295 Tasting Notes
Last night and most of today my internet was dead, turns out something was off with my wifi modem and it needed updating (or reinstalling…my much more tech-savvy sweetheart fixed it) before it was on speaking terms with the internet again. It was harrowing, I felt so cut off from the world, so I spent the time without the internet tasting new teas and playing Terraria, with intermittent mini Hama bead sorting (that is going to take forever!!!) it turned out to be a good day. To celebrate the return of the internet, here is a review of a Taiwanese tea.
Tsui Yu Jade Oolong by Eco-Cha Artisan Teas is an unroasted Oolong grown at 400m, which is fairly low allowing for machine harvesting, I suggest checking out the origin tab on their website for all the details on how this tea is harvested, it is fascinating! Tsui Yu Jade is also known as Kingfisher Jade, or Formosa Tea No.13. The aroma of this tea is sweet and herbaceous with a warm, yeasty undertone. The aroma reminds me of baking herb bread with a finishing hint of nuttiness that is very faint.
Once I steep the leaves however the tone becomes intensely vegetal with undertones of sage and a lingering sweetness that ends becomes heady as I pulled the steeped leaves away from my nose. It is one of those teas that when I take the lid off of my gaiwan to enjoy the aroma it wafts out and fills the room. The liquid after pouring it into my cup is herbaceous and sweet with faint floral tones.
The first steep is nutty and mild, the taste is green like fresh vegetation but fades into mellow sweetness. The mouthfeel is pleasantly smooth. This steep is mild and subtle, a good initiation to what promises to be a complex tea. The flavors and aromas reminds me of the first warm day of early spring.
The second steep is, as predicted, more complex. The aroma of the leaves is savory herbs, primarily sage with a hint of thyme fading into fresh vegetation. The aroma of the liquid is honey sweet with sage undertones. The taste is incredibly smooth and herbaceous, there are notes of fresh vegetation that fades into floral notes of hyacinth with an aftertaste of sweetness. I really like how this tea starts of savory and fades into floral sweet.
The third steep’s leaves are almost primarily herbaceous with an after aroma of orchid. The liquid’s aroma is heady and sweet. The taste is at first honey sweet with a buttery mouthfeel that fades into vegetal tones, primarily the note of green beans and a hint of spinach. The midtaste is sage and it fades into a floral aftertaste. This tea takes you on a journey of flavor starting herbal and vegetal and moving to floral and sweet, it is like an adventure in my mouth!
Last night, reliving an old tradition, I went to see Desolation of Smaug, to celebrate I am reviewing a thematic tea! I am not going to talk about the movie though, my reasoning is I could write several blog posts analyzing the ins and outs of what I did and did not like about it. Yes, I am one of those people, a Tolkien scholar that reads the Silmarillion for fun and has an entire bookshelf devoted to Tolkien themed books. So to save you all the pain and suffering of my Middle Earth ranting, here is some tea reviewing!
Smaug Tea by 52Teas is a blend of Dragonwell, Cinnamon, Cayenne Pepper, and a hint of Lapsang Souchong, a fiery dedication to the last of the great Winged Fire Drakes. The aroma of this tea is intense, it actually made me sneeze. The tea is spicy and strong, with intense notes of cinnamon and cayenne pepper ending with a very delicate hint of smokiness. I did not notice any vegetal aroma from the Dragonwell, it is all power and fury. I think a mere sniff of this tea would turn a Cold Drake into a Fire Drake in no time.
The brewed leaves are still incredibly spicy and potent but now with a sweet undertone. There are vegetal notes present now as well that are faint but do blend nicely with the heat from the spice. The aroma of the liquid is much milder but still pleasantly spiced with sweet cinnamon fading to hot cayenne pepper. There is a buttery vegetal tone and a slight smoky hint as well.
Oh My Glaurung that is an intense tea! First there is a sweet vegetal taste mixing spinach and artichoke, as you swallow the midtaste becomes cinnamon warmth and then fades into hot cayenne fire in the back of your throat. It burns like dragon’s fire, though not unpleasantly so. There is a slight aftertaste of smoke and sweetness, I wish there would have been a touch more smoke (a personal preference since I love smoky teas) but as it usually is with dragons there is no room for smoke, only fire. This tea is a fitting tribute to Smaug, it is powerful while still being enjoyable, I do not reccomend any dwarves sip this tea though, it could end badly.
Good news everyone, my stomach seems to be on the mend so I am able to drink Oolong again! Still too sensitive for Black teas and it is hit or miss with Green, but Oolong tea and I are friends again. Auspicious for New Years Eve, also auspicious is that my mini Perler (ok, Hama, their English cousins) arrived. They are so tiny, about the size of a Seed Bead for those who are in the know. I am not looking forward to sorting them all, but using them in projects is very exciting. For now though, on to the tea!
Jin Xuan Oolong Tea by Eco-Cha Artisan Tea is an award winning Taiwanese Oolong tea (and one of my personal favorite Taiwanese Oolongs, fun fact) harvested in the Winter of 2013. Jin Xuan translates to Golden Daylily and is also known as Milk Oolong. The aroma of the leaves is very sweet and floral, the orchid notes are heady and intense. The sweet floral aroma fades to a vegetal, green bean note with an after aroma of fresh bread. The aroma is mouthwatering and pleasant, I found myself just inhaling the aroma long after my kettle was ready with its water.
Once I finally finished sniffing the loose leave and brewed the teas, the aroma of leaves is wonderfully floral and heady and very smooth. There is still the underlying vegetal notes as well. The liquid is smooth and floral with herbaceous notes of sage and slightly woody like bamboo.
The first steep is mild and sweet with subtle flavor notes. There are notes of sage and orchids with a sugarcane midtaste. The finish is creamy and mild and the floral notes linger. I feel as though this steep is just a hint of what is to come and is easing you into a more intense flavor. It is very enjoyable with its subtlety, especially after a break from tea.
The second steep’s leaves have a much headier aroma and very sweet, like fresh sugarcane juice and orchids. The liquid’s aroma is creamy and vegetal and quite tantalizing. The taste is creamy and sweet with much stronger vegetal tones and a sweet aftertaste. The mouthfeel starts buttery and fades to a dry mouthfeel, it is a very enjoyable transition. On to the third steeping!
The third and final steeping has a very heady aroma, not quite as strong as the second steeping but still quite intense. The liquid’s aroma is very sweet and less vegetal, the sweetness is more like honey. The taste is vegetal, mixing green beans and chestnuts with a slightly herbal midtaste. The aftertaste is sweet like sugarcane and the mouthfeel is dry and invigorating.
This tea does not disappoint! It is a wonderful example of how an Oolong grows with each steeping and takes you on a journey. I recommend steeping this tea when you want to relax and just focus on the tea experience or after a light meal. Also I had to show off the packaging, the tea itself is in a nice vacuum sealed container (which is always entertaining to open) but the box has lots of relevant info.
My first day without any tea (or non boring food) and so far a mild improvement, sadly the complete and utter lack of caffeine has turned me into a grumpy slug. I haven’t bothered to change out of my PJs and have spent the entire day playing Terraria and glaring at anyone that is at all ‘peppy’ it turns out I am not a pleasant person without caffeine in my system. But have no fear, I can reign in my snarly sensibilities to talk about a tea like a civilized person.
Today we are looking at Aged Earl Grey by Numi Organic Tea, I originally bought a box of this tea for my Earl Grey obsessed boyfriend in the constant search to find different Earl Grey variants that he would like, of course I wandered off with a bag for my own nefarious reviewing purposes. The aroma of this tea is very bergamot heavy with a sweet edge to it, there is also a malty undertone that makes the aroma very pleasant, it is certainly a tea that will wake you up!
The brewed tea has a bright and brisk aroma, typical of an Earl Grey, with strong notes of bergamot’s citrus tones. There is also an undertone of malt that add an extra bit of briskness to the cup’s aroma.
The taste is sadly not spectacular, there is an initial wonderfully bright zing of astringency, but after that fades I found I was left with a mouth full of nothingness. The bergamot aroma from earlier is not present in the tasting, but there is still a very mild hint of malt as an aftertaste. Sadly this tea is not for me, even if it does smell delightful.
Well everyone I have good news and bad news, the bad news is my stomach ulcer is just awful so not only do I need a bland diet (yay) I also need to take tea out of my diet for at least a week. I am pretty sure I can survive without tea for a week but it will not be fun. The good news is that I have tons of teas in my notebook still so I can blog daily during my trials and tribulations.
Today’s tea is Bourbon Vanilla by Kusmi Tea, a Chinese Black Tea flavored with Bourbon Vanilla from Madagascar. Fun fact, the name Bourbon Vanilla comes from Reunion a French controlled island that was previously called Ile Bourbon after the House of Bourbon. The aroma of this tea is fairly mild for a vanilla tea, it is sweet and creamy similar to vanilla bean ice cream. There are also notes of almonds, oak wood, and a very faint hint of strawberry that I honestly am not sure where it comes from. The aroma is pleasant and dessert like.
Once brewed the vanilla aroma practically disappears from the wet leaves but the base tea’s aroma is very bright and a touch malty. I also notice a fruity tone that has changed from strawberries to cherries in the wet leaves, it blends well with the malty and bright aroma. The liquid has captured the aroma of the vanilla from the leaves and is sweet and creamy.
The taste is subtly sweet and brisk. The vanilla is creamy along with notes of nuttiness and a midtaste of oak wood. I added a touch of cream and it really accented the already creamy undertones of the tea. There was no need for sugar since it is already sweet. I feel this tea is good for waking up or for dessert, but I doubt I will seek out more. It is a pleasant tea but not really outstanding.
Happy after the Holidays (almost, still New Years) everyone, I had a good one, and a good little vacation, I hope you all didn’t miss me too much. Sadly though my stomach ulcer is acting up, so all the yummy holiday food cannot be eaten by me. Luckily though I discovered that copious amounts of Oolong tea soothes my stomach. Today I am reviewing some Oolong from Taiwan sent to me from the lovely people at Eco-Cha, I decided to bring out the gaiwan (like I ever put it away?) and my bubble cups for brewing.
Organic High Mountain Oolong Tea by Eco-Cha Artisan Tea is an Oolong tea picked from the He Huan Mountain in Taiwan during the Spring of 2012. I suggest giving their website a view, they give lots of useful information about their teas which I certainly appreciate. The aroma of the loose leaves is sweet and floral with notes of honey and lilac. There are also notes of mild vegetal, spinach in this case, and a very faint fruity note that is evocative of scuppernongs. The aroma of this tea is enticing, not overpowering and heady but like a spring breeze bringing distant aromas through an open window, this tea makes me want to go outside and explore.
Once I give the leaves a steeping in their gaiwan the aroma becomes even fruitier with honeyed notes of scuppernongs and floral hyacinths. There are also vegetal notes and a very mild whiff of pepper. The aroma of the brewed liquid is very mild and sweet, like honey and a hint of orchids.
The first (of several) steeps blends sweetness and floral flavors together for a very mild tea. The taste is like candied violets and honey with a mild vegetal midtaste ending with sweetness again. The mouthfeel starts out buttery smooth and finishes with an abrupt sharpness that wakes up the mouth. The first steeping starts off relaxing and soothing and ends with a crescendo making me excited for the next steep.
The second steeping gives a slightly darker liquid with a sweet aroma and a note of lemon verbena giving it both a citrus and herbal tone. The first thing I notice is the incredibly smooth and buttery mouthfeel, the taste is mild with subtle notes of honey and lilacs with a finishing note of chestnuts. As it cools there is a hint of cherries as an aftertaste.
The third steep brings a more floral aroma from my little bubble cup and it is quite heady. The taste is sweet like honey with a rich orchid note. The mouthfeel is still very buttery smooth and delightful to drink, I feel very soothed. There is a fruity aftertaste that lingers for a bit.
The last steep is subtly sweet with more of a vegetal note than floral with a slight midtaste of chestnuts. The mouthfeel is still extremely smooth and soothing, it is definitely one of my favorite aspects of this tea. This tea is great for sipping Gong Fu style and reminds me of early Springtime, it also is soothing to my angry stomach so that is a huge plus.
Today has been a chill day, and I do not just mean it is freezing cold and we are under a Winter Storm Warning (oh please, please let us get snow!!) Today I have spent mostly relaxing before the inevitable onslaught of holiday cheer. I spent the day working on a massive castle in Minecraft, so far I have the outer walls and part of the turrets complete, it will be my biggest build yet. Plus my shoulders and wrists needed a break before I get back to finishing all the crafty gifts I need to make. All this holiday business puts me in the mood for Spring, so it is time for a Springtime tea from the annals of my notebook.
Sakura Sencha from Wegman’s Food Market (originally by Ito En) is a Japanese treat evoking the delicate blossoms of spring, blending Kagoshima Sencha and Sakura blossoms. The aroma is tart and sweet with an undertone of fairly mild vegetal and a touch of grass. The sakura blossoms add a gentle floral tone with a touch of citrusy fruit that reminds me a bit of dragonfruit. The aroma is very much so reminiscent of springtime blending new growth and flower blossoms, overall the aroma is very delicate.
Once brewed the aroma, while still being fairly delicate, increases the intensity. Not only is there the floral aroma but now I notice notes of cherries and freshly mown hay and it blends wonderfully with the aroma of the sakura blossoms. The liquid has a sweet, fruity aroma with undertones of freshly mown hay and a hint of almonds. The aroma is still delicate and fairly enticing.
The flavor is sweet and floral with notes of almond and cherries. The mouthfeel is smooth and the aftertaste is that of fresh grass. This is probably one of the few times I will offer advice like this, but do not follow the directions on the website/tin. I found that if I brewed the tea at 175 degrees it turned out a bit bitter, very much so the flavor of a tea brewed at the wrong temperature. I brewed the tea again at a lower temperature (150 degrees) and all the bitterness was gone and I was left with a smooth and pleasant tea. As the tea cools the sakura flavor becomes stronger and the tea becomes sweeter, it is a wonderful reminder of springtime and perfect for a relaxing sipping experience.
I should note there is a slight chance that I might miss a few days posting a blog in the upcoming week. There are a lot of very social events I am supposed to attend and being an introvert these things kinda wear me out. Hopefully I will have a blog out everyday but if not, now you know why. Happy Holidays!
I have spent most the day hunched over my perler boards spriting out gifts for people, now that I am stretched out in bed, propped up on a pile of pillows I can certainly say I am a happier person. I plan on spending the rest of my evening watching Let’s Play videos, sipping tea, and nibbling on snacks before I inevitably fall asleep. This of course, has nothing to do with the tea I am reviewing today!
Wild Flowers Blooming Tea by Primula is a blooming tea made from Chinese Green tea, Jasmine and Globe Amaranth flowers. The aroma of this tea is all flowers, intensely heady jasmine flower aroma drifts out of this interesting little ball of green. There is also a mild hint of earthiness, but the green tea is mostly indistinguishable and took some serious sniffing before I noticed the barest hint of vegetal.
Steeping the tea is an experience, and lets face it, the real reason we are all here. Watching the ball of tea bloom into a spiky flowered ball (that will forever vaguely remind me of Cthulhu but I am a nut) is an extremely enjoyable experience. The aroma is entirely jasmine flowers, which is all fine and dandy but not really nuanced. It smells like one very specific flower, no tea or other notes, just jasmine. The liquid without the leaves is the same, just jasmine.
The taste is heady jasmine and a touch of sweetness and the barest touch of vegetal green. It is an unremarkable drink with a beautiful viewing experience. There is a reason that I pull this tea out at events where there are no tea drinkers, it provides a wonderful show and a pleasant warm drink to sip on. I wish the base green tea had a stronger flavor, I think it if were it could knock my socks off, but since it isn’t I will just continue using this tea mostly as a visual treat to impress guests with.
Today has been an overwhelming day! I got some amazing gifts in the mail from my wonderful family which made the fact that I feel like utter and complete garbage a lot more tolerable. Even though my body is a wreck my spirit is practically vibrating with happiness, ’tis the season after all. Today though we have a tea that is evocative of Summer, for those living in warmer climates.
Maracuja Flavored Tea from Upton Tea Imports is a China Black Tea flavored with Maracuja (Passion Fruit) Essence, Sunflower blossoms, and Sugared Peach bits. The aroma is very sweet and tropical fruity, not tropical like coconuts and palm trees but more like exotic tropical fruits. There is a tart citrus tone to it and mild notes of floral that make me think of dragonfruit or soursop.
Steeping the tea gives the leaves a maltier flare with bright citrus notes and a tropical flare. I can definitely tell that this tea has the essence of passion fruit and peach since both are noticeable. The liquid is malty and bright with sweet, fruity notes. It smells very dessert like and exotic.
The taste is mildly malty with a bit of tartness and citric tones. For all the tea’s sweet aroma the flavor is not very sweet so adding a bit of sugar does not cause it to become saccharine. After I added a bit of sugar I noticed the taste of passion fruit and a tiny hint of peach. This tea is not bad, not spectacular but certainly enjoyable. I found that drinking this tea iced was also enjoyable, making it a good choice for summer sipping.
I slept for twelve hours yesterday, it seems excessive but clearly I needed it since I feel much better today and I have flipped back to being diurnal again. It is a constant struggle, I am naturally nocturnal but since I live with other people (making it hard to do things at night for fear of disturbing sleepers) I try to keep myself diurnal. Time for a tea review, another from my notebook of backlogged awesomeness.
Today’s tea is Hand Picked Autumn Tieguanyin from Verdant tea. Before I get too far into my review I should apologize, something weird happened to my camera (I have fixed it) where some of my photos were not storing on my SD card and sadly I did not notice till after my tasting was finished and I did not have more of the tea to photograph. Sadly that means no photo of the loose leaf, but I do have one of a cicada on the package. The aroma of this tea is very rich and heady mixing floral, nutty, and slightly fruity notes. The floral notes are the strongest blending orchids and lilacs with a gentle note of honey and freshly mown hay. I also detect a slight note of scupernong sweetness and as I pull the leaves away from my nose I get a really light hint of apricots.
The steeped leaves have a green aroma, like standing in a field of flowers and you can smell the aroma of broken leaves and flowers. There are also fairly strong notes of chestnut which blends very well with the notes of orchid and vegetation. Even though this is an Autumn picked Tieguanyin the aroma reminds me of high summer and makes me feel warm just thinking about it. The liquid’s aroma is mild and refreshing, mostly floral notes that are not at all heady. It reminds me of a breeze carrying in the aroma of flowers from the garden outside your window. There is also a note of chestnut at the finish.
The taste is exceptionally mild and very sweet, it is like drinking a cup of very warm honeysuckle nectar with a gentle chestnutty aftertaste. Nothing about this tea overwhelms, it feels very much so like a ‘hug in a cup’ and just soothes everything.
The aroma of the leaves used for a second steep are much richer, which makes sense since they have unfurled more. The orchid notes are headier and the chestnut notes are stronger, it is one of those teas that the steeping aroma fills an entire area rather than hiding in the cup. The liquid also is much headier while still retaining some of the mildness that the previous steep had. The taste is similar to the first cup being very smooth and sweet with strong notes of honeysuckle. The mouth feel is buttery smooth and the flavors are a little more rich with the second steeping. I like this tea a lot (but really, have I ever had a TGY that I didn’t like?) it is one that I can see myself sipping before sleep or when I want to do something relaxing because it has such a soothing quality. Someday in the future I will have to procure more of this tea and give it a Gongfu brewing review.