|Red Circle Tea's Keemun red tea|
Red Circle Tea carries. Specifically, their Ying De red tea, which (not surprisingly) they report as their best-selling red tea. It's a 2010 spring harvest red tea from the Guangdong region of China, and it's got plenty of wow.
I confess I didn't take notes on this tea while drinking it, and since I only ordered a sample I haven't had the chance to revisit it yet. But when I find my mind haunted by the experience and taste of a certain tea, eliciting an ever-growing longing for it, I know I've hit on something good. It had depth and complexity, with an intoxicating malty sweet berry fragrance and taste that dove deep. I remember earlier this year when Brett Boynton (of Black Dragon Tea Bar and Phoenix Tea Shop) served me a similarly wonderful red/black tea that he was very impressed with, but at the time I was drinking puer exclusively and so didn't take him up on the offer of acquiring some. My mistake. I'm so happy to have found something very similar now in this Ying De tea.
|a bit of golden halo on the Keemun red|
Another Red Circle Tea I've been enjoying very much is their Keemun red tea, another 2010 spring harvest, this one from Anhui, China. It seems that Keemun teas are a primary component of English Breakfast variety teas, and while I can detect a similarity in taste and aroma this tea strikes me as particularly noteworthy. But remember! I didn't grow up drinking English Breakfast and my few experiences with it (long ago) have all been from cheap store-bought tea bags. So it's quite safe to say that I wouldn't know a good English Breakfast tea from a bad one. All I'm going on here is what and how I've learned to appreciate tea from drinking puer, and I'm finding this Keemun tea is making for some very enjoyable tea sessions.
Speaking of puer, I see that Red Circle Tea has a small selection although I haven't sampled any. Only one cake (cooked) and a few somewhat-aged loose leaf puerhs, along with a couple of bricks and a tuo. At least they don't offer those little generic mini-tuos, and what they do offer is well-described with regard to year and quality. In fact, I really like that all of their teas are shown with detailed descriptions and (so far as I can tell) spot-on tasting notes. I even received a classy little "tea menu" with my sample order that I thought was a very nice touch.
One last tea-related update -- Chinese tea eggs!! I love-love-love these and made up a batch for a potluck recently. They turned out wonderfully. The key (in my opinion) to tasty tea eggs is to let them soak in the tea liquid AT LEAST overnight. Those "soak for a few hours" recipes just don't do it. I like my tea eggs well-flavored! Here's the recipe I use --
Chinese Tea Eggs
1 dozen eggs
1 1/2+ cup soy sauce (more if liquid needs replenishing after simmering)
3 star anise pods
a good-sized chunk of decent shu puer leaves (as if you were going to make a pot for two or three friends)
2 cinnamon sticks
1 Tb. sugar
a few whole cloves
a teaspoon of five-spice powder (just to be sure, although it's a repeat of the above ingredients, but like I said -- I like my tea eggs well seasoned!)