Posted by: Lauren | October 3, 2021

Umi Tea Sets

Recently, I had the pleasure of tasting tea from Umi Tea Sets. Umi Tea Sets sent me wonderful tea and a gaiwan to try. The box arrived in perfect condition and smelled of amazing tea.

Tea and Gaiwan from Umi Tea Sets

This Bi Luo Chun Tea by Colourful Tea from Dongting Mountain in China is incredible and features a sweet, buttery taste. There are also distinct floral notes. Biluochun is a famous green tea and translates to “green snail spring”. The protected natural reserve of Dongting Mountain is located in the Jiangsu province of China. The climate, soil and precipitation make this area ideal for growing tea plants. These trees grow near fruit trees, helping create this distinct aroma. I often drink flavoured blends and the unique flavouring of the tea can be lost. This tea is an amazing reminder of how eloquent tea leaves taste on their own. It’s amazing that one plant (Camellia Sinensis) can take on so many forms based on the way the tea is processed. In the spring, Bi Luo Chun Tea is rolled into tight spirals resembling snails, which gives it its unique appearance and taste.

Bi Luo Chun Tea from Umi Tea Sets

Umi Tea Set’s website describes the tea as follows: “Biluochun has a 1,000 year history. According to Casual Watching Record, “The tea growing in Dongting Mountain looks like mustard, is slender, and tastes very sweet and fragrant. And it’s named after its extremely strong aroma.” When Emperor Kangxi making his southern tour to Dongting, he drank the tea and loved the tea immediately. And he granted the tea the name of Biluochun, taking it from tight knots, being curled like snails and taken in early spring. Since then, Biluochun became a tributed tea and famous all over the world. Biluochun: “Biluochun” tea cube tight knot, and its curling as conch.”

I also love the gaiwan I received. The bamboo details on the gaiwan and the ease of infusing tea in it are just wonderful. Gaiwan is Mandarin for covered cup. Using a gaiwan is easy. You fill the bowl with tea leaves and hot water, let the tea steep then pour from the bowl using the lid as a strainer. The one I used has holes so it’s even easier. This gives a beautiful, intimate way to steep tea. You can visually see the tea steeping and expanding and smell the delicious aroma of the fresh tea leaves. It also makes it easy to infuse for a second time (third, fourth…). Each time you steep a tea such as Bi Luo Chun Tea, the flavour tastes a little different and you can pick up different notes depending on how many time it’s been steeped. A gaiwan makes it easy to continue to resteep your tea leaves and re-experience a different taste with each infusion.

Gaiwan from Umi Tea Sets

Umi Tea Sets has a beautiful selection of tea sets, tea cups, teapots and tea accessories to choose from. They range from cast iron to glass, and the pottery one as pictured here. You can even purchase beautiful tea pets! Never heard of a tea pet? These little companions are cute additions to tea time and usually sit on a tea tray during a tea ceremony. Traditionally, when you brew your tea, you pour some leftover tea on your tea pet and they can also be used to check if water is hot enough.

Visit Umi Tea Sets to discover the variety of teas and accessories that are offered. Bi Luo Chun Tea is a delicious way to get you started!

Posted by: Lauren | January 22, 2021

Natural Puerh Tea Company

Natural Puerh, a tea company from China, recently sent me some wonderful tea samples to try.

Natural Puerh Company, located in Kunming, the capital city of Yunnan, was established in April 2019. As stated on the website: “In this province our company could get the most excepted tea products for any customers. Also Kunming is the natural place for the pu-erh tea fermentation dry ware house! Our company are related to the Bajiao pu-erh tea factory. So the pu-erh tea is our main products. At the same time we are dealing with Deepure matcha and Phoenix black tea these drinks.”

Here are the teas I sampled:

Huangshan MaoJian green tea is first up. This green tea has a beautiful aroma with a light, grassy taste. A nice and fresh tasting green tea. It’s hard to beat the taste of a fresh, unflavoured green tea – bringing me back to the feeling of being on a tea farm.

Huangshan MaoJian green tea 

Phoenix black tea classic has a rich, strong taste of black tea. Just the right amount of flavour you’d expect from a black tea. If any of you out there are still drinking low grade Orange Pekoe from tea bags – this would be a huge improvement for you, in taste, quality and freshness.

Phoenix Black Tea

Puerh Raw 2018 Guhua is next. This pu-erh has a perfect earthy taste to it. This unique earthy taste found in pu-erh is one of my favourites. More on pu-erh shortly!

Puerh Raw 2018 Guhua

Puerh Cooked Yuechen Yuexiang is another earthy pu-erh and it is from the Menghai tea area in China. The aroma reminds me of a lovely spring day, fresh earth, grass, gardens growing – fitting for a tea that is collected in the early spring. Although a distinguished taste that might need to be acquired, earthy pu-erhs are definitely some of my favourite teas.

Puerh Cooked Yuechen Yuexiang

More on Pu-erh

You probably already know what white, green and black tea taste like, but have you ever tasted pu-erh? 

Camellia Sinensis, 2019, Photo by Lauren Herzog

All true teas come from the same plant – Camellia Sinensis. Pu-erh is unique in that the tea is aged and fermented as part of the process. This creates quite a unique flavour profile. Often you’ll find the tea sold in cakes. You may have tried pu-erh in a restaurant – it is sometimes served with fatty foods as it’s known for its digestive properties.

Puerh Cooked Yuechen Yuexiang – seen in its cake form

Pu-erh, from old Chinese, translates to black tea. The definition reads: Late 19th century. From Puer (Chinese Pǔ’ěr; also transliterated Pu-erh, etc.), the name of a town in the Yunnan province of China, where the tea was first produced.

Fermentation distinguishes pu-erh from other teas. The leaf may or may not be oxidized, but microbial activity always takes place creating true fermentation. Pu-erh leaves are large and richly coloured, made from oxidized (cooked) or nonoxidized (raw) leaves. They can be found in loose leaf form or compressed into round cakes (beeng cha). The best pu-erh comes from long-lived tea bushes in China from the southern Yunnan Province.

There are two types of Pu-erh tea:

1. Sheng pu-erh (raw or green)

a) Mao Cha – Young green, which needs proper storage and aging

b) Dry storage, naturally aged – The best pu-erh, it is authentic, compressed, caked or bricked

2. Shou pu-erh (cooked or black)

a) Wo Dui (wet-pile fermented) – Usually loose-leaf, ready for consumption

b) Wet storage, quickly aged – Compressed into beeng cha

Sheng pu-erh is plucked and processed through standard methodology, and is then left to air dry followed by being fired. If it is to become raw pu-erh, the leaves are fired completely. The leaf is gathered and turned regularly to create fermentation. Mao Cha is packed into a compressed form and ages for ten years, while undergoing post-fermentation.

Hopefully I’ve convinced you to give pu-erh a try! Happy steeping!

Posted by: Lauren | October 20, 2020

Dollar Tea Club Subscription

Last year I took a look at Dollar Tea Club. Dollar Tea Club is a Canadian subscription tea company that ships to Canada and the US. Every month, you receive a package of new tea – starting from $1 plus shipping ($4.50 – so $5.50 total) based on the plan of your choosing. This fall, I sampled some more blends from Dollar Tea Club. In my pack, I received Japanese Genmaicha, Earl Grey, Berry Merlot, Ginger Peach and Cool Cucumber.

The details on the packaging are really great – the ingredients, time and temperature brewing details are all included. I also love the extra details included on each package – the images and fun facts.

I am a fan of all of the blends that I tried! Genmaicha is always a go to of mine, and I love finding the popped rice in the tea. Berry Merlot is rich in flavour for a surprisingly intense, tart taste. Cucumber is also a favourite ingredient of mine – and I loved finding it in Cool Cucumber, which is also tasty iced.

Genmaicha

The team at Dollar Tea Club has also introduced an online Tea Timer! A fantastic way to help brew your tea. If you’re like me, I often forget about my tea until it’s too late. Oversteeped or too cold to enjoy. This is a great tool to help avoid those accidents and to make sure you get the perfect cup!

If you’re looking for some fun subscription mail and want to try some tasty new tea blends, check out Dollar Tea Club! Don’t want to make the commitment? You can also shop without a subscription.

Posted by: Lauren | January 23, 2020

The 2020 Toronto Tea Festival

The Toronto Tea Festival is Coming!

January is National Hot Tea Month, which is always a telltale sign that the annual Toronto Tea Festival is near.

This year’s festival falls on February 1 and 2 with a kickoff VIP event on January 31, 2020. Single day tickets are $16, while the Rare Tea Experience VIP Event costs $120.

Maybe you’re like me, and you definitely don’t need any more tea. (But honestly, I could always use a little more…). Is it still worth it to attend the festival? Definitely! There’s a stellar program featuring a variety of speakers. View the full program here. This year, I’m particularly interested to learn about flash-frozen tea with Tracy Bell from Millennia Tea.

So what can you expect at the festival? Of course there will be tea vendors that you can buy or sample tea from. See the list of the 51 vendors here. Need some help in deciding what to buy? Check out the winners from the 2020 Tea Tasters Box, tested and voted on before the festival by tea lovers. There are also a variety of tea ceremonies on the program, including a Chinese and Japanese Tea Ceremony demonstration. There is also a kombucha making demonstration on both days of the festival. If you’ve been buying kombucha, here’s your opportunity to learn the more cost effective way to drinking it, making it! (It costs about $1/gallon to make vs. $4/bottle – so your ticket to the festival essentially pays for itself!) And of course, the presentations, with an awesome line-up for both Saturday and Sunday.

Location:
Toronto Reference Library
Appel Salon, 2nd floor
789 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON M4W 2G8

See you there! I’ll be the one buying tea that I don’t need!

toronto-tea-festival-flyer
Posted by: Lauren | November 19, 2019

Dollar Tea Club

I recently had the opportunity to try my very first tea subscription. As all us of tea lovers know, we are “burdened” with way too much tea in our collection, so tea subscriptions have never really been on my radar, until I learned about the Dollar Tea Club. For one dollar (plus shipping, which costs more than the tea of course – $4.50), you get three 8 gram samples – a manageable amount of additional tea! (Unless you love a sample so much that you need to get more of it). At $5.50, this is still a great value – just think of how much it costs to purchase a cuppa at a shop. There are larger price point subscriptions that offer more tea. These are most likely better suited for people who don’t have as much tea as I do.

From Dollar Tea Club’s website: With Dollar Tea Club tea subscriptions starting at $1/month, everyone is guaran’tea-d to find something they love. Explore new blends, shop for your favorites online, and enjoy changeable monthly tea subscriptions. Love a tea? Add a bigger pouch for next month. Tired of a blend? Remove it. With a shop full of tea, accessories, and our famous $1 tea subscription with a No Contract, Cancel Anytime Guarantee, we bet you can’t think of a reason not to give us a sip.

IMG_0593.JPG

Dollar Tea Club

In my last batch of samples, I received: Blue Spring Oolong, Bubblegum and Rocky Horror Spice. Blue Spring Oolong was definitely the winner of the three – and the oolong was deliciously heightened by the mallow petals.

IMG_0616.JPG

Rocky Horror Spice

I did appreciate the fun additions to the blends – Rocky Horror Spice was Halloween themed with candy and Bubblegum had actual bubblegum in it. It is fun to be surprised by the blends in a subscription, but since I do have so much tea it would also be a neat feature to be able to pick from a selection so I don’t get repeats of tea I already have. So far, with the two mailings I have received, there were no repeats from my collection of 200+ teas.

IMG_0599.JPG

Bubblegum

All in all, definitely a subscription worth trying. They do have a cancel anytime guarantee. This is helpful if you don’t want to commit, especially if your tea collection is growing too fast! I did temporarily cancel mine as I was moving and didn’t have time for a subscription, but intend to start up again soon. If you’re cancelling/putting your subscription on hold for a longer period of time, you may want to double check the timeline with the Tea Club customer service.
Check out the Dollar Tea Club to see if their subscription is right for you. An inexpensive way to try new teas and get a fun surprise in the mail every month. Happy steeping! 
Posted by: Lauren | January 24, 2019

The Toronto Tea Festival is Coming!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Next weekend marks the 7th annual Toronto Tea Festival.

It’s always a fantastic day out, with great speakers, demonstrations and vendors. And of course, tea tastings. Even though I just inventoried my tea, which now has grown past 200 varieties, you bet I’ll be there to discover even more.

So whether you need to stock up, find something new, or just learn about tea – there’s something for everyone.

Festival Info

Date:
Tea Festival Show Dates: Feb 1, 2 & 3, 2019
Location:
Toronto Reference Library
Appel Salon, 2nd floor
789 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON M4W 2G8
Hours:
Feb 1, 2019 12:00pm – 7:00pm
Feb 2, 2019 10:00am – 5:00pm
Feb 3, 2019 10:00am – 5:00pm

 

See you next weekend!

teafest

Posted by: Lauren | January 11, 2019

New Drink Discovery

My new favourite morning drink recipe will please tea and coffee drinkers alike! I discovered that mixing matcha and espresso into one beverage is quite a treat. How? Quite simply, in three steps:

1. I brew espresso,
2. I froth milk (my frother heats it as well),
3. I whisk up some matcha.

After combining them all, and adding a bit of agave to cut the bitterness, a stir and it’s good to go!

It looks like Starbucks Singapore has offered a cold version of this for a while. I’ll save the iced recipe for a warmer day.

ime

 

Posted by: Lauren | May 17, 2018

Butterfly Pea Flowers

Butterfly pea flowers. Butterfly pea what? Butterfly pea flowers, Clitoria ternatea, is a plant commonly grown in Southeast Asia. The flowers are often used in cooking or brewed into a tisane. But why talk about it?

Image result for butterfly pea flowers

image from bluechai.com

You may have recently seen a video of the drink going viral on Social Media. What’s so cool about it? It steeps blue, but when you add lemon or lime to it, it turns purple and pink (science!). This is caused by the change in acidity. Watch it happen here.

The flowers are popping up everywhere! DavidsTEA introduced a tea for Halloween called Magic Potion that takes advantage of the colour changing effect. “Want to see a magic trick? Add a squeeze of lemon to this juicy blue raspberry blend and watch it go from indigo to violet – no enchantments or pixie dust needed. The secret ingredient? Butterfly pea flower – a unique plant from Southeast Asia that turns tea blue naturally thanks to its bright azure petals. Spritz in some lemon and a drizzle of honey for the ultimate nightcap. Or serve it iced for a refreshing berry-packed tonic. With its fun colour-changing powers, it’s like a mood ring in your mug.”

Starbucks Singapore jumped on to the trend launching Butterfly Pea Lemonade Cold Brew.

Image result for butterfly tea singapore starbucks

Tea blenders aren’t the only ones catching on to the trend… bartenders are as well. Who wouldn’t be mesmerized by a colouring changing alcoholic beverage? Take the Disco Sour for example, a drink offered at 492 in South Carolina. The pea flower extract is frozen into an ice cube and the drink is poured over to create a magical (scientific) colour change.

So what does it taste like? Well it doesn’t taste anything like you’d expect it to based on the bright blue colour. No, it does not taste like fruit punch. It’s similar to green tea and has a very grassy, earthy taste.

I recently had the pleasure of traveling to Thailand and was fortunate enough to pick up quite a few of the flowers to experiment with back at home. Currently, you can order them from places like Amazon, eBay and from Wild Hibiscus. You can also purchase extracts from Wild Hibiscus called b’lure, to make the bartending that much simpler, with the claim to contain the equivalent of 3 – 4 boxes of tea in each bottle purchased. Though this simplifies the process, it’s just as easy to make your own dye with the flowers.

Yes, you can dye food with it too. Oh, and it’s also great in Kombucha.

Health benefits? Yes, it has those too. The flower has long been a part of Thai traditional medicine. It’s full of antioxidants and is known to fight inflammation.

butter1.jpg

Adding Butterfly Pea dye to water

butter.jpg

Gin and Tonic with Butterfly Pea Flowers, Cheers!

Happy purple steeping!

Posted by: Lauren | January 5, 2017

Bampot Bohemian House of Tea and Board Game

I’m not sure why it took me so long to visit Bampot Bohemian House of Tea and Board Games in Toronto, but I finally discovered this wonderful place last week. As the name suggests, this restaurant is a tea shop meets board game cafe, and it’s really awesome. There is even art everywhere, up for sale. Located at Bathurst and Harbord, Bampot basically has the feel of a giant living room in the middle of the city, and what better place to relax with a cup of tea. This chill vibe is perfect for any winter day in Toronto.

pic10

Oh, and they have poutine soup. POUTINE SOUP. (Yes, it’s damn good). 

 

pic8

POUTINE SOUP, POUTINE SOUP!

 

pic9

I need this mirror

pic11

Tea vibes from the outside

pic6

No shortage of tea. Love the way it’s served

 

pic7

pic4

pic3

Art!

pic1

 

I will be back, because, like… tea… poutine soup….

Posted by: Lauren | August 10, 2016

Tea in the Netherlands and Belgium

This post is almost a year late… but better late than never?

Last year I visited Holland and Belgium, and obviously some tea shops… I’m going to share a few of my favourites.

One of my favourite cities that I visited while in the Netherlands was Haarlem, where I discovered probably the best tea shop I have ever been to. The shop is called The Art of … Tea, Herbs and Spices. I was in heaven. It was hard to choose what to buy, but one of my favourites I picked up is Het Palet van Rembrandt – a green rooibos.

IMG_5562

Look at all that tea! HEAVEN!

The Tea Bar was also a fun find. I learned this shop uses some of the same tea suppliers as David’s Tea… just a little further away!

Another favourite was Four Leaves. This was a great spot for a rest after a long bike ride in Amsterdam. I love the Carpe Diem rooibos blend I picked up there.

IMG_5552-2

A lovely spot… especially after an exhausting bike ride

I didn’t stop there though….Simon Lévelt was a great chain I found. I’m a huge fan of the Honeybush Mango Lemon.

Wait… there’s more. ‘t Zonnetje was another great one in Amsterdam. This tea shop is in a building from the 17th century and has some great charm. The guy in the shop was great to talk to. Very cool!

Oh but there’s still more… judging me yet?

In the Hague I discovered Wijs & Zonen, yet another charming tea shop. My favourite from there was a green tea called Hemels.

I haven’t even gotten to Belgium yet…

In Brussels I visited Palais Des Thes, a favourite of mine after discovering it in Paris a few years back. Thé des Alizés is awesome – a peach flavoured green tea.

I also stumbled across  Betjeman & Barton another Paris company. I do believe I visited the location in the Hague, but there are locations worldwide, including Belgium as well.

My next stop is Spain, so if anyone knows any teashops there, I will be happy to investigate…

Until then I better make some room for new teas!

Older Posts »

Categories