523 Tasting Notes
So, I realized I have developed a bit of a backlog with tea tasting notes, since I only review one tea a day…and I drink a lot more, well it makes sense that my notebooks are filled with older notes. I do not want to neglect these teas, but the teas I am sent to review take precedent over teas I receive as gifts, buy for myself, or get in trades, it just seems polite. So, once a week I am cracking open the ‘vault’ and reviewing a tea from my older notebooks, sadly this does mean some of the photos are not the best. So glad I finally discovered the sweet spot for taking tea pictures, who knew I would have to rely on flash photography!
Today we are taking a look at 52Teas’s Blueberry Cream Cheese Danish Black Tea, no this tea is not exactly from 2010, I got my sample when I supported their Indiegogo campaign last year. I had heard a lot about 52Teas on Steepster and wanted to try a lot of their teas, but since Frank creates a new tea every week, usually once they are gone they are gone (unless you can trade for them on Steepster or get them from traveling tea boxes) so this was a perfect opportunity to crack into twelve of their most popular blends, and this was the one I tried first. The aroma is really sweet, it smells just like one of those vending machine danishes (I don’t think I have ever had any other kind of danish actually) there is intense blueberry notes with a hint of cream cheese and a touch of yeastiness like pastry. Add a touch of malty tea and it reminds me of drinking tea and having a vending machine pastry while waiting for my train. Very specific memory there, the Pittsburgh train station to be exact.
Once I give the tea a steeping the aroma of the leaves is really quite brisk, you can certainly tell it is an Indian black tea because of that distinct oak wood, malty, briskness that always comes to mind (at least for me) when sniffing it. There is also a nice burst of blueberries and a tiny hint of the other flavors present in the dry leaves. The liquid is rich and sweet, a nice brisk blend of malt and blueberry with a tiny hint of yeasty pastry at the finish.
The taste is fairly mild, a bit of malt and oak wood (like one expects from an Indian black tea) and a bit of sweet and slightly tart blueberries, much like blueberry jam. I decided to give this tea a try with some cream and sugar to see if it made any of the flavors pop, I can detect a bit of creaminess and a touch of a pastry like taste, but really this tea left me a tad bit underwhelmed. It is by no means bad, just did not knock my socks off as I had hoped. I guess the same can be said about the danishes I have had as well, maybe a real not from a vending machine danish is mild too. But even though this tea left me going ‘meh’ Frank’s imagination and blends always make me smile, especially the geeky reference teas.
This is one of those days where I lack anything truly interesting or insightful as an opener to today’s tea. Sorry about that guys, I guess I can’t always be super clever or have super fun days. Yours truly might have overdone it a bit while I was rock hunting, it was totally worth it though. Examining one of the rocks I just stuffed in my pocket that fell off while I was hammering a larger chunk, it appears to be crusted with tiny epidote crystals. Next time I feel better, rock cleaning will occur and it will be awesome.
Today’s tea is part of a quest, not just to try all the teas at What-Cha (yes I have an obsession) but to find the perfect everyday Long Jing, yeah, I could drink this tea everyday…problem is all of my favorites have been really expensive. The cheap ones I have tried have been good, but not ‘everyday’ material, so maybe Zhejiang Wild-Growing Dragon Well ‘Long Jing’ Green Tea will fit the bill. This particular Long Jing is pretty nifty since it is picked from tea plants growing wild on an abandoned tea field. The aroma of the leaves is delightfully sweet and nutty, like roasted sesame seeds and a tiny touch of peanuts. This transitions to spinach and a tiny bit of sharp artichoke at the finish, so the aroma has a nice zingy finish.
So for this tea I decided to break out my (possibly) 18th century Chinese Imari Ware gaiwan, it is super tiny and delicate, perfect for a green tea! The aroma of the brewed leaves is very vegetal, a really green smelling cocktail of artihoke, green beans, and cooked spinach. There is a tiny touch of chestnut at the finish, but mostly the leaves are a pile of veggies. The liquid is delightfully delicate with slightly sweet nutty notes of chestnut and sesame seed and a touch of indistinctly vegetal aroma at the finish.
OMG yum, this tea is so tasty, and it has nothing to do with sipping it out of a dainty crystal…not sure if this is a cup or tiny vase, it was a quarter so it is a cup now! So, what makes this tea so good you are probably wondering, its crazy smoothness. The taste starts out sweet with notes of honey sesame candies and a touch of chestnut. This transitions to greenness with artichoke and green beans, this greenness lingers until the end with a hint of spinach. The aftertaste is honey sweet and lingers long after I have finished.
Second steeping time brings out more sweetness in the aroma than the previous steep, a sweetness of honey, roasted chestnuts, and toasted sesame seeds, there is a hint of vegetal at the finish reminding me that this indeed a green tea and not a sweet and nutty treat. The mouthfeel is surprisingly creamy for a green tea, which I like, it gives what I usually consider a light tea a touch of richness. The taste starts off honey and chestnut sweet and then fades to a savory cooked spinach and green bean midtaste. After that the finish it buttery, like lima beans and a bit like peas.
I also decided to give this tea a go grandpa style, Long Jing being one of my favorite teas to do this style (one of the reasons I am hunting the perfect everyday one) and this one handles really well. Steeping it grandpa style (or bowl style if you don’t want to get Gangnam Style stuck in your head every time you use it) brings out more of the savory vegetal notes, and calms the sweet down, which has its pros and cons. After many refills of the bowl and sippings I noticed it never got bitter, which is awesome. This tea is perfect for a grandpa style everyday tea, it is a little too rich and sweet for the gaiwan steepings, which is fine by me, I can make it a treat to do it that style. Perhaps my quest is over (not that I am not going to still try tons of Dragon Wells!)
Today my mom and I visited an old favorite spot in the countryside, a small cave on the side of the road that holds an amazing treasure. We visited the Rossville Road Cut, a rock hunter’s dream, just pull over, grab your gear, and find some loot. This specific rock-hub is known for its ancient hydrothermal activity causing the native copper in the stones to turn to a glorious crust of Azurite and Malachite. The little cave is about five feet deep (at this point anyway) and I have always been leery about hammering in the cave (the fracture lines make the ceiling look fragile) so instead of bringing home huge showcase pieces I collect the bits left by other collectors. I also managed to get my hands on some Grossular Garnets and other pieces that need cleaning and proper IDing, perhaps my Saturday Musing will be about my finds.
I am going to be honest, reviewing this tea was a stupid idea! Yunomi was awesome and sent it as a sample with a requested pair of other samples, and I couldn’t not review it, that would also be dumb. The reason is was a bad idea to review Hida Mugicha Barley Tea is I have Gluten Intolerance, luckily it is not Celiac, but it acts like a food allergy (don’t worry I won’t give details about what happens) so never let it be said that I am not really dumb sometimes. So, the teabag with the Mugicha was huge, clearly made for a pitcher, so I snipped it open and took out enough for just a cup. The aroma is really kinda great, very grainy and toasty with a touch of earthiness and a hint of sweetness. It reminds me of a combination of cereal and multi-grain bread, the toasted notes bringing out the natural sweetness of the barley.
Giving this tea a steep is mouthwatering, inability to have gluten and occasionally craving it something fierce aside, this tea smells delicious. That is, it smells delicious if you are a huge fan of toast, grain, and a distinct earthiness that only barley can present. The liquid without the mugicha reminds me of early autumn, a blend of the grain, toast, and earthiness just reminds me of the harvest and the golden quality the sunlight takes on this time of year.
Tasting time! The taste reminds me of bread, specifically multigrain bread…or barley soup…or the taste the air gets when you are toasting your own grain. I have noticed that this tea is not about taste, but about the imagery that pops into my mind while experiencing it. It is subtly sweet and earthy, much like barley, what more can I say other than this is a tea that tastes like toasted barley. Chilled this tea is incredibly refreshing, I am so glad to have experienced it (check it off my ‘to try’ list) and I am sad that I won’t be having more of it. And don’t worry, I actually tasted this tea a bit ago, my trusty notebook kept the details safe for me, so you all can know that my body’s hatred of gluten did not do me in.
Currently yours truly is bundled up in the most amazingly fuzzy robe ever, it feels like the way I always imagined clouds to feel as a child, and it has a hood! Today my mom and I hit the thrift store for a little wardrobe overhauling (most my clothes back in KC are just worn to death!) and I needed more winter themed clothes. The cloud robe of happiness, along with a beautiful abalone shell (which might be a new tea dish, trying it out) was part of my haul today. Tomorrow we have high hopes to go on a hike before the polar vortex comes along and sweeps us up into winter’s loving embrace, at least I will be warmly-whimsically dressed.
Today we are taking a sip with The Persimmon Tree Tea Company’s Bao Zhong, (also goes by the name Pouchong) a very lightly oxidized, curly leaf, oolong. This tea runs the risk of sneaking into green tea territory because depending on the specific Bao Zhong, it can be oxidized anywhere from 8-12% which really is not a lot. I admit to only having a little experience with this type of oolong (having only had three different ones) so I am happy to experiment more with it. The aroma is gently floral, like you expect from a ‘greener’ oolong, but much more delicate. There are notes of lily, lilac, and honeysuckle, it reminds me of spring rather than a heady orchid filled conservatory.
The brewed leaves are immensely floral, so much honeysuckle and lilac, I feel like I am standing in the best garden ever, since those are two of my favorite flowers. It borders on the heady, but those are such light smelling flowers that it is not overwhelming. The liquid is also floral, lots of honeysuckle nectar sweetness with a hint of creaminess, it is delightfully delicate and sweet.
Ah, ok, that tea is exactly what I needed! It is light and sweet with a very clean floral quality, it tastes like honeysuckle nectar, sun warmed and creamy. I often lament that honeysuckles do not produce enough nectar on those days I when I collect the tiny drops of nectar from a handful of flowers, this tea can give you the effect without all the work. There is a hint of greenness at the end of the sip and the aftertaste has a lingering floral quality.
The aroma of the second steep is really quite heady, honeysuckle and lilac is present but there is also now a strong orchid presence that is pretty intense. The mouthfeel is delightfully smooth to the point of creaminess, the taste is also pretty creamy, with a slight chestnut nuttiness to it. Of course there are floral notes, heady orchid and sweet honeysuckle which start strong and stay around till the finish.
Man, the aroma is still so intensely floral so heady that it is almost a little too much for me, clearly I am too weak for such a powerful orchid, lilac, lily, and honeysuckle powerhouse. The taste, surprisingly, is mellowing out, it is buttery and a bit green with a tiny hint of mineral at the finish. It is rather clean and refreshing with a dryness at the end. This is a tea I could see myself craving, but not necessarily wanting as an everyday tea. Those days when winter is harsh and I want spring flowers, or I am in the garden and want to reflect my environment in my cup, or even like today when I am wanting a clean, floral tasting tea to soothe me, those are the days I will want this tea.
For reviews and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2014/11/the-persimmon-tree-tea-company-bao.html
You are probably at this point (or even earlier) wondering what happened to Tea Book Sunday, well it has not died, it has evolved to Tea Stuff Sunday to encompass all those things that are related to tea but not exactly tea. I figure I will run out of tea books eventually, and there are some weeks when I am too swamped reading books for review purposes on Netgalley or Goodreads that I just don’t have time to read a tea book (tragic, I know.) So have no fear, there will be more books, but there will also be other cool tea themed things.
Like today! I am looking at the newest addition to my tea gear collection, Jing De Gongfu Porcelain Plum Blossom Bamboo Gaiwan Tea Set from ebay, it was a birthday present (by way of a monetary gift) from my grandparents (fun fact, while visiting them I taught my grandmother how to use a gaiwan, she loves it!) I added this unusual collection to my wishlist months ago, but ended up buying the bat gaiwan instead because it would be more versatile.
This set is very much so not perfect for all teas, well that is not true, the cha hai and cups work for anything, but the gaiwan is more specialized. I bought it specifically for ‘needle’ teas, long curly leafed teas, and basically ones that do not need room to unfurl. Not a gaiwan suited for my much loved balled up oolongs, that is for sure. While some people might consider this limitation a negative, I love it because it means I have a gaiwan with a really unique shape. Also, the width of the gaiwan’s lip means I have not once burned myself with it.
The cha hai might be my favorite part of this set (even if it oddly lacks the red coloring on the plum blossoms) because it reminds me of a calla lily, each time I pour with it I feel like I am pouring nectar from a flower. It adds a bit of whimsy into my tea brewing, which I love. It also has a mostly clean pour, the only time it drips is if I goof and hold it at a weird angle while pouring
The cups are lovely, they are a tiny bit translucent in their thinness, and this is beautiful. It does also mean that the heat transference is pretty intense and they get scalding hot quickly, so I really have to be quick if I am handing the cup off to someone (so far that someone has been my dear mother) and even then there is usually a chorus of the both of us going ‘ow ow ow’ the whole time.
As a fun finish, I am including a video I recorded, fair warning it is not professional quality! I filmed it with my camera which makes mediocre movies, and I have no idea how to edit things so you get to hear instead of just read my rambling. This video shows my gaiwan technique (a facebook friend asked how I do it) and some practice methods I recommend if you are just starting out.
For blog, photos, and video: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2014/11/jing-de-gongfu-porcelain-plum-blossom.html
Today has been kind of an odd day, I have had a headache all day and my energy level has gone from bouncing around to falling asleep in my chair. And speaking of chairs, I got a new one today for the desk my mom set up for me while I was visiting. Sadly her chairs suck (plus I cannot function without a spinning chair) so I got myself a super cheap desk chair that is especially comfy. I also visited one of my favorite bookstores (Cupboard Maker Books) and they had so many amazing dude cats that absolutely loved my mom and myself as we browsed the books. I was there to pick up a quick gift, but certainly plan to go back.
So today’s tea is a little different than my usual reviews, since I did not buy this for myself or receive it to review, it came as part of the Summer Tasting Event held by Hancha Teahouse, an event geared towards spreading tea culture, not to advertise tea. As someone who is obsessed with spreading tea culture, this seemed right up my alley, so today we are looking at Qilai Mountain, Taiwanese High Altitude Oolong Tea. I admit to not knowing much about Qilai Mountain, from what I gathered from some (brief) research, is the highest point in its range, and is quite popular with mountain climbers. The tea came in a little cloth teabag, but you know me, given the option to brew it in a gaiwan I will, so I took the tightly balled leaves out of their pouch and placed them on a proper sniffing dish. The aroma of the leaves is pretty intense, very sweet floral notes of honeysuckle, orchid, lilac, and even a bit of lily waft out of the leaves. There are also notes of yeasty honey bread and a touch of toasted sesame seed. It has been a while since I did the tea dance with a green oolong, once again I am reminded why I love them!
Brewing the leaves brings out an underlying green vegetation aroma and a nose explosion of sweetness, it is very much so sweet yeasty bread with tons of flower nectar. Imagine eating honey biscuits in a flower filled conservatory and you have the aroma of the wet leaves. The liquid’s aroma is creamy and slightly buttery with intense floral notes of orchid and honeysuckle, there is a hint of fresh bread and nutmeg at the finish.
The first steep is mellow, a very creamy mouth feel and a taste that starts sweet and full of flower nectar and honey. This transitions to smooth and buttery, and lastly if finished with fresh vegetation and a hint of dryness at the finish. The aftertaste was sweet chestnuts. I, as usual with oolongs, look forward to seeing how this tea blooms in flavor.
So this is going to be one of those weird moments where I compare the aroma of the tea to something completely out of left field, the aroma reminds me of Destroying Angel Mushrooms. This is a huge compliment (and not the first time I have compared an oolong to this mushroom) because even though it is deadly toxic, it smells delicious, just like a mix of baking bread, yeast, and a touch of lilies. Aromas are compared to things I know, and I really know mushrooms. The taste is really super sweet, a mix of flower nectars (like sipping honeysuckle nectar) and freshly baked yeasty bread. The finish is a tad bit dry, but there is a lingering floral sweetness that seemed to last for ages.
The aroma of the third steep is less mushroom and more growing green things and broken stems in late summer. There is of course still a strong floral aroma, but it is diminishing now. The taste is not as sweet as the previous steeps, more buttery and mellow with a distinct leafy quality. There is a hint of orchid at the finish and a lingering sweetness. This tea was just what I needed, a headily floral oolong to remind me there are more than just roasted oolongs and yancha in the realm of my favorite tea.
Today was the perfect day for tea, the real epitome of autumns in the Appalachian mountains (ok, valley between the Blue Mountain and South Mountain Ridges.) It has been chilly with alternating rounds fog and rain, the sky has been dark, and I definitely broke out my fuzzy coral colored sweater. It clashes pretty badly with my teal hair, which of course makes me love it all the more. The only thing that would have made it better would have been having my cats around to snuggle with, but exposing my mom to new and exciting teas was equally enjoyable.
Since today was the epitome of autumn, I decided to review a tea that makes me think of autumn every time I drink it, and not just because it looks like a pile of leaves I pulled out of the backyard! M&K’s Tea Company presents Organic Kyobancha, from the Nakai Seichajo Tea Farm, Wazuko, Kyoto, Japan. This bancha is a favorite of mine, named for its place of production (or Harubancha for spring time) it is created by leaving the tea leaves on the plant all winter and then plucking them in spring and giving them a good roasted. It is low in caffeine, meaning I love drinking it before I got to sleep or on days I feel really icky, it is a feel good tea. The aroma is so perfect for this time of year, it is roasted and sweet, there is a hint of smoke, a bit of leaf loam and autumn leaf pile, and possibly my favorite note; marshmallows. Yeah, this tea smells like roasting marshmallows, making it the sweetest of the two Kyobancha I have experienced so far. My sweet-tooth is excited.
I could have brewed this in my new (vintage) Kyusu, but I really wanted to try out the gaiwan I got for my birthday because it looked like it would make a perfect Houhin! The brewed leaves are quite rich and nicely roasted, it reminds me of the aroma of distant bonfires on an autumn evening, there is also a bit of loam and marshmallow sweetness. The liquid, oh wow, it is super sweet! It smells just like toasted marshmallow and toasted bread, maybe even a marshmallow on toast!
So, my plan of using this gaiwan as a Houhin works perfectly, so yay! The taste is WONDERFUL! It is quite different from the other Kyobancha I have had, that one had mild sweetness but it was much more roasted almost to the point of savory. This one however is delightfully sweet, it tastes just like a fire roasted marshmallow, with a rich note of toasted tea and dried autumn leaves (not the wet taste of loam.) The mouthfeel is very smooth and well rounded, it goes down so easily…I find I need to make a whole pot of this tea because I enjoy it that much.
The second steep is much milder, both in taste and aroma, even though it is milder it is still quite enjoyable. The smoke notes are entirely gone, replaced with toasted tea and marshmallow. The taste is pretty much identical to the smell, which is always entertaining! I really enjoy the sweetness in this tea, naturally sweet teas are delightful, plus it being so evocative of autumn makes me happy, especially on those days when I am longing for autumn.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Loam, Marshmallow, Smoke, Toasty
My mother and I did one of our patented ‘things’ today, we re-arranged the house. We have this compulsion to re-arrange our stuff every month or so on the quest for perfection (see also: control, order, chi flow) and organization. See we both have more stuff than our current space can really hold, and since we do not want to get rid of it, we go to Tetris levels of efficient stacking and sorting, that way it is organized and accessible. My mom and I, well, we are very silly, but at least with have fun with our obsessions.
And speaking of obsessions, it is time for What-Cha Wednesday! I recently placed an order and received a bunch of samples along with the teas I ordered, so What-Cha Wednesdays will be continuing for quite a while, which is fine by me! Today’s tea is Malawi Satemwa Antlers White Tea, a tea made entirely from slightly velvety (it is where the antler part of the name comes from) sticks! Other than hearing about the Satemwa Tea Estate randomly when looking at tea, I do not know much about them, which means it was time for a bit of research. The Satemwa Tea Estate, a family owned estate created in the 20s, was the first tea estate in Malawi to become fair trade certified, combine that with other certifications and some unique and experimental teas, you have yourself a fascinating tea company. And this is a fascinating tea, it is not often that you see a tea that is made entirely of the stems, even Kukicha, Japan’s stem tea, does not seem as ‘stick-like’ as this tea. The aroma is rather rich yet subtle, with sweet notes of plum, a touch of nuts, and of course sticks. It smells like plant matter, freshly broken sticks while walking in a forest, this tea smells like nature and reminds me of walks in the forest.
I found myself at a bit of a confused point on how to brew this tea, do I do Western Style or Gongfu Style, and I decided to go with my gaiwan, simply because I wanted to use the new gaiwan I got as a birthday present. The aroma of the now soggy sticks is really sweet and fruity! There are note of lychee, fresh juicy plums, and raisins, this transitions into rich earthiness and fresh wet wood. The liquid’s aroma has a real richness to it, blending fruity lychee and plums with raw honey and freshly broken leaves.
Whoa! That first steep is sweet! The mouthfeel is light on the tongue, but really well rounded, it sensation of this tea fills my mouth, much like biting into a sweet, juicy, fruit. And speaking of fruit, the fruity notes are present, there are notes of lychee and plums, it starts like fresh fruit and transitions into stewed fruits with a tiny bit of smoke at the finish. The aftertaste is one of lingering plums.
For the second steep, the aroma is still quite rich, sweet, and fruity, much like the first. The taste is much richer this time around, just like the darkening of the color, the flavor becomes more intense. There are notes of stewed stone fruit and a touch of lychees, this transitions to fresh hay and raw honey, the finish is a delicate floral and freshly broken stick note.
Third time’s the charm, though this tea already had me charmed from the moment I opened the pouch, what can I say, sticks are endearing. Even though the color is darker, the aroma is lighter, there are notes of honey and plum, and that is about it. The taste is much milder, like the first and second steep, the sensation of the tea is very filling, I love the way this tea coats my mouth. There are notes of honey, fresh hay, and a nice finish of plums that linger. I find this tea fascinating and want to experiment with it, next time I go out and about I will put these sticks into my travel infuser and see how they ‘long steep’ and maybe I will even try cold steeping it (though we are getting to the chilly part of the year and cold drinks are not as fun) the Satemwa Estate website even recommends steeping them in sparkling water all day long in a tall champagne glass!
Flavors: Hay, Honey, Lychee, Plums, Stems
Two very important things happened today, I unpacked all my origami paper and started working on some projects, and I realized the reason I have been feeling really out of it the last couple days is I am having a Fibromyalgia flair. I started off really grumpy about it because it basically meant my plans are botched and I feel rotten, but then I realized, it has been a while since I flaired and I have been doing A LOT! Probably more things have been done by me in the last month than I have done in the last year. Ok body, you deserve a little pampering and I will take it easy for a bit. That means more time for crafts and tea!
Clearly when one feels icky, they need a tea that is comforting and warm, and that brings us to today’s tea from Tea Horse Road, Rooibos Roasted Corn. This ingenious little blend mixes Organic Rooibos and Roasted Corn, that is it! I love roasted corn, this is probably the only blend I have seen using it as an ingredient, and naturally that got me excited, and honestly mixing it with Rooibos just seems natural. The aroma is a blend of sweet woody, caramel notes and roasted, nutty, popcorn notes. They blend together really well, vaguely reminding me of caramel corn, one of my favorite autumn snacks, not sure why but I crave it this time of year.
When brewed the wet leaves are much more in favor of the Rooibos, there are notes of woody sweetness and a mellow undertone of roasted corn. It is a great blend of two wonderful smells, even though I tend to get frustrated by Rooibos in blends at times (it is a potent smelling leaf!) I do really enjoy it on its own and in simpler blends. The liquid has more of the corn in it, very roasted and rich, like popcorn and caramel with a delicate underlying woodiness.
Time for tasting! I am actually drinking this right now too, even though the notes are from my tea notebook and my photos are from earlier, writing about this tea made me want to have some, my insides needed a hug and sipping from my new bone china teacup makes me feel fancy. So, the flavor of this herbal tea is quite autumnal! Take a mix of caramel corn, toast, and woodiness and you have this tea, it reminds me of autumn nights eating those popcorn balls with distant fires, very evocative of childhood. Now I am going to curl up in my fuzzy robe with my cup of tea and finish my Skeletal Dodecahedron.
Flavors: Caramel, Popcorn, Toasty, Wood
Guys, I cooked, I made dinner, and it wasn’t a disaster! In fact I can safely say this is my first Italian style pasta sauce I have ever made, yay for pasta puttanesca. The inspiration for this dish hit me this afternoon when I was grocery shopping and missing Ben’s food (he is a bit famous for his various sauces) my version was very different, but turned out delicious. Plus the corn pasta I used could have fooled everyone into thinking they were getting regular pasta. so that is always a win. In case any of my cheese loving friends are curious, I also picked up a large (and I mean really large) block of Smoked Gouda to experiment with and see which teas go best with my favorite cheese.
Today’s tea is a fun little tisane that blends two archenemies, coffee and tea (I guess it is more of a cold war really since you always see them hanging out together in the same beverage places and grocery store aisles) really they should just get along. Wize Monkey’s Coffee Leaf Tea: Armando’s Original Blend is pretty much an olive branch between the warring factions, it is an herbal tea made from the leaves of the coffee plant. One of the things that caught my attention (other than the offer of samples on the steepster forum) was calling attention to the humble leaf of the coffee plant, and using it to hopefully increase the livelihood of coffee farmers. They have a Kickstarter starting in a few days, just in case any of my curious friends are interested. So let me tell you about these leaves, their aroma is pretty unique, it is a pungent blend of green unroasted coffee, hemp, and a sharpness reminiscent of green tea. It reminds me of summers, specifically in the 90s where beach themed hemp bracelets were all the rage and you wore them constantly, they would heat up and the woody and slightly earthy aroma would waft out of them. I only ever enjoyed wearing the blasted things because the smell was fun, and so this tea also was fun.
Brewing time! I took it out of the little ‘fill your own’ style tea bag it came in and used my basket, it might mean I get some bits in my cup, but when has that ever bothered me? The aroma is pretty strong, the kitchen smells like hemp, green beans, a little bit of that distinctive black tea briskness you get, and very earthy quality of peat. There was also another note right at the end that took me quite a bit of memory searching before I isolated it, oak galls, oddly as a kid I would collect them and use them for ink, they have a very sharp, tannic smell, and it is kinda enjoyable. The liquid without said leaves has a blend of cooked (and slightly burnt) pinto beans, peat, and a finishing note of dark chocolate. This is a very unusual thing and I find it fascinating.
Ok, so the taste, it is a bit unlike anything I have experienced before (which is always very exciting) it starts off with an herbaceous note of thyme, bay and a tiny bit of sage. This transfers to a bit of a medicinal herbal taste, it is not bitter like medicine, but it has a medicinal tone to it, combine this with the surprising internal cooling effect and it ends up reminding me of mint but without the ‘mintiness’ to it and yes, that is totally a word now. There is also a really fun note towards the end that had me almost giggling, it tastes exactly like the way Vitex smells, once upon a time my mother had a huge Vitex in her yard and I would hover around it because I loved its sharp, almost peppery aroma. The finish is wildflower honey sweet with a hint of straw, the honey tones lingered for a bit. This was an unusual drink, I found myself enjoying it despite (or maybe because of) its strangeness. I will say that it does not mix well with corn chips and salsa, sadly, but I have not found a tea yet that does.
For blog, photos, and a link to what a Vitex is: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2014/11/wize-monkey-coffee-leaf-tea-armandos.html