706 Tasting Notes
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!
I found a treasure today! In the parking lot at the shopping center by my house, there are dividers that are filled in with gravel, specifically large river rock style gravel. Large broken chunks of cryptocrystalline quartz stained with iron oxides. I glance at the piles of rock each time I pass, but have yet to find anything really spectacular, until a glimmer of sparkle caught my eye today. Looking down I see a dark grey and blue rock with many pockets of crystalline quartz drusy, like little geodes, where most likely water was present when the rock was forming, leaving these beautiful pockets of crystal. Usually in rock piles the most I find is a slightly botryoidal agate or an especially shiny piece of chert, so this epic shiny is the best treasure I have found in a non-specific rock hunting location.
Today is a good day to talk about some Pu, specifically Wymm Tea’s Kunlu Sheng Pu-erh From Ancient Tea Tree 2010 Spring! As you can see from the name, this is a Sheng hailing from the Kunlu Mountain, a mountain which sits at the end of the Wuliang range. Over 200 years ago Kunlu Mountain was the imperial tea garden for the (obviously, what with it being imperial) Qing Emperor, quite illustrious history. As fun as history and all that is, what really makes a tea is its sensory qualities, history is just an added topping, if you will. The leaves are dark, with a delicate patch of fuzzy pekoe (Trichomes!) decorating a few of the leaves, they are big, but not too big to fit into my tiny shui ping. The aroma is gentle, but complex, offering many layers of notes. Starting off with wet hay and freshly broken sweet hay, then moving on to old wood and cedar with a burst of camphor. The finish is old leather, like a much loved book, with a little bit of that musty old book smell.
When the leaves get their odd spa treatment (imagine going to a spa, being rinsed with hot water then being soaked for a few seconds, it would be odd, but for a Pu-erh, it is same old, same old) they really become aromatic. There are notes of leafy greens (like spinach mostly, a touch of chard as well) a tiny bit of hops, and a bit of wet hay and wet wood kinda like a barn. The finish has the aroma of old book and a touch of distant fruity sweetness. The liquid is pretty mild, a blend of delicate apricot sweetness and camphor, with a tiny bit of hay and cedar at the finish.
The first steep starts with a smooth mouthfeel, bordering on silky with its smoothness. The taste is delicate, starting out with minerals and wet slate, it then moves on to gentle smokiness and a definite cedar wood finish. It leaves a cooling feeling in the back of the throat and into the stomach, the mark of a good sheng (at least in my book.)
Second steeping time! The aroma this time is quite sweet, with dried apricots and honey, cedar and wet hay, and a finish of smoke and distant wildflowers. The taste starts out sour and a touch bitter, like hops, and then almost immediately switches over to sweet. The sweetness is represented by delicate apricots and honey and a surprising note of orange blossom. The finish is cedar wood and cooling camphor that lingers for a while.
Third steeping, hello aroma of apricots and honey, that is pretty much all I pick up on the third steep, not too complex, but very sweet on the nose. The taste has the same switching almost immediately from bitter hops to sweet apricots. The taste then fades to orange blossoms and wet hay, with a cedar cooling finish.
I went for a few more steeps, like I do, and the flavor starts to fade pretty quickly, going from fruity to just woody and cooling, by the sixth steep. While the taste lasted I enjoyed it, but it was a short lived tea.
I just got home from an epic adventure, and by epic adventure I mean I went to Target! So, fun story, I have special needs when it comes to body care products, specifically I need ones without aloe because of my stupid allergy. EVERYTHING HAS ALOE, so the hunt for specific aloe free products is a pain. I need special shampoo, the selenium kind for my sebhorrheic dermatitis, and half of the blasted things have aloe, but you know in hair and skin care I kinda get it. What I do not get is why wipes have aloe, I spent a good 20 minutes checking and double checking all the wipe brands till I found an aloe free one…and you can bet I bought extra refills. I really do feel like I am on an epic quest whenever I have to buy body care stuff.
So, it is Monday, meaning it is MATCHA TIME! Woo! Today we are taking a look at Red Leaf Tea’s Rose Matcha, from their flavored Matcha line. This one is made from basic grade (classic) delicate flavor and regular non-organic Matcha. They have other flavor and grade options, and one day I would love to try the different flavors with a higher grade, but I am super cheap, so for now this is what we got. The aroma is super rosy, which is good, because I love roses in my food. It borders between rose perfume and a full bloom rose garden, mix in the fresh vegetation and grassiness and you have a Matcha that smells like summer in an English garden, memories of childhood tea parties in a rose garden while wearing Victorian dresses pop into my head.
I decided to pull out my tiny Chawan to have this traditionally first. Whisking it was a bit of a pain, but I did get a bit of a froth after a while. The color is not the prettiest, but since it is basic grade that is not too surprising. The taste is not too bad, it is a touch bitter like kale, but after an initial hint of bitterness it explodes into oddly fairly mellow rose. Let me explain, the rose takes over as the main taste and it is very distinct, but it is not like taking a drink of rose perfume. The rose lingers for quite a while as an aftertaste.
Next is the obvious latte, the real way flavored Matcha shines. I find that mixing a bit with water making a paste and then mixing with milk and if needed sugar makes for a much easier blend, especially if you do not feel like breaking out the hand mixer (I am lazy) Also I apologize for the awful cup, I just today decided to get a nice clear glass one to make it prettier. The taste reminds me of one of my favorite drinks, rose milk, an Indian drink mixing Rooh Afza Rose Syrup and milk, it was a delicious summer favorite that I miss drinking (I ran out of the syrup and never replaced it) basically it is roses and milk, what makes it different from the Indian drink is it has a grassy undertone and is not as sweet (could of changed that if I wanted to, but I liked it not so sweet) and with a slightly nutty finish. The rose lingers in the back of the mouth and in the nose for quite a while, and it has a slight dryness at the finish. I am curious to see how these would be baked into cookies with some saffron and cardamon, like a Matcha Falooda blend!
Happy Sunday everyone! I have spent most the day abed, not feeling too great, which is lame, but I am trying to nurse myself into a state of alertness using some Sencha Fukujyu. After that, I think I will read and maybe paint.
It has been a while since I reviewed a tea themed book, which is just tragic! At the time of writing this, Steeped: Recipes Infused with Tea is not entirely out to the general public yet, but since I also review books, thanks to Netgalley, I got my hands on it early. So, the first thing I can say about this cookbook devoted to teas is, it is pretty! I would show off how pretty it is, but since I am reading this as an e-book that is not really a thing I can do, just take my word for it that it is a very showy recipe book. (Ok, edit time! there is a way I can show how pretty it is, viola! Preview mode! Also Amazon has some pictures so I can show off a little)
The book starts, as many do, with an intro into the showcase ingredient, and points for saying that the tea is oxidized rather than fermented with regards to different kinds of tea. There are also notes on the subject of terroir, flushes, and different tea cultures, they are brief but any mention at all is appreciated. Even I learned something, apparently another name for Cold Brewed tea is Spa Tea, and considering I drink it on hot days when I feel like death and said cold brewed tea refreshes me, it makes sense! Of course there is a section on recommended tools and teas to add to your collection, and the teas recommended are all easy to get your hands on, so it is good for beginners too.
The recipes are divided into times of the day (like breakfast, lunch, and so forth) and sound delicious! Rooibos honey butter, green tea granola…hello breakfast! Some of the recipes have photos, some do not, obviously I wish that all the recipes had photos of the finished dishes, but that is just because I am obsessed with that in my cookbooks. Reading this book managed to make me hungry and thirsty at the same time, well done book!
I will probably add this one to my collection of cookbooks and tea books, I am a terrible cook, but I need the practice, and what better way to do that than with my favorite thing ever, tea! I suggest giving the author a follow on Instagram and Pinterest, she posts some epic things about food and tea.
I feel overwhelmingly accomplished! My painting desk has of late been a real disaster area, miniatures and paints littered its surface in a complete pile of chaos, so I stopped that. My desk is no organized and almost all my trinkets packed away. I figure if I have to pack, might as well keep the essentials organized while doing so! Truly, one of the great things in life is an organized desk.
Today’s tea is Cha Ceremony’s Shui Xian, yes it is Yancha time! I was sent three samples of their tea and was torn as to which one to review first, I decided to go with the Shui Xian because it was a classic favorite of mine. The name Shui Xian (or Shui Hsien) translates to Water Spirit or Water Narcissus, there is some debate as to it being a reference to a water flower or an actual water spirit, I find this immensely intriguing, because language is a fascinating thing. According to the website, this Yancha (or Rock Tea) is a more lightly roasted Yancha, so good news for you who love the less char heavy Wuyi Oolongs. The aroma is something else, I let out a maniacal giggle while sniffing it because I LOVE the smell of Shui Xian!! There are notes of wet slate, sweet almost creamy molasses and caramel, fruity tobacco, a slight dry leaf pile, and a finish of char and wood smoke. This is, in my humble opinion, a perfect Shui Xian, balancing the aroma of sweet and fruity, woody and char, and mineral notes perfectly.
I brewed this the way I usually brew my Yancha, in my Yixing pot, using a lot of leaves and a short steeps using water just off the boil. It makes for an intense experience, but it is how I like my Yancha. The aroma of the now soggy leaves is intense, strong notes of char and smoke with an accompaniment of mineral and tobacco, with a lingering sweet molasses and slightly fruity finish. The liquid is a heady dance of char, tobacco, and mineral with a sweet cherry finish. I love, absolutely love those notes. It might be why Shui Xian is my go-to Yancha.
And speaking of it being my go-to Yancha, I do love the other ones, but they are like treats, Shui Xian I could drink all the time, in my mind it will always be the comfort food of the Rock Teas. The first thing that really struck me about this tea is how heavenly thick the mouthfeel is, definitely a tea that fits the term soup very well. It starts out with a strong mineral note, like spring water on wet slate, or limestone, because licking rocks is awesome. This moves to sweet molasses and cherry, this then transitions to tobacco and char. The aftertaste is dried cherry and it lingers for a while, eventually changing to delicate floral much later, the aftertaste seems to last for an eternity.
Second steeping time! The aroma blends mineral and cherry notes with delicate char and tobacco, very sweet this time around. The taste reflects the aroma, with a similar very thick mouthfeel that fades to a slight sharpness at the finish. The taste is creamier and sweeter, there are still notes of char and mineral, but that is mostly at the finish. Notes of cherry and molasses dance with delicate cocoa and even a hint of hyacinth at the midtaste.
Third and final steeping, Yancha, at least when it is brewed the way I do it, tends to die by the third or fourth steep, and I once read that is the mark of a good Yancha, really intense earlier steeps and not a tea that lasts. The aroma of this steep is very mineral and delicately sweet cherry, with a slight finish of char. The taste is delightfully mellow, a mildly creamy mouthfeel with notes of cherry and almost entirely mineral notes from start to finish with the cherry dancing around. I greatly enjoyed this tea, it got me pleasantly tea drunk (kinda after the first steep, it is intense) and is a super top notch example of how wonderful Shui Xian can be.
OMG So Tired!!!! I got up far too early for my liking to go house hunting and such with Ben and Fish today, the house hunting was hit and miss…but the ‘such’ was really quite awesome. So we went for lunch at a Chinese restaurant where the waiter picked the dishes for us based on a feeling and a very general description of what we liked, and mine was delicious so congrats waiter dude. After lunch we went to the movies, but no friends, no just any movies, we saw Mad Max FURY ROAD (yes it must be shouted) I went in with high hopes (because I loved Mad Max as a kid and still do now) and they were beyond met, seriously, I think it might be my new favorite movie. I honestly cannot recommend it enough…now I need a bunch of cars and minis to make into an epic Mad Max diorama.
So today’s tea is a relaxing ramble, since yours truly is exhausted, good old White Peony by Adagio Teas. Also known as Bai Mu Dan, White Peony is a fluffy leafed white tea from Fujian. I see it often listed as a good beginners white tea, since it is thought to have more flavor than some of its counterparts, not sure I agree with that opinion on flavor, but I do agree that it is a good intro tea. The aroma of the fluffy leaves is pretty mild, you really need to sniff hard to detect much of an aroma, but when you do there are notes of cucumbers, melons, and a hint of paper and sage.
Into my yixing it goes, this one is seasoned for white tea (specifically the more robust ones like Shou Mei) and I decided to go for a long steep, a whopping three minutes. The aroma of the now soggy leaves has more going on than it did when it was dry with cucumber, bitter melon, honeydew, and a tiny touch of okra at the finish. It is still mild, but less so than previous. The liquid is very sweet and surprisingly floral, with notes of wildflower, honey, melon, and a touch of cucumber at the finish.
The taste is, well, you know, it is ok. Nothing to jump up and down about, it starts off with mild notes of cucumber and celery, moves along to hay and wildflowers in the middle, and finishes with melon (honeydew in specific) and lettuce. It is super mild, I would like to think my palate is somewhat refined, but I had to really work to find much here. I did enjoy my cup of it, it was mild and relaxing, though it is certainly far from my favorite Bai Mu Dan.
I never have enough time on Thursdays, what was once my favorite day of the week is more and more becoming one of my least favorites. Oddly enough, I am being overwhelmed by gaming, who would have thought? Seafall Playtesting and D&D, while both being immensely enjoyable, just eat up so much time. And with sharing a computer and Ben needing it a lot lately, I have fallen so behind in things that it has become a source of massive stress. Tomorrow is shaping up to be crazy too, going house hunting and such, so maybe…just maybe…this weekend I can catch up on things. What I really need to do is stop letting things overwhelm me, go back to practicing Wu Wei and just chill out, be as water and let things flow.
Philosophy and stress aside, it is Thursday, meaning it is time for a Throwback! Today we are taking a look at Golden Moon Tea’s Coconut Pouchong, a blend of Pouchong Oolong (Bao Zhong as it is also called) and Coconut Extract. At the time of procuring this tea, I was having a serious coconut craving and just kept being disappointed by various ones I tried. I should have immediately gone to oolong blended with coconut, but for some reason the idea sounded kinda nasty, in hindsight, maybe it was because I was drinking mostly roasted oolongs at the time, I could see roasted oolong and coconut tasting weird…or really good…not sure. Anyway, I am rambling, the long, curly, and fairly green leaves smell really delicious, like mouthwateringly so, blending creamy sweet coconut (like breaking into a fresh coconut rather than coconut milk or water) with chestnuts, toasted almonds, and a slightly distant floral finish. The aroma is super creamy and rich, bordering on buttery, it is super intense, definitely the most ‘coconutty’ of the various coconut teas I have sniffed.
In my steeping basket, the entire room smells like coconut. Feel bad for Ben, since he hates coconut with a passion, like he doesn’t even like curries with coconut, and those tend to be really mild, so tragic! Really though, it is pervasive, like a tropical breeze slowly drifting out of my cup like a heady mist. All I get is coconut in the wet leaves, the liquid, however is joined by nutty notes of chestnut and a delicate orchid aroma.
First off, let’s discuss this mouthfeel, it is super creamy, it is one of those mouthfeels that coats the entire mouth, bordering on oily…much like eating coconuts! The taste, well, unsurprisingly it starts out with a full blast of coconut, like blending fresh coconut and refreshing coconut water (I love that stuff, one time on a 22 hour bus trip I brought two huge containers of it and drank nothing but coconut water, good times) it is intensely rich. The midtaste is chestnuts and sweetness, and the finish has a delicate touch of orchids that lingers. As the tea cools (one of the joys of drinking out of a mug, you get to experience the slow taste change as the tea cools) it brings out more of the floral and chestnut notes.
I went for a second steep, the aroma is still intensely coconutty, but it no longer fills the entire room turning it into a tropical adventure. There is a note of spring vegetation and chestnut as well! The taste is still intensely coconut, and the mouthfeel smooth, but this steep lets the Bao Zhong base shine through more, bringing out more the floral and fresh vegetation notes. Notes of orchid and honeysuckle blend delicately with growing things and fresh leaves. On a whim once I gaiwaned this tea and got a whopping eight steeps out of it before the coconut died, oddly brewing it in a gaiwan made it less nuanced, which I found fascinating. I got this as a sample, loved it, and then bought a large pouch of it…drank a few cups…and then have not touched it since. The coconut is so intense in this tea that you really have to be in the mood for coconut, and this tea satisfied that craving so thoroughly I have not really craved it since. I know I will want it again, which is why I have not traded or gifted it away.
Flavors: Chestnut, Coconut, Floral, Orchid
I have such a love-hate relationship with packing, I really do. There is a part of me that dreads it (mostly because it never fails that I pack a thing up and then an hour later realize I need said thing again) and a large part of me that loves it. It is my favorite part of moving, the nostalgic feeling towards the place you are living as it slowly reverts back to the form you first saw it in, a bare house/apartment/room. Plus you can find a lot of things you just don’t need anymore stuffed in storage, in the back of a closet, and so forth, it is freeing. This will be the fifteenth or sixteenth time I have moved in my (almost) thirty years of life, I look forward to the adventure!
Now that I have my Das Uber 80s Pop Pandora station blaring on my speakers, it is time to put aside the boxes and have a look at What-Cha’s Fujian Golden Buds Tan Yang Gongfu Black Tea! I am kicking myself for not covering this one earlier since it seems Alistair is out of stock on the larger size, I hope that more comes in because I am going to want more. I love What-Cha (like you all couldn’t tell by this point) but trying to decide which teas to get at what order is an intense process! This tea is named for its appearance (Golden Buds) where it was grown (Tanyang Village in Fujian, China) and the artistry which created it (Gongfu) and of course the kind of tea (Black Tea!) The aroma of these delicate needles is something else, intense notes of sweet potatoes and acorn squash. There are also notes of roasted peanuts and lesser notes of raisins with a pinch of smoke. Quite the delicious smelling tea, but I have a serious weakness for black teas with sweet potato and roasted peanut notes.
Into my sexy tall gaiwan the leaves go, I mostly got this tea-set with its tall lines because it works for steeping needly teas, would be an utter fail with oolongs! Brewing the leaves makes the tea area I was stationed at smell super rich and delicious, I could practically taste the tea in the air above the gaiwan, I consider that a good sign! There are notes of sweet potatoes and also delicate sweet notes of flowers and fruit, hard to distinguish which ones since it is pretty light, but it is certainly there. The liquid is some good old fashioned sweet taters cooked in a fire, you know, even though they are wrapped super tight with foil, you still get a hint of smoke. Add in a distant hint of sweet stone fruit and you have yourself a yummy smelling tea.
I took the photos and tasting notes for this tea when I was visiting my mom for Christmas, so she got to try it with me, and seeing the pair of cups in the photos makes me homesick. Luckily for the internet and texting I can talk to her while I am typing this up, yay for technology! The first steep is nice and mellow, with a very well rounded mouthfeel, not too thick, but certainly has a presence. The taste starts off with a hint of malt and a rich sweet potato note, it is yamtastic! Actually the taste is more like yams since it is on the sweet side. The taste moves right along to roasted peanuts and a delightful aftertaste of stewed dark cherries.
Oh man, the aroma this steep is intense! It starts with sweet potatoes and roasted peanuts, and then adds in some definite cherry notes and a cocoa rich finish. The mouthfeel is bright this steep, has a bit of a zinginess with a slightly drying, tingly finish. The taste starts out with the smoked yams, there is a definite smokiness, but it is more distant fire or things cooked on a fire rather than char or eating fire (like Lapsang Souchong can be) the finish is a blend of peanuts and cocoa, like a richer version of a peanut-butter cup.
Third steeping is like a flashback to the first, a gentle smoked sweet potato and definitely cherries with a hint of cocoa at the finish. The mouthfeel has gone back to being well rounded, no more drying, just smooth and slightly thick. The taste is sweet potatoes and cocoa, with a touch of smoke at the finish. This last steep was a little meh, but it was still tasty, just greatly overshadowed by the previous steep. I did a fourth steeping which was mild and sweet, by the fifth steeping I could tell it was done so I traveled no further. As per usual I (almost) never meet a Chinese Black/Red tea I did not enjoy, and this was no exception!
Flavors: Cherry, Cocoa, Malt, Peanut, Smoke, Sweet Potatoes
As a painter of miniatures, I have finally gotten to the point where one wet palette is not enough. I was using stacking plastic cups, you know the kind that sauce comes in at restaurants, I have a big blending project in my actual wet palette, and these work on the short term, they still dry out pretty quickly. So I saw this tutorial for making stacking wet palettes out of bead sorters, sponges, and palette paper…so yeah…so many wet palettes are in the making, in three different sizes! Hooray for being an ex-jeweler!
Today’s tea on this most fanciest of Tuesdays (ha! take that holiday, I know what day it is!) is The Tea Shelf’s Halmari Clonal Assam Black. This beautiful fuzzy gold tea is from the Halmari Tea Estate in Assam, an old and fairly iconic tea estate, this tea is all about the tippy goodness, which is where all those glorious golden pieces come from. Plucked during the Monsoon Flush, picking the tea during this heavily rainy season gives it an intensity and richness, also making it a much desired flush. The aroma of this tea is intense indeed! With strong malty notes and a nutty sweetness, like peanut butter made from roasted peanuts and added dates, which sounds utterly delicious to me. There are also lesser notes of distant flowers and a hint of orange at the finish which gives the heavy tea a bit of brightness.
Into my beloved steeping apparatus the beautiful little leaves go, farewell glorious gold, I always miss their lovely fuzz which vanishes into the water as the leaves steep. The aroma of the now soggy and much larger leaves is a delicious smelling blend of malt, yams, dates, and roasted peanuts. It is a very intense aroma that has a rich heaviness to it. The amber liquid is a sweet blend of dates and yams with a rich malty finish.
I forget how much I enjoy a really high quality Assam, I have been called away from the richness that Assam gives by the more delicate Darjeelings, so I am glad to have a dance with this tea, for the sake of memories if nothing else. The taste starts out both rich and robust, with notes of malt and oak wood, a touch of molasses as it transitions to the sweeter midtaste. The middle is sweet dates and a bit of roasted peanuts, as the tea finishes off it has a brisk note of citrus that lingers alongside with the malt at the finish. This is a great morning tea, or afternoon tea when you need a boost, it mixes richness with briskness, all good qualities in a morning tea!
Flavors: Citrus, Dates, Malt, Peanut, Yams