My tasting notes: Gold tea from Nepal

This is a very experimental tea brewing and tasting session with a black tea from Nepal. Instead of Western style, I brewed it in a gaiwan (but I have to specify, not gongfu cha style) to push it to the edge of flavor and aroma, to get a more concentrated brew. It was a series of trial and error and adjustments to the brewing parameters, but I’m happy with the results. 

The Tea Squirrel visits The Aftel Archive of Curious Scents

Flavor is a combination of taste and smell, which is why I believe that to be able to fully appreciate tea, training your nose is equally important as training your palate. The Tea Squirrel visited The Aftel Archive of Curious Scents, a charming collection by Mandy Aftel,  renowned natural perfumer and book author who also works in the realm of flavor. 

Tea and murals. The So Cal edition

What is tea and murals? It all started with the realization that beauty can be part of my everyday life anytime, anywhere. Be present in the moment and you’ll be surprised how much beauty you will find, often in the most unexpected of places, sometimes in a cup of tea, sometimes just around the corner. Tea deserves more attention, and so does art. I’m pairing the two by showing you the most vibrant and fun murals while drinking tea. Grab your cup, let’s go!

The marine layer tea cocktail

I am a huge fan of craft cocktails and I probably don’t have to tell you that I’m always on the lookout for tea-infused craft cocktails wherever I go. Recently, I’ve realized that 99% of the already scarce tea cocktails available on the local imbibing scene feature Earl Grey. Don’t get me wrong, I love me a good Earl Grey tea cocktail, but I believe it’s high time bartenders tried something new. To make up for the lack of other teas in the craft cocktail world, I have a beautiful recipe for you. When I don’t go out, I love playing bartender at home. Let’s be honest, sipping a fancy, creative drink crafted with homemade and locally sourced ingredients and served with great attention to detail is still a fancy affair, even if you are in your pajamas and slippers.

An epic tea tasting with David Lee Hoffman

It’s a beautifully mild and sunny winter Saturday in San Francisco. My friend and fellow tea blogger Mike (The Tea Letter) and I are headed across the Golden Gate Bridge to Marin County, north of San Francisco. On the way, lush eucalyptus groves give way to towering redwoods. It’s a beautiful area and one that I often come to when I go hiking. Our destination is Lagunitas, where a very special tea tasting awaits.

What I “tea” in a day

The inspiration for this blog post comes from fellow tea blogger Lu Ann of The Cup of Life, who basically invented this. It’s about “keeping track” of tea, because - as someone once said - “tea is more than just a beverage, it’s about noticing your own habits.” 

My tasting notes: Da Hong Pao

No matter how much I try to convince myself otherwise, we’re still in the dead of winter. January has brought a lot of rain and grey, overcast skies to San Francisco and I cannot deny the intoxicating allure of bold, charcoal roasted teas. I let my imagination run wild and I picture myself in a forest of tall, majestic redwoods (that’s what we have around here), sitting by the fire and clutching a warm tea cup filled with fragrant Da Hong Pao.

Hojicha mochi muffins with hojicha tahini drizzle

Remember the mochi muffins? I while ago I had shared the recipe for matcha mochi muffins and - to date - it is still one of my most popular posts here on the blog. If you are not familiar with the mochi muffins (which I refuse to believe if you live in the Bay Area), let me tell you what the hype is about. This time around, I’m flavoring the mochi muffins with hojicha, roasted Japanese green tea, which I think pairs really well with the other ingredients.

Pairing Nepali white tea and cheese

It's no secret that I’m an epicurean tea drinker. I find pleasure and excitement in the taste of tea and in pairing it with fine foods. Indulgence, beauty and deliciousness are the principles I live by. I’ve paired tea and cheese many times before and it never ceases to amaze me how two things that are so different can go so well together. You guys love it when I put together a cheese board to pair with tea, so I’ve decided it was high time to do it again. 

The Tea Squirrel interviews tea blogger Georgia of Notes on Tea

Happy New Year, dear tea lovers! I wish you a wonderful 2018, filled with sips of delicious tea enjoyed together with friends and loved ones! To kick off the new year I have a very exciting interview for you! My tea friend and fellow tea blogger Georgia, author of the NYC based blog Notes on Tea, kindly agreed to answer my questions about her own tea journey. Last year, it was such an honor to be featured in her teaware series on her blog! Without further ado, let me introduce you to Georgia.

The most inspiring tea blog posts of 2017

2017 is almost over and I’m looking back and taking stock. It’s been a great year for The Tea Squirrel and I am truly honored to be part of such a lively, inclusive and positive community of tea bloggers and tea professionals. We inspire, support and motivate each other and I’d like to thank each and every one of you personally. Here's a roundup of the tea blog posts of 2017 that I found most inspiring.

Tea Reflections

Last week my friend and fellow tea blogger Mike (The Tea Letter) and I met for a gongfu tea session. Mike brought the tea, I brought the teaware and my camera. We had had tea together before at a tea house in San Francisco but this was the first time we got together with the intention to work on a “tandem” blog post. I’m glad to report that the input and inspiration I got from our tea session stretches far beyond that. This post has been particularly challenging to write, maybe because that input stirred inward reflection and assessment of my tea journey so far.

Holiday entertaining. Tea and food pairings to wow your guests

With the holiday season officially in full swing, I look forward to holiday parties! I will attend an Alice in Wonderland themed party in December and I hope there will be plenty of tea. I will very likely host some holiday dinner parties too and I’m making a point of introducing everybody to the magic of tea and food pairings. If you, like me, want tea to be the star of your holiday celebrations, I have tried and tested some combinations that will sweep everyone off their feet, from appetizer to dessert.

The San Francisco International Tea Festival 2017

It's 9:30 on a Sunday morning. On a regular Sunday, I would still be in bed, snoozing. But it’s not a regular Sunday. A line is forming in front of the San Francisco Ferry Building. I join it with a sigh of relief, virtually patting myself on the back for getting there early. Passers-by approach the volunteers who are managing the line, they want to know what event people are standing in line for (and what they are missing out on). They are stunned that tea is the reason drawing such crowds.

Pairing Italian marzipan with tea

Fall is an enchanted season and I was lucky enough to be in Europe for two weeks and got to experience it again after a long time. I was way less thrilled when I got home after my trip and had to edit the 877 pictures I took! As always, I was looking for tea, sometimes actively, sometimes less so and I did find it, in Germany and in Italy. Along the way, I found something I didn’t expect. Enchanted places, straight out of fairytales, so beautiful they were almost surreal.