874 Tasting Notes

The weather has been so awesome the last couple days, I have been loving it! Previously this week it has been cool, mostly sunny, but cool…perfect windows open days. Yesterday the fun started, first with a bit of drizzles then intermittent storms, and then wow, last night was a storm party! Granted it was when I was trying to sleep, and I am pretty sure a tree up the road was lightninged into oblivion meaning very loud booms, but I don’t care. I will lose sleep anytime to storms! In fact it just finished another storm about half an hour ago, with more promised during the rest of the week, this makes me giddy!!

Today I am taking a look at White2Tea’s 2016 A&P, a Dianhong they included with the July teaclub (along with some killer sweet balls) which is conveniently also for sale in their shop for when I inevitably run out and need more. It is how I am with the deliriously tasty reds, they are addictive and I always need another fix, ALWAYS. Honestly I am tempted to get another cake to just put away for aging, since it was made from Lincang Puerh materials and sun-dried leaving it a bit raw meaning it should improve with a few years age on it.

Except for a few exceptions I love most my reds with a little age on them, usually I find any harsh notes will mellow out after a year or two…assuming they last that long around me. So after admiring this lovely dark cake in its pristine form I hacked a bit off for closer examination, with my nose.

Well hello there you chocolaty cake of goodness, it smells like the batter for the rich triple chocolate molasses cake I make when I am desperately craving chocolate, very sweet and thickly chocolate. There are also undertones of cooked plum, sandalwood, myrrh, and malt. Fun fact, when I first opened this bad boy up it smelled lightly of cocoa, a few weeks later the cocoa increased, and now in the middle of August when I am writing this it smells like a blasted cake! I think in a year it will gain sentience as the embodiment of chocolate, it is the only explanation.

So after a first steep the aroma is nothing short of oomph, it is a little bit malty and a touch nutty, but the strongest notes by far are sweet cocoa and woody sandalwood. The combination of this tea’s notes are mouthwatering, sandalwood is a great love of mine, like on a primal level…is this tea trying to seduce me? The liquid once free from its leafy restraints blend notes of creamy milk chocolate, peanuts, sandalwood, molasses, and caramelized brown sugar…it is like all the parts of a really tasty candy but separate, and with sandalwood. Yum.

So I make a show saying that I am not a social person which is why most my teaing is done in the privacy of my tea lair, but really I think it is because the noises that good tea elicit out of me are just not sociable, and I don’t like holding back! I have this same problem with food. This tea had that effect on me for sure, from the first sip I was dancing in my chair and making all sorts of happy noises. Starting with a thick mouth (this is a theme that will stick around) it is sweet, like the most perfect ripe cherry and plum exploding in my mouth with a fantastic chocolate shrapnel to the face. Then for the finish it is like someone gave me just the caramelized sugar top of a creme brulee, the aftertaste of brown sugar lingers for a while.

The aroma of the second steep ramps up, stronger cocoa, more intense molasses, juicy plum and brown sugar dance with sandalwood for one outstanding thing to sniff. It is still thick as all get out, like almost fruit nectar thick but blissfully without the sticky, super creamy and dense. It starts with overly ripe bordering on cooked plums with malt and molasses, building slowly until the midtaste is chocolate. Starting with milk chocolate and moving to dark, never getting to bittersweet. The finish is a blend of pine sap, myrrh, and sandalwood, cutting down the sweet ever so slightly but adding a richness that is almost blinding.

Surprisingly my mind is not mush by this point, it feels like it is almost at the point, sensory overload for sure! This steep does not change much from the second, it pretty much stays at status quo until steep five where it starts fading away into chocolate, plums and molasses until nothing is left several steeps later. This tea has longevity, aging potential, and it almost turned me into a gibbering mess (I needed time to process before I could get this written, it was like a chocolate tea Eldrazi…the MTG card no one knew they wanted) so yeah, if you have the money I say give this one a get. I plan on attempting to leave my cake alone for at least a few months to see how it changes.

For blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2016/08/white2tea-2016-a-tea-review.html

Hoálatha

I just drank this for the first time, unfortunately in the form on multiple gaiwan steeps piled into a mug for a meeting, but I got a lot of the same flavors you did. It was soooo great! I can’t wait to drink it again and do a full writeup!

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Ugh! Technical difficulties!! I was feeling a bit off today and decided I wanted to spend my day playing some Ark, but it seems my electronics have other plans. I turn on my Xbone and my screen didn’t turn on, so I fiddle with the cables and connections and nope, the screen (which is old and has been on its last legs for a while) finally has died. This is so sad, the new Ark update is supposed to come out on the first but I doubt I will have a new screen by then, what a bummer.

But, of course, where there is sadness there is always tea to brush away whatever has put me in a foul mood. Today’s tea is from Bitterleaf Teas, their Giant White 2015 Jing Gu Moonlight White Tea, ah Moonlight, one of my favorite types of tea. I have given it the nickname Drow tea, since it is dark leaves with beautiful silver trichomes, much like a Drow…because I am such a dork, but I don’t care, Drow are awesome and so is this tea. After I get done oohing and aahing over the beautiful fluffy leaves I give them a good sniff, and the first thing I notice is the iconic aroma of tomato leaves. I am not sure why Moonlight almost always smells like tomato leaves to me, along with rich honey, freshly cut hay, woodruff, sage, and a bit of distant grapes. It is mellow and sweet, a bit more herbaceous than usual, which I really enjoy.

Into my dedicated to Moonlight teapot the leaves go for a steep. Well hello complex wet leaves! Notes of sugar cane, marshmallow, peaches, lettuce, and dried tomato dance out of the pot with the steam. The leaves smell crisp and sweet, managing to be refreshing while also retaining a dessert like sweetness. The liquid is very light, like a just ripe peach (not cut, just sitting there, taunting you with its sweetness, but it is too pretty to eat yet…this has happened to me too many times) wildflowers, honey, and a touch of butterhead lettuce adding a touch of crispness at the finish.

This tea starts pretty light, with gentle notes of hay and delicate lettuce at the start and a powerful burst of perfectly ripe peach at the middle. The finish is delicate sugar cane and distant note of hazelnuts. It is very sweet and wonderfully light, a good start that had me craving more.

Steep two’s aroma has the wildflowers and honey along with gentle lettuce and peaches, but now it also has a meringue sweetness that really has me wondering what a peach meringue pie would taste like. It starts with a thick sweetness, like warm honey drizzled apricots and peaches with a side of juicy sugarcane. In the middle of the steep it gets a distinct woodruff and sage quality that blends amazingly with the fruity quality and makes the transition into lettuce and celery pretty seamless. The aftertaste is a long lingering sweet and light sugar cane, delicious stuff.

Now what sets this Moonlight apart from many others I have tried? Well it is sweet, it still has that crisp lettuce quality of a fresh Moonlight, oh yeah…it lasts forever! I am not sure I have run into one that lasts as many steeps, and usually this style of tea can get quite a few steeps in before it fades away. As the steeps carry on the notes of peach and apricot increase and the crisp lettuce notes start to take a backseat until they eventually fade, though the herbaceous notes stick around for a bit longer. As the tea starts to fade all that is left is wonderful honey and distant wildflowers.

For blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2016/08/bitterleaf-teas-giant-white-2015-jing.html

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Well, I think I have my fill of No Man’s Sky let’s plays, after many days of watching them. I will probably feel different if I ever get to play it, but from what I can tell it seems like a bit of a let down. I was under the impression it was going to be focused mainly on exploration, that grinding for resources was secondary and that there was not going to be a plot…well, either I was wrong or the advertisement was misleading. Having seen a player reach the conclusion of the ‘plot’ well, I am glad I was never invested in the story because wow, it is anticlimactic!! In a way I am glad I do not have the right system to play it.

Today I am looking at another tea from Adagio Teas, their Formosa Bai Hao. You may know this tea by its other more famous name, Oriental Beauty, though there is a bit of a movement to change that name to one of many other names, since OB is deemed by many to be culturally insensitive. I will probably always call it OB, not a shortening, but like Bob without the ‘b’ mainly because it makes me think of Magic character Ob Nixillis, because that name is hilarious. This tea, other than a very slight name similarity has nothing in common with Ob Nixillis, because he is a jerk and this is a tea, teas can’t be jerks. Well, that got rambling quick, let is go straight into the aroma before I get side-tracked again! The aroma of the leaves is very light, I really had to shove my nose in them to get much, though the notes that were present were quite pleasant. Autumn leaves blend with distant grapes and light honey. It smells autumnal and mildly sweet.

Only one thing to do since sniffing isn’t giving me much, time to brew it up! Once steeped the leaves liven up a bit, notes of apples and grapes blend with squash and autumn leaves, I swear OB is always autumnal to me, like the best parts of autumn distilled into tea. The aroma of the liquid is a fruity blend of crisp apples, juicy pears, a bit of honey, and a touch of grapes. It is very sweet and nectar like.

The first steep is really quite light, in both taste and texture, it is almost airy in its lightness. It blends notes of light and slightly crisp apples with sweet pears and very gentle grapes at the start. Around the middle the fruit takes on a baked quality being reminiscent of fruit pie with a slight crust quality. The aftertaste is sweet like warmed wildflower honey, though it does not linger over long.

For the second steep the aroma is a fruity blend of apples, pears, and a touch of distant citrus, it is light and sweet, again reminding me of fruit nectar. The taste is much like the first steep, but with a bit more oomph. Notes of apples and pears dance with grapes and gentle wildflower honey and autumn leaves. It has a slightly citrus note that pops up towards the finish and lingers for a short while in the aftertaste. Sadly there really wasn’t much to steep three, it was greatly faded by that point. This tea did not really wow me, there was nothing wrong with it, just nothing jumped out and grabbed me as being spectacular.

For blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2016/08/adagio-teas-formosa-bai-hao-tea-review.html

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I always feel so refreshed after a visit to the zoo, and yesterday was no exception! Ben and I chanced going on the weekend, usually we go during the week to avoid the much loathed crowds, but going at open means we missed most of the crowds. The real highlight of this visit was an ibis, at the Australian Bird Enclosure (it is a giant free-range bird cage where you can interact with a bunch of birds, I LOVE it, plus it is sentimental since that is where Ben proposed last year) there was a fairly young ibis that was the friendliest. It followed us around examining our clothes, pockets, shoes, my hair with its enormous beak. Sometimes birds are pretty rough with their beaks, but this ibis was gentle, just tickling as it for lack of a better word groomed us. It was the best thing ever!

Today I am taking a look at Green Tea Guru’s 2014 ‘Shixiang’ Fuding White Tea Cake, a compressed Bai Mu Dan with a little bit of age on it, and that little bit of age makes quite the difference. White tea has this habit of becoming immensely sweet as it ages, which is pretty amazing when you consider how sweet it already is. From the aroma of the compressed leaves (which are really quite pretty) it is a great blend of notes from an aged white and a fresh white, strong notes of honey and sun warmed hay blend with sweet grapes, crisp melons, gourds, wildflower pollen. and a finish of book pages. It is one of my favorite notes present in Bai Mu Dan, it smells like a novel, not an ancient leatherbound book, but one of those paperback novels found at a used book store and lovingly carried around in a coat pocket to read in dull moments. Yes it triggers very specific memories.

I decided to use my aged white clay pot for brewing this tea, still one of my favorite clay pot thrift store finds! I didn’t brew the whole chunk from the photo, but you could think that I did when you see how fluffy the wet leaves are now that they are not compressed. The aroma is very sweet, pollen loaded raw honey with juicy fresh green grapes blend with mild cucumber and melon with a finish of fresh hay. The liquid’s aroma is wonderfully sweet with strong notes of raw honey and melon with a gentle accompaniment of slightly woody gourds and wildflowers.

Woo, that first steep is a doozy! Thick mouthfeel that coats all of my mouth with honey sweetness! The color of the liquid is golden, but it also tastes golden, with sun warmed scuppernongs, honey, hay, and just warm sunlight. That last one is more of a sensation combining the color and taste, but you know, it works. At the finish there is a lingering gentle melon that stays into the aftertaste for a while, it sticks around in the mouth a long time after the tea is done.

The aroma of the second steep is super sweet, the previous steep’s woody gourd note has vanished to only have wildflowers, pollen, grapes, and wonderful raw honey. Well, it is not a surprise that this steep is thick and sweet, but it managing to be sweeter is impressive! It is very much like someone took melon and grapes and poured melted honey all over it, super decadent and delicious. The finish is a gentle hay and grape note that lingers for a while.

For the third steep the aroma stays pretty much the same, somehow the honey is stronger and the wildflowers fresher, but the notes stay the same. Not the same with the taste, oh there is still the strong raw honey and grapes, but there is a distant note of oregano that adds a depth and crispness. This tea has longevity, lasting many more steeps, and amusingly it seems to reverse in age with steeps where later steeps pick up crisp notes of lettuce and cucumber coolness. I really enjoyed this tea and was a bit sad when I saw the full cake is sold out on the website!

For blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2016/08/green-tea-guru-2014-shixiang-fuding.html

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So here I sit with a sample package of salt pickled sakura blossoms from Kobayashi Shoten by way of my one stop shop for Japanese teas, Yunomi. I found myself pondering what to do with them, years ago when I looked at the other sakura tea they offer I tried different drinks and that was it, I thought this time I would take it a bit farther.

Iced Matcha Sakura Latte!

I got so angry, I saw so many pictures of people’s lattes around the internet with their sakura blossom delicately floating on top, and mine sank like a stone, I assure you there is a sakura in there! Along with the water I used to soak it, to give it that extra bit of salty flowery goodness. First off, the combination of matcha and sakura is a match made in spring-time heaven, there is a reason it is so famous. The delicate flowery notes of the sakura play off the green notes of the matcha, the salty notes of the pickling play off the umami quality of the matcha, and if you sweeten it then all the tastes really pop and the milk is just that extra bit richer.

Hot Sakura Latte

So for this one I mixed milk, sugar, and a few spoonfuls of the sakura brine into my little sauce pot (it is a tiny vintage pot that looks so minuscule even on my smallest burner, it gets a ton of use) and heated the mixture until just boiling and then tossed it in a jar (wrapped in a rag, learned that lesson before) lidded it and then vigorous shaking. It is like a milk frother at a fraction of the cost! Even with the foam my sakura threatened to sink to the milky depths, so I draped the stem over the rim and then promptly guzzled it. There is real competition between this and the matcha, both are spectacularly tasty but I think the pure sakura wins because you get that undiluted salty, flowery, umeboshi taste with sweetened milk, the combination of salty and sweet work together in such a magical way.

Sakura Mizu Shingen Mochi

Like a sakura blossom frozen in an extremely large raindrop, these mochi are super mild, relying on the kuromitsu and kinako to really make the flavors pop. I did not have any kinako so I substituted kurogoma powder to get that nutty goodness. So my biggest mistake (other than not having molds and not having mineral water) is taking a recipe usually set up for 8 and reducing it to 1, even with my super precise scale that level of control when you are measuring things by a fraction of a gram is hard. This meant that my mochi was a little cloudy, but it still tasted great, I am happy for my first time making one of these. The taste of the mochi by itself is pretty much just sugar water, but mixing the rich kuromitsu and nutty kurogoma with the sudden salty floral burst of the sakura in the middle makes for a fascinating transition between tastes.

Steamed Matcha and Sakura Cake

What is more easy than mixing a bunch of ingredients and microwave steaming them for a single serve cake? Not much really! A standard steamed matcha cake but with an addition of sakura embellishments and soaking brine for extra taste. I think this would have turned out great had I discovered before I started eating it that apparently my culinary matcha had gone off, which sucked. It was not gross, but the taste of stale matcha is not a pleasant one so it made me cranky. The addition of the sakura was a fantastic choice though, it was mild enough that it was like the ghost of a blossom, I could imagine eating this as a way of closing out a viewing festival.

Layered Sakura Jelly

Man, I love me some agar, it is so versatile! This layered jelly is comprised of a sweet milk layer and a sweet translucent layer swimming with flowers and a bit of added brine goodness, because I love the way this salty sweet flower tastes!

This one was not only very photogenic, it also tasted fantastic, it was like the latte bit in wiggly jelly form! Combining the sweetness of the milk and the saltiness of the sakura with that lingering blossom quality, this might have been my favorite of the desserts and one I seriously recommend trying!

For blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2016/08/yunomi-kobayashi-shoten-sakura-tea.html

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The amount of cute in my lap right now is unreal. Espeon jumped in as soon as I sat in my chair and immediately rolled over onto her back, she then proceeded to bat at my hair with her paws. I am trying to type around her doing this which is exciting, though with the increase in purring level I think she is about to just drift off to kitty lala land. Ben’s new work schedule seems to have shaken her a bit, so she has been extra clingy, I am pretty sure she adjusts to change worse than I do and I was unaware that was possible. Tao on the other hand, she could care less, as always.

Today I am taking a look at Adagio Teas’ Golden Spring, their name for their Bailin Gongfu, a delicate Fujian Hong Cha that has long been a favorite of mine, though this is my first time tasting Adagio’s. The leaves on the website are super fuzzy and golden, and my sample, while not quite as fuzzy and golden, is still quite pretty with an even speckling of golden trichomes and delicate leaves. The aroma is sweet and rich, notes of malt and molasses with yams, brown sugar, roasted peanuts, and a finish of ripe currants and a touch of apple butter. I want to keep my nose in these leaves for a while, but I learned many years ago, tiny Fujian curls will easily fly up one’s nose and that is not fun.

Into my beloved little Petr Novak pot the leaves go for their steeping, the aroma of the steeped leaves is a bit brisk with a slightly woody cocoa note, alongside that are notes of sweet cherries and juicy ripe currants with a starchy yam finish. The liquid is sweet and malty, with notes of cherry, cocoa, apple butter, and a bit of starchy yams. It is not too strong, but it is quite distinct, though I am sad the currant notes did not carry over in the aroma of the first steep.

The first steep is pleasantly light, specifically in the mouthfeel which seems almost fluffy and airy in its texture. It starts with a blend of cherries and currant at the beginning (yay, currants!) and moves pretty quickly to apple butter and starchy yams. The finish is a gentle cocoa and slight woody briskness, with a cocoa note that lingers into the aftertaste.

For this steep the aroma is sweet and surprisingly fruity, notes of apple butter and cherry, currants and yams, and a gentle finish of brown sugar dance up to my nose through the steam. Where the first steep was light and airy, this one is smooth and a bit thick in the mouth. Wow, this steep is sweet! Strong notes of brown sugar, apple butter, currants, and cherries blend with a delicate and starchy yam quality at the finish. It manages to have heavy and sweet notes while not being too intense, a quality I find very enjoyable in this style of tea.

This steep has a sweet and almost tart aroma of cherries, cranberries, and currants with a touch of woody cocoa and peanuts, no yam this steep! It starts sweet and light and pretty much stays that way for the rest of the session, which is only one more steep. While tasty, it does not have a ton of longevity, which makes me a little sad, a tea as tasty as this should stick around longer. It does have the distinct pleasure of being one of the fruitiest Bailin Gongfu teas I have had, so congrats there!

For blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2016/08/adagio-teas-golden-spring-tea-review.html

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So, yesterday my phone went missing, which was very unsettling. It was, as I suspected, with Ben, and will be for a few days now. His phone died a miserable death (it was a piece of garbage anyway) and he needs one for work, so I said he could borrow mine until his new one arrives. I am only regretting this decision a little, mostly because my day feels like it hasn’t started. When I develop a routine and it gets interrupted I tend to become very disoriented, so starting my day has been super hard.

Today I am looking at Yunomi’s Ogose #08: Naturally Grown Wakoucha, Shizuoka Black Tea, and let it be said, I have a serious fascination with Wakoucha. This is more than my usual obsession for the darker teas, I just love teas that are not necessarily ‘normal’ for the region it is produced by. When most people think of Japanese teas they picture the vibrant greens, they produce a ton of other teas but the greens are iconic, so you know I go all ‘gimme gimme’ at the black teas! The leaves are delicate and slightly curly, with aroma notes of malt, lychee, yuzu, distant flowers and a bit of a brisk woodiness. It is not a very aromatic tea, it is light and sweet with a very crisp quality.

Into my shibo the leaves went, at this point I had far too much fun watching the floating stems. The aroma of the wet leaves is malty and woody, with notes of peanuts, toasted soy beans, a bit of honey, and distant crisp citrus. The liquid is sweet and malty, with light notes of honey and mochi, giving it a starchy quality. At the very end is a distant citrus quality like a fresh peel of yuzu.

Ah, that is a mild tea! It is very smooth while also being crisp, not at all bitter or brisk, the crispness coming through like biting into a citrus of some sort, it is more texture than taste. The flavor starts with a sweet lychee and smooth malty start, it then moves into a roasted soybean and mochi (specifically the mochi not the filled sweet) for a sweet yet starchy middle. The real surprise was at the finish where the tea picks up a coconut and sage leaf quality giving it an almost savory tinge. Sadly this tea only really had a single steep in it, the second was very mild and almost ghostly, so I thought to myself, why not cold steep the rest of my sample?

Cold steeping was a good idea! This really brings out the lychee sweetness and crisp citrus notes for one of the most refreshing cups of a chilled black tea I have had in ages. I was amazed at how sweet it was, really it was like someone took black tea and squeezed a bunch of lychees into it. The tea is enjoyable hot but I definitely recommend trying it cold steeped as well.

For blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2016/08/yunomi-ogose-08-naturally-grown.html

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I woke up to something terrible, my phone has decided to go missing!! I left it on my desk when I took a sleep and now it is gone, which really puts a dent into my usual morning ritual, sigh. I hope Ben took it with him to work since his stopped functioning, because if not I have no idea where it could have gone. Wherever it has gone I hope it is having fun.

Today I am taking a look at Green Tea Guru’s 2010 Hai Lang Hao ‘As You Like’ Ripe Puerh Cake, a cake which was pressed in 2010 but is a combination of 2003, 2008, and 2009 Menghai leaves with a low to medium fermentation. The sample I received had some excellent sized chunks, letting me see that the cake is really densely compressed, not an iron brick where you need a hammer and chisel to break it up, but not falling apart at the sight of a puerh knife either! The aroma of the chunks o’ tea err more on the side of brisk and robust than rich and sweet, with notes of leather, wet leaves, a bit of earthy soil and mushrooms with a slight gamy animal quality that vaguely reminds me of moose. It is not at all unpleasant, unless you don’t like rambling around an alpine forest during the spring thaw, but I do so I am in a happy sniffing place.

After a rinse and first short steep in my clay pot, the aroma of the still pretty compressed leaves is sweet! Notes of molasses, wet leather, cocoa, yeasty dark bread, and wet pine wood mingle together. The liquid combines notes of wet peat, wet wood, and minerals together, not very sweet but pleasantly earthy.

I knew from the first sip that this tea was love, and considering it took a while to wake up. It starts with a thick texture and sweet molasses almost creamy taste, but what really got my attention was the wonderful rain drenching stone and earth, what fancy people call petrichor. I love the way the air smells after a rain, but more importantly I love the way the air tastes, so a tea that evokes that makes me happy. Later steeps retain this wonderful petrichor quality but ramp up the molasses sweetness.

Around the middle steeps (steep three to be exact) the tea has awoken from its compressed slumber and is showing its inky beauty. It still has the wonderful petrichor and molasses but also brings along wet mushroom rich wood and wet leather with a raisin sweetness. What really makes the middle steeps noticeable other than an increase in intensity is a building internal fire. I chose to drink this on a cool (for summer in the Midwest) night, and boy am I glad I did because wow, I think I could be a Firebender with this heat!

By the end steeps I am drinking a literal sauna, or at least the rich, thick, wet, heat from one. It has the same sweetness and petrichor, but also brings in a wet wood quality that lasts well after the other flavors start to fade away. One thing that never seemed to fade was the intense heat from this shou, it was unreal! Talk about turning a cool night into a sweaty mess, I ended up having to pile my icepack on myself to cool down! I am tempted to get a cake for medicinal reasons, if it has this affect in the winter I won’t need my customary heating pads to keep myself from being achy. Plus, and the most important part of any tea purchase I make, it tastes really good!

For blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2016/08/green-tea-guru-2010-hai-lang-hao-as-you.html

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The struggle of a nocturnal person living in a diurnal world is real, especially with Ben’s new work schedule! He gets up right when I am going to bed, and with him being such a light sleeper I have to creep around not making much noise (and keep the cats relaxed, they always get rambunctious when one of us is awake) so not to wake him. I am going to try, ugh, again to switch back to diurnal, but it is so hard. Something I have always struggled with, I say I am nocturnal, but really I have a cycling sleep schedule and always have. I sleep fine when my cycle matches up to when I am supposed to be awake, but if not…well…there was a reason in school I would fall asleep leaning against a wall sometimes. So it is that time to brute force ‘reset’ my sleep schedule so that my nocturnal rustling doesn’t bug my more productive fiance, not fun!

Today I am taking a look at Bitterleaf Teas’ Sabertooth 2015 Feng Qing Ancient Tree Dian Hong Black Tea. A Hong Cha from scenic Yunnan, made from old tree leaves and if age was any indication of leaf size, well, this tea comes from an Ent. When I was sharing this tea with Ben it easily fit in my larger teapot, but for a single session I needed a gaiwan because the leaves didn’t fit in my Petr Novak pot and I didn’t have the heart to break them. They were big ol leaves with a hint of golden fuzz here and there, mostly they are dark and twisty, they look archaic. The aroma is rich, with notes of cocoa, malt, autumn leaves, acorn squash, and caramel sweetness. There is also a woody briskness at the finish of the sniff, giving promises of a zinginess along with the heavier qualities in the aroma.

I decided to use the big audacious golden gaiwan, because she is needy and gets jealous when neglected. The aroma of the wet leaves after their first water dousing blend notes of cocoa, malt, molasses, dried cherries…and…hello…notes of sassafras! Yessss!!! I love when that note pops up, I have only had it show up in Red Jade, but considering it is a hybrid of assamica and wild growing trees, picking up this note in a Yunnan tea I am assuming is an assamica is not too surprising. Now if I am wrong and it isn’t then I will admit to being surprised, because I have never seen sinensis with leaves this big. The liquid is sweet and rich, with notes of acorn squash, creamy sweet molasses candy, malt, and a finish of cocoa and a touch of cherries.

Well, this first steep is complex! It is really a coin flip with Hong Cha as to whether the first steep will be a gentle introduction or a complex flavor burst, and I have found it almost always is not indicative of how complex later steeps will be. It is why I love this tea so, it always keeps me guessing and interested. It starts with notes of cocoa and dried cherries, then moves to cranberries and sassafras, on it then goes to finish out with acorn squash and myrrh. It starts smooth and finished a bit mineral and dry, really waking up the palate…hello morning tea!

Guess how long I waited til the next steep…yeah not long at all. The aroma of this steep is straight up chocolate covered cherries and molasses, super rich and sweet. This taste starts out rich and sweet, with notes of caramelized sugar, cherries and a bit of cranberries. The middle is mellow squash and a bit of peanuts. For the finish is a resinous myrrh and pine wood with a lingering rich molasses that lasts for aged. This steep is nothing but smoothness as well, not a single note of dryness or briskness.

The aroma for steep three is rich and super sweet, again it is a chocolate covered cherry and molasses bomb with an extra explosion of yams and squash in the finish. My goodness that first sip is sweet, like a mouthful of brown sugar and cocoa with a rich dark cherry (not dried, juicy fresh this time) note as well. In the middle the familiar notes of squash and yams are joined by a touch of pumpkin and distant sassafras. This tea has great longevity, it just goes and goes, and if it wasn’t totally obvious, its taste is quite enjoyable while being very soothing. In my opinion this is a perfect morning tea, since I do not use caffeine to wake up, I use intense sensory input, and this tea takes the cake!

For blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2016/08/bitterleaf-teas-sabertooth-2015-feng.html

Daylon R Thomas

I really wanted to try that one eventually.

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I do believe it is time to admit defeat, and then immediately yell at myself internally for calling it a defeat! Having this blog be daily has been a goal of mine since I started it, but I have never made it a month without missing at least a day, usually due to health problems but also due to electronic glitches, kettle woes, things just happen. Not being able to reach this self imposed goal has caused me more stress over the last few years than I would like to admit (because I am ridiculous) so starting in September this blog will update every other day. I am super excited about this upcoming change and I had to share!

Today I am taking a look at Grand Tea’s Yunnan Pure Gold Black Tea a beautifully fuzzy golden Dian Hong, and you all know how much I love my golden fuzzies. I wasted no time sticking my nose into the needles and enjoying the aroma. Notes of dried tomatoes, malt and cocoa blend with light yams, dry cherries and a bit of woodiness at the finish. The aroma is not too potent, fairly light and fluffy much like the leaves themselves.

Ok, I managed to stop ogling the leaves and tossed them in my gaiwan, I am always a little sad to steep the fuzzy golden leaves since they are not quite as pretty after they are doused with water. The aroma of the now soggy needles is malty and a bit rich, with accompanying notes of dried tomato, black pepper, dry oak wood (hello tannins) and dry cherries. The liquid, wow, it is super delicate and light, I almost dipped my nose trying to pick up notes. All I detected was a faint malty sweetness and a touch of cocoa.

The first steep is really quite light, but despite its lightness it is very thick in the mouth. I was quite surprised by its thickness and smooth quality, even though the taste was very light the texture kept me entertained. The front taste is delicate malt and honey, then moves to yam and peanut with a slightly lingering yam aftertaste.

So the aroma of the second steep is pretty light, but it does pick up more. Notes of gentle yam, malt, and cocoa dance in my nose as I enjoy the steam from my cup. Like the first steep, the mouthfeel is pleasantly thick and smooth, though the taste is a bit more robust this time around. It starts with a strong malt and peanut sweetness, then moves into a mellow yammy sweetness with a hint of cocoa. The finish is woody, a bit brisk, with a sweet note of honey that lingers.

On to the third steep, it is still fairly light in the aroma, with the same notes of yam, malt, and cocoa but with an extra little burst of molasses as well. This steep had a lot in common with the second steep, sweet, mellow, and very smooth. This is not a real stand out Dian Hong (granted I drink a lot…) but it is solid, I would say this is a great daily drinker with a very pretty aesthetic.

For blog and photos (I got a killer droplet photo this time): http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2016/08/grand-tea-yunnan-pure-gold-black-tea.html

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I am a nerdy, obsessive, crafty, tea blogging, gaming nut. Yeah, that about sums me up! Ok, you want something more informative….

I am a Geek, hardcore fan-girl Geek. It shapes my life. I spend a large chunk of my life painting miniatures and contemplating my various army layouts. I hoard dice, get obsessed with games, and will talk about whatever fandom, game, etc that I am obsessed over until I am blue in the face. I am not just a gamer girl type Geek, I also fit in the collecting knowledge and spending way too much time reading and researching category of Geek.

But there is more to me than just being a giant nerd. I love tea, always have and have just gotten more and more obsessed as I get older. I love trying new teas and then writing lengthy descriptions about them on my blog, I love reading and researching the history and culture of tea, I love collecting tea pots and fancy tea tools.

When the weather allows it, I love to go mushroom hunting. I don’t eat them, instead I use them for photography and spore prints. I love nature and worked as a Naturalist in the Northwoods one summer, it might have been the best job ever.

I have Fibromyalgia, it sucks, but I feel people who are going to interact with me should know since I tend to vanish because of it so fair warning! I do tend to not vanish very long though. Also I have some ‘social disorders’ which basically translates to I am really awkward and bad at socializing, so forgive any lack of social graces.

I also have cats, love the ocean and all aquatic life, have teal hair, love cheese, and collect hats.

My favorite tea is definitely Oolong, but I also love Japanese greens and…ok I just love tea actually :P I am not a huge fan of lemony black teas or tart fruit teas. I also loathe hibiscus (usually)

This is my actual tea wishlist, you know that I actually update and keep track of…I tend to forget Steepster’s https://www.facebook.com/notes/amanda-wilson/tea-wishlishtshopping-list-perpetually-in-progress/10152336515414411 I use my steepster WL to keep track of teas I have had and really want more of :P

I was previously Amanda, I go by Alexsia now though will answer to the other name as well, I know dealing with name changes can be a giant pain

Location

Kansas City, MO

Website

http://ramblingbutterflythoug...

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