801 Tasting Notes
I find myself torn on how to begin today’s tea rambling. Do I go with neutral things like how much I enjoy my new painting table, or do I go bad news with how I have not really gotten the chance to use it because of these stupid seizures. Do I say happy news on how whatever was causing that really awful itchy rash has gone away (thanks, allergies) or do I say that my throat hurts constantly (thanks allergies) It is a problem living with chronic illness/pain, how much do you hide behind an internet or social persona, or how much do you let it all hang out. And why, for that matter. Are you looking for understanding or compassion, complaining because there is really nothing else you can do sometimes and you just need to vent, are you fixated with your health problems because it controls your life, are you bringing awareness to health problems? Are you hiding it for fear of trash talk, hiding it because if you don’t talk about it maybe it really isn’t that bad, avoiding it because you are tired of being a chronic complainer, hiding how bad it is because you are tired of being sickly and just want to be perceived as normal even if it is by a small group? The internal politics of what to reveal and why is staggering in its complexity. What I will say is that I am thankful for my readers, whether you are here simply as tea lover or here as friends sharing a digital cup with me, thank you all. It sounds silly, but tea and my blog is one of the greatest joys in my life, so being able to share it and keep at it means the world to me.
Ok, ok, I am done being sappy and introspective, I want to write about tea, specifically one of my favorite teas, Gui Fei Oolong. Also known as Concubine Oolong, this tea is what happens when leafhoppers become great friends with the tea leaves, by friends I mean they go om nom nom, and the leaves go into defense mode and release an enzyme and start to oxidize, this makes the tea incredibly sweet, just like its non-rolled cousin Oriental Beauty and Honey Black Tea. This happy accident originated in Taiwan, though this specific Gui Fei comes from Tea From Vietnam, a new company focusing on introducing the Western world to the rather diverse world of Vietnamese tea. It is a passion of mine, exploring different lesser known to us barbaric westerners tea growing regions, I consider it research for the book I am perpetually working on! Anyway, this tea, as I was saying earlier Gui Fei is my favorite Oolong, hands down, when I opened the pouch and poured out the tea I was going to steep into my abalone for photographing, I was practically giddy. Photo taken, that means sniffing time, and I let out a very loud yay! It has been over a year since I had any Gui Fei, correction, any GOOD Gui Fei, and the aroma of these silvery leaves is so good. Notes of intense spicebush, orange blossom, sugar cane, honey, almonds, and a tiny bit of roasted sesame at the finish. Really, this tea smells heavenly, I want to invent scratch and sniff for computers so you all can sniff this too, now maybe it wouldn’t smell as good to everyone else, it has been well known that these smells are some of my favorites, each note seems to resonate with some nostalgic happy time, so the emotions are wrapped up with sensory delight.
I decided that such a beautiful tea, it is named after Yang Guifei, one of China’s legendary beauties after all, deserved my audacious princess of a gaiwan. The two seemed to be made for each other, the leaves matching the gaiwan beautifully. The now somewhat steeped leaves take on a very fruity tone, lots of citrus notes of apples, pomelo, intensely floral with notes of orchid, grapefruit blossom, crepe myrtle, and a finish of sugary sweet almonds and cane sugar. It is heady and sweet. The liquid is nutty and sweet, with notes of almond and chestnut, pomelo and apples, plums and a touch of cooked cherries.
First steep…guys, I need a moment. The texture is smooth and thick, impressively so for the first steep. The taste starts out fruity and intensely sweet, it is very much like honey drizzled apples, pomelo and plums. This moves on to citrus blossom, a blend of orange and grapefruit, with a touch of orchid. The finish is spicebush, almonds, and gentle roasted sesame. The taste of citrus blossoms seem to linger for a while.
Second steeping time, I fear I might be getting tea drunk already, one of the problems of the golden gaiwan, it is a whopping 150ml, big compared to my 90-100ml ones! Also the headiness of this tea might be adding to the tea drunkenness, much like sitting next to a pile of blooming Angel Trumpets (a rather toxic flower, the Angel Trumpet, or Moonflower, is part of the Datura family, beautiful flowers but don’t eat!) In fact the floral notes remind me of the sharp, heady, and slightly citrus notes of the Angel Trumpet flower, mix with honey, orange blossom, and a touch of almonds. Oh so much thick sweetness, it is a creamy flowery explosion of happiness in my mouth. Tea Bliss achieved. Notes of orange blossom, sweet cream, almonds, spicebush, pomelo, and a wonderful finish of orchids and toasted sesame.
The third steeping, the leaves have really unfurled and you can see little nibble holes, which I find endearing. The aroma really highlights the citrus notes this time, strong grapefruit and orange blossom with gentle pomelo and a tiny hint of lemon. The taste is nutty almond, sweet honey (oh so sweet) and wonderful spicebush. I sat with this tea all night, it kept me company for eight steeps, ending with gentle minerals and distant citrus flowers and a finish of honey. It was a grand companion for a night of gaming. I will treasure the rest of my sample and then promptly buy more, here on my blog, I solemnly swear, I am never running out of Gui Fei again!
Flavors: Almond, Apple, Citrus Fruits, Cream, Orange Blossom, Sugarcane, Toast
It is Saturday night and that means it is time to PARTY! I of course am going to party the best way I know how, getting drunk on tea, playing Terraria, and eating a peanut butter and honey sandwich. Yeah, I know how to live the high life. I have never been much of a party person, so really this is a great evening, I might even work on some painting too. If you can’t tell, I am already a little tea drunk, but that tea’s tale will be told next week!
Today we are looking at M&K’s Tea Company’s Smoked Pine and Sage, an herbal blend of hand roasted and harvested Pine Needles and California White Sage, which honestly sounded so awesome that I had to try it. I love smoky teas and roasted things, and a tea described as tasting like a bonfire sounded awesome. The aroma of the needles, sticks, and leaves is very smoky and burnt, it has a resinous tone and a sage-rub note. It reminds me of sage smudges I would do before I decided burning things with asthma was a bad idea, the smell is very nostalgic and pleasant, and mixed with the resinous burnt pine aroma, it certainly smells like a bonfire…specifically one at a New Age meeting. Ah, nostalgia.
Into my steeping vessel the herbs went, and the aroma totally fills my tea corner, it is like an autumn bonfire with a mystical edge to it. So the wet leaves smell like a bonfire, a very heavy sage filled bonfire, resinous and a bit meaty…it really does remind me of a meat rub. The liquid has a savory edge, not quite meaty, but savory, with resinous pine notes and smoke.
Tasting time! The amber-gold liquid is like fire in its aroma, and the tasty is certainly a campfire as well! It is warm and gently sweet, while also being savory and slightly meaty with notes of strong sage and resinous pine. I am not sure how I feel about it, I don’t dislike it, but I certainly did not like it as much as I was expecting I would, what with my love of smoky teas. I sat a while with this tea trying to figure out what was not working for me, and I think it is that slightly meaty note, it reminds me too much of a meat roast rather than a tea. Conveniently I have a mom who also loves smoky things, so she got sent the rest of my pouch, I anxiously await her opinion on it!
Flavors: Meat, Pine, Resin, Sage, Smoke
Today’s tea comes from Canadian company, Tao Tea Leaf, it is Jun Shan Yin Zhen Yellow Tea-Top Grade. This is the fancy stuff, frequently appearing on the shifting list of China’s Top Ten Famous Teas, it hails from Hunan’s Junshan Island in the middle of Dongting Lake, a very scenic lake with some interesting river goddess and hidden underwater castle legends. Why is it that almost every culture has magical underwater castles with mysterious hidden entrances that only open once a year? As someone who makes it a hobby of studying mythology and folklore, I promise you, this one shows up a lot! Ok, about the tea, need to prevent myself from going on a mythology synchronicity rant, the aroma of the adorable fuzzy leaves is soupy! Seriously getting some strong vegetal broth from them, with notes of celery, sauteed bok choy, a touch of smoke, a touch of very distant flowers. It starts savory (seriously I want vegetable broth and a big slab of crusty bread to dip in it now) and then finishes with a gentle sweet snap pea note.
So, steeping time! I did this tea a few ways, but first off the typical gaiwan approach with 175 degrees water for 30 seconds, my usual approach to green and yellow teas. The aroma of the now thoroughly moistened leaves is savory, notes of bok choy, asparagus, celery and a general vegetal broth waft with the steam from the leaves. The liquid is a fairly light pile of vegetal notes, lettuce, bok choy, snap peas, asparagus and a touch of green beans. It balances savory and sweet green notes fairly well.
First steeping starts smooth and a touch tingly from the fuzzy trichomes on the leaves, the taste is fairly mild. Starting with a blend of floral notes and lettuce, then fresh and savory vegetal broth and asparagus, and a finish of snap peas sweetness and a tiny bit of turnip greens. This is a very green tea, and pleasantly fresh.
Second steeping brings out a stronger aroma, very vegetal and green with a slight sweetness and a bit of smoke. The taste is very similar to the first steep but stronger, it is never bitter in its greenness, just delightfully savory and sweet in its greenness. If you are a fan of vegetal teas then this will be a delight. The third steep was pretty identical, I felt like this tea was hiding something from me, so I decided to experiment.
Ok, time to start over, I brewed it at 195 degrees for 30 seconds, living dangerously! Though some delicate greens and yellows can handle it, problem is knowing which ones can take the heat is trail and error, sometimes you get a mouthful of bitter death, other times you get a real treat. So, how did it go? Well tea friends, I am a jerk, Ben came home from work right as I finished pouring from my gaiwan, so I tested it on him, as he goes for a sip I tell him how I brewed it…he paused and said something along the lines of ‘that sounds like a terrible idea’ but being the trooper he tried it anyway and handed me the cup while saying it was surprisingly sweet. So I then drank it and wow, he was not trolling me! It is still vegetal, but mostly a mouth full of sweet snap peas and a bit of edamame, it is like vegetal nectar, a phrase I never thought I would say. I went through several steeps at this temperature and was rewarded with unchanging sweet snap peas.
Last thing I did on a whim, I brewed it in my travel steeper, it was green and sweet, though sadly went toward the vegetal bitterness towards the end, so I would say stick to the gaiwan for this one…at least that is what I will do. Because this is not a cheap tea, $1 a gram, definitely a tea you want to sick to the brewing method that works for you when you find that sweet spot.
I have played a lot of video games in my life, and I have been driven to fits of rage by many of them. Something that my dear fiance and I share is a tendency to get really ragey at our games, we just show them differently, where he is likely to just yell at a game, I take a page from the RageQuit book and get really imaginative with my vitriol. I bring this up because few games have made me rage as much as Terraria. Seriously, I hate the boss fights, I can have myself kitted up and buffed to the extreme and it never fails, I die at least half a dozen times before I get the ‘trick’ to killing a specific boss. Of course then I proceed to farm it mercilessly, giggling at my godlike power the whole time. Oh man, or that one time when you are mining and accidentally hit the TNT button instead of the pickaxe button and blow yourself up. It. Is. MADDENING! But I also love it because I can be a dark elf with a hoard of spider summons with a pet dinosaur who rides a unicorn while wearing feathery wings, gypsy robes, and a Spartan helmet. Skills.
Today’s tea from What-Cha is a funky little number, Thailand Sticky Rice ‘Khao Hom’ Oolong Tea, hailing from Thailand, this tea takes Jin Xuan and scents it with Nuo Mi Xiang Nen Ye, an herb from China whose leaves smell uncannily like sweet sticky rice. Used quite a bit with Puerh, (if you have ever seen sticky rice Puerh, this is the herb used) and I will be honest, mixed with Shou Pu, I find it utterly repugnant, usually because it is mixed with the really low grade fishy garbage and those are two things I do not want mixed. Ever. So I was really curious to try it in something else, specifically the glory that is Oolong. The aroma of this tea is something else, I advise not sticking your nose into these leaves, sniff from a distance because wow is it strong. Super sweet sticky rice notes with sweet cream, rice pudding, coconut milk, and an underlying almond nuttiness. So much sweetness, it is a little overwhelming.
So the first time I tried this tea I made the mistake of brewing it when I had a headache, one whiff of those brewed leaves and I needed to lie down, something about sticky rice scented teas make me feel really ill and dizzy if I have a headache (which is often) so I waited for a day when I had no headache to try the rest of the sample. It was a good idea because whoa, it is super strong, very sweet notes of rice pudding, caramel, flowers, green beans, grass, spinach…it is a bit of a cacophony, though oddly it blends well together. The liquid is more subtle thankfully, though not by much. That sticky rice scent is strong and sweet, notes of coconut milk, almonds, and rice pudding mix with a creamy underlying floral note.
I thought for a second, this could be one of those sensory overload things that happens to me with certain smells, so I got Ben to sniff it and he thought it smelled mild and sweet, where I thought it was like being face planted in pudding. The longer I sniffed it, the more I started developing a headache…oh dear. So, enough being nervous, I tasted it, it is smooth and sweet, and surprisingly cooling for an oolong. There are strong notes of cream, rice pudding, orchids, and warm milk. This moves on to caramelized sugar and a nutty aftertaste. There is however something ‘wrong’ about the rice taste, not wrong as in toxic or something like that…wrong as it tastes like rice but doesn’t. Like how stevia leaves are sweet but don’t taste like sugar, so when used as a substitute you can tell, it is uncanny and hard to process for some reason.
Second steep, the aroma at this point has permeated my tea area, which I am not entirely happy with. The taste is milder on the rice front, more of the underlying orchid and creamy notes of the Jin Xuan showing their color. The finish has a nutty rice note that lingers for some time. I called it quits after this steep sadly, the taste was quite pleasant, but the smell of the leaves was way too intense and killing my head, not to mention I spilled some on my tea table and just can’t get the smell out, whenever I get a whiff of it I am slammed with vertigo, it is safe to say that my sensory weirdness could not handle this herb. Clearly if I try to drink this tea again, I should do it with a nose plug, or maybe store the leaves in another room. It is a pity I had such a negative reaction to the aroma, the taste was really quite fascinating.
For blog and photos (and a link to a page entirely in Chinese about the fancy herb): http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2015/08/what-cha-thailand-sticky-rice-khao-hom.html
Flavors: Coconut, Flowers, Orchid, Rice, Rice Pudding, Sweet
Ugin the Spirit Dragon, aka my Betta, is a total weirdo. I have had a LOT of Bettas in my life, like seriously I have had over 20 in my life (I at once ran a sort of Betta rescue where I bought the saddest Betta at a pet store and attempted to nurse it back to health, but realized giving the stores money for ill treated fish was not in anyone’s best interest, at least I had happy fish at the time) and I know their various quirks and such. This one thinks its a catfish. Ugin will knock the food from the top of the water (Bettas are top feeders, meaning floating food) watch it as it sinks, and then flips vertical to eat them off the bottom of the tank, rummaging around in the substrate like the world’s most colorful catfish. Also, you get geek points if you know who Ugin is, as a hint, my Otoclinus catfish who shares his tank is name Sarkhan Vol.
Today’s blog is all about a tea that is kinda a last hurrah for summer, or at least for me it is. Tea Leaf Co’s Angel of Mine is a blend of White Tea and Roses, with natural essence. Now the reason I say this is a summer tea, roses for me just symbolize summer, that heady aroma reminds me of gardens and walks with my mom to the store. Totally specific memory, but on the way to the store there was a house that was really just roses that have taken over the house, they gave their last big bloom this time of year. The aroma of the tea is, unexpectedly, roses! Not nasty rose perfume, but the aroma of blooming roses, under this heady aroma is a tiny touch of crisp lettuce and melons.
Into my tea steeper thingy the leaves and petals go, making my little tea corner smell like blooming roses. The wet leaves definitely smell like roses, but also a nice crisp white tea, with notes of melon, sage, lettuce, and a bit of crushed vegetation. The liquid is a mellow blend of roses and white tea, one does not overpower the other, which is good.
Ah, this is such a nice, mellow, tea! Great for sipping when you want to relax with a pile of craft projects in front of you. Or a mountain of books. I love tea with roses, it might be one of my favorite additions to tea, so I like it when you can taste the roses without being overpowered by them, and this tea does that. The tea has roses throughout the entire sipping experience, but there is also a cooling note of melon and lettuce, with a note of sage at the finish. The finish is honey sweet with a lingering note of rose. This tea hit the spot, especially now that the evenings are getting cooler.
Flavors: Lettuce, Melon, Rose, Sage
My new phone arrived, yay! Of course the yay is also prefaced with an annoyed groan because I have to learn how to use this one, get all the settings to where I like them, get all the apps, and contacts, and all that fun stuff situated. Electronics can be so complicated in their enjoyment!
Today is Monday, meaning a Matcha day! Today we are looking at 3 Leaf Tea’s Ceremonial Grade Matcha, a vibrantly green little number from Uji, Kyoto. The color on this Matcha really is quite fantastic, the photos don’t do it justice, it is luminous in its greenness, which is a good sign. The aroma of the Matcha pre-whisking is very sweet and creamy, notes of hay and sweetgrass mix with sweet cream and a distant fruitiness. Somewhere between berries in bananas, very light but it adds an interesting depth.
After a sifting and whisking I am greeted with some excellent froth and morimo-algae green liquid. Also, as a side note, when did morimo algae balls get so expensive? They used to be fairly cheap little aquarium friends. Anyway, the aroma of the now frothy Matcha is very sweet and creamy with a slightly green kelp note, very pleasant on my nose. Ok, moment of truth, I have had so many bad Matcha lately that I kinda live in fear now…and yeah, I had nothing to fear, this is some good stuff! It starts sweet, stays sweet, and end sweet, not a hint of bitterness to be found. The underlying notes are intense green, like kelp, zucchini, lettuce and freshly cut grass. On top of that is creamy squash and sweet cream, this Matcha has a lot going on, and I like that, this Matcha was a breath of fresh green air, a pleasant return to tasty form!
I am multi-tasking to the max right now! As you may or may not know by this point, my move has been delayed for several months…so I unpacked my painting stuff and I am diving in to the miniatures! While painting I am also playing Terraria and blogging, and of course guzzling tea like a boss. I am really excited because one of the pieces I am working on is the Wyrd Miniatures Malifaux Dawn Serpent…it is basically a Chinese dragon, and I will use it some in my Ten Thunders army, but mostly it will live on my tea desk. Finally the tea desk will have a dragon!
Today I am looking at Whispering Pines Tea Company’s Imperial Gold Bud Dian Hong, ah yeah, all about the fuzzy Yunnan tea today! A while back my mom ordered some and sent me a bit to try, my mom and I have this tendency to send each other piles of tea, I currently am filling a box up for her now, tea friends and family really are the best since we all seem to have this tendency to share our hoard. Good heavens, these leaves are luscious, thick and fuzzy, loaded with fuzzy golden trichomes, like happy caterpillars. Now that I have probably weirded all of you out comparing these fuzzy things to caterpillars, please know I accept donations! All kidding aside, these really are quite pretty. The aroma is peppery and sweet, strong notes of candied yams and sweet roasted peanuts. The finish has a touch of malt and a delicate note of rose as well, those yam notes though are killer, great a tea that makes me hungry!
On a Terraria note, I just killed the stupid Brain of Cthulhu eight times in attempts to get the trophy, ugh, what a pain. Steeping time brings out strong notes of malt and roasted peanuts, candied yams, a touch of vanilla beans, a dash of pepper, and that tiny hint of rose at the finish. The liquid is delightfully sweet, malt and sweet yams, vanilla beans, and a finish of pepper.
First steep starts mild and creamy, surprisingly there are no fuzzies floating around in the cup, they all sank to the bottom so the usual gentle tickle I get with fuzzy teas is not present. The taste starts with gentle malt and sweet yams, a touch of molasses. This moves on to roasted peanuts and a gentle finish of pepper.
The aroma of the second is peppery and malty with a strong yammy presence, I honestly love this yam note. I think it might be thing thing that makes me love Dian Hong so much. The texture is much thicker, a tiny bit of fuzziness in this steep. It is very heavy and rich, like a decadent treat, notes of malt and cocoa start off strong, that moves to candied yams and molasses, and the finish is a delicate mix of pepper and malt with a cooling finish.
Third steeping time, the aroma is pretty intense, strong notes of yam and roasted peanuts with a tiny bit of pepper. It is a much sweeter aroma this time around. The taste is also much sweeter, like molasses and syrup thickness mixed with sweet yams and rich malt. The midtaste has a strong yam and cocoa note and the finish is cooling with pepper. The pepper note fascinates me, the taste of pepper without the warmth of it is a quirky thing!
Flavors: Malt, Molasses, Peanut, Pepper, Rose, Yams
So, yesterday I went to my Rheumatologist to lament my problems to him, basically to tell him how the original plan of lowering my medicine caused me to have legit seizures. Side story, my whole life I have had these weird, as I call them, seizure things, and none of my doctors have taken them seriously. I dread them (they are not terribly frequent, once or twice a month at the most) and have felt more than a little crazy because they are not the dramatic ‘normal’ tonic-clonic seizure that is more commonly known, so I have been scratching my head and doing a bunch of research. Ever since I lowered the dosage (it was a tiny lowering too, I cut one of the pills I take three times a day in half) and had the closest to a tonic-clonic seizure since I had a bad reaction to a different medicine five years ago, I have had a seizure once to twice a week. What does my medication have to do with this? Gabapentin, my Fibromyalgia medicine, is also an anti-epileptic medicine. It took no time at all for my doctor to put the pieces together and say ‘you probably have epilepsy’ and set me up with a neurologist. It is so refreshing to have a doctor that doesn’t suck, and if a problem arises works to fix it rather than just write it off…too bad my allergy doctor was not like that (insert a pile of sneezes to punctuate my point.)
Much as I do not like starting off my blog as a medical drama, I feel it is only fair to let my tea friends know what is up with me, the last couple weeks I have missed blog posts because (if you follow me on twitter you would have seen) I felt awful, well, this what was going on with me. Wish me luck that my referral goes through swiftly, but enough of that, I want to write about tea now! Specifically I want to write about Liquid Proust Tea’s Blueberry Sandstorm Genmaicha, a blend of Genmaicha, Sencha, Freeze Dried Blueberry Powder (never heard of it, but I want it in droves) Cinnamon pieces, Apple, Rooibos, and Blueberry Flavoring. This tea intrigued me immensely, see I am a sucker for quirky takes on Genmaicha, and I am practically the founding member of Blueberry Addicts Anonymous (maybe? it is anonymous after all!) So this tea is definitely something I want to try, and the starting test is with the nose, and yeah, it smells good. It is like blueberry rice crispy cereal with a touch of spice, maybe more like blueberry granola rather than cereal? Since usually those blueberry flavored cereals smell like candy, and this just smells like spicy dried blueberries and toasty rice. Not getting much in the way of a green aroma, except as a tiny touch of broken leaves.
Into my steeping basket the tea went, for a nice steep in a dainty teacup. True true, I should have steeped this in a kyusu, but most my gear was packed up when I was tasting this tea. Sad face. The aroma of the wet leaves is definitely blueberry cereal and spice, super sweet and a bit grainy from the rice. Never really thought of making spiced blueberries, but it works in the nose. The liquid is blueberry popped rice, really intense blueberries, someone stuffed blueberries up my nose and I couldn’t be happier, truly I have an unhealthy addiction to them.
The taste is a strong explosion of blueberries, at first that was all I was getting, but after the initial blue bomb on the tongue I start to get warm cinnamon and roasty notes of popped rice. The blueberry is awesomely sweet, not one of those tart blueberry teas (really I hate those, they just feel insulting, much like biting into a tart blueberry) and tastes more like cooked blueberries/ dried blueberries in a cereal than candy. The spice is mellow, not overwhelming, just gentle warmth that accents the rice really well. When the tea cools a bit there is more of a green note, like broken leaves and grass, accenting the blueberries. This was a fun tea, the blueberry addict in me approves!
Flavors: Blueberry, Cinnamon, Rice, Spices, Toasty
Well, that was unexpected! I called my doctor because I was running out of meds sooner than expected, since the dosage got upped and that was not taken into account with refills, and they want to see me today. Time to talk to them about the weird seizure like things (possibly actual seizures) I have had my whole life that are progressively getting worse, and time to get a referral to a neurologist. As usual my doctor phobia is kicking in, so to make it better I am getting a new fish for my desk. Actually they have nothing to do with each other, Ben got me a small fish tank recently and I set it up and planned on getting a desk friend today anyway, a happy coincidence!
Today’s tea is a fuzzy golden tea, yay! Tealish’s Golden Monkey Superfine,a black tea from China, a fuzzy golden black tea to be exact. This fuzzy gold is not my usual Yunnan fare, this one is from Fujian, land of some of my favorite oolongs. The name for this tea, I thought, was an obvious reference to the Golden Snub Nosed Monkey, but they are from a different part of China…the name is actually a reference to the curling leaves looking like a monkey’s paw, and the golden fuzz of the leaf. No actual golden monkeys involved, tragic. Sniffing time! The aroma of the slightly curled golden tipped leaves is really quite sweet. Notes of dried cherries (the sweet ones, not the dried tart ones) cocoa, a tiny note of peanuts, and a mild note of yam. The aroma is somewhat mild, but even in its mildness I am impressed with its sweetness.
I used my tall gaiwan for this one, and with all fuzzy golden teas, I mourn their transition from fuzz to soggy leaves, but then instantly remember I am about to have tea and pretty much forget the fuzz. The aroma of the wet leaves is still really sweet, but instead of just cherry, it is all out stone fruit (specifically fruit leather) alongside notes of oak wood and actual leather. The liquid is stewed cherries and plums, sweet cream, and a nice finish of malt.
The first steep starts with a surprisingly rich and thick mouthfeel, it has a fullness to it and a tiny bit resinous. The taste starts off fairly mild and sweet, like honey, and then moves to a richness with slightly creamy notes and molasses. The finish carries over the molasses along with some fruit leather and a touch of dates. Sadly there is not much of a lingering aftertaste, it just kinda stops.
Onward to the second steep, the aroma is super intense molasses and malt, with a hint of stewed fruit and sweetness. The taste is very rich and fruity sweet, plums and cherries that have been stewed in molasses and honey, a delicious start. It then moves on to malt and creamy undertones with a finish of, well, not much, it just kinda stops again. Sadly there was not much after this steep, the third steep just kinda stops after an initial fruity burst. A tasty but underwhelming tea.
Flavors: Fruity, Malt, Molasses
There are a lot of things I could say to start off today’s blog post, but they can wait for a later day, today’s intro is something special. It is my two year Tea Blog Anniversary! It seems pretty crazy that I have been rambling about tea on my blog for this long, and that all of you are still hanging out with me on my corner of the internet. I have met some wonderful people and of course tried some awesome teas, found many favorites, and turned into a real teaware hoarder. Thank you all for reading my rambling, it means the world to me.
Since, unless my mind deceives me, it is Wednesday, meaning the day I review a tea from What-Cha, in my probably very silly attempt to review all the teas. Looking at India Bihar Doke ‘Black Fusion’ Hand-Made Black Tea, hailing from the much talked about Doke Tea Gardens in Bihar, India, run by the Lochan family, pioneers of the tea world! Trying teas from the Doke Tea Gardens has been pretty high on my to-do list for a while, because they are much loved by fellow bloggers and tea sippers, plus I really like their mission of treating the people and the land like they are precious, bravo! Eyeballing the leaves, they are really dark and quite pretty, I am a sucker for curly dark leaves, oh who am I kidding, I am a sucker for leaves! The aroma is delectable, malty and spicy, like curry without the heat and turmeric without the earthiness, a touch of floral notes, and a very sweet finish. That finish is one of stewed raisins and plums with molasses, it is like a malty compote!
Into my steeping vessel the curly leaves go, to make their transformation to plump and not as dark leaves. The aroma of the soggy leaves is malty and molasses sweet, with a definite spice which is hard to pin down, it is like saffron, turmeric, and curry…but not, it is more like you are smelling a blend of them from a distance. It is maddeningly hard to pin down in my olfactory memory, I wish I could create a scent photo album for referencing in just such occasions. The liquid has a note that I have not smelled in what seems like forever, sumac! There are also notes of molasses, malt, spice, and a touch of raisins and peanuts.
The tea is really quite vibrant, like a sky at sunset, the kind that won’t scare away sailors, but where you know there are wildfires somewhere. The initial sip starts brisk and strong, this tea has a presence that makes you sit up and pay attention, maybe I got it wrong and this is a story sunrise color! The taste starts with notes of malt and raisins, this transitions to sassafras, that maddeningly hard to place down spice (ok, you know what, it is Spice, there, a nice Melange heavy tea for the Navigators) and a touch of sumac adding a lemony note at the very tail end of the midtaste. Then it moves to creamy stewed plums and molasses, which moves into the aftertaste and lingers. I really like how this tea has a brisk boldness to it while also having depth, a lot of times teas that wake you up are focusing more on having oomph than subtle nuances. As someone who does not really drink a lot of breakfast teas and tends to go for the subtle teas to gently shake me into wakefulness, I could see myself really craving this tea on those mornings I want the extra mouth punch while also being treated to a dance of tastes in my mouth. I can see why so many of my fellow bloggers go gaga for Doke if they are half as good as this one!
Flavors: Malt, Molasses, Plums, Raisins, Spices