853 Tasting Notes
Alas, for it is a day where I cannot really think of anything interesting to start today’s blog off with. Now it is true that I have plenty to talk about (always was accused of loving the sound of my own chatter) but it seems that it is just geared towards tea, so without further ado, let us get to steeping!
Today’s tea is from Eco-Cha, and sadly it is a tea that is quickly vanishing from the tea world. Da Yu Ling High Mountain Oolong, it is one of my favorite Oolongs, but the area it is being grown in is being taken back by the government to return it to its unique natural state. The naturalist in me approves of the preservation of unique eco-systems, the tea lover in me cries at the loss of one of my favorite Oolongs, where it was expensive beforehand, the remaining tea is now going to cost a fortune. So what makes this tea so special to me, well, let’s start with the aroma of the dry leaves. In a word, delicious! It starts with a distinct yeasty farm bread and butter note, it has a sweetness and lack of grain bread note, if you have ever had that delightful fluffy, white bread that goes perfect with soup and butter, then you know that exact smell. After that there is a gentle spice and sweet Asian pears, it smells vaguely of poached pears rather than fresh ones, and the finish is a gentle blend of chestnuts and honeysuckles, with a delicate touch of wildflowers.
I love how many stems there are in this tea, lots of several leaves balled up into one…well…ball, it is very cool. The aroma of the soggy leaves is intensely buttery, there is a sweetness but it comes from the nectar of honeysuckles and hyacinths. The finish is wonderfully warm baking bread and sweet yeast. The aroma of the liquid is sweet and buttery, like freshly baked bread just slathered in honey butter, and that loaf of bread is sitting next to a blooming hyacinth.
From the first sip I am struck with the intense buttery thick mouthfeel, it is really amazing, I think if this tea had no taste (oh trust me, it does) and was just relying simply on the mouthfeel I would still be in awe. The tasting starts with sweetness of yeasty bread, butter, and honey, which then moves on to intense hyacinth nectar. The finish though, it swtiches pretty intensely to thick buttery greens, very much so like a mix of cooked bok choy and spinach, it manages to be very green and buttery without being overly savory…umami without the slightly meaty aspect that you get from some green teas, if that makes sense.
The aroma of the second steep is buttery sweet yeasty bread and hyacinth blossoms, again it reminds me of eating bread sitting next to a vase of blooming hyacinth, quite lovely. Again with the intensely thick and buttery mouthfeel, it coats the mouth and is oily without being slimy (drinking teas with coconut, now that I call slimy, this is only oily in sensation and not actual oil, an important distinction.) So this steep is intensely green and buttery, strong notes of turnip greens, cooked bok choy and cooked spinach. Usually when I have an oolong with green notes it is the taste of crushed vegetation (like walking through a forest and crushing leaves underfoot, I am tasting that smell) and not vegetal, so this buttery green intensity is immensely pleasant. The finish is juicy sweet hyacinth nectar that lasts for quite some time.
Third steeping! The aroma is a double punch of hyacinths and lilies with yeasty honey smothered buttery bread, it smells so good! One thing I find really fascinating is how sweet the aroma is and how savory green the taste is, me thinks this is why the taste is savory without being meaty. The taste starts out like the last steep, intensely buttery green with turnip greens, cooked bok choy, and cooked spinach. The finish kinda creeps up on me with a distinct blend of pear and apple that lingers well after the sipping is finished. I got as many steeps out of this tea as I could possibly muster, probably drinking it after it was done, but you know, getting more of this tea is going to be a hassle, so I need to make it last! I even ate the leaves when I was done!
Wow, it is beginning to look a lot like not Christmas, well, if you are paying attention to the weather that is. All of next week is supposed to be in the upper 50s-60s and that is kinda awesome, because it means I get to have my windows open and enjoy the fresh air. I might even have a tea picnic or just a picnic in general, get in one last frolic before it gets cold. Assuming it gets cold, if the long term predictions are to be believed it will be a mild winter for my part of the world. I wonder if that guy in Boston is going to be exporting his snow again this year…
Today we (it is the royal we in case you were curious) are looking at Tea Side’s Red Tea From The Old Trees, #3. This company specializes in teas from Thailand, and this particular red tea is made from rather large leaves from 100-300 year old trees, and let it be said, I have a weakness for large leaves, these remind me of long dark serpents that you might find while hiking in an old forest. The aroma of the pretty dark leaves with their smattering of golden trichomes is rich stuff. Blending notes of cocoa, strong malt, sharp wooden notes, honey, plums, and a very entertaining note of a bourbon barrel sans the alcohol bourbon note. I kinda love it when things smell boozy but lack the booze, certain red teas have that specific note and they make me rather happy.
I had quite the adventure with this tea, the first time I steeped it I used my standard amount of leaves (no, I don’t measure, I just eyeball to what feels right, though I really should get a scale someday to see how close I am to standard conventions) and steeping times, but that ended up with a tea that was too brisk and metallic with bitter astringency. So I tried grandpa style and it was much improved, but I wanted to gongfu this stuff, so playing around I found the sweet spot…the trick is light on the leaves and short steeping times. The aroma of the wet leaves is sweet and malty with notes of honey and oak wood, cooked plums, peanuts, and a very light touch of flowers, the website lists rose and tulip, and I do not necessarily get the rose, but I can definitely agree on the tulip notes. The liquid is sweet again, honey and gentle floral notes (not so much tulip, more a blend of distant flowers) burnt sugar, malt, and a woody bourbon barrel finish.
The first steep is light and brisk, this tea has a briskness to it no matter how I steep it, the briskness reminding me of an Assam, but the flavor profile reminds me more of cross between a red Jin Xuan and a Dian Hong. The taste starts out sweet like wildflower honey and ripe plums, it moves on to an autumn leaf pile and oak wood. The finish is very light, blending gentle sweetness and a touch of mineral.
I think that the steeping leaves look like sea monsters, which is fitting since the dry leaves look like snakes. The aroma of the liquid this time around is much sweeter, picking up strong notes of molasses, ripe cooked plums, honey, and burnt sugar. Underneath that sweetness is a delicate floral note and an autumn leaf pile with oak wood. These woody and leafy notes are making me think of late autumn when drinking this tea, so perfect timing. This steep is ramping up the sweetness and intensity, still brisk in the mouth a sensation that is good for waking up the senses. It starts with sweet honey drizzled cooked plums and tulip flowers, this moves to burnt sugar and malt. The finish is leaf pile and wood, both of these are dry in nature, not wet and loamy, the aftertaste is gently sweet and a touch mineral.
The aroma for this steep is sweet and fruity, notes of malt and plums with molasses and wood, but there is a distinct fruit wood finish unlike the previous oak wood notes. This steep is smoother in mouthfeel, it is still brisk but not as much so. The taste is gentle sweet, a near perfectly balanced blend of leaf pile, oak wood, fruit wood, honey, molasses, and plums. At the finish instead of leaf pile and wood, there is a resinous sap taste and burnt sugar that lingers. I was able to get a few more steeps out of this one, it is very light past this point and pleasantly sweet, though not very nuanced.
Remember how I somewhat recently reviewed a Roasted Yaupon? In that post I talked about the coolness that is the plant Ilex vomitoria, and I hinted at how in my next review of a Yaupon I would talk about the coolness that is its cultural history. Well I am finally getting around to it! Yaupon is an old drink, known as Asi or Black Drink, many Native American tribes used it as part of a purification ritual or before meetings (turns out caffeine makes for an alert brain) and it was slurped out of elegantly carved shells. But why, you might ask, is there vomit in its name…well, it was used in a purification ritual that sometimes (but not always) meant time to barf. It is up to a bit of historic debate as to whether or not other emetic herbs were added to the Asi or if the vomiting came from the huge amounts that were drunk, either way drinking a cup here and there luckily won’t make you hug the ivory throne (yay!) I think the most fascinating to me thing is several of the tribes that used Asi did not live in its native area and had to have it imported.
Really I could go on…a lot…Yaupon is a fascinating plant with a diverse history, I highly recommend at the very least reading the Wikipedia article on it. Since last look was at Lost Pines Yaupon Tea’s Dark Roast, now it is time for their Light Roast Yaupon Tea! Without the strong toasty notes of the previous Yaupon, this one I can really smell the greenness of the plant, which is pretty fun. Strong notes of holly leaves, boxwood leaves, hemp, spinach, hay, and turnip greens. It has a sharpness to it, sharp and green with underlying faintly sweet hint of fresh growth.
The aroma of the wet leaves (that are so fun to watch floating on top of the liquid) is sharp and subtly sweet, with notes of cut grass, holly leaves, boxwood leaves and spinach. There is also a distinct hint of turnip root and parsnip at the finish which I find immensely entertaining. The liquid has a real herbaceous tone to it, with sharp notes of hops and thyme mixed with hemp, spinach, and parsnip roots. It has a very delicate sweetness at the finish, but mostly the notes are green and fresh.
Yaupon is a strange tasting plant, that is something I will definitely say about it. Strange does not mean bad though, it just means describing this cup is kinda hard, it starts with an herbaceous sharpness, akin to holly leaves (which totally makes sense) and hops, with a slight bitterness like hops. This moves to cut grass and resinous sap with crushed boxwood, hemp, and spinach. The finish is sweet and uncannily like cooked parsnip and turnip roots, this lingers for quite some time. I find that if you let the cup cool most of the hop like bitterness fades and it is crisp, green, and slightly sweet.
You know, I still haven’t gotten around to mailing my camera away, for shame! I am so slack lately, but I have a valid excuse…yeah, that grumbling that I thought I was getting sick has come to fruition, I am definitely sick, blech. At least I am getting it out of my system before the holidays, so that is a positive, but it is cramping my style man, I gots stuff to do! Bah, I am sick of complaining about this sick, instead let me tell you how absolutely gorgeous it was today! I got to open up the windows and enjoy some fresh air, and the air smelled lovely, crisp and like wet leaves, one of my favorite ways for the air to smell. Plus sitting in some sunshine was excellent, I am a nightowl, but I am also possibly a cat and therefore solar powered.
Today’s tea comes from new subscription service, Rosali Tea, specifically their Hibiscus Orange Nectar! Before I get into the tea itself, let me say that Rosali Tea has the best box ever for shipping their monthly teas (three of them, if you were curious, for $14.95 a month) it is not a standard box, it is a box that is also a drawer…and I want a bunch of them to stack and use for storing things because I collect boxes. Really I just like everything about their packaging, especially the little cards with ingredients and about the tea in question. Hibiscus Orange Nectar honestly filled me with apprehension at the name, you all know my weird relationship with that tart red flower, but reading the ingredients put me at ease. It is a blend of Rooibos, Orange Peel, Hibiscus, Rosehips, Apples, Safflowers, Rose Petals, Vanilla, and Citrus Flavors it is described as being reminiscent of a creamsicle….one of my great weaknesses! It was love at first sniff, the leaves smell like an Orange Julius, creamy sweet vanilla and sweet oranges with a gentle touch of tart and roses. The roses are a fun addition and give me the evil idea of adding rosewater to an Orange Julius…I mean it works for mango lassis, why not those too?
Brewing the tea turns my little tea area into a citrus creamy delight, and I am ok with that. Funnily I rarely eat oranges, but I will go gaga for orange flavored things, especially if those orange things also involve cream, it is just so delicious and joy inducing. The aroma of the soggy leaves is a balance of oranges and creamy vanilla ice cream, with undertones of roses and a touch of tart hibiscus. Really the hibiscus is incredibly light. The liquid is creamy and sweet with notes of vanilla ice cream, oranges, roses, and a touch of hibiscus tartness. It is like an Orange Julius on an exotic vacation and has taken a fondness for the color pink.
Tasting time, will my love of creamy orange beat out my dislike of hibiscus? Unsurprisingly yes, because really it seems my dislike of hibiscus is truly waning in my old age, or I just get lucky and the blends I have it in know how to use it sparingly. This tea is surprisingly creamy for one made from rooibos and hibiscus, the mouthfeel is not incredibly creamy, more a mix between smooth and dry, but man, that taste is like ice cream. And oranges, so many oranges, it is like a slightly woody, rose water spiked Orange Julius. Sweet, warm, and cheerful…my only complaint with Orange Julius and creamsicles, I don’t like ingesting cold things, so having those flavors in a warm soothing tea makes for a happy me. There is a bit of tart at the finish, not too intense, the tea is sweet enough that I was not even tempted to counter the tart with sugar. This tea is delicious, my craving for Orange Julius has been sated for now.
There is a cat in my lap, an Espeon to be precise, who is happily keeping me warm. This really has no relevance, but I thought I would share that with you all since she is so immensely cute and cuddly. Today sadly was another day of getting nothing done since I still feel pretty nasty, I truly worry I am coming down with a cold, but considering I always get sick this time of year (mostly because stress causes my fibromyalgia to go bonkers) I am totally unsurprised. With luck this will pass quickly and I can get back to doing my usual routine!
Once again, we look into one of my older notebooks, because I drink too many teas and take too many notes, TBT posts really make me debate reviewing more than one tea a day, but I am pretty sure you all would hate me at that point! Today we are looking at a favorite type of tea of mine, Teavivre’s Golden Monkey Black Tea, a fuzzy golden tea from Fujian, golden and fuzzy just like a monkey, those oh so cute Golden Snub Nosed Monkeys, one of the few monkeys that I actually like. Ok, not true, I am mostly ok with monkeys, but I loathe apes with a passion, I admit it, I have a phobia, but that honestly has nothing to do with tea, so moving on. The aroma of these fuzzy leaves is rather intense! Strong notes of cocoa, yams, roasted peanuts, plum, and a touch of black pepper. It leans more on the side of savory than sweet, though it is not outright savory…just very light in the sweetness department.
Into my old, chipped gaiwan the leaves went for steeping, this gaiwan has moved on to a new home, chips and all. The aroma of the soggy leaves take a turn for the sweet, blending roasted peanuts and yams with a delicate honey and distinct dried plum note. The liquid is creamy and sweet, raw honey and yams with juicy plums and a wee bit of cocoa at the finish.
The first steep is fairly light, a gentle start to the golden fuzzy tea. It starts with a creamy sweetness and moves to juicy plums and rich cocoa, the plum notes linger and blend with honey at the finish. The aftertaste is short but sweet honey, and even though the first steep is light and has a memorable presence.
Whoa, the aroma for the second steep is pretty intense, very sweet notes of honey and juicy plums, with a starchy sweet potato finish. The taste is still pretty light, it is a gentle tea, with notes of cocoa, yams, and plums at the first. As the tea reaches the finish it picks up notes of dried apricots and a slight roasted peanut finish. Even though this is a light tea, it has a powerful sweetness and the notes are very crisp and distinct.
Third steeping, the aroma is very sweet, strong notes of plums and honey, with a starchy sweet potato finish…but there is also a bit of cocoa too! I do not say this very often with black/red teas, but this is a refreshing tea, it is light and sweet with notes of plum and apricots, that moves to sweet potatoes and roasted peanuts. It is a light tea, sweet and fruity and surprisingly refreshing, I find myself drinking this tea in the evening thanks to its lightness.
I am sooo annoyed at my body today! So yesterday I got up early so I could go to bed early, a logical approach to changing my schedule. Turns out my body had different plans, right as I settle into bed at a sane hour (3AM, woo!) I develop a double slam of a killer stomach and headache, so I didn’t end up getting to sleep until 8 in the morning…and I woke up an hour ago. This means my schedule is not adjusted, I missed out going out to lunch with Ben and running the errands I needed to run, and someone checked the mail before me. Of course I still feel pretty nasty, better than when I finally went to sleep, but still very off. Ah well, such is life with Fibromyalgia, some days are great and some are not, luckily I have plenty of tea and warm blankets to help me through.
Today is Wednesday, so that means it is time for What-Cha, and today’s tea of choice will be China Yunnan Wu Liang ‘Yi Mei Ren’ Black Tea, a Red Tea from one of my favorite tea producing regions, Yunnan! From Wu Liang Mountian in Puerh, Yi Mei Ren (which is named for the Yi Minority that inhabits that region) is made from big leaf material, making this a very fluffy Dian Hong. The aroma of the leaves is quite tasty, making this similar to a dessert tea, with notes of fruits and nuts. The blend of walnuts and pecans with cooked plums and dark cherries reminds me of a compote without the spice. There are creamy undertones, along with malt, and a slightly woody and sharp cacao shell finish.
Into the dragon gaiwan the leaves go! The aroma of the now quite soggy leaves is malty and rich, with notes of cocoa, dates, plums, and a touch of spice at the finish. The nutty notes have vanished and it has been thoroughly replaced with sweetness. Wait, I lied, the nutty notes did not vanish, they just migrated to the liquid! Notes of walnuts and cashews mix with cocoa and malt with a distinctly sweet creamy finish. The idea of this being a dessert tea is still staying strong with these sweet notes.
From the first steep I can say that the mouthfeel is very smooth, bordering on slick with its smoothness. It is not overly heavy, just gently sitting on the tongue spreading flavor. The taste starts out creamy, like a nice bite out of a bar of chocolate, this tea is immensely sweet. Honey notes mingle with plum and dark cherries, a distant floral note dances in and out between sweetness, vaguely reminiscent of roses. The finish is chocolate and it lingers for a while.
Second steeping time! The aroma is maltier this time, with stronger notes of cocoa and a slight woodiness as well, there are still nuts and creaminess, but the strength of this steep is malt. The taste is very similar to the first steep, a slightly heavier mouthfeel and stronger cocoa notes at the start set this steep apart, as does the malt note at the finish. It is still very sweet, but it is bordering more on dark chocolate than milk.
Third time, as you can tell from the photo this tea kept me company while I was painting, it was the right amount of invigorating and sweet where I could slurp and paint. This steep was pretty much identical to the first steep, smooth and light mouthfeel with creamy sweetness. The main difference between this steep and the first was a slightly stronger fruit note, specifically cooked plum, and the absence of that distant floral note. This tea was immensely tasty, definitely one I could see myself indulging in a lot.
Yours truly is immensely sleepy today, courtesy of the desire to get up early, basically resetting my sleep schedule because being nocturnal was getting tedious. Clearly I need more tea to wake myself up with, maybe keep myself awake with some painting, and then maybe a bit of reading or Minecraft. I have been busily stalking 4JStudio’s Twitter feed, they keep posting update teasers and I am super excited for new blocks to build with. The new biomes excite me too, but that means I will need a new world, or just wait til the Xbone gets to an affordable by me price and I can just expand my world. For now though, as soon as the update drops that means lots of building fun in my creative world.
This is a Shou after my heart, Mandala Tea’s Year of the Dragon 2012 Pu’er, specifically because dragons are near and dear to my heart, specifically my favorite dragon, Ben, even if he did spent the entirety of 2012 being insufferably smug since it was his year. Originally harvested in 2010 from 40-50 year old trees in Jing Mai, it was pressed in 2012, March 1st, 2012 to be exact. I felt myself lucky, because my sample of this Shou came with the Nei Fei, which I have kept stored away in a little box…for reasons. The aroma of the leaves is immensely earthy, it is rich and sweet with notes of pine loam, oak loam, a deep humid forest, and a tiny bit like prunes. At the very end of the sniff there is a gentle woodiness that reminds me of an old cedar trunk, with a slight crispness like the air before snow.
Into the elephant pot the tea went, after a rinse and the first steep the aroma is so earthy and woody. Like a mix of oak and pine wood that is both wet and dry, with sweet molasses and undertones of mineral and loam. Again this tea reminds me of a humid lush forest. The liquid is rich, woody notes of stems and loam with wet wood and a molasses sweet finish.
The first thing I notice from the first steep is how much it reminds me of a fallen tree, notes of earthy loam and wet wood combine with moss and mulch. It gently coats the mouth and goes from loamy to sweet figs, molasses, and a touch of prunes. The finish has a slightly bitter oak gall note, though the aftertaste is molasses and that lingers for a good long while.
Onward to the second steeping, the aroma of this one is still quite woody, but the woodiness mixed with a creamy sweetness gives the shou a bit of a vanilla quality. This mixes really well with the loam notes, sweet and earthy. The taste takes a note from the aroma and is quite sweet this time, it starts sweet, stays sweet, and finishes sweet. With notes of vanilla and molasses, figs and prunes, and a touch of honey, these notes mingle with pine loam and wet oak wood for a mellow and sweet sip.
The third steep had much in common with the second steep, as did the fourth. I did not notice much of a change until the fifth steep where the aroma and taste go almost entirely woody, with strong notes of wet pine wood, loam, and oak wood. It has a sharpness along with the molasses sweetness, this Shou is the right amount of woody and earthy in balance. I think I need to add this cake to my collection, because it turns out Ben likes it…which it would be weird if he didn’t, what with being a dragon and all!
Tomorrow is the day that my camera goes into the mail on its journey to be fixed. I really should have put it in the mail sooner, but I have to go to the library to print out forms and between you and me, I had no desire to go outside during all that freezing rain. There is a great amount of nervousness here, not so much over them not fixing it since there is the option to replace it if necessary, but mainly over how long it will take. Granted not having a flash is not the best option, though the double use of my phone’s flashlight and my painting light has made for an interesting effect. Another piece of camera news, I got a different flash diffuser since my other one was complicated. It worked wonderfully, but the listing was full of it when it said it would fit my camera, so to use it I have to hold it steady, which made taking photos interesting. The new one I am getting fits over the flash like a sock, so more mobility incoming.
Today we are looking at a tea that is near and dear to my heart, Blendbee’s Save the Bees, a blend that donates 20% of its sales to saving the bees! See, I love bees, some of my fondest memories involve my grandparents taking me to Ashcombe’s (A HUGE nursery in PA) where I would watch the honeybees in the hive window and then stock up on honey. I will admit to having a lot of loathing towards Yellow Jackets, but I have been in more fights with those nasty wasps than I would like to remember, they are the only bug I am actually afraid of, but bees and even a lot of other wasps, we cool. This tea is thematically apropriate for bees as well, since it is a LOT of flowers, specifically it is a blend of Hibiscus Flowers, Rosehips, Rosebuds, Marigold Flowers, Chamomile Flowers, Jasmine Flowers, Lavender Flowers, Orange Peel, Stevia Leaves, Sweet Orange Extract, and Honey Extract. This is a flower lover’s dream, and it just so happens that my favorite kind of herbal blends are heavily floral, so I am excited. The aroma is very sweet and floral, strong notes of jasmine, roses, and lavender dance with sweet oranges and honey. It smells vaguely of dessert, the blend of creamy oranges and honey with the flowers remind me of some really fancy flower ice-cream I have indulged in.
I decided to be a bit old fashioned with my brewing this time, standard big ol’ mug and a steeping basket. True, this way I won’t be able to see the full glory of the steeping hibiscus, but my steeping apparatus is really only sized for a teacup rather than a mug. The aroma of the wet flowery pile is sweet and tart, blending oranges and lavender, honey and hibiscus, jasmine and roses, it is heady while also being light. The pink liquid is a perfect balance of oranges and flowers, it is sweet and heady, with the lavender being the dominant flower and chamomile, jasmine, and rose following behind.
So, as you probably know, I used to be a staunch hater of hibiscus, but in my old age it seems I am growing fond-ish of it. However it has to be light, it has to be in a sweet blend, and it cannot be just straight…I like a little bit of tart with the sweet, it is an interesting balance. Conveniently for me, this is the perfect amount of hibiscus, just enough to add that tiny bit of tart at the start of the sip, but it is quickly overwhelmed by the other flowers and oranges. Strong notes of oranges and lavender, followed by roses and jasmine, at the finish is a delicate straw and apple note of chamomile and a stevia sweetness that lingers. I love stevia leaves, not a fan of stevia based sweeteners, but the leaves themselves are delicious, I am tempted to grow some come spring time. And speaking of warmer weather, I will have to try this tea cold-brewed and sip it while visiting Kauffman Gardens, see if the bees like it as much as I do.
Remember how I recently reviewed Hyson Tea’s Celestial Dimbula? I mentioned in that review that they also sent me a small mountain of teabags, well after much hemming and hawing I am finally getting around to reviewing several of them, specifically their green teas. Before I get into the review I am going to lay it out on the line, I am the wrong person to be writing about these teas, because I really don’t like teabags. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not the person who is going to say teabags are horrible things that have no place in the tea world…if you enjoy drinking them then wonderful! Tea is meant to be enjoyed, and back in the day I used to be fond of the convenience these pre-measured sacks of dust brought me. Now adays though, they are not for me for several reasons: usually they are made with dust and fanning which I do not like the taste of, they quite often have artificial flavoring which I think tastes really fake (this is not a hard rule, but it is a frequent one), they are overpriced for the quality of tea, they taste like paper, they lack ceremony. But, lack of ceremony aside, these other things can be bypassed with a high quality sack of tea, so why not dive in and see if these meet my very high standards.
The first one I decided to look at was the Soursop Green, Soursop is one of my favorite fruits ever, whenever the local grocery store decides to stock them I pretty much buy them all and gorge on them. The aroma of the bag is a blend of pineapple candy, strawberry candy, dusty paper, and a touch of perfume, it is very artificial smelling. The taste of this tea is vaguely of Soursop, though it is strongly artificial. For some reason I found that the blend of strawberry and pineapple candy and the papery note from the bag makes the tea taste like soap, which in turn made my mouth burn rather horribly and caused my asthma to flair up something fierce. It is safe to say I did not finish this cup.
Next I tried the Strawberry Green, strawberry is one of the few artificial flavors I don’t mind, since strawberry candies are some of my favorite. The aroma of the bag is nothing but strawberry candies, no paper or tea, just strong strawberry, reminds me a bit of gummies. The taste is pretty intensely sweet, strong strong strawberry candy, like I am drinking liquid candy. It tastes vaguely soapy and again makes my mouth burn, to prove it is not something wrong with my teaware I washed it and drank water out of the same cup, and nope it tastes just like water.
I waited several days before trying the next one, Lemon Green, just in case the problem was me coming down with a cold or something, you can never be sure with this kind of thing. I really like lemon and green tea, so I had high hopes with this one. The aroma of the bag is just lemon and a bit of dust, it is a bit on the mild side. The taste is like lemon soap and paper, mildly sweet and a touch green. So far this one has been the most tolerable.
Onward to the one I looking forward to the least, Jasmine Green, see most (if not all) Jasmine teabags use jasmine oil instead of scenting it the ‘proper’ way, and I loathe jasmine teas that are flavored and not scented. It smells and tastes exactly like soap rather than flowers. This tea was not an exception like I had hoped, it smells just like the wonderful Bee & Flower brand Jasmine soap, love it as a soap but not as a digestible thing. The taste is a blend of apples (not expecting that) and soap, it is so strong and so overpowering that I could not get past a few sips.
Lastly in this little set was the standard Green Tea and alas, I was hoping for a crisp and clean green tea aroma, but really all I smell are all the different flavors from the other teas. A problem with storing flavored teabags in little paper envelopes, the smell bleeds something fierce and contaminates each other. The taste, well, I can finally taste the base green tea, and it is not terrible, very generic vegetation and of course paper and dust, there is an underlying fruit cocktail from the other flavors leeching onto it. I know, looking at the reviews on the various tea’s links that I am in the minority and the reviews are universally positive, so like I said earlier, I was not the right audience for this. I hate being this negative, but what can I do? I have a LOT more teabags to look at, so expect another group review in the future…with any luck I will actually like some of them!
It is STILL freezing rain outside, everything is coated in a beautiful yet crunchy layer of sparkling ice. I am honestly quite surprised and happy we have not lost power, I would be greatly put out and would be in a panic over my fish tank getting too cold. Pretty sure that is every owner of tropical fish tank’s greatest fear, the power goes out and the temperature starts to drop. Luckily I have only had to deal with this disaster once, and the death toll was very small, I know people who have lost entire massive aquariums to this very thing, so sad! Of course there is always the problem of no tea since the stove is electric…I wonder if everyone would be cross with me if I made a fire-pit in the backyard so I could still have tea?
Today is a special tea, part of a pile of samples I got from Tea Side, a company specializing in teas from Thailand. Flashback to almost two years ago, I tried my first heavily oxidized without heavily roasted Oolong and I was in love, I found that steeping it bowl style was amazing, and when I ran out I was immensely saddened. So imagine my giggle of happiness when I saw Hong Shui Oolong Tea amidst the samples sent to me! First off, what is Hong Shui? Translating it, it means red water, referring to the dark red color of the brewed tea, not necessarily a reference to the specific kind of tea or varietal. What makes this tea special is the way it is produced, very nuanced amounts of roasting and oxidizing to create a work of art. The aroma of these dark leaves is something else, this is one of those Oolongs that I advise sitting down to sniff, because the sweetness will knock you off your feet. At least it did that for me! Strong notes of sweet fruit blending cooked plums, cherries, and peaches with an underlying creaminess and a tiny hint of leaf loam. The combination of notes reminds me of the harvest, all the excess fruit in autumn baked into a compote.
I had to brew this one bowl style (or grandpa style, so many terms so little time) true, this tea is wonderful gongfu style, but I just absolutely love it steeped for hours in a bowl. The aroma coming out of the bowl is intoxicating, it is so sweet and creamy. Strong notes of stewed plums and peaches, cherries, dates, and a creamy finish that borders on coconut milk. It smells decadent.
The taste starts out immensely sweet which goes wonderfully with the creamy thick mouthfeel, honestly if you are a fan of fruity dessert teas then I say grab some of this because it is intensely sweet. One of the really fun things about this Oolong is bowl steeping can take hot temperature and it never gets bitter, usually I have the temperature a bit lower when I am bowl steeping, but this one can take my usual Oolong temperature of 195°. The taste reminds me of an ice-cream covered fruit cobbler, complete with crust. Sweet notes of peaches, plums, cherries, and dates dance with creamy notes in my mouth, and the aftertaste, oh how it lingers.
Continuing on with many refills of the bowl, the taste stays strong for quite a while. As the fruity notes start to fade towards the end they are replaced with mineral notes and a gentle woody quality. One thing that never fades is the intensely creamy finish and subsequent aftertaste. Even when most of the other notes have faded, the finishing creaminess that borders on coconut milk lingers. This tea is a treat, and one that I wish to never run out of.