TeaGuide: Reviews and Ramblings

October 14, 2013

Ramblings on reviews: Not just samples

Filed under: exotic tea,food,oolong tea,tea,Tea sites — by JanisB @ 3:25 pm
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Occasionally I get a comment from someone who wants to know if reviewers write  reviews just so we can grab some freebies.

Let’s face it: If it weren’t for vendors who very kindly provide samples of teas, tea ware, and tea-related products, reviewers — myself included — would miss out on a whole lot of great teas and “stuff” that we never would have known about. So I am certainly grateful for these “freebies.”

Other reviewers will have to speak for themselves on this topic. As for me, I do not limit my reviews to samples only. If I happen to purchase an excellent tea, a piece of beautiful tea ware, or some charming tea-themed object, I’ll certainly write a review. After all, why keep it to myself?

Samples, by their limited size, are not generally conducive to sharing with others. And there are many teas and other items that I’d simply like to have more of once the sample is used up. So I do often purchase teas and other items that I have sampled for free.

Recently my dear husband got it in his mind to buy some tea for his dear wife. He told me to choose whichever teas I wanted from whichever vendor I wanted to buy them from. Having recently sampled and reviewed some rather exquisite teas sourced from Taiwan Tea Crafts, I decided to take advantage of his generosity to stock up on some of my favourites from this source, and to choose a few others that looked interesting.

So I visited the Taiwan Tea Crafts website and filled up the cart, and DH placed the order, which arrived about a week later from Taipei. Here’s what the box looked like when I first opened it:

Taiwan Tea Crafts order

Colourful sacks of wonderful teas!

I hope I’ve thoroughly answered this question for anyone who was curious. And now for those of you who have commented that I don’t include enough photos with my reviews and ramblings, here are a few more:

Taiwan Tea Crafts order

An array of colourful sacks of Taiwan tea. TTC very kindly included a few samples with my order, and I look forward to sampling and reviewing all the new-to-me teas.

Taiwan Tea Crafts order

Tools of the trade: kettle, duck-on-lotus clay pot, teapot standing in for fairness pitcher, and small glass cup for sampling and sipping.

Taiwan Tea Crafts order

This morning’s cup is baked Four Seasons oolong (Lot 245): tea sack, made tea in the teapot and teacup, while another steeping continues in the clay pot.

Taiwan Tea Crafts order

Baked Four Seasons oolong leaves after the second infusion.

Taiwan Tea Crafts order

Made tea ready to drink … just need to put the cozy on the pot!

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All content Copyright 2013 JP Badarau; all rights reserved.

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September 27, 2013

Reviews: Three seasons of Four Seasons from Taiwan Tea Crafts

I recently had the fortuitous opportunity to sample and compare Taiwan teas produced from the Si Ji Chun cultivar and Baguashan terroir through three different types of processing … which I perceived as a passage from spring to summer to early autumn.

The first tea was a green style, generally my preferred style of Taiwan oolong.  For a number of years I’ve happily started my day with a potful — or two or three or more — of very lightly oxidized pouchong. Four Seasons is one of the best of the pouchongs, and this particular sample did not disappoint. Plucked this past May, it is everything a spring pouchong should be: fresh, light, and extraordinarily floral in both aroma — like spring itself — and in the cup. Preparing it in the kitchen I happily found myself enveloped in a delightful springtime garden. And of course that freshness that I’ve come to rely on from Taiwan Tea Crafts.

TTC-oolongs2

Taiwan black tea (left) and baked pouchong (right). Accompanied by toast and homemade jam.

Next was a gently baked version of the same pouchong. As I said, I generally prefer the light green style, but this tea simply blew me away as it segued from spring to summer. Baking brings out a sweetness, like spring flowers that mature in the sultry summer sunshine. It is a heady, and heavenly, experience. I may have to change my mind about preferring green oolongs!

And at last the black tea. Although the leaves were plucked a few weeks before the pouchong, the sensation was definitely autumnal. If you’ve never sampled Taiwan black tea, let me tell you that there is no other tea quite like it. And you just might want to start your tasting journey with this one. It combines the sweet summer-flower qualities of the baked pouchong with an element of fruitiness. Orange? Tangerine? Yes, but also a touch of late-summer peach. The taste and aroma work their way through the palate and the nose, and the sensation lingers … and lingers some more. Whatever you call beyond extraordinary, this is it. While I’ve sampled any number of teas that finish long, this was something else again. Superb!

Do click through the links to Taiwan Tea Crafts for more detailed information about each of their teas, terroirs, cultivars, and processes, and their very poetic descriptions of the teas themselves.

This would be a good time to remind tea drinkers that Taiwan teas are reknowned for their exquisite aromas. Take a whiff of the dry leaves when you first open the package. Breathe in the scent when the hot water first hits the leaves. Sniff your cup for a moment just before you sip. If you have an aroma cup, be sure to use it. Or try this method for appreciating the aromas: When your teapot is empty and still warm — especially after the last drops of tea have dried — lift the lid, inhale, and savour the intoxicating aromas.

Taiwan Tea Crafts is currently offering a Moon Festival sale — you have until 11.59pm Sunday, September 29 to receive a minimum 20% discount on top-quality teas, with discounts up to 32% depending on the quantity you purchase. Their beautiful tea wares are also on sale. If you spend $50 on tea (or $75 on tea ware) and use coupon code FREESHIP50 shipping around the globe is free. See their website for details. Don’t miss out.

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All content Copyright 2013 JP Badarau; all rights reserved.

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March 17, 2013

That’s wild! Black tea from Taiwan

As I do with Taiwan oolongs, I used a small two-cup pot for this Taiwan black tea.

There once was a time when black tea came from India, green tea came from China or Japan, and oolong tea came from Taiwan. It was very simple. But then the different regions — terroirs — began to experiment with processing different types of teas.

The first time I sampled green, oolong, and white teas from Darjeeling it was a revelation … who knew that at the source for arguably the best black tea on Earth they were busy processing their teas other ways besides fully fermented/oxidized? Well, they were, and it was a great success. So great a success that other growing regions in India, as well as in neighbouring Nepal, followed suit. Now “alternative process” teas from these regions are readily available.

More recently, the source for arguably the best oolongs on Earth — Taiwan — began processing black teas. And the results are amazing.

I rarely say “always” when it comes to tea, but every Taiwan black tea I’ve sampled has been ethereal, elegant, exquisite … always.

blog-tea-leafCase in point: This Yuchi Wild Mountain Black Tea. While everyone knows about Camellia sinensis’ wild Indian cousin Assamicus, and many of us were aware of wild tea plants — actually trees — growing in China, I just recently learned about Shancha, the wild tea plant of Taiwan.

Processed as a black tea, the Yuchi is nutty. Flowery. Smooth. A very easy drinker. The subtle qualities of the leaf will appeal to sophisticated palates, and it’s also a light and lovely cup by which to introduce a newbie to high-quality teas.

The dry leaf is quite large and dark, and I obtained the best results in a small two-cup teapot using water brought to a boil and then cooled down to oolong (“fish eyes”) temperature, then steeped for no more than four minutes. A truly delightful black tea from Taiwan.

~ ~ Special Offer for TeaGuide readers! ~ ~
~ ~ Only 24 hours left to take advantage! ~ ~

Taiwan Tea Crafts very kindly invites you to try their teas by offering a 10% discount. This offer is good until March 18, 2013 and includes their already-discounted teas. Enter the discount code TEAGUIDE at checkout — and you can even use the code multiple times until the expiration date.

So if you’re a lover (or aspiring lover!) of beautiful oolongs — whether green, roasted, oxidized, aged, or scented — the elegant black teas of Taiwan, and lovely tea ware, do stop by before the offer expires!

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All content Copyright 2013 JP Badarau; all rights reserved.

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