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Blissful Buds from Mellow Monk . . . .

Tea has become more of a mindfulness exercise for me lately, rather than simply a means to caffeination. I reverently begin this tasting by getting on the level with the loose, green grinds. Dry leaves are sweet-smelling like a japanese tea.  They tease me with something that almost smells of raspberry, though I know there is none in this blend.

After brewing the tea leaves got much lighter in color and presented a cloudy olive-green infusion with lots of tiny stowaways from the gravity brewer into my cup.

I cannot stress enough, as with all green and white teas, watch your temperature or you will be drinking something akin to Satan’s bath water (to put it nicely).

I started off with my usual 175F for 2 min but was caught off guard by the bitter chemical type taste. I’d overbrewed it, serious bummer. The leaves were ruined and I’d have to start again from scratch. My second try was with half the steep time. Better tasting, but still a tannic nirvana (different from Darjeeling though). Not my cup of tea. You know those monks are seriously being tested when they drink a tea this strong all day. It for sure keeps them awake in church! I certainly couldn’t keep a vow of silence after drinking it.

As proud as I am of my scientific problem solving approach, I should’ve just read the package instructions. At 160F and right around a minute brew time, the third try was a charm. This delicate leaf brews strong! Tangy still, with a long lingering pucker-worthy aftertaste. But much more palatable than Satan’s bathwater. Upon resteeping, it was a much different flavor because a bit more of the sweetness came out.

This blend is described as sweet like other Japanese teas but that was not my experience, even with a cold brew attempt. But on a good note, I learned my lesson about reading the package instructions. Thank you monks!


Here’s the scoop!

Type of Tea:  Green
Where to Buy:  Mellow Monk
Description:

Blissful Buds™ is made by picking the small young buds at the pinnacle of the tea plant — the leaves richest in catechins. These tender leaves yield a refreshingly sweet infusion, redolent of apples, with berry-like tangy overtones and much less astringency than conventional senchas. This type of tea is also served at the end of a meal at fine Japanese restaurants. (In sushi lingo, this type of tea is referred to as agari.)

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Superior Sencha – Compass Teas. . . . .

Hello tea friends,

It’s always nice to drink something with the word superior in it’s title. From what I understand; superior Sencha is one of the highest grades of Sencha. It is also more refined and elegant in general, from those that I have tried anyway.

This tea is no longer sold by Compass Tea but it may be something they restock in the future, or have something similar to.

The leaf is dark green with a high shine and a sweet, floral scent with a touch of grass. The leaves are of medium size with some broken pieces present, overall it looks as expected ie no discolouration or holes.

Steeping this at a lower temperature around 65C for one minute to try and draw out some of the umami and sweetness.

A golden brown/green liquid is produced (again typical of Superior Sencha) and it bares a toasted grass and seaweed scent, also slightly vegetal.

Flavour is medium strength with sweet grass highs and toasted peony lows, with a salty seaweed and kale type mineral after taste that lingers and becomes dry.Only a touch of astringency but some umami is present. Half way down my yunomi and it becomes so sweet and floral it’s picked up a perfumed quality has real mouth feel to it. Also slightly bitty at the bottom of my bowl.

A second steep of the same parameters reveals: less sweetness but more umami, mimicking soup broth in this steep. More mouth feel and dryness in the after taste and less perfume. Still it bares little astringency as such and it remains vegetal. It reminds me of Matcha, has a similar sort of flavour and feel about it in this steep. Just a very watery and non foamy Matcha.

Overall I was impressed. The quality was expected (average for a Superior Sencha) but it steeped well and had wonderful characteristics and flavours. A nice example of Sencha and pleasing to drink. I recommend low temperatures if your an umami fan though, at least to start with, I’m an umami fan at heart.

A nice introduction to Compass Teas for me and while this is no longer sold I will certainly keep my eyes open to see what line of Sencha it has in the future.

Happy Steeping!

 

 


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Green Tea
Where to Buy: Compass Teas
Description: This tea is no longer available for sale but they have many other teas for sale.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Ganymede Matcha Tea Blend by MoongleamTeaShoppe

Hello Tea Friends!

My head is spinning at the idea of a Matcha, cocoa, mint, and orange peel combination and it’s something I have no idea of what to expect. Frankly that is why I chose this blend to try, not only is it original but it’s also from a small Etsy store and I love to give smaller businesses a chance.

So lets have a look at the tea. what can I say?…It’s medium sized pieces of what I assume is cocoa and orange peel covered in a green Matcha dust with a few rough looking chopped leaves. It looks as adventurous as it sounds. Scent wise it smells chocolatey yet dry.

I think I will steep this at roughly 75C (on the milder side) and hope that the Matcha doesn’t become too astringent. But I still want to get the best out of the other ingredients so I don’t want to go too mild. Steeping time will also be a fairly quick 20  seconds. This is going in completely blind on a guess, I imagine it’s one of those teas you have to try and alter to taste and experiment with. But for now those are my parameter choices.

As soon as the water goes in the mint fills my nostrils and bursts through the cocoa. The colour is dark green and cloudy (thank you Matcha) and it bares a strong mint chocolate scent. It looks like used paint water but looks can be deceiving.

Okay so the first sip reveals bitter mint with some sweetness and some creamy cocoa behind it, leading to a dry yet refreshing after taste. The astringency is from the Matcha I think but it quickly fades into a creamy undertone before finishing with softer mint.It’s actually so rich it’s more like a black tea base than green. The orange is lost on me though.

A second steep with the same parameters reveals: less bitterness making it creamier and sweeter, the mint still being forefront. This is more like a traditional mint green tea with a touch of cocoa. Still dry but so easy to drink.

Think of it as a mint chocolate tea with some Matcha goodness thrown in for good measure. A strange combination but it actually makes a nice change to try something so different. My husband said it’s like a chocolate ice lolly that has melted a bit.

So unusual but nice, worth the try and I am happy to have tried a sample. If you’re looking for something different then it’s definitely worth a try.

Happy Steeping!


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Green Blend
Where to Buy: MoonGleam Tea Shoppe (Etsy)
Description: The rich, earthy flavor of matcha meets the sweetness of cocoa, mint, and orange peel.
The flavors combine wonderfully to create a wonderful interplay.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Wow – We Just Hit 5K! (5,000 Posts, That is!) #TeaGiveaway

Hello – this is Anne – aka LiberTEAS – aka the Mad Tea Artist over at 52Teas! It’s been a while since I’ve written anything over here at SororiTea Sisters. I’m still an admin here but really, it’s more of an honorary title because truth be told, I do relatively little over here, administratively speaking (read: I do nothing) because I’m very busy with the aforementioned Mad Tea Artist thing.

Fortunately, I left control of the helm in the very capable hands of my co-founder Jennifer (aka TeaEqualsBliss) and Nichole (aka CuppaGeek) and they’re doing a really wonderful job – much better than I could have done given my time constraints. So I’d like to start off this article by offering a huge THANK YOU to these two ladies as well as to the many contributors we’ve had over the last eighteen months. I truly appreciate you coming in and keeping this blog going.

TeaEqualsBliss and I started this blog together back in 2010. We were both contributors at another blog and things were not really happening over there. The administrator had things going on in her own life and found less and less time to devote to the blog and let me tell you – running an active blog like this takes a lot of time and energy! That’s a lesson we both learned very quickly when we decided to pool our talents and start our own tea blog.

5000postsWe were truly a team – I was writing at least two reviews per day and she was writing at least one while taking on the enormous task of reaching out to tea purveyors to obtain samples as well as get contributions for giveaways to generate some excitement around the SororiTea Sisters blog. I’m so grateful to her for all her hard work that she put forth in those early days and continues to put forth – she helped make my dream as a tea reviewer come true.

It may seem like an unusual dream to some but it’s something that kept me going back then. I had this intense passion for tea and I loved writing. The blog was the culmination of these two passions. My love and adoration of the beverage that is TEA is one of those things that got me out of bed in the morning (well, afternoon – I’m a night owl). It’s still what keeps me going, only in a different capacity. It’s still what keeps our beloved blog going – six years later – and it’s what brings others to us willing to write about their own love of tea. And – it’s what brings YOU here to read about our various tea adventures – your interest in tea is what keeps us going. It’s because of you – our readers – that we’ve enjoyed the success that we have over the years so you are just as responsible for us being here as we are – thank you.

We love sharing our joy of tea with others and this blog is a celebration of that – and I’m really proud of all the accomplishments that I’ve made with SororiTea Sisters.

Congratulations to all the SororiTea Sisters – past, present and future! – who have helped make this blog what it is today! Here’s to another amazing 5,000 reviews!

 

In honor of our 5000th review, we would like to do what we do best and giveaway some tea! We have a wonderful gift pack of teas from Blue Hour Tea and Virginia Tea Company and a lovely tea towel from Stylish Girlz included in this gift set. Perfect for those winter nights just ahead of us!

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5000th Post Giveaway!

Imperial Grade Bai Lin Gong Fu Black Tea from Yunnan Sourcing

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Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black Tea

Where to Buy:  Yunnan Sourcing

Tea Description:

Bai Lin (lit. White Forest) Gong Fu black tea is made from Fuding Bai Hao “White Pekoe” varietal tea leaves. Our Imperial grade is a tippy grade, meaning only the smallest tips and leaf budlets are picked. This picking has to be done in few short days in spring to obtain the tenderest of shoots.

The brewed tea is packed with flavor and aroma.  There is a kind of dried longan fruit dark and pungent sweetness which juxtaposed against a low subtle bitterness that provides a real complex and lively drinking experience!

Spring 2014 harvest (Late April)

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

The hot weather has finally hit the UK in full force as we experience a heat wave. It’s times like this that I tend to crave green tea and Oolong in general but lately I’ve found myself craving some black tea. That’s when I remembered about my sample of this from March – Yunnan Sourcing – Premium Club. I know what you’re thinking, “But Kitty, that was months ago!”. And yes it was, but if I’m honest I just haven’t been in the mood for black tea. I have had some in that time to try and de stash but I’m sure most of you understand what it’s like, you fall in love with one tea and similar types and before you know it your fancy has changed and you end up pushing the pre loved tea towards the back of the cupboard. So after such a long wait I am looking forward to finally trying this.

Once the tea leaves are free from their silver packet I can note some gold tips among a dark brown base tone. The leaves are rather thinly rolled and average roughly 4mm in length. A nice mixture of size to be frank, some small and some large but most being similar and meeting in the middle. This deep, Autumn feeling tea has a dry and wooden scent with a touch of sweet malt and cocoa.

Steeping parameters:
Leaf – Approx 7g
Method: Gaiwan 100ml
Water: 100C – Boiling
Rinse: 5 seconds

Steep One – 30 seconds 

Golden brown colour with rich sweet wood and malt scent.

Flavour is dry and sweet with wood, malt, date, brown sugar and soft leather notes. Wonderful combination of flavours there and each bowl offers more and more. They blend in very well and linger in the after taste. The only downside is the dryness which is rather thick in my opinion, especially for a first steep.

Steep Two – 1 minutes 

A little stronger but still well balanced in terms of flavours, most of which remain for the second steep. The notable characteristics of this steep being: The malt is thick but seems to have smoothed out slightly and is less sweet, the dryness in the after taste has also dissipated a lot and on the whole it tastes better balanced compared to the first steep. Meaning that this steep the flavours are less surprising and less temperamental. That makes this my favourite steep from the two so far. Also the after taste is very much date and prune like, it’s delicious!

Steep Three – 2 minutes 

Notes: Softer scent and colour is light golden brown.

Flavour is also softer in this steep, which cuts out a few of the previous notes. Dominance being embraced by the malt and wood tones in particular. Also the date flavour is still present but rather soft at this point. The after taste no longer lingers as such which has been replaced by some sourness. Only a touch of sourness though, nothing drastic and not enough to claim it is bitter.

Steep Four – 3 minutes

An increase in sourness and decrease in strength (as I was predicting). Though despite that the dryness is not as bad in this steep and it still has a nice malt and wood finish. Still enough flavour to be pleasing and on the whole remains fairly  smooth for the most part. I would also say that with the sourness it reminds me of light tobacco notes rather than leather.

Steep Five – 4 minutes 

Note – I honestly thought it would end on steep four but I felt there was enough flavour left for this steep ie steep five. A pleasant surprise 🙂

Yes, this is my final steep but it was worth having that one extra. Albeit soft and light, there is some sweet malt tones that remain with a mild sour finish and a touch of dryness in the after taste. I feel that completed my drinking experience perfectly.

Summary:

This black tea had a wonderful burst of flavours at the beginning and it slowly began to soften. With the main flavours  throughout being: Wood, Sweet malt and date; this made for a delicious and rather special black tea. I have tried a few sources for Bai Lin Gong Fu and I believe this is my favourite so far. Reason being that it had the wide array of beautiful notes that for the most part remained consistent and pleasing, plus I found the strength was about right for my personal liking. Not to mention that this actually went very well with the heat wave thanks to the fruit tones.

Now I regret keeping it in my possession for so long without trying it sooner! I suppose all it means is that for right here, right now this is ‘my kinda cuppa’.