159 Tasting Notes
Once again I have been absent from steepster for a while… But this time I come back with quite a story to tell. I will warn everyone that this is more a brief summary of my eventful past 2 weeks more than a review… Though the vanilla tea I am sipping does play a major part! : )
Last weekend, I went to Cuyabeno with the boyfriend and my family. Cuyabeno is an Eco-Lodge in the Ecuadorian Amazon Jungle. By Eco-Lodge, they really mean ECO. There were no doors or glass windows. No electricity. No internet. No cellphone service. And lots and LOTS of bugs, frogs, snakes, and lots of other animals that you really don’t want to wake up next to (or find taking a swim in your toilet… as I did multiple times during the trip…). Anyways, I took a bit of this tea with me on my trip and would make it with boiled water that they would give us at the lodge with dinner. It was great to have a strong vanilla tea that tasted creamy without needing milk to accompany me in the dark while I listened to the noises of the jungle and shared stories with the guides and locals. It is one of my comfort teas, so having its company helped my courage before closing my eyes to sleep surrounded by creatures of the night…
Once I got back to my house, I only had one week left before the big non-for-profit race that I organize (Ruta de las Iglesias). I had a whole lot to do, and it was sorta crazy and hectic. Getting everything ready for 8000 people to receive their competition chip and package as well as make sure the 10km path is all ready is quite a job for 2 people (my aunt and I organize the whole thing…). Well, all was going well, when my tummy started feeling funny. Then I started feeling cold. Then I had a super high fever… and it turned out I had an intestinal infection!!! Argh… What horrible timing! I couldn’t stay home from work the week before the race, so off to work with fever and all… It was miserable. But worst of all, I couldn’t drink tea because everything I smelled or tasted made me feel sicker… I didn’t eat anything or drink anything but Gatorade for 5 days! It was terrible…
The race was this Saturday. It was great and everything went fine. We calculated a total of 12000 runners (including those that ran without having officially signed up for the race). It was a huge success… until we realized that the company that managed the race results had given us the report with a HUGE amount of errors… So I have had to spend the past two days in front of a computer looking through the results and correcting the ones that had errors…
So finally, now after these insane days, I am finally sitting down with another cup of vanilla tea to try to relax for a change. This tea smells as delicious as it tastes. The vanilla plays in well with the astringent (only a tad bit too astringent, but oh well….) black tea base. My favorite part of this vanilla black is that the the texture that this particular vanilla flavor gives the tea makes it seem like you have added milk to it. It really has the mouthfeel of a latte! I wish it wasn’t this late and I could enjoy another cup of tea, but it is too late… and another cup of tea right now would not be a very bright idea considering I have to go back and deal with more crazy work tomorrow!
Please forgive my rambling! :) I missed everyone! I am glad to be back.
Just finished the most important meeting for the race! The race is on the 18th, so at this point I only have a few minor details to get through in terms of organizing it, and I will be done!!! (Or rather done with the race for this year… Next year will be the ninth edition, and I am sure the tenth edition is right around the corner…) I am happy that everything is going smoothly and so far according to plan. I have the police, red cross, medics, and 500 or so volunteers ready for action on the 18th of August!
I am exhausted and got home yearning for a sweet cup of tea. I decided to brew this one sweetened.
The delicious grape smell of the dry leaves pops nicely when you add a tiny bit of rock sugar. Oh so delicious! It was exactly what I wanted! It is really natural tasting, it reminds me more of the fruit than of a grape candy.
I may actually give in and have to get another pouch of this… I will have to think about it… I have a bunch of teas that I still have to get through… I might get myself a pouch of it as a post race prize! :)
This is one of the teas that I got in the grab bag sale. I ordered 2 grab bags, so I got 8 new teas to try! I really couldn’t resist buying two grab bags… Something about mystery and tea combined by Frank made this irresistible!
The dry leaves smell like sour grapes. It reminds me vaguely of grape juice. I love the HUGE freeze dried grapes in my tea. If my calculations are correct, I have about enough to include 1 grape per cup of tea! :) The tea leave are a big small and broken, though that may be due to the rough trip to Ecuador that they had to endure…
While steeping, I got a slight grape scent that was much lighter than the dry tea leaf scent. The butter colored liquor that I achieved after a three minute steep smelled strongly of Bai Mu Dan with a grapey scent in the background.
I didn’t need to sweeten this tea at all. The fruity taste of the Bai Mu Dan worked wonders with the grape flavoring. It was smooth and only slightly grapey. The taste was not artificial at all, and I really enjoyed the cup. I think I might have enjoyed it more if the grape flavor had been a little bit stronger, but it was still a delightful tea.
The second steep had a weird sour after taste that I didn’t like at all… So I am sticking to one steep on this one.
I have already gone through 3 cups of this one… Somehow I don’t think it is going to last me too long! :)
I backlogging this tea from yesterday. I only had a tiny bit left, so I made my last cup and smiled as another tea was finished from my stash making room for yummier and newer tea!
The leaves are dark and smell sweet more than chocolaty. They reminded me the scent of a chocolate lotion that I was once gifted. You know it is supposed to be chocolate but it doesn’t quite make you believe it is.
Once brewed it is a darker brew that smells sweet with a hint of chocolate. Unsweetened it tastes just meh… A bit astringent with a hint of something flavored that is not quite distinguishable. Sweetened it turns into a chocolaty sweet liquid that is much better than you would have imagined from the scent. It isn’t the sweetest or the most realistic chocolate tea I have tried, but it is a well pulled of chocolate tea. My biggest complaint is that the scent doesn’t really scream out CHOCOLATE! But oh well… Still tasty!
On a quick side note, isn’t it cool that Chocolate is spelled the same in English and in Spanish?
A few years ago I got to visit a plantation of Cacao trees. I got to eat the white pulpy fruit (yellow and red on the outside) that surrounds the chocolate seed (Sweet and delicious though it tastes nothing like chocolate at all). Then we got to see the entire process from tree to chocolate bar. It is amazing how the seeds smell when they are drying and roasting… The entire farm smelled like chocolate! Yummmmm….
I love this tea. Every time I have it I have to smile at the tastiness that is held in my tea cup. I only wish Adagio shipped to Ecuador and then I wouldn’t have to worry about running out of it each time I brew it… It is, so far, the best vanilla caramel combo I have found!
On a completely unrelated note, I got home from work today at 10pm (working on the race until late…) and did the unthinkable… I made myself my nightly tea and looked at part one of my tea tea stash (yes, I have MULTIPLE parts to my teas in multiple places) and decided that too much of my tea is too old for me to really appreciate and too old for me to feel OK about selling or sending out in swaps. Soooo… I gathered my courage and threw the oldest (5+ years…) out and what was salvageable I am going to take to work tomorrow to give to the few people I know will appreciate it.
I thought I would feel horrible about it, but actually, it feels great to clear out my stash and make room for the stuff I really really like and the new stuff!!! Also, sharing tea with people who wouldn’t otherwise have access to it is also a great feeling!
Ok, now that I have shared my afternoon adventure, I am going back to my birthday tea and enjoying it while I read a bit of Dorian Grey! (Yay Steepster book club for pushing me to reread this amazing book!)
I am having an increadibly tough month. I am one of the co-organizers of Ruta de las Iglesias. It is a 10km race that goes through the colonial down town of Quito. While I love doing it, it is a real challenge. It is our 8th edition and we have 8000 people already signed up for it. The hardest part of all of the organizing and work involved is working along with someone who is also in charge and many times has clashing ideas. I am exhausted… Emotionally, physically, and all other was possible. I can’t wait to the race day to arrive (for it to be a success again, I hope!) and get on with my relatively more normal life!
So, on to the tea… I haven’t had this one in a while. I had it tonight slightly sweetened with rock sugar and a snicker-doodle just for good measure (I have lost too much weight from all the stress…).
Delicious! I really tasted the sugary goodness of cotton candy. I sipped it while watching Sherlock and cuddling with my little Sencha (for those who don’t know her, she is my French Bulldog!). What a great night! While it is late, and I only have a few more minutes before I have to retreat to bed, this tea hit the spot. I think the key to making a good vs a spectacular cup of this tea is getting the sweetener to tea ratio correct. Tonight, I got it just right! Liquid Cotton Candy!
Please forgive my rambling which will probably continue until the 18th of August, the race date. I know that I can count on all of you fellow tea lovers for support during this crazy time and hopefully not go completely crazy! :)
My continuing search for vanilla and creamy flavored teas lead me to purchase a large amount of this matcha. The idea of cream and vanilla as flavoring for already smooth and creamy matcha seemed like a great idea. Red Leaf Tea was, of course, the perfect place to find such a creation. From my experience with their matcha so far, this could not be anything but excellent!
I had super high hopes as I opened the small silver envelope. The first sensation to reach my brain was a sharp scent that was oddly citrus. I had to sniff it again to make sure my nose wasn’t fooling me… Oddly there was still a citrusy scent. It definitely had cream scent and sensation as well, but the citrusy bit caught me by surprise. It smelled delicious, but not vanilla! At this point I decided to do some research on exactly what Bavarian Cream was. Perhaps my expectations of something super vanilla were not quite right…
I think it is appropriate to include a quick background of Bavarian Cream, for those who are not that familiar with it. Bavarian Cream gets its name from its supposed birth place: Bavaria. It is thought to have been first served in the 19th century. It is essentially cream that is flavored with liquor and thickened with gelatin. It is different to other cream desserts due to its thickening process. Most other cream desserts are thickened with corn starch or other thickening agents. Since Bavarian Cream is thickened with gelatin, it can be served in molds of various shapes and decorated with glazed or more cream. Or, if I were preparing it, vanilla liquor (or perhaps a dash of vanilla tea syrup… hmmm…)!
So, it turns out I was confused ! Bavarian cream is not necessarily vanilla flavored! Though, most recipes call for vanilla in a variety of concentrations. With this in mind, the scent is exactly as it should be. Smooth and creamy with a hint of citrus that I assume comes from the liquor.
Once prepared the citrus scent is mellower and the cream is more prominent. It foamed up delightfully as I whisked it. I think that the foam and creamy texture is my favorite part of matcha. My first sip was delightful. I was met with strong green tea flavor followed by a hint of citrus and a bunch of creamy smoothness. It felt like I was drinking a latte! While it wasn’t the vanilla I was expecting, the creaminess made up for it completely! I am super happy I bought the large one!
I really enjoyed this cup of matcha!! I can’t wait to prepare more!
If you want to try this (you really should if you like creamy teas!) you can find it here: http://www.redleaftea.com/matcha-tea/bavarian-cream-matcha.html
I sometimes forget that Oolongs are my favorite tea. Every once in a while I will have a cup of tea like this one that makes my taste buds have a party in my mouth and my brain kicks in saying “This is sooo good! It has to be your favorite Nina!”… And so, I agree with my brain, yeps, Oolongs are just spectacular.
My boyfriend took me out for sushi tonight (lucky me!) and I was in the mood for something smooth and unflavored. Oolong was the perfect culprit!
In the bag the tightly rolled leaves smelled slightly sweet and much like milk oolong. They had a hint of mineral plantiness.
Once brewing the scent was overwhelmingly creamy and sweet. So delicious. I stood sniffing my tea the whole time it steeped, enjoying each breath of creamy promises of tastiness. The liquor was olive green and sparkled in the light of my kitchen as I waited for it to be cool enough to sip.
Once brewed, I was in love. It worked exactly like an Oolong should. First it fills your mouth with creaminess, followed by a slight mineral refreshing flavor and finally has a grand finally of sweet and savory as you swallow. I wish my cup could have lasted longer… Thankfully I have second and third steeps to look forward to! :)
Thanks a bunch to Fong Mong Tea for this spectacular sample!
Second Steep (the tea sat overnight and I am having it with breakfast)- Second steeps are usually my favorite, but this time around, the first steep takes the prize. I am finding the second steep to be a tiny bit more astringent and floral than the first creamy sweet steep. Still really enjoying it! :)
Every once in a while I think that the best recipe for happiness is a hot cup of an old favorite tea next to a beloved dog who just wants love. Today I had a really long work day, and I don’t foresee my work days getting any shorter than 12 hours in the near future… So my moment with my cup of vanilla tea is both delicious and thoroughly enjoyable.
As I have mentioned in my previous note, this particular vanilla black is one of my favorites. Maybe because it is one of my first or maybe because my tongue really likes it… Either way, I am enjoying it black at midnight. Appropriate if I were a tea drinking vampire. Sadly, I am not… So I have to manage to go to sleep and wake up in the next few hours.
As for the tea, it is still smooth, vanilla creamy and sweet. The tea base astringent and more so today that I have not milked it. Tough it is sweetened. It is sort of like the equivalent to eating really dark sweet chocolate. I actually really enjoy it. The vanilla is smooth and heavily present while the black tea base cuts through the sweetness. The sharp astringency works well to balance out the creamy vanilla cutting through the silkiness.
Milked and sweetened it is a decadent treat and just sweetened it is a relaxing companion!
Still up there with my favorite teas! And my go to tea to sip and relax! :)
Drum-roll please…. I’m back! I had a wonderful vacation in Europe. I even got to try delicious new teas from new places! Reviews coming soon! :) When I got back I found a nice big bag of samples from Teavivre waiting for me! What a great way to end your vacation! Admitedly I am swamped with work but I will make time for tea and Steepster. I missed you all while I was away!
This is the first tea from the samples that I have decided to try. I chose it randomly, and I have to admit that I am a pretty good random chooser (if I may say so myself!)!! hahaha… This tea is delicious!
The leaves are long and elegant. The dark brown and golden yellow make the leaves a pleasure to look at. The smell is incredible… It is a combination of extreme maltiness a hint of chocolate and a dash of honey. It is a party in your nose! My mouth couldn’t wait to join in!
The scent while brewing is spectacular, an extension of the deliciousness of the dry leaves. Once brewed the used leaves turn true golden and the golden brow liquor that they produce smells of fresh baked chocolate bread! I am in love… Unsweetened I get a tiny bit of welcome bitterness followed by the taste of fresh baked bread with just the right amount of maltiness and a hint of honey to finish of the sip. Wow… Sweetened a chocolate note becomes apparent and it is pleasure in a tea cup.
The second steep is just as delicious, but not quite as bold in flavor. I find it, surprisingly, a tad bit more astringent than the first, but still delightful.
This tea makes you double check if it is flavored… I really felt like I was eating freshly baked chocolate bread with honey!
A great welcome back tea! :)