Experience buying from Culinary Teas http://steepster.com/places/2981-culinary-teas-online-milford-indiana

UPDATE (6/14/2012): Yesterday I completed a second session of steepings with this tea (a total of three steepings) and got the same results. My wife noted that although it was different than the other greens we normally enjoy it was still drinkable (she’s kind of picky, in my opinion). I upped the rating by two points.

I bought a one OZ sample of this in late November, 2011, and have brewed it once so far.

Appearance and Aroma of dry leaf: It is a medium brown color and looks like large coffee grounds; it has a surprisingly strong aroma (surprising as it doesn’t look like a green tea to me), that smells like just about any other decent green I’ve had.

Brewing guidelines: six very shallow teaspoons (as this stuff is very fine) = six cups water; glass Bodum pot with metal infuser/plunger; stevia added; I basically used my standard green tea steeping times and temperatures; four steepings.

Color and Aroma of tea liquor: Not much aroma; it was an unusual color for a green tea (my wife even noticed this), as it was very yellow-ish; it was clear, though.

Flavor of tea liquor: Not anything that interesting to report here, as, in general, it tasted like many other green teas I have had; it did have decent flavor on the third steeping, and even some on the forth; and there was some astringency when I tasted a bit of water that was hiding in the bottom of my Bodum strainer when I went to do the next steeping (not a big surprise though, especially for a green tea at this price range).

Appearance and Aroma of wet leaf: It basically looked the same as when it was dry, which was VERY surprising; it looked almost like finely ground, and cooked, hamburger (I was expecting to see tiny fragments of opened leaf); it had almost no aroma (at least when I composted it and smelled it then).

Value: This is where this tea has something notable about it; I think it’s Culinary tea’s least expensive green, at $6.10 / 4 OZ, which puts it at about $1.50 / OZ (and even less with any discounts and/or if you buy it in larger quantities).

Overall: I’m trying to go through the samples left over from all of the sales near the end of last year (I still have about eight left). I bought this tea for two reasons: one, it was inexpensive, and I am always on the look-out for a decent tasting, inexpensive green; two, it was from Kenya, and since I have never had a green tea (or any other tea that I am aware of) from Kenya, I wanted to try one. I admit I didn’t put much effort in trying to ferret out all of the different flavors in here (maybe I will when I brew up the next pot of it); so with that in mind, all I have to state is that it’s flavor was a little different than the standard Chinese green tea (I hope to flush this out when I do the next go around with it), and it’s better than some other lower-end teas like a chun mee (which commonly is too smoky, or something, to me). Nothing great about this tea, but nothing off-putting about the flavor, either, which is not uncommon at this price range. Still I’m glad I tried it, and I hope to try other teas from Kenya when the opportunity presents itself.

170 °F / 76 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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(Updated 6-3-2014)

After about three years I changed my avatar from the picture of a green teacup with steam rising (one I created using Paint) to this dragon gaiwan. This is one of my favorite gaiwans, although I haven’t brewed any tea in it as of yet.

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 150 ml gaiwan (I also own an 11 oz Yixing):
First I do a 15" rinse with near boiling water. Then for each successive steeping I add Stevia.
……….1st: Near boiling, 0.5’
……….2nd: Boiling , 1’
……….3rd: Boiling , 1.5’
etc. Until there is no flavor, or I ran out of time and energy.

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 Chinese green, red and ripe pu-erh tea, although I enjoy a white and an oolong tea every now and then as well. 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 three teapots: 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 an 11 oz Yixing (ripe Pu-erh only). (New in 2014) I also one a number of gaiwans ranging in volume from from 125 ml to 250ml.

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.


Midwest, USA

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