463 Tasting Notes
Plum Blossom White, it is a blend of Shou Mei White Tea, Jasmine Special Grade Green Tea, Safflowers, Sunflowers, Plum Flavor, and Jasmine Flowers. I have to admit, I have never seen plum and jasmine mixed, but I think the idea is stellar. The aroma of the dried (and rather fluffy) leaves is rich, a blend of heady jasmine, honey, and candy. Specifically it reminds me of these delicious plum gummies I used to get from my local Korean market back in high school. They were all the rage with my friends and me, they have a distinct fresh plum aroma along with a grape aroma, it blended the candy smell with fruit smell really well. After that little bit of nostalgia I also picked up on fresh vegetation and a touch of earthiness.
Steeping the tea brings out more of the honey and plum aroma, really it smells like fresh plums drizzled in honey. There is an undertone of heady jasmine and fresh vegetation, along with a touch of plum candy and earthiness. The taste starts out honey sweet which transitions to fresh vegetation and growing things. This fades to heady jasmine and lastly a nice pop of fresh juicy plum and plum candy, this lingers on as an aftertaste. On a whim I tried this tea iced and let me tell you, that was an excellent idea, it was sweet and fruity on its own, but with a little bit of added sugar, it was like drinking a fresh plum.
Flavors: Candy, Green, Jasmine, Plums
Tropical Sunshine Herbal is a blend of Cardamon, Red Peppercorn, Lemongrass, Organic South African Rooibos, Cornflowers, Cinnamon Chips, Orange Peel, Cranberries, Apples, Papaya Flavor, and Grapefruit Flavor, quite the list! It blends the aroma of tropical fruit, citrus, spices, tart, and woodiness in a really interesting blend. The strongest notes were wood, citrus, and pepper, usually I would not think to put them together but the aroma really works.
You might notice I am not using my usual steeping basket for this tea, that is because Simple Loose Leaf was nice enough to include a pair of Muslin Cotton Teabags, which is awesome. I love these things, they work like a steeping basket allowing the leaves to expand and properly steep, but since they keep all those annoying little leaf bits out of my cup of tea. I especially recommend using these with herbal teas because they tend to have smaller bits. They are also a reusable and eco-friendly alternative to teabags, so extra points in my book, but enough about bags…how about more tea? The brewed aroma of this tea wakes you up! Those bright citrus notes, warm spices, and sharp woody notes blend together for a sunshine filled cup of happiness. This combination of smells really rocks my socks off, especially with the added notes of tropical fruit.
And now for the real test, how does this unusual blend of ingredients taste? Interesting (or eeeeeenteresting as I said out loud on first sip) certainly in a good way. The mouth feel is a bit dry, typical of rooibos, but the slightly tart notes and slightly sour notes of citrus cause a salivary response so the dryness transitions to smoothness. Oh yes, I said tart, but it is the tartness of dried cranberries (which I love) and not the tartness of say, hibiscus (which I loathe) and it is mild with a sweet finish. The spice, citrus, sweet fruit, and honey rooibos notes blend together in perfect harmony.
Flavors: Citrus, Pepper, Spices, Tropical, Wood
Happy Monday everyone! Thanks to Typoon Neoguri pushing arctic air (aka the Polar Vortex) most of the Midwest has nice weather today. In fact we are going to have record low temperatures tonight and unseasonable cool weather for the next couple days. Break out the party gear because I am celebrating, you all know by now that I loath temperatures above 80 degrees, so I am practically giddy with the prospect of comfortable weather. I plan on celebrating by sleeping through the night for the first time in days, so maybe instead of party gear I should break out the pillows.
Today’s tea is from Adagio Teas, Yunnan Noir. An adorable fuzzy golden tea from Yunnan, you might know it by its other more popular names, Golden Bi Luo Chun or Golden Snail Tea. I adore fuzzy golden teas, something about them always puts me in a good mood just by looking at them, of course tasting them also helps. The aroma of the dry tea is rich and quite sweet, with notes of cocoa, roasted peanuts, yams, honey, and a delicate finish of dried cherry. It is nothing short of mouthwatering, but I do have a great love for this kind of tea.
Even though Adagio only has Western steeping instructions, I decided to brew mine in my gaiwan. I used 195 degree water with steeping times of 30s, 60s, and 90s just in case anyone wants to give it a try. The aroma of the now quite soggy (and no longer gold and fuzzy) leaves is rich, with notes of malt, molasses, roasted peanuts, and a sweet cocoa finish. The liquid is creamy sweet with notes of cocoa butter, a touch of yams and a hint of roasted peanuts.
The first steeping is light, a creamy blend of sweet cocoa, roasted peanuts and a rich aftertaste of molasses. The mouthfeel is smooth, almost creamy, it fills up the mouth with sweetness. It is pretty on par with other golden Bi Luo Chun teas I have had (though that number is fairly small, I really need to get more!) though a tiny bit sweeter.
For the second steeping the aroma is much richer, the same notes of sweet cocoa and roasted peanuts, but with an added kick of molasses at the finish. The taste is also much richer, there are strong notes of cocoa at the beginning this transitions to a rich mid taste of molasses, with finally a finish of malt. There is a roasted peanut and honey aftertaste that lingers for a bit.
Last steeping time, the aroma is almost identical to the first steeping, light with sweet notes of cocoa butter, yams, and roasted peanuts. The taste is as rich as the previous steep, but instead of being creamy is starts off with a briskness. There are notes of cocoa and roasted nuts that fade to molasses, at the end there is a slight metallic taste. The aftertaste is one of honey, it does not linger as long as the second steep. I really like this tea, it might be my new favorite from Adagio, but I would have to compare it with my other favorites to be absolutely sure.
Flavors: Honey, Malt, Metallic, Molasses, Roast nuts, Yams
Yours truly has been doing so much writing/typing lately that my poor wrists have been in constant pain. Instead of my usual excitement to write my blog, I have been feeling a bit of dread because ouch. No worries though, probably this week I will be investing in some wrist braces meaning I can go back to being excited at the prospects of writing.
Today’s tea is the other sample sent to me from Turkish (really, I cannot get over how cool it was to have a package arrive at my door from Istanbul, but I always get giddy when something from far away arrives) company Kedocay. Wuyi Yancha Da Hong Pao (or Big Red Robe) is an oolong tea from Wuyi, China. I find I am becoming more enamored of Yancha (or rock teas) the more I have them, there is a reason I devoted a Yixing teapot to them. The aroma of these long, curly leaves is an interesting blend of smoke and sweet. There are notes of coal, honey, orchids, a tiny touch of cocoa, and a finish of yeasty bread. I absolutely love teas that have a smokey or empyreumatic (if you want to impress your friends) aroma, to me they are one of the most comforting aromas you can get.
Into the Yixing it goes for a nice brief steeping. I belong to the school of ‘stuffing the pot or gaiwan with a lot of leaves and do hot, quick, steeps’ it gets my favorite results from this type of tea. The aroma of the now wet leaves is very rich, it has a blend of charcoal and smoke that is there from the beginning to the end of the sniff. Underneath this aroma is faint notes of orchids, almost like someone tossed an orchid on a dying coals, it is a neat effect. The liquid once it has been set free from the teapot is the exact opposite of the leaves, it is creamy with rich notes of orchid (almost like perfume) honey and cocoa. There is a tiny hint of coal at the finish, but it is more of a ghost than a complete scent.
The first steep puts me in a happy place, it is one of the big differences between curly leaf and rolled leaf oolongs, their first steep usually has a much stronger presence, even if you do not always get as many steeps. The mouth feel is very smooth, it starts off with an intense coal taste and that turns into a faint coal taste that will last through until the end. After the initial coal-splosion (totally a word now) there is a creamy honey taste and a strong, almost perfume like orchid taste. The finish has a hint of cocoa that mixes with coal into the aftertaste.
Onto steep two! The aroma this time is more of a balance of coal and honey, one does not overpower the other. There is also a finish of cocoa giving a bit of smoothness to it. The taste, like the previous steep, starts out with a strong presence of coal that lingers for the entire sipping experience. The initial coal fades to a cooling slight bitterness that almost immediately switches to caramel sweet. At the end is a touch of cocoa, the aftertaste is mineral and coal.
The aroma of the third steep is mostly sweet with undertones of coal and smoke. The taste is much lighter, having more of a smoke taste then coal. It fades to a gentle orchid and honey that lasts up until the end where it switches back to coal and mineral. The aftertaste is mineral and is refreshing, like spring water.
Flavors: Char, Cocoa, Honey, Orchid, Smoke
Get hype, yo, it is Evo2014! It is the event I have been waiting all year for, what is essentially the World Cup of the Fighting Game Community. Since I am unable to travel to Las Vegas to watch the tournaments, Ben and I will essentially be glued to various Livestreams over the weekend. This is a big deal, for the first time in our almost five years together, we will actually be in the same place to watch Evo together, it is going to be awesome.
Today’s tea came all the way from Turkey, compliments of Kedocay. Dragon Well Green Tea, from Zhejiang, China, is one of the ‘Ten Famous Teas of China’ and I can believe it, even back in my youth when I knew nothing about tea, I had heard of Dragon Well and thought it sounded magical. Opening the bag, I was hit with a delicious aroma, I love when I open a bag of tea and I do not need to stick my nose in it, the aroma comes to me! The aroma is a mix of vegetal and toasted, with notes of toasted sesame seeds, green beans, and a touch of actual toasted bread. There is a slightly sweet honey finish, it vaguely reminds me of halva, a delicious honey and sesame seed dessert.
Into the gaiwan the leaves go, fun fact, I always brew my greens with the gaiwan lid off, I find that if I leave the lid on it tends to burn the tea. The aroma of the now steeped leaves is very richly vegetal, there is a combo of green beans and spinach with a strong finish of asparagus and a sesame seed finish. The liquid away from its leafy friends (or is it more leafy creator?) is the exact opposite of the leaves, delicately sweet with notes of honey and a touch of toast.
The first steep is delicate and soft, I say soft because the mouthfeel is smooth, almost to the point of velvety. The taste starts off vegetal with a gentle notes of green beans and asparagus , this transitions to toasted sesame seeds. The finish is honey sweet leaving a lingering sweetness as the aftertaste. This steep was a nice, mild beginning, I look forward to seeing if it build in intensity and will it be sweet or vegetal?
Second steeping time! The aroma is much more vegetal this time with stronger notes of asparagus and lesser notes of green beans. There is a slightly sweet honey note at the finish. The taste certainly took a note from the aroma, it is richly vegetal, almost broth like. There are notes of asparagus, green beans, and spinach, it has a buttery smoothness and a touch of a buttery taste at the finish. Sneaking in at the aftertaste is a bit of toasted sesame.
Time for round three, the aroma this time is faintly vegetal, faintly floral, and faintly sweet. Yep, third steep and this tea seems to have given up the ghost, but after the previous steep I do not feel cheated. The taste starts out with a gentle vegetal tone, with notes of asparagus and buttery green beans. This fades to sesame and lastly woth honey. A gentle finish to a pleasantly delicate and very smooth green tea.
Flavors: Asparagus, Green Beans, Honey, Spinach, Toast
I am not sure if I should change my rating for this or not. On the one hand, it broke…not sure why or how but the seal between the two layers broke and I ended up with a tea infuser with no outer wall, and a large plastic mug. Both not so good for hot tea because it no longer keeps my fingers from getting burned.
When this was a functioning travel mug it was great (except for the leaking part) now it is kinda useless as a tea infuser mug. I use it as a large cup to drink my matcha lattes out of and occasional for cold steeping. Luckily I was planning on getting a leak-proof travel mug, maybe it heard me talking about my plans and broke out of shame?
Ah well, it was a good little friend while it lasted.
for the first time in months I got to go to game night at my favorite gaming store. I had to stop going because I am allergic to the protein in male cat saliva, and they have the most adorably polydactyl (sadly not pterodactyl) shop cat. Being around it was making me really sick, after an hour or so I would end up having the worst flair up that left me feeling miserable for at least all of the next day. Thanks to my new medicine and a better inhaler, I can go back and have a blast! It was so good catching up with old friends and trying new games.
Not too long ago, Teavivre had an excellent review themed promotion/contest, of course I entered. Once the winners were revealed and my name showed up, I did a happy little dance, expected to have some tasty new tea. When it was revealed that I won the top prize a Hand Made He Huan Yixing Zisha Teapot, well, the amount of happy noises I made were so loud that I am pretty sure the entire neighborhood heard it. After many tense days stalking the mailbox, waiting for my new treasure to arrive, my waiting was over!
Once I unboxed the teapot from its velvet lined brocade box, the first thing I noticed is the size. It fits perfectly in the palm of my hand, which is a great size for gongfu tea. You do not want a teapot that is too big (unless you are serving a bunch of people) because the whole point of gongfu tea is having multiple steepings, it is about the journey of the leaf. If your teapot is too big, then you will be too full of tea after one or two steeps that you start to slosh if you try to drink more. While enjoying the size, next I cannot help but admire the craftmanship of the pot.
The pot is smooth and the color is beautiful. I go back and forth if I prefer the color of the red clay or the purple clay, they are both fantastic in their own way. I love the shape of this pot as well, I find the little up turned spout very adorable. While I was getting the teapot ready for seasoning I examined the pour and the lid. With a good yixing teapot you can hold your finger over the little vent hole in the lid and have no liquid pour out the spout, it creates a perfect seal. Also you should be able to have your teapot at a complete vertical angle and not have the lid go flying off. This beauty passed both those tests with flying colors.
I decided that this teapot would be perfect for my love of Wuyi Rock Teas (or Yancha if you are fancy) and seasoned it accordingly. I season mine a little differently than the various ways I have seen recommended, I mix a few methods and it seems to work for me. Of course I was super excited to try out my new teapot, and the experience was amazing. Usually with my Sea Dyke brand Shui Hsien I can get three good steeps out of it using my gaiwan before it just starts tasting watered down, with my new teapot I got an extra steep and each of them tasted more rich and floral than it usually tastes.
This teapot is way out of my usual spending range, all my other yixing pots were gifts or a fantastic find at a thrift store. I certainly say if you can afford it, get one of these pots, it might take me quite literally years of saving money, but I think my next yixing teapot will be from Teavivre. Afterall, I still need at least one more, always just one more.
Sometimes people with a tendency to commit great acts of derp should not be allowed in the kitchen. I was hit with the baking itch this evening and decided to try my hand at some bread, two quick breads and one crock pot bread. The first bread is a cheesy bread, I pulled it out of the oven and noticed it was awfully flat, after removing it from the pan and slicing it I noticed it was not a loaf of bread but a cheese flavored brick. Turns out I completely skimmed over the ‘baking powder’ line in the ingredients list, it tastes ok (a little sweet) but the texture is so dense. Luckily my almond poppy bread is delicious, and so far the crock pot bread is looking ok, but I am so sad about the cheese fail.
Today’s tea is Birthday Cake by DAVIDsTEA, a blend of Red and Green Rooibos, Honeybush, Sprinkles, Ice Cream Bits, and Natural and Artificial Flavoring. Tea that has sprinkles makes me happy, I mean how can it not? Sprinkles are awesome, I may have been guilty of eating more sprinkles than is necessarily healthy when I worked at an ice cream shop as a teenager. The aroma of this cake is intensely sweet! There are strong notes of cake batter, vanilla, and a hint of cocoa. Under this explosion of cake and sweetness is a really strong note of woodiness from the Rooibos and Honeybush, it is almost like sitting at a table and having a slice of cake with ice cream and sitting next to it is a cup of Rooibos tea.
Giving this cake themed tea a good steeping, the aroma of the wet leaves went from being mostly sweet and cake like to a more even blend of cake batter, ice cream and woodiness. The liquid is very woody! There are also notes of cake batter and honey, but mostly it is fairly dry wood.
Tasting time…perhaps I should have some birthday candles lit to commemorate the theme of the tea. The taste starts out very woody and dry, but also a little waxy from the sprinkles. After the initial woodiness the taste fades to vanilla liqueur and a touch of cake batter sweetness. I found the cake taste from the aroma of the dry leaves has mostly vanished, but what is left is not unpleasant. It is not a bad tea, but it is not one of my favorites.
Today’s tea is Organic Wild Rose by Tea District, a blend of whole-leaf white tea blended with wild roses. I love roses in tea, it might be my favorite flower to add to tea, but clearly I will need to sit down and do a test one day. The aroma of this tea is clearly rosy, but not the really strong rose perfume you can get at times, it is like a faint rose garden. There are also notes of new growth, sage, and a hint of pepper. It is vaguely reminiscent of early summer.
Once the tea leaves have been steeped the aroma of the wet leaves is a balanced blend of sweet roses and fresh vegetation with just a gentle finish of pepper. The liquid without its flowery leaves is rosy and sweet with just a hint of hay and honey.
The taste is fairly sweet, like flower nectar and fresh roses. After the initial flowery taste there are notes of lettuce and a hint of sage.There is a slightly dry yet refreshing mouthfeel, and just a gentle hint of fuzzy trichomes. he aftertaste is a touch of fresh vegetation and morning dew. This tea is also quite good chilled, very light and refreshing.
Today was a good mail day! Days when I get things in the mail are the best, especially when something I was not expecting till later in the week arrives significantly early, it was such a pleasant surprise! Not surprising it was tea, along with a new double walled glass travel tea tumbler thing. This will be very useful since my previous tea tumbler fell apart and I have not been able to have tea on the go. After I experiment with it I will have to give an official review of it. Hopefully it will be worth the money!
Presenting today’s tea: Medium Roast Dong Ding Oolong by Green Terrace Teas. From Nantou, Taiwan, this Oolong was given a longer oxidation period and a slow roasting, sounds like my kinda tea. What can I say, roasted teas rock my socks off, something about them are very comforting to me, if I am having a bad day or feel icky, I almost always reach for a roasted tea. The aroma of this particular roasted oolong is toasted and nutty, with notes of roasted nuts, sesame seeds, and fresh bread. There is also a tiny bit of fresh vegetation at the end. I find this amusing, like a little bit of the pre-roasted aroma hanging on.
Steeping this tea, the aroma of the now wet leaves is smoky and toasty! There are strong notes of coal and smoke, along with equally strong notes of sweet yeasty toast and roasted sesame seeds, it is nicely blended. The liquid, having been removed from its leafy companion, has the aroma of yeasty bread, sesame seeds, and honey.
The taste is exactly what one expects from a medium roasted Dong Ding Oolong, the taste starts out lightly toasted and honey sweet. This builds to a more toasted, actual toasted bread taste, which fades to a creamy, honey sweetness at the finish. The mouthfeel starts out smooth and fades to a slight dryness at the finish.
On the second steep, there is a much stronger toasted aroma, with notes of freshly toasted bread, sesame seeds, and a bit of popcorn. The mouthfeel takes its cues from the end of the previous steep and has a nice dryness that encompasses the entire sipping experience. The taste is intensely toasty with notes of freshly toasted bread, sesame seeds and a rich honey sweetness at the middle. Right around the finish and staying until the aftertaste there is a strong popcorn (specifically it reminds me of kettle corn because it is sweet) taste.
Third steeping time! The aroma is mostly roasted sesame seeds and a touch of popcorn, it has a tiny touch of floral of the finish. The taste has a bit of a smoky tone this time around, it no longer has a dry mouthfeel. The initial smokiness fades to popcorn and then finally a finish of sweet. I really liked this tea, not just because I have never met a roasted tea that I did not like, this one had a great comforting feeling. I found myself sipping it before sleep.
Flavors: Honey, Smoke, Toast