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Peach Habenero Salsa from A Quarter To Tea. . . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Fri, 05/19/2017 - 17:00
My stepdad is the hot sauce king. The man can handle heat. I don’t do too bad but he is a beast. The rest of my family…not so great with spice. So, when my sister and I were at the One of a Kind show not too long ago and we were looking to get my step dad some hot sauces, it was put on me to try them out. Habeneros were just the tip of the iceberg…well, more like a volcano. One particularly hot concoction was made by a farmer that crossbred peaches with hot peppers and that really Read More

Friday Round Up: May 14th - May 20th

Tea For Me Please - Fri, 05/19/2017 - 16:00

White2Tea & The Post Truth Era of Puerh
MattCha's Blog made some interesting observations about how the puerh landscape has changed over the last couple of years. I'm not sure I agree with the political correlations but there are a lot of good points made.

The Efficiency of Machines vs Our Preference of Taste
Tyas at The Tea Crane Blog pontificated a bit on how the use of machines has changed the way that Japanese green teas taste. Having had the privilege of trying some lightly oxidized selections, I can say that we share a similar preference.

Hello old friend...
+Courtney M. Powers wrote about a tea that I remember fondly. We enjoyed it many moons ago at World Tea East in Philadelphia. Talk about a blast from the past!

15 of the Best Tea Advice & Tips for Your Tea Journey
+Lu Ann Pannunzio collected some great advice from tea bloggers, vendors, and tea drinkers. You might even see a tip from yours truly.

Creating Your Own Tea Oasis
+Rachana Rachel Carter has put together an amazing oasis of relaxation around her tea tray. Check out this weeks post for a guide to making your own place to relax and enjoy tea.

Bana Tea Company Sweet Clarity Puerh

Notes on Tea - Fri, 05/19/2017 - 15:01
Image: Cover of Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See (source)
Have you read the Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See? If you are looking for tea person's perspective on this book, read Nicole Martin's book review. I have. You should, too. Bana Tea Company has prepared a book club tea tasting kit and guide. I'm part of a book club specific to this book. We've only met once and during that session we drank Sweet Clarity Puerh Spring 2016. I did not take any photographs but I think you still should read this tea review.

The dry leaf is oh, so incredibly deeply sweet. I wrote that exactly in my notebook. I used 3 grams and infused it in 195F water. The first steep at 1 minute was sweet and fruity with a lingering tail note of butter and leather with a creamy mouthfeel also experienced on the lips. Smooth.

Infusion number two was 90 seconds long. The liquor was still sweet but the astringent green tea-ness raised its head. The third infusion of 2 minutes was more leather. We walked about food pairings at this point. I offered that this puerh would pair well with an upside down apricot cake (there is such a thing though I have not baked one yet). The puerh had a deep sweetness and apricot jamminess. A sweetness lingered in the back of the throat. We all noted that the tea was feminine, multilayered, complex.

One of the group said the liquor from the fourth infusion (also 2 minutes) smelled like creme brulee. There was also a rocky note; a mineral aspect to the tail note that stuck to my cheeks. The fruity sweetness was still there. This puerh stayed in character but revealed something new in each infusion. We wrapped up our first book club meeting after this infusion but I went on to drink three more cups of this tea. Keep reading.

The fifth infusion was soft and easy to drink. I drank it all before noticing that I hadn't taken any detailed notes. Infusion six smelled "so jammy!" The liquor had a mineral fragrance. The liquor tasted mostly sweet. My lower gums and cheeks were slightly numb during this infusion, pleasantly so. The seventh and final infusion yielded a straw yellow liquor that again was mostly sweet with a faint note of fruit. The last three infusions were made using 200F water. Steep times were 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes, respectively.

I am so thrilled that I have more of Bana's Sweet Clarity!

Chatting with Teabox about Teabox’s Goals, The Tea Industry, and Their Newest Product. . Tea Pac!

SororiTEA Sisters - Fri, 05/19/2017 - 12:21
Recently, The SororiTea Sisters were given the opportunity to chat with Kaushal Dugar, the founder and CEO of Teabox.   And we just couldn’t pass up the chance to chat #allthingstea! Kaushal Dugar, Founder and CEO of Teabox   1) What made you decide to create Teabox and what was the thought process behind your new product TeaPac? I was born in Siliguri, a town in the Darjeeling district in India. And if you’re living in SIliguri, it’s very likely that you are doing something with tea – it’s the biggest industry there. My father was in the business of tea garden supplies Read More

Blast from the past: Are fancy grades worth the price?

T Ching - Fri, 05/19/2017 - 12:19

This article was originally posted to T Ching in November of 2016.

Super fine grade, #1, #3, Royal Grade,  Supreme ….so many terms!

In most instances, these terms affect the price. There is no global standard for tea grades. Each region will use a different designation for grading the various loose leaf teas they produce. So the question is – can you taste the differences of the various grades and are they worth the extra cost?

When blending teas with other ingredients such as fruit, the underlying quality of the tea is not as important and in many cases would be a waste since the flavors would overwhelm the subtle notes of the base tea. Going down the quality scale of tea to the lowest grades often brings unwanted taste, and thus they will require more potent flavors to make up for it. This is where some tea vendors start introducing artificial ingredients to mask the harshness of the tea. Sticking with the higher end vendors will generally avoid this problem. Some of the higher-quality flavored teas will use better grades or some fancier teas, and usually, the flavors are intentionally mild so as to allow the drinker to experience the quality of the tea with subtle flavoring notes. However, with rare exception, most flavored varieties don’t specify grades of the underlying tea.

When it comes to pure teas there are many differences, and as a tea purveyor, we have the option to taste a lot of different teas from different sources and evaluate them side by side. This study can be exhaustive, so we chose a few types for this initial comparison.

We did a tasting of several different teas – Dragonwell, Jade Oolong, and Gyokuro.

Dragonwell – Lung Ching

For the Dragonwell we pitted three different versions against each other. The most expensive was a Ching Ming variety, produced in the early spring. Another vendor just uses the term Dragonwell, but it is grown in the West Lake District and produced in the early spring (therefore indicating high grade). We also took a #1 Superfine Grade. Each of these various teas is not cheap and is considered in the higher grade category. We didn’t go down to the lower grades (i.e. Grade #3) for this experiment but will do so in the future with Cheap versus Expensive comparison.

We cupped each and did a blind taste test. The highest-end tea (price wise) was our top choice. The 2nd place was not far behind but was a little lighter bodied. The next in line had some lingering aftertaste (some astringency) which we took points off for. None of these teas were bad, but there were clear differences.

The two top teas were somewhat close, but the price gap was somewhat high. Retail $5 an ounce versus $9 and ounce. It is also worth noting that the top pick was NOT organic versus the 2nd place. We’ve found both inferior and superior teas in the past irrespective of being organic or not.

So here, the best tea is a lot more expensive, but the taste difference was small. We did think the difference between third place and 2nd was enough to warrant a few extra dollars ($5 an ounce versus $4).

Jade Oolong

We pitted a Super Fine #1 Grade versus a #2 grade. Again a blind taste test.  Retail #1 in the $5 an ounce price range, while the #2 is about $3.50. Once again we did a blind test, and most of us chose the #1 grade versus the #2. The difference being the higher grade of tea had more prominent flavor and more floral character.

#2 wasn’t bad, and if that is all you drank you would consider it a good tea. However, side by side we felt #1 was worth the difference.


This test was interesting. Gyokuro is generally already a very high-end tea. We took an already expensive “standard” Gyokuro and compared it with a “supreme” edition. This price difference was massive…$5.50 an ounce versus $10 an ounce. For this test, we didn’t drink blind. We were expecting to be blown away by the more expensive one, but in actuality, we preferred the standard version. We felt there was slightly more flavor and there were more grassy notes versus the much more expensive counterpart. Our vote was that the standard version was the better value.


Overall, when there are a lot of grades available for a particular tea type the higher grades seem to taste better. We found that the differences start becoming more narrow once the teas move into the very high end of the spectrum. In other words, the increase in quality isn’t always representative of the associated price increase.

In some instances, it’s also not a given that paying for a tea that costs double will result in twice the better tea. With Gyokuro, we actually preferred the lower priced version.

Like wine, tea is priced based on supply and demand. Crops vary from year to year, and sometimes there are nuances from one vintage to another. And like wine, certain high demand teas may create a  large price gap irrespective of quality.

What do you think? Do you think paying for the highest quality tea is always worth it? Would you switch if you found a tea you liked better, but was significantly more?

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The post Blast from the past: Are fancy grades worth the price? appeared first on T Ching.

Raspberry Leaf from Republic of Tea. . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Fri, 05/19/2017 - 11:00
Raspberry leaf comes in a round sachet. It smells just like banana, but this tea is made from raspberry leaf.  Brewed up with boiled fresh water, this tea just still has a banana like aroma. One sip and this tea tastes  just like you are eating a fresh banana. I tried this tea on two different occasions. I still couldn’t taste any raspberry or any of the flavors that a few of the other Sisters got. . . . for me I could only taste banana. I tried to enjoy this tea. I really did but unfortunately, raspberry leaf isn’t for Read More

Earl Grey Tea from Wissotzky Tea. . . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Thu, 05/18/2017 - 23:00
For someone who does not like bergamot all that much, I seem to keep coming across Earl Grey inspired snacks all the time. First the London Fog Donut from Glory Hole Donuts and then the London Fog Caramels by Tout de Sweet, both of which I have written about here on SororiTea Sisters. Well, my most recent find is an Earl Grey truffle from The Golden Apple here in Toronto, Canada. Actually, I am not the one who found it, my sister was and she brought it home for me to try. I decided to brew up an Earl Grey Read More

Where Tea is Grown in the United States and Canada

World of Tea - Thu, 05/18/2017 - 18:18

Is tea grown in the United States? It sure is! Although we still have a way to go, American grown tea is a warm community and growing industry. From the rich...

The post Where Tea is Grown in the United States and Canada appeared first on World of Tea.

Where Tea is Grown in the United States and Canada

World of Tea - Thu, 05/18/2017 - 18:18

Is tea grown in the United States? It sure is! Although we still have a way to go, American grown tea is a warm community and growing industry. From the rich...

The post Where Tea is Grown in the United States and Canada appeared first on World of Tea.

RoRose Garden Puerh from . . Tocha Tea

SororiTEA Sisters - Thu, 05/18/2017 - 17:00
Rose Garden Puerh Tea from Tocha Teas comes in breathable pouch. Through the pouch you see dark brown leaves, rose petals and a couple rose leaves. It smells similar to a black tea with a slight floral scent. The taste is a lot similar to a black tea with a dark jammy flavor. There is also a slight spice kick, with an even slighter floral taste to finish each sip. I really enjoyed this tea. I really enjoy black tea and this is the second floral like  rose tea I have tried that I enjoy. It is definitely nice and Read More

Chai Safari

Notes on Tea - Thu, 05/18/2017 - 15:01

Back in March when it was still definitely winter, I drank several teas from Chai Safari, specifically Spiced Tulsi Black, Classic Masala Chai, Golden Tips Black, and Handrolled Pearl Green. I'll start with the black teas which I drank separately from the green tea.

My favorite of three black teas was the Golden Tips Black. The dry leaves smelled sweet with notes of chocolate, dates, and tea leaf fuzz. The tea was whole leaf with lots of visible buds. The golden honey liquor also smelled of chocolate with a malt addition and had a light mouthfeel. Both the Classic Masala Chai and the Spiced Tulsi Black required milk to temper their liquors.

The pearled green tea was beautiful and smelled savory of broccoli and cabbage accompanied by a whisper of sweetness. This tea infused per instructions tasted like a Chinese style green tea, savory and nutty but I wanted more depth so I experimented with parameters. The recommended water temperature was 90-95C (195-203F) which to my mind seemed like it would be too hot for a green tea with lots of buds. When I prepared the tea as directed - 1.25t/2.5 grams, 200 mL (6 ounces), 3 minutes - the result wasn't bitter but it wasn't multilayered. (I used the 2.5 gram measure as 1.25t of this tea was more than the given gram weight.) My experiments did not yield good results, though. I used 8 ounces (slightly more than recommended) of 175F water and a 3 minute steep. The liquor was not enjoyable. I tried a gaiwan using 175F and 30 second infusions but the liquor was bitter though the gaiwan lid smelled wonderful, though, of stone fruit and grass. I recommend sticking to the vendor's steeping instructions.

Let Your Heart Soar

T Ching - Thu, 05/18/2017 - 13:22

Its comforting aroma and soothing taste reminds me of a quote from the Bhagavad Gita: “Set thy heart upon thy work, but never on its reward.”

Take time to set your heart upon your work. Close your eyes and visualize the blue mountains at the southwestern tip of India, sweeping flora, elephants, bengal tigers, and the sound of a laughing thrush.

The sound of the laughing thrush will fill your heart with laughter while infusing your soul with Nilgiri Kairbetta black tea!

Nilgiri black tea is often called the ”frost tea” because it is produced during the winter season. The fine dark-green leaves will fill your cup with a golden liquor full of fruity and woodsy notes. Let laughter be your guide in life, find it wherever you can, and let your work flow as it should.

It’s good to laugh and get tea drunk – set your heart free and enjoy Nilgiri Kairbetta Black Tea from Camellia Sinensis Tea House.  Get “infusiastic” and steep this tea: one teaspoon of leaves to 250ml with 95ºC water for 3 – 4 minutes.

Stop, breathe, let you heart soar with tea!

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 Let Your Heart Soar appeared first on T Ching.

Perfectly Pink #LadyMendl blend from #SunshineCottage

SororiTEA Sisters - Thu, 05/18/2017 - 11:00
Another lovely tea from the crafty world of Etsy, this time it’s Lady Mendl blend from Sunshine Cottage.  The Lady Mendl tea blend is based on a cocktail of the same name.  The alcoholic beverage was all pink pizzazz, served in a martini with grapefruit juice, cointreau, and gin. With so much pink citrus in the mix, this tea is surprisingly creamy, with delicious, juicy grapefruit at the forefront, and sweet, candied orange in the undertone.  There are even passion fruit pieces in the dry leaf, adding to the popping, tropical flair of these flavors. The black tea base is Read More

A Honeybush Cookie Dessert Tea. . . #52Teas

SororiTEA Sisters - Wed, 05/17/2017 - 23:00
Being honest, i’m scared of molasses. I use it when i’m baking gingerbread, but I just refuse to eat it on its own. I don’t know how some people just pour it over their pancakes, I feel like it smells salty and weird and it really just freaks me out. So when I saw the name of this blend I totally held off on trying it. Although, the blend did smell like spice cookies….so I decided to give it a try anyways. I could really smell the honeybush once this tea was steeped. I absolutely love honeybush and I actually Read More

Strawberry Rush from The Love Tea Company. . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Wed, 05/17/2017 - 17:00
So a little while back a couple of us sisters received a gift from the wonderful CuppaGeek. Super Starling said she received hers for her general awesomeness so if I got one too, does that mean I am awesome as she is? That’s quite the accomplishment I think because she is one awesome lady. So that means that this gift was not only a great present that made sure to tell me I was loved, but also an ego boost. Plus, as part of the Tea It Forward program, this also helped support a good cause since $1 from each Read More

Adagio Teas Hunan Gold

Tea For Me Please - Wed, 05/17/2017 - 16:00

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: dark, curled with scattered golden tips
Ingredients: yellow tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 180 degrees
Preparation Method: glass gaiwan
Liquor: deep gold

+Adagio Teas recently sent me a gift certificate. After sifting through their site for a bit I was really excited to stumble upon a yellow tea. This one hails from the Hunan Province of China. Although it is categorized on their site as green tea, the processing differentiates it from being a true green tea. After the "kill green" step the leaves are wrapped in material, usually paper or cloth. This is repeated several times with the leaves being dried in between.

The dry leaves were small and fairly dark in color with golden tips scattered throughout. Under certain lighting conditions, they almost took on a blue cast. I made sure to try this tea using the western style directions provided (180 degrees for 3 minutes) but vastly preferred it gongfu style so that is what I am basing my review off of. It tasted just fine when making a big mug of it but my glass gaiwan really intensified the texture and aromas.

It's hard to say what grabbed me first, the beautiful golden liquor or the intoxicating aroma. It was mellow and light with sweet floral notes. A crisp fruity quality almost reminded me of a 1st Flush Darjeeling. The mouthfeel was incredibly smooth and thick without any bitterness. It re-steeped well so make sure that you hold on to those leaves. As far as yellow teas go this one isn't super expensive. I'd definitely recommend picking up at least a sample size if you've never experienced one before.

Hunan Gold sample provided for review by Adagio Teas.

Nepal Tea - Shangri La Oolong

Notes on Tea - Wed, 05/17/2017 - 15:01

While the focus this time of year is on green teas, this week I will be sharing my notes on masala chai, puerh, and oolong. You might recall I reviewed four teas from Nepal Tea in March. Today's tea is also from Nepal Tea; it's the Shangri La Oolong.

I infused the entire 4.48 ounce sample in one session. The other parameters were: clay pot, 195F water, and a starting 30 second infusion with 5 second increases. The dry tea was a mixture of dark brown, forest green, and silver buds. This tea resembled Oriental Beauty. The dry leaves smelled sweet, biscuity, and slightly woody. The rinsed leaves smelled "so good!" Sweet, fruity, baked, and roasted.

The first infusion yielded a lovely amber liquor like a dark apricot juice that tasted sweet and baked with lingering woody and fruity tail notes. The liquor was medium bodied. This oolong tasted like an OB especially when the liquor had cooled off. The second infusion stained the pot lid with a liquid sugar fragrance. The deeper colored liquor was still sweet but a briskness had emerged. The cooled liquor tasted of muscatel.

The third hot infusion had a bright shiny liquor but the body had lessened. The liquor was still sweet with fruity notes, an underlying woodiness and a slight briskness, but an herbal note had emerged. The best cup of this oolong was the first infusion. However, I did not compost my infused leaves after the third infusion. I steeped them overnight and was rewarded with a floral, red fruity, and slightly astringent liquor!

Shangri La Oolong provided by Nepal Tea LLC.

Japanese Tea Meditation Will Help You Be In The Moment

T Ching - Wed, 05/17/2017 - 12:49

Meditation is an excellent and satisfying way of bringing yourself into the present moment. There are many different forms of meditation to ground us, and provide the energy and focus we need to get through the day without feeling burnt out. One of the ways to meditate is through Japanese Tea Meditation.

Tea Meditation is a Japanese art that one can understand, albeit not quickly enough for everyone, through the phrase “one time, one meeting”. This phrase should help us experience life–and every moment that makes it–to the fullest. It is a reminder for us that in this world, we only have the present and its uniqueness to carry us through.

The tea ceremony provides us the opportunity to become present at the moment, and to appreciate it and be grateful for it by living with an open heart. Although the act of preparing and drinking tea may seem simple, doing it with an awareness and a grounded presence can be quite challenging, especially for a beginner.

You can use any type of tea you prefer. My favorite is oolong tea. Here are the steps you should remember when practicing Japanese Tea Meditation, so you will be present as well as aware while doing something simple.

Make Tea

Acknowledge your inner chi as you follow the steps. Get the tea out of its box, clean the cup you are going to use, and let the tea steep in hot water. After making your tea, sit with it first, then inhale its aroma. Feel the warmth in your hands, and look at the colors swirling in the cup. Imagine the journey of the tea leaves before they arrive in front of you.

Be Grateful

Before taking a sip, it is essential to be thankful for the tea, and for all the people who made it possible for the leaves to reach your cup. Also be grateful for the moment you have, the leaves, the water, the good health, your cup, your chair, and your surroundings. Be thankful for the reality that allows you to perform the tea ceremony.

Savor the Tea

It is best not to focus on all the other things going on in the world as you drink your tea. Feel the sensations that the tea creates. Savor the taste, take in the smell, and feel the tea in your mouth as it tickles your taste buds.

Think about the movement of your arm and wrist as you bring the cup closer to your lips. If you have other thoughts that come to you as you drink, be aware of them, but let them pass. Don’t dwell on them for too long.

Remember, this particular act of drinking is unique. Whether you share the moment with someone else or just with yourself, drinking that specific cup of tea will not happen again. You are in a moment you should savor. After finishing your tea, give thanks again. Be grateful for completing the meditation. It can add to the richness you would feel about life. Gratitude will also help you stay in the present.

After the Tea Meditation

There are a lot of benefits that tea gives to a person’s body. Drinking tea promotes everything from immune defense to weight loss and fertility. The meditation, while the goal of this exercise, is not the only benefit to drinking your tea.


Taking part in a simple but profound meditation can be your gift to yourself. By being present and grateful at the same time, you get to enhance your experience of life. You bring that understanding with you, not just during the tea ceremony but in the other waking moments of your life.

Aside from benefiting from the antioxidants found in your tea, you can also improve your presence in the moments you live. As a result, you could also improve your relationships with other people by learning the value of being present and by practicing it by heart.

Harry Beckett is a blogger and health enthusiast. He is also a self-ascribed tea aficionado. Harry loves to learn about and share the different benefits of tea. He also likes to drink various tea flavors because they are healthy and delicious. During his free days, Harry likes to read men’s magazine while drinking tea. He is currently affiliated with OMG Brah! male supplements.

The post Japanese Tea Meditation Will Help You Be In The Moment appeared first on T Ching.

Organic Red Chai from Steenberg’s Organics. . ..

SororiTEA Sisters - Wed, 05/17/2017 - 11:00
I’m always super excited when I find Chai tea that is caffeine free. And when it’s made with rooibos or redbush tea it’s even better. Rooibos tea is so healthy, but drinking it plain isn’t always my favorite. But Chai spices definitely help mask the earthiness of plain rooibos. I brewed this tea and added a little raw sugar and a splash of coconut milk. It’s a very mellow Chai, not spicy at all. This is the perfect tea for someone who isn’t a huge fan of spice. It’s a very soothing and warming chai, with all of the spices Read More

2016 Loose Leaf Gu Hua Sheng from Verdant Tea. . . . .

SororiTEA Sisters - Tue, 05/16/2017 - 23:00
I ordered a giant basket of pure teas from Verdant because I was trying to be more worldly. I was like “I am going to UNDERSTAND this tea. I am going to BECOME ONE with MORE VARIETIES.” Today’s pick: a pu’erh! That’s fermented tea. Sort of intimidating. All the pu’erh I’ve ever loved has been in a blend. The only other one I’d tried before this was sort of appalling, so I was nervous to try this one. (I only ordered a tiny sample, just in case). This one, 2016 Loose Leaf Gu Hua Sheng, tastes a little bit like Read More
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