A Journey Through the World of Tea

Posts tagged “Oolong

A New Tyro: Janna Laverdière

Tell us a little bit about yourself?

Hi! My name is Janna, and I was born and raised in the beautiful state of Maine! For now, I currently reside in Michigan but I do miss home once in awhile. As a 20 year old junior at Michigan State University (Go Green! Go White!), I am studying Nutritional Science and specializing in Environmental Science. Someday I hope to attend the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine, and become an Integrative doctor later down the road. I’m passionate about holistic health, wellness, and my new obsession with tea! 🙂 I especially love to travel, and appreciate the little things in life.
Where are you from?

Maine 🙂

How did you come to enjoy tea?

Oh gosh, I had always known about tea for the longest time. However, as a child who grew up in the U.S. I was never truly accustomed to it. The summer of my sophomore year in college, my boyfriend (not at the time) introduced me to tea. He actually sent me an ingenuitea (by Adagio) and the green tea starter set. After trying this high quality tea, vs. bagged tea, I fell in love.

Whats your favorite tea?

I absolutely love Matcha! I couldn’t live without it! But if that wasn’t an option, then I would say Oolong. Something about it just reaaalllyyy hits the spot. 🙂

What is your favorite tea moment?

My favorite tea moment was possibly visiting Samovar for the first time. I was blown away by how beautiful it looked! I went to the location by the Yerba Buena gardens, and although I didn’t have anyone to share the experience with, it was absolutely beautiful for the first time. I enjoyed their Matcha Nouveau (matcha with soymilk), which was fantastic 🙂

Is tea better solo or with friends?

I think it really depends on the mood. When I’m drinking Matcha I like to drink it alone so I can focus on how it affects my body and soul. Something about Matcha just really adds that extra kick in my step, it’s indescribable. However, if I’m drinking green, or oolong, or something along those lines, I like to share the experience with another. It makes the social experience a whole lot better- 🙂

Lastly what advice would you give to people just getting into tea?

Ooh! I used to be one of those people. You just gotta dive into the water, and explore! Be open minded, and although you may not like it at first, give it a few more tries. It’s like when you first hear a song on the radio, and you think to yourself, “Ehh.. this isn’t that great.” Then all of a sudden, once you hear it the second or third time it’s your new favorite song.
I know one of the biggest problems I had when starting out was the bitter taste from steeping too long, especially with green teas. Once I figured out the tricks of the trade, which takes some trial runs, tea became a lot more enjoyable to the point where it is now a passion of mine!

Don’t forget to follow Janna on Twitter.

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Featured Tea Company: Chicago Tea Garden

Q- Chicago Tea Garden, how did it come to be?
A- In 2005 I was fortunate enough to join a trip through my university to China. We spent 40 days roaming around China, the last 10 days I spent by myself starting from Hangzhou and ending in Beijing. Tea was everywhere, men were playing mahjong on street side sipping from gaiwans, tiny shops on nearly every corner served tea gongfu style. I happened upon a small tea shop south of the forbidden city in Beijing where a woman taught me the gongfu tea ceremony, she did not speak English and I did not speak mandrin – tea bridged the language barrier. Later, in 2008 I backpacked most of Southeast Asia, I started in Fiji and traveled to New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Nepal and India. Each country had tea and their own culture surrounding it. When I came back to the states, I wanted nothing more than to spread the culture and history behind great tea.

Q- Where do your teas come from?
A- Many of our teas come direct from small farmers in Japan and China, the pu-erhs were purchased by David Lee Hoffman and were aged in his man-made tea caves in California.

Q- What do the customers mean to your company?
A- Without my customers, Chicago Tea Garden wouldn’t exist. I have made many friends through my business, and I treat my customers as if they were my good friends. So to answer the question, my customers are my friends.

Q- What makes Chicago Tea Garden unique?
A- We are able to sell many unique teas that some larger companies cannot sell due to availability. We buy in small quantities, many times — we are buying all that a farmer has to offer. Larger companies have a greater demand – so they must buy in huge quantities, top quality tea is not always available in such quantities. We hope that we find our business to be scalable by adding more teas to the selection.

Q-  In three words, can your sum up the culture of your company?
A- peace, love, tea

Q- This is a three-parter. What tea does every one order? What tea would you suggest for tea newbies? What is your most unique tea?
A- Surprisingly enough, there is not one tea that everyone orders, it varies from order to order and some teas peak as reviews are written online, or if a tea becomes popular on Steepster. For a tea newbie, I suggest our Golden Bi Luo. It is a yunnan black tea and it has been good at changing people’s minds about black tea when they are used to bagged black tea. For starters with pu-erh I recommend our Camel’s Breath pu-erh tuocha or our Wild Orange pu-erh. In general though — all of our pu-erhs can be a considered beginner pu-erhs. I don’t consider myself a pu-erh expert. I think that I would have to live several lifetimes in order to become a pu-erh expert and to offer a selection competitive to a store like Yunnan Sourcing. Our most unique tea of the moment is our Kamairi Cha, it is a pan-fired green tea from Japan hand-made by a man well-known in Japan for producing this type of tea. This is the first time his tea has been sold in America. (Can’t forget the New Zealand Oolong too!)

Q- What is the mission of Chicago Tea Garden?
A- To provide the best quality teas we can find at an affordable price while respecting and supporting the farmer.

Don’t forget to Like them on Facebook or Follow on Twitter.


The Tea Table: Fine Ti Kuan Yin

(Today’s Post is a guest post is from Wes Murdock, editor of Tyros Of Tea)

Ti Kuan Yin (Ti Guan Yin or Iron Goddess of Mercy) is lightly oxidized oolong tea, that is characterized as being close to a green tea. While the descriptions on the packaging and the website differ (with the packaging being a better description), one thing is for sure: this tea tastes like a Ti Kuan Yin.

The reason I make that statement, is that the website I bought this tea from had me leery of their product. The prices of their loose leaf teas are generally quite low. The prices of the teas is also determined by how much you buy, the more ounces of tea you buy, the cheaper each ounce is. Because of the low prices, I decided to buy many teas I have not tried, as well as teas I knew well. As Ti Kuan Yin is one of my very favorite teas, I felt that it would be a good gauge of quality.

To brew the tea, I used the same process as I do with the rest of my oolongs, using a glass gaiwan, poured into a small glass pitcher, and drank it with a porcelain tea cup. The water was filtered and heated with an electric kettle to 180 degrees, and brewed for 2 and a half minutes for the first steep, and 3 minutes for the second.

This tea didn’t knock my socks off, but it was good. It did not have a flavor that lingered for a long period of time, nor did it have quite as round and beautiful flavor as many other I have had. The tea though gets extra points for being so inexpensive ($1.75 for an ounce). The tea is a wonderful way to introduce someone to Ti Kuan Yins and oolongs, as it has the base flavors without all the complexities that can get lost through improper brewing or treatment. They also offer more expensive and higher quality Ti Kuan Yins such as a “Monkey-Picked” ($16.80 per ounce) and their “Superior” ($4.25 per ounce).

You can order this, or many other teas from their website or follow them on Twitter.


This Week in Tea Volume II

This week the conversation with author James Norwood Pratt continues with Sam and Michael over at Tea Show TV.

Stéphane Erler of Tea Master revisits Oriental Beauty, a tea he has dubbed “Perfect.”

If you find yourself in Xiamen, Fujiman China on November 5-8 you should check out the
International Tea Fair
they will be holding, William over at Tea Guy Speaks tells us all about it.

Do you know your tea drinker? Tony of World of Tea profiles Nicole Martin of Tea for Me Please.

It’s All About The Leaf‘s Cynthia shares with us the Chatsford Teapot from The London Teapot Company.

Lainie sips some of American Tea Room’s Bao Zhong Royale Oolong.

Charles Cain posted an interesting post this week over at T Ching titled “Passion, Pleasure, and Profit”

Find out what exciting discoveries Jo brought back from her Teaventure in China over at Ya-Ya’s Tea Board.

Over at Leaf Box Tea, forum member Sarah asks “How do you take your tea?” Be sure to join in the conversation, and check out some of the other forum posts as well.

Finally, remember that old hemp shirt you got when you were going through that hippy phase? Get rid of it, and get a “Tea Shirt”.

Well that wraps up this week in tea, for links to these and other stories, please visit our delicious bookmarks.


eLTea: Silk (Jian Xuan) Oolong

Jian Xuan Oolong (known as Milk or Silk Oolong) is a Taiwanese Oolong that has a distinct aroma that developed due to the growing climate and conditions. The other day I had the pleasure of steeping some Jian Xuan from eLTea, a small local tea company in Fresno, California.

Hands down, the first thing you notice is the aroma. To me, it simply smells like butter or buttered corn on the cob. The appearance is, like most other oolongs, leaves that are tightly curled when dry.

The water temperature I used for steeping was 190 Fahrenheit (87 Celsius), and steep time was 2 to 3 minutes. The liquor is almost a sunflower yellow. The taste is unique; milky and a light creaminess that has a wonderful sweet rounded taste at the end. I got about five steeps before noticeably loosing flavor.

My verdict on Jian Xuan Oolong, it’s an aromatic and easy tea to like. For me, it’s a constant reminder of a 4th of July Picnic and buttery corn. I think this would also be a good tea to introduce to people just getting into tea, though I did notice that it left my mouth a little dry.

You can order Silk Oolong at eLTea, and be sure to friend them on Facebook.