THE SEASONING! Oolong Owl seasoning yixing teapot special!

Finally, it is time for…

THE SEASONING

A horror film with a great black metal soundtrack. The air is filled with the earthy clay scent of yixing clay. Boiling pots of water of cleansing and dark shu pu’er THRASHING WITH QI! /metal yell

Yeah I’m weird.

Admittedly, I am a little scared of THE SEASONING, hence the horror film theme playing in my mind. These yixing pots are pricey little tea pots and it’s something I don’t want to mess up. Though logically, seasoning a yixing pot sounds easier than boiling pasta.

As planned, I decided to season Oolong Owl’s Yixing pot #3 first. Annoyingly, this pot has an issue – tt smells heavily like incense. It turns out the box and the wrapping are also strongly scented. I love incense, just not in my tea. Sadly, I’m going to have to try and air out the box the pot came in, or find a new one. The pot:

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I rub my finger inside the pot and the lid and discover lots of clay debris. With that said, I gave it a good rinse.

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I decided to go with Verdant Tea’s How to Season an Yixing Teapot. They also have a handy video which was super helpful to me.

Prior to the seasoning, I super cleaned the pot, utensils and bowl that would be involved in the process.

I got my pot of water to a boil.

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Placed my reaky incense yixing pot on my deep fryer scoopy thing.

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Then slowly lowered the pot on an angle to fill the inside with water.

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Gently, I plop the lid in with chopsticks, then watch the pot boil away for 5 minutes. I opted for a longer time to ensure I kill the incense smell.

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Time’s up! I carefully angle the giant mesh spoon to pour some of the water out of the pot.

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Finally, I transfer it to my clean towel. CRAP this is hot! I totally burnt my thumb doing this!

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I left to eat curry for lunch. I come back and the pot is nice and dry.

I discover…

NO INCENSE SMELL! JUST A NICE CLAY SCENT! YESSSSSS SUCCESS!!!!!

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Let’s proceed with THE SEASONING!

Our yixing tea pot sacrifice: Mandala Tea’s Phatty Cake. Will our hero, Phatty Cake, make it out of this horror flick alive?This is slightly heartbreaking – I love this tea, but this is the last of my sample meaning I’d have to buy a cake soon…which I was planning to do anyways. It was very tempting to choose something else, but as suggested, I went with a good quality shu pu’er I like.

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I added the pu’er to my nicely clay scented yixing pot. I made multiple pots of tea, pouring it out to fill up my bowl.

I found this part pretty cool as I was learning about my yixing pot – how it pours and where to hold so I don’t burnt my hands off. Also was fun putting a finger over the hole in the lid which stops the flow of tea!

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By the way, this is my husband’s favorite bowl to microwave his Kraft Macaroni and Cheese in. Shhhh, don’t tell him I tainted it with tea!

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Tea turtle is getting excited! It’s like a swimming pool to him!

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As I fill the bowl, the scent of Phatty Cake is overwhelming! I cannot resist, I will save you Phatty Cake! /sipsip

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Now that I have enough tea, it is time to season my pot! Gathering all my courage, I dunk the pot in the delicious tea.

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Noooo PHATTY CAKE!!! /cry

One last sip…

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(backstage note, I took the leaves out of the yixing pot and steeped them! Sadly, not much flavor left but was still tasty!)

I leave the kitchen to do other things – leaving the tea to cool and saturate the yixing pot in amazing flavor. I came back to check on my tea pot and see this:

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After kicking out Owly and Tea Turtle, I remove my yixing pot from the bowl of Phatty Cake tea.

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Once dried, the yixing pot smells mostly like Phatty Cake (YUM) with maybe a hint of incense only if I’m looking for it. Maybe the incense smell is in my head? Ehhhh.

Overall – THE SEASONING went very smoothly. Difficultly? Low. The hardest part was cleaning/baking soda rubbing the large boiling pot as I made pot roast in it the day before. I suffered a burn to my thumb that didn’t hurt for no more than 10 minutes.

The next day I went off and seasoned my other two pots with no issue at all.

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As much as I like my gaiwan and gravity steeper, I’m excited to own these yixing tea pots! Now I must use them lots so they can start giving back in flavor!

Houjicha from Obubu Tea via Yunomi.us Mystery Tea Samplers Club

Yunomi.us just started a Monthly Mystery Tea Samplers Club and this lucky Owl got her beak on it!

With the Monthly Mystery Tea Samplers Club you get 3 x 10g samples, all different teas. 20% off coupon to purchase any of the teas for that month. What I found was really cool was included was a couple page letter that goes into each tea – the history of the tea farm its from, pictures of the family/farmers at the tea farm, information about what the tea is and steeping instructions.

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This month, one of my three teas is Houjicha Light Roast from Obubu Teas! I’ve previously reviewed a Houjicha genmaicha. I’ve had a couple Houjichas at a few local sushi restaurants. Always fun when one expects the usual green sencha or genmaicha, but instead getting pots of roasty houjicha!
I didn’t know there are various roast intensities for Houjicha, that go up in smokey flavor strength – Yunomi.us/Obubu Tea has 4 roasts: Basic, Light, Dark and Smokey (you can also buy them as a package deal to try them all!)

Let’s give Houjicha Light Roast a try… as well as Houijcha Dark Roast! The dark roast was not in the sampler, but I had been sent some previously and this seemed a fun opportunity to try both teas together.

Houjicha Light Roast

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Dry Leaf: Nutty roasty scented leaves with an interesting tan green appearance. The thin curly bits are kind of cute!

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Steeping Instructions: Yunomi.us suggests to use their Standard Steeping Technique – with that said, I did 190F for 30 seconds, 10 second second steeping, and 30 seconds for further steepings. I used my gravity steeper as my kyusu tea pot makes a huge mess for some reason.

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The Houjicha Light Roast has a gorgeous glowing gold colour with a sweet roasted smell. I poured two cups, the big owl cup for me and the small glass one for Barny.

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What is up with glowing Japanese tea? The gyokuro I reviewed last has a similar bright glow.

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First Steeping: Very smooth tea! The sip goes down really easy going from light to rich intensity of flavors. Houjicha Light Roast has a savory roasty flavor with a hint of smokeyness, finishing off with a really tasty sweetness that reminds me of roasted chestnuts. The sweetness steals the show for this tea! The smokeyness is a 1/10 intensity. No bitterness, grassy or dryness in this tea.

Second Steeping: Still smooth, but not as smooth. The flavor seems much stronger yet more balanced with being one even brothy taste of roasty green tea with an amber sweetness to it. The first steeping was very easy to drink, with the second steeping being more of a slow sipper as it is a stronger cup. What is intriguing is this was a 10 second steep!

Third Steeping: Another shift! The tea is just a light blanket of chocolately roasty sweetness! Less brothy than the last steeping and closer to the first steeping for lightness. YUM! I could drink this steeping all day, very easy to drink!

Fourth Steeping: Very light and a little flavor left. I think I could squeeze more flavor with aggressive steepings or overnight cold steep, but I’ll stop for now.

Houijcha Dark Roast

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Dry Leaf: The smell comes off very roasty and earthy. The dry leaf looks similar, though a little more smashed up. The smashed up quality could be from being smushed in my sample pile.

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Colour wise, the Houijcha Dark Roast is a touch more brown with less glow to it.

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I put the two teas together, but the camera could barely pick up the colour difference. You can see from the photos above there is quite a difference between the colour.

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First Steeping: WHOA, very rich! Houijcha Dark Roast has a very robust, rich, earthy roasted flavor that reminds me of coffee. I guess we need a smokey meter – 5/10 on the Smokey-o-meter. It’s not like campire smokey or raw pu’er smokey, it’s roasty smokey, like the smell of roasting chestnuts. No bitterness or dryness.

Second Steeping: 10 second steeping! MMMmm, fantastic! Similar to the Houjicha Light Roast, it evened out in flavor – but this time very smooth, roasty, deep earthy and chocolate notes! This tea would be perfect with (or as) a dinner dessert! Out of all the Houjicha, this is the BEST steeping I’ve ever had.

Third Steeping: A big jump in flavor intensity to be a much lighter version of the second steeping. Not bad, but the second steeping is so incredible, so this one can’t compare. Kind of similar in flavor of Light Roast but more smokey.

Comments: I just drank.. 2 different Houjichas and a couple resteeps each. I should be climbing the walls, but thankfully there is less caffeine in Houjicha so I’m feeling good. Obubu Tea, your Houjicha is fantastic – lots of rich flavor!

This is a toughie: Which Houjicha roast I prefer?

Houjicha Light Roast is smooth, more sweet, easier to drink and light with further steepings having brothy green tea flavor note. I think this tea would appeal to many people as it is easy to drink. Houijcha Dark Roast is rich, earthy, chocolately and smokey of a tea, yet light and sweet. This would be a black tea or coffee lovers dream tea.

Hmmm, for everyday drinking, I’d go Light Roast, but for a treat, I’d go with Dark Roast. When I was drinking Houjicha Light Roast was impressed and thought it would be the better one, but Houijcha Dark Roast is fantastic too!

Yunomi.us has a tasty looking Houjicha Lattle Recipe that I think would be really good made with the Dark Roast! I think I’ll need to get some more dark roast and maybe try the Smokey Roast. Overall – check out Yunomi.us/Obubu Tea Houjicha! The prices are great and shipping is very reasonable despite coming from Japan!

Barny loves his Japanese teas!

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(teas provided for review)

Gravity Tea Steeper Love and Care

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In early into my tea journey, Gravity Tea Steepers got me started into making amazing loose leaf tea.

Before gravity steepers, I was use those tea ball chain things which were messy and didn’t give tea room to expand. I also used paper filters that you can fill with your own loose leaf, but I found that was a bit of waste. Once I got my first gravity steeper, in my case DAVIDsTEA the Steeper, I immediately noticed a flavor difference. Tea had a fuller and stronger flavor!

Years later, I acquired other tea ware for steeping, such as teapots and gaiwans, but I always go to my gravity steeper for blends or western style tea steeping.

Let’s go into detail about this magical tea steeping tool and how to take care of it.

What is a gravity tea steeper? They are a tea steeping device that you infuse your loose leaf tea in. Pressing on the bottom of the device (with your fingers, or placing the device on a cup) will dispense the steeped tea from the bottom, filtering the leaves out of your cup.

There are plenty of Gravity Steepers on the market. I’ll list a few:

It seems the typical price at this time is around $19 for a 16 to 20oz model and $24 to $30 for larger infusers.

I personally own DAVIDsTEA the Steeper and a adagio teas ingenuiTEA.

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I prefer the DAVIDsTEA the Steeper or any of the wider base models. The ingenuiTEA is too narrow and doesn’t fit most of the cups I use, so I have to use my fingers to touch the bottom to dispense the tea. The narrow gravity steepers are also harder to clean as it is harder to get your hand inside to deal with the filter. Models with “bends” could also provide difficulty.
With that said, I highly suggest going with an open, wider squat model from or similar to the DavidsTea or Teavana models.

What makes a gravity steeper awesome:

+ The design of the steeper has lots of room for the tea to expand, giving the tea the chance to release all its flavor.

+ Resteeping is very easy – the leaves are kept inside, so all you have to do is add more hot water.

+ Very easy to use with low mess as the tea is poured out the bottom of the device.

+ Perfect for 1 or 2 cups of tea (though, there are bigger models available)

+ Filter works very well, filtering out small teas like rooibos.

+ Great for iced teas, simply dispense the strong tea into a tumbler of ice.

Though the design has some cons to deal with:

– Not the greatest heat retention. I haven’t tested my gravity steepers, but I can easily tell a big difference in temperature making a cup of tea in a gravity steeper vs small tea pot.

– Additional cleaning needed to prevent staining and ensuring the filter preforms well. However, I think it is inevitable that there will be staining or clouding.

– Very fine dusty teas (such as orzo) can clog the filter.

– Majority of models are BPA free plastic, but unfortunately no glass or ceramic models at this time.

– Can drip out the bottom. I’ve noticed all mine don’t leak when steeping, but will drip a few drops after I dispense the tea. With that said, I keep a saucer underneath the steeper to catch all the artistic tea designs.

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I wonder if I could sell that as tea art?

CLEANING:

Quick cleaning – I only do this cleaning when I’m making more of the same type of tea the same day. Simply dispose the leaves (I like putting mine in my compost pile) and rinse out the gravity steeper.

Better cleaning – Every time I switch tea types, or if I left the tea leaves in the gravity steeper overnight, I do this cleaning. Simply rinsing out the steeper can leave traces of the flavor from the previous tea – this method quickly removes the lingering tea flavors and scent.

Pour a couple teaspoons of baking soda into the gravity steeper. Add a spoon of water and rub the baking soda like paste into the sides to remove any colouring. Swirl in tap water or hot kettle water to rinse. I sometimes pop out the filter and give it a baking soda rub and a good rinse. Occasionally, I leave the steeper to soak in the baking soda and water a few minutes while I decide on a tea to make.

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With my first steeper I did mostly quick cleanings and it stained, with some buildup I don’t think I’ll get out. EWWWWWWW!

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With my newer gravity steeper, I often do baking soda rinses and rubs and I have no staining so far, though bit of cloudlyness starting to show.

*** I found cream of tartar works pretty much the same as baking soda, however cream of tartar is much more expensive!  I use quite a bit of baking soda for cleaning (especially my tea ware), so I now buy the 5lb bucket.

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Thorough Cleaning – I do this cleaning when I notice build up of tea in the steeper… or when I discover I left my tea leaves after coming back from vacation. Eww!!!!

Dismantle the entire device – pop out the filter and push the middle plunger thing down so it squeezes out the bottom. Remove the washer.

Soak everything in a bowl of hot water and baking soda – leave to soak for a few hours.

Once thoroughly soaked, there still can be some tea residue on the washer or on parts of the filter. Go in and scrub those with soapy water or more baking soda – I do extra care to clean the underside as that is where the tea pours from.

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I use a toothpick to scrape all the tea gunk off out of small spots like inside the filter.

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Give the main body a nice soapy brushing.

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Unclogging the Filter – sometimes the filter will clog, especially after dusty orzo teas, or tea build up over time.

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What I found worked to unclog the filter was to rub some baking soda on the filter. Place the filter in a cereal bowl and pour some vinegar on it. It will foam up a bunch! Set aside for a few hours and it will clean the filter.

Best Ultra Deep Fast Cleaning (edit): Dismantle the entire gravity steeper and Soak with the Mandala Tea Soak (full blog post review). This does everything like the thorough cleaning but with no scrubbing.

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I’ve heard of people owning a couple gravity steepers restricting their use to a specific tea type. I’d personally rather use a yixing clay pot which will give back in flavor over time, something a gravity steeper will not do. If you clean and treat your gravity steeper well, you should have very little contamination of flavor, cup to cup.

BONUS:

I made a crochet tea cozy for my DAVIDsTEA the Steeper – check the pattern out over on my crafting blog!

 

Magnolia Oolong from Upton Tea Imports – Tea Review

Magnolia Blossom Oolong is a floral scented oolong from Upton Tea Imports.

Life has been weird lately. My husband adopted a turtle. We unexpectedly bought a new fridge and deepfreeze on a trip to the hardware store to build a pond for Turtimer. The kitchen was in disarray as said new fridge doesn’t fit where the old one was (and barely got into the house). All the moving around of the kitchen and surrounding areas to get the fridge into the house made me move my tea stuff out of the way, so I’m disorganized. The bonus is I have a water filter and ice maker built in! No more brita pitchers with flying lids and icecube trays.

I’m feeling like having a tea that is straight forward, yet lovely. I’ve had a magnolia oolong before, but from a different tea company, and I really enjoyed the floral. I went to buy more, but it was a tea seller that wasn’t convenient for me (ie, high shipping and only one thing I wanted.) I bought a sample of this tea from Upton Tea Imports too check it out. Time to crack open my packet of Magnolia Blossom Oolong!

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Dry Leaf: Classic green oolong appearance – tightly balled leaves snuggling in delicious oolong tea flavor. The leaves smells slightly sweet and grassy.

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Steeping Instructions: Upton suggests 190F for 3 minutes. I followed their instructions, steeping my tea in a gravity steeper. I could see this tea doing well in a gaiwan.

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The goldenrod vibrant tea smells buttery with a hint of floral – what a combo!

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Taste: First sip, the oolong is light and grassy, but quickly develops into a silky buttery flavor. The tea finishes off with a sweet floral that has a slight fruity tang to it. The silky texture lingers after sip. The floral level is fantastic – 5/10 on the Floral-o-meter – I can easily pick out the magnolia floral flavor, is the main flavor, but not overpowering and I am able to enjoy the oolong base.

The floral is quite different. It is much lighter than jasmine and lacks that “pow” intensity. It is also sweeter and much easier to drink. The “tang” present is fantastic – it is like a singer hitting a highnote to pull me out from drowning in buttery floral.

Resteep: I did a 4 minute resteep – the leaves fully opened up after this steeping! Nice sized leaves, I’ve seen bigger but the size is pretty good.

Magnolia Blossom Oolong from Upton Tea Imports - Oolong Owl Tea Review (5)

Magnolia Blossom Oolong from Upton Tea Imports - Oolong Owl Tea Review (6)

 

 

Magnolia Blossom Oolong flavor changed slighty with the butteryness losing most of its texture. The floral is much lighter, 2/10 on the Floral-o-meter, and backed with some grassy notes from the oolong. The tang is much sharper with a bit of a sweet grapefruit citrus note, but not tart. Very interesting resteep!

Resteep 2: The tea has gotten pretty light – just gentle dance of floral, citrus tang, sweet and grassy. Despite being light, it is still very good.

Cold Steeped: I did about 24 hours, but I think it should be steeped at least overnight. Magnolia Blossom Oolong is crisp at first sip that develops to buttery savory mid sip. End of sip the tea is sweet floral, a 4/10 on the Floral-o-meter – less floral than hot.  I think I prefer this tea hot but cold is pretty good.

Comments: Upton Tea Import’s Magnolia Blossom Oolong is another floral lover’s treat! Upton has some fantastic prices – I snagged a sample of this tea for $2.50 and I’m very tempted to buy more.

I’d also suggest Magnolia Blossom Oolong to tea drinkers who want to give floral tea another shot. The floral is softer, sweeter and not very potent – lighter than jasmine and rose. A great everyday tea!

Yixing pot #2

Finally, my second yixing pot!

My first yixing pot was from Hong Kong, but I’ve been undecided what to season it with. I figured if I get a couple more, I’d have an easier time – so I ordered a second pot. While I waited for this teapot to arrive, I unexpectedly bought a third yixing teapot.

I saw some fantastic yixing pots and gaiwans at Yunnan Sourcing. However, since based in China, the shipping fees were on the high side or long shipping times. Luckily, they have a US based site, Yunnan Sourcing.us, that also had the same yixing pot.

Let’s unbox!

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Sweet, a free sample – thank you! (I got a white tea from them last time that was pretty good).

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Yunnan Sourcing.us really doesn’t mess around with packaging. LOTS OF BUBBLE WRAP AND PACKING TAPE!

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Inside that thick layers of bubble wrap and tape is a box. My new owl (ordered from Amazon) came to supervise.

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Inside… MOAR BUBBLE WRAP! NEVER ENDING BUBBLE WRAP!  I appreciate all the bubblewrap, I don’t want broken tea ware and tears.

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Finally at the center of the tootsie pop – our yixing tea pot!

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The yixing pot I purchased is a Ben Shan Green Clay “Dragon Egg” yixing teapot that is only 150ml.

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I really love the shape of this pot – the spout is so teeny and the egg form is just really attractive.

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This pot is quite small – 150ml seems a good size, I mean, it’s a little bigger than my gaiwans. Oh, I need to apologize ahead of time if I end up holding any writing that is upside down. I don’t read chinese, and I’m reminded that I should really get into the habit of working on my Korean again.

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The lid fits snug without any wobbling, yay!

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Inside the box was a piece of paper with the photo of my teapot. I’m not sure what it is about but I’m keeping it with my pot!

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The clay is very interesting. As stated on Yunnan sourcing’s site, Ben Shan Green Clay can change colour with steepings of oolongs or raw pu’ers. I love the texture and colours in the clay – the tan base is freckled with dark and white spots. The teapot does look more green on Yunnan sourcing’s site – the green is more of a undertone really.

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My yixing collection so far:

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With 3 yixing pots, I think I’m good for now. Maybe.

I’ve almost decided on seasoning – I’m thinking yixing 3 (bottom left) will be shu pu’er and will be the first. Leaning on the dragon egger to be sheng pu’er.

Stay tuned for the SEASONING!!! Sounds like a horror film, lol! Hopefully the seasoning will go smoothly.

Bonus Pic!

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Ugg, I need to brush the owl or something. It’s like his feathers exploded.

Yixing Teapot #3

So, I unexpectedly acquired another Yixing clay teapot. Yixing #3? Well, I have #2 coming in the mail soon. #1 is the yixing pot I got from Hong Kong.

I was shopping a couple towns over from where I live and my Mother-inlaw said there was a tea shop in the area. We weren’t sure what kind of tea shop it was.. Boba tea? Restaurant? Loose leaf? Anyways, it was a few blocks away from where we were so we went to check it out.

This tea shop is called Bamboo Tea House out in Claremont, California. By the way, the website I linked doesn’t do the shop justice. It turns out, this tea shop sells teawares, teas and tea related trinkets. The shop is small jammed with tea ware at every corner – so much treasure to look at!

They had english tea pots in lovely bright colours, japanese cast iron tea pots and LOTS AND LOTS of owl cups and other japanese tea cups. I wish I brought my camera, but I wasn’t expecting to go to a teashop or buy lots of things

Anyways, in a cubby was a collection of yixing clay tea pots. Some were that fancy designs with not-so-useful carved handles or frogs stuck to the pot, with a couple more simple pots. I found this pot to look and preform the best:

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It’s wide and squat with a set in, yet deep lid. Out of all the pots, this teapot’s lid fit perfectly without rattling

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Looking inside, it appears handmade (as far as I can tell)

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When I flipped over the pot to photograph the bottom, clay curls fell out!

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The detailing around the top of the teapot has great texture and interest! I am curious if this one has a bit of glaze on it, as there is some colour differences on the pattern compared to the entire pot.

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The damage.. $29 HOOT! The yixing pot is clearly not as nice as my first yixing pot, but I still love it! I’m thinking ripe/shu pu’er in this one.

My only complaint is the shop was heavily perfumed with incense – while we were there the sales clerk was lighting more. Thus, my pot strongly smells, though very relaxingly, like incense. I don’t want to drink incense, so hopefully when I boil this pot to season, it’ll reset the smells. Hopefully! All fails, I might need to try my trusty baking soda. I go through so much baking soda, sigh.

Sadly, I did not walk out with a dozen cute owl figurines and mugs. I probably could of dropped way too much cash there and dented their owl collection, however next time I’m in the area I will be sure to stop by… with more money.

Strawberry Daiquiri Honeybush from 52 Teas – Tea Review

Strawberry Daiquiri Honeybush is a fun, drink inspired blend from 52 Teas / Zoomdweebie’s. This limited time, tea of the week blend is also caffeine free!

I bought this tea immediately. No “let’s wait and see if it’s popular” or procrastinating. Though, with 52 Teas, if one procrastinates, it should be kept to a minimum as the teas can sell out! I love 52 Teas honeybush blends. Pineberry Honeybush was pretty funky. Peanut butter cup cheesecake honeybush I worship. I had a few samples of others from tea trades that were fantastic as well.

The girlie owls have gathered – they want an all girl owl night out and tea drinks. Not sure if they plan to get owl pedicures or their feathers done.

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Dry Leaf: Opening the package of tea – oh man, really smells like a strawberry daquiri! Candy sweet strawberry with lime!

Appearance of the dry leaf? Ehhh, not the most exciting we’ve seen at Oolong Owl. Pretty much is a honeybush wood chips like appearance stuck to some strawberry chunks.

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Steeping Instructions: I went with my 52 Teas honeybush steeping usual: 200F for around 4 minutes. Honeybushes can also steep much longer, but I did a taste test at the 4 minute mark and yum!

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My cup is a weird cloudy brown red with a bit of debris my gravity steeper didn’t catch. The tea smells like lime and strawberry candy!

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Taste: First sip, lots of rum and tangy lime flavor. The rum and lime hum exceptionally well together and both easily distinguishable. Interestingly, the honeybush base is easy to ignore as it floats perfectly with the rum. The lime peaks mid sip, carrying to end of sip. At end of sip, I can taste a strawberry bubblegum candy flavor mixed with the lime. The strawberry flavor lingers as an aftertaste. Strawberry Daiquiri Honeybush is not tart, bitter or dry of a tea.

Sweetened: I added a little german rock sugar, hoping to pull out that strawberry – which worked! The strawberry and lime tang pop throughout the entire sip (taking selfies at the bar) with the rum and woody honeybush dancing (drunkenly) in the background. The strawberry still tastes kinda bubblegum candy like – I wish it had more fresh tart berry flavor. But hey, this tea is made for being iced!

Resteep: Not a very good resteep – very light and mostly honeybush woodsy with rum flavoring.

Iced: I steeped up Strawberry Daiquiri Honeybush strong with some german rock sugar. I then poured the tea over lots of ice, a couple fresh lime slices and a frozen strawberry. I then added a bit of light agave to adjust the sweetness.

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The strawberry in the tea remains a candy like flavor, but is the main flavor. The lime is really great, but also boosted by my fresh lime. The rum is even more backburner, tasted at end of sip and aftertaste. Kind of like how these fun mixed drinks creep up on you. After sipping away at this iced tea, the lime and frozen strawberry meld into the blend – I swear I’m drinking a real virgin strawberry daiquiri. I wonder if I could make this iced tea with shaved ice? Hmmm….

Comments: Strawberry Daiquiri Honeybush is a tasty and fun, caffeine free tea blend!  A great summer tea! I like this tea in all forms – hot, sweetened and iced! Personally, while I do like candy strawberry flavor, I’d like some more strawberry tang for this blend, but still this tea blend is quite good.

At the time of this blog post, there are some in stock – buy em quick! Zoomdweebies! Gogogogogogogooo!

Bonus Pic

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Eight Treasures Yabao from Verdant Tea – Tea Review

Eight Treasures Yabao is a blend of yunnan green jasmine, silver buds yabao pu’er, goji berry, marigold, vanilla bean, honeysuckle, rose and elderberry. This unique tea is from Verdant Tea.

This blend caught my eye last year, but I didn’t jump on it, then it eventually went out of stock. When Verdant Tea restocked this tea for the season, it prompt me to do my first order with them. I think what interested me was the combination of a silver bud yabao pu’er with floral and goji.

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Dry Leaf: The smell of Eight Treasures Yabao is unexpected! It smells like a musky mountain spice.

Checking out the dry leaf, lovely appearance with the pink and purple flower petals, petal looking pu’er and lumps of elderberries.

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Disappointing was not much goji berry. Actually, not sure if I found any intact ones. This owl has been unlucky lately.

The attractive and floral tea blend attracted another owl.. a pretty pink one!

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Steeping Instructions: A bit heavy on the leaf here, 2teaspoons for a cup, steeped for 2 minutes over 185F water.

I used my gravity steeper for this tea.

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After 2 minutes, I had a bronzey gold brown cup of tea that smells like a floral bouquet.

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Taste: Lots going on here! Eight Treasures Yabao has a thick textured, slight creamy sensation in the mouth carrying multiple layers of flavor throughout the entire sip. First sip, pretty warm, earthy woody cedar that quickly blooms into floral notes by mid sip. The floral? Whoa mama! Rosey sweetness, jasmine, and little orchid – all very natural tasting. I’ll toss a 7/10 on the Floral-o-meter – it’s pretty floral, a dominate flavor note and focus, but not overpowering or chemical. End of sip, the tea sweetens a bit, peaking the floral with a bit of mystery fruity herb notes. The mystery fruity is probably the goji berry and elderberry, though the tea lacks tart. Aftertaste, sweet floral that lingers. No bitterness or astringency in this tea.

Resteep: Interesting! I actually like the resteep more! I reused the leaves in my gravity steeper, running more 185F water for 2 minutes. Eight Treasures Yabao resteeped is sweeter and much more crisp. The sip starts off light, bright sunny saturated floral that is rock sugar sweet, ending with some warm woodyness and herby spice.

Iced: I steeped up a fresh batch of Eight Treasures Yabao, but with 60% less water, and poured it over plenty of ice. The tea is very refreshing – light, mysteriously fruity, with a delicate pop of floral. No sweetener needed as the blend came out naturally sweet. That woodsy cedar flavor becomes more honey-like iced. For me, iced was the best. Maybe because also it is July 1st and hot, but the sweeteness is fantastic and the floral is great.

Comments: Eight Treasures Yabao is a floral lovers dream tea. The blend is well executed and very different.

What caught me was the lack of tart as I was expecting a bit with gojiberry use and mass amounts of floral – the lack of hibiscus that would be something that would be commonly added, is not missed. The use of pu’er is interesting too – I need to try silver bud yabao on its own. If you are new to pu’er, don’t let it scare you off – this tea is light.

Floral lovers, Iced tea lovers and tea adventurers – I recommend trying out Eight Treasures Yabao. Snag a sample or more before it goes out of season again!

Bonus pic

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Periwinkle from The Persimmon Tree – Tea Review

Periwinkle is a black Assam tea blended with vanilla bits and white tea leaf flowers. This loose leaf blend is from The Persimmon Tree.

I’ve had only a couple black and white tea blends. One that sticks to my mind is DavidsTea’s Checkmate, a black & white tea blend with chamomile and coconut, which is pretty good. Black and white tea blends seem unusual – they are like polar opposites of dark rich tea vs. gentle floral tea, but somehow work. Anyways, when The Persimmon Tree released some new teas recently, Periwinkle was a must try for me – The Persimmon Tree has some great blends!

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Dry Leaf: Opening the tin, YUM! Smells strongly like baked goods loaded with vanilla.

However, I was slightly disappointed when I found I only have one intact white tea leaf flower in my entire tin. I have a couple pieces of broken leaves of white tea, but my tin was pretty much all black tea. Such an unlucky Owl. It happens. Well, I’ll use that white tea in my first small pot of tea.

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Steeping Instructions: I steeped this tea at 200F for 4 minutes. The tin and website mention 195F or 205F as other temperatures one can use.

Periwinkle steeps up to a rich burnt brown cup of tea that smells bold and vanilla sweet.

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Taste: Rich, bold earthy-strong black tea balanced with a smooth sweet mid sip. Periwinkle ends with a slightly sweet floral twinge and 3/10 Bitter-o-meterness. I’m not sure if the bitter is from the black tea or the white tea being steeped too hot. Either way, this tea is bait for sweetener or milk.

Sweetened: The rich earth black tea is even more smooth with the entire sip popping with creamy sweet vanilla flavor. The german rock sugar really works well! The bitterness is down to a 1/10. I enjoy the vanilla flavors.

Latte: Latte? Yes please! I made this tea latte with fat free soymilk and german rock sugar. Periwinkle latte is fantastic! It’s like drinking vanilla cream! I can still taste the black tea base, but it is pretty background. Not tasting any white tea essence, but I didn’t have any white tea bits for this scoop of loose leaf.

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Comments: Periwinkle is very rich, nice black tea base, with a desserty yummy vanilla flavor. In my opinion, this tea is fantastic sweetened and even better as a latte. The latte I made tasted better than what I’ve had in coffee shops! I’ll be drinking the rest of this tea as a latte!

Black tea and coffee drinkers! I think this tea is for you, check it out!

(tea provided for review)

Mandala Silver Buds Raw Pu’er 2012 from Mandala Tea – Tea Review

Time to pu’er pick some Mandala Silver Buds Raw Pu’er 2012! This 100g cake from Mandala Tea.

Mandala Tea has several Silver Bud pu’er cakes – 2008, 2011 and 2012. I went with the 2012 as it is cheap price, plus it was on sale at the time! I actually was stuck between this one and the Mandala “Wild Monk” Raw Pu’er 2012 for my first cake.

Also, the 100g cakes are so darn cute of a size!

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My only disappointment was there was no artwork on the wrapper. The Wild Monk cake had some fantastic art on the wrapper (and I’m a sucker for that kind of thing). Either way, Teal Owl is here, ready to use his pu’er pick (also from Mandala Tea)!

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Dry Leaf: A very good looking cake that smells lightly earthy! The leaves are a beautiful monochrome confetti of silver and browns, broken up with the odd golden leaf.

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Steeping Instructions: For my first steeping of this tea, I used a glass gaiwan with 190F water, with about 4ish grams of tea. Mandala Tea suggests for a smooth cup, go with 175F to 190F, but feel free to go with boiling water. I started with 15 second steeping, adding 15 to 30 to 1 minute infusions as I went on.

Teal Owl got crazy with the tea picking!

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We got around 4grams picked off. I wanted a bit more but it was either that or way more tea as we needed just a little more, and he got a huge chunk loose, so we stopped.

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Tea Turtle jumped into my cup. Hmmm.. I guess he’s thirsty! He hasn’t had any tea yet since arriving to my home.

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Arggg. I really need a tea table. Oh well, I’ll make do with a saucer.

There we go Mr Tea Turtle! Have some Silver Bud rinse!

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Okay, back to the tea! Silver Buds Raw Pu’er steeped has a gentle gold glow with a slightly smokey scent.

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First Infusion: Very soft, smooth and delicate! The tea sips in sweet with apple notes. I’m sitting here trying to identify the apple.. maybe a gala? It’s a crisp apple. The tea finishes with a peek of earthyness.

Second Infusion: A stronger brew! The pu’er starts with that apple note. Mid sip is a gentle floral, as if a flowery spring breeze has swept into the room. End of sip is that earthy, with a touch of smokey flavor. Aftertaste is a gentle sweetness that lingers while I make the next infusion.

Reflecting on Silver Buds Raw Pu’er, the image I get is this tea is like a golden spring morning. The sun is rising, giving a warm glow on the petite white flowers in a meadow. Everything is waking up and starting off slow and gentle.

Even infusing away in the gaiwan, the tea glows like the sun is rising!

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Third, Fourth, Fifth Infusion: The tea is getting brighter! The flavor starts off smooth, like a sweet apple custard, finishing off with a bright, sweet floral flavor that lingers. Floral-o-meter rating of 2/10! There is an interesting aftertaste. I wouldn’t call it astringency yet, but it’s a gentle apricotty-floral-earthy that is sticking to my teeth.

Sixth, Seventh, Eighth Infusion: Silver Buds Raw Pu’er is starting to lighten, despite a 2 minute steeping time. The apple flavor has dissolved to a more smooth earthy sweet vibe, ending with a ping of mineral coppery flavor. The smoothness is very good here!  The tea finishes off with that mystery almost astrigenty apricot tooth sticker flavor. The earlier infusion had lots of interest with the fruit and floral notes going on, but these infusions are so smooth and relaxing – like I’m sleeping in that glowy sun meadow.

Someowl is hoping he can get more pu’er to use his pu’er pick on!

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Ninth, Tenth Infusion: Silver Buds Raw Pu’er has softened even more to a bright mineral and light earthy flavor, with that lingering apricot astringency.

Eleventh Infusion: Very light, just and aftertaste left. I’ll stop here.

Comments: I’m surprised how little smokey and astringency is present in Mandala Silver Buds Raw Pu’er 2012! I was expecting smokey and dryness as this is a young cake. This might have to do with my 190F temperature.

I enjoyed the transitions between the infusions – the floral apple early on to the smooth mineral earth at the end. I will savor every leaf of this cake! I do love Mandala Tea’s Wild Monk 2012 cake, but this Silver Buds Raw Pu’er 2012 is very different and I can justify owning both.

Overall, this tea is a gentle, delicate tea that just keeps putting out flavor and bang for your buck! Mandala Silver Buds Raw Pu’er 2012 would be an excellent raw pu’er for a tea peep who loves white tea!

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