Smokey and Sweet – Just Sit Right Back…

The hunt for the perfect black tea base for a boba black milk tea can lead you into uncharted waters. And while I would like to fancy myself the Ginger of Gilligan’s ill-fated crew [cue Gilligan’s Island theme song], I’m more of a blend of the Professor and Gilligan when it comes to tea investigations – an odd mix of deliberateness here and haphazardness there.

My hunt for rich malty flavors have led me to the obscure Indonesian black teas and in particular the Tea at Sea Indonesian black tea. Delicious to sip – the malty and cereal notes linger on the palate and nose long after the first sip. Please note that I’ve chased smokey before and have been all to often confronted with a charcoal, campfire taste – but not here. The smoke is sweet and Malteser-y good BUT it unfortunately lacks the body to hold up the quantity milk needed for a boba milk tea.

But all is not lost!

Because I am having it with THIS…

Ines Rosales Seville Orange Tortas

I wish I could remember the first time I had an Ines Rosales Seville Orange torta…but sadly, I can’t. But it doesn’t matter really as long as I can keep on getting them to pair with my teas…What you taste are Seville oranges and not the in-your-face Florida, bred-for-juicing-success, oranges that you get here. Navel these are NOT.

Think Paddington Bear and marmalade…a slightly bitter twist on citrus…like the burst of orange oils that drift up to your nose when you peel a clementine in winter. The marmalade peel sooo good you actually eat it on toast is captured here in essence on a crisp, flat torta encrusted in sugar.

Paired together – it’s just smokey sweet.

So kicking back to enjoy this cup, do I regret not finding the perfect black tea for my milk tea?

Nope…if only all mistakes tasted so good…

Brew and enjoy this delicious Indonesia black tea from Tea at Sea 🥰

*Disclosure: I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are our own. This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission.


My Own Private Tea Tsunami

My tea stash is overwhelming me. Now, I understand that my stash may not be the biggest, most comprehensive, nor highly exotic collection of tea leaves ever compiled…(and that there are those who shall remain nameless with a much, much more developed stash…ahem, Steepsters)

But stash is stash.

The First Wave (Thanks to Harney & Sons, Andrews & Dunham, Ippodo, Upton, Steven Smith, Camellia Sinensis, Art of Tea, Mountain Tea, and Rishi Organic Teas). 

A-N-D when it comes to stash, I would like a collection that reflects who I am (or at the very least who I want to become as a tea drinker).

A-N-D if I want to be consistent (with a small ‘c’) about my idiosyncrasies then I need to follow my compulsion to organize. I do bullet journal after all…

That being said, however, I’ve been here before…organizing while ringed around with the detritus-du-jour whether they are books, papers, yarn, or TEA. Just ask my spouse, I am a compulsive Organizer/Reorganizer with arcane, byzantine systems – coding by color, quantity, or any number of quantifiable data. You name it, I’ve cataloged, parsed, and filed away to my hearts content utterly convinced that this time – “This Time” – I’ve got things under control…

So here’s my breakdown (s0 far – until that UPS truck comes rumbling down the road):

29 pouches, tins, or packets of black tea (big and small)

17 pouches, tins, or packets of oolong tea (big and small)

36 pouches, tins or packets of green tea (big and small)

8 pouches, tins, or packets of matcha (big and small)


my-own-privatetea-tsunami-2Obviously, this does not include all the brewing paraphernalia that comes with the territory…scales, water temp gauge, tea pouches, an oolong brewer and general tea brewer…

BOCHA Tea Brewer, TD Food Thermometer, AWS Digital Scale, freezer tape for labeling brews, A&D tea lid for tea weighing, and an ADAGIO Tea Brewer

and my beloved my main brewer, a Hario…

Now earlier this year, I discovered this wonderful little book, Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.

Ms. Kondo is professional organizer from Japan who discovered a high recidivism rate for people organizing in their own homes. She noticed that well-intentioned people would begin organizing their collections but soon these collections would devolve into a disorganized mess.

To solve this, she uncovered a simple principle that cured her and others from falling off the bandwagon: Each item you own should spark joy in you right NOW.

She believes that if you take the time to “sit with” and assess whether or not an item sparks joy in you, you will quickly find that most of the things you own do not fill you, complete you or satisfy you with the “warm fuzzies.”

It’s a philosophical bent to organizing which I find creates a lasting effect; if you really think about your orientation to your things, you learn A LOT about yourself…the how and why you hold on to stuff…

Sooo…what does this have to do about tea? And my stash?

We shall see – stay tuned….

Follow my blog with Bloglovin


Don’t Worry – Just Gyokuro With It…

It’s hard for me to narrow a favorite Anything anymore…I went from someone who could find something positive in anything (I’m American) to a constant weigher of pros and cons (my spouse is a Brit) so needless to say, I’ve become a bit more discerning over the years 🙂
So like the Greek goddess Themis, I try to let the tea speak for itself, myself blindfolded to any bias…Invariably, however, in a room full of excellent teas – all teas are wonderful to cup.

That being said…

Gyokuro absolutely rocks…especially my Ippodo Gyokuro…

We are a ritualistic people…

I’ve finally fallen into a bit of a tea rhythm…in process and spread…

Method and order – tea measured. Water heated and poured. My little phone timer set just right for periodic agitations…

My novice tea ceremony…

Cupping Harney & Son’s Queen Catherine

Hello Queen Catherine – it’s been awhile…having been dwelling in the world of strict Yunnan blacks, I find myself appreciating your certain briskness – Queenly Cold Shoulder – and throughly appreciate it…your Keemun-y stone-fruitiness is making me think of plums (and lingonberries) in anticipation of the Christmas season.

I dub you Queen Christmas Catherine…


Water is important.

Just stating the obvious- for tea, all you need are leaves and water. And nowadays (as everything old is new again – you don’t even need HOT water to brew tea).

I use a Big Berkey water filter to purify my water…I have tried the Brita systems but honestly it cannot compare to the Berkey. It can treat RAW water from lakes, streams as well as treated (but suspect) water abroad. Ergo, it’s popular with NGOs doing work in the field.

Tall and proud Berkey…

Berkey claims that it purifies out of your water: bacteria, cysts, pesticides, herbicides, parasites, VOCs, organic solvents, radon 222, and trihalomethanes. You can also significantly reduce nitrates nitrites and minerals such as lead and mercury. Lots of nasty stuff..but what does it taste like?

In my opinion, it doesn’t strip the water at all neither leaving it flat nor uninteresting. The water still tastes pretty lively. It’s clean, clear and fresh – the perfect transparent vehicle for my tea leaves.

So when it comes to simply just removing chlorine and particle contaminates here in dirty Gotham – it does the trick…

Berkey states that their black filters can remove food coloring from water – not that I’ve tried…
Can you see the dirty water line?

It’s a stand-alone, non-electric, gravity-fed system (lots of hyphenation). Just fill it and drink away. A final plus is that the water is somewhat cool in the summer because of the stainless steel housing.

The only problem I have with my Berkey is keeping it filled in my busy home.

Nothing that a four hour repeat reminder on my phone won’t fix 😜

I Heart Hario

My Hario fulfills all my secret wanna-be mad scientist desires – deeply suppressed since my “Real Genius” days…

I am the proud owner of a Hario Largo Tea Dripper, 800mL which sits on a VSS-1T Acrylic Stand, and draws down into a V60 Range Server. I brew all my black and green teas in my Hario…I save my oolongs for another brewer of mine…

My Hario Set-up

In my Hario, I can see all the leaves essentially do their thing – unfurl and open up in response to the heat and agitation (hand done by me and my stainless steel chopstick). I feel very scientific… I even use a beaker to get the precise amount of water 🙂

Tea Leaves Unfurling in my Hario

Drawing down the tea into the Range Server just takes 20 seconds to complete and the simple ball bearing system meaning that the moving parts (that which breaks down) are few and very, very functional…

I added the Hario Coffee Drip Scale/Timer sometime into my Hario use. Unfortunately, the timer only counts up which helps me not at all; however, the scale allows me to add the exact amount of tea (grams only). Yes, I measure my tea.

Hario Bits and Pieces

Despite it’s clinical appeal, I do appreciate the clean lines and unabashed lack of ornateness which allows me to simply appreciate the tea in the end. There isn’t any “shabby chic” nor “cozy cute” with Hario – an aesthetic I truly appreciate.


Today’s Brew: Townshend’s Tea Company – No. 3 Assam (Irish Breakfast)

20160503 TTC No. 3 Assam (Irish Breakfast)

As described, malty and robust…a delicate honey finish (not at all pronounced like the Beautiful Taiwan Tea Company’s Honey Black – sublime). A must with dairy as it is super sharp without it. The milk makes it a kinder-gentler assam which is not overtly tannin-y.

Brew and enjoy!

Today’s Brew: Simpson & Vail’s Assam – Beesakopie Estate

Brisk and citrus – sharp and astringent – without the milk, of course. But upon adding a nice dollop of milk, it seemed as if the milk fats and sugars coaxed out all the malty-goodness that was hiding in this tea. Warm cocoa flavors did not overwhelm the flavor the malt but provided a nutty backdrop to it. A wonderful morning tea – it packed a nice go-to buzz if my morning required something to get me into gear…