Friday, May 18, 2018

Tea Review: Tieguanyin Oolong (Silk Road Teas)

Tieguanyin Oolong
Teahouse Kuan Yin
Type: Oolong
Origin: China, Fujian Province, Anxi
Product Description: Often referred to as the tea of poets, "Iron Goddess" is our traditional-style Tieguanyin oolong. The name Tie Guan Yin is often incorrectly translated as “Goddess of Mercy”, yet the name is now generally accepted to describe an oolong varietal offering an intense aroma, some fruitiness and a depth of flavor.

Temperature: 195° F
Amount: 3 grams
Steeping Time: 3 minutes

The dry leaves have a fresh floral aroma.

The pale yellow infusion has a floral aroma with a hint of butter and a taste that is toasty, sweet, and floral with a long and fruity papaya-like finish.

By the second infusion, the floral notes had moved boldly to the front while that intriguing papaya-like finish continue to make an appearance through at least three infusions.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Steeped in Comfort

Steeped in Comfort, located on Gravelly Lake Drive SW near 111th Street SW, has been serving tea to the Lakewood community for over twelve years. 

The tea room is spacious and features casual country cottage decor.  During the cooler months, the fireplace adds to the cozy ambiance.  

The tea menu is extensive and for this visit, I selected Cream Earl Grey.

Steeped in Comfort owners Benjamin and Heather Todd prepare everything on the menu from scratch. 

We requested the Afternoon Tea which included a variety of sandwiches, the most heavenly scones, and delicious quiche.  

Note that the standard Afternoon Tea does not include the dessert tier.  For that, you will need to make reservations for the Saturday Tea and verify availability.  Though the dessert tier was unavailable during our visit, we were more than happy with our large, warm-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookies.  

Steeped in Comfort also has a lunch menu, if you prefer.  Much of the food is available for takeout, as well. 

Be sure to pick up some loose leaf tea and gifts before you leave.

Call for Afternoon Tea and Saturday Tea reservations.  Please call at least two days in advance if you have dietary restrictions.

11016 Gravelly Lake Drive SW, Lakewood, WA 98499

Closed Monday
11:00am to 5:00pm Tuesday-Friday
11:00am to 4:00pm Saturday-Sunday

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Tea Review: Organic Boseong Green Tea (Boseong Woonhae Tea Plantation)

Organic Boseong Green Tea
Boseong Woonhae Tea Plantation/보성운해녹차
Type: Green
Origin: South Korea, Boseong
Product Description: Not provided.

Temperature: 175° F
Amount: 3 grams
Steeping Time: 3 minutes

The dry leaves have a fresh green aroma with notes of sweet oats, sugar, nuts, and wood.

The aroma of the light yellow-green infusion is rich, buttery, and savory with fresh green notes.  The taste is almost smooth with green and nutty notes and a hint of astringency.

This was one of the most buttery teas I've experienced and the aroma is intoxicating.  The color, aroma, and taste deepened by the third infusion and it's well worth steeping a few more times.  While steeping at 175° F for 3 minutes produced the most delicious results for my preference, steeping at a lower temperature for a shorter amount of time will produce slightly sweeter results.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Aged Yukimuro Sencha - Yunomi/Seikoen Tea Factory

Aged Yukimuro Sencha
Yunomi/Seikoen Tea Factory
Type: Green
Origin: Japan, Shizuoka Prefecture & Niigata
Product Description: Sencha tea leaves from Shizuoka are carefully refined and aged in Seikoen's natural snow-cooled warehouse (called a "yukimuro").

While the mechanism needs more research, something about this unique aging process (perhaps due to the temperature which hovers just below zero in a state in which water is neither freezing nor liquid) causes the tea to increase multiple chemical components that make up the tea leaf's umami flavor.

Temperature: 175° F
Amount: 3 grams
Steeping Time: 1-2 minutes

The dry leaves have a savory and fresh green aroma with notes of butter, nuts, and minerals.

The bright green infusion has an aroma that is savory with umami, buttery, and mineral green.  The taste is sweet and savory with a mildly astringent finish.

Aging in cold storage seems to have mellowed the astringency while the flavor and aroma tend more savory with umami than I usually encounter with fresh sencha. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Tea Review: Golden Monkey (Silk Road Teas)

Golden Monkey (Jin Hou)
Silk Road Teas
Type: Black
Origin: China, Fujian Province, Fuding
Product Description: Some of the finest varieties of Golden Monkey (Jin Hou) are found in the marketplace early in April. Tending to be smaller & thin, these elegant golden-brown leaves offer nuanced flavors characteristic of highest grade Fujianese black teas. Our Golden Monkey is in the Panyang Congou family, a variety of black teas developed during the height of the early tea trading days in response to the demand of European buyers. These blacks are described as a "fruity Congous". The varietal’s leaf is downy which contributes to its “dusty” state and the bright coloration around the rim of the cup after brewing.

Temperature: 208° F
Amount: 3 grams
Steeping Time: 3 minutes

The dry leaves have an aroma of chocolate liqueur, aged wood, berries, and nut shells.

The copper-orange infusion has a sweet aroma of baked fruit, honey, and freshly baked brown bread.  The taste is richly sweet with notes of fruit and whole grains.

The first two steepings produced the best results with mild astringency and a delightful heady aroma developing by the second infusion.

Monday, April 30, 2018

World of Tea Series: Spring is Blooming!

Northwest Tea Festival hosts the World of Tea Seriesa monthly series of unique tea tastings and workshops presented by specialists in the industry.

On April 21st, Cinnabar Wright (Phoenix Tea) hosted a tasting of floral teas, including true flower tisanes and flower-scented teas, in celebration of Spring.

Rose (China)

We had the opportunity to taste the rose infusion several times as it continued to steep and develop a darker and more flavorful liquor throughout the first hour. 

Osmanthus Longjing (Dragonwell)

Blending longjing with anything seems unusual since the character of the tea is so unique.  The toasty taste of the longjing held up nicely with the distinct taste of osmanthus.  

Jasmine Flower (China)

The pure flower infusion was delicate in flavor and aroma with oat or buckwheat-like notes, quite different from the bold taste and heady aroma I'm accustomed to in a jasmine-scented teas.

Linden (Ukraine)

I was introduced to linden tea in teabags years ago and it was largely unmemorable.  Though it's still on the delicate end of the flavor spectrum, the loose tisane was significantly more enjoyable.

Chrysanthemum (China)

Hibiscus (Sudan)

Hibiscus varies in boldness and character depending on its origin.  This example from Sudan was  pleasantly approachable and may be a new favorite.  I heard from another attendee at the event that hibiscus makes a fantastic cold infusion, so that's something I look forward to experiencing this summer.

Lotus Flower (China)

Jasmine Pearl (China)

Lilium Flower (China)

This was a personal favorite with notes that reminded me of molasses.    

Lotus-scented Fu zhong (Hunan, China)

Thanks to Cinnabar and Northwest Tea Festival for putting together this fun seasonal tasting event!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Tea Review: Shanlinxi Premium High Mountain Oolong (Beautiful Taiwan Tea Company)

Shanlinxi Premium High Mountain Oolong
Beautiful Taiwan Tea Company
Type: Oolong
Origin: Taiwan, Shan Lin Xi
Product Description: Farmer Zeng, who produces our Misty Mountain Oolong grows this amazing tea on the same farm but at a much higher elevation. This tea comes to us from the highest elevations of Shanlinxi, one of the best growing areas in Taiwan. Each afternoon misty clouds come in so thick you can hardly see anything for a while. It's quite remarkable and very zen.

Like our other teas, this tea is expertly grown, hand-picked, hand-processed and vacuum packed at the source! Only our "Face-to-Farmer" sourcing insures you premium quality.

Temperature: 195° F
Amount: 3 grams
Steeping Time: 3-5 minutes

The dry leaves have a floral aroma.

The pale yellow-green infusion has an aroma that is buttery and lightly floral with sesame notes.  The taste is sweet, buttery, and lightly floral with a long finish.

While steeping for 3 minutes produced delightful results, the flavor and aroma became more fully developed after a 5 minute steep.  The flavor begins to mellow by the third steeping.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Equipment Review: The Wall Tea Infuser (Boreal Wildcraft)

The Wall Tea Infuser from Boreal Wildcraft has had a lot of positive feedback over the years and I finally had the opportunity to try it out.

The Wall is made from lab-grade borosilicate.  Though it feels lightweight and delicate, it stands up to a fair amount of rough use.  If you're still worried or have my history of marble countertop vs. glassware disasters, keeping a cork coaster handy should alleviate any lingering breakage fears.

Medium-to-large leaf teas and tisanes that aren't susceptible to over-brewing are ideal candidates for The Wall.  It sits in that happy middle ground between the enjoyment of drinking tea grandpa style (in an open cup or bowl without an infuser) and being able to do so without having to use your mouth as a strainer.  

The Wall comes in 310ml and 440ml sizes and is available in right-handed or left-handed styles.  I have the 310ml model which holds 10 ounces of liquid when filled to the bottom of the built-in infuser.  Smaller tea leaves tend to escape around the edges of the filter when it's tipped for drinking, which can be prevented by leaving approximately 1/2" of room.  The larger the leaf, the safer it is to be generous with the water. 

For this review, I started off with Sun Moon Lake, a Taiwanese black tea with moderately large leaves that stands up well to over-steeping.  The water was just below the infuser and none of the leaves slipped over the filter while drinking.  

There's a certain satisfaction in watching the leaves unfurl and the color develop through the clear glass of The Wall.

During the warmer months, I like to cold brew single servings of tea overnight in the refrigerator.  The Wall works beautifully for this purpose and, since cold brewed teas don't develop tannins, results are almost always delicious.  My cold-brewed Ceylon black tea from Kenilworth Estate was sweet and refreshing.  The only issue was with the small tea leaves escaping over the sides of the filter because I didn't leave room below the filter.

Consisting solely of large buds, Baihao Yinzhen and Junshan Yinzhen (the final tea for this review) are ideal for The Wall.  The leaves won't over-steep and watching the leaves dance up and down can be mesmerizing.

The Wall is fuss-free, versatile, and aesthetically pleasing.  It's a welcome addition to my teaware collection and worth considering for your own collection.

  • Keep re-brewing tea (tea for days!)
  • Lightweight and easy to hold
  • Few-to-no leaves sneaking through the filter
  • Easy clean up
  • Cold or hot brew
  • Clear view of the leaves unfurling and the liquor color developing

  • Feels fragile (though it isn't). Nerves easily soothed with a coaster.
  • Not ideal for teas and tisanes that can be oversteeped, have small leaves and stems, or were steamed during processing.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Upcoming Event: Spring is Blooming! (World of Tea Series)

Northwest Tea Festival will host a tea tasting event as part of the World of Tea Series on Saturday, April 21st.

Hosted by Cinnabar Wright (Phoenix Tea)

Celebrate Spring with a fun and festive tasting of flower infusions!  Infusions of flowers are a tradition in several countries and this tasting will include examples from a few different areas.  The flowers in the tasting will range from pure and delicate dried flower infusions to true teas scented or combined with flowers.  We will be surrounded by flavors and infusions that range from pale and delicate to bold and bright.  If you have never had the opportunity to taste any pure flower infusions this will be a fun adventure for you.  If you have already experienced a taste of some of these beverages, we expect you will probably discover something new that you were not already familiar with.
Date: Saturday, April 21, 2018
Time: 10:00 am -12:00 pm
Location: Rainier Arts Center, 3515 South Alaska Street
Seattle, WA 98118
Price: $15

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Tea Review: Organic Boseong Black Tea (Boseong Woonhae Tea Plantation)

Organic Boseong Black Tea
Boseong Woonhae Tea Plantation
Type: Black
Origin: South Korea, Boseong
Product Description: Not provided.

Temperature: 208° F
Amount: 3 grams
Steeping Time: 3 minutes

The dry leaves have a floral and fragrant wood with notes of something similar to muscatel, reminding me slightly of Darjeeling.

The coppery orange infusion has a sweet aroma of baked fruit (persimmon?) and flowers.  The taste is almost sugar sweet, though not cloyingly so, with a long, sweet, floral finish.

This tea held up fairly well through three infusions.  After the first infusion, the floral notes in flavor and aroma had become prominent and the finish became dryer.

At this time, Boseong Woonhae Tea Plantation does not have an website.