Tea Spotlight: Earl Grey Prime

The Official Blog for Hē Chá Tea

Today’s Hē Chá Tea Spotlight focuses on our truly unique Earl Grey Prime black tea.

Why do we say that our Earl Grey Prime is truly unique? We say that because Hē Chá Tea is the only brand in the United States that offers this specific blend! We are the first, and at the time of this post, only, brand in the United States to import directly from the specific tea factory located in the famous Uva region of Sri Lanka. After much time spent sampling this factory’s teas, blending various flavors of teas, and sampling again, we finally developed a perfect combination. So, when we say that this Earl Grey product is unique to Hē Chá Tea, we mean it! You will not find this exact single origin tea and blend anywhere else in the United States!

We have established the technical reasons as to why our Earl Grey Prime is truly…

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Aged Oolong in Grapefruit


After a few months of waiting for a few of these beautiful pieces of tea art to be available, I finally got my hands on two each of the aged oolong grapefruits, and two aged puer grapefruits. Thanks again to Rajiv, Vivek, and the rest of the Lochan family from Lochan Teas in Darjeeling, India, for sending these to me. I have never seen anything like this in the U.S., and cannot wait to try it out. Look for a review soon.

Second Tea Tasting Event Success!

Another successful tea tasting. People truly are getting excited over these teas!

The Official Blog for Hē Chá Tea

Our second tea tasting event took place on Sunday, December 1st at the Spring Street Cafe in Zelienople, Pennsylvania, and we are quite pleased with the outcome. Despite the busy holiday weekend, at least twenty guests attended. In addition, the people that got held up traveling, or otherwise could not attend this event, requested that a second event be scheduled at Spring Street Cafe, and so it has! The sign up sheet is filling up quickly already.

The guests were provided with some basic to intermediate levels of information on tea, focusing mostly on the products offered by Hē Chá Tea. Guests had the opportunity to learn about the features of dry tea leaves that should be observed to determine the level of quality, as well as the significant features of the infused tea leaves, as the leaves were passed around the room. Guests were also taught how the color and…

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Next Tea Tasting Event Scheduled – 12/01/2013

I will be performing my second tea tasting event on Sunday, December 1st at Spring Street Cafe in Zelienople, Pennsylvania. Read more details at hechateablog.com

The Official Blog for Hē Chá Tea

Good News! Our second tea tasting event has been scheduled!

This event will be held at the newly opened Spring Street Cafe on Sunday, December 1st, 2013 from 3:30 PM to 5:30 PM.

The Spring Street Cafe is located at 100 E Spring Street, Zelienople, Pennsylvania, 16063. Seating is limited, and according to our last report, Spring Street Cafe is expecting thirty guests.

We are excited to showcase our new blend of Traditional Masala Chai at this event! The new blend contains 100% orthodox Assam black tea. There is no CTC (Crush Tear Curl) tea, and no flavoring added to the tea leaves. It is pure Assam black tea, hand blended with fresh Eastern spices, and imported directly from India. We just received the shipment this week! The aroma is complex and spicy, yet not overpowering. The tea liquor is a lively orange-red color. The taste is very nicely balanced…

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Confessions of a Tea Blogger TAG!

When I am talking about tea to people, they ask me many of the questions that are listed below. Thanks to Nicole Martin from the TeaForMePlease blog, now I have a reason to post the answers. Now when people ask me the same questions, I can just hand them my card with my blog URL on it, and tell them to find this post! Just kidding. Anyway, thank you to Nicole for tagging me to do this confessions post. Let’s get started…

1) First, let’s start with how you were introduced & fell in love with the wonderful beverage of tea.
For the first twenty-six years of my life, tea was consumed mostly in the heavily sweetened form of canned or bottled tea (Brisk, Sobe, Arizona, etc). Arguments aside whether or not those products really count as “tea.” As for hot tea, it was only something that I drank when I was sick. That all turned around on one day. My wife had gone to the mall, and randomly decided to stop by Teavana. She purchased a bag of a flavored white tea blend (named below). I looked at the receipt. Once I regained consciousness and picked myself up off the floor, I asked her to brew a pot. For that price, this drink had better be the best liquid that ever hit my tongue. Well, I am not sure if I could give it that much credit (especially now), but I have to admit that I was surprised by how refreshing it was for a hot tea. By the time we hit the end of that bag, I was begging my wife to go to the mall. However, due to the bright and loud colors of that store, I had my wife do all the talking and purchasing, as I pretended to be the typical disinterested male who had been dragged in by his wife. Eventually, I got over that phobia, and became a regular there, spending way too much money on every visit. Thankfully for myself, I was only a Teavana nut for about eight months before seeking more exotic and interesting teas. Since then, I have not bought tea from Teavana.

2) What was the very first tea blend that you ever tried?
Teavana’s Golden Mojito White Tea. It was citrusy, minty, and light. Looking back, I still think it was my favorite product from Teavana.

3) When did you start your tea blog & what was your hope for creating it?
I started my tea blog only four months ago, in July of 2013. My initial purpose was the same as Nicole’s, I just wanted somewhere to have a record of all of the teas that I had been trying. I had began experimenting with importing teas from China, India, and Japan, so I decided to make my blog slightly different than others that I had seen. I wanted to make my blog strictly about straight, unflavored and unscented teas that I had imported. Since I was trying to find business partners to begin a tea company with, I wanted to create a more formal, objective review blog. Now that I have that business partner, I have toned down the formality ever so slightly, and tried to make the blog a little more personal.

4) List one thing most rewarding about your blog & one thing most discouraging.
I truly enjoy writing, and truly enjoy trying new styles of tea, so the blog really gives me the opportunity to do two things that I have a passion for. At the moment, just finding the time to post can be discouraging. When you have two full time jobs that you try to accomplish in the same nine hour work day window, you really just want to go home and enjoy a pot of tea, and not necessarily spend more time and energy analyzing the tea rather than feeling it and enjoying it. Having a blog, if you take it seriously, can take on the burden of feeling like a job.

5) What type of tea are you most likely to be caught sipping on?
Although it is difficult for me to pick a favorite, I would say that there are three teas that I currently drink more often than others. A Supreme Yunnan Golden Snail black tea, a Supreme Grade Ti Kwan Yin from Anxi, and an unflavored Jinxuan (milk) oolong from Alishan, Taiwan. I am also a huge fan of Nuwara Eliya black, but do not have a fresh supply at the moment, sadly. I am working on that problem, though. 🙂

6) Favourite tea latte to indulge in?
Boring answer here, none. Tea is my balance to the many bad decisions I make diet-wise.

7) Favourite treat to pair with your tea?
I usually do not eat while enjoying tea. In fact, I will not eat for a half hour or more when I plan on having tea. I like to fully appreciate the tea. If I have friends or family over, and everyone is munching while playing a game or otherwise socializing, then I will have whatever food is on the table, and accordingly will not bother brewing a pot of my better teas, for I know that no one will be fully able to enjoy it.

8) If there was one place in the World that you could explore the tea culture at, where would it be & why?
If this were a personal trip, my first stop would be Taiwan. Nothing makes me happier than getting packages of Taiwan oolong and black tea samples. I would walk into the TRES buildings and personally thank every single person who works at the place that has brought us so many awesome tea cultivars. Not to mention the mountains would be a great place to reflect on life while enjoying a true high mountain oolong. After Taiwan, based on tea culture alone, the list would be Southwest China, Japan, Southeast China, Darjeeling and Assam, Sri Lanka, and the list goes on.

9 ) Any tea time rituals you have that you’d like to share?
In one area of my basement, I have my tea area. This used to be my bar and alcohol area until my son was born. Since then, all the alcohol and related barware has been replaced with teas and teaware. When I find time, and sadly that is not as often as I would like, I will prepare a very good tea, usually a sheng puerh or the supreme grade ti kwan yin mentioned above, turn the lights down to a very low level, turn on the meditation radio channel on Pandora at a low volume, and just be still. The only movement being the lifting of my cup. It is easy to understand how the mountain mystics of China could live as they did when I feel the depth of serenity during these few moments.

10) Time of day you enjoy drinking tea the most: Morning, Noon, Night or Anytime?
All day, every day. Most enjoyably after my son has gone to bed for the night, and I can take a few minutes to relax and slowly enjoy a pot, without having to be on top of everything going on in the house.

11) What’s one thing you wish for tea in the future?
My wish for tea is that more people develop an appreciation for it. Tea is more than just another naturally occurring material that can be used to make water taste better. It is a tonic, an elixir, a magical potion that is capable of more and better effects than any other single plant on this planet. As many have said, there are no words to describe the energy that eminates from tea, but I feel it. I cannot describe it. To me, it is spiritual, and brings me peace and serenity when nothing else can.

Thank you again, Nicole, for giving me the opportunity to participate in this. It has given me a chance to reflect on my past, present, and future with tea. Cheers!

TAG! I select Brenna from Seattle Coffee Gear to participate in this chain. @seacoffeegear

Thank you for taking your time to read this review. Please leave a comment and start a discussion.

Teas to Expand Your Palate – A Guest Post by Brenna Ciummo

It seems that the more I talk to people about loose leaf tea, the more often they ask a question similar to “What teas can I try that will help me understand the difference between the various types?” I can tell people for hours the differences between black and green teas, sheng and shu puerh teas, or the various levels of oxidation in oolong teas that make them so vastly different, but until people actually look at and experience the various types and styles of tea for themselves, they really have little to no idea what I am rambling about.

Thankfully, a new acquaintance of mine, Brenna Ciummo of Seattle Coffee Gear, offered to write a guest post with her suggestions on some diverse teas to expand your palate. Let’s see which teas Brenna suggests sampling to expand your palate further in to the vast world of tea tastes.

blueberry rooibos, cinnamon plum, ginger puerh, jasmine pearl and a cup of ginger puerh
blueberry rooibos, cinnamon plum, ginger puerh, jasmine pearl and a cup of ginger puerh

Teas to Expand Your Palate

You may have heard it is “tea time in America.” As tea is increasing in popularity and more and more tea shops are popping up around the country, it is an exciting time for tea enthusiasts. However, with a flood of new teas on the market, this can be a confusing time as well.  With so many teas out there to taste, where do you start? Or, if you like one type of tea, how do you know what other teas you will enjoy?

The simplest answer is to expand your palate and just start tasting new teas. While there is nothing wrong with having a “go-to” tea, it can also be fun to try sampling a variety of teas since they all have unique flavors. Who knows, you may even find a new favorite. If you’re looking for a place to start, try a few of the following teas; some are more traditional, while others are more exotic.

  • Oolong: Since oolong teas are only partly oxidized, they are often not as bitter (generally they have a sweeter taste with fruity or floral flavors). This makes oolongs a great introductory tea for developing your palate.
  • Milk Oolong: This unique tea is famous for its sweet milky taste and creamy, smooth texture. Some people even describe this tea as smelling and tasting like butter. If you enjoy sweet or floral teas, this is a good option for you.
  • White Peony: Along with Silver Needle, White Peony is one of the most popular white teas. If you haven’t tried a white tea before, White Peony’s mild and sweet flavor make it a good tea to start with.
  • African White Bud: A rare white tea from Kenya, this tea is much sweeter than most white teas, with no astringency. African White Bud has a floral flavor with hints of vanilla and lemon, making it a good choice for people who don’t like the grassier flavors sometimes found in white teas.
  • Huang Ya Cha: This Chinese yellow tea is sweet with a nuttier flavor and tends to have characteristics of both white and green teas, as it falls between the two categories. Authentic yellow teas are produced in limited quantities, making them very rare. If you get the chance to taste one, be sure to try it.
  • Sencha: This smooth green tea is rich in body with a brothy mouth feel. The tea’s strong seaweed and vegetal taste make it ideal for people who like “green” flavors.
  • Jasmine Pearl:  This green tea is made out of tender green leaves and buds that are hand rolled into small balls to form “pearls” and then scented with jasmine flowers. The flowers give the tea a sweet, floral taste with no bitterness. Jasmine Pearl tea also doesn’t have the seaweed flavor some green teas have, which often causes people to be turned off by them.
  • Darjeeling 1st Flush: Darjeeling teas are often referred to as the “the champagne of teas,” and first flush Darjeelings are the cream of the crop. The black tea has a bit of a bite, and a muscatel flavor with hints of honey or sweet florals.
  • Lapsang Souchong: This black tea is scented with pinewood smoke during it’s processing, giving it a definite smokey or “campfire” flavor. Since most people have a strong reaction to Lapsang Souchong and either love or hate it, it is a fun tea to experiment with and see which category you fall into.
  • Puerh (Pu’er): This post-fermented tea has a rich body and an earthy taste and smell. The robustness of this tea is great for those who are also coffee drinkers.

When sampling different teas, it is important to use all your senses to get the full experience. Note the color, smell, mouth feel and the flavor notes of each tea. When describing each aspect of the tea, try to be as specific as possible so that you remember one tea from the next. Some people jot down their thoughts in a journal so they have a record they can reference.

Since there can be quite a range of flavors, try several different grades to ensure you get a sense of each tea before you pass judgment on a certain type. For instance, when it comes to white tea, some people may find they dislike the grassy flavor of Silver Needle, but really enjoy the more floral White Peony. It’s also a good idea to try sampling teas from different regions and flushes as well, as these teas will all have different flavor profiles.

Since trying a number of different teas can become pricey, one of the best ways to do so is through samplers. That way, if you aren’t a fan of the tea, you aren’t stuck with a container full of tea you don’t enjoy, and if you’ve found a new favorite you can always purchase more to increase your supply.  If you are still not sure where to start, try checking out review sites such as this one, so you can get an idea of what other tea connoisseurs like and don’t like. Expanding your tea palate should be fun, not stressful. It is a chance to play around with different flavors and to explore teas you may have never heard of before. So sit back, relax and enjoy a cup of tea.

Brenna Ciummo is a writer for Seattle Coffee Gear and enjoys sharing her knowledge of all things coffee and tea. An avid tea drinker, she is always on the hunt for new teas to try. 


Thank you, Brenna, for your suggestions. I do not recall trying the African White Bud, but I can assure you that I will be looking for it soon. If I would be able to add one suggestion, in an attempt to provide one extra level of palate expansion, it would be an orthodox Assam black tea. Although not a personal favorite of mine, tasting the Camellia Sinensis Assamica teas as compared to the standard Chinese Sinensis Sinensis teas is an important part of understanding differences in the various teas. I also believe that it is quite easy to understand, taste, and feel the difference in an Assam black tea compared to black teas from China, Sri Lanka, or the Darjeeling or Nilgiri regions of India.

Excellent post, Brenna. Thank you again for your time and effort, and I hope to be able to post more of your thoughts on tea in the future. Thanks to everyone for reading. You may see more of Brenna’s work at http://www.seattlecoffeegear.com/learn. Cheers!


Blooming Camellia Sinensis Bush

Blooming Camellia Sinensis Bush

My wife snapped this picture of one of the camellia sinensis (tea) bushes at the Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh. What’s special about this bush? It is blooming with yellow tea flowers. Tea bushes do not last long in Pittsburgh, whether outside in a yard or inside a conservatory, so go to Phipps and try to locate this bush. It is in the tropical rainforest exhibit.

New Tea Journeyman Blog Site is Finally Up!

After a short vacation, and issues with switching blogging services, the Tea Journeyman is finally back on his feet. Not only will using WordPress make it easier for my readers to follow my posts, but it will also allow me to post more conveniently. I believe this will greatly increase my ability to post timely reviews from anywhere. Please look for daily improvements to this blog, as I am still adapting to the WordPress platform.