540 Tasting Notes
Mmm the aroma is so creamy sweet and yummy with notes of dried fruit, cocoa, and roasted peanuts. Ok, that is the aroma of the liquid, sadly the dry leaves had not much in the way of a smell.
The first steep is smooth and very sweet, having a cherry and plum sweetness along with honey and a bit of sweet potato. The second steep is still very smooth and sweet, maintaining the fruity notes but also adding a touch of cocoa. Yum, just what I needed this morning.
Marco Polo TTB
Yuck, yuck, yuck, I have no motivation to do anything today. I feel as though my brain and body is trapped inside a Slime and that Slime is too lazy to move, the fatigue is real, yo. Me thinks after I write this tea’s review I shall make like a pile of leaves and take a nice long soak in hot water. Preferably while reading a book, maybe I will bring some tea to sip as well, just submit myself to complete relaxation. Ah memories, when I was a kid, the most decadent thing I could think to do was to take a hot bath while eating ice cream, especially if it was pistachio ice cream, if you have not tried eating ice cream while soaking I most certainly recommend it.
Today we are taking a look at Mahamosa Gourmet Teas, Spices & Herbs Caramel, an herbal dessert tea. A blend of Rooibos, Cream Caramel Pieces, Brittle (specifically hazelnut) pieces, and Flavoring, this tea sounds like a real sweet treat. The aroma of the dry leaves certainly has me believing that it will be a sweet treat, with notes of caramel, sweet nuttiness, and woody, slightly sour, rooibos as a base. It is very sweet, the caramel plays well off the naturally caramel notes of the rooibos.
Steeping the tea leaves fills my room with an intense sweetness. The little red leaves smell woody and sweet with notes of caramel, nuttiness, and a bit like a caramel latte, complete with coffee. The liquid is creamy and sweet with very strong notes of caramel, it smells like candy and richness.
Tasting time, luckily for me I am having a sweetness craving, so if this tea tastes as sweet as it smells I will be in a very happy place. The sipping starts off sweet and woody, like a typically sweet, woody, and dry rooibos with an extra caramel coating. This turns into a creamy midtaste and toasted nuttiness that gives it that bit of a latte flair. The finish is dry and woody, just like I expect from a rooibos, the tea was not cloyingly sweet like a mouthful of caramel, but it is quite sweet so it certainly fits its goal of being a dessert tea. Plus you can sip it before sleep thanks to it not having caffeine!
Flavors: Caramel, Coffee, Nuts, Wood
I feel icky, that means I need a Roasted Oolong to sooth me soul, instead of reaching for a favorite I decided to try something new. The aroma of the leaves is very roasted, notes of tobacco and burnt toast with a tiny hint of burnt sugar. The brewed tea is very roasted, charcoal, tobacco, and burnt toast notes, no notes of sweetness. The liquid is charcoal and tobacco, this is going to be one potent tea!
There is a slight fruity sweetness I was not expecting, by fruity I mean pumpkin…are pumpkins fruit? The taste is a mix of pumpkin and coal, it is unlike any roasted Dong Ding I have ever had…it manages to be unusual and somewhat plain.
Ah, the second steep brings a more nuanced aroma of not so burnt toast, spicebush, and a bit of roasted grain. The taste is pretty bland, notes of pumpkin, charcoal, and spicebush, it is a soothing kinda bland though.
Today’s tea themed bit of reading material is Tea Basics: A Quick and Easy Guide by Wendy Ramussen and Ric Rhineheart. This is a fairly older book, from as far back as 1998, I was a tea drinker back then (at a whopping 13 years old) but I was not really aware of the vastness of the tea world yet. Not sure if I agree with the book’s claim of being quick at 208 pages, I might be a speed reader but I have seen much smaller books about tea, and much more thorough.
I want to start out by saying, this book could have been great, really quite awesome. I am even able to overlook my usual lust for pretty pictures for the shear amount of tasty knowledge, but it has some monumental flaws. It was painful, but I will start out saying why this book could have been awesome.
It covers so many points, from the standard tea grading, history, correct brewing parameters, and bits about various tea traditions. It also covers some not often (especially in books written during this time period) mentioned subjects, like how to season a yixing teapot and how to properly taste tea. These things are awesome it is just so full of useful information.
But it has one of the most glaring mistakes I have seen, it dawned on me when I was reading the section on ‘what is a tea’ specifically the blurb on green tea being the least processed of all the teas. That statement, and the complete absence of it anywhere else led to the shocking realization that white tea is never mentioned! There is a one off mention of Pu Erh, which is what I have come to expect from tea books from the late 90s, and no mention of yellow tea (also par for the course) but the utter lack of White Tea is just baffling to me.
I am honestly not sure I can recommend this book, on the one hand it does have some good info, but it is a bit dated, and with the glaring omission of white tea, I think it fits into the ‘if you must have all the tea books in the world’ category. I certainly would not recommend this for people who are new to tea, maybe as more of a refresher for more seasoned sippers.
This is an exceptionally late post because yours truly feels quite awful today. Not even the dread lord Cthulhu miniature I am painting can make me feel better, the trials and tribulations of Fibromyalgia! Some days you feel fine and some days, for no reason, your body decides that everything is going to hurt and none of your medicine helps, the only option is to curl up in bed until it goes away. Usually I can still write, but sometimes a flair up is joined by a migraine (like today) and that means no looking at a computer. Luckily after a nap my headache is gone so I can write, yay!
Today’s tea is Jasmine Pearls by The Persimmon Tree Tea Company, a tea that I frequently forget exists. No idea why, I have enjoyed every Jasmine Pearl I have had, but after I drink it they tend to leave my mind until I run into them again and say to myself ‘how do I always forget how much I love this tea!’ It is really quite a funny process. These pearls are made from Organic Jasmine Scented Green Tea, I prefer the process of scenting a tea with jasmine over just tossing the flowers in a blend, usually the effect is much more subtle and quite wonderful, it is very easy to get overwhelmed by jasmine’s intensity. The aroma of these pearls pretty intense, very heady jasmine with notes of fresh vegetation. It reminds me of standing next to a blooming jasmine late on a summer evening, the aroma of the flowers fill the air and the smell of growing things surround me.
Into my gaiwan they go! Part of me is tempted to make a jasmine scented yixing pot, that could be intense or a disaster…food for thought. The aroma of the slowly unfurling pearls is very sweet, a heady mix of jasmine and honeysuckle nectar with a strong sharp notes of freshly broken vegetation. The liquid is sweet and floral, like flower nectar mixed with a delicate green tea.
For the first steeping the taste is fairly mild and the mouthfeel is nicely smooth. It starts off with slight fresh vegetation and then a gentle fade to honeysuckle and jasmine, it has the taste of flower nectar and growing things, it is delicate but has a definite presence.
Second steeping time! The aroma is really coming alive, strong jasmine notes waft out of my tea cup pretty much filling the area with headiness. As expected this steep is stronger than the previous one, it starts off like a fresh green tea, more vegetation than vegetal, though there is a hint of artichoke. This fades to an explosion of heady jasmine sweetness and nectar, the taste is strong but still well balanced with the green.
The aroma of the third steep is mostly sweet jasmine nectar, I do not detect any lingering notes of green tea, it is all flowers. The taste is winding down, there is only the sweet flower nectar blend of honeysuckle and jasmine. If you are like me and prefer your jasmine tea on the sweet and mild side rather than super intense flower bouquet, then I recommend this tea, it is light and refreshing and maintains a good balance with the green tea.
Flavors: Artichoke, Green, Honeysuckle, Jasmine, Nectar, Stems
I have a tale of sadness that only fellow tea drinkers would really understand. Last night I came home from gaming, exhausted and feeling like utter death and instead of leaving my travel thermos either in the kitchen or on the shelf where it is safe, I left it on my tea desk. While lying in bed reading before sleep I head the sound of cats wrestling (as they do) and an ungodly smash. Yep, it broke, shattered into several pieces because I was too dumb to take care of my tea gear properly. Of course I can’t afford to get a new one, it took months for me to save up to get this one…and since I am traveling in about a month (the main reason I got this thing) I am in a massive funk over it. Ben seeing me crying on the floor clutching the broken remains of the beloved tea thermos offered to buy me a new one…
but of course Tealux no longer carries this specific kind, so I have to go searching for a new cheap glass travel thermos. Sigh, this sucks, I already miss my trusty travel thermos.
So as you probably know from my endless rambling, I am going to Pennsylvania in a little less than a month. Me being me, I have started packing, or at the very least planning what I am bringing, three months is a long time so I have to make sure I have enough tea and crafty stuff. I decided to ship my origami paper rather than try to tote it along during travel, the box weighed a whopping 17.6 lbs, that is a lot of paper! The real problem will be tea, I am pretty sure I am going to just fill my duffel bag full of the stuff, because I drink a ton of tea.
Today’s tea comes from the high mountains of Taiwan by way of Life in Teacup! Taiwan Cui Yu Green Jade High Mountain Oolong is a modern style green oolong from Nantou and was harvested in the winter of 2013. Since this is a nice shiny green oolong the color of jade and spring time, I decided to bring out my yixing teapot seasoned for green oolongs (yes I have three different kinds of oolong yixing teapots, I am silly like that) since I have not given it much love lately. I find myself craving green oolongs in the late winter and early spring, they match my desire for green things since that time of year where I currently live is rather drab and brown. The aroma of the tightly curled leaves is sweet and green, a mixture of green stems, orchids, and yeasty fresh baking bread. As I pull the leaves away from my nose I also get a hint of spicebush and cane sugar.
The steeped leaves smell like a bouquet of spring flowers, with strong notes of honeysuckle, hyacinth, and orchid. There are also notes of fresh stems and a touch of freshly baking bread. The liquid once it is out of my teapot is very sweet, notes of cane sugar, yeasty sweet bread, honeysuckles, and orchids waft out of my cup, it smells delicious!
For the first light steeping my mouth is greeted with a very delicate taste and a buttery mouthfeel. There are notes of fresh green stems, butter, and deliciously sweet flower nectar, it reminds me of eating honeysuckle nectar while still tasting the plant it came from.
No surprises, but I am going in for a second steeping! The aroma is even more floral, reaching headiness in its level of floral. There are still notes of green stems and baking bread, but those are faint in comparison. The taste is still fairly mild, buttery mouthfeel mixed with green notes that border on vegetal. The mid to end taste of the tea is floral and sweet with a slightly mineral note at the finish. It is very soothing.
For the third steep the aroma is very floral, notes of hyacinth and honeysuckle with a hint of stems, it is much milder than before. The taste starts off creamy, almost buttery with a hint of stems, this transitions to gentle floral sweetness and a touch of fresh vegetation. This tea is very much so what you expect when you drink a green oolong, nothing stood out as fantastic, but it was still quite delicious.
Guess who has perfectly dyed vibrantly teal hair? Yeah, ok, no guess really, it is me, for the first time in a long while my hair turned out perfect, it practically glows with the level of brightness. I have Minecraft diamond hair now, which is awesome. What isn’t awesome is I went nocturnal and I am spending today staying up very late in hopes that I can flip my schedule back to diurnal, the constant struggle, of course this means I might be a bit more rambling than usual.
It is Wednesday, meaning it is time for another tea from What-Cha, today’s lucky leaf is Kenya Premium White Tea. Alright everyone, stop, collaborate, and listen…this tea might be the most unusual tea I have ever had (that is actually Camellia sinensis and not some strange herbal concoction) seriously, go out and buy yourself some, heck buy me some, because I went through my sample of this unique tea in record time. Looking at the dry leaves, it doesn’t look like a white, it looks like a fuzzy golden tea from Yunnan…sniffing the leaves it has the sweet corn notes of a Kenyan Silver Needle, the heady floral notes of an oolong, and the malty, sweet potato, and caramel notes of a golden Yunnan tea. I am confused and totally in love, Ben thought I lost my marbles because of the maniacal giggling coming from me while sniffing the leaves.
After a moment of contemplation on the best way to brew these mysterious chimera like leaves and inevitably settling on my gaiwan, I gave the leaves a good steeping. The aroma of the now quite soggy leaves is delicious, a blend of sweet corn, malt, sweet potatoes, and flowers (specifically peony and orchids) waft out towards my nose. The liquid is much yum, very sweet with notes of peony flowers and sweet corn mixing with malt and cocoa. It is like someone did a cocktail of half Yunnan Gold and half Kenyan Silver Needle…two of my favorite teas, oh dear this might undo me.
If you do heed my advice and buy this tea to try yourself, make sure you are sitting down because this tea will sweep you off your feet. It tastes just like the liquid smells, it starts with sweet corn and peony with delicate mouth tickling trichomes and then transitions to malt, caramel, and cocoa notes. It is quite unlike any tea I have ever experienced before.
Second steep time! The aroma is so wonderful, the sweet corn, peony, and malt notes work really well together, no note overpowers. This steep has more in common with the Yunnan Gold aspects of its personality than the Kenyan White, with notes of malt, caramel, cocoa, and sweet potatoes. At the end there is a strong note of peony and a hint of sweet corn with a lingering aftertaste of molasses.
For the third steep the aroma is very sweet, lots of sweet corn and caramel with a touch of malt. This time the tables turned, the taste is more focused on the Kenyan Silver Needle with more delicate notes of sweet corn and a burst of peony. This fades to a blend of caramel and molasses with lingering sweetness.
Alas I did not take official notes or snap a picture because I was in a hurry and grabbed the first tea off my desk (this lucky one) to toss in my travel infuser for sipping while out and about. Using slightly cooler water (180) and an obviously longer steep (several hours) I noticed that it started out with sweet corn and peony, very delicate and sweet. This grew into malt and molasses notes until the finish of my sipping which was quite robust and very sweet. Teas like this really make me happy, not only do they taste fantastic, they are outside the ‘norm’ for that type of tea, it reminds me to never go into a tea expecting something, to treat each tea like an adventure…sometimes you get a few new and unusual flavor or aroma notes and sometimes you get something completely unusual and unique.
Flavors: Cocoa, Floral, Kettle Corn, Malt, Molasses
The time for me to pack my bags and travel off to Pennsylvania for a couple months is fast approaching, and I need to make sure all my projects are finished before I leave in about a month. My biggest concerns are making sure I have Ben’s army painted and my tea collection re-organized. I have a whole new system in mind and I need to select which teas I am taking with me to Pennsylvania, three months worth of tea (especially at the rate I drink it) is a sizable amount.
Today marks another step in my Raw/Sheng Pu Erh adventure. Teavivre’s Lotus Leaf Raw Pu-erh Mini Tuocha an adorable little tuo (or nest) of Sheng Pu Erh with a nice addition of lotus leaves, from Lincang, Yunnan. The aroma of this little tuo is not very strong, with faint notes of wet hay, sweet freshly mown hay, a bit of yeasty bread, a touch of mineral, and salty lotus leaf. Specifically the lotus notes remind me of the lotus wrapped sticky rice (or lo mai gai) that I love so much when going out for dim sum. Delicious!
After giving the nest a rinsing and steeping, the aroma has a distinctly fermented aroma, with notes of wet hay, lotus leaves, salty cooked spinach, and a touch of straw mushrooms. The more I sniff the wet leaves the more it reminds me of food, clearly I am hungry! The liquid having been freed from the gaiwan and its leafy friends, has a very nice aroma. There are notes of sweet hay, a touch of yeasty bread, and finish of salty lotus leaf.
The first steep is nice and mild, it has a thick mouthfeel with a slightly salty almost broth like taste. This transitions to fresh hay and spinach with a slight sourness. The finish is like a distant breeze bringing in a field of flowers.
The second steep has the aroma of wet straw, straw mushrooms and a pile of leaves after a rain. There is also a bit of sweetness and lotus leaf at the finish. The taste starts off with an intense hui gan, it begins with sourness and cooling and then switches to sweetness. After this initial bit of a mouth party the taste is a mix of sauteed mushrooms and and lotus leaf with a finish of pepper.
For the third steep I am greeted with the aroma sweet honey and wet hay and a hint of salty lotus leaves. The taste starts out the same as the previous steep, my mouth is cooled and given a kick of bitter and sourness before being turned sweet. It is a very interesting sensation and I am still not quite sure if I like it or not! There is a slight taste of hops, it took me a moment to realize what it was since I do not drink beer and it has been years since I even tasted any. Not a big fan of the hops, but it fades pretty quickly to sweet hay and a touch of spinach. This tea was pretty interesting, I certainly think the added lotus gives the tea an added layer of depth.
Flavors: Hay, Hops, Mushrooms, Sweet, warm grass
Marco Polo TTB
Well, it happened, Microsoft bought Mojang and by extension, Minecraft, when the rumor was first leaked and no ‘damage control’ happened I pretty much assumed it was a done deal. It is not all doom and gloom though, Microsoft has done some awesome things and from the press release details, as few as they are, it seems like they are going to treat Minecraft right. I am cautiously optimistic and look forward to watching Minecraft grow, and hey, maybe the Xbox 360 version will get quicker updates now (doubtful.)
Today’s tea is possibly being reviewed at the wrong time of year, depending on your hemisphere, presenting Spring Fest by RiverTea! Inspired by the Cherry Blossom Festival in Japan, this tea is a blend of Green Tea, Papaya Bits, Pineapple Bits, Sour Cherry Halves, Raspberry Bits, Rose Blossoms, Jasmine Blossoms, and Flavorings. The aroma of the leaves is quite fruity, blending cherries and papayas with floral notes of jasmine and roses. It does not really evoke spring to Japan to me, it evokes summer in a more tropical climate to me. Of course how well it matches its name is not really what is important, what is important is rather or not it smells good, I think it does, the fruit and flower notes mix really well, however the cherry aroma is much stronger than the other notes and has a bit of a tart quality that has me nervous.
The steeped leaves are really quite sweet, lots of sweet papaya and cherry notes with a hint of pineapple, the initial fruity sweetness fades to rosy perfume and heady jasmine at the finish. The aroma of the liquid is a mixture of jasmine’s subtle sweetness and floral intensity along with fresh vegetation and a hint of rose. The liquid smells more like a jasmine green tea than a fruity blend.
The taste is very mild and subtle, it starts out floral and sweet with faint notes of roses and jasmine with a hint of vegetation. This transitions into slightly tart cherry and sweet tropical fruit, the aftertaste is rose and tropical fruit. Spring Fest is pretty light and fairly refreshing, one of those teas that is very unassuming and can be used as a ‘background’ noise tea that you want to sip without having to think about. Obviously this is not my favorite type of tea, but they certainly have their purpose and are good to have around when in need.
Flavors: Cherry, Jasmine, Rose, Tropical