Monday, January 30, 2017

A festivus for the rest of us!

The rest of us being tea drinkers that is! Another year has come for tea lovers to unite at the Toronto Tea Festival and learn more about their favourite beverage. This is the 5th year for this event and, of course, I volunteered yet again as I do every year. How can I not? I get to see some old friends, meet new people, and discover new teas all the while giving my time to help out. 

Genmaicha winner!

Like in previous years, I worked as an Exhibitor Supervisor, where my duties entailed fetching water for vendors and directing patrons to specific areas. Seems easy enough, but it can get really busy at times. Still enjoyable!

This year marked the return of vendors like Basilur Teas, Sprucewood Handmade Cookie Company, and JalamTeas. Some newcomers included: Blair Elements, Face & Body Tea Co., and Four Seasons Tea Co. Another newbie, called Turmeric Teas, proved to be quite popular among the wandering patrons. Rosewood Estates Winery also made their debut at the festival, and why not? There are many similarities between wines and teas. A few of my favourites like Genuine Tea and Chaiwala also returned. 

Turmeric Teas.

After dutifully completing my shift, I made my rounds like a regular attendee and scoped out vendors for some samples to sip. There were many wows! The coconut Chai offered by Chaiwala was effing awesome! 

Coconut Chai.

A rose Pu’erh from Wait Tea House was divine. I sampled a lovely Lapsang Souchong from Dream Tea House. A chaga from Tao Tea Leaf was a surprising delight. Also, a couple of Blueberry Rooibos tisanes, one from Tao Tea Leaf, the other from T by Daniel were both equally good.

Chai wow!

I was hoping for something a little more spectacular for a 5th anniversary, but no matter, it was still a great experience and day out. It was nice catching up with friends and seeing what they were up to in their tea journey. Funny how a simple beverage can connect people from all over. I’m looking forward to next year’s event and seeing what will become of all my contacts over this year.

To a new year!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

My Cuppa: Get oolong with friends!

I have written about oolong teas previously, but there’s always room for more. There are so many brands and variations of teas, with each having their own unique properties. This is yet another taste test of a tea suggested to me by a friend. She recommended this oolong from a brand she appears to be very fond of as she has provided me with samples of other teas from this company. 

A friend's fave!

This oolong from Greenfield doesn’t give much information on the packaging unfortunately. However, I really enjoyed it. I’m not sure what kind of oolong it was, but, from its appearance, it looked like Iron Goddess of Mercy or Tieguanyin, from the way the leaves were tightly rolled into balls. They also had a greenish-yellow colour with a light earthy scent.

Tieguanyin perhaps?

I prepared the oolong by first measuring out 1 teaspoon of leaves for each cup of water. Then, I rinsed the tea leaves quickly with some boiled water. Just pour the water over the leaves, give it a few swirls, and then discard the water. Afterwards, make the tea by pouring boiled water over the leaves and allowing the infusion process take over for about 5 minutes. The leaves produced a golden yellow liquor with a slightly smoky aroma. It was a smooth liquor with a bit of a sour taste that lingered at the back of my tongue. Also, there was a light astringency at the very end of each sip. 

Tasting time!

I re-used the leaves a second time and found the liquor was less sour and astringent, but tasted just as good as the first round. 

It’s a lovely oolong. It’s smooth and well flavoured with a nice colour. I’ve actually been consuming it like water over the past few days just for hydration purposes. It was a good purchase for something I can drink on a regular basis. Definitely a great suggestion from my friend!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Steeped In History: Sign, sign, everywhere a sign!

Sir Thomas Lipton (1848 – 1931) was a successful merchant with a chain of grocery shops throughout the UK. He became successful by “selling the best goods at the cheapest prices”. Around 1890, tea was in high demand, and so, Thomas decided to get into the tea-trading business and focus on selling to the working middle class. He promised them good quality tea at prices they could afford. He managed this by purchasing tea gardens in Ceylon, present day Sri Lanka, thereby cutting out the middleman. He also created his very own brand of tea that was distributed throughout Europe and the USA, which is still available to consumers all around the world to this day.

Lipton established his empire with his innovative spirit. He used the power of marketing by creating print ads with bold text, slogans, and graphics. He truly was a master at advertising. I actually have a Diploma in Advertising Design. Yes, I am a woman of many talents! I’m no expert, but from what I’ve seen of Lipton’s earlier print ads, they are contrary to what I learned in school. My classmates and I were constantly reminded of the concept of K.I.S.S. That is, KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID. Regardless, I think Lipton’s chaotic ads are pretty interesting. Have a look for yourself. Maybe they’ll even entice you to make a purchase!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Teaology 101: Today’s post is brought to you by the letter 'I'!

We’re on to the letter ‘I’ for our tea dictionary project. See all the previous definitions by clicking on their letters:

A      B      C      D      E      F      G      H

Iced Tea: Brewed tea served cold over ice.

I-Chiban Cha: This is a Japanese term which refers to the first flush or first plucked tea. This type of tea generally has a very delicate taste.

Imperial Plucking: A processing method of specific teas for the Emperor of China.  Legend suggests that young virgins were used to pluck only the buds and youngest leaves. They were required to wear gloves and sometimes even used golden scissors to snip the buds and leaves.

Imperial Russian: A blend of teas from India and China and may also contain Bergamot and other citrus essences.

Imperial Tea: This is a leaf type made up of larger, older leaves, which are round rolled. Gunpowder green tea is such an example.

In-Between: Refers to leaves that are in the middle of two stages. For example, a Darjeeling tea between 1st and 2nd flush.

Infusion: This is the process of extracting and releasing the flavours and nutrients in tea leaves, herbs, or fruits, by placing them in hot water.

Instant Tea: This is processed tea extract that is reconstituted with hot water. Though, appealing for its convenience, it is not much on aroma and flavour.

Irish Breakfast: A blend of strong Indian and Ceylon black teas.