Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Recycle Brita Filters and #5 plastics!

Preserve has partnered with Whole Foods Market, Organic Valley and Stonyfield Farms to bring you items made from recycled #5 plastics and Brita Filters! We thought we would pass along this vital piece of information since we know many of our customers are using brita filters for their tea!

You can now visit select Whole Foods Market with #5 plastics donation stations or you can send them right to Preserve.

Check out the following link for details on helping minimize land fills!

PS: I have tried the toothbrushes and I can assure you they do not taste like brita filters!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Sencha Sakura (Cherry Blossom Sencha)

Living in Milwaukee, WI and enjoying six months of brutal Winter makes all of us yearn for the first signs of Spring. The smell of wet earth taking in rays of sun, seeing swollen buds on bare limbs and most of all, most of all, hearing birds chirp their sweet little songs.

We dreamily gaze out the window in our office and think of what our dear friends in Japan are experiencing right now. I can see it now, strolling under clear blue skies, amazing green tea in hand, and those sweet little sakura blossoms starting to push their way through the thick skin of their buds. No longer will they be dormant, they will flourish for weeks and fill the skyline with white and many variations of pink.

This Friday brings us the FIRST day of Spring, the Milwuakee Art Museum After Dark evet AND the launch of Sencha Sakura! This is the first time we've offered Sencha Sakura and we are thrilled to do so.

Sencha Sakura is a blend of Sakura cherry flowers and the specially cured leaves of Sakura cherry trees, which accentuate the smooth, sweet and refreshing character of our deep-steamed Sencha.
We excitedly cupped the tea at our office and were unbelievably impressed. A
unique aspect to this tea is that our dear friends who harvested and blended it in Japan used real cherry flowers and specially cured leaves. Unlike other cherry blossom teas we've previously tried, this one contains no oils or flavorings.

The green tea base for this blend is fukamushi, or deep steamed sencha. The small tender leaves are brittle and break through the deep steam process. This aids in the release of flavors and ultimately adds to the rich and creamy mouthfeel this tea is known for. Due to the small size of the leaf, it's important to use a teapot with a fine mesh screen. Here at the office we use the Tea Flower Kyusu and Plum Blossom Kyusu. They both work wonderfully!

Brewed Sencha Sakura after first infusion

We brewed one tablespoon (7 grams) per 8 oz of water at 160 degrees for 1 minute. This was the perfect temperature to release enough of the floral aroma without making the tea too strong. (We also cupped it at 150 but the water was not hot enough to release the floral aroma.)

This tea has a really nice balance of floral aroma and green character. It is not overpowering at all. I would even recommend it to those who are not regular floral tea drinkers.

The vivid green infusion of Sencha Sakura

We cannot wait to launch it this Friday and make it available to our wonderful customers! If you haven't already done so, sign up for our newsletter as we just may include a discount in it...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Tasting Green and Red Rooibos

The locals of Cedarberg first discovered that the fine, needle-like leaves of the Aspalathus linearis plant made for a sweet and aromatic tea. They harvested the wild-growing plants, chopped them with axes and then bruised them with hammers, leaving them to ferment in heaps, before drying them in the sun. Today Rooibos is still processed much the same way it originally was.

After proper airing the Rooibos is left in low heaps to ferment. A process of enzymatic oxidation takes place during which the product changes from green to the characteristic amber colour and develops the distinctive flavour and sweet aroma of Rooibos.

We offer both Green Rooibos which is rooibos before the oxidation process and also Red Rooibos which is post oxidation.

Pictured left: Red Rooibos, Pictured right: Green Rooibos

Featuring Rooibos on our home page this month has found me answering the following question on a daily basis...

"What is the flavor difference between green and red rooibos?"

Instead of relying on my taste buds alone, I decided to recruit my colleagues.


Green Rooibos
Glass Tea Pitcher with Brew Basket
Boiling Water
5 minutes

Red Rooibos
Glass Tea Pitcher with Brew Basket
6 minutes.

Here is what they had to say...

Green Rooibos:

"Full flavor, slightly nutty and carmel notes"
"Ripe Fruit, Hint of moss, cherry note"
"Little citrus at the end, bush, sweet"
"Light, vanilla, refreshing"
"Slight grassiness,light and thin body"
"Smoky, fruity, sweet"

Red Rooibos:
"Rich Nectar, Caramel Sweet and nougat wafer"
"Nice body, warming, sweet nectar"
"Sweet, green woody and tangy"
"Lighter taste, not as full mouth feel, slightly sweet & fruity"
"Soothing and smooth, full body, little citrus note at the end"
"Thick liquor, grassy, sweet and rich"

Left: Red Rooibos infusion, Right: Green Rooibos infusion

Thursday, March 5, 2009


GyoKuro! Precious Jade Dew Drop! Umami!

Thanks to Joshua, we had the pleasure of tasting four different GyoKuro samples today. For this purposes of this blog entry, I've written only about the Secret Garden that we carry.

One of the greatest aspects of loose leaf tea is having the ability to experiment and explore the many different nuances that each tea offers. With that in mind, my main goal was to use two different brewing methods to taste our current offering, Gyokuro Secret Garden. Gyokuro Secret Garden is a Kyotonabe Gyokuro made from a single Aracha batch which is matured for one year. Most Gyokuro connoisseurs will make their Gyokuro at very low temperatures and steep for short amounts of time. Since this is a matured Gyokuro, we want to extract all of the complex flavors including the creamy sweetness that many look for. The rich and creamy sweetness stems from high amino acids counts including L-Theanine being produced in early spring which is heightened by shading techniques and the unique composting and fertilization techniques developed by artisan farmers. The secret composting and fertilizing recipes are passed on from generation to generation and offer adequate nitrogen for this highly revered and purposely stressed plant.

For the cupping I used 5 grams of loose tea as suggested on our website. I know many use about 10 grams and will steep at lower temperatures, but I wanted to start with our own cupping guidelines to show how this tea would perform.

Brew one: 175° F, 5 grams, 3 minutes.

I found that the matured tea had amazing complexity when brewed at the 175
° F temperature. There was an intense flavor of umami but along with the initial sweet and smooth creaminess were fresh green notes that lingered on the palate. I dreamily tasted pine with a consistency one of my colleagues called 'brothy'. There is a sweet and almost salty note that reminds me of the mist of the sea. The aroma and flavor changed and had a very strong lingering note of green bean. My final thought was that this cup was incredibly complex and it left me wanting a second infusion.

Brew two: 130° F, 5 grams, 3 minutes.

I then brewed the same tea at 130° F for three minutes. This cup was also quite nice BUT was very one dimensional. It was full of rich umami but the more complex notes of pine were lost.

I can understand that people love the delicate infusion and the creaminess that a lower water temperature will yield. I personally want complexity, I want the flavors to dance in my mouth and linger thereafter. I love that we all expect something different from our tea and it never seizes to amaze me how different teas prepared in various ways can please so many of us.

Water, tea and magic.

I thank Jenny for taking the pictures and I thank Ghazal for cupping the teas with us but most importantly, we all thank the dedicated and talented farmers who have given us this amazing gift of GyoKuro!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Tea with Loved Ones

Tea has the power to bring together generations in a ceremony that helps us slow down and appreciate what is right before us, the present moment. Having family all across the country makes it difficult to enjoy a cup of tea together. My family ALWAYS receives tea as gifts but sending tea in a box to them always leaves me with the desire to prepare it for them and enjoy it with them.

This weekend, an impromptu flight to meet my first ever nephew in Newark allowed me to finally fulfill my desire. Not surprisingly, I would make my family one of my favorite teas, Silver Needle. Magic happens when water is poured over the delicate and fuzzy buds and bai hao fills the water! What floats in my cup? Misty mountains and bits of Chinese Spring.
It brought me great joy to watch them as my family looked in awe as the leaves unfurled and slowly released their enchanting and intoxicating aromas.

For three consecutive days we began our mornings with multiple infusions. We ate breakfast and sat around the table for hours watching and tasting the different nuances each subsequent infusion presented us. I was finally able to make my family tea, to make them a beverage that has consumed me for the past three years, a beverage and experience I feel so proud to share with my family. Hours later we were still giddy from the effect of L-Theanine. We were rosy in the face, experienced warmth in Winter and most importantly, enjoyed the power of the needle.