704 Tasting Notes
My body and I are not on speaking terms again, the jerk has decided to take a dive into the deep end if the fatigue pool. I feel like I am constantly walking through pudding, and the pudding is not translucent so everything feels foggy, the brain fog is real, yo. It has been this way off and on for a little over a month, instead of my usual ‘once a week I am really fatigued, usually from doing stuff’ it is the other way around, which is really lame! In a perfect world my next visit to the doctor will consist of blood work and I will need some vitamin or something, I will take a vitamin deficiency any day over having to be put on some new medication. My body and meds tend to have a VERY rocky relationship, and a lot of the drugs used to help Fibromyalgia are ones that have given me pretty severe reactions. Or maybe I just need to drink more tea, yeah, I like that solution the best!
It is now the most dangerous part of any Wednesday, going to What-Cha’s website to get the relevant info and linkage for the tea I am going to cover, because I always drift over to the new tea section and there always seems to be something new that I want, it never fails! Today’s tea is Korea Jeong Jae Yeun’s Hwangcha 2014 Balhyocha Tea, ok before I get too far, remember when I reviewed Korea Dong Cheon Daejak 2013 Sparrow’s Tongue ‘Jakseol’ Green Tea and talked about how it was an amazing tea that as soon as I could I ended up buying a bunch more…and how I was worried I would not do the tea justice? Yeah, well, it happened again, I am beginning to think that Korea might make my favorite teas, clearly I am going to need to test them ALL to be sure! It is good that I bought more of this tea (and not just because I have been on a binge since it arrived) because the notes I took for this one are almost illegible, especially the third steep where my words just kinda trail off the page, I consider that a good sign!! Ok, so this tea is the only tea created by hand by tea artist Jeong Jae Yeun, who (after a bit of digging around) is described as the epitome of grandma tea artisans, which is what I want to be when I grow up I think. Apparently her tea is rather popular with Korean monks, which is also pretty awesome! Ok, now to address the elephant in the teapot, what the heck is a Hwangcha and Balhyocha? To put it in the most simplest of terms, they are the same thing a tea that has gone through fermentation (translation only, really it is oxidation) and Hwangcha is not the same as Chinese yellow teas, Tony Gebely wrote a fantastic article on the tea as did Morning Crane Tea and Mattcha, the subject is really dense, one I could devote an entire blog post to! So, onto the leaves, the pretty curly dark leaves, they smell really good! Super creamy and sweet, with strong notes of honey, roasted peanuts, lychee, papaya, distant flowers, a touch of malt, spicebush…man, this tea has everything! It has one of the most complex aromas I have had the pleasure of sticking my nose in. I think I spent the entire time waiting for my kettle to warm up sniffing this tea, it felt like I was going down the rabbit hole and each new sniff revealed something new while not overpowering the previous notes.
Into the gaiwan the leaves go, and my little tea region has been turned into an aromatic fun zone, the notes that are drifting out of my gaiwan have me super excited to try this tea (ok I already was) the aroma of the wet leaves is intensely creamy, it reminds me of a decadent creamy sweet treat. The intense creaminess is accompanied by floral notes, papaya, and a rich cocoa and malt undertone. The liquid is unsurprisingly creamy sweet as well, with notes of papaya and a fruity musk that is not quite identifiable, it is something from a long distant memory. There is a finish of cocoa adding extra richness to an already rich aroma.
I am glad I do most of my tea tasting sitting down, because I would have been knocked off my feet by this one (intense tastes and smells make me go all fainting goat sometimes) the mouthfeel is so thick and creamy, it is both very heavy and bright. The taste hits my tongue in waves, first the intense creaminess combined with cocoa and distant flowers (a hint of rose I think?) this moves on to fruit, hello lychee and papaya! The finish is an explosion of sweet cream and malt, which lingers, oh how it lingers!
Second steep time! The aroma is sweet, nice notes of lychee, cocoa, sweet cream, and a tiny bit of spicebush at the finish. Yes, I did accidentally dip my nose in the tea while sniffing it, what of it? This taste is pretty similar to the first, it did not grow or change much, the mouthfeel is still super creamy and thick. The main difference between this steep and the first was an intense build of malt towards the finish that lingered, giving more of a boost at the finish.
Third steeping, this one is totally illegible in my notebook, so I had to imbibe more, not that I mind of course! The aroma this time is replaced with cocoa and cream, but instead of lychee there is a stronger papaya and spicebush. The taste is still riding that delightful sweet cream train, but it is a bit less of a cream explosion and more of a smooth creaminess. The midtaste is all fruit and cocoa, papaya and lychee being the dominant, but I am pretty sure I also detected a tiny bit of coconut as well, which is fascinating. The finish is malt and cocoa, the cocoa lingers for a while.
This tea does not evoke any strong emotional response, and it does not change a whole bunch between steepings, but it is delicious! I tried it western style as a comparison and it was intense, like the first steep but all the notes went all 90s and became eXtreme. In theory this tea should not be a favorite, since it does not evolve or elicit a strong emotional or nostalgic response, but I cannot help but love it, it just tastes THAT good.
Today was a fun day, I hung out with one of my good friends (who in a few months will be a house mate with Ben and me) while enjoying a beautiful day. It was extra auspicious when at a thrift store I found a new tea-set, it is a kyusu with three matching cups which I am officially deeming our tea-set for when we hang out and all three have the same tea. After depositing said friend back at his domicile, Ben and I decided to lounge in bed with a giant pile of lasagna and watch All That and Gargantua 2, because we are nerds.
It has been a while since I took a look at a Shou Puerh, which is tragic, lately I have been on a Sheng kick since it evokes spring to me, and Shou evokes late summer and fall, and it comforts me during the cold months. But, it also reminds me of lush northern forests, which I am feeling the strong need for frolicking in, so with that I give you Whispering Pines Tea Co’s 2012 Huron Gold Needle Shou Pu-erh! From 2012, grown in Xishuangbanna and stored in a fancy temperature and humidity controlled vault by everyone’s favorite Tea Hobbit at WPT. The aroma of the rather pretty golden Puerh is something else, one of those reasons we need scratch and sniff technology, it is deep and heavy, sniffing it is liked sinking into a forest floor, one of those forests where the loam is so dense that the floor feels springy. There are notes of wet wood, loam, pine forest…and here is where it gets really fun, cherry wood and cocoa, yeah, there are cocoa notes in this, which is pretty darn cool.
Doing the usual toss the leaves into the elephant Duan Ni and then giving it a rinse, when I wrote the notes for this one in my tea notebook I was sharing with Ben and said tea friend (ok, his name is Fish, I am tired of calling him tea friend!) because we wanted to get tea drunk off of a Puerh. The aroma of the now soggy leaves is a very foresty thing, the notes are strong loam and mushroom soil, it is very much a mixed wood forest rather than a strictly pine forest like some of the puerhs I stick my nose into. The liquid is so foresty, it is really transporting me to a lush, heavily rained on forest with a thick blanket of loam and a finishing notes of really sweet chocolate.
Ooh, that first steep is fine! Delightfully smooth to the point of silky, like biting into a sweet chocolate bar accompanied by pine sap and rich loam. I am really loving the mouthfeel and chocolate notes the most I think, I mean yeah, that forest loam taste is great, but it is not often you get to mix loam and chocolate in the same tea.
Onward to the second steep, it is like an adventure, going deeper into the recently rained on forest, you smell the rich and very thick loam with notes of mushrooms and wet wood. This time around the taste is not as sweet, we are getting a full force of forest, I ate the chocolate bar at the beginning of the path and have now surrendered to the forest completely. The mouthfeel is still super smooth, and the sipping experience finishes out with wet pine wood and a touch of mushrooms.
The aroma of the third steep is not changed much from the second, still very potent loam and wet wood of a healthy forest. It very much so evokes the forests I rambled around in the mountains of Pennsylvania. Like the second steep, this one only has a glimmer of sweetness and a full face full of loam, the mouthfeel has become thick, and I feel like I am sinking into the forest, it is heavy and sleepy. I am loving the heavy chi coming off this tea, me thinks I will keep it around to drink when I have a serious chi stagnation, it feels very invigorating. Many steeps were had, tea drunkitude was very much so achieved!
Outside is ominous as all get out, serious, it is so ominous that we are under a tornado watch, first one of the season…well unless there was one during that crazy storming bought a week or so ago that I slept through. I am hearing the sweet music of thunder getting closer, the wind is bringing in a definite chill, and the radar looks bonkers. I think that this storm might actually hit us full force instead of fall apart on the heat island, which could mean massive hail and power outages. Oddly, we have only had one power outage from a storm in my time living in the Midwest…of course by saying that I totally jinxed myself…oops.
Today my education in Nilgiri teas continues with The Tea Shelf’s Billimalai Nilgiri White! Hailing from the Coonoor region of Southern India, the Billimalai Tea Estate sits 6,400ft about sea level in the Blue Mountains (fun fact, Nilgiri means Blue Mountains) Terrain, and looking at pictures of the area, it is absolutely beautiful. The leaves look like a mixture between a green tea and a white tea, blending vibrantly green leaves with fuzzy silver leaves, I spent quite a bit of time enjoying the different textures and colors presented in these leaves. The aroma was quite the surprise, no sweet at all, but instead rich savory and smoky notes! I picked up notes of lettuce, tomato leaf, vegetable broth, and a slight sauteed mushroom almost sausage meatiness at the smoky finish.
Ok, storms, you are a disappointment to the skies that spawned you! They totally fell apart and then reformed about half an hour north, ugh. If storms were a sentence where I live would be the comma, this always happens. Anyways, I decided to gongfu this intriguing tea, and after the first steep the aroma of the leaves is a fun blend of vegetal notes and savory tones. Hello okra, green beans, tomato leaves, dried tomatoes, and smoky vegetable broth! The notes are making me a bit on the hungry side, but that tends to happen with savory teas. The liquid is a blend of okra, lettuce, sweet flower nectar and a bit of honey at the finish.
First steeping is like drinking a book, not because it tastes like paper or books, but because it has some many different stories! At the first sip it tastes like a field of wildflowers complete with a bit of hay and grass, then it moves on to distant wildfires, next it is sesame seeds and green beans. The finish is honey and flowers, this is a peculiar tea, but it is a tasty peculiar tea.
The second steep has a strong smoky aroma mixed with wildflowers and okra, more teas need the note of okra, I love that stuff. The taste is a dead even mix of wildflowers, smoke, citrus, and sesame seeds. I was surprised how balanced and blended the notes were this steep, last steep they were very distinct. I found this tea fascinating, it blends different notes that I do not usually associate with white teas, so I appreciated the mouth adventure.
Man, it is humid today! I am pretty sure the air is soup, it feels like living in the South! I have mixed feelings about humidity, on the one hand it means possible storms and rain, which I love, on the other hand it makes everything feel damp. I spent the entire night fussing with my pillows and sheets because they felt soggy, my clothes feel soggy, my paint is just not drying, and my hair is super poofy. I am enjoying the damp smell of earth and wood that is wafting through my window though, so I forgive most of the side effects, well except the soggy feeling bed.
When my box of samples from Teasenz arrived, I did a squee of joy over the Da Hong Pao, but I also let one out over today’s tea, Jin Jun Mei! Another tea I ran out of recently, so there is no surprise that this was the first tea I opened up and drank from the sample collection. From the Tongmu Village in Wuyi (same home of Lapsang Souchong) in a way this tea is considered the super fancy version of Lapsang Souchong. Picked as a Pre-Qingming tea and only collecting the delicate buds, these ‘golden eyebrows’ are super pretty, but I do love my fuzzy golden teas. The aroma of the delicately curling buds is super rich, with notes of malt, and different layers of woodiness. There are hints of sweet pine sap, cedar, and a pinch of sandalwood, it is very aromatic, not as sweet as some Jin Jun Meis I have experienced, but still pretty intense. The finishing note is a whiff of molasses and honey, with just a hint of roasted peanuts.
Tossing the leaves into my gaiwan and giving them a good short steeping (well shortish, long by puerh standards but short by western…ok it was 30 seconds, you be the judge!) and the aroma went super intense and sweet. Mixing honey and molasses with rich malt and just a hint of the previous woodiness in the form of delicate pine sap. The liquid is super sweet and creamy, with notes of malt, molasses, cocoa, roasted peanuts, and pine sap. Ben who was sitting on the other side of the room remarked at how good the tea smelled. He insisted on having a cup, which is understandable, he is a long time fan of Jin Jun Mei.
Ever had tea out of a pine cup? Me either, but I imagine it would taste like this, rich, sweet, and malty, with a distinct pine sap undertone. It is quite entertaining, the pine taste does not overwhelm any of the other notes, it compliments them. The finish is a blend of cocoa and molasses, which lingers for a while.
The aroma of the second steep is super heavy on the pine sap, giving is a woody sweetness, again reminding me of tea in a pine cup. The taste is not as sweet this time, but still super rich, starting off with a thick mouthfeel and heavy note of malt. Malt is definitely the defining taste, it is accompanied by molasses and just a hint of honey and cocoa at the finish.
Third steeping time! The pine notes have mellowed some, now it is distant pine and nice rich malt and molasses, much sweeter, similar to the first steeping. The taste also is super rich and sweet, starting off with honey and finishing with honey. The middle is a rich building malt and molasses that rolls across my tongue like a sultry wave, the taste gives it an almost thick feel, but that is mostly in my mind since the texture is very smooth. This feels like a more ‘grown up’ Jin Jun Mei, blending very rich notes with honey sweetness, I like its extra body in comparison to others I have had.
Happy Thursday! A day of throwbacks and D&D, well the Dungeons and Dragons is all me, but the throwing back is all over the internet. Maybe on these tea themed #TBT I should occasionally toss in older pics of me, from my younger days of a myriad of different hair colors. There is a terrifying noise coming from the basement, thought you all should know, apparently something is FINALLY being done about the foundation leak (took other people’s stuff being ruined and a massive mold colony before anyone would listen to me, not that I am bitter) and the repair man who is checking things out has a creepy machine. I could go down and see what the machine actually is, but I like the idea of some steam-powered monstrosity better.
This tea was procured during the summer before I became a tea blogger, well not true, I became a tea blogger during that summer visit with my mom, it was one of those ‘I have found my true calling’ moments, and it was awesome. Anyway, getting lost in nostalgia, I bought a heaping pile of Ito-En’s Lavender Sencha while visiting Pennsylvania, and the awesome grocery store Wegman’s, my go to place to buy tea back when I lived in that state. This very aromatic tea is a blend of European Lavender and Fine Sencha (according to their map it is from the Kagoshima region) blending regions for one of the more sublime Sencha blends I have run into. The aroma is heavenly, well, if you like lavender, it blends the floral to the point of almost being soapy, and sweet grassiness and fresh vegetation. It smells very much so like a fresh lavender field in bloom.
The aroma of the now soggy and very vibrantly lavender…lavender, is more balanced. There is sweet freshly cut grass and honey along with gentle lavender notes. Not so much a soapy kick in the face. The liquid is gentle and fairly delicate, with notes of hay and grass along with honey and lavender. I am not sure I put much stock in aromatherapy, but the lavender certainly relaxes me…more teas need it.
The taste is surprisingly not overwhelming with lavender, I was expecting a blast in the face, but nah, it is gentle and sweet. The Sencha is delightfully refreshing and green, with notes of hay and grass, with just a touch of kale and kelp. When I first tried this tea and noticed a touch of bitterness I thought it was the green tea oversteeped or at a too high temperature (but I brewed it at 155!) but since then I have discovered that lavender is actually a bit bitter. The mouthfeel is fun, a bit tacky, like flower nectar, and the end of the tea, once you let it get a bit chilled (if you are a sipper like me) the lavender becomes stronger and is very relaxing. I rather like this tea hot and cold brewed over the summer, it is good for relaxing with a nice cup of a very nature themed tea. And now, for my obligatory TBT photo, it is from January of 2009, back when I was sporting red hair.
Happy National Fibromyalgia Awareness Day…wait…that was on the 12th and it is the 13th…crap. I was going to have this big speech about how Fibromyalgia affects lives and how more research needs to be done and people need to be aware of it, but nope, I lost track of what day it is. Bringing me to my personal biggest ‘crutch’ of having this syndrome…Fibrofog. The combination of pain, fatigue, and cognitive impairment makes it feel like your brain is locked in a fog bank, it is what causes me to repeat questions, forget things, trail off mid-sentence, leave my waffles in the toaster only to find them the next day when I go to make waffles, make a to-do list and lose the list, lose something right in front of me…I could go on with this, but I think you get the point. As someone who prides themselves on their mind being sharp, Fibrofog is like adding insult to injury, I can take the pain, but I really can’t take the derp. So there, my Fibro-awareness day a day late!
Ok, time to put the sad, tiny, violin away and stop whinging, tis Wednesday and time for a tea from What-Cha! Today we are looking at Ceylon Amba Hand-Rolled Black Tea, a tea from the Amba Tea Estate in Ceylon, plucked February of 2015 (ooh so recent!) and of the Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe Grade 1 variety. I admit, I do not try a lot of Ceylon teas, mainly because I used to have those generic Ceylon teabags back when I made iced tea…now that is totally unfair because the higher end Ceylon loose leaf teas I have had have been pretty fantastic, so let us see how these curly leaves compare. The aroma is delightfully nutty, blending sweet notes and peanuts, so it reminds me of peanut brittle. There is an underlying note of yams and a touch of dried cherry and apricot. I like the fruity touches at the end, the sweetness pleases me.
Oh man, I cannot type tonight! I keep messing things up and having to redo it, my fingers are all floppy. The brewing leaves smell more like I expect a Ceylon to smell, very bright and brisk with a touch of lemon peel and oak wood sharpness. There are also notes of sweet yams, peanuts, and pepper at the finish. The beautiful amber liquid smells, for lack of a better word, lively! It is one of those teas that smell like a wake up call, like after school and you need tea to wake you up…or was that just me? The aroma blends oak wood and gently roasted peanuts, there is a brittle like sweetness at the finish and a touch of distant citrus.
Tasting time! I was tasting this tea in the afternoon, so I was glad that the aroma of this tea seemed very much something I would want as an afternoon pick-me-up, and very excited to see if it would transfer over in taste. The first thing I noticed was how it was a blend of bright and mellow, the mouthfeel has a smooth and slightly tingly texture, with a slight dryness at the finish. The taste starts out with sweet peanuts and yams, this moves to malt and a touch of citrus, and the finish is peanut brittle sweetness. I am tempted to try this at a later time with cream and sugar, but I so rarely drink my tea like that anymore that I was totally out of cream…err…half & half, and I refuse to use skim milk because ewww. I think this would be an excellent tea to have at Afternoon Tea, complete with a side of scones.
Oh I am utterly and completely knackered today. Ben was awesome and took me to my favorite store, the oh so epic International 888, an Asian market the size of a small mall. It has everything, from food and tea to cooking hear and all the Joss paper. I love that place, but I have to go on a day when I have money and a day where I have nothing else to do. So, yours truly took some books to Half Priced Books and made $18 (woo, I am rich!) and then used that money to get Matcha candies. Also some other random stuff, and a pile of Wood Ear Mushrooms for soup. Fun aside, I am so annoyed at getting so worn out easily lately, something to talk to the Doc about.
So, tea time! Today we are taking a look at Buddha Teas Organic Sacral Chakra Tea, and herbal blend of Calendula, Dong Quai Root, Damiana Leaf, Burdock Root, Ginger Root, and Fennel Seeds. These ingredients are picked for unlocking creativity and balancing the Sacral Chakra, then these ingredients are infused with Moonstone essence, which is fun because moonstone is a beautiful stone. If the traditions of Chakras are to believed, yours truly has a blockage in the Sacral Chakra, specifically a god awful monthly curse and lately I have been utterly exhausted all the time, so lets see if this tea helps. The aroma is pretty potent, a blend of spiciness and earthiness, warming spice notes from the ginger and fennel and lots of root-like earthiness from the roots. I am a huge fan of that earthy aroma of various dried roots, I find them comforting, but at times worrisome because root teas can be incredibly bitter if the blend is off.
Into the teacup the bag goes, as much as I love gongfu style tea, and all my various tea baskets and pots, being able to steep and toss a bag once in a while, especially when I am really tired, is refreshing. The aroma of the tea is still super earthy, mixing soil and roots, warming spices, and a touch of herbaceous fresh leaves. The finish is a super strong kick of ginger at the finish.
Brace yourself people, this is a potent pile of herbs! It starts out with a potent warming kick of ginger and sweet note of fennel. This moves right along into roots, it is like falling into a pile of freshly turned soil and newly dug up roots. A slightly bitter and very earthy blend dances in my mouth, combining this heavy earthiness with a fiery warmth from the ginger. This tea makes me feel very relaxed and tingly, that same feeling you get when sinking into a hot bath or snuggling under a hot fuzzy blanket. I could see myself drinking this before sleep, it is super relaxing, and I seem to need that as of late.
Well, the Dropzone Commander Tournament is over, and my dear Ben won quite handily. I am very impressed with his skill, but sad it was not me that faced him in the finals, also sad because one of my good friends who I wanted to win was his opponent, so the great ‘I hope you win and I hope you lose’ dilemma happened. So I spent the night painting and working on modifying a miniature, the golden Prowlers are almost done, and I need a LOT of greenstuff and some sculpting tools to finish the modifying. Wargaming is a long and expensive road…I think it is as bad as collecting Puerh!
Today’s tea comes from The Tea Shelf, their Glendale Nilgiri Black, yay for trying more teas from Nilgiri, a region of India (among a few other lesser known tea producing regions, but more on that another time) that I still need to experience more of. I feel I have a good grasp on teas from Assam and Darjeeling, but Nilgiri is still mysterious and new to me, so I am very glad to expand my education. This tea comes from the Glendale Tea Estate and is a Winter Flush Tea, a term used mostly in Nilgiri, since they do not have an autumn flush…or they just have very mild winters, I will admit to not being 100% clear on that one. The aroma of the lovely curly (or twisty) leaves is intensely sweet and fruity. A blend of honey drizzled grapefruit, grapes, cherries, and apricots, it is like a fruit salad with honey and a distant note of orange blossom at the finish. I am surprised by that floral note, it just kinda crept up on me, which was entertaining.
Into my trusty steeping apparatus the leaves go, I love this thing, it is so perfect for twisty black teas, allowing them to puff up beautifully while allowing me to see them. I am so glad that I could see these leaves, the colors displayed are quite striking, mottled reds, greens, and browns, very pretty. The aroma is very muscatel, blending scuppernongs and muscadines with the slightly sharper notes of white grapes. There are also notes of cherry, honey, and a tiny bit of lettuce at the finish. The liquid is a total surprise! There are notes of cocoa, roasted peanuts and raisins…it is like the leaves are a first flush and the liquid is a second, how intriguing!
Waiting for the cup to cool to drinking temperature was kinda torture, I was so curious to see which the taste would reflect, the wet leaves or the liquid, turns out it was a bit of both. This tea is delightfully brisk, a definite wake up your mouth briskness, but without the drying tannin effect, it is sharp finishing on creamy. The taste starts out fruity, a blend of raisins, dates, and cherries, I even get a distant note of dried fig around the midtaste. Along with the tiny hint of fig at the middle is a green vegetation note and a honey sweetness with a gentle note of orange blossoms. The finish has a lingering hint of sweet orange and slightly spicy stewed cherries, the orange note lingers keeping the briskness alive long after the cup has finished. Winter Flush, you are a fascinating thing!
Everyone should feel really bad for Espeon, she has had a very rough day. See, it has been a gloriously stormy day (that I slept through, mostly) and it has been terrifying her! One of those storms that has a decent amount of rain, little wind, and a nigh constant soundtrack of explosive thunder. Like a lot of cats (and dogs too) she is kinda terrified of loud noises (Tao, on the other hand, can sleep through anything and could care less, she is so zen) so after each massive boom I heard a sad little wiffle of a meow. Half asleep I called her into bed and then after each boom she crawled further and further up the bed (having started at the foot) until she was more or less under my pillow. It was adorable and sad, because according to the weather, the storms are not quite finished for today.
So, funny story with today’s tea, it was sent to me as a challenge by Trader Leaf Tea! I told them I was not so much a fan of hibiscus and they sent me Orange Grapefruit Herb Blend in hopes of changing my mind. If you have been reading my tea ramblings you know I really hate hibiscus, now true I do occasionally run into a blend that has it included that does not send me screaming for the hills, so ok, challenge accepted! This tea is a blend of quite a few things: apple pieces, carrot flakes, blackberry and eucalyptus leaves, beetroot pieces, hibiscus flowers, lemon grass, flavoring, tangerine pieces, and orange slices, so not one of those blends that is super heavy on the red death…and there are a few things I am rather fond of (hello eucalyptus and citrus things!) According to my notes (and my nose, since I just took a refresher sniff) this tea is a sweet citrus and eucalyptus explosion! Very sweet and refreshing notes of different citrus notes (lemon, orange, and grapefruit reign supreme) and a very cleansing note of eucalyptus. It opens the nose and lungs and allows for sneaky notes of beetroot and carrot to creep in at the finish.
One thing I will say about hibiscus, it sure is pretty to steep, that vibrant red color that starts pink and turns maroon is lovely to watch. The aroma of the soggy bits is super strong citrus and eucalyptus, I am not really getting anything else, I think I will use this as a breathing aide next time I have a cold because wow! My sinuses are certainly cleared now. The liquid is much the same, lots of citrus (especially lemon and orange) and eucalyptus, with a honey sweet undertone.
Now if you are the kind of person that finds this intense sinus and lung clearing and cooling type teas unpleasant, this might not be the brew for you, I love strongly camphorous like aromas and tastes, they make me happy. The taste is surprisingly sweet, like biting into a fresh orange, but mixed with a touch of sourness and tartness. The eucalyptus is strong, but it is not a taste, more the cooling and very refreshing sensation of eucalyptus. Towards the finish there is a combination of earthy carrot and beet notes, along with metallic notes from the hibiscus. Ok, you were right to challenge me, because I do not hate this tea, granted the hibiscus notes are pretty faint, so that certainly gives it a big win in my book.
Bouncing back and forth between painting, researching tea, redoing my tea area, and general reorganizing the bedroom. I have that restless feeling of wanting to do a lot, but my typical butterfly like habit of fluttering from thing to thing keeps me from staying focused. Sadly this bouncing around means I have not actually accomplished anything, well except stew, but it is still cooking so it does not count! At least the storms that have been promised have arrived, if I am lucky they will not fall apart and we will get a nice show this evening. Hooray for storms!
Wymm Tea recently stocked their shop with some new teas, and they were awesome and sent me samples of said new teas, yes, yours truly has four new Sheng Puerhs to spend time with, I seem to be developing an addiction to the stuff! After much debate I decided to dig into the Bingdao Laozhai Huangpian Sheng Ancient Tea Tree Pu-erh 2014 first, because I find myself enamored by the story of Huangpian Shengs, see, this tea is made from the not quite so pretty large, yellow (Huangpian means Yellow Leaf), scraggly leaves left over once the super fancy Puerhs are made. These are the leaves that the creators of the Puerh usually keep for themselves, because the tea that is exported needs to be pretty to fetch the best price, as a chef friend once told me, ‘we eat with our eyes’ the same is true with tea, but sometimes overlooking the standards of beauty will give us some treasures. The particular Huangpian comes from the same trees that the very sought after Bingdao Laozhai Puerh cakes that you sometimes see going for quite a bit of money. Way out of this blogger’s financial means! The aroma of the rather rough and green leaves is very sharp, like wet hay and, well, fermented tea leaves, it has that distinct fermentation smell that you get off of things that have started to become great friends with the microbes that are now hanging out with them. Mix in faint notes of honey, green beans, spinach, and a soft note of wet barn. Like the wood in a barn after a rain, you can smell the hay and the barn at the same time, luckily this is only the barn that stores hay and not animals or that would be a whole different smell.
Unlike the last Huangpian I had from Wymm Tea, this tea is fluffy instead of super compressed, so I did not need to poke at it in a vain attempt at breaking it up. The aroma is more potent this time, though less sharp, sweet notes of wet and freshly broken hay and honey along side lima beans and spinach. The liquid is fairly mild, mixing honey and hay with a hint of lima beans.
The first steep is pleasantly sweet and mild, blending notes of wet hay and honey at the first with sour cherries and a gentle note of smoke, spinach, and the distinct mustiness of old leaves at the finish. Not like falling in leaf loam, more the smell of it than taste. The aftertaste is lima beans, which is fun, because those things are delicious. The mouthfeel is smooth, not very thick, just smooth and a bit silky.
The aroma of the second steep is honey and hay with a touch of spinach, it is still incredibly mild, one of those I accidentally dipped my nose in the tea moments trying to get the aroma. The taste is definitely not as sweet as it was in the previous steep, it starts out with sharp wet hay and sour cherries and then quickly moves into green notes. The main notes of green-ness are lima beans, spinach, and a bit of grass and smoke. The finish is a surprising note of cranberry, that lingers into the aftertaste.
Next steep! The aroma is still faint, but the notes I am picking up are spinach and a touch of hay. This time the sweetness is gone, I am left with all savory spinach and lima beans. It is fairly smooth, though not overwhelmingly complex, but I don’t mind. I continued steeping this for a bit, once it hit the savory vegetal notes it did not really evolve much, which is fine, sometimes having a tea that is solid while being tasty is good for drinking tea while being able to focus on other things…like art or reading, without insulting the tea by ignoring it.