Sunday, April 19, 2015

Sandakphu hand-rolled black tea (#65)

Black tea

Area of origin: Sandakphu. 

I'm increasingly impressed by Nepali Tea Traders' black teas. This hand-rolled tea has a striking appearance as a result of the careful processing. There are very noticeable white hairs on the tips. (See more here.)

The tea is not bold like many black teas are, allowing me to taste the nuance. The light, floral experience is what I usually expect from a green tea. It has a wisp of a buttery feel on the tongue, and an apricot finish. It's a little too light to be something I'd want every day, but it's still a lovely tea.

The instructions call for one teaspoon, but I'll estimate better and use two teaspoons in the future since the leaves are so large.

This sample was provided by Nepali Tea Traders.

Next I'll review a citrus-y white tea from Nepali Tea Traders.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

China Beauty Rings (#64)

Green tea
Margaret's Fine Imports

Country of origin: China.

These China beauty rings are gorgeous! They look like delicate locks of hair. I love the silvery white color that looks woven in. It smells lightly of jasmine or orchid.

The first infusion at 2 minutes has a sweet orchid smell from the gaiwan lid. The liquor is yellow, but with a pink undertone. The taste matches the aroma but with a little astringency. 

The second infusion smells just a touch vegetal. I don't really notice anything vegetal in the taste, though. The taste is similar to the first infusion. 

The orchid aroma really comes out with the third infusion. The taste, like its name, is beautiful! I managed to get a light 4th infusion out of it, but by now the tea is mostly spent.

This is a wonderful tea and I'll get a lot of enjoyment from it. I'm lucky it was included in Margaret's Level 2 tea class sampler.

Next I'll review a hand-rolled black tea from Nepali Tea Traders.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Sherpa Breakfast (#63)

Black tea
Nepali Tea Traders

I'm mostly familiar with Assam as a base in breakfast tea, so I was thrilled to try a breakfast tea from Nepal. I love this Sherpa Breakfast! It uplifts, but politely. It has that signature breakfast taste, but with a new complexity and smooth mouthfeel I'm really enjoying. Great without any additives. However, I can tell you I tried it with milk as well--creamy and wonderful!

For brewing, I used my porcelain teapot at 3 minutes and a handful of seconds.

It's an autumn flush, which would explain its special flavor. I'm delighted to see it can be infused more than once. The second time I used 4 minutes. Both infusions were delicious. You get a lot from this black tea.

The end result is light in color with a distinct breakfast taste.

This sample was provided by Nepali Tea Traders.

A lot more on Nepali Tea Traders to come! But first, I'll show you a beautifully formed Chinese tea.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Nepalese Silver Tips (#62)

White tea
Nepali Tea Traders

I'm glad I waited to review a silver needle until this came from Nepali Tea Traders. Silver needle seems like a staple for tea lovers, so I've been looking forward to it!

Beautiful white downy hairs.

The liquor is light: white with a yellow hue that I was first inclined to describe as pink. The first sips have a delicate taste with a buttery mouthfeel.

The second infusion brings out sweetness in the aroma. This infusion does not have as much of the butteriness of the first. However, I first tried this tea at two 2-minute infusions, and the second time at a 3-minute and a 4-minute. Both experiences differed as far as how the flavor opened up. I'm pleased with the result.

Lovely in the gaiwan!

This sample was provided by Nepali Tea Traders.

I have another delicious tea from Nepali Tea Traders coming up: Sherpa Breakfast!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Dragon Claw Oolong (#61)

Oolong tea
Nepali Tea Traders

I was initially drawn to this tea because of its stunning appearance. The dry tea has a variety of colors and little hairs on the lighter ones. Smelling the dry tea didn't really give me a sense of what it would taste like, so I was excited to try it.

The first smell from the gaiwan lid is toasted but with apricot fast on its heels. The liquor is a beautiful warm yellow, seconding the thought of apricot. The first sip has a lot of personality, almost with a spice.

For a darker-looking oolong, it's lighter than I thought, but with a nice strong body to it. Smooth finish with a nice aroma from the cup, too.

I used two 2-minute infusions. The third steep at 3 minutes brought the apricot to the forefront. Beautiful!

The website recommends two infusions at 2-3 minutes and I'd say that's accurate; I may have gotten a third infusion out of it because my first infusions were 2 minutes instead of 3.

The instructions call for a heaping teaspoon for 8 oz, and since my gaiwan is small, I played it safe and used just shy of a teaspoon. It didn't take many leaves to get a great flavor. 

I tried it again, using the heaping teaspoon recommended and finishing off the sampler. This tea has character! It would be nice to make in a teapot and share with friends. 
This sample was provided by Nepali Tea Traders.

Next I will review Nepali Tea Traders' silver needle.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Jasmine green tea (#60)

Scented green tea
Pipers Coffee & Tea

Ingredients: Japanese sencha, whole jasmine flower blossoms, pure jasmine oil.

This pot of tea is gorgeous! Large enough that it's hard to hold in one hand. It's a lovely porcelain look with a solid cork. Tea is sold in the pot, or you can just buy a refill.

The dry tea has a faint but wonderfully fresh smell. As I make the first pour into my gaiwan, the aroma lifts from the cup immediately as the water hits it.

The first aroma from the lid after steeping is lightly floral with the smell of the tea still shining through. The color of the tea is warmer than I expected, a light honey. I taste right away that I've oversteeped it, though; I've brought too much astringency through. It's easy to handle this tea less carefully than it deserves. Steeped properly, it's a beautiful tea with the lightest floral tone.

I've found that this tea, even at only one teaspoon, infuses best in more water than a single-size gaiwan. I used my gaiwan for 2-minute infusions, then in the teapot at 1- and 2-minute infusions, and then just in a tea ball at 2 minutes for single mug brews. Surprisingly, the tea ball in a mug works best!

I call it a delicate tea, but the sencha is sturdy enough for multiple infusions and the amount of jasmine is consistent throughout.

Make sure to give this tea enough water to try its wings, and you'll have a warm-colored tea that actually tastes like a white tea with the most natural echo of jasmine. Jasmine can be overpowering in other teas, but this jasmine is a perfect complement to the high-quality sencha. It isn't too sweet.

Pipers is offering my readers 10% off their tea purchase at checkout with this code: ALLTEA10. No limit on the number of times it can be used, so you can share with your friends. If you would like some of these cards, please contact me.

Next I'll review an unusual-looking oolong from Nepali Tea Traders.