Teahouse Matcha/Rishi -skysamurai-

Everyone once in awhile I will drink a tea or have a matcha that is the unfortunate victim to poor packaging.

The grey unassuming bag looks like it would be well suited for the job of protecting this matcha but I fear it failed. The dry aroma is nil.

It’s part of matcha that I love, so smelling a staleness, a sort of packaging type of smell was disappointing. Surprisingly the wet aroma immediately filled my nose with vegetal and slight nori notes. Gave me hope.

But that was dashed with the flavor. It tastes like the aroma. Not at all what I expected.

Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type: Green Tea/Matcha

Where to Buy: Rishi


Our top grade of organic matcha is made from the first springtime harvest of tencha, savored for its umami sweetness, creamy taste and enlivening energy

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

A Trio of Peach Teas from Beleave, Rishi, and Teavana. . . .

Who knew I had so many peachy teas in my cupboard?  Let’s look at a spontaneous peach tea trio!

Pinkies Up Peach from Beleave Teas

Leaf type: white tea

This is a white tea with peach pieces and added flavors.  The dry leaf smells fruity and juicy without being artificial.  When brewed, the white tea base is smooth and buttery and pairs perfectly with the bright sweet peach overtones.  White tea and peach are a winning combination.  Black tea blends tend to get too tart or overbearing against the sweet fruit.  Pinkies Up Peach from Beleave would make a great summer iced tea.

Peach Blossom White from Rishi Tea

Leaf type: white tea

Wow, blossoms indeed!  There are plenty of buds and petals in the dry leaf, and the blend smells a flower box.  Brewed, the fragrance is even stronger with jasmine and peony.  The peach takes a back seat in this blend, and taste a bit more peach candies than fresh fruit.  The peach tones pop up in the aftertaste, alongside citrus notes like mandarin orange.  This wasn’t a very peachy tea, but it was a unique floral blend that surprised me.

Peach Cran Tango from Teavana

Leaf type: black tea

Even before Teavana closed its online shop, I believe the Peach Cran Tango blend was discontinued.  So it’s a bit of a moot point for me to review it now.  To help soothe the Teavana ache, I tried to replicate this blend on Adagio’s custom tea builder.  Give my Peach Cran Tango and try and see how it stacks up.

The last of the Teavana sample I tasted was simple but enjoyable.  Sweet peach is balanced with a bit of tart cranberry, all atop a solid black tea base. This is technically a peach blend, though it also features a good dose of cranberry. Cranberries are sweet, tangy and versatile, and seem to tango with just about any fruit partner. The red-berry tartness help the peach from being too cloying and make for a balanced fruit blend.

Well I’m feeling just peachy after all these peach teas.  All this sweet fruit makes me feel like warmer weather is on its way already…



Midwest Tea Fest 2015: Part 2 – The Haul!

Now on to Part 2 of my ‘review’ of the Midwest Tea Fest! Oh, what goodness lies ahead!

TeaHaul1What kind of tea person would I be if I did not take home a massive haul of tea back with me? I packed very light for the trip, but brought a giant suitcase to hold it all in. When it was all packed tightly away, I just made the cut off size for a checked bag. 49.5lbs of nothing but tea, teaware, and toothpaste!

I know how it looks, there is a lot more teaware than there is tea. I waited too long to snag anything, and a lot of the teas being sold were essentially all gone. But! I fell in love with more teaware than I think is healthy for just one person. It was pretty crowded around all of the booths the majority of the time, it was a madhouse! Just watching the folks at the Queen’s Pantry feverishly weigh and pack all the teas that were flying off the ‘shelves’ was almost nauseating. I overheard the people at Shang Tea how they only prepared for 300 people, and there was easily twice as much in attendance.

TeaHaul2The few teas you see are mostly samples, the Rishi and Harney were in my goodie bag, and I got samples of Pomegranate white and gunpowder mint from Single Origin. I did purchase Single Origin Tea’s Jun Chiyabari, the last one on their table. There is a small round tin of Bingley’s 10yrs Oven Roasted Aged oolong, and I did pick up some of Shang’s Aged White. (Not at the actual festival though, I took the short walk to Crowne Plaza to their brick and mortar store to pick some up, they were not selling them at the fest.)

TeaHaul3I ended up doing something I never do, and that is indulge in any whim I had along the way. I bought three pieces from Pi Ceramics, a sweet goblet cup, a cha hai (sharing pitcher) for gongfu, and a short and stout kuysu! They are great looking pieces and have a good home here with me. I bought another sharing pitcher from Bingley’s, as well as a small glass teapot. The two small white cups are from Shang Tea, as well as the white infused mug, and the Tea Seed Oil. (Fun Fact: Tea Seed Oil has a smoke point of 455F. You could healthily fry with it!)

The two books you see are the darlings of my collection from the fest. The first is Nichole’s own book, Tea Log: Chronicle your journey of Tea which a very useful tool I know I will be filling up very quickly. And the hardcover 30th edition of Tea Lover’s Treasury by James Norwood Pratt was signed by the legend himself. I was overjoyed by the welcoming attitude he and his wife Valerie had towards everyone they talked to.

Vanilla Mint Chai from Rishi Tea

VanillaMintChaiChai Information:

Leaf Type:  Pu-erh

Where to Buy:  Rishi Tea

Tea Description:

Creamy, rich textured and inviting, this pu-erh based chai is unlike any other. Its delicate balance of silky and luscious vanilla bean, bright and soothing peppermint and sweet cinnamon transform this chai into something magical.

Learn more about this chai here.

Taster’s Review:

Wow!  I really like this, although I don’t know that I’d agree with calling it a “chai.”  Yeah, yeah, I know that chai means tea and so therefore all tea is technically chai … but I’ve come to recognize the word “chai” as meaning a masala (or combination) of spices.  And since this Vanilla Mint Chai from Rishi Tea only has cinnamon, licorice root and vanilla that truly qualify as “spices” (I’d categorize peppermint as an herb, wouldn’t you?), I don’t think that’s enough “spices” to call this a chai.

Regardless, it is tasty!

The Pu-erh base offers an earthy background, although with the strong peppermint notes and the creamy tone of vanilla, the earthy notes do not overwhelm.  It truly is a “background” note in this blend.  And since I tend to shy away from the overly earthy teas, the fact that the earthiness here is subtle is quite alright with me.

The combination of peppermint and vanilla offer a taste that’s quite like the creamy center of a peppermint patty candy bar.  YUM!  The licorice root is subtle but adds a nice snappy contrast to the peppermint, and the cinnamon gives a hint of spice to the overall cup.  All these notes are subtle compared to the vanilla and mint … these two dynamic flavors are the stars of the show here.

Even so, the mint isn’t TOO minty, it doesn’t taste toothpaste-y, it just has a crisp, cool taste that contrasts with the silky, creamy notes of the vanilla.  The flavors of the spices and herb soften the earthy tones of the Pu-erh … providing a very smooth, satisfying cup for even those of us who tend to suffer from Pu-erh anxiety.  In fact, there isn’t one flavor here that really overpowers the others … this is really a nicely balanced cup and a very interesting combination of flavors!

Organic Silver Needle from Rishi Tea

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  White

Where to Buy:  Rishi Tea

Tea Description:

Reserve White Tea with a sublime, sweet flavor and a rich, savory finish. 

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I did not find this particular Silver Needle on the Rishi website, I hope that it will be back in stock soon, because it is fabulous!

I chose to brew this cup in my gaiwan.  The leaves were so fluffy and soft, I just couldn’t bear to put them in anything other than my gaiwan, I wanted to enjoy these properly!

The aroma of the brewed cup is sweet, reminiscent of the fragrance of fresh hay in the clean, country air.  (Yes, I’ve smelled this.  I may live in a city now, but for most of my adolescence I lived in a small farming community town on a ranch, and I have a lot of experience with hay!)  It smells so clean and crisp and beautifully sweet.

And that’s very much what I taste, too:  a clean, crisp kind of flavor, fresh and slightly vegetal, with a hint of spice that arrives toward the finish to give it a savory kind of quality.  It is remarkably sweet and full of flavor, which is a little surprising as Silver Needle teas can sometimes be on the delicate side.  I do not find this tea to be delicate … at least, not in the sense of being softly flavored.  It has a delicate complexity though, with hints of flavors that seem to quickly present themselves to the palate and disappear almost as rapidly, causing the taste buds to perk up and say:  “what was that?”

I like that about Silver Needle tea, the overall cup may not always be delicate, but the nuances are often delicate in the way they present themselves.

I also like that this is an organic tea – as are all of Rishi’s teas!  I appreciate that they’ve set that kind of standard for themselves, so I know that when I’m tasting a Rishi Tea, I know that I’m getting a high quality, organic product.

And … if you haven’t done so yet, I highly recommend checking out their teaware … they are almost as drool worthy as the pages of tea that Rishi has available!