December 19, 2014

Favorite Tea Ware: Nicole Martin of Tea for Me Please

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 Nicole Martin of Tea for Me Please.

Yixing Teapot: This was my first yixing teapot. I fell in love with its unique sunrise design. It's dedicated to my favorite tea, Huang Zhi Xiang from Seven Cups Fine Chinese Teas.

Gaiwan: Gaiwans are my go to brewing method these days. This is the first one I ever purchased. It's still trucking, even though there's a small crack in the lid now.

Glass Teapot: I love my glass teapot because I can see the leaves open up and admire the color of my tea. It works great for white and green teas.

Hagi Chawan: I went through a phase where I collected a lot of Hagi teaware and this is my favorite piece. It was glazed twice so bits of blue peek through the top white glaze.

Vintage Teacup: Most of my teaware is Asian inspired but I'm a sucker for a vintage teacup. This one was produced by Paragon in the 1930's.

All photos courtesy of Nicole Martin. Thank you for sharing your favorite teaware with us, Nicole.

December 16, 2014

Tea Review: Golden Tips Tea Darjeelings

I drank a flush of Darjeelings a couple of weeks ago, the teas provided by Golden Tips Tea. There were five teas in total - (1) Giddapahar Muscatel, (2) Thurbo Moonlight Darjeeling, (3) Goomtee Darjeeling, (4) Arya Ruby Darjeeling, and (5) Castleton Moonlight. All are second flush/summer teas with the exception of the Castleton Moonlight which is a first flush/spring tea. All the dried leaves exuded an herbal, musty aroma.

The Giddapahar is my favorite of the flushes with lots of classic Darjeeling flavors and aromas.

The Thurbo Moonlight was harvested three days later than the Giddapahar on a different estate. The liquor was weakly flavored. All the teas were prepared in a tasting cup using one teaspoon of dried leaves and steeped in boiling water for three minutes.

The Goomtee was malty with slightly astringent notes. Look at the rich color of the liquor.

The steeped leaves of the Arya Ruby were dark but the flavor was surprisingly faint.

Milder in flavor than the Giddapahar and the Goomtee, the Castleton Moonlight had predominantly floral notes. Note the green color of the dried and steeped (see below) leaves as well as the yellow gold color of the liquor.

I recommend the Giddapahar! The Goomtee is also a good choice followed by the Castleton.

Thank you to Golden Tips Tea for the generous package of Darjeelings and other teas.

December 11, 2014

Notes on Tea Gift Guide 2014

Our eclectic gift guide of tea-related objects. Enjoy!

Chocolate pairs well with tea! And the ROYCE' Decorative Ball is filled with R Chocolat and Pure Chocolate. See all the new chocolate products here.

The Qterra NOVO is not available yet for retail but the concept is brilliant. Check out the Kickstarter campaign page. Did you know that Qterra is a client of Alexis Siemons on teaspoons & petails? Donate to the Kickstarter here.

If you don't yet own a tea pet or would like to add to your collection, please consider the Joseph Wesley Tea Houses. Net proceeds from purchases of the tea house are donated to Detroit’s Freedom House. Shop for the tea pets here.

I spotted the PANATEA Ceremonial Grade Matcha Green Tea Set on Jee's Instagram feed. The tea set includes a measuring spoon, a double wall glass bowl, a bamboo whisk, and matcha, I have a traditional matcha bamboo scoop but I really like PANATEA's metal scoop. It is a one gram scoop - perfect for one bowl of matcha. Shop for the matcha kit here.

The Nordic Mug with color changing deer from DAVIDsTea is the only item on this list that I own. It is courtesy of Bratskier & Company. I wrote about the mug here. It is fun to use.

Finally, the fantastic logo t-shirt of the Shoots & Roots Bitters company. It's a woman owned business based in Harlem. One of the company's nine bitters has a Camellia sinensis base - the Chai Jolokia - is a Masala chai with black and ghost peppers. Shop for the t-shirt here.

Thank you to ROYCE', Alexis Siemons, Joseph Uhl, PANATEA, Bratskier & Company, and Shoots & Roots for the images used in this post.

P.S. Considering a gift of tea, check out our recent reviews: Ippodo Unro and Hosen Senchas, DAVIDsTEA Winter Collection, Golden Tips Tea CTC Assam Exotic, and Chambre de Sucre collaborative teas.

December 09, 2014

Tea Review: Ippodo Unro and Hosen Senchas

Have you ever used 212-degree F water to prepare a sencha? I have, with an Unro Sencha from the Ippodo Tea New York. I steeped the leaves for 30 seconds as instructed. The liquor had classic sencha notes - creamy, grassy, sweet, slightly astringent but not as bitter as I anticipated given the water temperature. Also, in order to use a gaiwan - I halved the recommended amount of leaves and water. I need a kyusu teapot. Did you know that Unro is a bestseller at Ippodo's NYC shop?

The second sencha, Hosen, called for a lower water temperature. I steeped 1 tbsp in 176-degree F water. The Hosen has a rounder flavor than the Unro. It is slightly sweet and the astringency is less pronounced. The Hosen is classified as a premium sencha and ranks richer than the Unro.

Image: Ippodo senchas: Unro (left), Hosen (right)

I did not notice a difference between the dry leaves but the steeped leaves of the Hosen were more intact.

Image: Ippodo Unro Sencha

Image: Ippodo Hosen Sencha

Infusions from both warmed me on a bitterly cold afternoon. I look forward to drinking these senchas all winter long - and I hear it's going to be a very cold one. The Sencha Set ($44) would be a good gift for your favorite pure-leaf tea drinker.

Thank you to YC Media for the Ippodo teas.

November 27, 2014

DAVIDsTEA Winter Collection

The Winter Collection + the Nordic tea mug with infuser and lid from DAVIDsTEA is a perfect gift for tea folk who like blends and want to prepare them easily at the office or at home.

I don't work in an office but I've been using the mug often. I like the lid - I can cover my mug while the tea is steeping and it's a convenient saucer for the infuser. Another neat feature of the mug is its heat sensitivity; the reindeer design on the exterior change color when you pour in hot water.

The teas in the collection are sugar plum forest (Rooibos), apple custard (tisane), cocomint cream (tisane), bubbie's baklava (oolong), and vanilla chai (black). The serving size is curious - 1.25 teaspoons. I would suggest a heaping teaspoon for the tisanes. Also I think I would prefer the tisanes as iced teas would make refreshing iced teas. For the oolong and black tea based blends, I would suggest using two teaspoons to extract more of the base tea flavors.

All the teas are very aromatic and put you in the season, so to speak.

Tea and tea mug c/o of Bratskier & Company. Images from DavidsTea website.