Category Archives: Tea Tasting

Review of Red Blossom Tea Orange Blossom Phoenix Oolong

Tea tasting equipment at Red Blossom Tea Company in San Francisco.  Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.

Tea tasting equipment at Red Blossom Tea Company in San Francisco. Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.

Hillary Rodham Clinton, the current Secretary of State, was in the Bay Area last week conducting fundraisers, and stopped off in San Francisco to meet Mayor Ed Lee at Red Blossom Tea Co. in Chinatown. They enjoyed a tea tasting with tea shop owner Alice Luong, and Secretary Clinton purchased a cup of tea to take with her, and some loose tea as well. According to Luong, Clinton “asked quite a lot of questions” about technical aspects of tea brewing, like proper water temperature, and seemed to be a regular tea drinker who prefers “stronger, darker tea.”

Red Blossom Tea Company is one of several tea shops in San Francisco’s Chinatown along Grant Avenue, which offer informal tea tastings for free, as well as more formal tastings, like the one Clinton and Lee enjoyed, for a fee. The shop is a traditional Chinese tea shop, with lots of wood tones, red and black in the decor. The company specializes in fine oolongs and other rare teas; I tasted a few teas when I was there several years ago with friends, and purchased their Orange Blossom Phoenix Oolong. Continue reading

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Filed under Events, Product Reviews, Tea Tasting, Tips, Vendors and Shops

San Francisco International Tea Festival returns to the Bay Area in November

San Francisco International Tea Festival banner from 2012.  Photo: Elizabeth Urbach

San Francisco International Tea Festival banner from 2012. Photo: Elizabeth Urbach

The 3rd Annual San Francisco International Tea Festival is scheduled for Sunday, November 16 at 10 a.m. Held at the Ferry Building in San Francisco, the festival is a gathering of tea vendors other related business owners, along with tea scholars and tea drinkers from all over California.  The festival website reads: “Discover teas straight from local and global producers, Free swag bag includes your very own teacup to savor tea market offerings, Taste hundreds of different types of tea, Connect with five of the biggest names in tea, Learn how each cup of tea can be a different experience, Enjoy a meal and shopping in the Historic Ferry Building Marketplace, Live music by local artists.”

The event features an exhibit hall where the industry participants offer free samples of some of their tea products, along with tea, tea books, and tea equipment for sale.  There are formal tea tastings and educational lectures from tea experts like the Imperial Tea Court’s Roy Fong, and popular tea and food author and speaker James Norwood Pratt.  Well-known local tea brands are represented among the vendors, including Harney & Sons, Ito En, and The Republic of Tea.  The teas that are featured are high-quality, almost all loose-leaf, with a focus on unflavored teas, and tea as a beverage, rather than “Tea” as a social event.

The event will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the 16th; admission is $25 per person, which gets you into the main exhibit hall, and perhaps into the lectures, although the formal tea tastings are first-come-first-served and cost $5 each.  Tickets can be purchased from the festival website, and may also be available at the door on the day of the festival.  Each attendee also receives a gift bag with more tea samples from the vendors, a special tea tasting cup to use at the festival, and contact information for all the vendors at the festival.

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Review: Peet’s Summer House Iced Tea

Peet's Coffee & Tea on Santa Clara St.  Photo: Elizabeth Urbach

Peet’s Coffee & Tea on Santa Clara St. Photo: Elizabeth Urbach

Summer has definitely arrived in San Jose, with the highest June temps we’ve seen in years!  Definitely time for lots of iced tea, and happily, someone has designated the month of June to be Iced Tea Month.  While cold tea, served with or without ice in the glass, has been a familiar drink in the United States since the middle of the 1800s, especially in the warm Southern states, “iced” tea is generally agreed to have been “invented” – at least formally introduced – to Americans at the 1906 World’s Fair in St. Louis, Missouri.  Iced tea became a sensation and has remained a popular warm-weather beverage ever since then.  Iced tea is easy to make at home, with a glass jar or decanter and some cold water in the fridge, but when you’re out and about, sometimes it can be difficult to find a good iced tea.  Various dine-in and fast-food restaurants serve iced tea, and most coffee shops in the San Jose area do, as well.

 

Peet’s Coffee & Tea on Santa Clara St. usually has a few cold tea-based drinks on the menu, but if you want your basic iced black tea, their Summer House Tea is a good choice.  It is a blend of black teas specifically created for making iced tea, and it is only served iced in-store.  You can also buy it as a loose-leaf tea in tins, or in tea bags, for about $7 per tin or box of tea bags.  The company website describes the blend this way: “Iced tea is an altogether different drink from its steaming counterpart, calling for a smoother, more refreshing flavor.  Summer House contains three teas from China and India for a blend that’s at once slightly sweet, toasty and mildly brisk.”

Peet's iced tea.  Photo from the Peet's company Facebook page.

Peet’s iced tea. Photo from the Peet’s company Facebook page.

I tasted the Summer House Tea for the first time a few years ago.  I would not consider it a smooth-flavored tea, and I didn’t taste any sweetness or toastyness.  The description suggests that the blend is a mix of Assam (for the toastyness), with some other Chinese teas.  There must be some Darjeeling in the blend because there was a good amount of astringency (“briskness”) in the flavor, as well as a citrusy tartness.  The tea is served unsweetened, and although I usually don’t add sugar or honey to my tea – hot or cold – I would add a small amount of honey to this iced tea.  It would also be tasty with a slice of fresh Meyer lemon.

Stay hydrated this summer with lots of iced tea! You can even change it up by adding fruit juice and sparkling water to make ice-cold spritzers.

Copyright 2013, Elizabeth Urbach.

Like what you read?  Leave a comment below, click on “Subscribe” above, visit the San Jose Tea Examiner page on Facebook, read my blog The Cup That Cheers, or follow me on Twitter @SanJoseTea!

For more information:
Peet’s Coffee & Tea
Peet’s Summer House Iced Tea product page
“The Perfect Cup: Tasting Tea”
“Tea Tasting Terms”
“Tea tasting 101: characteristics of a good-quality black tea”
“Chinese black tea in San Jose”
“Iced tea and how to make it”
“Iced tea punches and mocktails: variations on a theme.”
“Sweet tea: the ‘Elixir of the South’”
“Review: Amandine Decanter by Teavana”
“Cool off with tea ice cream”
“Review: Twinings Irish Breakfast Tea”
“Review of Haagen-Dazs Green Tea ice cream”
“Review of Tazo Organic Spiced Black Tea Latte concentrate”
“Review of Oregon Chai Original Chai Tea Latte concentrate”
“Use tea in refreshing fruit spritzers this summer” 

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Filed under Product Reviews, Tea Tasting, Vendors and Shops

_Tea Lands of China_ featuring San Jose’s Victoria Boyert

Satori Tea Bar sign.  Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.

Satori Tea Bar sign. Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.

When do you get to see someone you know in a PBS documentary? This week, that’s when. Victoria Boyert, owner of Satori Tea Bar in San Pedro Square, downtown San Jose, was chosen to represent the tea world on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to China last year, resulting in Tea Lands of China, which will air on local PBS stations this week.

The documentary follows Boyert and Mark Rozell, a manager with Verve Coffee Roasters in Santa Cruz, on their journey to Hangzhou and Yunnan in China to learn about Longjing and Pu’erh teas. Longjing, better known by its English name, Dragonwell, is a type of green tea, and pu’erh is an aged green tea that is pressed into discs and stored in caves to develop its characteristic earthy flavor and aroma. Boyer and Rozell learned how to pick, process, and brew these teas, tasted food made with tea, and met the people who have cultivated and processed these teas for generations.

The one-hour long documentary will broadcast at 9 p.m. on Channel 200 in the South Bay, and PBS’s KRCB 22 in Sonoma County on Tuesday, May 7, and at 2 p.m. on KQED World on Saturday, May 11.  Local public television stations may re-play the program repeatedly, so check your local listings, and the PBS website for re-play links.  Keep your eyes on this blog, as well, for the results of a personal interview with Tori Boyert about her experiences!

Copyright 2013, Elizabeth Urbach

Like what you read? Leave a comment below, click on “Subscribe” above, visit the San Jose Tea Examiner page on Facebook, read my other blog, The Cup That Cheers, or follow me on Twitter @SanJoseTea or Pinterest!

For more information:
“Tea Lands of China” documentary web page
“Tea Lands of China” on the KQED website
“Tea Lands of China” trailer on YouTube
“Tea 101: what is pu-erh tea?
“Tea and the mold-free diet”
“Where to buy Chinese tea in the San Jose area”
“Tea-tasting San Jose area day trips: San Francisco’s Chinatown”
“San Jose’s newest tea shop: Satori Tea Bar”
“An overview of Chinese teas available in San Jose”
“Review: afternoon tea at Satori Tea Bar”
“Tea bricks: what are they and should they be used?”
“San Jose’s Satori Tea Company going to the World Tea Expo”

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Filed under Events, Tea, Tea Tasting, Vendors and Shops

Review: Numi Orange Spice White Tea

Numi Orange Spice Tea. http://www.numitea.com. Used with permission.

San Jose stores offer many spicy tea blends that are perfect for autumn and winter cold weather. Numi Orange Spice White Tea is one of the better ones. The tea is packaged in regular tea bags sealed in a plastic-lined paper pouch. The label reads: , “White Tea/Lower Caffeine”, “Numi Organic Tea”, and “Orange Spice/White tea, real orange peel & spice” on the front. The back reads: “For the perfect cup: Bring fresh water to a boil, allow to cool slightly, then pour over a bag of Orange Spice. While pondering ancient myths, steep 5 – 6 minutes. For iced tea, steep 2 tea bags, cool and pour over ice”. The ingredient list reads: “organic Cinnamon, organic Orange Peel, organic Cloves, Fair Trade Certified™ organic White Tea, organic Hibiscus, organic Allspice, organic Ginger, organic Lemongrass, organic Schizandra Berry, organic Dried Lime.” The back also reads “the tea bag is made of natural biodegradable filter-paper, not GMO corn or plastic ‘silk’. This outer package is made from 72% recycled content. Organic and Fair Trade Certified. Certified B Corporation, meeting standards in sustainability.”

I was surprised to discover that this was a white tea blend, and contained so many ingredients, when I opened the package. The tea inside smelled like a standard orange spice blend, but wasn’t as dark as your regular orange spice black tea, like old favorite Constant Comment. The orange, ginger, cloves and cinnamon were the dominant scents and flavors, with perhaps a little extra acidity from the lemongrass and dried lime, but no apparent flavor addition. I was happy to find (since I don’t like it) that the hibiscus was also hardly there. I’m not familiar with Schizandra berry so I’m not sure what that was supposed to add to this tea, but I couldn’t taste anything besides the orange and spices, including the white tea! White tea has such a delicate flavor and aroma that I wonder why Numi added it to an otherwise strongly flavored spice and herb blend; didn’t they realize it would get completely lost under so many flavorful ingredients?

However, I like orange spice tea blends, so I enjoyed Numi Orange Spice White Tea and can recommend it to other tea lovers who also like tea flavored with citrus and spices. It was a tasty addition to my meal, but it would be equally good with a piece of shortbread in the afternoon, or even just by itself. You could add a tiny bit of sugar, honey or sweetener to this tea, but I don’t recommend that you make it very sweet, even if you usually like sweet tea, because that will overpower the refreshing tang of the citrus. Because of the citrus in this blend, I also don’t recommend the addition of milk, because of the likelihood that the dairy will curdle on contact with the citrus.  Numi Tea is offered at certain restaurants and grocery stores in the Bay Area; Eric’s Delicafe as well as Safeway grocery stores and Whole Foods in the San Jose area sell the brand.

Copyright 2012, Elizabeth Urbach.

Like what you read? Leave a comment below, click on “Subscribe” above, visit the San Jose Tea Examiner page on Facebook, read my other blog, or follow me on Twitter @SanJoseTea!

For more information:
Numi Tea website
Numi Orange Spice White Tea product page
“Review: Vital Tea Leaf Angel green tea and Siberian Rose tisane”
“Review: the Royal Wedding tea from Lisa’s Tea Treasures”
“How to make holiday orange spice tea”
“Review: Buccaneer blend from SerendipiTea” 
“Review of Stash Coconut Mango Wuyi Oolong”
“Review: Orange Blossom 100% White Tea from The Republic of Tea” 
“Review: Passion blend from SerendipiTea”
“Review: Twinings Irish Breakfast Tea”
“Review: Twinings Earl Grey tea”
“Review of Tazo Organic Spiced Black Tea Latte concentrate”
“Review of Oregon Chai Original Chai Tea Latte concentrate”

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Don’t miss the 2nd Annual Berkeley Coffee and Tea Festival!

2nd Annual Berkeley Coffee and Tea Festival postcard. Image from the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce Facebook page.

For Bay Area tea-lovers, a festival devoted to caffeinated beverages promises to be a tasty and energy-filled event; we have the Winter Fancy Food Show and the San Francisco International Tea Festival, and this weekend is the 2nd Annual Berkeley Coffee and Tea Festival on Saturday, August 18th. The event organizers have planned an information-filled morning for the festival, which ends at 1 p.m. so that all the tea-tasting and coffee-tasting (plenty of free samples!) won’t interfere with anyone’s sleep that night. There will be a vendor hall featuring coffee and tea companies, as well as classroom discussion panels and workshops about tea and coffee, a traditional Japanese tea ceremony and a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony.

The tea panel, Tea 2.0, will be led by the Bay Area’s James Norwood Pratt, author of the New Tea Encyclopedia, and a celebrity in the tea world. Panel members will include Ned Heagerty of Silk Road Teas, Patrick Pineda of Tisano Tea, Sina Carroll of Red Circle Tea and Eliot Jordan of Peet’s Coffee & Tea. With James Norwood Pratt as moderator, it will be a really fun, as well as interesting, discussion! Tickets are $25 each (purchase from the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce or at the door) but you can get $5 off your ticket by going to the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce page on Facebook and “liking” it. Here is the vital information:

Berkeley Coffee & Tea Festival
August 18, 2012, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Shattuck Hotel
Hotel Shattuck Plaza
2086 Allston Way
Berkeley, CA 94704
Phone: (510) 292-4353
Toll Free: (888) 623-7261
Fax: (510) 845-7320
E-mail: info@hotelshattuckplaza.com

It’s about a 45 minute drive from San Jose to Berkeley for the festival. To get there from San Jose, take Hwy. 880N toward Oakland, then merge onto 980 E towards Walnut Creek. Continue on CA-24, and take the Martin Luther King Jr. Way exit. Make a slight right onto Adeline St., left on Martin Luther King Jr. Way, and make a right on Allston. Or, if you want to take public transportation, you’d take the 180 Express bus to the BART station in Fremont, then take BART to the downtown Berkeley station, and walk a block to the hotel.

Copyright 2012, Elizabeth Urbach.

Like what you read? Leave a comment below, click on “Subscribe” above, visit the San Jose Tea Examiner page on Facebook, read my blog, or follow me on Twitter @SanJoseTea!

For more information:
Berkeley Coffee and Tea Festival website
Berkeley Coffee & Tea Festival – Maps and Directions
Online registration through the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce
2nd Annual Berkeley Coffee and Tea Festival tickets on FunCheapSF
“Perk up at the Berkeley Coffee and Tea Festival”
“Berkeley Coffee and Tea Festival – Saturday, August 18, 2012”
“Tea tasting 101: characteristics of a good-quality black tea”
“Tea 101: what is pu-erh tea?”
“Tea-tasting San Jose area day trips: San Francisco’s Chinatown”
“An overview of Chinese teas available in San Jose”
“Chinese oolong tea in San Jose”
“What are the different kinds of green tea available in San Jose?”
“Bay Area Winter Fancy Food Show will include lots of tea”
“San Francisco International Tea Festival happens this Saturday!”
“San Francisco International Tea Festival – accessible to San Jose tea lovers”
2011 Berkeley Coffee and Tea Festival on YouTube

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Filed under Events, Glossary & Terminology, Health, History, Tea Tasting, Vendors and Shops

Review of Whittard of Chelsea’s Summer Pudding Tea

Whittard of Chelsea Summer Pudding Tea.

San Jose tea-lovers have a lot of tea options when shopping online. Summer Pudding black tea from Whittard of Chelsea is a great treat to buy online. Summer pudding is a vintage English dessert that is great for summer time because it is a no-bake treat, a combination of day-old bread, fresh fruit, sugar and cream, so it doesn’t heat up the house to make it.

Summer Pudding tea blend is a berry-flavored black tea. The company website describes it like this: “A cracker! Created because blackcurrants and particularly the dessert ‘Summer Pudding’ are Giles’ favorites. Combining the taste of the best soft fruits – strawberries, raspberries, redcurrant and blackcurrants – into a tea blend just seemed to develop naturally!” The ingredients are: Black tea, juniper berries, blackcurrants, blackberry leaves, redcurrants, flavouring. Website brewing notes read: “Always drink lightly brewed with 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of leaves per 6-cup pot. Boil freshly drawn water, warm the pot first with a splash of hot water. Add the tea and pour on boiling water. Brew for 2-5 minutes. Do not add milk.”

I found this tea to be have a very pleasant aroma and flavor. The dry tea leaves are whole and medium-sized, slightly twisted, mixed with visible pieces of green raspberry leaves, and a few juniper berries. I couldn’t detect any juniper in the flavor or aroma of this tea, so I assume the juniper was in there for appearance. I also couldn’t detect the red and black currants in the flavor or aroma, but I could smell raspberries and strawberries. The berry flavor carries through into the brewed tea nicely, not overpowering the tea. I never followed the company recommendation of using only one teaspoon of tea leaves to 6 cups of water; I used the more standard 1 teaspoon to 1 to 2 cups of boiling water, and didn’t find it too strong. I think this tea would make a refreshing iced tea, as well.

Whittard of Chelsea is one of England’s oldest and most established tea merchants, but there is no Whittard’s vendor in the Bay Area. The closest source is Annie’s Tea Time, a vendor based in Southern California, which carries Whittard of Chelsea tea and other products from the UK and ships them to customers all over the USA. Annie’s Tea Time sells a 4.4 ounce package of loose-leaf Summer Pudding Tea for $13.50, but you can also get a small free sample of the tea, with purchase.

Copyright 2012, Elizabeth Urbach.

Like what you read? Leave a comment below, click on “Subscribe” above, visit the San Jose Tea Examiner page on Facebook, read my blog, The Cup That Cheers, or follow me on Twitter @SanJoseTea or Pinterest!

For more information:
Whittard of Chelsea website
Loose-leaf Summer Pudding Tea product page
Annie’s Tea Time website
Summer Pudding product page at Annie’s Tea Time
“Whittard Tea” (no longer available in USA) on TeaDog
“Victorian recipe reborn: summer pudding”
“Tea tasting 101: characteristics of a good-quality black tea”
“Celebrate the Fourth of July with a tea party picnic!”
“Iced tea and how to make it”
“Greet the summer in San Jose with iced tea during Iced Tea Month”
“San Jose kids can spend a summer afternoon with tea and books”
“Use tea in refreshing fruit spritzers this summer”
“Review of ‘Time for Tea’ exhibit at historic Ainsley House”

More tea reviews:
“Review: Vital Tea Leaf Angel green tea and Siberian Rose tisane”
“Review: Amandine Decanter by Teavana”
“Review: the Royal Wedding tea from Lisa’s Tea Treasures”
“Review: Buccaneer blend from SerendipiTea”
“Review of Stash Coconut Mango Wuyi Oolong”
“Review: Orange Blossom 100% White Tea from The Republic of Tea”
“Review: Passion blend from SerendipiTea”
“Review: Twinings Irish Breakfast Tea”
“Review: Twinings Earl Grey tea”
“Review of Haagen Dazs Sweet Chai Latte ice cream”
“Review of Haagen-Dazs Green Tea ice cream”
“Review of Tazo Organic Spiced Black Tea Latte concentrate”
“Review of Oregon Chai Original Chai Tea Latte concentrate”

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The first annual San Francisco International Tea Festival.

The Ferry Building, San Francisco, CA. Photo: Elizabeth Urbach

The first annual San Francisco International Tea Festival last weekend was a success! All available tickets sold out ahead of time, and the upstairs hall and conference rooms at the Ferry Building were full of Bay Area tea-lovers attending the lectures, tea ceremonies, tea demonstrations and other activities. The guests were greeted at the door by the Festival staff, who collected the tickets and exchanged them for a gift bag containing a handful of tea samples, brochures from tea vendors, and an official tasting cup with the San Francisco International Tea Festival logo.

Roy Fong, founder of Imperial Tea Court, and Norwood Pratt, celebrated

Roy Fong and Norwood Pratt opening the San Francisco International Tea Festival, 2012. Photo: Elizabeth Urbach

tea author and speaker, opened the festival with informative and humorous speeches. Young women from the Yunnan region of China appeared in traditional dress to hand out beaded pendant necklaces for good luck, and the vendors began their tea tastings. Attendees went from booth to booth viewing the tea and other products from around 15 tea companies, tasting the various teas and other foods, including tea-infused ginger ale and  chocolates. Meanwhile, the various lectures and demonstrations began, including “The History of Tea in the United States” with Norwood Pratt, “The Great Teas of China” with Roy Fong, “The Healing Power of Green Tea” with author Ying Compestine, “Green Teas of Japan” with Rona Tison of ITO EN, “Great Teas of India” with Devan Shah of International Tea Importers, “Northern Japanese Tea Report” with Masahiro Takada from Kyoto, and “Rooibos, the Wonder Herb from South Africa” with Kristina Richens from The Republic of Tea.

Tea smoked mushrooms on crostini from the "Cooking with Tea" demonstration. Photo: Elizabeth Urbach

As for demonstrations, many vendors offered samples and exhibitions of their products; Roy Fong led a Gongfu Tea Ceremony, and Masahiro Takada led two Chakabuki Japanese Tea Ceremonies. There was also a book signing with Babette Donaldson upstairs in the conference hall, and with Norwood Pratt, Scott Chamberlin Hoyt, and Phil Cousineau at Book Passage, a book store downstairs in the marketplace. A few cooking demonstrations, including “Cooking with Tea” with chef and author Robert Wemischner, were on the schedule, as was a screening of the documentary The Meaning of Tea.

Harney & Sons Fine Teas. Photo: Elizabeth Urbach

Lectures and demonstrations were standing-room only, and there was even a bit of a snafu when a group of people entering the tea ceremony room were surprised to discover, despite the announcement at the opening of the festival and the notice in the program, that they had to sign up in advance for the tea ceremonies and couldn’t just go in early and sit down! However, there were plenty of things to do, with the festival happening on the same day as the farmer’s market with all the market vendors open as well. The space given to the tea festival was a little smaller than I had anticipated, but the organizers didn’t know what to expect from the first International Tea Festival in San Francisco, so next year’s festival will surely be bigger. The tea celebrities were very accessible, especially the authors signing their books, which made it easy to chat with them one-on-one. All the tickets sold out in advance, so that’s a good sign that there will be a second San Francisco International Tea Festival in 2013!

Copyright 2012, Elizabeth Urbach.

Like what you read? Leave a comment below, click on “Subscribe” above, visit the San Jose Tea Examiner page on Facebook, read my blog, or follow me on Twitter @SanJoseTea!

For more information:
San Francisco International Tea Festival website
“San Francisco International Tea Festival happens this Saturday!”
“San Francisco International Tea Festival: February 25, 2012”
“1st Annual San Francisco International Tea Festival” review from Tantalizing Tidbits blog
“Where to buy Chinese tea in the San Jose area”
“Tea-tasting San Jose area day trips: San Francisco’s Chinatown”
“Japanese tea from San Jose’s Japantown”
“How to prepare matcha tea”
“Review: Orange Blossom 100% White Tea from The Republic of Tea”
Imperial Tea Court
James Norwood Pratt, Tea Society
Ying Chang Compestine
ITO EN
International Tea Importers
The Republic of Tea
“Gongfu (Chinese) tea ceremony, 2011 World Tea Expo” video on Youtube
Babette Donaldson
Scott Chamberlin Hoyt interview
The Meaning of Tea project website
Phil Cousineau website
Robert Wemischner Cooking with Tea book webpage
“Spring soba salad with matcha tea-marinated tofu” recipe from Chef Wemischner, presented at the tea festival

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Filed under Events, Health, History, Tea, Tea Tasting, Vendors and Shops

San Francisco International Tea Festival: February 25, 2012

San Francisco International Tea Festival tasting cup.

The San Jose area is becoming more and more a part of the tea world! Not only do we have the Winter Fancy Food Show, which includes tea vendors and products, and the Berkeley Coffee & Tea Festival, but on February 25th the first annual San Francisco International Tea Festival will be open to the public as well as those in the tea trade. $20 gets you admission to the event, which will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Ferry Building. The Ferry Building is most famous for housing an indoor public market, and it’s less than an hour from San Jose by car, and also accessible by BART.

The convention hall will be full of tea exhibitions, vendors, and authors, and will feature tea celebrities James Norwood Pratt, Roy Fong, Devan Shah, Masahiro Takada, and Mike Spillane. Lectures, classes, tea tastings, demonstrations, and more will make the hours fly for those who attend this convention. For more information, visit the website, or send a S.A.S.E. to:

San Francisco International Tea Festival
P.O. Box 2137
Nevada City, CA 95959

The festival organizers recommend that everyone purchase their tickets in advance, because they may not have them available at the door. They have also been holding ticket sweepstakes for the past few weeks, so visit their Facebook page for information about the one going on now. Keep your eyes on the San Jose Tea Examiner column for a full write-up of the San Francisco International Tea Festival!

Copyright 2012, Elizabeth Urbach.

Like what you read? Leave a comment below, click on “Subscribe” above, visit the San Jose Tea Examiner page on Facebook, read my blog, or follow me on Twitter @SanJoseTea

For more information:
San Francisco International Tea Festival website
S. F. I. T. Festival schedule
S. F. I. T. Festival exhibitors
San Francisco International Tea Festival page on Facebook
S. F. I. T. Festival ticket sweepstakes page on Facebook
“San Francisco International Tea Festival” article on the C.U.E.S.A. site
“A la carte: San Francisco’s first ever tea festival, plus Republic of Tea turns 20” from the Mercury News.
Winter Fancy Food Show
World Tea Expo
Berkeley Coffee & Tea Festival
Los Angeles International Tea Festival
Northwest Tea Festival
“San Jose’s Satori Tea Company going to the World Tea Expo” 
“Global tea culture” from the Bon Teavant blog

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Filed under Events, Health, History, Tea, Tea Tasting, Vendors and Shops

Review: Tea-tasting at Peet’s Coffee & Tea in San Jose

Peet's Coffee & Tea downtown San Jose. Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.

Although better known for their coffee, as a major competitor to Starbuck’s, Peet’s Coffee & Tea is a good source for loose tea and good-quality bagged tea in San Jose. The California-based company offers free tea and coffee tastings, both pre-scheduled ones and for walk-ins, in their Bay Area stores. That’s right, you can walk in to a Peet’s Coffee & Tea store in the San Jose area, and ask them to set up a tea tasting for you right then and there!

The South Bay Ladies’ Tea Guild went to the Peet’s store in downtown San Jose on Santa Clara St. recently for one of their tea tastings, and were very pleased with the experience. Peet’s staff prepared seven teas and tisanes for tasting, all from their organic tea collection:

  • Gunpowder, a rolled Chinese green tea which was savory and slightly smoky in flavor and aroma. Peet’s describes its flavor as “bittersweet and slightly smoky character”.
  • Jade Mist, a Chinese green tea that was fresh-tasting and savory. Peet’s describes it as “fresh, bright taste with a mildly brisk flavor … with aromatic hints of green peas and kale, leaving a crisp aftertaste.”
  • Ancient Trees, a pu-erh from Yunnan in China, that was earthy and mildly smoky. Some of the tea tasters thought the first infusions were too strongly “dirty” but the later infusions were milder and more enjoyable. The staff member who led the tea tasting said this was one of Peet’s most popular teas. The website describes it as “rich, earthy, nutty and densely flavorful, as thick and dark as coffee, yet exceptionally smooth.”
  • Darjeeling Fancy, an Indian black tea with a mild astringency, smooth aftertaste and surprisingly rose-like aroma. The website says it is a second flush Darjeeling and has a “sweet, floral aroma, and a pungent taste.” Although I don’t tend to like Darjeeling teas – I find them too bitter – I am happy to say that I liked this one; that may be due to the milder tannins in second-flush Darjeeling teas. I did notice that it became much more bitter than astringent after 5 minutes of steeping.
  • Buddha Peak Ceylon, a Sri Lankan black tea that had a slight lemony aroma. The website says it has “bright malty flavor and brisk tanginess.”
  • Pure Peppermint, a tisane that was strongly minty and refreshing. The website reveals that it is Oregon peppermint, which “has an intensely minty quality.”
  • Red Rooibos, a South African herbal tisane that featured the tart, almost citrusy herbal flavor characteristic of rooibos. The website describes its scent as “saffron-vanilla”, with a rich “faintly malty” flavor.

Peet’s has a Tea Wheel with information about all of the teas they sell, but the staffer who conducted the tea tasting was

Peet's tea tasting set-up. Photo: Elizabeth Urbach

very knowledgeable as well. He was careful to heat the water to the proper temperature, used a timer to infuse each tea for the proper amount of time, and provided cups of plain water so we could cleanse our palates. The attention to detail also included separate tasting cups for each type of tea, so that the fragrance and flavor of one tea would not influence the next. While the company seems to spend more on promoting their coffee, it’s good to know that they take good care with their tea as well! There are over 10 Peet’s locations in San Jose alone, along with two in Milpitas, two in Santa Clara, and more stores throughout the Bay Area.  Peet’s Coffee & Tea is a good tea-tasting destination in the San Jose area.

Copyright 2012, Elizabeth Urbach.

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For more information:
Peet’s Coffee & Tea company website
“The Perfect Cup: Tasting Tea” from the Peet’s website
“Tea Tasting Terms”
Peet’s Coffee & Tea article on Wikipedia
“Peet’s Tea Assam Golden Tip (review)” on Lainie Sips
“Tea tasting 101: characteristics of a good-quality black tea” 
“Tea 101: what is pu-erh tea?”
“Chinese black tea in San Jose”
“Tea-tasting San Jose area day trips: San Francisco’s Chinatown”
“What you need to make a good pot of hot tea”
“Tea 101: How to brew a pot of hot tea using loose tea”
“What are the different kinds of green tea available in San Jose?”

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