Thursday, April 30, 2015

Mauna Kea Tea's 2015 Green Tea

Last week I received a half ounce of fresh green tea from Mauna Kea Tea Company on the big island of Hawaii! Since my first post about this wonderful family farm five years ago, I've only tasted their teas a couple times, but I often think about them and enjoy following them on facebook and reading about Hawaiian tea production on their blog. Today I will share my review of their new 2015 Premium First Flush Green Tea.

The dry leaf of this green tea is really beautiful. It is made up entirely of long, twisted, leaf-and-bud sets with flecks of jade green, forest green, and silver. It smells fresh and sweet. A nice toasty aroma remains from the pan firing. 

For this cupping I used a large pinch of dry leaf, 165º F spring water, and a 1 minute steep in my glass gaiwan (steep time increased slightly with later infusions). The tea liquor is pineapple-yellow with a thick body and grassy fragrance.

I poured eight awesome infusions of this green tea. My notes bounced all around including herbaceous, floral, buttery and vegetal notes. This is my kind of green tea, it's complex and refreshing with a smooth and substantial mouth-feel. If you've never tasted Hawaiian grown tea I can think of no better place to start than this green from Mauna Kea Tea company.   

Monday, April 6, 2015

Tea Catering Revisited

Hi Tea Friends!

Wow... nine whole months have past without a single post here on my tea blog. It's not like my life has been any less tea-focused than usual, it's just that all facets of life seems to be online more and more. Everyday I have emails, texts, and comments to reply to from wonderful customers and friends around the world. These communications keep me busy and fulfilled but sometimes lessen my desire to blog. I'm not going to be too hard on myself though. The blog is here when I need it and I'll post when I feel like it. And today I have something to say!

I love to serve tea for people. That has always been my favorite part of the tea industry and it is how I've met most of my friends and built my brand as a tea-seller and tea-educator. This past weekend I got a chance to do some tea catering. On a beautiful morning in Normandy Park, Washington, I put hot, delicious tea samples into the hands of nearly 100 people at a high school art festival. It was a lot of fun and will no doubt lead to a few new customers for Phoenix Tea.

Setting up.

My station after set up.

Ready for Action!

A display of the five teas I offered.  From left to right:

I am always excited to represent Phoenix Tea by catering events. If you are interested in having me at your event please email me at brett[at]phoenix-teashop[dot]com. The cost varies depending on the nature of your event and the convenience of the time and venue required.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A Flight of Rare Teas & Black Dragon Notes

Hi Tea Friends!

I want to let you all know that Cinnabar and I are hosting a Flight of Rare Teas at our tea shop, Phoenix Tea, in Burien, Washington. This will be our third year presenting this fun and popular event. On Saturday, July 12th at 7:00 pm we will taste some delicious, special, and rare teas. This event is only $25 per guest and limited to 12 people so please contact us to RSVP or if you have any questions. You may purchase tickets in store or on our website. You may also check out the event page on facebook. 

In other news, I've started writing a monthly blog post and newsletter for Phoenix Tea. To receive my newsletter "Black Dragon Notes" please join the Phoenix Tea mailing list here. If you'd like to check out my first post "Tea Region Spotlight - Darjeeling, India" you will find it here.

Happy Sipping!

Friday, March 28, 2014

A Visit to the Seattle Chinese Garden

One of the many great things about living in South Seattle is that the Seattle Chinese Garden (西華園) is not too far away. Since 2008 I have presented many wonderful tea tastings at the garden but it has been over a year now since my last visit. Earlier this month, on a drizzly cool Sunday, my family went back to SCG to attend an open garden event. Here are a few photos my wife took from that lovely morning. 

Young magnolias trees bloom outside the entrance to the 
Knowing the Spring Courtyard (知春院).

Yellow bamboo around a pretty pond.

Song Mei Pavilion (松梅亭)

My kids and friends on a Giant Fish!

My son and I watching the little fish.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Dancong Haiku

Old tree with deep roots,
red halo on twisting leaves,
like sipping honey.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Welcome the Year of the Wooden Horse!

新年快樂 - Xīn nián kuài lè
恭喜發財 - Gōng xǐ fā cái
Happy New Year !

Friday, January 10, 2014

Clay Lined Tea Tumbler

This Christmas my generous friend and mentor Mr. Chen gave me a very special gift. It is a small tea tumbler lined with yixing clay.

As is often the case with Chinese gifts, this tumbler came in a very handsome silk-lined box. The package also included a pretty little booklet providing some history of Yixing clay and some information about the company that produced the cup. The design is titled bai jia xing (百家姓) and features over 500 golden words printed on a red background. For me it was love at first sight.

I've never used a cup like this before. On those rare occasions when I take my tea-to-go I usually just use a mason jar. Mason jars get the job done but the tea gets cold so fast and they will not fit in my car's cup holder. I also have a polycarbonate Chinese tea tumbler (seen here) which I use during longer trips or vacations but I was never crazy about that plastic teacup. 

Since Christmas I have used my clay lined tumbler many times. It has become my vessel of choice when I take my son to preschool on these cold winter mornings. First I brew my tea in a small teapot, usually it will be a Chinese black tea like dian hong, qimen, or bai lin gongfu but I've also tried it with dong ding and shui xian oolongs, then I decant the liquor right into the cup. To me, the flavor from this cup is much better than tea drunk out of an all metal tumbler. It is noticeably smoother, richer and sweeter.

Right now I'm not overly concerned about mixing different types of tea in this cup. I realize the clay will continuously change and that will affect the flavor of the teas, but as long as it tastes good I'll be happy.