Friday, April 19, 2013

Brew Haiku

What tea should I brew?
These cupboards overflow with,
too many choices.

Friday, April 12, 2013

New Taiwanese Tea at Phoenix Tea

Lately we have been in Taiwanese tea heaven at Cinnabar's and my tea shop Phoenix Tea. Please allow me to take you on a little tour of my current favorites.

Shan Lin Xi Long Feng Xia (杉林溪龍鳳峽) - This winter oolong is very complex. It blends wild herbaceous tasting notes such as cedar, pine, and rosemary with clean winter snow and dynamic floral bouquets. A pleasant long-lasting tingly sensation lingers in the back of my throat after a long session with this fine tea.

High Mountain Jin Xuan (高山金萱) - This winter tea uses the golden lily cultivar and produces a luscious, sweet and buttery cup of oolong tea. It is floral with little hints of popcorn. The broth is very smooth and substantial.

Lishan (梨山) - This winter Lishan is beyond compare. We've already restocked it once because so many tea lovers have fallen for its charms. Tasting notes of sugarcane and crisp tart fruits are balanced with buttery, wild honeysuckle aromas. The sweetness lingers for hours.

Dong Fang Mei Ren (東方美人) -  This Pinglin (坪林) grown Dong Fang Mei Ren may taste a little lighter, brisker and smoother to you if you're more used to drinking Hsinchu grown Dong Fang Mei Ren. I think this tea is incredible and balanced with big honey and ripe peach notes in most infusions. It has a long-lasting sweet, brisk aftertaste.

Meishan Hongcha (梅山紅茶) - This fully oxidized high mountain tea is flat out amazing. It blends brisk and malty classic black tea flavors with alluring aromas like rose and cocoa.


Jin Xuan Hong Cha (金萱紅茶) - A heavily oxidized tea that expertly combines all the goodness of a black tea, gently roasted oolong, and a buttery caramel. The resulting delicious-ness has made this tea very popular among many of our in store customers.


Sunday, April 7, 2013

Two Upcoming Tea Events

Tea 101 Class

On Sunday, April 21, 2013 at 10:00 AM, I'll be presenting a Tea 101 class at Phoenix Tea in Burien, Washington. In this two-hour introductory class we will discuss the major categories of tea and how they are produced. The class will include demonstrations of different brewing techniques and many freshly brewed tea samples.

In order to insure that each student gets the maximum experience out of the class we are limiting participation to 10 students. Cost for the class is $15 per person, and each attendee will also get 10% off any teas purchased in the store that day.

If you would like to attend, please RSVP on facebook, or via email at Or, you may choose to RSVP and prepay for this event on our website here.

 A Flight of Rare Teas

On Saturday, June 15, 2013 at 7:00 PM, join us at Phoenix Tea on a tasting flight through six exquisite and unusual teas, carefully chosen from our extensive selection of fine loose-leaf pure teas and sourced specifically for this event. The selection will include teas from at least four distinctly different growing regions, and will present a wide range of tasting experiences. We intend to introduce you to teas you are unlikely to encounter anywhere else.

Each guest will be given a porcelain cup to use during the tasting and to keep. Attendees will also have the opportunity to choose one sample to take home, from among a selection of all six of the teas in the tasting.

This will be our second year presenting this event in collaboration with the Northwest Tea Festival's World of Tea Series. For more information, and to register for this event please click here.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Hong Bian Green Tea

I recently received a sample of Hong Bian Green Tea (虹變綠茶) from a friend living in China. This tea looks similar to a gunpowder green tea but it is made from a special cultivar designed to change color as it cools.

I've heard of tea ware changing color when it gets hot. My daughter even has a mug on which a frog prince will appear whenever the mug gets hot.



Also, over at Phoenix Tea, we have little Rex the pixiu, who turns gold when boiling water is poured over his body.



I've never once heard of a tea that actually changed color! As it turns out Hong Bian gets darker with each degree of temperature loss. If you brew it with boiling water the tea liquor looks just like clear, plain water (it's also intensely bitter so I don't recommend it).

But when it's brewed at about 160 - 170° F it looks like this:

And by the time it cools to around 100° F it looks like this:

And if you put it in the fridge for a few hours, like I did here, it will come out looking like this:

So you're probably wondering... what does Hong Bian taste like? It's actually a pretty decent green tea. It delivers similar flavors, regardless of its current color. The taste is a little bit smoky but also fruity and sweet.