617 Tasting Notes
Today is such a yuck day, yuck, yuck, yuck! I went shopping for noms this morning after not getting much sleep (it has been one of those weeks) and progressively felt ickier as the day went on. Not wanting to abandon the blog without a post today, I decided to have a little bit of easy fun.
So I was included in Influenster’s #FrostyVoxBox, a box of really cool products to try out and review (you guys have probably seen me feature past boxes if you have been reading a while) usually I do all of it in one big review, but since one of the things included with it was tea, well, I had to do it separately. Celestial Seasonings Candy Cane Lane Green Tea Decaffeinated, a holiday tea straight out of my memories. This is a blend of peppermint, decaffeinated green tea, orange peel, natural vanilla and mint flavors with other natural flavors, cinnamon, milk thistle, blackberry leaves, roasted carob, roasted chicory, and vanilla bean, and since it is a tea bag, it is the exact level of easy I am in the mood for on this most blah of days. So I know when I was younger I would drink a lot if Celestial Seasonings teas, but I cannot remember if I ever drank this one, fun adventure time, maybe! The aroma of the tea is minty and vanill-y (Minty Vanilli, the holiday themed Milli Vanilli comeback was also lip-synced) a little sweet, and a little papery from the bag. One of the tragedies of teabags is they can smell and taste like the bag, but you do at times make sacrifices for being lazy.
One thing I will give the packaging credit for, it does not say to use boiling water, in fact it says using cooler water with green tea will result in a smoother, more delicate flavor. Yay! Certain other bagged tea companies say boil everything, and people wonder why some people think green tea is bitter gross death. The aroma of the tea is minty and mellow, with vanilla and a roasted undertone along with a tiny hint of sugar cookies. The mint is the primary aroma, but it is not a kick in the face of mint.
The taste is not bad, it is minty and sweet with a hint of vanilla and honey and a slight bit of a roasted taste at the end. The green tea base is really generic, I am not sure how to describe it other than ‘generic bagged green tea I have been drinking since I was a kid’ taste. It is a really mild tea, the mint is cooling, but other than that there is nothing really powerful about it, I do not want to say it tastes watered down, but it does certainly lack oomph. Since this is a decaf tea, I can see this being a tea I could drink before bed or when I feel icky…the tastes are mellow, the mint cools my guts and clears my nose, and the warmth just feels good. In fact I am going to take the rest of this cup and go lay in bed while playing some Minecraft.
I really shouldn’t be drinking black tea, my insomnia has been out of control lately…but since I am going to be awake all night anyway, I might as well be alert and get something accomplished! So the aroma of the dry leaves didn’t really strike me, there was some, but it was distant, woody, and a bit chocolaty. The brewed leaves are much the same, they smell really good, not overly strong, but good!
Oh man, the liquid is really rich, sweet and cocoa filled with muscatel and a touch of forest loam. That taste is mellow, and I even accidentally let it over steep a bit (forgot to put on the timer and got distracted painting a monster…oops) but it is not bitter.
Sweet, muscatel, loamy, chocolaty…so many notes, and all of them really tasty. I even detect a bit of fruitiness at the finish.
Well, the lip piercing idea was a mistake, I remembered why I took my piercing out all those years ago pretty quickly. Turns out, the older I get, the less tolerant I am of things that irritate me, this usually applies to clothing texture, but it also goes for jewelry, so no lip ring for me. I will have to find some alternative, maybe just take up wearing blue lipstick again? So, piercing problems aside, expect something exciting after Christmas…if things go as planned I am finally going to get a decent little smartphone and start using Instagram. Just think of all the tea selfies and random nonsense you will get to see! Plus all the work in progress craft projects too, it will be exciting, I hope. Another piece of good news, my spider arrived today! It is super cuddly and does an excellent job at balancing on my head.
Today’s tea has a seasonal feel to it, part of my quest to get some Christmas and winter themed teas onto the blog during the month of December. This might be somewhat subjective because this time of year is full of memories of smells and tastes. Winter Pine by Trader Leaf is a blend of green tea, orange slices, planed almonds, flavoring, pink peppercorns, and safflower. I can safely say I let out a little squee when I opened the bag, the aroma of the tea smells just like almond crescent cookies, probably my favorite ever holiday cookie. My mom made a version of them for years, then when I was a teenager I found a recipe in a New Age book for moon cookies and had to make them…after eating one I realized they were the same cookie, just in crescents! It is a blend of almonds, oranges, and a touch of pepper, the aroma is very sweet and quite a lot like dessert. My mouth is watering, especially since I have not found a gluten free version of this cookie I am happy with yet, I need them!
Brewing the leaves brings out more of the almond sweetness, like marzipan and shortbread, with sweet orange zest and a touch of pepper. It is exactly like the cookies of my youth, except more orange, which I like! The orange notes mix really well with almond and pepper. The liquid is essentially the same, sweet with notes of orange and almond, in fact I would say the almond dominates here as well.
Yum!! It tastes like cookies! Ah, each sip is like a walk down memory lane. Seriously, the taste is like liquid cookies with a bit of orange jam on the side, so much sweet almond! Like almond cookies and marzipan, my mom who I had to share the cup with, agreed that the taste is very much like almond cookies. It is not as sweet, but a little addition of sugar changes that, but I actually like it not as sweet. This is certainly a mellow tea, the green base does not make itself known too strongly, there is a distant hint of fresh vegetation at the finish along with pepper, so if you are afraid of green tea this might be a good one for you to try! Also, if you are interested in getting this tea for the holidays, Trader Leaf was awesome enough to provide me with a pair of coupons, use code amanda for free shipping or butterflies for $10 off all orders over $40.
Sadly Butiki is going away, I was torn as to whether I want to add the reviews of the various teas I have tried from them to my blog in a massive ‘farewell to you’ week or two, but alas, I do not have the time. Maybe I will do a single blog entry talking about my favorite Butiki teas from the ones I have tried.
Anyway, this tea! The leaves are humongous! I took one of the big ones and made it make silly monster noises because it looked like a little creature. They smell super sweet and a bit fruity, kinda like fruit drizzled with honey and then baked. Yum! So, enough sniffing, it is gaiwan time!
Yum, the leaves smell like a mix of fig, plum, and dates, it is sooo super sweet! It also has a little bit of a red wine (I am not enough of a wine sipper to pin down exactly which one) the liquid smells warm, sweet, and a touch spicy.
So funny story, after just re-piercing my lip I seem to have forgotten how to drink with a lip ring and I keep dripping tea! It makes me giggle. This tea is fantastic, very sweet and fruity, but it is heavy stone fruit, dates, and yeah there is even a dried fig note which makes me super happy. The following steeps keep the sweetness and add a touch of creaminess to it. Delicious!
I have returned to being myself! Ok, I know that sounds weird, but several years ago I took my lip piercing and nose piercing out, for some reason, I honestly don’t remember why. I have missed it terribly and said a big YOLO and re-pierced them, nose a while ago and lip today. Something about having blue hair and piercings just makes me happy, but I have always loved that style, blame growing up in the 80s and 90s and wanting to be a glam rock princess from day one. Now the real debate, do I want any more piercings, there are several I want and can’t get (scar tissue on my belly, so no belly ring) and several that I think I would look really derpy with (like my septum and dimple piercings) but I think an extra eyebrow ring could look really cool. Also need to redo my ears for like the fifth time.
It is Wednesday, meaning it is time for the What-Cha Wednesday traditional review, what can I say, I love tradition, plus What-Cha keeps introducing me to fascinating teas and terroirs. Today’s tea Darjeeling 2nd Flush 2014 Jungpana AV2 Yellow Tea definitely fits into the fascinating category, it is from Jungpana Estate in Darjeeling, and is a 2nd Flush, but it is a little different. This is no black, oolong, or green Darjeeling, this is a yellow! It is hard enough to get a yellow tea from China, but having one from India, well, that is just like finding a treasure. Sadly my searching to find out more tasty info on this unusual tea was not the most fruitful, I did find out that it won an award for its 2013 harvest, so congrats to you tea. This tea’s aroma is pleasantly transportive, not that I can really figure out where it takes my mind, but I can say it is somewhere deep in my memories and very comforting, it makes me wistful. Emotional impact aside, the notes are peppery, distant blooming flowers, sweet muscadines, and a tiny touch of sweet, warm hay. It smells light and pretty, yes, it is a pretty smelling tea, mellow and delicate while being distinct.
The brewed leaves are surprisingly complex, presenting notes that I honestly was not expecting. There are notes of sweet hay, pepper…ok those are not surprising since they were present in the dry leaves. Orange blossoms is a pleasant surprise, since it just smelled like generic distant flowers before…but whoa, sea air and wet slate, that unexpected by quite fascinating. These last notes are at the finish and very faint, they add some interesting depth to the delicate tea, and oddly enough the smell of the wet leaves reminds me of the way Charleston smells, which is pretty awesome. The liquid without its leafy friends is delicate and sweet, like orange blossoms, orange blossom honey, and a touch of freshly mown hay.
Well, my mind is blown now. Seriously, there are too many things with this tea, just wow. Ok, to put it out in the simplest terms, it starts with fresh vegetation, lettuce, and pepper, this pretty immediately transitions to sweetness. There is a blend of orange blossoms, honey, and fresh hay. The finish is grapefruit, and then the most amazing thing happens. A few, I don’t really think it is seconds, at the most two seconds pass after you swallow the tea a floral explosion happened in my mouth. So, a little side story, at the Kauffman Gardens in Kansas City, there is an observatory filled with orchids and various citrus plants (along with ferns and palms, but they are not relevant to this story) when I was there in spring all the orchids and citrus trees were in flower, it was amazing. That is what is happening in my mouth, with an added nectar sweetness, it is mind blowing.
For blog and photos (including my fancy face :P ): http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2014/12/what-cha-darjeeling-2nd-flush-2014.html
Why can’t I have backup dancers? Maybe I watch too much Indian Cinema, and just expect that when I break out into spontaneous song and dance that a color coordinated group of backup dancers will just appear and then immediately disappear once I am done. Is that really too much to ask out of life? It certainly would make my life a lot more interesting when I go shopping and decide to sing along with the store’s radio. Play music at your own peril!
Today’s tea is pretty neat, it holds the distinct honor of being the first package I have received from the country of Greece, from Armenos, a family owned herb shop that has been around since 1875, so cool! What can I say, Greece is REALLY high in my list of places to visit, I have been studying its history and mythology since I was four-ish. Fun little ‘me fact’ I used to strongly consider majoring in classical mythology, especially after many times infuriating my high school mythology teacher for trying to teach her things, I was a jerkish kid, but her lack of knowledge made me sad! Anyway, tea! Kayinari Style Tea Blend is a colorful blend of rooibos, black tea, sunflower petals, vanilla, cloves, and cinnamon, and it smells just like orange jam! Seriously I had to wonder if someone opened a jar of jam near my head, add a touch of spice and woodiness and you get a delightfully warm smelling tea. One of the joys of spices and oranges, they smell like warmth and sunlight, so on a chilly winter (almost) day this is a perfect smell.
Brewing the tea and I find myself really wanting something to spread that jam like aroma on, seriously, I need some crumpets or something because yum. It actually is reminding me more of marmalade now, with a tiny bit more of a sour citrus along with the sweet citrus. There is a tiny bit of spice as well. The liquid is rich and malty along with orange jam and a bit of caramel sweet rooibos. These notes work really well together and reminds me of the tea my mom would make for us at Christmas.
The taste of this tea is gentle in all aspects, the spice is present and warming, but not overwhelming. The orange taste is mild, like a splash of sweet orange jam dropped into tea (remind me to try that, I am curious if the texture would be weird.) Again, I say orange jam, but really it reminds me of marmalade, blending sour and sweet really well. The black tea base is mellow and bright, the woody qualities of the rooibos adds a bit of depth to it. It very much so reminds me of orange spice tea I would drink as a kid at Christmas, except better, the tastes are very clear and not at all muddied, which I like!
Flavors: Jam, Orange, Spices, Wood
Something really awesome happened to me, thanks to some awesome connections I got my hands on a ton of paint, a glorious selection of brushes, and some basing/sculpting supplies. This pretty much tops off my miniature painting supplies wishlist, I mean yeah there are a few things I need with washes, varnishes, and some technicals, but mostly I am set. This means that any money I get I can use for buying the actual minis instead of the painting supplies, so exciting! I expect that a large portion of Christmas monetary gifts will be used to buy things to paint. Currently I am working on a rather sexy and scantily clad lady standing in some fancy looking rock formations with a friendly lizard.
So, today we are having a tea from Teavivire, Anxi Monkey King (Ma Liu Mie) Tie Guan Yin Oolong. This Tie Guan Yin is of the Zheng Cao type of processing, meaning it is only lightly oxidized, making this a vibrant green oolong from Anxi! The name Monkey King, Ma Liu Mie, or Monkey Picked, all refer to the legend that ancient farmers could not pick the tea growing wild on the cliffside, so they improvised by tying ropes around their waists and climbed the cliffs, just like a monkey. Charming, though this myth has led to some pretty wild tales about the tea being picked by actual monkeys or that the farmers would scare the monkeys into knocking branches off the tea tree by throwing things at them. The beauty of legends, trying to sort the truth from the fiction! The aroma of the dry and very green leaves is one of those ‘just right’ combination of notes, it is floral but not too heady, has notes of fresh vegetation without smelling too green, and notes of chestnut without being too nutty. The Goldilocks of smells. It reminds me of morning dew on an orchid, along with the summer aroma of growing things and a touch of sweet nectar at the finish, very lush smelling.
Once the leaves have been given their first steeping, the headiness of a typical green Tie Guan Yin comes out! The aroma is a very floral blend of orchid, hyacinth, and a touch of honeysuckle with an accompaniment of fresh vegetation and chestnuts. I think I even detect a hint of distant lilacs, very much so a summer evocative blend of notes. The liquid, it is hard to describe, the aroma reminds me of flower water and nectar, like some little (very hard working) elf gathered all the raindrops left on flowers after a rain storm. It is floral, green, and just a tiny hint mineral. Just like summer rain off a flower, not that I am a hard working elf who has done that or anything.
The notes in my notebook for this tea are a little giggle worthy, especially when I use the phrase ‘powerhouse of orchid’ yep, that sums it up nicely. I find this kind of Tie Guan Yin very relaxing, something about its mixing of strong floral notes, wet and crushed vegetation, and just that hint of buttery chestnut always put me in mind of the feeling after a summer storm. I feel focused and relaxed, very alive and ever so slightly sleepy. The buttery mouthfeel and honey sweet finish mix well with the earlier flavor notes.
The aroma of the second steep, no surprise, is very floral. A blend of orchids, hyacinths, and a touch of chestnut sweetness at the end, ah the headiness of oolongs. The taste is a delightful blend of floral sweetness, I definitely know I am picking up lilac along with the orchid powerhouse this time! A touch of green things, including a tiny hint of fresh spinach, and a tiny bit of chestnut and honey at the finish. It is not as buttery smooth this time, there is a hint of dryness at the very back of the mouth which causes a distinct honey aftertaste.
I should note, I am not the only one sipping this tea at the moment. Yes yes, I do have the notes in my notebook, but decided I also wanted to drink it while writing this. I got my mom a little yixing teapot as an early Christmas/birthday gift (her first) and she wanted it seasoned for green oolongs, so we are having a nice time with this tea and her pot. The third steep is much the same in aroma as the second, a bit more hyacinth than orchid, more sweet than vegetation. The taste takes a similar tone from the aroma, the taste is still quite floral but it is no longer a powerhouse but a mild floral headiness. It reminds me of flowers in the evening, closing their petals up, you can still smell them but it is not as intense. Everything about this steep reminds me of the evening, it is winding down, soothing and relaxing. There is a hint of mineral along with the green fresh vegetation and spinach notes that make up the finish. A very soothing end, and now I return to painting!
Oh what a miserable day it has been, and it is misery of my own doing! Ok, that is not entirely true, I was misled by the outside world. When I popped outside to check the mail it was rainy, dreary, and a bit chilly…my favorite kind of day, so I dressed what I thought was appropriately for a trip to the laundry mat (eww) with my mom. Nope, I was deceived, before long the temperature dropped (it must have) because I was freezing and felt like I was hit by a soggy truck filled with misery turkeys (no I don’t know why the misery took the form of turkeys, it just did.) After we got home I snuggled into a robe, under a fuzzy blanket, and piled heating pads on my joints until I felt like moving again.
Today’s tea from Pekoe Sip House goes perfectly with my current state of blah, No Pain Rooibos Tea, a blend of Rooibos, Turmeric, Ginger, Clove, Cardamon, Cinnamon, and Cardamon. There looks like there is Fenugreek (Methi Seed) and Peppercorns in here as well, I truly wish that the teas listed all their ingredients, it is probably my only complaint (if there are more complaints I have not found them yet) about Pekoe Sip House, but it is mainly because I am anal about ingredients what with the gluten intolerance. Back before I had to pay super attention to ingredients I could care less, it made things more surprising for me. So, if you get your hands on this tea, be prepared to be greeted with one of the yummiest smells ever when you open the bag, especially if you are a big lover of Indian foods. It is like a woody blend of curry, turmeric, chai spices, and a touch of sweetness. I really love the way this smells, it blends the savory notes of curry dishes with the sweeter spices and rooibos really well, it calms my near constant craving for curry too, which is an added plus.
So, steeping this tea is a little mouthwatering, it smells so warm and the spices waft out of the steeping tea like a golden mist (or it does if I close my eyes while sniffing it) warming the tea nook. The soggy pile of leaves and spices on their own have a neat blend of nuttiness, woody sweetness, caramel, fenugreek, gloves, ginger, and sharp turmeric. It reminds me more of food than tea, like someone made a curry and added rooibos to it, something I need to try now. The liquid also smells quite yummy, with strong notes of curry and chai spices along with that distinct sweet caramel woodiness of rooibos, really these notes work perfectly together. Where usually ‘red chai’ blends tend to fall a little short (at least for me) the addition of the more savory spices seems to add that missing something.
Usually I do not hold much stock in the ‘this tea will do this thing’ with regards to health, I drink for taste, but if a tea has an added benefit then cool! I do admit that I tend to eat a lot more curry when I am having inflammation problems, but since curry is one of my favorite comfort foods that makes sense. And like curry sipping this tea is very warming, it feels warm down to my toes (no small feat, my feet are always cold and usually a bit blue, just like my hair!) The taste is really delicious, a blend of savory turmeric, fenugreek, and curry notes at the start, this transitions to woody sweetness and a touch of citrus at the finish. It has a tiny bit of herbaceous bitterness from the turmeric and fenugreek, but I find it delicious. I could very much so seeing this tea being an acquired taste, not everyone is a fan of fenugreek and turmeric’s distinct taste…or having their tea taste like slightly sweet and woody curry. Conveniently this fits right into my personal happy place, making this tea my favorite of the three I tried and a must have for my permanent tea supply. Also, don’t forget, Pekoe Sip House was nice enough to give me a coupon code to share with my readers, use teajoy for 25% off all teas.
TGIF, remember back in the 90s when THE thing to do was sit around watching TV on a Friday evening? That is when all the cool shows were on, and they had all those funky theme songs with catchy lyrics and fun colors. At least I think that was a thing, for me, my friday nights from 5pm till 3am were listening to Friday Night 80s on Star 94. The fact that I can remember the name of the radio station I listened to almost fiften years ago is astounding! It was very much so a thing for me, I refused to let the 80s die…I still refuse to let the 80s die, the New Wave is here and I have some serious Flock of Seagulls Hair. It is more an accident, I went to sleep with slightly damp hair and woke up with a giant sideways mess.
So, today is the second day of my little Peko Sip House feature, and I am looking at Summer of Love Herbal Tea, a blend of fruit, fennel, melissa, and linden tree blossoms. There is not a full list of ingredients, so alas, I cannot tell you what is all in this very colorful tea, but I do like that it has melissa (also known as Lemon Balm) and linden tree (also known as Tilia) both ingredients I do not see too often. You all know that herbal blends that have unusual or rare ingredients make for a happy me. The aroma of the leaves (and flowers, seeds, and fruit bits) has a lot going on, it has floral, herbal, and fruity notes. I detect a slight peppery note, some fennel, citrus, pineapple, peach, a bouquet of flowers, and a tiny bit of tanginess at the finish. The aroma reminds me a lot of summers growing up in Atlanta with my mother’s ridiculously lush garden.
Giving the pile of petals and such a steeping really brings out the melissa, it is sharp and lemony. There is also rose, peach, pineapple, and fennel notes that pop up with a honey and citrus finish. The liquid is much the same, a tad bit lighter and fruitier, also there is a tiny hint of dill. Not sure where that came from, but it is not unpleasant, again it brings to mind summer while lounging in a beautiful garden.
The taste is interesting, a little odd, but not in a bad way. The mouthfeel is surprisingly thick, almost like drinking jello before it has set…if you have not done that you really should, it is a great texture. The taste is fruity and sweet, a blend of peaches, pineapple, and a touch of citrus. Of course there are lots of flower notes and herbal notes, the fennel gives it an interesting finish. This tea is really unusual but fun, I found myself enjoying it and it really does remind me of summer, the beautiful full verdant parts of summer, not the dry hot part that I loathe so much. Also, don’t forget, Pekoe Sip House is offering 25% off using coupon code teajoy.
You know, you think I would learn my lesson from past mistakes, but no, I didn’t! Guys, never use Splat! Dye, their bleach is pretty fantastic, some of the best I have used…but their dye is just awful. First time I used it was for purple dye, what I ended up with fuschia…next time for dark blue (which worked pretty well) and now this most recent time for emerald green, which gave me teal. The colors are ok, the problem is the bleeding, the fading, and the uneven splotchiness that it leaves my hair. The only reason I got it instead of my usual Adore brand (which…heh…I do adore) is because I needed bleach for my roots and was a bit short on cash. Le sigh, I have very splotchy and already pretty badly faded hair, so I ended up using some amazon credit to buy the dye I like. Lessons learned that HOPEFULLY I will remember this time around!
Today is day one of a little three day feature on a new to me tea shop (always exciting to find something new!) Pekoe Sip House, a well estabilished trio of Boulder, Colorado cafes, recently opened their online shop, meaning us non-locals can try some of their teas. They are a Certified B Corporation (and organization I had not heard of until now, but I do live under a very large rock) meaning they are commited to doing good things for the community, environment, and things of that nature, always a plus in my book! Also a huge plus, they offered a coupon code to share with my readers, for 25% off site-wide using the code: teajoy so a big thank you there! So, after that brief introduction, it is time for Green Figs Green Tea, a green tea with a figgy theme. I am just going to lay this out on the table, figs are my all time favorite fruit, hands down. I have been hunting far and wide for a fig themed tea that actually tastes like figs, and since this tea has actual chunks of fig in it, I actually have high hopes. The aroma of this tea is intensely sweet, like really really sweet, like someone took dried berries and figs and drizzled them with honey. There is also a mellow note of rose petals and fresh vegetation, but mostly you get fruity goodness and sweetness, thought it is almost too sweet.
Tossing the leaves and fruity bits into my little steeping…thing…I know it is part of a glass double boiler, but it really looks like something from a medieval alchemy lab. The brewed leaves definitely smell like figs, certainly there are notes of super sweet berries and roses, but there is such a strong note of fig that you can definitely tell there are dried figs in this steeped tea. The liquid is a sweet bordering on too sweet (a recurring themed with the aromas I see) with strong notes of fig, honey, berries, and a light bit of rose and vegetation.
Ok, now it is time for the real test, for all this tea’s smelling like figs, does it taste like fig? Yes, yes it definitely tastes like figs! It is a fairly mellow tasting tea, sweet and delicately green. Not a super ‘green’ tea so this could be a good starting point for someone who is just starting to dip their toes into the sea of green. The notes resemble vegetation and growing things, like the leaves acompanying the fruity notes and floral notes present. The tea starts off as honey drizzled berries, primarily raspberry and blackberry, this moves on to roses and growing things, with a great sweet explosion of fig at the end. The fig tastes blooms and then lingers into and aftertaste that I greatly enjoyed! I can certainly see this tea becoming a new favorite, finally a fig tea that actually tastes like fig!