Category Archives: pu erh dante

Drink Me: Tea Market Pu-Erh

The final tea I purchase from Tea Market was a Pu-Erh.  Some readers have asked about my favorite unflavored teas, so I decided to pick a simple Pu-Erh for review.

Per the Tea Market, the tea is “aged with special health properties and early flavor. Chinese Penicillin.”

It is available for $4.35 per ounce, and I purchased one ounce.

When I first opened the bag the leaves smelled slightly smoky and a little grassy, smells I associate with green tea and Chinese cuisine.  Once brewed it lost that grassy smell, though there definitely was, for lack of a better word, an earthy aroma.  It definitely didn’t taste like green tea, and yet it still reminded me of tea I have been served at Chinese restaurants.  It was more sophisticated in terms of flavor, but I can’t quite put my finger (or clearly my descriptive words) on what is I’m tasting.  In general I liked it, and think it would be a good choice for an afternoon tea break if you’re looking for something less strong than a black tea.  I’m also curious if it really does cure all ills?

Universi-tea: The basics of tea.

If you’re like me, the first tea website you started browsing had all these different varieties of tea and you were quickly overwhelmed for choice.  I thought I’d take a moment to share a bit of knowledge about tea.  What the heck is tea anyway?

I started my education with a popular Kindle download called 19 Lessons on Tea: Become an Expert on Buying, Drinking and Brewing the Best Tea.  While I wouldn’t call this the definitive source on tea (and trust me, I’ll be doing more reading as we go along) it was a nice, quick read that gave me a basic education.

19 Lessons on Tea, Amazon.com, $2.99 Kindle

I also subscribed to The Republic of Tea – Tea 101 which came in a series of 6 emails.

Tea 101, Republic of Tea, Free if you’re willing to give them your email!

Again, this is by no means a definitive guide, but it provides a little bit of basic information if you’re lost like I was. The downside of both publications is that they are created by people intending to sell something or direct traffic to their site.  However, if taken with a grain of salt, I found the information useful.  All of the information I’ve shared below has been taken from these two sources, and I hope to supplement it later on with more!

Virtually all tea comes from the Camellia sinensis plant. Raw tea leaves and buds are harvested from the plants and then processed.  They are processed through a variety of methods that include crushing, bruising or breaking the leaves.  As the leaves are crushed, bruised or broken enzymes in the leaves come in contact with air and oxidize. This process is called oxidation.  How much oxidation the leaves undergo determines what type of tea is produced.

Camellia sinensis, San Francisco Botanical Garden

Teas usually fall into six broad categories:

* White – White teas are not oxidized at all, and are white because they include fresh buds rather than leaves from the plant.  White teas are delicate and should not be brewed with overly hot water, and should only be steeped for a short period of time.

* Green – Green teas are only slightly oxidized, resulting in green leaves. Most green tea comes from either Japan or China. Green teas should also not be brewed with boiling water and should be steeped less than 3 minutes.

Glow Cloud, Green Tea Blend, Adagio

* Yellow – Yellow teas are only slightly more oxidized than green teas, and are allowed to turn yellow for flavor.  Yellow teas are only grown in China and only a small portion are exported, meaning they are fairly uncommon.  Yellow teas should be prepared like white teas.

* Oolong – Oolong teas are partially oxidized, resulting in darker green leaves.  Oolong teas should be prepared with water that is closer to boiling temperature and steeped for slightly longer.

Almond Oolong, Adagio Teas

* Pu-erh – Pu-erh teas are processed like green teas, however they are allowed to undergo a fermentation process which results in a dark reddish leaf.  Pu-erh teas should be prepared with boiling water and steeped 3-5 minutes.

Pu-erh, Tea Market

* Black – Black tea leaves are fully oxidized, resulting in black color.  Black teas are grown in both China and India. They should be prepared with water that is close to boiling and steeped for 3-5 minutes.  There are many varieties of black tea including Orange Pekoe, Ceylon, Darjeeling and Assam to name a few.

Blood Orange Black Tea, Kent & Sussex

However there are a few other varieties of tea:

* Scented – Scented teas are made by blending one the above teas with flowers, herbs or sliced fruit or peels.  This category includes teas like Breakfast Teas, Earl Grey, Chai, and Jasmine.

Maharaja Chai Oolong & Samurai Chai Blend, Teavana

* Herbal – Herbal teas do not actually contain any of the tea plant (Camellia sinensis), but rather include a variety of other leaves and flowers that are processed and brewed or steeped similarly to tea.

* Rooibos – Rooibos is actually an herbal tea, but it has become popular enough that it is often placed in its own category. Rooibos derives its name from the South African plant from which it is harvested.

Rooibos, Tea Market

I hope that introduction will at least help you understand what you’re looking at when you’re looking for tea. I’m sure I’ll write more about the specific varieties in the future. For now I recommend trying a bit of each variety to determine which ones appeal to you.

Drink Me: Adagio Teas, Glow Cloud.

I’m going to start with a tin of tea I actually bought a few months before starting this whole project.  In October of last year, I was involved in an online swap through Ravelry, a social network site for knitters.  The swap was themed around one of my favorite podcasts, Welcome to Nightvale.

In one of the forums there, someone mentioned the The Town We Do Not Speak Of signatures tea collection at Adagio Teas.  As I understand it, Adagio allows users to create their own signature blends of tea.  Some users also decide to create artwork to go with their teas and then make them available to other users as well. In this case one user created 10 teas as part of her signature collection.  For the adventurous, Adagio offers the collection of 10 as a sampler set, including the mini tins for $39.

The Town We Do Not Speak Of sampler set, Adagio Teas, $39

I read through the ingredients in each of the teas and decided to order just one that sounded appealing, Glow Cloud.  The selection was offered in either a 3oz pouch for $10 or a 6oz tin for $24.  What can I say? I really wanted that tin.

Per the Adagio website the signature blend contains green tea, white tea, pu erh dante, orange peels, marigold flowers, apricots, natural mandarin flavor, natural peach flavor and is accented with cranberry and hibiscus.

The first thing I smelled when I opened this tin was the delicate scent of peach. I could see bits of orange peel, cranberry and hibiscus leaves.  I let the tea steep about 2 minutes before drinking and when it was done I was very pleased.

Overall, it tasted tangy and sweet.  I could taste the green tea, but it was subtle, and the citrus and peach flavors definitely came through. I have now drunk this one several times.  It is great as an afternoon pick-me-up and I can see this being a favorite I keep in the collection.