by Cassandra Vincent
Tea fests are a great excuse to get together with other tea lovers and explore both beloved flavors and new tastes. It is always good to see Bana Tea, Harney & Sons, Glenburn Estate (love their Monsoon Darjeeling), Chado and the Master of the Oolong, Thomas Shu of JT & Tea. At the most recent LA International Tea Festival I met a few new faces:
A medical professional and a tech professional share a love for tea and a new East coast tea line is born carrying a wide range of teas in every category including yellow and puerh.
Ceylon tea is one of my favorite single origin teas. Basilur tea is focused on Ceylon tea in various beautiful packaging options including ornate tins and decorative foil bags. I tried a mango and pineapple version. Though I don’t usually like fruit in tea this was surprisingly well balanced with that deep yet floral Ceylon tea flavor coming through loud and clear. www.thebasilurtea.com
Denong tea Inc. is the US branch of parent company Denong Tea Company, and specializes in puerh teas of which I tried 3 each with distinctively different characteristics yet all were smooth. One of those teas was from a wild grown tea tree and another from trees hundreds of years old. The oldest of the trees they source is in excess of 2,700 years old. If that tree could talk! www.denongtea.com
Waterfall Tea - chai
Waterfall tea line is not new to the LA Tea Fest but has a new powdered Urban Chai line including a lemograss flavor and a ginger flavor that was surprisingly authentic tasting. I don’t usually expect a powdered chai to have a traditional taste but these had the thick, creaminess and powerful black tea flavor of a chai from a real Indian restaurant. Being the owners are Indian themselves (The Shah family) they know what authentic flavor is and created a powdered version that stands up well.
Caravan Tea carries single origin teas. I tried a Himalayan Gold which was deliciously ballsy and another called Dark Rose from Hunan, China (fermented though not called puerh in this case) which had a very natural, light touch of rose that allowed the tea’s smooth, earthy yet mellow character to shine. www.caravan-tea.com
Nepal Tea is a single origin organic line inspired by family and a desire to give not just the joy of tea but improvement of life for the people and earth involved in the growing of it. Beautiful images on natural looking packaging with both loose leaf and bagged options. I tried a very satisfying Kanchanjangha Noir black tea that was robust, full bodied, a tad woodsy and sweet – worth drinking straight up or with milk. I also tried a White Prakash that was delicious at both a 1 min and 3 min steep. My palate caught vegetal tones and a touch of smokiness in the background. www.nepalteallc.com
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