Tea Writings

A blog about tea from the desk of Cecilia Tan

In Search of the Best Soy Milk Green Tea “Latte”

August 27, 2010 By: ctan Category: Tea Musings, Tea Reviews

My obsession with soy milk green tea lattes started early this summer. On Sundays when my S.O. was off at jujitsu and errands and such, if I didn’t have to go somewhere else myself, I would often go to our local, independently owned coffee shop to get some writing done.

The shop is called Simon’s, and as I understand it has become one of the respected coffee shrines in the area for those who worship the trade of the barista. (The baristas have been in competitions and such.) They also have a light menu of soups and muffins, and of course they offer tea of various excellent kinds, served in the pot.

Of course, when it’s hot outside, a hot pot of tea might not be what I’m looking for. But I still want my hit of tea. And all too often iced tea, if not done right, is a waste of good tea anyway. So one afternoon I was staring at their chalkboard menu and it dawned on me, oh, green tea latte. That sounds kind of good.

But with summer come my seasonal allergies, and milk or dairy products pumps up my mucous production. So I asked. Can the green tea latte be made… with soy milk? Of course! replied the cheerful barista. And… can it be iced! Surely!

And a new obsession was born.

Lychee Flower

February 18, 2010 By: ctan Category: Tea Reviews

In my seeming never-ending search for a tea I liked as much as the lychee green they brew and sell at the famous tea house in the lake in Shanghai, which I visited in April 2007, when I was in San Francisco last summer I picked up some “lychee blossom” at the Imperial Tea Court (Ferry Bldg. location).

Here’s Imperial Tea Court’s description: A new addition to our flower tea collection, this beauty features a red lychee flower waiting to blossom inside a surrounding flower of green tea. Subtly scented with jasmine and flavored with lychee fruit, this stunning tea will display beautifully in a glass teapot.

It took me a while to get around to brewing this tea because I didn’t have a glass pot and kept not getting around to buying one, and beautiful flowering teas are maximally enjoyed when one can see them. But then I received one for Christmas! The other thing is I usually like to brew a flowering tea when I have a friend over for tea so we can both enjoy the sight, but I’ve been so busy lately I finally decided to just try it for myself.

I’ve had flowering teas before of various kinds and so I decided this time to photograph the process. What follows are the photos of the tea opening:


Today’s Tea: Honey Lemon Sunburst

June 20, 2009 By: ctan Category: Tea Reviews

I am still working my way through all the samples I got from Holy Mountain, and this one I have had to brew five or six times before I was ready to write about it. They call it “Honey Lemon Sunburst Green Tea” and describe it as: “A traditional favorite combination of flavors brightened with a burst of sunflower petals.”

This skimpy description does not really prepare you for the unique sweetness of this tea. “Bee pollen?” is what a friend of mine quizzically asked when I served it to her.

“Maybe?” I replied. What gives it the honey flavor when there doesn’t appear to be any actual honey in or on the tea leaves? Where does the lemon flavor come from, for that matter?

Holy Mountain lists is among the “scented green teas” and clearly it’s more to do with the scent than an actual flavor, but it’s a mystery to me how it’s done.

Interestingly, I’ve been wanting this tea a lot on the days when my pollen allergies are the worst. Is that backwards? Something that tastes infused with bee pollen? Or maybe I’ve just been trained to think of the combination of honey and lemon as good for sore throats and congestion? But this tastes nothing like a Luden’s Honey Lemon cough drop–it doesn’t even taste like a traditional cup of Lipton with honey and lemon. It tastes spring-like and fresh, and every sip is invigorating. Who knows, maybe it actual helps my allergies somehow, though perhaps just the result of drinking something hot on my clogged sinuses and swollen eyes.

This tea is a mystery, a sweet mystery, and will apparently have to stay that way.