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 Tasting2018-05-15T08:40:37-05:00

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’er2018-05-15T08:40:37-05:00

What is Yerba Mate?

Yerba mate is a tree. Not a tall one, but a moderately tall tree. In the farms they are not that big because they are pruned to make it easier to harvest, a similar method is used with the camellia sinensis plant for harvesting tea. The natives of this area, the Guaranies, discovered that they could make a drink with the plant, but they had to dried the leaves first. Yerba mate is poisonous if not dried. Not so poisonous that you will die, but you will wish to. It will give you stomach cramps, inflamation, diarrhea, intestinal cramps, incontinence and fever. [...]

What is Yerba Mate?2018-05-15T08:40:50-05:00

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 Developer2018-05-15T08:40:50-05:00

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 Available2018-05-15T08:40:50-05:00

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 Customers2018-05-15T08:40:50-05:00

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-Hack2018-05-15T08:40:50-05:00

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 Beencha2018-05-15T08:40:50-05:00

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 Communities2018-05-15T08:40:50-05:00

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 Brazil2018-05-15T08:40:50-05:00

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 Pot2018-05-15T08:40:50-05:00

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 Ries2018-05-15T08:40:50-05:00

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 20102018-05-15T08:40:50-05:00

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 Float2018-05-15T08:40:50-05:00

Tea 4:20 Edition: Smoking Tea

[adrotate banner="7"] Smoking tea. There has been some information circulating the internet about a growing trend of smoking tea from tea-bags. Chances are someone has mentioned this to you at some point, or talked about smoking other herbs and spices in your kitchen (especially if you’ve ever been a teenager). After all, clove cigarettes are a thing right? Doing a quick search will show you that there is a bit of information online about the healthful effects of smoking tea leaves. I do not condone this, I would not try this if I were you, I’m not telling you to try this — smoking anything is harmful to your health. But… [...]

Tea 4:20 Edition: Smoking Tea2018-05-15T08:40:51-05:00

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…2018-05-15T08:40:51-05:00

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 State2018-05-15T08:40:51-05:00

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?2018-05-15T08:40:51-05:00

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 Tea2018-05-15T08:40:51-05:00

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 Oolong2018-05-15T08:40:51-05:00

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 Charcoal2018-05-15T08:40:51-05:00

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.2018-05-15T08:40:51-05:00

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 Gender2018-05-15T08:40:51-05:00

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 Wilson2018-05-15T08:40:51-05:00

A Visit to the BOH Tea Plantation in Malaysia

In July 2008, I was backpacking through Malaysia and was able to visit the largest tea plantation in Southeast Asia-the BOH tea plantation. It was a great experience. If you find yourself in the Cameron Highlands of Malaysia, be sure to visit a tea plantation. There were rows and rows of tea plants as far as the eye could see. I took a tour of the processing plant and was able to see their process. Their process was described to us as we walked through the factory; they broke it down into each stage: plucking, withering, rolling, fermentation (oxidation), drying and [...]

A Visit to the BOH Tea Plantation in Malaysia2018-05-15T08:40:51-05:00
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