Tea For Me Please

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Want to learn more about tea? Come follow my journey with the leaf. Fun and informative posts, tea reviews and more.Nicole Martinhttps://plus.google.com/103097147251455801975noreply@blogger.comBlogger1685125
Updated: 8 min 51 sec ago

Friday Roundup: August 13th - August 19th

Fri, 08/18/2017 - 16:00
Favorite Teaware - Philip Aba of ZeroZen Artlab

Georgia at Notes on Tea interviewed ZeroZen Artlab for the latest installment of her Favorite Teaware. I was super excited to check out this one because I have been admiring his amazing Instagram pictures for some time.

Tennessee Oolong from Steven Smith Teamaker

I've said it before and I'll say it again, west coast tea folks get the coolest stuff! Char from Oolong Owl wrote an awesome review of a whiskey scented Jin Xuan. Although pricey, it sounds like it was definitely worth the try.

7 Best Online Puer Shops of 2017
Looking for a good place to get your puerh fix? Look no further than The Oolong Drunk's latest post. The big players are there along with a few smaller companies. Funnily enough, my list would look just about the same.

Matcha Victoria Sponge Cake

I love to combine my passion for tea with my love for baking (much to my fiance's chagrin). This matcha twist on an afternoon tea classic sounds like a definite must try. If Anna at The Tea Squirrel came up with it, it's got to be good!

Brothers in tea

One of my favorite things about tea is that it brings together people from across the globe. Stéphane from Tea Masters Blog shared a little tea event he had in Taiwan with tea lovers from Spain and Finland. There are always nuances to making tea on this blog that I don't see written about anywhere else.

Teance Burnt Sugar Red

Wed, 08/16/2017 - 17:17

Country of Origin: Taiwan
Leaf Appearance: long, dark, slightly twisted
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: dark amber

I have a funny habit of saving the tea that I think I would like the most for last. I previously reviewed and really enjoyed Teance's Tiegunyin Dark Stone Fruit but something about the name Burnt Sugar Red told me that it would be a special one. The red part of the name might seem confusing but what we call black tea in the west is usually called red tea (or hong cha) in countries like China and Taiwan. Not to mention the fact that rooibos is often labeled as red tea.

The taste was malty and sweet with absolutely zero bitterness or astringency. Since this is a Taiwanese black tea I was expecting it to be something a bit like Ruby #18. There were a few things that really set it apart for me though. Rather than notes of cinnamon and dark fruits, I was getting deeply caramelized sugar, gingerbread, and black strap molasses. It was the creme brulee of black tea!

Gongfu is definitely the way to go with this tea, especially when you consider the higher price point. It performed well in a gaiwan and I found myself continuing to drink past its prime because of the residual sweetness. I'd be hesitant to use it with clay unless the vessel is very well seasoned. My .5 oz sample was just enough for two good sized gongfu sessions.

This tea was made by Miss Lin, one of the most decorated tea makers in Maioli. I always enjoy reading about Teance co-founder Winnie Wu's sourcing blogs, particularly the ones about Miss Lin. While it is certainly possible to have a good tea where the source is not known, I very much prefer to have transparency when buying my tea.

This is a limited batch tea so it might not be available for much longer. If you're intrigued, I definitely recommend picking some up before it is gone. You won't regret it.

Burnt Sugar Red sample provided for review by Teance.

Tea Places: Floating Mountain

Mon, 08/14/2017 - 16:00

I don't get to NYC as much as I used to these days so I try to take full advantage of the time that I am there. After I attended the Pret-A-Matcha Kickstarter Launch Party and visited Tea Dealers, I still had one more tea place on my to-do list. Floating Mountain first hit my radar when I started seeing posts about it on Instagram. From what I could gather on their website, this was definitely my kind of place.

Floating Mountain is tea house and art gallery located in a rather anonymous looking building on the Upper West Side. You'll need to ring the buzzer to get in and be prepared for some stairs. There is also a spa and yoga studio on the same floor. It's a relaxation one stop shop! It's also very important to note that they ask guests to remove their shoes. I was unprepared for that but was generally pretty ok with hanging out barefoot on such a hot day. It helped that I mostly had the place to myself.

The moment I crossed their threshold, I left the hectic city behind me and almost forgot where I was. Big, bright sunny windows and light colored wood added warmth to otherwise minimalistic space. There were several low tables with cushioned tatami mat seats that looked very cozy but I opted to sit at the tea bar since I had on a long dress.

The menu was still being developed during my visit but I was already impressed with what I saw. They had a fairly large selection of pure Chinese teas, all directly sourced. You won't find any Earl Grey here. The prices are a little steep but it is important to take into account that the tea is meant to be shared. If you are by yourself, I recommend opting for a single bowl of tea instead. I needed something cooling so I opted for the Anji Bai Cha. It was vegetal and sweet, exactly what I needed after a very hot day if trekking through the city.

My tea was expertly prepared in a glass gaiwan, all the better to show off the gorgeous leaves. I was provided some bits of dark chocolate. I was grateful for this because green tea seems to really affect my blood sugar levels in comparison with other teas. While I sipped my tea we chatted about many things, all circling back to tea. I was enthralled with tales of the views of Wuyishan and other sourcing adventures.

If I didn't have to be up early the next day I would have stayed longer and probably enjoyed another tea after this one. Elina, Anna, Roza, and Zoya were all wonderful hosts and I'm looking forward to visiting again soon. I used to work just a few blocks away and it's very good for my tea budget that I no longer do. Otherwise, I would be here all of the time!

Friday Roundup: August 6th - August 12th

Fri, 08/11/2017 - 16:00

I've been eagerly awaiting the report of Lord Devotea's recent visit to Portland and at long last, it is here. He couldn't have had a better tea tour guide than fellow blogger Geoff Norman.

Tea Teaching: Big Red Robe - Da Hong Pao

Chelsea at Taste the Tea gives us a short and sweet introduction to one of my favorite Wuyi oolongs. I love the tasting note visual and accompanying review of Adagio Tea's Da Hong Pao.

Bad Marketing Part 2

On this new-to-me blog, Tristan examines some of the outlandish claims made by tea vendors when it comes to how many times the tea can be infused. This is a sore subject for me as well and I am glad that someone is questioning these "bad marketing" practices.

Matcha (Green Tea) Latte Ice Cubes

Jee from Oh, How Civilized must be a mind reader. I've been on a big matcha kick lately but lattes are difficult to enjoy in the heat because they quickly become watered down. I love the decadent idea of condensed milk instead of my usual 2%.

Interview: Tyas Huybrechts of The Tea Crane

Sara at Tea Happiness did a very interesting interview with Tyas Huybrechts, a Belgian ex-pat living in Japan. Not only is he a Nihoncha instructor but also sells teas in order to further his vision of spreading Japanese culture.

Teanami Palace Grade Pu Erh (Ripe 2005)

Wed, 08/09/2017 - 16:00

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: small, dark and golden with visible buds
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: dark, almost opaque

I had a love-hate relationship with cooked puerh for a very long time. The primary reason for that is that there's a lot of poor quality stuff out there. It took a while for me to learn that lesson but it is an important one. Since then I've gotten much pickier about what I'll subject myself to. Life is too short to drink bad tea!

One of the keys to shou puerh is understanding leaf grades. Puerh leaves are graded on a scale from 0 to 9, with 0 being made from just the buds. It's a bit like the black tea grading system used in places like India and Sri Lanka in that size doesn't always guarantee quality. That being said, a 0 is more likely to be higher quality than a 9 (just as SFTGFOP is likely to be better than Dust grade leaf destined for tea bags).

This particular selection from Teanami is a 0, also known as imperial grade. The leaves were positively tiny compared to almost every other cooked puerh that I've had. This was a good sign! They were dark but with plenty of golden tips peppered throughout. I did a quick 10-second rinse just to be on the safe side but the liquor was fairly clean with hardly any sediment. It brewed up an almost opaque inky black from the start and stayed that way throughout numerous infusions.

My first thought when drinking this tea was, "Wow, that's smooth!". The mouthfeel was fairly thick and viscous with no bitterness at all. There was also a lot of natural sweetness from start to finish. What started as damp wood notes transitioned into hints of dark cherry in later infusions. It was definitely earthy but not offensively so. It reminded me more of dian hong than the typical forest floor effect. This tea has had a while to mellow out so there was very little dui wei, or fermentation, taste.

Palace Grade Pu Erh (Ripe 2005) sample provided for review by Teanami.

3 Teas That Sound Like They Wouldn't Taste Good (But They Totally Do!)

Mon, 08/07/2017 - 16:00

Mandarin can be quite a bit more poetic than the English language so sometimes things get lost in translation. I thought it might be fun to explore a few teas whose names might sound a bit odd when we first hear them. Rest assured, every one of these teas is actually quite delicious.

Bi Luo Chun
Bi Luo Chun, or green snail spring, is green tea from the Jiangsu Province of China with a seemingly innocuous title. Did you know that it used to go by Xia Sha Ren Xiang? The literal translation of this name is "scary fragrance". Legend has it that a tea picker ran out of space in her basket so she placed some leaves between her breasts (because that's totally where I would put them