About Tony Gebely

Tony has been studying tea for over ten years and has traveled to many tea producing regions throughout Asia. His book, "Tea: A User's Guide" is available now.

How to Store Tea Leaves Between Steepings

This is a question that I see often on r/tea. The root of the problem here is that the ideals of Eastern steeping methods are getting mixed up with Western steeping methods. This is a huge generalization, but here is how the two styles shake out: Eastern Steeping: The tea leaves are steeped repeatedly with very small amounts of water for very short amounts of time, traditionally in a gaiwan or a smaller yixing pot that holds less than 1 cup of water. Also the ratio of leaves to water is higher with Eastern methods than with Western methods. This is [...]

How to Store Tea Leaves Between Steepings 2018-05-15T08:40:36+00:00

What is a varietal?

The word varietal is one that is often misused in the tea world (and also in the wine world). It is often erroneously used interchangeably with the word variety. Here's the correct definition: Varietal (adj) - a varietal tea is one that was made from a single variety of Camellia sinensis. Correct usage: Tieguanyin is a varietal tea made from the 'Tieguanyin' cultivar (remember cultivar means "cultivated variety") of Camellia sinensis. Incorrect usage: Tieguanyin is made from the Tieguanyin varietal of Camellia sinensis.

What is a varietal? 2018-05-15T08:40:36+00:00

Tea Varieties and Cultivars

Plants are classified hierarchically by their division, class, subclass, order, family, genus, and species. They are also classified by variety and cultivar when necessary. Here's how the tea plant shakes out: Division -> Magnoliophyta Class -> Magnoliopsida Subclass -> Dilleniidae Order -> Theales Family -> Theaceae Genus -> Camellia Species -> Sinensis [Source: http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=Casi16] Since we’ll only be dealing with the varieties and cultivars of the genus Camellia and the species sinensis we’ll leave out the higher level classifications and just start with Camellia sinensis for the sake of simplicity throughout the rest of this post. When notating plant names, there [...]

Tea Varieties and Cultivars 2018-05-15T08:40:36+00:00

Tea in Michigan

Katie and I were attending a wedding in Traverse City, Michigan last fall and while heading to Sleeping Bear Dunes, we made an awesome discovery. We happened upon a small tea shop called "Light of Day Organics" - we were surprised to learn that the owner, Angela Macke not only grows 240 different ingredients for her tea blends, but also has been growing Camellia sinensis since 2005! We were able to see the several varieties plants that she had in the greenhouse adjacent to her tea shop, unfortunately we did not have enough time to see her plants in the ground that have [...]

Tea in Michigan 2018-05-15T08:40:36+00:00

British Tea Culture

British Tea Culture, we all know it exists, we all know it's important, but what exactly does it mean? I set out to figure this out by interviewing over 110 people from the United Kingdom about their tea habits. I wanted to see what makes their tea culture unique across all social classes. I deliberately did not ask tea connoisseurs, for we know that the "connoisseur crowd" is a common stripe among all tea cultures. Assumptions made: British Tea is a black tea, mostly a blended black tea. Teas blends are commonly made up of teas from India (Assam), Sri Lanka, or East Africa. The following [...]

British Tea Culture 2018-05-15T08:40:36+00:00

Tasting Tea: Taking it Deeper than “Vegetal”

One way that people describe green teas (not just green teas, just using it as an example) is by using the word "vegetal" -- meaning that the taste reminds them of the taste of vegetables. One quick tip to take your tea appreciation to another level is to see if you can figure out which vegetable it reminds you of. Use this as a guide to help you find the exact vegetable: Does it smell/taste like a leafy green? Spinach Kale Chard Lettuce Does it smell/taste like grass? Fresh Cut Grass Dry Hay Does it smell/taste like a root vegetable? Carrot [...]

Tasting Tea: Taking it Deeper than “Vegetal” 2018-05-15T08:40:36+00:00

Tea Business Model: Buying Directly From a Tea Producer

As the tea scene explodes in America, we’re seeing many different business models, both on the wholesale side and on the retail side. One that I find particularly interesting is the small but growing trend of tea farms selling directly to American consumers, whether shipping directly from the farm or by shipping to the states for later distribution. I sat down with Chicco Chou of Mountain Tea to learn more about this business model. Chicco was born in Taipei, Taiwan in 1987, his family owns 3 tea farms totaling 600 acres in Taiwan, China and Indonesia. His two uncles Zhi Xing [...]

Tea Business Model: Buying Directly From a Tea Producer 2018-05-15T08:40:36+00:00

Guide to Tea in Chicago

The Chicago tea scene is blowing up. If you are visiting Chicago and are super into tea, please make it a point to visit these Chicago tea shops: Todd and Holland (Forest Park) This family-run shop in Forest Park (easy to get there from Downtown via blue or green line El trains) is the gem of the Chicago tea scene. Stop in and talk tea with the very knowledgeable Bill Todd and peruse their selection of single-origin teas that he has curated. Visit their website. Adagio (State Street, Naperville, Skokie) Chicagoans are lucky to have three Adagio shops in close proximity. The [...]

Guide to Tea in Chicago 2018-05-15T08:40:37+00:00

Anxi Tie Guan Yin Oolong

Etymology: “Tieguanyin” translates to “Iron Guanyin,” Guanyin being the “Goddess of Mercy” Other Names: Iron Goddess of Mercy, Ti Kuan Yin, Ti Kwan Yin Origin: China, Fujian Province, Anxi County Taste: Overwhelmingly floral and slightly vegetal. Behind the Leaf: This tea is named after the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara ("Guan Yin" in Mandarin), also known as the "Iron Goddess of Mercy." Tie Guan Yin was first used only as a tribute tea to the Royal Court. The tea leaves from Anxi County are known for their overwhelming floral fragrance and are harvested from a Camellia Sinensis cultivar named Tie Guan Yin. They are [...]

Anxi Tie Guan Yin Oolong 2018-05-15T08:40:37+00:00

Describing Muscatel

Muscatel is an elusive taste found in some Darjeeling teas, most likely second flush teas. It is very hard to describe the taste in words, but it is easy to recognize the taste once you are familiar with it. James Norwood Pratt goes as far as saying that in tea, muscatel "denotes a unique muscat-like fruitiness in aroma and flavour." Rajiv Lochan, owner of several tea gardens in India and CEO of Lochan Tea Ltd remarked that muscatel is "very difficult to describe but it is something extraordinary and rare." I asked my tea friends how they would describe this elusive taste [...]

Describing Muscatel 2018-05-15T08:40:37+00:00

How to Start an Online Tea Business

I get questions from people that are in the early stages of launching an online tea business several times each week. Many of the questions are the same, surrounding the topics of technology, marketing, sourcing, law, and overall strategy. Thus, I’ve put together my best thinking on these topics in ebook form. Best of all, it’s available for free below. Download "How to Start an Online Tea Business (PDF) Who am I? I’ve been working in the tea industry for over 10 years now. For three of those years, I ran my own online tea company, Chicago Tea Garden. Since then, [...]

How to Start an Online Tea Business 2018-10-05T09:16:39+00:00

An Homage to Chicago Tea Garden

This is more of a bit of disconnected ramblings that I needed to get out since deciding to close down my company, Chicago Tea Garden. Hopefully you find what I've learned useful. Seven years ago I left the United States to spend a month abroad in China. While in China, I learned about the rich tea culture there as I traveled from city to city. This was when my interest for tea began. Upon my return home, I purchased a cubic-meter crate full of Yixing pots and sold them through the coffee shop I was working at during college. I studied the Gong [...]

An Homage to Chicago Tea Garden 2018-05-15T08:40:37+00:00

Kill-Green in Tea Production

Have you ever wondered why Japanese green teas are so green? And why Chinese green teas are not as bright green, but are typically yellower? The reason lies in the processing steps for each tea and in particular the "kill-green" step of the processing some tea types.  The term kill-green is derived from the Mandarin shaqing (杀青), which means "killing the green." Kill-green is also referred to as “de-enzyming” or “fixing” and is a process of tea manufacture used to halt the oxidative browning of tea leaves by denaturing the enzymes responsible for oxidation--  polyphenol oxidase and peroxidase. Think of an [...]

Kill-Green in Tea Production 2018-05-15T08:40:37+00:00

What is Green Tea?

The definition of green tea in it's simplest and most generalized form is a tea that is made up of leaves that were prevented from oxidizing, shaped and then dried. However, green teas are not unoxidized. No tea is truly unoxidized because tea leaves begin to slowly wither and oxidize the moment they are plucked, something that is unavoidable since hours may elapse from the time of picking to the time of processing. So let's draw a line here and speak only of controlled processes.  The most prevalent form of green tea production involves heating the leaves shortly after plucking (some green [...]

What is Green Tea? 2018-05-15T08:40:37+00:00

What is Oxidation?

Oxidation refers to a series of chemical reactions that result in the browning of tea leaves and the production of flavor and aroma compounds in finished teas. Depending on the type of tea being made, oxidation is prevented altogether, or deliberately initiated, controlled then stopped. Much of the oxidation process revolves around polyphenols and the enzymes polyphenol oxidase and peroxidase. When the cells inside tea leaves are damaged and the components inside are exposed to oxygen and mix, specifically when polyphenols in the cell’s vacuoles and the peroxidase in the cell’s peroxisomes mix with polyphenol oxidase in the cell’s cytoplasm1 a chemical [...]

What is Oxidation? 2018-05-15T08:40:37+00:00

What is Withering?

The moment a tea leaf is plucked from the tea plant, it begins to wilt naturally, a process we call withering. But once the tea leaves reach the processing facility, this process is controlled by the tea producer. The purpose of a controlled wither is to prepare the leaves for further processing by reducing their moisture content and to allow for the development of aroma and flavor compounds in the leaves. Controlling the withering process means closely monitoring humidity, temperature and air-flow over time. A controlled wither can occur outside with tea leaves laid out gently on bamboo mats or tarps, [...]

What is Withering? 2018-05-15T08:40:37+00:00

Chicago Tea Tasting

Had a great tea tasting for my company, Chicago Tea Garden in January. If you live in the Chicago area and would like to attend a tasting, please signup here. Thanks to Flickr user faraocious for taking these awesome photos! view the whole set by foraocious here.

Chicago Tea Tasting 2018-05-15T08:40:37+00:00

Wild Orange Pu’er

These tiny oranges, known as clementines in the United States, are typically hollowed out and filled with tea, then aged. I have several that were obtained in Guandong, China, in 2005 and have since been aged in man-made pu-erh caves in the United States. The leaves, when steeped, have a zesty orange smell; the tea is smooth and malty, with hints of orange, especially if you use part of the rind while steeping. I was surprised that the orange notes were not more pronounced, but overall these make for a very interesting conversation piece and a very tasty tea. Here are [...]

Wild Orange Pu’er 2018-05-15T08:40:37+00:00

Golden Bi Luo

Yunnan black teas come from China's Yunnan province and can be found in many different forms, this particular tea is comprised of twisted leaves similar to those found in Bi Luo Chun. Golden Bi Luo and other Yunnan black teas are best steeped for 1min at 195 in my opinion as it keeps the astringency at bay and the sweet notes in the forefront. Other Names: Hong Bi Luo, Yunnan Bi Luo, Golden Yunnan, Yunnan Golden Curls Origin: China, Yunnan Province Harvest: Spring 2011 Taste: Creamy with sweet, malty notes of vanilla. Behind the Leaf: Golden Bi Luo is a high-grade [...]

Golden Bi Luo 2018-05-15T08:40:37+00:00

No Bullshit Tea Companies

Someone recently asked me how many tea companies exist right now that have made a commitment to only sell pure tea. I didn't have an answer, so I started searching, and with the help of my friends on Twitter and Reddit, I came up with the following list. The criteria for the list: the tea company must sell tea in loose or compressed form only, no tea bags or sachets all tea sold by the company must be unflavored, unscented, and free of inclusions with the following traditional exceptions being made: Black tea flavored / scented with bergamot White or green [...]

No Bullshit Tea Companies 2018-05-15T08:40:37+00:00

Multiple Infusions: About Re-Steeping Tea

Why re-steep? Why not? Re-steeping tea really brings out the value of a tea, you can get many servings of tea from just one serving of leaves. More bang for your buck, and you get to taste the tea as it develops from steep to steep. Before you re-steep: If you are going to be re-steeping your tea, you don't want to oversteep it. Re-steeping your tea means that you are going to be steeping the leaves multiple times which means that each time you steep it, you must remove the leaves from your tea and set them aside until you [...]

Multiple Infusions: About Re-Steeping Tea 2018-05-15T08:40:37+00:00

What is Tuocha?

Tuocha or "dome-shaped bowl tea" is a compressed tea, usually made of pu-erh. The shape resembles a bird's nest and tuocha range in weight from 3g to 3kg or more. Tuocha are convex in order to help the tea dry out after processing. "The name for tuocha is believed to have originated from the round, top-like shape of the pressed tea or from the old tea shipping and trading route of the Tuojiang River [Wikipedia]." While mini tuocha can be steeped whole, most large tuocha are broken into pieces and only small amounts are steeped at a time.  

What is Tuocha? 2018-05-15T08:40:37+00:00

Tea for iPhone, an Interview with the Developer

I recently sat down with Samuel Iglesias, tea-enthusiast (nerd) and first-time iPhone developer to discuss his journey in creating an app called "Tea." Who helped you with the app? Tea is the result of a collaboration between me (@siglesias) and designer Mac Tyler (@mactyler). I came up with the concept after being frustrated by my scattershot, do-whatever approach to making tea--sometimes it would taste great, other times not so much, and I would never be exact about how long I steeped it, just sort of let it sit there until my intuition told me it was ready. After learning that good [...]

Tea for iPhone, an Interview with the Developer 2018-05-15T08:40:50+00:00

Nuo Mi Xiang “Sticky Rice” Pu-erh

There exists an herb in China's Yunnan Province who's aroma closely resembles that of sticky glutinous rice. "Nuo Mi Xiang Nen Ye" translates to "Sweet Rice Tender Leaves." This tea in maocha form, is left for months in close contact with Nuo Mi Xiang Nen Ye leaves until the tea leaves take on the scent of the herb. The leaves are pressed into tiny tuochas, which means "dome-shaped bowl tea." The shape resembles tiny birds-nests, and they are individually wrapped in rice paper. The paper must be removed before steeping. Once steeped, the tea emits a sweet aroma identical to that [...]

Nuo Mi Xiang “Sticky Rice” Pu-erh 2018-05-15T08:40:50+00:00

Tea for iPhone Now Available

iPhone Developer Sam Iglesias (@siglesias) announced today that Tea for iPhone (@teaapp) has been released in Appleʼs iTunes App Store. Tea for iPhone is a new iOS application that gives tea drinkers a convenient way to store their tasting notes and brew settings, with simple one-tap sharing for Facebook and Twitter. Tea also has a built in timer that remembers settings for all inputted teas as well as an Inventory Tracker that automatically calculates how many brews are remaining of each tea. Tea also recognizes over 700 tea names and 15 tea types to provide temperature and steep time suggestions. “The idea for Tea came a while back [...]

Tea for iPhone Now Available 2018-05-15T08:40:50+00:00

The Importance of Doing Research for Your Customers

So many times I meet people that have been told erroneous information about tea. I have met countless people searching for certain teas that will cure certain disorders, from sleep apnea to arthritis. I drink tea because it tastes good, tea is not a medicine to me, and I don't believe in selling tea as a "medicine." I believe it is a deceptive practice, and one that many are susceptible to, If you knew nothing about tea and someone told you that it would help you lose weight, you would probably believe them, right? Examples of Bad Information [blackbirdpie url="http://twitter.com/TeaBenefitsCom/status/42229795894988800"] [blackbirdpie url="http://twitter.com/CraigBaylor/status/44505534375788544"] [blackbirdpie [...]

The Importance of Doing Research for Your Customers 2018-05-15T08:40:50+00:00

Theanine: a 4000 Year Old Mind-Hack

Monks have been drinking tea for thousands of years to maintain a state of "mindful alertness" during long periods of meditation. But only in the last few years have studies shed light on why tea has this effect on the mind. The two elements responsible for this are caffeine and L-theanine, and it is the combination of the two that makes tea unique from any other drink. Spare Me the Science: What L-theanine and Caffeine can do for the Mind Promote a mindful state of relaxation Increase our ability to multi-task, and multi-task well Increase speed of perception Increase performance under [...]

Theanine: a 4000 Year Old Mind-Hack 2018-05-15T08:40:50+00:00

Pu-erh Flower Beencha

I'm not even sure what to call this. This is a beencha of pressed camellia sinensis flowers! Opening the wrapper I was greeted by an amazingly fresh, flowery fragrance. When steeped, the flowers basically re-blossom and release a sweet, slightly pungent and nutty liquor. Not sure how to steep this tea, I did a 1:30 infusion @ 195F and it was delicious.

Pu-erh Flower Beencha 2018-05-15T08:40:50+00:00

Online Tea Communities

Just wanted to share a bunch of tea communities with you that I've been following over the years: Badger and Blade Forums http://badgerandblade.com/vb/forumdisplay.php?f=90 Leafbox Tea Forums: http://leafboxtea.com/forum Tea Subreddit: http://www.reddit.com/r/tea/ Tea-Mail http://groups.yahoo.com/group/teamail/ Tea Advisor: http://teaadvisor.com/ Rec.Food.Drink.Tea: http://groups.google.com/group/rec.food.drink.tea/topics Tea Chat: http://www.teachat.com/ Twitter: Using the hash-tag #tea http://search.twitter.com/search?q=%23tea Steepster: http://steepster.com/discuss

Online Tea Communities 2018-05-15T08:40:50+00:00

Tea from Brazil

I recently received a sample of shincha green tea from Stash Tea from Brazil. This is my first contact with Brazilian tea. Stash's website says: "The Yamamotoyama Brazilian tea gardens are in two highland areas in the central part of the country at an elevation of 2,000-2,500 feet. The climate here is comparable to Japan and optimal for growing superlative green tea. In fact, tea bushes from Japan were carefully selected and transported to Brazil to plant in these gardens." The leaves, like many Japanese teas are steamed and chopped and they emit a sweet, vegetal smell. I infused [...]

Tea from Brazil 2018-05-15T08:40:50+00:00

Hacker’s Guide to Tea

TL;DR: All tea comes from the camellia sinensis plant. If you are drinking something that did not come from this plant (chamomile, mint, tulsi, rooibos, etc.) it is not tea. White, Green, Oolong, Yellow, Black and Pu-erh teas all come from the varieties and cultivars of the camellia sinensis plant and the type and style of tea is determined by the processing methods used on the plucked leaves. Tea contains L-theanine, an amino acid that promotes mental acuity. The combination of L-theanine and caffeine creates a sense of “mindful awareness.” Tea can be prepared in any vessel by steeping the leaves [...]

Hacker’s Guide to Tea 2018-05-15T08:40:50+00:00

Lead Testing a Cheap Yixing Pot

It is believed that some tea-ware coming from China may contain lead. Especially pots supposedly made of Zisha clay from Yixing, China. A few years back there was a thread in TeaChat about this, no one found any lead when using home test kits. I tried it with the cheapest "yixing" pot I could find (more about why this probably isn't even a yixing pot in another post) online -- $5.00. I smashed the pot with a hammer and then ground up the pieces until the pot was reduced to a pile of bits. I wanted to test the greatest surface [...]

Lead Testing a Cheap Yixing Pot 2018-05-15T08:40:50+00:00

Pu-erh Tea and Tobacco: A trip to Iwan Ries

Much has been written on tobacco notes in young pu-erh teas. Because of this, some local Chicago tea friends and I decided to take this idea for a spin and spend a day at Iwan Ries with Certified Tobacconist Ron Carroll. Ron wanted to learn more about pu-erh and we wanted to compare the subtle complexities of pipe-tobacco with the nuances of pu-erh tea. Instead of immersing ourselves in not-taking and in-depth comparisons, we just enjoyed ourselves and let the conversation flow. Thomas Conner of TeaSquared elaborated on the day: http://teasquared.blogspot.com/2010/05/tea-and-tobacco-smokin.html

Pu-erh Tea and Tobacco: A trip to Iwan Ries 2018-05-15T08:40:50+00:00

Why is There Oil in My Tea?

Sometimes when steeping a tea - you may notice a small oil slick floating on the surface of the tea liquor. This is likely to occur when steeping teas that have been pan-fired. The oil comes from the tea-seeds, and is applied to the pan to help the leaves slide around as they are handled as well as to keep the leaves from burning. In Heiss' "The Story of Tea," they explain that "the solidified oil is the simple oil expelled from the leaves of tea bushes that are periodically left to grow, flower, and seed. Tea-seed oil is solid at [...]

Why is There Oil in My Tea? 2018-05-15T08:40:50+00:00

An Introduction to James Norwood Pratt’s Tea Dictionary

James Norwood Pratt is best known for his book, New Tea Lover’s Treasury. Considered an authority on tea and tea lore, he has spent much of his life disseminating the way of tea to America and the West. His latest book, the Tea Dictionary includes terminology for the cultivation, manufacture, tasting, trading, marketing, and classification of tea: some of which has not been translated to the English language until now. Pratt collaborated with Dr. Chen Zhongmao (now Honorary Chairman of China's Tea Research Institute), Devan Shah and Ravi Sutodiya to create this 370-page book. The dictionary also includes a  timeline of tea [...]

An Introduction to James Norwood Pratt’s Tea Dictionary 2018-05-15T08:40:50+00:00

World Tea Expo 2010

This year, I was lucky enough to go to the World Tea Expo in Vegas. It was a great chance to meet a lot of tea friends that I've been talking to online since the birth of this website over a year ago. This year many authors spoke, many tea growers has booths, it was a great way to see the directions the industry is going. I saw many more tea growers than I saw middle-men importers - this really excited me as I believe the future of our industry lies in buying tea directly from farmers in tea producing countries. [...]

World Tea Expo 2010 2018-05-15T08:40:50+00:00

Pu-erh Ice Cream Float

Alright, I know I'm not into ridiculous flavored teas -- the kind where the taste of the tea is lost. But I am a fan of using teas in recipes where tea compliments another food, or another food compliments a tea. So while drinking some of my Green Elephant Pu-erh, I was thinking that it would go great with vanilla ice cream. So I filled a mason jar with a nice chunk of my beencha and filled the jar with boiling water, I sealed the jar and left it in the refrigerator for 12 hours. The resulting tea was completely black, like coffee [...]

Pu-erh Ice Cream Float 2018-05-15T08:40:50+00:00

A First Taste of New Zealand Oolong

There is a certain scent that I often smell when in the wilderness, the freshness of the open air coming down from the mountains, the cool feeling of the wind carrying this scent through the trees -- the smell of New Zealand. I have traveled to both the North and South islands of this beautiful country twice and every so often I'll get a wiff of that scent here in the states when I'm out in nature and it puts me right back to New Zealand. I smelled this scent when I opened my pack of Aromatic Oolong from New Zealand. [...]

A First Taste of New Zealand Oolong 2018-05-15T08:40:51+00:00

Open for business: Chicago Tea Garden…

I am proud to announce that Chicago Tea Garden is finally open for business. We have 9 teas from David Lee Hoffman's Phoenix Collection to start and some local tea-ware from Chicago Potter -- Chris Chaney. Lainie Petersen has written a wonderful article on us as the Chicago Tea Examiner, see it here. The Little Yellow Teapot also wrote an article about our opening: here. I chose to sell David Lee Hoffman's teas to start for a few reasons... the man is a pioneer in the tea industry. He has relationships with farmers all over China and has been granted unprecedented [...]

Open for business: Chicago Tea Garden… 2018-05-15T08:40:51+00:00

Want a job in the tea industry? Move to India.

View the World of Tea Job Board This informative article from DNA India has some interesting insight to tea industry jobs in India ... see the full post here: "There are a variety of jobs one can specialise in, within the tea industry. Tea tasting is one of the highly specialised areas of work. Research, plantation management, tea brokerage and consultancy are some of the other areas which can be specialized. One can work as a factory manager. The work involves supervision of all plantation work right from planting, plucking, processing to packing and transport of tea to auction houses. Beginners [...]

Want a job in the tea industry? Move to India. 2018-05-15T08:40:51+00:00

The Gong Fu Cha Institute at Penn State

I had a chance to speak with Jason Cohen, president of Penn State's new "Gong Fu Cha" institute. The institute aims to: "build a tea library in order to document the vintages of tea and to propagate through instruction the art of GongFu Cha." If you go to Penn State, you can join the institute every Wednesday from 6-9 in the HUB-Robeson Center. I asked Jason a series of questions... here we go: What got you started in tea? I got started in tea in the summer of 2007. I was in China for about 2 months, during which I lived [...]

The Gong Fu Cha Institute at Penn State 2018-05-15T08:40:51+00:00

What is a HOB? And how does it keep my tea warm?

I received a curious package in the mail last week. It contained "hobs" from Thistledown.com. What is a "hob" you ask? Their site defines hobs as: "a shelf in the back of a fireplace on which to place things to keep warm"; and "hob" is a British colloquialism for a stove top." Thistledow's hobs are not shelves in the back of fireplaces, rather -- they are cozies for your tea. Not one of those old-lady Victorian style cozies either. It looks cool. They have all sorts of designs on the site. But, the big question... do they work, and if so, [...]

What is a HOB? And how does it keep my tea warm? 2018-05-15T08:40:51+00:00

DIY: Moroccan Mint Tea

The everyday tea served in Morocco consists of gunpowder green tea, fresh mint, and copious amounts of sugar. The mint growing in my yard in Chicago: Giving the mint a rinse: The pot is stuffed with mint and about 2 teaspoons of gunpowder green tea, now I'm adding 1/4 cup of raw sugar. You can find cheap gunpowder green tea at most Asian grocers. It usually comes in dark green boxes:    

DIY: Moroccan Mint Tea 2018-05-15T08:40:51+00:00

An Authentic Milk Oolong

Nai Xiang, literally "milk fragrance" is a characteristic of a Taiwanese high-mountain oolong made with the Jin Xuan cultivar of camellia sinensis. Jin Xuan is known not only for it's milk-like mouth-feel, but also for it's cream like flavor and aroma. Many so-called "milk oolongs" have popped up on the market having been artificially flavored. In 2010, Roy Fong, owner of the Imperial Tea Court traveled to Taiwan and  discovered several variants of it's production. From what he discovered, I am seeing three different things all being called "milk oolong" in order of legitimacy: True Jin Xuan oolong with natural creamy mouth-feel. Jin Xuan [...]

An Authentic Milk Oolong 2018-05-15T08:40:51+00:00

How to Use Bamboo Charcoal

Bamboo charcoal, you've heard of it, you've heard of the great things it can do. But really, does it work? I think so. I'm not 100% sure, but I allowed several people to try my "bamboo water" and tea brewed with it alongside normal Chicago tap water and the results were positive. I have no scientific evidence, and I don't need any - I like it, it tastes good, and I'm going to use it -- and that's enough for me (want technical? read this). If you are interested in making bamboo charcoal, Pyro Energen has put together this pretty neat [...]

How to Use Bamboo Charcoal 2018-05-15T08:40:51+00:00

Chicago’s Chinatown – Not a Tea Mecca.

I set out about two weeks ago to explore Chicago's Chinatown -- just off the Cermak-Chinatown Red Line stop. I hoped to find tiny tea-houses tucked away off the main streets, tea importers, tea shops -- I hoped to find a mecca of tea right in my own city. However, I found none of this. Not even an inkling of hope. I left completely and utterly disappointed. I began walking around, first North on Wentworth to China Square on Archer, there were many shops, Americanized restaurants, Chinese Herbs, bookstores, and a few stores selling cheap souvenirs. The only store slightly of [...]

Chicago’s Chinatown – Not a Tea Mecca. 2018-05-15T08:40:51+00:00

Tea and Gender

There have been no polls or studies in the United States that I've seen that reveal the demographics of tea drinkers in the country. But evidence is suggesting that the bulk of tea-drinkers fall in the 18-35 year old male category. A growing group of men drawn by the history and culture behind the drink. "'The vast majority of Asian tea masters are men, and in fact, the tea industry itself is known as a "gentleman's" business. Women might drink much of the tea in the western world, but men are usually the ones buying and selling it in the wholesale [...]

Tea and Gender 2018-05-15T08:40:51+00:00

Interview: Yunnan Sourcing’s Scott Wilson

Scott Wilson is an American who settled in Kunming China and founded the tea export company Yunnan Sourcing. He spends his days working on the floor of one of the largest Pu-erh trading centers of the world. How did you come to love tea? It all started with Yunnan. I traveled for about 5 months in Yunnan province in 1998-1999. At that time I started to drink Pu-erh and other Yunnan teas. I had this idea that I would try and introduce it people in the USA. I purchased and shipped back more than 80 kilograms of Pu-erh tea at that [...]

Interview: Yunnan Sourcing’s Scott Wilson 2018-05-15T08:40:51+00:00
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