My tea journey

Singbulli Summer Oolong

I just received my monthly tea subscription, inside was a wonderful oolong tea. Singbulli Summer Oolong is a very smooth oolong from India. I prepared it Gaiwan. First infusion I set my water to 190 degrees F. I let it steep too long at 1:00, it was strong but still smooth, a touch of bitterness due to the over steeping. Second cup I let set for :30, third cup :40, and the fourth :45. I am really enjoying the difference in the cups, still really smooth and a velvet feel in the mouth. The fourth cup was a little astringent.

singbulliReading up on the origin of this tea I found the plantation is  Located in the Mirik area in Darjeeling, the Singbulli estate is spread across 9 rolling hills over an area of 13.6 miles (22 km) with altitude varying between 1,180 to 4,100 feet (360m to 1250m) above sea level.

“Originally established in 1924 by British planters the garden has four divisions, namely Singbulli Division, Manja Division, Tingling Division and Murmah Division. The plantation is very active in ecological upgradation and maintaining bio-diversity at the garden and has initiated various programmes for soil conservation and environmental protection.” (Excerpt from

The Singbulli Estate was established in 1924, in 2003 it was acquired by Jayshree Tea & Industries LTD. To create this oolong, they make smaller batches ensure a high quality and taste. The partial oxidization gives a unique nutty taste along with a muscatel aroma to this oolong. This estate is known for it’s world famous Muscatel teas.

The quest for the perfect blend

There is a part of me that knows it takes work to find the perfect blend. It is seen all through normal life. The blend of work and life. The blend of sleep and reading.

Why is it a surprise that finding the perfect blend of tea would be any different?

I am working to formulate a new blend of tea. I have an idea in my head of what I would like for it to taste like. So why can’t it just magically happen?

Formulation is a process, and one that takes time and experimentation to perfect. Right out of high school I worked in the production factory for a family owned snack, chocolate and trail mix company. The owners would release new products from time to time, but when it came to trail mixes they would begin the process of experimentation. It could take months even years to get the trail mix to where it was good enough to sell to the public.

So why would I or anyone expect anything to be different in our own life? Life is a journey. The pursuit of a perfect blend of tea is also a journey.

After producing a small batch of my tea blend the journey begins. My first step is getting it to people who would be willing to critique my blend. Thus leading me to this point…

The journey to find people to help you on your journey. A lot of people will critique your work few are the people who have an opinion that you should trust. Back to the candy company. They would find distributers who would critique their products for them, they would use the employees to critique and they were family run so all the family members would help in that area too.

You can’t always trust all of the critiques. What I learned from them is that you need to look at the whole picture. You can trust the majority when they are say close to the same thing. You can’t let the “yes” men determine your path. You also need to filter out those who are negative for no specific reason too.

When you are looking to try something new don’t be afraid to go for it. As Thomas Edison is credited for saying, I found a thousand ways to not invent the light bulb.


Where does breakfast tea come from?

A good friend of mine loves “Scottish Morning” tea. Which is a strong tea, Darjeeling/Assam blend of teas, that when brewed properly can give you a pretty amazing jolt of caffeine. I was wondering what truly determines a “morning” blend, “breakfast” blend, etc. I found that there are a lot of different things that can make up these determinations.

Norwood Platt wrote an interesting article on the topic:

“Breakfast teas are not the only ones designed for a certain hour of the day. Indar, a French brand, describes itself intriguingly as Boudoir Tea-for whenever the opportunity arises, no doubt. British firms like Jacksons sell Afternoon and Evening teas but the apogee of this practice was attained by the now-defunct London firm which only sold six teas: Morning, Lunchtime, Afternoon, After-Dinner, Evening and Drawing Room.

Another “veddy Brit” practice hallowed by usage is to give teas names connecting them, however remotely, to the institution of the monarchy, Melrose, the leading Scottish tea brand, created its Queen’s Tea for Victoria’s use at her beloved Balmoral Castle. It is predominantly Darjeeling, with the addition of black teas from China, Assam and Ceylon. In London it was Thomas Ridgway who catered to the Queen’s tea needs with Her Majesty’s Blend or H.M.B. tea, which is also still sold. Ridgways’ H.M.B. is a delightful blend of rather delicate India, Ceylon, Taiwan and China black teas. This practice spread to the colonies as well. In Vancouver, British Columbia, Murchies’ Empress Blend has been sold for over a century, just as First Colony in Norfolk, Virginia, has sold its Queen’s Blend since the 1870s, both created in Victoria’s honor by Scots who immigrated to the New World. Mr. John Murchie apprenticed at Melroses, in fact. Some fragments of tea history are preserved in certain proprietary names like Boston Harbor Tea, exported by a London firm which was already 127 years old when it changed its name to Davison, Newman & Co. in 1777, only a few years after previous exports were tipped into Boston Harbor, purportedly by Indians. Mark T. Wendell’s Hu-Kwa Tea carries the name of a Cantonese who became a world- famous merchant prince and a household name for half a century. He had actually sold tea to the clipper ship captain whose nephew Mark T. Wendell founded the present firm in Boston. Before the Opium War, the chop, or stamp, of HuKwa (actually spelled Houqua) was a guarantee of excellence. A man who concluded deals on a handshake, he was so highly esteemed that America’s first clipper ship was named for him. Houqua tea made the fortunes of Astor, Perkins, and Peabody, America’s first millionaires, and sustains Mark T. Wendell still.”

History has a way of coloring how we still do some things today. The whole “well we have always done it that way” mantra that drive so many people.

I’m not a big consumer of “breakfast” types of tea but the one quality that I really enjoy from them is the way they can give a dose of, at times much needed, caffeine when starting the day off. A few beverage companies have tried to hone in on the drinking their beverages during certain times to even out the blood sugar during the day. I tend to think that there is something there that can be marketed.

Wishing you an amazing cuppa tea,


Kuti – Coffee Leaf Tea

Finally got my shipment of kuti coffee leaf in. After reading about what wize monkey is doing with trying to stimulate the economy of Central America using their coffee leaves to make a tea I was intrigued. I have had the Ethiopian tea before but not kuti. I went to the wize monkey site to find that their coffee leaf tea wouldn’t be available for another 6 months.

After looking through a few articles I found a place that had kuti coffee leaf tea and decided to order, I am not disappointed. It reminds me of a tea that you might get in a nice asian food restaurant. One difference is the richness of the kuti is such a nice surprise. I realize tea in a asian restaurant is brewed to enhance and not over power the food you are being served so it isn’t going to be brewed very strong. The coffee leaf tea is a rich flavor, great for an after dinner or late afternoon drink.

I was kind of surprised at the bag of coffee leaves I received. They were all huge not at all like the loose leaf style tea that I am used to making tea with. Close to what I have received when I have purchased Shoumei but even a little bigger than those leaves.

Coffee leaves straight out of the bag before adding water.

Coffee leaves straight out of the bag before adding water.

Fresh from the bag coffee leafs for my tea.

Fresh from the bag coffee leafs to make into my tea.

Straight from the Gaiwan into the cup

Straight from the Gaiwan. 200° for three minutes.











I went Gaiwan for the preparation, using filtered water about a teaspoon of the leaves, again they are mostly whole leaves so I kind of just eyeballed it. Used 200° water and let it steep for about 3 minutes. The remainder of the tea I let steep in the Gaiman for another 2 minutes so I had a stronger brew for my second cup.

The liquor is very pleasant, thick, rich, almost sweet. Very nice well rounded taste. Very enjoyable.

I hope you will take the time and try this “tea”.

Happy Lucky’s tea house.

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