602 Tasting Notes
Why can’t I have backup dancers? Maybe I watch too much Indian Cinema, and just expect that when I break out into spontaneous song and dance that a color coordinated group of backup dancers will just appear and then immediately disappear once I am done. Is that really too much to ask out of life? It certainly would make my life a lot more interesting when I go shopping and decide to sing along with the store’s radio. Play music at your own peril!
Today’s tea is pretty neat, it holds the distinct honor of being the first package I have received from the country of Greece, from Armenos, a family owned herb shop that has been around since 1875, so cool! What can I say, Greece is REALLY high in my list of places to visit, I have been studying its history and mythology since I was four-ish. Fun little ‘me fact’ I used to strongly consider majoring in classical mythology, especially after many times infuriating my high school mythology teacher for trying to teach her things, I was a jerkish kid, but her lack of knowledge made me sad! Anyway, tea! Kayinari Style Tea Blend is a colorful blend of rooibos, black tea, sunflower petals, vanilla, cloves, and cinnamon, and it smells just like orange jam! Seriously I had to wonder if someone opened a jar of jam near my head, add a touch of spice and woodiness and you get a delightfully warm smelling tea. One of the joys of spices and oranges, they smell like warmth and sunlight, so on a chilly winter (almost) day this is a perfect smell.
Brewing the tea and I find myself really wanting something to spread that jam like aroma on, seriously, I need some crumpets or something because yum. It actually is reminding me more of marmalade now, with a tiny bit more of a sour citrus along with the sweet citrus. There is a tiny bit of spice as well. The liquid is rich and malty along with orange jam and a bit of caramel sweet rooibos. These notes work really well together and reminds me of the tea my mom would make for us at Christmas.
The taste of this tea is gentle in all aspects, the spice is present and warming, but not overwhelming. The orange taste is mild, like a splash of sweet orange jam dropped into tea (remind me to try that, I am curious if the texture would be weird.) Again, I say orange jam, but really it reminds me of marmalade, blending sour and sweet really well. The black tea base is mellow and bright, the woody qualities of the rooibos adds a bit of depth to it. It very much so reminds me of orange spice tea I would drink as a kid at Christmas, except better, the tastes are very clear and not at all muddied, which I like!
Flavors: Jam, Orange, Spices, Wood
Something really awesome happened to me, thanks to some awesome connections I got my hands on a ton of paint, a glorious selection of brushes, and some basing/sculpting supplies. This pretty much tops off my miniature painting supplies wishlist, I mean yeah there are a few things I need with washes, varnishes, and some technicals, but mostly I am set. This means that any money I get I can use for buying the actual minis instead of the painting supplies, so exciting! I expect that a large portion of Christmas monetary gifts will be used to buy things to paint. Currently I am working on a rather sexy and scantily clad lady standing in some fancy looking rock formations with a friendly lizard.
So, today we are having a tea from Teavivire, Anxi Monkey King (Ma Liu Mie) Tie Guan Yin Oolong. This Tie Guan Yin is of the Zheng Cao type of processing, meaning it is only lightly oxidized, making this a vibrant green oolong from Anxi! The name Monkey King, Ma Liu Mie, or Monkey Picked, all refer to the legend that ancient farmers could not pick the tea growing wild on the cliffside, so they improvised by tying ropes around their waists and climbed the cliffs, just like a monkey. Charming, though this myth has led to some pretty wild tales about the tea being picked by actual monkeys or that the farmers would scare the monkeys into knocking branches off the tea tree by throwing things at them. The beauty of legends, trying to sort the truth from the fiction! The aroma of the dry and very green leaves is one of those ‘just right’ combination of notes, it is floral but not too heady, has notes of fresh vegetation without smelling too green, and notes of chestnut without being too nutty. The Goldilocks of smells. It reminds me of morning dew on an orchid, along with the summer aroma of growing things and a touch of sweet nectar at the finish, very lush smelling.
Once the leaves have been given their first steeping, the headiness of a typical green Tie Guan Yin comes out! The aroma is a very floral blend of orchid, hyacinth, and a touch of honeysuckle with an accompaniment of fresh vegetation and chestnuts. I think I even detect a hint of distant lilacs, very much so a summer evocative blend of notes. The liquid, it is hard to describe, the aroma reminds me of flower water and nectar, like some little (very hard working) elf gathered all the raindrops left on flowers after a rain storm. It is floral, green, and just a tiny hint mineral. Just like summer rain off a flower, not that I am a hard working elf who has done that or anything.
The notes in my notebook for this tea are a little giggle worthy, especially when I use the phrase ‘powerhouse of orchid’ yep, that sums it up nicely. I find this kind of Tie Guan Yin very relaxing, something about its mixing of strong floral notes, wet and crushed vegetation, and just that hint of buttery chestnut always put me in mind of the feeling after a summer storm. I feel focused and relaxed, very alive and ever so slightly sleepy. The buttery mouthfeel and honey sweet finish mix well with the earlier flavor notes.
The aroma of the second steep, no surprise, is very floral. A blend of orchids, hyacinths, and a touch of chestnut sweetness at the end, ah the headiness of oolongs. The taste is a delightful blend of floral sweetness, I definitely know I am picking up lilac along with the orchid powerhouse this time! A touch of green things, including a tiny hint of fresh spinach, and a tiny bit of chestnut and honey at the finish. It is not as buttery smooth this time, there is a hint of dryness at the very back of the mouth which causes a distinct honey aftertaste.
I should note, I am not the only one sipping this tea at the moment. Yes yes, I do have the notes in my notebook, but decided I also wanted to drink it while writing this. I got my mom a little yixing teapot as an early Christmas/birthday gift (her first) and she wanted it seasoned for green oolongs, so we are having a nice time with this tea and her pot. The third steep is much the same in aroma as the second, a bit more hyacinth than orchid, more sweet than vegetation. The taste takes a similar tone from the aroma, the taste is still quite floral but it is no longer a powerhouse but a mild floral headiness. It reminds me of flowers in the evening, closing their petals up, you can still smell them but it is not as intense. Everything about this steep reminds me of the evening, it is winding down, soothing and relaxing. There is a hint of mineral along with the green fresh vegetation and spinach notes that make up the finish. A very soothing end, and now I return to painting!
Oh what a miserable day it has been, and it is misery of my own doing! Ok, that is not entirely true, I was misled by the outside world. When I popped outside to check the mail it was rainy, dreary, and a bit chilly…my favorite kind of day, so I dressed what I thought was appropriately for a trip to the laundry mat (eww) with my mom. Nope, I was deceived, before long the temperature dropped (it must have) because I was freezing and felt like I was hit by a soggy truck filled with misery turkeys (no I don’t know why the misery took the form of turkeys, it just did.) After we got home I snuggled into a robe, under a fuzzy blanket, and piled heating pads on my joints until I felt like moving again.
Today’s tea from Pekoe Sip House goes perfectly with my current state of blah, No Pain Rooibos Tea, a blend of Rooibos, Turmeric, Ginger, Clove, Cardamon, Cinnamon, and Cardamon. There looks like there is Fenugreek (Methi Seed) and Peppercorns in here as well, I truly wish that the teas listed all their ingredients, it is probably my only complaint (if there are more complaints I have not found them yet) about Pekoe Sip House, but it is mainly because I am anal about ingredients what with the gluten intolerance. Back before I had to pay super attention to ingredients I could care less, it made things more surprising for me. So, if you get your hands on this tea, be prepared to be greeted with one of the yummiest smells ever when you open the bag, especially if you are a big lover of Indian foods. It is like a woody blend of curry, turmeric, chai spices, and a touch of sweetness. I really love the way this smells, it blends the savory notes of curry dishes with the sweeter spices and rooibos really well, it calms my near constant craving for curry too, which is an added plus.
So, steeping this tea is a little mouthwatering, it smells so warm and the spices waft out of the steeping tea like a golden mist (or it does if I close my eyes while sniffing it) warming the tea nook. The soggy pile of leaves and spices on their own have a neat blend of nuttiness, woody sweetness, caramel, fenugreek, gloves, ginger, and sharp turmeric. It reminds me more of food than tea, like someone made a curry and added rooibos to it, something I need to try now. The liquid also smells quite yummy, with strong notes of curry and chai spices along with that distinct sweet caramel woodiness of rooibos, really these notes work perfectly together. Where usually ‘red chai’ blends tend to fall a little short (at least for me) the addition of the more savory spices seems to add that missing something.
Usually I do not hold much stock in the ‘this tea will do this thing’ with regards to health, I drink for taste, but if a tea has an added benefit then cool! I do admit that I tend to eat a lot more curry when I am having inflammation problems, but since curry is one of my favorite comfort foods that makes sense. And like curry sipping this tea is very warming, it feels warm down to my toes (no small feat, my feet are always cold and usually a bit blue, just like my hair!) The taste is really delicious, a blend of savory turmeric, fenugreek, and curry notes at the start, this transitions to woody sweetness and a touch of citrus at the finish. It has a tiny bit of herbaceous bitterness from the turmeric and fenugreek, but I find it delicious. I could very much so seeing this tea being an acquired taste, not everyone is a fan of fenugreek and turmeric’s distinct taste…or having their tea taste like slightly sweet and woody curry. Conveniently this fits right into my personal happy place, making this tea my favorite of the three I tried and a must have for my permanent tea supply. Also, don’t forget, Pekoe Sip House was nice enough to give me a coupon code to share with my readers, use teajoy for 25% off all teas.
TGIF, remember back in the 90s when THE thing to do was sit around watching TV on a Friday evening? That is when all the cool shows were on, and they had all those funky theme songs with catchy lyrics and fun colors. At least I think that was a thing, for me, my friday nights from 5pm till 3am were listening to Friday Night 80s on Star 94. The fact that I can remember the name of the radio station I listened to almost fiften years ago is astounding! It was very much so a thing for me, I refused to let the 80s die…I still refuse to let the 80s die, the New Wave is here and I have some serious Flock of Seagulls Hair. It is more an accident, I went to sleep with slightly damp hair and woke up with a giant sideways mess.
So, today is the second day of my little Peko Sip House feature, and I am looking at Summer of Love Herbal Tea, a blend of fruit, fennel, melissa, and linden tree blossoms. There is not a full list of ingredients, so alas, I cannot tell you what is all in this very colorful tea, but I do like that it has melissa (also known as Lemon Balm) and linden tree (also known as Tilia) both ingredients I do not see too often. You all know that herbal blends that have unusual or rare ingredients make for a happy me. The aroma of the leaves (and flowers, seeds, and fruit bits) has a lot going on, it has floral, herbal, and fruity notes. I detect a slight peppery note, some fennel, citrus, pineapple, peach, a bouquet of flowers, and a tiny bit of tanginess at the finish. The aroma reminds me a lot of summers growing up in Atlanta with my mother’s ridiculously lush garden.
Giving the pile of petals and such a steeping really brings out the melissa, it is sharp and lemony. There is also rose, peach, pineapple, and fennel notes that pop up with a honey and citrus finish. The liquid is much the same, a tad bit lighter and fruitier, also there is a tiny hint of dill. Not sure where that came from, but it is not unpleasant, again it brings to mind summer while lounging in a beautiful garden.
The taste is interesting, a little odd, but not in a bad way. The mouthfeel is surprisingly thick, almost like drinking jello before it has set…if you have not done that you really should, it is a great texture. The taste is fruity and sweet, a blend of peaches, pineapple, and a touch of citrus. Of course there are lots of flower notes and herbal notes, the fennel gives it an interesting finish. This tea is really unusual but fun, I found myself enjoying it and it really does remind me of summer, the beautiful full verdant parts of summer, not the dry hot part that I loathe so much. Also, don’t forget, Pekoe Sip House is offering 25% off using coupon code teajoy.
You know, you think I would learn my lesson from past mistakes, but no, I didn’t! Guys, never use Splat! Dye, their bleach is pretty fantastic, some of the best I have used…but their dye is just awful. First time I used it was for purple dye, what I ended up with fuschia…next time for dark blue (which worked pretty well) and now this most recent time for emerald green, which gave me teal. The colors are ok, the problem is the bleeding, the fading, and the uneven splotchiness that it leaves my hair. The only reason I got it instead of my usual Adore brand (which…heh…I do adore) is because I needed bleach for my roots and was a bit short on cash. Le sigh, I have very splotchy and already pretty badly faded hair, so I ended up using some amazon credit to buy the dye I like. Lessons learned that HOPEFULLY I will remember this time around!
Today is day one of a little three day feature on a new to me tea shop (always exciting to find something new!) Pekoe Sip House, a well estabilished trio of Boulder, Colorado cafes, recently opened their online shop, meaning us non-locals can try some of their teas. They are a Certified B Corporation (and organization I had not heard of until now, but I do live under a very large rock) meaning they are commited to doing good things for the community, environment, and things of that nature, always a plus in my book! Also a huge plus, they offered a coupon code to share with my readers, for 25% off site-wide using the code: teajoy so a big thank you there! So, after that brief introduction, it is time for Green Figs Green Tea, a green tea with a figgy theme. I am just going to lay this out on the table, figs are my all time favorite fruit, hands down. I have been hunting far and wide for a fig themed tea that actually tastes like figs, and since this tea has actual chunks of fig in it, I actually have high hopes. The aroma of this tea is intensely sweet, like really really sweet, like someone took dried berries and figs and drizzled them with honey. There is also a mellow note of rose petals and fresh vegetation, but mostly you get fruity goodness and sweetness, thought it is almost too sweet.
Tossing the leaves and fruity bits into my little steeping…thing…I know it is part of a glass double boiler, but it really looks like something from a medieval alchemy lab. The brewed leaves definitely smell like figs, certainly there are notes of super sweet berries and roses, but there is such a strong note of fig that you can definitely tell there are dried figs in this steeped tea. The liquid is a sweet bordering on too sweet (a recurring themed with the aromas I see) with strong notes of fig, honey, berries, and a light bit of rose and vegetation.
Ok, now it is time for the real test, for all this tea’s smelling like figs, does it taste like fig? Yes, yes it definitely tastes like figs! It is a fairly mellow tasting tea, sweet and delicately green. Not a super ‘green’ tea so this could be a good starting point for someone who is just starting to dip their toes into the sea of green. The notes resemble vegetation and growing things, like the leaves acompanying the fruity notes and floral notes present. The tea starts off as honey drizzled berries, primarily raspberry and blackberry, this moves on to roses and growing things, with a great sweet explosion of fig at the end. The fig tastes blooms and then lingers into and aftertaste that I greatly enjoyed! I can certainly see this tea becoming a new favorite, finally a fig tea that actually tastes like fig!
I have the house to myself this evening, everyone is out seeing a bloody musical. I mean that literally, they are out seeing Evil Dead: The Musical, and since they are right up front they had to wear old clothes in expectation of blood spattering. Oddly, this is not one of my moments of being terribly uncultured, the tickets were bought way before me coming out to visit was a definite, and have sold out. Not sure I would want to go anyway since I am rather uncultured and get very bored with most stage performances unless it is opera. Clearly we need to have Evil Dead: The Opera, I would be all over that, extra points for singing in German.
So, what does What-Cha Wednesday have in store for us today? If you read the title of the blog you already know, it is Yancha time! My addiction to the various Wuyi Rock Oolongs is making my yixing pot so happy, the smell and sheen it has developed is awesome. So of course I used it to brew Fujian Wuyi Big Red Robe ‘Da Hong Pao’ Oolong Tea, though I can say that brewing a Yancha in a gaiwan or even a basket Western style is awesome, so, how does this one compare to the others I have tasted? First off I can say that the dry leaves have a very rich aroma, a blend of char and sweet fruit, it reminds me of peaches and plums cooked over a grill and allowed to get that really yummy char and caramelized sugar aroma. There is also a distant aroma of orchids and a touch of tobacco, the finish has a slightly yeasty bread quality. Heh, maybe that is why I have recently taken a great love of DHP, it smells like baking bread, all glutinous and sweet.
Brewing the leaves really brings out the tobacco notes, I love when tea has tobacco notes, it reminds me of my dad’s ritual of smoking his pipe, especially during the cooler months, I would assist him by cleaning his pipe, the rich sweet and a touch fruity smell of tobacco that greeted my nose was always a pleasure. Enough nostalgic reminiscing, there are also notes of char and grilled plum. The liquid freed from its leafy companion is pretty creamy sweet, like molasses, spicebush flowers, cooked stonefruit, and a tiny hint of loam at the finish.
Ooh, this IS a rich DHP! The mouthfeel is creamy, it reminds me of the way warm honey coats your mouth, super smooth and heavy, it is almost hypnotic…or maybe that is just me being a bit tea drunk. The taste is rather sweet with notes of honey and stewed plums, this transitions to a mild char and grilled plums, a tiny touch of cherry is present as well. The finish is honey and tobacco, a rich finish to a definitely rich cup of tea.
The aroma of the second steep is a sweet blend of stewed fruit and a touch floral, like an orchid flower that is about to drop of the stem because it has reached the end of its life. They tend to get an intense sweetness with just a hint of a fermented honey aroma. Surprisingly there is no char in the aroma of this steep. The mouthfeel is not as creamy, it has an edge of dryness similar to eating a very dark chocolate bar (my personal favorite.) In fact the dark chocolate comparison is not far off since there are notes of char and cocoa, much like a marshmallow and graham cracker-less smore. The finish is a touch of tobacco and a nice touch of sweet cooked plum. This steep was not as sweet as the first, but still rich…or dare I say, robust?
Third dance with this tea, third and final. As you have probably noticed I only go up to three steeps with the teas as of late. Several can go longer, but I have been told that my ramblings are usually best stopped at three, that most people do not have the attention span for a ton of steeps, and I can totally respect that! Short attention spans unite…now what was I talking about…ah yes, tea! The aroma is sweet and fruity, again no char aroma is present in this steep. This steep is much like the previous one but much milder, it lacks the robust quality and presents the same flavor notes in a delicate fashion. A very apropos finish, it is always nice when the tea winds down gently instead of just up and dying.
Flavors: Char, Cocoa, Plums, Stewed Fruits, Tobacco
Yours truly should never ever be allowed to be the final say on numbers, remember yesterday when I was so excited about the tea group being really close to 600 members? Yeah, I derped, I read 548 as 584, so not the first time I have done that either, I feel just a tiny bit sheepish about that error. But on a more positive and not me being a derp note, it is currently sleeting, we might actually get a nice icy coating and possibly some snow. Also my mom gave me a bunch (by that I mean six) of old Harney & Sons tins for storage purposes, not sure if I am going to use them for tea or paper, regardless they are very pretty.
Today’s tea is a funky twist on a classic spice tea, White Chai by the Persimmon Tree Tea Company, a blend of Ginger Root, Lemon Grass, Cinnamon Bark, White Tea, Pineapple Pieces, Cloves, Dried Coconut, Cardamom Pods, Red Peppercorn, Apple Pieces, Natural Spice Flavor, and Natural Cinnamon Flavor. The aroma starts out with a strong note of dried apples giving it a blend of sweet and just a hint of tart, this moved onto pepper, cloves, a but of cinnamon, and just a touch of cardamon and coconut at the finish. It certainly smells like a chai, but it has a tropical edge from the coconut and a much milder spice profile, as expected with a chai made from white tea, it is rather delicate.
Brewing the tea makes my little tea nook (that is what I have decided to call it while I am staying with my mom) smell very warm and comforting. A blend of classic chai spices and apple cider, there is also a touch of lemon grass and coconut giving it a tropical feel. I cannot decide if the wet leaves make me feel like I am on vacation or getting ready for winter, it smells good but also smells confusing. The liquid is all spice, apples, and a touch of coconut and lemongrass. The finish has a distinct punch of pepper that wakes up the nose, I do love a good peppery tea!
Usually with a chai I add milk or cream, but since this is a white tea I worried it would be too strong and I would not get the full effect of the tea, and it was a good idea since this tea is super mild. The most dominant taste is definitely the apples, blending the sweet apples with the chai spices make it taste like a slightly Indian mulled cider. There is a touch of citrus at the finish giving the tea a brightness. This is a Christmas Chai, oddly enough, the flavor notes remind me so much of cider and the citrus spiced teas I would drink that time of year as a kid. I did not really taste the coconut or the white tea, it was more like a fruity chai. I am not entirely sure how I feel about it, I enjoyed the taste, but wish that the white tea would have made more of a showing.
Flavors: Apple, Citrus, Pepper, Spices
You know what is just crazy awesome to me? The tea group that I created back in early 2013 on facebook is 12 members shy of 600. That is mind boggling! I started it at my friend’s insistence as a place for us to babble about our shared obsession and as a place for me to teach them about tea, or at the very least point them to the books and websites I used to learn stuff. It started out pretty slow, just some friends and friends of friends, and then it really took off. Before long I enlisted the help of my mom as an admin, and it was only a couple of weeks ago that I was telling the group how awesome it was that we hit 500 members. It is a labor of love, I get frustrated with it at times but my little tea group is awesome, I have met some amazing people because of it.
So, remember back in June when I reviewed Sencha of the Summer Sun? Well, I am drinking the same tea, except this time it has been roasted into Yunomi: Obubu Tea #14 Houjicha Amber Roast. This is really exciting to me, it is like visiting a new friend who got complete facial reconstruction and is still the same person but is also totally different. Ok, that analogy failed utterly, but I hope the gist of what I am saying comes through. Unlike my experience with Obubu’s Smoky Roast and Dark Roast I did not get to know the tea pre-roasting, so being able to taste and smell the pre-roasted Sencha is pretty amazing. Enough of my tea geeking out, on to the sensory analysis of the tea leaves. Ok, the aroma of this Houjicha is fun, it starts off as sweet roasted marshmallows and a touch of campfire, it then transitions to toasted sesame, burnt grass, and lastly a tiny wisp of distant sea air. I very much so had a vision pop into my mind of roasted marshmallows on a beach, the fire made from driftwood and sea grass. What is it with roasted teas and their ability to send my brain to such wonderful places?
I decided to brew the tea in my trusty basket inside a teacup, I know I am betraying my kyusu, but when I took the tasting notes for this tea it was really close to me leaving to come out to PA and my breakable teapots were packed away, must keep safe from the cats! The nicely steeped tea smells like a seaside campfire, complete with the slight aroma of toasted seaweed. It is not as sweet as the dry leaves, mostly savory and toasty with a distinct umami. The liquid is a blend of soothing toasted sesame, a touch of seaweed (kelp, specifically) and a bit of smoke. As smoky teas go this is pretty mild, none of those strong char and burning things notes, more like a fire in the distance.
Ah, this is a nicely savory Houjicha. There are, at least that I have experienced, two kinds of Houjicha, the ones that taste sweet like roasted marhsmallows, and the ones that are savory and rich. Obviously this greatly depends on the tea, and since Sencha of the Summer Sun was not a sweet Sencha, this totally makes sense. Yunomi uses the word robust to describe this tea, and I agree, it is a good description, the umami mixture of roasted kelp and campfire washes over your tongue, again it reminds me of a seaside bonfire. At the very finish transitioning into the aftertaste you get a touch of toasted marshmallow, this delicate sweetness with a bit of smoke lingers for quite a while. I can see this being the perfect end of summer beginning of autumn tea, it reminds me so much of that last visit to the ocean before summer is over, but you can start feeling the chill in the air at night.
Flavors: Campfire, Marshmallow, Ocean Air, Seaweed, Smoke, Toast
Bullet Hell is an insane genre of game, and I feel no shame in admitting that it is really hard. I know I spend a lot of time talking about my love of Minecraft, but before there was Minecraft, there was Bullet Hell. I have been playing Shoot em Up style games since the days of Gradius, and it makes so much sense that by brain would love the fast paced and usually very colorful style of Bullet Hell games. I haven’t played one in a while, but the new Geometry Wars game recently came out and after seeing Dusty play it, the old itch popped back up and I had to have some fun. I popped on the game Frantic 2 and am having myself a grand time.
It is a bit of a meme among gamers that we consume monstrous amounts of caffeine to keep ourselves alert for hours of gaming, and Fashionista Tea’s Organic Creamy Earl Grey could very easily fit the bill, well assuming you drink a lot of it. This is a typical Earl Grey with a creamy twist, my personal favorite way to have an earl. The aroma a nice blend of malt, creamy vanilla sweetness, and a nice bright bergamot kick at the finish. Luckily it is not a kick in the face, more of a nice zingy wake up smell rather than smelling salts like bergamot can be at times.
Brewing up the tea brings out more of the bergamot and balances it out with the rich and creamy vanilla note, there is still a malty note as well, but it is playing second fiddle to the other two more dominant smells. Must be because the malty notes are having a solo in the liquid without the leaves! It is malty and bright with a sweet vanilla undertone and a nice wisp of bergamot at the finish.
So, on the bergamot scale, this tea is definitely in the middle, not too strong and not too weak, in my opinion this polite bergamot is the perfect level of citrus zinginess. There is of course a rich and creamy sweet vanilla note with a touch of cocoa, a bit of malt, and just the tiniest hint of oak wood. The vanilla lingers long after the sip has finished, giving this tea just a hint of a dessert quality. I certainly liked it, I am not the biggest Earl Grey fan (I am pretty sure that is my boyfriend actually, such an earl snob he is!) but I can appreciate one that blends the flavors, adds that extra bit of sweetness, and does not kill me with a citrus bomb to the face.
Time to rejoin the real world, with much regret. I have been an overstuffed, lazy, derping in front of the TV watching stuff or gaming, lump. In order to celebrate my return to normalcy post holiday, I decided to play with rocks! I went through my mom’s (she gave me a few really pretty pieces, including a very dirty Savannah River Agate) and I collected a few of my old gemstones I had left with her for safe keeping. I then spent several hours researching the Carolina Bay’s geology and formation, spoilers, it is really cool.
So, enough about my nerding out about rocks (though don’t be surprised if they start showing up in my photos) it is time for some Oolong! Today’s tea is Teavivre’s Nonpareil Taiwan Li Shan Oolong Tea, one of Taiwan’s Gao Shan (high mountain) teas grown at an altitude of 2,000ft on Li Shan. This specific tea is called a Gao Leng (woo, I learned a new tea phrase!) meaning high (I knew that much) and cold, referring to the environment the tea is grown in, this in theory makes the tea sweeter and more valuable. The about section on the website has a lot of neat info about Taiwanese teas, including which ones are grown at different heights, difference between high and low mountain Oolong, and so forth. Li Shan is not the highest grown tea, but it is certainly up there. The aroma, well, often I find myself going ga-ga over the roasted oolongs, but wow, when I have a dance with a Gao Shan I wonder, why did I ever get seduced by roasted tea? It is so sweet and so very floral, like a bouquet of honeysuckles, hyacinth, orchids, and lilies, it is intensely floral and at the same time very delicate, no worry of being blasted in the face by a perfume shop. There are also notes of chestnut and cream with a very sweet nectar finish.
I should point out that I am still not on the best terms with the gaiwan I am using for this tea review, it is a great gaiwan from a functionality standpoint (or I would have smashed it) but it is so not ok visually, grumble grumble. May I will give it a full review tomorrow, spoilers, it won’t be pretty…but I digress. The aroma of the steeped leaves is so immensely sweet, I want to hug it with my nose but that would be just odd. Again with the flowers, it is a blend of honeysuckle as the dominant, hyacinth, lilac, and spicebush. This transitions to a bit of creaminess and honey with a finish of chestnut. The aroma of the liquid (hehe, my notes in my notebook are crooked, always a good sign) is as expected very sweet, a delicate blend of flowers, primarily honeysuckle, osmanthus, and spicebush, this transitions to a sweet finish of chestnut.
First steeping sipping time! First steeps always excite me, they are liking starting a story or journey, you get an idea of how things are going to go, but there is room to grow and evolve. The mouthfeel is quite smooth, it coats the mouth and fills it with floral, sweet, happiness. This steep is pretty mellow, a nice sweet nectar start that blooms into hyacinth, orchids, and honeysuckles. The finish is a delicate honey sweetness with a lingering floral note.
The road goes ever on and on, ok, no…Gao Shan is not really a hobbit tea, it is more a tea you would expect the Sindar who dwelt in Gondolin to sip while writing poetry about how they are better than everyone else. The aroma is again, quite yum, the floral aroma has ramped itself up from delicate to intense, there are notes of spicebush, honeysuckle, orchid, osmanthus, hyacinth. So many flowers! There are also notes of chestnuts and a touch of creaminess. And yeah, the taste is sweet and floral, as expected, where the previous steep was flower nectar, this is full on flower essence and creamy chestnut sweetness. You also get a little bit of green fresh vegetation. The aftertaste is floral honey that lingers for quite a while.
Ok, quick question, have any of you ever licked the condensation of the lid of a gaiwan after steeping tea, if you have not, really I suggest doing it because it will be the best thing ever. So super sweet and like the essence of tea distilled into tiny droplets. The aroma is so much flowers, really it smells like a pile of springtime air while visiting a fancy garden, it is so sweet and full of flower nectar that I swear I can smell spring time. The taste is crazy mellow, very smooth and floral with lots of honey and chestnut, this transitions to a touch of mineral and a finish of spicebush that lingers for a while.
Flavors: Chestnut, Flowers, Honeysuckle, Nectar, Orchid