All in Tastings

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. 

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.

My tasting notes: Tung Ting Mi Xiang oolong

How do you taste tea? I’ve realized that I need my “tasting environment” to be conducive and, most importantly, I need to be concentrated, especially when taking tasting notes. I’m very sensitive to sound and a quiet environment is essential for me. Also, a minimalistic and de-cluttered environment can help me focus on the task at hand. You want all your senses to be alert and not distracted by what’s around you. What do you think? What’s your experience?

My tasting notes: Oriental Beauty oolong

Oriental Beauty is a “bug-bitten” oolong tea from Taiwan. Let's take a moment to appreciate a tiny insect, the tea green leaf hopper. The plant defense mechanism against the attack of leaf hoppers makes the tea delicious by releasing chemicals which contribute to its flavor. Read on to find out more.

My tasting notes: He Kai Shan Puerh

The weather in San Francisco is weird, there’s no other way to put it. We have a unique micro climate. So while the rest of the Northern Hemisphere is trying to survive the scorching heat of summer, we have to put up with the fog and lower-than-usual temperatures. August has even been renamed Fogust (= fog + August). It’s dreary and grey. For a tea drinker, it’s actually rather ideal. Did you know that the fog has a name?

My tasting notes: Jun Shan Yin Zhen yellow tea

Milan is well known for being Italy’s fashion and design capital, for its opera house La Scala and for its saffron risotto. Little did I know that I would find a less widely known Chinese tea there.
Braving the merciless afternoon heat, I made my way to Chà Tea Atelier, a specialty tea shop and tea room, where owner Gabriella Lombardi and I chatted over a cup of tea. Gabriella, who is the author of the book “Tea Sommelier”, travels to Asia every year and directly sources her teas. It was fun to hear her talk about China and the cultural aspects that made a lasting impression.