My tasting notes: Nantou Dark

Between un-oxidized green teas and fully oxidized black teas there is a spectrum. This oxidation spectrum represents oolong teas. At one end of the spectrum, you will find oolongs that are more similar to green teas, whereas at the other end, there are oolongs that resemble black teas. Their beauty lies in their differences along this spectrum. Nantou Dark is a lightly oxidized oolong that is roasted (high fired). You can compare it to this other oolong I tasted here on the blog; they’re both oolongs but couldn’t be more different.

Matcha affogato

Affogato reminds me of Italy. A scoop of ice cream is "drowned" in a shot of espresso. A little guilty pleasure. Here I am deliberately switching espresso for matcha because the craft coffee movement is believed to be the predecessor of today’s high-quality tea industry, at least here in the United States. Thank you, craft coffee! I owe you one!The popularity of affogato lies in the combination of opposite flavors (bitter espresso VS sweet gelato) and different temperatures (hot espresso VS cold gelato). Opposites attract, we know that. Think of the many successful flavor combinations which rely on this principle, like sweet and salty (salted caramel, peanut butter and jelly, maple and bacon). It works. 

My tasting notes: Matcha Kan-no-shiro

I am sitting on a tatami mat. My legs start tingling but I barely notice it. My surroundings are so beautiful I can hardly perceive anything else. Outside the open screen windows there is a perfectly landscaped garden with stone lanterns and small stone bridges over a pond inhabited by black, orange and white koi. On the low table in front of me, a bowl of frothy matcha and a sweet rice treat. I am in Kyoto and I am never going to leave. Join me for a matcha tea tasting.

Iced tea from Paradise

With this recipe I won the Demmers Teehaus iced tea contest in Austria last July. Let me tell you how I came up with this recipe. I wanted it to be exciting and fun to make, which is why I incorporated some recent trends I have been seeing a lot over here in the US, including cold brewed tea.

My tasting notes: loose ripe Pu Erh

The first time I had pu erh was a long time ago and I didn't even know it. Back then, the only thing I knew about tea was that I liked it a lot. One day a relative gave me a round colorful cardboard box with black Chinese characters. Inside the box, wrapped in paper, there was tuocha, a dome-shaped compressed tea, made of pu erh. I cannot describe the fascination this little box exerted on me. It might have not been very high quality tea but to me it was like a treasure. You had to grate the dome-shaped cake to make a cup of tea and this process alone had something magical to it. The tea was strong, intense.What is pu erh?

Dreaming of a hot summer

In the heat of summer, you might not be so keen on that hot steamy cup of tea. Well, you see, living in San Francisco, I don't have such problems. The average temperature is 59 F (15 C) but I can always pretend it's hot outside and enjoy summer-appropriate food and beverages. For example, I could make some lovely iced tea. Nevertheless, I really want to trick myself into thinking that it is a scorching summer day out there and the best remedy against it is ice cream, of course! So, today I am making chai tea ice cream because on the one hand, I want to feel like I am enjoying the summer; on the other hand, the warmth from the chai spices is much more in tune with what I need right now (given the current temperatures!). 

My tasting notes: Phoenix Mountain

"Oolong" is a funny word. In Chinese it means "black dragon tea" and refers to a partially oxidized tea. This particular black dragon tea comes from Phoenix Mountain. I know, I realize this sounds like straight out of Chinese mythology. Misty mountains, remote tea gardens... Ok, now I am getting sidetracked!