March 31, 2015

Tea Review - Assam 1860

The marketing campaign for Assam 1860 is fun! Tag lines include Tea as it should beStill plucking, and Chai bagan time. The graphics are great, too. When you visit the website look for the moving parts in the main image.

The Assam 1860 package I received for review included several tea bags and a large pouch of loose CTC Assam. The steeped tea is strong in a good way. Brisk but not harsh. The flavours are what one would expect from an Assam. The color of liquor is similar to a Mahogany Crayola crayon or somewhere between the Brick Red and Chestnut Crayola crayons. I have prepared many cups of this tea. It is especially delicious with milk.  Malty notes emerge. I wonder what it would be like as a true loose leaf tea. 

A further tasting note: On the company's website, 2 tablespoons of loose tea per person is recommended with a steep time of 2.5 minutes. I used 1 heaping teaspoon per person plus one for the pot with a steep time of 3 minutes. I think if I used tablespoons, I would need to add sugar, or substitute condensed milk for my whole milk - not a bad idea. Two tablespoons per person might indicate that I should make masala chai with my Assam 1860.

P.S. As this goes to press, I am steeping 2 tablespoons in 8 oz of boiling water.

March 29, 2015

Matcha Cafe Wabi

In my wallet I have a list of places to check out. This weekend I crossed two places off that list and Matcha Cafe Wabi was one of them. I ordered a matcha latte and drank some of it in the cafe.

The interior was warm and cosy, a nice place to rest for a bit after a walk with the wind in our faces.

The latte was creamy and earthy with slight hints of bitter and sweet. I need to find more errands to do in the East Village as I'd like to drink more matcha lattes from Matcha Cafe Wabi.

March 24, 2015

Tea Review: Organic India's Tulsis

Organic India's core vision is health and wellness through tea, specifically, organic tulsi blends. Tulsi, also known as holy basil, plays an important role in Hinduism.
Hindus regard it as an earthly manifestation of the goddess Tulsi, a consort of the god Vishnu. The offering of its leaves is mandatory in ritualistic worship of Vishnu and his forms like Krishna and Vithoba. Many Hindus have tulsi plants growing in front of or near their home, often in special pots or special small masonry structures. Traditionally, Tulsi is planted in the center of the central courtyard of Hindu houses.[2] The plant is cultivated for religious and medicinal purposes, and for its essential oil. It is widely known across the Indian Subcontinent as a medicinal plant and a herbal tea, commonly used in Ayurveda. [source: Wikipedia]
Having never drunken tulsi tea before being contacted by Organic India, I agreed with curiosity to receive the tea for review. The company sent a package with a box of Original and four boxes of the following blends: Moringa, Pomegranate Green, Sweet Rose, and Jasmine Green. I steeped a bag each of the Original and the Pomegranate Green.

The Original is sweet with a pleasant basil flavor though not quite like the kinds you use for cooking purposes. The Pomegranate Green is blended with tulsi, pomegranate, hibiscus, elderberries, citrus, and green tea. The dominant flavors in the liquor are hibiscus, citrus, and green tea. The tulsi provides a subtle sweetness. This blend would be a great iced tea (whenever warmer weather arrives and stays).

I feel like hibernating today; it's quite cold outside. I think I will try the Jasmine Green next. It's purported to be stress-relieving and enlivening!

Teas c/o of Organic India USA. Thank you.

March 23, 2015

Rafflecopter Review + Subscription Giveaway

This blog's first giveaway was the Tea Ave Oolong Giveaway which closed last week. I used Rafflecopter to manage the giveaway including the selection of the winner. I signed up for the very basic plan, Free Forever. The service was very user friendly from start to finish and even beyond which I will explain below. Because of my positive experience I wanted to share a review with you. Also, I thought it would be nice to pair the review with a giveaway of a Rafflecopter Basic subscription so you could judge for yourself. I presented the idea to Rafflecopter and you can guess from the post title that they liked it. First my review, and then the giveaway details.

How did I hear about Rafflecopter? Jee has used it for giveaways on Oh, How Civilized and recommended it. Many lifestyle bloggers use the service too. Actually, it was a post on Design Mom that reminded me to check out the company. I will walk you through my process. First, I looked at the plan and pricing options. I did not want to commit to a paid plan even for one month because not only was the oolong giveaway was a first for the blog, but it was unlikely that I would host another within the month. This made the plan selection easy. Rafflecopter's most basic plan is Forever Free. It does not come with a lot of "bells and whistles" but all the essentials are there.

Once I created an account and logged in, Rafflecopter provided clear prompts to set up my giveaway - naming the giveaway, entering the prize, adding an image, choosing the entry options and deadline. In the sidebar I was reminded about setting terms and conditions (there is a pre-fill option) and there was a helpful Quick Answer toolbox there, too. Once I previewed my giveaway I was given an embed code for my blog. There was also a widget for installing and running the giveaway on the Notes on Tea Facebook page but I declined to use this option.

During the entry period, I received emails from Rafflecopter about how to market the giveaway. The strategies were fun and easy to implement. Rafflecopter kept track of the time left in the giveaway entry period as well as the number of entrants and the ways in which they chose to enter the giveaway. At the close of the entry period, I was encouraged to choose a winner quickly. is integrated into the Rafflecopter interface so selecting a winner was easy. (You even have the option to disqualify the first random pick or you can choose a runner-up.) I chose to post the winner's name (first name, first initial of last name) on the Rafflecopter widget, created a separate post to announce the winner, and tweeted and posted on Facebook about the winner. I also emailed the winner. To officially close the giveaway, I mailed the prize to the winner. In the introduction I mentioned that the Rafflecopter service goes beyond the length of the giveaway. What do I mean by this? Well, my favorite email/advice from Rafflecopter was about how to send out the prize. I sent it out as quickly as possible, I purchased insurance and tracking, and the fun part -- I asked the winner to take a photograph of the prize and share it via social media. Gail V., I hope you do!

And now the giveaway.

Free Month of a Rafflecopter Basic Subscription

Rafflecopter has generously provided a free month of Basic subscription. The winner will be sent a link that will be good for one free month of a Basic subscription. Enter to win. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Please note that this review of Rafflecopter is based on my use of the service. The review is my honest opinion of my experience using Rafflecopter Forever Free. The prize was not given in exchange for my review. This post is not a sponsored post and does not contain affiliate links.

March 19, 2015

Favorite Tea Ware: Theresa Wong of T Shop

As a tea drinker, and I am sure this is true for you, I adore teaware, from bombillas to matcha whisks. Everyone has their favorites! This series showcases the favorite teaware of folks in the tea blogging community. Today's faves are from Theresa Wong of T Shop on Elizabeth Street in New York's Nolita neighborhood.

I’m a big fan of gaiwan (a cup with saucer and lid uses for brewing tea) when it comes to making tea. I have more control on the tea when I use gaiwan, and it’s easy to clean so I can switch between teas using the same gaiwan. I have several gaiwans at home, but this one is always my favorite. This is my first gaiwan. Besides of its elegant clean looking, the reason why it’s my favorite teaware is because we’ve been go through a lot of tea moments together. When I first started to learn how to make tea, I started with gaiwan, so this gaiwan has been with me since the beginning of my tea journey. I used it almost everyday to practice making tea. When I went to friend’s house to make tea, I often bring this gaiwan with me. Even when I go out to tea events, sometimes I would use this gaiwan as well. This gaiwan is like my little tea-pal (instead of a teapet).

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This gaiwan travel set is another favorite teaware among my collection. Yes, it’s gaiwan again! This travel set was a gift from a friend; she gave me this set before I went on a vacation years ago. Since then, I bought this set with me most of the time when I travel. Sometimes people I travel with are not tea drinkers, so they felt weird when they saw me bringing my tea and teaware with me even when I travel. However, it usually ended up we would have tea in our hotel room and my friends would ask for tea again in the following days. This set travels with me to different countries and allows me to have tea even when I travel. They are my travel buddies!

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When it comes to favorite teaware, I am not sure how many of us would think of a water bowl. A water bowl might seem less important compare to the other teawares. You can still brew tea even without a water bowl yet the whole tea set up would look more complete and smooth with the existence of a water bowl. This water bowl that I use in T Shop, it’s my love at first sight. I knew I am going to bring it back to New York when I saw this in Taiwan. I didn’t even care who is the potter, or if he’s well known or not, etc. When I first saw the water bowl, it looks so simple and pure to me, yet it has a lot of details in it. It looks slim and simple but when I started using it I was surprised how much water it can hold. Sometimes by just looking at it, it somehow reminds me to create more space for my inner self. Gradually I start seeing crackle marks over glaze in the water bowl; these are really beautiful crackle marks. I started using this water bowl since the opening of T Shop, so the crackle marks in the water bowl also resemble the time marks of T Shop.

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If you have not been to T Shop, I highly recommend it. Theresa is very knowledgeable, the teas are very good, and the tea ware selection is fantastic.

I am happy that Theresa agreed to participate on the Favorite Tea Ware series! All photos and stories courtesy of Theresa.