814 Tasting Notes

Danger Floof powers activated! Thanks to the assistance of my dear Tea Barbarian my deathhawk (the official term for my style of mohawk) has been trimmed and re-dyed, it took three bottles of dye which is ridiculous! But it was the first time in a while that I bleached the roots and redid all the hair, and even though I have a mohawk I still have a ton of hair. Which brings me to the big problem, no amount of hair spray and backcombing will keep the ‘hawk up! I just have too much and too thick of hair, it looks more like a turquoise horse mane than a mohawk….oh god, I’m a My Little Pony.

Today’s tea comes from Oolong Inc and is their Taiwan Black Bean Oolong, a roasted Oolong blended with kuromame, or black soy beans that have been fried. It is a common health drink in various parts of Asia, and like other roasted grain/seed teas I love it . This is the first time I have had it blended with anything, and I have to admit, if I were to blend it with any type of tea a roasted oolong seems perfect. See these fried beans smell exactly like burnt beans, because they kinda are burnt beans, reminds me a bit of pot liquor from many iterations of pinto beans as a kid (one of my favorite parts of that meal) blending those notes with strong woody, toasted grain, and bamboo coal notes of the roasted oolong works rather well. That is if you like toasted grain and roasted teas, if not you might want to back away slowly.

I decided to gongfu this tea, because of course I did, and even though the leaves were fairly broken up and had a decent amount of stems it performed well in the gaiwan. The aroma of the wet leaves is very strong burnt beans and roasted grains, wet wood, and char, with a slight underlying sweetness of honey on toast. The liquid is sweet with notes of honey and grains with burnt beans, wet wood, char, and a bit of a bready undertone.

So, I will say this about this tea, its very tasty and has a decent amount of longevity lasting four steeps before giving up the ghost. It does not really change at all through the steeping, the taste stays the same, conveniently I like the taste so it is not all bad. It is thick and a bit sweet and a bit burnt, like someone took soy beans and fried them, which is pretty much what happened. Combining that taste with woodiness and char and a touch of lingering toast, this is definitely a good tea to drink on a chilly day.

The company asked me a few questions to address in my review, namely if the tea were found at Teavana or Republic of Tea how much would I pay for it…well, I wouldn’t. Not because of this tea, but because I have not bought anything from Republic of Tea in over five years and I have never shopped at Teavanna because I have never liked the teas of theirs I sampled. Next was how much would I pay for it if I found it in a supermarket and again I am not really sure, I never buy tea at a grocery store, I just don’t even look because they have not carried the kind of tea I liked…if I found it at a grocery store I would be dumbfounded I think. Their online price of $4.49 for 2oz is pretty fantastic so if I found it for those prices I would not hesitate. The next question is ‘Would a connoisseur like yourself steep a cup of our tea alone, after lunch in the office?’ I had to quote it because thanks for calling me a connoisseur! Yes I would drink this tea after lunch by myself, a lot of my tea-ing is solo, but if Ben were around I would give it to him to try because I like to share. The last question was how does it compare to teabags and K-cups, well for one no creating an astronomical amount of waste (I LOATHE K-cups) and teabags frequently are made from dust and fannings and taste not so good, and you rarely get more than one steep out of it.

For blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2016/05/oolong-inc-taiwan-black-bean-oolong-tea.html


HAhaha, My Little Pony! You know, I always thought it would be absolutely awful to get out, but I had a friend in high school that used Elmer’s glitter glue to keep hi 14" hawk up. Dunno if that would work for you!

Alexsia 'SoggyEnderman' Wilson

Oh the glue!! I had a trihawk I glued a few times, never again! Such a sticky pain :p I think I need to do more hanging upside down when spraying with hair spray

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Next up I take a look at Yellow Sprouting ‘Huoshan Huang Ya’ what I consider to be the most classic of the Yellow Teas, it is a really good entry point because it is similar enough to a green that it acts as a good stepping stone, granted this could be because it was one of the first yellows I had, and it is one of the easier ones to get. The aroma of this tea is definitely on the green spectrum with notes of asparagus, cabbage, bell pepper, and a bit of crisp raw broccoli at the finish. It has a sharpness from the pepper notes, and well, a peppery note in general, like someone sprinkled a bit of pepper melange on cooking veggies, yum. What is it with me and food today?

So here is where it gets really fun, the steeped leaves smell like cooked cabbage and savory asparagus, a hint of the sharp pepper remains, but it is mostly savory veggies. Until you sniff the liquid, and it is surprisingly sweet, like freshly squeezed sugar cane juice and blooming peonies, toss in a touch of raw cabbage and you have this tea’s aroma. I always get amused when the leaves and liquid smell so different.

Tasting this tea is pleasantly light, it has a gentleness to its taste and mouthfeel. The taste starts mellow cooked cabbage and pepper, then moves to a more rich asparagus and starts to pick up a nutty sesame seed note. At the end it flips from savory to sweet with gentle chestnut and honey notes and a lingering aftertaste of pepper but without the heat of the pepper of course. I got a couple more mugs out of the leaves, it always stayed really mellow, getting sweeter with later steeps. This is a solid yellow tea, it did not blow me away as much as the Junshan Yinzhen, but that tea was something else!

For blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2016/05/quantitea-huoshan-huang-ya-junshan.html

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Today I am taking a look at the two Yellow teas from the Quantitea 12 Loose Leaf Tea Flight, and let me tell you this, bravo to them for including Yellow teas, they are one of my favorite types of tea and they frequently get neglected. The first one I am looking at is the Silver Needles of Gentleman Mountain ‘Junshan Yinzhen’, a delightfully fuzzy tea from Hunan, I have had this tea where it is covered in downy trichomes and also where it is just needles with very little fuzz, and knowing my love of fuzzy teas it is no surprise I am partial to the ones covered in down. Giving these needles a sniff I detect vegetal notes of okra, bok choy, peas, corn and I swear I am not making this up…cornbread. It honestly smells a bit like gumbo but minus the tomatoes and this makes me so hungry. The starchy undertones of corn and cornbread give the tea a sweetness that compliments the more green notes.

This is the first time I have ever brewed a Yellow tea western style, I always use a gaiwan, so this will be a learning experience for me. The aroma of the plumped up soggy needles is green and sweet, with starchy notes of corn and bread with okra and sweet peas, there is also an undertone of very distant smoke, like someone grilled the okra before tossing them in the gumbo…man I really need to go get some food. The aroma of the liquid is gentle with notes of okra and corn with yeasty bread (more like bread than cornbread this time) and an underlying tomato leaf green note adding a crisp quality.

Ok, that is really quite yummy. It is still reminding me of gumbo with those strong okra and corn notes, as a person who might be addicted to okra in its many forms I can safely say this note pleases me immensely. The midtaste is bready and sweet, reminding me of a combo of cornbread and sweet yeasty farm bread, towards the finish there is a hint of pepper and a lingering okra note. I steeped this one for a few more cups, trying to wring every bit of flavor out, my only complaint is that I want more. I loved this tea in a mug and I really want to see how it performs in my gaiwan, or a yixing, clearly I need a yellow tea only yixing now.

For blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2016/05/quantitea-huoshan-huang-ya-junshan.html

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Well I WAS going to go to the zoo today, but the weather had different plans, it is going to be one of those all day storming events, so instead I shall satisfy a different kind of craving. The craving for muffins! I plan on baking blueberry mochi muffins later today and then I will gorge myself on them. I woke up with such a muffin craving, it is rather intense! But first I have to go gather the needed ingredients.

Today we are looking at one of my favorite rock oolongs, Rou Gui, specifically Tea Yuan’s 2013 Rou Gui, and this one is fancy because it is a Zheng Yan, meaning it came from inside the Wuyi Scenic Reserve area, a legit Yancha! Since this is from a couple years ago, the roasting has mellowed out, and you can tell this from the aroma. There are the usual char notes, but they are mellow and distant, alongside the gentle char are notes of tobacco, cocoa, very gentle spice like a spicebush flower, and a touch of sweet nuttiness.

Yancha pot time for the leaves, giving them a steeping and then sniffing. The aroma of the wet leaves is stronger in the char department, but instead of smelling like burnt wood, it smells like burnt nut shells, and just toasted nuts in general. Like fire roasting chestnut shells and walnuts, it is pretty pleasant, it has the usual char notes but with a fun twist. There are also notes of tobacco and a touch of burnt plum, no spice though which is always sad. However, the liquid has a gentle spice quality, not terribly strong, but like a distantly blooming spicebush. There are also notes of creamy sweet chocolate and plums, with undertones of wet slate and a touch of wet char.

Ooh this is a pleasantly woody Yancha, like fruit wood that has been roasted rather than charcoaled, it is sharp and a bit brisk, a good start. The initial woodiness fades to a fun combination of char, wet slate, and wonderfully sweet and gently spicy cocoa. The spice notes are pretty mellow, as are the char, it is like only slightly burnt chocolate rather than chocolate that has been lit on fire. The finish is sweet and a touch creamy, with a fruity plum and cherry aftertaste.

The aroma of the second steep is surprisingly sweet, it blends plums and creamy chocolate with wet slate and gentle char. I always love that about Yancha, it is like eating dessert out in nature and the tastes and smells of both blend perfectly. This is a thick Yancha, usually I found their mouthfeel sharp and crisp, sometimes smooth (especially with the aged ones) but this one has a real thickness to it similar to many Taiwanese oolongs I have interacted with. The taste is smooth and sweet, chocolate and plums dance with gentle spice and wet slate. The finish is a blend of wet slate and plums, the mineral is strong in the tea and it lingers for a while in the aftertaste.

A thing I can certainly say in this tea’s favor, it has some excellent staying power for a Yancha, usually I find most of them putter out after four or so steeps, but this one lasted for seven, which was awesome. The aroma for this steep is sweet, not as sweet as the second steep, but still quite sweet. Notes of fruit and fruit wood blend with chocolate and char, with a strong mineral finish. The taste is so sweet this steep, there are the strong notes of mineral and some char, but there is such a wonderful juicy plum and chocolate note that I was surprised when this tea turned out to not be sticky. I really enjoyed this tea, it had great strong mineral qualities which I love in a Yancha, and of course it had the char notes I love, but it was pleasantly mild and not like drinking the remnants of a forest fire.

For blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2016/04/tea-yuan-2013-rou-gui-tea-review.html

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My weekend was excellent, even though my sleep schedule is totally off now! I enjoyed fighting games and worked on painting, who can ask for more? Sadly though, my happiness is at an end, sort of. The basement has a hellish flooding problem, so there is going to be a lot of noise and a lot of mess this week, with the warning ‘anyone with lung problems shouldn’t be here.’ Bah. So I am going to spend a lot of time outside, meaning no painting, though I am going to hopefully spend a lot of time at the zoo.

Today I am looking at Tealyra’s Da Hong Pao Superfine, specifically it is a Ban Yan Da Hong Pao (because if it was Zheng Yan it would cost a small fortune) see the term Ban Yan comes from Ban Yan Cha, or semi-rock tea (as contrasted with Yan Cha) meaning it is grown outside of the Wuyi National Scenic Area. It is still a Wuyi ‘Yancha’ in style and spirit, but being grown outside of this rather fancy region means us mere mortals can afford it. Good for people who want to drink Da Hong Pao everyday and not as a special treat. So how do these long twisty leaves smell? Like a Da Hong Pao, strong notes of char and tobacco with undertones of cocoa and lots of loam. It smells like the remnants of a campfire on an autumn’s day, a campfire where someone was smoking a pipe and eating s’mores and the air still holds both of those memories.

Time to use ye’ol Yancha pot, and the aroma of the tea leaves is still fairly char heavy, giving the tea a sharpness. There are also notes of loam and black walnuts with a finish of wet limestone. Not terribly nuanced but certainly very strong. The liquid for the first steep has mellowed out a bit on the char, smelling like wet coals and molasses with an accompaniment of walnut shells and a very faint creamy candy note, not unlike molasses candies…something which I am craving suddenly.

The first steep is surprisingly mellow, it starts with a loamy mineral note, like wet limestone and damp autumn leaves after a rain and then bursts into molasses and scotch. The finish is loamy and gently sweet but does not linger long. It was a good first steep but very mild for a yancha, which is usually balls to the walls from the first sip.

For the aroma of the second steep, there are notes of sweet molasses and chocolate with wet limestone and a nice burst of wet coals at the finish. It is stronger than the first steep, but sadly has lost the walnut shell notes. The taste reminds me of strong dark chocolate, just a touch sweet and nicely bitter with a coal and mineral finish. Often when these rock teas have a strong coal and dark chocolate flavor it reminds me of the burnt edge of a s’more you let catch on fire. Tasty but burnt chocolate!

The third steep’s aroma is faint by comparison, just notes of wet leaves and wet coal with a ghost of molasses. The aroma made promises of faintness that the taste fulfilled, this tea has given up the ghost. All that is left is the ghost of burnt chocolate and mineral, like rainwater more than wet limestone. If you want a tea that lingers for a while I say look elsewhere, but if you want a nice char heavy DHP for a fairly cheap price then this one works and fulfills that craving if you are running low on the higher end stuff.

For blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2016/04/tealyra-da-hong-pao-superfine-tea-review.html

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You know a reference I need in my collection? A guide to glazes. I have a wonderful book on symbolism used in Chinese art, many books on tea, but no real references on pottery and the styles used in teaware. I have checked the library’s books on pottery and porcelain and not had much luck, so I need to dig elsewhere. I want to know what makes Ruyao and Geyao different, how long ago was Junyao developed, and what exactly is Huoci? I love the aesthetic of teaware, but what really gets me excited with it (and pretty much everything) is its history and story, even a brand new piece has a history and I want to know it!

Guys, I feel really bad today, so I am going to use this as an excuse to indulge in one of my favorite ways to drink tea when I feel ookie, and that is oolong grandpa/bowl style. Back around my birthday I ordered some tea from J-Tea International and with my order was a sample of Lucky Golden Lily, and it might be well known, I really like drinking Jin Xuan in this style. It is soothing to just take a bowl and toss the leaves in it and fill it with water, not only is it immensely convenient, it is also aesthetically pleasing because you get to watch the leaves unfold while you are drinking. The aroma of the curled green leaves is what you expect from a Jin Xuan, it is buttery and sweet with notes of cashews, cream, sesame seeds, honey, and of course slightly spicy lilies and honeysuckles. It manages to be sweet without being too sweet.

The aroma of the leafy pile and soup is very sweet, creamy and floral with nutty tones, sesame and cashews being the dominant nutty notes with lily and honeysuckles being the dominant floral. There is a slight green undertone, like butterhead lettuce, which is my favorite lettuce if you were curious on that little snippet. In classic Jin Xuan style it starts out sweet, wonderful notes of honey drizzled cashews and sesame, with a hint of chestnuts which gives a bit of extra thickness to the buttery texture. It has notes of flowers as well, though it is light when compared to some of the more flowery oolongs, with gentle notes of spicy Asiatic lilies and honeysuckles and an undertone of hyacinth.

The more the leaves steep and unfurl and the more my bowl is refilled, the more the buttery to the point of being savory notes pop up. I love this about Jin Xuan, it is not savory like eating cooked spinach, and it certainly is not salty as in someone salted my tea, no it is savory like butter and mineral like I just licked a piece of limestone. There is a touch of salinity to it, since most rocks are ever so slightly salty (word of advice, don’t lick rocks unless you know what it is, as some are rather toxic, especially when wet) but it is more mineral than salt. It is not just mineral and buttery, there are flowery notes but by the late game it is faded, mostly gentle ghostly flowery notes remain, the nutty notes mostly faded as well.

For blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2016/04/j-tea-international-lucky-golden-lily.html

Daylon R Thomas

Would you recommend it? There’s a few Golden Lily’s that I wanted to try from J-Tea but haven’t because of the price.

Alexsia 'SoggyEnderman' Wilson

I would, its good stuff, not my favorite but still really solid

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Sometimes, fantasy names sound better in our heads than they do on paper, and that is what I assume happened with Shyish. Today I was reading the booklet that came in my Age of Sigmar starter box and ran into the word Shyish, ‘The deathrattle legions stalk from Shyish’s underworlds, the cold mists of the grave curling towards their mortal prey’ describing an army of undead. To me, this sounds like describing someone who is only a little shy, rather than the purple wind of magic and the Aethyric certainty of the passage of time and the inevitability of death. The most mysterious and terrible of the wholesome forms of magic. Warhammer is a silly place, it is awesome but sometimes I run into things like this and just lose it.

Today I am taking a look at MeiMei Fine Tea’s En Shi Jade Dew Green Tea, also known as En Shi Yulu, from the Wuliang Mountains in Hubei. This is last year’s harvest, in fact my little stash of this tea is long gone, this is just me going though my ever expanding pile of notebooks, because I have to take notes on every tea I drink. MeiMei Fine Tea is (according to the beautiful photos on their Instagram feed) out sourcing tea in China, so I would not be surprised if this year’s harvest shows up soon. The aroma of the really pretty curly leaves is surprisingly sweet and nutty, blending notes of toasted sesame and wheat germ with peanuts and roasted soybeans. Underneath the nuttier notes is a touch of sweet peas and snap peas, it is lightly vegetal in aroma, focusing more on grains and nutty sweetness in its aroma.

This tea is fancy, not only is it pan fired like most green teas from China, it is also steamed like greens are mostly done in Japan (and like it was done in the old days of Chinese tea) it is then hand rolled and lightly fired more to remove moisture. The aroma of the wet and very green leaves is more balanced with its nutty and green notes, with a blend of sesame and soybeans, with snap peas, sweet peas, broccoli and green beans, they definitely smell more vegetal once steeped. The liquid is gentle with nutty sweetness of peanuts and toasted soybeans and a slight bit of sweet peas and cooked broccoli.

The first steep is wonderfully light and refreshing, with a gentle mouthfeel. It starts with fresh bell pepper and snap peas, moves to cabbage and broccoli, and finishes with artichokes and sesame seeds with a distant gentle floral note that teases from the edge of taste. I was really impressed by how fresh this tea tasted, not in a ‘fresh from the field’ kinda way, but in a ‘wow this tasted freshens my mind’ the flavor notes are very fresh in nature.

On to the second steep, the aroma is stronger this time, nutty notes of peanuts and sesame with a soybean finish, alongside green beans and bell peppers, it is both sweet and savory. Wow, this steep was impressive! It starts very crisp with notes of bell pepper and nap peas, a bit of edamame as well, then it moves to a more savory vegetal quality with cooked spinach and green beans, but then the finish slams you with sweet honey drizzled sesame seeds. I love when teas do that, switch from tones quickly, it keeps my brain from becoming complacent when tasting.

The third steeping’s aroma is not much changed from the second, strong notes of sesame and soy with peanuts alongside green notes of bell peppers and green beans, it is a touch sweeter this time, overshadowing the savory side. The taste takes its cues from the aroma, similar to the second but milder and more sweet. The savory burst of green beans and spinach at the midtaste is much shorter and quickly replaced by honey and sesame seeds which lingers longer in the aftertaste. I was sad when I finished this tea off, it was quite tasty and balanced savory and sweet wonderfully I thought.

For blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2016/04/meimei-fine-teas-en-shi-jade-dew-green.html

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It is a beautiful day! Perfect weather, intermittent cloud cover with a pleasant breeze, 75 degrees (the perfect temperature for me) and the hint of possible storms in the future. Of course I am spending the day watching Fighting Games on the West Coast Warzone Stream and have been doing that since yesterday. I am using a break in stream (by break I mean it is a game I don’t care about, sorry Guilty Gear) to blog about some yummy tea.

Today I am looking at one of the teas from Eco-Cha’s most awesome club which I am a member of, I joined at the beginning and paid for the whole year because I know Eco-Cha has good tea, so far I have been very pleased. I plan on writing about all of the teas I have gotten at some point, but this one needed blogging about now because Taiwanese Black Teas are a thing of epic beauty. ShanLinXi Black Tea (the link takes you to their blog post, very informative) comes from, you guessed it, Shan Lin Xi Mountain, one of my favorite mountains in Taiwan to procure tea from. The aroma of these curly leaves knocked me out of my chair from first sniff, seriously, I am so easily floored by red teas, it is a bit embarrassing. There are notes of lychee, mango, papaya, cocoa, cream, and nutty almost coconut water undertones, this tea smells tropical and immensely sweet and rich.

Into my beloved ruyao gaiwan the leaves go, the aroma keeps up the tropical fruit notes with papaya, longan, lychee, mango, and a touch of cherries. There is also an undertone of chocolate and cream, it is so sweet, it is almost cloying but manages to sneak right under the cloying radar and fall happily into richness. Wow, somehow the liquid manages to smell even sweeter, but still manages to not be cloying, probably because it smells like fruit juice rather than candy, with notes of papaya, cherry, and lychees, with a woody and cocoa undertone and a delicate hint of cream.

Wow, just wow, this tea is sooo sweet! It is a bit mind boggling! It is very smooth in the mouth with a tiny bit of bright crispness at the finish that let’s you know there might be some tannins somewhere in this tea, but only a hint. It starts with papaya and lychee, then moves on to woody and creamy with cocoa undertones. The finish is a bit of autumn leaves and mineral. Then the real fun, the aftertaste on this tea goes on forever, super sweet tropical fruit creamy goodness that just does not quit.

Second steep, the aroma keeps up the intense sweetness, but it also has a distant floral note that took me forever to pin down, at first I thought maybe the spring flowers outside my window were playing with my sense of smell so I took the tea elsewhere to sniff where I was able to determine it has a subtle peony and plumeria notes. The taste also has a hint of that floral quality, it is almost ghostly dancing in and out of taste. The fruity and creamy cocoa notes stay strong, and woody notes become a little more pronounced, along with a mineral quality to the finish. The aftertaste is not quite as long lasting as the first steep, but it was still long lasting.

The third steep’s aroma has a stronger floral note, definitely picking up on that peony and plumeria, though it is woodier this steep, the cocoa notes are also more prominent. Wow, the mouthfeel on this steep is super smooth, which goes well with its nectar like sweetness. The tropical fruit notes are not as strong this steep, mostly the lychee note sticks around, it is joined by strong creamy cocoa and coconut water and a woody finish. The aftertaste is still strong but not as strong as previous steeps. And perfect timing, as I wrap this post up Mortal Kombat Top 8 is starting, so I shall take my tea and stare at the stream happily. Happy weekend everyone!

For blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2016/04/eco-cha-tea-club-batch-5-shanlinxi.html

Daylon R Thomas

Sounds so good.

Alexsia 'SoggyEnderman' Wilson

It is, I wish they had it in their shop because I am going to cry when I drink it all…and it will be soon since it is so yummy!

Daylon R Thomas

Good black teas are to be savored. I’d be upset as hell too. I even hesitate whenever I drink Mandala’s Milk. I could drink it all the time, but it is so expensive. I’ve been so tempted to join one of their clubs solely for their Alishan, Shan Lin Xi, and Lishan blacks. Plus I’m curious about their greener oolongs-which Luckyme will send a sample of to try.

Alexsia 'SoggyEnderman' Wilson

I really need to try more of Mandala’s teas, all I have had is their puerhs

Daylon R Thomas

There’s a reason why Mandala’s Milk Oolong is one of the top teas on here. It’s probably the best Milk that I’ve had thus far because of how naturally thick and sweet it is.

Daylon R Thomas

It’s just pricey-which is a given. The re-steep value makes up for it though.

Matt Warren

I just got this for my first Eco-Cha tea club shipment. At first I was like, what the hell? A black tea from my Taiwan Tea Club? Then I brewed it up. Outrageous. I can’t wait until next month.

Alexsia 'SoggyEnderman' Wilson

I know!! I hope we get more black teas, Taiwan’s black teas are a thing of magic :D Though of course I will be quite happy with all the oolongs too!

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Ah, playing on single player with cheat mode on is awesome, I am like unto an Ark god! Rebuilding my swamp base will only take a few hours instead of a few weeks, and now I have a level 120 Mosasaurus, because I can. I am very against using cheat codes in multiplayer, you will see me go into a serious rage if I find out I am playing with a cheat, but in single player where it is just little ol’ me I have no problem. I do have a rule for myself though, no cheat mode until I have thoroughly experienced the game on ‘normal’ mode, that way I get a good understanding of the game and I am not cheating myself out of what could be an awesome experience. This became very important with Minecraft, I only play on creative because I don’t find survival fun anymore, certain grindy aspects of Ark affect me the same way, it was fun the first time! On a fun note, if you don’t know what a Mosasaurus is go look it up, they are maybe my favorite prehistoric sea creature.

Today I am looking at a fun, rare tea from Japan! Yunomi’s Mimasaka Bancha by Furyu Bancha Specialty Shop. Japan has some epic dark tea, it is somewhat hard to get my hands on, but when I do I am happy! This particular tea was said to be the favorite of Miyamoto Musashi, legendary swordsman of classic Japanese literature. This tea looks a lot like a favorite of mine, Kyobancha, the leaves are shinier, the aroma is similar to but with a twist. Notes of soy sauce, sour ponzu sauce, pine resins, roast, pine needles, and underlying autumn leaf pile and dry wood. It is pleasant, the savory food like notes are light and the more woody notes prominent.

Into my kyusu the leaves go for a very long steeping, Yunomi recommends 8 minutes which works for me. The aroma of the soggy leaves (which look like mulch and this amuses me) is wet autumn leaves, a bit of sour fermented soy (kinda like tempeh but a bit more sour) meaty winter stew, roasty toasty, pine wood, and a finish of oak barrel. This is an evocative pile of leaves. The aroma of the liquid is nice and mild and seriously comfy, it doesn’t smell like a warm robe on a cold day but it certainly evokes that. Notes of wood, soggy leaves, soy beans, and a sweet caramelized sugar and rice undertone.

The first time I tried this tea I found it a but underwhelming, turns out I just underleafed it, this is a tea that tastes best when you are very heavy handed with the leaf amount. Do not be afraid to just load up on the fluffy leaves. The taste is smooth, similar to a mildly roasted Hojicha or Kyobancha with notes of autumn leaf pile, gentle roast, and sweet caramelized sugar. Towards the end the roast becomes stronger, bringing in notes of rice and toasted soy beans with a hint of meaty soy sauce. Like other Japanese dark teas I have tried this tea is pretty good chilled, bringing out just a hint of sourness like a very distant lemon. I was able to get a second steep out of this tea, but it was like the first only diminished, so I stuck it in my fridge and had the rest for breakfast, which I found immensely refreshing and hydrating. If you are a fan of either Hojicha or Kyobancha I say give this one a try, it is more of an entry level to the uniqueness of Japanese Dark Teas.

For blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2016/04/yunomi-furyu-mimasaka-bancha-dark-tea.html

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The next tea I looked at was the White Peony (Bai Mudan) another White Tea from Fujian, that has the needles along with the fluffier first leaf. This is the first standard BMD I have had in a while and it excites me, like silver needle this tea can take a beating and give you wonderful tea in return. The aroma is a blend of melon, cucumber, lettuce, pollen, and a touch of hay and distant sweetgrass. It is less sweet than the silver needle but smells very fresh and crisp.

Into the basket of steep the leaves go, and when they are removed they still retain their crispness! Notes of melon and cucumber, lettuce, and a touch of wildflowers. There is also a very distant hint of apricot at the finish, but it is light. The liquid is much sweeter, notes of sweetgrass, broken fresh hay, pollen, wildflowers, melon, apricots, and a cooling hint of cucumber. Not as honey sweet as the silver needle, but still quite sweet.

Another tea whose liquid looks like liquid gold, specifically the gold of sunbeams at sunset. The taste of Bai Mudan always reminds me a bit of summer, where silver needle is spring. It starts with pollen and wildflowers and quickly moves to a triple crispness of lettuce, melon, and cucumber. The finish is gently sweet apricot and sweetgrass with a touch of hay in the aftertaste. It lasts for several steepings and gets greener with later steeps, really showcasing the lettuce and cucumber notes. On a whim I took the last steeping of this tea and more or less cold steeped it for about an hour (I used 120 degree water rather than cold, so it was only a sorta cold steeping) and found that it was immensely cooling and crisp, which is good because the day I did that was a bit warm for early April.

For blog, photos, and other ramblings: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2016/04/quantitea-silver-needle-bai-hao-yinzhen.html

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I am a nerdy, obsessive, crafty, tea blogging, gaming nut. Yeah, that about sums me up! Ok, you want something more informative….

I am a Geek, hardcore fan-girl Geek. It shapes my life. I spend a large chunk of my life painting miniatures and contemplating my various army layouts. I hoard dice, get obsessed with games, and will talk about whatever fandom, game, etc that I am obsessed over until I am blue in the face. I am not just a gamer girl type Geek, I also fit in the collecting knowledge and spending way too much time reading and researching category of Geek.

But there is more to me than just being a giant nerd. I love tea, always have and have just gotten more and more obsessed as I get older. I love trying new teas and then writing lengthy descriptions about them on my blog, I love reading and researching the history and culture of tea, I love collecting tea pots and fancy tea tools.

When the weather allows it, I love to go mushroom hunting. I don’t eat them, instead I use them for photography and spore prints. I love nature and worked as a Naturalist in the Northwoods one summer, it might have been the best job ever.

I have Fibromyalgia, it sucks, but I feel people who are going to interact with me should know since I tend to vanish because of it so fair warning! I do tend to not vanish very long though. Also I have some ‘social disorders’ which basically translates to I am really awkward and bad at socializing, so forgive any lack of social graces.

I also have cats, love the ocean and all aquatic life, have teal hair, love cheese, and collect hats.

My favorite tea is definitely Oolong, but I also love Japanese greens and…ok I just love tea actually :P I am not a huge fan of lemony black teas or tart fruit teas. I also loathe hibiscus (usually)

This is my actual tea wishlist, you know that I actually update and keep track of…I tend to forget Steepster’s https://www.facebook.com/notes/amanda-wilson/tea-wishlishtshopping-list-perpetually-in-progress/10152336515414411 I use my steepster WL to keep track of teas I have had and really want more of :P

I was previously Amanda, I go by Alexsia now though will answer to the other name as well, I know dealing with name changes can be a giant pain


Kansas City, MO



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