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Lapsang Souchong Star – Black Tea

T Ching - Mon, 06/19/2017 - 12:41
Bare your blissful darkness,  a dance, wisps of smoke reveal, satisfaction weaves taste buds of time,  craving moments alone – a smokey kiss,  embers sparkle in the night.  Lapsang Souchong from the Wuyi mountains of Fujian province, China, is a twisted-leaf black tea and is made from the lower leaves away from the tea bud. The lower leaves are dried by a smokey fire and this is traditionally done over pine wood fusing this tea with the aromatic smoke. While enjoying this tea, it reminds me of Laphroaig Four Oak single malt scotch whiskey, aromas of pine, fir willow and oak embers. Smokey sophistication fits this black tea.

Savour the smoke flavor as you pour a red amber brown hued liquor into your cup. This aggressively aromatic black tea brings warm memories of campfires in summer and laughter with friends.  Lapsang Souchong Star is organic and available at DavidsTea.

 Infusing Instructions: 

Warm your tea pot, drain, add 1 to 2 teaspoons to 475 ml (16oz) near boiling water. Infuse the leaves for 4-7 minutes.

I discovered you can steep Lapsang Souchong up to 3 times. That said, the intensity diminishes with additional infusions.

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.

The post Lapsang Souchong Star – Black Tea appeared first on T Ching.

Gathering Berries from 52Teas. . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Mon, 06/19/2017 - 11:00
52 Teas has done a few houjicha/white tea blends, all of which I have enjoyed. I was particularly interested in this one because of the mulberries. If you have never seen mulberries, google them. They are cool looking. I have never eaten them or elderberries before. So I was definitely interested in trying this. I always enjoy houjicha. It adds a warmth and toasty-ness to the cup. The white tea that Anne (mad tea artist at 52 Teas) adds usually rounds out the toasty-ness and gives it a fuzzy sweetness and maybe even a tad bit of floral flavor. Once Read More

Chilling with my Ukes

Black Dragon Tea Bar - Mon, 06/19/2017 - 02:18
Baritone, Tenor, Concert, Friend's Concert and Soprano!

Gingerbread Man from BRUU Tea. . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Sun, 06/18/2017 - 17:00
  Continuing with my apparent disregard for the non-holiday season (remember when I sipped on a Chanukah-themed tea in March?), I grabbed this sample out of my stash for our nightly tea lattes the other day. Skeptical as I was, as I usually am with red rooibos, both my fiancé (fellow nighttime tea lover) and I couldn’t get enough of this one. All the goodness of red rooibos with none of the medicinal ick, this one is like a woodsy-orange, with hints of custard and pink peppercorn spice. Rather than a creamsicle-esque orange, this one is a bit more reminiscent Read More

The Blues from 52Teas. . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Sun, 06/18/2017 - 11:00
I received this blend complimentary from 52 Teas with my last order. It’s funny because I have had my eye on it for some time. The description of blueberry and vanilla made me think of blueberry crisp or blueberry pie, and as soon as I took a sip I knew that my intuition was correct. If you’ve ever seen the movie Willy Wonka, do you remember when Violet turns violet from the blueberry pie gum? That flavor is in my cup right now. That scene is exactly what came to mind when I tasted this blend! The flavor of blueberry Read More

Lemon Blue Green from Mad Hat . . . . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Sat, 06/17/2017 - 23:00
This alone got me through all my presentations for finals week. The mix of rooibos and MeiLu green tea means a naturally sweeter cup with lower caffeine. I make it both hot and iced depending on the weather. I do have a lot more fun smashing the dehydrated berries after they’re heated though, and watching the indigo lines swirl into my peach colored brew. This tea also has a great resteep value, hot and iced, although I seemed to get more hot brews. It looks like there is a lot of lemongrass in the dry mix, but my first impression Read More

Sencha Green Tea by The Tea Can Company. . . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Sat, 06/17/2017 - 17:00
I steeped this tea in one cup of 175° water. It comes in a sweet little tea sachet that I somehow managed to rip a hole in. (Good job, me.) So I’m steeping this for about three minutes and the color of the water is not changing all that much, although it is taking on a greenish yellow tint. The tea liquid is ever so slightly viscous, with teeny tiny specks dancing in it that I can barely even see. It’s not fragrant from across the room, but I can catch a whiff if I’m bending over the tea itself. I steeped for Read More

White Pina Colada from Tea and Tins. . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Sat, 06/17/2017 - 11:00
I have kind of been on a roll here, trying all sorts of pina colada and coconut flavored teas. I have said it before and ill say it again, they both really are my favorite flavors in the summertime. I can honestly say, with 100% certainty, that thus far this White Pina Colada tea is hands down the best i’ve tried. I am SO GLAD I bought two ounces of it. irst off it smells like pina colada mix, so right off the bat it is realistic and giving me visions of me laying on an island beach in a Read More

Hands On: The Teforia Leaf

World of Tea - Sat, 06/17/2017 - 02:11

My first experience with Teforia was a visit to founder, Allen Han’s workshop in 2015 where he showed me a prototype unit. As skeptical as I was, I gave Allen...

The post Hands On: The Teforia Leaf appeared first on World of Tea.

Organic Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla from The Tea Guy. . . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Fri, 06/16/2017 - 23:00
Been on a little bit of a hiatus the past month. Only drinking a few cups a week. Normally I don’t share much about my personal life but last Saturday (5/13/17 we may have time travelers reading this {har har} )at 3 am our son came into the world.  Now almost a week later I feel like my taste buds are back and little man is currently being fed by dad so I figured now would be a good time to get a post in. This is a very unique rooibos. The flavors are subtle, almost to the point that Read More

Tea Pairing 101: White Teas and French Cheeses

Notes on Tea - Fri, 06/16/2017 - 18:21

I subconsciously donned a white blouse for our photo shoot of white teas paired with cheeses at the French Cheese Board in SoHo. When my collaborators arrived, I noticed that one also wore a white top while the other had styled her outfit with a gorgeous tea leaf necklace. Jee of Oh, How Civilized was the mastermind behind this pairing indulgence and Sara of Tea Happiness secured the venue. Before I detail the pairing event, I would like to thank the French Cheese Board for the space and the delicious cheeses as well as In Pursuit of Tea, Royal Tea New York, and Silver Needle Tea Co. for the teas. You all made this educational, flavorful, and fun experience possible.


THE IDEA

Jee, Sara, and I are enrolled in a tea sommelier course with the International Tea Education Institute. In addition to learning about the history of tea history, cultivation, and preparation we've also been introduced to pairing teas with food. Tea Pairing 101 is our approach to practicing and reinforcing our formal tea education.


THE SETUP

The tea and cheese pairing was a multi-step process beginning with selecting three cheeses to pair with our three teas. The teas we had to pair were Silver Needle courtesy of Silver Needle Tea Co., Nepal White courtesy of Royal Tea NY, and Midnight White courtesy of In Pursuit of Tea. We drank the teas in the order just presented. The cheeses we chose were Beaufort, Brillat-Savarin, and Blue de Chèvre. After choosing the cheeses, we set the table. With her keen aesthetic sensibility, Jee was the artistic director. After setting the table we photographed it, then infused each tea using professional tasting cups, and then tasted each tea with each of the three cheeses. Each of took turns infusing and pouring the teas.


NOTES ON THE TEAS

Three grams* of each tea were steeped in a four-ounce capacity professional cupping set using 185F - 195F degree water for three minutes. Each tea was formally assessed on its own and again paired with each cheese.

Silver Needle - Silver Needle Tea Co.

Dry Leaf: the uniformly sized buds were silver, grey green, and hairy; the un-infused tea smelled sweet, grassy (hay), and fruity (melon)

First Steep: the liquor was pale yellow, shiny, and translucent; both the smell and taste of the liquor were consistent with the smell of the dry leaves -- sweet, grassy, and fruity

Nepal White - Royal Tea New York

Dry Leaf: overall the leaves presented as army camouflage generously sprinkled with silver buds; the tea had a more intense smell than the Silver Needle, the distinguishing characteristic was a muscatel fragrance

First Steep (second session): a Darjeeling in disguise with herbal, sweet, and muscatel notes

Midnight White (Yunnan) - In Pursuit of Tea

Dry Leaf: curious black leaves with hairy undersides and light gold hairy buds without a discernible scent (the infused leaves smelled earthy and sweet)

First steep (second session): The amber liquor smelled sweet and white peppery; the taste was sweet (honey) and deeply fruity (dried cherries and prunes)

*In the first sessions with Nepal White and Midnight White we used two grams on my suggestion. The liquors was better for using three grams!


NOTES ON THE CHEESES

The following characteristics of each cheese were provided by the French Cheese Board.

Beaufort
Firm, buttery, and supple cow's milk cheese with fruit, salty, and floral notes

Brillat-Savarin
Creamy, dense, and damp cow's milk cheese with salty and tangy notes and an earthy (mushroom) aftertaste

Blue de Chèvre
Soft, round goat's milk cheese with moldy notes


NOTES ON THE PAIRINGS

My personal pairing preferences were:

  • Silver Needle + Beaufort (runner up: Brillat-Savarin)
  • Nepal White + Beaufort (runner up: Brillat-Savarin)
  • Midnight White + Brillat-Savarin (runner up: Beaufort)

Jee and Sara preferred the Midnight White + Blue de Chèvre. I wasn't opposed to this pairing; it certainly wasn't as contrarian as the Silver Needle + Blue de Chèvre.

THE TAKEAWAY

The Beaufort is a versatile cheese and paired with all three French cheeses we selected but especially with the Silver Needle and Nepal White. The broad flavor profile of the Beaufort complemented the dominant notes in the each of the teas. If you prefer a softer cheese, then the Brillat-Savarin is a strong candidate. This creamy cheese would also pair well with a Japanese green tea.

The Blue de Chèvre, while lovely on its own, overwhelmed these white teas. The pairing with the Silver Needle was antagonistic. I did not detect moldy notes in the Blue de Chèvre, rather, it was saltier than the other two cheeses. I wouldn't mind pairing it with oceanic Japanese green teas or a shou puer. A straight goat cheese, either soft or firm, might have paired better with the white teas.

Read Jee's Tea Pairing 101
Read Sara's Tea Pairing 101

We plan to develop a pairing for each tea type; with white tea accomplished we turn our focus to green tea. Watch this space!

P.S. Are you interested in taking a tea course with the International Tea Education Institute? Check out all the ITEI courses and use the NOTESONTEA10 discount code when you register.

Himalayan Musky Thunder from Terrior Tea. . . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Fri, 06/16/2017 - 17:00
Not long ago I conducted an Oolong-a-Thon and did back-to-back tastings of all the oolong teas in my collection.  Somehow I missed this Himalayan Musky Thunder from Terrior Tea.  That’s because it didn’t look like an oolong at first glance.  Apparently, Himalayan Musky Thunder is a “dark oolong,” meaning it is more heavily oxidized than its greener oolong cousins.  Like other oolongs, I brewed this tea with cooler water (190 F) and steeped it a few times.   Upon brewing, the scent and taste of dark chocolate were very forward.  When you taste a chocolate bar with a high cocoa Read More

Friday Roundup: June 11th - June 17th

Tea For Me Please - Fri, 06/16/2017 - 16:00
NYC tea friends Jee, Sara, and Georgia have been dropping delicious hints about a collaboration that they had been working on. This week we finally got to read all about it!

Oh, How Civilized - Tea Pairing 101: White Tea
Tea Happiness - Tea Pairing 101: White Tea and Cheese
Notes on Tea - Tea Pairing 101: White Teas and French Cheeses

Harney & Son's English Breakfast
Sometimes you just need a good ol' cup of black tea with milk and sugar. If you haven't checked out Tea-tography's beautiful pictures out yet, you're really missing out!

Understanding White2Tea - Leading the Puer Revolution
Cody at The Oolong Drunk gives us a thoughtful breakdown of the story behind eponymous puerh brand White2Tea. I particularly enjoyed the points he made about wrapper design.

Nepali Tea Traders: Nepalese Silver Tips White Tea and Himalayan Golden Black Tea
Another blog whose photography I enjoy is Tea in Spoons. There's something to be said for the beauty of simplicity. This week Connie reviews two of my favorites from Nepali Tea Traders.

Spread Joy to your Tea Stash with Konmari
Katherine at Tea Journey gave some pointers on applying the Konmari method of organization to our tea stash. It's definitely a great reminder to keep what we love and dump what we don't (or at least find a way to repurpose them).

Blast from the past: We all love tea, we may just see it differently

T Ching - Fri, 06/16/2017 - 12:43

This article was originally published to T Ching in June of 2015.

If we’re here as contributors, readers or both, it’s most likely because we are fans of tea.   Chef Wemischner loves to be creative with tea in recipes. Ifang Hsieh enjoys traveling and finding new tea experiences.  Michelle Rabin appreciates the health and relaxation benefits of tea.  Rajiv Lochan loves to promote great tea from India and to support small family estates and tea workers.  And so on and so on.  But we all are passionate about tea in one way or another.

Tea is the neutral in all of this.  It allows each of us to build on it whatever we choose to build.  We can steep it, brew it in a machine, infuse it into candy or cookies, and nowadays into cocktails or beer, blend it, grind it to a fine powder, oxidize it (or not), put it in soap to bathe with, lotions to soothe our skin, extracts, vitamins, and so much, much more.  Tea is a leaf and will never be more or less.  It’s what we choose to do with the leaf that has brought about such a huge, multi-faceted group of businesses and people for whom it is the focus.

Tea is white, or green, or yellow, or oolong or black . . . or pu-erh.  Or matcha.  It is delicious to some, a turn-off to others.  It makes some extremely happy, others it just leaves cold.  It has become equal to coffee in foodservice sales, mainly iced and black.  It is an ancient plant with a current surge of trendiness.  As Mintel Global Market Research says:  Tea is hot.

Our grandmothers made us drink it when we were sick, usually with honey.  Now many drink it to stay well and feel good, with great enjoyment.  It has lived in bags for too many years when it would rather be swimming free.  It has been studied by great scientists who have proven what those grandmothers already knew.  Tea is not only good — it’s good for you.

What do you love about tea?  There’s no right or only answer.  A relationship with tea is what you make it.

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Green Style Dong Ding (oolong) by Fong Mong Tea

SororiTEA Sisters - Fri, 06/16/2017 - 11:00
Steeping specs: 3 grams per half cup at 175° for five minutes While steeping this tea, I didn’t observe much color change. The leaves unfurled quite a bit, having started out as small pills or pearls, but the tea liquid didn’t seem to change color all that much. However, after I removed the tea leaves, I could see that there was a gentle peach color to the liquid. It’s very light and transparent, not dark or strong-looking at all. What is remarkable, though, is the lovely roasted smell (disproportionately strong given how light the color is) and the high-quality leaves; after the Read More

Give in to Temptation with a Picture of Earl Grey from NovelTeas

SororiTEA Sisters - Thu, 06/15/2017 - 23:00
If you’re easily distracted by cute packaging, be warned that blends from NovelTeas can come shipped in beautiful, book-shaped, metal tins.  At first glance, these tins can sit amongst your real books, undetected until someone realizes the titles are full of tea-related puns.  Today, I’m tasting Picture of Earl Grey, also called Wilde’s Rosy Tea Blend on the Novel Teas site.   This blend is like a garden in a cup with lush rose petals and jasmine-green tea.  All those flowers are a perfect match for the showy, vanity of this novel.  Like Dorian, your tea will have eternal beauty Read More

Cinnamon Plum Berry Organic Botanical Blend from Storehouse Tea. . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Thu, 06/15/2017 - 17:00
Storehouse Tea is a company completely new to me. I had never even heard of this company until a box of Sororitea Sisters samples arrived at my door including this tea, Cinnamon Plum Berry. Full disclosure: Even though I am excited to try a new tea company, I am a little apprehensive about this tea. Between the deep reddish-pink it brewed up that screams hibiscus and the licorice root, I was worried this would definitely not be to my tastes. Using the sample I was given, I decided to make it both iced and hot to compare the two. I Read More

Icy tea and creamy ice cream

T Ching - Thu, 06/15/2017 - 14:31

As summer approaches with a vengeance is most parts of the country, my hot tea drinking habit is being supplanted by cold brewed tea served in glasses filled with ice cubes made from tea. And instead of seasonal stone fruit pies served warm, hours out of the oven, I opt for icy cold desserts to satisfy my sweet tooth. Not veering too far from my allegiance to tea, either in beverage form or as an ingredient in a dessert, I have been making all kinds of tea ice, granitas if you will, as a topping for a condensed milk-based ice cream. The hardest thing about this is deciding which tea to feature. Here’s my advice. Pick any tea you like to imbibe with dairy. For me, the teas from Assam, malty or otherwise, fit the bill but feel free to venture beyond the conventional.  

You will discover how pleasurable the dessert is when experiencing how the icy granita contrasts with the seriously creamy ice cream. As a professional pastry chef and instructor, I contend that two textures are better than one when it comes to desserts.  And if you have a buttery shortbread or crispy vanilla wafer on hand, crush it into irregular shards to add yet another layer of texture to the dessert.  Here’s how to achieve that icy/creamy contentment:

The dessert will serve 4 to 6 generously.

Tea Granita

Use 16 ounces of brewed tea, slightly sweetened and see the instructions below.

Brew any tea you like, slightly stronger than you would if you were drinking it hot, and then immediately add just enough sugar or other sweetener to barely sweeten it. Cool it and then pour it out into a shallow freezer-safe vessel. Freeze until it starts to crust over. Stir vigorously with a fork to break down the ice crystals and return the dish to the freezer. Freeze again for about one more hour (this could take longer, depending on your freezer—check it every 10 or 15 minutes to monitor its progress). Remove from the freezer and stir again. Now you should be able to dig down to the bottom of the dish and scrape all of the mixture thoroughly until you achieve a pleasantly granular texture.  Freeze again, covered, and make the ice cream.

For the Condensed Milk Ice Cream:

The main ingredient comprises both dairy and sweetener so there is no need for added sugar.

8 ounces heavy cream

1   14 ounce can of condensed milk

8 ounces of whole fat milk

Heat cream and then add the condensed milk. Stir to dissolve completely. Cool for about 15 minutes and then add the milk, stirring to combine all ingredients. Freeze in an ice cream machine (either one that requires the canister to be frozen overnight before using it), or one that has a built-in coolant surrounding the bowl into which you place the ice cream mixture. If you have to wait a day to process the mixture into ice cream, make the mixture anyway, chill it covered in the refrigerator (it will “ripen,” or gain flavor complexity, to use ice cream parlance) and then freeze the mixture on the next day. Once the ice cream mixture has been frozen, scrape it into an airtight container and place in the freezer. Depending on how cold your freezer is, it may be necessary to remove the ice cream from the freezer and place in the refrigerator to soften it slightly before serving.

To serve, scoop the ice cream into chilled bowls. Top with Tea Granita (if necessary, break it up again with a fork to create a granular texture) and a cookie, crumbled, if you’d like. Take your bows quickly before everything melts. Enjoy!

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The post Icy tea and creamy ice cream appeared first on T Ching.

Peep Crispies from A Quarter To Tea. . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Thu, 06/15/2017 - 11:00
I have one, very important rule about Easter candy: Peeps. Must. Be. Stale. Now. I understand that this is a very divisive stance. Statistically, about 50% of you right now are probably nodding in impassioned agreement, thinking “of COURSE! What other way is there to eat them?!” and the other 50% of you are probably sharpening your pitchforks and chanting “off with her head!” Okay. So maybe not *quite* that impassioned. But little did I know that there was even room for another rule in the world of Peeps: they should be brewed. As a tea. And sipped often. I Read More

Jingle Bells from Lupicia. . . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Wed, 06/14/2017 - 17:00
Mary’s recent tasting of Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel inspired me. I figured if she could have a Chanukah tea in May, there was no reason I couldn’t have a Christmas tea. So, here I am, sipping on Lupicia’s Jingle Bells, a black tea scented with fresh grapes and fruity champagne (different than their old Jingle Bells tea which was citrus and yogurt from my understanding). Grape is not a flavor you find too often in teas. I mean it does show up here and there but more times than not fruitier teas tend to lean more towards citrus, berries, stone fruit, Read More
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