Steepster Select’s First Ever Tea Tasting
Last Monday was an exciting day in Steepster history, as we hosted the first ever Steepster Select tea tasting! Led by our Japanese tea expert, Zach, who prepared the teas for us in gaiwan and kyusu, everyone in attendance got a chance to try all five teas in the April box of Steepster Select.
This month’s box was one that we nicknamed “Dealer’s Choice” or as it was called in our last blog post: “Staff Picks 2013.” Why you may ask? Well, because each of the five teas was, in fact, chosen as a 2013 favorite of each of the five Steepster team members.
COFFEED in Long Island City kindly provided the space for the tasting and Steepster team members showed-off their chosen teas. Starting off with white tea (Mike’s choice) and ending with a pu-erh (Zach’s choice), each tea was expertly prepared and tasted happily, with time between tastings to share notes and thoughts. You can read all about the teas we tasted in this month’s Steepster Select blog post.
We think that a fun time was had by all. And by all the laughter and chatting, we think that our guests would agree.
We hope that our Steepster Select subscribers enjoy the teas as much as our tea tasters did!
Staff Picks 2013
Want to find out a bit more about the folks behind Steepster? Want to find out what teas are in the March box? Well, you’ve come to the right place!
For this month’s box of Steepster Select, we decided to each choose a tea that really spoke to us this year.
From white to pu-erh, let’s find out what those picks were!
Mike: Co-Founder, Steepster
Tea of 2013 Pick: Zhejiang White Pearls
Why? I love teas that I can re-steep throughout the day. When I’m at the office, I can brew the pearls in a cup and add more hot water throughout the day. Super uncomplicated. I enjoy the subtle smokiness and the floral finish. Very easy to drink. Nice caffeine boost too!
Dayna: Marketing, Customer Service, Social Media
Tea of 2013 Pick: Genmai-matcha Matsujirushi
Why? When asked to pick my favorite tea of 2013, I immediately thought that it was a trick question. One favorite tea? One?! So instead of answering, I decided that it would be more fair to pick a place and then a favorite tea. So, what’s a tea loving nerd to do? Spin a globe of course! So after a few spins and lands on places that don’t produce tea (ahem… Antarctica..), I finally landed on the ocean near Japan. Japan? Perfect! Favorite tea? Genmai-matcha, without a doubt!
Matcha iri Genmaicha has been my favorite tea of Japanese tea for years. YEARS. By now, I must have sampled dozens of this lovely, warming, tea type. From pan-fried base to gyokuro base, from mochi rice and black soybeans to home popped rice, needless to say, I have tried many a matcha iri genmaicha. When Zach first let me taste this Genmai-matcha Matsujirushi that he had found through his Japanese tea wizardry, I was floored. This is the best, darn matcha iri genmaicha that I have ever had. Hands down. It’s roasty, toasty, vegetal, grassy, soothing, warming, and almost earthy. It has everything that I look for in a matcha iri genmaicha. I could drink this all day!
Jason: Co-Founder, Steepster
Tea of 2013 Pick: Li Li Xiang 2013
Why? This year, I’ve really discovered how much I love oolong. I tend to like things a bit on the greener side or with only a bit of firing. The Li Li Xiang hit the sweet spot for me. It’s light, very fresh and fruity, but has a little bit more body than some unfired green oolongs. It also seems to steep for a really long time which I love. Like Mike, I drink tea around the office and this one is pretty easy to make. Easy is good!
Arul: Operations, Strategy, Marketing
Tea of 2013 Pick: Lapsang Souchong
Why? Smoke, thats why! I am actually not a big black tea drinker personally, but Lapsang is so unique and singular that I loved it from the beginning. This is a tea you can make for someone to show how wide ranging the world of tea is. Its also a great conversation starter. Sometimes the conversation is about what kind of smoked food it reminds the other person of (jerky?!). This is the way I get most of my mornings started around the office. Hope you enjoy it, or at least have fun experimenting with it!
Zach: Tea Sourcing and Operations, Content
Tea of 2013 Pick: 2013 Big Leaf Mini Green Toucha
Why? Honestly, this pick came out of convenience for me. I love pu-erh, but carrying around big cakes of it proves difficult. I love that I can pop a few of these mini touchas in my coat pocket and have enough tea to last me a week at the office. This pu-erh is young, fresh, and has enough flavor and depth to be interesting through multiple infusions. 2013 was a good year for greener puerh and although the tea used to create these toucha is not the highest grade leaf, the producers did a really nice job balancing the flavors. I like to use an entire piece in my gaiwan and brew it all day.
We all hope that you enjoy these teas as much as we do!
And the newest Steepster team member is…
… Tea Pet or, Dayna, as she is known to those outside of the Steepster community. This delightfully dorky polymath has been a member of Steepster since the site’s beginning in 2009 and is excited to use her expertise as a long-time member of the community to help Steepster improve. Not only does she know Steepster, she also really knows her stuff when it comes tea and tea cultures (especially those of China).
If you see her on Steepster, feel free to follow her and take a look at what she is drinking. And perhaps send a “congratulations” or an “at-a-girl” her way as well! :)
This is another exciting step on our path to continue growing and striving to do more of things that make Steepster the best place for all things tea!
Looking forward to the bright future ahead,
Rare and Delicious!
One of our favorite things EVER is exploring the rare and little known styles of tea from around the planet, and this month, for Steepster Select, we’ve done just that. We wanted to explain exactly why these special teas are, well…so special, so we’re doing that right here. Don’t worry, there’s no test at the end, but we do invite you to study up!
And now a look at the teas…
Fujian, China - Made from the Qi Lan Cultivar, this rare regional oolong from Wuyi mountain is grown at over 1000 feet. The large twisted leaves hold up to many resteeps.
The Qi Lan varietal is known for its luscious mouth feel and subtle fruit aroma, reminiscent of the Phoenix Dan Cong oolongs of Guangdong. Wuyi style “rock oolongs” are typically deep roasted with heavy notes of caramelized sugar and a “baked” flavor profile. The unroasted Wuyi oolongs, like the rare orchid, are far less popular outside of China but provide an interesting chance to taste the local terroir without the added flavors of processing. The rocky terrain imbues the soil with plenty of minerals leading to a, you guessed it, mineral finish in the tea. Many of the bushes in Wuyi are wild growing and can be over 400 years old.
Yunnan, China - A rare white tea plucked during winter, consisting of all buds from wild growing trees. Mellow, sweet, and with an unmistakable fruitiness.
Ya Bao translates to “Special Treasure” and is unique among all teas in general. This tea is harvested in late winter from wild growing tea bushes. The light, fluffy buds are hand picked and processed by only a few factories in China. The unique freshness of the tea is a result of such an immature bud. The nutrients and essential oils accumulated during the plant’s winter dormancy reveal themselves in the Ya Bao. Ya Bao is also unique in that it can be aged, like pu-erh, but most agree it is generally a more interesting tea when enjoyed fresh.
Yunnan, China - This dark tea, or Hei cha, is a lesser known cousin to pu-erh that is post fermented, meaning it is fermented after it is processed. This deep and slightly smoky tea is enigmatic and continues to develop over many steeps.
Hei-cha is a form of post fermented tea in the same class as Shou Pu-erh. This is a fully oxidized tea that is considered “black” tea in China. What we think of in the West as “black” tea is actually “red” tea in China. The name comes from the color of the liquor, not the leaf. After picking and processing, Hei-cha undergoes a “wet pile fermentation”. This accelerates the deepening of flavors and is responsible for the “dank” or “wet” flavor of the tea. Southern China, primarily Yunnan, is the major producer of this tea. The Hunan Dark underwent minimal firing over hardwood at the end of processing to impart a slightly smoky finish. This tea can be steeped again and again with a remarkable range of flavors developing.
Nagano, Japan - Soba cha (roasted buckwheat berries) is a caffeine free tisane drank in noodle shops across Japan. With an intoxicating aroma and slightly sweet, nutty brew, this is sure to become a favorite. And it’s GLUTEN FREE!
Made from ground buckwheat, Soba is most famous in its noodle form and the noodles are a staple dish in Japan. To compliment the flavors, Soba cha tea can be served along side the steaming bowls of noodles. Soba cha is roasted over high heat for a short period of time, caramelizing some of the starch and sugar in the buckwheat berries. This, combined with its already nutty flavor profile, makes for an incredibly aromatic cup. Soba cha is also very forgiving. Boiling water and long steep times still produce a sweet, flavorful cup.
Phongsaly, Laos - A black teas from Laos with this quality of manufacture is almost unknown. Our dedicated producer has thrown convention out the window and began making teas that rival India and China. This rolled, jet black tea with golden buds is sure sign Laos is on it’s way.
Laos, lying on the very southern border of China, is a not a major player on the world’s tea stage. Most tea produced in Laos is Mao Cha, or crude green tea made by locals from older growth trees. In fact, Laos shares claim with Yunnan to some of the oldest tea plants still in use. In effort to up their game, a handful of producers in the region are capitalizing on Laos’ great soil, climate, and plant varietals by beginning to standardize their production methods. The local terroir is incredible as seen by its proximity to Yunnan and the skill of making tea there is increasing each season. This is one of the first “quality manufacture” black teas to make it out of Laos. The leaves are beautiful twisted and you’ll notice a consistency in not only the appearance of the tea, but in the flavor as well. Unique from the more common black teas of neighboring Yunnan, the Phongsaly Black is a regional speciality we are very proud to share with you.
We hope you enjoy drinking these rare gems as much as we enjoyed finding them for you! Please let us know what you think by logging your tasting notes on Steepster!
We’re In Love With February’s Teas!
Our February box of Steepster Select has just been shipped and we can’t wait for you to get your hands on it. February is the month of Love and we’ve definitely fallen for this month’s selection of teas. We’ve sourced special varietals from all over the globe including China, India, Japan, and Indonesia! We hope you love them as much as we do.
And now a look at the teas:
Darjeeling, India - Grown high in the Teesta valley at the base of the Himalayas, this 2nd flush brews up with the famed muscatel aroma associated with high grade Darjeelings. A classic afternoon tea.
Java, Indonesia - A boutique offering showcasing the unique terroir of West Java in Indonesia. Volcanic soil, high altitude, and careful harvesting make for a unique cup. Goes great with milk.
Fujian, China - Picked from the Da Bai Hao cultivar, this high grade green tea is gently picked and hand rolled. The tea is then meticulously dried with fresh jasmine to impart its distinct floral aroma and flavor.
Anhui, China - The Burgundy of tea, Keemun is considered by many to be the finest black tea produced in China. Grown in the Huangshan mountain range, this black tea is soft and approachable while incredibly complex: a marriage of floral, fruity, smoky, and mineral flavors.
Kyushu, Japan - Roasted in small batches, this houjicha comes from exclusive 1st flush leaves and stems. Constant monitoring during production ensures a perfectly balanced sweet (caramel-like) and salty (umami richness) flavor profile. A daily favorite at Steepster!
Please let us know what you think by posting your tasting notes!
Know another tea lover? Send them some love with a Steepster Select gift!
- Jason and the Steepster team
Introducing a Brand New Tea Page
When we launched Steepster almost 5 years ago (woah!), we had an ambitious goal: Organize a community of people passionate about tea and give them the tools to catalogue all of the World’s teas. And, so far, we’ve amassed a rich database of over 40,000 teas with over 200,000 tasting notes.
We’re absolutely amazed at what we’ve been able to accomplish as a community. And now, it’s time to take the next step…grab your cups, here’s a second steep of our Tea Page!
A Big Opportunity
With so many teas on Steepster, we have an amazing opportunity to start offering a richer, more useful experience to help you discover your next favorite cup. With that in mind, we had a few goals for revisiting the tea page:
- Make it quicker and easier to understand information about a tea
- Include more useful details for each tea
- Help you track when teas and teaware become available for sale through Steepster
- Highlight interesting content from our awesome community
We think you’re really going to enjoy what we’ve done, so I’d like to walk you through a few of the new features.
Everything You Want To Know
You can add all sorts of details about a tea including: ingredients, caffeine level, certifications, and how a tea is sold (loose, tea bag, etc.). We’ve even started to extrapolate preparation recommendations and flavors based on your tasting notes.
You’ll notice a clearer button for purchasing tea or teaware. Most won’t be available for now, but on any item we don’t have in our system, with one click you can choose to be notified when that item is available.
You’re The Hero
Even though we created a platform for people to express their love of tea, we never imagined that expression would be so extensive. So we wanted to do a better job highlighting the lovely things you all do everyday. You’ll see special excerpts from popular tasting notes as well as photos snapped by your tea drinking friends.
At long last, we have a page for teaware! You can note the tea gadgets and accoutrement you own and use, then share your thoughts about what works best. No more listing the company as “teaware” or having to see a teapot as the highest rated “tea”. You can even differentiate between different types of teaware like cups & mugs or kettles.
We hope you’re as excited about this as we are. Although we think this is good progress, it’s just one more step of many to continue making Steepster the best place for all things tea.
We’d love to hear what you think about the new page, send us your thoughts (email@example.com) and don’t forget to log your cups!
The Steepster Team
Living Social Users, Click Here!CLICK HERE TO REDEEM YOUR LIVINGSOCIAL DEAL
Thanks for taking advantage of the Steepster Select deal on LivingSocial! We look forward to taking you on an incredible trek across the globe with the best teas on the planet.
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact us here: firstname.lastname@example.org
- The Steepster Team
Steepster Select is your gateway to the best, most selective teas delivered to your door every month. For more information, please visit Steepster Select.
Come work with us!
We’ve got a lot of really exciting things in the works at Steepster and we finally realized, we need some help! So we’re reaching out to you, the beloved Steepster community, to see who might be interested in working with us.
The position is for a part time, Marketing Manager, which requires outstanding communication skills for activities including customer service, social media management, and development of marketing content. We’re a small group but looking to grow, so there’s the definite possibility to grow with us. We are looking for someone located in NYC who would ideally work from our offices.
How to Apply
See below for the full details of the position. If you’re interested (or know someone who would be), please email your resume and any other relevant information or questions to email@example.com. Only serious inquiries please.
We’re looking forward to working is you!
Marketing Manager Position
- Part Time (4 hrs / day)
- $20 / hour
- Potential to grow into full-time
- Located in New York City is strongly preferred
Manage customer service inquiries
- Via Steepster.com forums, email, Twitter, Facebook
Manage social media presence
- Participate actively in relevant discussions on Facebook, Twitter and Steepster as an official representative of Steepster
Participate in email marketing process
- Assist in copy development for emails
- Enter email creative into CMS
- QA and deploy emails
Participate in content development and syndication
- Help identify key topics for content development (Keyword research, trend identification for viral content)
- Review content for quality
- Manage syndication activities with other content sites
Manage marketing dashboard
- Review analytics and compile traffic / usage dashboard
- Develop requirements for additional reporting as needed
- Bachelor’s degree required
- Minimum 2-3 years experience with managing email and/or online marketing campaigns
- Ability to work among multiple teams in a fast paced environment
- Outstanding organizational and time management skills
- Knowledge or enthusiasm for tea desired
Steepster is an online service that helps people drink better tea. Launched in March 2009 in New York City, Steepster houses the largest community-edited database of teas on the Web, currently with 200,000+ reviews for 40,000+ teas from almost 5000 companies. Steepster provides a platform for people to keep a tea journal (or ‘tealog’), share ratings & reviews and for the teas they’re drinking, and subscribe to samples of new teas.
A (Long Awaited) Update About Steepster
As I’m sure you can tell by the blog timestamps, it’s been some time since we talked about any updates for Steepster. Previously, we mentioned that activities at our company, Disrupto, had picked up and we had limited time to work on Steepster. But over time, while we worked on our projects, Steepster was never far from our thoughts. It was always gently tapping at the back of our minds. And, to our great joy, the community continued to grow and thrive.
Over time, watching Steepster grow and introduce new people to the world of tea, it became apparent we could no longer pass on the opportunity to foster and promote that growth. We’d have to find a way to keep it booming.
So, we’re getting back into the world of tea! What does that mean? There are a few areas of the site we’re looking to update and evolve. There are also some new things we want to develop, so you all can keep at your tea-loving awesomeness. We’re still working on our other projects, but serious things are in the works/already coming down the pipeline. We’ll have more news about that shortly.
In the meantime, we hope you’re as excited about Steepster and its future as we are. We’re looking forward to bringing more tea into people’s lives and spreading a general love and appreciation for our favorite cuppa. Here’s to the future!