All things Chinese tea, food and culture.

Recent Tea Posts

Tea Time In Norway

Tea Time In Norway

In Norway there was a good degree racial tension between the native population of Norway and the immigrant Muslim community, due both to lack of interaction between the two and harsh media coverage. The anti-racism organization decided to alleviate the problem with something as simple […]

A Rose Is A Rose Is A Rose Flower Tea

A Rose Is A Rose Is A Rose Flower Tea

With spring in the air, it’s hard not to have flowers on the mind. As spring slowly begins to peek out so do pink and yellow flower buds where you forgot they were – in bushes, in the grass, in the once barren trees. As […]

Tea Tasting

Tea Tasting

Have you ever wondered what it was like to be a tea taster?

People train for years to develop their palettes enough to be professional tea tasters, but you can have general knowledge enough to taste tea with the best of them, if not just to know what it is exactly in tea that you like.  When tasting tea, it is important use both your taste buds and your sense of smell to discern flavor and quality. Professional tea tasters slurp the tea and quickly swish it around their mouth to get  the tea’s body and flavor profile and  then they  spit out the tea as they quickly move down the line, tasting several teas one after another. You don’t have to spit out your tea, at least hopefully not near your computer.

The first step is to smell the leaves dry and then steeped, to judge the quality and “nose” of the tea. In dry tea, some of the terms to describe it include

  • Adhesive: Well-rolled, wiry leaves that tend to cling together when picked up.
  • Attractive: Well-made, uniform in color, size, and texture.
  • Bloom: Leaves look lively and have a lustrous quality.
  • Brown: Leaves are brown in color. Although black is a desirable color for black tea leaves, tippy teas are never totally black due to the presence of the lighter-colored tips, which are desirable.
  • Dull: Lacking bloom

In wet or infused tea, some terms are

  • Aroma: Leaves have a fragrant smell.
  • Bright: Leaves have a lively reflective quality rather than looking dull.
  • Coppery: Leaves have a coppery color, usually denoting a good quality tea.
  • Dark: Leaves are dark or dull in color, sometimes denoting a lesser quality tea.
  • Dull: Leaves that lack a bright, reflective quality.

and finally, when the tea is brewed you can taste the actual tea or liqueur as it is often called. Here it is important to pay attention not only to the flavor but to how it looks. You can describe it in some of these terms

  •  Hungry: When the characteristics generally associated with the tea variety or region of origin are not present.
  • Light/Pale: Liquor that does not have depth of color but may be flavoury or pungent. Darjeeling tea is a good example of this.
  • Malty: A desirable malted barley taste often found in Assam tea.
  • Mellow: Tea leaves which have matured well produce a mellow tasting tea.
  • Muscatel: Grapey taste. This is an exceptional characteristic found in some Darjeeling tea.
  • Point(y): A desirable brightness and acidity often associated with Ceylon teas.
  • Pungent: A bright liquor that has pronounced briskness and a strong, astringent flavor. Highly desirable.
  • Rich: A pleasantly thick and mellow liquor.
  • Round: A full, smooth-tasting liquor.
  • Stale: Tea that has an unpleasant taste because it is old or has been stored in damp conditions.
  • Strong: Liquor possesses strength of body and flavor.
  • Thick: Tea that has good body as opposed to being “thin”. Assam tea is known for producing a thick liquor.
  • Thin: Tea that lacks body. This is not necessarily undesirable as certain tea growing regions, such as Darjeeling, are celebrated for their tea’s thin, flavoury liquors. However teas from Assam should never have a thin liquor.
  • Tired: Tea that is past its prime and consequently has a flat or stale character.
  • Woody: Tea that has a sawdust-like character.

And now you know some vocabulary in which to taste your own tea to. You can find out what qualities in tea you want to seek out and which you enjoy – you can even impress your friends. So drink on, maybe you can hold your own tasting.

Tea Infusers: Or How I Learned To Dump The Teabag And Love Loose Tea

Tea Infusers: Or How I Learned To Dump The Teabag And Love Loose Tea

Movie references aside, I think we can all admit to ourselves that loose leaf tea is better. There is something about the taste – there is something richer and more beautiful about the tea. It tastes real. More real than that grocery store variety black […]

Tea Muffins – Poppy Seed And Lemon

Tea Muffins – Poppy Seed And Lemon

Want something to sweet to go with your tea? These poppy seed and lemon muffins, with a tea as an ingredient, could go great with that cup of tea. To make this you will need: 2 tbsps poppy seeds Zest of 1 lemon, plus a […]

Tea Time In Cafe Mortel

Tea Time In Cafe Mortel

Death is a funny subject. We all know it happens – it’s a part of life, or rather after life. People don’t really talk about it – it is not the sort of thing you talk over tea and cake about, but John Underwood is trying to change that. He is trying to start a movement. He is trying to set up a movement of “Death Cafes”. As he says,

“In continental Europe, there’s a tradition of meeting in a public place to talk about important and interesting subjects…So there’s a café philo, which is a philosophical cafe, and a caféscientifique. And Bernard Crettaz, he’s a Swiss sociologist, [who] set up a café mortel, or death cafe.”

He is not talking about setting up literal tea houses where you get tea and only talk about death – he wants to set up sort of events where people can be free to talk about what they so often don’t.  Underwood held his first death cafe a year and a half ago in his  basement. He set tea and cake, and his mother, who happens to be a psychotherapist, helped facilitate the event. Since then, he’s been working to launch this idea as a worldwide movement. He described the event saying,

“When people sit down to talk about death, the pretense kind of falls away, and people talk very openly and authentically, and they say things in front of strangers which are really profound and beautiful”

Underwood has set up a blog and guidelines to putting up a “death cafe” and now more than 60 death cafes have been set up all over the world, from Ohio to Australia.  It is a way for people to start  talking about death in ways they havent before – to be open about it. It makes people think as Underwood says,

“When we acknowledge that we’re going to die, it falls back on ourselves to ask the question, ‘Well, in this limited time that I’ve got, what’s important for me to do?’ “

and that’s something to think about over that cup of tea. So maybe next time you have a cuppa with a friend you can talk about what you don’t normally talk about. It doesn’t have to be death necessarily, but something you’re holding back. Everyone has pain and everyone has their own troubles – but it doesn’t mean they have to be shoveled down. That tea set, or that place in you’re favorite coffee shop, or in your mother’s kitchen can be a safe place for you where you can open up and drop the pretense. So cheers to Cafe Mortel, maybe there’ll be a death cafe near you.

Tea Technology – Innovative Tea Cups

Tea Technology – Innovative Tea Cups

There is something lovely about that perfect tea cup – that one that you always want to be clean and will use again and again. Perfect size, perfect shape, perfect warmth. Inside that cup lies your home, your safe place. It is the cup from […]

Where In The World Is That Tea From?

Where In The World Is That Tea From?

Tea is not just something nice to drink, but an international commodity. Have you ever wondered where that tea in your tea cup came from? Tea was first grown and cultivated  in China. Before long, it spread to Japan and then was transplanted far and […]

Oolong Tea Benefits

Oolong Tea Benefits

You hear about green tea, black tea, and herbal tea in more and more studies, but what about oolong? 2 % of all tea produced worldwide is oolong.  It is one of the most popular types of tea in China and has numerous health benefits. Oolong Tea  undergoes a small degree of fermentation during its processing, which gives oolong a flavor somewhat similar to that of black tea but closer to the taste of green tea. Health claims for oolong tea’s benefits include reduction of cholesterol levels, preservation of heart health, treatment of digestive disorders, strengthening of the immune system, and formation of strong bones.

There have been a lot of research to do with the numerous benefits of drinking Oolong Tea:

In a population study in 2010, researchers found that oolong tea consumption was linked to a reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease. Researchers determined that those who drank coffee, green tea, and/or oolong tea on a regular basis had a lower risk of heart disease compared to those who didn’t drink such beverages.

When paired with standard care, it was also found that oolong may benefit people with type 2 diabetes, according to a small study published in 2003. After drinking 1,500 ml of oolong tea daily for 30 days, diabetes patients experienced a greater reduction in blood sugar levels compared to those who drank water instead of tea.

Even further, several studies have indicated that oolong tea may  promote weight loss. In a 2009 study researchers concluded that consumption of oolong tea could improve fat metabolism and, in turn, reduce body weight.

So maybe next time you put the kettle on, pull out a tin of Oolong. The little caffiene in it can give you the pick up you need – both in energy and in your health.

The Business of Tea

The Business of Tea

Tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world next to water, and can be found in almost all U.S. households. It is the only beverage that is commonly served hot or iced, anytime, anywhere,  and for any occasion. On any given day, over […]