Tuesday, August 3, 2010

High Mountain Oolong

Some connoisseurs claim that this is the ultimate masterpiece in the art of Chinese tea. It’s grown in the Taiwanese mountains, where cool morning dew is quickly dispelled by hot sun, creating a leaf that’s richly flavourful. To release the precious oils, it’s rolled and partially dried over and over again in a meticulous, handmade process requiring a tea master. So delicate, so pungent, so alluring.

A few months back, I went on a day trip to Edmonton with some friends. On this trip, I made my very first visit to DAVIDsTEA. While I was there I purchased the High Mountain Oolong, just for something new and different. Since then, I have probably tried it 3 or 4 times on different occasions.

I have to say, I wasn't all that fond of it at first, but I find that it is starting to grow on me, mostly because it's so darn confusing. The colour of the leaves is quite light, as is the liquor when it's brewed, and it smells light and slightly floral, but the flavor is actually quite roasty, like you might expect from a much darker oolong tea. It's not as delicate as it lets on! I don't love it yet, but I have to admit that I'm fascinated with it. This is the amazing thing about oolongs - nothing is impossible when it comes to flavor!

Pu-erh Ginger

I have always had this terrible tendancy to over eat & I used to wind up feeling awful for the rest of the day. That was until last year when I started working at Elixir, and I discovered Pu-Erh Ginger. This tea is amazing! It's better than Pepto for a sore stomach, and it's a heck of alot more appetizing.

We all know that ginger is good for your stomach - I had to chug ginger ale when I had the flu as a kid - but not alot of people are familiar with pu-erh's benefits.

Pu-erh is actually the least known type of tea (and I think it's the most interesting).  Unlike any other type of tea, pu-erh is fermented. (Often, black and oolong teas are called 'fully fermented' or 'partially fermented', but this is incorrect. They're actually oxidized, but the Chinese use the same word for both oxidation and fermentation, which has caused a translation confusion. What happens when you cut open an apple and it browns is oxidation (purely a chemical reaction) - the creation of wine is fermentation (carried out through the actions of microbes)). Pu-erh can be very valuable, as it (again, unlike any other tea) gets better with age.

Pu-erh helps to boost blood flow which aids in the removal of toxins. It has an amazing ability to break down oily and fatty foods and aid in digestion. The combination of this Chinese "Wonder Tonic" and ginger creates an amazing stomach soothing blend. Even more important is that it's really delicious!
Pu-erh can often taste very earthy, musky and even dirty! I am a big pu-erh fan, but lots of people don't enjoy it, because of it's earthy flavor. Pu-erh Ginger is earthy but not overly so - the ginger is the star! The flavor is full bodied, sligtly spicy with a hint of cirtus! Yum! I feel as good as new and as an added bonus, I can usually get 4 or 5 steeps off of one tablespoon of leaves. I'm working on my third infusion now, and I'm still going strong! I would seriously reccomend this tea to anyone suffering from digestion problems, a sickness like the flu or even a store stomach because you've eaten too much.

More about Pu-erh Ginger available here!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Orange Blossom Oolong

Today I’m feeling nostalgic! When I was in high school a friend and I would have tea at the Oolong Tea House in McKenzie Towne all the time. Since graduating we haven’t seen very much of each other. I also haven’t been to a tea shop that is not my own in what feels like ages, so I figured it was about time for some tea from Oolong.

I love how it looks!
(hate how it smells)

"Orange Blossom is a blend of Oolong teas from Taiwan, Sri Lanka and India. This loose leaf tea is combined with jasmine petals, fruit peel and natural flavors giving it a light, airy character with delicate orange flavor. This is an excellent beverage with morning toast and marmalade. The aroma will leave others wondering what's in your cup, so make enough to share. Orange Blossom Oolong tea also makes a refreshing and exotic iced tea."

I really like oolongs but I was really wasn't feeling this tea at first because the dry leaves smell like old lady. Surprisingly, I actually liked it! The orange didn’t over power the flavor of the tea, which often happens flavored teas. It has a roasty flavor and a very subtle citrus twist.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Lung Ching

For my training at DAVIDsTEA, I have been asked to create presentation on Chinese green teas, so I figured, why not do my first tasting blog on a Chinese green tea?
So here it is, Lung Ching – best known as Dragonwell, but is also called Fragrant Forest Mist, Bai Yun…the list goes on. Dragonwell is one of those tea house staples, everyone will have it, but each one you try will be a little different! The Dragonwell from Elixir Fine Tea is by far my favorite that I have tried (not because I work there!)

Here's what the Elixir website has to say about it:
China's most famous style of green tea offers a balance of fresh spring high notes and smooth toasted flavours. Refreshing with a bittersweet finish and roasted chestnut aroma.

More info here!

Liquor & Infusion

I'm personally not as familiar with Chinese greens as I am with Japanese greens, but I really enjoy them. Chinese and Japanese green teas are very different from eachother. Chinese green teas are wok or pan fried after drying (and oxidation in some cases) where Japanese greens are steamed. It is very easy to tell the difference between these teas just by looking at them. Japanese greens will usually be a very deep, rich green colour, like grass, where Chinese green teas tend to be darker and more muted in colour.

Here's what I thought:
Here's a better look at the
colour of the liquor.
With each sip, I experienced a very full & rich mouth feel, and a very creamy taste and texture. I am reminded of eating a rich, creamy pasta. The flavor is sweet and grassy, with fruity undertones. I think of apricots when I drink this particular Lung Ching. After I swallow, I notice a slight, underlying bitterness & the creamyness is replaced by a lasting numb sensation on the tip of my tongue.

I make it a rule for myself to not read the description or ask what other people think until until after I've tasted a tea, so I can develop my own ideas. Everyone is different, and everyone's palate is different. I think it's awesome, it's what makes tasting teas (especially with friends) so fun!

Tea & Me

As a child, I hated tea. I believe that this hatred stemmed from my mother making me drink mint tea bags when I stayed home sick from school. Today, I work at two tea shops. One a corporate chain and the other a small independant shop.

DAVIDsTEA is opening it's first store in Calgary in one short week and I'm very excited to be a part of it.
I had heard of DAVIDs in passing but had never been until a few months ago. On a visit to Edmonton with some friends, I discovered the shop and immediately loved it - especially compared to other corporate shops that I am familiar with. Despite my ridiculous lack of spare time, when I saw that DAVIDs was opening a store in Calgary, I had to apply.
You can read about DAVIDsTEA here.

Elixir Fine Tea is the newest addition to the tea scene in Kensington, and it is very different from the rest of the tea houses in the city. We source tea from all over the world, and we pride ourselves on our unique selection of high quality loose leaf teas. We strive to stock teas that no one else carries! Some of our teas you can't find anywhere else in the country! Not only do we serve tea to go and sell our teas in bulk, but we feature a tea bar where we do tea tastings. At the tea bar, we brew our teas in the proper vessel (Japanese tea in the Japanese fashion/Chinese tea in the Chinese fashion & so on) and pair them with treats!
You can read more about Elixir Fine Tea here.

I drink tea for the taste and it really relaxes me. I don't drink tea because of it's many health benefits - but I sure wont say no to 'em! Since I discovered the wonderful world of loose leaf tea, I have strived to learn as much as possible. In the world of tea, there is always more to learn (and more to taste)!

My mission is simply to taste teas and share them with others!  I don't profess to be an expert but I want to share the experiences and knowledge that I do have!