Lifelong tea drinker steppin' it up - need recommendations


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Lifelong tea drinker steppin' it up - need recommendations

Postby gerTEA » Dec 25th, '08, 15:40

Hello All--

I'm a longtime, albeit novice, tea drinker - have mostly drunk black breakfast teas (Earl Grey, malty Assams with milk and sugar) and a few greens. Genmaicha has been been a favorite for years and I enjoy the gunpowder greens I've tried, the first of which was from a Taiwanese friend after a visit home (it came with no label, no fanfare - she just said it was "very good tea.") I'm also enjoying the jasmine pearls we serve where I work, which is described by the local tea purveyor who supplies us as "Finest grade Chinese jasmine green tea leaf hand-rolled pearl."

So, now that I've become a bit more teacurious, I've been prowling the teachat board and am looking for some sampling recommendations - you guys seem like the ones to ask! I know specifics help, so here are some parameters:

I'm a bit of a purist and don't much care for flavored teas (or coffees for that matter). I'm not terribly interested in herbals, either. I'm most interested in Green Teas and would like to sample some Oolongs also.

Price is a big consideration; I don't need (and can't afford) the 'best in category,' but am looking for the best in my price range and hope I have a little room to experiment. Right now that means all but the occasional splurge be no more than say, $2-$4 oz.

I'm also a coffee drinker and often enjoy bold, smoky, roasted flavors in teas as well. When it comes to greens, I'm generally attracted to fresh, snappy, grassy flavors over mild/subtle/sweet.

I'd love to try some greens that have the smoky qualities of gunpowder, but with more complexity. Suggestions?

I'd love some recommendations for a nice houjicha.

I've heard about green teas blended with roasted barley rather than rice - can anyone recommend one?

I'd also love some new recommendations for my 2 staples: Genmaicha and Gunpowder. I've been drinking a Matcha-iri Genmaicha from Kurudoma on eBay (super cheap, at $8.99 for a 7 oz. bag). It's fine for everyday drinking, but I suspect there are more interesting choices that are still somewhat affordable. I see that Sugimoto's genmai is highly regarded, but it's a bit expensive for everyday (for me, anyway - $12.50 for 2 oz). Other suggestions?

The last gunpowder I tried was the Pingshui GP from Enjoying Tea. I enjoyed it :-) GP seems to be a good affordable choice for every day - any stellar ones out there?

I'd love to try some Oolongs and see that TeaGschewendner's Formosa Superior Taifu won for best Dark Oolong among the affordable choices at the WTC. Has anyone had it? Others?

Finally, given my preferences, can anyone suggest some online tea vendors that might carry several good examples so I can maximize shipping?

Hmmm, maybe I should introduce myself as well? I'm 42 and a part-time antiques/collectibles dealer (primarily on eBay now). I specialize in vintage cookbooks, advertising ephemera, and antique English & French transferware pottery. I worked a long time in the restaurant biz, spent lots of time in college the whole while, finally earning 2 degrees, and then pitched my short professional career to do antiques and 'find my bliss.'

I now work part-time in a coffeehouse and an antiques store while managing my home-based business. I'm leaning toward returning to my early calling (restaurants) and opening a small cafe one day and incorporating the books/antiques. I have two 'children' - one feline, one canine and a cozy 1910 house in chilly upstate NY :-)

Okay, thanks (if anyone's still with me :-) for reading this very long introduction! Happy to be joining in the teachat community!

-Jennifer
Last edited by gerTEA on Dec 25th, '08, 22:52, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Herb_Master » Dec 25th, '08, 16:28

Welcome - regarding your tea price target guide lines - are you aware that with Oolongs (and several other types) you can reinfuse many times, with some oolongs over 8 times - maybe that would slip a tea into your price range even if it cost a little more than 4$ an oz.

Teacuppa is often a reasonably priced option to start with Oolong
at random I suggest starting with

Fenghuang Oolong
http://www.teacuppa.com/Honey-Orchid-Dan-Cong-Oolong-Tea.asp
$8.50 for 1.76 oz

Taiwan Oolong
http://www.teacuppa.com/Formosa-Cui-Yu-Oolong-Tea.asp
$6.50 for 1.76 oz

Anxi Oolong
http://www.teacuppa.com/Tie-Guan-Yin-Oolong-Tea.asp
$8.00 for 1.76 oz


Wuyi Oolong
http://www.teacuppa.com/Da-Hong-Pao-Oolong-Tea.asp
A selection of different grade Da Hong Pao
$18.00 for a combined weight over 5 oz

This would give you a superb introduction to the 4 Main Oolong areas
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Postby Herb_Master » Dec 25th, '08, 17:07

Another Great Source for good value tea is Dragon Tea House on Ebay


Wuyi Oolongs that look like a good value intro include

This superb looking single bush wuyi
http://cgi.ebay.com/Wu-Yi-Dan-Cong-Fujian-Single-Bush-Oolong-Tea-100g_W0QQitemZ220328060986QQihZ012QQcategoryZ38181QQtcZphotoQQcmdZViewItemQQ_trksidZp1742.m153.l1262
Not to be confused with Fenghuang Dan Congs
$18.99 for 3.5 oz

and
Cinnamon edge to Rou Gui
http://cgi.ebay.com/Wu-Yi-Rou-Gui-Cinnamon-Oolong-2008-100g-3-5-oz_W0QQitemZ220328031983QQihZ012QQcategoryZ38181QQtcZphotoQQcmdZViewItemQQ_trksidZp1742.m153.l1262
it is difficult to find Rou Gui at this price
$13.50 for 3.5 oz

for Anxi oolongs - the good Tie Guan Yins are expensive
but a few other varietals are very good and better value

I like this light and vegetal 'Mao Jie a.k.a.Hairy Crab'
http://cgi.ebay.com/An-Xi-Mao-Xie-Hairy-Crab-Chinese-Oolong-Tea-100g_W0QQitemZ220328049869QQihZ012QQcategoryZ38181QQtcZphotoQQcmdZViewItemQQ_trksidZp1742.m153.l1262
This is Cheap
$6.99 for 3.5 oz

and a higher quality 'Supreme' Ben Shan
http://cgi.ebay.com/Supreme-An-Xi-Ben-Shan-Se-Zhong-Oolong-Tea-100g_W0QQitemZ220328052765QQihZ012QQcategoryZ38181QQtcZphotoQQcmdZViewItemQQ_trksidZp1742.m153.l1262
$11.50 for 3.5 oz


from Guangdong FengHuang

I love this one very much Ba Xian (8 Immortals)
http://cgi.ebay.com/Organic-Phoenix-Ba-Xian-Flavour-Dancong-Oolong-100g_W0QQitemZ220328066944QQihZ012QQcategoryZ38181QQtcZphotoQQcmdZViewItemQQ_trksidZp1742.m153.l1262

but if
$19.20 for 3.5 oz is outside your budget

at a snip try Huangzhi (an orange flower fragrance perhaps)
http://cgi.ebay.com/Organic-Phoenix-Dan-Cong-Oolong-Huangzhi-Flavour-100g_W0QQitemZ250341317832QQihZ015QQcategoryZ38181QQtcZphotoQQcmdZViewItemQQ_trksidZp1742.m153.l1262
at only $9.80 for 3.5oz

from Taiwan
the prices tend to be higher for the high quality ones (as they are in Wuyi)

but a great starter to introduce Dong Ding
http://cgi.ebay.com/Taiwan-Dong-Ding-Oolong-Chinese-Oolong-100g-3-5-oz_W0QQitemZ220328556203QQihZ012QQcategoryZ38181QQtcZphotoQQcmdZViewItemQQ_trksidZp1742.m153.l1262
is only $9.00 for 3.5 oz

or this Premium Organic Jin Xuan
http://cgi.ebay.com/Premium-Organic-Taiwan-Jin-Xuan-Oolong-2008-100g-3-5-oz_W0QQitemZ250341808273QQihZ015QQcategoryZ38181QQtcZphotoQQcmdZViewItemQQ_trksidZp1742.m153.l1262
at $13.40 for 3.5 oz.
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Postby olivierco » Dec 25th, '08, 17:35

Welcome!

You can get houjicha and genmaicha from http://www.hibiki-an.com or http://www.o-cha.com (around 10$ per 100gr).
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Postby Victoria » Dec 25th, '08, 17:43

Hi and Welcome!! It won't be too hard to top TeaGschewendner's oolongs - no offense. Some excellent recommendations have been made already. You might also want to try some of the oolongs in sample sizes from our host Adagio.
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thanks for the welcome!

Postby gerTEA » Dec 25th, '08, 18:40

Thanks for the welcoming words & tea guidance everyone! And I appreciate the well thought-out suggestions, Herb_Master (especially given my tight budget).

I've heard good things about both of the online vendors you mention (and being a regular ebayer have run across Dragon Tea House a number of times - glad to get a good endorsement!)

The Oolong I tried recently was a Vanilla flavored one, as it's the only one carried by the coffeehouse where I work. Despite my general dislike of flavored teas, the vanilla wasn't overpowering and I still got a taste of an elegant, slightly mysterious tea that piqued my curiosity. It's from a local company called Divinitea, which seems to carry some very nice quality teas from China, Japan, India and has a feelgood mission as well. The owner is a lovely woman, who I've run into in our shop and through the local farmers' market. Perhaps some of you might be interested in checking out her site? (google Divinitea) I enjoy her 'Joey Green' (vegetal, very slightly smoky, nicely priced) and Jasmine Pearls (mmmm) on a regular basis too.

However, I'm very much looking forward to trying some unadulterated true Oolongs....time to get busy!
Last edited by gerTEA on Dec 25th, '08, 19:16, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: thanks for the welcome!

Postby Herb_Master » Dec 25th, '08, 19:00

gerTEA wrote:Thanks for the welcoming words & tea guidance everyone! And I appreciate the well thought-out suggestions, Herb_Master (especially given my tight budget).

I've heard good things about both of the online vendors you mention (and being a regular ebayer have run across Dragon Tea House a number of times - glad to get a good endorsement!)

The Oolong I tried recently was a Vanilla flavored one, as it's the only one carried by the coffeehouse where I work. Despite my general dislike of flavored teas, the vanilla wasn't overpowering and I still got a taste of an elegant, slightly mysterious tea that piqued my curiosity. It's from a local company called Divinitea, which seems to carry some very nice quality teas from China, Japan, India and has a feelgood mission as well. The owner is a lovely woman, who I've run into in our shop and through the local farmers' market. Perhaps some of you might be interested in checking out her site: @ I enjoy her 'Joey Green' (vegetal, very slightly smoky, nicely priced) and Jasmine Pearls (mmmm) on a regular basis too.

However, I'm very much looking forward to trying some unadulterated true Oolongs....time to get busy!


OOps you are not supposed to post links until you have been on a while and registerd a number of posts - it is supposed to discourage out and out self advertising - you can edit the reply and just replace the link with a general description of how we can find the site ourselves.!

With Vanilla umm I thought you were in search of natural tea - the good thing about the Dan Congs is they are ALL natural but each bush is suggestive of other flavours without any additives!
Last edited by Herb_Master on Dec 25th, '08, 19:26, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: thanks for the welcome!

Postby gerTEA » Dec 25th, '08, 19:20

Herb_Master wrote:
gerTEA wrote:OOps you are not supposed to post links until you have been on a while and registerd a number of posts - it is supposed to discourage out and out self advertising - you can edit the reply and just replace the link with a general description of how we can find the site ourselves.!

With Vanilla umm I thought you were in search of natural tea - the good thing about the Dan Congs is they are ALL natural but each bush is suggestive of other flavours without any additives!


Whoops - my bad! I edited and removed the link - thanks for the catch, Herb_Master!

Yeah, I usually avoid flavored teas of any kind, but the vanilla is the only Oolong our place stocks, so I gave it a try. It did at least give me a sense of the tea itself, which is why I'm now in search of the "real" stuff!
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Postby gerTEA » Dec 25th, '08, 19:26

Victoria wrote:Hi and Welcome!! It won't be too hard to top TeaGschewendner's oolongs - no offense. Some excellent recommendations have been made already. You might also want to try some of the oolongs in sample sizes from our host Adagio.


No offense taken :-) I came up with the TG tea after reviewing the WTC winners & mentions report. It was simply a place to start, but now that I have so many good suggestions from teachatters, I'll probably start with them. I'll check out Adagio too (and, btw, I'd love it if someone would send me the $5 intro coupon I've been hearing about!)

Thanks for the warm welcome!
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Postby sheila77551 » Dec 25th, '08, 21:57

Welcome gerTea, I am originally from upstate N.Y. I have been watching the weather and see that you guys have been through several serious snow storms! Stay warm and cozy. :)
Thank you, Herb_Master, olivierco, an Victoria for all of the wonderful suggestions to Jennifer, I am going to save these and hopefully try them all.
Merry Christmas everyone!
Sheila
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Postby gerTEA » Dec 27th, '08, 19:58

sheila77551 wrote:Welcome gerTea, I am originally from upstate N.Y. I have been watching the weather and see that you guys have been through several serious snow storms! Stay warm and cozy. :)
Thank you, Herb_Master, olivierco, an Victoria for all of the wonderful suggestions to Jennifer, I am going to save these and hopefully try them all.
Merry Christmas everyone!
Sheila


Thanks for the welcome, Sheila. I'm actually not from upstate NY, and even though I've lived here for 10 years now, I'm still not used to our cold winters! Thank goodness for hot tea!
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Postby Chip » Dec 27th, '08, 20:08

Welcome to TeaChat. Purists are welcome! :wink:

Feel free to share what is in your cup on TeaDay.
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Postby gerTEA » Dec 27th, '08, 22:41

Chip wrote:Welcome to TeaChat. Purists are welcome! :wink:

Feel free to share what is in your cup on TeaDay.


Hi Chip

I've read a bunch of your posts already and have already benefited from your tea-know! I'm looking forward to checking out some of the other discussions. -- Thanks for the welcome :-)

Jennifer
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Postby Cinnamon Kitty » Dec 28th, '08, 00:27

It is always nice to see another Upstate New Yorker here. The fun weather is perfect for enjoying a hot cup of tea. I just spent four and a half years at college in frigid Potsdam, NY though now I am back to residing in the Central New York area. Not quite as chilly, but close.
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Postby gerTEA » Dec 28th, '08, 19:56

Cinnamon Kitty wrote:It is always nice to see another Upstate New Yorker here. The fun weather is perfect for enjoying a hot cup of tea. I just spent four and a half years at college in frigid Potsdam, NY though now I am back to residing in the Central New York area. Not quite as chilly, but close.


Hi Cinnamon Kitty--

Thanks for the upstate welcome :-)

Yes, hot tea is a blessing during these long upstate winter months, and I was *very* happy to have a thermos full during our power outage a few weeks back (24 hours without heat - Yikes!)

I'm currently enjoying a cup of houjicha from Den's Teas - yum!

Jennifer
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