Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Tea Review 133 - Le Palais des Thés Tamaryokucha Imperial

Tamaryokucha Imperial
Le Palais des Thés

It's probably not a good idea to generalize, in general, but if I may be so bold, I've noticed that most Chinese green teas tend to be on the subtle and delicate side while Japanese greens are often more boldly flavored. It's been a while since I've had a good Japanese green but I was reminded of this notion recently when I tried Le Palais des Thés's Tamaryokucha Imperial.

Le Palais des Thés claims that this tea is milder than most Japanese green teas, which I don't completely agree with. I found it to have a fairly full flavor, but perhaps without the deep green common to many of Japanese teas. If you're wondering how green can be used to describe the flavor of a tea then you need to drink more Japanese green tea.

In any event, in spite of the full flavor and a little bit of a sharp edge I found this one to be more than quite drinkable. Here's what Le Palais des Thés has to say about it:

A remarkable green tea whose leaves are twisted, rather than folded like the Sencha teas. This intensifies its dark green color, which is a sign of high quality in this type of tea. It is milder than most Japanese green teas, with a silky, subtle liquor and a fragrant infusion.

Sample provided by Le Palais des Thés
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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Tea Review 132 - Teavivre Chun Mei & Taimu Maojian

Organic Taimu Maojian Green Tea
Chun Mei Green Tea


Once upon a time I tended to prefer Japanese green tea just a bit more than Chinese green. I would say that the balance has shifted over the years and I'm now a bit fonder of the Chinese greens. To the best of my recall I don't have any previous experience with either of these varieties but they're both worth a look.

I found that I was especially fond of the Taimu Maojian. It's much lighter and more delicate than the Chun Mei but still quite flavorful. I'd have no problem putting a tea like this one into regular daily rotation. Here's an excerpt from Teavivre's blurb:

This premium grade, 100% organic Taimu Maojian Green tea comes from Mt. Taimu in Fujian, and is made using traditional methods. It has a great taste, that combines a slightly sweet, delicate green tea taste with a hint of chestnut aroma and flavour. Maojian means “fluffy tips” in Chinese, which describes its appearance perfectly – this tea has a fine covering of white hairs that indicates its high quality.

I liked Chun Mei as well, but not quite as much as the Taimu Maojian. It steeps to a much a darker color in the cup and has a much more robust flavor, with perhaps just a hint of smokiness in there somewhere. This one was reminiscent of a milder variety of gunpowder tea. If you're fond of that sort of thing then this should be right up your alley. Teavivre has this to say about it:

Chun Mei – sometimes called Zhen Mei – is the most popular type of “eyebrow tea” in China, so named because when dry it's narrow, curved shape looks like a fine, painted on eyebrow. The traditional local drink of Anhui, it is also now widely grown in Zhejiang, Jiangxi provinces.

An earthy, slightly bitter tea with a plum aftertaste

Sample provided by Teavivre
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Friday, December 16, 2011

Tea Review 131 - Peter Asher Prairie Sunrise

Prairie Sunrise
Peter Asher Coffee & Tea

I'm not much of a fan of flavored tea, but there are a few exceptions. Those flavored teas I do like typically start with a decent black tea as a base. For me there are certain flavors - mostly a few of the fruity ones - that work well with black tea. One of the ones that springs to mind off the top of my head is peach.

Peter Asher's Prairie Sunrise doesn't contain any of that, but it does claim to be flavored with a mix of berries, vanilla, rhubarb and guava. I didn't taste any vanilla, but that might just be a failing of my coarse palate. As for "berries," that leaves it a bit open to speculation and I'm not familiar enough with rhubarb or guava to know how much they're contributing to the overall total.

But it works. I don't like this one enough to drink it on a regular basis, but I could probably say that for any flavored tea. That's just my own bias talking, but I'd say that if you're looking for a nice lightly flavored black tea this is a good one to go with.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Tea Review 130 - Le Palais des Thés Darjeeling

Darjeeling Puttabong F.T.G.F.O.P. (Second Flush)
Le Palais des Thés

I'm never one to waste an opportunity to sing the praises of black tea. But I have to admit, at the risk of offending a phalanx of tea connoisseurs, that Darjeeling is among my least favorite of all the black teas.

Which is an odd way to start out a tea review, I suppose. But even though I wasn't impressed with Le Palais des Thés's Darjeeling Puttabong at first, I found it growing on me the more I drank it. For me Darjeeling is probably never going to measure up to a great Assam or Keemun, but that's just a matter of personal taste. If you're a fan of Darjeelings I suspect that you'll like this one quite a bit.

Here's what Le Palais des Thés has to say about this one:

A prestigious estate and of one of the oldest in Darjeeling, famed for its tippy flushes. The second flush produces a dark infusion and an amber liquor with depth and a lot of body. Its unique full-bodied and woody flavor makes it an ideal Matin tea.

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Thursday, December 08, 2011

Tea Review 129 - Stash Christmas Morning

Christmas Morning Black Tea
Stash Tea

At first glance Stash's Christmas Morning seemed like a bad idea. Just as too many cooks are said to spoil the broth I couldn't help thinking that too many teas might just tend to spoil the blend. So much for that theory.

Christmas Morning is billed as a black tea. According to Stash it actually contains a mix of four types of black tea, including Assam, Darjeeling, Yunnan, and Keemun. If that wasn't enough there's apparently also some Formosa Oolong mixed in and some jasmine green tea.

Which sounds like a great big mess but it's actually quite good. In spite of the oolong and green, the dominant note here is definitely black tea. I couldn't quite pick out which, if any, of the black varieties dominated but it was a very smooth, flavorful drinking experience all the same. I tried the loose-leaf variety but as you can see from the accompanying image, it's also available in tea bag form.

Here's some of what Stash has to say about this tea:

Each tea component adds a distinctive flavor note. Indian Assam imparts a malty and hearty flavor; the Formosa Oolong adds bright, fruity flavor notes; the China Keemun, a hint of smokiness; our first flush Darjeeling, a flowery note; richness from the Yunnan and Nilgiri black teas; and the jasmine green tea imparts a lingering, sweet fragrance.

Overall, this breakfast tea is a rich, multi-layered drink that is sure to pick you up in the early morning. The smooth liquor of this tea showcases its bright and complex flavor. Christmas Morning is a great balance of brisk and sweet. Full-bodied and with a lovely aroma, this tea is a new and interesting take on traditional breakfast teas like English and Irish Breakfast. Enjoy it hot or iced, with milk and sugar or plain.

Sample provided by Stash Tea
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Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Win Bigelow Tea and Wooden Tea Chest

(from a press release)

10 lucky Bigelow Tea winners will receive a personalized engraved wooden tea chest filled with assorted Bigelow Teas (Lemon Lift, Earl Grey, Constant Comment, English Teatime, Green Tea, Sweet Dreams Herb, Mint Medley Herb, and Orange & Spice Herb) – 64 tea bags in all and just in time for holiday gift-giving! “Like” us on Facebook and enter on our sweepstakes tab from December 1-16.

Enter today, and happy holidays from Bigelow Tea!

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Thursday, December 01, 2011

Tea Review 128 - Le Palais des Thés Qimen Hao Ya

Qimen Hao Ya
Le Palais des Thés

Every time I try another variety of the Chinese black tea known as Qimen, or Keemun, it moves up higher in my ranking of favorite teas. This Qimen Hao Ya from Le Palais des Thés is perhaps slightly less smoky than the last Hao Ya I reviewed, from Teavivre, but it was just as smooth and flavorful and I was just as sorry to see the sample packet dwindle.

Le Palais des Thés doesn't have a lot to say about this tea. Here is the info from their Web site:

Like Qimen Imperial, this tea grows on Huang Mountain. The tea from this excellent flush has a delicate, slightly chocolaty, taste. A subtle tea for the late afternoon.

Sample provided by Teavivre
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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Monday, November 21, 2011

Tea Review 127 - Teavivre Premium Keemun Hao Ya

Premium Keemun (Qimen) Hao Ya

I haven't had a lot of experience with Keemun tea. A few years back I reviewed one and noted that I didn't really like the smoky notes common to this Chinese black variety. But I've sampled a few other Keemun varieties since then and I've come to like it quite a bit. I'm still not a big fan of smoky and I'm not going to race out and buy any Lapsang Souchong, but the Keemuns that I've tried lately seem to be fairly low-key as far as the smoke goes.

I was particularly fond of Teavivre's Premium Keemun Hao Ya and when the relatively small sample ran out found that I was quite sorry to see it go. It has a nice full, rich taste, with no hint of bitterness and a just a hint of that smokiness.

Here are a few highlights from Teavivre's blurb about this one:

Handmade Gongfu process tea from Qimen county, Anhui province
Dark black, glossy thin buds topped with golden tips
Makes a bold copper coloured tea
A bold but smooth, fruity taste with a lingering, mellow aftertaste

Rated as the best of Chinese black teas, Keemun is an absolute delight to drink. TeaVivre's Premium Keemun represents the highest quality of this tea generally available to the public, and has a taste, aroma and appearance that completely justifies its reputation as one of the best black teas in the world. Handmade in Keemun's birthplace of Qimen, this tea is simply stunning.

Sample provided by Teavivre
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Thursday, November 17, 2011

New Book on Chinese Tea Culture & Benefits

The Fine Art of Preparing and Drinking Tea
(from a press release)

As China makes its presence felt on the world stage, Western and Eastern culture are mingling in new and exciting ways. Chinese epicures are learning to appreciate fine wines and Westerners are learning that there is a great deal more to tea than we have experienced up until now.

Daniel Reid, best-selling author and a leading expert on Chinese philosophy and medicine, passes on the joys and health benefits of Chinese tea in his new book, The Art and Alchemy of Chinese Tea.

Reid helps the reader navigate through the kaleidoscopic variety in Chinese tea, with its broad range of flavor, fragrance, and other distinctive traits, while also detailing how and why these teas can protect health, prolong life, and enhance mental performance.

The Art and Alchemy of Chinese Tea is for tea lovers, for everyone interested in the value of drinking tea to our health and wellbeing, and for those fascinated by Chinese culture and history.

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Certified Tea Blending Opportunity

Certified Tea Blending Opportunity
(from a press release)

Beautiful San Diego sets the backdrop for an intensive 2-day hands-on Certified Tea Blending Course at the Courtyard by Marriott Liberty Station in San Diego, California, January 19 – 20, 2012. The course will be led by Certified Tea Master Diego Morlachetti, Executive Director of the Escuela Argentina de Té in Rosario, Argentina, a licensee of the American Tea Masters Association. It will be followed by 3-months of intensive home study involving various blending formulations and periodic online sessions for support. The course will focus on the hidden secrets and mysteries of tea blending and professional techniques for developing both traditional blends and signature formulas.

With blended teas the first choice among many tea drinkers today, registrants will be trained in blending various types and grades of tea with other teas and with ingredients like herbs, dried fruit, flowers, flower petals, and spices, including Ayurvedic formulations. They will learn to create professional blends, based on traditional formulas and current market demand, achieving results based on the technical criteria acquired during the course. They will also learn to determine the freshness of the ingredients they are using in the mixing and blending phases to assure a natural and satisfying taste.

The course is ideally suited for tea business owners and managers, restauranteurs, wine someliers, chefs, caterers, tea aficionados, industry suppliers, and others who wish to incorporate tea blending skills into their daily lives or current profession.


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Saturday, November 05, 2011

Tea Review 126 - Teavivre Xinyang Maojian

Xin Yang Mao Jian Green

This is the fourth and last of the samples I received from Teavivre. While I liked the others (two black and one green) I think I liked this one a bit more. I don't have a lot of experience with this type of tea, but I wouldn't mind experiencing it again. The dry leaves had a great aroma and the tea itself had a rather strong flavor, I thought, for a Chinese green tea.

Here's what Teavivre has to say about this one:

Xinyang Maojian is a traditional Chinese tea with a history stretching back over 1,000 years. Its name comes from the area it was first grown – Xinyang county in Henan – while Maojian refers to the teas appearance (fur covered tips of the leaves). Xinyang Maojian has a distinctive appearance and taste compared to most other Chinese green teas, that originated and are grown mostly in the warmer Fujian and Anhui provinces. This tea's leaves are generally smaller, with a darker green color, and its taste, while still unmistakeably that of a premium green tea, has a stronger, bolder character that sets it apart.

TeaVivre's Xinyang Maojian is grade 1 tea, made from the Spring picked leaves that produce the best quality and best tasting teas.

Sample provided by Teavivre
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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Tea Review 126 - Teavivre Dragon Well

Dragon Well (Long Jing)

I've never met a Dragon Well I didn't like, but I've run across a few that were kind of bland. Fortunately this Long Jing from Teavivre rises above all that. Teavivre's site claims that Dragon Well tea was the variety that was served to the late President Richard Nixon on his groundbreaking visit to China some years back. I'm not sure what old Tricky Dick thought about it but if it was as good as this one he had nothing to complain about.

Here's an excerpt from what Teavivre has to say about their Dragon Well:

A great example of one of China's top teas, affordable enough to drink every day
Grown in Xihu near Hangzhou in province Zhejiang
Flattened tea leaves, with one bud and one or two leaves
Pale green yellow when brewed
A subtle, rich, orchid like taste and aroma, with no hint of bitterness

Sample provided by Teavivre
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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Tea Connoisseurs Herald Arrival of New Company

Tea Connoisseurs Herald Arrival of New Company, Rare Tea Republic
(from a press release)

Rare Tea Republic, a company that curates fresh teas from the world's finest tea gardens, was launched today. Rare Tea Republic works directly with artisans around the world to select small lots and procure single estate teas that best express the character of the terroir. Rare Tea Republic's tea collection launched with nineteen teas from single estates throughout Northern India and the Himalayan Mountain region including: Darjeeling, Kangra, Sikkam, Assam, Bihar and Nepal. Rare Tea Republic teas range from $6 to $30 for 50 grams and are hand-packed by weight in resealable bags.

By visiting countries of origin multiple times a year, Rare Tea Republic has developed deep relationships with tea growers and source directly from them. The teas in the Rare Tea Republic collection will be continually updated throughout the year to deliver the freshest, most unique selection of single estate full-leaf teas to consumers.

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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Tea Review 125 - Teavivre Yunnan Dian Hong

Yunnan Dian Hong Golden Tip

Of the tea samples I received from Teavivre, two were of black tea and two of green tea. When I recently reviewed their Bailin Gongfu, the other black tea they provided, I noted that I didn't like it so much at first but that it grew on me. This is a relatively rare situation for me, but oddly enough it happened again with the Yunnan Dian Hong Golden Tip.

Given the abundance of golden tips that lend this its name and the outstanding aroma of the dry leaves I was kind of disappointed at the taste of this one the first few times around. I'm willing to admit that it might have had something to do with the way I was preparing it. In any event the more I drank of this the more I liked it and by the time it was gone I waved it a fond farewell and was sad to see it go.

Here are some of the highlights of what Teavivre has to say about this one:

Handmade in Fengqing county, Yunnan
Completely orange pekoe colored buds
A bright orange-red coloured tea
A rich, complex but smooth and fresh taste

Dian Hong black tea, also known as Yunnan black tea, is one of China's most famous black teas. This is the highest grade Dian Hong generally available in China – called Golden Tip Dian Hong. It has lots of orange pekoe in the dried tea, and brews into an absolutely great tasting, golden coloured tea, with very rich taste and aroma.

Sample provided by Teavivre
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Saturday, October 08, 2011

Tea Review 124 - Teavivre Bailin Gongfu

Bailin Gongfu Black Tea

With most teas that I try I find that I either like them or I don't. It's relatively rare to find a tea that grows on me, so to speak. But that's exactly the case with this Chinese black tea from Teavivre. I was somewhat put off by the taste at first, but now that I'm on the last cup of the rather sizable sample pack I've grown quite fond of it.

Teavivre has fairly extensive notes on this one at their web site, but here are a few highlights.

Hand-crafted at Mt. Taimu in Fujian province
Black and gold coloured pine-needle shaped appearance
A rich, full bodied sweet tasting tea with a hint of caramel

Bai Lin Gongfu is a completely oxidised black tea. It is a “gongfu” (or “congou”) type of black tea, which indicates that it is hand crafted, with the leaf buds being twisted into thin, tight strips without them being broken. When dry, the tea has a sweet, caramel like scent and has a mix of black and golden-orange “pekoe” coloured leaf buds.

As for that "hint of caramel," I was thinking that it was more like a hint of cocoa, which was what put me off at first, but I could see where it could be interpreted as caramel. In any event, if you're looking for a Chinese black tea that's a little more obscure than the usual choices you might want to give this one a try.

Sample provided by Teavivre
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Monday, October 03, 2011

2nd China Xiamen International Tea Fair

2nd China Xiamen International Tea Fair
(from a press release)

The 2nd China Xiamen International Tea Fair, scheduled for October 20 – 23, 2011, is the tea industry’s foremost international trade show. It will be held at the Xiamen International Conference and Exhibition Center in Fujian Province, and features 22,000 square meters of exhibit space accommodating 1,000 booths. More than 50,000 trade visitors are anticipated to attend.

Last year’s Tea Fair was a huge success with 221 companies exhibiting, 78 of which were from overseas, including: Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, United Kingdom, Sri Lanka, India, and others. The total number of trade visitors reached 43,656.

The 2nd China Xiamen International Tea Fair takes place at the pristine, modern Xiamen International Conference & Exhibition Center. Exhibitors from leading companies in the United States, Canada, China, Japan, Taiwan, India, England, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Korea, South Africa, Vietnam, and Malaysia will display their latest products and innovative services. The Tea Fair, run concurrently with the China Xiamen International Coffee Fair 2011, the 6th China Xiamen International Buddhist Items & Crafts Fair and the 3rd China Xiamen International Vegetarian Food Fair, is expected to attract over 50,000 visitors from all over the world.


Image: China Xiamen Tea Fair

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Saturday, October 01, 2011

Bigelow Tea Rap Video

Yet another tea-related rap video, this one courtesy of Bigelow Tea and Jamaar Wright. For more of the same, look here.

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Assam Month Review: Rishi Golden Assam

Golden Assam
Rishi Tea

I'd rank this one as somewhere near the mid-range of Assam teas but not quite up there with the best that I've sampled thus far. It had a good flavor, was very smooth and had little to no astringency. I'd have no problem drinking a tea like this on a regular basis.

Here's what Rishi has to say about it:

The Assam region of Northeast India is famous for its black tea production. The sub-tropical valleys of Assam in which tea is cultivated yield gutsy, bold infusions with full body and flavor. Our single estate Golden Assam is from orthodox manufacture and has an abundance of even grade leaves and golden buds. Its rich liquor is sweet, robust and malty with notes of fruity raisin and date sugar.

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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Assam Month Review: Culinary Teas

Assam Gingia - TGFOP Tea
Assam Borengajuli Tea
Assam Bukhial - TGFOP Tea
Assam Tarajulie - FBOP Tea

Culinary Teas

If I was more methodical about the process of sampling and reviewing teas I'd do side by side comparisons when I have multiple items under consideration. Okay, I'll make a note of that for future reference. Since I neglected to do that this time around I'll just go on record of saying that all of these Assam varieties provided by Culinary Teas are ones that I would be happy to drink on a regular basis.

There's virtually no astringency or bitterness - the downfall of so many lesser Assam teas - to be found in this bunch. If I absolutely had to rank them I'd go with Gingia in first place, followed by Borengajuli, Bukhial, and last, but not really least, the Tarajulie. Which is not to say that the Tarajulie was significantly "worse" than the Gingia or any of the others, because there was a very small difference in quality between these four.

Recommended all around.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Assam Month Review: Greenwood Estate

Greenwood Estate STGFOP
Upton Tea Imports

Hello. What went wrong here? I had very high expectations for this one. They were even higher after I opened the package and caught a glimpse of all those golden tips and the great aroma of the dry leaves. And while you can’t always count on a direct correlation between price and quality, at about fifteen dollars per ounce (for the 50g size) you do expect something decent.

So I was rather dismayed to find that this one didn't turn out so well. Not that it was terrible, but it just came across as kind of flavorless. I'm almost inclined to wonder if I might have done something wrong, as far as preparation goes, but the sample size wasn't sufficient to do much additional testing.

With all this in mind I'll refrain from drawing any firm conclusions about this one. I'll chalk it up to a possible case of operator error and will probably try it again the next time I order from Upton.

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Monday, September 19, 2011

UK's 50 Best Tea Rooms

This feature from The Independent goes back a few years but it's still worth a look. Even if you're not going to visit the United Kingdom any time soon it still makes for an interesting slide show.

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Friday, September 16, 2011

Assam Month Review: Marangi Estate

Marangi Estate FTGFOP1
Upton Tea Imports

Here's another winner. I'd rank it about one notch above the Nahorhabi Estate that I recently ordered from Upton and perhaps a notch or two below the Malibru Estate, that I reviewed here not long ago. It's going to take a truly fine Assam tea to beat the latter but this one comes close.

Upton describes it thusly and I can find nothing to argue with in their description:

When we cupped this selection we knew we were sampling one of the finest Assam teas of the season. The rich liquor is thick, with pleasing malty notes, the hallmark of a fine Assam. The carefully crafted leaves have an abundance of golden tips. A selection perfectly suited for a bracing morning cup or a rich afternoon treat.

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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Friday, September 09, 2011

Assam Month Review: Malibru Estate

Malibru Estate FTGFOP1 Cl
Upton Tea Imports

We have a winner - so far. This is the sixth Assam tea I tried for our Assam month observation and while some of the others were very good, none of them hold a candle to this one. There are a few others I haven't gotten to yet, but they'll have a tough time topping this one. Not that I would mind.

I can't quite put a finger on what it is that makes one Assam tea a little bit better than another (which could apply to any tea, I guess). The best Assams, like this one, are very smooth to the taste, with none of the bitterness and astringency that plague some of the lesser varieties. This one, like most of the other high end ones, has a very full, rich flavor with very faint spice notes, reminiscent perhaps of clove or cinnamon.

Upton describes this as coming "from the peak of the second flush season, this fine tea has an abundance of golden tips, with a fresh and rich Assam aroma." They also note that it "can take milk well." Which makes me cringe but I guess everyone likes what they like.

Highly recommended.

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Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Arty Tea Video

I'm not sure what the point of this clip is. I suspect it's just a filmmaker showing off his skills, which aren't so shabby.

TEA from jeff wood on Vimeo.

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Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Assam Month Review: Joy's Teaspoon

Tea Review 118
Mangalam Estate
Joy's Teaspoon

Mangalam Estate seems to be one of the more popular Assam suppliers out there, so it's surprising to me that in all these years of tea drinking I haven’t tried any. It's an oversight that's now been resolved, thanks to this sample from Joy's Teaspoon.

This is a good Assam tea, bordering on a great Assam tea. I don't normally bother with numerical ratings and whatnot, but if I were to do so, then I'd go with something like an eight on a 1-10 scale. There's very little of the bitterness or astringency that makes some of the lesser Assams so hard to take.

I wouldn't quite rank this one up there with the best Assams I've ever tasted, but I wouldn't have any problems drinking it on a regular basis. For some additional thoughts on this one, take a look at what Lainie at had to say.

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Friday, September 02, 2011

Assam Month Review: Tiesta Royal Breakfast

Tea Review 117
Tiesta Tea
Royal Breakfast

In the process of doing research for an article on breakfast tea a while back I found that there's not a whole lot of consistency in what goes into the various breakfast tea blends. About the only thread that connects all them is that they are mostly (if not always) made up of black tea. Assam is often one of the black teas used, but not necessarily always

I hadn't heard of Royal Breakfast tea before but apparently there are a few other tea merchants besides Tiesta who make such a creature. Tiesta's site didn't list the teas that were used in this blend but when I contacted them they confirmed my suspicion that it was a mix of Assam and Ceylon. I'm not normally a great fan of the latter - with a few notable exceptions - but this was a very good blend. I wouldn't put it at the top of the list for Assam and breakfast teas but I wouldn't have any problem drinking it on a regular basis. Worth a look.

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Thursday, September 01, 2011

Assam Month Starts Today

Update: Our observation of Assam Month gets underway today. Stay tuned for the first review, coming soon. If you have any Assam samples you'd like reviewed, there's still time. Just let us know.

March of 2006 was Assam Month here at Tea Guy Speaks. We devoted much of that month to Assam tea. You can read those articles and reviews here.

Assam is one of my favorite types of tea and it doesn't seem to get the respect it deserves. Perhaps that has something to do with the fact that a lot of the tea coming out of Assam is of so-so quality. But if you're a fan of high-quality black tea, Assam also has plenty of single-estate teas that actually are quite exceptional.

With that in mind we're going to try another Assam Month here at TGS. That will be September. If you know of any great Assam tea we can feature or if you're a merchant who'd like to send samples for review, feel free to leave a comment or contact us on Twitter.

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Friday, August 26, 2011

The Perfect Cup of Tea

Looking for the perfect cup of tea? Do a Google or YouTube search for this phrase and you'll find that there are any number of people itching to help. Here's one of the most popular videos on the topic. For more on the subject, check out the articles I wrote at the English Tea Store Blog, here and here.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Red Bush Tea Goes Green

Red Bush Tea Goes Green
(from a press release)

The Rainforest Alliance is pleased to announce that a group of South African farms growing rooibos -- also known as red bush tea -- have earned Rainforest Alliance certification. In addition to being a first for this crop type, the farms are also the first to become Rainforest Alliance CertifiedTM in South Africa.

The farms in Zeekoevlei Grootport and Driefontein produce rooibos for Rooibos Ltd, whose marketing arm in the USA is Herbal Teas International. The rooibos range carrying the Rainforest Alliance Certified seal is now available in all major supermarkets throughout Europe and North America.

Rooibos is already known for its health benefits -- relieving digestive illness and promoting healthy skin, teeth and bones. Consumers can now be reassured that it is also healthy for the environment. Farms that achieve Rainforest Alliance certification have met the environmental, social and economic standards of the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN). The SAN standards cover ecosystem conservation, worker rights and safety, wildlife protection, water and soil conservation, agrochemical reduction, decent housing, and legal wages and contracts for workers.

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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Mighty Leaf Photo Contest

They're having a photo contest over at Mighty Leaf right now. Here's what they have to say about it:

To celebrate our new all-natural, fresh-brew iced tea line, Mighty Leaf Tea invites you to take it easy…and take a picture! Impress the Mighty Leaf community on Facebook with photos of your favorite ways to stay cool naturally with iced tea, and you could win!

More at the Mighty Leaf blog.

Image: Mighty Leaf

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Rishi Tea Sponsors National Yoga Month

Rishi Tea Announces Sponsorship of National Yoga Month
(from a press release)

Rishi Tea is proud to announce a new partnership with National Yoga Month. As part of this partnership, Rishi Tea has been named Official Beverage of Yoga Month, which is every September. Additionally, Rishi Tea will be donating a portion of its sales from Organic Unity Herbal Tea to the National Yoga
Month organization.

Yoga is an important part of the culture at Rishi Tea. In fact, the employees participate in a weekly yoga class every Friday afternoon. Held at the Rishi offices, the class gives everyone an opportunity to wind down after the busy week and gives them a chance to center themselves before heading into the weekend.

When the class is over, many of Rishi Tea’s staffers enjoy a cup of Unity Herbal Tea. This blend is a great fusion of herbs and roots that enliven the senses while helping to maintain a relaxed state of being. Spicy ginger, soothing licorice root and zesty lemongrass provides refreshing energy, perfect for pre or post yoga teatime.

During Yoga Month, Rishi Tea will donate 25% of all online sales and 10% of all wholesale sales of Organic & Fair Trade Unity Herbal Tea to the National Yoga Month organization. The donation will help this important organization promote yoga and healthy living across the country. Rishi wishes all tea drinkers and yoga practitioners a healthy, well-balanced September. For more information on Rishi Tea please visit or like Rishi Tea on Facebook.

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Monday, August 15, 2011

Free Tea Recipe eBook

From the good people at, a free copy of Your Great Grandmother Made Better Tea: 50 Ice Tea, Tea Punch, Tea Dessert Recipes from 1890 to 1920. As they describe it, it's full of "tea recipes that have been lost over time with a compilation of 50 tea recipes from 1890 to 1920."

More here.


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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Tea Council of the USA Global Internship Winner Returns

Twenty-two-year-old Masters student Taylor Caldron is “steeped” in new knowledge and insights about tea and the tea industry, thanks to his once-in-a-lifetime internship in Sri Lanka, Kenya and the U.S. this summer, sponsored by the Tea Council of the USA.

Taylor’s creative video on the health benefits of tea was the winning entry in the Tea Council’s Sip of Success internship contest. The contest was designed to give a young entrepreneur a leg-up in the tea business by providing first-hand educational and cultural experiences on the tea estates of some of the world’s most iconic tea producers. As the youngest student at the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and the Environment, Taylor is eager to apply his learnings to his study of sustainable business and a future career in the tea business.


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Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Tea Review 116 - Adagio Teas Gourmet Tea Collections

Artisan Comfort Collection
Sweet Medley Collection

Adagio Teas

Up today, two collections of gourmet tea from Adagio Teas. Each contains five pyramid bags of six different teas. The Artisan Comfort Collection features mostly unflavored black, white, green and oolong teas and the Sweet Medley Collection contains flavored black, white, green, oolong, rooibos and a tisane.

I won't comment on each one of these teas, but there are a few that stand out for me. Not surprisingly, given my preference for unflavored tea, those are the ones I liked best. Especially noteworthy, at least for me, the Dragonwell, Oolong Goddess, and especially the Golden Yunnan, all from the Artisan Comfort Collection.

As for the Sweet Medley Collection, I liked the Peach Oolong best and I always go for a good strong Peppermint. Also surprising, since I don't like Earl Grey or vanilla, is the relatively palatable blend I came up with when I blended the former with the Vanilla Rooibos.

Artisan Comfort Collection
Jasmine Pearls
Silver Needle
Wuyi Oolong
Golden Yunnan
Oolong Goddess

Sweet Medley Collection
Earl Grey
Citrus Green
Peach Oolong
Blueberry White
Vanilla Rooibos

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Friday, July 22, 2011

Tea Review 115: The Art of Tea

Biodynamic Breakfast
Classic Black
Mandarin Silk

The Art of Tea

My apologies to the good people at The Art of Tea, who sent some samples a while back. I'm not sure what happened but the review got a bit sidetracked somewhere along the way. In any event, here are some thoughts on a few of the samples I tried, which include two black teas and a flavored oolong.

Classic Black
I don’t think I've ever met a Yunnan black that I didn't like and this was no exception. Never mind that it's a blend of Yunnan black with Nilgiri, a black tea from India. It was quite good, with a very smooth, mellow flavor. I would have guessed that it was perhaps a high-end Ceylon, but I guess that shows what I know. This was a winner in the Black Tea category at World Tea Expo and I can see why.

Biodynamic Breakfast
Another nice black tea, though perhaps not as good as the aforementioned. Very smooth and flavorful. I've noticed that the components of breakfast tea can vary quite widely from one merchant to the next. There's no indication at Art of Tea's web site what makes up this one but it's worth a taste nonetheless.

Mandarin Silk
I'm not a fan of flavored tea - plain and simple. But I was kind of surprised by this one. I wouldn't say it bowled me over but given my general lack of interest in this sort of thing I'd say it's not so bad. It's a mix of Pouchong tea with lemon myrtle, marigolds and natural essence of vanilla. Perhaps a little heavy on the latter but pretty decent overall.

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Layers of Tea

Perhaps I'm just leading a sheltered life but this is the first time I've been exposed to the notion of layered tea. It came to my attention recently thanks to a post in one of the Wall Street Journal's blogs. It's a brief article that recounts the story of the inventor of a seven-layered tea. This is apparently a rarity of sorts, given that others have not been able to manage anything more than five layers. Check out the article (and a better photo) here.

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