The Tea Merchant
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Recent Tasting Notes
Unfortunately Tea Merchant is closing, but I was lucky enough to snag some heavily discounted teaware and the owner was nice enough to include a sample of this tea. According to the label Tea Merchant’s teas are both Fair Trade and Organic, although I could only find the organic symbol on the label, not the fair trade one. For those of you who don’t know Kukicha is a tea made from a blend of stems, stalks twigs and some leaves, I first encountered this type of tea by it’s slightly less used name (I blame Lupicia). Besides the name, there are two main types of Kukicha produced in Japan, Shiraore is made from Sencha and Karigane made from Gyokuro; although I should note that it is often hard to tell if Shiaore or Karigane is made with Sencha or Gyokuro leaves, or the unused stems, stalks and twigs are mixed in with lesser grades of tea.
It’s been a while since I had a proper Japanese green tea, so I was really excited to try this one. Immediately I noted the lovely shades of yellow and white in the stems/stalks and there are a couple brownish twigs throughout. This is a very lovely tea to watch while brewing.
I had two infusions with this tea, although I could have had a third I chose not to and I noticed the Tea Merchant decided not to have suggested brewing times and temperatures, while I trust my intuition I always like having the option of either trying the vendor’s suggestions or adjusting it to my tastes.
I started off brewing at 175 °F for two minutes and for my second I brewed at 180 °F for three minutes; ultimately both infusions were almost exactly the same. I noticed the roasted aroma, it is not as roasted as a houjicha, but there were slight chocolately notes to it. The taste was a mellow woodsy as well as being floral and having a slight unami edge. It feels very much like a roasted sencha, but sweeter than you would expect.
I enjoyed this tea, while I normally don’t enjoy tea made from the factory sweepings, I am fond of Kukichas, it is interesting that you don’t see much beyond the leaves and young stems being used in teas, but this Green Kukicha is quite economic; this type of tea is perfect for those who are on a budget can’t quite afford Sencha, or for those who like a roasted green tea.
(“Amazing” photography at http://rah-tea.blogspot.com/2014/10/tea-merchants-green-kukicha.html)
Thank you so much keychange for sharing some of this yummy vanilla earl grey! I will get more someday but every time I’ve checked it is out of stock. I normally like to wait until I’ve had it a few times or finished it before writing a note. This one, my last cup I ruined because I used the filter I normally use for my husbands chai so it has an added flavor of gingerbread. I have had better cups of this in the past and will get more in the future and maybe add more to the note.
I think this is the third Darjeeling I’ve ever had. The first was from years ago and I remember thinking it was okay. The second was a sample of Castleton Moonlight Oolong or something last year. I remember liking it, but not enough to compel me to immediately place an order.
Anyway, I didn’t really take notes of it as I was drinking it earlier today, but I did enjoy it and resteeped it another time. Couldn’t taste anything apple-y like the other notes mentioned, but it was a nice, comforting brew with a light astringency near the end. I definitely do want to explore more Darjeelings eventually (pu’er and a few aged oolongs are mostly taking up my attention at the moment).
Got this on recent 50% off sale. Just the smallest 1.5oz size. Now i wish i got more.
i really enjoyed this Wuyi oolong. The flavors are very pleasant. not bitter, not overly roasty. just right. Sweet, roasty, nutty.
usual gongfu treatment
6g 100ml 195F
rinse/pause/ 10/5/5/10/15sec etc
I can’t believe I haven’t logged this. And somehow it wasn’t in my cupboard. Could have sworn it was but since it wasn’t even in the database I guess I was just imagining things.
This is a lovely chamomile. Gorgeous large flowers. It steeps up to a pale, delicate buttery yellow. Smells of honey and well… chamomile. :) There is no honey in this but the taste of it is certainly there. Chamomile is the only drink I like putting honey in, but this one doesn’t even really need it. I put less than half a teaspoon in an 8 ounce cup. I also like it a lot with a couple drops of vanilla extract added along with the honey but I didn’t put any in tonight.
On a sad note, somehow one of the Jane Fern bumble bee bone china mugs my mom got me a couple of years ago has a huge crack in it. :(
I thought it was just stained and was telling myself to take the baking soda to it, but I inspected closer and I could feel the crack. All the way down the side. Have no idea how it could have happened. I’m always very careful with my cups. I guess I still have one but it makes me sad to lose the set.
Another darjeeling that I had a chance to try thanks to the traveling box! I like this one just as much as the Upton one, if not more.
The dry leaf is so adorable with bits and pieces of green. The steeped carrot gold liquor smells like caramelized rose petals (yes!) and… it pretty much tastes like that, too. Except the astringency kicks in, but it’s not unpleasant, and balances the sweetness nicely. It actually gets sweeter and milder as it cools down.
A fantastic cup for late Saturday morning. And it’s my day off, too. Hell yeah.
I received a sample of this from bluebelle. Thank you for sharing this one with me.
I was looking for a black tea to add milk and a bit of sugar to for dessert tonight, but came across this and thought what the heck. I am glad I opted for this one. It is very yummy. It is a light cup that is smooth, creamy, and sweet. There is a light hint of coconut, and a very nice flavoring of vanilla. I am so glad I got to try this one. For next time I will try to add a bit more leaf and steep time to see if the flavor is enhanced any.
Backlog. After being reminded of how lovely this tea is in a cold brew, I decided to steep it up hot for comparison. It’s still very nutty, but that nutty flavor kind of blends in with some floral, roasty, and other sweet flavors that I couldn’t quite identify at that moment. Even though the hot and cold brewed versions have such different emphasis on different flavors, I can’t really decide which I like better. Both were delicious, and now I’m trying to figure out the best way to steep up the rest that I have left.
Backlog. So we drove my little brother down to college, which was a sad road trip. I had the honor of driving the awful grapevine/LA traffic leg of the trip, so of course I had to prepare a cold brew to take with me. I cold brewed a tablespoon of this tea in my water bottle for about 5 hours. I think by cold brewing, it really brought out the nutty flavor of the tea. It was surprising and delicious! It’s been a while since I’ve had this hot, but if the cold brew always turns out this nutty, I think I prefer to cold brew it. I’ll definitely be experimenting with this one again soon.
Thanks to bluebelle for a generous sample of this in our swap! I’m really loving TGYs, and this is no different. It delivers on the sweet, nutty, smooth combination that I’ve come to expect from my oolongs. The flavor for the first two steeps was a bit intense or sharp, though. And it got bitter as it cooled down. So I waited a little longer for my water to cool before steeping the third and fourth times and really hit the sweet spot. The flavors were still there but mellowed out and blending together well. By the fifth steep, started to lose too much flavor, but I’m gonna keep resteeping it until I’m just drinking hot water.