408 Tasting Notes
I am not sure if I should change my rating for this or not. On the one hand, it broke…not sure why or how but the seal between the two layers broke and I ended up with a tea infuser with no outer wall, and a large plastic mug. Both not so good for hot tea because it no longer keeps my fingers from getting burned.
When this was a functioning travel mug it was great (except for the leaking part) now it is kinda useless as a tea infuser mug. I use it as a large cup to drink my matcha lattes out of and occasional for cold steeping. Luckily I was planning on getting a leak-proof travel mug, maybe it heard me talking about my plans and broke out of shame?
Ah well, it was a good little friend while it lasted.
for the first time in months I got to go to game night at my favorite gaming store. I had to stop going because I am allergic to the protein in male cat saliva, and they have the most adorably polydactyl (sadly not pterodactyl) shop cat. Being around it was making me really sick, after an hour or so I would end up having the worst flair up that left me feeling miserable for at least all of the next day. Thanks to my new medicine and a better inhaler, I can go back and have a blast! It was so good catching up with old friends and trying new games.
Not too long ago, Teavivre had an excellent review themed promotion/contest, of course I entered. Once the winners were revealed and my name showed up, I did a happy little dance, expected to have some tasty new tea. When it was revealed that I won the top prize a Hand Made He Huan Yixing Zisha Teapot, well, the amount of happy noises I made were so loud that I am pretty sure the entire neighborhood heard it. After many tense days stalking the mailbox, waiting for my new treasure to arrive, my waiting was over!
Once I unboxed the teapot from its velvet lined brocade box, the first thing I noticed is the size. It fits perfectly in the palm of my hand, which is a great size for gongfu tea. You do not want a teapot that is too big (unless you are serving a bunch of people) because the whole point of gongfu tea is having multiple steepings, it is about the journey of the leaf. If your teapot is too big, then you will be too full of tea after one or two steeps that you start to slosh if you try to drink more. While enjoying the size, next I cannot help but admire the craftmanship of the pot.
The pot is smooth and the color is beautiful. I go back and forth if I prefer the color of the red clay or the purple clay, they are both fantastic in their own way. I love the shape of this pot as well, I find the little up turned spout very adorable. While I was getting the teapot ready for seasoning I examined the pour and the lid. With a good yixing teapot you can hold your finger over the little vent hole in the lid and have no liquid pour out the spout, it creates a perfect seal. Also you should be able to have your teapot at a complete vertical angle and not have the lid go flying off. This beauty passed both those tests with flying colors.
I decided that this teapot would be perfect for my love of Wuyi Rock Teas (or Yancha if you are fancy) and seasoned it accordingly. I season mine a little differently than the various ways I have seen recommended, I mix a few methods and it seems to work for me. Of course I was super excited to try out my new teapot, and the experience was amazing. Usually with my Sea Dyke brand Shui Hsien I can get three good steeps out of it using my gaiwan before it just starts tasting watered down, with my new teapot I got an extra steep and each of them tasted more rich and floral than it usually tastes.
This teapot is way out of my usual spending range, all my other yixing pots were gifts or a fantastic find at a thrift store. I certainly say if you can afford it, get one of these pots, it might take me quite literally years of saving money, but I think my next yixing teapot will be from Teavivre. Afterall, I still need at least one more, always just one more.
Sometimes people with a tendency to commit great acts of derp should not be allowed in the kitchen. I was hit with the baking itch this evening and decided to try my hand at some bread, two quick breads and one crock pot bread. The first bread is a cheesy bread, I pulled it out of the oven and noticed it was awfully flat, after removing it from the pan and slicing it I noticed it was not a loaf of bread but a cheese flavored brick. Turns out I completely skimmed over the ‘baking powder’ line in the ingredients list, it tastes ok (a little sweet) but the texture is so dense. Luckily my almond poppy bread is delicious, and so far the crock pot bread is looking ok, but I am so sad about the cheese fail.
Today’s tea is Birthday Cake by DAVIDsTEA, a blend of Red and Green Rooibos, Honeybush, Sprinkles, Ice Cream Bits, and Natural and Artificial Flavoring. Tea that has sprinkles makes me happy, I mean how can it not? Sprinkles are awesome, I may have been guilty of eating more sprinkles than is necessarily healthy when I worked at an ice cream shop as a teenager. The aroma of this cake is intensely sweet! There are strong notes of cake batter, vanilla, and a hint of cocoa. Under this explosion of cake and sweetness is a really strong note of woodiness from the Rooibos and Honeybush, it is almost like sitting at a table and having a slice of cake with ice cream and sitting next to it is a cup of Rooibos tea.
Giving this cake themed tea a good steeping, the aroma of the wet leaves went from being mostly sweet and cake like to a more even blend of cake batter, ice cream and woodiness. The liquid is very woody! There are also notes of cake batter and honey, but mostly it is fairly dry wood.
Tasting time…perhaps I should have some birthday candles lit to commemorate the theme of the tea. The taste starts out very woody and dry, but also a little waxy from the sprinkles. After the initial woodiness the taste fades to vanilla liqueur and a touch of cake batter sweetness. I found the cake taste from the aroma of the dry leaves has mostly vanished, but what is left is not unpleasant. It is not a bad tea, but it is not one of my favorites.
Today’s tea is Organic Wild Rose by Tea District, a blend of whole-leaf white tea blended with wild roses. I love roses in tea, it might be my favorite flower to add to tea, but clearly I will need to sit down and do a test one day. The aroma of this tea is clearly rosy, but not the really strong rose perfume you can get at times, it is like a faint rose garden. There are also notes of new growth, sage, and a hint of pepper. It is vaguely reminiscent of early summer.
Once the tea leaves have been steeped the aroma of the wet leaves is a balanced blend of sweet roses and fresh vegetation with just a gentle finish of pepper. The liquid without its flowery leaves is rosy and sweet with just a hint of hay and honey.
The taste is fairly sweet, like flower nectar and fresh roses. After the initial flowery taste there are notes of lettuce and a hint of sage.There is a slightly dry yet refreshing mouthfeel, and just a gentle hint of fuzzy trichomes. he aftertaste is a touch of fresh vegetation and morning dew. This tea is also quite good chilled, very light and refreshing.
Today was a good mail day! Days when I get things in the mail are the best, especially when something I was not expecting till later in the week arrives significantly early, it was such a pleasant surprise! Not surprising it was tea, along with a new double walled glass travel tea tumbler thing. This will be very useful since my previous tea tumbler fell apart and I have not been able to have tea on the go. After I experiment with it I will have to give an official review of it. Hopefully it will be worth the money!
Presenting today’s tea: Medium Roast Dong Ding Oolong by Green Terrace Teas. From Nantou, Taiwan, this Oolong was given a longer oxidation period and a slow roasting, sounds like my kinda tea. What can I say, roasted teas rock my socks off, something about them are very comforting to me, if I am having a bad day or feel icky, I almost always reach for a roasted tea. The aroma of this particular roasted oolong is toasted and nutty, with notes of roasted nuts, sesame seeds, and fresh bread. There is also a tiny bit of fresh vegetation at the end. I find this amusing, like a little bit of the pre-roasted aroma hanging on.
Steeping this tea, the aroma of the now wet leaves is smoky and toasty! There are strong notes of coal and smoke, along with equally strong notes of sweet yeasty toast and roasted sesame seeds, it is nicely blended. The liquid, having been removed from its leafy companion, has the aroma of yeasty bread, sesame seeds, and honey.
The taste is exactly what one expects from a medium roasted Dong Ding Oolong, the taste starts out lightly toasted and honey sweet. This builds to a more toasted, actual toasted bread taste, which fades to a creamy, honey sweetness at the finish. The mouthfeel starts out smooth and fades to a slight dryness at the finish.
On the second steep, there is a much stronger toasted aroma, with notes of freshly toasted bread, sesame seeds, and a bit of popcorn. The mouthfeel takes its cues from the end of the previous steep and has a nice dryness that encompasses the entire sipping experience. The taste is intensely toasty with notes of freshly toasted bread, sesame seeds and a rich honey sweetness at the middle. Right around the finish and staying until the aftertaste there is a strong popcorn (specifically it reminds me of kettle corn because it is sweet) taste.
Third steeping time! The aroma is mostly roasted sesame seeds and a touch of popcorn, it has a tiny touch of floral of the finish. The taste has a bit of a smoky tone this time around, it no longer has a dry mouthfeel. The initial smokiness fades to popcorn and then finally a finish of sweet. I really liked this tea, not just because I have never met a roasted tea that I did not like, this one had a great comforting feeling. I found myself sipping it before sleep.
Flavors: Honey, Smoke, Toast
Happy lazy summer Sunday everyone, it has definitely been one of those for me. I have spent the majority of my day sitting at my computer working on various things or watching Babylon 5 with Ben. It is one of those days where just being a lump was an option, and I was ok with that.
Today’s tea is another from Green Terrace Teas, Honey Black Tea, a naturally sweet black tea from Nantou, Taiwan. Well, I certainly like black teas that have sweet notes, so let us have a little bit of tea! The aroma of these long, curly, leaves is indeed quite sweet and very rich! There are notes of honey, beet root, roasted peanuts, tobacco, and a touch of roses. I am not sure I have ever sniffed a dry leaf that was so complex and had all the aromas work together in harmony.
Into the gaiwan the leaves go for a brief steeping. The aroma of the now wet leaves is a sweet and rich blend of roasted peanuts, yams, molasses, and a tiny touch of spice at the finish. The liquid is intensely sweet with notes of cocoa butter, caramel, yams, and a touch of sweet cream. It smells quite decadent.
First steeping, well, that is certainly delicious! The taste starts out somewhat mild with roasted peanuts and a touch of spicebush. This fades into an explosion of rich caramel and molasses sweetness, this sweetness lingers for quite a while as a tasty aftertaste. The mouthfeel is very smooth and velvety.
The aroma of the second steeping is so strong, there are intense notes of molasses, roasted peanuts, caramel, and raw honey. I like that I can smell my teacup from the other side of my desk, it makes waiting for it to cool enough to drink a pleasant experience. The taste is just as rich as the aroma, with strong notes of molasses, cocoa, and spicebush. The finish is honey sweet that leaves a nice lingering sweet aftertaste between sips.
For the third and final steep, the aroma is still pretty rich and sweet, with strong notes of yams and caramel, there is a mild finish of spicebush, giving the aroma warm quality. The taste, while not as intense as the previous steep, is still very sweet and rich. There are notes of cocoa, yams, and molasses. As before the aftertaste is one of honey that lingers. This tea is really quite fantastically sweet, it lives up to its name perfectly.
I have a sad confession, I am currently hiding from my bedroom. Since I spend all my time in my Tea Lair, I tend to ignore my bedroom and just interact with it when I am sleeping. Somehow, it has become a disaster (ok, not somehow, it is a combo of Ben working, it being too hot to do anything upstairs, and me hiding in the basement) and I need to clean it. I really don’t want to clean it, being a responsible adult is lame sometimes.
Recently on Steepster, new company Green Terrace Teas offered samples of three of their teas in exchange for reviews. I of course jumped on it like it was the last Furby on Christmas Eve in 1998, of course when the nice little vacuum sealed packaged arrived trying to decide which one to try first was the hard part. I closed my eyes and picked at random, coming out with Shan Lin Xi Premium High Mountain Oolong, a Taiwanese Oolong grown high in the mountains (1,800 meters to be exact) of Nantou, Taiwan. After my initial glee at opening the vacuum package (the air rushing back in always amuses me immensely) it was time for sniffing. The aroma is a very fresh smelling blend of buttery, a tiny bit of sesame seed nuttiness, mountain vegetation, sweet orchids, and a bit of fresh cream. It smells rich and clean, I do not say that often but the aroma reminds me of clean mountain air, which I should mention is a smell that I greatly miss.
It is no real surprise that this tea is going into my gaiwan, after its initial dance with water the aroma is less nutty and almost all floral. There are notes of orchid and honeysuckle with a surprising finish of spicebush. The liquid, liberated from its soggy leaf friends, is quite sweet! There are notes of honey, sweet cream, a touch of floral and a finish of sesame seeds.
Time for the first steep, and what a light and delicate one it is! It starts out with a very smooth, buttery mouthfeel which matches the sweet creamy taste. This fades to alpine vegetation and then it is like a small explosion of flowers in my mouth. The finish is sweet flower nectar, orchids, and honeysuckle. As with most first steeps of oolongs, I look forward to seeing what kind of journey the leaves will take me on.
The aroma on the second steep is intense! There is such a strong floral presence that I feel like I have stuck my nose in bouquet of fresh flowers, there are notes of hyacinth, orchid, honeysuckle, and a tiny bit of spicebush. Starting with the mouthfeel (because that really does seem to be the first thing I notice when sipping) it is smooth, a mix between buttery and velvety, it fills up the mouth. The taste on this steep is quite rich, it starts with a strong alpine vegetation note, this transitions to a gentle sweetness and floral notes. After that there is a slightly mineral finish that reminds me of rainwater. The aftertaste is sweet, like honey, and lingers.
Third steeping time, the aroma is not as intense, but it is a little more varied. There are still strong notes of orchid, but now we have alpine vegetation and a bit of minerals. The aroma of this tea has a great ‘transportation’ effect, it very much so reminds me of being in the mountains in summer, sitting near a spring, enjoying the blooming flowers. The taste is smooth and buttery, with strong hints of green. It reminds me of fresh growing things. The finish is mineral and a touch of sweet. The mouthfeel this time starts out smooth and fades to a mild dryness at the finish.
For the fourth and final steep, things are winding down. The aroma is a delicate blend of flowers, sweet honey, and a light finish of mineral. The taste is has returned to delicate, it starts off sweet like flower nectar, this fades to alpine vegetation. The finish is back to sweet, but this time it is honey instead of nectar. This tea took me on a pleasant journey to the mountains during high summer, I am glad for the adventure.
Flavors: Green, Honey, Mineral, Orchid
Happy Firework Day everyone, I am currently fidgeting with my rather finicky tripod in hopes that it will be in prime working order for the fireworks I will be watching tonight. I hope all my fellow celebrators of the Fourth of July (or Firework Day as I have called it since I was a wee thing) have excellent firework displays (I am so sorry people on the East Coast getting swamped by Hurricane Arthur, bad timing that one) and I hope everyone else is having a lovely summer evening (or winter if you are from the most southern of hemispheres.)
Today is the last of Shan Valley’s 2014 Collection, Shan Black Tea-CTC, a first flush black tea whose processing is a local tradition in Shan Valley, Myanmar. Similar to yesterday’s Kyaukme Black Tea, this one is also a CTC (or Crush Tear Curl) but is more uneven, reputedly giving it more of a balanced flavor. The aroma of the little leaves is a blend of sweetness and richness. There are notes of roasted peanuts, molasses, malt, and a touch of fruity at the end. It was a faint fruitiness, but it smelled like a blend of plums and cherries.
The aroma of the now much soggier tea is much fruitier, the plum and cherry notes are at the forefront with a finish of rich molasses and roasted peanuts. The liquid is a nice strong blend of molasses and malt with a finish of roasted peanuts. It seems the aroma of the fruit stayed with the wet leaves.
Tasting time! The taste of this black tea is initially brisk, with notes of malt and oak wood. This fades to mildly sweet with notes of honey and roasted peanuts. The finish is a touch of molasses with a honey aftertaste. It is not a particularly complex tea, but it is a solid black tea.
For photos (fireworks) and blog: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2014/07/shan-valley-shan-black-tea-ctc-tea.html
I have decided to join in the festivities and have a sale in my Storenvy shop. It seems like every business that I get emails from is having a Fourth of July sale, and I thought it was a good idea. For all that I have spent years selling my creations, I am still pretty bad at promoting and marketing, especially now that it is not my focus. So thank you all those awesome companies who gave me the idea!
Today we are having another visit to Shan Valley, this time we are going to the black teas, specifically Kyaukme Black Tea-CTC. This first flush black tea comes Kyaukme Northern Shan State in Myanmar. The CTC (Crush Tear Curl) refers to the type of processing, long story short, the tea passed through a series of rollers lined with sharp little teeth that crush, tear, and curl the tea into neat little uniform balls. This tea smells really good! There are strong notes of malt, molasses, peanuts, honey and a touch of cherries at the finish. It is so rich and intense, this is a tea I would describe as heavy and bold, not so much light and brisk, it is not a ‘wake you up’ aroma, but more of a ‘sensual lounge in a comfy chair’ aroma.
Into the basket and hot water the little balls of tea go! This tea can probably take boiling temp, but since the website stated that temperature is to your taste and my taste is a little lower than boiling, I went with 200 degree water. I do not think this is always the case, but I find with CTC teas that boiling water can bring out unpleasant levels of bitterness, just a personal preference thing. The aroma if the wet leaves has a bit of that ‘wake you up’ briskness now, there are strong notes of malt and dried cherries with a bit of honey at the finish. The liquid retains the richness of the dry leaves, with notes of sweet cherries, roasted peanuts, molasses, and a finish of woodiness.
The taste is an interesting blend of brisk and bold. At first there is an initial zing that wakes you up, and then you can melt into your comfy arm chair. Starting with a bit of oak wood and malt at the opening, this very quickly fades to roasted peanuts, a touch of honey, stewed cherries and a touch of stewed plums (a general stone fruit kinda taste) with a finish of cocoa that lingers. Usually with CTCs I take them with cream and sugar (in fact I found that if you brew Shan Valley’s Black Tea from their 2013 Collection really long and hot, it makes a great base for Ostfriesen tea!) this one, I think is quite perfect straight.
Flavors: Cherry, Malt, Molasses, Peanut
I was looking at the weather today (because I am obsessed with staring at radars and watching weather systems…such a nerd) when I noticed a little news article about Hurricane Arthur will be the first hurricane to hit (in theory) on July 4th. This article also mention Tropical Storm Alberto which swamped the South in 1994. Ah, I remember it well, the creek (that always flooded a little during heavy rains) turned into a massive deluge that washed away my toy dinosaurs. I was sad that my dinosaurs went extinct, but now it makes me giggle a bit. I wonder if anyone ever found them up stream?
Today’s tea is another one of Shan Valley’s 2014 Collection, Pyin Green Tea. This green tea comes from Pyin Long, Northern Shan, Myanmar and is a first flush. The leaves are large and fairly dark, reminding me of the color of Serpentine. The aroma is very rich, a savory blend of salty vegetable broth, sauteed mushrooms, and a buttery finish. There is pretty much no sweetness in this aroma, just rich savory goodness.
After the leaves get their nice bath in my (progressively more damaged) gaiwan, the intensely savory aroma of the wet leaves happily wafts towards my nose. There are strong notes of sauteed mushrooms, vegetable broth, kelp, and a slight hint of smokiness at the finish. The liquid, on the other hand, is intensely sweet, with strong notes of marshmallow, flower nectar, and a tiny hint of nutmeg. I have really been amused by how the Shan Valley greens smell so savory as the leaf and so sweet as the liquid.
The first steep is subtle and complex. It starts out with sweet notes of marshmallow, this transitions into bamboo leaves, which in turn becomes savory vegetal at the end. My favorite part (other than notes of bamboo and marshmallow, how fun was that?) was the aftertaste. It was an unexpected rich smoked salmon, this tea is reminding me of a reverse Gobstopper, starting with dessert and ending with dinner.
Like the first steep, the aroma of the second steep is richly sweet. Strong notes of honey, marshmallow, and caramel with just the faintest hint of vegetal at the finish.. The taste has a start of vegetal broth, butter, and a touch of a salty twinge. This fades to bamboo leaves again, that almost act as a palate refresher in the middle. For the finish we have a bit of sauteed mushrooms and smoked salmon.
The third steep’s aroma is no longer sweet, instead we have sauteed veggies, mushrooms and smoked salmon. It is like the aroma finally caught up with the taste. Speaking of taste, this one starts out buttery and a touch like salted veggies (it reminds me a bit of soup.) This fades to sauteed mushrooms and a smoky, meaty taste. Very umami and rich! The more I taste different teas, the more enamored I become of these green teas that taste savory, the taste is unusual and really enjoyable.
Flavors: Butter, Smoke, Umami, Vegetal