Late last year I received a package with two amazing teas from India. There were given to me by Naveen Murugesan -who kindly contacted me on his trip to Barcelona- and whose brother in law owns the factory in Nilgiri. Unfortunately we didn’t have the chance to meet in person but we were in touch by email until I had the package with me.
The tea brand is Korakundah, a name given after the plantation where these teas are grown and produced. According to the Australian Tea Masters, Korakundah plantation in India is the highest altitude tea factory in the world at approximately 7000 feet and they belong to the United Nilgiri Tea estates Co Ltd (UNITEA).
The two teas that I received are an organic white tea, a rarity from Nilgiri, and a classic black tea typical of this region.
Thank you Naveen for being so kind and contacting me during your stay in Barcelona. It has been a pleasure to taste these teas and to be able to enjoy many cups just for myself. I hope you enjoyed your visit and I look forward to tasting more of these delicious teas in the future.
For more information about Korakundah teas please visit:
Few months ago I attended a Bontemae class at Matcha House Europe, in the barrio of Gracia in Barcelona. Bontemae is a “simplified” version of chanoyu, the Japanese tea ceremony, but it is still very complex, deep and difficult to perform. It is based on the same principles of the full ceremony only that it is performed in a tray on a table instead of on the tatami at the teahouse.
Our teacher was Nuria, a Japanese Spanish teacher that has been studying chanoyu for more than 20 years in Japan at the Urasenke school. We were five people around the table from which just three of us were students. Together we shared an amazing two-hour class, watching carefully, learning, practising and contemplating the grace of each movement she performed. We learnt how to clean the utensils, how to whisk the matcha, fold the “chakin” (the silk cloth) among other things, and we practised the whole routine at least couples of times. We ate our “okashi” and enjoyed every minute of the class.
One of the things I appreciate the most about the Japanese Tea Ceremony is the level of detail, the simplicity and the complexity of what seems obvious and simple; the acknowledgement of space, surroundings and the ceremony or ritual itself. The respect for everything and for everybody, the feeling of full awareness and what this all mean to you in a personal way.
I treasure every tea ceremony or class I have attended, each one has been unique and has taught me different things. I love the opportunity it provides to connect to the simplicity and the beauty of things, to share just by being there and the way it makes everything so special. It always leaves me a feeling of fulfilment and peace.
I want to finish this post with the phrase Ichi-go ichi-e (一期一会), a concept that I love that is also connected to ‘the way of tea’ that has been translated as “one time, one meeting” or “one encounter; one opportunity”. Meaning, roughly, that every moment is unique and it cannot be repeated the same way…. That always remind how important it is to enjoy life in every way possible.
Thank you Matcha House and Nuria for this opportunity, I hope we can enjoy another class very soon!
This month I received tea samples from Grey’s Teas, a brand that I had heard of but that I hadn’t have the chance to try so far. So, I was fortunate enough to be contacted by Richard Grey, his founder, to taste and review some of their teas. I chose samples that were new for me so I could also take the opportunity to discover the brand through teas I am not familiar with.
Tai Ping Hou Kui
I find it light bodied, quite vegetal but also nutty and with toasted notes that remind me slightly to hojicha. Spinachy, a bit citrusy as well almost like lemon. Aftertaste quite toasted like tobacco and wood. Judging from its appearance, I never imagined these distinctive roasted notes coming out of this green tea.
Kenya White Lelsa Silver Tip
Wet leaves have citrusy aroma like passion fruit or tamarind. The flavour is like hay with a dark chocolate long aftertaste. The color of the liquor is yellowish, not so pale to be a white tea. Quite an interesting discovery!
Formosa GABA Oolong
Wet leaves smell like dried plum. It is very fruity and heavy in the mouth, round and velvety. Low astringency, notes of pineapple and a toasted end. And, on top of that, you get all the benefits of GABA in one cup! This formosa Oolong was my overall favourite.
Thank you Grey’s Teas for the samples, it has been a pleasure to taste them all!
The global tea community is huge and diverse but more than anything, it is very friendly and supportive. Everybody seems to be moved and inspired by tea in any form and it feels like a stockmarket where everyone is constantly exchanging information, ideas, products, samples, reposting pictures, blog posts, promotions and it is truly amazing and fun!
In this context I met Vicky. Her father Mr.Hu and her grandmother are the owners of TanLong Tea, a family tea business headquartered in China that she supports and manages from Toronto, Canada where she currently lives. After seeing a picture of a Golden Monkey tea on my instagram, we got in touch through email and agreed for her to send me some tea samples to review on my blog. Since then we are somehow always in touch.
In her message she told me a bit of the story behind TanLong Tea and also commented that: “all of the PuEr teas and YunNan fine black teas we carry are selected and produced by my father, who is a Ministry of Labor certified Tea Master in China. He stays in Yunnan and Canton province to source tea and supply teas to stores over China”. She also added that they work along with the tea farmers and their communities to improve the lives in the remote mountains and to promote their teas worldwide.
Few weeks ago Vicky shared the good news that the Company has received their testing report on pesticides from an Agriculture and Food Laboratory in Canada for the Hu’s Ancient Tea Tree Puerh and they found no pesticides and fertilizers chemicals in the tea so, congratulations on that achievement as well.
I had great expectations about this tasting as it is not that usual to have the chance to get in touch directly with the tea producers, without intermediaries, so I was looking forward to trying all the teas. It truly fascinates me and makes me think about the remote areas where these ancient tea trees grow, all the production process it requires and the incredible craftsmanship there is behind each cup of tea.
Let’s taste in a thoughtful way…!
Thank you TanLong Tea and specially Vicky for getting in touch and sharing your tea with me. I am always in the hunt for new teas, providers and farmers and TanLong teas has been a great discovery.
I wholeheartedly wish you all the best!
“Minimaps are small travel guides to share a little bit of your world and enjoy someone else’s. The project is collectively created by travelers, walkers, nomads, hedonists, nihilists, epicures, readers, photographers and illustrators from all around the planet, who want to share with others what they love and know best: their favorite bookshops in Buenos Aires, the things that surprised them when they got lost in Lisbon, the best places to eat ramen in Portland, the best spots for selfies in the selfie capital of the world, etc.”
I have had the pleasure to be the editor of the Minimap dedicated to “Tea in Barcelona” in collaboration with the wonderful illustrator Valentina Alvarado, and now I am very happy to be able to share it with you. I enjoyed every minute of the making process as I not only had the chance to write about tea and drink many cups along the way, but also to meet fascinating people and new tea spots that I didn’t know before.
I hope this map can serve as a guide for people and tea lovers coming to Barcelona and that it allows them to connect and share their love for this wonderful beverage.
My invitation is to visit Minimaps to download the full map and also to have a look around as it is full of good stories, interesting places and fun things to do in various cities. The best part is that all the maps are free to download so you can also start a collection!
Special thanks to Ana, Editor in Chief and creator of this amazing project for inviting me to participate!
If you have any comments or suggestions, tea places that are worth visiting or questions, please do get in touch! I would love to hear from you!
Happy tea everyone! Enjoy!
Last February I went to Berlin for few days to meet with some friends during the Berlinale Film Festival. As my friends already knew the city I didn’t make any plans but there was just one thing I was really looking forward on doing: visiting Paper and Tea, a tea shop that I love.
Since we “knew” each other through social media, a week before my trip I sent them a email saying that I was going to Berlin and I wanted to say hi, but unfortunately I didn’t get any reply. Nevertheless I told my friend Marlies, who also loves tea, that we should go anyway and check out the store as we’ll be able to get some nice teas to bring back home and also just to have a look around.
We went to the Concept Store, a gorgeous shop located in the neighbourhood of Charlottenburg where we wandered around sniffing all the teas on display, admiring the collection of teaware while we sipped a black Keemun they had kindly offered us.
We had finally made up our minds choosing some teas and they told us that we could have a small tasting. I wanted to try the Maia’s Pick and we had the opportunity to try the Sakura Garden as well. We had a lovely tasting and made the final decision on the teas we wanted.
At the till I mentioned to the guy from the shop that I had a tea blog and that a week before I wrote to them saying that I was coming and that I wanted to say hi and finally meet them in person. He was very surprised and sorry that I didn’t get any reply from them as they are always happy to welcome bloggers and offer proper tasting, a nice tour through the store and many things more. But the truth of the matter is that he had done so already. He gave us a great tasting and he was very nice! His name is René and we stayed even longer chatting away. He also gave me more tea samples to taste (coming below) and a couple of the signature tote bags with the P&T message: “You drink coffee I drink tea my dear” for me and my friend. He was very kind, welcoming and interesting to talk to and we even exchanged emails and cards. So I am glad I introduced myself after all!
Here are the samples I got: a White Pu Er Bai Ya from Yunnan China, a green Jade Bud (organic bio) from Hubei China and a Sencha, Sakura Garden from Mie Japan.
I also got for myself a delicious Osmanthus Oolong “Change-e Forever” that I love to have in the morning when I want to daydream: roasted and flowery at the same time, well balanced and perfect. And the “Maia’s Pick” that combines the grassy taste and colour of a sencha with the sweetness of a Chinese green. Absolutely delicious!
This store really exceeded my expectations in every sense. Not only do they have a gorgeous, minimalistic space to celebrate tea but also high quality tea from almost every corner of the world, plus they know how to make people fall in love with their selection.
Thank you Paper and Tea and René for having us!
In this opportunity we head off to Northern Bangladesh, to the region of Teatulia.
Teatulia is a company that specialises in organic tea from their own single USDA-certified organic garden in northern Bangladesh, offering a range of teas as well as herbal infusions.
I have had the pleasure to taste and review three of their award-winning organic teas from the North American Tea Championship: a white, an oolong and a black tea and now to share my notes with you.
Few months ago I was talking to a Wine Sommelier, as I was looking to buy an organic and natural wine, and she made me taste one of her favourites that she described as “wild”. She used the term to say it was “as nature intended” and I loved it as it perfectly described the taste and the feeling of that particular wine. The experience still lingers on my mind and I think the term can be applied to these teas as well. For me their best quality is precisely that they are natural but sophisticated at the same time, raw and refined; a fantastic result of the way they have been grown and produced.
I also appreciate the fact that this brand has a strong social commitment with the local community who works at the garden and the environment. In a world where profit and mass production is the norm, it is refreshing to come across with companies with a sensitive and sustainable approach to business.
Thank you Teatulia for this experience!