704 Tasting Notes
This tea has one of those problems that a lot of teabags has, a slightly dusty aroma of paper and well, tea dust. Aside from that, is smells quite peachy and sweet with a tiny bit of woodiness. Looking at their website it does not seem they make this one anymore, I don’t even remember how I got a bag of this :P Maybe I should start dating my notes…but my photos have dates soooo…anyway.
Once the bag is steeped, the aroma of sweet peach and ginger mix with some malt and citrus, it was pretty real smelling peach too which was nice. The taste was a blend of ginger, lemon, peach, and generic black tea. It is not bad, kinda bland, but not bad, I would not run screaming if it were offered again!
I am sorting through my tea notesbooks and writing up a few notes for teas that just probably won’t see the blog, mainly because you can’t buy them anymore or they just don’t exist. Sadly a lot of 52teas fit the bill. The aroma of this one was toasty and sweet, like toast dipped in chocolate liqueur, with an earthy undertone.
Brewing the leaves brings out the most peculiar aroma of boiled peanuts, I love boiled peanuts but not sure how I feel about them in tea. Especially combined with the toasted chocolate and malt. Luckily the liquid sans the leaves is only a little boiled peanuts, more chocolate and malt with some intense roast.
Umm, I am not a fan of this one. It is very sweet and malty, just like a chocolate malt shake, so points for being accurate. However there is also an earthy toasted intensity. The aftertaste is like chocolate liqueur, it lingers for a while. Not sure what really didn’t work for me, mate is a weird tasting thing on its own, and I think it is maybe best without flavoring. Or maybe I am not a fan of malted milkshakes, I have very fond memories of making them when I worked at Dairy Queen, but I never drank them. This was part of that indiegogo thing that 52teas did forever ago :P
The weather today has been kinda great, nice and cool (for summer) and overcast, sadly I did spend most the day sleeping, so I missed out on it. But when I woke up in the afternoon I was so happy to not be a melted pile of sadness! So in honor of the weather being nice, I decided to have some tea outside, and Ben decided to take pictures of me, really I wanted a new photo of myself for my various profiles, and I wanted it to be tea themed so it worked out perfectly.
Today on ye old tea blog, I am taking a look at another offering from Wymm Tea, specifically their Mahei Zhai Sheng Pu-erh From Ancient Tea Tree 2011 Spring, a Sheng Puerh from 2011. This tea is from the Mahei Village in the Yiwu Mountain of Xishuangbanna, one of largest of the tea producing mountains of Yunnan. The name Yiwu means The Habitat of Beautiful Snake Deity in the local Dai language, and I find myself wondering if they meant Nuwa, the ancient creator of mankind. The aroma of the leaves is quite aromatic and enjoyable, blending my much loves favorite note of camphor with sweet honey, broken vegetation, and a distinct anise-like note of lotus blossoms. I admit, I was not expecting that from a Puerh, but I am certainly not complaining, I love lotus blossoms. There is also a hint of woodiness and a tiny, delicate, apricot note at the finish.
Into the tiny shui ping the leaves go, for a short rinse and short steep. The now wet leaves only have a tiny hint of anise, instead it is intense wet hay and pungent camphor, sweet apricot, and a finish of wet bamboo. The liquid is sweet and wet, combining damp wood, soggy hay, and moist bamboo with a definite finish of apricot and honey. There is a delicate whiff of anise that is almost indiscernible, like the dream of anise.
First steeping time! Ah, now this is a first steep right after me own heart! It starts out light and smooth, with a surprisingly thick mouthfeel for a first steep. The taste begins with delicate sweetness of apricots and lotus, the lotus is super delicate but most certainly present. It then moves on to wet hay and a touch of mushrooms, with a finish of bamboo shoots and spinach. The aftertaste is a lingering lotus blossom sweetness.
Second steeping has the aroma of so much camphor! It is like an old cedar chest, woody and cooling, but with an apricot and bamboo accompaniment. Tasting the tea is smooth, that mouthfeel is still thick and soupy, but not much changed. The taste is primarily camphor and wet, sweet hay, very cooling and sweet. This blends with a finish of apricot and bamboo at the finish, with a delicate lotus finish.
For the final steep, the aroma is so refreshing, I almost wish that when I wrote my tasting notes for this tea it would have been a hot day, because the notes of camphor are very cooling. They are joined with delicate apricots and bamboo shoots, and a tiny hint of hay at the finish. Very smooth is the mouthfeel, not quite as thick, but still pretty soupy. The taste is again, primarily camphor and sweet hay, with a tiny hint of apricots and loam. The finish has a slight bitter kale like note, but this fades to lotus blossom pretty quickly. Sadly, this really is the final steep, where I end my reviews at three steeps, I tend to go further with them, and with Puerhs I usually add a very short summary of the other steeps. Shortly after this steep I was slammed with an ungodly stomach bug, not sure if it was food poisoning or what, but I was in no shape for drinking tea…believe me, I tried. So, I did not get to push this Sheng to its limits, I would love to get more because what I did try I really enjoyed.
Well, I seem to have gone full on nocturnal, I don’t really mind too much since it means I get to miss the hellish day time heat (not that I sleep very well either way, ugh, I hate summer) but it limits what I can do because someone has to go and be all diurnal! Jerk. It is something I have done since I was a wee thing, much to the annoyance of my poor mom who really tried to keep my schedule sane, I just end up nocturnal(ish) during the hot times of the year. I still have my fingers crossed for a mild and stormy summer, but if not, at least there is that research that states drinking hot things keeps you cool!
You know what is sad? I have not looked at Verdant Tea in a long while, I mean really, I think it has been around a year, not really sure why either. Verdant Tea was one of the first tea companies I ordered from back when I made the leap to buying tea online, I discovered them while hunting down Oolongs! But today’s tea is not an Oolong, it is Holy Basil Spa Blend, one of their Alchemy Blends , which combines Burdock Roots (Gobo!) Peppermint, Spearmint, Holy Basil (name drop) and Fennel seeds. The aroma of the rather refreshing sounding drink is intensely minty, which is expected with two different kinda of mint. With these minty notes comes sweet fennel notes, slightly savory notes of holy basil (which is also a tiny bit peppery) and a slight note of earthiness at the finish. This herbal tea is very balanced, even with all the mint, the other notes reign it it, kinda like that one rambunctious kid at a family reunion that is actually quite tolerable to be around once the other people get it to chill out.
Brewing the herbs, the tea lair was super aromatic afterwards, which is always nice. The aroma is pleasantly sweet and very minty, there is of course herbaceous notes of basil and fennel, and a tiny note of earthy roots, but mostly there is sweet mint. The liquid is only moderately minty, instead the green and herbaceous notes of holy basil really shine, they are slightly pepper and a touch savory. It blends well with the sweet notes of fennel and mild mint.
You know, I was surprised, it turned out to be more savory than sweet, usually teas with fennel tend to be pretty sweet, but not this one. It starts out with a powerful burst of herbaceous and slightly peppery Holy Basil, there is also a tiny hint of lettuce, Holy Basil is a complex smelling plant. After the initial savory burst it switches over to cooling minty sweetness which lingers only in cooling sensation before the Holy Basil takes back over, with a slightly earthy note from the burdock. This tea is very refreshing, the taste reminds me more of a healing broth to drink when you have a rebellious stomach rather than a tea, and I am totally ok with that!
Today was one of those adventure type days, the Trio (which is what I should totally start calling Ben, Fish, and myself) went to a bin store. If you are not in the know, Goodwill (and some other thrift stores) have an outlet store, where you pay for things by the pound (or really cheap per item) and all the things that do not sell in the store get sent there in big bins. I did most my shopping when I lived in Pennsylvania at one (lovingly called the 50 cent store, even though now they are 85 cents, but the name stuck) and you can spend a few hours sorting thoroughly through all the bins. Not the one we went to today, it was massive, plus they kept rotating bins, so I could never see it all. I got some awesome new clothes (still need more skirts and some silk PJs…mmm silk) a cat scratching post, Ben got new clothes, and an antique printing press drawer. I have wanted one for years, going to turn it into a table to show off my rocks!
I love What-Cha (I know, everyone knows that by now!) their teas have become favorites of mine, but really what makes me so hype about What-Cha is Alistair’s love of exposing tea drinker’s to uncommon tea regions! Today’s tea, Georgia Old Lady Black Tea, comes from one of those lesser known regions, the country of Georgia, handmade by Natela of Nagobilevi Village, yes this tea is all made by a little old lady in her home, which is kinda beautiful. The aroma of the large curly leaves is very sweet and surprisingly brisk! Blending orange marmalade, cocoa, a creamy sweetness and a delightful finish of yams.
Giving the leaves their much anticipated (by them or me, you be the judge) steeping in my much loved steeping apparatus, the aroma gets all up in your grill with the briskness! The wet leaves have strong notes of malt and brisk citrus and oak wood. There is a sweetness to it as well, like orange marmalade and a bit of yams at the finish. The liquid is creamy sweet blending cocoa and yam notes with a bit of malt and a sour yet sweet note of orange marmalade at the finish.
Ah, my mismatched tea gear kinda works, the saucer from my broken vintage cup, and the vintage cup with no saucer, they are now best friends. The taste starts out brisk, but not too much, just the right amount to wake up the mouth and invigorate the mind. There are notes of sweet cocoa and orange marmalade, it then moves on to yams and a touch of malt. This tea is not the most spectacular black tea I have ever sipped, it is certainly good, I enjoyed every drop, but it is not the most complex of cups. So, your mileage may vary, if you want a super complicated tea then this is probably not for you, but if you want a delicious tea that has a homey taste, then this one is perfect.
I am cooking some Khaman Dhokla the first time from scratch, as I write this it is happily steaming away. After my dinner is complete I will bake something as a dessert, probably something with Matcha, or maybe some other sweet. Getting in practice for being all fancy and domestic when we move soon, I will have a whole house to take care of! It is going to be so awesome, granted I will not do all the cooking, Ben and Fish are actually professional cooks, so I know they will want to hog the kitchen.
Today we are taking another visit to The Tea Shelf, specifically their Billimalai Virgin Green, a beautiful fluffy green tea from Nilgiri. This is one of their Winter Flushes, from the Billimalai Tea Estate, nestled in the Blue Mountains at 6,400ft about sea level. The aroma of the really quite pretty leaves is very green and peppery, blending notes of green beans and cooked spinach with hints of veggie broth and a tiny touch of mushrooms. The finish is a delightful peppery green note that is a blend of just outright pepper and nasturtium, I am such a sucker for peppery notes in teas.
Giving the leaves a steep, my tea area smells like food! Specifically green cooked veggies, a mix of peppery cooked spinach and green beans and a bit of mushrooms and asparagus. It is a very vegetal tea, savory and green. The liquid is very much so vegetable broth, clean and peppery with dominant notes of asparagus and green beans, there is a slight hint of nutmeg at the finish giving the tea an extra bit of depth.
The liquid is delightfully pale, it reminds me of some of the jadeite I worked with as a jeweler. The mouthfeel is light and delicate, with a slight tingling at the back of the tongue. The taste is also very delicate, and quite vegetal, starting with a very delicate floral and lemon note that moves quickly to green beans and a touch of lima beans. The finish is a blend of pepper, smoke, and just a hint of asparagus, with the pepper lingering as the aftertaste. This was a very clean, green tea, not a sweet one, but erring to the savory side…as an aside it was a great accompaniment to a pile of fried eggs and bacon!
It arrived!! Ok, actually it arrived Saturday after the Tea Fest, but I was a little distracted by the awesome to play with it. Ben bought me (ok both of us) some new toys, specifically a wax sculptor’s kit for sculpting Green Stuff and a helping hand magnifying glass. I know, I have a giant Otte light with a magnifying glass, but it is kinda massive and hard to use, the tiny helping hands will help with sculpting. So far my sculpting escapades have including making a wooden floor for my Jakob Lynch Malifaux mini, Jakob Lynch who in my color scheme is old west Shang Tsung from Mortal Kombat, because win.
Matcha time! Yes, it time for Matcha Monday, and today I am looking at Yunomi’s Factory Direct Matcha. This powdery green goodness hails from Kyoto and was shaded for four weeks before being harvested in the Spring, you know this might be the first Matcha I have reviewed that tells me how long it was shaded, extra information makes me immensely happy. The aroma of the Matcha is so very green, delightfully so, blending sweet hay, sweet grass, wildflowers, bamboo leaves, and a touch of sesame seeds. It reminds me of the smell of spring time and growing things, it is quite excellent. Once whisking the Matcha, the aroma that wafts out of my chawan is delectable, blending sweet wildflowers, sweet sticky rice, straw, and a touch of bamboo leaves. It balances out green and sweet notes pretty well.
The Matcha starts out a touch bitter like kale and Brussels sprouts and then within instants the taste explodes into sweetness and fresh green notes! It was pretty abrupt and impressive how quickly that initial bitter green notes switched to sweet, there are notes of honey and straw, these move to spinach and bamboo leaves, with a finish that is both nutty and kelp umami notes. The aftertaste is sweet and slightly floral, it lingers for a bit. This is one of my favorite everyday Matcha, it has a great presence and balanced taste.
I decided, on a whim, to try this Koicha style…it is not really intended for that, but I am still kinda curious what it is like. One day I will be able to afford the really fancy stuff that is actually created for Koicha! The taste is something else, it starts out intensely bitter, like a mouthful of kale and unripe persimmons, like the Usucha it switches almost immediately to intensely sweet, like honey and wildflowers. This transitions to a rich umami blend of kelp and spinach with a slight finish of bamboo leaves. That was certainly an experience, not entirely unpleasant, but not entirely pleasant either, maybe I should stop drinking Matcha in ways it is not intended!
Tomorrow is the day! The much awaited Midwest Tea Fest is happening tomorrow, and I am super excited. Yours truly will be at the event all day (unless I just really pass out from exhaustion, still fighting that stupid fatigue) covering it like a reporter. I plan on going to the Beautiful Taiwan tasting (Ben will be going to the Single Origin Tea’s Ceylon Tasting) though it was a hard toss up between the Tealet and Beautiful Taiwan! Of course I also plan on attending a few of the presentations as well, so looking forward to reporting back on those! Really I am just super excited, I will be tweeting and istagraming(?) the event, so follow me (@soggyenderman) to get live photos and updates.
One last tea to stir the hype for the event, Phoenix Herb Company’s White Peach, a blend of White Tea, Jasmine and Osmanthus Flowers, and essential oils of Tangerine, Orange Blossom, and Peach. This tea excited me because it was not a typical ‘candy peach’ White Tea, I really am not a fan of teas that are just white tea and flavoring because they end up tasting so fake, and not necessarily in a good way, quite often to me they taste like bathroom spray. This tea smells quite yummy, like a blend of fresh juicy peaches, essence of peach (like peach oil smells) a little bit floral and a little bit like fresh broken leaves, and a tiny hint of cucumber at the finish. Not a tea that punches you in the face with peach, it is light and sweet.
The wet leaves are super juicy and sweet, nice ripe peaches…specifically they remind me of the white ‘donut peaches’ that I have been known to eat myself sick with. No really, one time I ate like 20 in one sitting after work, I binged hard core. Besides the juicy fresh peaches there are notes of peach cobbler and a touch of flowers and cucumbers. The liquid is mild and sweet, notes of peach balance out pretty evenly with notes of cucumber, lettuce, hay, and a touch of pepper at the finish.
The taste is not fake! Yay! Let there be rejoicing and slurping. The taste is pretty mildly peachy, which is nice, I like my peach teas mild without a punch of peach, you know, like biting into a fresh peach rather than having a pile of them dumped on you. It is a blend of cucumber and lettuce with a distinct peachy and floral sweetness, very refreshing. I could see this tea being great iced if you are a person who is a lover of iced teas.
No D&D for me tonight, my DM’s wife has a sickness and with my immune system being the way it is, I screamed PESTILENCE and ran the other direction, declaring his house now the residence of Papa Nurgle. He assures me that Nurgle will have to fight Cthulhu and an especially large Draco Lich for dominance, so that means she should be better in no time. I do still have Seafall playtesting today, and of course my sleep schedule being what it is, and Ben’s need for the computer being what it is, oh the work load waiting for me when I get home. Honestly the visit from Nurgle might turn out to be a sanity saver for me, who would have guessed?
Since the Midwest Tea Fest is in a couple days (the hype is real, yo!) I decided to review one of my favorite vendors (yes, favoritism, but we all know that I love Shang Tea, I mean I have a yixing teapot dedicated to Tangerine Blossom Red for Pete’s sake!) and since this is Thursday, that means it is also a #TBT review, this tea I bought when I visited their Grand Opening event over a year ago, logged in my notebook more or less a day later than the event since I wanted to try the new tea samples I purchased immediately! Presenting Shang Tea’s Wild White! This tea is harvested from the Tai Mu Mountains in China, the plants left to grow wild before being plucked, cultivated tea fields are beautiful, but there is something that cries out to the nature lover in me who loves frolicking in the forest, foraging for wild edibles, my soul gets soothed by the knowledge of wild growing tea plants. The aroma of the rather fluffy leaves with their blend of fuzzy tips and large unfurled leaves, is delicate, no overpowering notes, just a dance of fresh vegetation, honeydew melon, a touch of thyme, and a finish of cucumber. If you stick your nose in the leaves long enough you pick up a hint of honey and loam as well, but it is super faint and at the end, more like the dream of a scent than a defined note.
Into ye old fish gaiwan the tea went. Ah this gaiwn, adorably tiny and perfect for travel, well except the drippy cha hai, but oh well. The aroma really wakes up once the tea gets its soaking, sweet notes of fruit and fresh vegetation drift out of the gaiwan. There are notes of delicate melon and fresh grapes (like white table grapes specifically) a touch of lettuce and cucumber, broken leaves, and a finish of lettuce. The liquid is honey sweetness and flower nectar, honeysuckles and a touch of muscatel at the end, a tiny bit of tartness as well.
Well that turned out to be a fun adventure, Seafall was canceled last minute so Ben, Fish, and myself wandered around 888 International store for like three hours. I procured ingredients for the pre-Tea Fest party the night before, by party I mean I am making Hot & Sour Soup, my new specialty! Also I finally tried Tea Eggs and have fallen utterly in love, but back to the tea at hand! The mouthfeel starts out slightly fuzzy (hello trichomes) and moves into smoothness pretty quickly. The taste is sweet, surprisingly muscatel, almost like a Darjeeling, but much, much lighter. There are also more familiar White tea notes of cucumber, lettuce, and a slightly herbaceous peppery finish.
I hear the sound of distant rumbling, and if the radar is to believe, we are about to be slammed with storms! Exciting! The aroma of the second steep is very sweet, blending honey and grapes with a delicate finish of lettuce, giving a level of crispness to a heavy sweetness. No fuzzies this time, just all smoothness, with a start of raw honey and grapes, and just a hint of spicebush. This moves on to lettuce and fresh vegetation, with a finish of hay. This tea tastes very fresh, in a way it reminds me of laying under a tree and watching dappled light through the leaves, very much so a tea that evokes memories in its taste!
Holy mackerel the weather today has been awesome! I am pretty sure it stormed (and not just distant rumbles, full on house rattling storms, there might have been hail!) from 9am till 3pm. I did not get the full effect of the storms though, see I got up at 9 to the massive crack of thunders (and a terrified Espeon nesting in my hair) and decided to lay in bed and enjoy the storm for a bit…next thing I know it is 3 in the afternoon and Ben tells me the storm just ended. Well crap. Trying to flip my schedule to diurnal so I can be aware at the Midwest Tea Fest this weekend is turning out to be hard!
Today we are looking at a tea from What-Cha, slowly trying to finish all the ones in my Monarch notebook (aka tea notebook four) really I should have made a separate What-Cha notebook so finding which ones to review would be easier, oops. I love Oolongs, I love Darjeelings, so yeah, combining the two for Darjeeling 2nd Flush 2014 Goomtee Oolong Tea just sounds awesome. When Darjeeling experiments with processing techniques to make something other than the typical Darj Black Tea, it usually turns out to be a unique and delicious result, I have loved the Yellow and White Darjeelings I have had, so let us see how the Oolong compares. The aroma of the dark curling leaves (almost looks like a Yancha had a party with a first flush Darjeeling and this is the result) is pretty delicious, it blends notes of fresh muscatel, like scuppernongs and purple grapes. Add on delicate floral notes and a tiny bit of nuttiness at the midsniff, and the finish, well, it fades off into walnuts and lychee.
So, how to brew this tea, the perpetual conundrum! What the heck, I will do both! Starting out with the gaiwan for gongfu cha, the aroma of the actually quite colorful leaves is graceful, no really, it smells like a graceful flower in the breeze next to a scuppernong orchard. Underneath the almost heady sweetness is a delicate note of chestnut and pepper. The liquid is super sweet, blending honey and muscatel notes with honeysuckles and a finish of walnuts.
The first steep is incredibly delicate while having a well rounded mouthfeel, smooth and sweet like flower nectar and biting into a sun warmed scuppernong. This transitions to lychees and chestnut, the finish has notes of fresh vegetation and a lingering orange blossom.
For the second steep, the aroma is a blend of honey, flower nectar, and a bit of golden raisins. The taste is a bit intoxicating, blending muscatel notes of scuppernongs and golden raisins at the front. This moves to a slightly heady blend of flower, like wildflowers and honeysuckles with just a touch of nasturtium bite. The finish has a touch of briskness and malt, similar to a 2nd flush Darjeeling.
For a western style steeping, well, I think I might actually like it better than with the gaiwan! The mouthfeel is buttery the whole time, moving into just a tiny bit of briskness at the finish. The taste starts out with honey and lychees, then moves into scuppernongs and honeysuckles, and has a finish of juicy tangerines. Another fine example of an experiment turning out successful!