300 Tasting Notes
Happy after the Holidays (almost, still New Years) everyone, I had a good one, and a good little vacation, I hope you all didn’t miss me too much. Sadly though my stomach ulcer is acting up, so all the yummy holiday food cannot be eaten by me. Luckily though I discovered that copious amounts of Oolong tea soothes my stomach. Today I am reviewing some Oolong from Taiwan sent to me from the lovely people at Eco-Cha, I decided to bring out the gaiwan (like I ever put it away?) and my bubble cups for brewing.
Organic High Mountain Oolong Tea by Eco-Cha Artisan Tea is an Oolong tea picked from the He Huan Mountain in Taiwan during the Spring of 2012. I suggest giving their website a view, they give lots of useful information about their teas which I certainly appreciate. The aroma of the loose leaves is sweet and floral with notes of honey and lilac. There are also notes of mild vegetal, spinach in this case, and a very faint fruity note that is evocative of scuppernongs. The aroma of this tea is enticing, not overpowering and heady but like a spring breeze bringing distant aromas through an open window, this tea makes me want to go outside and explore.
Once I give the leaves a steeping in their gaiwan the aroma becomes even fruitier with honeyed notes of scuppernongs and floral hyacinths. There are also vegetal notes and a very mild whiff of pepper. The aroma of the brewed liquid is very mild and sweet, like honey and a hint of orchids.
The first (of several) steeps blends sweetness and floral flavors together for a very mild tea. The taste is like candied violets and honey with a mild vegetal midtaste ending with sweetness again. The mouthfeel starts out buttery smooth and finishes with an abrupt sharpness that wakes up the mouth. The first steeping starts off relaxing and soothing and ends with a crescendo making me excited for the next steep.
The second steeping gives a slightly darker liquid with a sweet aroma and a note of lemon verbena giving it both a citrus and herbal tone. The first thing I notice is the incredibly smooth and buttery mouthfeel, the taste is mild with subtle notes of honey and lilacs with a finishing note of chestnuts. As it cools there is a hint of cherries as an aftertaste.
The third steep brings a more floral aroma from my little bubble cup and it is quite heady. The taste is sweet like honey with a rich orchid note. The mouthfeel is still very buttery smooth and delightful to drink, I feel very soothed. There is a fruity aftertaste that lingers for a bit.
The last steep is subtly sweet with more of a vegetal note than floral with a slight midtaste of chestnuts. The mouthfeel is still extremely smooth and soothing, it is definitely one of my favorite aspects of this tea. This tea is great for sipping Gong Fu style and reminds me of early Springtime, it also is soothing to my angry stomach so that is a huge plus.
Today has been a chill day, and I do not just mean it is freezing cold and we are under a Winter Storm Warning (oh please, please let us get snow!!) Today I have spent mostly relaxing before the inevitable onslaught of holiday cheer. I spent the day working on a massive castle in Minecraft, so far I have the outer walls and part of the turrets complete, it will be my biggest build yet. Plus my shoulders and wrists needed a break before I get back to finishing all the crafty gifts I need to make. All this holiday business puts me in the mood for Spring, so it is time for a Springtime tea from the annals of my notebook.
Sakura Sencha from Wegman’s Food Market (originally by Ito En) is a Japanese treat evoking the delicate blossoms of spring, blending Kagoshima Sencha and Sakura blossoms. The aroma is tart and sweet with an undertone of fairly mild vegetal and a touch of grass. The sakura blossoms add a gentle floral tone with a touch of citrusy fruit that reminds me a bit of dragonfruit. The aroma is very much so reminiscent of springtime blending new growth and flower blossoms, overall the aroma is very delicate.
Once brewed the aroma, while still being fairly delicate, increases the intensity. Not only is there the floral aroma but now I notice notes of cherries and freshly mown hay and it blends wonderfully with the aroma of the sakura blossoms. The liquid has a sweet, fruity aroma with undertones of freshly mown hay and a hint of almonds. The aroma is still delicate and fairly enticing.
The flavor is sweet and floral with notes of almond and cherries. The mouthfeel is smooth and the aftertaste is that of fresh grass. This is probably one of the few times I will offer advice like this, but do not follow the directions on the website/tin. I found that if I brewed the tea at 175 degrees it turned out a bit bitter, very much so the flavor of a tea brewed at the wrong temperature. I brewed the tea again at a lower temperature (150 degrees) and all the bitterness was gone and I was left with a smooth and pleasant tea. As the tea cools the sakura flavor becomes stronger and the tea becomes sweeter, it is a wonderful reminder of springtime and perfect for a relaxing sipping experience.
I should note there is a slight chance that I might miss a few days posting a blog in the upcoming week. There are a lot of very social events I am supposed to attend and being an introvert these things kinda wear me out. Hopefully I will have a blog out everyday but if not, now you know why. Happy Holidays!
I have spent most the day hunched over my perler boards spriting out gifts for people, now that I am stretched out in bed, propped up on a pile of pillows I can certainly say I am a happier person. I plan on spending the rest of my evening watching Let’s Play videos, sipping tea, and nibbling on snacks before I inevitably fall asleep. This of course, has nothing to do with the tea I am reviewing today!
Wild Flowers Blooming Tea by Primula is a blooming tea made from Chinese Green tea, Jasmine and Globe Amaranth flowers. The aroma of this tea is all flowers, intensely heady jasmine flower aroma drifts out of this interesting little ball of green. There is also a mild hint of earthiness, but the green tea is mostly indistinguishable and took some serious sniffing before I noticed the barest hint of vegetal.
Steeping the tea is an experience, and lets face it, the real reason we are all here. Watching the ball of tea bloom into a spiky flowered ball (that will forever vaguely remind me of Cthulhu but I am a nut) is an extremely enjoyable experience. The aroma is entirely jasmine flowers, which is all fine and dandy but not really nuanced. It smells like one very specific flower, no tea or other notes, just jasmine. The liquid without the leaves is the same, just jasmine.
The taste is heady jasmine and a touch of sweetness and the barest touch of vegetal green. It is an unremarkable drink with a beautiful viewing experience. There is a reason that I pull this tea out at events where there are no tea drinkers, it provides a wonderful show and a pleasant warm drink to sip on. I wish the base green tea had a stronger flavor, I think it if were it could knock my socks off, but since it isn’t I will just continue using this tea mostly as a visual treat to impress guests with.
Today has been an overwhelming day! I got some amazing gifts in the mail from my wonderful family which made the fact that I feel like utter and complete garbage a lot more tolerable. Even though my body is a wreck my spirit is practically vibrating with happiness, ’tis the season after all. Today though we have a tea that is evocative of Summer, for those living in warmer climates.
Maracuja Flavored Tea from Upton Tea Imports is a China Black Tea flavored with Maracuja (Passion Fruit) Essence, Sunflower blossoms, and Sugared Peach bits. The aroma is very sweet and tropical fruity, not tropical like coconuts and palm trees but more like exotic tropical fruits. There is a tart citrus tone to it and mild notes of floral that make me think of dragonfruit or soursop.
Steeping the tea gives the leaves a maltier flare with bright citrus notes and a tropical flare. I can definitely tell that this tea has the essence of passion fruit and peach since both are noticeable. The liquid is malty and bright with sweet, fruity notes. It smells very dessert like and exotic.
The taste is mildly malty with a bit of tartness and citric tones. For all the tea’s sweet aroma the flavor is not very sweet so adding a bit of sugar does not cause it to become saccharine. After I added a bit of sugar I noticed the taste of passion fruit and a tiny hint of peach. This tea is not bad, not spectacular but certainly enjoyable. I found that drinking this tea iced was also enjoyable, making it a good choice for summer sipping.
I slept for twelve hours yesterday, it seems excessive but clearly I needed it since I feel much better today and I have flipped back to being diurnal again. It is a constant struggle, I am naturally nocturnal but since I live with other people (making it hard to do things at night for fear of disturbing sleepers) I try to keep myself diurnal. Time for a tea review, another from my notebook of backlogged awesomeness.
Today’s tea is Hand Picked Autumn Tieguanyin from Verdant tea. Before I get too far into my review I should apologize, something weird happened to my camera (I have fixed it) where some of my photos were not storing on my SD card and sadly I did not notice till after my tasting was finished and I did not have more of the tea to photograph. Sadly that means no photo of the loose leaf, but I do have one of a cicada on the package. The aroma of this tea is very rich and heady mixing floral, nutty, and slightly fruity notes. The floral notes are the strongest blending orchids and lilacs with a gentle note of honey and freshly mown hay. I also detect a slight note of scupernong sweetness and as I pull the leaves away from my nose I get a really light hint of apricots.
The steeped leaves have a green aroma, like standing in a field of flowers and you can smell the aroma of broken leaves and flowers. There are also fairly strong notes of chestnut which blends very well with the notes of orchid and vegetation. Even though this is an Autumn picked Tieguanyin the aroma reminds me of high summer and makes me feel warm just thinking about it. The liquid’s aroma is mild and refreshing, mostly floral notes that are not at all heady. It reminds me of a breeze carrying in the aroma of flowers from the garden outside your window. There is also a note of chestnut at the finish.
The taste is exceptionally mild and very sweet, it is like drinking a cup of very warm honeysuckle nectar with a gentle chestnutty aftertaste. Nothing about this tea overwhelms, it feels very much so like a ‘hug in a cup’ and just soothes everything.
The aroma of the leaves used for a second steep are much richer, which makes sense since they have unfurled more. The orchid notes are headier and the chestnut notes are stronger, it is one of those teas that the steeping aroma fills an entire area rather than hiding in the cup. The liquid also is much headier while still retaining some of the mildness that the previous steep had. The taste is similar to the first cup being very smooth and sweet with strong notes of honeysuckle. The mouth feel is buttery smooth and the flavors are a little more rich with the second steeping. I like this tea a lot (but really, have I ever had a TGY that I didn’t like?) it is one that I can see myself sipping before sleep or when I want to do something relaxing because it has such a soothing quality. Someday in the future I will have to procure more of this tea and give it a Gongfu brewing review.
Everyone, brace yourselves, I am about to use the the phrase ‘is whack’ in a sentence unironically. My sleep schedule is whack because instead of sleeping last night before my friend’s graduation I decided to stay up all night. It was all good though, the graduation was a ceremony, I got to be a photographer, and the University Dean thought I was a Grad Student because I am so knowledgeable. I think my nerd score just went up a level on that one. Today we are looking at another of of my backlogged journal entries from earlier times!
Young Hyson from Upton Tea Imports is a Chinese Green Tea of the Chun Mee family (meaning it is a small, twisted leaf) and is known as Yu Chin Ch’a in China. There is a bit of contention about the name Hyson though, it is not clear if it is named for the English tea merchant Phillip Hyson or if it is a descriptive name (flourishing spring) for its time of harvest. The aroma of this tea is vegetal and sweet mixing notes of artichoke, white grapes, and a hint of citrus. It is mild and refreshing, the aroma is very much so something I would want refreshing me on a warm day.
Once the leaves are introduced to their watery bath the aroma become much sweeter and citrusy. I notice that it is no longer a vegetal aroma but a vegetation aroma that wafts out of the steeped leaves. It is very much the aroma of things growing in springtime. The liquid is surprisingly mild, there is very little aroma except for a delicate hint of vegetal, specifically spinach.
The taste is mild, mixing fresh spring green with a touch of bitterness that is similar to arugala. The comparison to bitter greens is actually not far off with this tea, it is a touch bitter, a touch savory, and a touch vegetal. There is also a gentle smokey aftertaste that fades fairly quickly. This tea is not a bad tea but it is also not one to write home about, I found it unspectacular and would choose other greens over this tea. I did find that as it cools it takes on a sweet and floral note which makes me curious as to how it would taste as an iced tea. Perhaps I will have to give this tea another visit when Summer comes around again!
I am going to admit it, I have not had a good day. I blame it on insufficient tea, insufficient snow, and really annoying Lupus/RA flair in the making. Even though my day has been less than stellar I am somewhat grateful for days like today, they help keep life in perspective. Life is all about balance, and today I will balance my life by making my tea journal’s backlog one entry shorter.
Today’s tea is Yunnan Jig by Adagio Teas and is one of those beautiful Black teas filled with beautiful golden tips. I am such a fan of tippy teas, the aesthetic appeal is so strong. The aroma is sweetly muscatel with notes of oak and summer berries. The aroma is very mellow and fairly soothing, fairly delicate for a Black tea.
Once the leaves are steeped their aroma takes a turn for the malty with strong notes of oak. Less sweet now and more of that punchy aroma that Black teas are known for. The aroma is much brighter and richer now with very subtle notes of muscatel as I pull my steeping basket away from my face. The liquid is sweet and muscatel with a delicate note of malt and a hint of fresh berries.
The taste is bright and clean! It is a great feeling to take that first sip of a black and feel not only refreshed but have the flavors come across as being pure. The flavors are sweet with notes of muscatel and a gentle hint of dark chocolate. I also detected an aftertaste of mineral leaving a slightly tingling mouthfeel which finished the sipping experience with the same refreshing feeling as the beginning. This is a great afternoon tea that I found tasted wonderfully straight, but adding a hint of cream and sugar was also delicious.
I seem to have flip-flopped back into a nocturnal sleep schedule again, and I am ok with that because it means I am super creative. Not sure why that goes hand in hand but I seem to be much more keen on spending hours on various craft projects when they are in the wee hours of the morning. Last night I discovered that mixing Perler Beads and embroidery makes for some awesome designs, of course these observations were made with the help of copious amounts of tea.
Today’s tea Organic Superfine Keemun Fragrant Black Tea by Teavivre is a beautiful Red tea (or Black tea to us Westerners) from Huangshan in Anhui, China. Fun fact, Keemun is one of China’s Ten Famous Teas and is one of the prominent ingredients in English Breakfast. The aroma of this tea is a wonderful blend of earthy, floral, and muscatel. It combines the rich, loamy aroma of the forest with freshly harvested grapes and a gentle hint of squash flowers. This tea has a very pleasant and gentle aroma, even though they are all very distinct it feels more like an olfactory caress than a bombardment.
While the leaves are steeping I notice a lovely muscatel aroma filling the room, it is honey sweet and reminds me of scupernongs. The leaves out of the water still retain their muscatel aroma with notes of honey and wildflowers. The earthy notes are less pronounced in the steeped leaves, and there is a mild yeasty note at the end. The liquid’s aroma is warm and sweet reminding me of honey, apple butter, and sun-warmed scupernongs. The aroma very much so reminds me of warm summer days in my Grandparent’s garden.
The first thing I notice about the taste is the strong muscatel note, it is sweet and rich, again reminding me of scupernongs. There are also notes of earthiness and a slight hint of oaky astringency at the mid-taste that adds a wonderful brightness to the flavor. There is a honey sweet aftertaste that becomes more prominent as it cools. I also noticed a very slight note of squash as well which was surprising but enjoyable. As the tea cools the earthy mid-taste fades to loam which compliments the oak notes. This tea is wonderfully complex and enjoyable! I certainly recommend drinking it straight as additives would not blend well with the flavors.
I spent the entire day sorting through game sprites to figure out some of my next projects, the majority of that time was sorting through Terraria Sprites, that game has a TON of amazing sprites. I look forward to perlering some of those epic weapons and of course, goldfish. Now that Pu Erh week has ended it is time to go back to the eternal backlog of my notebook. This is a classic and I have no idea how it was skipped until now, classic page ten goodness.
Cocomint Cream by DAVIDsTEA is….no longer in stock, a seasonal tea I believe. It is an herbal tisane that blends Coconut, Peppermint, Apples, and Blackberry Leaves. I did a double take with this tea, I have never seen mint mixed with coconut…color me intrigued. The aroma is sweet, minty, and coconutty with mild notes of fresh foliage. There is a slight note of apple giving it a tangy edge. I keep sniffing this tea and leaning back, perplexed, the aromas are very good, but together they seem a bit odd.
After my aroma confusion settled and my curiosity got the best of me I steeped the tea, the leaves become much sweeter with the notes of mint, apple, and coconut becoming very strong. They mingle in a great pile of confusion that is not unpleasant. Underneath the dominant notes hides a delicate citrus note that is very much the shy friend in a group of extroverts. It smiles and waves and then does its own thing in the background. The aroma of the liquid is immensely sweet, like baked apples and rather heady coconut, the mint is a bit milder and that shy citrus note is still present.
The taste is a mix of mint, apples, and coconut, all very well balanced and blended and sweet. It is a sweet dance of confusion in my mouth, is this tea tropical or harvest themed, refreshing or calming? I just don’t know!! The mouth feel is a blend of smooth and tingly, which is my favorite thing about this tea. This tea is not bad but this particular blend of flavors clash too much for my liking. I very much so feel like my five year old self that would have freak out when my foods would touch each other on their plate, the flavors are too distinct and strong to make a suitable ‘me’ blend.
’Tis the season for many headaches, ugh, every year around this time when the central heating starts being a necessity I start getting terrible headaches, I blame it on the fact that the heat is dry and I end up doing my best Mumm-Ra impersonation. Headaches or not, today we celebrate the final day of Pu Erh week with something tropical and exotic.
From the Terra sampler and of course the Boo Erh Giveaway, we have Adagio Tea’s Pu Erh Tahiti. Blending the Pu Erh with Coconut, Apples, Mango and Papaya for a truly tropical treat, I feel like I need one of those little paper umbrellas, no reason. The aroma is fairly tart and fruity, with strong notes of apple. I am mostly getting the apple with a slight hint of coconut and tropical fruit and an even fainter hint of Pu Erh earthiness. I will be honest, I am not a fan of the way this tea smells, the different aromas seem to clash with each other.
Giving the tea a good soaking (no, not in the sea water it is clearly reminding me of) the aroma that wafts from the steeped leaves is mostly creamy apple (vaguely reminds me of apple ice cream actually) with a sweet bread tone. It actually reminds me a little of Hawaiin Sweet Bread. There is also a faint hint of coconut and again, a very faint hint of Pu Erh earthiness. The liquid without the leaves is a little odd, the aroma is yeasty and sweet but it has a waxy note, I mean it smells like candle wax does when you are making candles, paraffin wax to be exact. There is also the underlying aroma of earthiness that has been present the whole time, good to see things are consistent.
I want everyone to know, Ben just walked in with a pizza, to settle his pre-finals jitters and to share with me. Awesome. Anyway, tea eyeballs pizza the taste is a bit odd, first thing I notice is earthiness and a hint of metallic, a typical Pu Erh base taste, same as the other teas in the Terra sampler. The midtaste is the sweet and rich mixing the taste of coconut with the smooth nuttiness of coconut oil, there is also a faint hint of apple tartness. The aftertaste is a faint blend of tropical fruits. The overall sweetness of this tea is mild and pleasant, and the mouthfeel is very smooth, almost oily from the coconut. Sadly this tea just did not work for me flavor wise, I don’t hate it or would even cringe away in fear if it was offered to me, I just feel that the flavors clash too much. Perhaps just coconut and apple would be good, or just coconut and Pu Erh, but mixing the other fruits together just seems like a mouth cacophony. I certainly encourage other people to try this one though, it is an unusual experience if nothing else. And now, PIZZA!!