Saturday, January 31, 2015

Assam (TGFOP) (#40)

Black tea
Margaret's Fine Imports

Ingredients: Luxury black tea (Assam TGFOP, 2nd flush).

Consider this my heartfelt recommendation:

The dry tea smells earthy but fresh and light. Once steeped, it smells sweet but almost a bit smoky. The taste is incredibly smooth with great flavor. I love it for breakfast, but it'll be a favorite at any time of day! Really great tea!

Nothing can compare to Mad Hatter Tea, but this Assam echoes what I love of its flavor.

Ikea spice (ahem, tea) jar.

But what's TGFOP? Read more about tea grades here. TGFOP means Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe. (And, "orange" does not mean orange, but may refer to the Dutch House of Orange.)

In short... I LOVE this tea.

Next time I'll review a new oolong, one that's more on the oxidized side.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Level 1 Tea Class

Margaret's Fine Imports holds Level 1 and Level 2 tea classes. There is a Groupon now for up to 56% off classes! Offer ends soon!

About 20 of us sat in folding chairs in the front of the store. It was a surreal break from "regular" life. I didn't believe the class would really take two hours, but the time slipped by!

Kris led the class and is so knowledgeable. I learned so much, and saw how much more there is to discover!

Things I did not know:

  • In Poland, where Margaret is from, they give fennel tea to babies for upset stomachs.
  • "Tea controlled the world at one time" because the tallest, fastest ships carried tea.
  • The Boston Tea Party was more than just one tea dump; it was a boycott that led the US to a coffee way of life. (cries)
  • Low tea was the fancy tea because it was at a low table for the rich; high tea was served at the dinner table by the lower class. (Is it low tea if I take it at my coffee table?)

Selection of teas to smell. We also saw and smelled pu-erh bricks, milk oolong, and a smoked tea.

Yerba mate, gourd, bombilla. Yerba is the plant, from the holly tree, and mate is the gourd.

Clay teaware and gourds!

This place is a second home. Inventory changes often so there's always something new to see.

Tea tasting! Hard to believe, but this is a roasted green tea.

What a treat! I guessed a teapot weight and won a gift certificate.

Free tea sampler had two 2 oz teas: Sencha Kyoto Cherry Rose green tea and Assam (TGFOP).

I purchased two with the night's discount: Jasmine Matcha and an old favorite, Cream Earl Grey.

My first real tea pot! PersonaliTEA pot and matching cups from Adagio Teas.

Cat photoshoot interruption!

The class came with a free tea ball.

We had fun.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Organic Masala Chai (#39)

Flavored black tea
Mighty Leaf Tea

Ingredients: Organic black tea, organic ginger, organic cardamom, organic cinnamon, organic flavoring.

I'm very happy with this chai! The flavors are balanced.

It leads with cinnamon. The cardamom is present but not overpowering. The ginger is a nice touch. I see why masala is so popular!

The spice blend has personality and works great with the black tea. The steeped tea has a nice strong color.

Organic ingredients make me feel so much healthier. You can feel that kind of thing, right?

I'm drinking it for the second time today. The first time I was too shy and didn't make it strong enough. Give me the flavor!

Next time I'll tell you about the Level 1 tea class!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Cozy Hibiscus (#38)

Gryphon's Tea

Ingredients: Organic single estate Ceylon tea (decaf), hibiscus, cassia, orange peel, clove, rose hips, star anise, mint, lavender.

Cozy, indeed! A special combination of decaf black tea, hibiscus, and lavender. Very good with honey and fresh lemon juice.

I had it with a chocolate-drizzled caramel. Christmas was a while back, but the office still has treats.

Gryphon's Tea is organic with no flavoring. See the Food Babe's explanation about the perils of flavoring here.

Remember that lavender can become bitter easily, so don't oversteep this one.

My coworker is just coming around to tea in general, and this Cozy Hibiscus won his heart today.

Cozy Hibiscus has the warmth of hibiscus with the familiarity of black tea. The clove makes it great for winter or any night you want to stay warm.


A rich red cup even though it has black tea.

I had this wonderful conversation with a Gryphon's Tea member (Gryphon's mom!) about the blend:

"The Cozy Hibiscus is one of Gryphon's blends. He tends to make complex chemistry. This is a single estate Ceylon tea with lots of hibiscus. To make it warm and tart he balances cassia, orange peel, cloves, rose hips and star anise. For the aromatics there is mint and a touch of lavender. We are glad you like it! - and it is all organic also - no flavoring."

Next time I'll show you an organic chai from California.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Lemon Zinger (#37)

Herbal tea 
$5.50/4 oz

Ingredients: Lemongrass, lemon myrtle, lemon peel, orange peel, hibiscus, rose hip, lemon balm, rose petal. 

The dry tea smells similar to an old favorite, Celestial Seasonings Lemon Zinger, but with the benefit of whole fruit pieces! Lemongrass leads the tea, making it zing with the hibiscus

I drank it while I had a cold and the hibiscus made my throat feel better by stripping away the, well, gross throat feeling.

Great for warmth at any time, sick or healthy.

Full hibiscus flowers.

I'll have a painted kitchen soon... really.

Rich color. 

Next time I'll review a different reincarnation of hibiscus.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Dorian Grey (#36)

Flavored black tea
$5.99/4 oz

Ingredients: Luxury black tea; apple pieces; cornflower, linden, and mallow petals; natural flavors.

This is my second-favorite earl grey ever. If you smell the dry tea very deeply, you'll get a sense of the caramel notes.

The steeped taste has a toasty sweetness. The flavor is muted but pleasant. I love it on mornings when I need to wake myself up gently.

What's the purple part... the mallow petals?

Morning ritual.

My next review is going to have some zing.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Kashmiri Green Chai review (#35)

Flavored green tea
$5.25/4 oz

Ingredients: Green tea, cinnamon chips, almonds, cloves, crushed green cardamom, cardamom seeds with almond and cinnamon flavor.

Chai spice with green tea sounded like a strange combination, but the almond pulls it together!

The dry tea smells strongly of almond and cardamom. The green tea takes a back seat, but it does contribute an earthy flavor that works with the spice.

I prefer chai black teas to this green... but it's still fun. I just have to remember that it is, in fact, green tea, and not to oversteep!

Huge almond slices and cloves.

The pretty glass bottle is from Penzey's Spices, near Prestogeorge in the Strip.

The leaves open up well.

Next time I'll review an earl grey named for a classic novel.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Ginger Peach Orange green tea (#34)

Flavored green tea
$2.60/2 oz

Breathing in the scent of this dry tea is running down a spring mountainside.

I'm serious! It's the freshest thing. The ginger doesn't weigh it down--just gives it balance.

The three flavors of ginger, peach, and orange are pretty even. It has virtually has no aftertaste, so the flavor doesn't change after each sip.

I've been drinking it hot this season, but it's phenomenal iced. And for that low price!

I don't usually go for green tea, so it says a lot that I love this.

Next time I'll review a spiced green tea.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Chrysanthemum Pu-erh (#33)

Pu-erh blend
Mighty Leaf Tea
$17.95/4 oz

Ingredients: Pu-erh tea from China's Yunnan province, chrysanthemum flowers.

It's a new year and time for new tea! This is my first experience with pu-erh. I was hesitant at first. Fermented dry tea? Then I received this as a gift from my brother and sister in law. They know me so well!

Chrysanthemum Pu-erh the finest scotch of teas. It smells of earth. After steeping, the light floral taste of the chrysanthemums combines with the strong, savory flavor of the tea to smooth it out. It's fantastic with milk.

The caffeine approaches in a fast rush at the first sip, but then it's like a mate: invigorating without the jitters. I brewed the same tea a second time and the color sprang right up into the water, left over in the tea maker from the previous steep. The second steep tastes great as well!

Mighty Leaf makes powerfully flavored tea, so I use less tea than I normally would. Very nice quality tea. They have a purchase rewards program, which is smart!

Now, does anyone know how to pronounce pu-erh?

Next time I'll review a bright green tea for the new year in progress.