303 Tasting Notes
Tea 3 of 5 from Teavivre’s pu-erh sampler.
As usual, I didn’t do a rinse on this, which maybe I should have done. Because I’m impatient, I will probably do separate tasting notes for the second (and third?) steeps of this.
With its thin reddish-brown leaves, it looks like a pretty typical pu-erh. Since I got the sample, it’s in loose form rather than cake form, although there are a few clumps. I boiled the water and didn’t do a super-long steep on this one; didn’t use a timer, but it was around 3 minutes.
This is very pleasant. It’s one of the mellower shus I’ve had. The earthiness is on the deep, sweet side. There’s a bit of fishiness, but not really enough to put me off. The flavor is pretty understated, possibly because of my relatively short steep time, which I don’t really regret but my only concern is that it’ll become too understated in the later steeps. We’ll just have to find out, won’t we?
Have you ever gotten almost done with writing a really long and involved tasting note on Steepster… and then you hit the back button?
OK. Two reviews of this tea in a row. I’m doing a resteep of this, but as I usually do when I resteep something that’s been sitting for hours, I added some fresh new leaves.
Green, astringent, bright, mineral, cleansing, just a hint of “minty” or some cool overtone like I mentioned in my last note.
I now know the difference between a sheng and a shu! Knowing that this is a sheng makes me feel more confident in my description of it because I’m aware of the usual flavor associations with shengs. If they’re all similar to this, shengs probably fall in the category of “I really have to be in the right mood for them, and I’m rarely in that mood.” But I appreciate their qualities a bit more, especially if you like bright, cleansing teas. (I’m still fascinated that I’ve finally had a tea I can actually call “mineral” tasting.)
Another noteworthy thing about today: after a year of watching seven seasons’ worth of episodes, I watched the season finale of Star Trek: The Next Generation tonight. I still have a bit of heaviness of having finished something I loved. Actually, I got into tea and TNG at almost the same time, so they’re kinda linked. They’ve both become unexpectedly comforting presences in my life. I am definitely going to have to give TNG a second go-round, because, as usual, I was REALLY good at following the character development and REALLY bad at following the, you know, plots. The thing that kinda makes it science fiction. Whoops.
Tea. The (hopefully not final) frontier. These are the voyages of the TeaKlutz Enterprise. My continuing mission, to explore strange new teas, to seek out new flavors and new infusions. To boldly go where… somebody else has gone before and already written a Steepster review but I’m trying it for the first time and I didn’t read the parameters and I boiled the water too hot and then I oversteeped it but it’s still kinda good and I think it’s gonna grow on me now I know what to expect.
(orchestra wonders whether to play the opening theme or not)
It’s Friday! And it’s spring! And it’s sunny outside! Yaaaaaaay!
I have to run an open mic night tonight at the music store I work at. I’ve never run or even been to one before, and I have to say I am UNDULY anxious and I’ve been that way all week. I’m just trying to remind myself that I’m doing my best, and there are just some things I can’t control (like the fact that corporate decided the stores would be the PERFECT place to have open mic nights and our location is a shoebox) and that it’s just an open mic night, and if it’s kind of awkward or a disaster everyone’ll probably forget about it soon enough.
I like the leaves of this tea. They remind me of shreds of tree bark. I didn’t bother with a measuring spoon, I just took out a few pinches. The smell is a little unexpected; it’s kind of earthy, but there’s this cold minty overtone. I’m having this after breakfast so there may be a bit of an aftertaste influence. I’m trying to decide how to describe the flavor. This is the first tea I’ve had that I would legitimately describe as “mineral.” Maybe a little green or planty. I steeped it for two or three minutes at most, yet it’s astringent. I can’t put my finger on the smell of the liquor, but puddles come to mind. If you like tea with a bit of a “cool” flavor, this is definitely one. The aftertaste is more decidedly dirt-like.
So far, there’s not really anything about this flavor that is a must-have for me, but it’s a worthwhile experience. I’m deciding if I want to take a second steeping to work.
My Teavivre pu-erh order FINALLY arrived today!
I got the sampler that has 5 different pu-erhs. What I know about pu-erhs you can fit into a thimble, so tonight after work, I reached into the bag and went with the first sample I grabbed. It was this one.
There’s two little mini-cakes per sample bag. I love the mini tuochas, they’re kind of adorable. They smell great, too – a bit of a black-tea-like sweetness, but the main tone is a misty wood-like smell. Tree bark comes to mind. I did not do a rinse on this one. The steeping instructions said boiling water, 3 to 10 minutes. Excellent!
Twenty or so minutes later, I decided to get off the couch and finally take a sip. Next time I do a first steep on this, I am going to stick to the parameters Teavivre recommended. It’s still really cool tasting: that thick, earthy flavor, tempted to be fishy but not quite there. However, it’s a little on the astringent side, and I’ve got a feeling that’s because of how long I steeped it. Pu-erhs are generally considered forgiving, but some things do have their limits. I’m looking forward to trying the second infusion.
I got this sampler because I’ve been curious about the potential of pu-erhs. To the casual tea drinker, a lot of the adjectives used to describe pu-erh teas sound absolutely outlandish, but they’ve always seemed like the great ones could be so intriguing, complex, evocative, and (god I hate this adjective) grown-up. A little too much time in the teapot aside, this one did not disappoint. Give me a couple of times with this and it could very easily become a favorite.
I’d like to start by saying thank you again to the people who wrote comments on last night’s tasting note. Normally I don’t join online communities, but I absolutely love love LOVE the atmosphere on here, not just when someone is going through a rough time but always. To me, this community is about appreciating little bits of life (in the form of tea), even when life isn’t the greatest, and the joy of sharing those experiences. Steepster is the best and I hope that never changes!
That said, I still feel a bit guilty about that note because I feel like I made myself look worse off than I am. The thing is, for the most part I consider myself pretty stable, although I do have a lot of negativity and self-frustration that I’ve yet to shake off. Every so often I’ll have ridiculous mood swings, and when I have those, all of the little insecurities/stress/bitternesses/“baggage” comes straight to the forefront and takes over and is the only thing. Last night was one of those nights, especially since there were a few external factors exacerbating it. Maybe it’s not all a bad thing that happens, because I tend to deal with things by pushing them to the back of my mind, and it’s a good catalyst to get them dealt with so I can start focusing on other, better things!
Aaaaaaaanywho. I wound up getting less sleep than I really need again last night (there’s a habit to work on!), so this is my choice for the morning since I’ve done my gunpowder & mate for a few days now. I have to get ready for work, but I just wanna sit here and drink this cup with ambient noise in the background. It’s still a fun chocolatey flavor. And there’s bananas!
Warning: emotional unpacking ahead. Oh, I’m gonna regret this in the morning.
I’m all over the place tonight and I don’t even know why. I realized that I seem to have three default emotions, depending on the situation and the time of day: carefree and happy, stressed (anywhere from mild to getting-into-my-dreams), and seething with anger (rarely over any real-world problem, usually over any part of a tangled knot of insecurities I’ve been dwelling on for years.) Tonight, I cycled through all three of them in really rapid succession. I’ve been trying to be positive lately, but my success with that seems to do more with my mood than anything. When I’m in a good mood, it’s very easy; when I’m not, I literally do not want to get rid of my negativity… somehow it makes me feel like I’m less weak, gullible, malleable, spineless, etc. if I’m human enough to be angry about something, and like I can be taken seriously (or something) if I have some amount of cynicism/rage/bitterness to carry around with me. Messed up, I know. But I’m afraid of conflict, and I never have the courage to confront the people who may be responsible for my being angry… and then the cycle continues. Also, I don’t feel like these feelings are really valid, since I haven’t had anything happen in my life to warrant this much angst – especially so far after middle school, when I’m supposed to be all grown up and adjusted and full-time job and apartment and engagement ring (and I’m living with my parents with no social life whatsoever.) I want to talk to somebody about it, but the only person who really qualifies for the job (my mom) has heard me blather about my stupid me-problems so many times she’s probably about sick of it.
The one thing I will say, though. Somehow the combination of bass practice and tea seems to help a LOT. Tonight, after one of my moody spells, I sat down and took a sip of this tea – and something about warm liquid with a flavor I don’t taste very often put my head in the right place. It wasn’t a matter of liking or disliking the tea (it’s still a little on the bitter side for my taste), it was a comfort thing and an experience thing.
Can I just stay up and drink tea for a while?
Egh. For the second time in less than a month, I seem to be getting sick. The week of your boss being gone and you having to work 7 hours by yourself each day is NOT the time to get sick! I actually don’t feel awful, and I don’t seem to be getting worse, but I’m scared that I’m going to wake up tomorrow and feel like death warmed over.
I’ve heard once or twice before that rooibos is supposed to boost your immune system. Is that true? Am I making that up? Oh well. I’m going to bed early tonight anyway, right after I finish rewatching an ep of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Vaguely Autumnal Rooibos, it is then.
Actually it’s better than I remember. Once you know to expect Vaguely Autumnal Rooibos rather than Pumpkin Spice, it’s not a bad little tea. It’s warm, sweet, and comforting, with a trace of… not tang. Vaguely Autumnal pumpkin-ness.
I still have waaaaaaaaaaaaaay too many sachets of it, though.
Before I remembered that I supposedly have an Irish Breakfast Blend from Arbor Teas somewhere in the bowels of my cupboard, I was trying to decide what tea to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with. After going between a couple of different options, I finally settled on this one.
Um, Klutz. “French” and “Blue” are not St. Patrick’s day words.
OK so there’s a ramble attached. In the summer of 2001, I got to go to Ireland with my mom and my grandma. Back then, we were all convinced we had Irish heritage (which has since turned out not to be as true as we’d thought) and were basically obsessed with everything Irish. The trip was absolutely wonderful, and there are so many details about it I have yet to forget. I’m not sure at exactly what point in the trip I smelled lavender – I have a feeling it may have been in some soap or lotion or something – but lavender is now inextricably connected with that romantic/romanticized Ireland I have in my head.
And this tea is the lavenderiest damn lavender you have ever lavendered in your lavendering life. I still wish I could make the liquor be that purply color, like the picture on the H&S site, but no matter. This is a lovely, heady trip down memory lane. It’s another one of those teas, too, that smells like another time and place (I think I’m a bit obsessed with those! Usually happens with the more potent floral teas.)
This is my evening cuppa as I practice my bass. And make no effort to get this version of this song out of my head: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCXEtvbJkkY
I’ve reviewed this tea approximately 903 times I think. I actually laid off it for a few months while I didn’t drink tea as much, and when I did it was usually something flavored. Getting back to it… there’s a reason it’s my favorite. It is the quintessence of everything I want in a tea: a flavor that is is familiar and desirable (cocoa) yet unexpected (earthy, raisins) at the same time. I have never had anything else quite like it.