410 Tasting Notes
My cat, Tao, is usually a bit on the aloof side. She tends to snuggle either when you are asleep (she curls up on your stomach or pressed against your back or chest) or when you are lounging. Very different from Espeon who is essentially a lap-cat. The only time Tao goes into hyper cuddle mode is when she detects something is wrong, if I am upset about something or sick, Tao becomes super snuggle happy. Well I went to bed this afternoon feeling pretty awful and woke up a few hours later with a very large, very fluffy, loudly purring, weight on my face. I might have been mildly asphyxiated, but it made me happy and I had to share my happy moment.
Today’s tea review is The Republic of Tea’s Get Lost, an herbal blend of Organic Rooibos, Orange Peel, Carob Pod, Gymnema Leaf, Cinnamon, Banaba Leaf, and Orange Flavor, supposedly selected to aid in weight loss. I do not need to lose weight, I weigh a whopping 94lbs and am constantly trying to gain it, but I will never turn down a tea to try. In theory (I really have no idea how factual this is) these herbs are supposed to help with sugar cravings and satisfy one’s sweet tooth, I can certainly see no fault in that, even when you are trying to gain weight, avoiding crazy sugar cravings is good since it can feed yeast and other unpleasant things in one’s guts. Enough health stuff, how does this little round teabag smell? Well, this is certainly a rooibos tea because that distinct sharp woodiness of rooibos is the predominant aroma. There are also notes of herbaceous leaves and a touch of chocolate. This teabag also smells dry and a little dusty, but I find most teabags do, so your mileage my vary.
The steeped tea has a very herbal and woody aroma with a potent chocolate sweetness and a finish of yeast. It reminds me of boxed chocolate cake sitting next to a big cup of rooibos tea. From the aroma alone I can see this being helpful for people with cravings of cake, time to see if it holds up on taste.
First up, I notice that oh so familiar woody and sweet rooibos with its signature dry mouth feel. It is not dry mouth like you get from something with too many tannins, not that puckering all moisture has been sucked out…but more of a gentle dry mouth, it almost has a dusty quality. Oddly drinking rooibos reminds me of breathing through my mouth on a typical hot, dry, windy, Kansas City day. There are also notes of chocolate, they are vaguely chocolate, much like one expects from carob. The aftertaste is herbaceous and slightly green tasting. This tea is pleasant, not outstanding but also not bad, it could be good for someone craving a sweet tea and looking for an ‘everyday’ kinda tea.
Flavors: Chocolate, Wood
Happy week of E3 all my gamer friends, I hope you have been enjoying it as much as I have. It is no surprise that I am hype over Mortal Kombat X, what with my love of fighting games and mild obsession with the Mortal Kombat franchise. There is also the intriguing Shadows of Mordor which has some interesting mechanics, but I feel I would yell at it for getting Tolkien trivia wrong. Lastly I am super excited about No Man’s Sky, it looks like a game I could become very obsessed with.
Today’s tea is an herbal blend from Raizana Teas with a very chipper attitude, presenting: HappyTea. This tisane (if you are fancy) is a blend of St John’s Wort, Chamomile, Orange Peel, Hibiscus Flower, Yerba Mate, Stevia, and Natural Guava Flavor. I am a fan of all but one of the ingredients, yes, the dreaded hibiscus flower strikes again. The aroma of the dried tea is very sweet and herbaceous. There is the straw-like chamomile flower aroma, a fruity sweetness that is like a blend of pears, oranges, and flowers, and a slight earthy aroma at the finish. Perhaps it is good marketing, but the aroma of this tea makes me happy, it reminds me of sitting out in the sun on a warm spring day.
Ah, well, hello hibiscus, after brewing it decided to join the party with its tart self. The aroma of hibiscus and orange is very strong, there is a lighter herbaceous and floral aroma that is reminiscent of a garden. The liquid’s aroma has tart hibiscus and very sweet oranges with a finish of straw-like flowers.
You know, I do not have anything against hibiscus, personally I love the flowers. As a little girl my mom had a beautiful red hibiscus in the garden, I occasionally would wear the flower in my hair like I was in South Pacific or something like that. It is a beautiful flower that makes a beautiful colored tea, I just wish it was not so tart! After the initial sip and subsequent salivary explosion, the tart is calmed down thanks to the stevia. There are notes of earthiness and herbal, these fade to a gentle fruity sweetness. The aftertaste is a bit of chamomile and the return of the tart. One good thing I can say is thanks to the yerba mate, I no longer feel groggy, and the zinginess of the hibiscus certainly woke me up. I can see people really liking this tea, at least people who like tart teas, because it is well balanced and not just tart.
Flavors: Floral, Fruity, Herbaceous, Straw, Tart
I am such a nerd. I, thanks to trading in some unwanted books to amazon and hoarding credit thanks to doing bing searches, have saved up about $30 worth of amazon credit. Well almost, I am waiting for my book trade-ins to finish processing, the wait is agony! Of course I am spending it on the expected origami paper, but I am most excited about the one of the books I will be procuring. Soon I will have a (2013) college textbook to Meteorology to peruse for light reading. There is also a Geology textbook I am getting, but I admit, I am practically bouncing in excitement for the Meteorology book. Yep, total nerd.
Today’s tea is another one of Teavivre’s oolong teas, specifically Superfine Taiwan Moderately-Roasted Dong Ding Oolong Tea. Phew, that name is a mouthful, but very descriptive, we know this tea is an oolong, specifically a Dong Ding (or Tung Ting) from Taiwan (Nantou to be exact), and that it is moderately roasted. This will be my first ever dance with a moderately roasted Dong Ding, I like that I am gathering all aspects of the roasting spectrum in my constant quest to try all the teas. The aroma of the dried leaves is really neat, it is a blend of roasted and floral. You get notes of sweet roasted popcorn and barley, this fades to orchid and honeysuckle, which in turn fades to a subtle chestnut. The dried leaves smell delicious, I really like the balance between floral and roasted.
After the leaves have had a bath in the gaiwan the aroma of the now wet leaves is much more roasty-toasty. It has a sharpness to it that I associate with roasted oolongs. There is a blend of roasted barley and legit toast. There is also a hint of floral, but it is more of a memory than a strong aroma. The liquid is toasted and buttery with notes of yeasty toast, roasted barley, and a finish of subtly sweet popcorn.
The first steep is subtle yet tasty, you can tell this tea has not fully ‘woken up’ yet so the flavors present are not very strong. Oh the joys of short steeping and watching a tea’s flavor bloom. The taste is roasted with notes of toast and popcorn, it has a finish of subtly sweet chestnut.
On the second steep, the tea’s aroma stays toasty, but it is more on the popcorn and barely notes and not so much the toast. There is also a hint of cream in the aroma as well, right at the finish. The mouthfeel is a bit dry which really highlights the popcorn sweetness. There are also notes of chestnut and a hint of yeasty toast, these come to a delicate, floral finish. Much like a wisp of flower’s being brought in on a breeze.
The aroma of the third steep is quite richly toasted and sweet, it vaguely reminds me of kettle corn, with a tiny hint of toast. The taste starts out with a sweet yet bold blend of roasted barley and toast, this fades to a fresh vegetation taste. There are no notes of floral this time, but there is a molasses aftertaste which is quite tasty. The mouthfeel is dry, much like the previous steep.
Fourth steeping time! The aroma is much like the previous steep with strong notes of toast and roasted corn, but with a sweetness. The taste is quite sharp and distinct, it has a slight bitterness similar to coffee with a quick transition to roasted barley. This steep is not very sweet, in fact it is more on the savory side with an almost salty quality. It has a great refreshing and moisturizing effect in my mouth and is cooling. This steep was very rich!
For the fifth steep we have a different aroma, there is, of course the rich toasted aroma, but there is also an alpine fresh vegetation aroma and a finish of distant flowers. The taste is a contrast as well, there is no bitterness, instead the taste is like sweet corm and roasted chestnuts with a finish of yeasty toast. The mouth is dry that changes to a salivary effect at the end, very refreshing.
The aroma of the sixth and final steeping is buttery and sweet, very little toasted aroma left, just a bit of chestnut and fresh vegetation. The taste is like a much milder version of the fifth steep, it is a very soothing finish to a nicely toasted tea. I admit I was expecting a bit more of a floral and roast blend from the initial aroma of the dry leaves, but I am not too sad because I love roasted oolongs. They always remind me of autumn days and rainy evenings while snuggled up under a warm blanket.
Flavors: Orchid, Popcorn, Roasted Barley, Toast
This is a blend of orange peel, Shou Mei White Tea, Safflowers, Sunflowers, and Orange Flavor for a citrus themed twist on a classic white tea. The aroma is very citrus heavy, it is a little on the artificial side and sadly reminds me of the orange bathroom cleanser I used to use. Underneath the heavy swath of orange there are notes of lettuce and delicate floral.
Once the leaves have steeped in their little basket, the wet leaves’ aroma is intensely orange, still too artificial for my liking. There is also a bit of tartness and lettuce to the aroma. The liquid smells pretty much the same, I am afraid!
Tasting the tea sadly confirmed my fear, this tea tastes like air freshener. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not such a tea snob that a candy flavored tea puts me off…just certain flavors do not necessarily work. I find that any citrus that is a flavor and not all natural tends to taste too much like cleaning chemicals, but it could be that I have a preference for citrus scented cleaners. Other than the air freshener taste there are notes of lettuce and a tiny bit of orange sweetness. I really like the idea of an orange white tea, just maybe I will hunt one down that just has orange bits in it.
Flavors: Lettuce, Orange
For this tea we have a blend of Pu’erh, Apple, Coconut, Natural Coconut Flavor, Marigold, Mango, and Papaya Flavor. Long ago I had a tropical themed Pu’erh and was not the biggest fan, so lets see how this one compares. The aroma is a blend of mango sweetness, nutty coconut, and a tiny bit of earthy and metallic Pu’erh. The coconut has a bit of that ‘old’ coconut oil aroma, it is not off putting and it is very faint.The aroma of the wet leaves is very, very sweet. Lots of tropical fruity and coconut. It is very evocative of summer time! The liquid has the coconut nuttiness and the fruity sweetness with a much stronger Pu’erh presence with notes of earthiness.
The taste, oh man, it is so sweet! Very strong notes of mango and papaya. This fades into very strong notes of coconut, and this lastly fades to a mild earthiness at the finish. I certainly enjoyed this one more than my last tropical Pu’erh, it is very sweet (which I like) and tastes like some of my favorite fruits.
Flavors: Coconut, Earth, Mango, Tropical
Ah, sleep and dreams, ever illusive when the cruel grasp of insomnia has you by the Morpheus. This herbal tea is a blend of Chamomile, Catnip, Lemon Balm, Peppermint, and Lemongrass. Hmm, catnip, that explains why my cats were so friendly after I drank a cup…and tried to sleep on my face. The aroma is quite minty and also quite lemony. It is very refreshing and wakes me up…hmmm. There are also mild straw and herbaceous notes at the finish.
The brewed leaves have a refreshing (less wakefulness inducing) blend of mint, lemon, and fresh green vegetation. It reminds me of a summer evening on the porch while living in the South. The liquid is much the same but with a stronger lemon presence.
Tasting this tea was a fun experience. First the sip is sweet, lemony, and warm and then BOOM! Cooling mint that flows through my mouth, esophagus, and into my stomach, cooling my entire core. The cooling sensation is oddly not accompanied by a super strong mint, as one would expect, instead it is delicate and soothing. The finish is herbaceous with a hint of chamomile’s straw like taste. I really liked this tea! I would say that it is perfect for sipping on a night when insomnia is caused by the summer heat, it cools and refreshes without waking you up.
Flavors: Herbs, Lemon, Mint, Straw
It is a black tea from Yunnan, China, meaning that there are a few delightful gold fuzzy leaves. Since I was brewing this in my gaiwan I ignored the instructions and used my usual technique for brewing Yunnan Black/Red teas (195, 30 seconds and add 30 for each steep). The aroma of the dry leaves is a mix of pine resin, pepper, stewed cherries, and an aged oak cask. It smells like fruit, scotch, and smoke-less Lapsang Souchong. What an unusual tea!
Brewing the tea brings out more of the woody quality with the oak/scotch aroma and pine resin aroma being at the forefront. There is still a hint of fruit sweetness, but it is more an afterthought. The liquid is pine smoke and molasses.
This tea is brisk and strong! Breakfast blend is a perfect description because I am certainly awake now. The taste is a blend of molasses, pine resin, oak wood, and lastly honey. For all this tea’s strength, it is not bitter or unpleasant, it is sweet and intense.
The second steep, I have gone from awake to vibrating so fast that I have torn a small hole in reality. That is the mark of a good breakfast tea. The taste is very brisk, though not nearly as sweet. This steep has a bit of smoke and pine resin. There is a midtaste of molasses and a finish of pepper.
Flavors: Molasses, Pepper, Pine, Smoke
These fuzzy, tightly rolled, green tea leaves are grown high in the mountains of Fujian, China. Apparently this tea is a good introduction to novices into the world of green tea, I left the novice group a while ago, but I am certainly not one to turn my nose up to a new tea. The aroma is a blend of chestnut, green bean, and spinach. It reminds me of a very vegetal oolong, or like an oolong tea and a green tea had a clandestine affair and this tea is the result. The aroma is a bit faint, but the notes are pleasant.
The aroma of the brewed (and now not as tightly curled) tea leaves is very vegetal, lots of spinach and green beans with a finish of artichoke. The liquid’s aroma is sweet and chestnut like with a buttery and vegetal finish.
The first steep is fairly delicate with notes of toasted sesame and nutty chestnut. This fades to green beans with a bitter green, kale like finish. It is like a walking tour of the vegetable aisle in my mouth, and I am ok with that.
The second steep starts off quite sweet with notes of toasted sesame and a touch of honey. It reminds me of Halva, a delicious Persian dessert. This almost immediately switches into green beans and spinach, and this quickly fades to kale and green bitterness that stays on until the end. This is a strong tea.
The final steep left a bit to be desired, it is dry and almost entirely kale. It really feels like I am drinking warm kale juice, and while I really like the taste of kale, I do prefer a bit of moderation. Out of curiosity I chilled this tea, the results were very strong and very vegetal bitter, so the kale juice comparison stays. I really enjoyed the first and second steeps, the third, well in the future I will stop at two.
Flavors: Chestnut, Green Beans, Kale, Spinach, Vegetal
I am having a great nostalgia moment. Ben’s family went out for sushi and brought me back some, which is awesome since I love sushi. I thought back to my first experience with sushi, I had to be three or four, visiting my grandparents. My uncle was also visiting and making sushi, I remember getting my greedy hands on the toasted nori and loving it, and my grandmother teaching me to eat with chopsticks. I have no memory of the sushi itself, but the preparation is clear in my mind all these years later.
Today’s tea is Teavivre’s Oriental Beauty (Bai Hao) Oolong Tea, (or Dong Fang Mei Ren) a very fancy Taiwanese oolong that has an interesting symbiotic relationship with leaf hoppers. High in the mountains of Xinzh, Taiwan, leaf hoppers nibble on the leaves of the tea plant causing an immune response, which gives us a very unique taste and aroma. Without this little adorable green bugs, we would not have this tea. The aroma is quite rich, a blend of yeasty sweet bread, sharp muscatel, and sweet raw honey. There are also faint notes of loam and smoke at the finish. Overall the aroma of this tea is quite sweet.
Brewing the tea, the leaves have a very deep and rich aroma. It is a blend of caramel and muscatel sweetness with an almost earthy, almost loamy finish. There is also a very faint hint of cinnamon that gives the tea a layer of warmth that blends really well with the loam and earthy notes. The aroma of the liquid is warm and sweet, with notes of caramel, molasses, and a finish of muscatel. The aroma of this tea reminds me of late summer and the promise of autumn. It warms me and is very soothing.
The first sip fulfills the promise of warmth and richness from the aroma. At first the taste is richly sweet and muscatel, as the sip slides down my mouth it changes to honey and lastly loam. The aftertaste is sweet and like honey. I found that the mouthfeel was smooth and slightly tingly, probably from the adorable little fuzzy bits on the leaves. This steep managed to have a very distinct presence while being delicate and light, now onto steep two!
The aroma of the second steep is much more muscatel sweet and has an extra intensity. After the initial muscatel aroma it fades to a gentle loam. The mouthfeel is drier than the first steep and it does not have the tingling feeling. The taste is great, a tiny bit of stewed plums, a hint of cinnamon warmth, and a nice heavy dosage of sweet muscatel and loam. Again I am reminded of summer, except this is very late summer after the harvest and you are getting ready for the creeping chill of autumn.
For the third steep the aroma of the liquid is sweetly muscatel, a bit of loam, and a sweet finish of stewed spiced plums. Like the second steep, the mouthfeel is dry, which gives it a mouth smacking brightness. Yes, I did the lip smacking yummy sound, I am very dignified. The taste is very similar to the second steep, just more of it. Stronger notes of stewed plum and muscatel, with hints of spice and a sweet aftertaste.
Time for the fourth and final steeping. The aroma is mildly sweet and loamy, it is faint in comparison to the previous steep, but still quite nice. The taste sings the same song, this tea has performed its beautiful song and now it nears the finish. The taste is a delicate blend of loam and sweet plum. It is refreshing, like the tea you would want to sip after a long day outside harvesting your garden. Bai Hao Oolong has been on my ‘must taste’ list for a very long time, now that I have experienced it I can see why Queen Victoria (The first and best) called it Oriental Beauty, it is truly a beautiful tea.
Flavors: Honey, Loam, Muscatel, Stewed Fruits
This new trilogy of medication for my allergies and asthma are annoying. The side effects are just bad enough to make me really uncomfortable, but not bad enough that I can justify stopping them. Plus being able to breathe again after who knows how long is great. It will take some getting used to and with any luck the side effects will start to balance out soon.
Today’s tea is from Just Organic Tea, Just Relaxing Red, a straight Rooibos tea from the land of South Africa. Did you know that the plant that produces the lovely little leaves (Aspalanthus linearis) is actually a legume? There is your random plant fact for the day. I had my first run in with Rooibos back when I was 17, my coffee shop haunt had this great Rooibos smoothie, I was sad when its limited run ended because I became hooked on it. The aroma of this tea is very typical of a Rooibos, it is woody, sweet, a bit sharp, and a rich caramel sweetness. Rooibos has a very acquired aroma I feel, there are times I crave its woody sweetness, other times it gives me a headache.
The brewed leaves (hey these surprisingly didn’t all end up outside of my steeping basket, win!) have a very woody quality with a strong sweetness and a really rich caramel presence. It smells like a really high quality Rooibos. The liquid without the little red leaves is woody and richly caramel, it smells yummy!
Not surprisingly, it tastes yummy! The taste is woody and rich with strong notes of caramel and sweetness that reminds me a bit of vanilla cookies. Like all Rooibos (crap, what is the plural of Rooibos?) tea it gives the mouth a dry feel, however it is milder than most ones I have sipped. One thing I will give this Rooibos credit for is its richness and heaviness, it tastes just like the Rooibos in the smoothies I drank as a teenager, so happy nostalgia points for this tea. Chilled the caramel notes become much stronger and the tea becomes a bit sweeter. In case you can’t tell I really enjoyed this Rooibos, in fact it might be the first unblended Rooibos that I have really enjoyed in a while.
Flavors: Caramel, Wood