This week, we sit down with Eric Daams from Tea Finely Brewed. His blog is a wonderful mix of insights, reviews, and amazing photos that I'd highly recommend to anyone looking to explore the world of tea.
Q. Why did you decide to blog about tea?
A. It's actually an idea I had floating around in my head for quite some time before I sat down and started the blog. Originally I'd wondered if there would be enough to write about. Now, I know there's always something to write about.
But to get back to your question: Blogging about tea combines two of my greatest passions. Tea. And blogging. It's as simple as that really!
Q. How do you decide which teas to review/write about?
A. To an extent, it's something of a whim. I like to sit down and take my time with the teas I review, so when I find myself with a nice big block of free time, that's when I decide which tea to review. A lot comes down to what I feel like at that minute, though I do occasionally like reviewing a few similar teas in a row (for example, I reviewed four Darjeeling teas from different estates earlier this year).
I've been lucky to receive quite a few free samples from various tea sellers, so I also try to split my time between them.
Q. What’s your favorite kind of teaware to brew in?
A. Lately I've enjoyed brewing in our porcelain Japanese teapot, which was a wedding gift. I use it primarily for green teas, especially the batch of shincha I bought from O-Cha.com earlier this year. With time, I've developed a nice little routine with it. Basically I bring the water to the boil, pour it into the pot, let it sit for a while and then pour it into a Pyrex measuring cup to cool. That's when I put the tea leaves into the pot and enjoy their aroma, which is deepened by the heat of the pot. Once the water has cooled down enough, I add it to the leaves and let the steeping begin.
Q. Do you prefer a cup & saucer, mug, glass or gaiwan?
A. My sister-in-law thinks it's a disgrace that I call myself a tea lover but don't use a cup and saucer, but I prefer a mug. I have a mug that my wife bought for me as a Christmas gift from Oxfam, which has a small basket and lid to make it really easy to steep the tea.
Q. Do you take your tea straight up, or with sugar and/or milk?
A. Straight up. The only tea I'd add sugar and milk to is chai, but even then I sometimes prefer having it without either of those.
Q. Do you remember the first cup of tea you drank? How was it?
A. I've been thinking about this, but can't remember! I'm guessing it was probably a Dilmah or Twinings tea. I must have enjoyed it, because I did become quite a fan of tea!
Q. Do you drink loose tea, bagged, or both?
A. For the most part, I drink loose leaf tea. I've enjoyed Mighty Leaf's tea pouches lately, and continue to have rooibos tea from tea bags, but the rest of the time I find the character of loose leaf tea to be far superior to that of tea bag tea.
Q. Do you drink tea predominantly for health or enjoyment – or both?
A. I drink mainly for enjoyment. I've spent quite a bit of time researching tea's health benefits, and while I have no doubt that tea is a pretty good addition to a diet, I think many of its supposed health benefits are overblown by marketers. Tea's weight loss benefits are the perfect example. Yes, tea can help you lose weight, but it takes an immense amount of tea before you'll see it have much effect (and by that stage you've probably consumed too much caffeine!). For those who are interested, I wrote more about the whole weight loss tea issue here.
Q. What are your three favorite teas?
A. I'm a big fan of Earl Grey tea. Lately I've tried a few different varieties of Earl Grey, including one blended with Lapsang Souchong and longan (a Chinese fruit). I think it's fantastic how even a simple moniker like Earl Grey can hide a world of variety.
I've also really enjoyed this year's shincha (Japan's first harvest tea). We bought O-Cha's Yutaka Midori and loved it. Many a fine day in the past few months has started with a pot of shincha.
Another tea I've been smitten with this year is Yunnan Golden Monkey black tea. I picked this up from a local tea shop and find myself coming back to it again and again.
Q. What’s your favorite pairing of food with white, green and black teas?
A. I've got two. I love to combination of Japanese food with gen mai cha tea. And for those of you with a sweet tooth, try Turkish Delight with a fine Jasmine tea. Brilliant.
Q. Do you have a favorite tea company? Which one, and why?
A. I wrote about a few of my favorite tea companies on my blog, but I'd say two of my favourite companies are Narien Teas and O-Cha.com. O-Cha specialize in Japanese green tea, and they do it very, very well. If you like Japanese green tea, you cannot go wrong with O-Cha.com. Narien Teas are a newcomer to the scene. They don't have a huge range, but I've really enjoyed every one of their teas that I've tried. They also stock some rare Hawaiian green tea, which I'm looking forward to trying.
Q. Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
A. Thanks Jamie! It's great to see another tea blogger on the scene. I look forward to seeing how your blog continues to develop!
Thank you, Eric - it was great to learn more about you and your tea tastes! I'm going to have to try that Turkish Delight/Jasmine tea combo, and forsee an order to O-Cha in my future.
Follow Eric on Twitter: @ericnicolaas
Comments are open below for further discussion...