All posts in Dr. Oolong’s Blog

Happy Earth Day! Enjoy Nature’s Favorite Beverage…Tea!

The most popular beverageHere at Zhi Tea, we know that Earth Day is every day. Our customers do, too, and we love them for it. There are so many ways to show one’s appreciation for nature, and having a cup of tea is one of them.

Tea’s wonder is steeped in ancient traditions and the planet’s biodiversity. The cultivation and use of the tea plant is a testament to man’s relationship with the natural world. Over the centuries, the demand and appreciation for tea has grown. While that is a wonderful thing, it also brings to light many choices that have to be made to be a good steward of the art of tea and the environment in which it thrives. 

Committing to a standard of excellence is possible when committing to organic tea. Earth-friendly practices are possible every step of the way when considering planting, nurturing and harvesting of tea on the numerous plantations all over the world. All of Zhi’s teas are curated according to these values. Choosing organic tea allows one to know that he is enjoying a pesticide-free product and aligning with agricultural standards of sustainability and purity. And, it tastes great too!

When given a chance to “Pause, Reflect, Connect” this Earth Day, we hope you do so with a cup of Zhi tea. Together, we celebrate our connection to the planet’s wisdom and beauty as we strive to be ever mindful of her gifts. Happy Earth Day, tea lovers! – Dr. Oolong

Greetings from the Guangzhou Tea Markets!

Hong Kong TeaHello tea lovers,

Dr. Oolong here…saying hello from Asia!

After spending a day in Hong Kong, our China adventure continued today with a mind-boggling stop at the tea market here in Guangzhou. “All the tea in the China” doesn’t even begin to describe it. From exquisitely designed and extremely high-end teaware shops with gorgeous hand-crafted pots averaging in the $500-1000 US range, to modest stalls with open burlap sacks of low-grade tea a few feet away, it was a diverse market to say the least. Besides plenty of tea, another thing we shared in common was the torrential downpour of the day.

We found a couple favorite merchants and teas that occupied the majority of our time. As I was relearning how to “get my shop on,” I was cautious at first to make even a modest purchase. Remember, I am here not for business buying (although I am acquiring some teaware for the tea room); I am just picking up some interesting things for my own use.

So we settled into a nice relaxed tasting of a yi wu pu-erh which was quite smooth and got us into the groove. This was followed by an extensive session at a shop with zillions of little cups, among other things. We all found some well-made artisan and inexpensive cups to our liking, and I also scored a cute and unique yi xing pot for a reasonable price. Pics to come soon!

We also sipped snow chrysanthemum tea for a couple hours, which was a delight. Even though I have a gifted tiny stash of it at home in Austin, I hadn’t tried it until yesterday while in China. Crazy! It is a fantastic herbal tea! Great mouthfeel, surprisingly complex, and has a long sweet floral finish. I bought a little to bring back, as I also want to try blending with it; it is gorgeous and vibrant in addition to tasting great.

Truly, we barely scratched the surface of the tea market. You could literally spend a week there. Hundreds and hundreds of vendors. Thousands upon thousands of pu-erh cakes. Gorgeous and immense hand-carved tea tables. Relaxing and helpful sales people. And, there weren’t that many shoppers there so it was a mellow time. We capped our day with an outstanding Hakka lunch at a nearby restaurant. I love the rain, but arrived soaked. Note to self: buy an umbrella; they are cheap here!

I must point out that it helps greatly to have knowledgeable friends who also happen to speak Chinese. I would be lost without them.

So today we journey to a nearby city of which I have forgotten the name. Tomorrow we fly to Yunnan!

-Dr. Oolong

The Very Patient Old Man Dong Ding

Dr. OolongHowdy folks.  Dr. Oolong here.

Having recently arrived back from a most pleasant journey to Taiwan, I can safely say I am a changed man. The person I was when I set out to explore the world of Taiwanese teas, on the ground, at source, is no longer with us. The man that emerged is even more in awe and wonder of the beauty and mystery of Taiwanese teas and the Taiwanese people.

The first thing that really struck me was the incredible amount of work that goes into making a batch of oolong tea. Wow! Having participated first hand in several steps in the making of the tea itself, I can say my respect for the tea workers is quite high! It is a hard job!

I was lucky enough to share numerous tea cupping/tastings during my three weeks in Taiwan. I sampled various cultivars and methods of production, from low oxidized to highly oxidized, and unbaked, to strongly baked. Aside from my personal preferences, several things stood out to me. The first of which is the concept of ‘patience’.

The more patient a tea measures the number of steeps one can get out of it. This is one of many ways to assess quality and value in an oolong tea. Regardless if you steep Western-style (small amount of leaf to water) or Eastern-style (large amount of leaf to water), or somewhere in between, the number of flavorful and aromatic steeps of a given oolong is a fantastic indicator of its inherent quality.

One of the simple treasures I was fortunate enough to acquire on this trip was a small amount of a Tung Ting made in the traditional fashion: organically, hand picked, and strong roasted. It is called Old Man Tung Tung. It is named after the gentleman who has been making this tea since he was a teenager; he is now in his 70’s! The tea is a fantastic example of a tea with tons of patience. We steeped about ten grams in a ten ounce yi xing pot last weekend and had to stop after 15 steeps!

Experiencing the flavors unfold with each steep is a remarkable experience and one that should not be missed. We hope you share in the journey with us too! Stay tuned for more articles on amber oolongs and have a great day!

Winter Harvest Teas are in! Plus, Zhi’s new Darjeeling

Stenthal Darjeeling Organic Tea

Hello, tea lovers!

Dr. Oolong here, writing to you while steeping a cup of one of our new teas: Stenthal Darjeeling.

As you know, Zhi hasn’t carried Darjeeling for a few years. While a very popular tea, we just never came across an organic one that had lived up to the hype. Happily, this one does, and it is priced right too! This true Darjeeling has the pleasant, smooth complexity that we were looking for, while also boasting muscatel undertones. There’s a faint hint of astringency, but just enough to pull the cup’s complexity together. We trust you’ll love it as much as we do :) Quantities limited: enjoy while you can!

Speaking of exquisite, rare teas, winter oolongs are in! This year’s harvest will prove to be one of the most delightful, and we invite you to enjoy the small artisan batches of Zhi’s direct sourced Frozen Summit Tung Ting, Jade Oolong, Golden Lily and Four Season varieties. Be sure to extract your multiple steepings as these very patient leaves are really expressing themselves over multiple infusions.

Next month, I will be traveling to Yunnan, China to visit the ancient tea trees and drink pu’erh. I’ll be sure to tweet and sent pictures via Instagram so follow us today @zhitea. We will be carrying even more amazing pu’erh options soon, in addition to our outstanding ripe, loose leaf version that you know and love.

Well, my tea is ready! Gotta go. Until next time,

Dr. Oolong

Resolved to drink more tea! Guilt free treats from Zhi Tea

The new year always brings opportunity for healthier habits and high hopes. Year after year, we continue to see diet, health and financial resolutions top the list of self-improvement projects.

What are you looking forward to improving in 2013?

“Each spring, we witness (and experience!) a strong desire to cut back on sugar, fat, dairy and gluten, as we clear the slate after an indulgent holiday season,” says Dr. Oolong, co-founder of Zhi Tea and resident cookie-lover.

“Zhi strives for balance, while never sacrificing beauty or pleasure. Fittingly, our teas are pure, healthy and indulgent. Tea helps us answer the question, “How can one have decadent food experiences without sacrificing health?” It’s easy! It’s right there in your cup.”

For everyone who is working off a wellspring of will power, Zhi would like to offer custom tea choices to support your efforts. (We can use the extra help too!)

For a sugar-free treat: try our Sweet Desert Delight. Crave cream, but want to be dairy-free? Try our Masala Chai with a drop of almond milk. Need a gluten-free drink? All of our teas are gluten-free, organic and fair trade. Want to cleanse and detox? Purify with Silver Needle. Caffeine-free morning? Let the awakening power of our Turkish Spice Mint keep you upbeat, without the jitters! Caffeine-free evening? Our Restful Blend (pictured above) is a soothing nightcap and guaranteed lullaby.

So, how do you resolve to incorporate tea into your life more?