A deep and abiding love of Oriental Beauty

A deep and abiding love of Oriental Beauty

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!)

Smacha's White Peony aka Bai Mu Dan. Gorgeous and sweet.

White Peony is thus named poetically for its leaves shape as it steeps and opens and for its lovely aroma. I also would have to add it is by far the prettiest tea I have seen all year, lovely colors mixed with long thin pieces and gorgeous leaves, before brewing it is as pretty a picture as I could ask for...

This tea just made the start of my day a lovely one, a perfect choice for the first day of sun in a week, outside still dewy on my cactus' and my resin lawn buddhas, Trader Joe's trip for dinner tonight a distant memory and its only nine a.m. Perfect time to open this new years offering from Smacha of this perfect white tea.
185f and three grams only as I don't want to go through it too fast, steeped less than a minute ( but not by much) in a 70 ml gaiwan. Just a total delight. Heading back in for steeps three and four, see how long it lasts! Gently, gently goes the pour! Want to treat this particular Bai Mu Dan like the treasure it is!

A floral, complex and distinctive oolong from White2Tea

Just finishing a first time session with W2T's OBSX, which is a really nice change of pace from my usual Sunday morning Oriental Beauty options, and a very wakeful brewing session. I don't know much about Wuyi Yanchas but this was a good one to start to learn with. Very easy to drink, lightly floral and mineral notes both. Started with an eye-balled amount of most likely 3 grams in a 130ml hohin at 205f. Too light. Added another 'pinch' which I am guessing made it 4 grams and upped my water temp to 209, and the next four steeps were lovely. Rich golden color, wet leaves smell just great. Not a heavily floral tea, more mineral notes and really a rather sophisticated taste in my humble newbie opinion! I will not be eye-balling any more tea any time soon, I was just being lazy in not reaching for my scale this morning, my suggestion to myself and to my newbie readers is to count on your scale and if you don't have a little digital scale, get one. This is mine. Under $20, found mine with free shipping, just get one, it's actually fun to use.
OBSX is an acronym for 'Old Bush Shui Xian' and is super fragrant, floral and has a medium roast and a nice depth.

Tea Haikus by BuddhaMomTea 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.

Loving on Smacha!


New Year's Day and Tea-Drunk as all git out!

8:20 pm, and New Year's Day is settling down into evening, it is far too late to   be drinking tea but how to stop the celebration of 2016 being over and done with? My tea table looks like it's been partying all by itself, the Jian Shui dancing with the Lin's, the Petr Novak Yunomi worked the tea-table with the ten whopping grams of 2005 Mengku Zheng Shan Daye Sheng from Yunnan Sourcing in its belly, giving it up to their hostess, yours truly for over 14 hours now!
Ok, enough gangasta talk from this old woman, and it's time to get mellow. It is time to revive from 'the party' and move into more ethereal pleasures and so what do I drink now, as the first day of 2017 ends? What's the best thing to feel on your lips as day becomes night and I need something of the highest quality to make me feel renewed? I will tell you now, you lucky, lucky bastards. Smacha's Mao Feng.
I don't drink a lot of greens these days, but when I do? Yeah, this is the kind I like and Smacha's Mao Feng is their best selling green tea for very good reason.
I follow their directions of four grams but use a smaller vessel, a 70 ml gaiwan, and the water temp I use starts at 190f and cools accordingly from steep to steep.
The smell itself reminds me that life renews itself, that things grow and rivers flow, and time slows, and a bunch of other rhyming idioms, all true.
It is a thinking woman's tea, and one to savor.
I am not afraid of 2017. For I have followed my bliss and am ready to start January with this tea by my bedside. Again, tea becomes my answer to the alcohol question and no champagne is required or desired. Thanks to all my tea vendors and especially Smacha for keeping me sober another year!