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.comBlogger1709125
Updated: 14 min 16 sec ago

Friday Roundup: October 15th - October 21st

Fri, 10/20/2017 - 16:00
Green Tea Furikake

This week Anna at The Tea Squirrel brings us a recipe jam-packed with umami deliciousness. I have an aversion to most seafood but those of you that enjoy shrimp and bonito flakes definitely need to check this one out.

Ruby 8 Black - Totem Tea

Jordan at Tea-Tography got some really incredible shots of this black tea and incense combo from Totem Tea. I thought it was interesting because it was made with the #8 TTES cultivar rather than the much more typical #18.

Sugiyama Hikosaburo: The Discoverer of Yabukita

Did you know that the yabukita cultivar comprises approximately 75% of the tea grown in Japan? Ricardo at My Japanese Green Tea posted an excellent biography of the man who discovered it. I'm so grateful for the knowledge that he shares with all of us. I have yet to find a better resource about Japanese green tea than his blog.

Puerh? I Barely Know Her!

One thing that definitely made me smile this week was seeing Geoff from Steep Stories of the Lazy Literatus getting back to his usual antics. He got wonderfully tea drunk at a tasting held by Jeffrey McIntosh of Teabook. Somehow nipple-chakras came up in conversation. Don't say I didn't warn you...

Mandala Tea 2013 Autumn Song Mao Cha

Thu, 10/19/2017 - 11:20

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: large and wiry, abundance of buds
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: deep gold

Mandala Tea just recently reopened their website and many tea drinkers celebrated the occasion by ordering A.S.A.P., myself included. I needed some puerh mao cha to photograph for a blog post so it was the perfect excuse to load up. Simply put, mao cha is the raw material that is compressed to make a puerh cake. Although there were a few to choose from, I had to go with Autumn Song. The compressed version is still one of my all-time favorites (and I had recently finished the last of a cake).

This tea hails from Da Hu Sai village in the Mengku county area of Lincang, Yunnan. Although not certified organic, it is noted that the tea is produced without the use of pesticides and that it has been tested as such. The difference in appearance between compressed tea and mao cha is quite striking. This is a tea that definitely needs to be measured in grams rather than teaspoons because there is simply no way those big, beautiful leaves will fit. They were long and spindly with a large number of visible buds.

The taste was vegetal and sweet with a relatively thick mouthfeel. Heady floral notes were contrasted by crisp green bell peppers and hints of citrus. A creamy vanilla-like sweetness in the background lingered on my palate long after each sip. While there was some astringency, it was really only enough to give a fresh and lively feeling. If you're sensitive to this aspect of tea you may want to dial back your water temperature and treat this more like a green tea.

If you've never had mao cha and want to give it a try, this one would be a great place to start. It's not harsh yet still provides a lot of complexity. For long-term storage, compressed tea is really still the best way to go. Have you ever tried Autumn Song or any other kind of Mao Cha? How was it different from compressed tea? Let me know about it in the comments!

2013 Autumn Song Mao Cha was purchased from Mandala Tea.





An NYC Afternoon of Tea and Friendship

Tue, 10/17/2017 - 04:34

I live in a quiet little corner of New Jersey. It's not always perfect but it does have the advantage of easy travel to NYC. I am also lucky enough to have a small tribe of wonderful women there who all love the leaf as much as I do. From time to time an email will go out like the Bat-Signal, gathering us all together for tea.


We started our day off at La Colombe Coffee Roasters' Chelsea location. Alexis from Teaspoons & Petals is their tea consultant and we were all excited to see the debut of their newest tea offering, Silverton pour over Matcha Gyokyro! The Silverton pour over brewers they had in the cafe are seriously drool-worthy. I don't need one...but I definitely want one after seeing them in action. My cup was expertly brewed, a perfect blend of everything that I love about both matcha and gyokuro. This is definitely one to check out if you are ever in one of their cafes that offer it. Once we had all gotten our fix at La Colombe, it was time to hop in an Uber to the International Culinary Center.

Pour Over Matcha Gyokuro at La Colombe
The International Culinary Center was kind enough to allow us to hold a small tea party in their library. Surrounded by beautiful books and wonderful friends, my senses were quite overwhelmed. Keiko from Rishi Tea put together an incredible exploration of Japanese green teas. I was particularly excited to have the chance to compare different teas. Yabukita is by far the most prevalent cultivar so my not-so-inner tea nerd was ready to really dig into teas made with Okumidori, Saemidori, and Machiko.

So many delicious teas to taste!
One thing that our group has in common other than tea is that we all have a bit of a sweet tooth. Not only did she lay out a beautiful table but Keiko also tempted us with delicious mochi and macarons. Darlene also surprised us all with raspberry flavored Kit Kats, a perfect accompaniment for all of the matcha that we were drinking. The black lilies made for a really striking visual and I'm still admiring one in a vase on my kitchen table as I'm writing this post.




The Shincha Machiko was a definite standout for me. I tried it at a previous tasting and enjoyed it just as much the second time around. Machiko is a cultivar known for its unique cherry blossom aroma. Although the entire tasting consisted only of Japanese green teas, they were each distinctive and unique. Vertical and horizontal comparisons help to increase our understanding of tea. I highly recommend putting together a similar menu of your own if the opportunity ever presents itself.


Needless to say, I was more than a bit tea drunk by the time we were finished. That didn't stop me from wandering over to T Shop afterward with Jo. After sharing many sips of Yu Shan oolong (anything but green tea!), I was ready for the train ride(s) home.

I'll be sure to link to other blog posts about our gathering here:

Flights of Fancy - Tea Happiness

Do you have a favorite kind of Japanese green tea? Let me know about it in the comments!

Friday Roundup: October 8th - October 14th

Fri, 10/13/2017 - 16:00
Tea Recipe: Chocolate Masala Chai with Turmeric

Sara from Tea Happiness posted a recipe this week that really grabbed my attention. I rarely drink flavored teas anymore but there's definitely still a soft spot in my heart for a well-done masala chai. She really upped the ante by adding chocolate and turmeric.

How to Season and Clean Clay Kettle Boilers

I've been wanting a clay kettle for some time now. Cwyn's Death by Tea must have read my mind. She posted a comprehensive guide to caring for and cleaning them. Who knew that a potato would come in handy?

Just a quick note: Last week's roundup and regular posting schedule didn't happen due to my little sister's wedding festivities. Now that my maid of honor duties are completed I'm hoping to get things back on track. Thanks for bearing with me folks!

Tea Review: Yunomi Teas from Yumomi Farm Direct, Tsukigase Kenkō Chaen, and Kurahira Tea

Connie at Tea in Spoons reviewed three different teas from Yunomi, one of my favorite Japanese specialist vendors. I know I've said it in past roundups but I really love her photography style! The tencha, in particular, is something that I'd like to try since I have had relatively little experience with it.

Earl Grey Milk with Cotton Candy

Jee from Oh, How Civilized always comes up with the most decadent recipes. Tea-infused milk topped with a cloud of cotton candy just might take the cake though. I have got to give this one a try!

Tea Infused Deserts: Panna Cotta & Pots de Crème

Speaking of decadent sweets, Lu Ann at The Cup of Life shared two amazing sounding recipes with the help of blogger and cookbook author Tracey Ceurvels. I love her suggestion to experiment with different types of tea.

A quick note: Last week's roundup and posting schedule couldn't happen due to my little sister's wedding festivities. Now that my maid of honor duties are completed I'm hoping to get things back on track here. Thanks for hanging in there folks!
Jason and I at the reception. We clean up well :)

Sonwu Tea Rou Gui, Spring 2016, Tea Master Zhou, Wuyi Mountain Inner Circle

Wed, 10/11/2017 - 16:00

Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: dark, slightly curled
Steep time: 3 seconds, increasing with each infusion
Water Temperature: 212 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: deep reddish brown

Things have changed quite a bit since I first started reviewing tea. For a long time, email was the primary method of communication between tea companies and bloggers like myself. Nowadays I am more likely to receive a direct message on Instagram. Being a pseudo-millennial, I am OK with this. When I received such an inquiry from new-to-me Sonwu Tea my interest was definitely piqued. A glance at their website showed a focus on single-origin Chinese teas.

I'm a sucker for handwritten labels and although just a single serving, this package was beautifully done. Rou Gui roughly translates as cinnamon. The name might lead you to think the taste would be spicy. There are hints of that but I would say the defining characteristic is a fruitiness reminiscent of dark red fruits. Although it is an individual cultivar, Rou Gui is often used for blending with famous Shui Xian varieties like Da Hong Pao and Tie Luo Han. It is one of my favorite Wuyi oolong varieties and I have been lucky enough to try many excellent examples over the years.

The brewing directions for this tea were a bit lighter than my personal style but I always try a vendor's recommendation first before experimenting. A quick initial flash brew of 3 seconds produced a surprisingly robust cup. The taste was fruity with hints of chocolate covered espresso beans. Yum! Later brews revealed a slightly drying minerality along with a sweet woody tobacco-like character. By gradually increasing my infusion time, I was able to make at least 10 to 15 infusions before the leaves had given their all.

This tea is definitely not a daily drinker. It might just rank among the priciest that I've reviewed here on the blog. That being said, sometimes you do get what you pay for. It was everything that a Rou Gui should be. Note the "Inner Circle" part of the name. It indicates that it was grown in the protected core part of the Wuyi Shan region making it a Zheng Yan, or true cliff, tea. I also have a Huang Guan Yin from Sonwu Tea in my to-be-reviewed pile. After enjoying this one so much I can't wait to dive into it.

Rou Gui, Spring 2016, Tea Master Zhou, Wuyi Mountain Inner Circle sample provided for review by Sonwu Tea.