Sunday, February 22, 2015

Mountain Organic Indonesian green tea from Tea at Sea

“I say let the world go to hell, but I should always have my tea.” 
- Fvodor Dostoyevsky, Notes from Underground

The time has come to open another sample package and try a tea I've never had before.  Today I broke into the free sampler from Tea at Sea, a Mountain Organic Indonesian green tea.

The sample came to me in the beautiful packaging with a tiny sail boat included.  Now, that's something different.  I adore Tea at Sea presentation.  It's creative and very pretty.

The dry tea had delicate vegetal scent and the leaves themselves were rolled up in balls similar to oolong tea.

I placed an entire sample package into my teapot and rinsed with 85°C water and then I let it sit for about a minute to let the leaves unfurl a little and release some of the flavour.  I then steeped in 8 ounces of 85°C water for about a minute.

The resulting liquid had delicate yellow colour with a little tinge of green.  The aroma surprised me a bit because the tea smelled more like oolong, with the hint of flowery notes, than the green tea.  The vegetal notes which I enjoy in the scent of the green tea were absent here which was a bit of a disappointment.  I love my green tea with strong grassy smell but I do realize that not every green tea comes with it nor that it should. Some people love green tea but dislike the spinachy scent and this tea would be perfect for them.  In addition, I'm sure every oolong lover would love this tea as well.

Taste wise the tea was great.  The vegetal notes which were absent in the aroma made an appearance as a flavour.  The tea was smooth and buttery with spinachy and seeweed like notes.  In addition it left a tingle in the back of my throat with the ever so slight astringency which I really enjoy.  

All in all, it was my pleasure to spend a Sunday with this yummy tea.  Upon reflection I can't help but think that this was a rare cross between typical green and oolong tea.  Some happy middle perhaps. 

Thank you Tea at Sea. 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Sunday Afternoon with Golden Turtle from Mandala Tea

"A cup of tea is a cup of peace."
~Soshitsu Sen XV, quoted by Kenneth S. Cohen

A cup of peace it is indeed.

Outside is cold today.  Very, very cold.  Brutally cold actually.  Sitting here with a hot cup of tea is peace, comfort and pure delight.

Today I'm having Golden Turtle oolong tea from Mandala Tea.  It comes from a sample sent to me a while ago and I thought it's time to try it out.

The tea leaves are rolled into beautiful dark green balls and smell lovely of vegetables and flowers.

My sample was 7 grams in weight and I used it all up and steeped it in 8 ounces of 85°C water for 1.5 minutes.  The resulting liquid was of beautiful golden colour and had magnificent flowery aroma, just like a good oolong should.

The taste didn't disappoint either.  The tea was smooth and full of body with flowery and vegetal notes. I could feel ever so slight astringency at the back of my tongue, just enough to let me know that I am in fact drinking a tea.  I absolutely love that sensation.

All in all, this was a great oolong tea.  Definitely something to enjoy over and over.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

2012 Wild Monk Sheng Pu'erh from Mandala Tea

Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves — slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future. 
~Thich Nat Hahn

Sheng Pu'erh tea is definitely one of my favourites.  Whether young or aged, sheng is a tea with a lot of character and staying power.

Remember the tea I wrote about last week?  It was 2005 Fengqing Zhuan Cha.  It lasted me for 3 days and many, many wonderful steeps.  I'll be ordering a brick of that probably today or tomorrow.

Today I'm drinking another sheng, this time a younger one.  It's 2012 Wild Monk Sheng Pu'erh from Mandala Tea.  I purchased couple of cakes last year with a hope to age at least one of them.  So far I'm almost done with one of the cakes and hopefully I can master enough restraint to leave the other cake to age in peace.  Sheng pu'erh tea is like a good wine.  The older it gets the better the taste.

The dry leaf has a delicate aroma, a little vegetal and smoky.  To steep a cup, I carefully broke off couple of pieces from the cake, trying to keep the leaves as much in tact as possible.

Before I steeped this tea for drinking, I rinsed the leaves with 90-95°C water and let them sit for one minute which causes the tea to wake up and release more flavour. Following that I steeped the tea for 10 seconds for my first 8 oz cup, one of many to come.  This tea has a lot of staying power and I get multiple steeps over couple of days or so, slightly increasing the steeping time with every cup.

4th steep of 2012 Wild Monk Sheng Pu'erh

The taste is delicious. It's earthy, smoky and sweet with a touch of fruitiness.  I can't say enough about smokiness of this tea, I just love it so much.  Currently I'm on the fourth steep which I allowed to sit for about a minute.  There is absolutely no bitterness to be found which can be an issue with younger shengs but I also think that Wild Monk seems to have less attitude than other young shengs that I've tried.

A cup of delicious goodness well worth the purchase.


Sunday, February 1, 2015

Sunday with 2005 Fengqing Zhuan Cha Raw Pu'erh from Teavivre

“I say let the world go to hell, but I should always have my tea.” 
- Fvodor Dostoyevsky, Notes from Underground

Today I've decided to try the sample that I've had in my collection for a while.  I only have one packet and have been waiting for a special occasion that never came.  Today, while the winter storm circles my neck of the woods and snow slowly descends, is the perfect time to curl up on the couch with a good book and a cup of delicious tea.

I've had raw pu'erh before but I've never tasted aged raw pu'erh.  I like both young sheng and a good shu, but what will aged sheng taste like?

I opened the package and took a whiff of aroma.  It was great.  Very aromatic, a little vegetal and woodsy at the same time.  The leaf was part loose, part in moderate chunks and of dark green/brown colour.

I steeped the entire sample package (10g) at 95°C in 8 ounces of water for 30 seconds.  The result was amazing.  The tea turned out golden brown in colour with aroma that made me think of wet forest after a good summer soaking.  

The taste knocked my socks off.  It was delicious.  I would say this tea was right smack in the middle between a good shu and a young sheng.  Sweet, woodsy notes were intertwined with a hint of flowers and mushrooms to give this tea an incredible depth and made me want more. There was a slight astringency at the back of my tongue, just enough to add to the complexity of the tea but not too much to make it bitter.

I'm currently on my second steep (50 sec) and it's just as good as the first if not better.  I could probably get away with shorter steep of 40 sec or so and there is still a lot of life left in the leaves for more steeps in the near future.  

I just checked on Teavivre website and this tea is still available.  I'm seriously considering purchasing a brick.  It's good, really good and I want more of this golden goodness.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Pine Needle Tea

Hello everyone, I hope this beautiful Sunday finds you in great health and spirit.

Today I want to talk about a different kind of tea.  Well, not regular tea exactly but herbal tea, tisane.

Few days ago while watching one of the videos on YouTube I was surprised to find out that some people use pine needles to make tea.  I was intrigued by that from the start and decided to try it myself.  I have some beautiful pine trees in my backyard and so it was very easy to get my hands on couple of twigs.

I actually made this tea for the first time last night and waited till this morning to see if I won't have any unpleasant side effects.  Upon waking up in the morning I went out and gathered few more twigs to make another cup.  As you can see I'm still here writing my blog post and I've never felt better.

Pine needle tea has some great benefits apparently.  Pine needles are extremely rich in vitamin C more so than orange juice, vitamin A as well as various minerals.  It is said to be a great decongestant and helps treat colds and coughs.  European settlers when they first arrived in North America, were introduced to pine needle tea by Native Americans who were drinking this wonderful tea for generations.  There is a wealth of information on the web concerning pine needle tea and I'm really surprised that I haven't heard about it until now.  This makes me wonder what else is out there for our free taking. :)

Back to steeping a mug of fresh pine needle tea.

I grabbed couple of twigs and removed the needles from stems.  It wasn't easy to do it by hand so I used scissors and simply cut them out.

I poured a boiling water over and steeped the needles for 7-10 minutes.  When all the needles sink to the bottom, the tea should be ready.

The ready tea was aromatic and quite tasty.  The liquid was almost clear in colour but the taste was there.  I've read someone's suggestion on the web to add couple of drops of lemon to accentuate the taste and I did just that.  I have to say it was delicious.

Some people said to experiment with different pines because they all have different taste.  I will definitely do that.  It will give me a chance to familiarize myself with different types of pines and learn to recognize them all.  I have to say at this time also, that you have to exercise some caution.  First, while all pines are wintergreens, not all wintergreens are pines.  Second, There are some pines and other wintergreens out three from what I know that are toxic and should not be consumed.  Ponderosa Pine, Lodgepole Pine, common Juniper, Monterey Cypress, common Yew, and Norfolk Pine are all off the table.  Just like with everything you pick in the wild, you have to do your homework and make sure you pick the plant that is edible.

Apparently the best pine needles to use are the young growth in the spring.  I always marvel in the spring when I see the brand new needles popping out.  They are so soft and beautiful and this year instead of just admiring from the distance, I'll be able to try some of them out in my tea.  Yum!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Sunday Afternoon with Sun Dried Jingshan Green

Happy Sunday everyone!  I hope it finds you in great health and spirit.

This morning I decided to break open the sample package of Sun Dried Jingshan Green from Verdant Tea.  I've had it in the past and remember how great this green tea was.  Once again I wasn't disappointed.

The dry tea leaves are gorgerous.  Small, delicate and beautifully curved.  The aroma of the dry leaves is flowery and vegetal.

For my first steep I placed about 3.5 grams in 79°C water for about 1 minute.  The tea turned out light cool green colour with a wonderful vegetal aroma and a smooth sweet complex taste.  Although it was not astringent, there was a hint of it in the back of my tongue, something that I'm always happy to experience. This tea has a lot of body and it's one of my favourite green teas after Dragonwell.  It is somehow very different from Dragonwell and I'm not sure what makes it so, but it is all in a good way.

Currently I'm on my second steep and it is just as delicious as the first.  It took a bit longer to get the desired effect, about 3 minutes to be exact but that's expected since I did not use a lot of tea leaves.  The tea lost most of its vegetal aroma but held up the complex taste and the ever so slight astringency which once again tickled the back of my tongue.

I only have enough in the sample for one more fresh steep which I find a little sad especially that I checked the Verdant Tea website and this is out of stock temporarily.  Hopefully they'll get some more soon and I'll be able to restock.

It's sunny but cold outside and I'm having a pyjama day.  Together with the buzzing fireplace and the hot tea in my hand, there is nothing else I would rather be.  Except maybe in the little hut in the woods... but still with the hot tea and the buzzing fireplace for company... and my cat.

Cheers my friends.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Polka Dot Love

Immortals, hear, said Jove, and cease to jar! Tea must succeed to Wine as Peace to War. Nor by the grape let man be set at odds, but share in Tea, the nectar of the Gods. 
 - Peter Antine Motteaux, A Poem Upon Tea

Yesterday on the way from grocery shopping I decided to stop by one of my favourite second hand shop for a little browsing. What I saw there made my heart jump for joy just a little bit.  A polka dotted teapot! Those that know me are aware that I'm a big polka dot enthusiast and I've wanted polka dot teapot for a while now.  I don't have a big collection of teapots and I like to keep it that way but a polka dotted teapot is a must for me.  And just like that, for five whole bucks, it is mine... all mine.

The teapot goes lovely with black bubble teacups I already have in my collection.  I could even pretend they were made for each other, right?  Unless of course someone would look on the bottom of both, in which case my little secret would be out. :P