Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Fujian Ti Kuan Yin: Adagio's Finest

       Whenever  there's a tea that touches my heart I never have forgotten its sensuality and grandness! I first this baby a month back when I ordered sample, this particular one was quite expensive for a mere three ounces yet there was more to offer than quantity! These tiny rolls of leaves might look small and powerless, but inside every one of these leaves have the heart of a lion with as much bounty as Eden! These leaves brewed at just under boiling at 208 degrees opens up into medium sized leaves , with one roll could contain about 4 to 6 leaves alone  to be brewed four or more times! Brewing these leaves have a great aroma close to foilage  with a  sinewy-woodsy  smell, its quite natural and fits these majestically crafted leaves that acre curled and rolled with good care.



     Wonderfully crafted indeed! These leaves are not quite as young but flavorful enough to be used constantly, and keep resilience in the hottest of water and roughest of handling. While the leaves might be whole than any teas I have seen lately, there are bits and pieces of leaves from the processing that underwent  with not stems in sight! This results in a wonderful greenish-yellow liquid with an aroma close to a Sin-Cha at its hottest temperature off the kettle, upon cooling however will have a liquid smelling of boiled vegetables, tasting of a grainy woodsy flavor with a strong vegetal profile with hints of ginger.        




           I have to say, this tea is quite the title. Masters! Not a speck of dust, residue but pure liquid and the essence of the leaves grown, processed into something special worthy of acclaim. The flavor of time, smoothness of life, and the comfort of love is very much like oolong, this tea is very a part of this notion which is no wonder that oolongs such of this is revered throughout the centuries!

      Versatility: 5.5; not really a tea to be blended that is meant to be enjoyed for its natural flavor! Flavoring this tea is an upset to much of the dismay of those who really intended to have this tea enjoyed in its own rights. This tea is purely enjoyed warm (especially), hot but having this cuppa cold can be quite vegetal.

      Taste: 90; a really tasty treat with a passion for vegetables, natural flavors, and any purists at heart who loves tea plain as it was grown for!

      Palate: smooth and velvety at the palate, with vegetables, woody and rich leafy taste that has a character that can accompany most savory meals. The tea can be tannic and slightly astringent past the fourth brew, but still "alive" with much of the flavors not too muted.

     Drinker Friendliness:  6.0;To those unacquainted with savory but light teas, or those who despise vegetal flavors immensely, and to hose who love the traditional strong black teas, this maybe too weak or unusual.  Rarely, oolongs due upset but has the most welcoming demeanor of all teas, this particular one may be a bit to rich for the casual tea drinkers but a treat all the less.


                                                        FINAL WORD
    A tea fit for those in love with teas in the richer and full tasting tea, with a bit of pocket change in their hands but no less a substantial investments. Indeed, its quite a heavy purchase at so little quantities, but every so often with much more excuses than other sources (aka Teavana) to pay for tea produced by the best tea masters. A tea worthy of every claim and the title of master!

Jasmine White Needles

        There is probably nothing more heavenly than a cup of of white, even better to have a cup of Jasmine White Needles! Oh so flowery, crisp, light and amazingly balanced between natural and added flavors that serves to complement its nutty and hay  profile. Unlike many other blends I came across from ( teavana) stores, this blend provided by Teavivre is wonderfully fresh from fujian, with a gentle jasmine smell mingled with the hay-ish aroma that is not overwhelming nor too strong (a feature among chemical additions). The fresh raw leaves are small, with tiny minute hairs , more green than silvery but still considered to be White Needle.   

           Brewing this baby is not at all too temperamental nor mute but brewed with hot water just a minute off boiling produces an immense aroma of Jasmine with a grassy notes. One can feel a sense of striding in a meadow or a garden of Jasmine trees at night! After three to three in a half minutes of waiting, a wonderful 
light golden color results into a beauty worthy of such a color! A work of art if you ask me!
                                

          
          I can't think of ever drinking this tea and then forgetting its flavor! Just by the color itself an the smell is already an open invitation to promises of heaven and beauty. The flowery jasmine character mingled with the natural and pleasant tasting grassy notes of white needles, with hints of nuttiness assure one's expectations of purity and nature. There is really nothing more needed to complement this tea than a nice quiet corner, comfy seats and wonderful weather. 

          Versatility: 7.0; a tea that has many possibilities and then some! It can be greatly blended very well with other teas that can complements its floweriness, enjoyed well either hot or cold, served with sugar(though it would drown out its truest flavors). Many will come to love this tea well,  its pleasant in flavor, relatively youthful, crisp and light, without "off-putting " flavors (thats if one would count on flowers). 
  
          Taste:  80; its a great tea, few frill nor whistles, and can be quite flowery and grassy  at the first brew, mute and astringent with faint jasmine taste in the third or more brew. One can say its much like eating flowers, drinking ambrosia...not surprise about that:)

          Palate: smooth, light, flowery and woody at the first steep, woody, tannin, deeply sinewy( plant-wise), with a moderate jasmine tastes. Mute, faint flowery, tannic, astringent and watery towards the later steeps past the third brew.

          Drinker Friendliness: well I say this tea can be enjoyed by all (including those who think this type of tea is just watery to those who are almost off-put by every exotic flavor)! 


                                                          FINAL WORD 
        Just absolutely wonderful and highly rewarding to drink to the favor of the heavens! Purity, simplicity, natural flavors and efforts of many peoples who creates the best simple drinks around. What else is to be said!


                                                            

Monday, July 16, 2012

Yunnan Noir: A bliss with every sip!

    Yunnan. The birth place of tea, the oldest and most prestigious crops grown over the span of generations, with a storied flavor as time itself . If at all the tea trees of Yunnan can talk, they would say their life's passion for a beverage is their calling as would many of its farmers would claim so! Yunnan Noir by farmer Zha Luo, proudly supplied by Adagio teas under their "Roots Campaign" is no different and rivals any
tea growers but the most masterful of tea artisans.  
          
        Just look at this beauty right here! Curled meticulously  during the drying process of tea leaves just when these leaves are about to lose much of its previous size and mass, the end result looks like tiny balls with as much leaves packed in this condensed form (see later pictures). The tea itself is surprisingly fresh, with aromas wafting from the bag, I can get a sense I stumbled into a spice market selling cloves, peppers, allspice, cinnamon, etc, with cocoa and honey being the distinct notes out of the spiciness. There is also an earthy aspect to the tea that is considered to be the trademark of Pu-Erh or Yunnan teas in general, but its not the deep earthy Pu-Erh aroma but a light layered flavored that has a slight metallic, and clay like aroma reminiscent of a pottery works. 
                                                           






      The  brew was just as good as the aroma! It has a lovely deep amber color from an initial light amber color, a similar aroma liken to its raw leaf form with an earthy profile with a slight irony notes, a smell of honey, and boiled bananas or cassava. The flavor is very the same with much of earthiness in the first brew and lingers off in the second and multiples brews, the immense earthiness sometimes has a brisk sensation on the palate but normally its smooth that has sweetness with starchiness that finishes with a chocolaty flavor.  



           The end result of thousands of years of craftsmanship, devotion, and care for some simple beverage!
Beautiful is it not?! There is no room for clippings, by-products, and fragrances but downy, tippy young leaves that are curled and dried to perfection! Much of the tea has much of these young leaves per teaspoon and not one bit are broken or torn (apart from my reckless handling of the wet leaves). The mark of quality that testifies for this tea is the amazing resilience of these leaves, and the amount of brews it can give out before becoming mute, tannin, and astringent! A decent buy from Adagio, great prices with an eye for quality and acknowledgment to those hard at work to bring this all to home. 

           Versatility: 6.5; this tea can be blended well with other like teas that are earthy, a bit starchy, sweet, and layered or that complements these characters without conflicting the taste (i.e. soft spices or savory additions). It can drunk either hot or cold but one would find having a cold version mute and much closer to drinking mud water than tea itself, those in the know in culinary experiences have in common knowledge that heat is comfort and brings in flavors, cold refreshes but blankets flavors. The tea itself is welcoming and lovely flavored enough that tea novices will enjoy familiar and deeper flavors of tea .

            Tastes: 95: Overall, a tea to be remembered and cherished with as much depth and character of any story told ages pasts! Earthy flavors and accompanying spicy and sweet flavors with starchy tones have imparts a tea fit for all occasions, meals and time that best complements food very well. Even the most finicky of foodies who scoff at the notion of earthy delights will be converted into liking them, just with an amount of balance this tea has qualities that brings people to explore more tastes...maybe into Pu-Erh if one were to take those steps.

            Palate: It goes smooth on the palate with initial tangy but sweet, non astringent, and non tannin sensation that transitions into a savory and earthy flavor that soothes and nurtures the palate. Accompanying spice and some starchy elements comes into play towards at the back end of the palate resulting into another transition of smooth,velvety cocoa flavor.

            Drinker Friendliness: 7.5: a very appealing to most people in or outside the loose leaf craze, and enough to be enjoyed plain and maybe blended or given additives (though it would be unneeded) to further "enhance" its natural tastes. Its just as good as drinking cocoa with as much power as coffee, its not surprisingly that it can get popular but for one who detest earthy flavors, or thrown off by strange and unfamiliar (not really) tastes in their tea...its very much like downing Lapsang or Pu-Erh to those finicky people. All in all an excellent drink to share with everyone!
            
         
                                                               FINAL WORD
             Much thanks to Adagio but much more to Mrs.Luo who continues to produce the very best of her teas, who cares enough to curl and tend these leaves for the best products in an increasing industrialized world that belittles artisans like Mrs.Luo.  Getting up early everyday, tending, sorting, grading, processing, etc is no easy feat for a few hundreds like Mrs. Luo, the hard earned labors turns into something special not for a mere exchange of currency but a symbol of the pinnacle of the mastery of her work, a symbol of culture, and her toils into one simple beverage! I hope all the best for her and those like her continuing this trade in a world were humans and effort is no longer required, and for those who love tea or wanting a new experience this tea is it! Enjoy this drink for anyone out there willing to love this tea as much as those who loved producing it!

                                                                                                                                                                         

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Golden Monkey Tea : "The Emperor's Finest"

                                                                 
    Tea generally is very much a pleasure as should be a beverage with as much quality as one might expect in fine foods. My quest to find a tea of the highest calibre has stumbled on to this lovely little beauty (thanks to Teavivre!) that I acquired a small but manageable sample of this Golden Monkey tea directly sourced from Fuding, China. A bit of a long ways, took about a good four weeks before arriving at my doorstep to much of my anticipation for a Golden Monkey than settle for a twenty dollar investment at an expensive-upselling  establishment in nearby mall! I never had Golden Monkey tea from Teavivre before but subsisted instead for a twenty dollar per two ounce tea that goes tannic too quickly, becomes way too stringent and hardly brews multiple infusions.
        A disappointment but not unexpected! Teavivre's Golden Monkey however is entirely composed of  tippy young leaves that are whole or cut with golden tips that yields a crisp, chocolaty, and earthy flavor ( to much of my liking to Yunnan teas).  The first cup was brewed with the usual two-hundred and eight degree water that imparted on an sweet but earthy aroma on the leaves (reminiscent of Assam tea), an amber almost golden color.
   
                                    Beautiful is it? A light amber hue with the grace of dancing leaves then....


                         a transition to a warm, flavorful and nurturing liquid that does wonders after a bad day
                                                                   

           At five minutes into the brew, the color changed into a deep amber color with an aroma of sweet, earthy layered flavor that really gives the tea character( or characters) one might find unsuspecting in this Golden Monkey.  A kick of Spiciness that adds flair to appeal to complement a savory tea that does wonders to a drinker's palate, while the liquor itself was a bit astringent but not bitter, smooth on the palate, with hints of cocoa, layered earthy and foilage characteristics, slightly sweet and  irony notes that reminds one of drinking Yunnan grown teas. Bottomline: Age and relative youth one will expect from this tea, pu-erh likeness with an Assam and unique characteristics normally not found in common black teas.

                                       

             The leaves also shares the best characteristics of a great tea, here we see a mixture of cut and whole leaves that preserves much of the flavor it has though a whole leaf would bring a much brighter character. The best part of it all, the leaves even brewed in multiple successions still hold resilience and strength at a fingers touch unlike other tea leaves that would have fell apart with rough handling. The combination of young leaves that owes a bit of strength, it imparts the best flavor and quality one might expect from such a tea that is well renowned by dignitaries, emperors, and noblemen.

    Versitility: 65; Not really meant to be blended at all, flavored, or tampered with by any means due to much of the flavor being earthy and the lack of complementing flavors that goes well with soil! Its for the most part "already flavored"...well naturally that really has no need for additives, however a blend with different teas in the earthy department should be recommended but expect a deeper Pu-Erh like qualities.
Golden Monkey for the most part is a great tea all around for anyone as long they love a medium, earthy, and smooth tea.
 
    Tastes: 90; this monkey is terribly exquisite and enjoyable with as much depth of Pu-Erh, qualities of standard Assam tea in maltiness and a starchy flavor akin to sweet potatoes. Its really a great compromise between the two teas, it gives the tea almost an aged quality with a sweet savory character that bests complements any meal, and can go well "cuppa style" albeit screening natural flavors.

    Palate: Aged to perfection thanks to its earthy qualities moderated with sweet notes of starchiness. Its accented with cocoa like properties that gives a drinker a smooth, fulfilling and very comforting taste, highly smooth at the palate, full and rich midway to a finishing cocoa velvety finish.

    Drinker Friendliness: 7.5; this tea can be highly welcoming to most drinker's beginning to savor loose leaf teas, and connoisseurs alike! It has much of the best properties of Assam that most people has come to love at the same time introduces a rich earthy yet moderated and mellow flavor that can be quite favorable to most people without thinking its mud water! Its also a nice introduction into Yunnan grown teas and maybe into Pu-Erh teas that if one were to love soily and rich teas, Pu-erh would be a natural choice afterwords.

                                                                   Final Word
      Golden Monkey is far more that a potential but a great tea with alot to give for, rightly priced for expert cultivation and harvest, with as much young flavorful leaves, and highly renowned by any whom with a tastes for the different. While this tea won't be hitting the average store shelf, it has qualities with most peoples experiences in black tea to love drinking this tea plain as its naturally sweet and flavorful enough. Golden Monkey, truly golden but not a monkey!

Monday, March 5, 2012

An Average day in a Teavana Store

       
        Everyday is a good day for tea...but not everyone can agree! While everyone seemingly busying themselves throughout the day, walking frantically from shop to shop, window shopping,  and downing ounces of coffee, this lonely little place called Teavana is a desert amongst a sea of shoppers in the Galleria!  There are no long lines for Youthberry or Bin Hao Yinzhen  White Tea, or patrons yammering away in their phones while waiting 5 minutes for their Chai,  or even chairs, tables and comfy sofas ocupied by patrons with laptops looking into their facebook while sipping on Mate. Its justs the sounds of quiet, the muted murmers of crowds going by, the anguish of another day gone by without tea!  The day goes as usually, a trickle of customers comes and comes out with not a tea in tow, while other shops seemingly that have bought over to a "starbucks style" that gets the most customers of cookie cutter coffees and drinks, with cookie cutter stores that look alike staffed with cookie cutter employees!
      Not much is different with Teavana, every so often a new batch of employees mostly in their twenties fills in for the last batch that just got their hours slashed or laid off! A bunch of young, impressionable, " Yes Sirs"
willing to subsist on a meager salary, spend hours staring into oblivion, all the while slacking off and chastising the occasional "potentials" who walks off with tea samples!( A reason for smaller tea samples). Hours pass, days and years, not a soul has yet bought some tea other than a few customers always coming in buying the cheapest and most usual teas, never bothering to taste "Darj" or to sip on fine Oolongs, they always seem to buy teas that are usually black and can be easily blended, sweetened, or fruity teas drowning in German Rock Sugar! If I did not know any better, we could have sold them Lipton and they'll just deal with it than Teavana teas!
     The same goes with a prospective customer amazed by the varieties of tea than just Lipton, of course the ever helpful and knowledgeable staff tires to snake oil customers with the prospects of health, medicine and even virility of all things just to up-sell at a point 5 ounces for 50 something dollars! As if tea  can be a crutch than an enjoyable drink! There was this one instance a customer tasting a White Tea  who found it to be pleasing, an employee came over knowing an opportunity lectured the customer about White being grown in
Kenya of all Places and that it can go well together with Darjeeling! The sell did not work after all for the employee, but the customer was actually interested in a future purchase to which she walked out and took a sample before disappearing into the crowds never to return. Its with most customers after all,  that a shop like Teavana is something to look in, take a sample, smell the teas, talk about teas but not really invest a "fortune"  for some colorful, smelly, and tasty beverage! After all, what is Lipton, Starbucks, and CoffeeBean there for anyway? Certainly not a tea for twenty dollars per two ounce, that needs 5 minutes of waiting whereas in a second a cup of joe is instantly handed over to carry on some other business while drowning in an ocean of coffee!
      Tea to anyone used to being pumped up with milky, sugary coffee and "Liptea" is certainly not going to buy something that tastes awfully weird like earth or grass, with very little kick, and just down right expensive! Just explain why a would be customer who finds Oolongs to be weak and awfully to earthy, or Darjeelings to be light and to flowery, or green teas too vegetal  or hay-ish that would rather buy in bulk amounts of  sweetened Tisanes ?! Its simply not sugary, and/or milky, and otherwise exotic to their palates! The day grinds to a close in the end with almost nothing bought by customers, margins in quota in another all time low, and yet murmurs of another layoff! Just another day with out tea!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

A Cup of Silver Needles

                         
          Heavens own gift to our lonely little world, a gift bestowed worthy of the gods themselves! Silver Needles! Its a white tea and unlike other teas has a truely unique characteristics and as much divinity in them than the  usual run of the mill teas that everybody nowadays seems to enjoy. A testament to the Chinese  mastery of tea and expert cultivation, it has created a light but crisp tea, with very little caffeine and composed of straightened buds and young shoots hence the "needle' in Silver Needle. The tea itself has few bells and whistles which to any who has not yet acquired a taste for the leaf will soon question: why its not black, sugary, or perfumed  and adorned with cornflowers and kitchen sink? Its purity plain and simple which is processed in batches with few buds and young shoots, dried and steamed with nothing added. The tea has then captured the essence of youth in the aroma, feel, and taste of the tea for whom desires a light, delicate and flavorful tea.
        This particular type of white tea known in Chinese as   Bin Hao Yinzhen or white down hair silver needle for its minute white hairs that gives its silvery like in contrast being a light green color. Its leaves being fuller and fleshier than other teas in comparison , hence younger and lighter in taste when brewed, and an aroma of grass, hay, and fruits brings much appeal to an awaiting drinker. Brewing this tea shows much of the famed quality of Silver Needles, the tea itself is entirely composed of young downy leafy shoots that has not yet opened and will not even unfurl during steeping. Its like no matter how much a drinker tortures the leaves out of flavor, its integrity and shape still  holds true that shows the youthfulness of the leaves meticulously picked for the drinker's pleasure!
             The first steep brings in aromas of hay, grass, and some fruity notes that is a cross between Chinese green tea and Japanese green tea without much vegetal notes and a splash of fruitiness that adds a pleasant and crisp nature. The second of many steeps brought in a slightly tannic profiles, with muted notes of fruit and hay which becomes more predominant after the firsts steep but not all that bad. After all the results after  minutes worth of waiting, brewing in 175 degree water, at the cost of 18.00$ for 2 ounces and over centuries of mastery brings in a pale yellow almost clear liquor like a heaven in a mug!  Its ambrosia after all that got me to fall in love with this tea and even importantly admire the masterworks of the Chinese mastery of tea that leaves an everlasting impression to all drinkers, both connoisseurs and first time drinkers alike! The tea has allot of potential to be blended, mixed in with like flavors that matches its delicateness as lng it does not go over the top and block out its primary flavors. Its just one of things I find abominable is when a blend tastes more like an additive than the tea itself, which is a waste of money blending a tea like Silver Needles.
       
Beautiful isn't it! Youth, the crispness of  youth, the lively and delicate nature of young shoots that makes this tea ever so magical and special! These shoots have not even unfurled yet, even in repeated steeps I have to actually open up the shoots into a beautiful bud with tiny leaves. The leaves themselves are quite resilient and does not even fall apart when handled  or applied with little pressure,owing to true quality of the tea  that  is an important indicator to gauge a quality of leaves.  What more is needed...or expected out of Silver Needles?!

    Versatility: 70; not much can go wrong with experimenting with Silver Needles, it can take in many flavors as well get overtaken! The tea after all , is quite light and delicate and has few variations in actually drinking it  be it hot, cold, or slightly sweetened and flavored. Drinking it hot gives off most of the flavors and when it cools to room temperature almost of all of the essence of the tea is in the liquor while having it cold can be mute if not very watery as lower temperatures masks most of the flavors out till it rises to room temperature. Now, Silver Needles can be blended with flavors, but its best with blending with fruits and having it slightly sweet or not at all as it can mask if not wreck the true flavors of the tea which  is not only costly and wasteful for a tea to be drunk solely for itself but a questionable behavior indeed!        
     
      Tastes: 88; its a tea that can get really close to a heaven itself which is another factor in investing two ounces of this stuff from Teavana! Really grassy, hay-ish, and fruity on the first brew and much lighter and mute on the multiple steeps nut carries more hay-ish and tannic profile. A must for the connoisseur or anyone seeking a delicate light tea, but certainly easily beloved by all.


     Palate: Smooth as the snow, soft like a feathery down pillow, and lovingly sweet like a cornucopia! But can be tannic and the end but in the most slight cases with a non-existent astringency in every including the 2nd and mulitple brews afterwords.

     Drinker Friendliness: 6.5; its not a tea for those looking to get a fix, something sugary and filled with useless flavors all the while being cheap and utilitarian. But anyone who loves drinking a slightly flavored water, loves grassy, hay, and fruity notes, and enjoys tea all around then I say its a drink anyone could get used to and love!

                                                                 Final Word
      Ambrosia and heaven in a mug! Silver Needles is the very embodiment of youth, the crispness of life and youth, and the fragile crop that is tea! Its an warm, soft, smooth, and easily favorable tea to all palates , with as much potential to take in flavors but at the same time lose flavors due to over blending and butchering it with uber boiling water. Treat it fairly, have the right cup, sip some of the most decadent and masterful works of tea and just admire the ambrosia of Silver Needles!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Having a Green Morning!

                                                              Yama Moto Yama
                                        

                        Ocha-Zanmai Fukamushi Sencha

                                            
                                                   
     
        Its another morning and another great tea to start the day off ! Normally, I would have a cuppa  or two whether it would be Assam or English Breakfast, but this particular morning has no need for rush or momentum as its my day off! The best way to wake up after slaving away on a 13 hour grind is to gradually wake up while in a relaxed state of mind than something to perk me up and pay later in the day. A certain fact when bursts of energy wasted in the morning with nothing to do won't help later in the day, but a slow fade that only gets worsened if one were to perk up again. A heaping teaspoon of  Fukamushi sencha from Yamamotoyama would not hurt a bit!
         Brewing this tea is a piece of cake and literally simple! No need to constantly check the temperature or worry about what kind of water, the tea itself is highly versatile and can brew for extended periods (albeit very bitter!) and can stand up to a raging boil or the standard hot water from a water cooler ( 160-175 degrees). The leaves are of BOP quality (Broken Orange Pekoe) with some dust and fannings, and has an aroma of freshly mown grass with a  hint woodiness thats reminiscent of Chinese green teas . It also has a lovely dark emerald green color of fresh  plucked leaves that leaves the impression of liveliness and youth to a drinker expecting a brisk and light liquor.

       
        The first brew for 45 seconds  yields a brisk but bitter tea with notes of grass, vegetables, and a lingering woody flavor behind it all that is quite warm and friendly to have sip. The drawbacks however is the amount of astringency and bitterness on the first draw of the liquid and astringency afterwords, but the aromas of grass, vegetables makes it a pleasant tea but quite contradicts the flavors due to the bitterness and astringency. A second brew for 60 seconds or longer, with multiple infusions  afterwords as  much mute of a flavor with as much tannic qualities. There were some dust in the bottom of the cup in the first of multiple infusions that maybe be responsible for the bitterness and astringency but has not gotten in my way in enjoying this tea!
                                         
The leaves after the brew showcases much of the finer qualities of broken orange pekoe, composed of larger leaves that account for the longer needle like strands found in the bag. There are finer pieces of leaves that suggest it is also a mixture of CTC tea leaves with different shades of green, but mixed in with fresh emerald leaves. This may account for the general strength and somewhat aged feel of the tea, and having a bit of dust and fannings contribute to a bitter tasting and astringent tea, but for everyday enjoyment and precise quality control can help ensure future batches well received!


        Versatility: 71; goes well when iced which seems to mellow out the rigid bitterness and astringency, and hot for some hearty tea! When it comes to blending however that limits this tea from going any further, its bitterness and astringency may conflict with lighter or any other teas that has a balanced bitterness and astringency.
     
        Tastes: 73; quite an ordinary and have to say...a bit below standards for a Japanese green. Japanese greens are bitter and astringent but never too bold and importantly conflicting when it comes to the flavor it wants representing.  It has however a bold vegetal and grassy tastes with a not of wood that goes well to whoever seeks in the pureness of Japanese greens available in the common market.

        Palate:  A medium bodied tea packing with bold flavors of grass and vegetables with hints of wood. Brisk and slightly bitter and astringent on the first brew and incredibly astringent and bitter on multiple brews, becomes tannic in later brews.

       Drinker Friendliness: 72; a well around good tea to have with friends but be careful to those whose tastes have not yet acquired for vegetables and grassiness in their teas. I have to say, this tea may get tiresome when drunk on a day to day basis because of its high astringency and bitterness uncharacteristic of Japanese greens. A warm and hearty tea but with some rough edges.
 
                                                                 Final Word
       Not much to say but a good tea all around and quite aggressive for a green tea. It has the usual vegetal and grassy characteristics of Japanese greens  but the over astringency and bitterness just conflicts with the flavors in the tea. Quite a tea to be used in some circumstances, and friendly enough to be drunk but something to remember later on....lets just say there are many fishes in the ocean!
       

Monday, February 27, 2012

Readings from the Past: A Nice Cup of Tea by: George Orwell


If you look up 'tea' in the first cookery book that comes to hand you will probably find that it is unmentioned; or at most you will find a few lines of sketchy instructions which give no ruling on several of the most important points.
This is curious, not only because tea is one of the main stays of civilization in this country, as well as in Eire, Australia and New Zealand, but because the best manner of making it is the subject of violent disputes.

When I look through my own recipe for the perfect cup of tea, I find no fewer than eleven outstanding points. On perhaps two of them there would be pretty general agreement, but at least four others are acutely controversial. Here are my own eleven rules, every one of which I regard as golden:

First of all, one should use Indian or Ceylonese tea. China tea has virtues which are not to be despised nowadays — it is economical, and one can drink it without milk — but there is not much stimulation in it. One does not feel wiser, braver or more optimistic after drinking it. Anyone who has used that comforting phrase 'a nice cup of tea' invariably means Indian tea.

Secondly, tea should be made in small quantities — that is, in a teapot. Tea out of an urn is always tasteless, while army tea, made in a cauldron, tastes of grease and whitewash. The teapot should be made of china or earthenware. Silver or Britanniaware teapots produce inferior tea and enamel pots are worse; though curiously enough a pewter teapot (a rarity nowadays) is not so bad.

Thirdly, the pot should be warmed beforehand. This is better done by placing it on the hob than by the usual method of swilling it out with hot water.

Fourthly, the tea should be strong. For a pot holding a quart, if you are going to fill it nearly to the brim, six heaped teaspoons would be about right. In a time of rationing, this is not an idea that can be realized on every day of the week, but I maintain that one strong cup of tea is better than twenty weak ones. All true tea lovers not only like their tea strong, but like it a little stronger with each year that passes — a fact which is recognized in the extra ration issued to old-age pensioners.

Fifthly, the tea should be put straight into the pot. No strainers, muslin bags or other devices to imprison the tea. In some countries teapots are fitted with little dangling baskets under the spout to catch the stray leaves, which are supposed to be harmful. Actually one can swallow tea-leaves in considerable quantities without ill effect, and if the tea is not loose in the pot it never infuses properly.

Sixthly, one should take the teapot to the kettle and not the other way about. The water should be actually boiling at the moment of impact, which means that one should keep it on the flame while one pours. Some people add that one should only use water that has been freshly brought to the boil, but I have never noticed that it makes any difference.

Seventhly, after making the tea, one should stir it, or better, give the pot a good shake, afterwards allowing the leaves to settle.

Eighthly, one should drink out of a good breakfast cup — that is, the cylindrical type of cup, not the flat, shallow type. The breakfast cup holds more, and with the other kind one's tea is always half cold before one has well started on it.

Ninthly, one should pour the cream off the milk before using it for tea. Milk that is too creamy always gives tea a sickly taste.

Tenthly, one should pour tea into the cup first. This is one of the most controversial points of all; indeed in every family in Britain there are probably two schools of thought on the subject. The milk-first school can bring forward some fairly strong arguments, but I maintain that my own argument is unanswerable. This is that, by putting the tea in first and stirring as one pours, one can exactly regulate the amount of milk whereas one is liable to put in too much milk if one does it the other way round.

 Lastly, tea — unless one is drinking it in the Russian style — should be drunk without sugar. I know very well that I am in a minority here. But still, how can you call yourself a true tealover if you destroy the flavour of your tea by putting sugar in it? It would be equally reasonable to put in pepper or salt. Tea is meant to be bitter, just as beer is meant to be bitter. If you sweeten it, you are no longer tasting the tea, you are merely tasting the sugar; you could make a very similar drink by dissolving sugar in plain hot water.

Some people would answer that they don't like tea in itself, that they only drink it in order to be warmed and stimulated, and they need sugar to take the taste away. To those misguided people I would say: Try drinking tea without sugar for, say, a fortnight and it is very unlikely that you will ever want to ruin your tea by sweetening it again.
These are not the only controversial points to arise in connexion with tea drinking, but they are sufficient to show how subtilized the whole business has become. There is also the mysterious social etiquette surrounding the teapot (why is it considered vulgar to drink out of your saucer, for instance?) and much might be written about the subsidiary uses of tealeaves, such as telling fortunes, predicting the arrival of visitors, feeding rabbits, healing burns and sweeping the carpet. It is worth paying attention to such details as warming the pot and using water that is really boiling, so as to make quite sure of wringing out of one's ration the twenty good, strong cups of that two ounces, properly handled, ought to represent.


                                                                  Critique 
 
     

Waking up to a Yunnan morning!

                                                               
                                                                        ????



       On this day....er morning, I felt as if I needed a kick to bring me out a morning stupor but not pay later for it! So I took a look at my cabinet and wondered; "what it would be this time"? I  can certainly have a gourd of "yerba", but feel its usual in the mornings. Its much like forcing the body to wake up, and I end up in zombie like state walking aimlessly to which I crash late in the day. My collection of green teas can be a tempting treat! Its balanced in caffeine, pretty healthy in nutrients, and has lighter rich taste yet drinking greens in the morning may not be enough to keep me going but have me relaxed enough back to sleep! The standard black tea may fit the bill, moderate in caffeine, bold flavors and a variety of possibilities and the ever unforgetable "Darj" but I wasn't in the mood for  either one. I glanced over to my white tea, I looked at it and it looked back...I thought; "could be a nice cup in the wee hours"? I was going to reach over to it, but I stopped and pause in thought it might be a bit weak, not enough break a morning stupor and raise spirits, but most importantly I have two ounces worth in gold! Its not worth in money gulping it down to break my morning lethargy and sure as hell I would be paying for later.
                                                           




    Decisions, Decisions....choices abound but only would suffice for this unusual morning of mine ! I knew its
my Yunnan that I neglected to consider. My particular Yunnan  gold tips has a moderately bold, sharp yet easy going smoothness on a morning palate and quite balanced in caffeine. I eagerly got some water to boil up in 3 minutes as the water was already hot, and stuck my thermometer till it reached 212 degrees which is at boiling but not a full boil. A lesson learned to which using really hot water will kill off most the flavors of this tea leaving it tannic and bitter.
                        [ Nearing two hundred degrees plus at this stage. Burning hands and a near
                          melting plastic is all worth the trouble than "eye balling" the right temperature!]                                          




      At the 212 degree mark, I took  it out of the heat and poured it tn my 'Perfectea" maker from Teavana. Its reliable and can hold up much to heat and regular abuse, and certainly convienient than a tea ball and mug! I bought at 15 something dollars which is understandably priced, though now its somewhere in the 20 dollar range. It keeps the leaves out, some dust and fannings, and not ruin the flavors of any tea brewed in this maker...I would gladly fork over 20 dollars if it can make a good brew !
                                       
     The tea however is usually far better than the brewer of course! It gives off a tanned color while in the process of brewing, and the smell of hay  with faintly woody notes to add. It just like brewing Pu-Erh...since its actually the very same leaves that goes into making Pu-Erh! I suspect much, its earthy, but the smell somewhat points out to be a mixture of an earthy,woody and something else that I can't really discern. All I know its so gonna be damn good after six minutes of brewing, and just by the very anticipation I was actually awaiting for the whole day! Six miuntes has passed and time came to open the lid and smell the glory of Yunnan! The extra steam on the face was all worth it!
                             

       Its just one of those moments where simple awe and admiration that can just brighten any ones morning! Just look at the liquor! Beautiful and grand, and golden as the the leaves from which it brewed from, now whenever has anyone actually gotten a color of tea to match the leaves brewed from? Not a whole lot except for some teas like White Teas, and especially this Yunnan Gold Tips to which in my book rivals "Darj" and happy to savor this far more ! The taste is especially grand as its color, a peppery note is very noticeable at the first draw on the tip of the palate, with a smell of hay that simultaneously follows in. A very important feature of Yunnan Teas that is common throughout in teas like Pu-Erh , and since the leaves came from some trees that have been around for "god knows how long", the tree itself has been said its roots encompasses every plant growing around it! Taking it with flavors that are so varied that it complexes the flavors much like Pu-Erh. Like honest words, the tea is exactly like that! I can't quite discern exact flavors specifically, but the main body is hay-ish slightly leathery that can be easily ignored, an earthy flavor that is not bold like Pu-Erh but toned to a level not deep as Pu-Erh. I enjoy particularly the cocoa like texture which is bittersweet and adds a bit tartness at the end of a palate.
     
                           
         The end result of many centuries of timeless elegance and craftsmanship all for a bush and its leaves....makes anyone think how can anyone actually not think about the grandness of it all! The tea in the end gave as much a mother could for a child!  An excellent brew with all the complexity of Pu-Erh and as much the youth from 500 year old trees! Talk about youth, these leaves are actually the buds and young shoots of Yunnan tea trees, and are actually graded much like Pu-Erh . The leaves were previously withered and curled but when brewed after as shown here, it straightens out to a needle. The integrity of the leaves to keep its form while still resilient to a human touch without it as so much falling a part!A true tests to quality, and have to say even if its not graded, this tea from a Teavana shows their knowledge in the the best teas with quality in mind! The brewed leaves however has a tannic smell to it that translate to a second brew with the same leaves  albeit mute in all flavors. Overall, a tea with as much traditions and history, taste and quality its hard to imagine it sold for 10.50 per 2 ounces! Getting it over to 2.5 ounces that usually happens when shopping in a Teavana is well worth the extra costs not to rue it!
       

          Versatility: 68; the tea can however conflict with certain strong flavors that can give the desired tea a personality disorder that will beckon you to give up on figuring what it tastes like or throw it away. The tea can be forced into "cuppa" style or sugary-milk tea  and actually take in Chai spices but again earthy bold flavors don't really get along with medicinal spices being a jumbled mess that ends up in the drain rather in the stomach. The ability of this tea to be iced is worthwhile, but...its really designed to be served hot and when served cold it loses allot of its character which needs a sweetener to fill the huge holes.

          Taste: 88; unforgettable and deeply nurturing! For any Pu-Erh lovers or lovers of deeply rich teas on earthy quality, and some aspects of traditional black tea, Yunnan Gold Tips are definitely on the wish list! Peppery on the first note, a bit sharp , bold and moderately bodied with aspects of hay, soil , a pinch of leather, with cocoa on the last note being bittersweet. A taste that would even convert a strict traditionalist in Black Teas would find themselves having a cup and craving for Pu-Erh!

          Palate: Plain out moderate but bold and smooth on the edges with some kick thanks to its peppery quality. Simple but elegant and lovingly rich in Pu-Erh qualities that will be an experience to figure out a flavor profile of different types much like what Pu-Erh tends to have though Yunnan Golds don't steep well on the third time over. Smooth and bold with a moderate personality on the first brew, knocked out but still alive with cocoa and some earthy flavors of hay and soil,and  tannic qualities are present. Third and final brew is just plainly ghost like without much of an echo apart from tannins.

          Drinker Friendliness: 8; A really friendly drink that is perfect to introduce people into the world of Pu-Erh or an alternative to the usual English blends or black teas for a "cuppa". The earthy qualities are not at all off putting to most people who I shared the tea with, but there are those who's sensitive to deep, and rich flavors that may find the earthy qualities sickening (akin Chai  phobia).  The only problems with the tea is the amount to experiment with it but tastes and quality, and a sense of traditionalism being a tea for porcelain cups  will gain acclaim to any connoisseurs!
                                                                 Final Word
           I say its an excellent tea worthy of awards and recognition the world over, and being a product of Yunnan, which is the birthplace of Pu-Erh and tea itself gives it all the more respect that it deserves! Few drawbacks, few frills and bells, but elegant, rich, earthy, nurturing and layered tastes are what symbolizes the bests teas on record if not the world over! A tea which itself based on purity, hardly enjoyed with other elements but best enjoyed for its own unique quality that other teas can't seem to replicate without additives, and a tea that is hardly enjoyed cold is a tea bred for the purists in mind and those who love its character. A must have tea such the likes of this!
                                                   

Saturday, February 25, 2012

A Sultan's Ambrosia: Caykur Turkish Tea

                                                             
             
          Everyone by now has heard of teas coming from India, Japan , China and even in Mars! But who knew of Turkish tea? Hard to believe enough, but turkey has been producing tea since the early twentieth century. Now  nearly a century later, this tea has still not gained a preeminence in grand world market today! A pity indeed..much to the dismay of enthusiastic Turkish friends and myself who believe their teas are nothing the world has seen! They may be right after all, its grown without pesticides, it has a large varieties  including organically grown tea, Earl Grey blends, etc, and best of all its homegrown in Turkey! Specifically in the Rize region of Turkey along the Black Sea coast.



                                                 Pristine and rich tea estates in Rize, Turkey

   
      I personally got a 500 gram bag from a store in Los Angeles called "India Sweets and Spices" for a drop dead price of 5.75 dollars! Its has an overwhelming generous portions than other brands that sell by the bag or tiny canisters that can costs up to 7 dollars max, and once bought, it gives a person a sense of challenge  to finish all the tea and demonstrates the extreme devotion of tea in Turkey. Not surprisingly, its the world's largest consumer of tea despite its size!

                                       
       The tea itself was not all the bad nor it was nothing special but CTC (or Curl Tear Cut) tea leaves that dominate in the tea market today. It has very distinct smell to it close to mint or piney scent in the leaves, but more in the smell of fresh cut leaves. The textures of tea is pretty much ordinary by standards, tiny particles of cut up leaves, each containing flavors and unique character that has yet to tease my palate. Fanning and dust is a slight problem but not too abundant to my surprise.

                                                          Leaves before the brew....


                                                                   .....and after.

          Its a gem to be honest despite some mixed opinions that say its average or otherwise a bad brew...guess they have not brewed it properly? Brewing the tea gives of a dark amber color with very little dust or particulates, brewed in the longest of duration would yield a mysterious dark brown murky color in each cup. I admit though it was quite hard to brew it in the traditional sense with boiling water and a kettle, the flavors at first were mute and dull. But given 15 minutes time as suggested by instructions on the bag, it will reward a patience drinker with a flavor to awaken a hibernating bear, the ruggedness of mountains, but smooth as silk! A strong brew of the tea which is basically straight off the pot, brewed at more than 15 mintues time yields a sharp and strong flavor that tends to stick at the end of the palate. An after taste of leafy but faintly chemically taste lingered for bit, it may throw off some drinkers at first leading some to say that the tea is quite awful! Its just a strong version hardly diluted by hot water, and uses very little to no sugar to moderate a strong taste. The second method involves dilution and having a third of tea in a cup with lots of sugar. If its in the best interests of nay sayers of the tea, their best bet in drinking Turkish tea in this fashion! I can contend, its taste are all a bit balanced, does not go off to be strong, its only astringent when swallowed, and sharp tastes are tamed  to a manageable level making this brew perfect for late in afternoon or early evening consumption.
                                           


                                       
            Versatility: 75; Its probably the best all round black tea that can be blended with other teas that has a softer taste to complement its sharp taste. The tea is great when served hot and makes good iced tea that adds a good kick to it, have a sprig of mint or tarragon and its just pure pleasure to sip in a hot day. The only problem with the tea is its limited to moderate bodied teas  to blended with as it can quickly overcome lighter and mellower teas with sharp tasting and strong body. It can be brewed western style, (tea kettle) though the Turkish method or samovar will do fine as long its brewed 15 to 20 minutes for maximum flavor.
                                                         
                                                                     
            Taste: 70; overall a pretty average tea with some flair being a bit exotic to most brands that sell this type of tea. If it were to be compared to Lipton black tea, Caykur's Turkish teas can easily overtake the competetions bitter, highly astringent, and tannic teas! The tea has a strong body and sharp taste, when its in a lighter brew it can be very welcoming and pleasing to anyone so long as they have ample water and sugar to dilute or used to strong teas. Though its not a connoiseur's tea in many respects being CTC tea and the fact that it comes out too strong, its uniqueness among teas and the accompanying culture would outweigh any of its limitations.

            Palate: Strong bodied tea when brewed to the maximum time of 20 minutes, undiluted, and rarely sweetened.  A much sharper taste, leafy, chemically, maybe minty taste is more pronaunced to the content of strong tea drinkers. Can be a  medium bodied  tea brewed at 15 minutes, diluted, heavily or moderately sweetened. It has a mellower sharp taste, with much more minty flavor to be greatly discernable but a bit mute. The teas leave an aftertaste at the end of the palate that is much more chemically with like a leafy essence lingering on .

             Drinker friendly: 6-7; the can be can be of getting use to when one decided to drink it strong bodied. But, drinking it diluted, with a fair amount of sugar can be a great intro experience into Turkish tea
and enjoy the uniques flavors and customs involving its preparation. This tea can be brewed in many ways, of course the samovar method remains the best, but if anyone out there that wants something new for a all round tea, that delivers quantity, quality, and fair prices, by all means consider Caykur teas if they are around .
                                                                  Final Word
        I have to say I'm quite pleased into buying Turkish tea for the first time and  it was not a disappointment
but a promising tea that offers a whole lot of potential! Imagine having loose leaf Turkish tea, varieties of tea types not only add the amount of profits but helps the Turkish tea industry to improve its worth to the world over. Its safe to say, a samovar, stacked kettles, and giled tulip glasses along with fine Turkish tea will be "coming soon to a market near you", but not for a while. In the mean time, Caykur has been announcing at some point in the foreseeable future that production will have peaked and importation in profitable market quantities to various  customers on a consistent sustained basis. What is Turkey waiting for? There are plenty of thirsty folks in the world wanting to drink some of that fine Rize tea! Who in hell would not?!


Friday, February 24, 2012

Final Word Before the Storm

          
                                             
   I started writing this blog without a proper introduction and have gone without looking back for anyone who stumbles on to this blog to wonder who, what, and why I have started about this blog in the first place. Well, I'll start now by saying I'm quite a practical man, love every simple things in life, love tea as much as family, and try to experience, share, and soak up a lot of travel and culture as I journey through life. However, this does not mean I'm quite restrained or blunt but honest and hell even frank when it comes to the subject of tea, and/or society itself. Whatever I find my fancy in or really have to bag about the worst cuppa or sorts I ran into, I will type out with all my hearts content and forgive me for any readers out there who finds the blog to unsavory to their liking. I just think its quite right to speak out honestly to give the best possible feedback to whoever needs a personal opinion and general overview in the world of tea and society. I may have the tendency to go off in a tangent, expressing concerns or an "encyclopedic like" knowledge" in matters of tea and society but do keep in mind I'm no expert but someone experienced and may get things wrong. Remember the old adage "Knowledge is not written on stone, it changes like the seasons", so don't take my word for advice too seriously.
         Now to get straight to the gist, I like any kinds teas of tea but prefer plain tea and I tend to taste each one by sipping in the liquid aggressively (almost like slurping). This method
helps swirl the liquid in touching every corner or the tongue unlike sipping which only the tips are touched by liquid and quickly follows through every taste buds, making distinctions of flavors hard but to the most discernible of tastes. Breathing in while sipping brings in aromas that can quickly be picked up in the nose, being the nose a sensitive organ that can detect a particular smell if one's memory and experience can serve well. Then there are the usual methods of sight, smell, touch and feel of the tea before brewing that can add more dept than by sipping and breathing smells alone. Tea is a work of art, all four of five senses should work in concert and even beckons the attention of a said drinker to admire the beauty of furled and withered leaves, the colors and smells of the tea, all the way to the feel and taste of the tea to admire the art of it. After all, eating food without any thought what it looks like, smells, feels like is much like eating dirt or slops  than you would be eating something decent and made with efforts for the maximum of indulgence and content.
         As a fact already read by some readers, I also try to discuss social issues normaly concerned with tea, but not limited to it. If there is something that puzzles me, needs questioning or critique, and praise or general rants, it will posted as such with lots of honesty and need be, references to back up certain topics that are controversial or sensitive like; tea culture and socio-economical topics that needs a strong point in order to consider a decent article. I hate to give out pure biases (all though a bit tough), and inflammatory posts that will certainly lead a flame war that won't do a good service to anyone, everyone is entitled to beliefs and the posts in this blog won't be an absolute directive but an exchange of experiences and some suggestions. Tea and society are always together, it encompasses our daily lives and state of living which is why at least to a degree I talk about it in this blog without so much bias.
       
                                                               



         Now comes to the dread rating system and commentary provided by me! I tend to be fair and equal in terms of rating a tea, but when there is something to be said once again that needs a tongue lashing or worship I jump to posts with zeal! I have in mind a system that rates by versatility points between 1-10, that simply stresses that general factors of a reuse, ability to be blended, and other factors. Taste factors ranging from 20-100 allows the greatest amount of accuracy to gauge a taste profile that can encompass a varied sensations without being underestimating or overestimating a tea. The factor of coasts per every ounce of tea is vital to the ever thirsty individual , so naturally price is determined by actual  price ranges as seen in stores or in the net.  A tea's power rests importantly on being palatable and user friendliness, so ratings are described in detail for a tea's palate and the user friendliness of a tea is given a range between 1-10 being; 1 considered to be a connoisseur's affair, 5 being enjoyed by all drinker types, and 10 being economical to all drinkers. It may seem snobbish at first to rate palatibility of tea among drinkers, but there is a fine line between when a tea really tastes like muck, a tea that is hard to discern by acquired personal tastes, or exceeding expectations, its simply sensible to at least to determine a general drinkers resolve. To get a better picture a proper example as follows:

                                                                Tea X
                                                       
                                                               [picture]
  "A wonderful team and a wonderful stroll in a market, what is more to ask? I found this little jewel amongst the giants of tea, between Lipton and Twinnings, Tea X and its shiny little box and a simple logo defy the fancy cartons and plastic wrappings of other teas. To the assuming eye with a mind quick to judgement, Tea X may seem unattractive and displeasing that offers short of any quality in tea today. But the sheer allure of mystery, generous prices and quantity, and quality not just in advertising (a tactic in tea giants nowadays) but solely in the tea leaves itself unlike other companies....
                                                               [picture]
Versitility: 80; a tea that promises the world can surely promise any possibilities so long as an imagination and adventure in taste exist among drinkers.

Taste: 80; A tea is tea when its own leaves impart flavors and richness than artificial flavors alone! Tea X is the epitome of natural flavors and will not disappoint the most discerning of drinkers!

Palate: Its leafy green vegetables, steam spinach with a side of nuts and fish! A healthy choice and a rich flavor that nobody will for go in passing up a nurturing flavor.


Drinker Friendly: 7; Connoisuers and tea newbies will agree that Tea X is a tea for almost everyone who loves a tea that is vegetal and rich! No other teas apply!



                                                                [picture]

  Final Word: A tea for everyone and even the rich if cought drinking this tea won't feel ashamed! Egalitarian,
rich and nurturing is all what sums up to be a tea of quality and devotion. Tea X is not just any tea, or beverage, or made by some company but those who love tea itself and people!"
                                                 


     This rating system is quite subjective excluding pricing and palatibility that seems to between subjection and objectivity, however like all rating systems based on some subjectivity its up to drinkers to decide upon themselves on how tea can measure in their palates and look for consistencies to draw accurate conclusions. This is just an account of the experiences of I had drinking types of tea and in no way a directive, a picture If you'll say to better understand a tea in dept. Now, to start with reviews, the mayhem and the storm! Bon voyage dear tea drinkers and hop to see you all in the flip side!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

OOLONG

                                                                        OOLONG






                    
          Any one heard of oolong tea before? Rings a bell at times? A tea been thrown around by some health nut obsessing over a healthy alternative in tea ,been compared to the ever ubitious green tea, or served by smiling old grand dads in a shop in Chinatown? I admit its not quite too mainstream of a tea among the masses of consumers clamoring for the tastiest and healthiest drinks...well not yet at least! Its been under the radar since the health food movement, alternative, organic, or pseudo-organic-designer food sold by market chains nowadays began, its all left in its wonderful and pure splendor unchanged by time both literally and figuratively.
     Much for the better. There is so much the frontiers of tea left, oolong teas and aged teas alike have retained so much purity, every leaf has a story to tell with tastes of countless varieties, textures and colors worthy of a Picasso and Van Gogh, and age to bring out a combination of flavors...what more is there to be expected non other than oolong?! Black in comparison have kick, flavors in leaf and added to, not to mention artistry but oolong doubles that with age to create a "layered" flavor effect. Its like first brewing a day's tea, then leaving the leaves in for more than a few hours, what the is expected to taste for instance like chocolate has a more concentrated flavor, but turns into a deep earthy flavor that transcended the primary flavor altogether. No frills, and whistles needs apply for this tea! Time itself by being first produced and aged can produce multiple flavors depending what it takes in during storage, and the best part brewing for an extended time allows anyone with an adventurous mind to experiment flavors not found in a standard infusion.
       There is nothing more to be asked from oolong tea and the mastery of tea by the Chinese, over 4000 years of experience teas like oolong always showcase the artistry, the quality, dedication and age old traditions of China and tea itself. Its comes all down that oolong tea may very well be the wine and champagne of tea! Aged and the craft timeless in elegance that even Darjeeling tea cannot even compare to!
           

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Thoughts on Herbal Tisanes

                                                              Herbal Tisanes 


                                                                   






    A drink made of hedge clippings, roses stolen from the Jones's, weeds and even hemlock! Virtually anything can be made in to a tisane...as long as its tasty and not poisonous! Seriously! Why not drink the essence of rose, or the relaxing nature of chamomile? Herbal Tisanes are quite the misunderstood drinks being the "whimp" of any drinks (besides juices), anyone seeing drinking Tisanes would means they're crashing for the day or  questionable sexuality in their fondness for things with roses and herbs. But hey! I like agua frescas, they are typically herbal tisanes in a way, nothing but a cold "jamaica", "tamarindo", or "horchata" in a hot summer's day! Herbal tisanes are all about relaxing, lounging around and getting in touch with nature's "awfull" pansy but literally healthy and refreshing! Need I say more?
   


                                                                       

       Well, I'll start flat out with chamomile, its a "sunflower" you can literally eat...well drink! It grows in moderately temperature to semi-arid places, and has a starchy, a macho aroma of pollen or woodiness but still really floral. Its mainly used in for realxing teas that often people associate with sleeping or napping after downing a cup or two, but its hardly more than a sleep aide. Its what I call dear readers; a flower for hardiness! In the wonderful world of Tisanes, chamomile is actually quite a strong flower thats able to provide an amount of rough taste like an Assam tea but nurturing with good amounts of vitamin A, some potassium for the heart, and flouride to streghten teeth enamel. Healthy and even mildly anti-inflamatory, it goes beyond as sleep aide and makes a pretty damn good cold tea for summer!
     
                                                               

       Secondly, a herb that does deserves as much of a reputation for health benefits and its acceptance by all. Rooibos. This herb is generally found in South Africa under the local name "African honeybush" or red bush tea. It has been for a while sold in numerous places as the all around, all day and night tisane to be drunk by itself or with milk and sugar, and it makes a fine "cuppa" alternative. It usually has a earthy, starchy, tangy and somewhat of a  faint floral flavor  of chichory without its kick. It has all the necessary vitamins such as potassium, and antioxidants to supplemnet and sustain the daily needs of the body. Its even considered an anit-spasmodic tea that decreases the affects of  upset stomach and attributed symptoms. Rooibos has a tannins owing a much mild and less bitter taste but astringency is quite high being a bit tangy when steeped, it might not be able to be reusable as it loses its flavor being lighter after repeated steeping. A tea with few problems more bang and nutritional goodies, its a drink worth drinking time after time and never gets dull!
   

     


        A tea that will never get dull nor disappoint is mint tea ! Have it in the morning, in the afternoon, evening or night, any time and day it'll give not only a fresher breath but revitalizes you figuratively and literally! Mint has essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin A, and folate to calcium and potassium for any days needs which leaves any drinker waking up a day later even more refreshed and revitalized from inside and out. Even the taste of mint, gives a sense of vigor, activity, liveliness, and energy has garnered this simple herb admiration for a strong but pleasant taste that goes well with any food, and drinks. Homemade remedies and holistic remedies to combat diseases and ailments utilizes mint to cure stomach ills, to colds all the way to guarding against pox! Is there anything mint or herbs CAN'T do!? Apparently, it can do all and more while taste great to any one eating its leaves or drinking the essence of mint. Who would not drink min tea and pass by its notorious goodies? I sure won't and neither a sweetened iced mint tea won't satisfy a hot day than anything else!                            
 




                                             
          Hibiscus is another grand ole favorite drink enjoyed hot or cold! In the Middle East and Europe, its known or its medicinal properties, its floral and pleasant taste, and compatability with any blends or addivitives to best enjoy this wonderful flower. In South America  its enjoyed cold and slightly sweetened  often called "jamaica" its served together along with other beverages in meals and as a standalone drink to enjoy in the humid and hot days in leisure for the most part a personally favorite of mine! It has all the nutritional goodies like potassium (by now a very common nutrient) and antioxidants that prevents an onset of dies eases and a digestive aide, but all the goodies are not not just worth drinking for but its flavor! A mild less starchy, and pack full of floral flavors, rose and sweet nectar of hibiscus is all what everybody needs! Just add sugar, some ice cubes, sit by the pool relax and enjoy this herb like all herbs. It may not bring caffeine, may not have the associated stereotypes, any bells and whistles but pureness of nature and her mothering gift. Tisanes whether shunned or loved has a heart and openess in everyone to let down their guard and relax, what it teaches the most is to have more of it for a vacation that will never seemingly end!

 


REFERENCES
1)http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/beverages/3979/2
2)http://www.vegetarian-nutrition.info/herbs/rooibos.php
3)http://www.suagcenter.net/documents/Extension%20Circular%20-%20hibiscus.pdf