Tag Archives: Oolong

An Oolong in Germany Moment

It’s always so lovely to hear of other tea lovers discovering new teas or wanting to share their own tea moment. So, of course, I was delighted to hear from Abadia in Germany and her experience with one of my favorite Oolongs, Rose Violet Calendula Oolong from Naivetea:

Hi Jen!

This tea was really nice!
I was sceptical, because I don’t really like teas with flowery flavours.
But I was surprised!
I loved it!
I think these three flowers complement each other in a very harmonious way.  And the Oolong basis emphasizes this composition perfectly.

Greetings from the very cold Northern Germany!

Abadía

Thanks Abadia – I love this one too! But I guess that is no surprise, as it won An International Tea Moment’s Best of 2009 award for Oolongs. 

Keep sharing your tea exploration and tea moments with me! I love to hear all about them!

An International Tea Moment is having a holiday drawing! Learn the details here.

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An All-The-Oolong-Day Moment

I’ve been so entrenched in my Green Tea Party, that I decided I needed to pause my clique-ish behavior and try to make some new friends. Naivetea has been busy recently with some new and exciting teas, and I took the opportunity to take a day and make it all about Oolongs.

I began my day with Li Shan Oolong, which is grown in the highest altitude tea farms in all of Taiwan. Knowing this tea was so exclusive only made me feel that much more elegant as I experienced this lovely, delicate tea. It has the lightest floral perfume, and a soft sleek feel. The best word that comes to mind is refined. Sipping this delight, I almost felt underdressed. This is a tea with presence. A Lady Diana of teas.

As I journeyed forth through my day, I continued with a cup of Da Yu Ling. I have to say, it is truly remarkable how Oolongs that are both grown in similar regions can have such distinct differences. This tea had a smooth, almost buttery feel with that signature, yet mellow, floral perfume. The difference, however was in the tiniest peppery hint that brings to mind evergreen forests. As it was a rare, chilly autumn day in Southern California, this felt like the perfect choice.

As I made my way through the lunch hour, I chose to have a little fun and try the Kyoho Grape Oolong. As I opened the package, I was struck by the scent of grape Jolly Ranchers! Once I added the hot water the scent took on a level of sophistication that fused the grape with the floral. This is a robust tea, very full, and almost had the essence of grape Kool-Aid, though I don’t mean to cheapen the beautiful flavor. I was just amazed at the fact that a tea could maintain a profile of grape without that over-sweetness I associate with fruit teas and infusions. This was a perfect balance of grape and floral notes that was satisfying, but with a bit of playfulness.

And as the day approached evening, I was ready for something light. White Peach Oolong sounded like just the ticket. What a way to close out my day! This light and smooth Oolong had just a whisper of peach with no fruity aftertaste – a triumph in my book! As the rains continued, I lounged happily with my cup of sunshine. One word of caution – take care not to oversteep. I made this mistake once and encountered a slightly metallic taste. However, the greatest beauty of this tea is its ability to be delicious hot or cold. Some of the other Oolongs can take on an astringent quality as they cool. This Oolong is beautifully smooth hot or over ice. I can’t wait for the California sun to re-emerge so I can fully appreciate White Peach Oolong on ice!

A good day. A very good day. New flavors and fragrances accompanied me through the day, and not a stinker among them. Naivetea continues to surprise and delight.

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An Iron Goddess of Mercy Moment

Mu Zha Tie Guan Yin

 

Morning tea is what I do every day. At home or on the road, this is pretty much the start of my day. At home, it is accompanied by toast with real butter. Maybe some honey. This is probably not the most well-rounded breakfast, but it works for me.  

It’s a special treat when new tea arrives on my doorstep. Today, it was Mu Zha Guan Yin from Naivetea. This tea is also known as the Iron Goddess or Mercy, which brings to mind a Taiwanese Mary Poppins of sorts. (Now, there’s an idea!) A firm hand but with loving forgiveness for those daily blunders.  

As I brewed this tea, I was greeted by the scent of roasted rice or nuts rather than the gentle perfume I have come to associate with many Oolongs. This would make sense, as I learned that this Oolong is processed according to the traditional method of repeat roasting.  

The first sip… a woodsy, roasted rice flavor. I keep wanting to compare it to a GenMaicha, but without the grassy finish. It’s a hearty tea, perfect to give me a little shove into the morning tasks at hand. I find this tea pleasantly leaning toward a black tea weight and  feel, rather than green. And in the end, there’s the subtlest sweet aftertaste.  Each taste brings out more complexities. At times I detect ripe oranges.  

This really is an Iron Goddess of Mercy – allowing me to indulge in the comfort zone of black tea familiarity while firmly challenging me with the complex citrus, woodsy, roasted flavors. It’s warmth and earthiness make it feel just right as my guide into autumn.  

Let the day begin!  

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A Quieting of the Mind Tea Moment

I just went to Nordstrom during lunch today to pick up a couple of things and saw a woman get attacked in the parking lot.  I heard a commotion and turned to see a young man in a hooded, black sweatshirt practically jump on her back, trying to grab her purse. At 11:30 a.m. in the morning! She fought him off,  and there were 3 – 4 of us who saw it happen. My heart went out to her. How terrifying!
 
The thing that impressed me, however, was the number of people who jumped in to assist. One woman who saw it happening started honking her horn and she called 911. Another woman saw him jump into a car with 3 other guys, and she drove around to us to give a description of the car and its passengers. An employee saw where the getaway car had been parked and was able to show security the spot so they could review security camera footage and perhaps get a license plate number. I didn’t know what to do except ask her if she was hurt and follow her around with her shoes that had flown off during the attack. Horrible.
 
Back at home, feeling the after effects of adrenaline and thinking of that brave woman who fended off her attacker, I felt the need for tea. As fortune would have it, I had just received a package from my dear friends at Naivetea. In addition to a gift I had ordered, there were samples of new delights in the world of Oolong. One struck me as just the thing: Dong Ding Oolong. The name alone made me lighten up, and the earthy, nutty fragrance helped plant my feet firmly back on the ground.
 
Steeped in my new/old teacup from the Ashland trip, I took in the mellow amber color and inhaled more of that nutty earthiness, reminding me a bit of Genmaicha with that hint of roasted rice. And then, the first sip. It is not often that the flavor of the tea exactly matches the fragrance of the tea, and yet here it was. Such a direct translation! I found it intensely comforting that what I smelled was what I tasted. This is reality. This is comfort. As though I had my own, personal map that was shouting at me in bold letters, “YOU ARE HERE!”
 
And now I can continue my day, holding that woman in my heart, praying that her raw nerves were being soothed, that the potential fear would release her and she would not spend the next days, weeks and years looking over her shoulder.

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An Ashland, Oregon Moment

It’s something that occurs every two years, and while some might think of it as a reunion of sorts, I tend to view it more as a pilgrimage. Whatever you want to call it, it is a four-day event that I do whatever I can to attend. It started with my Mom and her sisters and sister-in-law getting together in Ashland, Oregon to enjoy each other’s company and catch up on e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. Over time, the daughters have joined in the event, and then daughters-in-law.

Aunt D (who serves as the glue for this ever-growing melange) reserves the biggest rental home she can find, and we all descend from various parts of the country to get together and cook, eat, sing, play music (for those with that talent), hand-sew beautiful baby quilts, knit, crochet adorable play food and animals (again, for those with talent in those areas), attend the world-renowned Oregon Shakespeare festival, go on walks, explore the cute shops (and wine bars) of the picturesque downtown, talk as though it’s going out of style, and this year… enjoy afternoon tea.

At the last Ashland event, I was a brand-new mom there with my tiny baby Edie, and I was in nothing more than survival mode. Being among the most loving, nurturing, encouraging, hilarious women for a few days was the greatest blessing I could have received at that time. So now, being able to leave my ‘big-girl’ Edie to have a father-daughter weekend while I made the journey back to this oasis, I was delighted to be able to bring something fun to the table. (Literally).

With Aunt D providing the perfect mix and match of thrift store tea cups, and Aunt M and new cousin-in-law C as my sous chefs, we whipped up some tasty treats and had quite the table spread. Sandwiches: cucumber and cream cheese with dill; pear and brie; a modified Waldorf salad sandwich; puff pastry with savory salami and goat cheese. Cranberry-orange scones with local raspberry preserves, lemon curd and mock Devonshire cream on the side.  An assortment of berries. And for a little sweetness, shortbread and chocolate cookies. 

 The decision of what teas to present was a snap, thanks to the kindred spirits of American Tea Room. David provided the as-always perfect recommendations.

The table was set, the food laid out, and I carefully brewed each pot according to suggested instructions. The first pot was presented: Ruby Black.  I first experienced this lovely brew on Mother’s Day at the first ever American Tea Room High Tea. In only its 3rd year of re-introduction and production in Taiwan, American Tea Room is the sole purveyor of this tea in the entire United States. You haven’t had amazing black tea until you’ve had this black tea. It is rich and fulfilling, and has a maltiness to it. And as my sister-in-law, S, kept saying after each sip, “It’s so smooth! It’s just so smooth!” Yes. Yes it is.

The second pot: Milk Oolong. I’ve been telling my cousin, H, about this one for nearly a year. Unable to have any dairy, she has been missing cream in her tea, and this, in my opinion, is the best possible solution. Not only is this a most heavenly Oolong with a gentle floral perfume and the subtlest natural sweetness, it is also infused with an inexplicable creaminess though no cream nor anything else is added to this tea. The tea is hand-processed using multiple unique methods, and the result is this magnificent sensation. H, and the rest of the table, was delighted.

The third pot: Immortal Green. Mindful of my measured journey into greens this summer, David suggested this fan favorite. A Japanese sencha with peach and passion fruit infused throughout, this green tea is not only approachable, it is the life of the party! I watched as woman after woman around the table cautiously brought their cup to their lips, bracing themselves for that greenness or grassiness or earthiness or whatever it is that is coming to meet them. And then, with that first, glorious sip, the eyes widen, the face lights up the tinest bit, and they go in for that second sip – which is now no longer just a sip, but a slurp! Success!

And even when the tea party was over, it wasn’t over, as each guest oohed and ahhed over receiving tea to take home. David had sent samples of Choco – Late (cacao husk, vanilla bean and rooibos) and Marrakesh (a Morraccan mint green tea).

The teas and treats were lovingly received, as were each of us around the table. This is what it is all about. As we talk and laugh and share stories or ideas or memories, we weave each other more deeply, more securely into each other’s lives. This is what first made me fall in love with the idea of tea. It is something that gives us a perfect excuse to be together and create these moments that feel so precious and so critical at the same time.

The countdown to Ashland 2012 begins…

Waldorf Salad Sandwich (As requested by the Ashland Gals)

Salad:
3/4 cups walnuts (or pecans) coarsely chopped
3/4 cup Granny Smith apple, diced
1/2 cup golden raisins
2 stalks of celery, finely diced
2 scallions finely sliced
Salt to taste

Dressing:
1/2 cup mayo
1/2 cup sour cream
1/8 cup apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp honey

Prepare dressing in small bowl and put in refrigerator to chill. Prepare remaining ingredients and place in larger bowl. When ready to assemble sandwiches, pour salad dressing over other ingredients and combine well. Butter 8 slices of whole wheat bread. Spread salad in a quarter-inch even layer between 2 buttered slices. Cut into quarters.

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An Imperial Beauty Moment

I am the mother of a 2-year old girl.

She is changing so fast, now. Jumping, running, talking, sleeping in a big girl bed! I guess every parent marvels at the very fact of their child. I certainly do. Every new facial expression is so clever, every new word a sure sign of genius. And as she changes, so do I. The fierce, desperate anxiety to keep her safe and alive at all costs, is mellowing slightly to a fierce protectiveness to ensure she gets what I believe is best for her and that nobody messes with her. Nobody.

She has her nicknames, like any child. And like many parents, we can’t help but refer to our little girl as our “Princess.” And it is during this moment of reflection and quiet gratitude that I, appropriately, am enjoying a most elegant and regal oolong.

Imperial Beauty. The honey-caramel tones of its liquid are re-emphasized by the light honey-caramel aroma.  A pleasantly sweet candy and floral fragrance – but not too sweet.  The first sip is rewarded with a more rich and substantial oolong that really does feel like an Imperial luxury.

I’m noticing that oolongs, and in particular, Naivetea oolongs, are becoming my companions in moments of relaxation, reflection, and peaceful solitude. Is it the touch of floral fragrance that puts me in mind of a peaceful garden? The satisfying yet mild taste and substance that makes its presence known but is not imposing?  I think Lawrence Lai, of Naivetea, put it best when he explained that oolongs are such a “friendly tea.”

As I finish this lovely cup and count my blessings, I smile at the thought that this mother of a little “Princess” can’t wait to share moments of Imperial Beauty together. And soon.

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A Saturday Tea and Sushi Moment

Saturday mornings have turned into my private getaway day. Gene takes on Edie, and I escape for a couple of hours to do any exotic thing I desire. This has typically meant that I sneak away to the library to check out 3 books, and then sit in the attached coffee house, The Neighborhood Cup, for a cup of tea or coffee and a bit of reading.

These days, however, I have had a strong hankering for sushi. The reason? I can’t explain. I’m originally from the Northwest United States. Sushi in that region is considered g-r-o-s-s amongst the majority of the population. But since our move to California 10 years ago and an abrupt introduction to it during one of my first annual review meetings with my boss (in which I was desperately trying to act mature and sophisticated), I have come to enjoy and even crave it.

So, on my Saturday mornings, I have become a regular at Kan Pai sushi. They bring me my beverage without even having to ask. They know I will always order a crunchy roll and a tuna or salmon roll. The waitress, who I suspect is also one of the owners, made the observation, “You’re always reading.” Yes. Yes, I am. I am escaping into someone else’s world, just for an hour or so, re-energizing so I can dive into the new week. And keeping me and my book company is always their pot of tea. A bagged oolong, it doesn’t matter really. Because a tea moment can often be about the moment itself. What is happening there, what is being discovered or soothed or mulled over. The quality of tea can be something special. But on these Saturday sushi and tea moments, the point of it all is to just be.

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