Wednesday, March 5, 2008


So uh, I've been getting into tea. Here's my collection so far--the tins on the left were bought from a guy on SA, and the tins on the right were from Adagio Teas. Note that these are loose-leaf teas, which are a bit different than the cheap tea that comes in teabags (although some companies do put the quality stuff in teabags).

What's the difference? Loose-leaf teas consist of whole (or slightly broken) rolled-up tea leaves, which are bigger and better than the stuff that comes in (most) teabags. To compare: The stuff in cheap teabags is made of the leftovers from sorting out the higher quality leaves.

Of course, that's not to say that teabags suck. It's just that the stuff that tends to come in teabags suck. Heck, I use empty teabags myself (or a teaball sometimes)--just fill up your infuser of choice with the right amount of loose-leaf tea, drop it in water at the right temperature, and leave it there (this would be called steeping) for the right amount of time. I won't go into detail, all those factors depend on the type of tea.

Oh, but that's not all we're going to look at! Today, we're going to step into my studio and look at these teas in detail.

Click the pictures to see an extra large picture. Like, really big.
like, "holy-crap-why-didn't-you-resize-these" big.

Keep in mind that I'm kind of new to tea, besides the jasmine tea served at Vietnamese restaurants. Now, observe my amateur taste notes.

This is Japanese green tea, with sakura essence. Fairly weak to my taste--well, maybe "weak" isn't the right word. More like subtle. There's a sweet aftertaste, and the 2nd infusion tastes better than the 1st! Overall, not my favorite, but not bad.

Ceylon black tea with bits of vanilla bean. Smells great, and the vanilla aftertaste is just right. Oh, and this tea is strong. I'm wasn't much of a black tea drinker, so that's probably why it hit me pretty hard when I first took a sip. Now, however, it's one of my favorite teas, as you can see from the fact that there's less tea left in this tin compared to the other tins. I could drink this everyday.

Well, I almost do.

Peppermint "tea." Technically not really tea, since tea is made from Camellia sinensis. Instead, this is called an herbal tea.

That said, I really don't like this. Every time I breathe in or out after drinking a sip of this, I get this minty feeling, and it's really, really weird. It's also extremely strong. I tried mixing a tiny pinch of this with the vanilla black tea, and the taste of peppermint was still overwhelming. Ugh.

Now the teas from Adagio, which I just received today. I ordered a sampler pack of oolong teas, which consists of 4 mini-tins of different oolong teas. This is one of them, darjeeling. Haven't tried it yet. The leaves smell food, I guess.

Edit: I tried a cup, and this tastes pretty similar to the jasmine tea that I've had before. The tea itself doesn't have the "fish food" smell that the tea leaves have, which is good. The taste is halfway between "in your face" and "not really in your face," which I hope makes sense to you cause it doesn't to me. I like it, it's good to drink once in a while, and I can totally see this being served with food (or possibly used in food).

Jasmine tea, the 2nd tea from the oolong sampler pack. Heck yeah. I haven't tried it, but it smells like...jasmine. Good jasmine. Also, notice how these leaves are rolled up into balls? When you drop them into hot water, it's supposed to look pretty cool with the balls unfurling and infusing the water. I wouldn't know, I haven't tried it yet.

But don't they look cool?

Pouchong, the 3rd tea in the oolong sampler. Haven't tried it yet.

The 4th tea in the oolong's oolong tea. Haven't tried it yet. (give me a break, I just got these today.)

Earl Grey tea. I ordered a larger tin than the oolongs (this is actually the 2nd smallest tin size), cause I had this feeling that I would like it.

I was right. It's awesome.

Earl Grey consists of black tea flavored with bergamot orange. See those bits of orange peel in the tin? Those things. To my unrefined palate, the balance of black tea to orange flavor seems just right. No wonder Earl Gray tea is so popular.

Well, that's it! I hope you clicked on those pictures to see the teas in detail, because I spent a lot of time setting up those pictures in my expensive studio. Here, take a look at my expensive studio:
The idea for this whole ghetto setup came from reading strobist. Rather than waste some fresh sheets of printer paper, I decided to use some old math homework as the diffusers for the light.

I'm not kidding, I really used old math homework.


  1. shouldnt you be studying instead of making lightboxes or something?

    funny how as im reading this im having a nice cup of tea. so i take it youre gonna bring them all back during summer so i can mooch? although tea in the summer isnt nearly as nice as tea in the winter. actually, i have some sakura tea at home that i never tried cause i wasnt into tea when we got it.

  2. Why yes, I should be studying. I have an essay, a math quiz to study for, some reading, and homework for 2 math classes to finish by tomorrow. And it's 11:45.

    Of course, I wouldn't leave the teas alone in the apartment, they'll get lonely.

    Sakura tea? Like.....pure sakura? Or green tea with sakura? Cause I think I'd die by flowery overkill if it was pure sakura. This green tea already smells flowery enough as it is.

  3. yea its pure sakura flowers and petals preserved in salt that i got in japan during the sakura season, which was lucky cause it only lasts a couple weeks. i havent tried it yet, but i think its supposed to be very fragrant and not as strong as green tea.