Always 1895

My winnings.
[image of a tea towel, umbrella infuser, tea and mug in a basket]

Only I would go to a Sherlock Holmes symposium and win tea. Yep that’s right…I threw in a handful (or less) of raffle tickets and won. I was pretty excited to dig into the tea for sure. Color me a little disappointed when I realized it was bagged tea and not loose leaf. But such is life right?

The nicer thing is I won a mug. Why you ask? Because I’m not allowed to buy more mugs…ever. So the only way I can get them is as gifts or winning them. Muahahaha! The game, as Sherlock would say, is on! Seriously, please send me mugs of the geeky variety. Please and thank you!

As for the tea, I’ve had it maybe twice now and it’s ok…but it’s also been super hot so I haven’t really been enjoying my teas. I’ll give it another run through when it cools off later this week. More posts coming soon as I just received a huge sample from Lochan Tea and a tea buddy sent me a LOT of puerh!

Lazy Saturday Morning Tea


[image from above of a small tea table. Clockwise from the top left of the table is a clear fairness pitcher, brown pot, white trivet with oolong tea on it, a white cup, and little frog tea pet.]

I’ve had my gongfu set for years…and I do mean years. But I just never used it. Probably because I didn’t know how, even though I’d been taught at a WTE East event. I was still terrified to do it wrong. Until a week or two ago. One of my tea pals said JUST DO IT. So I’ve slowly been using it. Mostly on the weekends when I have a little more help from the hubs being home.

It’s a lot of fun to use and also messy. Well, not totally true…I’m the messy one. But I understand I’ll get better with practice. I just ya know, need to practice. But with a toddler running around I do not have the luxury of time to sit quietly with my tea and tea ware. But when I do I make the most out of it. Like this morning.

I chose to sip on some Jin xuan (milk oolong) from Unytea.  This is one of my favorite types of oolong. It’s so buttery and creamy and practically melts in your mouth. Yeah, you should go order some…I’ll wait.

[image of a frog tea pet that has had tea poured on him. The table under him is also wet from tea.]

Assuming that you’ve now ordered some delicious tea…we’ll continue. This was also the christening of my new tea pet, Neville. It’s funny because he’s a frog or toad and well, just go read or watch Harry Potter and you’ll get it. Anyway he’s super tiny. So giving him some of the good stuff made a hot mess of tea all over my tea tray/table.

But he’s super cute and I’m glad I’ve finally added a tea pet to my table. I kept giving him a little throughout the session so it’ll be neat to watch what happens as he gets more and more tea. The idea is he (or she) also brings good luck to their owner…so we’ll see. Either way he’s adorable and I’m glad to have him.

Back to the tea. I managed to get close to 6 steeps out of the leaves. I was sad to finish it and begin the clean up process. It’s not as bad as washing baby bottles, but it takes a little time for sure. As most of the items are delicate and could break if you aren’t gently with them. But the best part of the session (aside from the tea) was the 16 month old coming over and asking for tea. Way to make momma melt buddy. To see more pictures and some video from this mornings session check out my instagram account – @illbemother221b

Hello old friend…

And it’s all mine!

So as some of you might know I used to be VERY into tea. I sold it for a time and I even went to the eastern World Tea Expo a time or two. That’s how into tea I was. But then life happened, and work, and now a baby toddler. However, recently I realized I needed to get back to the things I loved. That I was more than just a mom. Here I am kicking the blog back off. Getting samples to try and buying my own teas to try and review too.

That’s what this tea it. It’s one I had close to five years ago, when times were simpler, and less of my attention was demanded in eight different directions at once. I first picked up the Ancient Phoenix Fermented puerh when I first attended the World Tea Expo East in 2011. It’s also where I met many tea friends I still have today. I think I stopped at the Wild Tea Qi booth on the last day of the event and they were serving up this one. Well, I fell in love and instantly bought a package.

Ready and waiting!

I tried not to drink ALL of it too quickly, but it was good. I also recall sending some off to various tea friends who could not attend the expo so needless to say the tea went quickly. Flash forward to now. Now that I was jumping back into blogging and drinking ALL the tea I was immediately on the hunt for this tea again. Yes, it was that good! I found it easy enough on their website and ordered it. I expected it to turn up in at least two weeks, maybe more. Color me surprise when it turned up in under a week! (It was coming from overseas)

The minute I heard the tell tale sound of the USPS scanner I jumped the baby gate and scared the hell out of the mailman. But I didn’t get to try the tea until now (aka nap time). I used one brick as instructed. Which was really hard to break off. Looks like I need a pure knife, oh darn. Anyway, I warmed up my pot and then popped the brick inside. It took a few steeps of the hot water to break up the brick and actually make the tea. Which I was expecting. Boy was it worth the wait!

So dark and so delicious!

My first cup was earthy and simply awesome. It was better than I remembered it. With each infusion the liquid got darker and the taste smoother. To the point where I imagine this is what silk would taste like if you could drink it. I also picked up hints of chocolate in this tea, which was interesting and not unwelcome. I saved the leaves to try them again tomorrow morning (it was suggested in a tea vlog I watched to try this out so we’ll see).

It’s interesting to me that puerh teas have become a favorite of mine. I mean they aren’t for everyone. I have tea friends who have tried it and tell me it tastes like dirt and how can I drink dirt. Well, yeah it does have a really earthy taste to it. But I wouldn’t call it dirt. To me they typically taste very rich and super smooth. I think it might be because I also enjoy coffee. Though the tide is turning there. I haven’t had a cup of coffee in over a week now!

Tea is just better! That’s not to say I won’t have coffee every again. I will, but now that I’m making time for tea again, the coffee is going to be taking a back seat. Especially now that I have this puerh again. Which I consider the perfect substitute for coffee.

Korean Jeju Island Second Flush Matcha and White Chocolate {Review}

Simple no need for flashy.

Corrected the last post to indicate that was the third tea from Teas Unique. This is the fourth with an added bonus of white chocolate infused with Matcha. First thing was first I needed a proper matcha bowl and whisk! I had given my set away at least a year ago thinking matcha wasn’t for me. But I find I do in fact like it. So it was time to get some supplies again.

So for Mother’s day my hubs took me to a favorite tea place who usually have reasonably priced tea wares. I was not disappointed. They did not disappoint (though the sales clerk did…another story for another time). I picked up the bowl and whisk for under $20 for both – score. I couldn’t wait to get home and give them a try!

Yum!

Though trying them out would have to wait for nap time. Which came not long after we arrived home. I can’t say there’s a smell to accompany the match because well sniffing it can result in matcha up the nose. So the sniffing would have to take place after the water was added/whisked. I have to say I liked this one. It was a little bitter and probably should have added some frothed almond milk for a latte but next time.

Though I paired it with the white chocolate matcha that was sent with the tea samples. Which really brought out the flavor of the matcha. Which is saying something as white chocolate is so not my jam. But wow SO good. I’m tempted to try baking it in some muffins later as I think it would be pretty rocking. But of the four samples sent I think the matcha was my favorite. I want to say thank you to Teas Unique for the samples. It was the perfect way to get me back into blogging!

Korean Mt. Jiri Joongjak Red Tea {Review}

Bring me the water!

This is the third tea from Teas Unique. I’ve a matcha and some matcha infused white chocolate left to try! I opted to bust out my new favorite gaiwan that I got earlier this week and small tasting cup. I have a new love for this method of tea brewing. It’s fun and for me a better way to make tea.

I set the kettle for the suggested 195 degrees and went about setting up my tools and taking a sniff of the tea. I have to say this one was unique for sure. The dry leaf smelled I guess earthy? Now the directions say to steep it for two minutes…well I learned that lesson the hard way. So this time around I did a 20 second rinse and then a 20 second steep on the tea.

Once I’d poured my first steep the tea took on an oaky and baked scent. Which reminded me of days spent at my grandparents house. The smell reminded me a lot of the smells from their home: pipe tobacco and freshly polished furniture. Which sounds gross, but it didn’t taste like it. The taste had a bite to it, but I couldn’t distinguish the actual flavor of the tea. This was a little disappointing to me. Because I had high hopes for it. But you may think differently of this one. Don’t let this review stop you from trying it yourself.

Pretty color.

Korean Boseong Sejak {Review}

Look at that set up!

Tea time take two. Little dude is down for his nap. So I took some time to dig out my competition tasting cup for this tea. Fancy right? Sometimes you just need to get a little fancy for tea time. I haven’t used this set in years. Well, at least two years. Mostly because I forget I have them. Fact is I have five of them. I really need to get it together.

Anyway I set the kettle for the suggested time (180 degrees) and then warmed up the two vessels. While I waited I took a sniff of the tea. This one smelled super vegetal to me. Almost like spinach or kale. I had hopes, because typically I am not a green tea person at all. Why? Because I usually do it wrong.

So I added the leaves to the cup and set about following their directions. Which were to let the leaves steep for 2 minutes. Which was probably 1 minute and 30 seconds too long. The steeping leaves smelled super vegetal and cooked when the timer rang. The tea itself tasted a bit like Tieguanyin, which is an Oolong. However, it quickly went bitter. I tried again with shorter steeps…

The leaves are gorgeous.

This time I started with 15 seconds. It tastes WAY better and really buttery. So if you try this one don’t follow the steeping directions. I tried three steeps and each was better than the one before it. However, it did get bitter on the third steep and I am not a fan of the bitter AT ALL. My advice is to not steep in more than 10-15 second intervals. While I did like it the second time around it’s just not one I would keep. I prefer black teas and Oolongs when it comes to straight teas. But if you’re interested it’s available on their website and Amazon.

Don’t let the color turn you off.

Korean Jeju Island Second Flush {Review}

Teas and chocolate!

A few weeks ago I was contacted by Teas Unique to see if I wanted to try out some Korean teas. At first I wasn’t going to. I honestly thought I was out of the tea game for good. Little ones take up a lot of time! But then I thought it would be cool to try as the only Korean tea I’d ever had was buckwheat tea I’d had at a local Korean eatery. Long story short I received the teas last week and finally had time today to try one.

First up is a Korean Jeju Island Second Flush Organic Single Estate Whole Leaf Black Tea with Mandarin Orange…bit of a mouthful…

So I tried it out this morning instead of my usual cup of coffee delivered quickly from the Keurig. Sp while the little was busy stuffing his face with cereal I cracked into the sample. I went with the suggested temperature (195 degrees) and got about my business. I did think a head to snap some pictures of the leaves before I tossed them into my cup. These were some huge leaves let me tell you. Plus little bits of the mandarin orange.

Nice right?

Like I said the leaves were long and huge! The dry leaf smelled pretty earthy, more like what I would expect from a puer. It smelled really earthy with a hint of orange. Once the water was ready I poured the water and waited the suggested 2 minute steep time.

As the tea was steeping I smelled more of a malty smell to it. But it was also still earthy. But there was very little smell of the orange that I noted in the dry leaves. Bit of a bummer there. But two minutes later and a few cheerios picked up off the floor and my tea was ready for the tasting. I took my first tentative sip, careful not to burn my mouth. The taste of the tea was smooth, but not bitter. Bonus there was the mandarin orange flavor on the finish! There was also a little bit of a bite on the end too.

Over all it was a good cup of tea. One I would add to my cabinet? No, I have a similar puer that I’ve got that has more of the orange flavor I was looking for. But it’s a nice cup of tea. You can find it on their website or on Amazon.