Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Sakura Tea

Last spring I discovered the world of Japanese Green Tea through a tea friend of mine in Seattle (@familyandtea).  I discovered some wonderful tasting Sencha, and then was introducted to Obubu farms. I have been hooked on Japanese tea ever since.

While doing some research on Japanese teas on the Obubu site (which has great information by the way) I came across Sakura tea. Sakura is a Japanese Cherry Blossom. The tea is a cherry blossom that is pickled in saltly plum vinegar. You may expect this tea to resemble the sweet smelling Japanese Cherry Blossom that lingers in the air come spring time, but instead is nearly the opposite.

The leaf is not dry, but instead comes in a little package with a small amount of the pickled vinegar. Instructions for this tea was to steep (using the warm water steeping instructions as well http://www.mlatte.com/obubutea/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/Warm-Water-Steeping-Instructions-US.pdf) it in a small amount of hot water for about 30 seconds, and then take it out. This removes most of the salt, and you can use this concentrated liquor to add a savory flavor to your tea.

Sakura Tea, right out of the package

Sakura concentrate

First, I tried it plain. Sakura Blossoms go well with green tea or Genmaicha. I steeped it for about sixty seconds, and then added a conservative teaspoon of the concentrated liquor. This was something I have never tasted before. The first taste was bright and sweet, and then followed with a savory aftertaste. The savory taste was very soft, but still held the floral notes of the cherry blossom. Yet it had a full flavor, and you could even detect the slight plum from the vinegar.

Next I tried it with Genmaicha. It was a delightful mix of sweet flavors with the green tea and cherry blossom annd savory with the salt and rice flavors. This tea reminded me how much I love spring time and the beautiful flowers blossoming.

The beauty of this tea is that you can resteep a few times, but also place it in your rice cooker, which will add a soft delicate flavor to your rice.

I found Sakura Tea to be delightful from Obubu Tea, a tea company from Kyoto that is trying to bridge the gap between farmers and tea drinkers, and spread the love of tea to everyone.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Lemon Verbana - Tisane

Kia Ora from Aotearoa (Hello from New Zealand)

One night, sitting around the dinner table Joshua, my boyfriend, is exclaims, "Ok Nicole bring out your tea! She has such great tea mum and dad." Naturally, I take out my tea along with gaiwan and tray table. As everyone "ooo ahhhh" over my traveling tea ware we dig right in starting with some Oolong tea of course. Later, Josh's dad disappears, and then ten minutes later has several long, about half a foot, of green vines in his hand with green leafs dangling from them. He handed them to me, and I probably looked confused because he then smiled and said, "It's Lemon Verbana, you can make it into tea." I smell the raw leaves, and it reminds me of a sweet lemon. Yum!

My lovely boyfriend breaking up some Puerh for me.

Josh's Mum and I enjoying some tea!
Making a tisane
Adding some leaves to the dehydrator.

Drinking tea with a bunch of freaks!
All in all, I didn't notice a taste difference between the raw leaves and the dehydrated ones. The raw leaves were a bit stronger than the dehydrated ones, so it made it an easy quick tisane to make (just go to the garden and pick it). Can't wait to try some iced tea recipes with this during the summer time!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

My newest adventure, and why I've neglected you for so long

I have been neglecting my blog for several reasons, but the main reason being time. Lately, I have found very little time to write, which has saddened me, but all will be resolved!

Friday was the last day at my job. No, I did not get terminated. I quit my job about a month ago (gave a one month notice) for many reasons, one of the reasons being my thirst for the road and perpetual wanderlust has lead me down a path south, to the south pacific. In just a short while I will be making my way down to New Zealand, and living in Auckland for the year. I am very excited for one, to be reunited with my boyfriend, and two to see what the tea culture is like, and tea adventures await! I am curious to see it there are tea fanatics in Auckland similar to all the fabulous tea people I have met in Seattle over the past three years.

The past three years I have met some fabulous tea friends that continue to spread the love and joy of tea through classes, meet ups, and clubs. I was fortunate to start the Oolong Tea Lovers' of Seattle, and met about fifteen tea lovers last weekend who adore Oolong as much as I do! It was also fabulous to be around so many tea lovers! I will miss all of those I met recently and over the years, and encourage you to continue to follow my blog, and to keep in touch. Hopefully on the way back from New Zealand I will go to Taiwan, scope out more yummy organic teas, and have a wider selection of organic teas to offer.

For those interested in purely my New Zealand adventures I will be starting a New Zealand blog shortly, so please stay tuned for that. For my tea customers in the USA, if you still are interested in ordering from me (spring and or winter later in the season) I will have shipping at a discounted price (meaning I will not increase shipping prices due to the fact that I have relocated to NZ).

Take care, and see you on the interweb! :)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Taiwan Pictures

Just a few of my favorite memories

Farmer's shop in Pinglin

View from the top near the Kuan Yin statue in Pinglin

Just hanging out on an elephant..

Little hikes in Pinglin

Wah!! A giant tea party.

Love these trees in Taipei.

Beautiful parks (in the middle of the city!)

An exhibit at the New Taipei City Yingge Ceramics Museum

Let's do a re-roast (WWOOF experience @ Organic Tea Farm)

Packaging tea

For Americans! (at the tea packaging store)

Making Jin Xuan

Let's use a pulley system/crane to get the tea to the processing center (several stories up)

Part of the process making Jin Xuan Cha

Taipei Markets

Taiwanese man insisted on modeling some traditional jewelry for me.

Wishing I could take home all the flowers at the market!

Muzha tea farms -  his distant relative was responsible for bring Oolong tea to Taiwan.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Organic Spring Shibi Oolong Cha (2011)

Finally! The time has come for spring tea!

After many days thirsting for good high mountain tea, my shipment of spring tea arrived (ok, I suppose I am being a bit dramatic, but I ran out of my favorite tea!). I received a large amount of tea, packaging, and other little samples. Thanks Louise! My supplier was very generous and gave me a sample of some fancy tea packaging as well! The first few people that order from me will get pretty packaging. Makes a great graduation or birthday gift.

This time I ordered some non-organic tea from her. In order for her to stay in business she has to make some non-organic tea (because the cost for organic is far greater, and is more labor intensive). Still very high quality tea. I will present some notes from my taste comparison in another posting.

Here are some pictures (courtesy of Stefanie Myr;Click here for her flickr) from my first cupping.

Upon opening the bag I noticed scents of apricot and pear. It smelled a bit roasted (although it is a greener oolong). I also thought it resembled the smell of fresh cut flowers.

Opening first bag!

The dry leaf


The aroma from the steeped leaves brought me back to the misty mountains of Taiwan; I would sit out on the porch drinking tea watching the clouds roll over the mountains in the morning.

My tasting palette suggested hints of citrus, apricot, and floral notes (similar to the smell). This tea is delicious cold steeped (how I am drinking it this morning) and I would suggest a 4 hour steep rather than overnight.

If you are interested in the non-organic tea I am selling it for $10 an ounce. The organic tea is being sold for $12 per ounce (or you can buy them in 150g vacuumed sealed packages). If you e-mail me your order and mention my blog I will give you free shipping (within the US, or $5 off your shipping outside the US).

Happy Friday! :)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Bing bing cha!

If you living in Seattle, you may be wondering when the summer weather is coming. It is June for crying out loud! Where's the sun been lately? I am hoping we'll have it eventually. Even with the lack of summer time weather, people in Seattle already treat it like it has arrived. Shorts and sandals are out, and people are enjoying iced coffees and teas.

However, if you live else where in the northern hemisphere, perhaps you are already enjoying the spring/summer weather, and enjoying some iced tea. I have never been a huge fan of iced tea until one very hot and humid day working in the tea fields I wanted to drink anything cold that would cool down my body temperature.

 The family I lived with loved the cold tea, especially the little five year old girl. She would always beg her mother for "bing bing cha" and would gulp down high mountain oolong cold steeped tea in the warm weather.

They are the cutest Taiwanese kids ever!

The farmer was so nice that she would bring me lunch and a cold brew when I took a break mid day.

Ever since then, especially in hot weather, drinking tea this way is amazing. I also found that it is very very hard to over steep or screw up, which is great for beginners and novices. You can oversteep it without it getting bitter.

I took about 10g of loose leaf (Baozhong farmers choice from www.floatingleaves.blogspot.com) for this cold brew.

I found this great glass bottle for my brew. You can always use plastic water bottles (or regular ones - any water bottle works) or even a large tea pot.

Above is the dry leaf in the glass bottle.

Next I put cold filtered water into the container with the leaves. It takes at least eight hours for it to infuse, so I usually make this the night before. When I wake up in the morning I have refreshing and chilled tea. Yum.

Does anyone else have any favorites or different ways of making cold brew? Or favorite teas you use? Comment your reply.