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10th-May-2007 12:51 am(no subject)
teatal

tuppence pi lo chun
Originally uploaded by Chorus of Chaos.

This is from Tuppence Tea, a newly ordered sample of Pi Lo Chun.

Brewed 3 minutes with spring water a couple minutes off the boil in a 10 oz tetsubin.

According to a tea catalog, Pi Lo Chun means "green snail spring."

Leaves:
dry, thin, dark and wiry, very small with little scent.
wet,, green, thin stemmy and ctc style looking leaves. Smell, well, the name green snail spring suits it. The wet leaves smelled like bad seaweed with an odd bitter scent as well.

Tea: very pale yellow green, light bodied, no astringency, but a horrible seaweed fishy flavor. Beyond the first couple sips I threw the pot out, it was THAT horrible.

I know I've had Upton Tea's Pi Lo Chun and I seem to remember the tea itself being better looking and CERTAINLY better tasting. Has anyone else here ordered from Tuppence Tea and what was thier opinion of it? I have a few more samples but if this is the line fo quality I'm thinking FORGET IT, it was THAT bad. It was almost like this was the very last pathetic scrapings from the grading levels, and it had been stored badly and was old to boot. Just....awful.

I don't know if I should try any of thier other teas or not, does anyone have anything good to say about this company??

5th-May-2007 04:36 pm(no subject)
teatal

keemun concerton from adago
Originally uploaded by Chorus of Chaos.

This tea is Keemun Concerto from Adiago Tea.

Brewed with spring water (I always use spring water, FYI, local water is revolting) brewed five minutes in a 10 ounce tetsubin at boiling temperature.

Leaves:



Dry, they are thin, wiry and black. Actually to me they look like a cluster of spider legs. The aroma is very mild with a slight red wine oder.
Wet, the leaves expand slightly to thin dark green and brown leaves, they seem to have many stem type pieces and have an aroma that I'm having trouble putting a name too, though it's not an unpleasant one.

Tea brews to a very deep red brown cup, very full bodied with no astringency. The flavor is milder than I expected with the color of the tea, but still tastes nice. This is a sample that I've had a while thats been kept in optimal conditions (in it's air tight tin, sealed in a ziploc bag and kept somewhere cool and dark) but I'm wondering if time has weakened it. It seems to be lacking that richness I expect from keemun, it is slightly earthy tasting, but lacks the boldness I usually expect of Keemun. My allergies are acting up lately so that could also be part of the problem, I was hoping the tea would help clear up some of my sinus congestion. (Spring is finally starting to spring around here, and the trees mating ritual seems to be taking place in my sinuses...ugh)

I will likely re-order a fresh sample of this and give it a try as Adagio has always had pretty decent teas, though not quite on the level of Seattle Tea cup or Upton Tea Co. (personal opinion only)

I'd say disregard this review in you are considering ordering samples of this yourself, but thought I would go ahead and post it and inquire if anyone else has purchased or sampled this tea and what thier opinion was of it in comparision to other keemuns they had tried? So far all my other Adagio samples have been fine, it strikes me odd that this one would be affected by the delay in my trying it.

Off to enjoy my pumpkin muffin with the rest of the tea :)

3rd-May-2007 05:33 pm(no subject)
teatal

taiwan high mountain oolong tea
Originally uploaded by Chorus of Chaos.

Today's tea was teh Taiwan High Mountain Oolong Tea from Seattle Tea Company.

Brewed five minutes with water just shortly off the boil in a ten ounce tetsubin.



Leaves:
Dry, they are greenish grey rolled in a loose gunpowder style, rich grassy aroma with a vague hint of mint and fennel.

Wet, are not whole leaves but large sized cut. A very scant amount of tea expanded to fill the filter as you can see in the photo. They have a green floral aroma with a slightly herbal tang.

Tea: Brews to a pale green gold with a medium bodied mouth feel, virtually no atringency. Flavor is remarkably light and mild, tends to make me think of a white tea more than an oolong. Very mild vegetal taste, but very little else oddly enough. With the aroma of the leaves, I was expecting something truely unusual. The tea is quite pleasant, there is nothing negative or wrong about it, but there is nothing extraordinary or unusual about it either. It does not seem to have the characteristic nutty or floral or earthy flavor that most oolongs have, it's actually sort of bland.

I will try it again sometime with a longer brew time and see if it makes a difference, but as it stands now this is a pleasant enough tea, but has no special zing to it to draw me to want to buy more.

Just out of curiousity, can anyone tell me what the characters in my yixing tasting cup say?

1st-May-2007 07:30 pm(no subject)
teatal

Darjeeling Rhapsody 22 Adagio Teas
Originally uploaded by Chorus of Chaos.

Today's tea was a sample I've had about a year but has been kept nice a fresh in it's tin and in a ziplock bag. It's from Adagio Teas, thier Darjeeling Rhapsody 22.

It was brewed right at boiling point for five minutes.

Dry, the leaves are small and mostly black with a few pale gold and brown blended in. Scent is a rich black tea fragrance with a delicate floral note. Wet the leaves are a deep olive green (as in picture above) with a few paler brown mixed in. They appear to be of the crush tear curl method type leaves, I generally prefer whole leaf teas, but since there is no dust or fannings that I can see I decided to go ahead and give it a try.

Ahhhh....memories. I first began drinking tea as a small child with my grandmother, who was Irish. Sunday afternoon tea with grandma was looked forward to all week. My grandmother had a cousin in Ireland who sent her loose leaf tea in packets, a breakfast blend of some type, and darjeeling. The breakfast blend was every day, several times a day, but Darjeeling was for Sunday tea.

One of my greatest thrills was that magical Sunday after my eight birthday when my grandmother let me make tea for the first time all by myself. I knew all the steps, putting the water on to boil and measuring out the tea, warming the tea pot and her delicate tiny cups and then timing the tea as it steeped. We had scottish shortbread biscuits (cookies,..oh the crap I went through in school for calling cookies biscuits and spelling words like colour with a U) It was also the first time I had tea without milk. I had been drinking tea since I was about 4 years old and could hold the childs mug grandma had, but it had started out mostly milk with a little tea, and getting progressively stronger on tea up until the day I got to make it myself. Yes, I still have the brown betty and the tea cups packed away quite safely, and someday when my life is more stable they will have a place of honor in my grandmother's china cabinet.

Pardon the drift off down memory lane...Despite it's age and being a CTC tea, this darjeeling is lovely. It's exemplifies what I have always loved about darjeelings. A rich full bodied mouth feel, a lovely reddish brown liquor, very mild astringency, and a sweet floral note. This one reminds me of peony for some reason.



Now what grandma would make of my tetsubin (though I think she would have liked it, she was quite practical) and drinking it from the Japanese style cup I picked up in an asian store years ago for a buck I don't know,



I know on that day we buttered our shortbread biscuits and put our feet up and talked about school and and the weather, and left a sip in the cup in remembrance of my grandfather who passed on the year before. Today, I enjoyed cheesecake spread on my shortbread, and left a sip in the cup in remembrance of them both, along with Tal.



This tea has a good chance of becoming the regular darjeeling in my cupboard, it brought back good memories so strongly. Darjeeling is sometimes a touchy tea when you brew it...temperature or time off just a wee bit and it's gets astringent and bitter, this one seems very forgiving, and will be perfect for Sunday tea or for when special guests come to visit.

26th-Apr-2007 01:30 pm(no subject)
tea

tea 027
Originally uploaded by Chorus of Chaos.

This is Xiao TuoCHa Pu'Erh Tea from the Seattle tea cup (many thanks again toslave2tehtink for introducing me to these people!) it was a sample I recieved with a purchase.

I brewed this with the tea bowl unbroken (i've heard to brew both ways, with it solid and with it crumbled, I will try crumbling later but I don't think it will make a difference as the tea broke up on it's own quite nicely.) this was brewed at 5 minutes with boiling spring water in a 10 ounce tetsubin.

The compressed tea had no smell whatsoever while dry, once brewed it broke up and developed a bold earthy smell with oddly, a slight musk scent such as you would find in perfume.


Tea after brewing


Tea in a small yixing cup I picked up somewhere for nothing


The tea brews to a rich deep red liquor that is medium bodied with no astringency. Flavor is well rounded, similiar to perhaps a blend of a good Keemun and an Assam, but with a strong earthy note and a slightly woodsy taste. Would most likely take milk or lemon quite well, on a whim I added a few drops of honey to the last cup (I drank from the larger tetsubins, not the small yixing pictured above, I only used that so the color of the tea could come through, in the dark tetsubins it can't be seen well.) and it enhanced the flavor of the tea quite nicely! Be warned though, even with a very fine mesh strainer the last cup will have a small amount of dust leavings in it.

All in all this tastes very similiar to the loose leaf pu'erh I tried earlier. I'm not sure which is more costly and if the bowl style costs much more I'll probably go with the loose leaf, but I do like the whimsy of brewing a tiny pressed bowl of tea :)

I will definitely be ordering one or the other to add to my tea cupboard as a regular drinking tea.

On a side note...Talesien for some reason found tea making fascinating...this was the first time I had brewed myself a cup of tea since he'd passed, and I very much missed his presence...So I sort of drank this pot in memorial to my much missed and short lived beloved Tal.

Tal investigating my Gaiwan cup when I first unpacked it.

10th-Apr-2007 04:07 pm(no subject)
tea

neela.jpg
Originally uploaded by Chorus of Chaos.

This morning I tried a new black tea I'd never had before, purchased from Tao of Tea. their description of the tea here.

This was brewed right at boil for 3 minutes in a 10 ounce tetsubin. The leaves dry were long, thin and twisted, colored mostly black and greyish brown with a few golden here and there. Aroma was very dry with slight winey taste.



Wet the leaves unfold into medium to large deep green/brown with a faint floral aroma.

Brewed to a faintly reddish gold cup with a medium body and no astringency whatsoever. Slight wine tang to a very mild black tea flavor with an earthy hint, this is a very delicate tea that would be overpowered by even the slightest addition of honey, milk or lemon, nor did it really need any of these.

I have never tried this type of tea before and had been greatly looking forward to it, but find myself somewhat dissappointed. It lacks....something. It's not unpleasant, but it does not have the brightness of a Ceylon, or the boldness of an assam, or the richness of a Keemun, or the sweet floral of a darjeeling. It is quite drinkable, but it does not have any particular quality that makes it stand out. It just seems like a very flat basic black tea.

I will not be re-ordering this, and most likely will turn it over into my "turn into chai" blend. (Teas without a particular quality I care for I'm mixing to make a chai base and add spices too.)

For all that Tao of Tea has an incredible site and selection of teas, so far the teas I've tried from them (with the exception of the honeybush) I've been somewhat dissapointed. I'm not sure if they just aren't very fresh, or have not been stored well (they come in paper bags, not tins, speaking of which, anyone have a bunch of small cannisters or tins they don't want? I need some) or perhaps it's just that in the limited amount that I purchased I somehow got some teas that just didn't work. I may order some very small amounts of a couple more teas to try from them, but I don't forsee them getting alot of my business.

Just curious, has anyone else ordered from Tao of Tea, what did you order and was it of any good quality?

7th-Apr-2007 07:34 pm(no subject)
tea

tea 021
Originally uploaded by Chorus of Chaos.

I decided to place a small order for the silver needles assam and the white china peony I liked so well from seattle tea cup, and put a note in telling them I'd not tried pu-erh tea before, though I've heard it's a bit of an acquired taste, and if they had a small sample around I'd love to try it. I actually got two samples in the mail (Photo further in, the other sample is in the tua cha style, which is going to make for interesting brewing I think!)

Now, when I first started branching out from the darjeeling and the irish breakfast blend I grew up with, that my grandmother had shipped to her from a cousin in Ireland, I tried lapsong souchang. I tried it several times, hearing it was an acquired taste, that to just try different varients (like russian caravan) and I never could get past that "I just cleaned the fireplace with my TONGUE" feeling.

I had my doubts about pu-erh tea.

No more. I was wonderfully suprised by this tea. From what I understand, pu-erh is actually highly fermented, it's left to sit and age for considerable time. I fully expected it to taste well...rotten. Literally.

The leaves in the bag (photo further in) were short, black, needle thin leaves with a woody smell to them. Once brewed they still were short, black and needle thin, with a woody and yet also a faint wine type odor.

As you can see in the photo above, this tea brews "bottom heavy" meaning it needs a good stir before drinking. (photo post stirring further down) This was brewed right at boil for seven minutes. (it is recommended between 5 and 8) I used spring water.

The taste was very much like an assam, full bodied mouth feel, very little to no astringency, a malty tang to it....but it also had a somewhat wood taste to it, not unlike the tree bark herbal tisanes my aunt used to brew for headaches and colds. Not an unpleasant flavor. It also had a faintly bitter mid note (that point just before you swallow) that reminded me somewhat of wine. I'm waiting to try the tua cha style pu-erh before deciding, but I will definitely be adding a pu-erh type of tea to my cupboard as a regular rotation.

a couple more photos behind the cut, ,plus a review of tao of tea's Golden Lily Oolong...cut due to more than one photo, but not overly photo heavy.Collapse )

27th-Mar-2007 02:52 am(no subject)
tea

tea 004
Originally uploaded by Chorus of Chaos.

This is White Peony Chinese Whte Tea from Seattle Tea Cup.

The leaves are mostly whole with some broken, light green mixed with numerous silvery white haired leaves. Surprisingly, this tea also had quite a number of stems. Rich grassy aromoa before brewed.

review behind cut because of two more photosCollapse )

23rd-Mar-2007 08:03 pm(no subject)
tea

assam silver needles seattle teacup
Originally uploaded by Chorus of Chaos.

I've gotten several samples from a number of companies I'm reviewing in my journal and thought I would cross post here. These will be my first reviews done here, I did read the rules, but because of a cognitive disorder I don't always process information well. Please let me know if I have left out something required or have added something not wanted.


The first tea is Assam Silver Needles, a tea from India that I got from

http://seattleteacup.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc

These are some wonderfully nice folks. A friend recommended thier tea, I emailed thier "contact us" inquiring about samples. I only asked for two but recieved five very generous samples of the types of tea I was looking for at the time (oolongs, greens and whites.) They also emailed me letting me know when to expect my teas, and requesting my opinion of them once I had recieved them and had a chance to try them. I'm quite impressed with thier online customer service. (they have a shop in seattle from what I understand, people on my flist say they are just as great there as well.)

This is classifed as a white tea. Assams are usually a form of black tea, but this estate does a limited picking early in for white tea. In the picture you can see what the leaves look like brewed in the strainer at the top, and the leaves in the package at the bottom right. Unfortunately, it hard to tell the color of the tea in a tetsubin cup, but it was a very pale gold color.

This was brewed about 3 1/2 minutes several minutes after the water had started to boil and then began to cool.. (yep, got my electric tea kettle. I'm also using spring water as the water here is NASTY.)

Leaves prior to brewing are a very slender pale greenish/grey, long and whole leafed. They have a faintly minty scent in the package. When brewed they pale out into a goldish brown. This is not a tea I'd recommend multiple brewings with. (generally that is reserved for oolongs)

The tea itself was a pale goldish green and very light bodied. It had a nice mild vegetal flavor with a hint of floral in mid swallow, with a natural sweetness. I always taste test teas unsweetened the first time around, but then later often add a very small amount of honey. This tea does not need any sweetening. Very little astrngency to this tea, there is no "dry mouth" after feel that you sometimes get with green or white teas.

Overall I highly recommend this tea, I will be saving to purchase some. It's a rare one and they only have limited amounts, so therefor it's pricy but well worth it in my mind.

there are two more teas reviewed behind the cut, since there are pictures with both I thought perhaps I should post the rest behind a cut> <A title=Collapse )
27th-Feb-2007 11:47 am(no subject)
animated moongirl

Hello...I'm Rhiannon and new to the group, thought perhaps I should introduce myself, and have a few inquiries.

I grew up with afternoon tea with my grandmother and carried that tradition for years until we moved a few years back. While our stuff was in storage my beloved tetsubin rusted, and my teas I had became moldy (ew) So it's been some years since I have ordered tea from anywhere, although at one time I was a regular customer of stash, republic of tea, upton, harney and sons, adagio and simpson and vail.

I am inheriting a tetsubin set from a friend I used to drink tea with long ago, so I have been hunting about trying to find places with free samples of tea and good tea, that will do the tetsubin and the memories it holds justice (we were both right tea snobs) Unfortunately, I've become disabled in the interim and finances make it hard for me to purchase good quality tea like I used to. I'm hoping to pin down a really good darjeeling, an good oolong, some keemun, some assam and some ceylon, a white tea and a couple good green teas and try to keep them in stock. (that is going to be difficult) I've found a few sites with much lower prices, but they really don't give me an impression of being high quality tea so much. (for that matter, I got to where I didn't care for stash tea so much after while...too damn many fake flavored teas that just taste like perfume. )

With the listng of the teas I'm looking for, can anyone recommend a site that might provide samples, or sell inexpensive samples that I can try out?
I noticed Adagio had something where you could send a $5 of coupon to a friend, is anyone here planning to order from there any time soon and wouldn't mind have that sent to me? I remember thier samples were excellent, and thier oolong and darjeelings wowed me. Keemun and others, not so much.

Do people ever do tea exchanges on here?

I've really enjoyed browsing the site and the wealth of information here already!! Hopefully, I will have some teas to review soon, I did find a few places that did free samples and am awaiting them :)

30th-Jul-2006 10:28 am - *good* lapsang souchong available...?
...I have always enjoyed the smokiness of lapsang souchong, generally having bought twining's by default, and this new package, with, indeed, new packaging, simply doesn't seem to convey the sense of smokiness which I want. I was unable to find any alternatives (preferably organic and responsibly-grown) at the local co-op, and so I bought this. Does anyone have recommendations for best-quality lapsang souchong that fits those categories above, which I could get through the mail or internet if I can't have a local place here to order it for me? Thank you...
16th-Nov-2006 05:42 pm - New Tea Site Directory
Hey all,

I am part of a team building a new web directory for tea related sites at thebestoftea.com. We want to build a directory for the tea consumers (addicts) like ourselves, where we can submit reviews of vendors and their products and search for a specific type of tea and see what vendors carry it. If you are interested, head over to http://www.thebestoftea.com/ and check it out, find something new, submit links and reviews, give us some feedback!

Thanks!

x-posted
5th-Jul-2006 09:43 pm - Harney & Sons - Wedding
I picked up a tea while in Red Bluff California visiting my cousin. She was so excited because she was just getting into tea and wanted to show me her town's tea shop. It was a lovely little store. Actually it really impressed me. I purchased two tins while I was there and an iced tea to go.

It took me a long time to get around to trying the more expensive one. Boy am I sorry about that!

Harney & Sons - Wedding
I purchased a 'tagalong' tin, such a cute name. It only has 5 sachets.
Sachets appear to be nylon and are shaped like a twisted cube. (Please let me know if there's a better description for that.:) )
Tea is a white tea. Per the website it has lemon & vanilla flavors added. - I found the vanilla flavor to be dominant. The lemon backs the vanilla up and makes it brighter in the first steep. The lemon is more prominent in the second steep. The white tea base really allows the flavors in the tea to stand out, while still giving a base tea flavor. It is delicate but clear.
Aroma matches the flavor, primarily a vanilla scent.
The color of the brewed tea is golden honey.
My brewing method was kettle boiled water, steeped in a covered mug for 5 minutes. I do not recommend oversteeping this tea.

I adore this tea. I bought it because it smelled so good and was quite pleased to find it tasted exactly how it smelled. I feel like I'm drinking liquid silk. Love it and highly recommend it.
21st-Mar-2006 04:42 pm - Puerh on a Budget - Part 1
black
Like many people I do not have lots of extra money laying around to spend on lots of expensive tea, and if there is one type of tea that has the potential to get expensive its Puerh (other spellings I've seen include: Pu Erh, Puer and Pu Er). Thus while all the Puerh experts will say that the best Puerh is the uncooked stuff which has been aged for a few decades but because of the cost I won't go there. In fact I'm afraid to even try them, out of fear that it will make the cheaper Puerh that I drink start to seem bad in comparison. Instead what I will focus on are the cheap but good tasting Puerh teas.

Note: in the absence of a standardized spelling for “Puerh” I will spell it this way, with the exception of when I am referring to the name of a specific Puerh tea offered by a given company.

To date I have tried eight different Puerh teas with two more sitting in my closet yet to be tasted (I'll edit/update this article when I get around to trying it).

TYPES OF PUERH

There are three ways to buy Puerh, loose, mini blocks/blocks/Tou Cha, and larger blocks. So far from what I've tried I will have to agree with the experts who say that compressed Puerh cakes generally better than loose. At the same time I have not been able to notice much of a difference between the mini blocks and the larger blocks of compressed Puerh from the two larger compressed block Puerhs I've tried.

REVIEWS OF LOOSE PUERH TEAS

Adagio's Pu Erh Danta – This was the tea that made me fall in love with Puerh but when I started comparing it to others it quickly became my least favorite in comparison. The last order of Puerh that I bought from Adagio had a very strong musty smell and taste it. Although after it was left out in the open for a week or so to “air out” it had “aged” to a more mellow tea, like the previous orders. Regardless compared to the other Puerh I've tried it has a more bland and washed out taste compared to some of the others.
[price: 10 cup sample $2, 5 oz tin $7, 10 oz tin $12, pound bag $17]

Indigo Organic Pu Er Tea – Another disappointment in my opinion as it has a similar washed out taste like the Adagio Puerh that I'm not that impressed with to be quite honest. At the same time its weaker character might make it idea for someone new to Puerh or does not like it too strong.
[price: $5.95 a 4oz bag but 10% off if multiple are ordered]

Indigo Yunnan Pu Er – A much better loose Puerh which can hold up to multiple infusions (normally 3-4 for me). At the same time I'd recommend going with their Pu Er Tuo Cha instead since they admit its the same tea yet it costs less compressed into single serving sized tuo cha blocks.
[price: $5.75 a 4oz bag but 10% off if multiple are ordered]

Stash Pu-Erh Oolong – Overall this was a good Puerh, but I could not taste any difference between other cheaper Puerh teas (even after you take the buy 3 get 1 free offer into consideration) I had so unless you have a very strong brand loyalty towards Stash I'd pass on this one.
[price: $5.95 per 100g (less than 4oz) bag, with a buy 3 get 1 free offer]

REVIEWS OF MINI BLOCK PUERH TEAS

Haichao Pu-Erh Tea Block (sold by enjoyingtea.com misfiled in the instant tea section) – One of my favorite 3 Puerh teas as it has a nice mellow and smooth taste and is good for 3-5 infusions. As an added bonus the website description is wrong as it does not contain 22 Puerh blocks but 2 rows of Puerh 22 blocks so its a much better buy than it may appear.
[price: $3.89 per 125g box (more than 4oz) or 44 mini tea blocks]

Indigo Pu Er Tuo Cha – Another one of my favorite Puerh teas, this is a fine Puerh with a nice mellow and smooth taste which holds up well to multiple infusions (3-4 times). The pieces are a litter larger than the Haichao ones which makes it a bit stronger.
[price: $4.50 a 4oz bag (around 29 pieces) but 10% off if multiple are ordered]

Stash Pu-Erh Tou Cha – This was the most expensive Puerh that I tried and to be quite honest I could not taste any difference between it and Indigo's Tou Cha Puerh, so save your money and not bother with this one.
[price: $9.95 per 100g (less than 4oz) bag, with a buy 3 get 1 free offer]
12th-Mar-2006 12:03 pm - train/harmonica whistle tea kettle
We have a teakettle of the very plain silver variety, the type with the little red button you depress to open the spout. The spout being the only way to get water in, you know the type.

Well, our spring has run the course of it's life and no longer holds the lid down securely. Thus the whistle no longer works properly.

The problem with this for us is that the whistle is a harmonica sound. And as I have found in my searches for a replacement, that is rare. I looked at other kettles of similar design and I cannot attach our whistle to them. I've searched for other harmonica whistle (or train whistle) teapots and they're all rather expensive and I don't like the designs.

Any direction or information you lovely tea-folk can provide would be greatly appreciated.

~x-posted~
8th-Mar-2006 05:50 pm - Tea Types (Tea Classification)
Place Reservoir
There is a serious amount of confusion regarding tea types.

There are three major sub-types of tea that everyone can agree on:
  • Non-oxidized
  • Partially-oxidized
  • Fully-oxidized


However, confusion already exists at this point in classification. Even though everyone can agree on these major types, no one seems to be able to agree on what they should be called. For example, non-oxidized teas may be called "non-fermented" or "GREEN". And the other two categories have the exact same problem (with partially-oxidized teas being called oolong, and completely oxidized teas being called black or red). No wonder there is so much confusion!

After that, each of the three major types is usually further divided into sub-types.
  • Non-oxidized is divided into three types: green, yellow, and white
  • Partially-oxidized is divided into two types: light or pouchong (lightly oxidized) and heavy or oolong (heavily oxidized). - * See Note
  • Fully-oxidized is divided into two types: black/red, and pu-erh.


What differentiates all of these sub-types is the processing methods involved. All of these teas are first picked, then sorted/screened. After that, any number of things may occur to differentiate one tea from another.
For non-oxidized teas:
White tea is withered, then dried/baked.
Yellow tea is steamed, smothered (covered with cloth), then rolled, then dried/baked.
Green tea is steamed or pan fired, then rolled, then dried/baked.

For partially-oxidized teas:
Pouchong tea is withered/steamed, shaken or rolled, spread out for an extremely short time (to 10-20% oxidation), and then fried or dried.
Oolong tea is withered, shaken or rolled, spread out for a short time (to 30-80% oxidation), and then fried or dried.

For fully-oxidized teas:
Black tea is withered, rolled, spread out under high humidity until fully oxidized, and then fired.
Green pu-erh tea is heated, rolled (sometimes), withered until 90% moisture has been removed, sorted by grade, steamed & compressed, and then stored in a dry environment to encourage slow oxidation (this is why green, or uncooked, pu-erhs benefit from aging).
Black pu-erh tea is heated, rolled (sometimes), withered until 90% moisture has been removed, sorted by grade, oxidized for anywhere from several days to a month, and then either stored in cloth bags (loose leaf) or steamed and compressed.





A lot of tea companies classify jasmine tea as a green tea. Other companies will classify it as an oolong, and claim that the companies that classify it as a green tea are wrong.

Which one is correct?

As it turns out, the extra step of adding jasmine to tea partially oxidizes it. Basically, the jasmine flowers are combined with the tea before firing and left with the tea for some time. This allows the tea to oxidize slightly, resulting in a lightly-oxidized tea. So it is no longer really a "green" tea. Instead, it is a scented pouchong tea.

Pouchong is often referred to as "chinese green." The nickname may be the reason why so many companies classify it as a green tea. However, it is not technically a green tea, because it is partially oxidized.

On the other hand, pouchong is not really an oolong, either. Pouchongs are about 10-20% oxidized, whereas oolongs are 30-80% oxidized.

Many tea companies carry pouchong, but do not have a pouchong category. Therefore, they feel the need to either categorize it as green or oolong. However, neither is really correct.

Unless, of course, unless the company in question only recognizes three tea types: green (for non-oxidized teas), oolong (for partially-oxidized teas), and black (for fully-oxidized teas). In this case, jasmine would be an oolong. However, in thise case, the company in question could not have a "white" category (white teas would have to be placed within the green/non-oxidized category).

The same problem, incidentally, occurs with pu-erh and yellow teas: many tea companies don't have a category for them, so they choose to place them (incorrectly) into a different category.

Perhaps the answer to this dillemma, rather than incorrectly classifying teas, is to create a category called "miscellaneous" and place all pouchong, yellow, and pu-erh teas into that category. If nothing else, this might help ease confusion.

Although, in reality, it is doubtful that the confusion over tea types will be resolved until a worldwide industry standard is agreed upon.




* NOTE:
Some go a step farther in dividing partially-oxidized teas to include a medium (medium oxidized) category. In this case, the light category contains pouchong, the medium category contains most oolongs, and the heavy category contains champagne oolongs and ti kuan yin.

SOURCES:
http://www.uptontea.com
http://www.pu-erh.net
http://www.imperialteagarden.com
http://www.planet-tea.com
http://www.jingteashop.com
http://www.theteacaddy.com
http://www.tenren.com
http://chinesetea.journalspace.com
http://www.e-teas.co.uk/section.php?xSec=7
http://www.geocities.com/lgol27/HistoryTea.htm
http://www.teaandcoffee.net/0205/tea.htm
http://www.enonline.sh.cn/CClook.asp?id=11468
http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=146
http://www.relaxsipenjoy.com/green_pouchong_oolong_black_teas.aspx
7th-Mar-2006 06:32 pm - Tea Storage
YresimOwl
I picked up a few of the food-grade tins from Specialty Bottle to see how they work as tea tins. I got TND1-TND16, as well as TWS6. My results are below.

Notes:
  • Stacks "okay" means that they will sit flat on each other without falling, but they will fall if jostled.
  • Stacks "well" means that they will stack rather securely, and will not fall if jostled (although they would still fall if shaken harshly or bumped).
  • The TND's will stack to 4 high, but the TWS will only stack 2 high.





TND1
Description
wide 1" x 1.5" container
lid has raised edges
this is about the smallest container you can use for tea
Price
$0.52 for 1-143
$0.38 for 144-499
$0.33 for 500+
capacity
holds 10g of green/black tea
uses
storing smaller samples
travel tin to take to restaurants
stacks with other TND1 containers?
okay
stacks well on?
TND2
stacks okay on?
TND4, TND6, TND8, TND16, TWS6
doesn't stack on?
none





TND2
Description
wide 1.5" x 2" container
lid has raised edges
Price
$0.56 for 1-143
$0.41 for 144-499
$0.38 for 500+
capacity
holds 20g of green/black tea
uses
storing samples
stacks with other TND2 containers?
okay
stacks well on?
none
stacks okay on?
TND4, TND6, TND8, TND16, TWS6
doesn't stack on?
TND1





TND4
Description
wide 1.8" x 2.6" container
lid is raised in the middle
Price
$0.75 for 1-143
$0.51 for 144-499
$0.47 for 500+
capacity
holds 40g of green/black, or 20g white
uses
storing 1oz amples
re-packaging Adagio samples
stacks with other TND4 containers?
okay
stacks well on?
none
stacks okay on?
TND6, TND8, TND16, TWS6
doesn't stack on?
TND1, TND2





TND6
Description
wide 1.8" x 2.9" container
lid is raised in the middle
Price
$0.75 for 1-143
$0.60 for 144-499
$0.54 for 500+
capacity
holds 50g of green/black, or 25g white
uses
storing 1oz amples
re-packaging Adagio samples
stacks with other TND6 containers?
okay
stacks well on?
TND8
stacks okay on?
TND16
doesn't stack on?
TND1, TND2, TND4, TWS6





TND8
Description
wide 2" x 3.3" container
lid has raised edges
Price
$0.96 for 1-143
$0.76 for 144-499
$0.72 for 500+
capacity
1-2 oz tea
uses
storing 1oz amples of fluffy tea
storing tea
stacks with other TND8 containers?
okay
stacks well on?
TND16
stacks okay on?
none
doesn't stack on?
TND1, TND2, TND4, TND6, TWS6





TND16
Description
wide 2.5" x 3.9" container
lid has raised edges
Price
$0.98 for 1-143
$0.80 for 144-499
$0.72 for 500+
capacity
2-4 oz tea
uses
storing tea
stacks with other TND16 containers?
okay
stacks well on?
none
stacks okay on?
none
doesn't stack on?
TND1, TND2, TND4, TND6, TND8, TWS6





TWS6
Description
tall 6.1" x 2.6" container
lid is smooth/flat (not raised)
Price
$0.98 for 1-215
$0.79 for 216+
capacity
2-4 oz tea
uses
storing tea
stacks with other TWS6 containers?
okay (2 high only)
stacks well on?
TND4, TND6, TND8, TND16
stacks okay on?
none
doesn't stack on?
TND1, TND2





Conclusions:

Most of the containers stacked with other sizes better than they stacked with themselves. However, as long as you don't expect your tea shelf to be jostled, they work quite well. They work especially well in a cabinet setting, where the walls of the cabinet help provide support.

If your shelf space is right around 6 or 12 inches high, the TWS6 is probably going to work best for you. If your shelf height is about 7.75", a combination of TND4's & TWS6's will probably be the most stable. For any other shelf space height, it is probably better to use another canister and/or a mix of canisters.
27th-Feb-2006 12:33 am - White Display Tea Review
Blue Elf
I have been looking for a white display tea for my tea party. I found four varieties sold by Numi, and sampled them all. I was concerned, due to the fast that the only way to make them bloom is to steep them in boiling water. My fears appear to have been justified.

Because these are display teas, I described the leaves while in the cup.

Here are the detailed reviews for all four teas. Overall conclusions are listed at the bottom.




Brand: Numi
Product Name: Lavender Dream
Purchased From: http://www.numitea.com
Price: $16.95 for 12 blooms ($1.41/bloom)
Brewing Method: 1 bloom for 2.5 minutes at 212 degrees F
Leaves: A dark purple flower surrounded by gently-waving dark brownish-green leaves, with dark lavender buds floating on top.
Color: Pale rose in the cup.
Aroma: A somewhat enticing aroma. It smelled of spinach, sugar, and flowers.
Flavor: A sharp lavender flavor with spinach notes. It had depth, but no stamina. Crisp and defined with a dry aftertaste.




Brand: Numi
Product Name: Flower Jewel
Purchased From: http://www.numitea.com
Price: $16.95 for 12 blooms ($1.41/bloom)
Brewing Method: 1 bloom for 2.5 minutes at 212 degrees F
Leaves: A bright pink flower surrounded by gently-waving olive green leaves.
Color: Pale yellow in the cup.
Aroma: A very enticing, strong jasmine aroma.
Flavor: An intense jasmine flavor. Although crisp, fresh, and defined, it had no depth or stamina, and a dry aftertaste.




Brand: Numi
Product Name: Starlight Rose
Purchased From: http://www.numitea.com
Price: $16.95 for 8 blooms ($2.12/bloom)
Brewing Method: 1 bloom for 2.5 minutes at 212 degrees F
Leaves: A tiny fuschia flower bud with pale olive-green leaves jutting out from it like a porcupine.
Color: Pale orangish-yellow in the cup.
Aroma: An enticing, flowery aroma.
Flavor: A weak, poorly-defined flavor with floral notes. Very bitter and astringent, not sweet at all. It didn't linger, but it left behind an extremely dry aftertaste.




Brand: Numi
Product Name: Dragon Lily
Purchased From: http://www.numitea.com
Price: $16.95 for 12 blooms ($1.41/bloom)
Brewing Method: 1 bloom for 2.5 minutes at 212 degrees F
Leaves: A large, red-orange flower surrounded by gently-waving dark brownish-green leaves, with tiny white flowers floating around it.
Color: Pale orange in the cup.
Aroma: A somewhat enticing aroma. It smelled floral with mild spinach notes.
Flavor: The perfectly-defined taste of cooked spinach. No depth, but lots of stamina, and a mild aftertaste. Suprisingly, this wasn't actually a bad tea, due to the fact that the spinach flavor was absolutely perfect (and not overcooked).




Overall conclusions:

I wouldn't call a single one of these teas a good representation of white tea. However, a couple of them were drinkable (and even pleasant).

It looks like I am going to be serving the Flower Jewel at my party. Although I wouldn't say it was a good white tea, it was a decent jasmine tea. It had no other flavors, but I happen to like the flavor of jasmine, so I think I will be sticking with that.

The only other tea I might consider buying would be the Dragon Lily tea. I have never before liked the flavor of spinach in a cup, but this spinach flavor was perfectly-cooked, and not polluted by other flavors.

While I would not drink the Lavender Dream tea myself, others might like it. I just didn't think that lavender and spinach (however mild) went well together.

As for the Starlight Rose, the spinach flavor in this tea was markedly overcooked, with a very dry aftertaste. It was also the least-graceful bloom in the cup, looking more like a porcupine than a flower. I wouldn't recommend this tea to anyone, unless you are trying to relive bad cooking from your childhood.
26th-Feb-2006 03:19 am - Chamomile Review
Farm Sheep
I had originally intended to review a total of 5 chamomiles: 3 loose leaf and 2 bagged. Unfortunately, error on my part caused one of the loose leaf chamomiles to be omitted from my order. Therefore, only four chamomiles (2 loose leaf, 2 bagged) are reviewed below. Overall conclusions are listed at the bottom.




Brand: Royal Dynasty
Product Name: Egyptian Chamomile
Purchased From: http://www.royaldynastytea.com
Price: $4.49 for 2 ounces ($2.25/ounce, or $0.18/cup)
Brewing Method: 1 tsp for 7 minutes at 180 degrees F
Leaves: The chamomile buds themselves were slightly brownish after brewing.
Color: Pale, bright yellow in the cup.
Aroma: A very enticing aroma. It smelled strongly of flowers and bread dough.
Flavor: A fresh taste with sweet and floral notes. Clearly defined, it lingers on the tongue. Once the flavor has departed, it leaves a very dry, almost bitter, aftertaste.

A hint of sugar (1/2 tsp) brought the floral taste to the forefront, eclipsing the bread dough. However, the aftertaste was still extremely dry.




Brand: Adagio
Product Name: Chamomile
Purchased From: http://www.adagio.com
Price: $4 for 2 ounces ($2/ounce, or $0.16/cup)
Brewing Method: 1 tsp for 7 minutes at 180 degrees F
Leaves: The chamomile buds themselves were a pretty orange after brewing.
Color: Pale, bright yellow in the cup.
Aroma: A very enticing aroma. It smelled strongly of flowers, with just a hint of bread dough.
Flavor: A doughy taste with floral notes and a hint of bitterness. The flavor is strong, but not very well defined. Still, it lingers on the tongue, and leaves behind a very smooth aftertaste with no hint of bitterness.

A hint of sugar (1/2 tsp) helped to defined the flavor more clearly, and brought out the floral notes.




Brand: Stash
Product Name: Chamomile Bags
Purchased From: http://www.shopstashtea.com
Price: $4.85 for 30 bags ($0.16/bag)
Brewing Method: 1 bag for 7 minutes at 180 degrees F
Leaves: n/a
Color: Pale orangish-yellow in the cup.
Aroma: An enticing, flowery aroma.
Flavor: A weak, poorly-defined flavor with floral notes. Very bitter and astringent, not sweet at all. It didn't linger, and it didn't have much of an aftertaste.




Brand: Stash
Product Name: Organic Chamomile Bags
Purchased From: http://www.shopstashtea.com
Price: $3.29 for 18 bags ($0.18/bag)
Brewing Method: 1 bag for 7 minutes at 180 degrees F
Leaves: n/a
Color: Pale brownish-orange in the cup.
Aroma: The aroma was barely enticing and somewhat floral.
Flavor: A sharp, oaky flavor with no hint of flowers. Bitter and sour, with a bitter aftertaste.




Overall conclusions:

Overall, I strongly recommend the chamomile from Adagio. It is true that Royal Dynasty had a more clearly-defined flavor. However, the aftertaste was very dry, while Adagio's aftertaste was much more smooth. On a hunch, I added a half teaspoon of sugar* to Adagio's chamomile, and it improved the flavor greatly. To be fair, I did the same to the Royal Dynasty chamomile, but the sugar didn't do much to cover up the aftertaste.

I don't think I will ever pay for bagged chamomile again. The bagged teas did not hold a candle to the loose teas. One of the biggest flaws of the tea bags was that they lacked the doughy aroma that I found so enticing in the loose leaf chamomiles. And Stash's organic chamomile is so bad, I'm not sure it deserves to be called chamomile at all: it tasted more like wood than flowers.

* - Chamomile goes well with honey, so adding honey instead of sugar would probably taste better. I added sugar because it has less of an effect on the flavor than honey.
23rd-Feb-2006 07:58 pm - Tea Site Reviews
YresimOwl

I ordered tea from five on-line tea companies last week, and thought that I would rate my experiences. The companies are Adagio, Republic of Tea, Royal Dynasty Tea, Stash Tea, and Tao of Tea. They are listed in alphabetical order. I will provide tea ratings once my stuffy nose has cleared up (any day now).


Company:
Adagio
Website:
http://www.adagio.com
Customer rewards:
Rating: 9/10
• You get a free "Guide to Tea" book with your first purchase, if you order $19 or more.
• You can send $5 coupons to any friend who hasn't ordered with them before.
• You get one point for every dollar spent. Once you get 100, you get a $10 reward certificate. You can use this to purchase a $10 item outright, or towards a larger purchase.
Selection:
Rating: 7/10
• They have almost any loose-leaf tea you can imagine.
• They have almost any flavored tea you can imagine.
• Only one kind of chai (called oriental spice), and no yerba mate.
• They do not have pu-erh in the cake, brick, or small bowl forms (only in leaf).
• They do not have matcha.
• They do not have very many pure (non-blended) tisanes.
• They only offer glass and ceramic teapots (no yixing).
• They have some very unique and useful teaware products, like a variable-temperature water kettle, and a tea pot that you can set on top of your tea mug (to drain the tea directly into the mug).
Ease of Purchase:
Rating: 10/10
• Despite a couple of flaws, this is the perfect tea web site. Other tea sites can only hope to be half as convenient as Adagio. Not only does Adagio offer a great shopping experience, they offer a great overall tea experience, with sub-sites that include forums, tea room listings, education, and cooking with tea.
Pros
• Teas can be ordered alphabetically, by origin, or by customer rating.
• Numerous customer reviews make it easier to guess which teas you will like.
• Once you create an account, your shopping cart is saved forever.
• Shopping cart is displayed on the right hand side, enabling you to check it (or remove items) without leaving the current page.
• You stay on the same page when you add items to your cart.
• There is a list of all teas in your category on the left-hand side of the page, allowing you to switch between teas with ease.
• Once the order is shipped, order tracking is displayed on the right hand side (above your shopping cart).
• Search function is available.
• You can set up auto-delivery.
Cons
• The "flavors" section is confusing, both because it only contains flavored black teas (flavored green teas are listed under green, flavored decaf teas are listed under decaf, etc), and because it doesn't even contain all of the flavored black teas: Earl Grey is listed under black. At the very least, they should put a note on the flavors page indicating that Earl Grey can be found on the black page, and that flavored greens/whites/etc can be found on their respective pages. They could also change the name to "flavored blacks" and move Earl Grey to that section (or double-list earl grey, just like they do with the display teas).
• There is no way to add to the shopping cart in-line. However, this is most likely an issue of practicality (each tea offers several buying options), and poses very little issue due to the pros listed above (list of all teas in category on left side of page, don't change pages when adding items to cart).
• You can not repeat your last order (unless it was an auto-delivery, of course).
Standard Shipping Speed:
Very Fast
My order was shipped out the same day, and arrived on the other side of the country one week later.
Outer Packaging (box, packing material)
Rating: 10/10
• Descriptive words I would use: elegant
• Box was a sturdy brown box with their name & logo stamped in green on the side.
• It identifies itself as tea.
• Some of the internal packaging was small-animal-compatible, and some was not.
Inner Packaging (the tea samples only)
Rating: 10/10
• Descriptive words I would use: sturdy
• The only tea company I have found thus far that distributes their samples in re-usable metal tins. There does not appear to be an appreciable mark-up for this convenience.
• The tins are not stack-able.
Re-sealable?
Yes
Air-tight?
Yes
Light-proof (protects tea from UV rays)?
Yes

Company:
Republic of Tea
Website:
http://www.republicoftea.com
Customer rewards:
Rating: 1/10
• No free stuff to speak of (I did get a single-use sample of green tea for requesting a catalog).
Selection:
Rating: 6/10
• A wide variety of loose leaf and bag teas.
• They have almost any flavored tea you can imagine.
• One yerba mate, and several kinds of chai.
• They do not have pu-erh in the cake, brick, or small bowl forms (only in leaf).
• They do not have matcha.
• They do have chai lattes.
• They do not have any pure (non-blended) tisanes.
• Numerous glass, porcelain, and ceramic (no yixing) teapots and tea cups.
Ease of Purchase:
Rating: 8/10
• While this site certainly could be better, it is designed to make it easy to find what you are looking for.
Pros
• All purchasing options are displayed on the product page.
• Adding an item to your shopping cart does not take you to another page.
• Search function is available, and seems to work particularly well.
Cons
• Even though all purchasing options are listed on the product page, you must click on the purchasing option you want, and only then press "add to basket." It seems like they should either add in-line ordering (since this is the case), or they should allow you to order any configuration directly from the main product page (rather than having to click twice).
• No in-line ordering.
• No auto-delivery
• You can not repeat your last order.
Standard Shipping Speed:
Fast
It took them one day to ship my order. Once my order was shipped, it took six days (4 business days) to arrive from within California.
Outer Packaging (box, packing material)
Rating: 10/10
• Descriptive words I would use: obvious
• Box is a sturdy cardboard box with "Republic of Tea" printed on all sides, and a tea pot on the long sides.
• The internal packaging is left-over tea bag bits (tea bag paper with circles cut out). In addition to being very cool for the packaging of a tea company, it is small-animal approved.
Inner Packaging (the loose tea samples only)
Rating: 8/10
• Descriptive words I would use: simple
• Their teas come in sealed paper-type bags.
Re-sealable
Not really (you can fold it closed)
Air-tight
Yes, until you open it
Light-proof (protects tea from UV rays)
Yes

Company:
Royal Dynasty Tea
Website:
http://www.royaldynastytea.com
Customer rewards:
Rating: 4/10
• You get a free e-book called "Pairing Gourmet Cuisine With Tea" with your first order of $20 or more.
Selection:
Rating: 7/10
• They have almost any loose-leaf tea you can imagine, including a particularly wide array of white tea.
• They have a decent selection of flavored teas.
• Nine kinds of chai, including a yerba mate chai.
• They do not have pu-erh in the cake, brick, or small bowl forms (only in leaf)
• They do not have matcha
• Several pure (non-blended) tisanes, including lavender and rose (but not including any kind of mint, for some reason).
• Yixing, ceramic, and porcelain teapots. Only one kind of tea cup (yixing).
• They do not have glass tea pots.
Ease of Purchase:
Rating: 8/10
• This web site is rather nice, with a shopping cart on the left hand side, and in-line ordering.
Pros
• In-line ordering is available per each category.
• Shopping cart is displayed on the left hand side, enabling you to check it (but not remove items) without leaving the current page.
• If you click on the tea from within the category, they give very detailed descriptions.
• Search function is available, and seems to work particularly well.
Cons
• Adding an item to your cart takes you to another page.
• No auto-delivery
• You can not repeat your last order.
• Only 20 items per page, and no way to increase that number or re-organize the list.
Standard Shipping Speed:
Fast
Order shipped out the same day it was placed, but took 4 days to get here within CA.
Outer Packaging (box, packing material)
Rating: 4/10
• Descriptive words I would use: small, cheap
• Box is a small, plain cardboard box.
• Makes it tempting to theives (not obvious that it is tea).
• Internal packaging is very cheap-looking: it appears to be ripped up newspapers. It is not small-animal-compatible, due to strong dyes. They could greatly improve the professionalism by purchasing unprinted newspaper (which, by the way, is extremely cheap).
Inner Packaging (I ordered both samples and full teas, and they were packaged identically)
Rating: 6/10
• Descriptive words I would use: different
• All of their teas arrive in ziploc bags.
Re-sealable
Yes
Air-tight
Yes
Light-proof (protects tea from UV rays)
No

Company:
Stash
Website:
http://www.stashtea.com
Customer rewards:
Rating: 6/10
• They throw in some free stuff, but they don't seem to base it on anything you bought. It does make you feel kinda special to find presents in your package, however, even if they are not compatible with you.
Selection:
Rating: 7/10
• They have a wide variety of teas, including loose-leaf teas and bag teas.
• They have pu-erh in leaf and cup (tuo cha) forms.
• They do not have very many pure (non-blended) tisanes.
• They have several varieties of chai. For some reason, they offer a decaf vanilla chai, but no regular vanilla chai.
• They have yerba mate.
• They have matcha.
• A gigantic assortment of tea pots, tea sets, and tea cups in porcelain, ceramic, glass, and iron/tetsubin. No yixing, however.
Ease of Purchase:
Rating: 6/10
• The biggest thing that keeps this web site from getting a good rating on their ease of purchase is the fact that there is no way to get a list of, for example, all of the different ways they sell kopili assam.
Pros
• In-line ordering.
• Search function is available
Cons
• Adding an item to your cart takes you to another page.
• If you select a tea from the list, you do not get alternative purchasing options for that tea. You only have the option to purchase the tea in the current form. And they don't do a great job of keeping the same name at all sizes, so it can be nearly impossible to find a larger size of a tea you liked, or a smaller size of a tea you want to try.
• Their search function is positively awful. You can't search for all "kopili assam" teas, because it will return not only kopili assam teas, but also any tea which lists kopili assam as a recommendation, as something other people bought, etc. And the actual kopili assam teas aren't given any preference, so they are just as likely to be on the bottom as at the top.
• No auto-delivery
• You can not repeat your last order.
• They don't list all of the teas included in their larger samples. Even when they do, they don't do a very good job of making sure the name is the same.
Standard Shipping Speed:
Fast
It took them two days to ship my order. Once my order was shipped, it took five days (3 business days) to make it from Oregon to California.
Outer Packaging (box, packing material)
Rating: 6/10
• Descriptive words I would use: expensive-looking
• Box is a plain cardboard box. The tape used was specialty packing tape with their name/logo on it.
• Unfortunately, their logo looks like one of those high-end stores, and there is nothing to indicate that it is tea, so it might be more tempting to theives.
• Internal packaging is small-animal-compatible (and rat-approved).
Inner Packaging (the loose tea samples only)
Rating: 3/10
• Descriptive words I would use: almost useless
• Their teas come in heat-sealed plastic bags.
Re-sealable
No
Air-tight
Yes, until you open it
Light-proof (protects tea from UV rays)
No

Company:
Tao of Tea
Website:
http://www.taooftea.com
Customer rewards:
Rating: 8/10
• You get one point for every dollar spent. Every item has a point redemption value, which works out to about 10 cents per point (more on some items, less on others). You can not use points towards anything: only to buy something outright.
Selection:
Rating: 10/10
• They have a wide variety of teas, including loose-leaf teas, pu-erh in all of its forms, and matcha
• They have a gigantic assortment of pure (non-blended) tisanes, including chrysanthemum blossoms.
• They have a wide array of tea pots, tea sets, and tea cups, including yixing, gourd, & ceramic.
• They do not have glass tea pots.
Ease of Purchase:
Rating: 2/10
• This web site is very clunky. It is neither particularly professional nor particularly user-friendly. This is someting I'd expect from a company in the middle of nowhere, not from a company in Portland. They need a good webmaster to fix it up for them (and, because they're in Portland, it should be relatively easy to find one).
Pros
• A large number of categories makes it relatively easy to find what you are looking for.
• If you find the categories confusing, you can "view all".
• You can repeat your last order.
Cons
• Adding an item to your cart takes you to another page.
• If you use the back button after adding an item to your cart, you lose the item you just added from your cart. This is probably their biggest flaw, as it makes ordering several teas within the same category far more difficult than it needs to be.
• No in-line ordering, despite the fact that they sell tea only by the ounce or by the tin.
• Because categories are only displayed in drop-down menus, and because some of these are so long, customers with smaller screens will have trouble accessing all of the categories. This could be resolved with nested categories, or with an alternative category listing.
• No search function.
• No auto-delivery (although you can log into your account & repeat your last order).
Standard Shipping Speed:
Fast
It took them five days (three business days) to ship my order. Once my order was shipped, it arrived in two days, but that was due to the fact that they are in Portland and I am in San Francisco.
Outer Packaging (box, packing material)
Rating: 10/10
• Descriptive words I would use: loud, obvious, pretty
• Box is a sturdy white cardboard with tasteful designs all over it.
• Makes it very easy for a passerby to tell that it contains tea (not CD's), which I like because I figure most people won't steal tea.
• Although the internal packaging is pretty, it is not small-animal-compatible, due to strong dyes.
Inner Packaging (the tea itself: they sell tea by the ounce, so this is how your tea would arrive)
Rating: 7/10
• Descriptive words I would use: standard
• Like many tea companies, their teas arrive in fold-up brown paper bags (you can also order them in tins, for a price).
Re-sealable
Yes
Air-tight
Not particularly
Light-proof (protects tea from UV rays)
Yes

Reviewer's NotesCollapse )

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