Monday, September 30, 2013

Good Earth Tea: Superfruit White Tea- Mangosteen with Mango, A Tea Review

I apologize for a lack of review yesterday, I was sick as a dog and weak as a newborn kitten. I will spare the details, but lets just say I spent more time on the bathroom floor than I prefer. I was in no shape for writing or drinking tea so my poor blog got neglected for a day, I missed it. Today's tea come straight from my happy tea notebook since I am just playing it safe drinking warm honeyed water for now, a white blend featuring two of my favorite fruits.
Don't mind me, just tearing into the teabag wrapper
Superfruit White Tea- Mangosteen with Mango by Good Earth Tea is made from a yummy combination of ingredients; White Tea, Rosehips, Natural Mango Flavor, Blackberry Leaves, Mangosteen Peel, Hibiscus, Chamomile, Star Anise, Mangosteen Extract and Grapeseed Extract. The aroma of this teabag is deliciously sweet and as expected, very fruity. The mangosteen smells syrupy and the mango gives a tropical and musky undertone indicative of mangoes. Sadly I do not pick up any aroma of the tea itself, or any of the other ingredients, just the heavy aroma of tropical fruit. Ok, really though, I am not complaining since these are two of my favorite fruits (as stated earlier).
Steeps!
Once I place the teabag into the water the room is instantly transformed into a tropical fruit basket. It is incredibly sweet smelling, almost too much so. I worry that drinking this tea will be like drinking the fruit syrup that canned fruits are kept in, tasty if you are craving it, but not good as a tea. I think this has to be the sweetest smelling tea I have ever had the honor of sniffing.
Looks like Mangos
Enough steeping and time for the sweet tropical goodness. Or not. This tea is not at all sweet! I feel slightly betrayed after all that syrupy build up. The taste is a blend of tart and herbaceous, a mixture of chamomile and what I can assume is Bai Mu Dan since it tastes similar to its flavor profile. There is also a very mild woodsy taste which blends well with the chamomile and white tea flavors. The aftertaste is that of mangosteen which is better than none at all. It might seem like I am being unfairly disappointed, but that aroma was so intensely sweet and for the taste to have no sweetness at all really does feel like a letdown. The flavors in a vacuum without the aroma to compare it to are not bad, nothing too spectacular though.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Little Red Cup Tea Co: White Monkey, A Tea Review

Remember how I said it would be a great idea to log a bunch of tastings in my fancy notebook in case something came up that might prevent me from tea tasting? Guess who is probably getting oral surgery early next week, yeah, that always messes up my sense of taste and figuring out what is going on in my mouth, plus the morphine makes me loopy. Of course this would happen when I have a mountain of new teas heading my way! Enough whinging, on to tea-ing! Today is the first of two samples sent to me by the generous Little Red Cup Tea Co. a company bringing pure, whole leaf, Chinese teas by way of Maine (one of my favorite states, just for reference) plus they are very reasonably priced which makes a poor little cichlid* like me happy.
Beautiful fuzzies!
The first tea, White Monkey from Hunan Province, is neither white or a monkey, but it is delightfully fuzzy (this fuzz is called Trichomes, for the botany minded types) and very lovely to look at. White Monkey is actually a fairly delicate green tea that was picked very early in the season and in a lot of ways acts like a white tea. Full of mystery and fuzz, just the way I like my tea! The aroma of these downy leaves is sweet, like hay and fresh vegetation, like walking through an overgrown field. There is also a rich undertone of muscatel that is wonderfully mixed with the initial sweetness. A very fresh aroma that is both mellow and invigorating. It always amuses me when a tea can do that.

Once the leaves are taking a nice swim in their warm bath the aroma takes on a floral tone, a nice comparison to the initial field aroma of the leaves (the field has bloomed! Spring to Summer) it fades to a mix of muscatel and bright citrus. A pleasant little zing at the end, a wake you up from your daydreaming about fields. The liquid away from the leaves has the aroma of fresh hay, very mild and pleasantly sweet.

I love drinking fuzzy teas because it always tickles just a little bit. The taste is what is important, not the adorable fuzz, this first brew I gave a short steep and it produced a delightfully mild tea. The primary taste is vegetal, like spinach, mixed with mown hay. The aftertaste is gently sweet with a tiny, tiny hint of flowers. As the tea cools it takes on a quince flavor with a bit of tartness.

The second steep I let sit a bit longer to see what other flavors I could glean, as per recommended from the website. The aroma is much more green and takes on a real body that honestly I thought of as crunchy. Odd I know, but that was the first thing that came to mind 'this smells crunchy.' The taste is much more intense! The quince taste that was noticed once the tea cools is much more prominent and is accompanied by a citrusy tartness. There is a strong vegetal aftertaste that wraps up the tea nicely. As to be expected the second steep is not as fuzzy. A nicely mild tea that is one that is good for anytime drinking.

*Cichlid, Ben finds it cute to call me that since I love fish and I am sickly. It is adorable and it also means I am a fierce Pacu!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Wegman's: Ureshino Tomo Ryokucha, A Tea Review

Today I have dental work done, and everyone knows that having dental work means I need to drink lots of tea, right? Actually I do not think they are at all related, but I wanted a nice Japanese Green to relax me before my inevitably unenjoyable experience. Something refreshing and evocative of spring, something from a store that is far, far away in Pennsylvania. Something like:

Wegman's Ureshino Tomo Ryokucha. Sadly they do not have an order online function (if they did I would never have to bother my friends to mail me my favorites when I drink them all) but through research and rumors I believe their distributor is Ito En so in a way this is a review of both a Wegman's tea and Ito En's. Ureshino (meaning it is from Ureshino, Saga Prefecture, Japan) Tomo Ryokucha (or Guricha, curly tea) is a pan-fired tea with absolutely lovely leaves. The aroma is is very refreshing, a blend of vegetal and sweet mixing notes of spinach with scuppernongs. After these initial notes fade you are left with a gentle citrus aroma that just kind of tickles the nose. This tea is certainly sweeter than most Japanese greens, which I find very intriguing.
Such bright green!
When I introduce the leaves to their new watery friend I am greeted with the aroma of freshly roasted chestnuts, how surprising! After the initial chestnutty surprise I was able to detect the sweet smell of fresh hay or, if you are into that kind of thing, the smell of woodruff. The liquid itself smells much more vegetal mixing nicely with tones of chestnut and fresh grass.

Ah, I wish I had any skill at writing Haiku, because truly this tea deserves poetry (in its traditional native form of course) but I don't so I must make do with flowery speech. Sometimes a tea is mild and it is boring, a real let down, sometimes a tea's mildness is so wonderfully perfect that you wonder why you would ever want anything stronger. This tea fits into the perfectly mild category (or the Haiku comment would be just sad) with the main note being roasted chestnuts leaving a very sweet aftertaste. After the initial chestnut sweetness the taste of mown hay and a tiny taste of spinach. I wanted a tea that tasted like spring time and refreshed me, and this one certainly works.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Hime Brand: Genmai Cha, A Tea Review

This tea has a giant pile of nostalgia for me, it was the first ever Japanese green that I tried. It was many years ago, back when I was a Sophomore in High School and just started my obsession with Japanese culture (and by extension culinary art). In my usual tendencies I stopped by the local Asian Market with a set amount of money and just grabbed random things to take home to sample. The week before my mother got me a beautiful Tetsubin and I knew I needed tea to try it out, the rather large box of Hime Genmai Cha was what I decided to try. This was before I knew what I was doing so I brewed it like a black tea and safe to say it was not the way Green Tea was supposed to taste, but oddly I enjoyed it and drank it incorrectly for years. Eventually I learned how to make tea correctly and certainly enjoy the experience even more.
Popped rice!

Nostalgia aside, it is time to review this Genmai Cha by Hime Brand, I certainly recommend getting it from a local Asian Market (I have yet to find one that does not stock this tea) because usually you can get this fairly large box of tea for $2-5. The aroma is a wonderful pile of roasty, toasty goodness! Fairly mild vegetal green aroma wafting in underneath the rich, nutty, roasted rice aroma. Lingering underneath these delightful smells is the slight tinge of earthiness that I assume comes from the sorghum. I have to admit the aroma of the tea is nothing to jump up and down about, but it is certainly enjoyable.
Aww, soggy rice looks sad
Once you brew the tea you get an even stronger aroma of toasted rice, just like it is freshly toasting on a burner and filling the kitchen with its delightful aroma. Nuttiness mixed with popcorn, I do not advice brewing this tea when you are really hungry and have nothing to nibble on, because it smells much more like food than tea. The pale green liquid has the aroma of rice cakes and mild vegetal wisps.

The taste is very familiar, a tea I have had many, many cups of in my life. The toasted rice takes the center stage, not a sweet rice but a rich, nutty, toasted rice mixed with a popcorn taste. After the initial rice taste fades you get to experience the Bancha which is extremely mild, a touch of the umami and a touch of vegetal. Sadly I have had numerous Genmai Cha's that knock this one out of the water, it is far from a bad tea but it is very much so an average 'everyday lots of tea drinking' type tea. Even taking off the nostalgia goggles I still enjoy this tea and grab for it when I want a tea to just drink and not have to think about.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Rishi Tea: Jade Oolong, A Tea Review

Hey, big surprise! I am drinking an Oolong! Really though I do my best to have variety and not do all Oolong all the time, it is hard since I do have a lot of it. It would be sad if my blog became a one note tea horse, yes that is a bit of tea history humor for you. You have to forgive me since I am currently reading a book on tea history and culture so I am distracted by my Armchair Historian tendencies.

A little pile of Spring!
Jade Oolong (Four Seasons Spring) by Rishi Tea comes from the glorious land of Taiwan. I, however, did not travel to Taiwan to procure this tea, instead I found it on the wall of tea at Whole Foods who thankfully have a decent selection of teas when I need a fix. I do love getting packages in the mail, but being able to smell the fresh teas before buying is a wonderful experience. The aroma of this beautifully spring green Oolong is unsurprisingly quite green! Not very vegetal, more the aroma of fresh vegetation on a spring day mixed with new blooming flowers and a touch of freshly mown hay (or woodruff for the herbal types.) This might be the mildest Oolong I have yet sniffed!

Brewing the tea brings out a stronger aroma and lots of interesting notes. At first we notice the floral notes that are mild but very fresh, like lilacs, following that there is that delightful chestnut aroma that I love in Green Oolongs. As it steeps a little more the tea takes on an herbaceous tone mixing thyme with the floral notes and a hint of moss. The brewed liquid reminds me of lilac with a slight whisper of allspice.

The taste of this Oolong is exceptionally mild, an excellent palate cleansing tea. The tea has a vegetal taste, reminiscent of green beans and fresh grass. It finishes a tingly pine needle note and a mellow sweet aftertaste. This tea is very refreshing and cleansing, and pleasantly light if you are in the mood for that. Usually I prefer a stronger taste from my Oolong, but I will certainly keep this around for after a heavy meal to remove said heaviness.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Della Terra: Lime Chiffon, A Tea Review

The delightfully Autumn themed weather seems to be taking a turn for the warm again, Ben warned me that there would be one last blast of Summer, looks like he was right (grumble, grumble) so to celebrate I want a very Summery flavored tea for today. I am not sure if Lime Chiffon is one of those 'classic Southern desserts' that I encountered in my youth, or if it is just a dessert I had in the South, but conveniently all the recipes I am reading are written by people from Georgia. Coincidence?
Why hello there pretty leaves!
 So yes, you guessed it, today's flavor if Lime Chiffon by Della Terra, a delightful mix of Rooibos, Lime Flavors, Lime Pieces and Bits (hehe, bits), Cream Flavors, and Lemongrass. It is certainly a very colorful tea, which I always enjoy. The aroma is distinct, I mean Holy Lime Chiffon, Batman! Did someone steal my leaves and replace them with Lime Chiffon while I was not looking? Richly creamy and delightfully limey (as in limes, not British people) and just decadent. Pardon me I seem to be drooling a bit.

While the agony of the leaf is happening (does that still count with a tisane?) the aroma just fills up the room and makes me incredibly hungry. The steeping leaves manage to smell even more rich, creamy, and limey than the leaves and it is very distracting. The liquid smells very sweet and has a rich earthiness from the Rooibos that plays off the lime really well.
I really need a basket that can handle the Rooibos particles
I have Lemongrass apprehension, I really dislike Lemongrass but I have the motto of 'will try everything' and have been pleasantly surprised more times than not. Steeling my nerve and taking a sip...and unsurprisingly it tastes exactly like it smells! So much lime dancing with sweet creaminess and a rich earthy undertone. No lemongrass at all, some might say that is bad, but I do not notice it at all (or it might blend so perfectly that it just not stand out.) This tea is very sweet, adding any sweetener to this tea would make it saccharine, it is a true dessert tea. If you close your eyes while drinking it, you can almost taste the crust.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Yezi Tea: Li Shan Oolong Tea, A Tea Review

While window shopping for new tea to try, yes it is a hobby that I partake in most evenings because either I am completely obsessed or...actually or nothing, I am completely obsessed with tea. It is a lifestyle. Anyway, while window shopping I discovered the website for Yezi Tea and their delightful 'try before you buy' promotion sending you three samples of their teas for the very reasonable price of shipping. Of course I chose three different Oolongs because they are my favorite tea to drink (maybe). They were kind enough to send me an extra sample and that is what I am reviewing today.
Well, aren't you some pretty leaves!
First off, you need to visit the website for the Li Shan Oolong because it is wonderfully informative! Not only is there really detailed steeping instructions, it also delights in telling me that this particular Oolong is from the Li Shan Mountain Range in the Nantou County of Taiwan, harvested at 6,600-7,800 feet above sea level. Those who follow my blog know how much I love this kind of information, I am such a collector of information that it makes me giddy! But I bet you are here for the actual review of the tea, so allow me to introduce this Oolong's aroma! Why, hello delightfully floral Oolong, you are very light and reminiscent of a spring day. The main floral aroma is honeysuckles, not so much the heady summery aroma of honeysuckles but the late spring early bloom where the flowers are just starting to open their petals. Hiding beneath the freshly blooming honeysuckles are notes of sweet honey and a touch of rose. 
first steep, not much unfurling yet
As the tea steeps it first takes on the aroma of hay and strawflowers but very quickly turns into heady orchids. It fills the room up with the aroma of orchids and that mild chestnutty aroma I find in Oolongs, and it is lovely and sweet. The brewed liquid smells like honey and very mild orchids, surprisingly mild considering how heady the brewing leaves are.

The first steep is mellow and sweet! The initial taste is that of honey followed by the slight mix of fresh vegetation and mown hay. It gives a slightly tingly mouthfeel that is very refreshing and enjoyable. There are aftertastes of flowers that do not linger. 
is it just me, or is this steep a touch more green?
In the second steep we lose some of the sweetness and it is replaced with an intense richness. The taste becomes much more heady and floral, intoxicating, with a touch of vegetal green taste that blends well with the intense floral taste. The aftertaste is that of chestnuts and hay.
Hey, look! The leaves have opened!

In the third steeping we get something that I absolutely adore in Oolongs (other than all the other tastes that have graced me with their presence) a mix of copper and minerals. That may not sound very tasty, but it is, every time I drink and Oolong that has these flavors it reminds me of a mountain spring, it is very clean but the undertones of minerals and copper are delightful. I should note that the mineral and copper taste are just hints, the main taste in this steeping is an even more intense floral with rich nutty notes.
so photography first then drinking, I almost missed to do that this cup
In the final steep the sweetness from the first returns, delightfully mild with a touch of honey. The floral taste also is much more mellow and a sweet chestnutty aftertaste is present. A wonderful last cup!

Congrats, you made it to the end! If you have a tumblr and like ogling tea photos, reading about awesome tea knowledge, and just enjoy tea, then pay Tea Informative a visit

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Lurve Tea: Original, A Tea Review

While I am reviewing this tea a fancy Black and White Pirate movie is playing in the background, even though it takes place in British ruled Caribbean there is a serious lack of tea and a serious amount of period incorrect parasols. One of the tragic problems with movies at times that I can at least halfway correct, with tea. Luckily the kind people at Lurve Tea sent me a fine bag of tea of their tea to sample.

The aroma of Lurve Tea's Original is deliciously mellow with a slight touch of maltiness. There is a note of the brightness you can find in ceylon teas that really blends well with the malt notes. A very standard black blend aroma with more of a mellow tone. Very refreshing!

Once steeping the tea takes on a rich nuttiness that mixes well with the underlying maltiness and brightness. I have to admit this tea smells delightful and I cannot wait to drink it!

I decided to brew this British style, meaning a touch of sugar and a splash of cream. A very rich taste with no bitterness or astringency. This is a wonderful tea to wake up with, so I feel a bit bad for drinking it late in the evening instead of first thing in the morning. This tea is exquisitely smooth and excellently blended, the taste is malty and mildly sweet. Delicious!

Yunomi.us: Blue Oolong by Masami Higuchi, A Tea Review

I am really late on the blog tonight, or should I say this morning? I know, I know, after midnight is considered morning, but it never feels right to say morning until dawn. Although when I am nocturnal I tend to say good morning when I wake up at 3 in the afternoon, so clearly I am not picky. I thought after such a busy day and very little sleep the night before that I was going to just sleep through the night (also meaning there was not going to be a blog today, shame!!) but I woke up after only a few hours sleep. So that clearly means it is time to blog!

Today we are reviewing the other tea that I received from Yunomi, Blue Oolong by Masami Higuchi of the Kaneban Higuchi Tea Factory. Awesome fact, this tea comes from the Shiga Prefecture, home of the beautiful Lake Biwa, and I love knowing this because visualizing where the tea I am drinking comes from just makes the experience even more enjoyable. The aroma of the Blue Oolong is delightfully earthy and mild, it reminds me of the piney, earthy, mineral, aroma of mushrooming in the forest. I swear that is an incredible compliment! There is also a tanginess to the aroma that vaguely reminds me of chrysanthemum flowers which blends very well with the initial aroma of earthiness and pine resin. The finishing notes are green like freshly unfurled oak leaves. A very intriguing aroma for an Oolong.

The steeping brings out some very fascinating notes of sweetness which really accentuates the earthiness. While enjoying the steam wafting into my nose from the steeping leaves I get this wonderful feeling of brightness flicker through my whole body, I cannot help but sigh in contentment. The liquid still retains the pine aroma but has more of the pine needle than pine resin and is pleasantly sweet, there is an interesting undertone of kelp which just made my mouth water.

Something new and exciting! This Oolong is tart and refreshing, very surprising and new to me, which I like. It mixes the tartness with a smooth, creaminess that vaguely reminds me of Greek Yogurt. The aftertaste brings in notes of sweetness and a hint of floral that fades into kelp. I love how complex this tea's flavor is, it is certainly unlike any Oolong I have ever had (possibly any tea) and I had to suppress a giggle at how enjoyably new this flavor is.

The second steep takes away some of the tart astringency and replaces it with a smooth floral taste with hints of vegetal green. I am surprised how much the second steep mellows the tea out to tasting more like a 'traditional' green Oolong with orchid notes, but there is still the aftertaste of kelp which I adore. Thank you Yunomi for giving me the chance to try some of your teas! I cannot wait to get my tea obsessed hands on some more.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Yunomi.us: Houjicha (Smoky Roast) a Tea Review

I am delightfully full of smoked pork BBQ, so it makes sense that I would want a tea that is very proud of its smoky roast, it is the theme of the evening! Yunomi.us was kind enough to send me samples of two of their teas to review and this blog post will cover the first, Houjicha (Smoky Roast) by Kyoto Obubu Tea Plantations. Before I actually start discussing the tea, I want to say a brief thank you to Yunomi for having some of the most informative packaging ever. This simple brown foil package states not only the typical name and type of tea, but also the plantation that produced it (and its address) a use by date, storage instructions, and where to get very detailed steeping information. Bravo, Yunomi, and thank you for giving the tea consumer more information!
These leaves captured Autumn!
 Enough poetic waxing on packaging and on to the actual tea! Houjicha (Smoky Roast) is a tea that calls to any who love a roasted tea. In fact the Smoky Roast is Obubu Tea Plantation most heavily roasted of their Houjicha, and of course I had to try it because I love smoky and roasted teas, they might be one of my favorite type of tea treatments. The first thing to notice is of course, the aroma. This Houjicha manages to embody everything wonderful about late Autumn and early Winter and it is heavenly. The sweet earthiness mixed with the smoky roast gives that clean, smoky aroma that the air takes on that time of year. It mixes piney resin without the campfire smoke of teas like Lapsang Souchong. The sweetness is like burnt sugar which blends well with the woodsy aroma. A very complex aroma that my fancy tea books that I read would describe as 'empyreumatic' and you all know I am fond of using fancy jargon.
filter fail! 
Once steeping the leaves take on a rich almost coffee like aroma, very rich and very roasted. This is a tea I could recommend to an avid coffee drinker to convert them to the tea brigade! I just love how rich and slightly nutty the aroma of the brewed leaves are. I do not, however, like how much fail my paper filters are made of. Note to everyone, Melitta coffee pot filters are not good. The liquid of the brewed leaves is also incredibly rich and pleasantly sweet! Notes of roasted nuts and pine resin with a finish of caramelized sugar.
First brew looks like Autumn leaves!
The first steeping is intensely complex! Certainly the most complex Houjicha I have ever had the pleasure of drinking. I had one of those actually audible, lip-smacking 'aaaaah' moments when I first sipped this tea, which I believe is actually frowned upon in my formal tea drinking occasions. The joys of being home alone when drinking tea! The tea is very rich and very bright, the mellow sweetness mixing with resinous smokiness again captures the joy of late Autumn. Along with these flavors there is a slight astringency that is just so slight that it is very pleasant and adds a slight surprise. There is a tiny, tiny after taste of umami which just made this complex tea perfectly well rounded.
delicious!
The next steeping is slightly milder but still manages to maintain its richness and adds just a touch of maltiness. I love the roasted taste of this Houjicha, it is such a perfect tea that just brings joy with every sip. I certainly plan on trying all the different levels of Obubu Plantation's roasts (among other things from Yunomi) and cannot wait to try the other sample I got from them.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Meet My Tea Tools

So instead of a review today, I thought I would introduce all of my tea stuff. This will be a kind of review and also a kind of just fun blog. Also Happy Mid Autumn Moon Festival to those who are into that kind of holiday. Sadly the mooncakes are too expensive and the sky is full of storms, so no moon viewing for me, sorry Chang'e!

Love those colors, thanks mom!

First up is Aladdin wearing his lovely sweater crocheted by my mom, it doesn't really need one since it is double insulated, but I like the way it feels in my hands. This portable tea drinking aparatus is wonderful, it has saved me so much money meaning I can spend the money I normally would at a restaurant on tea...on tea. PRIORITIES!
did I ever mention I hate electric stoves?
Presenting the Flying Dragon! I didn't name it, that is the tea pot's actual name, at least the calligraphy on its lid says Flying Dragon so it works. Technically this is not my tea pot since I bought it for Ben's love of Earl Grey but found it is great at heating up the water and is equally good at keeping that water hot.
note to self, cast iron is heavy 
Not as good as this glorious tea pot! I was lucky enough to find it at a thrift store (like most my stuff actually) and was so pleased because long ago I had a Tetsubin and it had to go away. I missed it so, it was my first teapot and one of the things that really helped get me into tea drinking. I jokingly call this a TARDIS because I swear it is bottomless at times.
so clean and white!
Meet Dribbles! I love the simplicity of this tea pot, it is the PersonaliTEA pot by Adagio and it is great for a double cup of tea kind of day. Plus it fits perfectly on my electric warmer so on days I have no desire to get out of bed and need my  tea it is perfect. Except it drips, it drips like mad. I need one of those fancy drip shield that looks like an orange slice. It is tragic that this extremely convenient teapot has a drip problem, especially when Espeon goes after the spout drips. Ugh.
FEEESH!!
This is the most recent acquisition, a treasure from freecycle! I have a pair of these beautiful teacup saucer sets decorated with the color blue and fish, two of my favorite things. They are hand painted and from Vietnam, originally from Ten Thousand Villages, and they are so pretty. I am waiting to get my hands on a Vietnamese tea to break them in properly.
Octopus approved
This next beauty was a gift from my mom, another amazing thrift store find. Little known fact, I am a sucker for celadon ware, it is one of my favorite colors for ceramics. Also, as featured in the photo, it has a crab embossed in the cup, and I adore sea life. This is a perfect tasting size cup, the shape just feels perfect in my hands.
Love those colors!
The tea set of total obviousness!! I only say that because the calligraphy is for tea is dead smack in the middle of the teapot. I love this set, it was a welcome home gift after spending the summer away, from Ben. The awesome part about this beauty? It features a mesh basket and a spout filter, also it doesn't drip and the handle is on the top. My favorite teapots have handles on the top because I am not as likely to drop them.
Not sure why it has the white film :(
Possibly the greatest treasure in my collection, my Yixing pot. This tiny beauty hold enough for a cup, or two fairly small cups, and has been seasoned for Oolongs. Specifically Tie Guan Yin (because of course, it is my favorite tea.) I still need to translate what the calligraphy says, but on the other side it has bamboo, I love that there is a maker's seal both on the bottom and on the lid. I want everyone to imagine the amount of noise I made when I found this at a thrift store, there was serious fan girl squeeing.
there is a sunflower design
This might be the oldest item in my collection, and it is very special to me. Years ago when I was a jeweler and on etsy I was active in the trading community, a fellow artist (in this case a potter) fell in love with one of my necklaces and offered to design me a mug based on the feel she got from looking at my jewelry. This beautiful mug was the result! I don't use it as much since I want to see my steeping tea colors, but Ben loves it for his teas.
yes, you can hug utensils
This was another one of those I made so much noise I am surprised I didn't get yelled at incidents. I found this on sale at a grocery store, a Gongfu set...I have wanted one for a couple years now because I am a sucker for TOOLS!!!

Ah, there are plenty more tools in my arsenal I could show off: sugar and cream sets, tons of baskets and tea balls, other tea pots, lots of other cups and mugs, tea storage, electric tea kettle...and not to mention I am always hunting more. Maybe I will do a part two someday! I hope you enjoyed, more tea reviews tomorrow!

Mountain Tea: Heritage Honey Oolong

Yesterday was chilly and rainy, today was hot and sunny. It is days like this that make me loathe the Midwest, I was so enjoying the rain that when I woke up to the blazing sun I snarled at the sky and hid under my pillow wishing it was November already. After braving the heat and sunlight and crawling out from under my mound of protective pillows, I decided I want a tea that evokes Autumn, and honey is one of those things. I am not entirely sure why honey evokes Autumn to me since its sunshine colors are more of a Summer thing, but here we are.
Leaves are beautiful!
Today we are reviewing Heritage Honey Oolong by Mountain Tea, an Oolong from Nantou, Taiwan that was picked at an altitude of 1,300 meters about sea level. The aroma of this beautiful green Oolong is first and foremost of honey, very rich and sweet. It reminds me more of raw wildflower honey than clover, but that just shows how much honey I tend to eat. Following the initial honey aroma is heady flowers, especially night blooming Angel Trumpets, blending the almost intoxicating floral with a tiny hint of citrus. Lastly there are notes of chestnuts with a slightly figgy afterthought.
Note to self: sticking face in hot tea cup will end in a burnt nose
While the tea is steeping I notice that it, like the Tie Guan Yin I reviewed earlier, is managing to fill the area with its aroma. Considering I am outside on a breezy day, that is no small feat. I think if I had to chose one word to describe the aroma of the steeping tea it would be hypnotic. The slight figginess has disappeared, but the remaining aroma is that of honey, chestnuts, and intensely floral. Orchids and orange blossoms swirl around in my nose and it is bliss. The liquid without the leaves takes on more of a roasted chestnut aroma with notes of sweet honey.

The taste is pleasantly and surprisingly mild. I was expecting with an aroma that was so intense that the flavor would knock me into some sort of trance, but instead the flavors are subtle and mild, they just creep up on you. The main flavor is floral, reminiscent of orchids with just slight tart notes of orange blossoms, it melts into sweet honey and finished with a whisper of creamy peach. This mild Oolong would be heavenly on a rainy day, but I actually think drinking this on a hot day was perfect. I have to get more of this Oolong, if I am not careful it may supplant Tie Guan Yin for the coveted spot of 'favorite tea'.