Thursday, November 15, 2018

Tea Review: Sencha (First Leaves)

First Leaves
Type:  Green
Origin:  Japan, Shizuoka Prefecture       
Product Description:  We use the most beautiful deep green leaves from the first harvest of premium Yabukita in Shizuoka for our sweetly fragrant and flavorful Fine Loose Leaf tea.

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

The dry leaves have a richly sweet and buttery aroma.

The bright green infusion has an aroma that is briskly green and savory with buttery notes.  The taste is rich and savory, nutty and green, with mild astringency.

This sencha is packaged in a stylish airtight canister with its own tea scoop (very handy!).  The first steeping was nicely balanced with umami and astringency.  At a reduced steeping time of 1.5 minutes, the second infusion was boldly green with pronounced astringency that I found refreshing, though it can easily be reduced with a more abbreviated steeping time or cooler water temperature.  The third infusion steeped for 2 minutes was a bit like dessert, sweet and mouthwatering with low astringency.     

Tea Review: Gyokuro Phoenix 2016 (Yunomi/Hattori Tea Farm)

Hattori Tea Farm/Yunomi
Type: Green
Origin: Japan, Shizuoka
Product Description: Heritage grade gyokuro from Kyoto tea farmer Akinobu Hattori, who has been farming gyokuro for 5 decades. Hattori-san uses a modern heritage style of canopy shading, foregoing the traditional labor-intensive straw material for the easier plastic shading (in his 70s, you can't blame him!).

Temperature: 140° F
Amount: 3 grams
Steeping Time: 1 minute

The dry leaves have a sweet and mineral green aroma.

The bright green infusion has a savory, buttery aroma reminiscent of macadamia nuts with notes of green grass.  The taste is smooth, sweet, and savory with light mineral notes and reminds me of a savory broth.

This aged (2016) gyokuro has a delicious savory taste you can almost sink your teeth into.  Curiously, the flavor of the second steeping reminded me very much of matcha without notable astringency.  A shorter second steeping of ~40 seconds produces mellower results while steeping a third time for a full minute brought out a delightfully rich, savory flavor.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Tea Review: Tosa Sencha

Tosa Sencha
Type: Green
Origin: Japan, Kochi Prefecture, Aki-shi, Nyugauchi
Product Description: Early infusions have marine air notes in both aroma and taste, with medium astringency. This tea produces a number of infusions, with a variety of tastes, with mellow notes and slight sweetness in later infusions. It is a tea that takes a bit to get to know, but rewards the drinker with a variety of taste experiences.

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

The dry leaves have an aroma of sun-warmed wood and sweet fresh-cut grass, with mineral and marine notes and a hint of spicy pepper.

The pale yellow-green infusion has a buttery, lightly green aroma with a hint of sunflower seeds and a taste that is mellow and savory with a long, refreshing green finish.

The first infusion held the most savory notes while refreshing green notes came to the front with subsequent infusions.  Mild astringency developed with the second infusion and stayed pleasantly mild by the third.  While I prefer the savory and sweet notes at 175° F, increasing the temperature to 185° F will bring out more astringency and shorter steeps at 175° F will keep the astringency nominal.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Matcha Cafe Maiko (Las Vegas)

Matcha Cafe Maiko is a recent addition to the Las Vegas' Chinatown neighborhood, opening its doors in April 2018 on South Jones Boulevard near West Desert Inn Road.

Seating is plentiful at tables and on stools and the room is filled with natural light.  

Matcha Cafe Maiko uses matcha from Harima Garden in Uji, Japan.  Their menu includes shaved ice and kintoki, soft serve, parfaits, hot and iced hojicha and matcha, hot and cold lattes, frappes, and floats.  

My selection was the best of all worlds, the #33 Hojicha Float with Vanilla & Matcha Swirl Ice Cream.

For events and updates, be sure to visit Matcha Cafe Maiko's Facebook page.

3400 S Jones Blvd #3, Las Vegas, NV 89146

12:00 pm to 10:00 pm (Sunday-Thursday)
12:00 pm to 11:00 pm (Friday-Saturday)

Upcoming Event: Tea, Poetry & Music Fair (Lan Su Chinese Garden)

From the official website:

In celebration of Tea & Poetry Month at Lan Su, join us for a special Tea, Poetry & Music Fair on Saturday, October 6 at Lan Su Chinese Garden from 11 - 6 p.m. Local tea vendors will be on hand answering questions and providing free tea tastings. Join us for a day of poetry recitals, Chinese music, tea ceremonies, talks, tastings and more!

Tea has a major influence on the development of Chinese culture. Tea is often associated with literature, arts, and philosophy. Since the Tang Dynasty, drinking tea has been an essential part of self-cultivation in China.

Come join these tea experts as you wonder through the garden and stop by for a free tea tasting! As part of Celebration of Tea, Poetry & Music, there will be poetry reading and Chinese musician play throughout the day.

Date: Saturday, October 6, 2018
Time: 11:00 am - 6:00 pm
Location: Lan Su Chinese Garden

Upcoming Event: Northwest Tea Festival 2018


This year’s exciting agenda includes over 20 stage presentations, 45 workshops and 25 tea tasting experiences, led by some of the leading tea experts in the US and abroad. Internationally recognized speakers and presenters this year include: James Norwood Pratt, Jane Pettigrew, Bruce Richardson, Linda Louie, Nigel Melican, Thomas Shu and many others. 
Date: Saturday, September 29, 2018 & Sunday, September 30, 2018
Time: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm (Saturday), 10:00 am - 4:00 pm (Sunday)
Location: Seattle Center Exhibition Hall

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Tea Review: Coffee Kisses (Bitaco)

Coffee Kisses
Type: Flavored Black
Origin: Colombia, La Cumbre
Product Description: For decades Colombian coffee has been recognized as the finest and smoothest coffee available. The tropical climate, the luminosity of high mountain sunshine, and the caring production process produce exquisite coffee beans. Our supplier-partner families have a very long tradition of creating artisan coffee that is simply exceptional – a perfect coffee to be blended with our Bitaco® Black Tea. This blend perfectly balances the subtly-sweet nature of our Black Tea with Arabica Colombian coffee.

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

The dry leaves have an aroma of rich coffee and cocoa.

The red infusion has an aroma and taste of fresh ground coffee and cocoa (light) with a dry finish.

Though cocoa was not in the blend, it brought to mind a coffeehouse mocha. By the third infusion, the black tea notes had moved to the front while the coffee notes stepped back.

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

Friday, August 31, 2018

World of Tea Series: Teas of Kenya

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

On August 18th, Cinnabar Wright (Phoenix Tea) hosted the Teas of Kenya tasting event.

We had the unique opportunity to taste a broad range of Kenyan teas covering the spectrum of oxidation.  Tea came to Kenya in the early 1900's where the soil and climate were found to be ideal.  Since then, Kenya has grown to become the world's largest producer of black tea.  While most of Kenya's production is commodity tea, ideal for blending and tea bags, there are a fair number of tea farms producing specialty and single-origin tea like those we tasted at this event.

Sindano Fedha (white bud)

Kijani (green)

Jani Dhahabu (oolong)

Mpira Wa Zambarau (purple ball)

Zambarau (purple orthodox)

Mukengeria (black orthodox)

Rundu (black)

Mpira Mweusi (black ball)

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Tea Review: Garden Party (Tealeaves)

Garden Party
Type: Flavored Black
Origin: China, Yunnan
Product Description: Take a break from the hustle and bustle of your day and transport yourself to a place of serenity by making a pot of our Garden Party Tea. This beautiful blend features a full-bodied palate with a floral finish, and its natural sweetness carries the air of the grace you’d find in any garden party, creating a blooming atmosphere wherever you go.

Our Yunnan black tea is combined with a hint of the heady scent of jasmine – a historical specialty of the northern Fujian province since the Ming Dynasty. Here, the base tea is made from fresh leaves plucked during the spring season. After this has been done, it is kept in cool storage until the arrival of jasmine flowers in the summertime, used to scent the most delicate of teas.

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

The dry leaf aroma is sweet, fruity, and floral

The red infusion has a floral aroma with obvious notes of jasmine and another flower I couldn't easily place.  The taste is moderately astringent and floral with a caramel-like finish.

This tea does give a sense of a springtime garden.  I favored the third infusion where the astringency had become milder and a sweetness had developed.

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

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Tea Review: Black Leafy 2 (Bitaco)

Black Leafy 2
Type: Black
Origin: Colombia, La Cumbre
Product Description: Larger twisted leaves that are a touch ragged. The liquor color is slightly darker than Leafy 1 and yields a sweet mellow cup like that of Leafy 1.

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

The dry leaves have a mildly floral aroma with notes of aged wood and oats.

The bright orange-red infusion has a heady aroma of baked fruit with a taste that is lightly astringent and rich with notes of baked fruit, molasses, and brown bread.  

This is a very approachable black tea with the best flavor in the first two infusions.

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