A deep and abiding love of Oriental Beauty

A deep and abiding love of Oriental Beauty

How to determine which Shou Puerh to order from my favorite Hidden Peak Teahouse in Santa Cruz, California?


The answer is a HUGE and FOCUSED session spanning five Shous, over 12 hours and the answer was pretty easy!

Big Blessing 2008 for the win! Again! I did this same comparison six years ago and Big Blessing was my favorite then too!

There is a strong camphor element in Big Blessing that the others I tried just do not have.

I had rather hoped I might fall in love with one of the less expensive ones, but it was not meant to be. There are still a lot of Shous I would love to try from Hidden Peak Teahouse  but for now I’m going to avail myself of their sale and order some Big Blessing today. Check it out for yourself at hiddenpeakteahouse.com and also here are some notes from their website. I’m just thrilled. They still have it as I think I ordered this tea a long time ago.

Someday I hope to live a block away from this teahouse as I am a native Californian, but I’ve never been to the actual brick and mortar before. I left Los Angeles for Louisville Kentucky five years ago and this teahouse and their wonderful website are one of the tenuous holds I still have on my love for California that keeps me sane.

The Big Blessing has complexity in its nature due to the distinctly unique raw materials in the blend. We have found, through gung fu manipulation, that you can exalt different elements as you wish - once you get familiar with it.



rust colored, highly dense pressed leaf showing heavy fermentation • visible blend of broken, coarse leaf and young tip shoots



ripe, dense, thick • unctuous liquor with some suspended substance • taste is generous and full-bodied • fruity, woody, mineral-rich with date flavor • butterscotch with ginsing bud character



this tea is benevolent, descending in you like a Himalayan sunset • electric and alive, while passive and contemplative.

( its all that AND a box of camphor crackers!)

Trust me! I am Buddha Mom Tea, baby!

Revisiting Mandala Teas Temple Stairs from 2014


After nine years my remaining grams of this lovely Shou Puerh seems to have aged well, and if possible have become even more mellow, smooth and sweet! Heavy-handed as I tend to be when feeling this excited I used nearly seven grams in my 110ml Yixing teapot, the one which is reserved for Shou Puerhs only and which will be seeing a lot of action with winter coming, I hope, eventually, to this ridiculously hot place where I now reside. For those of you who know me as a native-born Californian may know that five years ago we moved to Louisville, Kentucky. But we won't linger on that, for wherever you are, damnit, there ye be, am I right? It is a decent enough place to grow old which I am doing with a certain lack of aplomb and good taste. That means weight gain and Muumuus, my friends.

Next tea adventures on the way with more Puerh being delivered this week and perhaps a new Nepalese tea company to check out!


A gorgeous Assam from the Mangalam Estate from ZENTEA.com


What a nice treat to meet an Indian gentleman (tea) like Assam Mangalam!

Gentle, deep voiced, hearty and full of warmth, this is a good follow-up to some tasting sessions of things too sweet for me, and I welcome this Assam into my home.

Dark leaves with reddish tips, warm rich color, scents of rich chocolate, malt and a little pepper during the later steeps.

This is a tea to brew in a larger vessel, not a tiny gaiwan, I used a 'large' seven ounce pot with 3 grams of tea, very full-bodied but not a hint of bitterness to be found. I can see this tea being enjoyed with milk and sugar but as for me? Who needs it!

This particular Assam from the Mangalam Estate is from Zen Tea and I find their description perfectly fitting;

Golden tips evoke the hot sun of the early June Second Flush Harvest. One of finest producers in the region delivers a beautiful example of what is possible under the right conditions. Slightly heartier and creamier than some whole leaf Assams, this selection picks up deep malty notes of cocoa and subtle fruit.

FTGFOP1: highest quality grade (Note: A number 1 at the end to indicate the very finest), often hand processed and produced at only the best plantations, roughly one quarter tips.

Origin : Mangalam, Assam, India

Grade : FTGFOP1(Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe 1)

Steep : 1 heaping tea measuring spoon(3g) per cup. Boiling water. 3 min.

This is also an organic tea which I appreciate as well as the visually fine quality of the leaves.

Creamy and delicious, I will now be going back to see how many steeps I can get before he moves on from my mouth and into my memory! Luckily for me, the sample was over seven grams so we can meet again, perhaps tonight, under the warm, Californian moonlight.

Zen Tea may no longer be in business after the pandemic so I am on the hunt for new suppliers of these sorts of wondrous elixirs!