Mr Earl

Hollla to all Aussies and especially Melburnians! As I grew more interest into tea during my stay in Melbourne, I believe there are some other people who do too. Sometimes it’s not easy to choose tea for ourselves. Chances are, we don’t know where to buy or we are not quite sure which tea to buy besides those on the supermarket’s shelves. You can feel me, can’t you?

Few months ago, I was contacted by Emily through email when she also introduced Mr. Earl, a new Australian’s tea business. I decided to have a look on their site and captivated by the premium vibe of the brand. Mr. Earl offers a unique tea shopping method by sending monthly tea box subscription. Every single month, you will get a box full of surprise since you don’t know what’s inside! The subscription box offered in three different pricing of 1 month/ 3 month / 6 months ( $ 20 / $ 45 / $ 78 ). Mr. Earl team will carefully select, arrange and deliver three different teas from various premium tea vendors to our doorstep month by month. We may get something that we wouldn’t buy ourselves or never tried before and here we got the chance to  savor it.

Gladly I could receive their very first January tea box, filled with three golden pouches contained around 50 grams of teas including product information card. The card is a guidance of what and how to enjoy the tea right. The January box went classic, simple yet sophisticated with the royal No. 7 French Earl Grey by Deitea, aromatic Fresh Mint from Informal Tea Co and Premium Matcha from Kenko Tea. I’m excited to ascertain more tea brands such as Deitea and Informal Tea Co while Kenko Tea is a brand that I’ve been familiar with.

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Mr. Earl also provides a tea community where tea lovers can stay updated from blog posts, rate and make reviews for teas they have tasted. This is a wonderful thirst quencher for any tea drunkard in Australia-wide who always challenged to try out new different teas but agitated by large quantity tea packs in the market.  

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The royal No.7 French Earl Grey from Deitea

Deitea’s No. 7 French Earl Grey is a beautiful blend inside-out. It does look so pretty, smell good (a little bit too fragrant I reckon) and taste pleasantly fruity. 

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The aromatic Fresh Mint from Informal Tea Co

 

Fresh Mint is green tea blended with herbals such as peppermint, spearmint, rosemary and lavender. I had this tea iced with some sugar drops.

“Because life is too awesome for average tea” Well said, Mister.

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Ginseng Oolong by Teasenz

When I was much younger, let’s say 8, my mum used to “force” me and brother to chew some small pieces of “wood”. We always got the supplies from my grandmother who consistently sent them for us. I hated the flavor, the smell and extremely wondering how could people say this “stuff” (later I knew it was ginseng) nice no matter  how healthy it is. Well, routines had me used to it and that “ginseng chewing” or drinking brewed ginseng became normal even though I still couldn’t find it nice.

I had no idea that one day I’d fall for ginseng beverage like a lot. This is not my first Ginseng Oolong and really thanks to Teasenz for this beautiful tea that has captivated me so much once I drink it! Teasenz Ginseng Vitality Oolong is produced using superior oolong tea mixed with ginseng roots.

Name : Ginseng Oolong
Origin: Alishan, Taiwan

Dry Leaf before Steeping
Dry Aroma : herbaceous, dry ginseng, lightly nutty and toasty
Dry color : light green with yellow mottles
Dry shape : tightly rolled and rounded leaves in uniform sizeginseng-oolong-by-teasenz

After Steeping (gaiwan style)
Wet Aroma : sweet, ginseng, lightly smoky, earthy undertones (at the 5th infusion)
Liquor color : light yellow (the steeped leaves were still rolled pretty tight until the 3rd infusion) a delightful good sign for more steeps!/ stronger color intensity until 4th steep then it slowly became lighter
Amount of tea : 3 grams
Amount of water : 6 oz
Water Temperature : 98˚ C
Steeping Time : rinse / 30″ / 1′ / 1’15” / 1’30” / 2′ / 3′ / 3’30”
Wet leaf : full dark green leaves

I had eight steeping including the rinsing step and I am pretty sure the tea could actually go for some more steeps. Honestly, multiple steepings is one of the reason why I like Oolong teas in general and this Ginseng Oolong hit the top notch in multiple infusions.

The first infusion was a light body, sweet and clean in the throat. The subtle ginseng sweetness harmonized with nutty and toasty notes. The 3 following steeps were stronger in color intensity and body but my favorite was the 4th one. The color was the most vibrant with silkier-thicker body, tasted sweet ginseng with hint of honey. More interestingly, I found that the leaves also slightly start unfurling at this time. In the next three steepings, the tea slowly went mellower and lighter in any aspect.

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Ginseng Oolong is simply delicious and very pleasant to drink as the sweet aftertaste lingered long in the mouth. Obviously you can’t rush this tea because you will regret to ignore its optimum potential for multiple steepings! If I have to describe it with three words, it would be sweet, relaxing and revitalizing!


Milk Oolong by Teavivre

I’ve been a sucker for Oolong tea these past few months. I found Oolong or also known as blue tea is very enticing and fascinating once you get to know more about it. So glad that I got the chance to try Jin Xuan Milk Oolong from Teavivre recently. They sent me some of the nicest teas generously which came in 2 pockets for each tea types. From its name, I found Milk Oolong is very inviting and more to add this is a combination of my two favorite beverages, Oolong and milk. I couldn’t wait to savour it fast!

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Name : Taiwan Jin Xuan Milk Oolong
Origin: Alishan, Nantou, Taiwan

Dry Leaf before Steeping
Dry Aroma : grassy, floral-Osmanthus flower
Dry color : olive to dark green with some yellowish tinges
Dry shape : tightly rolled leaves

After Steeping (gaiwan style)
Wet Aroma : floral, fresh light grass and sweet
Liquor color : pale yellow / light gold / denser gold
Amount of tea : 3.5 grams (or nearly using all of the sample pack)
Amount of water : 6 oz
Water Temperature : 98˚ C
Steeping Time : rinse / 1 minute / 2 minute / 2.5 minute
Wet leaf : olive green with fine yellow outer linings

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1st infusion : The tea has thin body, clean in the throat, tasted sweet and left light aftertaste. Rather than milky or even creamy, I found it tasted more vegetal and light floral but overall it was a pleasant cup. I was really anticipating the second cup would taste milky and creamy just like its name!
2nd infusion : The second infusion was my favorite as it tasted sweeter, milkier with thicker body and silky texture. It wasn’t very milky or creamy though, but I could taste those notes clearly. Apart from that, this infusion also resulted in stronger aroma too. I also really pleased by the sweet aftertaste that lingered long in my palate.
3rd infusion : The liquor seemed a bit paler and the aroma was somewhat faded. This infusion still tasted quite nice with more vegetal tasting note and light astringency.

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The tea is nice to be enjoyed on its own but I reckon pairing it with lightly sweet dessert and fresh-cut fruits would be great too. I actually expected to get milkier notes but overall this Milk Oolong is scrumptious regardless.


Theic Tea Bar

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It was on a rainy Thursday afternoon when I came visiting Theic for the 3rd time.  I never really like rain but I must say it was a really perfect weather to sit back and sip a cup (or maybe cups) of tea. My journal and books were waiting on the table, ready to accompany me throughout the tea time. theic-tea-bar-14

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Not my cup of tea, literally. It was somebody else’s but I really caught by the beautiful presentation and tea wares.

Benifuuki latte and chia porridge with granola started my escapade to be a full time tea-drunkard that day. Benifuuki has that bad-ass kick to keep a person stay wide awake and re-energized. The latte made with soy milk and panela sugar, had a strong kick of matcha flavor, silky texture and mild sweetness. It’s not the kind of green tea or matcha latte you may find in many other places that usually are strongly sweet and milky. I love how the teflon milk-jug and double walled glass have been very helpful keeping the temperature warm.theic-tea-bar-27

Benifuuki Latte – AU$ 5.50

I basically love chia seeds and use them for many purposes but never had a thought to make it into porridge! The chia porridge was served cold along with refreshingly sweet blueberries and grated toasted coconut with additional granola too. The taste was sensational. Every component stands out but also complement each other. The sweet-smooth yet crisp chia seeds, savory crunchy coconut, sweet and sour blueberries combined with crispy-sticky-sweety granola. Trust me healthy foods can be so good!theic-tea-bar-11

theic-tea-bar-12Chia porridge – AU$ 6.00 plus additional granola AU$ 2.00

I went for another tea after finishing my previous two treats, a pot of Japanese green yuzu. I enjoyed the moment of watching the tea was prepared in the right temperature, timing and later impeccably presented in front of me. This is a very pleasant selection from the refreshing aroma of citrus and tartness of yuzu in flavor while the green tea characteristic is still there too. The first infusion gave me sweet, sour flavor of yuzu combined with herbaceous profile from the green tea which was lovely. The second infusion told another story of thicker, silkier body, sweeter and stronger green tea profile instead of the citrusy flavor.theic-tea-bar-19Major love for the wet leaves’ appearance. It’s just so vibrant in color!

theic-tea-bar-18Japanese Green Yuzu (2) – AU$ 6.50

I also got to try this Wen Shan Bao Zhong Oolong at that time. It was quite surprising when Kayla came to my table passing the glass on and opened the conversation  “You said you like Wen Shan Bao Zhong yesterday, so this is for you..enjoy!” Well, it took me a while to remember that I just wrote on Instagram the day before about this and this is what I got. How can I not fall for this place? You tell me!theic-tea-bar-13Floral aromatic, creamy, silky and sweet Wen Shan Bao Zhong has always been one of my favorite when it comes to Oolong! One of the lovely choice from Chamellia Reserve Selection teas.

I just heard that Theic is now having new menu selections already and I’m excited to know or read the reviews! I’m now thousand miles away from Melbourne and couldn’t help myself not to miss it too much. Hopefully I am going to make another visit and I believe there will be much more new delightful surprises of tea and healthy treat at Theic!

Theic Tea Bar on Urbanspoon


Theic Tea Bar Launching Night

I have the urge to (again) underline my excitement of living in Melbourne as the enthusiasm towards tea is (said) as the hippest in this continent! My excitement doesn’t stop here as there’s a new tea place in town, Theic Tea Bar by Chamellia. If you read my blog, you probably have been familiar with Chamellia by Somage since I made some blog posts about their teas previously. Located in the trendy suburbia of Collingwood , Theic is uniquely also merged with INSITU furniture design showroom.

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Theic, means “tea drunkard; one prone to the immoderate consumption of tea“. As a tea-drunkard myself, I am so glad to attend the launching night on 30th September 2013 with many other drunkards. It was an amazing launching night with great people in a great place while enjoying great teas. Couldn’t ask for more.

Meet Nathan Wakeford, the man behind Theic, Chamellia and Somage Fine Foods. In addition he is also the current President of AASTA (Australasian Specialty Tea Association). Nathan uses the special H2O from Mount Donna Buang which he takes himself every single week in order to get all of the best any tea can taste!

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Nathan had a “mini presentation” and opening speech which much showing his love, passion and dedication for tea!

All the guests were spoiled with some great selection of teas such as the refreshing iced tea, some Reserve selection brews and also the warming chai latte. I really enjoyed the white persimmon leaf  from Korea and the Taiwan GABA Oolong.

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The contemporary yet epic and attention-grabber tea bar area is ready to serve some of the very best teas!

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For the bites, they serve raw, vegan and organic foods such as the famous snickers ball, fig&mesquite ball, savory muffin, chia porridge and Theic tasting (dips) platter.

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top-bottom : fig& mesquite ball, snickers balll and mocha fudge brownie

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Wishing all the best for the newly-opened Tea Bar and hopefully its presence would bring brighter and stronger tea atmospheric in town! Who knows there will be more people converted to be a theic, right? 🙂

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I was well-sated (I might be drunk of tea), full of excitement and went home happily. On my way home, I knew already that I need to make another visit to Theic. So see you again, Theic! real soon I reckon…


It’s Cheeki Time!

“Attention all tea drinkers! Drink tea on the go with Cheeki’s Tea Flask!” – Cheeki Australia

I’m not trumping up if I say my kettle is boiling almost of the time when I’m at home. I love to enjoy my water warm and my tea hot. It is something possible to do at home but when I go out, I have to be satisfied with my cooled down tea. But now I can enjoy my hot tea anywhere and anytime easily using my new tea flask by Cheeki.

Cheeki is an Australia-based company, focusing in food grade stainless steel and BPA-free products such as water bottles, insulated bottles, baby bottles, shakers, flasks, food jars and so forth. The Cheeki tea flask is one of the latest product of theirs, designed to be a handy and friendly portable cup for tea lovers. I got the Envy Green Cheeki tea flask out of the 2 color selections, both are pretty, vibrant and youthful in bold tones! Don’t you agree with me? 🙂

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The capacity of 350 ml equipped with easily removable strainer basket is easy to be carried wherever I go. So at my first try, I brewed some flower-blended tea at 11 am in the morning and was busy at university for the whole day. I ended up opening the tea flask at 7 pm in the evening! Cheeki tea flask is designed to keep contents warm up to 6 hours even so, my tea infusion was still nicely warm, fresh and pleasant to be enjoyed after 8 hours waiting. I’m such a happy tea drunkard! 🙂

In the name of convenient, which I reckon also one of the main purpose of this tea flask, I actually prefer brew tea bag rather than tea leaves. Unless when I use the flask at home, of course loose leaf tea is much more preferable for me. Remember not to over-brew or leave the tea leaves inside the strainer for too long, it’s just unpleasant and not right.

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Even I have chirped out about spring in Melbourne in my previous post, the winter breeze still unwilling to go and it’s been my 3rd days infusing my tea with Cheeki to keep it warm much longer when I’m home. The cold weather easily cool down my cup and having this tea flask is a really nice way to stay warm rather than reheat your water. Reheating water will cause you loosing some good flavors and natural water contents.

Choose your favorite tea, grab your Cheeki and you are now ready to go!  It’s tea time, it’s Cheeki time!


Matcha by Fukujuen

Another matcha review in such a short period from my last one. Well, I know but this baby has sat down for about 2 months++ on my cupboard waiting. This past few weeks, I am quite intense with Japanese teas and I reckon it’s such a good time to finally make a review for matcha by Fukujuen as well. Here you go, this is your time to be talked to!

I got this matcha from my dad during his working trip to Kyoto months ago and my mom is very kind to send this tiny 20 grams purple can to Melbourne. Fukujuen is one of the famous Tea Shop in Uji, Kyoto and I have tried their pleasant Fukamushi sencha before. Fukujuen tea is not simply a tea shop but also a tea workshop and restaurants. I bet you’ll be craving straightaway if you check their website and see their tea cooking creations. Just like I did! 🙂 Some people asked me where to buy Fukujuen products but both of the time I always get their products as a gift therefore I couldn’t really help with the queries. But I believe you may find Fukujuen products in some Singapore tea shops (besides in Japan of course).

From the dry appearance, this matcha is pale jade green green, not a green tone that gives me an eyegasm. Dry powder tastes milky and slightly bitter. I made koicha (thin matcha) with 80 degrees C water and it was quite easy to create the foam. Actually I have tried to whisk the matcha with lower temperature water, let’s mention 70 degrees C but it didn’t get me satisfied with the end result. The hotter the temperature, the easier to make that foamy layer but if we set too high temperature, surely it will ruin the tea’s taste.

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For me 75-80 C degrees is the best temperature to go with, but taste could be very personal for each person. If you have enough time, I encourage you to experiment with temperature to find which one suits you best. I did some matchaperimentation (matcha experiment) before finalizing my decision which one suits me best!

The whisked tea liquor is in deep jade green color, tasted sweet in a subtle way and strong milky-creamy texture. There was light bitterness and grassy-vegetal notes in this thick bodied whisked matcha too. The tea liquor’s vegetal notes is something that I can barely enjoy at this level of intensity.

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According to my tea teacher, the differences of color, aroma and taste between high grade matchas define and represent the characteristics of each growing region. That’s why I found that among 4 matchas that I tasted recently are all different from physical outlooks to tastes. And this is another ah ma zing tea fact that blows my mind.

Matcha should be made from a high quality fully-shaded green tea called tencha and it contains enough caffeine to wake you up. According to my personal experience, drinking any matcha has successfully kept me staying awake and in higher dose, it applies some coffee side effects such as fastened heart beat and flatulence. Thus, it is highly suggested to fill your tummy up before having this powdered green tea! Let’s explore and dig more the fascinating matcha world!


12 Random Tea Facts

Looking back to June 2012, I posted my first tea-related post ever and got a comment saying I should put more information about tea on my blog. I really thought that’s a good idea but at that time, I had so many limitation and the biggest one is me, myself. I realized how limited my tea knowledge was at that time. One year has passed and I can confidently saying I have learned more and more about tea. I write the basic tea facts in this post and I could say they are also kinda my first tea knowledge that I learned last year (of course with additional information and refinement that I got from my further tea learning).

  1. All tea types come from the same family of plant, Chamellia Sinensis but there are different varietal as is var. Sinensis, var. Assamica, and there are many different cultivars that differentiate one tea to another too. So it is not 100% true if you read somewhere that stating “All tea types come from the same plant”! It is somehow intriguing and confusing to believe, isn’t it? They do come from the same family of Chamellia Sinensis but doesn’t simply mean they all are the same exact plant.
  2. The different processing of tea leaves makes the distinct of tea whether it becomes black/white/green/Oolong tea.
  3. “Tea” that is not sourced from Chamellia Sinensis plant is not tea but tisane. So the herbal mixtures that we often see being sold in the market/supermarket/cafe or restaurant are tisane and not actually tea. For example, Chamomile “tea”, Rose “tea”, fruit tea, etc.
  4. Tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world! Therefore it occupies the second place after water consumption.
  5. It is believed that black tea has more caffeine level compared to “lighter” tea such as white or green tea. The fact is, the less processing being passed by tea leaves, the higher caffeine level on that tea. Processing will affect the caffeine level so less processed teas (green and white) are actually have equal or higher caffeine.
  6. Drinking tea has been started for more than 5000 years ago and it begun in China during the Shang Dynasty.
  7. The invention of tea bag was accidentally happened when Thomas Sullivan, a tea seller from New York packed his tea leaves inside small silk pouches for tea sampling. Surprisingly people liked the idea of brewing the tea directly using the pouch rather than took out the tea. Tea bag remains until now as a convenient alternative to drink tea.
  8. The fashion of drinking iced tea was invented in America during summer 1904 by Richard Blechynden and until now, 80% of teas drunk in America are the iced ones.
  9. Chai  is Indian word for “tea”. In southern Asia, such as India and Sri Lanka, there are different version and recipe of chai. Masala itself means blend of spices so there is no rules or specific recipe of how masala chai should be made since we can be creative with it! One of my Indian friend said, “We add everything we want with our tea” and I imply his statement as there’s no limit with creativity when it comes to chai.
  10. Rooibos is sourced from Red bush plant (Aspalathus Linearis) that is grown in Cederburg, South Africa. So again, this is not tea.
  11. Black tea has the longest living period compared to other tea types such as green tea (12 months). It can be kept up to 18-24 months in a proper storage.
  12. Drinking tea is strongly related with every region’s culture in the world. Each region has its own preference to enjoy tea. In Asia tea is enjoyed plain at most of the time, British people like to add milk in their tea to have more body and velvety flavor, in Russia people add raspberry jam as sweetener and so forth. In Indonesia, one of the famous tea comes from Slawi called Teh Poci (literally means tea pot) in Central Java. We drink black jasmine tea using red-clay tea pot, tea cups and lump sugar is also added altogether with the tea.

There are twelve months in one year and I was born in the twelfth month of the year. Twelve is an even number and I love even rather than odd number. Thus, we will stop with twelve facts today. The world of tea is enormously huge and wide in indefinite dimension. We can’t just learned but have to explore. There is always something new to be learned about tea. As my teacher said, “There is no one day I don’t learn something new about tea“. So, I cherish it as a lifetime process and a lifelong study. And me, kinda forever scholar of tea.

I’ll catch up with you soon in another post. See you in the next twelve tea facts! Ciao.