Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Tea Review: Okay Fine Tea (Pippa's Real Tea)

Okay Fine Tea
Pippa's Real Tea
Type: Flavored Black
Origin: Indonesia, Japan
Product Description:
Our “gateway” tea – for those who are ready to turn away from the dark side (i.e. coffee) but are nervous about that first step. Yes, it really does have coffee beans in it. And chocolate. The aroma is incredible, and the taste is too. Plus, you’ll be getting all the benefits of green and oolong teas!

Temperature: 208° F/195° F
Amount: 3 grams
Steeping Time: 3 minutes/5 minutes

The dry leaf blend includes Japanese green tea, Indonesian oolong tea, coffee beans, and white chocolate.  The aroma is rich and decadent and reminds me of hot cocoa with a bit of Irish cream mixed in.

The coppery orange infusion has an aroma that is almost equally as decadent as the dry leaf aroma with notes of thick, rich chocolate, nuts, and coffee by way of a mocha.  The taste is smooth, sweet, and roasty with fairly balanced notes from the tea, coffee, and chocolate and a nice finish.

This was a bit of an impulse buy during my visit to Pippa's Real Tea.  While I don't usually favor dessert-like teas, I was rather curious about how this blend of ingredients would come together and, in this case, my curiousity was rewarded.  The flavor met the expectations set by the aroma without being overly rich.  I prepared the initial infusion at a higher temperature and shorter steeping time than the recommended 5 minutes at 195° F and was pleased with the results.  It is well worth infusing a second time following the recommended temperature and time. 

Pippa's Real Tea changed ownership this year and is now called cafeTenby.  It's unclear if they are still offering Pippa's tea blends.

This tea was purchased by me.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Tea Review: 2012 Moonlight White Raw (Miro Tea)

2012 Moonlight White Raw
Miro Tea
Type: White/Puerh
Origin: China, Yunnan Province, Pu'er Prefecture, Jinggu County
Product Description: 
A special loose white puerh from Jinggu county in Pu'er prefecture in Yunnan.  Delicate brew but fragrant with a wonderful slippery mouthful.  Floral, sweet yet nicely contrasted with distinct herbal notes familiar to puerh drinkers.
Temperature: 195° F
Amount: 3 grams
Steeping Time: 3 minutes

The dry leaves have a spicy aroma with notes of aged wood and hay.

The golden infusion has mellow aroma notes similar to pepper, earth, yams, and pea vine.  The taste as lightly sweet, peppery, and herbal with a hint of fresh-off-the-vine beans. 

I first encountered this tea at Miro Tea's booth at Northwest Tea Festival in 2019 and liked it well enough to buy it right away.  The flavor is mellow, yet it holds up very well throughout at least three steepings and I was pleased to discover sweet honey-like notes in the second steeping.  The finish goes on for miles.  While I was perfectly happy with the results from a 3 minute steep at 195° F, this tea invites experimentation with time and temperature with little or no risk of a bad cup of tea.

This tea was purchased by me.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Tea Review: Black Wiry 2 (Bitaco)

Black Wiry 2
Type: Black
Origin: Colombia, La Cumbre
Product Description:
Larger, longer leaves, well sorted long, wiry leaves. Its liquor displays an amber color that is similar but paler than Leafy 1. It offers you a nice mellow-sweet cup, delightful in the afternoon or anytime.
Temperature: 208° F
Amount: 3 grams
Steeping Time: 3 minutes

The dry leaves have an aroma of wood, stone fruit, oats, and honey. 

The copper red infusion has a sweet aroma of baked stone fruit and honey with a dark rich taste of dates and light malt with mild astringency and a long finish.

While the best results are in the first infusion, the mellower second infusion is also pleasant.  Steeping for 3 minutes provided the best results for my preference and for those that prefer something a little bolder with more astringency,  results are good with a slightly longer steeping time.

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

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Painting with Tea with Alexis St. John at Phoenix Tea

On August 10th, Phoenix Tea hosted a Painting with Tea workshop presented by local artist and illustrator, Alexis St. John.  Alexis has experimented with tea as a painting medium for some time and was kind enough to share her experience through this workshop.

We were were provided with all the tools we would need including paint brushes, paper, tea paints (Oolong, Lipton Black Tea, Hibiscus, and Puerh), and clever wooden brushes carved from tomato stakes that would become my favorite tool for this workshop.  Phoenix Tea provided artistic fuel with endless cups of excellent tea.

We were encouraged to paint whatever came to mind, from samplers and doodles to full-page washes and freeform art.  Alexis has found that gum arabic is an effective thickener while cornstarch tended to make the tea pasty and pale.  Matcha mixed into the Hibiscus added a thicker texture and a fair amount of opacity.  Hot press paper retained much of the depth of color with minimal spread while the teas tended to spread, fade, and change color almost immediately on other paper.

[A tea sampler created by Alexis using the same tools from the workshop]

After the event, we each took home a recipe for black tea ink, a wooden brush, and our tea masterpieces.

[A tea blogger's first attempt at painting with tea]

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Tea Review: Black Winter Tea (Paraffine & Kahl's Tea)

Black Winter Tea
Paraffine/Kahl's Tea
Type: Flavored Black
Origin: Not provided.
Product Description:
Makes you think of the winter holidays, but also makes a sophisticated ice tea in the summertime.
Temperature: 208° F
Amount: 3 grams
Steeping Time: 3 minutes

The dry leaf blend contains black tea, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, ginger, black pepper, safflower, and orange peel.

The bright red infusion has a sweet and spicy aroma and taste with notes of orange and vanilla and a long sweet and spicy finish.

The flavor and aroma of this blend reminded me so much of winter holidays with the spices and orange, yet it also reminded me of summertime treats like orange cream popsicles and frosty orange soda.  The best flavor is in the first two infusions.

This tea was purchased by me.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020


Paraffine is a tea and gift shop located on Winslow Way East in Bainbridge Island's historic downtown shopping district.

The tea shop offers something completely unique to the Pacific Northwest:  Nordic teas!  Paraffine carries a large selection of teas from Finland (sourced from Robert's Tea in Helsinki) and Sweden (sourced from Kahls Tea in Göteborg/Gothenburg).  Samples jars of each of the teas are available to see and smell and one or two teas are prepared daily for customers to taste.  There is also a nice selection of teaware on display, so you may find the perfect brewing device to accompany your latest tea purchase.

As the name suggests, Paraffine also specializes in smokeless, dripless candles as well as other decor and gifts.

152 Winslow Way E, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110

Monday to Saturday 10:00 am to 5:30 pm
Sunday 11:00 am to 5:00 pm

Monday, March 9, 2020

Tea Review: Kogane Midori Golden Sencha (Yunomi/Kogane Midori Tea Garden)

Kogane Midori Golden Sencha, Single Cultivar
Kogane Midori Tea Garden/Yunomi
Type: Green
Origin: Japan, Shizuoka Prefecture, Shizuoka City, Aoi Ward, Morokozawa Village
Product Description:
Tea farmer Hiromitsu Sato, whose Kogane Midori Tea Garden is located in the mountain village of Morokozawa, Aoi Ward, Shizuoka, discovered years ago a single plant that had mutated so that its new leaves in the spring flush appeared yellow while still young. He spent years propagating this single plant creating a single field of a new cultivar called Kogane Midori - Golden Green.
Temperature: 160° F
Amount: 3 grams
Steeping Time: 1 minute

The dry leaf aroma is savory, green, and nutty.

The liquor is light golden green with a sweet green and buttery aroma and notes of lightly roasted nuts.  The taste is savory and sweet, nutty, and refreshingly green with mild astringency and a long, sweet green finish.

I recently heard about this unique single-cultivar sencha and was delighted to find it sold by Yunomi.  The beautiful leaves live up to their name in appearance and the flavor and aroma profile is comparable to some of my favorite sencha. The roasting takes place on a temomi (hand-rolling) table, and I hope they will consider making at least a small portion of the early harvest into temomi cha.  It would be a treat to see the full golden leaves unfurl.

This tea was purchased by me.

Friday, March 6, 2020

Tea Review: Makinohara Fukamushi (Yunomi/Seiko Tea)

Makinohara Fukamushi
Seiko Tea/Yunomi
Type: Green
Origin: Japan, Shizuoka Prefecture, Makinohara
Product Description:
The Makinohara region in Shizuoka is one of the biggest producers of tea in Japan, and one of the regions that made the deep green tea of fukamushicha popular. 
The Makinohara farmers' cooperative has created a panel to rate the quality of tea from this region based on flavor, aroma and appearance, and have rated this tea the highest 3-star Nozomi level (nozomi 望 means "hope"). 
In addition to the above qualitative appraisal, the tea must also meet a standard of total nitrogen content (which includes compounds such as free amino acids, caffeine, protein, etc). Analysis is conducted via near infrared spectroscopy.
Temperature: 160° F
Amount: 3 grams
Steeping Time: 1-2 minutes

The dry leaf aroma is savory with notes of nori and nuts.

The opaque mossy green infusion has a lightly sweet and savory aroma, green and nutty with a fresh green taste, a hint of umami, and almost no astringency.

Steeping the first infusion for 2 minutes brought out the most flavorful results, a 1 minute second infusion produced a pleasant sweetness (amami) with a long and delicious sweet green finish. The results of a 2 minute third infusion reminded me a bit of traditional matcha candy.

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

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Paint & Sip with Laura Cameron at Friday Afternoon Tea

When Friday Afternoon Tea announced their inaugural Paint & Sip event last August, I was delighted.  How could I possibly miss out an opportunity to spend an afternoon doing something creative while drinking copious amounts of tea in one of my favorite Seattle-area tea rooms?

The Paint & Sip events are led by Laura Diane Cameron, a talented local artist and art instructor, and a long-time friend.

Our subject for this event was Starry Night Seattle, Van Gogh with a Pacific Northwest twist.  While most Paint & Sip events are approximately 2 hours in length, this specific event was scheduled for a full 3 hours due to the amount of detail work involved in the painting.  I arrived late due to unusually bad traffic (even for Seattle) and Laura kindly filled me in on the steps I missed at the beginning while checking on everyone's progress.

All attendees were provided with a gallery wrapped canvas, paint brushes, and water-soluble acrylic paints.  The tea room kept us supplied with two types of tea and complimentary refills for the duration of the event so we never ran low on creative fuel.  Some of us also ordered our own pots of tea, because you can never have enough tea.

Laura guided us step-by-step through the painting process, offering tips and suggesting creative and amusing variations like replacing the Seattle skyline and Space Needle with Mordor and the Eye of Sauron.  The group of attendees were great fun and even though I wasn't able to complete my painting by the end of the event, it was definitely time well-spent.

[Unfinished: A tea blogger's first foray into painting]

Check out the Friday Afternoon Event Calendar for upcoming Paint & Sip sessions and many more excellent events!

Laura Cameron provides private painting classes for individuals and small groups by appointment and also leads other Paint & Sip events at venues around the Seattle area.  Visit her website to learn more!

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Tea Review: Sugimoto Reserve Mizuki Matcha (Sugimoto Tea)

Sugimoto Reserve Mizuki Matcha
Sugimoto Tea
Type: Green
Origin: Japan, Fukuoka Prefecture, Yame
Product Description:  
“Mizuki” means celebration, happiness, fresh, and beautiful. It was chosen to represent a beautiful green tea field and perfectly describes this incredible ceremonial grade matcha from Yame, Fukuoka. Thick and creamy, this matcha is intensely nutty in aroma and flavor, similar to fresh pine nuts. It’s rich in umami and has no astringency. When it’s gone, it leaves a lingering steamed milk finish.
Temperature: 175° F

Tea Amount: ~1 gram (1 teaspoon)
Water: ~2 ounces (1/4 cup)

The matcha powder is vibrant green with a savory aroma that reminds me of macadamia nuts, roasted nori and sesame.

The tea in the warmed bowl has an aroma that is thick with umami and notes of freshly ground nuts.

After whisking, the aroma has notes of roasted nuts and cooked snow peas.  The taste is smooth and savory with no detectable astringency and with a lightly nutty finish.

I first tasted this matcha when it was introduced by Sugimoto Tea at Northwest Tea Festival last year and purchased a canister right away.  The texture is smooth and the flavor and aroma are delightfully thick with umami.  Usually the froth from whisking matcha tends to mute the aroma of the tea, so I was quite surprised that there was a distinct and pleasant aroma after whisking Mizuki Matcha.

This tea was purchased by me.