Friday, December 11, 2009

Happy Holidays!

Thanksgiving 2009--Wrightsville Beach, NC

Wow it's been awhile! Grad school has officially let me go for the holidays since I've just finished grading the exams for the history class I TA'd for this past semester. I've sadly had little chance to really enjoy any tea, or sleep for that matter!! It's one of my New Years Resolutions to get back to the Tea and to try and have a few moments to myself each day where I can enjoy a cup of tea and not think about the bazillion things that I have to do. So hopefully that will improve my posts as well!

A fellow tea enthusiast, Jason Witt, has written a book, Spirtuality of Tea :God's Blessing for Your Mind, Body, and Spirit , and it's priced for the holidays over at He's been good enough to send along an excerpt from the book and a short bio.

Tea is God’s Blessing for your mind, body, and spirit. The three are inseparable and none is most important; tea is God’s Gift to your whole person. It will first give you Peace of Mind, reducing the stress that could kill you at a young age, and grant you better focus.

Then tea keeps you young as the Fountain of Youth. Stress would otherwise age you, along with a number of other factors, ending with the major diseases. Tea is known to potentially prevent all that. And it is spiritual virtue to come to God like a child (who doesn’t age.) It’s worthy of Paradise.

Finally tea is revealed as the Tree of Life. It’s the healing Food of Heaven, now available here on earth for these current generations. And pu-erh tea shows itself enlightening as a particularly spiritual tea, a blessing upon those who enjoy it faithfully.

Jason Witt…has God as his Significant Other.

Jason…is an expert on the Spirituality of Tea (with a Western perspective.)

he…likes tea-themed music of all eras.

…is a good listener.

…eats a low-calorie diet.

…has overcome a lot of addictions, including to wine and women.

…doesn't ever want to own a car again or buy his own house (so he's also green.)

…lives the simple life without gathering many possessions.

…nevertheless drinks a lot of tea.

…now resides in Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA.

He's been busy it seems getting to know tea! You can read more about Jason, and about his book over at his site.

There have also been several Tea-Sales going on online, so if you're looking to stock up on something that you've just run out of this may be a good time to check and see if there are any specials at your favorite sites!

As for me, I'm content to cozy up on my couch, knit some presents for my friends, and relax with a cup of tea. There might be several papers to write in a few weeks, and loads of books to read, and a whole new set of students to get to know and to help them learn more about history... but right now it seems like a good time to just kick back.

Happy Holidays Ya'll!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Back into the swing of things...

So the tea-blog commences again! Sorry for the haitus, but moving and settling in as well as starting to get into the swing of classes took a lot longer than I expected! But here I am again, back enjoying tea, regardless of the outside temperature~!

But today I don't have a tea review ready, sorry! Instead just an update about what I'm doing etc etc.

I got into graduate school! So I am currently studying Public History, and I hope to graduate not this, but next spring. I'm near the beach, which is amazing, and am learning how to play the ukulele, once I learn how to play an entire song i'll have to post a video or something, hahaha~ I'm also working as a TA, I've got my hands on 70 or so Western Civ students and i'm helping them better understand the ancient historians, they're not fans of Homer or Livy it turns out...

I'm attending a conference to present a paper as part of a panel! incidently, the paper also won an award and might be getting printed!! Very exciting!

I'm working on getting a strictly-tea area in my room made up, for this i'm also looking to procure a kotatsu. It's going to be a christmas present to myself :D if anyone knows where I can find one let me know!

Anyways, i'm off to enjoy part of my labor day weekend at the beach! I hope ya'll are enjoying the holiday as well!
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Thursday, July 9, 2009

No tea for 2 months?!

A recent comment on my last entry has reminded me that i do have things to do on the computer other than check my email, haha~ so where have i been, why haven't i updated in a few months?

In the middle of May I graduated from College! and then promptly moved home, visited my graduate school to hunt for apartments, and got prodded and poked by various doctors to update my medical history before heading off to Alabama to intern.

I was in Alabama most of June, and sadly internet-less everywhere i stayed. Many nights i would sit in a local coffee house to steal some wifi or would head over to the library. If nothing else i learned that internet is a big part of how i stay connected!

I finally returned home near the end of June and although the internet here has a mind of it's own i have been slowly getting back into doing everything i used to do. Buying a Wii although has rather drained my time and i find it addicting in all the right ways! Now that my roommate and I have finally settled on an apartment and filled out all the paperwork for it, i have less worries and can shift some time around to finally get in a few tea-things.

That said i've not ordered any new tea and while there has been the few instances of me rummaging through my boxes of college things to find a tea that i had a craving for, i've mostly been stuck with lipton, and fast food tea. Which has led me to actually find most fast-food teas drinkable. I've also found that Atlanta has very few loose tea stores. Which is rather sad.

I'm hoping that once i finally settle into my new apartment I will be able to then focus on actually getting all my tea together and then hopefully finding some new teas. I'll also be closer to the Only American Tea Plantation, which i hope to visit sometime soon.

So to finally answer the question from Jason. I do love green teas! and more specifically japanese greens. However due to a variety of things, mostly a lack of funds to buy and ship tea, and the timing to have fresh tea. I just haven't gotten around to reviewing many Japanese Greens. I have reviewed the very tasty and sadly seasonal Sakura Sencha from Den's as well as their Genmaicha and Bancha. All very tasty teas that i always try to keep on the shelf. I have researched getting into Matcha, but unless i save my tea budget for a few months i'm afraid that i'll not get into it anytime soon. I was planning on staying in the know about this past spring's new Senchas but i decided to wait for reviews from others since my tea budget is rather small. This pause caused me to get off track most of the summer. Finally i haven't really focused a lot on greens, despite my love for them, because there a lot of other people that have focused on greens. I like to try teas of a variety of styles because there are some great gems out there that might not be the typical loose leaf but are delicious none-the-less! Hopefully when I have something that resembles a real job i'll be able to try more teas. I hope that you and the rest of my 'viewers' stay tuned for that :)

I might not post as often as i should this month but I hope to start posting more regularly in August! I hope that everyone else out there is having a great summer!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Cup-- 15 Donkey Chai

Finals week is upon me. While I am normally stressed out around this time i am rather laid back this year, most likely because of the ease of most of my classes. I actually haven't had much tea in the past week or so. Why? because while making some of the delicious Donkey Chai that my friends graciously brought me from OU i burned my fingers. yep boiling water is really hot.

So with both hands stuck into a large bowl of cold water i managed to sip at the beverage and enjoy it even though by making it i had maimed myself and was unable to type the rest of my history paper. Yet while i went to bed, clutching an ice pack, i smiled at the fact that my room still smelled like chai.

Donkey Chai is different from normal chai. It is a mix stir in, like hot chocolate, instead of a chai-tea infusion. Also this is not made from, die not travel on, or smell like a donkey. it instead is from The Donkey. Cafe in the Athens, OH area. I highly suggest that you stop by anytime you are in the area.

Chai, in general, is a spicy beverage, usually an infusion of tea and herbs in hot milk or water. the donkey makes their chai with cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, sugar, and black tea and mix it with hot steamed milk. It is quite delicious. Spicy but smooth, not too sweet but a good dessert. It's aroma entices, it's taste pleases, and when you reach the end of the cup you can't help but feel like having another.

In a side note. It seems like my keyboard is rather popular. it does need to be repainted, and this time properly sealed. if any of ya'll are interested in jazzing up your own keyboard you can check out my earlier post where i tell how to do it. it makes for a rather nice weekend project :3

Brew Time-mix, not leaves
Water Temp-boiling
Color- creamy brown
Fragrance- spicy and sweet
Taste-smooth and spicy
Best during- cold weather
Style- mix
Price per bag- $4.00
Place bought- The Donkey
Overall- mmm~ delicious!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Cups, Mugs, and Drinking Vessels

I got a new mug today :3

typically i'm not the type of person to buy red things. the amount of things that are red that i own can be counted on one hand. But this mug caught my eye. i don't know if it's because the nifty glazing that is around the rim that i can't seem to get a good picture of, or the fact that the mug is stamped with ginkgo leaf patterns. It could even be it's adorable size and the fact that the thumb-hold is half way down so it makes wrapping the rest of the hand under the mug so easy. But i think this mug will become one of my favorites rather fast.

I have a variety of drinking vessels as it is. they range from the typical coffee mug with pictures or phrases on them, to the normal English tea-cup. I have fancy double-walled mugs and low, almost matcha-bowl-esque mugs. But i haven't really picked them because i felt inexplicably drawn to them. Maybe it's because they weren't hand made... hmm.

There are many vessel types that tea can be enjoyed in. They might vary in name from place to place but their purpose remains constant. They exist to transfer the delicious experience of tea from the pot to our mouths. While the people that speak English might refer to these vessels as mugs, cups, or glasses those that speak Japanese would differentiate the vessels by their size and use.

Matcha bowls, or chawan are short, squat, bowl-ish drinking vessels. They are always wider than they are tall, allowing for easier whisking of the matcha into a delicious froth. Yunomi on the other hand, are similar to the chawan since they do not have handles, but are taller than they are wide. Both can vary in size from small to larger.

Chinese teacups seem to typically be much smaller in size. I've read that originally the Chinese did not use cups, and instead poured the tea straight from the pot into their mouths. it was only when the English came that they started to use cups. I'm not sure about how true this is, but it still does not change the fact that most Chinese teacups are small, holding usually somewhere around 30ml. They are typically only used with yixing pots or gaiwan.

Most other Asian countries seem to follow china and japan in relation to what their tea-drinking-vessels look like. This is most likely because of their involvement in the spreading of tea and tea-drinking. There is even a Museum of Tea Ware in Hong Kong.

I've yet to decide what i should 'christen' my new mug with. I've got a lot of oolongs yet to review, but the days are becoming hotter, leading me to ice down more of what I'm drinking. Do any of you have a favorite mug/cup/glass? why is it your favorite? does it hold a special memory? I'm curious to know!

I have to give props to Scott Frankenberger who made my lovely mug, and to Artist's Own, for having such a neat store. Bottoms up to ya'll!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Cup--14 Barley Tea

Sadly there are no pictures today, as i enjoyed this tea while out dining in my area.

Barley tea is a tea that is served cold in Japan as a cooling summer drink, and served hot and cold in Korea. While this is not a true tea, since it contains no tea leaf, it is still quite delicious. Since it is a Tizane, it is also non-caffienated.

Barley Tea is made by roasting barley and then brewing the roasted barley. While many places use ground roasted barley tea-bags today, there are still some places that sell whole roasted barley. Barley tea is called Mugicha in Japan and Boricha in Korea. Other places around the globe also enjoy their barley-tea, in Britain it is known simply as Barley Water, while the Mexican population enjoys aguas frescas.

Some claimed health benefits of barley tea include improved blood fluidity due to cleansing the blood of impurities, and reduced stress.

For me this tea was very enjoyable, it was light, warm, and delicious even when tepid. It went really well with our pickled veggies and sushi and it peaked my interest enough to go try and find a place to order it from. While a co-drinker found it slightly bitter, i thought that it was a nice cleansing taste. It was perfect to have on such a rainy day and really made the meal i think!

Color- light brown
Fragrance- earthy
Best during- i could drink this all day
Overall- delicious! i'll have to find a place to order some

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Cup--13 Sun Tea/ Iced Tea

It's Spring! ... well... it was before they started to predict snow the early part of this week. That's why it looks so gray outside for 'spring'.

My favorite thing to have in the spring and summer is a nice glass of iced tea. It's refreshing and tasty! However my iced tea isn't that sugary mess that most people think of when they think iced tea. no no. Indeed, i often wonder why you'd want to pollute a perfectly good tea with loads of sugar?! Of course i guess i'm not in the majority of people dislike the sometimes sharp taste that iced tea can have, for me that can be especially refreshing on a hot day, it's cleansing and doesn't drag me down like some carbonated drinks can.

I still remember the Sun-tea pitcher and glass set that my parents had (and still have parts of) when i was growing up.

Sun-Tea is what is sounds like. Tea made using the heat of the sun. It was a big deal when i was growing up because it was just so darn cool to watch. However many people do not condone this method since it can lead to bacteria in your tea. very yucky. However sun-tea can still be enjoyed if you take the necessary precautions and keep your eyes open.

--First you need to wash the jar that you'll be making it in.
--Then you need to use actual tea, not an herbal tizane. The caffeine in real tea will keep the bacteria from growing for a few hours.
--Fill your jar with water and your tea, close the jar and let it sit in the sun.
--3 to 4 hours is the max that you should let your tea 'steep' depending on how hot it is you probably will not need even this long.
--Remove teabag/leaves and refrigerate tea
--Never make more tea than you will consume that day. do not save the tea. if it starts to develop ropey strands in it or appears to be thick/syrupy DO NOT DRINK IT.

Sun tea is fun to watch and fun to drink (provided it is not bacteria laden) i think it's something that every kid should do at least once growing up. It doesn't need any sort of heat source so it's pretty safe. The water inside the jar won't get up past 130* so there's no worrying about burns or anything else.

My glass of choice for iced tea is an old jam/jelly jar, as you can see from the pictures. To make my tea, I used Keemun Rhapsody, a tea that I've yet to review (it's coming! i swear!) But you can use any type of tea. I prefer my iced teas made out of blacks or greens, although I've had some fruit herbals that are just as delicious.

Bottoms up for Spring!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Cup--12 Spring Mint

Wow. That's a word that i continually used throughout tasting this tea. It brews up a very interesting Green color and gives off an very interestingly minty aroma. While the tea was not labeled i'm suspecting this is a green tea, only because of the color.

Spring Mint originated from Vi-jon a place that i know nothing about. But then is apparently marketed by Wal du Marte, perhaps some sort of titled family? they seem to have made their money in trades and bargaining, appeasing the masses with their lower priced items.

While the leaves are really only good for one infusion, for me one infusion was all that i could take. One glass of this will leave your mouth tingling and your breath minty! Perhaps because it's a green tea this also seemed to help freshen my breath in the morning! While the green color can be quite the turnoff it does seem to have some redeeming qualities. It can be enjoyed hot or cold and throughout the year. It also seems to be widely available as well!

Kind-Green Tea
Brew Time-40 sec
Water Temp-175* or there abouts
Color- medium to dark green
Fragrance- minty!
Best during-mornings
Style- Loose
Price per oz- $0.12 what a steal!
Place bought-Wal-mart
Overall- refreshing, but can't drink too much!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Cup 11-- Milk Oolong

Yes i am FINALLY getting around to those oolongs that caused the tea carnage :)

Milk Oolong, sometimes called silk-oolong, has a following and also a lot of critics. Many people are skeptical about the milk taste since it's not normally found in tea. Many producers of this tea actually spray down the leaves with milk or milk concentrate to produce the flavor in the end product. But true milk-oolong should not be produced this way, instead the taste should naturally occur as a by-product of the leaves being stressed by a drop in temperature shortly before the leaves are harvested.

the ancients had a different tale about where the taste came from. The moon fell in love with a comet that was passing through the sky. The comet passed by and went on and burned out. The moon, greatly saddened, sobbed and howled causing a great cold wind to blow across the earth. The tea that they harvested the next day was found to have a milky taste that they attributed to the moon's tears.

From what i can tell there are few places that can or do produce real milk-oolong. Most people seem to get theirs from producers in Taiwan and they fall under the category of "jian xuan oolongs". Many people seem to have had the shoddy versions of milk tea that will normally result in an overpowering milky scent and taste.

This tea is quite pleasant. Dry it has a faintly milky scent, brewing this scent intensifies a bit. the taste is smoother than other oolongs I've had it's kinda of creamy or sweet, but the scent is only slightly milky and the color of the tea isn't muddled at all, it's a pale to medium yellow. it reminds me of daffodils only a tad lighter. While many people tend to use gong-fu brewing of small and short infusions, i brew most of my tea English style, i like lots of tea :3 So that might be why the second cup doesn't taste quite as good as the first but is still enjoyable. The third cup doesn't have the same taste as the previous cups, it's rather plain. But the first and second cups are worth the lack of staying power i think.

While this isn't my most favorite oolong, it's pretty good...but i think that you have to be in a certain mood to really enjoy it. It's not something that i could mindlessly choose and enjoy, i think i would have to really have a thirst for it in particular and seek it out.

As a side note, i got some new tea-objects! Over my spring break i ventured into a crate and barrel and they had their bodum electric kettles on sale! i also picked up a bodum mug, because the double walled glass is awesome to look at and also keeps my tea from going cold too quickly :3 i'm enjoying both of my purchases! i really like that the electric kettle has an automatic shut off and will heat up rather fast!

I'd also like to apologize for the lack of posts recently, between sicknesses, breaks, and the semester wrapping up, I've also had to start making decisions about which grad school i'll go to next year and weighing my options. It's been pretty busy! regardless, I've had 400 individual viewers so far from 28 countries and 33 states! exciting times! i hope to update some more this week with more of my oolong offerings!

Kind-Oolong Tea
Brew Time-90 sec
Water Temp-195* or there abouts
Color- pale to medium yellow
Fragrance- milky, flowery, sweet
Taste-sweet floral, smooth, milky
Best during-meals, i thi nk this would be good before-bed as well
Style- Loose
Price per oz- $7.10 (abt)
Place bought- TeaCuppa
Overall- good, but only when you're in the mood for it

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sick Leave...again D:

brought on by perhaps the major change in temperatures, or perhaps by my own negligence, i've somehow gotten sick yet again.

while i'm rather sure that it's not strep again, i still can't smell anything :< very saddening.

I'm also sorry for the lack of posts recently, between getting ready for break, being on break, and getting back from break i've been crazy busy @,@; i hope that things will return to normal soon :3

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Celebration 3-- St. Patricks Day!

A merry morn to ye lads and lasses!

I hope that ya'll have had a great St. Patrick's Day! Hopefully you're wearing green as not to be pinched!

While that delicious looking cake is not green, it was delicious and spring-y! To celebrate spring, spring break (which i'm currently on :3), St. Patty's Day etc, my mother and i ventured forth today in search of a north GA teahouse called Crabapple Tea Room & Bakery.

We went for lunch, and we got quite a lot! While I did not peruse their loose-leaf tea menu, instead opting for some of their iced peach tea, i did find their lunch offerings to be plentiful and delicious! My mother had one soup of the day, a tomato bisque, while i had the other, chicken noodle. Both were hot, steamy, and chock full of vegetables. The chicken noodle reminded me of the soup that my grandmother makes with the chicken stock left over from making chicken salad. it was really comforting and delicious!

For our entrees My mother had the quiche of the day, a bacon cheddar deal, while i tried their three different 'salads' tuna, chicken, and egg salads on top of greens. The quiche did not disappoint, and the salads were rather fantastic. The tuna salad was better than any other i've had and the egg salad had pimentos i believe, which added a different swing from the usual egg salad that i've had. The chicken salad was different, but good. It had chunks of apples and raisins mixed in among the chunks of chicken.

For dessert My mother chose their brownie, which was easily as big as my hand, while i decided upon the hummingbird cake. Oooohhh the hummingbird cake. That is what you see at the top of this post. The strawberry, coconut, cream cheese frosted goodness. After soup, salads and multiple glasses of iced tea i wasn't able to finish the entire slice of cake. Words are not enough to describe the goodness that is this cake.

Also, along with both the soup and entree came cherry-chip scones, which were light and sweet, smaller than the normal scone ( they were about the size of a half dollar) they were the perfect sweet treat.

While we were two of the four total visitors in the tea-room on this gorgeous day we were served promptly, our glasses were kept full, and we were even given cups to take the rest of our tea with us! This is definitely a place i will visit again, and when i do i hope to better peruse their tea-menu and their pastry selection!

Crabapple is located off a main thoroughfare of the town in which it resides, but it's a quiet place, the building in which it resides is an old house, from which it seems they have retained many features, including the wooden floors and windows. The shop offers not only delicious treats and beverages, but also a rather good selection of European style tea-ware, candles, and other goods. It has both indoor and outdoor seating it looked like, although here in the Atlanta area people seem to think that it's still cold when it's in the 60's.

I'd really enjoy visiting this place on a Saturday for their high-tea. perhaps i can rally a few more people next time to come with me. I'm sure the lure of delicious desserts and pleasant engaging wait-staff would be more than enough for most :3

if you're looking for a lunch get-away, a delicious place to give in to the cravings of your sweet-tooth, or just a nice place to have lunch and relax i'd highly recommend this tea-room!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Cup 10--Emerald Needle

It seems like spring has sprung here in Indiana, and while it's likely that it'll spring right back to winter-like conditions, it has caused me more and more to think tea that is.

Today's Tea is Emerald Needle, an aptly named tea since it highly resembles the shedding of a Christmas tree. Dark green buds make up the entirety of this tea, and while they don't open up to show themselves off like oolongs or some other greens, the still have some visual interest, and the buds seem to have lighted in color after steeping. The dry leaves smell rather like a forest, kind of like bark and flowers, maybe more like dried flowers? Slightly herb smelling as well, but not overly so. It's a very pleasant and calming scent that reminds me of when i used to build forts out in the forest when i was in grade school.

The tea seems to retain some of these characteristics since it smells about the same brewed. While the taste is a bit vegetal it still has a flowery taste. While the fit cup i brewed of this i steeped too long and go a slightly bitter/smoky taste, it still wasn't an unpleasant or lasting taste. The second cup i brewed shorter than usual and there was just the slightest touch of smoky, and i had to focus to actually get that taste. Subsequent cups were just as pleasing.

While this tea isn't some sort of Rare-Super-Premium-A+-High-Grade green tea, it isn't bad as an everyday tea. While i could see some people being put off by the smoky/bitter taste, i think it's a great addition to my breakfast. The floral and foresty scent makes me think spring as well. It's probably not a tea that i'll keep a stock of at all times, but it's not something that i'll never re-order either.

Kind-Green Tea
Brew Time-Less than a minute
Water Temp-170* or there abouts
Color- pale gold or a darker yellow
Fragrance- floral, forest,herb
Taste-sweet floral, slightly bitter/smoky, smooth
Best during-meals, early in the day
Style- Loose
Price per oz- $4.00 (sample tin)
Place bought- Adagio
Overall- rather common, but not bad

Friday, March 6, 2009

Cup 9--Sakura Sencha

oh sakura sencha, you taste like spring. You make me think of warmer weather. You remind me that winter will eventually end!

Den's tea has a seasonal cherry flavored sencha. To their normal delicious sencha they add in some cherry blossoms. and my oh my. I'm very tempted to start up a tea-fridge just to store some of this!

I had my first taste of this on a sunny day. Very bright outside. The tea made me feel like it was spring already. i decided to leave my coat inside, and walked out into the 8* weather, and then promptly walked back inside to retrieve my coat. needless to say this tea is quite the trickster for persuading me that it was warm outside because it tasted like spring.

so what exactly does spring taste like? tart cherry with a backdrop of sweet corn. It seriously reminded me of a cherry pie almost! Not overly sweet, not astringent or bitter in the least. it didn't have the fake cherry taste like cough syrup (although i have had a lot of that recently!) but a very pleasant glowing flavor.

but how's it's staying power. 4 rounds in and i can usually get a few more decent, if less cherry and more sencha-y, cups. of course all of this is brewed in my new kyusu. I'm very happy with this little fella. While he does leak a bit around the lid when filled full and doesn't always stop the complete flow of tea when you plug the hole, he does brew up a good sized cup and rinses out well.

Kind-Green Tea
Brew Time-Less than a minute
Water Temp-170* or there abouts
Color- light green
Fragrance- flowery, cherry kinda sweet
Taste-tart cherry and sweet corn
Best during- cold weather? ;D
Style- Loose
Price per oz- $4.75
Place bought- Den's Tea
Overall- very nice flavored sencha!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Boil 2-- Pu eggs and other new things!

So i had some eggs, and so pu-erh tea from Adagio that i had gotten as a free sample. I've tried drinking this pu-erh twice and both times the taste has just been drinkable, but the smell was rather bad. so i decided to use if for my tea-eggs this time around... in retrospect it wasn't the best of ideas.

brewed in a small batch the pu-erh is just a bit smelly. add it to an entire pot of boiling water and let it simmer for an hour or so and the entire room will smell like a pachyderm house. no. i am NOT kidding. i actually heard people in the hallway wondering where the funky smell was coming from. a spell in the fridge was actually worse. the entire fridge smelled like pu.

i'm sure in time the smell of pu-erh will not faze me in the slightest. but currently it makes me gag a bit. Pu-erh, i've been told, is rather like dark wine, it's an acquired taste. Apparently very earthy and delicious. Pu-erh is usually tea that has been pressed into Beengs, basically Frisbee like disks of tea. Tea producers sell these beengs and the people that buy it will age it, usually at least 3-5 years before having some. Older beengs of pu are usually sold for more. However if stored properly it can supposedly last much longer than wine, which will eventually re-ferment and become nasty sour tasting wine.

When you decide the pu is ripe for the drinking then you take the beeng and using a pu-pick (i'm sure that this has a proper name... but it's basically like a letter opener) you break apart the disk of pu. slowly working your way around the pu to break it in half and then flexing the half of the disks carefully so you wiggle the individual leaves free instead of riping and tearing them.

Pu collecting is something that many serious pu-drinkers do. Some people have seperate storage areas for their pu, much like a cigar or wine collector would. This is not unlike the tea-fridge's that many white/green/oolong drinkers have started to use to store their teas.

i actually have not tried these yet. i'm worried about how they'll taste, maybe i'll mix them up and make egg salad? i'll keep ya'll posted.

In other news! Meet the newest member of the family, the Shudei kyusu from Den's Tea.

isn't it cute?! it's a 9oz glazed kyusu that they're currently offering to past customers for 9 bucks, or if you're a first time customer you can order it in a 'novice package' which is basically the starter package with this kyusu. If all kyusus are this cute i may have a problem restraining myself from buying them @,@

I christened the new pot with some Houjicha Gold, or roasted bancha. It was cold today and it really hit the spot! In this order i also got some more of the Genmaicha Extra Green that i've previously reviewed. But the main reason that i ordered right before the new greens came out was because i wanted to try their sakura sencha.

ohhh. it was good the first time around. i should be reviewing it later this week since i'm more or less recovered from my strep.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Step 5: Getting others to Support your Tea-habits

Unlike traditional 12 step programs that have the person try to reduce whatever sort of addiction they have, the Tea-Step system is designed to help the tea-addict gain a larger perspective of the tea world. In doing so they can truly see how far they still need to go before being called 'obsessed' :3

A good way to learn about new kinds of teas is to take the free samples that companies offer online. Usually you don't even have to enter in a credit card number, just sign up for their mailings, they send you some free samples, and if you like them you can order some more from them.

One company that is doing this is Tropical Tea Co. They are sending out samples of their tea every 2 weeks to the people that sign up. While i have not shopped with them before, i am not one to pass up free tea.

Another place that is doing this is Teasta. You do not need to put down any Credit card info, this is a one time deal, and you get to pick 2 teas to try.

Yogi Tea
also gives out a few free samples to new customers. It might take a bit longer, and it looks like it is bagged, but i'm goign to give it a shot :3 gotta try everything at least once!

There's also Zhong Guo Cha who is giving out one free sample, you get to choose from 12 choices. There hasn't been much about this place, so i dunno if they are actually still up and running or not, but i guess i shall find out :3

I'm still down with the strep, but have hacked up/blown out a large amount of what has been clogging my throat and nose the past few days. I hope to be back up to snuff after this weekend :3

In the meantime however why don't you check out a hilarious music video

Elemental - Cup Of Brown Joy from Moog on Vimeo.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Sick Leave

So you might have been wondering about the lack of posts recently. I've been down with the Strep-Throat for the past few days. Since this interferes with my ability to taste anything i've decided not to do any tastings this week :<

I have yet to get any sort of response to my 'tea carnage' letters that i emailed to the company, customs, and DHL. but it's fine, since at least it made me feel better :3

There was a comment where some person said that they liked my keyboard i believe... :D i like it too! although it needs to be re-painted. I painted it almost 2 years ago i believe. I used the type of craft paint used on model cars and the like. First i sanded the keys lightly, then i applied 2 coats of paint before lettering and sealing it. bur i failed to get the best sealant and the keys that i used the most, letters, space, and ctrl. are very worn off. i also painted my mouse to match my keyboard :D

so instead of tea today you get to see my lovely keyboard in it's former glory :3 i took each key off and set it ona piece of paper labeled with it's original location so i wouldn't get the keys mixed up. So the Q key is still Q etc :3

I'd also like to celebrate that my blog has now had visitors from 20 other countries (not including the US) yay~!!

We've also had visitors from 25 of the 50 states!

I've been tracking these things on Google Analytics since late last month, but still find it interesting to see where people come from who view my site and how they get here! For example people searched for the history of the chinese new year and found out about some tea as well!

While this program is probably more detailed than i will ever use, i do find it useful for tracking my pageviews and such :3 it's also interesting to see where all ya'll are from!

anyways back to bed with me, and hopefully i'll get better soon so i can review some tea for ya'll :3

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Lament of the Leaves

I always look forward to packages arriving. I almost always get them with tracking so i can watch over them from my computer, urging them to arrive faster and somehow thinking that i have so effect on them.

I had seen that TeaCuppa had a promotion with $5 off an order if placed in Jan. so i placed an order with them, and excitedly awaited the arrival of some new Oolongs. After a rather intense myth exam i took a nap, and woke up to find that my tea had been delivered! there was much rejoicing. I skipped down to the mail room, attracting many looks of amusement. I received the package and hopped back to my to my room, and using my scissors carefully cut the large bubble envelope. peeking in i saw the first thing that set my alarm bells ringing.

there was tea on the inside envelope. i flipped the package over, "inspected by customs" tape. i took out the second envelope, finding it slashed open, revealing the padded envelope inside. there was loose tea falling out of the package. i was not a happy camper. i took out the third padded envelope to find my tea inside of this one. Two of my 50g packages had been slashed open, presumably when they opened it to make sure it wasn't some sort of drug delivery apparently. while i do not have a scale, over 2 tablespoons of rolled oolong was lost in this brutal attack upon my post. I was, and still am rather distraught over this.

While i will be writing letters to teacuppa, customs, and DHL to alert them to this destruction and loss of property that they have had a part in i felt the need to also express my grief over the loss of good oolong.

The pictures that follow might not be appropriate for tea lovers. The grusome scene that they hold are almost too much.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Step 4: Pursuit of Tea

For the past couple weeks I have been wanting to try Matcha on it's own. Perhaps it's been longer than that though, since it is one of the main things that i think of when i think about Japan. Regardless of the time frame however, i've been searching for Matcha Starter Kit. Why do you need a kit, you might ponder. Matcha is different from other loose leaf teas.

Matcha is actually a very finely ground powdered leaf. To prepare it you whisk the powdered tea with water. So you need a few specialty items in order to properly enjoy matcha.

1.- You must have the Tea.
2.- A chasen, or bamboo whisk
3.- A bowl, preferably a Chawan, or Tea-Bowl
4.- A Tea Scoop or Chasaku

Many places offer such packages, and so that others may avoid the amount of searching that i went through i shall recount the places as well as the items that they offer and their price before shipping.

Matcha Source---Basic Kit $54---With bowl $75
30g of Organic Matcha, 100 prong whisk, a chasaku, and a tea sifter-- if you choose to get a bowl you have a choice of two
----Seems a bit expensive and i'm not really into organic...

In Pursuit of Tea---Basic Kit $56--Deluxe Kit $95
20g of Thin Grade Matcha, a small whisk, a ceramic bowl--The deluxe kit includes a nicer bowl, better whisk, a whisk stand (to protect the tines) and a Chasaku.
----Still expensive

The Tea Smith
---Basic Kit $54.95
"premium grade" Matcha, 'Authentic' whisk, 'handmade' bowl and 'delicate' chasaku.
----Not enough detail in the description to make me want to even consider this as an option.

---Basic Kit $30
100 prong whisk, choice between 4 different bowls, and choice between two different chasaku. There is also a travel kit for the same price that gives you a transportable whisk and chasaku as well as a choice between two travel bowls. all of it comes in a nice little bag.
----Getting to choose my own tea would be nice.

---Basic Kit $41.50~abt (3,800 Yen)
20g of their matcha, Whisk, Chasaku, bowl, and teacloth.
----They are known for their green tea, but shipping would increase the price.

---Build a Kit $53.84-$175--You choose the items that you want and get 10% off
30g of tea (5 to choose from), whisk (2 to choose from), a Chasaku, a tea-bowl (8 to choose from), you can also choose an accesory (such as a whisk stand) and extra matcha and get 10% off on those items as well.
----I like being able to choose the bowl and tea, they are also known for their green tea, but still pricey

Hibiki-an--- Basic Kit $105-- Soheki Kit $174
40g of their superior grade matcha, whisk, chasaku, their most basic bowl, a whisk stand. The Soheki kit includes a nicer bowl, a higer grade matcha, and a matcha sifter
----expensive like whoa. But nice kit. Known for their green teas.

Koyama-en---Eco-set $63 (5,775 Yen)
20g of Yugen Matcha, Bowl, whisk, chasaku, towel.
----Pricey, and harder to order...

Maiko--- Matcha for Two $105 (9,450 Yen)
40g of Matcha, 2 bowls, whisk, chasaku.
----Known for their wide selection of green teas, but i don't need two bowls

Den's Tea---$50-$73
The Travel kit is the cheapest, it comes with small whisk and collapsible Chasaku, as well as a crystalline clear bowl and 20 g of matcha. all of it in a travel bag. the other sets include the same items only with different bowls, a full sized whisk, and full sized chasaku.
----I've ordered with them before, they're known for green teas, and shipping would be free.

From looking at these places i've narrowed the choices down to Yuuki-cha, Den's tea, Ippodo, and O-cha. I'm still weighing the options but i'll let ya'll know what i end up with :3

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Cup 8-- Houjicha Gold (Roasted Bancha)

There is a certain type of cereal of which i am fond of. It's Puffed Brown Rice. While many people do not like it because it's rather bland, i find it crunchy a good snack food. Houjicha Gold reminds me of Puffed Brown Rice.

The leaves have a slightly sweet, but definite rice smell. The leaves themselves are chopped pieces of leaf with stem. They produce a dark gold or amber liquor that is smooth and has a mild rice and nutty taste. It reminds me of sitting in the woods, with the sun filtering down thru the leaves and a good book in my lap. Very comforting.

Perhaps it's how Houjicha is made. Houjicha is made by roasting Bancha over high heat. Bancha, also known as 'common tea', is made from the thick bottom part of the tea leaf of the second flush, the leaves come from the same tea trees that are used to produce Sencha. Because it is made of wide, second flush leaves, Bancha is considered lower quality and as such, is less expensive.

'Second Flush' simply means that it was in the second season for picking. The first flush, or first picking season, typically happens in March. The second season usually begins in May or June. Usually for higher grade teas only the bud and the two leaves below the bud are picked. However for Bancha the older leaves are picked.

Houjicha is reportedly low in caffeine since it is made of green tea, and then roasted. This is in addidtion to the other reported helath benefits of tea, such as reducing cavities, enhancing memory, preventing sickness of many kinds etc. It has a taste that would go well with any type of food. In Japan it is commonly drunk after dinner and is popular among the elderly and children. I will confess that it's easily becoming one of my favorites.

Kind-Green Tea
Brew Time-Less than a minute
Water Temp-170* or there abouts
Color- Dark gold or amber
Fragrance- roasty toasty rice and nuts
Taste-a bit sweet and toasty
Best during-meals and after dinner (before bed?)
Style- Loose
Price per oz- $2.00
Place bought- Den's Tea
Overall- will buy more as soon as it's in stock :3

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Cup 7-- Genmaicha Extra Green

Forgive the blurry picture i can't seem to get the color of this right and have a stable image :/

but in any case, strap in to your seat ladies and gents because today we're going into the realm of Japanese Greens.

Japan is known for their green tea. In Japanese language the word for tea "cha" or "o-cha" refers to green tea, not to black. If you want a different kind of tea other than green you have to specify which kind, or else you'll get green tea. For centuries their samurai have created and performed the art of the tea ceremony, "chado". It developed alongside Noh theater and the Bunraku (puppet plays).

The art of the tea ceremony was to help Samurai appreciate the beauty in simple and imperfect things as well as to train their minds and bodies into a particular pattern of activities. While today the tea ceremony is mostly thought of as an art for females, it originated as a male-dominated activity. The Samurai learned about tea from Buddhist monks who used the powdered matcha in their religious ceremonies. As the Samurai started to study Buddhism they also learned about tea and made it into a warrior's art.

Matcha is powdered green tea. The leaves are very finely ground and then mixed with water and whisked to a frothy neon-green beverage. But what does matcha have to do with this Genmaicha?

Genmaicha is green tea with brown roasted rice. Many kinds of genmaicha have matcha added to it to improve it's taste and color. This Genmaicha Extra Green has matcha added to make it have a very bright color and a stronger flavor.

Genmaicha was originally a drink for the poor, since the rice that was mixed with the tea made it cheaper. However, now a days it is drunk by all.

This tea has the smell of freshly made rice when brewed. The taste too is influenced by the rice and is kind of starchy. While this tea is very green in color it also tastes pretty green. It's sweet but yet at the same time it tastes like i've been eating vegetables and nuts.

While this tea really only brings the bang of the matcha in taste and color on the first brew, the following few brews still have a good genmaicha flavor and smell. makes me want to eat some toast, yum.

This Tea is one of the ones that i got in my Den's Tea Sampler pack. The Sampler Pack, which can be found HERE, gives you four different kind of loose teas to try, as well as two of their bagged teas. It also comes with a wide variety of literature on green teas and the health benefits of green tea. For 3 bucks it's not a bad deal, and it gets refunded on your next order over $15. Although i personally didn't much care for 2/4 loose teas (too vegetal) on the first time around, it was a really good way to try several varieties and to gain a greater understanding of the world of green teas.

Don't be too hasty to go right now and order up a lot of preme-o japanese greens though. The picking season for greens will be here soon ( March and April usually) and you'll be able to snap up some fresh green deliciousness!

Kind-Green Tea
Brew Time-Less than a minute
Water Temp-170* or there abouts
Color- Neon green
Fragrance- nutty and ricey
Taste-slightly bitter yet sweet and starchy
Best during-early afternoon
Style- Loose
Price per oz- $2.12
Place bought- Den's Tea
Overall- yum~

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Step3: Turning yourself over to the Tea

The first cup moistens my lips and throat.
The second cup breaks my loneliness.
The third cup searches my barren entrail but to find therein some thousand volumes of odd ideographs.
The fourth cup raises a slight perspiration - all the wrongs of life pass out through my pores.
At the fifth cup I am purified.
The sixth cup calls me to the realms of the immortals.
The seventh cup - ah, but I could take no more!
I only feel the breath of the cool wind that raises in my sleeves.
Where is Elysium? Let me ride on this sweet breeze and waft away thither.
~Lu Tung, "Tea-Drinking"

As i take my first sips of tea this morning while watching the sun rise, i wonder about many things. While many of these have to do with school and other such things, I also wonder about how all these different kinds of teas can come from one plant.

The Camellia Sinensis is the plant responsible for every version of tea that we now drink. Well, there are the tisanes, the non-tea teas. Tisanes are Herbal teas and teas such as Rooibos. But every other tea, White to Black, are made from one, singular plant. Isn't that amazing? That the possibilities for one plant can be so numerous. It's quite a thing to think about.

When you also take into account that the different teas have such a range of taste and flavor. Their shapes and sizes are consistent, yet different and original. The Camellia Sinensis is grown in a wide variety of places, and each place produces teas that are the same but have their own unique qualities.

The bushes are grown in different shapes and areas, in different types of soils and by different plants as well. But also the way that us human's process the tea leaves adds a whole other element to the tea leaves and tea that is drunk around the world by billions of people everyday.

It brings to mind an idea that is used in Taoism (i believe, it's been awhile since i took my eastern religions class). Heaven, Earth, Human. While they attribute this saying to reincarnation and karma, i believe that it works well for tea too. The heaven element is the rain and sun that helps the plant to grow. If there is a drought then the tea too will be affected. The earth element is the earth in which the plant is grown. It lends it's nutrients and provides a place for the tea to live and perhaps thrive. The Human element is the processing of the tea, the refining of the raw material. All of these things work together to create a Superior Beverage of Choice.

A lot to think about when you sit down to enjoy a nice brew.

While i don't think that i'll be wafting away to
Elysium anytime soon, i do think that i shall have another cup of tea before turning again to my studies.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Cup 6-- Precious White Peach White Tea

Sorry for the lack of posts this week. But today i have a White Tea for ya'll.

Precious White Peach White Tea from Teavana. This white tea has bits of dried white peach mixed in to add it an extra burst of sweet peach taste. Teavana presents this tea as a "An incredibly smooth blend of delicious peach pieces and downy white tea buds". We'll get back to this later.

The first thing that i noticed about this tea was the smell as i poured the hot water over the leaves. It was incredibly fruity, giving the dry leaves a sniff as well there was a slight peachy smell as well. The second thing that i noticed while serving the tea up was that this tea has a lot of particles in it. Most of them seem to be from the dried peach pieces and while not large enough to be gross or bothersome, it was an interesting sight to see. The fine white hairs that cover the leaf buds can also be seen floating about the glass, which is a good indicator that, yes, this is actual white tea.

Regardless of the originally fruity smell this tea does not seem to taste as fruity as it smelled. It is quite smooth, and there is a slightly fruit taste but i was expecting more from the smell of the leaves. and speaking of the leaves...

Those 'downy white buds' well, there are buds in the leaves, but poking thru the brewed leaves i see about a half and half mix of what looks like chopped leaf pieces/stems and clusters of a bud with two leaves. Not exceedingly upsetting, but i expected this to have more buds from the description that Teavana gave. With further reading up about different grades of white tea, this seems to be fourth grade, rather than first, which would explain the mix of leaves. When you look at any Silver Needle tea (@ Teavana $9.00/oz @ Adagio $4.00/sample) which is actually a real all bud, first grade, white tea, i can't help but be a bit disappointed by this tea.

It's not a bad tea, but it's not a tea that i would get very excited about.

The sun makes the tea that i brewed look rather dark, but the real color is a pale yellow or a yellowed beige.

White Tea is the lightest variation of teas. It is un-oxidized, unlike oolongs and black teas. White tea is picked when the buds are still covered in fine white hairs, which accounts for the name of the tea. While some people have made claims that white tea contains less caffeine than any other type of teas, that seems to be a rather bogus claim since it depends on many different factors. Other health benefits of tea have been claimed, such as it's higher levels of Catechin, a chemical that has been proven to reduce aging effects and carcinogenesis. However i highly doubt that white tea is the fountain of youth or the cure-all to cancers.

Kind-White Tea
Brew Time-5 minutes, give or take
Water Temp-180*
Color- pale yellow
Fragrance- fruity
Taste-slightly fruity, smooth
Best during-before bed or with a snack
Style- Loose
Price per oz- $7.50
Place bought- Teavana
Overall- unremarkable

Monday, February 2, 2009

Cup 5-- Leo

What's your sign?... Now more than a cheesy pick-up line, and more than an astrological sign, Leo is a blended tea available over at Adagio. Leo is a blend of Rooibos Orange, Vanilla Oolong, and Chamomile.

I believe that one user commented that drinking this was like sipping sunshine, or something to that effect. The Orange Rooibos makes this tea have a really nice citrus smell and taste, the vanilla oolong adds to the pleasant aroma and blends the flavors together while the chamomile does it's thing and calms the drinker down to a state of zen.

The color that i usually brew mine to is a glorious amber, comparable to the orange-red color that fire-opals take on. This tea smells a bit sweet, but has a slightly bitter taste of citrus before the vanilla smooths the taste over.

Each sip is relaxing, but it urges you in a way to have another drink. Then before you know it you've run out of tea and have to make more! While i haven't had Rooibos on it's own and don't know how it's own taste adds to this mix, i do know that i like Rooibos in this. (but we'll leave the lesson about Rooibos for another post :3)

The Astrological Sign Leo is the fifth sign in the zodiac. Ruled by the Sun and Fire, Leo is considered to be a masculine extrovert. People born between July 23- August 22 are Leo's, although now-a-days Leo does not come out in the sky until late summer.

Leo is supposed to be the Nemian Lion that Heracles (Hercules) Slew. The story goes that after the beast was slain, Zeus decided to throw the beast into the heavens to honor his son. Lions are also traditionally signs of the sun, and therefore have close ties to Apollo, Ra, Helios,Sunna, etc.

Typical characteristics attributed to Leo's are, Creative, Enthusiastic, Faithful, Loving, Broad-minded, expansive, dramatic, vain, impulsive, generous, warm-hearted, pompous, patronizing, bossy, interfering, Dogmatic, and intolerant.

Ideal Careers for Leo's are apparently,Politics/Governmental work, Business, Lawyer, Photographer, Entertainer, Music/Arts, and Director.

Leo's supposedly like, the spotlight, speculative ventures, luxurious living, drama, adornment, fashion, grandeur

Leo's supposedly dislike, doing things safely, small minded people, penny pinching, being compared to others, and loneliness.

Leo's are of course linked to, the colors red and orange, the sunflower and marigold, and to cats. Leo's apparently also like France, Italy, Peru, and Romania.

While I won't start to get into how I stack up to these parameters (i'll leave that up to the people that know me haha~) I will wave away the cabana boy as i relax outside in the sun, sipping my tea and continuing my illusions of grandeur, while in reality, it continues to snow outside and the wind whips past my window making it feel like a chilly 20*.

Kind-Blended Rooibos/Oolong/Herb
Brew Time-4 minutes, give or take
Water Temp-195*
Fragrance- Spicy citrus and sweet
Taste-slightly cirtus/bitter, smoothing with vanilla
Best during- mid-afternoon stretch
Style- Loose
Price per oz- $2.25 (although right now you can get a free sample if you spend over $25 i believe)
Place bought- Adagio
Overall- relaxing

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Celebration 2--Super Bowl!

Super Bowl 43! Arizona Cardinals vs. Pittsburgh Steelers! who will win?! But wait... what does the Super Bowl have to do with tea?

While asking others about their super bowl plans i stumbled upon a curious party beverage of choice. Arizona Iced Tea to help root for Arizona! While researching Arizona iced tea and the super bowl i also found out that some people are having Anti-Super Bowl Tea Parties and that other people with children are serving tea instead of alcohol.

Arizona Iced Tea started in Brooklyn, NY in 1992 with two guys who had originally been selling beer. They packaged their iced tea in the 24oz can, instead of glass bottles, or smaller cans. in 1994 they expanded their line to include iced tea with ginseng and packaged it in a eye catching blue bottle. in 1996 they expanded their line to include green teas, and then the next year they packaged tea into a sports bottle as an alternative to water or Gatorade.

in 2001 they stepped into the realm of plastic bottles, which were considered extremely difficult due to the fact that their products were bottled while still hot. Since then they've released many different new products, including flavored waters, sodas, instant tea mix, and energy drinks. They produce my favorite tea on the go, the Arnold Palmer, it's a half tea, half lemonade mix of deliciousness. in a 23.5oz can, it's a good drink to have while driving.

While they are now owned by Coca-Cola, and thus not the same small company that they once were, i do not think of this as a negative since i like coke products :)

in any case, Let us sit back, have a sip or two of tea and enjoy the Super Bowl!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Cup 4--Moroccan Mint

No, that is not shredded spinach, that is Moroccan Mint tea. This blend of gunpowder green and spearmint teas is light and refreshing. A good pick-me-up any time of the day, it's low in caffeine and leaves you with a minty aftertaste.

While my Moroccan Mint came from Teavana, Argo teas has a very similar Moroccan Mist. While i don't have any Mist to compare to the Mint, i believe that i like the Mist better. Adagio has some blends that may stack up to this as well.

Mint tea is actually served in Morocco fairly commonly. Although they tend to add a lot of sugar to theirs, i'm rather partial to it un-adultered. Morocco is one of the biggest importers of tea, and the first importer of green tea from China. Tea was first introduced in Morocco in the 18th century, and it has served as a meal time beverage ever since. They have an entire tea-culture that has been built up over the past couple hundred years that focuses entirely on the making and serving of green tea with mint and sugar.

After rinsing the tea twice, they combine the tea and water and let it steep before adding in the mint and sugar. They mix the steeped tea, mint and sugar in a large teapot that has a rather long spout. They then pour the tea from great heights into small glasses to create a foam on the top of the tea. They then pour the tea back into the pot, and pour again. They may repeat this process of pouring and returning around 4-7 more times before serving up the tea. This pouring from heights helps to mix the sugar and the tea together.

Looking over some videos and recipes it seems like when served up traditionally this tea is very sweet. In the video the host puts in 3.5 'bricks' of sugar, the recipes that i looked up called for anywhere from 2 tablespoons of sugar to a 1/4 of a cup of sugar!! for a single pot of tea! That seems rather outrageous to me, however i'm not a big sweet tea fan.

No matter if you make this tea traditionally or your own way, it's a good way to start the day, quench your midday thirst, or even wash down dinner.

Kind-Green Tea
Brew Time-1 minute
Water Temp-175*
Color-pale yellow to honey
Fragrance- minty
Taste-minty and slightly bitter
Best during- Anytime!
Style- Loose
Price per oz- $2.25
Place bought- Teavana
Overall- refreshing

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Cup 3--Jasmine #12

I received my order from Adagio Monday and one of the first teas that i tried was their Jasmine #12. This incredibly fragrant tea is really relaxing.

As you can (hopefully) see from the picture, this tea is similar to the Black Dragon Pearls with it's ball shape, but these are much smaller than the BDP. They unfurl while brewing and release a great aroma and show off the three individual leaves and stems that make up the balls. The yellow liquor that this tea produces smells like jasmine, and has a faint flowery taste. This is the perfect tea to chillax with. Curl up with a movie or a good book, have a few cups of tea and slowly drift off to sleep. I steeped mine 3 times, the first time for the 5 minutes suggested, the second for a few minutes, and then the third for about 5 minutes. I was mostly watching for color more than time.I've found that with this tea you can expect 2 or 3 good infusions with the same leaves, pretty good staying power for a Oolong.

"WAIT!!!" you say, "STOP EVERYTHING! what in the world is this Oolong?!"

Oolong is a traditionally Chinese tea that is a 'tweener. It's not a black, but it's not a green either. Oolong typically has multiple steps for it's production. First they wilt the leaves to partly remove the moisture. To do this they either sun or air dry the leaves. After this they cool the leaves down before they gently toss the leaves so that the edges of the leaves bruise. When the leaf edges are bruised it creates more surface contact for oxidation. This cooling and then tossing will usually be repeated multiple times. After this they stir-fry the leaves in a large pan over high heat in order to stop the oxidation. Then they roll the leaves into strands or nuggets before they dehydrate the leaves by roasting them over low heat. This roasting can be repeated at varying temperatures to produce different flavors. After the leaves have been roasted then all there is left to do is grade them and then package them up.

Jasmine #12 might look like mottled rodent droppings, but it tastes great, smells amazing, and is a perfect way to de-stress after a long day of class or work.

Kind-Oolong Tea
Brew Time-4 minutes
Water Temp-185*
Color-Light Yellow to Honey
Fragrance- Sweet, flowery
Taste-Floral, slightly sweet
Best during- Late Afternoon and Evening
Style- Loose
Price per oz- $5.00
Place bought- Adaigo
Overall- it's like eating flowers, in a good way!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Celebration 1-- Happy (Chinese) New Year!!!


Today marks the opening of the new year for the Chinese. This year is the year of the Ox!

How, Ox-citing! ;D

It marks the beginning of the year 4707 (or 4706, or 4646 depending on when you think Emperor Huangdi reigned). The calendar that this is based off of was originally created by Emperor Huangdi. A combined lunar and solar calendar, it requires precise astronomical calculations to be taken in order for the calendar to be created.

While I won't get into the calculations that are rather confusing, I will take this chance to explain Chinese New Years a bit.

The New Years is originally a festival for the spring. It takes place after the harvest has been taking in and before the farmers plant in the spring. New Years for them is actually called "Spring Festival" people outside of China refer to it as the "Lunar New Year" or "Chinese New Year".

Emperor Huangdi is considered to be the ancestor of the Han Chinese. Huangdi is actually one of the "5 emperors" who were around before the Xia Dynasty, the first dynasty of China to be recorded historically. Yet, there is not much evidence that the Xia dynasty actually existed. Ignoring the whole historical debate, Huangdi is seen as a morally perfect emperor. Also known as the Yellow Emperor, the Chinese have historically pointed to him and his sons as the forebearers of the noble families of the first three dynasties (Xia, Sheng, & Zhou) as well as the progenitors of all Han.

Needless to say Huangdi is a rather important person in Chinese history. Other than his bringing together of tribes to form China, He also is a deity of Taoists, and is credited with not only inventing the calendar as well as ordering the creation of Chinese characters, thus the language being called 'hanyu' or Han-language while the characters are called 'hanzi' or han-characters.

The Spring Festival is a major event, it brings families and friends together. People gather to celebrate, to eat, to dance, and to remember their history and heritage. A fifteen day long celebration after the new year consists of many visits to friends and neighbors, much eating of symbolic dishes and overall jubilation.

But where does tea fit in...

In some regions of China Tea is the first thing to be consumed in the new year. After you take a drink you should say "life will be happy". Traditionally the Tea is also served with Lotus seeds, to signify "you will give birth to a boy", Sticky rice flour cakes, to signify "you will be promoted to a high position", and/or Filled sticky rice balls, to signify that all the family members will live in harmony and be reunited.

So have a cup of tea today, preferably some red tea (that's black tea to us British-tea minded folk) , hopefully the color red will scare away the 'Nian'. Who knows, maybe having a glass will help fulfill what the Ox stands for and this year will be prosperous for you, through fortitude and hard work!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Boil 1-- Tea Eggs

Ooo, pretty! (i do have my artsy-fartsy moments!) As you can see above Tea also goes well with eggs!

Tea Eggs are an Asian treat, sold by vendors in the streets in certain parts of China and Taiwan. They are relatively easy to make, taste better (i think at least) than regular eggs, and are aesthetically pleasing (whipping out that GRE studying ;D).

To make a tea eggs all you have to do is make hard boiled eggs, then crack the shells, try not to tear the membrane that separates the shell from the egg itself though. If you break the membrane then more liquid will seep in staining whole areas instead of just where the crack is, still tasty, not as pretty.

After you've given each egg a good whack or two, boil it a second time in salty tea. put in a few dashes of salt and some black tea. Other people like to add in soy sauce, spices, etc but these things are optional. I let mine simmer for an hour or so, but depending on how dark your tea is for these, and how long you let them sit in the tea mixture will determine how dark your eggs become.

I wouldn't use super-high quality tea for this, simply because the tea is undrinkable when you're done cooking the eggs (unless you LIKE salty tea...). But instead i would suggest using tea-bags, it's a good use for all those packages of tea that have been liberated from their hotels. I haven't tried using any other tea other than black tea, but i don't see why you couldn't use other kinds. But since other teas are lighter in color you might have to let them sit in the tea longer to get a dark enough pattern.

It's not essential that you keep them in hot water, other people seem to have done the same with regular boiled eggs and then let them sit in the mixture while in the refrigerator. whatever floats you boat! and if it doesn't work, well it's still a tasty snack :3

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Step 2:Embracing your problem

So i've admitted i have a problem.

That problem being, i have too much tea. Yet at the same time it's nice to have a good selection! It's not that i've wasted money buying this tea, instead i've invested in a multi-beverage choice.

While researching (or procrastinating) i tripped upon Adagio Teas. At Adagio they not only sell tea and tea accessories but you can also create your own blends of tea for yourself and others to purchase. In addition they also sport their very own tea community! You can chat it up, look up tea parlors near where you live (and they're ranked!) members are also able to post up their blogs, and read a monthly newsletter from tea experts and aficionados.

Of course this discovery prompted me to buy more tea.


Through teachat i've also located some other online tea retailers (some even have real brick and mortar building in states surrounding me!) who i've started to eyeball. It's interesting to note the price difference in Adagio and Teavana. At Adagio you're able to buy a 'sample' size with is about 1oz of tea, this translates into about 10 servings of tea. these one oz samples are really very affordable and offer a very easy way to try a tea to know if you will like it or not. It's a nice change from teavana where you're discouraged from buying a cup of tea, and instead urged to buy a 2oz "sample" of loose tea, which, in the case of the black dragon pearls, can cost you $15. Ouch.

Price seems to not always reflect on the quality of tea that you'll recieve. While I have not yet recieved shipment from Adagio (it's supposed to come tomorrow though :3) from the online community i beleive that i can expect some rather good teas! and since none of the samples that i bought were over $5/oz, and it looks like very few actually are on adagio, the price seems to be right. While i do enjoy going into a store, smelling the tea, watching them measure it out, and even chatting up other shoppers, i think that i might have to stay away from teavana in the future, if only because their teas are a bit overpriced. "how unfair!" you might say, but let us look at the price differences using a common Gunpowder Green Tea.

At Teavana Gunpowder Green Tea is $2.25/oz no matter how much you buy. At Adagio it's $2.00/oz, but when you buy more it also becomes cheaper per oz, eventually reaching $1.00/oz if you buy an entire pound. That can become a large difference. An especially nice extra is that Adagio also packages their samples, 4oz, 6oz, and 12oz measures in TINS, the price of which isn't in addition to your price. They also have a nice promotion where older members can send $5 gift certs to people that have not yet shopped with Adagio, and who doesn't like free stuff? (this is also in addition to the free tin of the zodiac blend i received and the free tin of the tea of the month. lots of goodies! let me know if you want one!)

Tins are important for tea storage for many reasons. Air and Light both can affect tea. Since most tea is best when consumed within a year of it's production, airtight, opaque containers are important to keep tea at it's best quality for the longest amount of time. while bags can do the job, tins are preferable, especially when you take into account the fact that you can reuse them over and over.

an enlightening tea-escapade if you ask me :3

in other news, according to a British newspaper 3 cups of tea a day can cut breast cancer risk by 1/3, all this according to a survey done in a cancer center in FL. Although this only applies to women under 50, it's an interesting statement, especially given that the health benefits, or detriments, of tea has yet to be fully explored.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Cup 2--Black Dragon Pearl

When i first bought this tea i thought that instead of "black dragon pearl" the name should be "black dragon turds". These rolled tea leaves truly look like large rabbit droppings. Needless to say i didn't have many good thoughts towards it. Teavana advertises this tea as fragrant and the taste to be smooth-bodied with sweet, chocolaty, and malty undertones. It is a rare hand-rolled tippy black tea from the Yunnan province and is good for multiple infusions.

Now if any of ya'll are like me, you're probably wondering about the term 'tippy', it refers to the fine tips of a tea leaf bud, which are supposedly used mostly in quality teas. Which is fitting since Yunnan, China is 'the birthplace of tea'. that is, 'the first area where humans figured out that eating tea leaves or brewing a cup could be pleasant'. It has even been rumoured that in Lincang City area of Yunnan Province, is home to the world's oldest cultivated tea tree--a shocking 3,200 years old. It is this area's pride to be famous producers of the 'tippy' or fine leaf buds, which translates into fine teas.

Black teas are supposed aids in lowering cholesterol as well as being good for the heart. It has been said that black tea has the ability to gently stimulate the circulatory system to strengthen it. It is also known to promote healthy skin, teeth and bones. Black tea is fully fermented, so it has approximately 20% of the caffeine in a cup of coffee, the only other tea that has more caffiene that black tea is Mate tea. Black tea is said to help prevent the absorption of cholesterol into the blood stream, which helps to prevent heart disease, as well as preventing gingivitis, tooth decay, and it helping regulate blood sugar level and blood pressure.

Black teas are most likely the tea that American's think about when someone asks them about tea. It is black tea that we consume when we order iced tea from restaurants and buy our regular store brand tea bags. For example, regular Lipton tea is a black tea blend, and Assam is a black tea from India that is frequently sold for use in restaurants, others know it for it's use in teas such as , English and Irish breakfast teas. Way back in ancient times black tea was also pressed into bricks and used as currencey during long travels. Tea as a currency was valuable since it could be sold, eaten, used as dye for fabrics, or brewed for health benefits. Black Tea was used more than Green Tea for these bricks because it retained its flavor longer. It wasn't until the 1950's that tea was finally given up as a currency in some areas.

That said, i won't be trading off this tea any time soon. It has quickly become one of my favorites. It lends itself well to be drunk at ant time of the day and several cups at a time. I like mine "black" as in no cream, sugar, or any thing else.

Kind-Black Tea
Brew Time-3 minutes
Water Temp-195*
Color-Dark Honey to Dark auburn
Fragrance- Hearty and malty
Taste-Sweet, something else indescribeable
Best during- Afternoon
Style- Loose
Price per oz- $7.50
Place bought- Teavana
Overall- leaves me wanting more!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Cup 1--Lady Grey

Lady Grey Tea (a registered trademark of Twinings apparently) is a variation of the Earl Grey Blend. A Black tea, it is scented with bergamot oil, as well as lemon and orange peel. To this Twinings also adds cornflower. What is a 'Bergamot' you might ask. Well it is a citrus fruit that is a cross between an orange and lemon. An 'Aromatic' tea, it is light in flavor, and easily enjoyed at breakfast, tea, high tea, or even as part of a midnight snack. While i do not enjoy this tea with milk, sugar, and/or lemon, is it rather good as an Iced Tea.

Lady Grey Tea was named after Mary Elizabeth Grey, the wife of Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey, for whom Earl Grey tea is named. Appropriate for each of them to have their own tea i think. The Earl and Lady Grey lived in Howick, Northumberland, England in the late 1700's and the early 1800's. They were married in 1794 and had at least 15 children during their marriage. Despite this, proliferation of children, Earl Grey had several affairs with different ladies. These dalliances however didn't seem to get in the way of his leadership of the Whig party. While he was the leader of the Whigs, and eventually Prime Minister, several important acts passed, including the abolition of slavery in Britain and The reformation of the House of Commons.

One story about the creation of the Earl Grey Blend was that the Earl Grey received a gift, perhaps a diplomatic present, of tea that was flavored with bergamot oil. It became so popular that the Earl asked British tea merchants to recreate it. Another is that the original Earl Grey tea was specially blended by a Chinese mandarin to suit the water at Howick Hall, and was later marketed by Twinings. Any way it came about, it came, and it stayed.

Kind-Black Tea Blend
Brew Time-3 minutes
Water Temp-195*
Color-Dark Honey to Dark brown
Taste-light with some orange
Best during- Late morning, Afternoon
Style- Bagged
Price per oz- abt $2.70
Place bought-Grocery store
Overall-Refreshing, light, and very drinkable.