852 Tasting Notes
My mom is kinda awesome, ok she is really awesome, but today she decided to give me a present. She texted me several pictures of mushrooms she could not properly ID while visiting my grandparents in South Carolina, turns out all that flooding and rain inevitably brought in the mushrooms. For all that we have had a wet summer and somewhat wet early autumn in Missouri, I have only found a few mushrooms…though while out and about I have seen some growing on trees and in people’s yards, but I have learned that yelling to stop so I can leap out of the car to examine them is not very appreciated by whomever is driving, alas. Sadly IDing from a photo is hard, I was able to probably ID the Russula (either as emetica or paludosa, can’t be 100% sure) but there is one that looks like an Amanita but I just can’t place it, it is maddening and I am having a blast trying to figure out the puzzle with the few clues I have.
I believe it is Wednesday today, I admit, Monday being a holiday made me confused, tossed my schedule right out the door, it is a little embarrassing how much I rely on mail running to let me know what day it is. Since it is Wednesday, it is time to carry on with the tradition of What-Cha Wednsday, a tradition I have been carrying on with for over a year now, and I am still nowhere close to reviewing all of the What-Cha teas! I still want their logo as a t-shirt, just sayin’ it is so cool! Today we are taking a look at Vietnam ‘Red Buffalo’ Oolong Tea an Oolong tea from the Son La Province of Vietnam. Sourced by Hatvala, whose mission it is to raise awareness of Vietnamese tea, something I can get behind because I have not had a tea from Vietnam I disliked, even the super cheap Lotus Green I bought at a Vietnamese grocer. This is a heavily oxidized Oolong, almost to the point of a black tea, but still having a floral oolong quality. It is made using the Qingxin cultivar on a small farm at 1000m above sea level.
The tightly curled leaves are definitely dark, with shades of amber and red peaking through the mostly very dark brown. The aroma is pretty true to the description, blending a darker Oolong with a greener one, It starts out with notes of nutty toasted sesame seeds and chestnuts, sweet marzipan, and honey. Then it moves to floral notes, one note in particular stands out, and to me it smells like the honey sweet nectar of the tulip tree (Poplar) which brings back very fond memories. As a kid I would race the squirrels and ants for the fallen blossoms, when I got my hands on them I would lick the sugary sweet nectar out, yeah, I was a wild woodlands child.
In the gaiwan, the aroma of first steep and slightly opened up leaves is pretty intense, strong notes of flowers and gentle spice, like tulip tree, spicebush, orchids, honeysuckles…honestly this reminds me a bit of a Dancong with its headiness. After that initial burst of flowers there is a bit of creamy sesame seeds and honey. The liquid is very sweet, creamy and flowery with notes of honey, tulip tree, and honey locust. Wow, this the the tea of tree flowers!
The first steep is pale, surprisingly so, it starts with a gentle honey sweetness, a touch of sesame seeds, and then honey locust. Huh, I honestly have never tasted that outside of honey locust pods, that I find immensely fascinating. This sweetness fades to a gentle spiciness that is reminiscent of spicebush and distant flowers, which lingers in the aftertaste.
For the second steep, the aroma is honey and flowers, honeysuckles, honey locust, and tulip trees, it is very sweet. The texture is smooth, a bit silky, the taste is a sugary sweet explosion! It is like my mouth just filled with warm honey, honey locust, scuppernongs, and tea blossoms. The sweetness lingers for quite a while afterwards.
Third steeping’s aroma is still so sweet, loads of flowery goodness and honey sweetness, honey locust and tulip trees are blooming in my cup. This tea does not really change, and it is not super varied in its taste, and you know, that is totally ok because it is super sweet. Who needs dessert when you have liquid honey and honey locust pulp, it is like wild nectar and flowers. For all that this is a dark Oolong, it is not smoky or roasted at all, so no need to be afraid of that.
Blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2015/10/what-cha-vietnam-red-buffalo-oolong-tea.html
Bah, it was a holiday today, meaning no mail! Meaning one more day I have to wait for my kettle to arrive, the sadness, I am sure everyone who did not get mail joins me in mourning the lack of mail today. It is not all bad though, because I have Espeon snoozing beside me and Tao snoozing on the other side of the room (and by snoozing I mean snoring, loudly) and I have tea in my travel steeper while I lounge in bed. Still need to work on that lapdesk problem for bed lounging days, but that is a thing to work on later.
Today’s tea comes from Beautiful Taiwan Tea Company, and is so new it doesn’t even have a picture yet, oooh, fancy! Presenting Alishan Black Tea (Highest Quality) basically take a high mountain tea from Alishan’s Zhang Shu Hu area and process it like a black tea instead of an Oolong, it was one of those ‘you have my attention’ moments because that sounds rather exciting. The leaves are quite pretty, mostly curly and dark, but a few have gentle golden fuzz, and the aroma is rather potent, like really quite intense! Notes of strong cocoa and dark chocolate blend with gentle woody notes and black strap molasses, and a finish of roasted red peppers. Or is that adobo? It is spicy with a peppery note but none of the tanginess or adobo, this is an unexpected bit of nose fun!
Brewing the twisty leaves brings the cocoa notes to the levels of the extreme, with accompaniments of wood, gentle smoke, molasses, and a finish of smoked yams. This tea is more rich than sweet, like you are sinking into an inky void of cocoa and molasses…guys, I think I just figured out how I want to go when it is my time. The liquid is equally intense, though it decide to take on some sweetness with creamy milk chocolate notes, rich dark chocolate, molasses, and a touch of distant smokiness. It vaguely reminds me of brownie batter, at least the super rich way I make brownies.
Ok, sitting down for the first steeping sip, sometimes black teas tend to knock me off my feet, I love tea, but oh man, gongfu black teas make my head spin at times. It starts with a creamy mouth feel, creamy and smooth, with just a hint of less creamy at the finish, not dry, just not as creamy. The taste is a gentle note of milk chocolate at the first, that builds, and builds, until my mouth is filled with moderately dark chocolate making for a happy me. The finish is gently smoky with roasted yam notes that linger.
The aroma for the second steep does require sitting down, intense notes of cocoa and malt with gentle smokiness and sweet chocolate slam me in the nostrils. After that, notes of roasted yams and red peppers, that intriguing red pepper note, so peculiar and yet so right. The tasting starts out with a smooth mouthfeel, not quite creamy, more silky smooth, and hello sweet chocolate! Strong notes of milk and dark chocolate mix with malt and gently smoked yams, and holy moly it lingers forever! That is an aftertaste of endless happiness. I am such a sucker for chocolaty teas, they are my weakness (don’t I say that about so many teas?)
On to the third steeping, the cocoa notes manage to get even stronger, I am not really sure how, so much chocolate! Alongside the chocolate notes are notes of malt, roasted yams, and that confounding roasted red pepper note from before. The mouthfeel is similar to steep two, with silky smoothness, and the cocoa notes explode out of nowhere, kaboom! Chocolate! It is very malty and sweet, and quite enlivening as well, usually I find these smooth black teas more relaxing, but instead I found this tea to really wake me up, so this one is going on my list of morning teas that actually wake me up without being brisk.
I think I know the next thing I am going to treat myself to when I have a bit of money…drum roll…a lap desk! As much as I love working at my desk, sometimes I really want to just stretch out with a mound of pillows at my back, doing that now actually. My current setup of using a book as a table on my thighs and my Minecraft spider plushie as an armrest is not the most optimal of setups. But I am of course very picky, I want a lap desk with feet rather than putting my legs to sleep, and there can’t be a lip to push down on my already screwy arm tendons…oh yeah, and I need room for my mouse and my inevitable tea, and in a perfect world there would be a small lamp. I am having fun window shopping!
Today we are taking a look at Dachi Tea’s No 6 Golden Lily Oolong, a green Oolong from Taiwan, made from the Jin Xuan Varietal. Ah Jin Xuan, whose name translates to Golden Daylily (name drop!) and also goes by #12 or Milk Oolong, you are one of my favorites, I turn to you when I want flowery sweetness unlike any other. This particular tea was grown at 1200m on Alishan, though not all Jin Xuan is from Alishan and not all Alishan Oolong is Jin Xuan, of course even the ones that are from the same mountain and cultivar can have different roastings, growers, elevations, they have similar traits but each one will be subtly different in some way. It is like a mouth adventure. But first I suppose is the nose adventure, The aroma of the very tightly coiled leaves is at first quite creamy, then gentle notes of toasted sesame blended with the ever so slightly spicy note of Asiatic lily drift out of the leaves. Lastly the notes are honeysuckles, fresh milk, and a tiny touch of snap peas at the very finish.
The leaves made their journey to the Xishi pot for their steeping, only gently opening up after their first steep, but the aroma is certainly not some wilting flower. Ok it is floral, but it is not a weak aroma, Notes of warm milk, toasted sesame seeds, honeysuckles, snap peas, and spicy Asiatic lilies waft out of my teapot, my nose is happy, creamy teas just make me happy. The liquid from this first steep is quite sweet and floral, notes of honeysuckle, lilies (the spicy kind) sesame seeds, and a touch of sweet peas greet my nose. It smells less creamy than I was expecting.
For all that the aroma was not very creamy, the taste certainly is! The texture starts out creamy and the tasting starts creamy, like that relaxing note of warm sweet cream and sugarcane. It then moves to a nice flowery burst of sweet honeysuckles and spicy lilies. The spice from the lilies is very similar to what I describe as spicebush, but instead of it being a more musk spice it is a floral spice. Yes, I like to surround myself with spicy flowers, dianthus is also a favorite. Anyway, after the flowery burst the finish is a touch of gentle honey and very distant sweet peas, a lingering aftertaste of honey, well, lingers!
Second steeping time brings the creamy! The aroma of the liquid this time is definitely milky and sweet, with honeysuckles and sweet peas, sesame seeds and a gentle touch of lilies, it has a headiness to it reminding me of summer flowers. The taste and texture both start out creamy again, like sweet cream and sugarcane, then it moves ti sesame seeds and spicy lilies and a touch of honeysuckle. The finish has a crisp snap pea note with a crispness that lingers in both mouthfeel and taste.
The third steep’s aroma is sweet and creamy, with notes of milk and honeysuckles, a gentle touch of lily and a strong note of sweet snap peas, adding an extra crisp greenness to the sweetness. The texture is still creamy, but it turns crisp yet smooth around the middle of the sipping, right around the same time the taste turns from sweet and creamy to sweet and snap pea crisp. Usually when green Oolongs take on a green note, it is more crushed vegetation, so this snap pea note is quite fun, and it goes really well with the overall sweetness of this tea.
My grandparents are awesome, they saw my plight with regards to my kettle giving up the ghost and ordered me a replacement as an early birthday gift, so sometime next week things can return to normal. I also had several friends in the tea world offering me their spare kettles, giving a whole new meaning to the #kettlekin hashtaggery that floats around on the interwebs. I keep saying it, the tea community is awesome and takes care of its own.
Today’s tea blog has a bit of a story to it, the other day I groggily checked my email when my ‘get up and take yo’ meds’ alarm went off and saw that my Minecraft Mobs Fandom Collection on Adagio Teas is going to be a featured Fandom on the 11th. I kinda stared at my phone in disbelief, see, I have wanted to be a featured Fandom since I first created the Creeper tea, the first tea I ever reviewed on the blog. I really find the whole create your own blend system rather entertaining, it by no means makes you a blender, but it does let you play around with dozens of teas to create either a really tasty brew or something truly disgusting. The only really artsy thing I put into these teas are the labels, and I suppose I need to try to guess which teas taste good together and capture the monster in question. No matter how you slice it though, goal achieved! So to celebrate tomorrow’s feature, I am reviewing one of the blends, call it a pre-Halloween themed review if you like since it is time for Wither Skeleton!
That inky black, especially tall Skeleton that prowls Nether Fortresses and are kinda terrifying, are they dead Endermen? What exactly are they? Implications are…creepy. What they are is a mystery, what the tea is is a blend of Mambo (which is a mix of their Wuyi Ensamble aka Da Hong Pao and Yunnan Jig which is a fuzzy red from Yunnan) Lapsang Souchong, Almond Oolong, Cocoa Nibs, and Cardamon. Toasty, roasty, smoky, and rich, just the way I like my Endermen…wait…anyway, the aroma is a massive punch of cardamon, that is definitely the first thing I get. Next up is a bonfire that starts gentle and then kinda goes poof, like someone tossed a fresh log into the fire. Under that is a bit of cocoa, malt, and a tiny bit of almonds.
Into the steeping apparatus the leaves go for their steeping, the aroma wafting from the steeping and then from the finished leaves is smoky and strong in the cardamon department. Alongside that is a lovely woody note and cocoa with a touch of malt. It is a very rich tea, not so much sweet but very rich. The liquid blends cardamon, malt, cocoa, wood, tobacco, smoke, and a touch of fruit, there is a lot going on which is not surprising since there is a lot in this tea.
Moment of truth, tasting time! The taste surprisingly after all that richness, starts out sweet, like honey and a touch of fruit. That very quickly changes to the smoky, rich, cocoa notes I was expecting, oh yeah and a ton of cardamon. The finish is woody with a lingering tobacco smoke, and of course, cardamon. When Adagio says accented with cardamon, either they do not understand the potency of the stuff, or their accents are giant scoops, granted I love cardamon and I am totally ok with it, but it does present a powerhouse of cardamon. On a whim I tried this gongfu style one day and it kinda worked, but this tea really shines western style.
I am currently drowning my sorrows in terribly Hip-hop and Rap, it seems growing up in Atlanta means I never really lost my taste for Krunk, though in my defense I love good Rap, the bad stuff is just a guilty pleasure. Why am I drowning my sorrows you ask? My variable kettle went on to a glorious afterlife, I am sure it is heating water in Valhalla now with all the Warboys, all shiny and chrome.
Today’s tea is a fun blend of tea techniques and cultures, Yunomi’s Chakouan’s Ureshino Kamairicha, a Japanese Green Tea where the familiar steaming step is skipped and the tea is pan fired instead, similar to the way green teas in China are made. This technique was brought from China in the 15th-16th century and is a specialty in a couple southern regions, Ureshino in Saga Prefecture being one of those regions. The aroma of the curly leaves is quite nutty and sweet, it has a distinct note of sesame seeds which give the leaves their gentle sweetness. Underneath those notes of sesame seeds is a sharp leafy note of raw spinach and a bit of fresh kelp, adding an umami tone.
Into my pseudo-houhin the leaves go, luckily the leaves are fairly large so they don’t all go out the somewhat large holes, always glad when that happens. The aroma of the soggy leaves is a blend of cooked spinach and kelp, reminds me a bit of seaweed salad, but with a whole lot of extra sesame seeds. Just the right amount of green and seaweed to make me salivate. The liquid is nutty and sweet, like toasted sesame seeds and not much else, seems like all the aroma is in the leaves.
Tasting time! The texture is very smooth, and just a little bit on the thick side. It is surprisingly sweet and nutty, ok, not really surprisingly nutty, but the honey sweetness was a pleasant surprise. This initial burst of sweetness moves to a combination of sesame seeds and chestnuts, after that we have a nice burst of steamed spinach and a great finish of fresh kelp. The aftertaste surprisingly is a gentle fruity nuttiness that lingers for a while.
Second steeping time! The aroma is not changed much from the first steep, notes of toasted sesame, but there is a gentle undertone of fresh grass to go along with it, still pretty faint. This time the taste starts out green and crisp, no sweetness or nuttiness, crisp bell peppers and spinach with a finish of kelp. This tea is a fascinating thing, you have the familiar notes of a Japanese green mixed with the nutty toastiness of a Chinese green, I really appreciate the blending of techniques.
I am having so much fun with my new camera, it was a grand investment, especially since I have caught some amazing droplet and pour photos. So splashy! I have noticed one hilarious quirk though, see I am very used to my old camera after using it for five years, I knew what angle to be at and such to get the shots I wanted. I have to figure a new angle because I keep casting shadows on my photos, shadows of my MASSIVE lens. It cracks me up to see this looming lens shadowing over my tea desk. The camera is performing wonderfully, the user has a bit more practice needed.
Time to take a trip back in time to February of 2015 for the time of the first flush, because that is when today’s tea from What-Cha was harvested. India Darjeeling 1st Flush Rohini ‘Jethi Kupi’ Black Tea, as you can tell from the name comes from the Rohini Tea Estate, but what the name doesn’t tell us is that it was grown at 330m, is the Bannockburn 157 cultivar, and is grown by Shiv Saria and his son Hrishikesh Saria, yay for extra details! I did a little extra digging around and found out that Jethi Kupi is from the Manipuri dialect and means Jasmine flower, or it is from the Nepalese dialect where Jethi means eldest daughter and Kupi means cone/funnel, and this references it being a first flush. Now that that is all settled, aroma time! Why hello there muscatel notes of scuppernongs, muscadines, sultanas, and grape jelly, you are a sweet tea! This is not all just muscatel notes though, there is also a gentle spice and a slight note of gentle roasted peanuts, it has a richness in all its sweetness…and making me crave grape jelly laden toast something fierce.
In my steeping apparatus, the leaves are so gorgeous, I almost oversteeped it because I was entranced by the vibrancy of the leaves. Once I escaped its hypnotic unfurling in the water, the aroma of the leaves is like a small explosion of flowers and grapes, blending scuppernongs and orange blossoms, spicebush and sultanas, it is so grape heavy, I love it! Certain types of grapes may or may not be my favorite fruit ever (yeah, scuppernongs are the best thing, and teas that have those notes make me go all squishy because I grew up gorging on them.) The liquid is creamy and sweet with fruity notes of apricot and grapes, a touch of rich sultanas as well. There is also a tiny note of orange blossoms at the finish.
The taste of this golden brew starts our with a touch of flowery and peppery nasturtium flowers, this moves pretty abruptly to apricots and gentle spicebush. Then the taste goes on to roasted peanuts, scuppernongs, golden raisins, and muscadines. The aftertaste is a blend of orange blossoms and honey, and it lingers. The start is very much so a familiar first flush notes, but towards the end it gets a hint of what later flushes will taste like, which I find fascinating.
Well poop, it seems that things have gotten extra complicated in my life. It seems the Silver Nemesis, aka the car, has broken beyond repair, kinda out of nowhere. Not having a car is going to make getting to my various medical visits hard, going to gaming hard, getting to the store hard…oh yeah, and Ben’s job as a pizza deliverer kinda hard. I am glad that I have a great stash of tea to last me through what is going to probably be a very tight patch, but I am sad because my epic gift giving plans might not work, well, I might use any birthday money to buy the miniatures I wanted to paint for my friends instead of new paint. Things are going to be tough, but we will figure something out. So, that is my life at the moment!
Oolong time! Today we are looking at Taiwan Oolong Tea’s Lugu High Mountain Oolong, a new company located in Singapore, their shop-front is their facebook page and have three Oolongs they are offering, they also recently had a small contest and I was lucky enough to snag some of their tea. This tea was grown in the Lugu region at 800m above sea level and was harvested this spring, and that is all I know about this tea, so onward to the sniffing of the nicely balled up leaves. The aroma starts milky and sweet, gently creamy with a slightly nutty rice and almond milk note. Under the creamy sweetness is a floral blend of honeysuckle and a touch of lilac at the finish.
Into the gaiwan! The leaves unfurl pretty quickly, as of the first steep they are already almost unfurled. The aroma is green and just a tiny bit spicy, like spicebush and Asiatic lilies. It is also a touch creamy and just a touch nutty like almost milk. The liquid is surprisingly mild, with notes of gentle cream and distant floral sweetness.
First steeping, this tea really shines in its creamy and very smooth mouthfeel. I admit the first steeping’s taste is really mild, gentle floral notes and gentle nutty notes. There is not a ton going on, but the mouthfeel is pretty great.
Time for the second steep! The aroma is creamy and sweet, much more of a presence than the first steep, strong notes of sweet cream, honeysuckles, almond milk, and a a touch of lilacs. The mouthfeel still shines with its silky and creamy texture. The taste has more to offer with this steeping, though sadly not a huge. amount Gentle notes of honeysuckles and sweet cream mix with lilacs and a lingering note of honey.
Third steep! The aroma is mild, gentle notes of honeysuckles and a touch of creaminess. The taste is pretty mild, honeysuckles and lilacs with a gentle creaminess and a touch of vegetation. Gentle is definitely the name of the game with this Oolong, I almost feel like this would be a great after heavy meal sipping experience, one to cleanse your palate while enjoying a subtle flavor.
I am pretty sure my beautiful half moon double tailed Betta (you know, Jace Beleren, because Magic references are fun) is actually a reincarnation of one of my old Bettas. When I first got him is was vibrantly blue and white with a few black spots, he has gotten darker, he is mostly dark blue with black speckles and he is dichroic. A trait in gemstones, Tanzanite and Alexandrite being famous ones, that when viewed from different angles or types of light appear different colors. It is pretty awesome, when Jace is near the top of the tank, his reflection is vibrantly teal (he matches my hair) which makes him the exact inverse of my fish Dichro, yep named for his dichroic property. These two are the only Bettas I have had that have this interesting property…now if he will stop teasing me and let me get a photo!
So today’s tea is a fluffy leafed favorite of mine, Moonlight White Tea, from Beautiful Taiwan Tea Company. Ah Moonlight White (or Yue Guang Bai) you are a tea that causes many debates, White Tea? Puerh Tea? Some epic mix of both…probably, see it is from Yunnan and is of the large leaf Assamica varietal, same as Puerh, you can compress and age it like a Puerh, it is only lightly withered but unlike a Maocha which is withered under the sun it is withered under the moon. Or so the legend goes, I also see that this tea is named Moonlight because of its silvery leaves and it is withered in a warm air tunnel. Regardless of what category this fuzzy beauty fits it, it is time for sniffing. The aroma of this pile of fluff (really, I do love fluffy and fuzzy teas, I think I have a fixation, or I just really love leaves) starts off with gentle notes of sweet honey and hay with a touch of wildflowers and pollen. This moves to gentle yeasty bread, honeydew melons, and a touch of lettuce and cucumber at the finish adding a bit of green. I really like how it goes on a little journey through sweet, floral, fruity, and green.
I decided to use my green easy gaiwan/pseudo-houhin for this one, I just love using this wide thing for fluffy leaves. The aroma of the now steeped leaves is strong with notes of sweet hay, raw honey, pollen, wildflowers, and a touch of cucumber, baked bread, and just a tiny little hint of black pepper at the finish. The liquid is delicately sweet, like pollen, wildflowers, honey, and just a tiny hint of lettuce at the finish.
The first steep, in my fancy clear crystal glass, I am so posh. It starts out nice and smooth, with a slight tinge of fuzziness from the trichomes. The taste is quite sweet, like honey and hay with a definite pollen and wildflowers note to it. The finish is gently green with a tiny touch of malt and a lingering sweetness.
And on we go to the second steep, the aroma is a sweet blend of wildflowers, raw honey, and pollen, with just a touch of melon at the finish. The taste is a lot more intense this steep (which makes sense) really making the pollen and wildflower notes pop, I feel like there is a bee’s paradise in my mouth. The finish is honey sweet and gently cooling, and that honey lingers for a while.
The third steeping’s aroma is much sweeter, like I stuck my nose in a jar of raw honey, you can certainly still smell the pollen, but it is all sweetness all the time. The mouthfeel is a lot more round this steeping, almost silky in its smoothness. Tasting it, well, I am awash with the sweet honey taste and gentle wildflowers, for all that this tea is moonlight it tastes like sunlight to me. The finish has a cooling cucumber note and a lingering honey one that seems to linger on forever. Many steeps were had, I got a bit tea drunk off this one…ok a lot, I found it an excellent painting companion.
Well, I got my results from the MRIs and EEG, and they were for the most part normal. Well except for the weird white mass on my frontal cerebral cortex that they think is not related to my current problems and they have no explanation for. Clearly that means I have superpowers, I will totally tell my neurologist that when I go for my follow up. I am glad I do not have epilepsy or MS, though I admit, not having any answers and still having problems is frustrating, a diagnosis means I get help…but all I have now is more questions, superpowers, and pain. Ah well, at least I have tea and can still paint!
Today we are looking at Dachi Tea’s No 8 Scarlet Honey Oolong, oh yeah, time for another bug-bitten oolong! This one is more oxidized than some of the other bug-bitten oolongs I have had, so expect this to be a fun adventure. Opening up my package I am pretty much slammed with an incredible sweetness. It is like someone put a bowl of honey drenched black cherries with a light sprinkling of black walnuts and baked pears in front of my nose. It is immensely intense, rich, and oh so sweet, I feel like I am sniffing dessert and not tea!
Into my jankity sage gaiwan the leaves go, I wanted a smaller gaiwan so I could stretch this tea over multiple sessions, if that aroma is anything to go by. The aroma of the wet leaves is intense, almost heady in its sweetness, I feel myself swooning! Notes of cherry, grapes, cooked pears and plums, and loads of honey. The liquid starts out with a cream and honey note and then it melts into baked cherry, plum, and pear notes and a touch of condensed milk. It is intensely sweet, consider me impressed, this might be the sweetest smelling tea.
First steeping, it starts smooth and gentle, a touch of juicy pears and lychees and then out of nowhere a small honey themed explosion goes off in my mouth. I am totally ok with that. This moves to cooked cherries and plums, with a finish of walnuts. The lingering honey sweetness stays for so long, it is wonderfully sweet.
On to the second steep, it starts with sweet honey and rich cherries, a touch of walnuts and creaminess as well. My notes in my notebook kinda slant and look very garbled, my handwriting tends to do that when I an drinking a bug-bitten oolong! It is a sweet explosion of honey drenched plums, cherries, pears, and a gentle finish of walnut. I am loving that walnut finish, this is like drinking a baked fruit dessert.
The aroma of the third steeping keeps it going with the sweet honey, dark cherries, walnuts, and that oh so decadent creaminess. It keeps my nose happy. Ooh fun! This steep has a new note that has surfaced, alongside the notes of cooked plums, cherries, and pears, there is a nice rich note of dates. Of course on top of that is the ever present note of honey, it is wonderful. I had so many steeps of this tea, I got unbelievably tea drunk too.
Flavors: Cherry, Dates, Honey, Pear, Plums, Walnut
I think I need to give up on the dream of a black cloth on my tea desk, oh sure it looks fantastic day one, but as of the first time I turn my back on the tea table, it is the cat’s table. So, either I need a tortie cat colored tea cloth that will also not show ALLLLL the stains from my tea spillage or I need to get a tiny tape roller to collect all the cat fuzz since she keeps insisting on sleeping on it. Clearly she is jealous of the tea pets and wants to be the alpha pet. Of course I could get one of those cool wooden tea trays with the drain, but it would make accessing my desk’s cubbyholes nigh impossible…maybe I should just turn my antique secretary desk into a draining teadesk…that would be so metal. And also really hard!! For those who remember my other tea desk WIP it is currently on hold until after I move…someday.
Today is, unless my notebook is a big ol’ liar, the last of the pile of samples from Tao Tea Leaf, their Precious Ali Shan-Premium, though reading the description, I am not sure if the Oolong from Ali Shan or an Oolong from Li Shan, I though about trying to figure it out through taste (or being sensible and contacting the shop) but then decided, maybe I spend too much time getting bogged down in the details, maybe I should just enjoy the tea and let it be the guide, not any preconceived notions of location. So tea, what do you have to tell me? The aroma is creamy, like all sorts of creamy, we have milky notes, sweet cream, honey butter, and almond milk. Underneath that sweet creaminess is a touch of gentle spicebush blossoms and faint papaya fruitiness.
Into my gaoshan pot the leaves go! The aroma of the now steeped and slightly unfurled leaves is gentle almond and chestnut at first, this moves to a nice burst of honey and flowers, honeysuckles, lilac, and that tropical fun burst of papaya at the finish. The liquid is where all the creamy action went, chestnuts and sweet cream with a nice burst of almond milk and distant honey drizzled bread.
First steeping is very creamy in the mouth (I am seeing a bit of a theme here) nice and smooth, one of my favorite thing about gaoshan Oolongs, they have some of the best mouthfeels in the tea world. The taste is sweet and creamy, almond milk and papaya notes mix with gentle flowery undertone. As the sipping continues the flowery notes build to a distinct honeysuckle note, and the finish has that same note with a lingering honey and chestnut aftertaste.
Second steeping, the aroma of the liquid has a nice spicebush note at the first, that moves to sweet cream and nutty notes of almond milk and chestnut. I am really liking the almond milk note, being one of my favorite non-dairy milks. The taste really ramps up the sweetness this steep, creamy and gentle nutty with a blend of chestnut, almond milk, coconut milk (specifically the milk substitute, not the super heavy stuff you get for cooking delightful Thai food, or coconut juice, the coconut note is very light in that stuff) and a touch of actual sweet cream. The finish is a lingering honeysuckle note that just keeps on going.
The third steep taught me something very valid, never rely on an internal timer (fun fact, any teas that require less than a five minute steeping time, I just keep watch on the leaves, count it out, or just wait til it feels right) for steeping tea while playing Terraria, I oversteeped the third steep by a good two minutes. Way to go, Amanda! The liquid was dark compared to the previous steeps, but the aroma was all flowers, no more cream, just a bouquet of lilacs and honeysuckles, very sweet and spring like. The taste was not at all bitter, not a bitter note to be found, hooray! The taste is intense creamy notes of chestnut and almond milk and then BOOM flowers! So many flowers, like I just fell face first into a lilac bush and got all its tasty nectar into my mouth. Well played, Oolong, well played!