Brew: 2 tsp tea in 8 oz. water (at 175°), steep for 4 minutes.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Strawberry Guava White Tea from Simpson and Vail is a lovely strawberry tropical treat for the hot days of summer. White flavored teas can be very hit or miss.  Sometimes the flavor is spot on, other times, not so much.  White tea has such a delicate flavor that sometimes adding different flavors just muddies the flavor.

The look of the dry leaf is something to behold. Gorgeous blue and yellow pops of color amongst a green background. I scooped a few heap fulls into my infuser and steeped the tea.  They recommend steeping this tea at 175 for about 4 minutes. I’ve found those recommendations to be pretty spot on.

First sip and this tea is a pretty marvelous example of a flavored white tea. Delicate yet full of flavor. Light floral notes mixed with strawberry tones and a subtle tartness that actually adds a lovely contrast and definition to the tea. This is one of those teas that needs to be shared with others with gorgeous matching cups and saucers.  This tea is dainty yet full of flavors.  Really great example of a flavored white tea.

Simpson & Vail has a really unique concept on their site. They encourage their customers to create new and different foods using their teas.  From this particular tea, a customer created a jello. A great idea and one that I can’t wait to try!

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Chilly Decadence in a Glass

T Ching - Tue, 07/19/2016 - 12:30

At a time when there is a plethora of melons on the market, from cantaloupes to Ogens to honeydews to Galias to Charentais varieties, and the weather is warm, if not downright hot, I am taking my daily  tea in an ice cold form: frappéed.

Beautiful green-fleshed stripe-skinned melons with a tinge of guava in their perfume are my starting point. Soft and juicy, these make the perfect foil to good-quality kitchen grade matcha. Served in a tall, pre-chilled glass (keep some in the freezer for just such an occasion), there is nothing better to quench one’s thirst in these almost-dog days of summer. But here’s a caveat. If a melon doesn’t have an almost intoxicating aroma, don’t buy it. You will be disappointed and no amount of sugar or salt added to the fruit will conjure the perfume that the ripest, best specimens can offer. Your local farmers’ market or specialty food store is probably your best source now. But buying melons at their peak means you need to use them soon after you get them home. Like tomatoes, refrigerating them kills their delicate fresh-from-the-vine aroma. When everything aligns, here’s how I combine the tea and the fruit.

Use equal parts melon and ice cubes by weight (a good rule of thumb: for a single serving, use 1 t. of tea to 2 ounces of each of fruit and fresh ice cubes). In a mini blender, whirl the tea with a bit of hot water to dissolve fully. Now add the melon, a pinch of salt and ice cubes and process further until the ice is fully blended. Pour into the chilled glass, garnish with melon balls and a spritz of fresh lime juice, if you like and serve immediately. If you wish a sweeter beverage, add a bit of sugar syrup or agave syrup when you are dissolving the tea powder and then proceed. If you wish to gild the lily (and why not? it’s summer after all), leave room in the glass for a scoop of good quality vanilla ice cream. Serve with a large diameter straw and a spoon.  Luxuriate in the moment. Ahh…..

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Bangkok Green Tea -Nectar Fine Teas

SororiTEA Sisters - Tue, 07/19/2016 - 10:00
Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green Tea

Where to Buy: Nectar Fine Teas

Tea Description:

Green Tea-Japan(Coconut/Lemongrass) 2-3 minutes@170/180f

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I’m not sure where I found Bangkok Green Tea from Nectar Fine Teas but it doesn’t look like they have an online presence except for a FB page. I’m sad to find this because this coconut flavored green tea and I have become the best of friends as of late!

This flavored green tea is a lovely mix of green tea, coconut pieces, and lemongrass. Simple yet full of fresh proper flavor. I am a huge fan of cold brewing tea at work. I pour a few scoops into my silicone infuser, some ice, and water and let the cup sit. I use a stainless steel tumbler which holds all the coldness in quiet nicely.  In just about a half an hour or so, I have the start of a wonderful iced cuppa tea.

As an iced flavored green tea, this tea really delivers on flavor! Cool crisp green tea with a lovely lush coconut flavor that just stands out with perfection.  The lemongrass flavor I don’t really get in this cuppa, but maybe as a hot tea that flavor might stand up better.

We did try cold brewing the tea overnight in a pitcher and the flavors were just about the same as when we cold brewed it in a tumbler. The only difference is that the coconut flavor is way more prominent when cold brewing overnight.  So if you are a fan of green teas and coconut flavors, I suggest cold brewing this one. You’ll be in coconut-green tea- heaven!  Maybe before my stash runs out, I’ll try Bangkok as a hot tea but for now, I’m loving this tea just as it is!

 

 

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Lazy Sunday Afternoons

The Devotea - Tue, 07/19/2016 - 04:54

Having a delightful afternoon tea with friends is of course, the ultimate way of enjoying a Sunday. Of course, some people might say “But Lord Devotea, my idea of enjoying a Sunday is on a motorbike driving like an idiot on dirt roads / attending some sports / visiting a leper colony / being chained […]

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Tea Places: Nohohon Tea Room

Tea For Me Please - Mon, 07/18/2016 - 16:00
When I heard that Toronto based Nohohon Tea Room had opened a location in NYC I just had to check it out. Oddly enough, I found out about them through a YouTube video from +Off the Great Wall that popped up on my feed. It took me a few weeks to get over to that part of town but it was definitely worth the extra trip. Unlike a lot of the chain stores that are common around the city each cup of matcha bubble tea is whisked by hand. My fellow matcha heads will all agree, there's nothing like having someone whip up a bowl of matcha for you.

 St. Mark's Place is always a busy place and I had trouble spotting them at first. Eventually I realized that they were right next door to Sing Sing, an iconic dive of a karaoke bar. It's just a short walk from Astor Place and several subway stations so the location is pretty easy to get to. I definitely forsee dragging my my non-tea friends here when we are nearby

The space was tiny but felt cozy and inviting. Although there's a small bench I'd consider them to be more of a "to go" place. One of the first things that I caught my eye right away was the kama and bamboo ladle that were set up on their tea prep counter. How cool is that? The girl who was working was friendly and ready to answer any questions that I might have had.

I am not a fan of boba so I was a bit unsure about ordering at first. To my relief each drink is handmade and a wide range of customizations are available. Tapioca and red bean topping is available as well as both soy and almond milk. It was a relatively warm day so I opted for a "Matcha on the Rock". A shot of matcha on ice topped with organic coconut water sounded like just the thing. I'm happy to report that it was delicious and refreshing. My subway ride home was much better for having it.



I must confess that part of my motivation for stopping by was to see if it was possible to grab an adorable Tenugui tea towel that I had seen on their Instagram. Cats making matcha trumps all! I really have no idea what I'm going to use it for but I couldn't resist. Apparently the designs change monthly so I felt lucky for there to still be some available. There was also a shelf of teaware, including several beautiful chawans, but I decided to not even inquire about the prices for the sake of my tea budget.


You can find out more about Nohohon Tea Room here.

Nohohon Tea Room is located at:

9 St. Marks Place
New York, NY 10003
(212) 387 0276
Mon - Sun from 1:00pm - 10:00pm

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Pretty in Pink from For Tea Sake

SororiTEA Sisters - Mon, 07/18/2016 - 13:50
Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy: For Tea’s Sake

Tea Description:

For Tea’s Sake Pretty In Pink Loose Leaf Iced Tea Blend. Juicy and delicious strawberries are a traditional summer treat and when blended together with papaya pieces they make a pretty tasty cup of iced tea! Strawberry,3.5oz/85g Tin. 

INGREDIENTS: 
oolong and green tea, papaya and strawberry pieces, plum and safflower petals and natural flavors.

CAFFEINE: Low

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Pretty In Pink from For Tea’s Sake is a new tea and a new tea company to me. I was enjoying lunch with my parents and hubby when we stopped into a little boutique shop afterwards.  At the very front of the shop was a little display of different teas from For Tea’s Sake.  I quickly squealed and picked up a few of the sample packs.  With names like Pretty in Pink and Mint To Be Together, I was sold!

Pretty in Pink is a lovely blend of oolong, green tea, and fruity pieces.  The dry mix had a rich and vibrant candy or cotton candy note to it.  One that just made you start drooling.

Prepped this tea per the instructions they provide and I have to say the tea turned out quite brilliantly.  First sip and I was hooked. This is one of those teas that a sample pack just will not do justice.  Fresh bright strawberry flavors mingled with a sweetness that reminds me of a candy base or even like I said earlier cotton candy flavoring.  But not overwhelming to the point of tasting fake.  Add in the lovely lush oolong base, and you have yourself one fantastic treat!

This tea is one those that delivers infusion after infusion.  I’ve spent a day with the same leaves and still the flavor is spot on. Sweet and spectacular. One that I could see would crave those 3pm sweet tooth cravings I have.

Pretty in Pink from For Tea’s Sake will be one that I will be picking up a larger package of.  One that I will need more of soon for sure!

 

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TEAsicles!

T Ching - Mon, 07/18/2016 - 12:32
  Cold-infused tea is a splendid way to beat the summer heat. Take cold infusion one step further with refreshing TEAsicles. You are only limited by your imagination. Be creative! Tempt your senses with chai creamsicles, lemon green tea popsicles, creamy avocado tea popsicles, sweet peach tea popsicles, matcha, and many others. My personal favorite: strawberries puréed in a blender, add prepared oolong cold infusion, blend the two together, and then pour into popsicle molds. Add popsicle sticks, pop them into the freezer for few hours, and voilà! Cold infusion: 1) A tall glass vessel. 2) 2-3 tablespoons of whole leaf tea. 3) Add water (I use filtered water from my Brita). 4) Place in your refrigerator for 4-10 hours. The longer you leave it to brew, the stronger the flavor and caffeine will be. White Teas will infuse faster, closely followed by green teas and oolongs. More time is needed for rolled oolongs, pu-erhs, herbal, and black teas. 5) After 4 – 10 hours, strain your infusion and serve with ice or create TEAcicles! Cold Fusion TEAsicles: 1) Pour infusion into popsicle molds. 2) Add in raspberries, blueberries, peaches, edible flowers, or whatever tickles your fancy. Pour less tea into each mold if fruits are added. 3) Place popsicle molds in the freezer for 2-3 hours. 4) Enjoy. Examples of additions to your TEAsicles: Citrus zest, peel or slices Fresh berries Lavender, mint, and other savory herbs Edible flowers Honey, maple syrup, no synthetics A splash of fresh fruit juice or nectar Make your summer tea experience cool, refreshing, and TEAlicous!  NOTE: I tried two different teas: Tie Kwan Yin (Oolong) and Coffee Pu’erh from DavidsTea. Coffee Pu’erh: Pu’erh leaves, coffee beans, almond and vanilla flavoring which gave the TEAsicle tealicious kick! Tie Kwan Yin oolong is fresh grassy and complimented the edible flowers, I chose pansy. Interested in individually designed tea reviews? Weaving compelling visual stories for social media is a passion of mine. I love creating immersive illustrated reviews that awaken people to tea and culture. If you desire an illustrated review to engage your followers, please contact me.

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As American As Apple Pie from Cat Spring Yaupon Tea

SororiTEA Sisters - Sun, 07/17/2016 - 10:00
Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Yaupon Tea

Where to Buy: Cat Spring Yaupon Tea 

Tea Description:

As American As Apple Pie is our comforting black yaupon tea loose leaf blend as delicious as a slice of apple pie. Take a trip to grandma’s kitchen with every cup.

Contains: yaupon tea, bits of dried apple, sliced almonds, cinnamon, beetroot and flavoring.
(Allergen: Contains Almonds)

Learn more about this tea here. 

Taster’s Review:

Have you ever looked at a tea and went- yeah right-this tea isn’t going to taste like that? Well I did. I did with As American As Apple Pie from Cat Spring’s Yaupon Tea. I have had a lot of other apple pie flavored teas and for the most part, they just taste like a apple cinnamon flavored tea. They don’t deliver on the baked good flavor.

As American as Apple Pie reminds me of an yerba mate blend when I first looked at it. It didn’t have any other attributes like yerba mate, just the look. The smell was more reminiscent of black tea. This particular tea smelled amazing. Rich apple notes mixed with a baked good aroma that really captivates you. I couldn’t wait to steep up this tea.

Steeped up the tea per the instructions on the back of the package and took my first sip. I have to say I was taken back by how fresh and bright this tea tasted. It really does come across as apple pie!! Apple Pie with touches of caramel drizzled on tea. The notes of flaky baked fresh crust with  apples that are spiced with just the right amount of sugar and cinnamon. There is a slight roasted toasted flavor in the background that really elevates every sip.

I highly recommend checking this one out. Yaupon Tea was something I had only tried a few times in the past but never had an experience like this. Take a moment and check out yaupon tea and then check this tea out. It truly is like taking a trip to grandma’s kitchen!

 

 

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Meditative Mind From The Tea Spot

SororiTEA Sisters - Sat, 07/16/2016 - 10:42
Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  White Tea/Green Tea Blend

Where to Buy: The Tea Spot

Tea Description:

Blender’s Notes:

Our beloved blend of pure Chinese white tea, rosebuds and jasmine pearls creates an experience of aromatherapy that sharpens the mind and arouses the senses. The exotic floral scent of night–blooming Jasmine is uplifting and soothing, and is used as an anti-depressant in herbal medicine. Rosebuds are used to ease nervous tension and stress, and have a calming effect on the mind. This combination works together to enhance the light, subtle flavor of the white tea leaves. This tea brews into a golden liquor with a very soothing fragrance, and is perfect before, during, or after a stressful day.

Features:

  • Sample = 5 8-oz Servings
  • Tins = 28 8-oz Servings
  • AND leaves can be re-infused 2-3 times!
  • 1 LB Bulk = $0.28 / Serving
  • White tea is loaded with antioxidants
  • Jasmine & rosebuds help with relaxation
  • Gluten-free & Sugar-free

Ingredients: white tea, jasmine green tea, rosebud & petals

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Meditative Mind From The Tea Spot.  Let me say/write that 3 times…Meditative Mind, Meditative Mind, Meditative Mind….Ahhhhhh!  This is a wonderful name for a wonderful tea!  Meditative Mind From The Tea Spot is a white tea with jasmine green tea, rosebuds, and petals.  This is white and green tea blend.

The first thing I have to make a special note of here are the jasmine notes.  I’ve had teas where the jasmine tends to taste stale.  That is NOT the case here!  It’s incredible fresh and floral yet semi-sweet!  The Jasmine and Rose flavors dominate this as far as flavors go but the white and green teas are pretty flavorful, too!

This is a comforting tea you can unwind to.  Relax to.  Enjoy by yourself or with others.  This is delightful both hot and cold.  I believe Meditative Mind From The Tea Spot to be a crowd pleaser yet to impress those who have more specific taste buds as well.  It’s well rounded.  The flavors are not over done or over the top nor are too loud or too quiet.  The flavor, ingredients, and emotions prove this tea is rightfully named.

 

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