360 Tasting Notes
Today Ben and I went for a hair cut, he for practical finding a summer job while school is out reasons, and me because I was getting really sick of my hair. I am blessed/cursed with thick, fluffy hair that goes everywhere and has a perpetual cowlick, when it is short it is quite cute and manageable, when it is long I get lost in it Cousin It style. It is safe to say that with my now very short asymmetrical pixie cut I feel like my head is 10 pounds lighter. Perfect for the inevitable onslaught of summer.
Today’s tea has nothing to do with hair, in some cases that is sad (a non fuzzy silver needle would be so weird) but in the case of Just Naughty ’Nilla by Just Organic Tea, that is probably for the best. This dessert like tea is a blend of Black Tea, Carob, and Natural Vanilla Extract. The aroma is malty, rich, and sweet with a nice kick of vanilla and a mild woody chocolate finish. I always find that carob smells like a mix of wood and chocolate, just different enough to not be chocolate.
The brewed and now quite soggy leaves have an earthy, woody, and malty aroma with a very nice and sweet vanilla note along with a finish of rich chocolate. It smells more like chocolate and less like carob, but I admit most my experience with the stuff is in food and not tea. The liquid is mostly creamy and rich vanilla with a pleasant malty finish.
The tea is quite brisk and wakes you up, there are nice notes of malt and vanilla with a finish of chocolate/woody carob. This tea was surprisingly not very sweet on its own, it had the taste and olfactory pleasure of vanilla and chocolate but not of the sweetness. Adding a bit of sugar did bring it out some, bit oddly I preferred it unsweetened because with sugar it seemed a bit fake. I am not sure I would seek this tea out on my own, but I certainly would not say no to it if offered.
Sometimes I really should put some sort of time limit on myself with regards to Pinterest. I have spent my day (so far) sipping tea and looking at origami designs on Pinterest, ever expanding my origami board with tutorials and diagrams. Ok that is not entirely true, I did make a blooming kusudama this morning as a way to wake myself up, I also learned that the pick (or pointy thing) from my Gong Fu tea tool set works as a great origami tool as well.
Today’s tea is a celebratory tea commemorating a royal wedding between teas! Royal Wedding Tea by Capital Teas is a blend of Black Tea, White Tea, Bergamot, and Rose Buds. Hmm, red roses and red tea…looks like this is a Red Wedding…I am a terrible person. So this wedding is an arranged marriage between Earl Grey Black and Earl Grey White, hopefully their union will stop the War of the Roses. Ok, I will try my best to have that be the last of my terrible puns and references. The aroma of this tea is a great blend of bright bergamot and heady roses with a creamy quality, this tea smells pretty. The aroma reminds me of summer blooming flowers and warm sunlight, I like the effect this tea’s aroma has on my brain.
Giving the tea a steeping, the wet leaves take on a more malty quality, but there is still a lot of roses and citrus. Although, it seems like with steeping the bergamot has evolved into orange making it sweeter. The liquid has a sweet, creamy, quality with notes of malt and oranges. The strong rose aroma from the leaves does not seem to transfer to the liquid, except in a delicate finish.
The taste of this tea is elegant, sweet and creamy with a vanilla quality that quickly transfers to oranges and roses. The vanilla and creamy tastes remind me more of a muffin or some baked morsel rather than an ice cream taste, specifically some baked goody with an orange glaze. This tea is smooth and the rose notes become stronger as it cools. I want to sip this tea from a fancy teacup while nibbling scones and wearing petticoats. Sadly at the time of taking the notes on this tea I lacked a fancy teacup and just had a monstrous glass mug, now I have a pretty white teacup but still lack the fancy teacup with matching saucer…and preferably some sort of gold accenting and flower design. I tried adding cream and a bit of sugar just to see what it was like and I found that it did not improve, the tea is smooth and sweet enough of its own that it does not need any additive, except scones on the side. While listening to White Wedding…ok really, I am done with the puns now.
For blog, photo, and random crafty link: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2014/05/capital-teas-royal-wedding-tea-tea.html
I love octopuses and anything with tentacles (Phn’glui mglw’nafh Chthulhu R’lyeh wagn’nagl fhtagn) so when my friend gave me this mug the other day…well…let us say much maniacal giggling happened. You know what they say, the best part of waking up is a Great Old One in your cup…
This cup has its ups and downs though. Pros: There is an octopus…in my cup…and that brings me great amounts of joy. Cons…ugh, where to begin? Obviously this thing is a beast to clean, not only is it really hard to clean around those tentacles, but it is also kinda hollow meaning that cleaning it is an extra beast. That hollowness does lead to some hilarious airbubbles leaking out of my cephalopod, so maybe that is more of a pro.
The other problem is kinda hit or miss. If you want a tea that has cream or sugar I most certainly would not recommend this mug because there is no room to stir, you just end up with an octopus with sugar coated tentacles…and some people might be in to that, I am not. Luckily I figured that out pretty early on and just use this mug for teas I want straight.
Is the pain to clean part worth it? I certainly think so, but I might be a bit biased.
This is probably my new favorite tea toy. I have been dreaming of a gaiwan tea set for a while, something about the allure of extremely tiny cups that match not only each other but the gaiwan and cha hai just sounded so appealing to me. I had also been coveting a travel set for when I visit my mom back in PA, so logically I put my desire for both together and decided on this beauty…because it is covered in fish.
Yes I have a mild obsession with aquatic themes. First off the printing on the set is spot on, no blurring or smudges. True, having this set be hand painted would have been amazing, but it would have also been more expensive…I am not such a snob that I turn my nose up at printed designs on my teaware. I really like how everything has two fish, in the photo it looked like the cups might alternate between the black and orange carp, but each cup has both.
The gaiwan pours nicely and the lid is well balanced without creating too much of a seal. I am not a fan of gaiwan lids that fit perfectly flush on the gaiwan, I find it makes it a real pain to pour.
My favorite thing about this set is it is so tiny! The pouch is probably smaller than my camera so it will be so convenient for travel. Everything fits very snugly and safely inside so no worries about breaking.
I am practically exploding with fidgety excitement! My much anticipated travel gaiwan set arrived today and I want to test it out, but I want to try it with Ben and waiting for him to get home is killing me! I am so extremely pleased with my new treasure, the six tiny cups, gaiwan, and cha hai all have a black and orange carp and a little bit of pond weeds. Also the pouch is tiny, it is smaller than my camera and is the perfect size to fit in my purse. So happy about my fishy tea set!
Today’s tea is another offering from Just Organic Tea, Just Tulsi With a Twist! A nice herbal blend of Black Pepper, Cinnamon, Ginger, Lemon Myrtle, Peppermint, and Tulsi. The aroma is quite peppery, lemony, spicy, and loads of tulsi goodness. I have become rather enamored of the aroma of tulsi…ok, I have become enamored of its taste as well. Do not, when sniffing this tea, stick your nose in and take a good sniff. I suggest wafting the aroma towards your nose because intense sniffing will end up in a sneeze. Pepper, gotta love the sneeze effect! The different elements of this tea have quite potent aromas, but they all manage to blend together well and balance nicely.
The brewed herb and spice pile has a very strong aroma, lots of ginger and lemon myrtle, a little too potent for me. There is also a hint of pepper and mint. The liquid without its herb-tastic friends is much milder. Notes of tulsi, lemon myrtle, and spices waft up with the steam from my cup. Yum!
The first thing I notice in tasting this tea is the pepper, it really seems to linger for the majority of the sip. There are other notes such as the lemon myrtle and tulsi, but along side these notes is the nice dashing of pepper. I think The Duchess’s Cook in Alice in Wonderland would be quite fond of this tea. After the initial herbal and peppery treat, the taste fades to a gentle sweetness and gingery finish. This tea did not strike me as much as their Just a Trio of Tulsi, but it is quite enjoyable in its uniqueness.
I am going to open today’s blog with a bit of back-story and a TMI warning. I know some people get all squicky at the mention of PMS and the monthly curse, so if that is you…well, there are plenty of other teas I have written about if you need a tea review fix. As for back-story, well, I could give gore-filled details and sob stories, but it is not really necessary. What you need to know is I do not have periods, I have two-three week long hormone crazed events that culminate in a week of agony, anemia, and general not being able to function. Endometriosis is an evil, evil thing.
So when I saw that one of my favorite tea companies has a new herbal blend for giving us ladies a break, you can bet your sweet tea cups that I had to get myself some. Ladies’ TLC by Raizana Teas is a really pretty blend of Lemongrass, Rose Petals, Horsetail, Natural Rose Flavor, Dong Quai (Angelica Root), and Stevia. Dong Quai is THE go to herbal remedy for lady problems, in fact I am pretty sure it is the first herbal remedy I learned about when I started studying herbal medicine when I was thirteen, coincidence? No…definitely not. The aroma of the tea is pretty pungent, it is one of the biggest downsides to Dong Quai, I have had it in pill form before and could smell its distinct sharp root and earthy aroma through the bottle. It is not a bad smell, it is just very strong and pretty medicinal. There are also notes lemongrass, roses, and a touch of hay, but these are subtle notes compared to the presence that is Dong Quai.
The aroma of the wet leaves (and flowers and roots) is still intensely pungent. There are side notes of roses and hay and a finish of celery. The liquid is pretty identical to the wet leaves, except it is more subdued and the floral aroma is stronger at the finish.
I am afraid! I have had tea with Dong Quai in it before and it was super bitter and medicinal, Dong Quai (along with Black Cohosh and Valerian) is one of the most medicinal bitter tasting roots I have run into. One apprehensive sip later and I was pleasantly surprised! The tea is quite sweet, which is great for PMS sugar cravings, there are also strong rose notes and a distinct pineapple taste to the tea. As the tea cools it takes on a celery taste to it and there is a bit of a root taste at the finish, similar to burdock. The best part is, it really takes the edge of my cramps, granted it is not as strong as taking an advil, but since my stomach does not really allow me to take any kinds of pain medication, this tea is a life saver. Raizana, you have done it again, you created a medicinal tea that works and tastes good, bravo!
For photos (Origami!) and blog: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2014/05/raizana-teas-ladies-tlc-tea-review.html
Happy Saturday everyone! I am still pretty under the weather, but luckily I feel better rested and less freezing cold than I did yesterday, it is the little victories when the Lupus flairs happen. Today’s plans involve origami (I am in the middle of a Bascetta Star) reading (currently reading a book on fermenting your own veggies) and Minecraft (because it is always a part of my day) all nice relaxing activities perfectly augmented by tea.
Today’s tea is Just Awesome Assam from Just Organic Tea, an (as it says on the tin) Assam black tea from Banaspaty Estate in India. Back in the day when I was making the switch to loose leaf tea all the time I discovered a real love for Assam, it is not a favorite, but I still have a great deal of fondness for it. The aroma of the tea is malty and bright with a bit of a roasted peanut finish. It is a fairly mild Assam, but it is a nice aroma, even if I wish it was a bit stronger.
Brewing the leaves brings out that rich malty notes I was craving from the dry leaves. It is very brisk with a slight woody oak quality. The liquid without its leafy friends is malty with notes of sweet potato and a bright yet earthy finish.
My cup of tea is brisk, malty, and nicely bright. Just the perfect pick-me-up for people, like me, who really need a boost in the morning. The more I sip the more I notice that it has depth, more so than I initially believed. At first I thought…not a bad Assam, nothing outstanding, but quite passable. As I sipped more I noticed earthy tones at the finish and sweet potato in the middle. I added some cream and sugar for a real traditional breakfast tea and found that the additions complimented the tea nicely.
I have a question for you, my dear readers! As you all probably know I am obsessed with tea, crafts, and gaming…this blog is pretty much devoted to tea and has a nice smattering of gaming too, however it really lacks in the craft department. I was thinking it would be fun to link to a fun craft project that I have found at the end of each tea review. Would that be something you all are interested in?
Today has not been the best of days for me, so I needed something to boost my spirits! Citron Green Tea by Adagio tea is just the thing to do it. Bright Chinese Green tea blended orange peel, marigold petals, and orange and lemon flavoring, makes for a sunshine brightness in a cup. The aroma is primarily a blend of sweet oranges and sour lemon with a nice artichoke finish. The aroma of citrus always puts me in a good mood, it is like sunshine on a cold day, I smell it and I cannot help but smile.
Steeping the tea turns my Tea Lair into a Floridian dream, citrus notes waft from the steeped leaves along with a strong vegetal presence. The wet leaves are primarily lemony. The liquid, however, is a perfect balance of orange and lemon with a nice gentle finish of vegetation. It smells like a citrus tree, leaves included.
The taste is both light and bright, it quenches the thirst and brings a feeling of happiness. A great blend of lemons and oranges, one citrus does not overpower the other, with a gentle vegetal blend of artichoke and fresh leaves. Drinking this tea is like drinking sunlight, it reminds me of summer warmth and thick vegetation. Turning this tea into a chilled tea makes for a very refreshing and bright drink for a hot day.
Flavors: Lemon Zest, Orange Zest
You know, Peony flowers are incredibly beautiful. The bushes in the front and back yard have exploded into full bloom and I took it upon myself to bring one of the flowers inside for my desk. The blossom is huge and just keeps getting bigger, and the smell is intoxicating! Apparently the petals are edible too, though I need to do more research before I dig in and start munching on them, because I think the Ents would come and take away my Naturalist license if I poisoned myself on a garden flower. Speaking of spring and flowers, I think I should have a spring cleaning sale in my shop to prepare it for the inevitable onslaught of origami, especially Kusudama flower balls.
Keeping on theme with flowers and spring, today’s tea from Just Organic Tea is Just a Taste of Spring, a blend of Green Rooibos, Calendula Flowers, Hibiscus Flowers, Cinnamon, Cornflowers, and Blueberries. This tea just screams ‘going to be a tart tea’ which has me more than a little worried. I have a real aversion to anything tart…sour I love, but tart and I have a track history of not getting along. The aroma is pretty tart, but there are also strong floral notes and hay notes. Of course there is a blend of sweet and tart from the blueberries, a delicate balance with those berries as to whether or not they will be sweet or tart. The finish is warm spicy cinnamon, reminding me of a patch of warm sunlight on a cool spring day.
The steeped leaves have a much more tart aroma and the cinnamon is much stronger. There are more subtle notes of blueberry and green wood with a touch of hay. The liquid without the collection of spring time things is a really bright blend of tart, floral, and fruity. There is cinnamon warmth that sneaks in around mid-sniff and stays until the finish, building in intensity.
Time for tasting, and I will admit I am a bit apprehensive. The taste is initially quite tart, not mind numbingly convulsion inducing tart, but still I made the pucker face. There are metallic notes from the hibiscus (it always tastes very metallic to me) and a strong blueberry presence that starts tart and fades to sweetness. Around the time the blueberry becomes sweet I notice woody notes from the rooibos and tingly warmth from the cinnamon, the finish is mildly floral. I am not sure how to approach this tea, I cannot recommend it because I am baffled by anyone liking tart things. But luckily the world is vast and everyone’s taste differs, even though I am hardly qualified to talk about a tart tea, I can certainly say this one was different than others I have attempted to try. The spicy notes from the cinnamon took the edge off and added a level of tolerance to a tea usually I would be unable to tolerate.
Oh thermodynamics, you are so much fun! Usually my basement Tea Lair (and craft zone) is much colder than the rest of the house and outside, it can be near 100 degrees out in the world and I am still comfy wearing fuzzy socks and a sweater. Lately it has been quite warm, but today it has been rather chilly, so my Tea Lair is the warmest area in the house. Perfect for sipping tea and wrapping up in my nice warm quilt.
Today’s tea is part of Simple Loose Leaf’s May tea subscription box, Darjeeling Second Flush Black, a black tea harvested in June and a perfect afternoon tea (or so the package says). I decided to take the package’s advice and drink this in the afternoon, so let us see if it is right! The aroma is delightfully complex and quite tasty smelling. It blends roasted peanuts, sweet potatoes, muscatel, and an earthiness. This tea has a darkness to it, a weight, it is much heavier than first flush and less sweet…it is a more mature aroma.
Steeping time! I would like to suggest not following the directions on the package, Darjeeling teas are delicate, treat them like you would an oolong and don’t pour boiling water on those leaves or you will end up with a bitter mess. For years I thought I hated Darjeeling because I followed package directions, a little reading led me to a better temperature and now it is one of my favorite black teas! I find 190-195 degrees work best for me, but hey, experiment and see what works for you. The aroma of the wet leaves is much sweeter and more muscatel, but more of a raisin than fresh grape aroma. It is quite brisk and also has an undertone of roasted nuts. The aroma reminds me of late summer, but to me Darjeeling always has a late summer harvest feel to it. The liquid has a creamy cocoa quality with strong muscatel and roasted nuts, it smells really good and I cannot wait to start sipping it.
The taste of this Darjeeling is intensely sweet and incredibly smooth! There are notes of raisins and sweet potato, a bit of cocoa richness, and a hint of dried leaves. As it cools it takes on a bit of briskness and has a mild rose taste at the finish. I actually agree with the package on this being an afternoon tea, I could certainly see myself sitting on a porch reading a book or watching the late summer storms roll in while sipping this tea and nibbling on snacks.