A deep and abiding love of Oriental Beauty

A deep and abiding love of Oriental Beauty

Looking for a tea present for a non tea expert friend? Try this lovely cannister of BOH.

Find this lovely tea at Amazon.com and use promo code MOMTEA10 for a discount of 10%

It is hard for me to give the gift of tea. I don't usually promote tea bags, and the really good stuff? The gorgeous fresh new shengs, the old fermented shou puerhs? Well, one can't exactly send that to just anyone. So while the best gift I can give a tea-head is a session of tea tasting in my private tea studio, on occasions like X-mas I need a decent tea, in a lovely package to send off to friends and relatives not as snooty as us teaophiles are!
My choice this year is easy. Glad the tea is good because it's really the tin that did it. I think I squealed a bit in delight at the packaging meaning your gift recipients will too, since I AM indeed, every-man and an appreciator of lovely packaging.
Now onto the tea. A clearly decent quality leaf black tea, this is a gentle and warming cup that if steeped long enough, (five minutes or more) will bring a flourishing sensibility to your mouth. A very open and welcoming tea and a GREAT GIFT at an amazing price offered by Boh. Boh Tea Plantation in the Malaysian Highlands is a place I would love to visit and intend to do so one of these days.
When I need a break from Gong Fu Cha tea and want a mug of something high quality that tastes great with a little coconut milk, I find I cannot go wrong with Boh's Palas Afternoon Tea.

Malaysia's Cameronian Gold Blend from BOH Tea( With new surprise ending!)

Ok, tea friends and readers, I admit here I do not understand what is going on right now with this tea aside from the fact that it is 10 ounces of total deliciousness from a BAG and weirdly, barely steeped! It got SO dark, so quick that I pulled the bag out after only one minute. Looks like coffee, has a pleasant almost tobacco scent dry in the sachet. As you all know I prefer my tea loose, hand-rolled, in 3 ounces of water with 3 grams of tea and never bagged. (I am however not so much of a purist or a liar to not admit to you, as I have done in a prior article that I do use a Keurig and drink 20 ounces of Earl Grey, yes, those evil PODS, every morning. My excuse? It's 6 am and I have to drive my kid to school without killing us both.)
SO! Let me now state. To hell with Keurig pods, I am........wait for it, here it comes, in love with this Cameronian black tea and am buying it post haste. Yes, BAGS!
(IF my reader subscription base falls I will be crushed so relax , take a chill pill and try this tea for yourself.)
 I don't even know what the heck it IS, aside from black tea from Malaysia. Let us proceed to learn a thing or two, shall we?
I read this from BOH regarding this tea... "Only the tender shoots of the Manipuri and Rajghur jats are picked to ensure excellence of quality."
Manipuri? Rajghar? JATS?? I have never heard these words before and frankly, I am getting chills because of that! New words! NEW experiences! Ok, moving on I next read, "This is an exquisitely balanced blend bursting with a rich aroma for a delightfully smooth and heart-warming cup, anytime."
This last bit is totally true. It is indeed balanced and rich and smooth and very heart-warming.

And now ten minutes later, I decide to either erase everything I just wrote above, or 'come clean' with the story that literally just unfolded two minutes ago thanks to my husband.
I was drinking this amazing brew, marveling at it, and husband passed by and I said "Smell this! Doesn't this have a deep coffee color and almost a coffee taste? Isn't this amazing?" to which he replied, "Um, I just had a Keurig pod of Trader Joe's Columbian and I might have forgotten to take the pod out of the machine after I made my coffee?"
DAMMIT! Laughing and cursing and feeling like an idiot! That aside, it was a really good 10 ounces of a blend of second hand coffee from Trader Joe's and a little of the Boh tea.

And now for something completely different but equally true!
This is a lovely black tea, and it is indeed more smooth and balanced tahn a LOT of black teas I have made for myself, albeit always loose and gone fu cha style aside from my Earl Grey pod habit.
I won't even say "for a bagged tea made of fannings this is surprisingly good." I will simply state that it is REALLY delicious and far beyond anything I had expected. And yes, even though I now understand it is not the drink I initially thought it was, I am STILL considering buying tea-bags of the Cameronian Gold to carry with me in my purse, for it is far more worthy than any tea bag tea I could have hoped for, and I AM getting out of the house more these days now that the weather has become gorgeous fall.
Check out Boh's other offerings! I have tried the Peppermint and found it superior to others, and helped my tummy-ache a few night ago, I felt blessed to have it in my purse after a heavy meal out.

OK, happy and embarrassed at my idiocy ends right.......NOW!

A tricky proposition with varied and sometimes shocking results? Of what do I speak? Doing Darjeeling Gong Fu Cha style!

Ok, easy now. I can feel you all getting edgy thinking I am on on a fools errand and to forget it. Darjeeling done badly, can be bad. However, my peeps, done well, after three days of trying various grams of tea, amounts of water, types of water, temperatures and steeping time can indeed yield something fabulous.
SO! Do I tell you about all the unfortunate wastes of tea while I tried to figure it out or tell you the secrets of my success?
Well, firstly the tea has to be superior. Get a pen and write this down, tea-heads. Yatra Tea Company,
First flush Darjeeling, Thurbo Estate, 2017 harvested April. Start simple, kids. How about three grams, measured properly and perfectly in a gaiwan holding 12ml with water temperature at 205f?
Try it and write me and tell me if YOU had the success I did! Need some tea? I've enough to share to share a 3 gram sample of this delicious tea to my top 10 readers.

"Thurbo has flourished in the idyllic Mirik Valley in Darjeeling since 1872. The combination of premium China and Assam hybrids, strewn across the almost 450 hectares of growing area, with the indigenous varietal, results in a remarkable tea with unique character. Coupled with the typical climate of a hilly area - cooler temperature and diffused sunlight - the result is truly unparalleled."

A most amazing 'little' green tea from India! Say hello to Yatra Tea Company

Have I had a green tea from India? With all the Indian teas I've had, one would think so but in my memory I have not. Certainly not like this one from my new favorite tea company Yatra Tea.
So, to begin. Yes, this is an Indian tea so why am I brewing it Gong Fu style, you ask? Because that is how I roll, my dudes. I am sure the tea would have been a delight even had I followed the instructions Yatra was so good to put on the bag which was 2.5 grams for 6 ounces of water at a steep time of 3 minutes at 185f.
But yeah. Not happening. The best way to delve deeply and quickly into what a tea's basic qualities are is Gong Fu. So I measured out a 'whopping' 3.5 grams, and used a 100ml/3 ounce gaiwan.
I did follow the temperature advice for the first two steeps. I did not flash-brew but I most certainly didn't wait three minutes either. I would say all three steeps were approximately 40 seconds with perhaps the third closer to 60.

The smell in the bag is not surprising, fresh and grassy and sweet. Here I am heating the gaiwan as the tea awaits a dry steam-bath to get it ready for brewing. Put the dry tea in the empty heated gaiwan, let it sit covered a moment and then slipped my nose in there under the gaiwan's lid. Scent was delicious.
 First steep at 185f was light but hinted at something very subtle and reminiscent of something else, some other kind of tea, something I adored but couldn't quite place.  But I pushed that thought aside for an immediate second brew, same parameters. Color really came out and this time I began to feel more like I was tasting a green oolong, perhaps even something like an Oriental Beauty?! Third steep I kicked up the temp to 195f and let it steep almost 1 minute. Not a hint of bitterness, just pure joyful flavor. And yes, very reminiscent of my favorite tea, an unroasted Oriental Beauty oolong! Very cool!
This is highly worthy of your time, fellow tea-heads and constant readers, check it out and let me know what you think!
The facts:
Origin, Kangra, india
Season, First Flush 2017
Harvest month, April 2017
Hand rolled.

Very refreshing and by refreshing I mean my spirits, my soul, my gut, 'everyone' is happy right now as I write this!

Saffron Tea!

Exciting things are happening in the tea room.
To begin with, a wild and wonderful week of experimentation with green tea mixed with a very high quality Saffron! And I don't mean mixed in with the tea, no no! No pre-made blends for this lady! This is a nice grade pure green tea and no adulteration to it and a small jar that came with it of pure Saffron threads.

Pure gorgeous saffron from Afghanistan, no less. After seeing the people behind Rumi Spice on Shark Tank, and seeing the passion and vision of the women behind it, I knew I had to try some for myself. Delighted they're pursuing the tea lovers among us as they bring tea and Saffron together .

The raw and vibrant flavors of a high quality Saffron makes for an astoundingly good tea concoction, even without any Camellia-Sinensis, but I dove in with the green as well and followed instructions.
I made 3 grams of green tea at 185f in a 100ml gaiwan. In a separate gaiwan, sized 60ml, I put 3-5 tiny threads of Saffron which I also steeped it at 185f. The quality of the Saffron, to my mind was clear. After watching various youtube videos on learning to differentiate the good from the bad to the downright fake, I know this is the real deal!
Of course after seeing these amazing veteran entrepreneurs on Shark Tank I knew I was in good hands.
I then poured the 60 ml of 4 minute steeped Saffron directly into the green tea and that began my journey of experimentation.
I found the green tea from Rumi Spice Company to be decent and well formed, and the combination was nice but I wanted to play with different teas so have since moved on to a few white teas in which to add Saffron, more on that soon! Still coming to conclusions.
My immediate feeling upon that initial session was, "Hey. This feels helpful. This feels healing. Does Saffron has properties which might be helpful to me in my present state of ______?" ( I'd rather not go into it, but women's issues, you know...) and sure enough a bit of googling verified that Saffron in tea form had come into my life at just the right time!
This company is amazing and if you didn't see them on Shark Tank and fall immediately in love with both women, (I know I did) then go visit their site and do so now! Making a difference in so many ways! Thanks, Rumi Spice for the tea, the Saffron and the new path to enjoying ethically sourced Saffron from now on. The experiments continue!

Mellow high from He Kai sheng puerh, Autumn 2014 harvest

It's hard to write a blog post when nothing is going through my mind aside from 'Nom, nom, nom.'
Ok! I will take a quick break, I will stop steeping for a moment, after the fifth short infusion long enough to tell you the following. (Pardon if I rush, but I have to get back to the next dozen(?) steeps!)

This lightly-packed, easy to gently break up sheng has a lovely dry scent, looks awesome, and has no astringency. It wakes up after the third steep into a lovely brew that makes me wonder more about it. I can tell, even in my newb head-space there is potential for this tea beyond my understanding. Research must commence and luckily for me, this particular tea came from a research heavy source, Jeff Fuchs of Jalam Teas.
I knew instinctively I should not rush through this sample, but that I might want to hang on to some of it for aging. After reading about it, I am delighted to report I was correct. I think my nose and instincts are improving, as I go into the end of my first year as a tea nut.
Here is what I learned from Jalam Tea's information page on the He Kai:

  • He Kai Sheng (Raw) Puerh
  • Region: Menghai County southwestern Yunnan
  • Type: Mid-Altitude Puerh (1300-1400 meters)
  • Harvest: Summer and Autumn harvests have a little more bit because of unusually high heat and loads of sun in 2014 which is good for the tongue and palate. It also means that for some less time is required for steeping.
  • Harvesters: Lahu people

The Bulang Mountains are bastions of rich soil and heavy red-orange clay content, which is perfect for our good friend, the Yunnan Big Leaf species/Puerh. This batch is a little more on the heavy flavor side simply because the family that produced it left it out in the sun drying period longer than usual while the shade drying portion slightly less. More sun drying increases the drying times and brings up the ‘bite’ a little bit speedier.

 He Kai is a great tea to age over time as it will mellow slightly but has the strength to remain a wonderful tea for the next 1,2, or 10 years. The wonderful aspect of teas is that even when it isn’t necessarily a an ‘old tree tea’ it can and will age beautifully if produced properly and remains unsprayed.

Tea Haikus by Han herself.

dearest kyusu

i will be back for you soon
please don't forget me.

yuzamashi mine
sit patiently with your friend
winter will come soon.

there are flowers here
honey and warm afternoons
sunshine in my mouth.

the tea tray is wet
porcelain tasting cups shine
waiting for more tea.

i may never see
yunnan in the summertime
scott will be my eyes.

New readers and old!

Please begin sending your email questions, requests for sessions and offers of free samples to mrsgerber@gmail.com

Buddha-Mom loves ya!

A springtime tradition for me! Chilled Oriental Beauty Delight!

Overbrew that Oolong and it's a bit strong? Have more Oriental Beauty than you can drink? Here's what you do!

1.Cinnamon ( a nice fresh Saigon is my favorite!)
2.Maple syrup ( high grade organic please!)
3.Blue Agave sweetener if desired
4.Almond milk (I prefer unsweetened vanilla.) Also a splash of mocha mix non-dairy creamer is good if you want it thicker

Pour the still warm Oriental Beauty or other Oolong of your choice into a large glass over ice, add non-sweetened almond milk or dairy item of your choice, in the amount that best suits you. I like mine milky looking and thick.

Add maple-syrup to taste, the highest grade the better please, don't cheat yourselves by using that Mrs. Butterworth's nonsensical crap, Ok? Do we understand each-other? I am not here to enable you to consume nonsense. 
I use a protein-drink shaker bottle and really agitate it to fully mix the ingredients.
Sprinkle in some cinnamon if it pleases you.

I also add a small drop of blue agave sweetener if I am in the mood to make it even sweeter. I have also been known, (see a prior post) to use some chocolate syrup. Shhhhhhhh.
Don't judge. It IS Oriental Beauty after all, and deserves more respect but on the other hand, wasting OB, not stretching the imagination and finding other ways to enjoy it later in the day after the hot session is complete? Well, that is just untenable, is it not?
Yours in Tea,

2016 Qi Lai Shan Oolong from Jade Leaf is a stunner that won't be around for long.

Sometimes a tea is so good I actually don't want to write about it. But I don't want to be selfish, so I come clean with you, dear readers, and this is one of those times. This is an amazing tea. This is THE tea to turn people onto teas who have never had a good tea. Its simply, clearly, astonishingly delicious. Every single steep.
(I am only writing this after literally just leaving paypal where I bought 4 ounces of this. I had to make sure I was covering my naturally selfish little monkey-butt.)

This is a tea to watch and from the moment you do it starts putting on a show. Pretty, pretty leaves, look at them swell, opening for you but not too fast, making the steeps last, six, seven times. Oh my. I never knew.

Here is a link to Emilio's blog post about this tea, a must read!
I will let the post speak for itself and just add we, as a tea community are blessed to have this man in our midst. Find the tea here!


Located in a remote, pristine high elevation garden on the edge of a national forest Qi Lai Shan is close to Li Shan. Even in Taiwan, Qi lai Shan is a still largely unknown growing region. This is because this area is relatively new to tea cultivation. Only locals who know where the best tea in Taiwan is know about Qi Lai Shan. This tea is grown at 2050m. The dry leaves have a clean fragrance of high mountains. The taste is pure and buttery with a long smooth aftertaste. This year it snowed in Qi Lai Shan during the winter, making this spring's tea "snow tea". Because of it's rarity, snow tea is renowned for it's excellence. If you are a high-mountain lover tea we highly recommend this tea.

So many ways to make good tea! None of them involving a bag!

Da Jin High Mountain Oolong but a different experience thanks to trying out new kinds of brewing devices!

If you, Dear Reader remember reading my post called 'Smacha Whacha Wow!' (and honestly I don't even remember writing it, I was so tea-drunk)  then you know I really liked Smacha's Da Jin High Mountain Oolong. Maybe too much. I believe my gushing might have taken on new spectral heights in that 'review'. I will not apologize. Enthusiasm is a gift, people, a gift!
Today I had the Da Jin again and once again had a series of wow moments, but in quite a different vein. Oh, I still loved it, its just this session is a low and slow, passionate yet playful science experiment playing with parameters, temperatures and so forth and all with my Smacha auto-brewer instead of a gaiwan. I followed Smacha's written advice and used almost 8 grams of tea as I filled and refilled the 12 ounce pretty white porcelain infuser over and over. I went from 205f to 190, all the way down to 170, and all with different tones coming out of this sweet Oolong.
It is not an overly complex tea, I am learning from complex with my huge stash of shou Puerhs, but it has depth and personality and wonderful floral notes and nuanced sweetness, it has earthiness and nuttiness and all sorts of things you want from a good high mountain Oolong!

Time to find a new batch of Oriental Beauty Tea! I've finally run out!

Oriental Beauty.Bai Hao. My favorite tea(s) ever. Thanks, strange little insect!

Oriental Beauty Bai Hao Premium Oolong is the highest quality handpicked whole leaf Oolong tea recognised as “Top Super Fancy” on its native island of Taiwan.
With its distinctive floral aroma and smoothly sweet taste, Oriental Beauty is a top quality premium Oolong that has a low annual yield, which is highly sought after and valued accordingly.
Hand picked at a ratio of one bud for every two leaves, Oriental Beauty Bai Hao Premium Oolong can only be produced from leaves that have been bitten by the Jacobiasca formosana leaf insect, whose chemical signatures react with the chlorophyll present within the leaves to produce a unique, sweet flavor and aroma. Processed with mid-fermented light fire baked technology in the tradition manner, Oriental Beauty Bai Hao Premium Oolong is produced without the use of any insecticides so as to allow the Jacobiasca formosana leaf insects to thrive. As a result of this, the premium tea gardens that produce Oriental Beauty become totally natural and organic as well.
Renowned for its bright amber coloration, subtle honeyed aroma and pleasantly lingering aftertaste, Oriental Beauty Bai Hao Premium Oolong also enjoys notes of apricot and stone fruit.

Black tea from Vietnam and a cup by David Holden of Dingle Ireland, using hand-dug native, local clay!

This tea is more than faintly reminiscent of some of my favorite sort of teas. It reminds me of a good Indian tea, it has a chocolate note, and it has a gorgeous coppery color that deepens with each consecutive steeping.
Made gongfu style for this first test of this tea I used four grams in a 6 ounce gaiwan, and flash brewed four steeps in succession after a quick initial rinse.
Just a warm, malty lovely flavor!

Cup created by ceramic artist David Holden of Dingle, Ireland who shares with us;

 "Although I have been working with the medium of clay as a ceramic artist and potter since 1988, my most recent work using hand dug native clay of the Dingle Peninsula has been truly rewarding. I process the clay myself in small amounts in the West Kerry Gaeltacht, and then make these organic pots and fire them in my studio. These pieces are truly of the earth, rivers and hearth of Corca Dhuibhne nothing is added to the clay, and only a few stones are removed from it. The clay when harvested is already made fine from the flow of rivers through it. The organic shapes and glazes attempt to resonate with the surroundings where the clay was found. I hope you enjoy my work."

Trying a Mighty Leaf Tea pouch and not hating it! A GongFu purist takes the plunge.

So. I have this great doctor I see once a year, a classy old-timer and doc to many of Hollywood's elite (of which I am most certainly not) and in his reception room he always has a cupboard full of tea bags. They are nice teas, always bought ( I am guessing) at Gelson's which is nearby.
This is the only time I partake in anything resembling tea in a bag, EVER. For I am as you know, dear friends, a tea snob.
Anyhoo. Today, amongst the boxes in the precious little lacquered tea-closet I found he had Mighty Leaf Breakfast Tea, and I liked the smell of the tea through the bag so gave it a go and I made that 'tea-pouch', in that paper cup, and I smelled it and I am sure my eyes widened a bit and I can definitely report to you that when I took a sip I literally grunted,  (not particularly attractive in a 52 year old woman in a full waiting room) with surprise and admittedly, delight.
I loved that tea. I admit to you now I 'stole' an extra 'pouch' to take home and try with Volvic water at some precise temperatures in my Bonavita gooseneck kettle and it performed well in that environment too. Am I going to start carrying around tea pouches from Mighty Leaf instead of my heavy bag with GongFu Cha supplies; loose leaf teas, gaiwan, cha hai, strainer, tiny cups and mini tea-tray? Doubtful. But I AM going to give Mighty Leaf loose teas a try and yes, I think  I will in fact put a few pouches in my bag on those days where I don't anticipate being able to bully some stranger into having a GongFu cha tea experience with me!
So. Mighty Leaf!Thanks for the tea, dudes!
And readers! Check out what they sent me! Looks good enough to turn the kettle on right now and give it a go, Gong Fu style of course!

Art Of Tea's lovely and verdant Fukamushi

Received a sample of this lovely Japanese green this weekend and found it was quite worthy of my time and attention. Pulled out my rarely used Takaname Kyusu just for the occasion and proceeded to really give this lovely green tea a run for its money.
Sweet, fresh, grassy and very pure, I found this to be a terrific way to ease myself back into Japanese teas! Off to try some more of their offerings. See for yourselves at Art Of Tea!

Four Seasons Tea's white tea cake. Bought two. One to enjoy and one to age.

Want to see a beautiful website? Want to have an amazing immersive experience both online and in your tea-space at home? Look no farther than Four Seasons Tea, which has got to be, hands down, the prettiest website around. And the quality of the teas (thus far in my limited experience,) matches the intention and design of the whole enterprise. Every time I get to sip one of their teas, I want to try more, I feel intuitively that I have stumbled upon a source of great value, both monetarily in that I can afford their offerings and in the love and care the owner/s must feel about their chosen profession in the world of cha.
The tea cake linked here has got to be one of the best teas I have ever tasted, and I am told it will age beautifully, not only by the sellers but by other tea-heads who are familiar with it.

Hidden Peak Teahouse's 2008 Lincang Shu. Goodbye, beloved teacher! Goodbye, old friend now in the form of a tiny 3 gram chunk of tea! Goodbye....Goodbye!!!!

Just finishing up the last of a ten gram sample I bought over a year ago from Hidden Peak, the 2008 Lincang Shu. Every session I liked it more, did it age over this brief year and a half lingering in its little sample bag, stuck in the dark all alone in  tiny ceramic cupboard drawer? I don't know but I know my palate has evolved a TON over this time, and I know further that I LOVE this tea.
It is a great introductory shu I think, and I furthermore think, I am off to buy some more! This shu is deeply earthy, dark from first flash-rinse, almost meaty in color and texture and has all that forest undergrowth mossiness I have come to love. Clean earth, great energy and of this writing, the last three grams of this teacher of a tea are still telling me tales that change with each steep, going on the 9th as soon as I finish this brief missive to you, my readers.
Visit Hidden Peak Teahouse and check it out for yourselves.
(Photo from HPTH website with my thanks. Gonna go buy me a brick o'this right now!)