875 Tasting Notes

Yeah, I might have stayed up til 8 AM playing Minecraft, what of it? I have created the ultimate awesome, blending my computer area, my painting area, and my tea area was at first quite epic…but with the inclusion of my Xbox 360 and a nice monitor and speakers, I have the ability to tea, paint, game, and watch videos at the same time. As one of my Instagram friends said, I never have to leave! I just need a tiny fridge, a small gas burner, and a bathroom and I really would never have to leave my bedroom.

Taking a break from my hard work of Minecraft and painting, teaing and writing…wait…to bring you today’s tea! We are looking at another tea from Beautiful Taiwan Tea Company, their Taiwanese Dragonwell. Now before you start going all ‘Amanda that is totally not really a Dragonwell’ shush, they admit that, but they also admit that the traditional growing region of that beloved flat green tea is a bit problematic, and you know, I love tradition, but as a blue-haired pseudo-mad scientist, I love experimenting and pushing the comfort barriers. This tea is a fine example of that, taking tradition and tweaking it to something new. Using the Qingxin varietal grown at a low elevation, this tea is processed to be like a Dragonwell, so time to see how it compares! Looking at the leaves, it looks like the lovechild between an Oolong and a Dragonwell, the leaves are flat and long…and also kinda huge and very richly green, going into this blind I admit I would have no idea what this tea is. The aroma of the sizable leaves is green and nutty! It smells like my much loved honey sesame candies (it is just honey, toasted sesame, and sugar…and highly addictive) with fresh turnip greens, bell peppers, and a touch of lima beans. I admit, there is a strong similarity to Dragonwell, like a sweeter version of it.

I decided to use my engagement gaiwan for these leaves, since the leaf size is a bit massive, plus it is pretty and needs to get more use! The aroma of the now soggy and very verdant leaves is more vegetal than the dry leaves, it blends green beans, turnips, turnip greens, bell peppers and a buttery finish. Mmm, buttery turnips, this tea is making me hungry. The liquid smells quite buttery and green, notes of bell pepper and green beans, lima beans and a touch of honey at the finish.

The lovechild between a Dragonwell and Oolong is such a fitting description. This is the most buttery smooth Green Tea I have ever had, seriously, it is intense! It starts out very sweet, sesame and honey explodes over my tongue, radiating from honey at the tip to sesame toastiness at the midtaste. This goes on a magical journey to lima beans at the finish.

Second steeping time! The aroma is, well, it is a but surprising, notes of salty butter and a touch of seaweed and spinach with a sesame finish, well that was fascinating! The taste starts intensely sweet again, so much sweet honey and sesame seeds, again it is a magical journey of buttery smoothness and sweet. Then the finish is lima beans and a bit of a lingering buttery aftertaste.

Third steeping, the aroma is a blend of butter, spinach, green beans, and a finish of honey sweetness. The mysterious and kinda awesome seaweed note from the previous steep is a ghostly memory. The taste and texture is still so very buttery, and so smooth, I find myself feeling a bit melty and relaxed, it is a nice feeling. The taste starts sweet and honey like and moves to sesame seeds and buttery lima beans and just the lightest note of green beans at the finish. So, how does it compare? You get the seal of approval from me, it is an unusual Dragonwell, but it has its own distinct personality, one that is delicious!

For blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2015/10/beautiful-taiwan-tea-company-taiwanese.html

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It is a bit brisk today! I learned this when I woke up this afternoon to both of the cats burrowed into me seeking warmth. Tao got very cross when I decided to leave the blanket pile, even going so far as to dig her claws into me (gently, well, gently for Tao, she is such a beast) when I moved. Espeon just made sad noises in her sleep, which was really quite pitiful. After extracting myself from the bed, tucking in the cats, I finally gave into the evils and opened the heater vent. Looks like autumn is well under way!

Since it is autumn, why not go for a thematically appropriate tea? From Yunomi and NaturaliTea, #11 Autumn Bancha Green Tea, this tea is grown in Shizouka and is harvested in early October, meaning that yes, this is 2014’s harvest since it is just now harvest time. The aroma of these MASSIVE leaves (seriously, the tea frog is very happy to sit on this pile of leaves) is quite sharp, like sniffing a pile of fresh oak leaves, cut grass, a touch of nuttiness, these leaves smell like nature, like being outside, enjoying all the various leaves and grass smells nature can offer. I know people say stop and smell the roses, but don’t forget the leaves, stems, pollen, and all the other parts of the plant, sniffing them is awesome too!

Into my green gaiwan that pretends to be a houhin the jumbo leaves go for a nice hot bath. Bancha does best steeping at hotter temperatures, the more delicate Sencha would burn…pretty sure Gyokuro would just explode. The aroma of the soggy leaves is grassy and leafy, yeah the leaves smell like leaves, specifically oak leaves and fresh tea leaves, freshly plucked right off the plant. There is also a bit of fresh spinach and just a touch of sesame seeds. The liquid is bright and green, I smell colors! Seriously though, the aroma is very fresh and green, like gently steamed spinach and grass, oak leaves, and crushed vegetation. It smells like nature, I keep saying that, but it is very much so a distinct smell of growing things.

Tasting this tea is like tasting a pile of leaves, and I am totally ok with that! It is not really vegetal (there is a tiny hint of spinach) it is straight up vegetation. Bright notes of cut grass and sweetgrass, sharp notes of oak leaves and tea leaves, the green notes of gently crushed vegetation similar to the smell of leaves as you walk through undergrowth. It is very green and very fresh tasting, for all that this is an autumn harvested tea, it tastes like the full growth of summer. I got a couple more steeps off of this tea (but totally derped and forgot to take pictures, sorry about that) and the taste stayed pretty much the same, with an increase in strength at the second steep and the third steep had a toasty note which added a fun bit of depth.

For blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2015/10/yunomi-naturalitea-11-autumn-bancha.html

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Guys, guys, guys!!! My new kettle arrived yesterday!! Sadly I only barely got to use it since shortly after waking (and getting some tea in me) I had to leave for errands and gaming, yes I finally got to go gaming again. I am slowly getting better, it is hard, but I am making a gradual recovery. Not only did my kettle arrive (ah the sweet sound of roaring water, it is music to my ears) but a miniature I ordered a while ago finally arrived at the shop for pick-up, Marike Guardian of the Sea probably the most egotistical paint jobs I will ever do. See I saw this blue haired girly wearing a ton of epic armor and standing on a sea monster while holding an octopus and I immediately thought ‘oh hey, someone made a model of me’ since I have perpetual mermaid envy. Since I cannot actually be a sea creature, I am going to paint her to be me, yeah, it is pretty silly, but I am a very silly person.

Before I start tea rambling, I should warn my dear readers, I am utterly tea drunk, so if this review gets random and loopy, that is totally my excuse. So, tea, specifically today’s tea, MeiMei Fine Tea’s Sichuan Imperial Gongfu Black Tea (Gui Fei Hong), a beautiful red tea from Sichuan (specifically Gao Xian County in the Southwest) with a name Gui Fei Hong, or red concubine, which makes me wonder if this is a bug bitten tea, since that is what concubine teas bring to mind. It could just be a pretty name though, which I am perfectly fine with…I mean let’s face it, if you put a golden fuzzy red tea in front of me I will jump on it like a starving hyena, I have a weakness for them. The aroma of the really pretty leaves (they are practically sparkly from the fuzzies) is rich and malty, with notes of molasses, cocoa shells, pine resin, red peppercorns, and a gentle sweetness at the finish. This is not a very sweet smelling tea, this one is all about richness, and that gentle spiciness from the peppercorn note adds an interesting well, spice to it.

Into my sad gaiwan the tea leaves go, even though this sage green gaiwan is problematic, the leaves are super pretty against the color of the gaiwan. The aroma of the soggy leaves is a bit sweeter than the dry leaves, with strong notes of malt, cocoa, pine resin and sap, and a touch of pepper. I really enjoy teas with strong pine resin notes, they remind me of happy forest rambling. The liquid is sweet cocoa and malt with a touch of peppercorn and a nice burst of sweet pine sap. The sweetness is like cocoa and honey mixed together, but not exactly chocolate.

The first steep starts with a delightfully smooth mouth, and the taste is sweet, very sweet! It starts as cocoa and malt, and it moves straight on to milk chocolate. The chocolate taste lingers for quite a while, it then moves to a resinous finish giving it a slightly dry mouth at the end.

For the second steep, the aroma is malty and resinous with a strong cocoa and honey note, it is sweet and rich in a balanced way. The taste starts off quite sweet and malty, cocoa and honey with a nice strong malty note. This moves to a touch of roasted peanuts and a finish of resin and molasses, rich and sweet. The mouthfeel is not sticky, but the notes of resin and molasses make it seem thick and sticky, which is a fascinating mind over matter kinda thing.

On to the third steep, the aroma is a triple threat of cocoa, malt, and resin, and those notes are devilishly sweet. The farther into the session I go, the sweeter the aroma is. The taste is sweet and smooth, malty and resinous. Cocoa and honey, molasses and pine, this tea is potent, I got several more steeps before it piddled out, and also used the rest of my sample western style while waiting for my new kettle. Western style is solid, sweet and malty, but this tea really shines when it is brewed gongfu.

For blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2015/10/meimei-fine-teas-sichuan-imperial.html

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My mom is kinda awesome, ok she is really awesome, but today she decided to give me a present. She texted me several pictures of mushrooms she could not properly ID while visiting my grandparents in South Carolina, turns out all that flooding and rain inevitably brought in the mushrooms. For all that we have had a wet summer and somewhat wet early autumn in Missouri, I have only found a few mushrooms…though while out and about I have seen some growing on trees and in people’s yards, but I have learned that yelling to stop so I can leap out of the car to examine them is not very appreciated by whomever is driving, alas. Sadly IDing from a photo is hard, I was able to probably ID the Russula (either as emetica or paludosa, can’t be 100% sure) but there is one that looks like an Amanita but I just can’t place it, it is maddening and I am having a blast trying to figure out the puzzle with the few clues I have.

I believe it is Wednesday today, I admit, Monday being a holiday made me confused, tossed my schedule right out the door, it is a little embarrassing how much I rely on mail running to let me know what day it is. Since it is Wednesday, it is time to carry on with the tradition of What-Cha Wednsday, a tradition I have been carrying on with for over a year now, and I am still nowhere close to reviewing all of the What-Cha teas! I still want their logo as a t-shirt, just sayin’ it is so cool! Today we are taking a look at Vietnam ‘Red Buffalo’ Oolong Tea an Oolong tea from the Son La Province of Vietnam. Sourced by Hatvala, whose mission it is to raise awareness of Vietnamese tea, something I can get behind because I have not had a tea from Vietnam I disliked, even the super cheap Lotus Green I bought at a Vietnamese grocer. This is a heavily oxidized Oolong, almost to the point of a black tea, but still having a floral oolong quality. It is made using the Qingxin cultivar on a small farm at 1000m above sea level.

The tightly curled leaves are definitely dark, with shades of amber and red peaking through the mostly very dark brown. The aroma is pretty true to the description, blending a darker Oolong with a greener one, It starts out with notes of nutty toasted sesame seeds and chestnuts, sweet marzipan, and honey. Then it moves to floral notes, one note in particular stands out, and to me it smells like the honey sweet nectar of the tulip tree (Poplar) which brings back very fond memories. As a kid I would race the squirrels and ants for the fallen blossoms, when I got my hands on them I would lick the sugary sweet nectar out, yeah, I was a wild woodlands child.

In the gaiwan, the aroma of first steep and slightly opened up leaves is pretty intense, strong notes of flowers and gentle spice, like tulip tree, spicebush, orchids, honeysuckles…honestly this reminds me a bit of a Dancong with its headiness. After that initial burst of flowers there is a bit of creamy sesame seeds and honey. The liquid is very sweet, creamy and flowery with notes of honey, tulip tree, and honey locust. Wow, this the the tea of tree flowers!

The first steep is pale, surprisingly so, it starts with a gentle honey sweetness, a touch of sesame seeds, and then honey locust. Huh, I honestly have never tasted that outside of honey locust pods, that I find immensely fascinating. This sweetness fades to a gentle spiciness that is reminiscent of spicebush and distant flowers, which lingers in the aftertaste.

For the second steep, the aroma is honey and flowers, honeysuckles, honey locust, and tulip trees, it is very sweet. The texture is smooth, a bit silky, the taste is a sugary sweet explosion! It is like my mouth just filled with warm honey, honey locust, scuppernongs, and tea blossoms. The sweetness lingers for quite a while afterwards.

Third steeping’s aroma is still so sweet, loads of flowery goodness and honey sweetness, honey locust and tulip trees are blooming in my cup. This tea does not really change, and it is not super varied in its taste, and you know, that is totally ok because it is super sweet. Who needs dessert when you have liquid honey and honey locust pulp, it is like wild nectar and flowers. For all that this is a dark Oolong, it is not smoky or roasted at all, so no need to be afraid of that.
Blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2015/10/what-cha-vietnam-red-buffalo-oolong-tea.html

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Bah, it was a holiday today, meaning no mail! Meaning one more day I have to wait for my kettle to arrive, the sadness, I am sure everyone who did not get mail joins me in mourning the lack of mail today. It is not all bad though, because I have Espeon snoozing beside me and Tao snoozing on the other side of the room (and by snoozing I mean snoring, loudly) and I have tea in my travel steeper while I lounge in bed. Still need to work on that lapdesk problem for bed lounging days, but that is a thing to work on later.

Today’s tea comes from Beautiful Taiwan Tea Company, and is so new it doesn’t even have a picture yet, oooh, fancy! Presenting Alishan Black Tea (Highest Quality) basically take a high mountain tea from Alishan’s Zhang Shu Hu area and process it like a black tea instead of an Oolong, it was one of those ‘you have my attention’ moments because that sounds rather exciting. The leaves are quite pretty, mostly curly and dark, but a few have gentle golden fuzz, and the aroma is rather potent, like really quite intense! Notes of strong cocoa and dark chocolate blend with gentle woody notes and black strap molasses, and a finish of roasted red peppers. Or is that adobo? It is spicy with a peppery note but none of the tanginess or adobo, this is an unexpected bit of nose fun!

Brewing the twisty leaves brings the cocoa notes to the levels of the extreme, with accompaniments of wood, gentle smoke, molasses, and a finish of smoked yams. This tea is more rich than sweet, like you are sinking into an inky void of cocoa and molasses…guys, I think I just figured out how I want to go when it is my time. The liquid is equally intense, though it decide to take on some sweetness with creamy milk chocolate notes, rich dark chocolate, molasses, and a touch of distant smokiness. It vaguely reminds me of brownie batter, at least the super rich way I make brownies.

Ok, sitting down for the first steeping sip, sometimes black teas tend to knock me off my feet, I love tea, but oh man, gongfu black teas make my head spin at times. It starts with a creamy mouth feel, creamy and smooth, with just a hint of less creamy at the finish, not dry, just not as creamy. The taste is a gentle note of milk chocolate at the first, that builds, and builds, until my mouth is filled with moderately dark chocolate making for a happy me. The finish is gently smoky with roasted yam notes that linger.

The aroma for the second steep does require sitting down, intense notes of cocoa and malt with gentle smokiness and sweet chocolate slam me in the nostrils. After that, notes of roasted yams and red peppers, that intriguing red pepper note, so peculiar and yet so right. The tasting starts out with a smooth mouthfeel, not quite creamy, more silky smooth, and hello sweet chocolate! Strong notes of milk and dark chocolate mix with malt and gently smoked yams, and holy moly it lingers forever! That is an aftertaste of endless happiness. I am such a sucker for chocolaty teas, they are my weakness (don’t I say that about so many teas?)

On to the third steeping, the cocoa notes manage to get even stronger, I am not really sure how, so much chocolate! Alongside the chocolate notes are notes of malt, roasted yams, and that confounding roasted red pepper note from before. The mouthfeel is similar to steep two, with silky smoothness, and the cocoa notes explode out of nowhere, kaboom! Chocolate! It is very malty and sweet, and quite enlivening as well, usually I find these smooth black teas more relaxing, but instead I found this tea to really wake me up, so this one is going on my list of morning teas that actually wake me up without being brisk.

Blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2015/10/beautiful-taiwan-tea-company-alishan.html

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I think I know the next thing I am going to treat myself to when I have a bit of money…drum roll…a lap desk! As much as I love working at my desk, sometimes I really want to just stretch out with a mound of pillows at my back, doing that now actually. My current setup of using a book as a table on my thighs and my Minecraft spider plushie as an armrest is not the most optimal of setups. But I am of course very picky, I want a lap desk with feet rather than putting my legs to sleep, and there can’t be a lip to push down on my already screwy arm tendons…oh yeah, and I need room for my mouse and my inevitable tea, and in a perfect world there would be a small lamp. I am having fun window shopping!

Today we are taking a look at Dachi Tea’s No 6 Golden Lily Oolong, a green Oolong from Taiwan, made from the Jin Xuan Varietal. Ah Jin Xuan, whose name translates to Golden Daylily (name drop!) and also goes by #12 or Milk Oolong, you are one of my favorites, I turn to you when I want flowery sweetness unlike any other. This particular tea was grown at 1200m on Alishan, though not all Jin Xuan is from Alishan and not all Alishan Oolong is Jin Xuan, of course even the ones that are from the same mountain and cultivar can have different roastings, growers, elevations, they have similar traits but each one will be subtly different in some way. It is like a mouth adventure. But first I suppose is the nose adventure, The aroma of the very tightly coiled leaves is at first quite creamy, then gentle notes of toasted sesame blended with the ever so slightly spicy note of Asiatic lily drift out of the leaves. Lastly the notes are honeysuckles, fresh milk, and a tiny touch of snap peas at the very finish.

The leaves made their journey to the Xishi pot for their steeping, only gently opening up after their first steep, but the aroma is certainly not some wilting flower. Ok it is floral, but it is not a weak aroma, Notes of warm milk, toasted sesame seeds, honeysuckles, snap peas, and spicy Asiatic lilies waft out of my teapot, my nose is happy, creamy teas just make me happy. The liquid from this first steep is quite sweet and floral, notes of honeysuckle, lilies (the spicy kind) sesame seeds, and a touch of sweet peas greet my nose. It smells less creamy than I was expecting.

For all that the aroma was not very creamy, the taste certainly is! The texture starts out creamy and the tasting starts creamy, like that relaxing note of warm sweet cream and sugarcane. It then moves to a nice flowery burst of sweet honeysuckles and spicy lilies. The spice from the lilies is very similar to what I describe as spicebush, but instead of it being a more musk spice it is a floral spice. Yes, I like to surround myself with spicy flowers, dianthus is also a favorite. Anyway, after the flowery burst the finish is a touch of gentle honey and very distant sweet peas, a lingering aftertaste of honey, well, lingers!

Second steeping time brings the creamy! The aroma of the liquid this time is definitely milky and sweet, with honeysuckles and sweet peas, sesame seeds and a gentle touch of lilies, it has a headiness to it reminding me of summer flowers. The taste and texture both start out creamy again, like sweet cream and sugarcane, then it moves ti sesame seeds and spicy lilies and a touch of honeysuckle. The finish has a crisp snap pea note with a crispness that lingers in both mouthfeel and taste.

The third steep’s aroma is sweet and creamy, with notes of milk and honeysuckles, a gentle touch of lily and a strong note of sweet snap peas, adding an extra crisp greenness to the sweetness. The texture is still creamy, but it turns crisp yet smooth around the middle of the sipping, right around the same time the taste turns from sweet and creamy to sweet and snap pea crisp. Usually when green Oolongs take on a green note, it is more crushed vegetation, so this snap pea note is quite fun, and it goes really well with the overall sweetness of this tea.

For blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2015/10/dachi-tea-no-6-golden-lily-oolong-tea.html

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My grandparents are awesome, they saw my plight with regards to my kettle giving up the ghost and ordered me a replacement as an early birthday gift, so sometime next week things can return to normal. I also had several friends in the tea world offering me their spare kettles, giving a whole new meaning to the #kettlekin hashtaggery that floats around on the interwebs. I keep saying it, the tea community is awesome and takes care of its own.

Today’s tea blog has a bit of a story to it, the other day I groggily checked my email when my ‘get up and take yo’ meds’ alarm went off and saw that my Minecraft Mobs Fandom Collection on Adagio Teas is going to be a featured Fandom on the 11th. I kinda stared at my phone in disbelief, see, I have wanted to be a featured Fandom since I first created the Creeper tea, the first tea I ever reviewed on the blog. I really find the whole create your own blend system rather entertaining, it by no means makes you a blender, but it does let you play around with dozens of teas to create either a really tasty brew or something truly disgusting. The only really artsy thing I put into these teas are the labels, and I suppose I need to try to guess which teas taste good together and capture the monster in question. No matter how you slice it though, goal achieved! So to celebrate tomorrow’s feature, I am reviewing one of the blends, call it a pre-Halloween themed review if you like since it is time for Wither Skeleton!

That inky black, especially tall Skeleton that prowls Nether Fortresses and are kinda terrifying, are they dead Endermen? What exactly are they? Implications are…creepy. What they are is a mystery, what the tea is is a blend of Mambo (which is a mix of their Wuyi Ensamble aka Da Hong Pao and Yunnan Jig which is a fuzzy red from Yunnan) Lapsang Souchong, Almond Oolong, Cocoa Nibs, and Cardamon. Toasty, roasty, smoky, and rich, just the way I like my Endermen…wait…anyway, the aroma is a massive punch of cardamon, that is definitely the first thing I get. Next up is a bonfire that starts gentle and then kinda goes poof, like someone tossed a fresh log into the fire. Under that is a bit of cocoa, malt, and a tiny bit of almonds.

Into the steeping apparatus the leaves go for their steeping, the aroma wafting from the steeping and then from the finished leaves is smoky and strong in the cardamon department. Alongside that is a lovely woody note and cocoa with a touch of malt. It is a very rich tea, not so much sweet but very rich. The liquid blends cardamon, malt, cocoa, wood, tobacco, smoke, and a touch of fruit, there is a lot going on which is not surprising since there is a lot in this tea.

Moment of truth, tasting time! The taste surprisingly after all that richness, starts out sweet, like honey and a touch of fruit. That very quickly changes to the smoky, rich, cocoa notes I was expecting, oh yeah and a ton of cardamon. The finish is woody with a lingering tobacco smoke, and of course, cardamon. When Adagio says accented with cardamon, either they do not understand the potency of the stuff, or their accents are giant scoops, granted I love cardamon and I am totally ok with it, but it does present a powerhouse of cardamon. On a whim I tried this gongfu style one day and it kinda worked, but this tea really shines western style.

For blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2015/10/adagio-teas-minecraft-wither-skeleton.html

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I am currently drowning my sorrows in terribly Hip-hop and Rap, it seems growing up in Atlanta means I never really lost my taste for Krunk, though in my defense I love good Rap, the bad stuff is just a guilty pleasure. Why am I drowning my sorrows you ask? My variable kettle went on to a glorious afterlife, I am sure it is heating water in Valhalla now with all the Warboys, all shiny and chrome.

Today’s tea is a fun blend of tea techniques and cultures, Yunomi’s Chakouan’s Ureshino Kamairicha, a Japanese Green Tea where the familiar steaming step is skipped and the tea is pan fired instead, similar to the way green teas in China are made. This technique was brought from China in the 15th-16th century and is a specialty in a couple southern regions, Ureshino in Saga Prefecture being one of those regions. The aroma of the curly leaves is quite nutty and sweet, it has a distinct note of sesame seeds which give the leaves their gentle sweetness. Underneath those notes of sesame seeds is a sharp leafy note of raw spinach and a bit of fresh kelp, adding an umami tone.

Into my pseudo-houhin the leaves go, luckily the leaves are fairly large so they don’t all go out the somewhat large holes, always glad when that happens. The aroma of the soggy leaves is a blend of cooked spinach and kelp, reminds me a bit of seaweed salad, but with a whole lot of extra sesame seeds. Just the right amount of green and seaweed to make me salivate. The liquid is nutty and sweet, like toasted sesame seeds and not much else, seems like all the aroma is in the leaves.

Tasting time! The texture is very smooth, and just a little bit on the thick side. It is surprisingly sweet and nutty, ok, not really surprisingly nutty, but the honey sweetness was a pleasant surprise. This initial burst of sweetness moves to a combination of sesame seeds and chestnuts, after that we have a nice burst of steamed spinach and a great finish of fresh kelp. The aftertaste surprisingly is a gentle fruity nuttiness that lingers for a while.

Second steeping time! The aroma is not changed much from the first steep, notes of toasted sesame, but there is a gentle undertone of fresh grass to go along with it, still pretty faint. This time the taste starts out green and crisp, no sweetness or nuttiness, crisp bell peppers and spinach with a finish of kelp. This tea is a fascinating thing, you have the familiar notes of a Japanese green mixed with the nutty toastiness of a Chinese green, I really appreciate the blending of techniques.

For blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2015/10/yunomi-chakouan-12-ureshino-kamairicha.html

Liquid Proust

As long as you listen to Froggy Fresh, we will be on good terms still.

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I am having so much fun with my new camera, it was a grand investment, especially since I have caught some amazing droplet and pour photos. So splashy! I have noticed one hilarious quirk though, see I am very used to my old camera after using it for five years, I knew what angle to be at and such to get the shots I wanted. I have to figure a new angle because I keep casting shadows on my photos, shadows of my MASSIVE lens. It cracks me up to see this looming lens shadowing over my tea desk. The camera is performing wonderfully, the user has a bit more practice needed.

Time to take a trip back in time to February of 2015 for the time of the first flush, because that is when today’s tea from What-Cha was harvested. India Darjeeling 1st Flush Rohini ‘Jethi Kupi’ Black Tea, as you can tell from the name comes from the Rohini Tea Estate, but what the name doesn’t tell us is that it was grown at 330m, is the Bannockburn 157 cultivar, and is grown by Shiv Saria and his son Hrishikesh Saria, yay for extra details! I did a little extra digging around and found out that Jethi Kupi is from the Manipuri dialect and means Jasmine flower, or it is from the Nepalese dialect where Jethi means eldest daughter and Kupi means cone/funnel, and this references it being a first flush. Now that that is all settled, aroma time! Why hello there muscatel notes of scuppernongs, muscadines, sultanas, and grape jelly, you are a sweet tea! This is not all just muscatel notes though, there is also a gentle spice and a slight note of gentle roasted peanuts, it has a richness in all its sweetness…and making me crave grape jelly laden toast something fierce.

In my steeping apparatus, the leaves are so gorgeous, I almost oversteeped it because I was entranced by the vibrancy of the leaves. Once I escaped its hypnotic unfurling in the water, the aroma of the leaves is like a small explosion of flowers and grapes, blending scuppernongs and orange blossoms, spicebush and sultanas, it is so grape heavy, I love it! Certain types of grapes may or may not be my favorite fruit ever (yeah, scuppernongs are the best thing, and teas that have those notes make me go all squishy because I grew up gorging on them.) The liquid is creamy and sweet with fruity notes of apricot and grapes, a touch of rich sultanas as well. There is also a tiny note of orange blossoms at the finish.

The taste of this golden brew starts our with a touch of flowery and peppery nasturtium flowers, this moves pretty abruptly to apricots and gentle spicebush. Then the taste goes on to roasted peanuts, scuppernongs, golden raisins, and muscadines. The aftertaste is a blend of orange blossoms and honey, and it lingers. The start is very much so a familiar first flush notes, but towards the end it gets a hint of what later flushes will taste like, which I find fascinating.

For blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2015/10/what-cha-india-darjeeling-1st-flush.html


I take macro shots, and have a big special macro lens. For macro you use flash & manual focus because it freezes the subject. Too much flash blows the picture out. So I made a long diffuser using a pringles tube with paper in the end to soften the flash and a reflective hood to reflect the flash downwards.

There are good camera forums and there are even specialists in water drop photography.


My lens is so big sometimes, one of diffusers is the whole pringles tube in length! Google it, it’s a common technique :)

Alexsia TeaNecromancer

Sadly my camera is not that level of cool, one day I hope to have a giant macro lens so I can really get up and personal with some various insects and mushrooms…and of course tea leaves. Mostly for the tea photography for the blog I don’t use macro, since I want a big sweeping view of the tea table, and hilariously I figured out my problem last night when taking some photos.

So last night was the first in a while I didn’t have my overhead painting lamp on which is right next to my tea desk (my painting, tea, and writing desk form a fun little cubby so I access all three with a swivel chair, wee!) and I noticed there was no lens shadow. So derp me, it was not so much my flash but the giant overhead lamp, I feel ever so slightly silly.

I am going to look up this technique though since it still might be useful when I am crawling around in the dirt :P


yeah, any kind of diffuser is good for when you want to use the flash but have it so stark – and very easy to make with some cardboard and tissue :)


but not have it so stark i mean

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Well poop, it seems that things have gotten extra complicated in my life. It seems the Silver Nemesis, aka the car, has broken beyond repair, kinda out of nowhere. Not having a car is going to make getting to my various medical visits hard, going to gaming hard, getting to the store hard…oh yeah, and Ben’s job as a pizza deliverer kinda hard. I am glad that I have a great stash of tea to last me through what is going to probably be a very tight patch, but I am sad because my epic gift giving plans might not work, well, I might use any birthday money to buy the miniatures I wanted to paint for my friends instead of new paint. Things are going to be tough, but we will figure something out. So, that is my life at the moment!

Oolong time! Today we are looking at Taiwan Oolong Tea’s Lugu High Mountain Oolong, a new company located in Singapore, their shop-front is their facebook page and have three Oolongs they are offering, they also recently had a small contest and I was lucky enough to snag some of their tea. This tea was grown in the Lugu region at 800m above sea level and was harvested this spring, and that is all I know about this tea, so onward to the sniffing of the nicely balled up leaves. The aroma starts milky and sweet, gently creamy with a slightly nutty rice and almond milk note. Under the creamy sweetness is a floral blend of honeysuckle and a touch of lilac at the finish.

Into the gaiwan! The leaves unfurl pretty quickly, as of the first steep they are already almost unfurled. The aroma is green and just a tiny bit spicy, like spicebush and Asiatic lilies. It is also a touch creamy and just a touch nutty like almost milk. The liquid is surprisingly mild, with notes of gentle cream and distant floral sweetness.

First steeping, this tea really shines in its creamy and very smooth mouthfeel. I admit the first steeping’s taste is really mild, gentle floral notes and gentle nutty notes. There is not a ton going on, but the mouthfeel is pretty great.

Time for the second steep! The aroma is creamy and sweet, much more of a presence than the first steep, strong notes of sweet cream, honeysuckles, almond milk, and a a touch of lilacs. The mouthfeel still shines with its silky and creamy texture. The taste has more to offer with this steeping, though sadly not a huge. amount Gentle notes of honeysuckles and sweet cream mix with lilacs and a lingering note of honey.

Third steep! The aroma is mild, gentle notes of honeysuckles and a touch of creaminess. The taste is pretty mild, honeysuckles and lilacs with a gentle creaminess and a touch of vegetation. Gentle is definitely the name of the game with this Oolong, I almost feel like this would be a great after heavy meal sipping experience, one to cleanse your palate while enjoying a subtle flavor.

For blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2015/10/taiwan-oolong-tea-lugu-high-mountain.html


Good luck with the vehicle troubles!


You have tea and that always makes things better.

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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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