Sunday, March 29, 2015

Celebration Longan black tea (#59)

Flavored black tea
Mighty Leaf Tea

Ingredients: Black tea, longan fruit.

This Celebration tea is what I hoped Nicholas' China Lychee Congou would be. It's a nice black tea with a hint of the earthy longan fruit, excellent without any additives. Lychee tea served hot usually doesn't really work for me, but the longan is just a touch milder, which is nice. I love this fruit iced, so if the weather ever finally warms up, I'm going to make a big jug of it.

Their packaging is nice. Same image on each bag, but I like it. I appreciate the neutral gradient at the top of the bag.

Warm brown color.

Sizeable pieces with some stems.

I'm excited about tomorrow's review: a fresh jasmine green tea from Pipers.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Quangzhou Milk Oolong (#58)

Margaret's Fine Imports

The milk aroma is strong through the bag! It's the milkiest oolong I've tried so far. It's part of the Level 2 self-brew tasting at Margaret's, and one of the teas in the free tea sampler.

I'm enjoying making this in my new gaiwan. The aroma of the first infusion, at 2 minutes, is a strong butter smell. The liquor is bright and light yellow. The milk in the taste isn't as strong as the aroma, but it's still very nice. It's very creamy.

A second infusion at 3 minutes still smells of butter but it is smoothing into a bit of floral taste. It is deeper in color. The milk taste is also smoother, but I might not use a full 3 minutes on a second infusion again, since some unwanted astringency came through. It does leave a creamy aftertaste--and feel--on the tongue.

For the third infusion, the aroma is mostly of a creamy orchid. The mouthfeel is fuller.

I think the fourth steep is the best--everything is just right. After steeping, the leaves come out crinkly with red tips to the edges. A calming, delicious tea!

Next I'll review one from Mighty Leaf Tea with the Chinese longan fruit.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Darjeeling Himalaya Autumn Flush (#57)

Black tea
Dobra Tea

This tea has a light, dusty scent that I was tempted to describe as nutty, but not quite. It's more like a soft peat smell.

It steeps perfectly at the recommended instructions on the bag at 2.5 minutes. I started drinking it at 2 minutes for a light but distinct flavor, but I've started using 3 minutes for an even rounder, stronger flavor--which is what autumn flush is all about!

The liquor is a rich warm color: a coppery amber. The dry tea has the signature fall color expected in a Darjeeling. The steeped leaves are brown with a bit of green.

Great for mid-morning or afternoon. I've been enjoying it at work every day! I will need a refill soon.

I admit: this review was inspired by The Darjeeling Limited.

Next I'll review one of the sampler teas from Margaret's Level 2 tea class: a milk oolong.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Level 2 tea class

Margaret's Fine Imports

Level 2 tea class at Margaret's is a fun, interactive night with great information. It expands on tea processing and terroir. I hope everyone in Pittsburgh can go!

New things:
  • The U.S. has a tea plantation in Charleston, South Carolina.
  • Margaret runs Pittsburgh Tea Club on
  • Flavor is enriched with the age of the tea plant: "The older the better. Just like women."
  • Use lapsang souchong (smoked tea) to marinate chicken or fish.

Great selection, and this isn't even half. Imported teas are on the other wall.

Puerh bricks and tetsubin.

This class features brew-your-own tasting! It's the first time I used a professional taster's cup.

Silver Needle Chinese white tea

Gyokuro Japanese green tea

Infused Gyokuro Japanese green tea

Glenburn Estate 2nd Flush Darjeeling (India)

Infused Glenburn Estate 2nd Flush Darjeeling (India)

Puerh Kunming (cake) tea

Infused Puerh Kunming

We were surprised to find how incredibly smooth this puerh is.

Other teas sampled, but not pictured:
Huang Shan Mountain-Huang Ya yellow tea
Quangzhou Milk Oolong (China)

Parting words of wisdom from Margaret:

"If you can appreciate the tea better you're gonna have a lot more fun in your life."

"Listen to the tea kettle."

All attendees receive a free tea sampler of high-quality teas and 10% off! Teas I brought home include Golden Monkey, White Monkey Paw, China Beauty Rings, Quangzhou Milk Oolong, Black Dragon Pearls, Black Jasmine Cream. Reviews to come.

Buy your tea class Groupon here:

Monday, March 16, 2015

Nepalese Himalayan Masala (#56)

Spiced black tea
Nepali Tea Traders

Ingredients: "Black tea lightly spiced with cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves and other spices traditional in Nepal."

Here is the 2-teabag sampler from Nepali Tea Traders! Sign up for their newsletter and get yours.

I love the warm smell of clove from this. It steeps a beautiful honey brown color. It is light-bodied with a subtle but pleasant spice. It does have something about it that sets it apart from a standard chai. It must be the cinnamon and "other spices traditional in Nepal" the website mentions. 

I need to go to Nepal. For a pretend trip, do these two things:

A) Drink this tea from Nepali Tea Traders.

B) Read this book: Little Princes: One Man's Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal, by Conor Grennan.

I hope to try more of their tea!

Next I will tell you about the Level 2 tea class at Margaret's Fine Imports I attended.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Cream Earl Grey (#55)

Flavored black tea
Margaret's Fine Imports
Metropolitan Tea Company

Ingredients: Luxury black tea, cornflower petals, natural flavors.

This is my favorite earl grey ever! It's the morning tea I buy over and over again. I've been holding off reviewing it because it's hard to express how good it is.

It's often my first tea of the day. The creamy vanilla touch makes it different from other earl greys. The floral aspect emerges in the aftertaste.

Drinking it with milk makes it even more creamy, or use fresh lemon juice and it'll smell like cookies!

Even my black-tea-blend cat loves the smell.

Many coworkers of mine also love this tea. It doesn't matter how hectic the morning commute was, or how crazy the day is; this tea always makes it better.

As Professor Elemental says, "Everything stops for tea!" 

Next I'll review a spiced Himalayan tea from Nepali Tea Traders.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Herbal Cold ReLeaf (#54)

Herbal tea

Ingredients: Hibiscus, rosehip, elderberry, echinacea, wintergreen.

This tea is a staple! It helps me perk up to get through the day while working off germs. It's a natural throat soother and settling on the stomach, too. The echinacea feels healing.

I won't drink it when I'm healthy because it's pretty intense! But I'll be sure to always have it on hand.

Next I'll review my favorite earl grey ever.