Teas That Depend On Nature's Intervention | Jane Pettigrew

Posted on July 22, 2014 by LISA KUNIZAKI | 0 Comments

I recently took a focused tasting workshop on teas that depend on nature's intervention. The session featured five teas that only develop their unique character when certain natural conditions coincide. The powers of nature always play a special role in creating individual teas which each have a distinct character, but these five teas depend more than others on nature's intervention.
The five teas we focused on were Milk Oolong (Taiwan), Oriental Beauty (Taiwan), Nilgiri Frost (Southern India), Peak Season Ceylon Uva (Sri Lanka), and Raw Aged Puerh (China).
Milk Oolongs are balled oolongs and are typically produced in Taiwan and China. They naturally have a silky, buttery taste with orchid notes. They have a characteristic milky mouth feel which is where it gets its name. In Taiwan, the best milk oolongs are made from the Jin Xuan (Jin Suang), a tea plant varietal developed in the 1970s and released to farmers for planting in 1981.

The plants are grown at altitudes of 650-5000 feet.The unique character depends on varietal, altitude, the age of the tea shoot when plucked, and manufacturer. Natural milk oolongs are more about mouth feel and less about the creamy flavor. In real milk oolongs the natural buttery flavor is quite subtle which is why so many farmers feel the need to add milk flavoring or essence to give the teas a buttery, milky character. It’s fine to flavor the teas, but information given must be honest and clear. I admit that I've had quite a few that I enjoy very much and find quite nice despite the fact they're not the "real" thing.

It is believed that the very best Oriental Beauty oolongs are made in Taiwan. They can only be made when the tea bushes are infested by little leaf hoppers (Jacobiasca formosana, known as ‘jassids’ or ‘thrips’). The insects bite the buds, leaves and stems while they are still growing on the bush. This causes oxidation to start. It also causes the bushes to defend themselves by producing enzymes called monoterpene diol and hotrienol which give the tea its unique flavor. The teas are sweet and fruity. 

The Nilgiri tea gardens are located in the Nilgiri Hills (Blue Mountains) in Southern India where tea grows on hills at an elevation between 3280-8000 feet. Frost Teas are made from end of December to February. Night temperatures are close to zero, sometimes as low as minus 4-7 degrees Celsius. Frost settles on the bushes at night and disappears as the sun comes up. The sweet character and flavor is due to stress on the plants from factors such as temperature, altitude, etc.

Frost Teas are made from the end of December to February.The result is a mellow fruity aroma and a balanced, fragrant, aromatic, smooth liquor.

I learned how weather conditions in Sri Lanka’s Uva district create the special character of the best peak season Uva teas.
And then Jane moved onto one of my favorite teas, puerh. She elaborated on why and how ancient trees and ancient processing methods produce amazing raw puerh teas.
We compared a raw young puerh vs. a raw aged puerh.
I had the honor and privilege of having Jane Pettigrew as my instructor. She is a well respected International Tea Consultant and author. She was also the proud recipient of the 2014 World Tea Award for Best Educator.

Posted in California, Ceylon Uva, Jane Pettigrew, Long Beach, Milk Oolong, Nilgiri Frost, Oriental Beauty, Puerh, Tea Education, Teas that depend on Nature, World Tea Expo 2014

NINA'S Paris | Marie-Antoinette Tea

Posted on July 10, 2014 by LISA KUNIZAKI | 0 Comments

I admit it. I'm a sucker for gorgeous packaging.

So it's no surprise that I am completely enamored with this French company. I first read about them on Oh, How Civilized. So, it was wonderful to actually see the products and try the teas in person at the World Tea Expo. I kept thinking how they looked familiar when I passed by their booth.

NINA'S began in 1672 and it was the first company to distill lavender essential oils in France and became renowned for their art of creating fragrances. They became the supplier of fragrances for King Louis XIV and the Court of Versailles, where their lavender and rose fragrances were later enjoyed by Marie-Antoinette! 

I love how each tea sachet is individually wrapped in it's own box. They look like mini packages of perfume bottles. 

This mini portrait of Queen Marie-Antoinette shows her holding a rose. She had a great passion for roses. On the other side of the box is a picture of a tree which is the apple tree in the King's Kitchen Garden.

The Original Marie-Antoinette Tea is made of black Ceylon tea, rose petals and scented with delicious apple fragrance from "Le Potager du Roi" (King's Kitchen Garden).

   I've never been to their shop in Paris, but Jee has so you will definitely want to check out the gorgeous photographs that she has posted on her blog. Makes me want to hop on a plane right now and jet off to Paris.

Alas, Paris will have to wait for now...but till then I will enjoy a cup of Marie-Antoinette.





Posted in Long Beach, Marie-Antoinette Tea, Nina's Paris, Oh How Civilized, World Tea Expo 2014

World Tea Expo 2014 | Long Beach, California

Posted on July 08, 2014 by LISA KUNIZAKI | 1 Comment

This year's World Tea Expo was in Long Beach, California. It was a refreshing change from the previous years where it was held in Las Vegas, Nevada.

My good friends at Takeya, Stuart and Caroline. Always great seeing Takeya there. Takeya's teaware has won for Best New Product at the World Tea Expo.  

They just released an Iced Tea recipe book full of creative recipes.

My explanation would not do Bkon justice so I will leave it up to a professional. Jason Walker, of Walker Tea Review, published an article in World Tea News titled: Rise of the (Tea) Machines. I thought this was a brilliantly written article. 

New teas released by Elmwood Inn Fine Teas, Bourbon Black Tea and their Labyrinth Blend.

These were just too cute! They are made by a Korean company.

This is an aged pu'erh from 1991 that I was gifted by one of the vendors. I haven't had the opportunity to try it, but I really can't wait.

What I love most about attending the World Tea Expo is meeting people from all over the world and of course drinking and learning about tea. There's always something new to learn. 

Did you know that Kenya’s teas are naturally pesticide and herbicide free? Hence, making Kenyan teas organic by default! Of course, they can not just claim their tea is organic based on this fact, but it's true. And their terroir plays a huge role in this. The Tea Star (seen above) consists of oolong tea leaves that are hand-tied together on a string for easy steeping. Convenience of a loose leaf tea without the mess. Brilliant! 

I had the pleasure of sharing a few classes with the guys at JusTea so I just had to stop by their booth.

They carry the world's first Direct Trade handcrafted Kenyan Black and Oolong Teas. 

And then there was this lovely pu'erh I came across. I just had to buy a few to take home.

And here is Elyse Petersen's team at Tealet. She is the founder/CEO at Tealet. It is such a privilege to meet someone as passionate about tea as Elyse. If you've ever met her, you know what I mean. Her energy is infectious. We connected at World Tea Expo 2013 in Vegas and then again when she came to visit NYC that same summer for the Fancy Food Show. Good times were had at a beer garden in Astoria and she even got to share a couch with my dog, Jay. 

Read all about Tealet here. Elyse was a nominee for two 2014 World Tea Awards this year; Best Social Media Reach and Best Tea Spirit. She took home the award for Best Social Media Reach! It was so well deserved. 

Rie Tulali recently joined the team and is the general manager. She was kind enough to serve us multiple cups of tea. 

Making more tea friends...Ty and Rajiv. 

And Elyse gifted these beauties to me. They are seeds of the Camellia sinensis sinensis (aka: tea) plant and have since been planted and are growing comfortably on my windowsill in NYC. I am happy to say that they have since sprouted and are looking beautiful.  

I feel privileged to belong to the tea community. It feels like one big happy family. 










Posted in Bkon, California, Elyse Petersen, Jason Walker, JusTea, Kenyan Tea, Long Beach, Takeya, Tealet, Walker Tea Review, World Tea Expo 2014

Pairing Tea with Cheese & Chocolate | Robert Wemischner

Posted on June 26, 2014 by LISA KUNIZAKI | 0 Comments

Recently I've been very interested in learning more about  pairing teas with food, both sweet and savory. I believe it is important to realize how valuable the use of tea is as a pairing beverage when tasting chocolate and cheeses in particular. It is a refreshing alternative to wine, beer and other spirits especially when certain people are abstaining from alcoholic beverages.
I took a class at the World Tea Expo that focused on just this. We were first given a selection of teas and cheeses to pair with. 
Cypress Grove Humboldt Fog (one of my all time faves), Bellwether Farms Carmody and Pt. Reyes Original Blue... 
and some bread for cleansing the palate between tastings. We worked with three teas: (from left to right) Harvest Spring Sencha, Ti Quan Yin and Sessa Assam.
The tasting involved tasting a cheese/chocolate and then slurping all three teas and working down the line. Taking notes the whole time. It was surprising to see how the teas enhanced the flavors of the cheese. Some worked really well and some were just awful which makes you think about the impact a beverage like tea can have on a meal like Afternoon Tea (or even a tasting menu at a restaurant). 

Guittard Chocolate Company: (clockwise) Soie Blanche White Chocolate, Soleil d’Or Milk Chocolate and Etoile du Nord Dark Chocolate. When tasting chocolate, it's good practice to inspect the chocolate first. Is it glossy? Does it have snap? Or is it gray or whitened in spots? Once you're done with the visual inspection, smell it and then taste it. Take notes on your experience. 

When tea is brewed and served properly to bring out its best and fullest character, it has the potential to really enhance a sweet and/or savory dish. It is a wonderful accompaniment to a multi-course meal. The class was taught by Robert Wemischner who is an author, pastry chef and culinary educator whose long-standing interest in the flavor potential of ingredients has culminated in his latest culinary book, The Dessert ArchitectI loved this class because I got to 1) eat cheese 2) drink tea and 3) eat chocolate. YUM YUM YUM.
I can't wait to keep exploring all the great cheeses out there and see how they pair with teas. I carry around this tea journal made by Moleskin when I travel around. I have a few from their Passions series. Keep track of everything. Trust me, you'll thank me later. 

Posted in California, Chocolate and Tea, Long Beach, Robert Wemischner, Tea and Cheese, Tea Education, Tea Pairing, World Tea Expo 2014

Afternoon Tea Aboard The Queen Mary | Long Beach, California

Posted on June 24, 2014 by LISA KUNIZAKI | 0 Comments

The day after the World Tea Expo was all done, I knew I wanted to head to The Queen Mary to have Afternoon Tea.

We snagged a table by the window. 

Here's the menu. 

The savories and scones came out first.

 Scones were served with Devonshire cream and homemade local jam.

Shredded chicken & dried mango tossed in a light curry aioli on wheat bread. Deviled egg salad & micro dijon greens served on pumpernickel bread. Canary melon & prosciutto with pomegranate cream on artisan bread & fresh mint. 

House cured Alaskan salmon & English cucumber with aioli on rye bread with caviar. Sweet shrimp with heart of palm & herb dressing on sourdough bread.

And then the sweets came out. 

They were all so delicious!

I had my tea with a glass of champagne. They had the most adorable accessory for their sugars! 


I had an amazing time exploring The Queen Mary and enjoyed the Diana exhibit immensely. We were bummed to find out that the Spruce Goose (Howard Hughes' H-4 Hercules) had been moved decades before to the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum in Oregon, but other than that, it was a perfect day! Dad had last seen it there over 20 years ago. 

Till we meet again for tea!




Posted in Afternoon Tea, California, Long Beach, Spruce Goose, The Queen Mary


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