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Backlogging, and based almost entirely on relatively recent memory

Experience buying from Village Tea Company Online: Overall, positive (I hope to write a more formal review later)

Packaging: I love the packaging: very stylish looking sturdy paper cylinders, with a very tightly fitting lid. The 110 grams of tea comes in two beige colored cloth bags (almost like a bag of gold dust a prospector might keep stashed away!), and there are about 10 of those little paper teabags to put the ‘gold’ in. This is probably the most ingenious packing for tea that I have ever seen. It really makes the experience brewing it up a little more fun.

Appearance and aroma of dry leaf: Looks just like plain rooibus; but the aroma, ahh, the aroma, it is possibly my favorite smelling tea (that, and Harney’s Vanilla Comoro): it reminds me of walking into one of those climate controlled cigar rooms and taking a deep breath (I used to smoke a cigar on rare occasions, but it’s been a long time).

Brewing guidelines: Glass Bodum pot, with metal infuser/plunger; stevia added. I should probably use a pot that retains the heat better, but I love seeing the color of this tea.
……….1st: Near boiling; 2’…….Awesome!
……….2nd: Nearer boiling; 3’…Good.
……….3rd: Boiling; 5’……………Decent enough.

Color and aroma of tea liquor: a beautiful dark, rosy-red color; a wonderful vanilla smell.

Flavor of tea liquor: Awesome! It’s sweet, with strong notes of vanilla and possibly milder notes of tobacco. I can usually get three decent steeping out of this, even if it means steeping it for ten minutes for the third (I love that you can’t over-steep an herbal tea).

Blends well with: I blended it with one plain rooibus with success.

Value: Although I was fortunate enough to buy this on a promotional deal, it’s on the pricy side for a flavored rooibos at their standard price ($13.95/110 grams).

Overall: Although I am a green tea fanatic, I absolutely love this tea! I think I must really like vanilla, for I seem to love anything with vanilla in it (now that I think of it, in regards to ice cream I do prefer vanilla over chocolate). To me, in many ways, this tea smells like fresh, quality tobacco, and although I don’t smoke, I love the smell of good tobacco. I sometimes make this as a treat in the evening. This is a tea I will seriously consider buying again when I run out. It ROCKS!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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Bio

(Updated 3-23-2014)

You can call me, Joe.

What, How and Why I steep:

I typically expect, and shoot for, at least three flavorful steepings out of (just about) any tea I brew up.

I generally start at the times and temps below ( = minute(s), " = second(s) ), then add 5F and 30" for each successive steeping:
Chinese Green - 175F, 1’ ;
Japanese Green - 160F, 1’add 15F, then decrease by 15";
White - 160F, 2’;
Oolong - This varies;
Indian Black/Chinese Red and Herbals - a little off the boil, 2’; why do I start with such low temps & short steep times? So as to ‘spread out’ the flavor over multiple steepings. I have found this to work with every tea I have tried so far. Also, I am not looking for intense flavor in that first cup (i.e. Western style), I would prefer to taste it—and savor—it over many steepings.
Pu-erh - Beginning in 2014, I finally chose to dive into pu-erh! Standard parameters when I brew ripened pu-erh in my 11 OZ Yixing:
First I do a 15 – 20 second rinse with near boiling water. Then for each successive steeping I add Stevia to my 8 OZ clear-glass teacup (thus, typically not added to the teapot).
……….1st: Near boiling, 0.5’
……….2nd: Boiling , 1’
……….3rd: Boiling , 1.5’
……….4th: Boiling~(poured usually right after the previous steeping, so the teapot and water are as hot as possible)~, 2’ (if it’s the final steeping, then sometimes longer)
……….If 5th and/or more: Boiling, < If I do more than 4 steepings, I basically add 0.5’ for each. >

I hope to ‘streamline’ my reviews going forward, so, hopefully, they are a little less technical and dry (and perhaps even stilted), and a little more organic and experiential (and hopefully, flowing); this somewhat new approach to reviews is a kind of metaphor for where my life is headed right now, and is one reason why I write reviews: as a kind of time-capsule of where I was in my life at that time.

Tea Rating scale:

1 – 29: There is no reason to even think about drinking this stuff again.
30-49: I may drink it if someone else brewed it up, but I would not bother brewing it up myself let alone bother buying any.
50 – 59: I like something about it, and I may brew it up if I already have some, but I would not buy any more of it.
60 – 69: I like a few things about it, and I may buy it if the price is right.
70 – 79: This is a tea I enjoy and would drink fairly regularly as long as it is reasonably priced.
80 – 89: A tea I will drink as often as I can, and will likely try to buy some when I run out (as long as it’s affordable).
90 – 99: This has everything I look for in the best of teas: beauty in appearance, a delightful aroma, and most importantly, depth and yummy-ness in its flavor.
100: Perfect.

My primary interest is in artisan loose-leaf green tea, although I enjoy Chinese red (or Indian black) and white tea somewhat regularly (during the summer, iced ). Here and there I brew a few of the other true teas and an occasional herbal.

Since I choose to live on a very limited income (‘Voluntary Simplicity’), I have to be very conscience about how much I pay for tea. In reading their Tea Enthusiast’s books, Mary Lou and Robert J. Heiss sold me on the wonders of artisan teas. Thankfully I have found that there is affordable, artisan tea out there; it’s just like anything else that has true value: it takes hard work, dedication and at least a little persistence to find it.

I came to tea out of a desire to find something to help calm and focus my mind as naturally as possible. My mind is very active, so to speak, and at times I find it very difficult to focus and keep myself centered. For years now I have been practicing Yoga daily along with others things to help me to stay relaxed and present, but I found I wanted a little something extra to help me start the day; the theanine in green tea seems to help me in this.

I have been enjoying loose-leaf tea since November of 2010.

I enjoy connecting with others about tea.

I drink Stevia with just about all of my tea (no sugar or artificial sweeteners).

I drink a pot of green tea every day in the AM (usually steeped three times over the course of the day), sharing it with my wife.

Each tea in my cupboard is carefully and colorfully labeled in a tin or in a jar that used to hold something else (I love to reuse things!) .

I have five teapots: a simple six-cup and four-cup ceramic (red/black/herbal teas), a glass Bodum – I don’t use the metal infuser/press anymore (greens), a 16 oz glass Victorian (to brew greens and whites, and to use as a pot to decant other teas into), and a Yixing (Pu-erh only).

I tend to be direct, straightforward and honest when I post anything to the discussion boards. I take the approach that everything I say is stated with the implied disclaimer: In My Humble Opinion (i.e. IMHO). I may occasionally emphasize this point, where appropriate. I view your comments in the same way. You are in no way obligated to read what I have posted. And I am in no way similarly obligated to you.

Sitting with my cup of tea I greet the day in anticipation of new discoveries along the way.

Location

Midwest, USA

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