298 Tasting Notes
Today is day number four of Pu Erh week and I feel like doing something festive in celebration of it being very cold and slowly creeping closer to Christmas. I made myself a nice little Perler Christmas Tree and had a bit of Pu Erh that does the best impersonation of a Christmas Time favorite that I have ever seen.
Pu Erh Chorange by Adagio teas has a wonderful portmanteau name and that makes me happy. Part of the Terra Sampler pack (and The Boo Erh Giveaway mentioned at the start of the week) it is a blend of Chocolate, Pu Erh, Oranges, and Blue Cornflowers. I will be honest, I have no idea why the cornflowers are there, they do not really match the aesthetic, but I am just being picky. The aroma is astoundingly similar to one of my favorite things about Christmas, the Chocolate Orange ball. Ever had one of them, they are a ball shaped like and orange that you bang onto something hard and it splits into ‘orange’ wedges of orange flavored chocolate. They are addictive and this tea smells just like one. At first all I noticed was the blending of chocolate and orange but the more I snuffled around in the tea (yes, you can think of a pig rooting for truffles) the more I noticed an earthy aroma letting me know that it was a Pu Erh and not an impostor.
Giving the tea a nice steeping brings out more earthy aromas with a hint of loam along with the potent orange and chocolate. The tea is very bright, if an aroma can light up a room and make it more cheerful, this one would do it. The liquid is very citrus heavy and sweet with milder notes of chocolate and earthiness.
The first thing I noticed was, wow, that is a smooth tea! The flavor, the mouthfeel, everything about it is smooth, I have a similar reaction when stuffing chocolate orange wedges in my mouth so the similarity continues. The taste blends chocolate and oranges together very well, it is balanced which can be hard with such dominating flavors, but what about the Pu Erh? No worries, it is there, it sneaks in at the very end of the midtaste and blooms into a delightful earthy flavor as an aftertaste and leaves a lingering sweetness. Out of curiosity I added a touch of cream, it surprisingly did not curdle (yay!) but didn’t really add much to the tea. As the tea cools it does get a touch earthier with a bit of a mineral taste. I think I just found my new Christmas cheer tea!
For blog and photos (and a Christmas Tree): http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2013/12/adagio-teas-pu-erh-chorange-tea-review.html
Welcome to day number three of Pu Erh week! You know I am kinda liking these themed weeks, it makes my love of organization and sorting very happy. Speaking of sorting I am almost done sorting my bucket of 11,000 perler beads, it would probably be really tedious if I didn’t enjoy it.
On this frigidly cold day I am pulling from my notebook for a neat Pu Erh blend. Bolder Breakfast by The Tea Spot is a blend of Pu Erh, Chocolate, Black Tea, and Sunflower Petals. It is a tea with loads of caffeine and perfect for a morning boost (and help people who want to make the switch from coffee to tea) with a robust flavor. The aroma is rich, very rich blending chocolate, malt and earthy notes with a mild sweetness. The aroma reminds me of milk chocolate rather than dark chocolate, with a slight hint of nuttiness.
Once I steep the tea the leaves take on a brightness that reminds me of Ceylon tea with malt and earthy notes. There is still the aroma of chocolate but it is not as strong, taking a backseat to the aroma of the tea leaves. The liquid is very rich mixing earthy and loamy notes with a faint ‘market aroma’ from the Pu Erh. As an aftersmell there are notes of sweetness and maltiness.
The taste is very intense and sweet, an extremely robust, rich tea. They were not wrong when they said it could be a good ‘switchover’ tea because I can certainly see a similarity with coffee. The taste is a great blend of robust tea and rich chocolate, still more of a milk chocolate. There is a slightly metallic mouthfeel that gives the tea an added brightness. It manages to be creamy and rich which still being earthy, there is also a touch of astringency which is very pleasant. As the tea cools it becomes a bit more astringent and also a little more earthy. I also tried this tea with a bit of cream, there was no need for sugar because it is already pretty sweet, the cream takes away any of the astringency and gives it a bit of a chocolate milk feel. This tea is certainly a good breakfast tea, making me feel very awake and alert.
I am very patiently waiting for the timer in the kitchen to go ding, yes it goes ding when there is stuff. Today’s stuff is Sushi rice, and by patiently I mean HURRY UP I AM HUNGRY!! While waiting I thought to myself, this is a perfect time for day 2 of Pu Erh week to come into existence.
Today I am reviewing Teavivre’s Ripened Rose Pu-Erh Mini Tuocha. Initially I reviewed this tea about a month ago and stored it in my notebook, but I decided to toss that review out the window (I actually did tear the page out of my notebook) and taste it again using my new Gaiwan. I want to be fancy while waiting for food! The aroma of this little Tuocha is fairly sweet, mixing faint roses with an underlying yeastiness. There are also notes of leather, earthiness, and a touch metallic. It has that slightly fishy ‘Asian Market’ aroma that I associate with Pu Erh (and really is my favorite thing about them) and makes me feel all tingly with anticipation. Time for some fancy Gaiwan action!
The steeped leaves look a lot less like a Tuocha now, as expected, with a little rosebud resting on the top of them, it is quite pretty. The aroma is intense! Rich earthy and mineral notes mixing with leather and heady rose. The liquid (in my little bubble cup, no less) is rosy, earthy, and a touch of that market aroma.
The first steep is a bit bitter, kinda like chewing on leather. It is earthy and rich with delicate notes of rose that smooth out the edges as an aftertaste. The bitterness is not unpleasant, it is not the ‘too many tannins, turn your mouth inside out’ bitter, but the same kind of bitter you find in certain wood. Yes I have chewed on wood, I like tasting random things. It specifically reminds me of oak. As it cools it gets much smoother, almost becoming buttery with a mildly metallic aftertaste.
The aroma on the second steeping is less like leather and more oak and rose, it is very mild and smooth. The taste is also much more oaky and sharp, this tea certainly lets you know it is there in your mouth. There is a slightly mushroom taste as well as a loamy note. The second steep has transported me to an oak forest and that is wonderful.
The third steep’s aroma is bringing in more of the market smell with a touch of underlying sweetness, like pipe tobacco. The taste is a touch milder, still very oaky but with more sweetness, like baked bread and pipe tobacco. Oddly this steep transports me to a Victorian Gentleman’s library, though oddly he has a few roses in his library. The rose sneaks in as an aftertaste and is very subtle.
The fourth is oak and roses and not much else in its aroma. The same can be said of the taste, mostly oak wood with just a hint of roses. There is a slightly metallic aftertaste and a hint of leather as well when it cools.
The fifth and final steep, only final because my kettle is on empty and my rice is almost ready. I am almost positive this tea has quite a few steeps left in it. The aroma is heady roses and sweet tobacco. The taste is very mild, subtle roses, oak, and a hint of loam. As an aftertaste there is a honey sweetness with a hint of roses. I noticed as I was sipping this tea that I started feeling kinda odd, like sitting in a sauna or the like. I am pretty sure this tea is making me sweat out all impurities (does Pu Erh do that?) and it is making me feel refreshed. This was an awesome tasting experience, I certainly must do it again!
I have spent the day sipping tea and sorting Perler beads in front of an open window. It was a beautiful day, warm and sunny, kinda hard to believe it is going to be frigid in a few days. Recently I discovered that Pu Erh no longer gives me migraines (still not sure why it did in the first place, but whatever) and conveniently The lovely Snooty Tea Person was having a Boo Erh giveaway, which luck would have it, I won. So that means I have some new delicious Pu Erh teas to taste, and here is the first one! Perhaps I will make this ‘reacquainting myself with Pu Erh’ week.
Pu Erh Hazelberry by Adagio Teas is a blend of Pu Erh Tea, Strawberries, Cocoa Nibs, and Natural Strawberry, Creme, and Hzelnut flavors. When I opened the pouch the first thing that popped into my mind is ‘this smells like Crunch Berries!’ and that was a delightful surprise, because I love that cereal. Once I started sniffing the loose leaf picked up notes of earthiness under the initial strawberry, along with a mellow creaminess. There are also notes of the beloved ‘market aroma’ I associate with Pu Erh, sweet hazelnut, and a hint of mineral. There is a lot going on with this tea’s aroma, it is an odd combination, but also very appealing.
While the tea is steeping I notice the aroma of strawberries and chocolate drifting around with the steam, so glad the breeze is carrying the aroma to my nose and not out the window. The mineral and earthy aroma is much milder than the leaves, as is the ‘market aroma’ but they are still present and have a more mellow tone. As I pull the steeped leaves away from my nose I notice a tart strawberry aroma mingling with the sweetness. The liquid is sweet and fruity with notes of earthiness and cream, it is very smooth. I cannot wait to taste it.
There is a lot going on with the flavors in this tea, not surprising when there is so much going on with the aroma. First is a blend of minerals, mildly metallic, earthy taste that is bright and ‘sparks’ in my mouth. It really does feel like little electric sparks going off in my mouth, and really that is not bad, it is a fun feeling and makes me wake up and pay attention. For a midtaste there are nuts of creaminess and hazelnut that mixes with sweet strawberry. There is no real tartness from the strawberry and its sweetness lingers for a pleasant aftertaste. The mouthfeel is sharp and very brisk, and it leaves the mouth feeling a bit dry. As it cools the Pu Erh taste becomes more pronounced and the flavors fade to the background. Oddly it still reminds me of Crunch Berries, which I like! This tea does a good job of blending the earthiness of Pu Erh with the sweetness of strawberries, I wish the chocolate and hazelnut were a bit stronger, but that is my only complaint. Stay tuned for more Pu Erh goodness!
I have a sad confession, I have been staring at my computer screen for about five minutes with writer’s block. I am not blocked with writing about tea, I just cannot think of a good introduction to today’s blog. So just imagine I said something amazingly witty or incredibly geeky and I shall carry on with today’s tea!
Earl of Anxi by Verdant Tea is a blend made from Autumn Harvest Tieguanyin, Organic Orange Peel, Organic Jasmine, Wildcrafted Frankincense Resin, Organic Goji Berry, and Organic Saffron. When I read the list of ingredients my mind did this little freak-out and fizzled a bit…that is a crazy decadent tea that blends some of my favorite things! Tieguanyin (or Tie Kuan Yin) is probably my favorite Oolong, Frankincense is one of my favorite aromas, and saffron is one of my favorite flavors, consider my mind blown. The aroma is very sweet, mixing notes of honey, cherries, oranges, and the tangy sweet aroma of Goji berries. There are also notes of orchid and jasmine with a hint of frankincense as I pull it away. The blending of aromas is awe inspiring, I want to ingest it and wear it as a luxurious perfume. I feel myself being transported to an exotic garden on the Silk Road.
I have become a bit bouncy with excitement as I steep this tea. The steeped tea leaves are richly heady mixing the jasmine and orchid aromas from the Oolong. There are notes of chestnut, saffron, and the resinous aroma of frankincense. Lastly is a hint of orange that sneaks in at the end. The liquid’s aroma is intense, mostly notes of chestnut, saffron, frankincense, and orchid.
This tea is deliciously sweet, mixing honey sweetness and fruity sweetness. Orange notes are present and it blends wonderfully with the Tieguanyin, complimenting the orchid flavors of the oolong. There are midtastes of jasmine and goji berries, and it finishes with the resinous and slightly earthy taste of frankincense. Throughout the entire sipping experience is a gentle undertone of saffron which gives the tea a very exotic tone. As the tea cools it becomes a bit more chestnutty. With this steep all of the flavors blend together perfectly, no one flavor dominates, it is very much like an elegant dance of flavors in my mouth.
I was lucky to get a second steep out of this tea, but I was so enthralled with the tea I forgot to take a picture of it, tragic. The aroma is more orchid and chestnut, more ‘oolong’ and less other ingredients. The aroma does not lie, tasting this tea I notice that the Tieguanyin takes center stage. The taste is very mild with gentle notes of oranges and goji berries with just a tiny hint of jasmine. There is a slight mineral aftertaste that adds a delicious finish to the experience. As the tea cools it takes on a lemony quality. I have a hard time calling this tea an Earl or an Oolong, it transcends both and is simply an experience. This tea is exquisite, I could not drink it all the time because even though it is delicate, the flavors are so intense that I feel I would be overwhelmed and sent into a state of transcended reality. I have a special relationship with oolongs. I actually do not recommend drinking this tea with food or anything that would distract you from the experience of drinking it, and I certainly don’t say that very often.
Hello all, it is time for another Tea Gear Review! excited cheering from the audience yes yes, I know these are exciting because we tea drinkers tend to ogle and hoard gear as much as we do tea. Possibly even much so since the tea gear is what brings us our delicious cups of liquid happiness. Today we are looking at the Shudei Kyusu from Den’s Tea, yes the one that I babble about periodically.
Backstory time! I first ran into the concept of the Kyusu (or Kyuusu) when I was in high school and going through that ‘obsessed with Japan and Anime’ phase (not that I have left that phase, it just has been nerfed a bit) and studying Chado and their tea culture. I was able to find a Tetsubin pretty easily but I never saw a Kyusu outside of books and online. Of course the prices online were intensely high and I am in the mindset of ‘when I buy a new piece of equipment, don’t spend too much money on it because chances are you will break it.’ I wanted a practice piece, and while browsing I found this beauty and its lovely price.
This Kyusu is made from Shudei, or red clay which has a higher level of iron oxide (and reminds me of the clay I would play with growing up in Georgia) which gives it a lovely color. There is a mostly convenient built in metal sieve for filtering out the leaves that try to escape. I say mostly convenient because being built in means it can be a real pain to clean.
I have used it quite a few times since I bought it back in late September and each time has been a treat. The size is optimal for two cups, but since I am the only one in the house that likes Japanese Green tea I usually only fill it up halfway. I like having the option of more servings should the opportunity arise. My favorite aspect of the kyusu is holding it, the handle is the perfect size for my grip and it just feels good pouring the tea.
I have noticed that it is not retaining any tea aromas or flavors (unlike Yixing) but judging by the sheen I am pretty sure this teapot has been given a glaze making it safe to use with multiple teas. Not that I am going to use it for anything other than my various Japanese greens. I am very happy with my Kyusu (it needs a name…I like naming my teapots, suggestions?) and I actually feel I do not need a fancy expensive one for my collection.
For blog and photos (and a few helpful links!) http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2013/11/dens-tea-shudei-kyusu-tea-gear-review.html
Happy Day of Eating Too Much everyone! I have spent my day being crafty (need to make sure my Melted Geek Shop is stocked for the holidays) and drinking teas while rocking out to 80s New Wave. In honor of my geeky inspiration I decided to review a tea that is inspired by a fandom that has been near and dear to my heart for years. I discovered Harry Potter when I was fifteen and the series helped keep magic alive in my heart when I was going through a really rough time in my life, so of course I wanted to try the Butterbeer tea!
Before I go much farther I should say, I have a very distinct idea of what Butterbeer is supposed to taste like in my head, I will try my best to be fair if it doesn’t taste the way I expect it to and review it as a tea and not as a fandom geek out. As a giant nerd this will be hard…I mean, don’t even get me started on a rant about a fandom I am a part of, it never ends well! Butterbeer by 52Teas is made from Black Tea, Licorice Root, Chicory Root, and natural flavors. The aroma is very strongly rootbeer. Pretty much the only thing I am picking up is the aroma of rootbeer, and maybe a hint of creaminess. I have a problem here, I absolutely loathe rootbeer, probably more than I loathe lemongrass which is saying something. So lets try steeping the tea, sometimes I get surprised.
Once steeping the aroma becomes creamier, definitely more like a rootbeer float rather than just soda. There are notes of earthiness from the chicory and also notes of malt and a touch sweet. It smells like a very bright tea. The liquid has notes of oak along with the strong notes of rootbeer and sweet cream. As I pull the cup away from my nose I notice a bit of a bitter root aroma.
Tasting time! I can certainly taste rootbeer, ugh. The tea is creamy and there is a touch of bitterness from the chicory but it is a little too much like rootbeer. Oddly the more I sip on the tea the more it is growing on me, I find that really amusing actually. The tea is naturally sweet, but only mildly, so I think I am going to add a bit of cream and sugar (my favorite way to drink flavored blacks). Ok, that is really tasty, it still has a bit of the rootbeer taste, but now I can taste a bit of malt, some earthiness, and a touch of oak. I don’t hate it, it is not a new favorite tea but it is not as bad as I was expecting it to be with that strong of a rootbeer aroma. However, I do not think it tastes anything like I expect Butterbeer to taste like, so my quest continues.
As you might recall, yesterday I took a walk in the frigid air to the store (for milk and hair dye, life’s necessities) and I believe I picked up a new friend when I was out. Yes, there is a squatter in my lungs, a friendly little cold or some sort of irritant, meaning this is a perfect opportunity to test an herbal tea while taking a break from my spriting. The Perler inspiration bug has bitten very hard.
Today we are looking at Breathe Deep by Yogi Teas is a blend of herbs to support respiratory health and includes Licorice Root, Eucalyptus, Basil Leaf, Ginger Root, Cardamon Seed, Cinnamon Bark, Thyme Leaf, Elecampane Root, Peppermint Leaf, Mullien Leaf, and Natural and Organic Flavors. Opening the wrapper you get a nice slam in the face of eucalyptus, hello cooling fumes for my lungs! Mixing that aroma with mint and licorice it makes for a sweet blend with a very strong cooling effect for my sinuses and lungs, it is very refreshing. If you are not a fan of the aroma of eucalyptus and mint, walk away now because it is crazy strong!
Steeping the tea has turned my bedroom into a lung soothing sauna, or a jar of Vapor Rub. The aroma is mostly mint and eucalyptus but there is also an undertone of green, herbal aroma with a hint of savory herbs. It is certainly a good aroma for breathing in when you are unwell.
Holy Mary Mother of Mudkips that is intensely sweet. I was not expecting that level of sweetness, it is the strange sweetness of licorice root that gives it an almost artificial taste, if you have ever chewed on licorice root you will immediately recognize that flavor. For once I actually wish a tea was less sweet, I really must be unwell…or it really is just that sweet. The mouthfeel is refreshing and cooling with a delightful tingling as it goes down. There is a medicinal aftertaste that is not very pleasant. I can certainly breathe easier, so it does its job, but the taste is not exactly pleasant. I am not sure if I actually need to drink this tea in the future, I think that breathing in the steam from the tea did most the easing of my lungs.
I owe all of you an apology, as you noticed I did not blog yesterday, I completely forgot! The whole day I had this nagging ‘I know I am forgetting to do something’ and it wasn’t until I woke up this morning that I realized what it was. Feel free to blame the excessive amounts of Minecraft I have been playing this week. While out walking to the store today I thought to myself, I need to blog about a tea that captures the idea of Winter because it is really cold today.
Kyobancha by Yunomi.us and Obubu Tea Farm captures the idea of Winter in a different way than most teas. From Kyoto (that is where the Kyo part of the name comes from) this Bancha is plucked in March, having spent the entire Winter curing on the bush and then roasted. A rare tea, even hard to find in Japan, I knew I had to try it because the idea of this tea’s Winter journey makes me think that a little bit of the season is captured in the leaf. I am nothing if not whimsical in my way of looking at nature. The aroma is that of old leaves, like it is late Autumn and you are walking through a forest where all the leaves have fallen and there is that distinct aroma of old leaves and crispness. There is a roasted aroma but it is faint compared to other roasted teas and there is also a mild loamy aroma that ties it in with the forest imagery. I really enjoy where the aroma of this tea transports my mind.
Once the leaves are steeped the aroma of loam becomes stronger, as does the roasted aroma. I can also pick up notes of umami as I move the leaves away from my nose. It is savory and rich with also an earthy note and a very delicate hint of smoke. The liquid has a strong roasted aroma, but also notes of buttery sweetness.
Time for tasting! The first thing I notice is the buttery and very smooth mouthfeel, it just slides down my throat and I have be careful to not chug it! The flavor is sweet and rich with notes of earthiness and loam with a hint of wood. It reminds me a bit of brandy but without the alcohol, hard to imagine alcohol without the alcohol, I know. There is of course a roasted taste as well, it is mild, I could see someone who is not a huge fan of roasted teas enjoying this one. The flavors in this tea, while being distinct are also very subtle, it is a soothing tea for when you don’t want to be overwhelmed by flavor and just want to enjoy the delicate. As the tea cools it becomes sweeter and smoother. This tea is wonderful for cold days or right before bed (especially since it has almost no caffeine) and is very soothing to the stomach after a rich meal.
I have the house entirely to myself for the week, everyone is off in Madison celebrating the holidays and I am here at home. I decided to stay home because travel is not good for me and it has been a long time since I had some real ‘me’ freedom. So far I have spent my time playing Minecraft and drinking tea, so nothing too different than usual. Today’s tea review is going to be different (kinda) than the usual, today I am reviewing a Traditional Chinese Medicinal (to be abbreviated TCM from here on) tea, oh dear.
Kam Wo Char comes in one of the coolest looking packages I have ever seen, I admit that and the extremely cheap price at my local beloved Asian market were the reasons I tossed it in my basket. Hailing from Hong Kong, it is one of those ‘staples’ that a lot of houses have, it is like the TCM version of theraflu, although the box just says ‘to soothe dry throat membranes and as a mouth refresher.’ Also it says in very clear letters NO POISON, I found that hilarious because if you have ever had TCM teas you can safely say they taste like poison. There are a humongous amount of herbs in this tea, I have heard of quite a few of them, but there are some that I have never heard of and do not translate into Western herbalism.
The aroma is very much so that of an herb shop, there is a little bit of everything. The aromas that stand out the most are straw, sweet Annie, mint, and pickles. Yes, this tea smells vaguely of pickles…and I am completely ok with that. Compared to other TCM this tea smells like heaven, at least compared to the ones I drink regularly. The aroma clears the sinuses and is refreshing and a little nostalgic.
The instructions for this tea say to steep for fifteen minutes, that is pretty impressively long! The aroma of the steeping leaves is a balance of the different herbaceous aromas, no ones herb stands out and there is an underlying sweetness that was not there previously. The liquid sans the pile of leaves (that now resemble the remnants of leaves in a gutter after a storm) has a much richer aroma with notes of mint and earthiness. I also detect a hint of root herbs. I noticed there was a slight oily film on the surface of the tea, it was shimmery and pretty, but I am easily entertained.
And now it is time to taste. The liquid is so dark that it seems almost black, well no more stalling. If you can imagine me sipping the tea and then immediately convulse and start making strange noises, then you are entirely correct. The initial taste is incredibly bitter, the bitterness of medicinal herbs and roots. After the initial kick of bitterness the taste becomes very smooth and just herbal. The more I drink the more I start noticing other flavors; mint, dill, straw, it seems to evolves with each sip. I start noticing herbs that I cannot even begin to describe their taste because I have nothing to compare it to, the evolution of this tea makes it very fascinating. If you can get past the initial kick in the face bitterness it is a great medicinal tea, and it certainly helped my sniffles and sore throat, not to mention my headache! This tea is certainly going to be a cold season staple.