805 Tasting Notes
Today was a beautiful day, warm weather (meaning no cold side of the head and ears, mohawk woes) and clear skies…combine that with getting a good night’s sleep (and being woken up by the smell of blooming flowers) for the first time in over a week made for a having a lovely day. I had an adventure to a part of town I don’t normally venture to procure some fried chicken and okra, because nothing says comfort food on a warm day like fried yummies. I am Southern after all, it is what my people feast on, well that and collards but that is sadly harder to find this time of year outside of a can. Now I sit and blog between waiting for coats of paint to try on my miniatures, fun times for me!
Today concludes my week of Teavivre teas with one that is very appropriate to the weather, Zheng Wei Tie Guan Yin Oolong Tea, a Fujian Oolong from the An Shan Tea Garden. This Oolong is an autumn harvest and is said to be different from their other Tie Guan Yin by being less green and more floral, and considering their other TGY is pretty floral that is an impressive boast. From the moment I cut open the package I realized this boast was true, this TGY is hands down the most floral smelling one (possibly the most floral tea) I have ever sniffed. It was potent, heady, and intoxicating, notes of hyacinth, orchid, lilac, and daffodils. The last one made me immensely happy because that is not a note I get very often in teas, and I absolutely love daffodil, alongside all these flowers is a touch of green vegetation, the accompanying leaves to all the blossoms in a bouquet.
Once the leaves have steeped (and thoroughly poofed up in my xishi) the aroma takes on a delightful sweetness, one that reminds me of caramel, which I admit surprised me though not in a bad way. Alongside this sweetness was the heady elixir of hyacinth, daffodil, and orchid blossoms and the green notes of bamboo leaves and vegetation. The liquid has a buttery sweet quality, reminding me of buttery cookies and flowers, it is heady and sweet, no greenness to be detected in the steeped liquid.
Holy cow that is one buttery mouthfeel, it took me a moment to focus on what I was tasting because I was too distracted by the buttery goodness, so smooth! The taste, when I finally focused, was light, typical for a first steep, gentle notes of hyacinth and orchid with a daffodil note as well. This moves to a celery leaf almost savory quality at the finish with a lingering flowery note in the aftertaste.
I feel like I am sniffing pure undiluted liquid spring-time, it is intensely floral with green notes as well, really it is spring in a cup. The mouthfeel is still intensely buttery but with a slight slickness at the finish. The taste is light, though not as light as the first, it is intensely floral, so many flowers, like walking in a spring garden when everything is blooming. The midtaste brings in more green, notes of bamboo leaves and a touch of celery leaves, for the finish it is all sweetness, like flower nectar and honey with a very strong orchid aftertaste.
For the third steep I still feel like I am in a garden, like I am slowly sinking into a flowery field, being lulled into a heady slumber in a flower patch, it borders on being narcotic like some flowers can be. This steep is just as floral, but it takes on a real nectar quality, I feel like a hummingbird supping from various flowers in a garden. There is very little green to this steep, just a hint of bamboo. The real shine from this steep is the aftertaste, where the earlier sipping has a nectar quality, the end has a heady orchid note that stays around forever, seriously the aftertaste on this steep just would not stop, it was epic! This might be my new favorite green Tie Guan Yin, it gives many steeps and is like drinking spring.
Yesterday was Ben’s birthday, we celebrated in a nerdy fashion, we played with our miniatures all day. He worked on some of his Malifaux assembly and modification and I worked on putting together my Age of Sigmar box, (I said I would eventually fall into Warhammer and it happened, totally Ben’s fault) It feels so good to be painting again! Working on two separate game armies, random miniatures, presents for friends, and Ben’s armies, my paint table runneth over and it pleases me, maybe I will have all my current projects finished by the time my Reaper kickstarter arrives in October, but I doubt it!
Today I am continueing my look at some of Teavivre’s teas, with a long time favorite tea style of both Ben and me, a moonlight! Moonlight Beauty Raw Pu-erh Loose Tea is a lovely pile of silvery buds that could pass for a Baihao Yinzhen, but this is from Xishuangbanna in Yunnan, and while it is similar in production to white tea, it is technically a Puerh. Of course the real difference is in aroma and taste, and the aroma of these fuzzy leaves is grand. Notes of hay and honey blend with savory (the herb rather than the descriptor) sage, tomato leaves (moonlight always smells vaguely like tomato leaves and I have no idea why) and a finish of pollen and wildflowers. It is mellow but very distinct and sweet with herbaceous qualities.
I got to use my big engagement gaiwan for this session since I was sharing with Ben, the aroma of the not so fuzzy leaves blends sweet and savory notes pretty well, with pollen, hay, and honey on the sweet side and lettuce, sage, and tomato leaves on the more savory side. The liquid however is all sweetness, with notes of wildflowers, hay, honey, and pollen. It has a distinct summery quality, like being in a field when all the flowers are in bloom.
For a tea called moonlight, I have always thought it looks like a cup of sunlight. It kinda tastes like sunlight, mixing smooth honey and pollen with lettuce and sage, and a finish of hay. It has a wildflower aftertaste that lingers for some time, it reminds me of a field again, which is great.
Onward to the second steep without delay, the aroma has taken a creamy note, like creamy raw honey with definite wildflower and pollen notes and a finish of hay and lettuce. The taste does not change much from steep to steep, it stays strong with notes of honey and hay with the lingering wildflower notes that do not quit. Of course the best part of this tea is its staying power, it just goes for a while, I think I got eight steeps before it started fading away.
Console exclusive games infuriate me to no end, seriously. I have an Xbox, both the One and the 360, mostly because the only people I ever play with have those systems have them and I have gotten used to the Xbox, I like it and will continue to play them, but I really wish I lived in a world where the console war and exclusive games didn’t exist. I love Ark, but I am so sad that it is no available to PS4 players…but they get to have access to two games I want but can’t have because of being on the Xbox. Street Fighter V and more importantly No Man’s Sky, I want that game so badly, it looks amazing but I can’t play it. I AM CRYING BITTER TEARS ON MY CONTROLLER!! It really would be simpler if I had a gaming PC, but that will be something for the future, maybe. Ok, end nerd rant, tea time!
Continuing on with Teavivre week, today I am looking at Yunnan Gongfu Fragrant Black Tea, a hong cha from Fengqing, Yunnan, one of my favorite regions for making the glorious red teas that I’m hopelessly addicted to. Dianhongs are my drug, no lies. The name of this tea is no exaggeration, it is immensely fragrant, you open the bag and whoosh, face full of aroma! There are notes of intensely sweet cocoa and yams with brown sugar, malt, and a finish of gentle woody notes. It is very sweet and rich without being too much of either. I might have giggled with glee sniffing this tea while awaiting my kettle’s heating.
Into my teapot the oh so fragrant leaves go for their first steep, upon steeping it is time once again for sniffing. The notes coming off the wet leaves is intense! Notes of malt, cocoa, yams, peanut, pumpkin, mineral, molasses, and a very tiny hint of rose. It is really complex, pretty much every note I associate with Dianghong is present, which is impressive. The liquid is a touch lighter, sweet notes of brown sugar and pumpkin with a delicate pastry and chocolate note, it is quite sweet.
The first steep surprised me, for such a strong fragrance the taste is really light. Starting with gentle mineral notes and almost effervescent sweetness that dances across my palate. It is reminiscent of both cane sugar and brown sugar with a delicate cocoa woodiness. The finish is sweet and lingering with a light honey quality.
Second steep is where it is at! The aroma stays strong with notes of cocoa and brown sugar with a definite pumpkin and yam quality. Well, the taste takes a hint and brings in the yams and toasted peanuts, but imagine that with notes of pastry and cocoa and a finish of brown sugar and mineral. It almost reminds me of peanut brittle now that I think about it, but with sweet potatoes and cocoa, delicious!
For the third steep the aroma stays strong, but starts to pick up woody and a slight camphor note, at the finish there is a hint of pepper and a stronger mineral note as well, making it less sweet but more complex. This steep surprised me a bit, where the mouthfeel earlier was smooth and a bit thick, this one is thick and slippery with a salivary affect giving it an extra thickness. The taste is woodier, the intense sweetness is replaced with a woody richness reminiscent of cacao shells and a touch of very distant camphor. The finish and aftertaste is where all the sweetness of this steep is, ending with brown sugar and delicate yams. This tea went for several more steeps before giving up the ghost, finishing out with a very pleasant mineral quality.
An Ark update is headed my way that has me full of excitement! Not because of the horribly hard caves or wooly rhinos, not because of breeding phase 2 or the Eurypterid, no my friends, it is for the Dunkleosteus! One of my favorite deep sea monstrosities from the Devonian age, this giant fish had no teeth, instead it had interlocking bony plates and an armored head, but more importantly it had a crazy fast bite speed, making its mouth deadly. Since the only real fossil record is of its bony face, we don’t have a clear idea of what its body looked like, it could have been a longish fish or if you are like me and come up with wild theories, it could have been an eel! Like I said, wild theory that is wildly unlikely, but very fun, I love the Dunkleosteus and I am glad it is getting some Ark love, can’t wait to tame one!
Time to put down the dinosaur geeking and move on to my other major geek out source, tea! Today I am looking at Teavivre’s Tangerine Peel White Tea, a Shoumei White Tea from 2010 shoved into a tangerine peel and then dried in the sun, at least I think these are dried in the sun since that is how Shou shoved in a tangerine is created. It is said that the tangerine peel is good for cough and chest complaints, and white tea is known to have cooling Qi, so I was thinking this would be a great tea to drink during allergy season, plus I love tangerines, so blending the flavor with white tea seems most excellent. The aroma of the leaves and peel is intensely sweet, the comparison the website makes to orange candies is not far off, though conveniently it smells like tangerine and not artificial flavor like so many candies have. Actually candies is not entirely fair, it is more like candied orange peel with a strong honey note. There are underlying notes of hay and melon, but mostly the dry leaves really showcase the citrus.
I tossed the fluffy leaves and peel bits into a teapot and gave them a steeping, the aroma of the leaves is still heavy on the tangerine and intense honey sweetness, but now there are also notes of lettuce and a touch of celery. The liquid is a blend of lettuce, freshly broken hay, tangerine, and sticky sweet honey. It smells warm and sweet and I cannot wait to drink it.
The first steep is very mild, I was expecting a giant tangerine explosion in my face, but the tangerine is more in the aroma and aftertaste. The main notes in this steep are gentle melon sweetness, lettuce crispness, and a sun-warmed hay finish. It has a smooth mouthfeel and a gentle cooling feel in my chest and stomach, refreshing on a warm day!
The aroma of the second steep manages to be even more tangerine, mixing fresh juicy tangerine and candied orange peel with honey and a touch of lettuce and melon. Wow, this steep brings the citrus! It has notes of honey drenched tangerine, slightly sour orange (hello salivary glands) and a definite candied peel note that lasts forever. This tea is not all citrus goodness though, there are also strong notes of lettuce and hay with a slight melon note at the midtaste. It is delightfully sweet and smooth and has a bit of a thickness to its mouthfeel.
For the third steep, the aroma does not change really, pretty sure you could stick the second and third steep under my nose and I would not know the difference. Tasting is pretty similar too, it lacks any sour notes and is all candied orange peel and tangerine sweetness, with strong honey notes and delicate melon. It manages to be both warming and cooling, though the warming comes mostly from the sunny notes present in the citrus, it always registers as summery and warm in my mind. The sensation of cooling is pleasant, not as intense as some shengs can get, but certainly feels soothing on my insides. This tea went for several more steeps, eventually the orange notes faded and I was left with lots of sweet white tea, I really enjoyed it and plan on saving the rest of my sample for a cold steep experiment come summer time!
Happy Monday tea world! This past weekend was very enjoyable and I believe sets up a trend, a trend that will hold until late July, my weekends will be taken up watching fighting games. Yes, the season for watching FGC tournaments on the weekends is underway and I am so full of hype. I am very fond of fighting games, even if I am absolutely horrid at them, long ago in my youth I was an unstoppable force at Mortal Kombat, but my tendons and arthritis hate me meaning no more fighting games or beat’em ups for me, so to get my fix I watch champions play it at a professional level. I don’t really do standard sports, but I sooo get into fighting games!
It has been a while since I had a Teavivre week on the blog, so this week will be all Teavivre, starting out with Nonpareil Yunnan Dian Hong Ancient Wild Tree Black Tea. This is a hong cha from my favorite region for red teas, Yunnan! This specific Dianhong comes from Fengqing, the garden is high and the mountain and these large leafed trees are quite old, it is said in the description that it picks up notes of both Dianhong and Sheng Puerh, and I have loved reds that have that quality. The leaves are large and wiry, and very dark, and this means it is time to give it a healthy sniffing. The aroma of the leaves is very malty and rich, strong notes of chocolate and slightly woody with notes of molasses, honey, and leather. It starts with a heavy richness and ends with a sharpness and a touch of distant roses.
Conveniently my gaiwan is wide so can handle the longest of the leaves, no breaking needed. The aroma of the soggy leaves has notes of malt and sharp woodiness, chocolate and leather with gentle black pepper and a ghostly intoxicating rose. It is like the idea of roses rather than sniffing an actual rose. The liquid is very sweet, oh it is quite intense, notes of honey and chocolate with roses and malt and a rich underlying molasses. Woody undertones and leather are also there, but adding a nice heaviness to the sweetness.
The first steep is light and gentle, the mouthfeel and taste have a summer breeze quality, being light and refreshing with a gentle touch of cooling. The tasting starts with molasses and cocoa notes, this moves to a slightly dry tobacco, woody and leather note, The finish is woody with a sweet nectar rose like quality. The rose is like the aroma, it is light and sweet but more the idea than an exact taste of rose, it is ghostly.
Moving right along to the second steep, because I do love my Dianhongs! The aroma is surprisingly floral, strong notes of roses and even a touch of wildflowers. It is like sniffing a chocolate covered rose, and it is heady and sweet. This steep’s mouthfeel starts smooth and a bit thick with a middle of dry and a finish of smooth slickness. Tasting the tea starts with woody notes and molasses sweetness, then it moves to tobacco and chocolate, but really the finish is the kicker. Notes of roses and honey with milk chocolate dance down my throat and the rose lingers for so long. This might be the most intense aftertaste I have run into with a Dianhong and I love it!
It is no secret that I love teas with a heavy rose note, especially ones that come about it naturally and not by scenting or blending, I am not sure why but of all the various oddball notes that show up in tea rose is the one that seems most magical. The taste of this steep does not change much, the main difference being stronger woody notes and a slightly earthier middle, but wow, the aftertaste on this steep is persistent. I timed it between steeps, how long the rosy aftertaste lingered, it was a full 12 minutes, which was impressive! I was able to get several more steeps out of this tea before it called it quits, while not being the most chocolaty or rich of all the various Dianhongs I chug, it certainly is the most unadulterated rosy which I loved.
Weather in the Midwest is weird, this should be the subtitle of my blog, ‘tea, geekery, and weather in the Midwest is weird.’ Yesterday was awesome, really epic thunderstorm and warm weather, had my windows open all day, and then when night fell I went to sleep with my windows open because it was still fairly warm. My sleep was awful, I kept feeling more and more cold, but my half asleep brain registered it as not enough blankets rather than anything else. At 8 AM I woke up for some reason and realized that no, the reason I was cold was because the temperature had dropped to freezing and it was snowing. I promptly closed the windows and dove back to the blanket pile and slept til the early afternoon. Sadly the damage was done, I felt kinda garbage when I woke up, turns out sleeping in frigid air is not healthy, note to self check the prospected temperature before bed!
Long time passing since I last looked at one of the pieces of teaware in my far to large for its own good collection, so today I am looking at Teaware.house’s Azure Ruyao Pancake Teapot a delightfully teal colored 145ml teapot with a large webwork of crackles just waiting for a good staining. First off the pros of this pot, it is pretty!! I love the coloring, so very much, it matches my hair which pleases me. The shape also pleases me, the squashed appearance is like someone took a Xishi pot and stepped on it, and there is something immensely entertaining about teapots that look squashed.
It is thick-walled so it holds the heat well and the built in strainer keeps out the leaves. Well mostly, the holes are a bit on the large side so it lets out the smaller leaves and particles, so either you need a strainer or need to just eat the leaves like I tend to. Free fiber! With it being rounded and wide of mouth it means it is a lot easier to clean out than some of my other pots, wide mouth pots are sooooo easy to clean, they are a boon to all teaware hoarders.
My only complaints with this pot is the size and the lid. Ok size, it is a perfectly excellent size for my large leaf oolongs and fluffy white, though I never use it for reds and shou, meaning it is barely showing the staining. This is really not a complaint on the side of the teapot, more on me for not chugging the darker teas as often as I should with this pot, though the slow staining that is developing is lovely and I cannot wait to really see the dark wide channels splitting this pot like a river delta. The legit complaint is it is a bit of a dribbler, but only when the pot is totally full. So at first pour it dribbles and then by the time it is half empty no dribbling, this is not a problem really if pouring on a tea tray or over a large cha hai (I tend to just tip mine in and balance the lid knob on the spot) but I tend to make a bit of a mess with this pot once in a awhile. Other than the dribbling this pot is excellent, I am quite pleased with it.
Ah spring, I love you so, the windows are open and the trees are blooming, the air is full of pollen. And I can’t breathe. This allergy season is off to a wonderful asthma filled start, yay. The real annoying thing is my inhaler has always made me super jittery and just unbelievably derpy, so much derp in my brain. I no longer have a brain I have a head full of pollen! But, so far my sense of smell and taste has not been screwed so I still have lots of tea to enjoy while sniffing the flowers. Joy!
Today I am looking at a tea from Thailand tea company Tea Side, their Dong Ding (Tung Ting) Oolong Tea #AA. This tea comes from the high mountain region of Chang Rai Province and is the Chin Shin varietal (TTES #17) which was imported from Taiwan which in turn was originally imported from China. So this tea is said to be for those who are fan of heavy roasts, and we all know that I am all about those roasty teas! Sniffing time and the aroma of the leaves is definitely roasted with notes of barley, toasted walnuts, bamboo, honey, and an underlying and very distant honeysuckles. It has a strong char note that is very woody reminding me of bamboo coal, though it is also very sweet, and I like the blending of sweet and roast.
The brewed leaves have notes of char and barley, a little bit of burnt barley along with gently toasted. There is also a touch of narcissus and honeysuckle and a hint of sweetness that is fairly faint. The liquid of the first steep is gentle, sweet notes of honey and barley with walnut shells and a touch of baking bread and mineral, it is pleasantly sweet and toasty.
The first steep is light in both mouthfeel and taste, it has a slight smoothness and mineral slipperiness that has the promise of future thickness. The taste starts off with a gentle mineral and light sweet barley note with underlying freshly toasted bread. Then the taste retains its bread notes and adds a bit of honey giving me a real great toast taste. The finish has a distinct distant squash blossom note that lingers.
Onward to the next steep, the aroma is sweet and char with burnt barley and a slight hint of smokiness with the char notes. This steep manages to be both drier and smoother, with a surprising cooling finish. The taste is sweet, smokey, and fairly rich. Strong notes of barley, toast, and char with undertones of bamboo and smoke. This steep has no sweetness, it is all about the char and grainy notes which have a little bit of a pleasant nutty bitterness to it.
This steep is both light in taste and aroma, with the same barley and toast notes of the previous steeps, but also with an undertone of plums. It starts with mineral and juicy plum with an undertone of honey smothered toast made from very grain heavy bread. The finish is walnut shells and a touch of mineral with a lingering sweetness. My only complaint with this tea is it lacked staying power, it was really potent and then pitters out pretty early, and didn’t really last past steep five.
Raising a baby T-Rex is hard! Seriously, the wiki was not kidding when they said it was best tackled with a tribe, and considering my tribe is either out of town for an indeterminate amount of time, busy with a new game, or possibly just not playing anymore…so it is just me….queen of the swamps. I’m mostly ok with this, except for the insanity of raising a baby rex! Five hours of incubating an egg, which is mostly spent gathering ALL THE MEAT, then nine hours of hand feeding…the first couple of hours you can’t really do much since it can’t hold much, but the last stretch is easy. Then three days of maturity (unlike real rexes that had like fifteen years!) which means every thirteen hours filling up the food bin. It is a good thing I really like the games that require hours of grinding because wow does this game go grinding to the max!
So what does one do when they are raising a T-Rex and being stricken with either allergies or a cold? Drink flowery tea in the evening of course! Today I am looking at Grand Tea’s Chrysanthemum Tea, specifically the Tai Ju variety, which are small and yellow and are only partially opened. I first developed a love of Chrysanthemum at the same time I started studying Chinese Medicine, I was drawn to its cooling properties to help with inflammation and more importantly its ability to help with breathing problems. Allergy season is rough on my asthma, and if I am not super careful I develop asthmatic bronchitis really easily, and just between you and me I get sick of the meds. The aroma of the little flowers is definitely chrysanthemum…yeah not helpful…it is a blend of pollen, pepper, straw, honey, and straw flowers. It has a sharpness, this is not a heady flower, bordering on spicy without heat.
Since this is a classic brew it needs a classic setup, so vintage teapot and cup it is! The spicy pepper notes are quite potent, with an addition of pollen and straw, with floral undertones of wildflowers and a touch of lettuce. The liquid is sweet and peppery, sharp notes of straw and wildflowers blend with honey and cane sugar. It is mellow and very pleasant to sniff if you are a fan of chrysanthemum!
So does it work medicinally? Well yes and no, I would not say it beats out my guaifenesin and certainly is no substitute for my inhaler, but it does help. I put it in the same category as sitting in a bathroom I have filled with steam or drinking a ton of caffeine, helpful but only part of the puzzle of fighting with my lungs. Now that I have that little blurb out of the way, tasting! It’s yummy, but I really like chrysanthemum, it has wildflower and pollen notes with honey and a crisp sharp peppery quality that really livens up my mouth. When I am wanting something extra sweet I toss in some osmanthus flowers as well to really go for the flower overload! Whether or not it has any medicinal properties, I will keep drinking it because it tastes good.
Here I am sitting on my Quetzal waiting for a new Anklyo to tame, she is a level 72 (not as high as I would like but the level 96 I was going to tame was accidentally killed by a fellow tribe, oops) I have three of the beasties, but they are all pretty low level, so she will be part of my current project of making everything super efficient. Taming is a very good time to have lots of tea and to write/paint, especially if I get lucky and I am taming a creature with slow dropping torpor, I can keep an eye on things while also doing other things.
Today I am looking at Shang Tea, a local tea shop that I do not spend enough time at, I am hoping to go back and visit before the Midwest Tea Fest in May (everyone should go) but I am saving my money to spend there. If I am able to go stock up I will definitely be getting their Autumn Red, the tea I am covering today! Unlike the other red teas from Shang that I have tried, this one is super fancy, harvested in autumn of 2011, so not only is it a harvest from a time not usually used, it is also aged a bit. This tea first showed up in the Special Reserve Club, so I was very stingy with my stash, but recently I found out it is in the shop as well, so yours truly binged on the last of it and now needs more! The aroma of the small curly leaves is something else, notes of sweet potatoes and roasted peanuts blend with molasses, sweet stewed tomatoes, bamboo, molasses, autumn leaves, and a finish of dried fruit. It blends sweet and savory, rich and light all in one aroma profile, I admit it took me a while trying to put to words what all was going on in this tea…the stewed sweet tomatoes being the hardest to pin down.
Into my celadon gaiwan the leaves go, red tea in celadon is a guilty pleasure of mine, the colors are so pretty! The aroma of the leaves is still malty and sweet, though not nearly as much so, it takes on more richness. Notes of starchy yams and bamboo blend with molasses and just a touch of peanuts and honey. The liquid is intense sweetness, stewed plums and dried peaches mix with malt and yams with a definite molasses and earthy roasted peanuts and autumn leaves. I am a little amazed at the sweetness and fruitiness, it smells so good!
The first steep has a light earthy almost mineral start to it, mixing with a smooth almost slippery mouthfeel it reminds me strongly of rain water. There is a lot more to this tea than just rainwater, there are strong notes of yams and peanuts with a hint of cooked plums and a touch of molasses. The finish is honey sweet with a lingering aftertaste of honey and starch.
For the second steep the aroma somehow manages to be richer, still just as sweet but with an addition of cocoa like richness that blends well with the fruit and yams. The taste does not really deviate much in notes from the first steep, in changes in intensity and mouthfeel though! No more the slippery rainwater feel, it is all smooth and with a slight thickness. Another quite enjoyable thing about this tea is the aftertaste, strong yams and honey that lasts for quite a while.
The aroma of the third steep is strong in the malt and yam, but light on the fruit and peanut notes, though it certainly stays strong on sweetness and richness. This steep is still quite smooth, but not quite as thick, the taste is stronger in earthy peanut and autumn leaf notes with a strong malt in the middle and finish of sweet fruit. This tea was quite the treat, really quite delicious with an excellent personality (teas totally have those, I swear) that captured the essence of autumn!