Iced Rose Tea Latte

Spring is around the corner or at least that is what I would like to think, so today I want to share this recipe with you to anticipate and welcome our next season! It is a flowery and sweet iced tea with a festive character, perfect to cheer us up while we wait for the sun to warm us up again.

Iced Rose Tea Latte Teascopia

P.s. Please feel free to substitute the teas I have listed above for any strong black tea that you have at home. An English Breakfast will do the trick as well!

Cheers! x

Notes on tea – Golden Tips Tea

Few weeks ago I received a little box covered in a sewn white cotton fabric with a beautiful red wax seal. It had travelled from New Dehli to Barcelona all the way. Inside the box there was just tea, tea leaves awaiting…

This parcel comes from Golden Tips Tea, a company established in 1933 that specialises in pure Single Origin unblended teas from India that they have kindly sent to me and that I now have the pleasure to review.

Below you will find each one of the teas with some of my notes and thoughts. I hope you find them useful and somehow inspiring.

Teascopia review

Arya Pearl Darjeeling

Temp 80C / Time 5 min

Elegant, long, almost untouched dry leaves with a beautiful soft olive green colour. The perfect leaf set of one bud and one or two leaves. Altogether they look like dancing leaves.

With a nice bright and pale yellow liquor, this is a very delicate tea with fresh aroma and fruity taste of passion fruit or even elderflower. Unlike other white teas, this one has a very low or none astringency and a very silky texture in the mouth. Nice and subtle tea with a medium sweet fruity aftertaste.


Glendale Jasmine exotica

Temp 80C / Time 3 min

The smell of the dry leaves is striking: it has the enchanting aroma of fresh jasmine.

The leaves are green and brown in different shades with abundant golden tips.

Its pale yellow liquor is mellow in taste with subtle hints of jasmine, almost faded. It has a low astringency and a medium sweet light aftertaste. Nice and pleasant to drink: it is delicate, fresh and flowery. If I had just tried this tea without knowing what type it was, I might have thought it was a white tea.

I have a soft spot for jasmine green teas and I couldn’t resist trying a jasmine tea from Nigiri, India. I must say it is a peculiar experience: the infusion has the character of an Indian tea but the aroma of Jasmine adds a unique layer to it.


Thurbo Darjeeling Oolong

Temp 90C / Time 4 min

Mixture of short brown and green leaves with lots of silver tips. Nice and uniform in size.

Beautiful amber liquor. It is a powerful tea with the characteristic muscatel grape taste with a punch of fruitiness. It also has a long fruity aftertaste. Medium silky body. This was my favourite of all four. It is my first time tasting an oolong from Darjeeling and I loved it, it has something special!


Castleton Moonlight Black Tea

Temp 90C / Time 4 min

The dry leaves are olive green and brown with presence of silver tips: the classic beautiful colour of a fine first flush Darjeeling.

Bright light caramel brown liquor. Very fresh, fruity with the distinctive muscatel taste of Darjeeling black teas. Very low astringency and medium bodied. Short but very pleasant aftertaste. A very complex tea.


 

Thank you Golden Tips Tea for the tea, it feels like I have travelled. From the packaging to the tea itself it, everything was brilliant. It definitely grows my interest to visit the tea fields in India even more.

http://goldentipstea.com

Welcome to Blends for Friends

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Welcome to Blends for Friends, the place where it is all about tea.

Alex Probyn started Blends for Friends with the purpose of using his experience as a Master Tea Taster to create bespoke blends for people, initially friends and family. Today he still supplies and makes blends for customers but also to businesses around the world in much larger volumes. His solid career and experience in the tea industry as well as his love for tea are surely part of his business’ success.

I met him in 2012 at a Masterclass at the Langham Hotel in London. After the class I approached him and expressed my interest to learn more about tea. Unfortunately he wasn’t giving any other training at the moment but he said that if I was interested, I could go to Blends for Friends to help out with his business in exchange for tea training. It was a deal!

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So I went there in February of last year for the first time and spent two weeks breathing, smelling, touching, blending and tasting tea, just what I was looking for. It was a great opportunity for me to explore, learn and have a hands-on experience working with tea.

I tasted more than three hundred teas and herbs during those weeks and I even remember getting dizzy because of how much air and mix of herbs and teas I tried. It was also my first time blending samples for customers as well as working on my own blends. Another valuable experience I cherish was the tasting session as part of a consultancy for an important tea brand: the preparation of the tasting and the evaluation of the tea samples were exhaustive and systematic, according to the highest standards.

IMG_1537One of the things I also liked about BFF was that almost every member of the staff knows a lot about tea, probably because there are ongoing tasting sessions open to all staff so you can always have a break and try new blends, herbs, spices and teas. Another great thing is that there are plenty of teapots and cups that you can use to make yourself and others a cup of tea and you are encouraged to do so. You can be as creative as you want, making your own blend or choosing any tea you particularly fancy, at any time, as many times you want. Did I say unlimited tea?

IMG_1600I am proud to say that I have joined and experienced almost all areas of the tea process before it gets to the final product and it has been enlightening.

I went back in November again and I was amazed (but not surprised) by how much Blends for Friends had grown in size, in staff, in numbers and every aspect of the business since I went the first time. They now have two working sites with new blending, packaging and stock areas, new machines and of course, new temporary and permanent staff.

Alex is one of the most generous persons I have met in the industry, he is not only passionate about what he does but he is also the kind of person that will give you the confidence and the tools for you to try and do the things you really want. I truly appreciate his generosity and kindness and I am very fortunate to have him as a guide in my present and future endeavors.

While I write this post I am sipping a milk oolong, one of the “top five staff favourites” teas at Blends for Friends. Definitely one of the best choices if you want almost everyone to say “yes please” after you have brewed a pot of tea to share.

Last but not least, I wholeheartedly want to thank everybody at Blends for Friends for their warm welcome and for making me feel part of your team. Special thanks to Sara for taking care of me and for being so wonderful. It was great to see you all again and I look forward to joining you later on this year!

Thank you!!!

http://www.blendsforfriends.com

Spain Uncovered: Tea in Barcelona

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Hello!

Today I am featured in the Podcast “Spain Uncovered” talking with Pilar Orti about Tea in Barcelona. Below you will find the link to the interview in English but there is also a Spanish version available on the website: http://www.spainuncoveredpodcast.net/

Thank you so much Pilar for having me as a guest in your wonderful podcast. It was a pleasure talking to you!

Full interview: Spain Uncovered: Tea in Barcelona

 

Tea with Victoria Fernández

Victoria Fernandez

I met Victoria about 4 years ago when we were both living in Buenos Aires and I can still remember when she said she was moving to Europe. Few years later we connect again, now in Spain. She lives in Madrid where she continues working as a freelance artist doing animations, illustrations, piñatas, set design, props construction and display windows among other creative projects.

Vicky recently came to Barcelona and I asked her about collaborating together in a small tea project for my blog. I have always been a big fan of her work as I think it truly shows her personal style and unique way of seeing things. My plan was to ask her to try one tea and create an illustration inspired by her experience tasting that specific tea. I had seen works of her about food, coffee, her famous cats and dogs series and I thought that tea could also be a great theme. I was really looking forward to see her style put into the context of tea, it had to be fantastic!

So I chose one of my favourite blends by Mariage Frères, Thé Vert au Tibet, as I wanted a powerful tea, full of aromas and flavors. I made a sample for her with some instructions on how to prepare it and enjoy it, step by step as well as the original description of the tea by Mariage Frères that says: Green tea with floral (rose, jasmine) and citrus (bergamot, mandarin) fragrances, enhanced by a vegetal undertone held by the green tea”

“The fragrant green jade leaves yield a bright, limpid, golden infusion, which carries you up to the rooftop of the world!”

The only request was that she would make some time to prepare the tea and enjoy it with no rush. So I put everything together and sent it over the post.

One of the things she told me when she got the envelope was that her mailbox was perfumed by the tea and she loved it.

Few weeks later she sent me the illustration and told me she had the tea with her boyfriend and they both agreed that the tea was “fresh (represented in the blue color and the rain), relaxing (as the mountains, with a bucolic feeling and nature) and because it has a citrusy taste she also added a clementine slice as the main element”.

It was challenging, she said. Not in terms of drawing or designing but for putting a feeling, a sensation, a smell and a taste into an illustration and I agree, it is not as easy as it sounds. It happens a lot with smells, they trigger memories and sensations that are hard to explain with words as well as to draw, paint or even sing.

I am in love with this illustration. It wonderfully shows a sensorial experience as if a whole new world unfurls and comes to life from the cup of tea, almost like a magic lamp of aromas, flavors and images.

I like when images, words, thoughts, aromas are put together to become something bigger, to complement each other, to add meaning or even just a particular aesthetics to something. In this case to “represent” the experience of drinking tea.

It is a pleasure to work with people you like and admire sharing ideas and working together and I was very much looking forward to this one in particular so thank you Vicky for sharing your love and talent!

To see more of Victoria’s work please visit: http://victoriafernandez.me

FOP Yunnan Green

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This is a tea I recently tried and, I must say, it was love at first taste. It is a green tea from the Province of Yunnan in the far southwest of China. Yunnan borders Burma, Laos and Vietnam and it is renown for producing tea especially fine pu-erhs and black teas for hundreds of years. It also produces rice, flowers, tobacco and mushrooms among other agricultural products.

The letters FOP stand for Flowery Orange Pekoe that means that this tea is formed of long leaves and tips which you will see in silver color.

The dry leaves are dark green, quite uniform and tightly curled with plenty of tips. The aroma is also remarkable, already sweet, fresh and flowery. It reminds me of the smell of steamed plantain leaves that are used in Latin America to wrap some types of food.

For this tea I used a water temperature of 75 C and let it steep for 2 minutes. The colour of the liquor resulted in a nice light amber. The aroma is very floral and vegetal with the characteristic toasted notes of the Chinese green teas. It also smells to me like pipe, very subtle but deep, like the long-lasting trace my neighbor leaves every time he goes out. 

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It has a nice rounded body, a sweet and honey-like lasting aftertaste and a moderate astringency. Sometimes I also brew it at 70 C for two minutes just to get all the sweetness and the honeydew melon taste.The second infusion is as good as the first one so I will definitely try a third one the next time.

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The weather is getting colder every day and I am still craving this tea every morning. It reminds me of gunpowder a little bit -which I also love- but much more flowery and fragrant. I highly recommend this tea, it is versatile, perfect for any time of the day and year. If you try it please let me know your thoughts.

Thank you for reading!

Teascopia meets Blueyellow

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I haven’t met Caroline in person yet but I do know her herbs. We got in touch through a friend we have in common that recently came to Barcelona and told me about Caroline’s project of aromatic herbs blueyellow. She had also told her about my blog and my tea project, so she formally introduced us.

Without much brainstorming or clear ideas about our new “project”, Caroline sent me the list of the seasonal herbs she had available so we could chose the ones we thought could match well with tea. Few weeks later she came to Barcelona and brought me the beautiful bouquet. Since I was away that week my husband kindly met with her and received the herbs on my behalf. When I came back home the smell was striking, all over the house… So nice and fragrant!

So tea and fresh aromatic herbs? What a perfect combination! It’s time to start tasting and blending these herbs with tea. In the bouquet there were: Wild Bergamot (Monarda), Lemon Bee Balm (Melissa), Mugwort (Artemisa), Anise Hyssop and Spicy Oregano. Most of them I had tried before in their dried version except for the bergamot leaves from which I just knew the essential oil extracted from the fruit.

I started by infusing each one of them alone, just to see how they tasted and behaved in hot water. Then I would write some ideas and ingredients I wanted to add and try. I did many tests, blending the fresh herbs with other dried herbs and teas until I was pleased with each one of them.

I am finally happy to present these 5 blends:

Blend # 1: Anisse Hyssop, Rose buds and Yin Zhen Silver Needles

Sweet, spicy, flowery, refreshing and soothing. A nice pale yellow liquor with a fresh and delicate aroma. Perfect as a mid-morning tea.

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Blend # 2: Wild bergamot leaves, Chamomile buds, High Mountain Oolong and Calendula petals

The fruitiness of the oolong combined with the light but peppery taste of the bergamot leaves and the sweet taste of the chamomile buds makes this blend a calming tea. Nice amber and deep yellow liquor.

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Blend # 3: Lemon Bee Balm and Flower tea

Citrusy and almost mentholated flavour. The flavor of the Lemon Bee is strong as well as its aftertaste. The flower tea just adds a soft tea base for this blend. I would personally add some honey to balance the flavour of the lemon bee just a bit!

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Blend # 4: Wild Bergamot leaves, Rose petals and Hibiscus

Just an infusion with no tea in it. The sweetness of the rose petals with the tangy flavour of the hibiscus and the citrusy flavour of the bergamot make a lovely blend to enjoy hot or cold. Lovely color and festive taste.

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Blend # 5 Mugwort, Elderflower and Jasmine green tea

Refreshing, delicate and flowery. Ideal for any time of the day.

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Overall my favourite herb was the anisse hyssop, its flavour is so sweet and fragrant that really caught me. The flower and the leaves are also exquisite and beautiful.

The bergamot was very nice, yet very different to the essential oil from the fruit. I loved the fact that the bergamot leaf infusion has been made for a long time by American natives for stomachaches, fever, colics and insomnia. So its medicinal properties plus its delicate flavour make it a good choice to blend with almost any kind of tea.

The lemon bee balm was also a great surprise as it literally has nothing to do with its dried version. The smell and taste is powerful and strong as well as its aftertaste. I found it challenging to blend with, because it would overlap the taste of everything else. So, I decided not to fight too much against it and just let it be, putting it together with a flower tea. Loved it!

The little spicy oregano stem I didn’t use. I kept it dry to put it on a nice homemade pizza or sauce. Cheeky me!

The mugwort was easy and nice to blend with. It blended perfectly with the jasmine and the elderflower.

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I really loved this collaboration, blending tea with fresh herbs was simply wonderful and I will definitely continue mixing and matching new herbs and teas! To know more about blueyellow please visit http://blueyellow.co where you will find all the varieties of aromatics available and the story behind this fantastic project. I am also certain that Caroline would be delighted to guide you through her herbs and answer any question you may have!

It has been a pleasure to work with someone like Caroline that puts so much love into what she does and to have the opportunity to share our passions (tea and herbs) in such a beautiful project!

Thank you!

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