All in Tastings

Japan. Tea in Kyoto

Kyoto is one of those places where I get what I can only describe as a fizzy feeling of excitement, sheer happiness bubbling up for no apparent reason. It’s the texture of the linen door curtains I gently move to the side with my hand, the brightest pop of yellow of the beautifully fan-shaped gingko leaves, all the shades of fire coloring the Japanese maples, the sound of water trickling into a stone basin, the soft rustling of a paper-paneled sliding door, the perfume-y smell of the cedar wood soaking tub, tatami mats under my feet. Four years had gone by since last time. This time, tea was at the top of my list. Here’s what happened.

A Japanese dessert and snack tasting with tea pairing in San Francisco

Have you ever heard the quote “where there’s tea, there’s hope”? I took the liberty of rewriting that into “where there’s excellent tea, there’s the tea squirrel” because wherever you can find top notch tea, you can be sure that place is on my radar and you might find me there to enjoy it. So naturally I had to visit Oyatsuya, a pop-up Japanese dessert and snack tasting with tea pairings in the Mission neighborhood of San Francisco.

Pairing Swedish cinnamon knots with tea

I don’t know very much about Sweden, the only thing I know is that their pastries are my new obsession. One kind in particular, Swedish cinnamon knots, also known as kanelbullar. In Sweden sweet treats are a very important part of fika, the Swedish coffee break, which is more of a lifestyle, actually and alternatively can include tea too! Join me on the blog as I pair these delicious pastries with 4 different teas!

How sustainable is your tea time?

Picture me sitting with a cup of tea in my hand, inhaling the fragrant steam rising from my small tasting cup. It feels so good to pause and enjoy. Sometimes I let my mind wander and imagine the journey of those tea leaves and all the energy and resources that went into making it. It’s impossible not to feel grateful for it, don’t you think? One thought leads to another, some questions surface. Are we using those energy and resources wisely or are we wasting them? Are we being kind to our planet? Find out how you can make your tea time more sustainable!

Tea and chocolate: Something new on the palate

Tea is an incredibly versatile beverage. Have you ever tried sipping tea while savoring high-quality chocolate? If the answer is no, you’re missing out on a unique sensory experience. Tasting tea and chocolate together can help amp up both of their delightful nuances. And because we all secretly need an excuse to eat more chocolate, this looks like a perfectly acceptable one, and it’s virtually guilt-free, because, after all, it’s also a tea tasting.

My tasting notes: Nilgiri Blue Mountain Frost Tea

Darjeeling and Assam are the most renowned tea producing regions in India, but they are not the only ones. The tea I’m tasting today comes from the Nilgiris or Blue Mountains in the state of Tamil Nadu, in Southern India. According to the Indian tea association, Nilgiri tea accounts for about 10% of the total tea production of India.
 

Comparing 2 single-cultivar matcha

Why do we love matcha so much? Personally, I love its color, sweetness, cocoa butter notes, hints of freshly cut grass (even better if there’s some umami taste), rich persistent foam and creamy mouthfeel. Honestly, I’ve been wanting to take it to the next level of tea geekness for a while. Unexpectedly, I found an intriguing method for matcha evaluation on the Kettl Tea blog (*). When I managed to find and get my hands on 2 single-cultivar matcha, the stars aligned. I had to compare them in a systematic way. The idea of “decoding” matcha is pretty exciting and I ended up learning more than I had ever expected to.

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. 

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.

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.