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!