Tillerman Tea Oolongs – Tea Review

Tillerman Tea is an online oolong seller located in the US. They only carry Taiwanese oolongs. I happen to enjoy Taiwanese oolongs so I am excited to see how Tillerman Tea stacks up. I didn’t look much into each tea until after I drank them.

I got three to try – Dong Ding, Oriental Beauty, and Muzha Tieguanyin. All three teas I steeped with the same method –  1 gram of leaf to 15ml of vessel size, in this case, a gaiwan. I did quick infusions with boiling water.

Tillerman Tea’s Dong Ding

Dry Leaf: The Dong Ding oolong is big chunky green rolls with a buttered popcorn scent. This Dong Ding appears to be the unroasted kind and super weighty.

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Steeped up, the dong ding comes out a pale yellow with a strong floral scent.

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First and Second Infusion: This dong ding is GREEEN! It sips in buttery with a vegetal background. The aftertaste is a buttercup floral and sweet. Some sips has a under ripe pear flavor. The body feels like melted butter in my mouth, though there is some dryness after I’m done with these steepings.

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Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Infusion: The flavor slowly shifted to a wet pine flavor with a bit of citrus. However, the tea got quite dry enough to make the throat feel like I need throat lozenges.

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I got 6 infusions out of the Dong Ding, I figure the best were the first three. This tea didn’t hold up well to boiling water as the lack of roasting made it quite delicate. I had better results dropping the temperature to 200F to milk a few extra good infusions. I wish this was roasted, but we are in luck as Tillerman also sells the same tea roasted, which I don’t have.


Tillerman Tea’s Oriental Beauty

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Dry Leaf: Another beautiful Oriental Beauty. This tea has a lovely floral scent, with a tea rainbow of ruddy and silver tipped leaves.

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Steeps up an interesting yellow orange – a colour that comes in paint sets and confused why. The scent is a flat floral peachy.

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First, Second, and Third Infusion: The body is silky and smooth. Oriental Beauty tastes soft at first, but blooms into a floral peachy sweetness. After a couple cups, I notice a bit of a baby powder dryness in the back of my mouth. Second and Third steep was the peak of sweetness and floral.

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Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Infusion: The colour is getting slightly more ruddy.

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The flavor is still quite sweet, but developing a strong woodsy taste. The body is starting to slip and become thin here, as it gets more and more dry each infusion. End of these infusions the back of my tongue feels dry, which encourages me to keep drinking to calm it. The aftertaste is quite nice though – it’s sweet orange, woodsy, and a little peachy floral.

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Seventh and Eighth Infusion: I powered through these last infusions, the tea got quite delicate and light with a moderately high dryness. The sweetness lasted until the end, with a soft bit of woodsy.

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Tillerman’s Oriental Beauty is the sweet one. Some Oriental Beauties are more woodsy, heavy, or floral. This one leans towards the more delicate soft and sweet side, which reminds me of more competition style oolong. The floral and woodsy are pretty balanced, letting the sweet flavor shine. The citrus notes are of interest, and the body is excellent in the early infusions. Great oriental beauty if you want something more light and sweet!


Tillerman Tea’s Muzha Tieguanyin

Dry Leaf: Muzha Tieguanyin has an interesting roasty plum scent.

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Steeped up, the tea comes out slightly brassy looking with soft roast scent.

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First, Second, and Third Infusion: Now we are talking! This is exceptional! The texture is heavy, like trying to run under water. The flavor starts soft and sweet but builds an excellent mineral flavor with a rounded savory roasty background that leaves your mouth salivating for more. I can taste the charcoal slightly, but it is not ashy or bitter. With the heavy texture, the tea sips really smooth.

Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Infusion: The tea continues to be heavy in texture, with a mineral and roast flavor. The flavor starts to open slightly, making me feel like I am licking a wet rock that had a camp fire on it last season and drooling over it for some reason. With each steeping, the TGY got sweeter and more subtle. The Eighth infusion was the most optimal flavor that crossed max sweetness while having bite to it.

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Ninth, Tenth Eleventh, Twelfth, and Thirteenth Infusion: The ninth steeping was quite good with sweet and savory mineral notes, but it started getting dry on the roof of my mouth and too light. Further steepings I steeped much longer, but getting more dryness. The final infusions tasted free of roast, just straight up sweet mineral with a high dry mouth feeling if you pause between sips.

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I really enjoyed the heavy texture – this is the tea to try if you want to know what I mean about a thick texture in a tea. There was a lot of interest between how savory the roast made the tea, yet over time it fade to more sweet. It oddly gave me a violent craving for Sweet and Sour Pork, a similar like food contrast. Out of the three, this one was my favorite tea.

Comments

Out of the three teas Tillerman Tea sent me, the Muzha Tieguanyin stood out the most. The Oriental Beauty is also quite good and tastes almost competition. The Dong Ding was quite a few notches in quality below the other teas, with a daily drinker vibe to it. By the way, this was the Spring Dong Ding. Tillerman Tea has a winter Dong Ding and a roasted Dong Ding available.

I checked Tillerman Tea‘s site and the Dong Ding is $11 vs Muzha Tieguanyin and Oriental beauty at $30 & $32 (all 2oz sizes).  The latter two teas are priced quite well for quality, so I highly recommend them if you are looking for another good oolong vendor located in the US.

(tea provided for review)

Sunday Tea Hoots 30 – Into the Depths of Amazon’s Tea World

In a night of tea drunkery and boredom, I descended into the depths of Amazon’s tea world. The madness started when I was linked this Collapsible Tea Kettle.

61mUatrwA-L._SL1164_At first I was impressed as this kettle is so space efficient and lime green! Rest assured, it also comes in bio-hazard orange! Then I read the 1 star reviews of the kettle melting violently when people left it unattended. I don’t think I am ever going to leave auto-shut-off boil-dry techno town.

I then went down the search engine hole.. when you hit page 15 you start getting the weird stuff. Stuff that seems useful to only show off your tea nuts you are. These are the tea drunk purchases of Amazon.

Yixing Tea Pot looking USB flash drive?!?! I could be convinced to buy this if it was bigger than 8GB! How dope would it be to whip this flash drive out at a tea tasting to show off your tea pics!

31+alBCgHXLHere are items that will lead to jokes that will get old after a week. “Hey, who left the kettle on??” I can smell the Pinterest DIY on these night lights and lamps. For the less crafty folk, you can get tea pot lights on Amazon.

Oddly there is a lot of Yixing t-shirts and sweaters while searching “yixing” on Amazon. At first I was like, “Wow, I didn’t know there was a Yixing fan club. When am I going to find the gaiwan shirts?”

After awhile it clicked, these shirts are in reference the handsome dancer and singer of EXO – Lay! His real name Zhang Yixing, thus why there is a small army of fan girl Yixing apparel. I won’t spill the beans on you if I see you wearing a “I Heart Yixing” shirt at the Tea Convention, but I cannot guarantee if I start giggling. I would of put two and two together sooner if Lay was my bias of EXO. Sorry Lay, Oolong Owl is on Team Kris Wu.

This is something I should of found on Aliexpress first, but it is here on Amazon. It is the Yixing Cookie Monster belching. It could also be Rick Sanchez burping. Cannot be unseen!

515GAoWPNgL._SL1020_Ditto for “amazed these are now on Amazon” for this impressive Dairy Queen Blizzard tea pot!

Here is a more serious offering – a handmade gaiwan. Maybe it is my monitor settings, but this gaiwan is really pink.

pink gaiwan

Here is a straight up etsy looking, whimsical miniature fairy tea cup. I expect hobbits to open the door and get washed into my tea tray.

No, I will not be doing a comparison tasting of the effects of tea in a Moss Tea Cup.
(amazon affiliate links, proceeds going to keeping the kettle running or year of the cock tea fund)

Red Peony from Floating Leaves Tea

I frequent Floating Leaves Tea quite often and I didn’t know she carried this tea until I was at the Seattle Tea Festival. I can’t remember how it went, it must of been on sample, and I was super tea drunk. Red Peony is a Ruby 18 cultivar, which is usually made into black tea, but is processed like a bai mu dan white tea. WHAT IS THIS SORCERY?! I haven’t even heard anyone do that to a Ruby 18, even then Ruby 18 is a newer tea that you don’t see that often to begin with as people seem to zone in on the popular High Mountain oolongs.

Red Peony - Floating Leaves Tea - Oolong owl (1)

That said, I went over on a sleepy Sunday to Floating Leaves Tea and bought an ounce. I drank it twice grandpa style. It was so good I ordered 5oz on Black Friday, with evil plans to age this white tea. Pretty sure Floating Leaves thinks I’m nuts buying that much white tea. I almost drank through an ounce and flipped out as I don’t drink a single tea like that. I ordered more online when Steep Stories spilled the beans. After I secured what I comfortably sitting in an excess of Red Peony for my own needs, I can finally write about this tea. Sorry guys, I might of left you the dregs. I learned early in tea blogging – if you find something you LOVE you buy as much as possible before you tell everyone it is good.

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Dry Leaf

The leave is spacious and beautiful, similar appearance to bai mu dan – gorgeous big green leaves, some black ones, with the odd silver tips and olive. The scent is very strong with heavy perfumed notes with that background of staleness.

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Steeping Parameters

For the steeping today I used 1gram of leaf to 18ml of vessel, infusing with boiling water. I wouldn’t leaf harder than that as you physically cannot shove more tea into your vessel without ape crushing the leaves. I found going a little lighter on the leaf works fine too, around the 1 gram to 22ml mark.

I used a gaiwan here, but I found excellent results with using teapots or clay.

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Tasting of Floating Leaves Tea’s Red Peony

Pale gold colour to start, with a warm floral scent.

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First and Second Infusion: Sips in thick and heavy like cream. The texture here is very good for you texture lovers. The flavor is softly sweet, slight malt and floral. There is an aftertaste of floral. And all the tea is gone, I drank all these rounds faster than I could articulate it. The floral buzzes in the mouth similar to the way jasmine does, but doesn’t taste like jasmine.

Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Infusion: The colour darkens to a orange gold.

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Good medium heavy flavor intensity here. This isn’t no wimpy delicate white here! The notes are sweet malt, like a black tea, with a clean tasting sip, hint of melon fruityness, and a slight bitter floral. The texture is heavy, with an interesting juicy mouth watery effect in the mouth after each sip. I think I overleafed it here due to the bitterness, so I am back to thinking 1 gram to 20ml I did prior was best. The fragrance after each sip is a rolling peachy linen floral.

Alright, this is the part I need to admit. This tea is a lot into feeling. There is a big conflict here you can tell with some bloggers and tea sellers – ones who can describe feeling and ones who can describe taste. Feeling is a hard one to get through on more western influenced drinkers, in which we can go into a whole essay about some other time. But in regards to Red Peony, I can feel more than I can taste. The tea jams in my throat and flushes my cheeks. So damn snuggly! I feel like I want to go bear crush things. It is the fuzzy bear of teas!

This fuzzy bear – cute but this Pokemon is a friggin scary fighting tank.

bear

Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth Infusion:

The flavor is bright here, the texture is a bit lighter and coarse. The flavor is crisp, bright, sweet – kind of like late late steepings of a ruby 18, yet soft and juicy like a white tea. The aftertaste is a sweet peachy floral that is addicting. The tea interestingly lost that bitter floral as it lightened up, so it is super easy to drink here and soft. I inhaled these steepings, dreaming of crocheting giant cuddly owl bears and rolling with my cute pokemon team. I am feeling a lot of energy too – something you do not get often with white teas – I feel like I can chase all the cute fuzzy owls in the cold and win.

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Tenth, Eleventh, and Twelfth Infusion: Flavor is slipping, but what I got is sweet, juicy, and clean notes and linen. The malt is gone but the leaves look quite pretty. I’m feeling hyped up and full of squee. My husband caught wind of the cute screeching and he is now hiding in the garage.

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Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Infusion: Long steeps here with 30 minutes being the last one. The flavor slips into a mineral, super sweet, with a hint of linen and floral. The texture is oily here and the flavor is light. Only slight dryness, but overall an easy drink.

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Other Steeping Considerations

Grandpa Style – Red Peony does excellently grandpa style. I use about 3-4grams for a 300ml vessel. It doesn’t get very bitter, and resteeps well even if you take your time to drink. The malty heavy honey notes come through well with longer steeps, but there is less body. I found I got more of the refreshing mint vibe more off grandpa style.

Tumbler – Similar to Grandpa style, Red Peony is nearly bombproof provided you don’t overleaf it. I leaf about 5-8grams in a tumbler, 200F water temperature, and I got an excellent balance of honey black and white tea floral all day.

Clay Teapot Gongfu – This is where Red Peony shines. I didn’t do the review in yixing because I am in the minority that has a yixing seasoned to aged whites tea because I am flipping crazy. I had to run this tea a little lighter, around 1g to 22ml due to space, but it goes more body and sweet in yixing, without any bitterness.

Comments

Red Peony is unique – a Ruby 18 White! This is a white tea I point to for not being light, its got plenty of strong flavor, and a durability for boiling water with long infusions. This breaks the school of thought to steep whites in glass in 175f – this tea is meant to be boiled to show off that heavy slicky body and interesting malt notes. If you like late infusions of black teas and aged white, or that fragrance and body of an oolong – Red Peony is a treat!

Red Peony is snuggle crack. I love this tea. On a personal level it checks all the boxes I love in tea – heavy cream body, sweet kissy florals, strong flavor, practically bombproof, and extreme feels. I would describe Red Peony as my “Hitting it hard with a Hammer” tea. I would tong this tea to the ceiling if it came in cake form. I wish it came in cake form – it would take up less space! I could honestly retire from blogging now, as at this time I found MY TEA, and I can just drink Red Peony until the end of time. Might find me on the streets of Ballard twitching on my crawl back to Floating Leaves Tea to buy more.

Either way, if this tea sounds good to you buy some before I buy it all. Or not buy any and let me buy it all.

Silver Tea Pot Review and Testing

Silver Tea pots have been all the rage recently and it is hard to ignore due to how pretty they are! Crimson Lotus Tea lent me one of their Silver Tea Pots to experiment with.

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Prior to this, I’ve been lucky to drink out of silver tea pots a few times, with Crimson Lotus of course, but also I had a comparison tasting while at the Chinese Tea Shop in Vancouver, Canada. This time I’ve had my wings on this pot for weeks, using it on various teas and playing around.

The particular Silver Tea Pot from Crimson Lotus Tea I was quite impressed with. Crimson Lotus Tea sells Silver Tea pots on their site (when they aren’t sold out, there are more coming though!), all 99.9% silver and handmade. Everyone I showed it to also commented with the sturdy, solid feeling construction. I am sure this tea pot could take a drop without any problems – with the hammered design hiding scuffs. The lid fit perfectly. Everyone was wowwed by how fast Crimson Lotus Tea’s Silver tea pot poured. The tea pot pours smoothly without dripping. It is a really attractive, well made, perfectly designed tea pot!

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Comparison Testing of the Silver Tea Pot

I did one thorough side-by-side taste testing with the silver tea pot, plus a couple more casual sessions.

For the thorough taste testing, here were my tea pots:

  1. Azure Ruyao Glazed Pancake pot from Teaware.House
  2. Silver tea pot from Crimson Lotus Tea
  3. Yixing Xi Shi, seasoned for a couple years with roasted oolongs.

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For tea, I went with Floating Leaves Tea’s House Oolong. This oolong is roasted at their store. It is a tea I’ve had a number of times, so I know the flavor profile. FLT’s House Oolong is also cheap, at $4.50 an ounce – I needed a lot of tea to test all these tea pots at once.

Method

I did 1 gram of leaf to 14ml volume, steeping in boiling water. Obviously there will be error as all these pots have different pour times, I did my best to match the timing. I’m not 100% happy with the Pancake pot for this tea as the steep time is too long in the early rounds, so I was pushing the House Oolong too much for my tastes. The pancake pot is the smallest as I didn’t have enough tea to use a bigger pot (and I literally bought all of Floating Leaves Tea’s House Oolong stock at the time, and couldn’t wait for the next batch to be finished roasting).

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Results

Pancake Pot – House Roast is sharp, brisky and slightly bitter in roast. I get a good aftertaste of roast, chestnuts, and butter. The flavor seems less strong compared to the other tea pots. Out of the three, this was the most harshest in taste for bitterness, and strangely lighter in flavor.

Silver Tea Pot – The difference between this and Pancake was very strong. The House Roast is more smooth and blended in flavor of roast, chestnut and butter, with a brighter finish at the end of sip. Interestingly lacks all bitter roast notes and any indications of harshness of this tea… despite I’m brewing it too hard and aggressive for my liking.

Yixing – The difference is also very different compared to the Pancake, but not as much compared to Silver. The flavor is also more smooth and less bitter than Pancake. However the difference between the Yixing and Silver is the Yixing taste much more roasty. This tea has much more meat on it – it’s richer and heavy roast flavor, yet no bitter sharpness that the Pancake tea has.

Temperature – I did a test after 20 minutes of steeping. After 20 minutes, Pancake was 133, Silver 141, Yixing 144. This was a little iffy since the Pancake pot is smaller by 50ml and different shape. Though the lightness of flavor of pancake pot could of been from the lower temperature. Poor Pancake pot.. it is a good tea pot, but $30 vs $300 vs $100+years is hard to run against.

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Bonus

I had my tea hating husband try the three tea pots, blind. If you are not familiar, my husband does not drink tea, thus he isn’t experienced in tasting it. He right away picked out the Pancake pot tasted different than the Silver and Yixing – the other 2 being less bitter. He tasted some differences between the Silver and Yixing, but could not describe how they were different. In all, it all tasted bad and like tea to him, but he’d choose Pancake as it was lighter in flavor.

More Comparison Tastings!

I comparison tested the Silver Tea pot on a couple other occasions with Floating Leaves Tea’s Aged Miao-Li and Yunnan Gold, plus a violent session with the bitterest tea of them all – Mandala Tea’s 2015 Wild Monk sheng, swapping out the glazed pot for a gaiwan, all with similar results.

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All three were similar in that the silver tea was brighter. There was noticeable difference in body, silver having a better thicker body. Oddly, the gaiwan’s flavor faded sooner than yixing and silver, we consistently got at least 3 more infusions when paired together, and another steeping or two after with a yixing.

Silver had very noticeable results with bitter young sheng – it made it more drinkable for longer, taming bitterness well vs gaiwan which got bitter faster and had less body. The tastings with the seasoned yixing, yixing won. However, I did not test the super bitter sheng in a yixing due to lack of having, and likely never having, a sheng pot made to be violently bitter.

Overall Flavor Results of Using a Silver Tea Pot

Besides the comparison tastings I did, I tried all sorts of teas in the silver tea pot. Here are the flavor results.

Brighter Flavor – As seen in the comparison tasting, silver gives a brighter flavor and it is quite noticeable. Some might say a bit of metallic in taste. I found the flavor did different things to different teas, good and bad, likely all personal taste. Some teas did excellent as the brightness turned a poor tea into an awesome expensive tasting one. Other teas I found the metallic brightness numbed floral and delicate notes.

Bitter Tamer – I found overall black teas did very well as the brightness enhanced it and tamed bitterness. Cheap moderate roast oolongs did exceptionally well as the brightness fixed errors, bringing out the body.

Silver did do interesting things to greens. I tried a very marine unami green and a lighter Chinese green. Both came out nice, bright, and little bitterness on later infusions. Similarly, it tamed really bitter young sheng, keeping it tasting less bitter for longer vs gaiwan under same conditions.

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Floral Number – Delicate floral oolongs and young sweet and floral yiwu sheng didn’t do that great – I had a pretty bad session with White2Tea’s 2016 Teadontlie in particular as the floral was toned down too much. However, toning down floral might be of interest to some.

Bad with Citrus – Do not use with citrus teas, including puer oranges. The orange clashed with the silver violently, making more metallic funky notes.

Using the Silver Tea Pot

Flexible Steeping – I tested this a bit too aggressively, but got great results. I found the silver tea pot had more wiggle room for steeping, especially for greens and sheng. Since silver tames bitterness, I overbrewed my green to push the limits. The overbrewed green tea came out pretty decent and toned down the bitterness very well. So if you are the type who keeps over steeping teas, silver might be a game changer.

No Seasoning Required –  Unlike yixing, you can steep any tea you want in a silver tea pot. Silver tea pots are not cheap, but consider price of one silver tea pot = 3-4 $100 clay pots. If you are short on space or don’t want the effort and years of seasoning clay – silver lets you use one pot and gives you a flavor enhance over a gaiwan or glazed pot.

Heat Control – This was mixed. Silver pots heat FAST. I had ripping cups of tea in early sessions, I felt pre-heating wasn’t even necessary as it was up to temperature without effort. The fast pour was certainly needed in order to not overcook your tea. I got stronger flavor and longer sessions compared to a gaiwan. Maintaining heat in the silver pot was easy

Ripping Hot to Handle – I said in the previous point on heat retention, silver pots heat fast. That said, silver tea pots are violently hot to handle. I can feel the heat through the cord handle, and I’ve burnt my fingers on the lid many times. If I were to buy a silver tea pot for myself, I would probably go with the style of a different material handle and lid, like this one from Crimson Lotus Tea was selling once:

silver-wood-handled-teapot-5-800x_1024x1024

A silver tea pot needs either wrapping or other materials for the handle. Seriously, this tea pot is scorching hot and will burn.

Durable – Silver tea pots, at least this one, feels darn solid and sturdy. All the times I broke a yixing and cups, this silver tea pot would of survived with maybe a scuff or dent. At worst, you dent it but it can be hammered back. I feel if you wanted a heirloom piece, a silver tea pot will stand the test of time.

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Comments

Using Silver teaware has some really great perks – a big strength is tea pot durability and flexibility. It will make good bright, better bodied teas with less bitterness. I found it mostly strong with blacks and teas that tend to be bitter. All my bitter, not ready yet shengs got revisited thanks to the Silver tea pot.

Same time, this tea has a huge price of admission. You might not like the metallic, extra bright flavor, or what it does to oolongs. It might not be the right tea pot for you if you drink mostly delicate floral teas. You easily could disagree with what I say about florals as it is personal taste. I strongly recommend that you TRY A SILVER POT before buying if you can. I have heard people getting results with just using silver tea cups – which are much cheaper to buy.

There is also the running trend I noticed in the comparison tasting that the silver tea pot generally does not best a well season clay tea pot. However, you need to get a clay tea pot to that level, get the right tea paired, and dedicated, whereas silver will get you results without effort and more bling.

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In regards to this tea pot, Crimson Lotus Tea‘s Silver pot handles exceptionally. I was amazing at how well it poured, how sturdy it felt, and overall amazing craftsmanship. No leaky pours and it has a great fast pour. With the quick heating of the silver pot, having a fast pour is very important here. Once the Tea Owls and I save enough, I’d be likely to purchase a silver tea pot from Crimson Lotus Tea because of how well done the tea pot preformed, if I can get a smaller size. My only beef with the silver pot was it was too big for my solo drinking status – if I want to shell out this much cash, it has to be good and suited to my needs.

Taste of Taiwan Chapter 1 from Teaful – Tea Review

Teaful is a new tea experience that curates a box of teas with a theme of exploration of tea producing region. They list what teas are in each chapter, so there are no surprises for what you get. I got the Taste of Taiwan Chapter 1 box, but there is another box that comes with teaware.

Unboxing of Teaful’s Taste of Taiwan Chapter 1

Teaful has some slick and modern packaging!

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Inside is the four teas in individual boxed cubbies.

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In each box is the tea foil or vacuum sealed, depending on the tea.

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The first box is Taste of Taiwan Chapter 1. The teas in this package are:

  • Biluo Chun Green 20 grams
  • Jade Oolong 20 grams
  • Alishan Oolong 20 grams
  • High Mountain Black 15 grams – this one is 5 grams less as it is a rare tea.

Tasting of Teaful’s Taste of Taiwan Chapter 1

I went in with the intention of just drinking and writing about the two teas in this box that interested me the most – High Mountain Black and Alishan High Mountain Oolong. After being quite impressed with the High Mountain Black and Alishan, I ended up drinking the rest out of curiosity.

High Mountain Black

Admittedly, I agreed to review this box as this black tea sounded fantastic and I needed to try it. This tea is in smaller quantity due to rarity. This High Mountain black is a 2016 Summer harvest, from Nantou Taiwan, processed as an experiment as the material is intended for High Mountain oolong, but was made into a black tea. I find this tea great addition to this Taiwan exploration box as we get a taste of newly invented teas, snuggled in with classics.

The dry leaf smells soft and fruity, with an appearance of long twists of black with the odd gold.

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On the packaging is western steeping instructions for 5 grams in 8oz of 195F water for 4-5 minutes. This tea looked too good to western, so I gongfu’d it with 1 gram to 13ml vessel ratio, boiling water and flash steeps. The High Mountain Black steeped up beautifully copper with a luscious, sweet, fruity malt scent.

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First, Second, Third, and Fourth Infusion: High Moutain Black sipped in with an interesting taste of creamy and slightly mandarin vibe. The texture was balmy on the lips and the flavor brightens to a sweet citrus honey at the end of sip. There was a lingering green plum flavor sitting in my mouth after each sip.

Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Infusion: The High Mountain black got sharper in flavor – it has a lemon vibe to it with a background of malt. The flavor was still sweet like honey, however the texture is getting a bit abrasive with some dryness lingering in my cheeks. Despite the dryness, there is no bitterness.

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Eighth and Ninth Infusion: I just about got everything out of Teaful’s High Mountain black. The flavor slipped more lemon citrus with a sharp dryness. Extra time and high temperature didn’t do any favors to this tea, so the best infusions were obtained early on.

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Overall, Teaful’s High Mountain Black is a unique tea – the fruit and citrus notes are great, making for a great tea in early steeps. It does get pretty dry as it is sensitive to temperature and time, so it is not a tea for the long haul.


Alishan Oolong

This Alishan is from Chia-Yi, Taiwan and is a fall 2016 harvest. I am happy they got a fall harvest, as I got something pretty fresh.

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I went with 1 gram to 15ml, steeping in boiling water. I personally tend to use a teapot for my green oolongs, but I went with a gaiwan to be more neutral. I do like the Teaful’s steeping instructions on the back suggesting boiling water – I find oolongs do best with boiling water. Teaful’s Alishan oolong steeped up with a crisp pale yellow tint, with a luscious floral scent.

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First, Second, and Third Infusion: I noticed the texture is heavy right away, sipping like cream. The flavor was softly floral and sweet, with a buttery background. The aftertaste was sweet grass and more floral – stronger than the sip its self.

Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Infusion: The flavor was nicely heavy of tulips, fresh sweet grass and floral, with best steep the Fourth and Fifth for max flavor. The sip was thick, but thins out end of sip to a bit of dryness, which stuck the grassy flavor longer. Each steeping gets more and more dry as the flavor slips.

Eighth Infusion: I did a power steep for 15 minutes. The flavor sipped in lightly buttery with little flavor, but the aftertaste was sharp grass, spinach and citrus with a bitter dry bite. I actually didn’t mind this infusion at all as it felt it had its last hurrah of flavor.

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Overall, a pretty tasty Alishan with good body. This is the tea of the set that is the solid, classic favorite among oolong drinkers.


Jade Oolong

This oolong is from Minjian, Taiwan. Jade Oolong to me just infers little oxidation, making me think this is some sort of Baozhong. The leaf is a deep green with scent of cream and orchids.

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I used 1 gram to 15ml, boiling water, gongfu style with a gaiwan.

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First, Second, and Third Infusion: This is a very green, low oxidized oolong – the flavor is quite green and buttery, yet also floral. The floral vibes closely to a jasmine without being perfumey. The texture is like silk, but not as thick as the Alishan.

Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Infusion: The floral intensifies with each infusion with a background of butter. The finish is crisp grass with a dryness that gets stronger. As the flavor slips, the dryness gets stronger.

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Jade Oolong gave me the vibe that of within this collection it is a middle of the road to the Biluo Chun and Alishan for green and floral. The quality of this oolong was okay – there was some pretty leaves, but also some chewy ones. I figure this one is your daily drinker tea out of the collection. Checking online, the price of the tea on Teaful’s site also confirms that this is a cheaper, daily drinker tea.


Biluo Chun Green

I really wasn’t planning to review this one as green tea generally isn’t my thing these days. But with the quality of the alishan and black, I got curious. This is a Taiwanese take on this green tea, grown in Sanxia, harvested Spring 2016. The dry leaf smells like potent spinach.

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I went with 1 gram to 20ml, steeped in a glass gaiwan with 175F water temperature. This green steeps up almost clear, with a slight cream yellow tint.

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First, Second, and Third Infusion:  The sip was super clean – sweet, light and vegetal. This green has a slight butteryness, with the main flavor being fresh green bean like. With each steeping, the biluo chun got more sweet as if there was a dash of sugar cane added to the beans.

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Fourth and Fifth Infusion: The green continued to get sweet, but a heavy dryness set in making my mouth feel scratchy.

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Overall, I didn’t mind this green – it is completely on the other end of the scale to the High Mountain Black, as it was super fresh tasting. Biluo Chun Green was delicate, likely you only get a couple good steeps, or drop the water temperature down to 160F.

Comments

Success for the Teaful Taste of Taiwan Chapter 1 box! The quality was great with the High Mountain black being a unique twist that’ll make a tea experienced happy to try, with teas like the Alishan as classic favorites. I am overall very happy with this tea selection and found it fun to try all the teas. The weakest tea in the collection was the Jade Oolong due to daily drinker status, with maybe a slight bias as I prefer more oxidized oolongs, maybe an Oriental Beauty might of been a more well-rounded choice.

I quite admire Teaful‘s approach – they got potential to curate some awesome teas that a new tea drinker will learn from and expand their tastes. Seasoned tea drinkers will like the quality and comparison of the teas, plus be enticed by the rare teas.

The Tasting Chapters are single purchase, which is great if you want to jump in and explore a certain region. You can purchase the teas separately as well in Teaful’s Shop. Doing the math, the teas come out to $23 +$5 flat rate shipping, whereas the box is $25 and free shipping, not including a promo code on chapter boxes.

(tea provided for review)

Hooty Tea Travels – Day at Floating Leaves Tea and ArtXchange Gallery

I had a long day last Saturday drinking tea at Floating Leaves Tea and visiting the ArtXchange Gallery in Seattle.

Floating Leaves Tea has classes at least once a month, and this month we had some interesting oolongs she found on her recent sourcing trip to Taiwan. A couple teas were an educational tasting, as some where picked in late December or roasted very recently. It’ll be fun to drink these teas again in a few months once the roast has settled down. I drank 8 teas, some really interesting such as  Baozhong made with Chi Lan varietal and a Hong Shui oolong that was not roasted. The latter kind of tasted like tomato! I took some amazing photos, I had the lighting just right!

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Mmmm.. Dong Ding!

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Right after the tasting class, I headed to the ArtXchange Gallery, completely blasted off oolong. Headlining The Tea Library part III is local artist, Christopher Shaw, and a collaboration with Red Square from New York. I’m no art gallery lingo type, however I enjoy and go to art galleries regularly when I am in a new city. I mostly go to art galleries to admire and inspire myself. I’m just going to talk about the tea pieces, though be sure to check out the impressive calligraphy that was also on display by Red Square.

I was able to catch the tail end of Christopher Shaw talking about the pieces on display. What I found the most interesting was talk on the importance of a tea drinker that makes tea ceramics. This rang so true as I’ve seen many tea pots and cups at other places that seem utterly useless with fat rims and bad pours. What also was very interesting was Christopher Shaw used local clay that he dug himself, but also cut with other clay with certain ratios to make it more usable, also mentioning he was getting different brewing effects with these different ratios. How cool is that? Playing with ceramics to min-maxing the clay sounds like an amazing adventure! I sadly took no good photos of the teaware, all blurry from too much tea, so here is an photo from the ArtXchange site so you have a visual.

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Stoneware Teapot, Christopher Shaw

I drooled a little too much over this tea cup…

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Porcelain Teacups – Christopher Shaw

Christopher Shaw had some pieces made out of tea leaves. He was able to gather used leaf from various tea vendors in Seattle, then did magic to them. Most of the magic is being present in the exhibit as the smell of tea was incredible! I had the realization that tea I drank might be in these pieces…

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Heaven (Ginen) – Christopher Shaw

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Christopher Shaw

There was other tea ware on display. Though I didn’t catch much information, so this is pulled from his website, Richard Brant, had some beautiful wood fired stoneware pieces!

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Teapot – Richard Brant. Tea Table & Puer – Crimson Lotus Tea

Also on display was another local, Crimson Lotus Tea! How fantastic are these handmade tea tables made from local wood and Damascus puer knives?

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Tea Table & Puer Knives – Crimson Lotus Tea

After touring around the art gallery, there was a panel discussion with Phoenix Tea, Floating Leaves Tea, Christopher Shaw, and Crimson Lotus Tea regarding topics of the Seattle tea community (and why it is the best, because it is!), sourcing stories, and what tea means to them.

If you are in the Seattle area, The Tea Library part III art ArtXchange is going on until January 21, 2017. Be sure to check out the ArtXchange Gallery site – some of the pieces are for sale there.

2013 Fuding Bai Cha White Tea Brick – The Chinese Tea Shop

I purchased a couple of these 2013 Fuding Bai Cha White Tea Bricks from the The Chinese Tea Shop at my last visit to Vancouver. I actually was hoping for more of their 2000 Fuding, but they were sold out at the time, and had the 2013 brick instead.

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This white tea is 100 grams and pressed into 18 squares, chocolate bar/waffle style. It is inexpensive, so I purchased two bricks.

Dry Leaf

OMG SO CUTE! I wasn’t planning on writing about this tea until I unwrapped it. I was so impressed with how the 2013 Fuding Bai Cha looked, I dropped everything, starting writing, and taking photos. The leaves look big and rippled with autumn colours. 2013 fuding bai cha the chinese tea shop oolong owl (2)

The scent of the white tea brick is a musty honey maple.

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Steeping Instructions

The brick has 18 squares. Mine clocked about 5 grams each, but due to the lighter pressing and big leaf, breaking off squares was quite messy. They didn’t break that evenly and lots of big sheets of leaf fell off my square.

I used 1 gram of leaf to 15ml of vessel size, steeping with boiling water. I feel you could leaf down to 20ml, but not much stronger than 12ml due to expansion. Since I wasn’t intentionally going to review this, I ended up steeping my white tea in my usual clay pot.

Tasting of The Chinese Tea Shop’s 2013 Fuding Bai Cha White Tea Brick

The hot leaf smells like I put my jar of bear honey in the clothes dryer as the tea smells like linen and honey. This is assuming the honey didn’t start a fire in the dryer. The tea came out a clean, clear bright gold. Gorgeous tea!2013 fuding bai cha the chinese tea shop oolong owl (4)

First, Second, and Third Infusion: 2013 Fuding Bai Cha sips in very clean, the slowly develops a thick mouth feel of drinking cream. The flavor is sweet, slightly musty, with linen and honey. The finish is juicy and sweet, switching gears again.

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Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Infusion: 2013 Fuding got bright, bright like a black tea. It is bright, juicy, honey and sweet. The notes are light, yet the body and flavor intensity is strong and thick. For these steepings there is an addition to a slight dusty in texture, giving me a slight dryness like a dusting of baby powder.

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I started feeling really energetic, yet cool and methodical. Not my usual maniac flailing tea drunk – I am ready to do things and I have  plan. That plan is dinner. The Tea Owls want steak. This poor new owl, who just hatched last night, gets the crumbs from the pecking order.

Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh Infusion: The flavor is starting to shift again in this white tea square. It is building to a slight date flavor, but still quite honey and bright. The dryness is building to a soft briskness, which is interesting as this white seems to of stolen elements of black tea. At this point the tea started needing longer and longer steeps.

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Twelfth Infusion: I could of likely milked this one another 2, but I had things to do. Namely, shopping for dinner ingredients. I did a power steep of 20 minutes to pull everything out. This turned out to be a bad plan as I got a bitter taste with sharp date notes and briskness, however with a balmy texture. This is a tea to just resteep fast for high numbers, than long heavy brews. I think turning down the temperature to 200f would have best results, or leafing down to 1 gram to 20ml… or give it a few more years.

Ahhhh aged white tea – looks gorgeous before but never after steeping it out.

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Comments

The Chinese Tea Shop’s 2013 Fuding Bai Cha White Tea Brick is a solid starting to age white. It has a good daily drinker appeal now, and you get quite a few steepings out of it. Very good if you like white teas with more power and flavor to them, but yet sweet and delicate. Yet, not aged at this point to be crazy date and medicinal.

The square brick pressing is fun for travel in theory, but the mess of this particular white I’d likely never use it for that. More of a stay at home, easy to break white. If I wanted to drink now, I would honestly break the whole brick apart so you can deal with the mess in one shot and have it contained. It is a compact tea, I will likely give a few squares to my friends and forget about it for a few years.

Price on 2013 Fuding Bai Cha White Tea Brick is pretty good at $15 Canadian. But really, Vancouver is a great tea city to visit and I highly recommend you take a trip, being sure to visit The Chinese Tea Shop.

2015 Channel Orange Shou Puer Brick from White2Tea

I purchased White2Tea’s 2015 Channel Orange during the Black Friday sale. The brick was a cart sneaker of “that sounds fun” rather than a serious purchase. Reading more into this tea, it is a puer blend of 3-8 year old Xinhui Chenpi orange materials, mixed with orange skins.

I have to say that Black Friday and holiday tea buying was hectic. I only had 1 order not screwed up – but I say this as positive as I can, as I am very happy my fav sellers are busy and I trust my tea dealers as they are all awesome. That said, my poor Channel Orange arrived snapped in pieces during shipping, so no photos of the brick in pristine condition.

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Dry Leaf

Channel Orange is a waffle or chocolate bar style brick, 100 grams total weight. It came pressed tight and flat into 12 little bricks that you can break apart. I am not surprised this brick broke – it’s thin and a bit more delicate than an equivalent fatty shou brick. Each brick piece seems to break off into 7-9 gram pieces with little issue.

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Not surprising, Channel Orange smells like orange. I had my brick rest a few weeks, which tamed the orange scent a bit.

Steeping Instructions

I ratio’d about 1 gram to 12ml vessel size, using boiling water for my infusions. I did 2 rinses with a couple minute rest after the final rinse to have the tight compression loosen, which usually works if you are patient or have someone to chat with. I was not so I still had a big hard lump.

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Tasting of White2Tea’s 2015 Channel Orange Shou Puer Brick

The scent of the hot leaf smells like sweet orange and is slightly alarming on how orange-like it smells for a tea.

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First and Second Infusion: These early steeping are light due to the compression. The flavor is soft, nicely crisp sweet orange with a background of clean earth. The texture is thick and creamy. Channel Orange is very pleasurable to drink – many tea drinkers would love this, including the ones that drink sugared trail mix. The orange is natural and the same vibe as pu stuffed oranges, but not bitter, pithy, or muddy.

Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Infusion: As the brick opens up, I’m getting some cloudy appearance. The flavor has exploded into more orange. It sips in orange flavor, with a bright clean puer earth and wood flavor. The puer isn’t very thick and had a great brightness to it, likely brought out with the orange flavor. The aftertaste is more orange. Overall, mostly orange in flavor. No bitterness, funk, or dryness – very super easy to chug. At around the fifth infusion, the brick finally fell apart.2015-channel-orange-white2tea-oolong-owl-4

Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth Infusion: The colour darkened quite a bit to a light coffee watery coffee. Channel Orange’s flavor is still consistently orange, earth, wood. There is a hint of cooling sensation here, I breath in and it tastes refreshing.

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Eleventh and Twelfth Infusion: Long steeps here, 10-15 minutes. The flavor is lighter, with even more pronounced sweet orange. It got a little like chewing rind, but overall pleasant as the tea flavor slips.

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Comments

In my opinion White2Tea’s 2015 Channel Orange is an unexpected offering in the White2Tea line up as this tea is more of an universally enjoyed tea vibe than puer-addict appeal. I believe 2015 Channel Orange could be enjoyed by all the tea drinkers – it is super easy to drink and enjoy. I can serve Channel Orange to the most snoot and cranky of old ladies at afternoon tea and they’d think it’s a nice orange black tea. I can feed this tea to any flavored tea drinker and they would flip out on how good it is! It would be a good backup tea to have to convert your non-tea drinking friends

I would put Channel Orange as a must buy for a brand new tea drinker. If you love orange puer, you will likely tong this brick and have it stashed at your desk at work or in your purse for emergencies. I find Channel Orange easier to deal with than actual orange as it is not a weird shape to store, and you don’t run into inconsistent too orange/not enough orange flavor. Pricing is actually not bad, Channel Orange is cheaper than Black Star and Orange Drop, and it is worth a price jump over the cheap-o puer stuffed oranges out there.

Going back to why I think this tea is a weird offering is puer drinkers who are not flavored tea drinkers, which I feel many puer drinkers tend to get completely sucked into unflavored teas or just puer, would think Channel Orange is too strongly orange for their tastes. The con of the brick is the orange can’t be picked out as easy as the stuffed orange teas.

 

Sunday Tea Hoots 29 – Award and Sewing Havoc

Just a quick Sunday Tea Hoots this week. First off, I need to announce the awesomeness that is Oolong Owl being the 2016 Internet Community Winner from The Oolong Drunk!

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2016 was a good year for tea community – with most of us North Americans being solo drinkers, reaching out to meet other tea drinkers is a great opportunity to share and enable each other to buy new teas with. I met a lot of cool tea people, in person and online, and it is great to have a growing group of tea buddies. Get out there and meet people!

There are other cool peeps and tea sellers that made the Best The Oolong Drunk list, including teas that I need to get around to drinking.

In other news, I got a sewing machine for Christmas. My tea-hating husband immediately built a custom sewing table for the new machine and my serger. I’ve been wanting to get into quilting for years, but my excuse was too many hobbies and being too young. I guess I’ll just start small with stuff toys, coasters, tea cozies, and owl beds. I’ve already been shopping online for tea and owl fabrics!

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Matcha Fitness Set from The Tea Spot

This years New Years Resolution is to be injury free.  I want to finally compete in weightlifting, I just have to not get injured or be sick for a long enough stretch! Matcha is my go to for preworkout, along with other weightlifter concoctions. I spotted The Tea Spot’s Matcha Fitness Set and thought this would be a fun tea thing to try to get me pumped back to lifting again after being out after surgery.

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Matcha Fitness Set Specs

Steep & Go Brew Bottle

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I have reviewed the Steep & Go, which is just the filter cap that fits many water bottles. The Steep & Go is really handy for your emergency or pack light travel needs as all you need is to bring tea, the Steep & Go, and purchase a bottle of water. I found this device awesome while flying!

The Tea Spot got some feedback that people love the Steep & Go, but wanted a reusable bottle – enter the Steep & Go Brew Bottle!

I quite like the bottle, it is slim and clean looking, great to hold vs a bulky water bottle. The brew bottle is light too. There are a couple stickers on it that I could remove but I was lazy. The filter does a good job filtering out most bits. The bottle is leakproof during my tests.

For cons, and similar to the original Steep & Go and using conventional soft drink bottles, is the neck is quite narrow, which makes adding tea a challenge. You’ll want to tip tea in it from a corner of a tin or use a small spoon. The bottle worked well for adding big leafed teas, one at a time, however cold brewing time is much longer – that 10 minute cold brew claim is for more cut up teas.

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Adding ice to this bottle is a challenge, but maybe you can life-hack it like some people do to water bottles and put it in the freezer for a bit. However, if your method is 1. Add tea. 2. Go to gym/outside/wherever. 3. Fill up bottle with cold water – the Steep & Go Brew Bottle does the job.

The Tea Spot’s Matcha Fitness Set Teas

Both teas come packaged in a bag inside small tins.

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Matcha Mate – I admittedly was scared trying this Mate. Matcha + Mate sounds like it could be a little too crazy for my tastes. I used 5 grams of Matcha Mate and let it cold brew for around 10 minutes.

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Cold brewed, this preworkout concoction is pretty good. It’s got an interesting grassy sweetness from the mate, with delicious fresh and cream notes from matcha. Both teas come through as I can taste that holly-weedy aspect of the mate. I’m not a big mate fan, I find it too grassy and weedy, but the combination and done cold brewed it quite nice. The caffeine hit is nuts, this had my eyes bulging and I felt the urge to run to my gym and deadlift something. I tried it hot and it isn’t as sweet with a stronger mate flavor, that said I prefer Matcha Mate cold brewed.

Strap on your headband and bring your dumbells to the squat cage – Matcha Mate is your ultimate preworkout tea without the chemicals and strange sugary koolaid flavor.

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Organic Matcha – This matcha is a cute special micro tin of Tea Spot’s Organic Matcha of Kyushu Island, Japan origin. The 12 gram mini tin appears in the Matcha Fitness Set and Smitten by Matcha set, and can be purchased separately. I love this micro tin, it is adorable!

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I had to drink the matcha on another day – the caffeine combination of the two teas would be explosive. I used 2 grams of Matcha for my Steep & Go Bottle. Cold matcha is super easy and a method I recommend if you want to get into matcha as you don’t have to worry about temperatures and whisking. This matcha is a little darker and the powder not super vibrant, but flavor wise is good with a grassy and savory with a bit of a sweet finish, which works well for cold brewing purposes.

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You could also use this matcha to lace more caffeine into your other teas for cold brewing. Any green tea would pair well!

Comments

The Tea Spot’s Matcha Fitness Set is a great set for the cold brewer tea drinker on the go.  The set would make a great gift for your fitness friend or someone who wants to get into tea to kick the coffee out. The teas included in the set pack an energetic punch, sure to make you awake and working out.

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You can purchase all the items separately if you just want the teas or Brew bottle. The Steep & Go Brew bottle I liked the most as the lightweight, leak proof, design makes it good for travel.

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(Set provided for review/ Affiliate links)