Friday, June 28, 2019

Tea Shoutout: Corina Bakery

The Tea Shout-Out highlights restaurants and other businesses who go the extra mile to serve good quality tea. 

This shout-out goes to Corina Bakery located in downtown Tacoma and conveniently adjacent to The Grand Cinema.  In addition to a bevy of baked goods, Corina Bakery offers a selection of teas from local Mad Hat Tea Company.  During my latest visit I enjoyed a light pre-movie meal of a veggie frittata with a pot of Pai Mu Dan and a matcha raspberry macaron.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Tea Review: Hitam Emas (Tea Et Al)

Hitam Emas/Black Gold
Tea Et Al
Type: Black
Origin: Not Provided
Product Description: Not Provided

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

The dry leaves have an aroma of fragrant wood, baked fruit, and a hint of chocolate liqueur.

The bright red infusion has an aroma of grapes, malt, and baked fruit with a hint of cocoa.  The taste is moderately astringent and malty with a sweet finish.

More astringency developed by the second infusion while a third infusion mellowed significantly to become pleasant and lightly sweet with baked fruit notes.  Even when the astringency was at its boldest, it doesn't carry over into the finish which is light and sweet.  This tea isn't listed on the site by the Indonesian name, Hitam Emas, though it seems to closely resemble and may be a former name for the English Breakfast.

This tea was received as a gift from a third party.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Tea Review: Gokuzyo Aracha (Japanese Green Tea In)

Gokuzyo Aracha
Japanese Green Tea In
Type: Green
Origin: Japan, Shizuoka
Product Description: Gokyuzyo translates literally to "The Highest Grade" in Japanese. Among all the green tea harvested, Gokuzyo is the section of the best tea leaves based on taste, water level, aroma and the quality of the leaf itself. Trained masters (called chya-shi in Japanese) pick the best tea leaves by hand, one leaf at a time. Please enjoy the best of what we offer.

Freshly harvested sprouts are steamed right away and dried. We pick and knead the soft, new leaves gently. The process is fairly simple and may not look elegant, however, the aroma is so intense that it makes you feel as if you just got lost in a green tea processing factory.

You can enjoy this tea which includes twig tea, coarse, broken tea leaves, and powdered tea. Crude tea leaves produce a beautifully colored drink with a mild, unique taste.

Temperature: 175° F
Amount: 3 grams
Steeping Time: 10-20 seconds

The dry leaves have a savory, buttery, nutty, and marine green aroma.

The bright green infusion has a sweet, savory and nutty aroma.  The taste is sweet, green, and nutty with a hint of astringency and a long sweet green finish.

The best results to suit my own tasting preferences were found with a 15-20 second 1st infusion, 10 second 2nd infusion, and 15 second 3rd infusion.  The results were flavorful, sweet, and savory with astringency slowly developing throughout each infusion, while still being mild at most.  With very brief infusions, this is one of the easier teas to brew because you don't need a timer and there's not enough time for distractions to pull you away. 

If you use more leaf, consider pouring the water out almost immediately after pouring it over the leaves or reducing the water temperature to 140° F-160° F.  If you favor a bolder taste, a 1 minute 1st infusion will result in a more savory, nutty, and rich aroma with a thick, rich, green taste and moderate-to-high astringency.  A second infusion of 30 seconds is thick and bold with astringency. 

For comparison, the 2nd photo below is a 15 second infusion and the 3rd photo is a 30 second infusion.

This tea was received as a gift from a third party.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Tea Review: Anhui Huo Shan Huang Ya Yellow Tea (Teavivre)

Anhui Huo Shan Huang Ya Yellow Tea
Type: Green
Origin: China, Anhui Province, Liu’an City, Huoshan County, Taiyang Village
Product Description: Huo Shan Huang Ya Tea, made through a unique process involving the special step of “heaping” to yellow the leaves, is a lightly fermented tea that is gentler on the stomach than green tea. It originates from the Dabieshan area.

The fresh tea is hand-picked before Guyu, the 6th period of the traditional Chinese solar calendar, which usually begins in April 19. Only the tips of the tea leaves are picked - it’s standard practice to pick one bud with one leaf, or one bud with two unopened leaves. Including more leaves makes the taste mellower and infuses the tea with a more prominent chestnut flavor. This strong chestnut flavor is the most significant characteristic of Huo Shan Huang Ya Tea. It’s highly recommended to use a Gaiwan to brew it in order to better enjoy the strong fragrance and delicious taste.

Temperature: 175° F
Amount: 3 grams
Steeping Time: 5 minutes

The dry leaves have an aroma that is nutty with notes of brown bread and brown rice.

The pale green infusion has a buttery, nutty and green aroma and taste.

Steeping for 5 minutes at 175° F produced the most savory results which appealed most to my tastes.  A longer steeping time of up to 8 minutes developed mild astringency and fewer savory notes.  The first infusion was the most complex with each infusion after tending slightly greener in taste.  This tea was still going strong after three infusions and I would expect it to produce several more.

This tea was purchased by me.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Rad Tea Room

Rad Tea Room is located in Vancouver's Granville SkyTrain Station near the Dunsmuir Exit and has been serving commuters and the community-at-large since July 2017. 

A menu of loose leaf green and black teas, oolong, puerh, and tisanes can be found on the Unicorn List and all can be prepared hot or cold.  The tea room also offers popular blended drinks like bubble milk tea, matcha lattes, milk tea caps, smoothies, and tea mocktails.  The tea room also has a tempting selection of waffles and sweets for hungry visitors.

The interior is spacious with a blend of modern and whimsical decor.  Seating includes a sofa lounge area, small tables, and long communal tables.  The tea room offers free wifi and power outlets, so this is a popular space for students as well as commuters.

During this visit, I ordered White Tip Oolong to-go (pardon the shadowy and mysterious photo).  I think I may have ended up with Dong Ding because the aroma was rich and roasty with caramel and chestnut notes and a dark roasted taste.  I have no complaints because it was delicious.

80-678 Dunsmuir Street, Vancouver, BC, V7Y 1K8
The Granville Station, Dunsmuir Exit

Sunday-Wednesday 8:00 am to 9:00 pm
Thursday-Saturday 11:00 am to 10:00 pm

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Tea Review: Nettle in the Kettle (Nepal Tea LLC)

Nettle in the Kettle
Nepal Tea LLC
Type: Herbal
Origin: Nepal, Kanchanjangha Tea Estate
Product Description: Considered a nutritive tonic, our nettle tea is solely made from organic stinging nettle leaves. A relaxing and detoxifying beverage.

Temperature: 208° F
Amount: 3 grams
Steeping Time: 4 minutes

The dry leaf aroma has salty marine notes, as well as notes of seasoned wood and sweet oats.

The red-brown infusion has a sweet, spicy, earthy, and mossy aroma.  The taste is mellow, mildly earthy, and distinctly "nettle" with a long and intriguing caramelized sugar-like finish.

This was a good reminder that I do enjoy nettle tea.  It's mellow and the flavor holds up well throughout three steepings with none of the hard-to-ignore medicinal notes present in some other tisanes.  Note that the sample I reviewed was loose leaf and this tisane is currently only sold in tea bags. 

This tea was provided as a free sample without guarantee of a review.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

The Chinese Tea Shop 2018

The Chinese Tea Shop opened in Vancouver's Chinatown in 2004 under the name Arts De Chine (Arts of China).   To better reflect owner Daniel Lui's focus on tea, the shop interior was reconfigured and the name changed to The Chinese Tea Shop in 2009.  The tea shop is located prominently on the corner of East Pender and Columbia Street, less than one block away from the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden.

My previous visit to The Chinese Tea Shop was in 2012 and a return visit to Vancouver and to the tea shop had been long overdue.  While attending the Vancouver Tea Festival last November, I was able to visit the Chinese Tea Shop booth where Daniel was preparing tea throughout the weekend and to break away for a visit the tea shop itself where Jennifer Lui was our gracious host.

As the name suggests, the Chinese Tea Shop offers an impressive range of Chinese teas including green, white, yellow, oolong, black, puerh, and heicha.  Their selection of aged teas including, but not exclusive to puerh, is especially intriguing.

The teaware selections are no less impressive and include Yixing, glass, and porcelain teapots as well as gaiwan, tea cups, and more.

101 East Pender Street, Vancouver,B.C. V6A 1T6

1:00pm to 6:00pm (Wednesday-Monday)
Closed Tuesday

Monday, April 15, 2019

Tea Review: Pokhara Classic Organic Green Tea (Nepali Tea Traders)

Pokhara Classic Organic Green Tea
Nepali Tea Traders
Type: Green
Origin: Nepal, Ilam, Sandakphu
Product Description: A colorful Nepalese city that lies on the ancient trading route between India and China, Pokhara lies in the northwestern corner of a stunning green valley. Our tea is named for the area, which is the base of the popular Annapurna Circuit Trek. Our outstanding flagship green tea provides a springtime aroma and flavor and a bright, clean finish. According to health experts, one cup of green tea daily can provide significant health benefits. This tea stays clear when cold-brewed.

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

The dry leaf aroma has marine notes as well as notes of sweet oats and seasoned wood.

The golden infusion has an aroma that is rich with notes of cooked root vegetables (I was reminded of lotus root), fresh green beans, and sesame.  The taste borders on sweet and savory with notes of roasted vegetables and green beans. 

The first infusion had full flavor when steeped for 3 minutes while subsequent infusions were ideal when the steeping time was reduced to 2 minutes.  Longer infusions resulted in mild-to-moderate astringency and slightly less nuance.

This tea was provided as a free sample without guarantee of a review.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Tea Review: Zhuyeqing Tea (Sichuan Emeishan Zhuyezing Tea Co., Ltd)

Zhuyeqing Tea/竹叶青
Sichuan Emeishan Zhuyezing Tea Co., Ltd./四川省峨眉山竹叶青茶业有限公司
Type: Green
Origin: China, Sichuan Province, Mount Emei
Product Description: Not provided.

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

The dry leaves have an aroma of pepper, wood, and a hint of smoke.

The pale yellow infusion has a savory, buttery, and nutty aroma.  The taste is savory, nutty, green, and mildly astringent with a velvety mouthfeel and a clean and refreshing finish.

Zhuyeqing cha is also known as Bamboo Leaf Green Tea or Bamboo Tips.  The taste mellows with each infusion, so starting with more leaf or increasing the steeping time with each infusion will provide several flavorful infusions.  As the packaging suggests, this is a great tea to enjoy "grandpa style", especially in a clear container where you can watch the dance of the tea leaves.

This tea was received as a gift from a third party.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Van Cha

Van Cha is located in downtown Vancouver on Hornby Street between West Pender Street and West Hastings Street.  The tea room opened for business in January 2017 under the name Silver Crescent Tea, transitioning in mid-2018 to new ownership with the current business name.

The tea room interior gives a sense of tranquility with warm wood features and comfy cushioned chairs.  Seating is at small tables for one to two guests or at longer tasting tables that can accommodate slightly larger groups.

Van Cha offers an intriguing selection of green, white, oolong, and black teas as well as vintage, raw, and ripe puerh and tisanes for purchase or to enjoy in-house.

Our gracious host was Lillian Li, a Beijing-certified Tea Ceremony Specialist.  Lillian thoughtfully prepared multiple infusions of each of our teas while answering all our questions and sharing information about the tea room and future plans for expansion.

2010 Treasure Raw Cake Puerh

Da Yu Ling Oolong (Taiwan)

Along with tea, we enjoyed slices of castella cake and freshly made purple yam sweets.  

My thanks go to Lillian for kindly sharing her experience and knowledge and for making us feel welcome, well after closing time.  Shout-out to Fred, tea pet-in-residence and our companion for this tea tasting experience. 

Follow Van Cha on Facebook and Instagram for events and updates. Visit the tea room for a schedule of upcoming tea classes and events.

433 Hornby St, Vancouver, BC V6C 2Y2

Monday-Saturday 12:00 pm to 7:00 pm
Sunday 12:00 pm to 6:00 pm