Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Georgian Old Gentlemen

Thanks to Mary, I've had the chance to try something new, a black tea from Georgia. I didn't even know they grew tea in Eastern Europe.

This tea is made by Iuri in the village of Nasakirali and was picked in the Spring. The leaves look more like a yancha than any other black tea I've seen, long and twisted, fluffy. It has a very mild aroma, just a bit of fruit.

I think the parameters of 3g per 8 0z for 4 min. was perfect, though gong fu would be nice, too. The liquor is a beautiful honey brown.

To fully appreciate this tea, I think it must go unadulterated, lest you over power the nuances. It has the simplicity of a good Ceylon with the honey-sweetness of a dian hong and hints of fruit and spice in the finish. Classy, to use an emotive descriptor.

By the way, those seedless concord grapes were amazing.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

POKKA Oolong

No shit, the single best canned or bottled RTD tea I've ever had. Dr. Weil can go back to his day job. I found it at Whole Foods yesterday, and bought one with low expectations, expecting something greenish, astringent, and unremarkable.


Yancha. Perfectly balanced yancha. Not too mild or watery and without the astringent bite that many unsweetened RTD's possess. I'd place it on par with Rishi's Wuyi Oolong. Not a lot of depth or nuance, but a very good, classic example. Great Flavor. It's Wuyi cha better than I could brew it.

No sugar, preservatives, calories, or coloring. Thanks Pokka!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Bubbies Green Tea Mochi Ice Cream

Mochi is a rice cake made from glutinous rice, and is used to make many of the Japanese sweets, Wagashi served with tea. Mochitsuki is the traditional process of making Mochi.

Mochi ice cream is relatively new, having started in the early 80's in Japan. It's a ball of mochi with an ice cream core available in a variety of flavors. Recently we started carrying the green tea mochi from Bubbies, a Hawaiian company. A Japanese sweet using tea; all the excuse I needed to consume a whole box. You know, for research.

The outer layer is chewy, doughy, and the ice cream, well, it's ice cream, sweet, creamy and tastes of awesomeness with a very distinct green tea profile. It tastes like they use food grade matcha, and not just powdered sencha. A unique and fun treat.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Ito En's Fujian Jin Xuan

Jin Xuan is a high mountain oolong typically from Taiwan, however Ito En's comes from Fujian, China. This is one of my favorite types of oolong, beautiful three-leaf clusters rolled into tiny, green pellets.

This tea has the usual aromas I find in green oolong, honey, toasted bits of cereal, followed by vegital and floral notes that just smell green.

This Jin Xuan is flexible, hard to over brew, and has an over all mild flavor, delicate, soft. Hints of honey and floral nuances, with a sweet mouth-feel and vegital finish. Refreshing and pleasant.

I bought one of the Bodum Pavina double wall glasses today, and I'm very much in love with it. It was a spontaneous purchase. I've seen them used by other tea drinkers on TeaChat, and I had hoped it would provide clearer photographs.

This one is a perfect size, 9 0z, suitable for almost every tea pot and gaiwan I have. The glass is light weight and just feels nice in the hand. Not as artsy or as wabi sabi as my other tea cups, but a pleasure to use, nonetheless.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Multiple Infusions

Through out the world, tea is a drink of fellowship, something to be shared with friends, strangers and loved ones. But here it is often a solitary pastime. We drink alone, sometimes to the jeers of our families and co-workers. You may wish to share your passion with others, but inevitably their preconceptions and misconceptions get in the way.

So for companionship we turn to the Internet. Hell, I'm sure that's why tea blogs do well, so we can in some way share a cup of tea with friends we will never meet, but who nonetheless understand a part of us that those closest to us will always fail to get.

In this spirit I am grateful for those tea vendors and tea drinkers who do their part to bring us together. People like Lewis from Multiple Infusions. Thank you for helping create a place where us tea enthusiasts can gather.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

O-cha's Yutaka Midori (Shincha)

I know it's July, so it's a little late for shincha* reviews, but that's the moral of today's post, shelf life. In my experience the best, freshest green tea has a rather short life span. Even within two weeks of opening it, the tea will not be as good as the first few cups.

I've had the midori for six weeks, so its safe to say the tea I drank today is past its optimal prime. This isn't to say it has gone bad, only that it doesn't bake my cookies the same way it did in May.

That being said, this is the best sencha I've ever had. The aroma is sweet, rich and grassy. It smells like you'd want Spring to.

Shincha is bold, so use lower temperature and mind your steeping time. I prefer water at least as cool as 160-165 and will go up from there. I start with a minute for the first infusion, the second I only rinse the leaves, pouring immediately. Yutaka Midori doesn't have the same longevity in my opinion as the Hatsumi, for example; I only get three good steeps generally.

The tea tastes strong but clean, full, moderately sweet, flavorful with little astringency. There's a pseudo vegginess that always makes me think of apples.

*For those who don't know...shincha is the very first tea harvest of the year in Japan, not to be confused with first flush. All shincha is first flush, but not all first flush harvests are shincha.