Have you ever had Silver Needle? I sure have. I've had a lot of it, since I first fell in love with it at a Teavana in 2009 or something, and the sales dude fed me this pretty story about the tea being picked by monks and stuff. He got me good, and I dropped way more money on tea that day than a high school kid should have been able to. Now, I'm paying my dues to Silver Needle. I wanna share this tea for what it is - sans emperors and monasteries in the mountains. It's surrounded by myths and misconceptions, but behind the marketing there's an elegant, delicious tea that's worth getting to know. I've posted a friendly, but in-depth Guide to Silver Needle on my blog to make that easy. ☺️ Link in bio. 🍵
And just when I thought I dodged the winter bug this year, it hit me. 😂😭 I've been out of commission all week and unable to taste tea, and man, for a tea person that's like being a pianist with broken fingers. It's awesome being at the tea table again. Tea is great in that it's not addictive - unlike coffee or cigarettes, you don't have uncontrollable cravings or withdrawals when you're not drinking it. I went all week without any actual tea (just herbal medicine) and I've experienced no cravings, but I know that with tea I become a better, happier version of my own self. How something so powerful can also be so moderate is really incredible. Today, having a cup of traditional jasmine green to relax, but also getting right back to tea study - a little bit of practice without tea filters. It seems to help preserve the flavors of the tea. Delicious, and worth the effort! 🍵
Holy crap, guess what I found in the mail today. I couldn't ask for a better piece of tea-mail to start off the year. @readeighty is fresh off the press and it's gorgeous, with 144 pages of tea history, origins, photojournalism and more. It also happens to include a short, friendly guide to water quality, "Leaves and Hot Water", from your girl at Teacurious. 😊 I won't lie, I immediately flipped this baby open to find my own article, but I've been blown away by the rest of the magazine. There are interviews with folks like @bitterleafteas and @teadrunk, personal stories on the tea road, and other handy articles on tea basics - it's fantastic, and a real treat. Pick up a copy from their site, and sip while it ships. 🍵
Starting the New Year off with one of my favorite teas of all time: Jade Mountain high mountain oolong from @ai.jhentea in Taiwan. A cup of pure joy, like clouds in the forest, and like being home. If only more people drank this stuff, we might have world peace. You know, sometimes I wish I had a job that was easier to describe to family over the holidays. ("I, uh, teach about tea and stuff...") But that's OK. Tea takes time to understand. Once you open up to it, though, it becomes clear that tea is the best kept secret in the world. Tea friends, we can't stop until everyone knows about this liquid joy. Cheers to another year of being the crazy tea friend, but brewing up another round anyway. Let's rock and roll. ⚡🍵
This week, I'm working on a guide to Silver Needle, one of China's most iconic white teas. It's one of the most simple teas to make, but it requires fantastic leaf material. If the teamaker tries to cut corners or use crappy leaves, that'll will show up clearly in the taste. Take for example these two Silver Needle white teas: one high grade Silver Needle (gorgeously sweet, smooth flavor) and one low grade Silver Needle (tastes OK, a little bitter and dry). Can you tell which is which based on the buds and leaves?
Tea is art AND science, and I love it. You can nerd out about the water quality and how it affects the outcome of your tea, and THEN go out to pick flowers for the tea table. Both are important for the tea experience: a balance between beauty and practicality. In my latest post on Teacurious, I'll teach you how to set up a tea session that's both pretty AND practical, with the right tea, teaware, and decor. 🍵 Link in bio.
KYUSU -- the old-school Japanese tea pot. I love these babies for their elegance and easy pour. I own three kyusu: 1 Banko clay (left) and 2 Tokoname clay (center, right). Each kyusu matches a different style of tea. It's easy to assume that Japanese pots are good for Japanese green tea, but actually I only like the red Tokoname for most Japanese greens. It makes them taste bright, sweet, and CRAZY complex, bringing out so many flavor notes! Those notes disappear if I try brewing the same green tea in the other two, which perform better with other teas. It's fascinating to test new teaware and see what the magic match is. ✨ Do you have a kyusu? What do you like using it for?
Different kind of #MatchaMonday, thanks to last night's adventures. I got home at 2 AM last night only to get locked out by a dead battery on the garage door. Cue a late night trip to 7-Eleven for new batteries, only to find MATCHA ICE CREAM on the shelf! I couldn't believe my eyes. This would have been unheard of just 3 years ago. For friends outside the US: 7-Elevens here are nothing like the polished, glowing ones in Asia, which carry lots of local goodies and fresh food. (Taiwanese 7-Elevens even sell fresh tea eggs!) The American version is more of a tiny gas station mini-mart, at least where I live in Las Vegas. So, the idea that a dinky little gas station would stock MATCHA anything feels like a win for American tea culture. It honestly wasn't the best matcha ice cream ever, but it was tasty, and a start. What could be next? Pu'erh tuo-cha next to the cash register? Bottled high mountain oolong? A girl can imagine. 😍
Simple tea session today. A 15 minute escape from the world. 🌿 Glass cups like raindrops; orchids that remind me of a much different place. The taste of a cold forest in this cup of Alishan oolong. Sometimes, I swear tea can act a little like a teleporation machine. One more round on the kettle, one last steep, and take me back to rainy days, far away. 🏔
Yikes! First #MatchaMonday with my new tea table, and I think I got a little nervous. I accidentally used boiling water (a DISASTER for matcha!) and just couldn't achieve the foamy, creamy bowl I usually get. Wrong ratios, wrong whisking technique. Brewing tea in a new space is a bit like cooking in someone else's kitchen, I guess. It takes a while to get used to where everything is, the feel of the space. 😅 Does anyone else get a little clumsy when they're brewing tea in a new environment?
Hey tea friends. 🍵 I'm back home from Midwest Tea Fest, and full of all sorts of weird, happy tea feelings. First off, it's surreal being in my new, freshly painted, super clean tea space. Especially since I'm not broke for it. Can you believe I've only spent around $250 so far on #ProjectTeaRoom? 😲 New table, new walls, and no more having tea on a marble board... Money well worth it. 👍 Then there's Midwest Tea Fest itself, where I taught 4 nearly sold-out workshops on tea, and spent untold hours doing tea experiments (of course). Holy shit. It never ceases to amaze me how awesome it is to study tea with tea friends, both old and new. I've said it before, but after 10 years of tea nerd status and 4 years as a professional in the tea industry, the beauty of this thing is in the people. Tea farmers, tea friends, late nights with other people who love leaves and hot water. Yeah, I guess I missed you guys. Let me know what y'all been up to lately. Tonight, a cup of Alishan High Mountain 2014 and lots of writing to do, for me. Cheers.
Sharing my #MatchaMonday from yesterday: I totally forgot to post, in the middle of all the new tea room stuff! So excited. Over the last couple days, I've been working on converting my tiny home office into a personal tea space. 🍵 While I've loved having tea at this tiny little marble board, I want to create an actual, dedicated tea space for my tea experiments, my tea sessions, and Teacurious work. I hope that this will motivate me to get serious about the blog again, and to keep pushing the envelope in my tea journey. And what tea lover hasn't imagined their own perfect place for tea? For me, it's honestly not the perfect time or place right now to do this. But when will the "perfect" time come? I've been imagining a dedicated tea space for 10 years now. It's now, or never. Follow along on Stories for updates.
"All your teaware is so simple and low-key. That's fine. But you need just that ONE obnoxious thing. Something you would have NEVER bought for yourself in a thousand years. And you'll ask yourself, 'why do I like this? I shouldn't like it.' But you like it." - My sister. When your sister gets you the most ridiculous teacup for your birthday, and you have to admit she's right. I mean, look at this thing. 👆 Gold paint. Hella sparkly. A crown. I'm breaking it in with one of my favorites, a Yushan high mountain oolong from Taiwan. Gentle, sweet, subtle. It feels like Celine Dion at a Lady Gaga concert in this thing. Help me out, tea friends. What on EARTH to drink from such a fabulous teacup? 👑
Breaking into a 2014 Wuliang sheng pu'erh sample. I think I got a little too excited. Wuliang is a pu'erh region I haven't really explored. It's not as famous as some of the other regions in the pu'erh world, like Menghai, Bulang, or Yiwu - my favorite. Maybe that's why I'm surprised by what I find in it: a bouquet of exotic flowers to the face. 💐 Whoa. Not the typical sheng pu'erh. It's a little sweet, a little mossy, and a lot orchid. If you like flowery teas, you'd like this one. I wonder if other Wuliang teas are like this? Have you tried this pu'erh region before?
Happy #MatchaMonday, y'all. I turn 25 this week, and also have some personal, Teacurious related things to share with you soon. (Nervous.) Thank goodness for tea. If there's anything I've accomplished in 25 years, though, it's to whisk a pretty mean bowl of matcha. Creamy. In the meantime, let me know what you're drinking to kick off the week. (Or maybe some wisdom for a girl reaching the big quarter century turn.) Cheers! - Rie
Precious cargo from my time in Torino: bottles of Italian water from @giangiair, packed tightly in my heavy suitcase with lots of gratitude. It might sound a little over the top, but I almost cried when I tasted the tea that Gio brewed with his favorite Italian waters. I've spent years trying to achieve a good water for tea here in Las Vegas, where our local water is atrocious for tea. The beauty of Northern Italy's water was a revelation. I was stoked to share this magic at yesterday's Tea and Water Quality workshop, where we brewed teas with this Valmora water and 7 other waters. It was like we were tasting a totally different tea each time. So damn nerdy, and so damn fun. (Check out my stories in a bit, for pics.) Water matters for tea, y'all. 💧🍵
How have your tea habits changed over the years? It's fascinating look back at the sessions from years ago, and see how much has changed. #tbt to a tea sesh from 4 years ago. I still remember the tea: a mind-blowing, creamy Jin Xuan oolong from Taiwan. At the time, I was OBSESSED with figuring out the ideal gram weight, infusion time, and temperature for every single tea. Always had a scale handy! I still like doing these super exact tea sessions sometimes, but have definitely become more comfortable with intuitive brewing. How has your tea practice changed, over time?