Tuesday, March 19, 2019

The Jasmine Pearl Tea Company (2018)

The Jasmine Pearl Tea Company has been in business for 15 years and their flagship tea shop has been a fixture in NE Portland for 9 years.  Shortly after my first visit in 2014, they made renovations.  Recently, I had the opportunity to visit again to see the improvements and, of course, to stock up on tea.

The interior of the tea shop is open and airy with plenty of light and a clean modern design.  Jasmine Pearl offers an extensive selection of teas and teaware, including a number of pieces by local artisans.  An A-frame sample rack provides customers with the opportunity to see and smell the teas their considering.

The tea shop also offers a selection of hot and cold beverages that can be freshly prepared and enjoyed in-house or to-go.

At the tea bar, customers will have an opportunity to taste the teas they're considering.  For this visit I was interested in the Shinko Roasted Green and Tsuyuhikari Sencha, both produced in Shizuoka, Japan by small tea farmer Konishi Nobuyuki.  

I was joined at the tea bar by another customer and was able to taste a few of their selections including Benifuki, Yuzu Green, and Yuzu Black.

Beyond the tea bar is a comfortable banquette seating area where guests can relax and enjoy their tea.

The weather was crisp and cool for this visit, so I enjoyed a warm and spicy Slow Simmered Ginger Chai.

Jasmine Pearl hosts focused tea tastings as well as tea ceremony demonstrations and workshops presented by Margie Yap (Issoan Tea School) throughout the year. Follow them on Facebook to learn about upcoming events.

724 NE 22nd Ave, Portland, OR 97232

10:00am - 6:00pm Monday - Friday
11:00am - 5:00pm Saturday
11:00am - 4:00pm Sunday

Monday, March 18, 2019

Tea Review: Fu Ding Bai Cha White Tea Brick (2000) (The Chinese Tea Shop)

Fu Ding Bai Cha White Tea Brick (2000)
The Chinese Tea Shop
Type: White
Origin: China, Fujian Province, Fuding
Product Description:  Incredibly deep and long lasting aroma. Buttery and fruity fragrance.

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

The dry leaves have an aroma reminiscent of hay and dates.

The golden infusion has a mellow aroma of baked fruit and something that reminded me of buttery pie crust.  The taste is mellow with notes of baked fruit and a hint of honey.

Steeping at 195° F for 5 minutes provided pleasantly mild results with hints of fruit in the aroma and taste.  I most enjoyed the results when steeping at 208° F and found that the color, flavor, and aroma deepened with each infusion.  I would expect even more depth of flavor using more leaf.  

This tea was purchased by me.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Tea Review: Uji Premium Sencha (Sazen Tea)

Uji Premium Sencha
Sazen Tea
Type: Green
Origin: Japan, Kyoto Prefecture, Uji
Product Description: Not provided.

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

The dry leaves have a rich, nutty, and nori-like aroma.

The bright green infusion has a rich and savory, nutty, and buttery aroma and taste with mild astringency and a long sweet finish.

The second infusion is bolder, though not overwhelmingly so, with a lighter and sweeter third infusion.  While this sencha was ideal for my preferences without adjustment, you can expect good results and more infusions using more leaf and reducing the steeping time to 1-1.5 minutes.

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

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Tov Coffee & Tea

Tōv Coffee & Tea has been serving the community in Portland's Hawthorne District for almost four years.  Located in a food cart pod on the corner of SE Hawthorne Boulevard and SE 32nd Avenue, the iconic red double-decker bus is hard to miss.

Tōv's interior reflects owner Joe Nazir's Egyptian roots with auspicious and lively pops of purple, red, and gold throughout.  Inside and toward the back, you'll meet the friendly barista(s) who will prepare your drinks. 

Most of the seating is on the top deck which hearkens to an Egyptian open-air cafe with small tables and brightly cushioned chairs.  During the warmer months, the top deck is open to let in the breeze and provide a beautiful view of the neighborhood.  During the colder months, the top deck is enclosed and heated, so there's never a bad season to visit.  I do recommend popping upstairs to check on available seating if you plan to order something that can't be served as takeout.

Tōv serves Egyptian and Turkish coffee and tea as well as traditional espresso beverages.   While I am not a coffee enthusiast, drinks like their mocha with fig-infused white chocolate and balsamic vinegar are rather tempting.

For this visit I enjoyed a Turkish Tea.  The tea takes about 15 minutes to prepare in a çaydanlık which can serve several people if you visit with a group.  Water is boiled in both teapots with strong tea brewing in the top teapot and hot water in the bottom teapot.  To serve, fill each glass about 1/3 with tea and the rest with hot water, adjusting to taste.  Sugar (not pictured, but definitely in use) or more water help to mellow the tea. 

Tōv provided me with a unique opportunity to take a break on a busy weekend, enjoy the summer breeze, and lose myself in the motions of preparing tea.  They are well worth a return visit.

5044, 3207 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland, OR 97214

7:30am - 5:00pm

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Tea Review: Honey Black Tea (Beautiful Taiwan Tea Company)

Honey Black Tea
Beautiful Taiwan Tea Company
Type:  Black
Origin:  Taiwan, New Taipei, Pinglin District
Product Description:  Farmer Chang made this Summer 2018 small-batch tea on his pristine farm in Pinglin. This tea is subtle, smooth and flavorful. We like it a lot and think you will too!

Named "Honey Fragrance" tea in Taiwan (Mixiang Hongcha), this tea style brews up notes of honey and cinnamon. It is one of Taiwan's famous "Bug-Bitten Teas" and well worth an annual pilgrimage.

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

The dry leaves have a sweet aroma of honey with a hint of wood.

The bright red infusion has a sweet floral and honey aroma with baked fruit and honey notes in the taste.

Though my sample of this tea is old, it still produced a surprisingly full flavor and aroma.  The first two infusions were almost consistent in character, except for a slightly lighter liquor color, and the mellower third infusion was still rather enjoyable.  Astringency wasn't an issue and this could be brewed longer and stronger without worry.  The pleasant honey/floral finish goes on and on.  I'm looking forward to tasting a fresh batch for comparison.  

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

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Tea Chai Te Sellwood

Tea Chai Te serves tea in three locations across Portland: Burnside, NW 23rd which I wrote about previously, and Sellwood which I visited most recently.  Located on NE 13th Avenue near SE Nehalem Street, the iconic red caboose of the Sellwood tea room is hard to miss.

The tea room is broken out into several unique spaces.  Step inside the caboose entrance and the first space you'll encounter is a cozy, funky lounge.  

Stairs lead from the caboose to the central tea hall.

The tea hall is bright, cheerful, and spacious.  Here you'll find plentiful seating and be able to choose from a wide selection of loose leaf teas as well as teaware, pastries, and baked goods for sale.  Of course, all of the teas available for purchase are also available to enjoy in the tea room.

In addition to the caboose lounge and tea hall, there is an enclosed outdoor courtyard where dogs are welcome and a cozy room with a fireplace.

For this visit, I found a spot near the fireplace and enjoyed the charcoal roast Four Seasons Oolong (#110) with macarons.

7983 SE 13th Ave, Portland, OR 97202

9:00am to 9:00pm

Monday, March 11, 2019

Tea Review: Hojicha Green Tea (Mana Organics)

Hojicha Green Tea
Mana Organics
Type: Green
Origin: India, Assam, Chota Tingrai Estate
Product Description: A roasted green tea with golden liquors and smooth, smoked barely flavor reminiscent of open blue skies in peak summer. This special tea is a unique pairing of Japanese and Assam styles. Our hojicha makes a fortifying draught that ensures no matter how hard you partied the night before you will make that morning meeting.

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

The dry leaves have an aroma of seared wood and roasted nut shells.

The bright amber infusion has the aroma and taste of roasted nuts and nut shells.

This is the first non-Japanese hojicha I've encountered and it shares a lot of the characteristics of  a Japanese hojicha while still being unique.  Though the best flavor is in the first infusion, using more leaf would make a second steeping well worth exploring.  

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

Friday, March 8, 2019

Tea Review: Organic Matcha 1st Season (Hamada Tea & All Japan Matcha & Organics)

Organic Matcha 1st Season
Hamada Tea/お茶のはまだ & All Japan Matcha & Organics
Type: Green
Origin: Japan, Kagoshima Prefecture, Chiran
Product Description: I selected the world popular Matcha.   It is Organic!  One level higher than cooking level.  Good for Matcha latte and even good for Tea ceremony.

Temperature: 175° F
Tea Amount: ~1 gram (1 teaspoon)
Water: ~2 ounces (1/4 cup)

The matcha powder is bold green in color with a lightly grassy and nutty aroma.

The aroma in the warmed bowl is distinctly nutty.

After whisking, the aroma became sweet and green, not quite grassy, reminding me of a sun-warmed field after rain.  The taste is bold and almost grassy.

Paired with a sweet, this would be a reliable daily matcha.  What it lacks in nuance, it makes up for by energizing the tastebuds and the astringency only last as long as each sip, leaving not lingering bitterness behind.

All Japan Matcha & Organics is a cooperative providing wholesale products direct from small Japanese tea farmers, tea makers, and tea shops to businesses in the US.

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

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Ovation Coffee & Tea

Ovation has been serving tea and coffee in Portland's Pearl District since 2014.  The shop is located on NW Overton Street, next to The Fields Park and in view of the Fremont Bridge.

Service is welcoming and attentive at this family-owned business.  The decor is clean and modern with natural light filling the space from windows along two walls.  Between the scenic view and the people-watching and dog-watching (a perk of the adjacent pet-friendly park) opportunities, there are no bad seats in the house.

Ovation serves loose leaf tea, coffee and espresso beverages, and blended drinks (ZaZa's) along with pastries, baked goods, and sandwiches.  They also offer a compelling selection of Moroccan beverages, including Mint Tea (green tea, spearmint, orange blossom water), Sheba (green tea, wild sage), Luwessa (verbena), and Moroccan-spiced Chai and Coffee.

During my visit, I enjoyed the Moroccan Mint Tea which is served in a small or large berrad (teapot).  Not pictured is the delicious Turkey White Cheddar Panini that rounded out my lunchtime visit.

I also picked up a Moroccan Chai to go (and a scone which did not last long enough to be photographed) and took the opportunity to stretch my legs at the park before heading out on the next leg of a long drive.

941 NW Overton St, Portland, OR 97209

6:00am - 6:00pm Monday - Friday
7:00am - 5:00pm Saturday - Sunday

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Tea Review: Black Tippy 2 (Bitaco)

Black Tippy 2
Type: Black
Origin: Colombia, La Cumbre
Product Description: This tea has fewer tips than Tippy 1 but is really quite attractive visually. It has a lighter color than Tippy 1, an appealing clear, amber color. The brewed tea liquor delivers the subtle sweetness characteristic of Tippy 1 but with less overall astringency.

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

The dry leaves have a sweet aroma of plums and seasoned wood.

The dark red infusion has an aroma of baked fruit and brown sugar while the taste is moderately astringent and sweet with notes of baked brown bread.

The first and second infusions were similarly full-flavored.  While the third infusion was mellower, I found it to be rather nice on its own merits.

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