321 Tasting Notes
a hundred times a week (almost always coinciding with an excellent cup of tea) i wonder if there could ever be a way for me to work in tea…. and then i got this sample. and my unwavering answer became nope.
the contents of the sample bag looked a lot like salad and smelled a lot like strawberry. there was no warning. butiki teas should have a sticker with a tongue exploding and morphing into a stretched out paypal symbol. ‘warning: sipping may induce self justified tea budget destruction’.
i taste strawberry madeleines, i taste the meringues that i whip up to put on top of pavlova… it is light, it is airy and i have absolutely NO idea how ginger and strawberry and dragonwell (among other ingredients) could possibly yield this result. how do you plan something like this????
sigh. and as always, if i didn’t have bad timing i would have no timing…. because i placed my butiki order LAST night. i am going to go and hit the ‘add to shopping list button’, reflect on whether or it is possible to be a strategical tea pusher (and whether or not that would even be a bad thing!!!), and assuming that being a tea pusher is possible how much mindblowing skill was employed in the creation that went into my sample bag….
OMG! it’s the lychee oolong all over again!!! sheesh…
this is a bittersweet tea for me. i say in my profile that tea is a many splendoured, multi layered thing. tea is where tangible ingredients and steeping instructions connect with intangibles: memory, inspiration, imagination.
many teas that i love have elements of vanilla and almond, there’s a reason for that. thank you stacy for this gateway to memory. i will greedily journey back with every cup.
as i sip i identify tastes for what i know and use metaphor for what i do not.
firstly, this is a very soothing blend, as stated. i like vanilla and mint, but they can taste medicinal and i am not a huge fan of lavender. that said, these three elements are a trio, cleverly bonded and timed by stacy and her team! … … (at least i hope she has a team, otherwise this is a whole lot of work for one person). the flavours hit the tongue in sequence— like notes played on a piano:
vanilla (must have been tumbled in a dryer because it is warm and round)
mint (slight sharp sensation)
lavender (toned down and doesn’t crawl up my nose)
leaves a fresh palate.
now the guayasa is something i am unfamiliar with before this tea (yes i know it may have been wiser to sample my sample of plain guayasa first but that didn’t happen so hush! =0) the guayasa adds a further depth to the piano playing flavours reminiscent of benign roots… not like roasted roots (ie parsnips at thanksgiving) more like an alternate earth smell.
alright, this will sound vaguely nuts but what’s new in my reviews? you know when you’re gardening and you pull up something dangerous, deadly nightshade say, and there is this horrible twang that makes you want to shove tea tree oil up your nose to make it quit? THAT IS NOT THE KIND OF ROOT I MEAN. have you ever pulled up one of those huge wanna-be-a-tree dandelions along with its foot and a half long tap root? it doesn’t smell just like soil… it smells sweet and basic, no astrigency. THAT is the root i mean.
i like this! i think (as usual) i will have to tinker a bit, i want it stronger than the directions recommend. i also am getting used to the entirely different way of disseminating caffeine… i can feel it in my body, but haven’t tasted it on my tongue. i suspect that trying to compare this tea to any other kind of leafed tea will leave you frustrated.
PS: contrary being that i am i prefer an 8 minute steep over the recommended 6. it really is a beautiful and effective tea. two cups this morning served as breakfast and lunch and wake up. no crash, no loss of energy. excellent!
a beautiful blend to behold in the bag, but as i pulled it out on the spoon the hugely long assam fingers would fall off. and once i finally got the pieces into my tea ball i realized there was zero chance i was going to get the lid on… i also didn’t have nearly enough of the blend into the ball. what’s a boy to do? in short commit butiki sacrilege in the form of crunching the bag.
in my tea mad brain i got a lecture from bonnie as i crunched, approval of my critical thinking skills from scribbles, and a moderate wince from stacy when/if she reads this.
the potential for this tea to have been lacking or imbalanced in any number of ways was huge, especially on the part of the assam base. this creation makes me wonder if butiki teas architects are required to have studied gestalt art theory briefly summarized as ‘perception as the product of complex interactions among various stimuli’ and that a whole is worth more than its separate parts. lol.
this tea is a very successfully blended whole—less a caramel vanilla assam to me, and more a spun vanilla sugar highlight laid over a delightfully smooth black.
having been at art school for a very long time i tend to equate the world around me with complimentary senses: so a smell may trigger an image, and a taste may draw out a sound. for me this tea is imagery.
which translates to: skill, diligence and if you weren’t careful as you built it then it all comes tumbling down and leaves you with nothing more than a puddle of goo that you spend the next year trying to scrape off your floor!
very nice! i think in my next cup i may use a bit of brown sugar to draw out just a little bit more of the spun sugar taste, although that will have to be tomorrow as it is already 10pm and i do need sleep!
UPDATE: okay, brown sugar maximizes this tea. my mouth is very happy!
i’m having a dramatic moment.
in my mind’s eye i am standing at the lip of a great chasm… perhaps the grand canyon, perhaps a crevasse that has opened while climbing k2. in my left hand is my tea cup; oversized, plastic (because i’m forever dropping things)… i sip and become a human incarnation of edvard munch’s ‘the scream’ http://www.google.com/culturalinstitute/asset-viewer/the-scream/eQFdRTFKDtVQ1A?projectId=art-project&source=kp&hl=en . ‘noooooooooooooooooooo!’ i shriek (though much more tastefully than macaulay caulkin in home alone).
this lychee and i were destined to meet. we have been reaching across time and space and infinite galaxies in order to be together… i have been looking for so long. i have found teas named lychee, but they were all lies. this THIS is a lychee tea. i am certain that stacy lim has sent mass quantities of this blend to dr. who to stock the tardis. to me that is the degree of infamy this blend has achieved!
why am i screaming ‘no’, bouncing the word over and over off the walls of an impressive hole in the earth’s crust? because it was only a sample and i’m out now. and i made a stupid promise to myself (that i may deliberately have articulated out loud to my wife) that i would purchase no more tea until the middle of july at least. and then even after i order i have to wait for shipping time.
people say that life’s not fair. i will now take the opportunity to be far more specific: life without tea is not fair.
relevant tea review information outside of drama: tidy rolled balls of oolong that don’t smell dry even when they have not yet been immersed in water. they smell rich and light and floral. this tea doesn’t taste like lychee, it is lychee. i have a series of unusual adjectives i apply to exceptional teas. the most common one is ‘honest’— meaning it is exactly what it says it is. this tea leaves ‘honest’ in the dust and grabs another atypical descriptor: ‘accurate’. this tea is a cup of perfect lychees harvested at the ideal time. not a one was dropped, no bitter peel sullied the fruit.
there is no lychee aside from this.
and i am out.
p.s. thank you stacy for the sample.