569 Tasting Notes
Happy National Fibromyalgia Awareness Day…wait…that was on the 12th and it is the 13th…crap. I was going to have this big speech about how Fibromyalgia affects lives and how more research needs to be done and people need to be aware of it, but nope, I lost track of what day it is. Bringing me to my personal biggest ‘crutch’ of having this syndrome…Fibrofog. The combination of pain, fatigue, and cognitive impairment makes it feel like your brain is locked in a fog bank, it is what causes me to repeat questions, forget things, trail off mid-sentence, leave my waffles in the toaster only to find them the next day when I go to make waffles, make a to-do list and lose the list, lose something right in front of me…I could go on with this, but I think you get the point. As someone who prides themselves on their mind being sharp, Fibrofog is like adding insult to injury, I can take the pain, but I really can’t take the derp. So there, my Fibro-awareness day a day late!
Ok, time to put the sad, tiny, violin away and stop whinging, tis Wednesday and time for a tea from What-Cha! Today we are looking at Ceylon Amba Hand-Rolled Black Tea, a tea from the Amba Tea Estate in Ceylon, plucked February of 2015 (ooh so recent!) and of the Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe Grade 1 variety. I admit, I do not try a lot of Ceylon teas, mainly because I used to have those generic Ceylon teabags back when I made iced tea…now that is totally unfair because the higher end Ceylon loose leaf teas I have had have been pretty fantastic, so let us see how these curly leaves compare. The aroma is delightfully nutty, blending sweet notes and peanuts, so it reminds me of peanut brittle. There is an underlying note of yams and a touch of dried cherry and apricot. I like the fruity touches at the end, the sweetness pleases me.
Oh man, I cannot type tonight! I keep messing things up and having to redo it, my fingers are all floppy. The brewing leaves smell more like I expect a Ceylon to smell, very bright and brisk with a touch of lemon peel and oak wood sharpness. There are also notes of sweet yams, peanuts, and pepper at the finish. The beautiful amber liquid smells, for lack of a better word, lively! It is one of those teas that smell like a wake up call, like after school and you need tea to wake you up…or was that just me? The aroma blends oak wood and gently roasted peanuts, there is a brittle like sweetness at the finish and a touch of distant citrus.
Tasting time! I was tasting this tea in the afternoon, so I was glad that the aroma of this tea seemed very much something I would want as an afternoon pick-me-up, and very excited to see if it would transfer over in taste. The first thing I noticed was how it was a blend of bright and mellow, the mouthfeel has a smooth and slightly tingly texture, with a slight dryness at the finish. The taste starts out with sweet peanuts and yams, this moves to malt and a touch of citrus, and the finish is peanut brittle sweetness. I am tempted to try this at a later time with cream and sugar, but I so rarely drink my tea like that anymore that I was totally out of cream…err…half & half, and I refuse to use skim milk because ewww. I think this would be an excellent tea to have at Afternoon Tea, complete with a side of scones.
Oh I am utterly and completely knackered today. Ben was awesome and took me to my favorite store, the oh so epic International 888, an Asian market the size of a small mall. It has everything, from food and tea to cooking hear and all the Joss paper. I love that place, but I have to go on a day when I have money and a day where I have nothing else to do. So, yours truly took some books to Half Priced Books and made $18 (woo, I am rich!) and then used that money to get Matcha candies. Also some other random stuff, and a pile of Wood Ear Mushrooms for soup. Fun aside, I am so annoyed at getting so worn out easily lately, something to talk to the Doc about.
So, tea time! Today we are taking a look at Buddha Teas Organic Sacral Chakra Tea, and herbal blend of Calendula, Dong Quai Root, Damiana Leaf, Burdock Root, Ginger Root, and Fennel Seeds. These ingredients are picked for unlocking creativity and balancing the Sacral Chakra, then these ingredients are infused with Moonstone essence, which is fun because moonstone is a beautiful stone. If the traditions of Chakras are to believed, yours truly has a blockage in the Sacral Chakra, specifically a god awful monthly curse and lately I have been utterly exhausted all the time, so lets see if this tea helps. The aroma is pretty potent, a blend of spiciness and earthiness, warming spice notes from the ginger and fennel and lots of root-like earthiness from the roots. I am a huge fan of that earthy aroma of various dried roots, I find them comforting, but at times worrisome because root teas can be incredibly bitter if the blend is off.
Into the teacup the bag goes, as much as I love gongfu style tea, and all my various tea baskets and pots, being able to steep and toss a bag once in a while, especially when I am really tired, is refreshing. The aroma of the tea is still super earthy, mixing soil and roots, warming spices, and a touch of herbaceous fresh leaves. The finish is a super strong kick of ginger at the finish.
Brace yourself people, this is a potent pile of herbs! It starts out with a potent warming kick of ginger and sweet note of fennel. This moves right along into roots, it is like falling into a pile of freshly turned soil and newly dug up roots. A slightly bitter and very earthy blend dances in my mouth, combining this heavy earthiness with a fiery warmth from the ginger. This tea makes me feel very relaxed and tingly, that same feeling you get when sinking into a hot bath or snuggling under a hot fuzzy blanket. I could see myself drinking this before sleep, it is super relaxing, and I seem to need that as of late.
Well, the Dropzone Commander Tournament is over, and my dear Ben won quite handily. I am very impressed with his skill, but sad it was not me that faced him in the finals, also sad because one of my good friends who I wanted to win was his opponent, so the great ‘I hope you win and I hope you lose’ dilemma happened. So I spent the night painting and working on modifying a miniature, the golden Prowlers are almost done, and I need a LOT of greenstuff and some sculpting tools to finish the modifying. Wargaming is a long and expensive road…I think it is as bad as collecting Puerh!
Today’s tea comes from The Tea Shelf, their Glendale Nilgiri Black, yay for trying more teas from Nilgiri, a region of India (among a few other lesser known tea producing regions, but more on that another time) that I still need to experience more of. I feel I have a good grasp on teas from Assam and Darjeeling, but Nilgiri is still mysterious and new to me, so I am very glad to expand my education. This tea comes from the Glendale Tea Estate and is a Winter Flush Tea, a term used mostly in Nilgiri, since they do not have an autumn flush…or they just have very mild winters, I will admit to not being 100% clear on that one. The aroma of the lovely curly (or twisty) leaves is intensely sweet and fruity. A blend of honey drizzled grapefruit, grapes, cherries, and apricots, it is like a fruit salad with honey and a distant note of orange blossom at the finish. I am surprised by that floral note, it just kinda crept up on me, which was entertaining.
Into my trusty steeping apparatus the leaves go, I love this thing, it is so perfect for twisty black teas, allowing them to puff up beautifully while allowing me to see them. I am so glad that I could see these leaves, the colors displayed are quite striking, mottled reds, greens, and browns, very pretty. The aroma is very muscatel, blending scuppernongs and muscadines with the slightly sharper notes of white grapes. There are also notes of cherry, honey, and a tiny bit of lettuce at the finish. The liquid is a total surprise! There are notes of cocoa, roasted peanuts and raisins…it is like the leaves are a first flush and the liquid is a second, how intriguing!
Waiting for the cup to cool to drinking temperature was kinda torture, I was so curious to see which the taste would reflect, the wet leaves or the liquid, turns out it was a bit of both. This tea is delightfully brisk, a definite wake up your mouth briskness, but without the drying tannin effect, it is sharp finishing on creamy. The taste starts out fruity, a blend of raisins, dates, and cherries, I even get a distant note of dried fig around the midtaste. Along with the tiny hint of fig at the middle is a green vegetation note and a honey sweetness with a gentle note of orange blossoms. The finish has a lingering hint of sweet orange and slightly spicy stewed cherries, the orange note lingers keeping the briskness alive long after the cup has finished. Winter Flush, you are a fascinating thing!
Everyone should feel really bad for Espeon, she has had a very rough day. See, it has been a gloriously stormy day (that I slept through, mostly) and it has been terrifying her! One of those storms that has a decent amount of rain, little wind, and a nigh constant soundtrack of explosive thunder. Like a lot of cats (and dogs too) she is kinda terrified of loud noises (Tao, on the other hand, can sleep through anything and could care less, she is so zen) so after each massive boom I heard a sad little wiffle of a meow. Half asleep I called her into bed and then after each boom she crawled further and further up the bed (having started at the foot) until she was more or less under my pillow. It was adorable and sad, because according to the weather, the storms are not quite finished for today.
So, funny story with today’s tea, it was sent to me as a challenge by Trader Leaf Tea! I told them I was not so much a fan of hibiscus and they sent me Orange Grapefruit Herb Blend in hopes of changing my mind. If you have been reading my tea ramblings you know I really hate hibiscus, now true I do occasionally run into a blend that has it included that does not send me screaming for the hills, so ok, challenge accepted! This tea is a blend of quite a few things: apple pieces, carrot flakes, blackberry and eucalyptus leaves, beetroot pieces, hibiscus flowers, lemon grass, flavoring, tangerine pieces, and orange slices, so not one of those blends that is super heavy on the red death…and there are a few things I am rather fond of (hello eucalyptus and citrus things!) According to my notes (and my nose, since I just took a refresher sniff) this tea is a sweet citrus and eucalyptus explosion! Very sweet and refreshing notes of different citrus notes (lemon, orange, and grapefruit reign supreme) and a very cleansing note of eucalyptus. It opens the nose and lungs and allows for sneaky notes of beetroot and carrot to creep in at the finish.
One thing I will say about hibiscus, it sure is pretty to steep, that vibrant red color that starts pink and turns maroon is lovely to watch. The aroma of the soggy bits is super strong citrus and eucalyptus, I am not really getting anything else, I think I will use this as a breathing aide next time I have a cold because wow! My sinuses are certainly cleared now. The liquid is much the same, lots of citrus (especially lemon and orange) and eucalyptus, with a honey sweet undertone.
Now if you are the kind of person that finds this intense sinus and lung clearing and cooling type teas unpleasant, this might not be the brew for you, I love strongly camphorous like aromas and tastes, they make me happy. The taste is surprisingly sweet, like biting into a fresh orange, but mixed with a touch of sourness and tartness. The eucalyptus is strong, but it is not a taste, more the cooling and very refreshing sensation of eucalyptus. Towards the finish there is a combination of earthy carrot and beet notes, along with metallic notes from the hibiscus. Ok, you were right to challenge me, because I do not hate this tea, granted the hibiscus notes are pretty faint, so that certainly gives it a big win in my book.
Bouncing back and forth between painting, researching tea, redoing my tea area, and general reorganizing the bedroom. I have that restless feeling of wanting to do a lot, but my typical butterfly like habit of fluttering from thing to thing keeps me from staying focused. Sadly this bouncing around means I have not actually accomplished anything, well except stew, but it is still cooking so it does not count! At least the storms that have been promised have arrived, if I am lucky they will not fall apart and we will get a nice show this evening. Hooray for storms!
Wymm Tea recently stocked their shop with some new teas, and they were awesome and sent me samples of said new teas, yes, yours truly has four new Sheng Puerhs to spend time with, I seem to be developing an addiction to the stuff! After much debate I decided to dig into the Bingdao Laozhai Huangpian Sheng Ancient Tea Tree Pu-erh 2014 first, because I find myself enamored by the story of Huangpian Shengs, see, this tea is made from the not quite so pretty large, yellow (Huangpian means Yellow Leaf), scraggly leaves left over once the super fancy Puerhs are made. These are the leaves that the creators of the Puerh usually keep for themselves, because the tea that is exported needs to be pretty to fetch the best price, as a chef friend once told me, ‘we eat with our eyes’ the same is true with tea, but sometimes overlooking the standards of beauty will give us some treasures. The particular Huangpian comes from the same trees that the very sought after Bingdao Laozhai Puerh cakes that you sometimes see going for quite a bit of money. Way out of this blogger’s financial means! The aroma of the rather rough and green leaves is very sharp, like wet hay and, well, fermented tea leaves, it has that distinct fermentation smell that you get off of things that have started to become great friends with the microbes that are now hanging out with them. Mix in faint notes of honey, green beans, spinach, and a soft note of wet barn. Like the wood in a barn after a rain, you can smell the hay and the barn at the same time, luckily this is only the barn that stores hay and not animals or that would be a whole different smell.
Unlike the last Huangpian I had from Wymm Tea, this tea is fluffy instead of super compressed, so I did not need to poke at it in a vain attempt at breaking it up. The aroma is more potent this time, though less sharp, sweet notes of wet and freshly broken hay and honey along side lima beans and spinach. The liquid is fairly mild, mixing honey and hay with a hint of lima beans.
The first steep is pleasantly sweet and mild, blending notes of wet hay and honey at the first with sour cherries and a gentle note of smoke, spinach, and the distinct mustiness of old leaves at the finish. Not like falling in leaf loam, more the smell of it than taste. The aftertaste is lima beans, which is fun, because those things are delicious. The mouthfeel is smooth, not very thick, just smooth and a bit silky.
The aroma of the second steep is honey and hay with a touch of spinach, it is still incredibly mild, one of those I accidentally dipped my nose in the tea moments trying to get the aroma. The taste is definitely not as sweet as it was in the previous steep, it starts out with sharp wet hay and sour cherries and then quickly moves into green notes. The main notes of green-ness are lima beans, spinach, and a bit of grass and smoke. The finish is a surprising note of cranberry, that lingers into the aftertaste.
Next steep! The aroma is still faint, but the notes I am picking up are spinach and a touch of hay. This time the sweetness is gone, I am left with all savory spinach and lima beans. It is fairly smooth, though not overwhelmingly complex, but I don’t mind. I continued steeping this for a bit, once it hit the savory vegetal notes it did not really evolve much, which is fine, sometimes having a tea that is solid while being tasty is good for drinking tea while being able to focus on other things…like art or reading, without insulting the tea by ignoring it.
There is nothing really exciting going on in my life at the moment, so instead of my usual introduction, I shall skip right along to the tea.
By tea, I mean herbal tea, since this tea is in fact tea-less, Teasenz’s Himalayan Black Tartary Buckwheat Tea- Soba Tea From Daliangshan! If you are not familiar with Tartary Buckwheat (Fagopyrum tataricum) do not feel too bad, unlike its more well traveled cousin Common Buckwheat, this plant is pretty much not eaten this side of the world. So, hailing from the Hunagduan Mountains’ cold climate, here is some roasted seed tea! I am such a sucker for roasted and grainy smelling/tasting things, so this is going to be right up my alley. The aroma is is like a big bowl of cereal without the milk, like sweet roasted grain, baking bread, and honey. In fact, it honestly reminds me of Honey Nut Cheerios, a grain heavy aroma, but with a distinct honey sweetness.
So, writing about this made me think about it, so I am also drinking this tea while writing about it! Usually I do not do that, but it does happen sometimes. It doesn’t help that I am super sleepy and the idea of a toasty herbal tea just sounds perfect right now. So while my tea is steeping I shall write about the soggy buckwheats, their aroma is delicious. Seriously, it is like a blend of grain and nut butters, baking bread, and warmed honey being drizzled over said bread. You know those commercials that have someone sensually drizzling honey over baked bread and the image is so delicious you can practically smell it through the TV? It is one of those moments. The liquid is pretty sweetly fantastic too, not as strongly nutty, still some intense notes of cashews along with cereal and honey. Still reminds me of Honey Nut Cheerios, and I am totally ok with that.
I actually have been drinking this tea quite a bit since I got the samples, I am notoriously fond of having my last cup of tea be either roasted corn tea (Oksusucha) or Sobacha (roasted regular ol’ buckwheat tea) so I am actually drinking my last cup now, sad. One thing that really surprised me was how incredibly smooth it is, and thick, with an almost creamy mouthfeel. Someone drizzled honey over buttered bread it seems! I can’t stop comparing this to baked really heavily grainy bread (like the kinds that make the outrageous 20 different grains claim on their packaging, come on, at least 10 of those are different kinds of wheat) that I have been known to eat copious amounts of. Freshly baked and drizzled with honey, Tartary is sweeter and buttery-er, than common buckwheat, especially as it cools, which really brings out the sweetness. Also if you are feeling adventurous, taking a bit of honey and drizzling it over the now thoroughly cooked tartary makes for a tasty snack!
Yours truly has done a dumb, I lost my bottle of Tylenol, when I had the WORST headache. So here I am tearing my (at the moment slightly messy) desk apart trying to find the very visible bright red lid, to no avail. So I start hunting around the room, my purse, the bathroom…it was nowhere to be found! In a state of sadness I sat down in my chair and nurse my headache with a very large cup of tea, since caffeine has been a long time cure for my headaches. Really I think I started drinking caffeinated drinks as a kid because of my headaches, it is a family curse. So, me being dumb, my Tylenol was exactly where it was supposed to be, I realize shortly later, in my drawer with my other pills. Sometimes being organized means I can’t find anything!
Since it is Thursday, that means I can whip out the hashtags and have a Throw Back Thursday tea review, covering a tea that has sadly been languishing in my notebooks, patiently waiting to be rambled about. A while ago, fellow blogger and lover of fine tea, Steph of Steph’s Cup of Tea, had a contest and I was very fortunate to win. Today’s tea was one of the awesome goodies I received in my pile of awesome. Tea aside, you should all go read her blog, she is a wonderful poet, has a love of nature, and is a lover of different tea cultures. I love her blog and recommend it highly.
So, The Jasmine Pearl Co. is a Portland based tea shop with a love for sustainability, which I respect immensely. Their tea that I am rambling about today is Yellow Mudan, a Chinese Yellow tea, specifically from Hunan, named similarly to the famous White Tea, Bai Mudan, this tea is essentially Yellow Peony when translated, though it looks more twisty, like a needle tea rather than the fluffy full leaf tea. The aroma is mild and sweet, with notes of dried cherry and peonies (aha, so that is where the name comes from!) with a very delicate note of nasturtium and raisins, vaguely reminding me of a Darjeeling.
Into the gaiwan the tea went, ah yes, back when I only had my white gaiwan, I now have…many, though never enough. I might have a tea gear hoarding problem. The aroma of the now soggy leaves is very sweet, lovely notes of now fresh cherries and crushed vegetation, add in a bit of peony and a touch of grapes at the finish. The liquid on the other hand is all peony and chestnut! Ok not all peony and chestnut, there are also notes of creaminess and nasturtium, giving just a tiny bite of pepper at the finish.
Ok, I have to say it, HOLY MOLY FLOWERS! Hehe, the taste is super flowery, with a blend of peony and honeysuckle with a tiny hint of orange blossom at the beginning. The mouthfeel starts out very smooth and then builds into a slightly sharp, almost resinous, feel at the end. Like sucking on a bunch of pine needles, a very similar texture to that. As the taste evolves, it moves into fresh cherries and wildflower honey, with a finish of nasturtium and raisins.
Second steeping has a very similar aroma, lots of peony and chestnuts, but with an addition of honeysuckle and a touch of nasturtium at the finish as well. The mouthfeel starts off smooth and very quickly moves into sharp and slight dry, again reminding me of resin, I find this texture very fascinating and not unpleasant. The taste is very sweet, dancing from notes of peony and honeysuckle to nasturtium and grapes, with a delightful finish of honey. I love this tea, I have had it with other names and by another vendor (same tea type, but for all I know it is not from the same farm, I have found this particular tea is a bit of a pain to research) and enjoyed it immensely. At the time of originally trying this tea The Jasmine Pearl Co. was out of stock, and now that it is back in stock I am going to have to get some!
You know, the weather the last couple days has been kinda great. Not too hot, just warm enough to wear loose ‘floaty pants’ (I honestly do not know what else to call the things, not yoga pants, not leggings, too loose…so floaty pants) or a ‘floaty skirt’ (see a theme?) and a short sleeve tunic or t-shirt, while also having my lap blanket to keep my perpetually cold feet warm. The humidity has been thick, meaning lots of storms, and of course that makes me immensely happy. Everything is so lush and green, I love late spring, and truly hope we have a mild summer.
So, it is Wednesday, meaning it is time to visit the ever expanding tea collection from What-Cha! Today I am taking a look at Darjeeling 1st Flush 2014 Kanchan View White Tea, a delightfully fluffy and verdantly green White Tea from Darjeeling, I love trying the atypical teas coming out of Darjeeling, the Yellow Tea I tried a while ago became a favorite, so it makes sense I would want to try the White Tea, even if it is from last year’s harvest (don’t judge, it was on sale and I wanted a sample!) Kanchan View Tea Estate is gorgeous, high in the mountains with a view of the Kanchanjunga, it also has one of the oldest and largest tea factories in the world, which is pretty cool. The aroma of the leaves is nothing short of bright and brisk! Like someone mixed up grapefruit peel, orange blossoms, wildflower honey, and lilies with a green broken vegetation undertone. It is really quite aromatic, and honestly kinda reminds me of my favorite soaps…not that this smells at all soapy, I just have a very tea smelling soap!
Into the teapot it goes, and yes, that is a Yixing teapot, I figured it would be safe to use my first flush Darjeeling seasoned Kyusu style Yixing teapot (it is just touching on all the cultures, what a mish-mash) since it is still pretty young in its life. After brewing the leaves you can definitely tell this is a first flush Darjeeling, it takes the slightly peppery note of nasturtium and fresh scuppernongs that I associate with FF Darjeelings and mixes it with grapefruit peel and lemon verbena. It has a distinctly green note along with the citrus, much like lemon verbena. The liquid is very sweet, blending honey and wildflowers with scuppernongs and a distinctly bright note of grapefruit and lemon verbena.
First steeping time, the taste manages to be very clean and crisp while also being mellow and mild. It starts out with a mild lettuce and nasturtium note. This moves on to an intense sweetness of honey and scuppernongs with orange blossom and grapefruit. The finish is grapefruit and lemon verbena with a slight note of cucumber that lasts as the aftertaste. The mouthefeel is a bit dry, adding that edge of a crisp texture to a crisp taste.
Second steeping has a very intense grapefruit aroma, not just the fruit but the blossom too! You smell that flower once and it will never leave your memory, I know I can never forget it. The taste and mouthfeel are no longer crisp, instead the taste is honey sweet, like gentle orange blossom and wildflower honey with a finish of hay. Fun fact, if you forget about this tea and come back to it once it goes cold the citrus notes really pop, making for a super refreshing cup on a hot afternoon. I think I will come back and try this tea cold steeped once the really crazy heat of summer comes on.
This tea session is dedicated to Martha, I am sad I will not get to visit you and have tea together. You will be missed, sweet lady.
If you follow my Instagram, you might have noticed I have not been in the best condition, healthwise, yes, I did a dumb and pushed myself into a really awful flair up. Stupid Fibromyalgia, and stupid me for not listening to the signs my body was sending me! All is not lost though, I realized that I can take this time of physical recovery to exercise my brain and get back to work on my much neglected tea research. Currently researching the different tea producing regions of Africa!
Today we take another look at TanLong Premium Tea Collection, specifically their Primordial Purple Tea Buds! You are probably looking at this strange little buds in my picture and wondering what on earth they are, well in a nutshell, they the buds from a tea tree, some sources I have read say that this style tea (Ya Bao, Zi Ya Bao) is plucked in the very early spring, more or less late winter, as the trees are starting to produce their new growth. This particular tea comes from an ancient forest and harvested by one of the native ethnic groups of Yunnan (there are several and I am not sure which one or which part of Yunnan these are from) and since this is a purple tea, that means it is high in that much loved pigment, Anthocyanin! It seems I am slowly becoming a connoisseur of purple teas. One thing I do know about this tea (other than it is very pretty) is that it is sun dried making it similar to a white, but comes from the same trees that produce the much loved Puerh and have the capability to be aged…the ever present conundrum of what category to put them in. The aroma of the buds is quite unusual, it blends herbaceous notes of sage and a bit of thyme with sweet honey, rich loam, and a finish of smoke. There is also a mild hint of camphor, but that comes in almost as an afterthought, this very much so is like a smoked white tea, which is fascinating.
Into the gaiwan the buds go, and does anyone else think they look like baby pinecones? Giving the buds their needed steeping brings out a whole bunch of fun new notes! Most noticeable would be plums, slightly sour plums, with accompanying notes of hay, spinach, sage, pepper, camphor, and a finish of spice. Well that got pretty complex when soaked! The liquid has the plum aroma as well, though it is not as strong as the wet leaves, it also has notes of honey and hay, and a delicate finish of wood.
So, funny story, I started writing this blog fairly early-ish in the evening, and made the mistake of walking away from my computer for a bit. Ben snatched it up and by the time he was finished I was super sleepy and had a mushy brain, so I took a nap…a 3am blog, haven’t done that in a while! Anyway, with these funky bud teas I find giving them a longer steep really brings out the flavors, so it sat in my gaiwan for a good 2 minutes before pouring off. The taste is still pretty subtle, though far from mild, it is very much so a preview of tastes to come. It starts off sweet and slightly spicy, like honey and nutmeg, this moves on to smoke and plums at the midtaste. The finish is a lingering woodiness bordering on resinous. And speaking of resinous, the mouthfeel is just fun, it almost feels tacky, like I have had resin or sap mixed in with the warm water, that is an entirely new sensation for me with tea.
The aroma of the second steep is very richly plums, no sourness, very ripe and sweet, with an added bonus of hay and smoke, with a nice cleansing burst of camphor at the finish. Breathing in a camphorous note is like breathing in fresh alpine air. The taste is not too shabby (really, I wrote that in my notebook, I would take a picture to show you, but my handwriting is so atrocious I doubt you could read it!) the resinous mouthfeel is gone, replaced by a smooth and slightly fuzzy one. The taste starts off with rich very ripe and sweet plums, and then boom, right in the middle is an explosion of smoke and camphor! That signature Yunnan taste of camphor lingers into the finish where it mingles with woodiness.
This tea is also pretty fantastic steeped bowl style, lingering for a while, and getting quite sweet by the fourth refilling of the bowl. For extra fun, I like to occasionally take one of soggy buds out and chew on them (I do this with the not purple variety as well) it is very woody, but also very enjoyable, one of those ‘absorbing the feeling of the land and trees’ moments, plus it tastes good. And now, with that done, I am going back to sleep.
You know the drill, blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2015/05/tanlong-premium-tea-collection.html
It is a sad day today, last day of the Dropzone Commander Tournament, and yours truly will not be in it because I lost. Ben (who is the Best General, he got an award for it and everything) is still in, and I would not be at all surprised if he wins, even though I was so hoping to go against him in the finals. Honestly it was not even because I wanted to win the tournament, I just really want a rematch against Ben and his stupid Shaltari! So tonight I will bring my tea and equipment and make people tea if they want it, and maybe pick up a game with one of the other people, and if that does not pan out I can always paint my golden Prowlers to go with my crazy looking golden Annihilator!
Let it be known, when I opened my box of samples from Teasenz and saw they had included their Red Robe Da Hong Pao I did a little squee of joy. I had run out of the good stuff and only had some really low grade (really I think I paid $2 for it at my local International Market, and it is…interesting) and Teasenz has never disappointed me with their teas, so I had high hopes for this one. You all know me, I have a serious weakness for Wuyi Yancha (Rock Oolongs) their rich mineral and char notes ground me, I am not sure if it lines up with Traditional Chinese Medicine, but they seem to have a strong Earth and Wood Cha Qi (why yes, I have been brushing up on my studies lately) to me. Metaphysics aside, this tea smells really good, in fact I will go out on a limb and say this is the sweetest Da Hong Pao I have ever sniffed! There are strong notes of rich cocoa, hovering between dark and milk chocolate, toss in the notes of baking biscuits, moderate notes of slightly fruity pipe tobacco and autumn leaves, and finish off with a blend of char and myrrh. This finish reminds me of the charcoal incense burner and resins I used to use a lifetime ago (ok, it was only 15 years ago, so half of a lifetime!)
Into my Yancha pot the substantial amount of leaves go, I think it was the incredibly valuable resource of TeaDB where I learned the fine art of brewing Yancha traditionally. Lots of leaves, almost boiling water, and super short steeps! I can safely say that brewing Yancha that way was an eye opener, so much so that it was the second tea I dedicated a Yixing pot to. The aroma of the wet leaves is super strong in the cocoa department, leaning toward cocoa butter with its creamy sweetness. There are also floral notes of spicebush (or, I was just recently reminded, the flower Dianthus, they smell almost identical) and orchid. At the finish there is a hint of char and mineral, like wet stone. The liquid is very creamy sweet with notes of honey and cocoa, there is a gentle lingering floral, along with a nice kick of char and mineral at the finish giving the tea a bit of depth.
Yep, this is the sweetest Da Hong Pao I have ever had, there is a dance of honey, milk chocolate, cocoa butter creaminess, and flowers on my tongue at the beginning. That lasts until the midtaste, at the end of the midtaste, but before the finish, a very distinct orchid note for lack of better word blooms in my mouth before moving right along to a robust finish of char and wet rock. The aftertaste is a blend of loam and myrrh, this first steep was a powerhouse of sweetness and those familiar rock notes.
The adventure continues with the second steep, the aroma is still really sweet, though the cocoa and honey notes have a stronger accompaniment of spicebush, char, and wet slate (if you were curious which specific wet rock it is) along with a gentle finish of tobacco and myrrh. This steep is quite intense, though not as sweet as the first. Starting off with strong notes of mineral and char, then moving into a fruity tobacco. After that there is a pleasant explosion of spicebush and honey, the spicebush notes lingering into the aftertaste to be joined by notes of cocoa at the finish.
For the final steep, the aroma is a bit mellowed out, notes of char and mineral with a sweet gentle floral note and a honey finish. This steep really lets the rock part of the name Rock Oolong shine, with notes of wet slate and even a bit of fresh spring water mixing in with rich char and a finish of cocoa. Not a very complex final steep, but a very mineral heavy one, which I enjoy.