814 Tasting Notes
It is immensely windy today, with nice 50mph gusts and constant 30mph blusteriness. Any leaves left on the trees are going to totally be gone come morning, though I am feeling a great deal of disappointment with the weather. See all yesterday I kept getting notices on the book of faces and on my phone about how the weather today was supposed to be all sorts of hellish, with even the amusing ‘a tornado’ along with the storms, all we got was wind. And no, I don’t find tornadoes amusing (I FIND THEM EPIC!!!) but Accuweather has this hilarious way of wording future weather alerts, if there are severe storms, not chances for tornadoes, no, just severe storms, hail, and ‘a tornado’ and for some reason that cracks me up.
Did you know that Australia grows tea? I did, or it would make today’s tea rather confusing! What-Cha, being my go-to source for rare and hard to get teas is where I decided to go when I wanted to try some Australian grown tea, grown specifically in the style of Japanese teas, using Japanese tea cultivars and using the expertise of Japanese tea experts. Presenting Australia Houjicha Green Tea from Two River Farms in Victoria, a nicely roasted green tea, roasted teas make me happy…especially on blustery autumn days. The aroma, well, it is a roasted tea! Notes of gentle smoke and roasted walnuts, a touch of toasted kelp, and a finish of sesame seeds. It is one of the more smoky Houjicha have I have, and I am ok with that, me likes the smoky teas.
Into my single serve (aka small) kyusu the toasty little leaves go, and I am glad this kyusu has a small screen because tiny leaves are tiny. The aroma of the soggy leaves is savory and toasty, umami toasted kelp notes and strong nutty, smoky notes, much like toasted walnut shells. The liquid is toasty and smoky, with notes of toasted nuts, a bit of sesame seeds, loam, and a touch of roasted kelp giving the brew an umami edge to it.
Tasting time! Using one of my Japanese cups for somewhat thematically appropriate tea gear…alas I lack any Australian tea gear. The tea starts with notes of smoky slightly burnt toast, grainy and a touch bitter, much like a strong grain heavy bread. This moves to toasted nuts, lots of walnuts and pecans, with a bit of sesame seeds. The finish is a toasted kelp, somewhat seaweed savory note that lingers until it finally fades into sweetness. I admit, this is not my most favorite of Houjicha out there, I have had better…and much worse…but what I love is that it is from somewhere totally new and exciting, showing how vast the tea world is.
Today is a day of primer and ooze, so much primer and so much ooze. With the official completion of the Christmas minis that are being mailed away (I still need to varnish them, but not on such a breezy day) I can take a break from painting presents to working on some of my personal side projects. Namely I primed alllllllllll of the ships and terrain and other sundries from Dreadfleet and applied copious amounts of Nurgle’s Rot to my Bathalian and Well of Chaos. In a perfect world I will have Dreadfleet painted by my birthday next week, but I doubt I will get anywhere close to finished…Dreadfleet has a lot of really detailed pieces and I am such a perfectionist.
Enough about my painting shenanigans, it is time for tea rambling, today I am looking at LiShan Oolong from Joy’s Teaspoon! Ah, Taiwanese Oolongs, one of my oldest tea loves, this tea hails from the Yi Ping Chun Tea Garden by master Zhi Xing Chen in Nantou, Taiwan, on…you guessed it, the mountain called Li Shan, a very famous tea mountain indeed. The aroma of the curled up green leaves is sweet and floral with nice notes of lilies, hyacinth, orange blossoms, and a touch of sesame seeds and a delicious undertone of custard. Mmmm custard!
Into my XiShi Teapot the leaves go, and the aroma is so sweet! Notes of custard and lilies, ricecakes and honeysuckles, sesame seeds and a gentle note of green at the undertone. The aroma of the liquid is sweet, that is a definite theme with this oolong, with notes of custard, orange blossom, lilies, and a gentle note of toasted sesame seeds.
The first steep is light in both taste and mouthfeel, a gentle start to a tea I always enjoy for its gentleness. It starts with gentle creamy custard and sesame seed notes and blooms (heh) into a heady blend of honeysuckles, lilies, and a touch of lilac. The finish is a gentle note of vegetation that adds a crispness to the end.
Second steeping brings heady notes of hyacinths, lilies, and lilacs to my nose, with a finish of creamy sweet custard. The mouthfeel of this steep is thicker, much like that custard note that pops up from the first sip, it is rich and creamy, and super sweet. After the initial custardy goodness it moves on to flower nectar, blending notes of lilies, lilac, orange blossoms, and hyacinth. At the finish is the green, with notes of sweet peas and a touch of cooked turnips, it lingers on for quite a while.
Third steep, and you know what, that heady aroma is something else, notes of lilac and hyacinth, with a really great custard sweetness. The taste and mouth is rich and creamy, still holding strong with that custard sweetness, ever have Bird’s Custard? Because that is exactly the kind of custard it reminds me of. This moves on to flowers again, a bit of lilac and honeysuckle which pretty quickly moves to sweet peas and again that touch of cooked turnips. I went on for several more steeps and found this tea was a great accompaniment to painting.
It is a wonderful feeling to test one’s aquarium water and find all the different things you are testing for are at a perfect level. Knowing that the little biome you have is stable and your fish are happy, it is a very rewarding feeling! But on a completely unrelated note (ok not completely unrelated since my fish are named after Planeswalkers) I am waffling on my deck construction again, I am debating going to Black/Green, still full of griefer goodness of course. See if I go Black/Green I can pull a bunch of Golgari cards from Ravnica, my favorite setting and my favorite guild. They are obsessed with mushrooms, that is so my thing.
So last week I got a massive box in the mail of samples (and an outright tin) from Hyson Tea, a company specializing in Ceylon teas. Not only did this box contain a mountain of teabags (which will take me forever to get through) it also included a bunch of company logo swag, so now I have a new massive mug and teaspoons, which is pretty cool, they also have the distinction of being the first company/person/entity to donate to my blog, supporting the fine art of blogging is awesome, and I used the donation to expand my tea book library, because expanding my education is very important.
Today I cracked into the tin of Exquisite Collection ‘Celestial Dimbula’ Black Tea, this tea is a blend of black teas from the Dimbula growing region in Sri Lanka, probably one of the most well known of Sri Lanka’s tea districts, and also one of the oldest tea growing regions, having been first planted in the 1870s. I am not sure of any specific sub-districts or gardens these leaves come from, so this should be taken as an example of the region as a whole. The fairly small, very dark, leaves which look like a mix of Broken Orange Pekoe and Orange Pekoe (this tea is OP, hehe) has a brisk and malty aroma, with notes of oak wood, a tiny touch of tobacco, a faint cardboard-papery note, and an undertone of molasses. The aroma is not overly strong, erring more on the sweet side towards the end of the sniffing.
The leaves have steeped and unfurled a goodly bit, and the tea is now a lovely coppery color. The wet leaves have the aroma of malt and brisk tannic oak wood, blending in notes of topsoil, tobacco, a touch of molasses, and a finish of gentle tobacco. It is brisk and smells like morning, or at least smells like morning tea, it is a familiar smell that I pretty much grew up with. The liquid smells a mix of malt and tannic oak wood, a touch of tobacco, and a metallic coppery note at the finish.
Tasting time! I took this tea straight, as I mostly do with my teas now, except Masala Chai and my oh so indulgent Ostfriesen Tea and occasional Matcha Lattes. The taste is brisk and tannic, strong notes of oak wood, tobacco, malt, and a bright, coppery finish. It has a slightly sweet molasses aftertaste that does not linger overly long. I will admit, this tea was not so much for me, I think…and I feel like a massive tea snob and a bit ashamed of myself for this…this is a tea for casual tea drinkers. Back when I was a little girl, drinking cups of black tea for breakfast with my dad (two sugars and milk, the classic British way) I would have really enjoyed this tea. But I have moved passed that in my personal enjoyment of tea, and there is nothing wrong with either my growth as a tea connoisseur or the tea itself, just different things for different people. To be honest that is one of my favorite things about tea, and one of the reasons I love writing about it…someone is bound to find something they will like!
Today has been a painting day, working on finishing up the miniatures for people’s Christmas gifts, specifically the people whose gifts get mailed away, and I happen to almost be finished. I think that after I finish with these I am going to break into assembly mode and put together the ships from Dreadfleet, the newest addition to Ben and my gaming library. He was a sweetheart and bought it, see a year ago my local gaming shop had a copy of it and I was going to buy it after saving up a good bit of money…and the day I finally had enough to buy it, someone bought it. So we have been hunting it on ebay and found it for a steal, which is awesome since that game has been out of print for a while. Yay for crazy ships!
For today’s tea I am looking at Beautiful Taiwan Tea Company’s ‘Old Style’ Dong Ding Oolong, a Taiwanese Oolong made in the form that was all the rage thirty years ago, nothing like keeping tradition alive. It is also nice to see Dong Ding outside of my usual sought after roasted form, because you cannot have a good roasted oolong without a good green oolong to start with. And the leaves are big, with hearty stems and rich emerald greens, yeah with leaves this big I am going to need a big gaiwan. The aroma of the leaves is really sweet, buttery and creamy, notes of sesame custard and chestnuts, and flowers. Of course there are flowers, honeysuckle and hyacinth, with very gentle lilac note at the finish. Flowery and sweet, just the way I like it!
So, about that big gaiwan, yeah, it is time for the golden flower queen! The aroma of the unfurling leaves is pretty potent, very strong notes of spicy lilies and hyacinth, with strong buttery undertones, and a gentle vegetation note at the finish. The liquid is wonderfully sweet, strong notes of lilies and hyacinth, honeysuckles and lilac. Underneath the flowery burst is gentle sweet creaminess and a touch of vegetation.
The first steep starts out with a great creamy texture, it is silky and smooth, and that smoothness wanders into the taste as well. It starts with a light creamy taste, like custard and chestnuts (can chestnut custard be a thing?) It then moves on to a cascade of flower nectar sweetness, lilacs and honeysuckles dance over my tongue, with a finish of gently spiced lilies. The aftertaste lingers for quite a while.
Second steeping time, the aroma is sweet and flowery, notes of chestnut and honeysuckles, lilacs, and lilies…lots of flowers going on there. The taste is buttery and sweet, the texture is buttery and thick, it coats the mouth thoroughly. The taste starts with sweetness, honeysuckle nectar and flower blossoms, chestnut sweetness, and a finish of vegetal brothiness that gives a slightly savory finish to the tea.
Third steep, and wow, these leaves, they are so big! I feel like I could wear them as a hat or something, use them as a sunshade on a summer day. The aroma is still going strong with sweet flowery notes, so many flowers, lilacs, honeysuckles, hyacinth, it is like a spring bouquet. The taste is still quite flowery, though the green notes that showed up previously are now stronger, like fresh vegetation and summer growth. Combine that buttery chestnut sweetness and you have a really good tea, I can certainly say this one made me re-think my tendency to prefer roasted Dong Ding.
So I have mentioned it some on Instagram, but realize I have not elaborated here on the blog, or anywhere else for that matter, I have come to a very important and hard decision. I am going off my medicine, no more Gabapentin for me. Yeah, it worked for my Fibromyalgia for a while, but there was the unhappy trend of them not working and the dosage being upped, and the side effects getting awful…til yep, they caused me to have seizures. Turns out I got too much of the stuff and had a nasty reaction, took the doctors a while to figure that one out. I have just had so many nasty reactions to medications that I am done, I am going to try a different approach, especially now that I know I don’t have anything that is going to kill me if I am not super vigilant. Currently weening myself of the meds is a nightmare, my pain level is astronomical, but I have tea, painting, gaming, and a very comfy blanket…so all will be well.
It is time once again to return to Misty Peaks Tea with their 2015 Autumn Pu’er, I was enamored with the 2014 harvest and have half a cake happily stored away (I split a cake with my mom) so I was very happy to sample this years harvest. If I am going to drink a super fresh Puerh I really prefer the autumn harvest, from my (limited when compared to the real pu-heads out there) experience, they are a bit easier on the stomach, some fresh Sheng is practically caustic on the guts. As like last year, these leaves are monstrous, big fluffy beasties that barely fit in my Sheng pot, with nice mottled amber tones and silvery fuzz. The aroma of the leaves is pungent and sharp, with notes of wet hay and bamboo, apricot skin, spinach, sandalwood, and a touch of distant peppery spice. It is a good blend of pungent and sweet, with the woody undertones giving it a bit of a complexity.
Rinse and tea time, as is my usual way with Sheng, sometimes I drink the rinse, but rarely…and that is because in all honestly, my rinse bucket is a bit narsty. The aroma of the soggy leaves is pungent, with notes of wet hay and camphor, a bit of a wet wood barnyard (minus the wildlife) aroma that finished on a touch of spinach and a pinch of apricot skin. The liquid is sweet, notes of honey and apricot mix with camphor and sandalwood, it is a double punch of fruit and resin.
The first steeping is pretty light, a light mouthfeel and a light taste. Starting with mineral notes that move directly to sweet honey and hay with a touch of apricot. It finishes with sandalwood and a cooling camphor note that builds in the middle to a lingering cool finish.
On to the second steep, it takes the notes from the first steep and builds them, the resinous sandalwood notes blend with hay and a touch of apricot. The taste is cooling and sweet, wet hay and honey with apricot and a strong sandalwood note at the finish that lingers.
The third and fourth steep have a lot in common, sweet honey and apricot notes with resinous sandalwood and a strong cooling cedar note. These steeps bring the only bitter that showed up in my steeping, a dry slightly powdery mouthfeel with notes of cooling all the way down into my belly, it is not a super potent bitterness, a very drinkable level of bitter I think. A lingering sandalwood and apricot note hang around for a bit after sipping.
The fifth steep really shined in the aroma, probably the most aromatic of the steeps, strong notes of sandalwood and apricot, cedar, juniper, and even a hint of frankincense. I am noticing this year is very resinous and woody, reminding me of a winter forest, and of course it is quite sweet with never ending notes of apricot. As with last year, I found myself having many steeps and enjoying the crisp notes and clean tastes of this tea.
My education in the fine art of Magic the Gathering continued today. I decided to stop geeking out over the lore and crushing on Jace Beleren (what, I can have nerd crushes) long enough to work on actually playing the game, running my Red Black Griefer deck, destroying all the lands because that technique is just sexy. Something about playing a card that destroys my opponents hard earned lands and destroying their creatures is really satisfying, especially when it involves lots of undead…see I really do have an unhealthy obsession with liches.
Today’s tea is a step into an older love of mine, from my younger days working at a tea and coffee shop…chugging roasted oolongs and eating chocolate covered espresso beans like crazy. This blending of two worlds is none other than A Quater To Tea’s Chocolate Cherry Latte Oolong, a blend of Organic Quilan Oolong Tea, Hojicha Tea, Coffee Beans, Dried Cherries, Mini Chocolate Chips, Chicory, Natural Flavors…as someone who loves blending unusual things, it is safe to say this tea got my attention. As a gesture of awesomeness, use the code GEEKERY10 to get 10% off a purchase of $5 or more, just be sure to use it by December 15th. Ok, tea, and coffee, and other fun things, the aroma…ok wow, this smells like coffee alright! Roasted coffee with creamy chocolate and sweet cherries, it has an underlying smokiness to it as well. The roast is very strong, which I love, it was always my favorite thing about coffee, alongside that intense bitter taste.
The brewed tea smells so good, man, it is intense, strong notes of rich chocolate and creamy sweet cherries with a nice heavy roasted coffee and just general roasted smokey finish. Not a tea sniffing experience for the faint of heart. The liquid is quite roasted and nutty, with notes of cocoa and coffee, gentle smoke, and a nice creamy sweet chocolate finish.
Surprisingly I decided to not make this into a latte, no cream or sugar…mostly because I was out of milk (can you tell I just never drink the stuff? I pretty much get it when I need it for cooking) so if you were hoping for a frothy return to my coffee shop days, sorry about that. I am glad I did not sweeten it though because this tea is sweet! The combination of the chocolate and cherries, with the sweet notes of Hojicha and Oolong make for a quite sweet cup of tea. There are strong notes of coffee, and roast which balance out the sweetness, and the lingering cherry notes add a wonderful finish. Out of the three samples I tried, this one was my favorite, definitely one I plan on getting more of for when I crave coffee on those rare occasions.
It is pretty bizarre to think that 15 years ago, half my lifetime ago today, I left my home in Georgia and never went back. It is a sad story that I have mentioned off and on before and see no need to rehash it, but wow, time is a crazy thing! Hard to believe that it has been exactly half my life since I lived in Atlanta in my house on the edge of the forest…that forest is now long gone, replaced by an apartment complex…sad since it was a sanctuary to a lot of wildlife. I find myself feeling wistful and dwelling on memories, they do not feel as heavy as they once did, mainly I just find myself in awe of the perpetual movement of time.
Time for the weekly tradition of looking at a tea from What-Cha, that most dangerous event of visiting the website, looks like I have more teas to add to my wishlist! It is always fun trying to decide what tea I am going to ramble about each week…something new to me or something from the older pages of my notebook pile? Today comes from the notebook pile, Vietnam Wild ‘Tiger Monkey’ Green Tea a Green Tea from Lao Cai Province in Vietnam. Sourced by Hatvala, whose mission it is to spread the word about the yumminess that is Vietnamese teas, something I can get behind. The more I try teas from Vietnam the more I find them becoming a favorite. I do not know why it is called Tiger Monkey, but I do know it is processed by Black H’Mong families who have the trees growing around their homes, neat! The aroma of the curly green leaves smells like the lovechild of a Sheng and a Dragonwell, notes of chestnut and green bean, asparagus and camphor, sea air and smoke blend together for a nutty, cooling, green sniffing experience. It is not a mellow tea, it is brisk and sharp, yet with a very clean aroma profile to it.
Into my green tea pot the tea goes, so glad I picked this bright red clay because man does it make green teas pop! The aroma of the wet leaves is a bit more vegetal, stronger notes of green beans and asparagus mix with a bit of lettuce for a crispness. Alongside the green is gentle smoke, camphor, and a tiny bit of sea air at the finish. The liquid is delicate, sesame seed nuttiness, green beans, and a delicate sea air note. I admit to loving teas with sea air notes, they remind me of frolicking in the ocean at Bar Harbor, frigid water but so refreshing!
Ah, that is a brisk green! The earlier comparison to a Sheng is not far off, strong camphor notes and a gentle woody bitterness give way to green beans and sesame seeds. The finish is mellow smoke and gentle sea air, and for all that it is a brisk start it is also mellow and refreshing.
Second steeping, honestly I did not notice much change. The taste is a bit more brisk and bitter, a dry camphor bitterness that is like chewing on cedar wood, this gives way abruptly to green vegetal notes and sweet nutty ones that linger for a while, blending with the cool mouthfeel. I went for another steep but I swear someone trolled me and it was the same cup that time traveled. Sometimes teas do not find the need to evolve much in their steeping, and you know, that is alright.
Accuweather just crushed my hopes and dreams…again. Every year I wish for a blizzard on my birthday, growing up in the South it was pretty much impossible, living in Pennsylvania I got some lovely snow squalls, but never a full on blizzard. In the Midwest, well, the weather here is just weird and I never know what is going to happen, sometimes we get storms in the middle of November, other times it is sleeting. Well, the monthly forecast just said we will have record warmth, boo, like up in the 70s, but then it is supposed to be down again, but not in the snow temperatures. Maybe next year I will get my blizzard.
Today is another tea from Eco-Cha, their Light Roasted Organic Oolong Tea, handpicked in April of 2015. Remember the Indiegogo campaign last year, all about Organic Oolong? I blogged about the campaign and Mr. Lin’s inaugural harvest, and well, this is the Spring harvest, harvested from young plants, some of which are just being harvested for the first time. And more excitingly, this is a newly registered hybrid, mixing a Qingxin and an earlier cultivar, designed to be, among other things, resistant to root rot (that most smelly of molds) the bane of many gardeners. The aroma of the curled leaves is toasty, roasty, goodness! Notes cooked acorn squash, chestnut, toasted sesame, peanut butter, and freshly toasted bread after out of the leaves as I sniff them, and sniff them I did…a lot. I love roasted oolong notes, and that surprise peanut butter note amused my nose immensely.
Gaiwan time, and the aroma of the soggy leaves is so toasted, like freshly toasted bread, specifically a sweet honey-heavy bread rather than a strong grain bread. There are also notes of acorn squash, sesame seeds, and again with the peanut butter. The liquid is oh so sweet, notes of honey and toasted sesame seeds, baking sweet bread, gently toasted oats, and a hint of lingering nuttiness.
First steeping time, and it starts with a delightfully creamy mouthfeel, creamy without being very thick, so it maintains its lightness about it. The taste starts sweet, middles sweet, and finishes sweet, though the kinds of sweetness vary. At the beginning it was honey sweet, then it moves to acorn squash and sesame seeds, and the finish gentle toasted oats and peanuts.
Onward to the second steep, ah, truly, nothing like a roasted Oolong on an autumn day, it really does blend perfectly. The aroma is sweet and nutty, blending toast and squash with a hint of sesame and peanuts, with a thick honey sweetness that runs through the entire sniffing experience. The taste is nice and sweet, notes of honey and toasted sesame, acorn squash, peanuts, and a nice rich toasted bread note that really pops in the middle. At the finish there is a gentle spice and rolled oat note that gives the tea a nice harvest quality.
Third steeping, and the aroma of this one is still going strong with toasted notes of sesame, acorn squash, honey, and a gentle spice reminiscent of nutmeg. The taste is mellow, toasted, and sweet. This is not the kind of roasted Oolong that will kick you with charcoal, it is sweet like freshly baked bread and honey, with a harvest note of rolled oats and squash. I am content with my cup of roasted Oolong, enjoying many more steeps.
So, it is November, the month that aspiring writers use to practice their novel skills with the awesome event that is NaNoWriMo. I have debated doing it a few times, tried it twice and did not do so well, see for all of my love of writing (having written hundreds of pages of research, not to mention almost 700 blog posts) I am absolutely awful at telling stories. I just can never get my brain to work that way, I end up turning the stories I am writing into overly detailed research rambles. Well, on twitter the other day, the infamous Lazy Literatus mentioned the brilliant idea of NaNoTeaMo, a tea blog for every day in November…and you know what, I am going to give that a try! Wish me luck, I am notoriously bad at blogging everyday, but it is something I really want to do, and if I succeed maybe I will buy myself a special tea or a new cup or something. (Not that I need any more teaware, such a hoarder.)
Remember the other day I did the back to back comparison of Oriental Beauty from Sanne Tea? Well that same farmer also made a Taiwanese Green Tea, Mr. Chen is all about organic farming, having earned the very strict Tse-Xin Organic Mark after switching to Organic farming. He decided to switch to this after seeing a fellow tea farmer passed out after breathing in too many pesticides, he took the man to a local hospital and essentially saved his life…I can certainly see how something like that would put the fear of pesticides in a person! Of course making the switch was hard, but once the balance of predator, beneficial insects, and plants was established the trees flourished. Fascinating stuff, I always enjoy learning about the farmers behind the tea I drink, just like I love learning the tea’s history. This tea has a bunch of fun info about it, like a lot, a whole blog in of itself, so if you have the time I recommend giving it a read, especially if you like learning about the history of a specific kind of tea.
Ok, now on to the actual tea itself! The leaves are pretty cool, big fluffy things that could pass for a Bao Zhong if it felt like infiltrating the Oolong clubs (I imagine tea has a very interesting life, clearly) the color ranges from deep pine forest green to bright new growth green, quite the verdant rainbow. The aroma is not very strong, faint notes of vegetal and tea leaf, life fresh off the bush green tea leaves. It has a freshness about it, very much so a green aroma, even though it is not very intense.
After the steeping of the leaves, the aroma is stronger, as does frequently happen (not sure I have ever run into a tea that has a weaker aroma after brewing, that would be weird) the notes are buttery and nutty, much like tahini and a touch like peanuts. Alongside these notes is a sharp vegetal note reminiscent of artichoke and a bit of bamboo leaves. The liquid is sweet and buttery, a little floral, and a bit like honey, it is mild and refreshing.
First steeping time, the mouthfeel is very smooth, bordering ever so slightly on buttery, but not quite there. The taste is also really smooth, not a single harsh note about this steep, starting out with gentle sweetness of chestnut and moving to the most delicate touch of distant flowers. It is ghostlike, you can tell there are flowers, but they are too far away to put a correct name to. The finish is sweet with a gentle spice to it like nutmeg and a lingering bamboo leaf aftertaste, giving that bit of green.
Second steep, the aroma is mild and refreshing, a gentle honey and distant floral note and a touch of butteriness. This steep starts out mild and gently sweet, notes of chestnut at the start and moving to buttery green, like gently sauteed spinach and bamboo shoots. It is a very mild tea, but because of its mildness it has a refreshing quality, reminding me of a palate cleansing drink after a strong food.
Third steep was very similar to the previous two, I found that this tea did not change much during the steeping, just maintained the gentle presence and refreshing nature. I will say one thing, this was a very clean tasting tea, it reminds me of that clean breeze on a spring day that brings in distant flowers and the promise of an evening rain.
I think I have an obsession with Liches (who Ben swears the plural is Lichen, and I am not sure I want to agree with that or not) I just absolutely love them! To me, painting a magical armor wearing or magic slinging skeleton glowing with undead magical energy is just the best thing, I might like painting them more than I do monsters. There are currently more Liches (my blue banshee totally counts) on my tea table then elves and monsters, and I am in the market for more…yep, I totally have an obsession. I blame Tolkien, since I am pretty sure my love for them started with the Nazgul and Barrow Wights…or maybe it came from the creepy Horned King from The Black Cauldron?
Today we are taking a trip to Japan for something beautiful and green, Yunomi’s Obubu #5 Kirameki No Sencha, Shaded Summer Green Tea. From the Kyoto Obubu Tea Farm in, you guessed it, Kyoto, this Sencha is shaded for two weeks before harvesting, giving it a lightness after its strong summer sunlight. The name, Kirameki no Sencha is evocative of shimmering light dancing on water, and that sounds beautiful, and I am a little sad I am drinking this so late in the year, it sounds like the perfect summer drink. Now, before I get into the way these leaves smell, I have to say wow, these are some big leaves! Very large, especially for a Sencha, I was very impressed by their pine needle like appearance and color. Ok, that aside, sniffing time! The leaves are at first nutty and sweet, notes of sesame seeds and a gentle honey sweetness, then it starts to get an umami note of toasted nori which blends really well with the sesame seed notes. The finishing notes are freshly mown grass and a sharp bell pepper greenness which lingers in the nose.
Into my tiny kyusu the leaves go, and the aroma coming of the now wet leaves is quite green! Fresh kelp and toasted nori blended with asparagus and cooked bell peppers. Undertones of fresh grass and a touch of sweet hay cut through the mostly savory notes. The liquid is sweet and warm, like sunlight on a summer day, where it has warmed the grass and hay, blending the aromas of nature. Underneath that is a gentle nuttiness and just the tiniest hint of kelp and sea air.
The first steeping is clean and smooth, the mouthfeel is very light, I can see why this tea is described as one that is good for a summer day, a combination of a lower brewing temperature and lightness would be very refreshing when it is hot. It starts with notes of lettuce and fresh kelp, cut grass and a touch of sea air. Then it moves to gentle sesame seeds and builds to a gentle sweetness that lingers into the aftertaste. The transition between umami and sweet is gradual and not jarring, which I always find quite nice.
Second steeping, the aroma is sweeter, no sea air or kelp to be found, just honey, sesame seeds, and grass. This steeping was smooth like the first, but the mouthfeel is more buttery than light, giving it a bit more depth. It is greener this time around, and not just in color, notes of kelp and spinach with a touch of grass and a finish of sesame seeds at the finish. Usually Sencha makes me feel energized, hilariously right after drinking this one I fell asleep, that was a first!