Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday and Winter Sales!

Black Friday Sale!

Still don’t know what to get that person who has everything? I think I can help.

For today only, Yogic Chai is having a huge sale! Type in the coupon code “blackfriday” (without the quotes) and receive 40% off all of Yogic Chai’s blends. Hurry, because this is for today only!

Winter Sale!

Mighty Leaf is having a Winter Sale starting today and lasting through December 3rd. You can save up to 30% on tea pouches, loose teas, and select tea gifts.

Those are huge savings! So, there is no excuse not to surprise that special someone with unique blends and gift sets from Yogic Chai and Mighty Leaf.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Simple Leaf’s Chloe Review

Type: Green
Origin: Pussimbing Estate in Darjeeling, India
Price: $4.95 for 1oz; Sale price of $11.95 for 4oz. (regular price $13.95)
Vendor: The Simple Leaf
Brewing Method: 1 teaspoon of leaves (2.5-3.0 grams), 1 cup of filtered water, heated to 170°F-180°F, steeped for 2-3 minutes.
Overall Score: 2.8 out of 5

Chloe is carefully grown green tea from Darjeeling, India. The typical green tea aroma – very vegetal and grassy - hits me when I open the package. There are nice, big, whole leaves in this particular package. The different shades of green make the leaves very pretty to look at.

The aroma of the tea is very light and vegetal. It has a hint of nuttiness in the background. The liquor is a pretty yellow color.

The aroma was great, but the taste was not. The first sip was bitter. After that I managed to taste the grassy flavor of the green tea. Once I got over the bitterness, the flavor that I got from the tea really wasn’t that pleasing. The taste was very sharp and coarse and from the aroma I was almost expecting a light, slightly nutty flavor. The astringency was minimal, however.

I brewed this for a little over 2 minutes with 170°F water, which is what the instructions recommended. Brewing it for 30 seconds to 1 minute at 160-165°F might take away the bitterness, but even then I still think it will have that same coarse flavor.

Maybe I just had a bad cup. I will try brewing this again at different parameters and see what happens. If my opinion changes, I will let you know.

*** UPDATE ***

I tried this tea again but with the brewing parameters of 165-170°F water and steeped for 1 min.

The bitterness was reduced drastically. I could finally taste the tea on the first sip without having the look for it through the bitter screen. However, the taste was still distinctly coarse and almost metallic. In other words, the lack of bitterness this time was a huge plus, but this tea is no where near my number one.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Neglect x2

I have had these two pieces of teaware on my shelf for a while. I’m sorry to say that I have been neglecting them… but I can explain!

I know I bought this cute little Yixing pot around the same time I obtained my tea table, but I can’t remember exactly when that was. I am guessing around 4-5 months ago. Anyways, it has been collecting dust because I had not been able to find a tea to dedicate it to. However, I have finally decided to dedicate its being to Ti Guan Yin (Iron Goddess).

Yes, Ti Guan Yin is an oolong. -GASP- I know, I know, you can go ahead and point out the several times I’ve stated how much I hate oolongs on TeaChat. Go head, I won’t stop you. The reason I have decided to dedicate this Yixing pot to an oolong is because… well… that just seems like the right thing to do.

From what I’ve seen and heard on TeaChat and talking with other tea experts, most tea enthusiast use their Yixing pots with either oolongs or pu erhs. Because I do not drink pu erh tea, at the moment (it’s on my list of things to try), I figured that my only other option was oolong. The reason I choose Ti Guan Yin is because out of all the oolongs I have tried, Ti Guan Yin is the one that I could tolerate the most. Besides, you never know, I might actually start to like oolongs -GASP- by doing this.

Stay tuned for posts and pictures regarding the seasoning process that this little guy will be going through.

Now, on to previously neglected teapot number two. This is a tetsubin that I picked up at Hubbard and Cravens in Indianapolis. Before I got this sweetheart, I had wanted a tetsubin, but all the ones I found were not that attractive to me. I like color (hello, have you seen the background for my blog?). But, tetsubins normally lack color. Nevertheless, I continued my search for one when I finally found this pretty thing.

It is adorable! I am not sure how many ounces it holds, but I know it is just the right size to serve one person. I love the stand that came with it. The teapot seems to sit so proudly on top of it. Together, the whole thing is gorgeous. Ok, so it is a little girly with the flower in the center, but it still has that “cast iron” attitude.

However, I have been afraid to use it. I have heard horror stories of tetsubins rusting if not rinsed and dried completely after use – especially around the area where the handle connects with the teapot (water loves to settle in there). But, as you see here, I was able to get up the courage to use it… because it is too pretty to just sit on the shelf forever. I christened it with a pot of Plucker’s Pick Brunswick Garden Ceylon BOP tea.

A review of the Ceylon BOP tea can be found here. But, for now, I’m off to make some more tea!

See more photos of these teapots on flickr.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Simple Leaf’s Decadence Review

Type: White
Origin: Rungmook Estate in Darjeeling, India
Price: $15.95 for 1oz
Vendor: The Simple Leaf
Brewing Method: 1 teaspoon of leaves (2.5-3 grams), 1 cup of filtered water, heated to 160°F-170°F, steeped for 2-3 minutes.
Overall Score: 4.8 out of 5

Decadence is a delicate white tea from Darjeeling, India. The loose leaves are huge, long strands – and by long I mean a good inch and a half. They are a beautiful mix of light greens, dark greens, and whites.

The aroma of the dry leaves is very fresh and vegetal. It reminded me of the smell of spring, where everything is lush and full of life.

The aroma of the tea is light, but, once you find it, it has a fresh, crisp smell. The liquor is a pretty pale yellow color.

I have had many white teas, but I don’t think I have ever tasted a white tea as smooth as this one. It has a very delicate taste. It is very crisp, light, and I think it is safe to say refreshing. There is not even a hint of bitterness or astringency anywhere near this cup. I think this tea would be best served after a meal, because I think if this were served with food, you might lose the delicate flavor.

This tea is not an “every day” type of tea – you will notice that when you take a look at the price. However, you can serve this tea to your special guests… kind of like breaking out “the good wine” on those certain occasions.

I think this would be a nice tea to get when entertaining guests during the holidays. Serve this to fight the tryptophan from the turkey so you can stay awake enough to actually watch the football game (and tea also aides in digestion too… for those second and third helpings)!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Plucker’s Pick Ceylon BOP Review

Type: Black
Origin: Ceylon
Price: $5 for 1oz; $16 for 3.5oz.
Vendor: Plucker’s Pick
Brewing Method: 1 teaspoon of leaves (about 2.5-3 grams), 1 cup of filtered water, heated to 200°F-210°F, steeped for 4-5 minutes.
Overall Score: 4.9 out of 5

Ceylon BOP or Broken Orange Pekoe is a specific grade of tea from the Brunswick garden in Ceylon. As you can see, the leaves are finely broken, but not necessarily in the form of dust. The site of the leaves is rather dark, but I do see some pretty light brown specs in there. The aroma of the dry leaves is fantastic. It is not very pungent, but when you do get a whiff it is very earthy and malty.

The aroma, however light, of the freshly brewed tea is great, as well. The same stimulating malty smell follows through in the steeped leaves. The liquor is a very dark brown color.

The aroma may be light, but the taste is not. The taste is hearty and brisk. Like most black teas, this is a full bodied brew. It is not bitter or astringent. The pleasant aftertaste lasts quite a while.

I heart Ceylon tea! The reason I like Ceylon over other blacks, like Assam for example, is because it is a very hearty and stimulating tea, but it is not too harsh on the palate. It is not smoky or spicy. Ceylon teas have so much character while not being too strong at the same time. Because of this, Ceylon teas can stand up well to milk or sugar, but it is not necessarily needed.

I am totally making me another cuppa!

P.S. There are more pictures of Plucker's Pick Ceylon BOP tea on my flickr page.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Organic Detox Infusion Review

Type: Herbal
Origin: United States
Price: Sample (regular price - $9.95 for 15 pouches)
Vendor: Mighty Leaf
Brewing Method: 1 pouch, 1 cup of filtered water, heated to 200°F-210°F, steeped for 4-5 minutes.
Overall Score: 3.7 out of 5

Organic Detox Infusion is a delicate mix of organic peppermint, organic burdock root, organic dandelion root, organic spearmint, organic licorice root, organic red clover flowers, and basil. I could smell the mints immediately after opening the package. This blend was really colorful – I could see a lot of greens, whites, reds, and yellows. There were a lot of large bits in the pouch and very little dust.

I could smell the mint and the licorice in the finished brew. It definitely didn’t smell as minty as the dry leaves. The liquor is a deep yellow color.

I was afraid that I might not like this tea after I saw that one of the ingredients is licorice. However, after I tasted it, I quickly found out that this blend has just the right amount of mint to hide enough of the licorice so I don’t make a funny face after swallowing.

The licorice and mint is all that I taste, really. The mint creates a nice cooling effect in my mouth and throat. I can taste the peppermint slightly more than the spearmint. The cooling effect is not too overpowering - like the “I-just-ate-a-whole-candy-cane” type of feeling – it seems to be just the right amount of mint.

So, even though this has the dreaded (in my opinion) licorice in it, I think I could see myself drinking this tea again. The mint takes my mind off of the licorice and leaves a pleasant sweet, cool aftertaste.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Organic Green Dragon Review

Type: Green
Origin: China
Price: Sample (regular price - $9.95 for 15 pouches)
Vendor: Mighty Leaf
Brewing Method: 1 pouch, 1 cup of filtered water, heated to 170°F-180°F, steeped for 1-3 minutes.
Overall Score: 4.4 out of 5

Organic Green Dragon consists of high-grade Chinese Longjing green tea leaves. I was excited to see nice, big, whole leaves in the pouch when I opened the package. The leaves were a beautiful dark green color. The aroma of the dry leaves was more buttery than grassy.

The aroma of the brew is very nutty and buttery. There is still a hint of grassiness in the background. The liquor is a light yellow color.

The taste was a 180 from the aroma. I could taste the grassiness of the green tea first, and then was left with the slightly sweet, buttery, nutty taste. The nuttiness of the tea reminds me a lot of Dragon Well, but with twice the nutty flavor.

I would say it is a brisk, but mild, light bodied tea. I thought the tea was a tad astringent and little bitter. However, I brewed this tea for 2.5 minutes, so I think brewing it at 1 or 1.5 minutes might take away that bitterness. I could feel the drying affect in my mouth, however, it didn’t bother me any.

I really like that this tea is organic and the only ingredient is the Chinese Longjing. That means I know exactly what I am drinking and I don’t have to worry about any evil natural flavors. In conclusion, this tea was put on the list of “greens to buy.”

Friday, November 7, 2008

Bengal Breakfast Review

Type: Black
Origin: Base of the Himalayas
Price: Sample (regular price - $14.29 for 2oz.)
Vendor: Teatulia
Brewing Method: 1 pyramid, 1 cup of filtered water, heated to 200°F-210°F, steeped for 3 minutes.
Overall Score: 4.2 out of 5

According to Teatulia’s website, Bengal Breakfast is 100% organic black tea from the base of the Himalayas. The aroma of the dry leaves was very subtle; I couldn’t smell much, but what I did smell was the typical aroma of black tea. Most of the leaves in the pyramid were whole, dark leaves – which is always good to see.

Teatulia's instructions said to steep this tea for 1-2 minutes. All of the black teas that I have ever had said to steep for 4-5 minutes. So, I compromised and steeped it for 3 minutes. The aroma of the freshly brewed tea is unlike any black tea that I’ve had so far. It was very subtle and reminds me a lot of the aroma of oolong tea. The liquor is a reddish-orange color.

The tea was not as bold as I thought it would be. Don’t get me wrong, I would still consider it a full bodied tea. However, since this tea was described as Teatulia’s “boldest black tea,” I guess my expectations were a little different.

Nonetheless, this tea is very smooth and pleasantly malty. Even though it is not as bold as Irish breakfast (which really kicks you in the butt), it is still rather brisk and lively. It is not bitter, but a tiny bit astringent. The aftertaste lingers for quite some time. I think I can safely conclude that this would be a great addition to any breakfast!