602 Tasting Notes
Ah oolong, my possible favorite tea, it is hard to tell, it is certainly the tea I drink the most of. The aroma of the curly and rather dark leaves is pretty sweet, a blend of stewed cherries, honey, and distant orchids. There is also a hint of smoke and spice, though they are faint, only little whiffs. The brewed tea now is a powerhouse of raisins and cocoa with a hint of spicebush and smoke.
The taste is brisk for an oolong, reminding me more of a brisk black but instead of malt there are notes of raisins, sweet caramelized sugar, and a rich note of honey. This is definitely one of those times that it is an oolong that tastes like a mix between a green and a black, erring more on the black side. The aftertaste is slightly smoky, though it does not linger for very long.
Next up is the green, I decided to go in oxidation order, it just seemed appropriate. The aroma of the broken green leaves in the teabag is, well, rather green! It is like a blend of fresh spinach, buttered greens (specifically buttered cauliflower) and a little like fresh collards. Brewing the tea I found it surprisingly brisk, almost like a black tea with its briskness, there are also notes of honey and hay along with grass and a touch of spinach.
The taste of this one was similar to the aroma, brisk and green, and a little on the bitter side. Bitter like eating fresh kale, in fact the taste reminds me of kale at the beginning of the sip and then it transitions pretty intensely to mown grass and honey. Sadly this tea did not wow me over much, though I cannot be expected to like every tea I drink, just most of them.
Starting off with the tea with the least amount of processing and oxidation, good old fuzzy white tea. It is totally random if I will take a tea out of its bag if presented with a teabag, but I was feeling a bit lazy today and decided since teabags were made for convenience, I am going to use that ease of access. So, sniffing the teabag I get notes of wildflowers, fresh hay, a bit of lettuce, and a tiny bit of fruitiness at the finish. This is one of the more delicate white teas I have sniffed, giving it a steeping brings out more of the honey and wildflower notes, it reminds me of a summer field in full bloom.
The tea is surprisingly dark for a silver needle tea, it has the coloring of a shou mei, which excites me something fierce because that tea is fun. Ok, tasting the tea, it is similar to a shou mei, with rich honey and fruit notes with a bit of earthy loam. However there is also similarities to silver needle with delicate floral notes and vegetal (I almost always pick out this specific vegetal note as lettuce) and a touch of sage. I have no qualms saying that I chugged this cup really quickly, and not just because I had just woken up and desperately needed some caffeine.
You know, being a creature of the internet (now you know the real reason I panicked when my computer died, I am literally made of internet) means that I tend to follow the various silly trends. #TBT (or Throw Back Thursday for those not hashtag savvy) is pretty much what it says on the tin, usually you post a selfie/photo of yourself taken a long time ago, and I thought, I should apply that to my blog. Basically it is my plan to make Thursday the day that I visit one of the neglected teas languishing in my stack of tea notebooks. I had originally planned on this being a Friday thing, but it didn’t feel right, so clearly I just needed the right meme. Also, I leveled up, tonight is game night and I can turn into animals (as long as they don’t fly, swim, or are too powerful) now, go Wild Shape!
So, before I get into today’s #TBT I want to point out an awesome Kickstarter that is currently in the works, Frank, the original creator of 52Teas is handing over the reigns to mother-daughter team Anne and Amethyst, you might know Anne as the cofounder of SororiTea Sisters, a very prolific tea blog, so you know that she knows her teas! I have been very hit or miss with 52teas flavors (very much so the nature of the beast when you come up with some of those wacky blends, once a week) but I am super excited to see how things go. Good luck you two, and to Frank with Southern Boys Iced Tea! So on to today’s tea, it was part of the sampler I ordered during the Indiegogo campaign and I won’t lie, it was the one I was most excited for because it has my much loved marshmallow root! Yes, I am talking about none other than Marshmallow Treat Genmaicha, as a person who has made and then subsequently eaten entire batches of rice crispy treats, you can see why I was excited. The aroma is sweet and slightly nutty with toasted rice, and a distinct note of grass. It reminds me a bit of laying in the grass while sniffing a rice crispy treat, the green notes are odd but not at all off putting, just like eating dessert in nature.
Steeping the tea is quite a treat, the aroma is rather delightful and intense. Notes of richly roasted rice and sweet marshmallow drift up from the soggy leaves (Genmai Cha always looks so sad once it is soggy) there is also a hint of grass and a bit of a savory note from both the rice and the green tea. The liquid without its soggy friends is all rice crispy treat all the time, no green tea to be found, just warm gooey marshmallows and toasted rice.
It is an odd mingling of flavors, this tea. Starting out with slightly kelp and slightly nutty umami tones along with a hint of grass, then the roasted rice builds and then boom, marshmallow explosion! It is really quite sweet and very evocative of rice crispy treats, but with a green tea twist. Something about the umami tones and the sweetness from the marshmallow mixes really well, the umami keeps the marshmallow from being too sweet and the marshmallow keeps the tea from being too savory, it is a balancing act. The finish is one of marshmallow, it lingers for quite a while making for a happy me. So yeah, of all the 52teas blends I have tried, this one might be my favorite, its other competition being the other marshmallow root teas, can you tell I have a fixation on that root?
For blog and (kinda awful) photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2015/01/52teas-marshmallow-treat-genmaicha-tea.html
Today has been a glimpse of Spring in the middle of Winter, at least temperature wise, visually it is all brown and dingy, typical Kansas City Winter color pallete. Even though I am never a fan of the drab part of Winter (give me snow and evergreens, along with the green grass of central Pennsylvania and I am in seasonal bliss) it was too nice of a day for me to stay in, so off to Kauffman Gardens I went to practice some phone photography. My new phone is better than my original camera that I started photography with (a measly 3MP) at 5MP but it pales in comparison to the 12 MP camera I use for nature photography, and my dream one at 18MP, one day I will have that camera! Anyway, this little phone is not half bad, it lacks a macro lens, so I will have to make one from an old disk drive or something, lots of good tutorials for that, and of course playing with all the filters and such is fun. It is an interesting disconnect in my brain, other than cropping I rarely alter my photos taken with my camera, but with my phone I have quite a lot of fun editing them, funny ol’ world we live in.
Since it is Wednesday, that means it is time to take another journey into What-Cha’s epic catalog of tea in my attempt to try all of the teas. Today’s tea is Nepal 2nd Flush 2014 Golden Tips Black Tea, another offering from Greenland Organic Farms in East Nepal in the shadow of Mt. Kancghenjunga. You all know me well enough by now to know how much of a sucker I am for golden teas, and this tea does not disappoint, curly leaves covered in delicate golden trichomes. The aroma rich, a touch on the sweet side, but more rich than sweet. The notes are primarily roasted peanuts, malt, and a touch of sweet potatoes and stewed fruit. At the end there is the most delicate note of rose and pepper, I run into pepper quite often, but the notes of rose were a pleasant surprise.
Once I give the tea a steeping in the bat gaiwan I notice the rose and pepper aroma are much stronger, which is awesome, after that initial spicy and flowery burst there are strong notes of malt and sweet potato with a rich finish of cocoa. Where the leaves were rich the liquid is sweet, notes of sweet potato and cocoa waft out of my cha hai, yes I did have my nose stuffed in this one, luckily I did not burn it, though I do frequently tend to, especially if a tea smells good!
Ok, first steep, it has a pretty strong start, it lacks the usual mildness that a first steep has. The start is quite malty, and here is the fun part, I am skipping over the midtaste because it is even maltier at the finish, like the back of my throat is kicked with malt. The midtaste has a hint of cocoa and pepper, and the aftertaste is rich and sweet, a touch creamy.
Second steeping time, as per usual I stick my nose in my cha hai and give the tea a nice hefty sniff. I often debate when is the best time to sniff the freshly steeped tea, pre pour when it is in the cha hai or once I have poured it into a tiny cup, so far the cha hai seems more fun. The aroma of this steep is a blend of sweet potatoes and cocoa at the front and finish of rose and pepper, still really digging the rose notes. The taste is just as rich as the first steep, and pretty smooth, I would even go so far as to say it is velvety. In fact, this tea has absolutely no dryness whatsoever. The finish has a hint of pepper and leaves a sweet potato aftertaste that lingers for a while.
Third time around, the aroma is not as potent as previously, primarily there are notes of sweet potatoes and a nice hint of malt at the finish. Tasting the tea, well, it is still super velvety and smooth, just like the previous two steeps, and still pretty rich, but it is mellowing out to a sweetness. The notes that dominate this steeping are sweet potatoes and malt with a real nice peppery finish. I should point out that the peppery notes are more the taste of pepper, not the spicy heat, it is always very fascinating to me when flavor notes act like that, or my favorite, when a flavor note is present but it lacks the aroma or texture of the food (or random piece of wood if you are a weirdo like me) that it is imitating. Tea, and the way we perceive it, never stops being a thing of wonder to me.
I’m back, baby! Yeah, yeah, I had to start out with a Futurama quote, I mean how could I not? I am typing from my new computer and Bender is a walking computer, so it fits. It is good to have my own computer again, even if technically I am renting it until I have it paid back, well kinda, I am telling Ben it is our computer meaning he can use it whenever he wants, and once I have it paid back it will be mine, all mine, MWAHAHAHA. Yours truly is weird when it comes being in debt, and Ben makes sure to tell me I am being ridiculous quite often. The computer is pretty great, I have determined that I can definitely play Minecraft on it (thank the tech gods!) and the keyboard is the perfect size for my tiny hands. However this computer has possible the worst speakers and mouse I have ever used, the speakers I have an immediate fix for, but I lack an external mouse. I plan on somehow scrounging up some money and buying a Logitech Trackball mouse again, it was the one I used for years with my old desktop and I adored it.
Enough of the computer talk though, this is not a tech blog (well it is kind of a geek blog) it is a tea blog, and it is always time for tea! Today’s tea goes out to all my snowed in people on the East Coast (I am so jealous of your snow) Tea Leaf Co’s (Tea LC) Golden Sun Kiss, Organic Citrus Oolong. This is a blend of Oolong (specifically from Wuyi) Citrus Peel and Slices, and Natural Essence. The essence made me rather excited, because it means that most likely the tea will smell like intense citrus instead of the bathroom spray favored by my grandparents once upon a time (best bathroom air freshener ever, but do not want my consumables tasting like it) now don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with artificial flavors and such, I love candy as much as the next person, there are just certain flavors that I do not like, and orange is one of those. So, giving the leaves a sniff and whoa, hello Orange Julius! In case you live in part of the world where those don’t exist (I am so sorry) it is a mix of ice cream and orange juice for a super creamy cup of yum…you can also say it smells like orange sherbet. It very much so mixes creamy notes and orange, under these notes are delicate honeysuckle and a tiny touch of earthiness. Me likes the way this smells, but I am a sucker for Orange Julius (Julii is the correct plural I believe.)
I decided to go Western style for this one, though it was tempting to brew it Gongfu style because it is an Oolong and I find myself always drawn to breaking out the gaiwans. The leaves look quite lovely in my little steeping apparatus (if I start calling it the Alchemy steeper, will you know what I mean, I use it so often that hopefully so.) The leaves have that same delightful Orange Julius aroma along with pepper, sweet cream, distant blooming honeysuckles and a touch of orchids, and lastly a tiny bit of grapefruit. The liquid, well, I burned the tip of my nose because I stuck it in the tea, such a graceful creature am I! The aroma is very sweet, a blend of cream, a touch of citrus, and a distinct aroma of orange blossoms, it is delightfully floral and citrus, reminding me of my orange blossom water that I occasional bathe with. The very definition of decadent.
So funny story, as is usual I tasted this tea and wrote notes about it before I wrote the blog, at the time of tasting (it was yesterday, as those who instagram stalk me know) Ben was home, relaxing a bit before work, when I take my first sip and make such a racket that he insisted on having some, at first I refused to share and then relented. I was reluctant because about I would say 80% of Oolongs Ben does not care for, but he took a sip and said ‘That actually tastes really good’ and handed my cup back to me. So always nice to find a tea that one of the most picky tea sippers I know actually likes. As for how it actually tastes, well, it tastes like an Orange Julius mixed with delightfully floral tea, it is primarily fresh oranges and vanilla cream, this creaminess lasts into the midtaste, and the the finish is flowers. Specifically it is a blend of orange blossoms and honeysuckle, the honeysuckle lingers into the aftertaste for quite a while. In case you are a person who wants a little tea romance for Valentines Day, Tea LC is having a neat little Teagram promo, always a fan of themed promotions.
Well, last night’s campaign went well, we killed lots of undead things, none of my fireblasts backfired and lit me or the party on fire, and I talked to a cow for important plot details. Being a Druid is fun, now if only I could hurry and level up so that I can start turning into random wild animals, then things will really get real. And for anyone anxiously awaiting news on the computer kerfuffle, 4-7 business days until it arrives, the wait might drive me crazy, but that means it is only a short time before I can resume some semblance of normality and get caught up on all my internet stuff. Also, one last little blip of me related info, there are two new buttons on my blog, one linking to my Instagram and a donation button, I figured it would be a less obtrusive way to possibly generate a little income, and it keeps with my promise of not running ads.
So, now tis time for some Chai! Actually it is always time for chai, since chai just means tea in Hindi (and several other language) so yeah, when you are ordering Chai Tea at a restaurant, technically you are just ordering tea tea. Fun linguistics aside, today we are looking at Trader Leaf’s Sri Lanka Spice Chai, a blend of Black Tea, Coriander, Cumin, Curry, Sweet Fennel, Cinnamon, Cardamon, and Lemongrass leaves, quite the unusual blend! I am a fan of Chai blends that go out of the norm, and teas that incorporate spices that are usually just used for food. The aroma of this tea is intense, it is a blend of curry and cumin, coriander and cardamon, and a very rich malty black tea base. It blends the aroma of food and tea really well and manages to make me both hungry and thirsty.
After giving the leaves a steeping, the other spices start to really show their stuff, the cinnamon and cardamon being the strongest and giving an edge of sweetness to a mostly savory spiced tea. Underneath the previous spices is a blend of rich malt, curry, and cumin. The liquid is quite rich, blending sweet and spicy in a really quite perfect little dance. It smells much like a malty Masala Chai sitting right next to a steaming bowl of curry, or my usual dream lunch.
Taken the traditional way with milk and sugar (ok, I use half&half, but I like mine super rich) and let me start out by saying, that is one super rich tea, cream aside! I barely noticed the creamy richness over that strong malt and killer spices. It starts out with intense curry and cumin, then transitions to coriander and fennel, and after that hello cardamon and cinnamon! The finish is sweet with a cumin aftertaste that lingers. This is the perfect chai for a hot day, it warms you up and makes you feel all tingly and relaxed, plus I love the blending of curry spices and more typical Masala spices, this might be one of my favorite spice blends for a chai.
Guess what, it is game night! Also it is computer ordering time, yes my oh so wonderfully tech savvy boyfriend has found the perfect computer for me and is ordering it. I do not know much about it other than the screen is big, it is not Vista (I am free of the curse!) and I will probably be able to play Minecraft on it. So for all the terrible angst I have been going through with not having a computer, it looks like it will be having a happy ending. Also, guys, wish me luck that I do not manage to either blow myself up or damage my fellow party members in tonight’s D&D game!
Today we are taking a look at Golden Tips Tea’s Halmari Gold Assam Black Tea Second Flush (Clonal) a fuzzy golden tea from Assam, how neat! I have seen very fuzzy golden teas from places other than China, but the glorious fuzzy golds have become iconic to me, I always get excited seeing them from somewhere else. From the Halmari Tea Estate, these leaves come from the P126 Clonal bushes and are picked under very special circumstances, and of course, they are the highest grade of leaves with the GTGFOP grading. The aroma of these lovely fuzzies is pretty rich, a blend of maltiness that you expect from a high grade Assam, along with potent notes of cocoa, roasted peanuts, cooked cherries, and a subtle woodiness at the finish.
Into my fancy little steeping double boiler tea alchemy thingy the leaves go! After a nice steeping (thank you oh great and fancy timer app, though I am pretty sure programming it to sound like a Creeper hiss is going to bite me one day) the aroma of the leaves is again, very rich. There are notes of the expected malt, along with pepper, roasted peanuts, and a distinct oak wood undertone. The liquid is pretty much identical, it is very rich and malty, both the aroma of the leaves and the liquid is very rich and not at all sweet.
This tea wakes you up if you are asleep, I was expecting a rich and mild tea, again spoiled by Chinese fuzzy teas, what I got was an intense Assam. I have not had a straight Assam in a while, it used to be my go to black tea to drink, especially in the mornings, I loved the way its bold flavors wake you up and make you alert. The taste is very malty and accompanied by roasted peanuts and oak wood. There is a bit of an astringency to it, but it avoids being bitter, just super brisk. At the finish there is a bit of sweetness that lingers, like distant stewed cherries. Thank you Halmari Gold, I had forgotten my love of Assam’s intensity.
So, my first blog update from the library, what an adventure! As expected, not a fan of their keyboard, and I cannot alter the screen brightness, so we have to hope my photos look better on other people’s computers, but hey, no complaining because I am hooked into the system again! Thanks to my new phone I have been able to keep somewhat connected to all my tea friends, but not being able to write has been so hard, it is my passion!
So it is Wednesday, that means it is time for a tea from What-Cha, specifically a purple green tea, yes, we are taking another look at the Anthocyanin heavy tea leaves, unlike the White version I tried last time, this one is green. Though really, I am very tempted to call these purple varietal Drow Teas, but I have a serious thing for dark elves, any chance to reference them I get, I take. Kenya Steamed Purple Varietal Green Tea, from the Mount Kenya region of Kenya does not look at all like a green tea, in fact if you showed this to me without any context I would probably guess it is a black or a very heavily oxidized oolong. After sniffing it though, you can tell it is a green, with strong notes of stir fried veggies and a hint of nuttiness, this is a savory green. It starts out with a distinct note of artichoke, then transitions into cooked spinach, stir fried bok choy, and mushrooms. The finish is toasted sesame with just a tiny hint of sweetness. Teas with these notes tend to make me hungry, so fair warning if you are susceptible to the oh so tantalizing savory.
So, into the gaiwan it goes! I know, technically brewing a Kenyan tea in a gaiwan might not be correct, but since the tradition of tea in Kenya was brought by Western tea drinkers, I can improvise. Plus, I was in the mood to have tea in my gaiwan, specifically my tall and slender one. Anyway, the aroma of the rather dark leaves (you can see hints of gray, purple, and just a tiny bit of green depending on light) has switched from savory to sweet, with notes of cooked plums and sesame seeds with a distinct grilled fruit aroma. You know, a blend of smoke and cooked peaches, a smell very evocative of summer. The liquid, it reminds me of fruit leather, a blend of cherries, peaches, plums, and grapes. Super yummy! There is also a hint of sesame at the finish giving it a hint of nuttiness.
Holy moly, this tea is legit purple! I honestly was not expecting that after the white tea was so pale, but nope this tea is purple, so cool! The taste of the first steep can honestly be summed up as a fruit explosion, seriously intense notes of apricots, plums, and cherries, it is super sweet and juicy. The initial fruit bomb fades to sweet sesame and a tiny hint of sweetgrass at the finish. I really found it neat that breathing out rather than in while sipping this tea made the taste of the fruit even more intense.
Hello sesame seeds and apricots! The aroma of the second steep is a pretty even mix of toasted sesame seeds and fruit, with blended notes of apricots and plums, it is like a crustless fruit pie. Somehow the second steep managed to be even sweeter than the previous one, the fruit explosion is now joined by really intense wildflower honey and hay. At the finish there is a distinct smoky fruit finish that lingers for a while, more teas need to have smoky fruit notes, because it is so evocative of eating grilled fruit while camping.
So, I am the library and I have my headphones on and I am totally rocking out to Thrift Shop, everyone is giving me funny looks…this is why I like to blog alone! Thought I would share that with you all, a little bit of my writing process…yes there is almost always music and me dancing in my chair. Ok, this tea is still sweet and the purple is still strong, I used to have hair that exact same color, how fun! The aroma is all cooked fruit this time, no nutty notes, just strong fruit. The taste starts out super fruity and sweet and is joined at the front with smoky notes and hay. This tea was so sweet and fun, yum!!