June 19, 2018

How to Make Cold Brew Iced Tea

Consider this post a revival of sorts of my How to Make series. It's also likely my singular contribution to the topic of iced tea during National Iced Tea Month. My favorite way to prepare iced tea is to cold brew it. Read on for my method.


The Standard Recipe for Cold Brew Iced Tea

The traditional approach is to combine tea and water and refrigerate overnight, or at least for eight hours. The typical tea to water ratio is one teaspoon of tea to six-eight ounces of water. I have had great success following the standard. Last summer I cold brewed several teas from Story of my Tea using this method.


My Recipe for Cold Brew Iced Tea

I'd like to offer something slightly different, however. My method was born out of not enough time. I don't always finish a tea session in one day. I would save the leaves at room temperature for the next day but then I read that this can lead to bacterial contamination. I then began to refrigerate the leaves but they would acquire the taste of my fridge. One day I decided to transfer the leaves to a jar, fill the container with water, and store in my fridge. The next day I sipped the liquor and my cold brew iced tea method was born! It works even if you've infused your leaves many times. There's always a bit of flavor remaining in your tea leaves that a cold, slow infusion will extract. You can steep the leaves for more many more hours than eight.


If you open my refrigerator you will find a few jam jars – Bonne Maman is my favorite – of cold brew iced tea in progress. It's rewarding to re-use glass containers, plus I compost the spent leaves. If I drink the iced tea at home, I don't usually strain the leaves. I drink the iced tea "grandpa style". For tea on the go, I strain the liquor into an empty jam jar.

Here is the complete Cold Brew Iced Tea recipe:
  • Add infused (or fresh) leaves to a jar or other resealable container
  • Pour water to fill the jar and seal it
  • Place the jar in the refrigerator overnight, or longer
  • Strain, or not, and enjoy

More Cold Brew Iced Tea Recipes

This is a slow method obviously. If you need to make iced tea quickly, this Lipton how to make iced tea recipe was almost at the top of Google search results. If you want to use un-infused leaves to make your cold brew iced tea, check out the Tea for Me Please Cold Brewing Tea Guide. If you want a fruity twist on iced tea, then read Oh, How Civilized How to Make the Best Iced Tea.

May 30, 2018

Tea Pairing 101: Black Tea and Finger Sandwiches

Do you know the origins of afternoon tea? The most popular story involves the Duchess of Bedford, aka Anna Maria Russell. One day, the Duchess was so hungry in the seven-plus hours between lunch and dinner that she ordered a chamber service of tea and snacks. She fell in love with her idea and subsequently invited her friends to join her. I mention this story for two reasons. The first reason is that black tea is the most popular tea paired with afternoon tea and we paired our tea sandwiches with black tea. The second reason is that our pairing was set in Jee's apartment almost recreating Duchess of Bedford's afternoon tea ritual in her private chambers with friends. We only had the crustless finger sandwiches and not the scones and sweets.


A quick refresher on Tea Pairing 101: it's a fun and nerdy collaboration between me, Jee of Oh, How Civilized, and Sara of Tea Happiness. This is the fourth edition of Tea Pairing 101. Read my take on our White Tea, Green Tea, and Oolong Tea pairings. Each post has links to Sara's and Jee's points of view.

THE VENUE

Jee hosted us in her Greenwich Village apartment with a south-facing, courtyard view. Now I know the source of the fantastic light in her photographs!


THE TEAS

Our black tea selection included a Lapsang Souchong, a Nepalese black tea, and a Darjeeling.

Although we were not comparing the teas to each other we did use professional tasting cups. Three grams of each tea was steeped for three minutes using temperature prescribed by the tea company. The Lapsang Souchong was infused in 195F water, the Second Flush Himalayan Supreme in 200F, and the Darjeeling in 212F. (Harney & Sons listed 212F for black teas on its tin.) We took notes on th dry and infused leaves and the liquor.

Lapsang Souchong
  • Dry leaf: long, dark, slightly twisted; malt and fruit scents
  • Infused leaves: chocolate brown and dark green in color; mostly whole leaves; cocoa and fruit scents
  • Liquor: amber color; smooth, creamy, liquid chocolate; lingering flavors that stick to the top of the palate

Second Flush Himalayan Supreme
  • Dry leaf: beautiful, multi-colored leaves of dark and chocolate brown and lots of silver and gray-green buds
  • Infused leaves: the uniformly copper colored leaves smelled like a Darjeeling
  • Liquor: orange amber color; thick body with a hairy texture, stone fruit, muscatel, astringent tail note

Turzum Second Flush Darjeeling
  • Dry leaf: chopped, black and dark and chocolate brown leaves; chocolate and fruit scents
  • Infused leaves: slightly floral scent
  • Liquor: copper liquor was bitter but with a tail note of red fruit; the cooled liquor was more enjoyable



THE FINGER SANDWICHES

We sourced our finger sandwiches from Bosie Tea Parlor. From their Tea Sandwich Platter menu, we selected three vegetarian and one meat sandwich.
  • Farmer's Egg Salad - flavored with thyme and served on whole wheat
  • Cucumber - cream cheese and dill on white bread
  • Chicken Breast - chicken salad with raisin and curried mayonnaise on multigrain
  • Cheddar Cheese - Branson pickle on whole wheat


THE TEA PAIRINGS

We paired each tea with three of the four sandwiches. I am a vegetarian so did not eat the chicken. Jee and Sara ate all but the cucumber sandwich.

Lapsang Souchong + Sandwiches

Farmer's Egg Salad: a rich and herbaceous sandwich; the tea rounded out the thyme
Cucumber: the thinly sliced cucumbers were fresh and crisp; the tea brought out the bitterness of the cucumber skin
Cheddar Cheese: a delicious sandwich on its own; the tea brought out the nuttiness of the cheddar

Second Flush Himalayan Supreme + Tea Sandwiches

Farmer's Egg Salad: the creaminess of the sandwich cut the astringency of this tea
Cucumber: this tea also brought out the bitterness in the cucumber skin
Cheddar Cheese: the tea brought out the fruit notes in the pickle and the nuttiness in the cheese

Turzum Second Flush Darjeeling + Tea Sandwiches

Farmer's Egg Salad: the flavors of this sandwich were lost with this tea
Cucumber: the cream cheese mellowed the bitter quality of this tea
Cheddar Cheese: the cooled liquor with more noticeable fruit notes complemented the fruity notes in the pickle


THE TAKEAWAY

I'll tell you my favorite tea, sandwich, then my favorite pairing.

Favorite Tea

I have always liked Joseph Wesley's Lapsang Souchong. It was my favorite of the black teas we served. I wasn't surprised that I enjoyed the Second Flush Himalayan Supreme from Happy Earth Tea. Recently I've had the pleasure of drinking 2017 Summer Himalayan Shiiba and 2017 Autumn Himalayan Orange both from the Jun Chiyabari Tea Garden. I had a second session with the Turzum Second Flush Darjeeling using 195F. This tea improved at a lower temperature. Please don't use boiling water with your second flush Darjeeling.

Favorite Sandwich

My favorite sandwich was the Cheddar Cheese with the Farmer's Egg Salad a very close second. I recommend this egg salad sandwich to egg salad sandwich loves out there.

Favorite Black Tea + Sandwich

Last but not least, my best in pairing: Lapsang Souchong + Cheddar Cheese. The very close second, as you may have guessed, includes the Farmer's Egg Salad paired with the Second Flush Himalayan Supreme.

Thank you to the tea companies who provided us with black teas for this pairing: Joseph Wesley TeaHappy Earth Tea, and Harney & Sons. As always, thank you to my tea buds Jee and Sara. Read their black tea pairing notes at Oh, How Civilized and Tea Happiness.

P.S. I am a tea student at the International Tea Education Institute. Use NOTESONTEA10 when you register for any course.
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May 15, 2018

Tillerman Tea Lishan Gaoshan Oolong

In medieval times I might have been a scribe. I always carry a notebook and keep a separate tea notepad in my kitchen. Many of my tasting notes become the tea reviews you read on the blog.


It's back to back Lishan reviews this week! Check out yesterday's review of the Song Yi Tea Lishan Oolong. (I've also reviewed the Song Yi Tea Roast Lishan Oolong.) Today's tea is Tillerman Tea Lishan Goashan Oolong harvested in Winter 2017. I purposefully drank these teas back to back not to formally compare but I enjoyed the Song Yi Lishan so much that I wanted to drink another Lishan.

Like Song Yi Tea, Tillerman Tea also provides detailed sourcing information for its teas. Here's the provenance information for this winter gaoshan:
  • Grown in Lishan (this is a given)
  • Altitude of 2400 meters
  • Qing Xin cultivar
  • 15% oxidation and unroasted


TILLERMAN TEA LISHAN GOASHAN OOLONG

The big leaves of this tea were emeralad and forest green with visible stems. The leaves were sweet and floral smelling with scents of grain.

I followed the Western-style parameters provided by Tillerman Tea:
  • 8 ounces
  • 3-5 grams or 1 teaspoon (I used 4 grams)
  • 212F
  • 60s
I steeped the leaves three times for 60s, 90s, and 5 minutes. The steam off the first infusion was immediately creamy and grainy while the liquor tasted of flowers, sweet vegtables, and grains. The tail note was buttery. The first cup was super floral with a good body. The second infusion was bright yellow in color with strong floral notes. It also had a nice, dry tail note. The final cup was still floral but was accompanied by a pleasant taste of plant stems.


THE TAKEAWAY

You might be able to tell that I lost track of time between the second and third infusion. Regardless, that long third steep produced a good cup of tea. This Tillerman Lishan is very good. Right now I am drinking a cold-steeped session of this tea. It is full and floral. You can't go wrong preparing this Lishan Goashan Oolong hot or cold. However, the chilled version has a longer aftertaste.

May 14, 2018

Song Yi Tea Lishan Oolong

In medieval times I might have been a scribe. I always carry a notebook and keep a separate tea notepad in my kitchen. Many of my tasting notes become the tea reviews you read on the blog.


My previous reviews of teas from Song Yi Tea are Sun Moon Lake Black Tea and Roast Lishan Oolong. I did not include detailed provenance information. One of the aspects of Song Yi I appreciate is the detailed origin and production information it provides for each tea. Here's the 411 for today's tea, the Lishan Oolong.
  • Grown in Lishan Village, hence the name
  • Gravelly soil type
  • Altitude of 2300 meters
  • Qingxin cultivar
  • 30% oxidation and lightly roasted. 
These characteristics all add up to a green oolong, perfect for spring drinking.

SONG YI TEA LISHAN OOLONG

The dry leaves were rolled big and tight. The tea was forest and emerald green in color. The dry leaves smelled of cream and toasted grains. I followed the recommended steeping parameters of 1g / 15ml in 100C water for 40s/20/30/40/55. I used 3g in 50ml.


The infused leaves smelled fresh and green with creamy and grain notes. The steam was also slightly floral. The pale yellow liquor did not have a scent. The liquor was creamy and floral and full of grain flavor. The floral note was not overwhelming but it did remind me of the fragrance of this year's orchid show at the New York Botanical Garden. When the first cup reached room temperature it showed a lush texture and lots of floral flavors.


The second infusion yielded a much more robust cup flavor-wise. The liquor was drier but more floral. The grain notes were still there overlaid with a juicy fruit flavor in the back of my mouth. The liquor lightened by the fourth infusion but even at the fifth steep, the tea still had the original flavors of dry cereal, spring green, and flowers.

The Takeaway

This oolong was very enjoyable steeped at a high temperature. I would strongly recommend a cold steep, too. The lush, floral experience of the second infusion when the liquor dropped to room temperature was fantastic.

The oolong tea review here was provided by Song Yi Tea.

April 19, 2018

Jun Chiyabari Himalayan Teas - 2017 Summer Himalayan Shiiba

In medieval times I might have been a scribe. I always carry a notebook and keep a separate tea notepad in my kitchen. Many of my tasting notes become the tea reviews you read on the blog. Today's post is second of two reviews of  Jun Chiyabari Himalayan Teas. The first review was of the 2017 Himalayan Orange Autumn Flush. Read on for notes on the 2017 Summer Himalayan Shiiba.


I'd like to start this review by again thanking fellow tea blogger, Tristan Jordan of Tea With Tristan, who kindly arranged for me to sample the 2017 Autumn Himalayan Orange and the 2017 Summer Himalayan Shiiba both grown on the Jun Chiyabari garden in Nepal and sourced by Kora Tea and Crafts.


2017 Summer Himalayan Shiiba 

The origins of this tea are Japanese. The Himalayan Shiiba tea is made from Camellia sinensis trees imported from the moutain village of Shiiba located in the Miyazaki Prefecture of Japan. The dry leaves are variable in size, lightly twisted, varying along the brown color spectrum with charcoal and khaki green leaves as well as silver buds present. The leaves were very dry to touch.

As with the Orange, I prepared the Shiiba in several ways:
  • Professional cup: 2.5 grams / 4 ounces / 200F / 3 minutes
  • Large ceramic teapot as recommended by Jun Chiyabari: 3 grams / 200 ml / 175F+ / 2 minutes, 1m, 2 m
  • Small kyusu: 4 grams / 70 ml / 200F / 20s; (dropped temp. to 190F) 40s; (transferred leaves to a 150ml clay pot) 20s, 30s 

Professional Cup

Steeping the leaves in a professional cup for three minutes yielded a golden liquor tasting green, sweet, and slightly bitter akin to biting into a stone fruit's pit. The tea was thick and layered with honey, fruit, and lingering spice. The second infusion of four minutes was full of deliciously unripe, fruit flavor.

Ceramic Teapot

I infused fresh leaves three times in a ceramic teapot. The first cup was the best of three. The tea was very sweet and floral with a grape must texture. The second cup was enjoyable. It was also sweet but with notes of green. The tea's texture was luscious once it cooled. The third infusion had a dry texture with a significant loss of flavor.

Kyusu (then larger clay teapot)

The dry leaves smelled like a semisweet brownie studded with dried fruits. Shaken in a warm kyusu, the leaves released a muscatel, fruit fuzz, pie scent. The first infusion tasted like a Taiwanese green oolong but with the green notes on the front and the floral and fruit notes on the tail. Even at this early stage, I realized that there was too much leaf in the pot. The Himalayan Shiiba is more voluminous than the Himalayan Orange. The next infusion yielded a bitter liquor which confirmed that the leaf to water ratio was out of proportion. I transferred the leaves to a much larger clay teapot and started with a short infusion. The tea was light in body, slightly fruity, and pale amber in color. There was a paper/linen tail note on the cooled liquid. The next infusion was disappointing.


The Takeaway

Unlike my experience with the Himalayan Orange, the kyusu was not the most successful mode of preparation. That honor goes to the professional cupping set. The Himalayan Shiiba is an excellent tea so do not take my failures in preparation as an indication of the quality of this tea. I am lucky to have enough of this to continue experimenting with gram to ml ratio, water temperature, and teaware.
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