Friday, March 3, 2017

Tea Review: Abe-cha (Marufuku Seicha)

Marufuku Seicha/丸福製茶
Type: Green
Origin: Japan, Shizuoka Prefecture
Product Description: Not provided.

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

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

The bright yellow-green infusion has a savory aroma with nutty, buttery, and grassy notes.  The taste is savory and lightly sweet, mildly astringent with a clean finish.

After the first infusion, a shorter steeping time of 1-1.5 minutes brings out sweeter results. Otherwise, the astringency becomes prominent.

Abecha generally refers to tea from Shizuoka and in this case refers to tea produced near Abe River.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Tea Review: Pu Erh Poe (Adagio)

Pu Erh Poe
Type: Puerh
Origin: China, Yunnan Province, Kunming
Product Description: One of the five main types of tea (white, green, oolong and black being the others), pu'erh tea stands apart with its uncommonly soft earthy flavor and woodsy tones. Unlike all other teas, pu'erh (pronounced 'poo-err') is actually aged. The tea leaves go through a natural fermentation process before the tea is gently dried. This creates a cup with zero astringency and deep, rich body. Pu'erh is extraordinarily smooth and deeply refreshing. Our Pu'erh Poe (the shou variety of pu'erh) gives a clean, woodsy aroma, warm hay inside a barn, mushrooms and savory vegetables. Wilted flower notes and a faint dark chocolate texture. Mellow and grounding. If the flavor is too strong for you, simply dilute with water (which, interestingly, doesn't work for many other teas!) Pu'erh is extremely versatile - you can steep it for as little as 30 second or 30 minutes, whatever pleases your palate. It won't get bitter and is great for multiple infusions.

Temperature: 208° F
Amount: 3 grams
Steeping Time: 3-5 minutes

The dry leaves have a smoky marine, earthy, and mossy aroma.

The dark red-brown infusion has a richly earthy aroma and taste.

I prepared three infusions of this tea with the liquor darkening and the flavor becoming richer after each steeping.  I would easily expect it to produce several more great infusions.  Steeping time is very flexible and, for my tastes, 3-5 minutes produced great results.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Tea Review: Fujian Rain (Adagio)

Fujian Rain/Shui Xian
Type: Oolong
Origin: China, Fujian Province
Product Description: Shui Xian, which translates to "Water Sprite," is an oolong produced in a similar style to Wuyi Oolongs. Therefore they share some similar traits, such as peachy-honey notes and a mineral "rock taste." This high-fired, medium grade version results in a rich tasting amber colored cup with the nuances of minerals, apricots and spice. Great for an everyday oolong option.

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

The dry leaves have an aroma of rye, pepper, and fire-seared wood.

The golden amber infusion has a floral and nutty aroma with notes of seared wood and rye.  The flavor is rich, smooth, nutty, and lightly floral with an all-over roasted quality.  

This tea has a uniquely mouth watering sensation that reminds me of biting into watermelon, perhaps in relation to its other name, Water Sprite.  The flavor and aroma became only slightly less complex throughout three infusions with the floral notes fading right after the first infusion.  The rich, roasted taste lingered pleasantly at the finish.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Tea from Nepal: The Best Kept Secret In The Tea Industry

I first spoke with Nepal Tea owner Nischchal Banskota at World Tea Expo last year and was impressed with his energy and with the sustainable and socially responsible approach he has taken with tea production at Kanchanjangha Tea Estate.  Later, I received samples of their organic teas and was doubly impressed.

Now Nepal Tea is raising funds through Kickstarter to help improve the lives of the workers and their families through education, housing, and more.  There are only 12 days remaining on the Kickstarter project and you won't want to miss out on this opportunity to help change lives and support great tea.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Tea Review: Rose Hearts Mini-Cakes (Phoenix Tea)

Rose Hearts Mini-Cakes
Phoenix Tea
Type: Heicha
Origin: China, Hunan Province
Product Description: 4 gram heart-shaped cakes of Hunan Hei Cha with rose petals. Dark, smooth and rich flavor. Steep several times.

Temperature: 202° F
Amount: 3 grams
Steeping Time: 3 minutes

The dry cake has a lightly sweet and malty aroma with notes of brown rice syrup, rose, and apricot.

The orange-brown infusion has a lightly sweet aroma of rose and apricot with a hint of rich earth.  The taste is lightly tangy, sweet, and earthy.

The tea became darker in color, tending toward red amber, with bolder flavor and the scent of roses becoming much more prominent after each infusion.  Though I stopped at three infusions, it could easily produce more with good results.

Upcoming Event: Heicha from Hunan, Anhui & Guangxi (World of Tea Series)

Northwest Tea Festival will host a tea and food tasting event as part of the World of Tea Series on Saturday, February 18th.  

Hosted by Cinnabar Wright (Phoenix Tea)

Join us in Columbia City for the next installment in our World of Tea Series. February's event will be an exploration of post-fermented teas from the Hunan, Anhui, and Guangxi provinces of China. These teas are most commonly referred to as “Hei Cha,” a varied category of teas that are related to Puer, but made outside of Yunnan, China. Each region has its own distinctive production style and packing techniques and the teas are quite interesting. The tasting will include at least 6 teas, including Bai Liang, Tian Jian, Liu An, and Liu Bao.
Date: Saturday, February 18, 2017
Time: 10:00 am -12:00 pm
Location: Rainier Arts Center, 3515 South Alaska Street
Seattle, WA 98118
Price: $15
Reservations recommended.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Tea Review: Shangri-La Oolong (Nepal Tea LLC)

Shangri-La Oolong
Nepal Tea LLC
Type: Oolong
Origin: Nepal, Kanchanjangha Tea Estate
Product Description: Shangri-La Oolong tea (generally pronounced “wu-long”) is the mid-point blend between black tea and green tea in terms of oxidation. It is semi-oxidized and hence produces the characteristics of both green and black tea.

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

The dry leaves have an aroma of nut shells and muscat grapes.

The infusion is red-orange in color with a peppery, floral and honey aroma.  The taste is floral with a velvety finish.

This oolong is full-bodied throughout multiple infusions with only a minor loss in flavor by the third infusion.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Tea Review: Montana Gold (Encore Chocolates & Teas)

Montana Gold
Encore Chocolates & Teas
Type: Herbal
Origin: Not provided
Product Description: Not provided.

Temperature: 208° F
Amount: 3 grams
Steeping Time: 5 minutes

The dry leaf blend contains rooibos, cinnamon, orange peel, and cloves.

The copper red infusion has a bold aroma of cinnamon, cloves, and a faint note of citrus.  The taste is sweet with bold notes of cinnamon and hints of clove, citrus, and vanilla, with an invigorating cinnamon finish.

The full flavor, which reminded me of Red Hots or Cinnamon Imperials (childhood favorite candies), is at its best in the first infusion, so re-steeping isn't worthwhile.  Though I measured by weight for the purpose of the tea review, the spices make up much of the weight, so I would recommend measuring by the teaspoon for best results. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Tea Review: Green Pearls (Nepal Tea LLC)

Green Pearls
Nepal Tea LLC
Type:  Green
Origin:  Nepal, Kanchanjangha Tea Estate
Product Description:  A specially rolled green premium pluck with a medium body and prominent marine flavors of fresh salmon, kelp and seaweed.

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

The dry leaves have a sweet and peppery aroma with notes of seasoned wood, nori, and a hint of smoke.

The infusion is pale green infusion with a savory, nutty, and faintly marine green aroma.  The taste is smooth, nutty, and lightly buttery with a touch of astringency and a long refreshing green finish.

As the tea leaves unfurled, more flavor and aroma notes developed.  Though I prefer the savory low astringency results from a two minute steep, a longer steeping time after the first infusion did bring out intriguing new flavors including floral notes, accompanied by moderate astringency.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Tea Review: Hojicha (Sugimoto America)

Sugimoto America
Type: Green
Origin: Japan, Shizuoka Prefecture
Product Description: A high-temperature roasting process turns this tea a rich, toasty brown.  However, the use of green, non-oxidized stems and leaves still places this amongst green teas.  Roasted stems have a natural sweetness and body-warming, roasty aroma, making this is a great evening treat.

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

The dry leaves have an aroma of roasted nut shells, smoke, and a hint of cocoa.

The orange infusion has an aroma of smoke, caramelized sugar, and roasted nut shells.  The taste is sweet, smooth, and smoky flavor with long smoky-sweet finish.

This roasted green tea provided three flavorful infusions.  A longer steeping time after the second infusion or more leaves to start will help to bring out fuller flavor over several infusions.