540 Tasting Notes
Today was going to be my relax and catch up on reading day, all that travel meant that I am really behind on the various blogs and Steepster friends that I follow, instead it was a day of Steampunk Creepers. My mom got a text this morning about the Steampunk texture pack on the Xbox, we both looked at each other and more or less ran to the console. While she is not as a big of a fan of the Steampunk aesthetic as I am, my mom does enjoy it, plus we always get a kick out of new texture packs. After playing Minecraft we decorated for Halloween, and I am still not caught up on my reading!
It is Wednesday, so that means it is time for What-Cha, specifically their Nepal 2nd Flush 2014 Cannon Ball Green Tea from Greenland Organic Farm in the shadow of Mt. Kancghenjunga. I absolutely love the shape of these little tea balls, I am not sure why it is called Cannon Ball except that maybe it is a play off of Gunpowder Green, and these are bigger so they are cannon balls? Until corrected, that shall be my head cannon (yes I am a terrible person for making that pun, no regrets.) The aroma of the leaf balls is very green and quite sweet, there are notes of cut grass, freshly broken green stems, a tiny bit of hay, and a nice sharp finishing note of citrus. It has a very refreshing aroma that I hope carries over to the brewed tea.
Watching the little leaf balls slowly turn into a pile of small leaves is rather entertaining, they did not so much unfurl as fall apart, much like a cannon ball hitting a fortress wall. The aroma of the soggy leaf pile is a blend of freshly squeezed citrus (reminds me a bit of Yuzu, actually) and cut grass. The liquid once liberated from the leaves is very fresh and refreshing, the aroma has notes of light citrus, fresh grass, and a very mild touch of pepper at the finish.
The first steep can be summed up best as odd yet refreshing! As with the other teas I have had from What-Cha’s Nepal selection, it has a real clean spring water taste to it, I am not sure if it is a terroir thing or a farm specific trait, but I love it. Now I cannot tell you if I love this because of the taste or because it instantly transports me to one of my favorite places, ever, either way it is a powerful effect. There is more than just spring water to this tea, there is also a strong middle presence of green in the middle, it cools my mouth and tastes like broken stems and grass. This passes to citrus at the finish, adding a brightness to the tea and a touch of sweetness.
The second steep’s aroma is much like the first, it smells clean and fresh with a strong presence of green grass and citrus, no pepper this time though. The taste is brisk, not brisk like a black tea, but brisk like a stroll on a cool spring evening, it is refreshing and invigorating. There are notes of spinach and cut grass at the front, this transitions to lettuce and broken stems in the middle, and lastly the tea fades to citrus and sweet hay with a slight aftertaste of saltiness that I found pretty neat. With a lot of types of tea you start to see a pattern, similar tasting notes, similar aromas, so I always get a real kick out of teas that shake me out of similarities.
Today has been a day of tea, I am a wee bit tea drunk at the moment, and I am pretty sure my mom is too. We have been gongfu-ing several different teas that I wanted her to try from my private stash while listening to music and cleaning around the house. You know how it is post travel, no matter how organized and neat the house is when you get home, as soon as you bring in the luggage it ceases to be. It is always a great feeling to have everything in its proper place.
For the chosen tea on this most pleasant of Tuesdays, I am having a look at Life in Teacup’s Tie Guan Yin Traditional Charcoal Roast. So fun story with my relationship with TGY, when I first started drinking it many years ago, I preferred the charcoal roast over its more green variety…then I fell in love with the green variety for about a year…and now I am back to preferring the roasted one again! It is enjoyable to see how desire for certain tastes change over time, sometimes it changes over the seasons and sometimes it changes over longer times, it is a journey. The aroma is quite delicious smelling, it blends baking bread and charcoal with an underlying heady aroma of orchids. The blending of flowers and roast makes for a very interesting aroma, the yeasty notes of baking bread add a level of sweetness to it as well. I always find roasted oolongs that retain their floral notes to be fascinating.
The aroma of the leaves after the first steep is surprisingly floral, very strong heady presence of orchids with a hint of honeysuckle. There are also notes of baking bread and a tiny bit of char and mineral, much like burnt sticks and a freshwater spring. The aroma of the liquid is fairly mild, with notes of buttery baking bread and orchids, there is a finish of fresh vegetation. Surprisingly no empyreumatic notes in the liquid.
The first steeping is very sweet, very strong notes of honey drizzled yeasty bread. The bread notes transition into heady orchids and honeysuckle nectar. Sipping this tea is like eating freshly baked bread while sitting in an orchid filled conservatory. Remind me to add that to my ‘to do’ list.
On the second steep, the aroma has more of a roasted tea aroma, there are notes of toasted sesame seeds, yeasty bread, and a touch of nutmeg. The taste is very sweet, just like the first steep, but this time it is the sweetness of honey on toast! This transitions to heady orchids and a bit of charcoal with a sweet, flower nectar finish that lingers.
For the third steep, well you can certainly tell this is a charcoal roasted tea, because the char notes are strong. There are also notes of baking bread and honey, the previous notes of flowers have faded. I found all the roasty toasty notes! The taste of this steep is rich with charcoal and toast notes, the mouthfeel is dry, and there is a hint of leaf pile at the midtaste. For the finishing note there is rich raw honey and a hint of toasted sesame. As charcoal roasted teas go, this one is pretty mild, one I would recommend for someone who only wants a little of that char taste in their teas.
Monday has arrived, meaning a new week (unless you are someone who prefers to start the week on Sunday, in that case never mind) and a fresh start. I am back in Pennsylvania, as much as I enjoyed my trip to South Carolina, I am glad to be back because I wore myself out! I still have not really relaxed since I left Kansas City, so it will be good to just chill and enjoy the autumn air. Yours truly hopes to go hiking in the mountains before mushrooms go away and all the leaves fall later this week, an exciting prospect!
Today’s tea is all about having a functioning brain, Good Life Tea’s Citrus & Ginkgo Organic Green Tea blends Green Tea from India, Lemongrass, Citrus Peels, and of course Ginkgo. This pungent herb has been used for quite a while to stimulate the brain, I remember back in my school days I would eat strange tasting Ginkgo candies I bought at the local Asian Market, no idea if they helped my perpetually distracted mind though! The aroma of this tea is pretty potently citrus, lots and lots of lemon! Luckily it is not a fake lemon aroma, it smells much like I just stuck my nose inside a crate full of fresh lemons along with the aroma of crushed lemon leaves. There is just a tiny hint of herbal notes and a delicate note of vegetation.
The brewed leaves are much more balanced, I can smell the other elements of the tea, including lemons, fresh vegetation, and pungent herbal notes. There is also a note of pepper and a hint of sharpness that is a bit hard to place, like a mix of green wood and broken grass. The liquid smells more or less identical to the wet leaves, there is just a slight honey sweetness that was not present in the leaves.
The taste is, well it is a bit odd. As with most things that contain herbs, sometimes the taste is nothing short of strange, there is a reason the term herbaceous exists, because it is the best description for it. The tea is a bit sour, both from the lemons and the slightly pungent ginkgo, along with a touch of pepper, and a finish of gentle green notes and smoke. I am not sure how to feel about this tea, it was not my favorite tea ever, but it was not bad, just not necessarily the taste for me.
I have a confession that some of my friends back in Kansas City are going to hate me for, I really don’t like their BBQ, sorry guys! I grew up in the South on delicious Southern style BBQ, and then I left and have not had any for almost fifteen years. Until today. I had BBQ so good that I actually cried, no lie, I sat at the table eating my food while crying. I tolerated other types of BBQ because I craved it, but really, in my book nothing compares to it. So that is my confession, I hope I don’t make too many enemies!
Travel has taken a toll on my perception of time, so What-Cha Wednesday is on a Thursday this week, and the particular tea has an autumnal flair, Darjeeling Autumn Flush 2013 Jungpana Black Tea, which is perfect for this time if year. There is something about Darjeeling teas and autumn that go perfectly together, doubly so if it is an autumn flush. The aroma of the dry leaves is sweet and muscatel, it reminds me a little of white wine and scuppernongs, with a rich undertone of sweet potatoes and roasted peanuts. I think spending time in the South is having an effect on my nose, those are such Southern foods! Regardless of my nose’s current influence, the smells is quite good and of course sweet.
Brewing the leaves seems to make the aroma even richer, very sweet and immensely rich, it has a real depth to it with notes of muscatel, molasses, sweet potatoes, and a tiny hint of distant flowers. The liquid is still sweet and rich, but it has a lightness where the leaves had depth. There are notes of sweet potatoes and scuppernongs with a finish of chocolate and flowers.
This is a Darjeeling to sip while lounging somewhere you can peacefully contemplate something, be it the tea you are sipping or your surroundings, or just the glories of cheese. It has that feeling when you sip it, the tea is a perfect companion for getting lost in thought because its journey through flavor notes is gentle. It starts with a rich molasses and sweet potato, after this the flavor turns light and sweet with a distinct note of golden raises and honey. The end has a cooling effect and a hint of loam with honey sweetness. Surprisingly I gave the rest of my sample to a friend who wanted more experience with Darjeeling, even though I wanted it all for myself I knew it was the perfect Darjeeling to use as either an introductory tea or one to get more experience with. My reasoning for this is it has the distinct notes associated with an Autumn Flush Darjeeling while having a reasonable price and very clear flavor notes. It is also good for experienced sippers because yum.
Oh man, so much busy! Yesterday I was exhausted after finishing the road trip, doing some post trip shopping (it seems this is a tradition now) and eating. I took a nap and ended up sleeping a whopping 14 hours. Then today I went to Hilton Head for more shopping (thrift stores are awesome, found some awesome tea things I am going to have to show off soon) and then to Hunting Island for some ocean fun. The ocean did my soul good, especially since earlier in the day a nice lady asked me if my blue hair meant I was a mermaid. Tomorrow we plan to visit Charleston and the tea plantation, so much excitement for that!
Today’s tea is something soothing and relaxing from The Persimmon Tree Tea Company, Mandarin Cream Oolong! This tea is a blend of Organic Oolong, Organic Lemon Myrtle, Marigold Petals and Natural Flavors creating a tea that is a mix of creaminess and lemons. I am a huge fan of Lemon Myrtle because it gives that essence of lemon without being a kick in the face of citrus. The aroma is nothing short of neat, I say neat as in cool, hip…you know, what people say when something smells unusual but good, at least I assume people still say hip, I am a bit out of the loop. It blends sweet cream, honeysuckles, orchids, and a hint of lemon at the finish for a really unique smelling blend, I admit I find myself very intrigued by these leaves.
Tossing the leaves in my steeping basket for a nice little bath in my teacup, I find myself greeted with a blend of floral aromas, primarily orchid and honeysuckle, and creamy lemons. It vaguely reminds me of a very floral creamy lemony cheesecake. The liquid is much the same without its leafy companions, it is very sweet and creamy with mellow lemons and lots of floral notes.
It is totally unexpected that this tea hits the spot, it is floral and sweet with just the right amount of lemon. It starts out lemony and floral with notes of orchids and honeysuckle to give it sweetness. This sweetness builds to a creamy midtaste and finishes with a blend of cream and lemon, again reminding me of lemony cheesecake. Like I said when sniffing the leaves, it is unusual, but in a very neat way, I found myself truly enjoying this tea and wanting more when I finished the cup!
For photos and blog (including me at the beach being a mermaid): http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2014/10/the-persimmon-tree-tea-company-mandarin.html
Macro Polo TTB
Yours truly is currently sitting in a hotel room in North Carolina, near Lake Norman. Apparently there is an exceptionally large lake nearby, but I cannot see if from my hotel. What I can see is a my travel gaiwan making tea for my mom and myself as we watch TV and relax before finish the road trip to South Carolina. It is pretty exciting to be writing from a hotel, I am not sure why but I feel super fancy with my travel gaiwan far away from home.
Today’s tea brings a bit of closure to a series, quite a while ago I looked at Tea At Sea’s other teas from Indonesia, and today I am reviewing Mountain Organic Indonesian Black. I find it really interesting to experience the green, oolong, and now the black, it was like a journey! The aroma of this tea is sweet and malty, there are notes of berries and raisins with a hint of roasted peanuts at the finish. I shan’t deny it, the dry leaves smell quite yummy, but I do love my sweet black teas.
Brewing the tightly balled leaves brings a malty, rich, aroma from my gaiwan. Investigating the now wet leaves even further with my nose reveals sweet berry notes and a touch of metallic, there is also a tiny note of yam at the finish. The liquid from the first steep is malty and sweet with tasty notes of molasses and yam, with a tiny finish of raisins.
After that especially enjoyable sniffing, it is time for tasting! The first sip is very sweet and quite smooth, it starts out malty and builds to fruity notes of plum and berries. This transitions into a richer, heavier finish of yams and oak wood, the finish is malty and it has a lingering sweetness.
I decided to go for another steep (because it is me, of course I go for another steep) and the aroma has managed to become sweeter, notes of honey and berries with a touch of plum and yam. The second steep is quite similar to the first but brings out more sweetness and berry notes, it is honey sweet with a rich malty finish. This is a great tea for when you are in the mood for a super sweet black tea that is both rich and mellow.
Hello everyone, how are all of you today? I am doing well, quite sleepy after a day of shopping with my mom. We visited some of my favorite thrift stores and found some adorable tea things and then had a giant pile of sushi and dango. For now I am relaxing before we have a friend visit for hot wings and gaming! I will have to put some thought into which tea goes well with hot wings other than Southern Style Sweet Iced Tea, perhaps a chai will do the trick.
Today’s tea is Life in Teacup’s Wuyi Jin Jun Mei, a delicately curly tea from the Wuyi Mountains in Fujian, China. Its name, beautiful golden eyebrows, is a perfect description because the leaves are covered in a golden fuzzy down, though I am not sure about the eyebrows, to me they look like little tails off of some adorable creature. The aroma of these fun little leaves is very sweet and rich, there are starting notes of cocoa, yams, and roasted peanuts which transition to a delicate note of flower nectar and sweet raw honey. I have to be careful when sniffing Jin Jun Mei because I could spend all day with my nose in the leaves inhaling their rich aroma.
As expected, when you place the leaves in a gaiwan and give it a good steeping, the aroma of the wet leaves becomes even more intense. The cocoa notes become more like actual chocolate with honey and molasses and a tiny touch of distant flowers. The liquid is a blend of chocolate, molasses, and honey with a finishing hint of roses. That little touch of roses at the finish adds a hint of the exotic.
The first steep is so sweet! It is like a rich dessert with notes of chocolate, caramel, cocoa butter, and creaminess. It lingers with those notes for a moment before moving to stewed plums and molasses at the finish with a slight aftertaste of roasted peanuts. Since it is the first steep it starts a bit mild, I anticipate some serious richness in the later steeps.
It is no surprise that I was practically bouncing while waiting for the second steep, Jin Jun Mei hits all the right notes for me, blending the delicate and sweet perfectly. The aroma of this steep is very sweet, with notes of chocolate, caramelized sugar, and a nice bit of raw honey at the finish. Tasting the tea is a real pleasure, like the first steep it is super sweet, but it has increased in richness. It is creamy and sweet with a very smooth mouthfeel with notes of creamy chocolate and honey, this transitions to stewed plums and a pinch of flower nectar. The aftertaste is roasted peanuts again, but there is also a bit of cocoa.
For the third steep, the aroma has a more subtle sweetness, like stewed plums and cocoa with a hint of honey for the finish again. The taste is still rich and quite sweet, with more of a molasses taste more so than chocolate and sugar. The chocolate note is still there, but instead of being sweet like biting into a bar of chocolate, it is rich like cocoa, and not as sweet. As I am enjoying the more reserved sweetness, out of no where, the aftertaste explodes with raw honey sweetness and flower nectar that lingers for quite a while. That was a fun finish! Jin Jun Mei never disappointing…and I certainly hope it stays that way!
Hello blog! I have missed you! After two solid days of travel and pretty much non-stop action since my last bit of blogging, I can safely say it is nice to sit down and just relax with some tea and writing. The first thing I did upon arriving in Pennsylvania, after dropping my luggage and proclaiming “I am too old for this nonsense” and giving my mom a giant squish, is go shopping at the local thrift store where all clothes are 85 cents. I came up with the wonderful idea of not bringing any clothes and just buying myself a new wardrobe.
This is in theme with today’s tea from Fashionista Tea, Organic Green Pomegranate! This fashion themed tea is a blend of Organic Green Tea, Organic Raspberries, and Essence of Pomegranate, and I can say that the dress that is on this tea’s page is super pretty and feminine, I want to wear it. The aroma of the dry leaves (and fruity bits) is quite delicious, it has that tart sweet smell of fresh raspberries and pomegranates with a slight hint of rose hips and a gentle finishing note of slightly grassy green. It has a very fresh scent, reminding me of late spring.
Into my steeping basket the tea goes for a nice little soaking. The aroma of the now quite wet leaves is fruity fresh and sweet, just like freshly picked raspberries and pomegranates, nicely juicy and just a hint of tart. The liquid without its leafy friends is sweet and creamy, like raspberries and cream but with a hint of leafy green aroma. It is very mellow and pleasantly sweet.
Oooh, the taste is so mellow, which is quite nice with a tart fruit tea, sometimes you run into ones that are super tart and overwhelming, not so with tea. It starts out sweet, much like biting into raspberries or pomegranate arils, then fades into gentle tartness with a gentle green finish. Out of curious I added a bit of sugar and chilled the tea, this takes away the tartness and brings out the fruity notes even more. I could see myself really craving a tea like this in the late spring to early summer.
Flavors: Fruity, Green, Sweet, Tart
Usually when reviewing a tea from a company I would pull out my camera and notebook and log it for review on my blog, I am making an exception with this tea since Butiki is going away :( and all of my tea logging stuff is packed up for my trip tomorrow. Since I played packing tetris with my stuff unpacking it would be a giant pain. I hope you all forgive my more freeform rambling today. I was giving a sample of this tea by my tea-bro Lion after making noises about wanting to try it, so thank you for that! The aroma of the really dark curly leaves is really quite rich and sweet, lots of fruity notes going on here with an underlying mineral note as well. I am specifically picking out plum and a hint of peach.
I decided to go gongfu for this one (probably my last until I get to PA) and as the leaves rehydrate themselves I begin to see the purple tones shine through, like the purple of a plum skin. The wet leaves have a slight fruitiness to them, but they are also kinda odd, I am picking up notes of loam and green beans, it is reminding me of something from my childhood that I can feel tickling around at the back of my head, but I cannot put my finger on it. The liquid is sweet and warm, like cooked plums and freshly baked snickerdoodles.
The taste is somewhere between the smell of the leaves and the smell of the liquid. It has a creamy mouth feel with a distinct gently spiced cooked fruit, but there is also a loamy quality and green bean brothiness to it. The finish is a bit sharp, similar to the sharpness I get with a heavily mineral noted Wuyi.
Steep two! Only time for one more before I have to go run last minute errands, including getting new shoes since mine totally fell apart. Bleh. Yum! Second steep is still quite buttery, but it is all fruity plums and mineral with a touch of spice. It is pretty mild though, I fear that as soon as I put the cup down I kinda forget about it, which is tragic. I like it, though I wish there was more there.
This might be my last tasting note until Tuesday, yipes! I have a long, long trip ahead of me and need to cram in as much hanging out with people and last minute packing as possible…plus most my good tea gear is all packed up. One of the reasons this tea is brewed in my gaiwan rather than my Wuyi special Yixing teapot. The aroma of the leaves is a blend of cocoa, smoke, tobacco, and a touch of fruit. The cocoa note is at the forefront, which is pretty nice. Usually I am used to my Yancha’s having a much stronger kick of char, but I run into milder ones on occasion. The brewed leaves have a stronger char smell, but also a cocoa, bready, and slight frutiness to it. Ooooh the liquid smells super fruity and sweet. Yum!
Very smooth mouth feel and super sweet are the first things I notice, hardly any char taste at all, just sweet plum juice and cocoa. It is pretty mild, but I am using a brewing technique that is different from my usual of boiling water, tons of leaf, and flash steeping.
You know one of my favorite things about this TTB? I can let my tasting notes be freeform, usually I have my notebook and take detailed notes, but if I was to actually blog/write those as a review, it would be a mess. With these I can just let my thoughts flow as I sip my tea. The second steep has a little more of that distinctive char and tobacco leaf taste I am used to, along with some strong fruity notes that just do not quit. It kinda reminds me of Verdant’s DHP in its mildness. Still not sure how I feel about a mild Yancha overall, but I can certainly say this one hit the spot for me this morning.
And now, to go bake a giant brownie!