Favorite Teas from Ku Cha Staffer and Tea Lover Mariah Gonzalez

Favorite Teas from Ku Cha Staffer and Tea Lover Mariah Gonzalez

For many Ku Cha House of Tea associates, exposure to the glories of quality tea begins only after they start working in one of our shops.

But for Denver native Mariah Gonzalez, a sales associate in our Denver Pavilions store, love of tea began before she became a teenager. She collected teas from around the world, and was so passionate about it that her mom bought her a tea organizer.

In high school, an English teacher from the United Kingdom introduced her to Darjeeling, an Indian tea commonplace in Britain. The tea “transformed everything I knew about tea,” she said.

People in Great Britain drink a LOT of Darjeeling.

“I loved talking about it with other people and nerding out on it,” she says. “For years, I only drank Darjeeling.” Later, she also encountered jasmine oolong, which she also adored.

Mariah studied philosophy at the University of Colorado in Boulder, and began experimenting more intensely with teas during college by visiting Ku Cha. She then spent years working as a barista in Colorado and Arizona, even though she’s not a coffee drinker. When she took the job working at Ku Cha’s Pavilions store last year, she understood she finally was in the right workplace. Now, she gets to surround herself with and talk about tea all day. Along the way, her tea education and palate has expanded dramatically.

“I one-hundred percent love every single one of our oolongs. I’ll drink them in rotation,” she says. “If I want something more medicinal, I’ll go with green oolong. If I just want straight deliciousness, I drink roasted oolong. With Silver Needle, a white tea, it actually feels like you are drinking silk. Dragon Well,  a green tea, made me emotional the first time I tried it. I started welling up. For me, tea can be an experience more than just tasting good.”

China produces many oolong teas – these 10 are just a small glimpse of the oolong universe.

One oolong advantage for Mariah? Oolong is especially well-suited for multiple steepings. This invites appreciation of how tea flavors can evolve over time, and it also saves money.

Hospitality serves as one of Mariah’s personal foundations. For her, making customers and guests happy is a driving force, a pursuit to which she looks forward every day.

Being around people, she says, “ignites a light within me. Being a part of humanity gives reinforces the joy of being here and being alive.”

Mariah drinks tea all day, beginning with lightly caffeinated teas and then savoring teas like our CHA Relax, a delicious herbal tea that helps her transition from morning and early afternoon into the rest of the day and evening. 

Working at Ku Cha, she says, has “changed my entire philosophy, even in terms of taking care of my own health. I integrate tea into my life every day. It’s a lot more intimate for me now, because I’m working at Ku Cha.”

Mariah’s Tea Picks: Shui Xian Rock Oolong

This exquisite rock oolong is among the best in the world.

This premium rock oolong, one of the finest rock oolongs from Fujian Province’s Wu Yi Mountains (where all rock oolongs come from) means “water spirit” in Chinese. The flavor is balanced, rich and clean, with subtle sweetness and even hints of river moss. 

Mariah loves it so much she even bought a special Yixing clay pot to steep the tea. Yixing pots, made from Yixing clay, are prized pots that get passed down from generation to generation. Over years of brewing tea in them, they absorb essential oils, and help transform each cup of tea into something unique and rarefied. 

“Once a week, I sit down and drink Shui Xian from this pot. The tea is a big more floral than other rock oolongs,” Mariah says. “Eventually, I’ll be able to just pour hot water into the empty pot and taste the water spirit tea, thanks to all of the essential oils in the pot.”

Mariah’s Tea Picks: Golden Eyebrow

A classic smooth black tea, with honeyed notes.

This classic black tea, from Fujian Province in Southern China, gets its name from both the leaves themselves and the brew: both are golden. 

“I love this tea because it’s not as rich or malty as many other black teas,” says Mariah. “It has that nice honey apricot sweetness to it, and I absolutely love it. I think it’s a great gift, and I would make this for anybody who is special to me.”

Golden Eyebrow is famously smooth, with unmatched depth of flavor and character. 

Mariah’s Tea Picks: Bi Tan Piao Xue Jasmine Green Tea

Mariah says sipping this tea is like tasting beauty.

Jasmine teas run the gamut, from industrial, poor-quality teas saturated with jasmine flavor — the supermarket norm — to exquisite green teas infused with fragrances and flavors from real jasmine blossoms. Among them all, Bi Tan Piao Xue stands apart. We think this is the finest jasmine green tea in the world. In Chinese, Bi Tan Piao Xue means “snow flakes falling upon a jade pond,” a phrase describing both the appearance of the tiny, silver-lined buds mixed with tender jasmine flowers, as well as the transportive experience of drinking this glorious tea. 

“It feels like drinking beauty itself,” says Mariah. “It’s healthy, too. Green tea is always great right after a meal. It helps with digestion. I also think it’s a superb morning tea, a meditative tea that beckons me to sit down and be in the moment and appreciate life and the tea itself.”

The base of this tea comes from Mountain Meng, one of the most ancient tea mountains in China. To impart jasmine flavors and perfume, artisans blend evening-harvested jasmine blossoms with harvested tea leaves, and continue adding fresh blossoms every night for a week or more. By the end of the process, the tea is bursting with beautiful jasmine scents and taste, as well as green tea.

Mariah’s Tea Picks: Monkey Bread

Comfort yourself with a cup of Mariah’s Monkey Bread tea!

Mariah herself crafted this blend earlier this year. During its first month of sales alone, customers bought more than five pounds of it from our Pavilions store. It’s amazing!

“I took some of our signature teas — milk oolong, sweet rice pu-erh and darjeeling autumnal — and mixed them with cinnamon to make this tea,” says Mariah. “It’s great for metabolism, skin, bone, cognitive and heart health. It’s creamy, naturally sweet and nostalgic. I believe it will bring anyone comfort.”

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