101 Tasting Notes
’Tis the season for many headaches, ugh, every year around this time when the central heating starts being a necessity I start getting terrible headaches, I blame it on the fact that the heat is dry and I end up doing my best Mumm-Ra impersonation. Headaches or not, today we celebrate the final day of Pu Erh week with something tropical and exotic.
From the Terra sampler and of course the Boo Erh Giveaway, we have Adagio Tea’s Pu Erh Tahiti. Blending the Pu Erh with Coconut, Apples, Mango and Papaya for a truly tropical treat, I feel like I need one of those little paper umbrellas, no reason. The aroma is fairly tart and fruity, with strong notes of apple. I am mostly getting the apple with a slight hint of coconut and tropical fruit and an even fainter hint of Pu Erh earthiness. I will be honest, I am not a fan of the way this tea smells, the different aromas seem to clash with each other.
Giving the tea a good soaking (no, not in the sea water it is clearly reminding me of) the aroma that wafts from the steeped leaves is mostly creamy apple (vaguely reminds me of apple ice cream actually) with a sweet bread tone. It actually reminds me a little of Hawaiin Sweet Bread. There is also a faint hint of coconut and again, a very faint hint of Pu Erh earthiness. The liquid without the leaves is a little odd, the aroma is yeasty and sweet but it has a waxy note, I mean it smells like candle wax does when you are making candles, paraffin wax to be exact. There is also the underlying aroma of earthiness that has been present the whole time, good to see things are consistent.
I want everyone to know, Ben just walked in with a pizza, to settle his pre-finals jitters and to share with me. Awesome. Anyway, tea eyeballs pizza the taste is a bit odd, first thing I notice is earthiness and a hint of metallic, a typical Pu Erh base taste, same as the other teas in the Terra sampler. The midtaste is the sweet and rich mixing the taste of coconut with the smooth nuttiness of coconut oil, there is also a faint hint of apple tartness. The aftertaste is a faint blend of tropical fruits. The overall sweetness of this tea is mild and pleasant, and the mouthfeel is very smooth, almost oily from the coconut. Sadly this tea just did not work for me flavor wise, I don’t hate it or would even cringe away in fear if it was offered to me, I just feel that the flavors clash too much. Perhaps just coconut and apple would be good, or just coconut and Pu Erh, but mixing the other fruits together just seems like a mouth cacophony. I certainly encourage other people to try this one though, it is an unusual experience if nothing else. And now, PIZZA!!
SNOW!!!! There is a light dusting of snow on the ground and this makes me happy. I might feel like utter garbage today but I am so happy because of snow. I suffer from SAD, Snow Absence Depression, if it is Winter I want there to be a constant blanket of snow, I really think I need to move farther north. Today’s tea review will warm you up vicariously if you are in a cold climate and, well, if you are somewhere warm just remember that it is frequently very warm in India, Chai’s homeland.
Yes, it is still Pu-Erh week, but I am bringing in a bit of spice! Pu-Erh Chai by Golden Moon Tea is a mix of traditional Chai spices and aged Pu Erh, and can I just point out that their website is very helpful with notes on who would like this tea and various features of the tea. Bravo, Golden Moon Tea, you get one of my (not really since I just invented it) coveted ‘Awesomely Helpful Website’ awards. The aroma of this tea is deliciously spicy cardamon and cinnamon blended with rich earthiness of Pu Erh, the spices are well balanced and blend very well with Pu Erh’s natural aroma. There is also a mild underlying ‘Asian Market’ aroma and an even fainter metallic hint.
The brewed tea leaves’s aroma is richly earthy, loamy and oaky with strong notes of cardamon. It is like the blending of a forest floor and spice and that is an unusual but wonderful combination. Oddly it is one of those teas that reminds me of my time mushroom hunting, you would be surprised how many mushrooms smell spicy. The liquid is also very rich and intensely spiced, mostly cardamon. There is also an underlying creaminess and notes of oak wood, less forest floor more fresh cut wood.
The taste is very sweet, like spiced candy. I mostly detect cardamon with a surprisingly gentle hint of cinnamon, there is also a very rich earthiness. There is absolutely no bitterness at all, this tea is very smooth, I almost feel like I am drinking silk. All of the flavors present in this tea are well balanced and when paired with the traditional cream it turns into a decadent Chai experience that is unlike any other I have ever had. There is a gentle oaky aftertaste that fades into a lingering loam, the mouthfeel is surprisingly tingly since it feels like the tingle of a lot more cinnamon that was present in the taste. This is a new favorite Chai!
Today has been a good day, I have spent it sipping very strong black tea, avoiding the cold with a lap cat, finalizing some perler project plans, and watching Let’s Plays for the new game, Starbound. I am certainly going to play it (assuming my computer doesn’t laugh at the mere thought of me attempting it, much like it did with Minecraft) next time I have money to buy a new game. You all know me, I am a sucker for games with amazing pixel sprites, it is one of my passions. Of course you are all here for my other passion, tea! Welcome to day five of Pu Erh week!
Today we are looking at Chocolate Pu Erh by Numi Organic Tea. I actually first tried this tea almost two years ago, but that was in the dark age when I didn’t review teas so I remember next to nothing about it except that I liked it, so it is time to take another look at it. The aroma is very chocolaty with a slight touch of vanilla and spice. The aroma is more like a truffle than a tea since I do not detect any aroma of the Pu Erh, I am suspecting this will be a potent dessert tea.
Once I introduce the teabag to its nice hot bath I start to notice the aroma of tea, it comes through as earthy and a touch malty. There is of course still a very strong aroma of chocolate and spices, primarily nutmeg, and a tiny hint of vanilla. The tea is still very reminiscent of dessert and there is still not much of the tea aroma in this tea. I should note that even though the Pu Erh aroma is very faint the tea still smells really yummy.
Tasting time! Feel free to play the Final Fantasy VII Victory Fanfare in your mind in celebration of a successful steep, I know I do. The taste is chocolaty and creamy, like a mix of chocolate and vanilla truffles with a hint of a spiced aftertaste. It is not all just rich chocolate and vanilla though, there is an earthiness that is there under all the other flavors adding a weight to the sipping. The mouthfeel is brisk and the flavor is bright. I will call this a dessert tea but it is not overwhelmingly sweet, similar to dark chocolate, so it is good to drink alongside a dessert without having a sweetness overdose. As it cools I notice notes of roasted nuts and biscuit. Not bad, I wish there had been more of a Pu Erh taste, but this would be a great way to introduce a newcomer to the world of Pu Erh.
Today is day number four of Pu Erh week and I feel like doing something festive in celebration of it being very cold and slowly creeping closer to Christmas. I made myself a nice little Perler Christmas Tree and had a bit of Pu Erh that does the best impersonation of a Christmas Time favorite that I have ever seen.
Pu Erh Chorange by Adagio teas has a wonderful portmanteau name and that makes me happy. Part of the Terra Sampler pack (and The Boo Erh Giveaway mentioned at the start of the week) it is a blend of Chocolate, Pu Erh, Oranges, and Blue Cornflowers. I will be honest, I have no idea why the cornflowers are there, they do not really match the aesthetic, but I am just being picky. The aroma is astoundingly similar to one of my favorite things about Christmas, the Chocolate Orange ball. Ever had one of them, they are a ball shaped like and orange that you bang onto something hard and it splits into ‘orange’ wedges of orange flavored chocolate. They are addictive and this tea smells just like one. At first all I noticed was the blending of chocolate and orange but the more I snuffled around in the tea (yes, you can think of a pig rooting for truffles) the more I noticed an earthy aroma letting me know that it was a Pu Erh and not an impostor.
Giving the tea a nice steeping brings out more earthy aromas with a hint of loam along with the potent orange and chocolate. The tea is very bright, if an aroma can light up a room and make it more cheerful, this one would do it. The liquid is very citrus heavy and sweet with milder notes of chocolate and earthiness.
The first thing I noticed was, wow, that is a smooth tea! The flavor, the mouthfeel, everything about it is smooth, I have a similar reaction when stuffing chocolate orange wedges in my mouth so the similarity continues. The taste blends chocolate and oranges together very well, it is balanced which can be hard with such dominating flavors, but what about the Pu Erh? No worries, it is there, it sneaks in at the very end of the midtaste and blooms into a delightful earthy flavor as an aftertaste and leaves a lingering sweetness. Out of curiosity I added a touch of cream, it surprisingly did not curdle (yay!) but didn’t really add much to the tea. As the tea cools it does get a touch earthier with a bit of a mineral taste. I think I just found my new Christmas cheer tea!
For blog and photos (and a Christmas Tree): http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2013/12/adagio-teas-pu-erh-chorange-tea-review.html
Welcome to day number three of Pu Erh week! You know I am kinda liking these themed weeks, it makes my love of organization and sorting very happy. Speaking of sorting I am almost done sorting my bucket of 11,000 perler beads, it would probably be really tedious if I didn’t enjoy it.
On this frigidly cold day I am pulling from my notebook for a neat Pu Erh blend. Bolder Breakfast by The Tea Spot is a blend of Pu Erh, Chocolate, Black Tea, and Sunflower Petals. It is a tea with loads of caffeine and perfect for a morning boost (and help people who want to make the switch from coffee to tea) with a robust flavor. The aroma is rich, very rich blending chocolate, malt and earthy notes with a mild sweetness. The aroma reminds me of milk chocolate rather than dark chocolate, with a slight hint of nuttiness.
Once I steep the tea the leaves take on a brightness that reminds me of Ceylon tea with malt and earthy notes. There is still the aroma of chocolate but it is not as strong, taking a backseat to the aroma of the tea leaves. The liquid is very rich mixing earthy and loamy notes with a faint ‘market aroma’ from the Pu Erh. As an aftersmell there are notes of sweetness and maltiness.
The taste is very intense and sweet, an extremely robust, rich tea. They were not wrong when they said it could be a good ‘switchover’ tea because I can certainly see a similarity with coffee. The taste is a great blend of robust tea and rich chocolate, still more of a milk chocolate. There is a slightly metallic mouthfeel that gives the tea an added brightness. It manages to be creamy and rich which still being earthy, there is also a touch of astringency which is very pleasant. As the tea cools it becomes a bit more astringent and also a little more earthy. I also tried this tea with a bit of cream, there was no need for sugar because it is already pretty sweet, the cream takes away any of the astringency and gives it a bit of a chocolate milk feel. This tea is certainly a good breakfast tea, making me feel very awake and alert.
I am very patiently waiting for the timer in the kitchen to go ding, yes it goes ding when there is stuff. Today’s stuff is Sushi rice, and by patiently I mean HURRY UP I AM HUNGRY!! While waiting I thought to myself, this is a perfect time for day 2 of Pu Erh week to come into existence.
Today I am reviewing Teavivre’s Ripened Rose Pu-Erh Mini Tuocha. Initially I reviewed this tea about a month ago and stored it in my notebook, but I decided to toss that review out the window (I actually did tear the page out of my notebook) and taste it again using my new Gaiwan. I want to be fancy while waiting for food! The aroma of this little Tuocha is fairly sweet, mixing faint roses with an underlying yeastiness. There are also notes of leather, earthiness, and a touch metallic. It has that slightly fishy ‘Asian Market’ aroma that I associate with Pu Erh (and really is my favorite thing about them) and makes me feel all tingly with anticipation. Time for some fancy Gaiwan action!
The steeped leaves look a lot less like a Tuocha now, as expected, with a little rosebud resting on the top of them, it is quite pretty. The aroma is intense! Rich earthy and mineral notes mixing with leather and heady rose. The liquid (in my little bubble cup, no less) is rosy, earthy, and a touch of that market aroma.
The first steep is a bit bitter, kinda like chewing on leather. It is earthy and rich with delicate notes of rose that smooth out the edges as an aftertaste. The bitterness is not unpleasant, it is not the ‘too many tannins, turn your mouth inside out’ bitter, but the same kind of bitter you find in certain wood. Yes I have chewed on wood, I like tasting random things. It specifically reminds me of oak. As it cools it gets much smoother, almost becoming buttery with a mildly metallic aftertaste.
The aroma on the second steeping is less like leather and more oak and rose, it is very mild and smooth. The taste is also much more oaky and sharp, this tea certainly lets you know it is there in your mouth. There is a slightly mushroom taste as well as a loamy note. The second steep has transported me to an oak forest and that is wonderful.
The third steep’s aroma is bringing in more of the market smell with a touch of underlying sweetness, like pipe tobacco. The taste is a touch milder, still very oaky but with more sweetness, like baked bread and pipe tobacco. Oddly this steep transports me to a Victorian Gentleman’s library, though oddly he has a few roses in his library. The rose sneaks in as an aftertaste and is very subtle.
The fourth is oak and roses and not much else in its aroma. The same can be said of the taste, mostly oak wood with just a hint of roses. There is a slightly metallic aftertaste and a hint of leather as well when it cools.
The fifth and final steep, only final because my kettle is on empty and my rice is almost ready. I am almost positive this tea has quite a few steeps left in it. The aroma is heady roses and sweet tobacco. The taste is very mild, subtle roses, oak, and a hint of loam. As an aftertaste there is a honey sweetness with a hint of roses. I noticed as I was sipping this tea that I started feeling kinda odd, like sitting in a sauna or the like. I am pretty sure this tea is making me sweat out all impurities (does Pu Erh do that?) and it is making me feel refreshed. This was an awesome tasting experience, I certainly must do it again!
I have spent the day sipping tea and sorting Perler beads in front of an open window. It was a beautiful day, warm and sunny, kinda hard to believe it is going to be frigid in a few days. Recently I discovered that Pu Erh no longer gives me migraines (still not sure why it did in the first place, but whatever) and conveniently The lovely Snooty Tea Person was having a Boo Erh giveaway, which luck would have it, I won. So that means I have some new delicious Pu Erh teas to taste, and here is the first one! Perhaps I will make this ‘reacquainting myself with Pu Erh’ week.
Pu Erh Hazelberry by Adagio Teas is a blend of Pu Erh Tea, Strawberries, Cocoa Nibs, and Natural Strawberry, Creme, and Hzelnut flavors. When I opened the pouch the first thing that popped into my mind is ‘this smells like Crunch Berries!’ and that was a delightful surprise, because I love that cereal. Once I started sniffing the loose leaf picked up notes of earthiness under the initial strawberry, along with a mellow creaminess. There are also notes of the beloved ‘market aroma’ I associate with Pu Erh, sweet hazelnut, and a hint of mineral. There is a lot going on with this tea’s aroma, it is an odd combination, but also very appealing.
While the tea is steeping I notice the aroma of strawberries and chocolate drifting around with the steam, so glad the breeze is carrying the aroma to my nose and not out the window. The mineral and earthy aroma is much milder than the leaves, as is the ‘market aroma’ but they are still present and have a more mellow tone. As I pull the steeped leaves away from my nose I notice a tart strawberry aroma mingling with the sweetness. The liquid is sweet and fruity with notes of earthiness and cream, it is very smooth. I cannot wait to taste it.
There is a lot going on with the flavors in this tea, not surprising when there is so much going on with the aroma. First is a blend of minerals, mildly metallic, earthy taste that is bright and ‘sparks’ in my mouth. It really does feel like little electric sparks going off in my mouth, and really that is not bad, it is a fun feeling and makes me wake up and pay attention. For a midtaste there are nuts of creaminess and hazelnut that mixes with sweet strawberry. There is no real tartness from the strawberry and its sweetness lingers for a pleasant aftertaste. The mouthfeel is sharp and very brisk, and it leaves the mouth feeling a bit dry. As it cools the Pu Erh taste becomes more pronounced and the flavors fade to the background. Oddly it still reminds me of Crunch Berries, which I like! This tea does a good job of blending the earthiness of Pu Erh with the sweetness of strawberries, I wish the chocolate and hazelnut were a bit stronger, but that is my only complaint. Stay tuned for more Pu Erh goodness!
I have a sad confession, I have been staring at my computer screen for about five minutes with writer’s block. I am not blocked with writing about tea, I just cannot think of a good introduction to today’s blog. So just imagine I said something amazingly witty or incredibly geeky and I shall carry on with today’s tea!
Earl of Anxi by Verdant Tea is a blend made from Autumn Harvest Tieguanyin, Organic Orange Peel, Organic Jasmine, Wildcrafted Frankincense Resin, Organic Goji Berry, and Organic Saffron. When I read the list of ingredients my mind did this little freak-out and fizzled a bit…that is a crazy decadent tea that blends some of my favorite things! Tieguanyin (or Tie Kuan Yin) is probably my favorite Oolong, Frankincense is one of my favorite aromas, and saffron is one of my favorite flavors, consider my mind blown. The aroma is very sweet, mixing notes of honey, cherries, oranges, and the tangy sweet aroma of Goji berries. There are also notes of orchid and jasmine with a hint of frankincense as I pull it away. The blending of aromas is awe inspiring, I want to ingest it and wear it as a luxurious perfume. I feel myself being transported to an exotic garden on the Silk Road.
I have become a bit bouncy with excitement as I steep this tea. The steeped tea leaves are richly heady mixing the jasmine and orchid aromas from the Oolong. There are notes of chestnut, saffron, and the resinous aroma of frankincense. Lastly is a hint of orange that sneaks in at the end. The liquid’s aroma is intense, mostly notes of chestnut, saffron, frankincense, and orchid.
This tea is deliciously sweet, mixing honey sweetness and fruity sweetness. Orange notes are present and it blends wonderfully with the Tieguanyin, complimenting the orchid flavors of the oolong. There are midtastes of jasmine and goji berries, and it finishes with the resinous and slightly earthy taste of frankincense. Throughout the entire sipping experience is a gentle undertone of saffron which gives the tea a very exotic tone. As the tea cools it becomes a bit more chestnutty. With this steep all of the flavors blend together perfectly, no one flavor dominates, it is very much like an elegant dance of flavors in my mouth.
I was lucky to get a second steep out of this tea, but I was so enthralled with the tea I forgot to take a picture of it, tragic. The aroma is more orchid and chestnut, more ‘oolong’ and less other ingredients. The aroma does not lie, tasting this tea I notice that the Tieguanyin takes center stage. The taste is very mild with gentle notes of oranges and goji berries with just a tiny hint of jasmine. There is a slight mineral aftertaste that adds a delicious finish to the experience. As the tea cools it takes on a lemony quality. I have a hard time calling this tea an Earl or an Oolong, it transcends both and is simply an experience. This tea is exquisite, I could not drink it all the time because even though it is delicate, the flavors are so intense that I feel I would be overwhelmed and sent into a state of transcended reality. I have a special relationship with oolongs. I actually do not recommend drinking this tea with food or anything that would distract you from the experience of drinking it, and I certainly don’t say that very often.
Hello all, it is time for another Tea Gear Review! excited cheering from the audience yes yes, I know these are exciting because we tea drinkers tend to ogle and hoard gear as much as we do tea. Possibly even much so since the tea gear is what brings us our delicious cups of liquid happiness. Today we are looking at the Shudei Kyusu from Den’s Tea, yes the one that I babble about periodically.
Backstory time! I first ran into the concept of the Kyusu (or Kyuusu) when I was in high school and going through that ‘obsessed with Japan and Anime’ phase (not that I have left that phase, it just has been nerfed a bit) and studying Chado and their tea culture. I was able to find a Tetsubin pretty easily but I never saw a Kyusu outside of books and online. Of course the prices online were intensely high and I am in the mindset of ‘when I buy a new piece of equipment, don’t spend too much money on it because chances are you will break it.’ I wanted a practice piece, and while browsing I found this beauty and its lovely price.
This Kyusu is made from Shudei, or red clay which has a higher level of iron oxide (and reminds me of the clay I would play with growing up in Georgia) which gives it a lovely color. There is a mostly convenient built in metal sieve for filtering out the leaves that try to escape. I say mostly convenient because being built in means it can be a real pain to clean.
I have used it quite a few times since I bought it back in late September and each time has been a treat. The size is optimal for two cups, but since I am the only one in the house that likes Japanese Green tea I usually only fill it up halfway. I like having the option of more servings should the opportunity arise. My favorite aspect of the kyusu is holding it, the handle is the perfect size for my grip and it just feels good pouring the tea.
I have noticed that it is not retaining any tea aromas or flavors (unlike Yixing) but judging by the sheen I am pretty sure this teapot has been given a glaze making it safe to use with multiple teas. Not that I am going to use it for anything other than my various Japanese greens. I am very happy with my Kyusu (it needs a name…I like naming my teapots, suggestions?) and I actually feel I do not need a fancy expensive one for my collection.
For blog and photos (and a few helpful links!) http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2013/11/dens-tea-shudei-kyusu-tea-gear-review.html
Happy Day of Eating Too Much everyone! I have spent my day being crafty (need to make sure my Melted Geek Shop is stocked for the holidays) and drinking teas while rocking out to 80s New Wave. In honor of my geeky inspiration I decided to review a tea that is inspired by a fandom that has been near and dear to my heart for years. I discovered Harry Potter when I was fifteen and the series helped keep magic alive in my heart when I was going through a really rough time in my life, so of course I wanted to try the Butterbeer tea!
Before I go much farther I should say, I have a very distinct idea of what Butterbeer is supposed to taste like in my head, I will try my best to be fair if it doesn’t taste the way I expect it to and review it as a tea and not as a fandom geek out. As a giant nerd this will be hard…I mean, don’t even get me started on a rant about a fandom I am a part of, it never ends well! Butterbeer by 52Teas is made from Black Tea, Licorice Root, Chicory Root, and natural flavors. The aroma is very strongly rootbeer. Pretty much the only thing I am picking up is the aroma of rootbeer, and maybe a hint of creaminess. I have a problem here, I absolutely loathe rootbeer, probably more than I loathe lemongrass which is saying something. So lets try steeping the tea, sometimes I get surprised.
Once steeping the aroma becomes creamier, definitely more like a rootbeer float rather than just soda. There are notes of earthiness from the chicory and also notes of malt and a touch sweet. It smells like a very bright tea. The liquid has notes of oak along with the strong notes of rootbeer and sweet cream. As I pull the cup away from my nose I notice a bit of a bitter root aroma.
Tasting time! I can certainly taste rootbeer, ugh. The tea is creamy and there is a touch of bitterness from the chicory but it is a little too much like rootbeer. Oddly the more I sip on the tea the more it is growing on me, I find that really amusing actually. The tea is naturally sweet, but only mildly, so I think I am going to add a bit of cream and sugar (my favorite way to drink flavored blacks). Ok, that is really tasty, it still has a bit of the rootbeer taste, but now I can taste a bit of malt, some earthiness, and a touch of oak. I don’t hate it, it is not a new favorite tea but it is not as bad as I was expecting it to be with that strong of a rootbeer aroma. However, I do not think it tastes anything like I expect Butterbeer to taste like, so my quest continues.