Backlogging (and, based almost entirely on my longer term memory. This one, too, has been a long time coming …)

Experience buying from Teavana http://steepster.com/places/2895-teavana-st-louis-missouri

Date of Purchase/Age of Leaf: Purchased at their 2010 end of year sale at a discount, and brewed up during most of 2011.

Appearance and aroma of dry leaf: pretty standard for a decent quality green tea: nice looking medium-sized dark-green leaves, with a sweet vegetal aroma.

Brewing guidelines: Glass Bodum pot with metal infuser/plunger; stevia added.
……….1st: 170; 1’
……….2nd: 175; 1.5’
……….3rd: 180; 2’
……….4th: 185; 2.5’

Color and aroma of tea liquor: A clear yellow, tinged with green.

Flavor of tea liquor: A good sweet, vegetal flavor. It always held up well through three steepings (which is my standard number of steepings for my daily green teas).

Appearance of wet leaf: After buying and analyzing the leaves of unflavored green teas from Tea Trekker and Seven Cups, I noticed how most of the leaves and buds of the teas from those tea retailers were unbroken, and very fresh looking (even their older teas which I got on sale). So when I looked more closely at the leaves of this tea from Teavana I was surprised to see that the color of the leaves was a little pale, and that there were a number of bits and broken leaves, not many buds or bud sets, and quite a few stems (the teas from Seven Cups and Tea Trekker had almost none). I don’t exactly know how that affects the overall taste, if it does at all, but I suspect smaller/broken pieces won’t keep as long as there is overall greater surface area which can be exposed to air. But then again, who knows? Maybe it doesn’t matter. At least it didn’t seem to affect that taste.

Blends well with: I often blended this with other higher quality/fresher green teas, and it gladly took backstage to support the more noteworthy flavors of the accompanying tea!

Value: Although it is no longer available, it was not bad even at its regular price (I think it was a little less than $4/oz), but at the 50-75% discount, this tea was a bargain.

Overall: This was more or less the standard unflavored green tea I brewed up for much of 2011, and I am grateful for it’s exposing me to what a decent green tea has to offer. It was not finicky, had no off-tastes, or was ever astringent. Although I have a little of this left, having in the intervening months learned much about what to look for in a quality green, I have since moved on to other teas (strange, but in a way I feel like someone who just ‘dumped’ this tea for another. : – } ). Still, Teavana’s Three Kingdoms Mao Feng was my my first reasonable-quality, pleasant-tasting, loose-leaf green tea, and I will never forget it for the joy it gave me (I almost feel like I am giving an epitaph! Weird …).

This was my very first experience buying from a Teavana, and I will never forget it. It was the day after Christmas, my wife and I were walking in the mall, and she (not me) noticed Teavana had a 50% off sale. It never occurred to me to go into their store, as their teas are all beyond my price range. We met the best tea sales person I have ever met (Sean), bought four tins of tea at 50% off, and we walked out happy (and remained happy), having bought the Three Kingdoms Mao Feng and The Citron Sinota without even having tried them (A big risk, that happened to pay off). Anyway, it was a joyful experience, and I want log it as such. ; – )

170 °F / 76 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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(Updated 6-3-2014)

After about three years I changed my avatar from the picture of a green teacup with steam rising (one I created using Paint) to this dragon gaiwan. This is one of my favorite gaiwans, although I haven’t brewed any tea in it as of yet.

You can call me, Joe.

What, How and Why I steep:

I typically expect, and shoot for, at least three flavorful steepings out of (just about) any tea I brew up.

I generally start at the times and temps below ( = minute(s), " = second(s) ), then add 5F and 30" for each successive steeping:
Chinese Green - 175F, 1’ ;
Japanese Green - 160F, 1’add 15F, then decrease by 15";
White - 160F, 2’;
Oolong - This varies;
Indian Black/Chinese Red and Herbals - a little off the boil, 2’; why do I start with such low temps & short steep times? So as to ‘spread out’ the flavor over multiple steepings. I have found this to work with every tea I have tried so far. Also, I am not looking for intense flavor in that first cup (i.e. Western style), I would prefer to taste it—and savor—it over many steepings.
Pu-erh - Beginning in 2014, I finally chose to dive into pu-erh! Standard parameters when I brew ripened pu-erh in my 150 ml gaiwan (I also own an 11 oz Yixing):
First I do a 15" rinse with near boiling water. Then for each successive steeping I add Stevia.
……….1st: Near boiling, 0.5’
……….2nd: Boiling , 1’
……….3rd: Boiling , 1.5’
etc. Until there is no flavor, or I ran out of time and energy.

I hope to ‘streamline’ my reviews going forward, so, hopefully, they are a little less technical and dry (and perhaps even stilted), and a little more organic and experiential (and hopefully, flowing); this somewhat new approach to reviews is a kind of metaphor for where my life is headed right now, and is one reason why I write reviews: as a kind of time-capsule of where I was in my life at that time.

Tea Rating scale:

1 – 29: There is no reason to even think about drinking this stuff again.
30-49: I may drink it if someone else brewed it up, but I would not bother brewing it up myself let alone bother buying any.
50 – 59: I like something about it, and I may brew it up if I already have some, but I would not buy any more of it.
60 – 69: I like a few things about it, and I may buy it if the price is right.
70 – 79: This is a tea I enjoy and would drink fairly regularly as long as it is reasonably priced.
80 – 89: A tea I will drink as often as I can, and will likely try to buy some when I run out (as long as it’s affordable).
90 – 99: This has everything I look for in the best of teas: beauty in appearance, a delightful aroma, and most importantly, depth and yummy-ness in its flavor.
100: Perfect.

My primary interest is in artisan loose-leaf Chinese green, red and ripe pu-erh tea, although I enjoy a white and an oolong tea every now and then as well. Here and there I brew a few of the other true teas and an occasional herbal.

Since I choose to live on a very limited income (‘Voluntary Simplicity’), I have to be very conscience about how much I pay for tea. In reading their Tea Enthusiast’s books, Mary Lou and Robert J. Heiss sold me on the wonders of artisan teas. Thankfully I have found that there is affordable, artisan tea out there; it’s just like anything else that has true value: it takes hard work, dedication and at least a little persistence to find it.

I came to tea out of a desire to find something to help calm and focus my mind as naturally as possible. My mind is very active, so to speak, and at times I find it very difficult to focus and keep myself centered. For years now I have been practicing Yoga daily along with others things to help me to stay relaxed and present, but I found I wanted a little something extra to help me start the day; the theanine in green tea seems to help me in this.

I have been enjoying loose-leaf tea since November of 2010.

I enjoy connecting with others about tea.

I drink Stevia with just about all of my tea (no sugar or artificial sweeteners).

I drink a pot of green tea every day in the AM (usually steeped three times over the course of the day), sharing it with my wife.

Each tea in my cupboard is carefully and colorfully labeled in a tin or in a jar that used to hold something else (I love to reuse things!) .

I have three teapots: a glass Bodum – I don’t use the metal infuser/press anymore (greens), a 16 oz glass Victorian (to brew greens and whites, and to use as a pot to decant other teas into), and an 11 oz Yixing (ripe Pu-erh only). (New in 2014) I also one a number of gaiwans ranging in volume from from 125 ml to 250ml.

I tend to be direct, straightforward and honest when I post anything to the discussion boards. I take the approach that everything I say is stated with the implied disclaimer: In My Humble Opinion (i.e. IMHO). I may occasionally emphasize this point, where appropriate. I view your comments in the same way. You are in no way obligated to read what I have posted. And I am in no way similarly obligated to you.

Sitting with my cup of tea I greet the day in anticipation of new discoveries along the way.


Midwest, USA

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