Sunday, April 11, 2010

Making your own teabags

Well, making your own teabags is probably the easiest and best way to have tea at work if you don't have a good way to rinse out a teapot. Currently I've been working with the Finum teabags. They seem to be ok, but they do seem to exhibit almost all of the downsides of using paper teabags. The Finums are made of paper so they do absorb some of the tea, and flavors inherently released in the brewing process. I have seen in the past that there are disposable teabags made of the preferable mesh material, but I can't seem to find a reliable vendor for them. Using the paper teabags, I tend to find that even though there's a considerable volume in the teabag, the leaf falls to the bottom and gets constricted when it tries to expand.

Sadly I have yet to find a better option, but this is the best option for how I brew tea at work currently.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Progressive leaf pile growth

So this is probably one of the stranger methods I've tried to make tea at work. This involved using a largeish french press / press pot. So every day I'd take this french press home and clean it out. Throughout the day as I'd make tea, i'd add more leaves to the pot to make sure there was enough flavor left in the pot to make a decent cup. By the end of the day the pot starts getting a bit full and you take it home and clean it out.

There were a few problems with this method, and it was a bit of a pain to take the pot home and remember to bring it back every day. For one thing I couldn't really change teas as it would make for a strange cup. Not being able to rinse it out became a real pain with this method.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Tea and Work

So lately I've been drinking most of my tea at work. This constitutes a significant problem for enjoying tea, I don't have my equipment at work and don't have an easy way to dispose of leaves. (No sink in the office.) So there are a variety of different options, but the question is what to do. Some of the common ideas I've seen are:

-- Just use bagged tea
-- Bag your own
-- Drink matcha
-- Progressive leaf pile growth

I'll go over what I find as some of the pros and cons of each of these. But I wonder, does anyone else have some methods they like to use?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Resurgence and unfortunate news

So I know it has been quite some time since I last posted anything. I had been debating the nature of the FCC regulations and my stance toward them. Not that I receive anything truly noteworthy from running this blog, but at the same time samples were always well received. I will most likely stop any associates programs with specific vendors as that was never my intent anyway. I'll most likely still continue to keep my Amazon and Google links going though as those being unrelated to any specific tea vendor have little consequence. Additionally it still provides an avenue for support.

Onto even less fortunate news, from the sounds of things over at Imen's blog it sounds as though this is going to be a bad year for Phoenix Oolongs. And like many bloggers, I don't like the notion of rehashing other people's content, but without any way to reliably and easily become more authoritative or at least verify the content, rehashing is about as good as I can provide. So go read Imen's post. My sympathy goes out to those farmers and at the same time, like Imen I worry about availability of some Phoenix for myself.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Xue Ya Ballad

Tea: Xue Ya Ballad
Vendor: Adagio Teas
Price: $9/ 3 oz.
Source: Keemun, China
Vendor Description: An early spring harvest green - unusual for the Keemun region - this tea features gentle chestnut notes and complex fruit-like, mellow sweetness with a delicate yellow cup color. Once you have heard its lovely notes, you will return to it again and again.

Leaf: The leaf for this tea is dark green with some silver hairs to it. Overall the colors of the leaf are rather muted and dull. They are relatively long leaves, with a thin twisting to them. No notable aromas to the dry leaf though.

1st Infusion Parameters: 5g, 5oz, 185F, 45s

1st Infusion: This tea has a yellow green hue to it. It is lightly murky with a sharp and distinctively Chinese green aroma to it. It can best be described as being vegetal in nature. The tea has some early marine flavors which transition into a pan fired sharpness. There is no aftertaste to speak of, but the core of the flavor is rather bold. It feels somewhat complicated, but at the same time a bit muddled.

2nd Infusion Parameters: 30s, 185F

2nd Infusion: This infusion has a bolder, stronger yellow color to it. Overall the color is much more intense. It again is lightly murky. This time around though the tea exhibited a medium sense of astringency, but it lacks the marine hues of the first. There is a strong central flavor to be found here with some strong roasted notes to it. It feels very much like a Long Jing without the creaminess.

Rating: 5/10

Conclusion: Overall a fairly average tea, not too expensive, but not too fabulous either. It would probably make for a good staple Chinese green tea if you're looking for one, but personally I would like to stick to something a bit more fantastic.

Black Dragon Pearls

Tea: Black Dragon Pearls
Vendor: Adagio Teas
Price: $19/5 oz.
Source: Yunnan, China
Vendor Description: Hailing from the Yunnan province, this black tea version of the popular Dragon Pearl is naturally sweet and smooth with a touch of earthiness. Comprised of only the highest quality leaves and buds, expertly rolled into a large pearl-like shape. Subtle cocoa notes whisper gently as each pearl unfurls delivering a superior tea experience not to be missed. We suggest using 2-3 Dragon Pearls per cup for a sublime tea drinking experience.

Leaf: The leaf for this tea is rather interesting. It consists of black and yellow balls. They're about the size of gumballs, weighing about 1g each. They are rather compressed looking and much larger than jasmine pearls. They have the golden appearance that some Yunnan teas are known for (Yunnan Gold for example). There is a very faint aroma to the balls, it strangely reminds me of Nestea instant powdered iced tea.

1st Infusion Parameters: 3.13g., 5oz, 208F, 5 min

1st Infusion: The tea has a dark brown, red hue to it. The infused leaf makes it apparent that the balls are just compressed leaf. They are not from a single triplet like most jasmine pearls are, nor are they bound together like presentation teas. The tea has a very subdued aroma to it, not making much of an impression at all. Overall the tea feels subtle, yet very flavorful. It slowly opens up into a very bodied taste. It is very mellow and smooth. There is no bitterness or astringency to it, which is rather surprising for a black tea.

Rating: 8/10

Conclusion: While I wasn't really expecting much from this tea, I was rather surprised. I had expected it to be more novelty in the pearls than a solid flavor, but the flavor proved out over some of the more expensive Yunnan Gold teas that I have had in the past. It is smooth and enjoyable for when you want something that's got some power to it, but doesn't ask for sugar or milk.

Monday, September 21, 2009


Sorry for the lack of posts lately, I've been in the middle of a big move. New reviews up next week! I promise!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Tea Top Brew Mug Winner

And the winner of the Tea Top Brew Mug is Loreen T.! Winner will be contacted by email.

Thanks for all the great entries you guys, it was interesting to read all of the different reasons and stories. I might have to put together a few more giveaways for you guys further down the line.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Tea Top Brew Mug Deadline

Deadline for the free Tea Top Brew Mug is Tomorrow (I'll cut it off at midnight pst) so get your entries in!

Tea's Flavor Spectrum

Recently thoughts of the difference in flavor between Tamaryokucha and Long Jing got me thinking. The flavor of tea is so wide and varied, how many teas would it take to give someone an overview of the different types and flavor styles of tea? Which ones would you suggest? So far I've come up with these:

Green: Sencha, Longjing
Red: Darjeeling, Assam, Ceylon, Yunnan
Blue(Oolong): Phoenix, Wu Yi, Taiwanese Green
Yellow: Not really needed
White: Silver Needle

So far I have 10, but I don't really know the realm of Pu well enough to say what would be needed to express that area. I'm guessing two though. Which puts my list around 12. I'm a bit hesitant of dedicating a third of that to red teas though.

What do you guys think? What is the essential must try teas to express the flavor spectrum of tea?