TeaGuide: Reviews and Ramblings

January 24, 2011

Ramblings: Win a tea prize!

Photo: CrafTea Designs

We’re excited to announce that our new Facebook page for CrafTea Designs is up and running. To celebrate, we’re giving away free gifts!

To enter our contest, just stop by our page, give us a “Like,” and accept our invitation to our virtual tea party.

Photo courtesy of Artisans Cup

You can win not one but two prizes: a beautiful tea-dyed scarf or tea shirt from CrafTea Designs, and your choice of custom-blended tea from Artisans Cup.

Don’t miss out, stop by today to enter!

Good luck and happy tea-ing!

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January 17, 2011

Review: Obubu Japanese Teas

Retail and wholesale.

Photos by the author except as noted.

Stock photo

I recently received generous samples of three lovely teas from Obubu Tea of Kyoto, Japan. I generally prefer Japan greens over China greens — it’s a matter both of taste for the lighter, more vegetal teas of Japan, as well as choice: I generally do not buy edibles from China (or anything else if I can avoid it).

The first of these teas, Kabuse Sencha, was my favourite. This high-grown partially-shaded tea tastes almost like a light, grassy, springlike sencha was blended with a rich gyokuro. But this is not a blend — it’s the inherent quality of the tea itself. The dark leaves flecked with white and lighter green are quite beautiful, as you can see in the linked photo. A premium tea, very enjoyable, and well worth the above-average but not-unreasonable price. (When looking at Obubu’s prices, keep in mind that they include shipping.) The spent leaves were also quite good when added to a potful of rice pilaf in place of spinach.

The folks at Obubu sent me some of their Yanagi Bancha as a courtesy when I asked about how it was made. I’ve had a somewhat different tea from another source that they also call Yanagi. It was interesting to compare the two, and while this Yanagi is a pleasant enough cup for early evening because of its low caffeine content, it was an interesting but rather nondescript tea that simply didn’t measure up to the Kabuse or to the other Yanagi that I’m familiar with.

The third tea, Sakura Tea, is not really a tea at all but a tisane. This unusual (at least to me) cup is made from Japanese cherry blossom flowers that have been salt pickled. Evidently this is a highly popular tisane in Japan, but it seems to be an acquired taste for Western palates. While the aroma is exquisite — pumpkin pie spice and spring flowers in perfect balance — the taste is essentially salt water. Not quite what I’m normally looking for in my teacup. However …

When I sampled the Sakura, I paired it with Lindt Chocolate’s Fleur de Sel, a dark chocolate with a light sprinkling of salt. The creamy sweetness of the chocolate with its occasional surprise pop of a crunchy grain of salt, when joined on the tongue by a sip of smoothly salty Sakura, is a wonderful taste and sensory experience. I suppose I should mention here that when I make popcorn, I add a handful of dark chocolate chips to the hot popcorn — the chocolate melts and holds the salt, creating a complementary interplay of salt/crunchy with sweet/creamy. The combination of Sakura and Fleur de Sel created a similar yin/yang taste experience. I highly recommend that if you plan to sample either one of these, sample the other with it! (I found the chocolate in my local supermarket.)

What most impressed me about the Sakura tea is how beautiful it is in the cup — as you can see from these photos. Some more interesting information about Sakura tea can be found here.

Click the Partners navigational link on the Obubu Tea website for a list of retailers and for information about wholesale/resale.

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January 5, 2011

Ramblings: Tea-th stains

Filed under: food,tea,Tea sites — by teaguide @ 5:27 pm
Tags: , ,

I started this tea blog with good intentions to keep it up regularly. But I was spending so much time on each post that I eventually couldn’t find time to work on it any more.

Going forward, each post will be shorter, allowing me to post more often. Today, for example …

Recently I read a couple of articles about a method for preventing dental plaque. The recommendation was to brush your teeth with water only — no toothpaste — on your brush for a minute or two each day. This was to be followed by another minute or two of brushing with toothpaste.

As I come from a long line of plaque collectors, I decided to give it a try. I have now been using this method for a few weeks, and have actually seen some subtle results.

Then, a couple of days ago, a friend who knows that I occasionally use tooth-whitening strips to deal with the tooth stains that plague tea drinkers remarked that I had obviously been using the strips recently because my teeth looked whiter.

Except that I hadn’t used them. The whitening effect was apparently from the water-brushing.

So I pass this along to you. It’s simple, it’s convenient, and it’s inexpensive. All you need is a soft-bristle toothbrush, some water, and a mirror. It’s good for teeth, gums, and appearance. What more could you ask for? (This anecdotal posting is not to be construed as dental or medical advice.)

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