352 Tasting Notes
The weather outside today is glorious! All of nature is very verdant with colorful flowers, the sun is shining brightly, and the sky is a gorgeous shade of blue. It is one of those days I am so glad that windows exist and that my bedroom has them, that way even though I am in bed I can feel like I am part of nature. When I was little and would be unwell in the spring and summer, my mother was a big believer in having open windows and flowers by my bed, I truly think it helped with recovery and still hold true to that paradigm.
Today’s tea is a reflection of nature’s beauty, Rose Mojito by The Persimmon Tree is a blend of Organic White Tea, Wild Roses, Organic Peppermint, and Seasonally Selected Botanicals. Not gonna lie, this tea has been on my ‘want to try’ list for a while, so I am super excited to give it a go. The aroma of this very flowery pile of leaves is quite interesting, a blend of roses, mint, lavender, and a finish of green vegetation. The leaves smell like late spring time and nature, it reminds me of the smell of my mother’s garden as I grew up, I love it!
Into the basket the pretty leaves and flowers go! The aroma of the wet tea leaves after steeping is minty and green with a slight hint of fresh lettuce. There are also strong notes of lavender and roses that blend really well with the mint notes. The liquid without the leaves is more floral than lettuce and mint, primarily roses, but there is a strong sweet presence of lavender.
Usually with a tea like this I would say something like ‘this tea is not for you if you don’t like mint or flowers’ but I am tossing that warning out the window. At first you taste a touch of lettuce and sage, this fades to floral and lastly mint. None of the notes overpower each other, they blend together in a really wonderful way. As the tea cools it gets a bit of a subtle sweetness, which makes me suspect that this tea could be quite tasty iced in the hot months. On a whim I made a cup of this tea for Ben, who notoriously hates mint and rarely likes roses, turns out he really enjoyed it, so if that is not a point in this tea’s favor I don’t know what is. New favorite achieved!
I have a serious case of the derp today, I think because the weather has turned nice and my brain has gone frolicking off in the flowers and left my body behind to work on projects. Wouldn’t it just be the best thing ever if that were possible? I read a book (Court of the Air, for those curious) a while ago that had Steampunk-Voodoo-Buddhist-Robots (it was a thing) where some of them were Slip-thinkers. Basically they sent part of their mind into little mini robots (Mu Bodies) to do things for them, I admit I was rather jealous. It seems like the perfect solution for someone with too many interests.
Today’s tea has nothing to do with robots, but I certainly don’t hold that against it! Detox Blend by The Persimmon Tree, is an herbal blend to help you detox when you have overdone it with the junk food, or if your belly hates you, like mine frequently does! A blend of (all organic) Coriander Seeds, Fennel Seeds, Milk Thistle, Chicory Roots, Burdock Roots, and Dandelion Roots, this tisane certainly has a really neat look to it. The aroma of this tea is seedy, not all shifty-eyed, but like actual seeds, especially fennel. There is a nice amount of coriander and an earthy root aroma as well. Sniffing it reminds me of the fennel mouth cleaners they have sitting out in Indian restaurants, I love those things!
The brewed tea has a more distinct earthy root like aroma with side notes of sweet fennel and herbaceous coriander. The majority of the aroma is savory rather than sweet. The liquid sans the pile of seeds and roots is mostly fennel and coriander with a nice earthy finish of roots.
The taste is earthy and root like, but thankfully not bitter like some root based teas can be. I am looking at you Black Cohosh and Valerian, you are so unpleasantly bitter! I noticed this tea has a warming effect starting at my core and moving out to my fingers, it was quite soothing and relaxing. There are also notes of coriander and fennel, giving the tea a nice delicate sweetness at the end. This tea is great for a day when you feel unwell, it is tasty without being overwhelming, plus it feels all warm and snuggly!
So, I have started a new and exciting project! I have decided to make my own tea tray for my various Gongfu brewing sessions. Let’s just say I am tired of spilling water everywhere on my desk, and since I am not so much having the monies I decided to be all crafty. Using a frame, some paint stirrers, some caulk, varnish, a small cake pan, and paint, I will create my new toy. Pictures will show up when I finish it…or tears will flow if I ruin it!
Today’s tea is an English tea time classic! Considered to be one of the most famous Western teas, I certainly know I have been drinking it since I was a tiny child. Earl Grey Premium by Ocean of Tea is a blend of premium black tea and bergamot oil, as expected from a tea named Earl Grey Premium. The aroma is a very potent bergamot, bright and lemony! It is certainly a tea to sniff when you want to wake up and be alert. There is also a tiny bit of sweetness and a nice finish of malt.
Brewing the leaves brings out a much stronger malty tone to the very citrus heavy tea. I am amazed at how fresh the bergamot aroma’s is, it smells more like sniffing a fresh fruit than the oil. The liquid once the leaves have been removed is creamy and malty with a hint of cocoa and strong bergamot. It smells quite zingy!
Tasting time! The mouthfeel is dry, not rasping and puckering, but a nice brisk dryness. The tea is a little astringent, but not unpleasantly so, it has that brisk bite to it that really wakes you up. I know some people really object to teas having any bitterness to it at all, I personally like it when certain black teas have a bit of a bite…not enough to be nasty of course, just that hint, kinda like eating fresh kale or bitter greens, I just find it tasty. Of course there is more to this tea, there is a nice bergamot kick that leaves a bit of sourness causing a salivary response, goodbye dryness! After that there is smooth malt and a subtle sweetness that lingers to the finish. Usually when I describe an optimal Earl, I am lauding the tea’s tendency to not kick me with bergamot, this Earl certainly kicks with bergamot, but it is such a fresh and clean citrus taste that I really like it.
It has been a rainy, cold, and generally miserable day…which of course makes it perfect for sipping tea and doing crafts. Of course in my opinion all days are perfect for crafts and tea, the only thing that makes a real difference is cold, dreary weather makes for snuggling under blankets. The really good news is I am about half-way finished with my great paper organization project, as soon as I am finished it will be back to folding.
Today’s tea is Ti Kuan Yin by Ocean of Tea, a rolled Wuyi oolong from Fujian, China. Ti Kuan Yin (or Tie Guan Yin, depending on dialect) is one of my favorite oolongs and is THE tea that really got me obsessed with different kinds of tea all those years ago. The aroma of this Ti Kuan Yin is a really great blend of roasted and floral notes. There are notes of honeysuckle and orchid, along with roasted chestnut and a touch of roasted peanut. The roast is fairly light for a roasted oolong, none of the charcoal notes or smoke, much more delicate allowing the floral notes to shine.
The steeping instructions are for Western Style, but you all know me, if it is an oolong it is going into the gaiwan. I kept the 195 temperature and had the first steep for 35 seconds instead of 3 minutes. The aroma of the brewed leaves is a fantastic balance of roast and heady floral. There are notes of sweet honeysuckle and roasted chestnut. The liquid is delicately creamy and sweet, with chestnut, honey, and heady orchid notes.
For the first steeping I notice a smooth, almost buttery mouthfeel, that accentuates the flavor. The taste of the first steep starts off with delicate roasted chestnuts and nuttiness which makes a transition to honeysuckle and finally orchids. The aftertaste is one of honey, a nice finish to compliment the floral notes.
Second steeping time! I really need to spend less time on tumblr because the tasting notes for the second steep are written in my tasting notebook in doge style. Much roast, very floral. Oh memes, you are so addictive. The aroma, doge aside, is quite roasted and very floral, taking the notes from the first steeping and magnifiying it. The taste is much the same but more intense, I did detect a change in the mouthfeel. It is less buttery and smooth and more dry and assertive.
And now it is time for the third and final steep, the leaves have unfurled and show off inside my gaiwan. The aroma is a combination of creamy honey and roasted chestnuts, there is only the barest hint of floral. The taste does the opposite of the previous steeps, starting out with heady floral, it fades to roasted chestnut, and then fades again into sweet honeysuckle. The mouthfeel starts off smooth and transitions to dry when the flavor changes to roasted. I liked this Ti Kuan Yin, I am not going to say it is the best oolong I have ever had, but it is really quite enjoyable. I would recommend this tea for those who are wanting to get into oolongs because it represents the roasted aspects and floral aspects really well.
I have gone full on into origami obsession again, even if I cannot find a decent way to organize my paper. Currently I have the paper divided by colors and types and I am tying them up with string. It is not a perfect solution but it certainly is better than the paper being tossed in various boxes. Now I just need to go to the library and pick up the origami books waiting for me.
Today’s tea is a classic for those who can’t sleep and want a sip before bedtime, Chamomile by Ocean of Tea. This specific chamomile comes from Egypt, and let me start by saying I was very impressed by the flowers, usually chamomile teas I run into are about half full buds and half a pile of fluff, which is a real pain to clean out of my tea basket. The aroma is very distinctly chamomile, but if you have never had the pleasure to sniff this flower it has a similarity to straw, a touch of honey, and a bit of pollen. Also if you have ever sniffed a yarrow plant you will notice there is a similarity to chamomile. I will say this for this particular chamomile is it smells really fresh, almost like the fresh flower and not just the dried version, very nice!
The now re-hydrated (ok they were never THAT wet) flowers have an aroma that is still very distinctly chamomile, but the honey notes come through stronger giving it an extra layer of sweetness. The liquid smells identical to the wet flowers except it is a bit more delicate.
Ah chamomile tea, you have always been a favorite of mine, drinking is always a pleasure. Especially so with a chamomile that tastes as fresh and clean as these flowers! There is a nice blend of straw, honey, pollen, and floral notes that to me evoke summer time. Drinking chamomile might not make me feel sleepy the same way that taking a sleep aid does, but it does make me feel sleepy the way that napping in the sun on a warm day does. This is some of the best chamomile I have had short of drying my own, it tastes very clean and fresh, perfect for relaxing before sleep…and with that note, I am going to bed!
Flavors: Flowers, Honey
I have a real conundrum on my hands. It is not an exaggeration when I say I have thousands of sheets of origami paper, and that is not even counting the start strips! Currently I have the bulk of the paper in three sea themed photo totes (the nice ones you find at Michaels) but of course there is a lot of paper in other various places (for example a plastic storage unit has two of the three drawers stuffed with paper). Here is the problem, I want them organized so I know exactly what I have…and I cannot think of a way to do that!
Who knew that having so much paper would cause such dilemmas, clearly the answer is to fold a lot more!
Today’s tea is a chai that is not for the weak of heart (or taste buds) and certainly not for those who are not a fan of the hot stuff. Chai Ya Yai! by Chad’s Chai is an extra spicy blend of Full Leaf Indian Black Tea, Organic Cinnamon, Black Pepper, Clove, Chili Pepper, Star Anise, Organic Ginger, and Organic Cardamon. Similar ingredient list to Chad’s Black Chai, but with extra chili. I learned my lesson and didn’t stick my nose in the pouch, but even wafting the aroma towards my nose ended up with my sneezing and coughing. Not gonna lie, I am a little afraid! Between sneezing and coughing and I could detect the aroma of peppers, ginger, and intense spice with a very slight hint of malt base tea.
Once I give the new hotness a steeping in the hot water (it is all about heat with this tea) I notice that I can sniff the tea without dying of pepper up the nose. The aroma is sweet and malty with rich (yet much calmer) spices. It smells really intense and quite good, the intensity of the chili no longer scares me quite as much. The liquid is richly malty and gingery, there is still a good bit of chili and pepper, but the ginger takes the center stage. I find that the pepper and chili really compliments the aroma of the malty base tea.
Ok, steeling the nerves in my mouth for the inevitable shock. I will admit, I love the taste of spicy food but tend not to eat it too much because my guts are delicate. Since this is a chai I do have the traditional cream and sugar, so that might take away the edge of the chili. Actually, I am not sure it does take the edge off, because that is an intense heat. I should point out that it is not a painful running for a glass of milk heat, it warms up the entire mouth and finished with a little burn at the end of the swallow. There is more to this chai than chili, the other spices are well balanced and the tea is rich and malty. I like this chai a lot, even though it is not strong in the cardamon and anise department (which is my favorite kind of traditional chai) this one fits nicely into the ‘unusual chai’ category which I adore.
Well all, I am starting to feel better, it seems whatever was wrong with me is mostly on the mend, the only problem is I am bushed. I keep feeling really exhausted and sleeping a lot so my sleep schedule has gotten weird and I have some serious confusion as to what day it is! A few hearty meals and some rest should have me back to normal in no time. I did use some of my time today working on a new origami piece, a modular star themed kusudama that was a real pain to assemble when using slippery chiyogami, but worked quite well with junky memo paper.
Break out your Beret, because today’s tea is French Breakfast by Golden Moon Tea, a classic black tea from Kenilworth Estate in Sri Lanka (or Ceylon if you are old fashioned about it). The website recommends this tea for people who like ‘standard’ black tea or who are starting out on their adventure into loose leaf tea. I am most certainly not new to loose leaf tea, but I am always on the hunt for a new breakfast tea. The aroma of this tea is bright, bold, and malty with a hint of pecans and dried leaves. Very much a standard black tea indeed!
The brewed leaves are very bright and quite sweet with a berry like quality to it that blends with an oak wood aroma. It does not have a brisk quality, just bright and sweet. The aroma of the liquid sans leaves is malty and sweet, like caramel, with a nice oaky finish.
This tea has a nice mild briskness, just enough to wake you up but not too much, no need to worry about your moth turning inside out. There is a bold malty and oak wood taste that fades to a sweetness reminiscent of berries. Adding cream and sugar takes away that mild briskness and replaces it with a very smooth morning cup. I agree with the company’s description, this is a great beginners tea, but it has enough going on that it does not bore a more experienced sipper.
This is one of those days that I am so glad I have a notebook full of tasting notes to pull from, because yours truly is entirely unwell. Stuck in bed with a large mug of a trusty belly soothing herbal brew and surrounded by my cats, I feel many naps coming on as I try my best to recover from digestive tract trying to pull a coup d’etat. Before Morpheus takes me away on an adventure to slumber land, here is today’s spring themed tea.
Today’s tea came to me thanks to a little bit of luck, Tea Savant was having a giveaway on Facebook and I entered and won, go me! Unlike my usual loose leaf tea, Spring Jasmine Savant came to me in a nice pyramid bag. For the record, pyramid bags are certainly teabags that I do not mind since they usually use large leaves and allow the tea to expand. Plus, there is that useful convenience aspect of the tea being in a bag, hello easy cleanup! The aroma of the tea is very sweet and heady, with lots of jasmine flower heaviness. I have a mixed track record with Jasmine, I love it intensely but I have to be in the right mood because it is not a delicate flower, it has an intense headiness that feels heavy and makes me feel a bit sleepy. There is a faint hint of fresh vegetation tying in the green aspect of this flowery green tea.
The steeped teabag and accompanying tea has a rich and heady aroma, the jasmine is really quite intense. It reminds me of the Confederate Jasmine my mother and grandmother each had in their gardens, a very nostalgic aroma. There is a leafy aroma as well as jasmine, a tiny bit vegetal and a tiny bit fresh vegetation giving the tea a very nature like aroma.
At the first sip I notice there is mild vegetal and vegetation, a bit of grass, a bit of fresh leaves, and bit of kale giving the tea a tiny bit of that bitter herb taste. Of course there is a lot of jasmine, actually most of the taste of this tea is heady jasmine with its subtle sweetness and strong floral notes. It is a little overpowering but if you are in the mood for a strong jasmine tea, this really hits the spot. There is also a slightly fruity aftertaste which I really think adds to the experience. I do feel like this should be named Summer Jasmine Savant because it is very evocative of summer in full bloom rather than the delicate aspects of spring, but that is just me being silly.
It was such a stormy day today! I believe the entire day was nothing but rain and storms, of course the plants loved all the nitrogen from the lightning. The tree buds seem to have become full leaves and everything is vibrantly verdant. Even though I was stuck in bed most the day I really enjoyed the weather and the smell of rain wafting through my window.
Today’s tea is Life In Teacup’s $1 tea sample for the month of April, 2006 Chang Tai “Seven Star-Alkaid” a Sheng Pu Erh made from Menghai leaves. I am still in the total noob stage when it comes to Sheng Pu Erh, since I have tried a grand total of five different ones, I not entirely sure how I feel about them as a whole yet, I certainly find them intriguing and want to try more! The aroma of this Pu Erh is really intriguing, blending sweet notes of anise, pine needles, hay and wet oak wood. It smells really clean and nature like, the sweetness is that of new growth and anise.
The rinsed and steeped leaves are very sweet, blending anise and pine resin, in fact there is a myrrh like resinous scent as well that blend really well with the anise aroma. There is a little bit of a wet pine wood and wet peat smell as well, I really enjoy the aroma of this Pu Erh’s wet leaves. The liquid’s aroma is a blend of sweet anise and wet wood, very light and unassuming.
First steeping sip time! The taste is very light and quite smooth in the mouth. The taste is one of sweet hay and honey that fades to a bit of peat. At the end of the taste there is a quick sourness that does that great salivary response I have come to associate with Sheng Pu Erh. Basically there is a sourness that causes you to salivate a lot, this in turn makes the remaining liquid in your mouth to taste very sweet. I believe that this sensation is called Hui Gan.
The liquid’s aroma for the second steep is much more pronounced (as expected) with stronger notes of anise and pine loam with a very faint hint of peat. The mouthfeel again is very smooth, and the taste is sweet with anise at first and fades to a rich peat taste. It has a very clean taste, which seems odd when you describe something that tastes like peat, but it tastes like clean peat and not moldy, rotten, peat.
The third steep really comes alive, the aroma of the liquid is more like the wet leaves, having notes of resin and anise with a strong peat presence. This steep has a bit of bitterness to it that fades to sourness and immediately explodes into sweetness. There is a taste of anise and cooling effect that makes this steeping very interesting. The finish is peat and earthy with a touch of old hay. I really enjoyed the complexity of this steep.
For the fourth steep’s aroma I notice that it is sweet with a bit of anise and straw, the aroma has a cooling effect on my nose which is very refreshing. The taste is sweet with an earthy backdrop. There are the notes of hay and anise, a bit of peat and a bit of loam.
The fifth and final steeping has a very warm aroma, like sun warmed hay and anise, it is much milder than the previous steep’s aroma. The taste is much milder as well, a bit of faint anise and warm hay, there is a bit of bitterness that explodes into sweetness that lingers. I really enjoyed this tea experience, certainly a good investment of a dollar!
Last night I spent the entire night folding, it was great, made a few classic designs and tried out some new ones. My favorite of the new modular origami pieces that I worked on was a PHiZZ (pentagon hexagon zig-zag) Dodecahedron, the units are really simple to make, but interlocking the pieces can be a real pain. I foresee lots of them in my future.
Today’s tea has a bit of a smoky feel, a Gingerbread Smoke feel to be exact. This blend by 52teas is a combination of Premium Black Teas (including Lapsang Souchong) Ginger Root, and Organic Flavors. The aroma is more or less exactly what I expected from a tea named Gingerbread Smoke, it is quite richly smoky with warm spices and an especially strong kick of ginger. Everything about the aroma of this tea is warm, from the lingering memories of a fire to the spices, good for sniffing on a chilly evening.
Giving the leaves a nice steeping brings out a sweet quality to the spices and ginger, really bringing out the cookie quality of the tea. There is of course lots of smoke, though it is not as strong as the dry leaves. As a finish there is a hint of malt. The liquid is sweet ginger and lots of smoke, it also has a finish of malt…suddenly I am craving ginger snaps.
The taste is pretty true to the name, at first you get a surprisingly gentle burn of ginger, and of course where there is fire there is usually smoke, so the next taste note is the mild smoke. The tea has a natural sweetness from the ginger, which fades to a hint of oakiness. Usually I am not the biggest fan of 52tea’s black tea base (nothing wrong with it, just doesn’t do it for me) but this one I like, most likely thanks to the added Lapsang Souchong. Spicy smoky teas are a big win in my book now, certainly going to be on the lookout for more!
For photos (including origami!) and blog: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2014/04/52teas-gingerbread-smoke-tea-review.html