525 Tasting Notes
I am going to open today’s blog with a bit of back-story and a TMI warning. I know some people get all squicky at the mention of PMS and the monthly curse, so if that is you…well, there are plenty of other teas I have written about if you need a tea review fix. As for back-story, well, I could give gore-filled details and sob stories, but it is not really necessary. What you need to know is I do not have periods, I have two-three week long hormone crazed events that culminate in a week of agony, anemia, and general not being able to function. Endometriosis is an evil, evil thing.
So when I saw that one of my favorite tea companies has a new herbal blend for giving us ladies a break, you can bet your sweet tea cups that I had to get myself some. Ladies’ TLC by Raizana Teas is a really pretty blend of Lemongrass, Rose Petals, Horsetail, Natural Rose Flavor, Dong Quai (Angelica Root), and Stevia. Dong Quai is THE go to herbal remedy for lady problems, in fact I am pretty sure it is the first herbal remedy I learned about when I started studying herbal medicine when I was thirteen, coincidence? No…definitely not. The aroma of the tea is pretty pungent, it is one of the biggest downsides to Dong Quai, I have had it in pill form before and could smell its distinct sharp root and earthy aroma through the bottle. It is not a bad smell, it is just very strong and pretty medicinal. There are also notes lemongrass, roses, and a touch of hay, but these are subtle notes compared to the presence that is Dong Quai.
The aroma of the wet leaves (and flowers and roots) is still intensely pungent. There are side notes of roses and hay and a finish of celery. The liquid is pretty identical to the wet leaves, except it is more subdued and the floral aroma is stronger at the finish.
I am afraid! I have had tea with Dong Quai in it before and it was super bitter and medicinal, Dong Quai (along with Black Cohosh and Valerian) is one of the most medicinal bitter tasting roots I have run into. One apprehensive sip later and I was pleasantly surprised! The tea is quite sweet, which is great for PMS sugar cravings, there are also strong rose notes and a distinct pineapple taste to the tea. As the tea cools it takes on a celery taste to it and there is a bit of a root taste at the finish, similar to burdock. The best part is, it really takes the edge of my cramps, granted it is not as strong as taking an advil, but since my stomach does not really allow me to take any kinds of pain medication, this tea is a life saver. Raizana, you have done it again, you created a medicinal tea that works and tastes good, bravo!
For photos (Origami!) and blog: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2014/05/raizana-teas-ladies-tlc-tea-review.html
Happy Saturday everyone! I am still pretty under the weather, but luckily I feel better rested and less freezing cold than I did yesterday, it is the little victories when the Lupus flairs happen. Today’s plans involve origami (I am in the middle of a Bascetta Star) reading (currently reading a book on fermenting your own veggies) and Minecraft (because it is always a part of my day) all nice relaxing activities perfectly augmented by tea.
Today’s tea is Just Awesome Assam from Just Organic Tea, an (as it says on the tin) Assam black tea from Banaspaty Estate in India. Back in the day when I was making the switch to loose leaf tea all the time I discovered a real love for Assam, it is not a favorite, but I still have a great deal of fondness for it. The aroma of the tea is malty and bright with a bit of a roasted peanut finish. It is a fairly mild Assam, but it is a nice aroma, even if I wish it was a bit stronger.
Brewing the leaves brings out that rich malty notes I was craving from the dry leaves. It is very brisk with a slight woody oak quality. The liquid without its leafy friends is malty with notes of sweet potato and a bright yet earthy finish.
My cup of tea is brisk, malty, and nicely bright. Just the perfect pick-me-up for people, like me, who really need a boost in the morning. The more I sip the more I notice that it has depth, more so than I initially believed. At first I thought…not a bad Assam, nothing outstanding, but quite passable. As I sipped more I noticed earthy tones at the finish and sweet potato in the middle. I added some cream and sugar for a real traditional breakfast tea and found that the additions complimented the tea nicely.
I have a question for you, my dear readers! As you all probably know I am obsessed with tea, crafts, and gaming…this blog is pretty much devoted to tea and has a nice smattering of gaming too, however it really lacks in the craft department. I was thinking it would be fun to link to a fun craft project that I have found at the end of each tea review. Would that be something you all are interested in?
Today has not been the best of days for me, so I needed something to boost my spirits! Citron Green Tea by Adagio tea is just the thing to do it. Bright Chinese Green tea blended orange peel, marigold petals, and orange and lemon flavoring, makes for a sunshine brightness in a cup. The aroma is primarily a blend of sweet oranges and sour lemon with a nice artichoke finish. The aroma of citrus always puts me in a good mood, it is like sunshine on a cold day, I smell it and I cannot help but smile.
Steeping the tea turns my Tea Lair into a Floridian dream, citrus notes waft from the steeped leaves along with a strong vegetal presence. The wet leaves are primarily lemony. The liquid, however, is a perfect balance of orange and lemon with a nice gentle finish of vegetation. It smells like a citrus tree, leaves included.
The taste is both light and bright, it quenches the thirst and brings a feeling of happiness. A great blend of lemons and oranges, one citrus does not overpower the other, with a gentle vegetal blend of artichoke and fresh leaves. Drinking this tea is like drinking sunlight, it reminds me of summer warmth and thick vegetation. Turning this tea into a chilled tea makes for a very refreshing and bright drink for a hot day.
Flavors: Lemon Zest, Orange Zest
You know, Peony flowers are incredibly beautiful. The bushes in the front and back yard have exploded into full bloom and I took it upon myself to bring one of the flowers inside for my desk. The blossom is huge and just keeps getting bigger, and the smell is intoxicating! Apparently the petals are edible too, though I need to do more research before I dig in and start munching on them, because I think the Ents would come and take away my Naturalist license if I poisoned myself on a garden flower. Speaking of spring and flowers, I think I should have a spring cleaning sale in my shop to prepare it for the inevitable onslaught of origami, especially Kusudama flower balls.
Keeping on theme with flowers and spring, today’s tea from Just Organic Tea is Just a Taste of Spring, a blend of Green Rooibos, Calendula Flowers, Hibiscus Flowers, Cinnamon, Cornflowers, and Blueberries. This tea just screams ‘going to be a tart tea’ which has me more than a little worried. I have a real aversion to anything tart…sour I love, but tart and I have a track history of not getting along. The aroma is pretty tart, but there are also strong floral notes and hay notes. Of course there is a blend of sweet and tart from the blueberries, a delicate balance with those berries as to whether or not they will be sweet or tart. The finish is warm spicy cinnamon, reminding me of a patch of warm sunlight on a cool spring day.
The steeped leaves have a much more tart aroma and the cinnamon is much stronger. There are more subtle notes of blueberry and green wood with a touch of hay. The liquid without the collection of spring time things is a really bright blend of tart, floral, and fruity. There is cinnamon warmth that sneaks in around mid-sniff and stays until the finish, building in intensity.
Time for tasting, and I will admit I am a bit apprehensive. The taste is initially quite tart, not mind numbingly convulsion inducing tart, but still I made the pucker face. There are metallic notes from the hibiscus (it always tastes very metallic to me) and a strong blueberry presence that starts tart and fades to sweetness. Around the time the blueberry becomes sweet I notice woody notes from the rooibos and tingly warmth from the cinnamon, the finish is mildly floral. I am not sure how to approach this tea, I cannot recommend it because I am baffled by anyone liking tart things. But luckily the world is vast and everyone’s taste differs, even though I am hardly qualified to talk about a tart tea, I can certainly say this one was different than others I have attempted to try. The spicy notes from the cinnamon took the edge off and added a level of tolerance to a tea usually I would be unable to tolerate.
Oh thermodynamics, you are so much fun! Usually my basement Tea Lair (and craft zone) is much colder than the rest of the house and outside, it can be near 100 degrees out in the world and I am still comfy wearing fuzzy socks and a sweater. Lately it has been quite warm, but today it has been rather chilly, so my Tea Lair is the warmest area in the house. Perfect for sipping tea and wrapping up in my nice warm quilt.
Today’s tea is part of Simple Loose Leaf’s May tea subscription box, Darjeeling Second Flush Black, a black tea harvested in June and a perfect afternoon tea (or so the package says). I decided to take the package’s advice and drink this in the afternoon, so let us see if it is right! The aroma is delightfully complex and quite tasty smelling. It blends roasted peanuts, sweet potatoes, muscatel, and an earthiness. This tea has a darkness to it, a weight, it is much heavier than first flush and less sweet…it is a more mature aroma.
Steeping time! I would like to suggest not following the directions on the package, Darjeeling teas are delicate, treat them like you would an oolong and don’t pour boiling water on those leaves or you will end up with a bitter mess. For years I thought I hated Darjeeling because I followed package directions, a little reading led me to a better temperature and now it is one of my favorite black teas! I find 190-195 degrees work best for me, but hey, experiment and see what works for you. The aroma of the wet leaves is much sweeter and more muscatel, but more of a raisin than fresh grape aroma. It is quite brisk and also has an undertone of roasted nuts. The aroma reminds me of late summer, but to me Darjeeling always has a late summer harvest feel to it. The liquid has a creamy cocoa quality with strong muscatel and roasted nuts, it smells really good and I cannot wait to start sipping it.
The taste of this Darjeeling is intensely sweet and incredibly smooth! There are notes of raisins and sweet potato, a bit of cocoa richness, and a hint of dried leaves. As it cools it takes on a bit of briskness and has a mild rose taste at the finish. I actually agree with the package on this being an afternoon tea, I could certainly see myself sitting on a porch reading a book or watching the late summer storms roll in while sipping this tea and nibbling on snacks.
Currently I am in the rather extensive process of cutting up 448 pieces of origami paper into quarters by hand. Yes the blade on my trusty paper cutter has bit the dust so I must use scissors to do the task. At about halfway finished I have not encountered any hand cramps or really botched cuts, so I consider this a win, the bigger win, of course is planning all the fun things I am going to fold with the paper when I am done. Pretty soon I will have to either start selling them or just leaving them on random people’s doorsteps, because I am running out of room to store said origami!
Today’s tea is an herbal blend by Just Organic Tea, Just a Trio of Tulsi, which is, as the name implies, a blend of three different kinds of Tulsi. Also known as Holy Basil, this Indian herb is used in both Ayurveda and is considered sacred to the Hindu religion. This specific tea blends together Krishna (purple leaf or dark leaf) Tulsi, Rama (green leaf) Tulsi, and Vana (wild leaf) Tulsi, though I am not experienced enough in Tulso to tell the difference just yet. The aroma quite herbaceous with strong notes of basil, sage, and a hint of lemon. There is a finishing note of sweet hay.
Brewing the leaves brings out a nice peppery aroma in the wet leaves, along with a much clearer citrus and a very strong basil aroma. Again there is a finishing note of sweet hay…I find myself tempted to cook with this tea, I bed it would taste very good with fish or chicken.
It is time to drink my herbal brew. The taste is, as expected, quite herbaceous, there are strong notes of basil and a slight hint of citrus. This fades to lettuce which also lends to a cooling sensation that was perfect (when I wrote the tasting notes for this tea in my notebook it was blistering hot) and very relaxing. The mouthfeel is very smooth and the aftertaste was honey sweet. Each time I try a Tulsi tea I seem to like it more and more, the flavors are complex enough to hold my interest, while at the same time being simple enough to just relaxingly sip without thinking about it. I will certainly have to try more of this because I have a sneaking suspicion it would be good iced!
Sorry to say, I have nothing interesting or particularly witty to start today’s blog out with. The sky is hazy and so is my mind, or maybe it was all that Minecraft I played earlier. Clearly all I can think of explosive Creepers paying me a visit while I am doing something constructive. There was one really funny incident that happened today while I was playing, I had created a ‘gated community’ for my Testificate village and took a sleep in my bed near the far site of the fenced in area. Yes it was silly to sleep out in the open, but waking up to a creeper blowing up on the other side of the fence was quite the surprise. Turns out they make really bad alarm clocks.
Today’s tea is one with a lot of color and panache! Tea Savant’s Organic Good Fortune Tea, I have to say that when I was browsing their store and saw a tea named Good Fortune made with some of my favorite ingredients, I had to try it. Blending together Pistachio nuts, Black Tea, Rose Petals, Ginger, and Exotic spices, the aroma of this tea is extremely reminiscent of one of my favorite desserts, a Middle Eastern frozen treat called Kulfi. The aroma of the loose leaf has rich nutty pistachio, heady rose, and a nice spicy kick of clove and ginger. There is also a creamy quality and a bit of malt that adds a layer of depth to the aroma.
The brewed leaves are bright and brisk with a strong note of ginger and clove that fade to perfume-like rose and rich pistachio nuts. There is also a strong presence of almond at the finish, the wet leaves are certainly more tea than dessert. The liquid however smells just like Kulfi but with a strong malt and spices presence. I would be lying if I tried to deny that my mouth was watering.
Tasting time! The taste is quite bright and very gingery and rosy, I would say that those tastes are the most prominent. Those fade into a rich pistachio and almond taste that makes me immensely happy (pistachios are possibly one of my favorite things ever) the finish is that of malt and nuttiness. Even though it tastes very much so like a rich black tea (as one would hope) the taste still reminds me a lot of Kulfi. Adding a touch of cream and sugar brings out the pistachio nuttiness more and of course adds an extra creamy and sweet quality. I actually think I prefer this tea with just a bit of sugar, for all that it is a tea that reminds me of dessert, it is not a very sweet tea. If you liked this tea and would like to try it (or any other) Tea Savant was nice enough to give me a coupon to share with my readers, use coupon code Butterflies10 for 10% off your purchase.
Of all the complaints that I voice on this blog, I think my constant confusion about Midwestern weather’s unpredictability might be the one with the most recurrence. My most recent annoyance is the constant promise of storms, the classic Accuweather alert of severe storms bringing flooding rains, strong winds, lightning, hail and a tornado (only get one, folks. Use it well) for the last several and absolutely no payoff is frustrating. It is like making a favorite cup of tea and spilling it before you get to drink it. Today was a classic example of buildup with no payoff, a beautiful anvil drifted overhead with some really clear bulbous mammatus clouds…and I watched it just drift off to deliver its rainy present to somewhere else. The rest of the week is predicting storms, maybe one of those days I will get some happy rumbling.
But enough about weather, it is time for tea! Today is the last of the fancy Teasenz week and I might have saved my favorite for the end, you know me, I like to go out with a bang. Anji Bai Cha or Anji White Tea is an extremely delicate green tea from the bamboo covered region of Anji, China. You are probably wondering, if it is a green tea then why is it called a white tea, well it is not a reference to its processing (like white tea) but to the silvery white color of the leaves. This tea has been on my ‘must try’ list for quite a while, so let us dive right into the pile of leaves. The aroma is very delicate and very fresh, a mellow blend of fruit like sweetness and roasted chestnuts. Of course there is a vegetal presence, it is one of green beans and fresh vegetation, there is also a delicate hint of flowers at the finish. This tea smells wonderful, it has my favorite aspects of a delicate Chinese green tea, smelling like late spring and rain.
After a nice soak in my gaiwan the aroma of the leaves goes from delicate to rich. The chestnut and green bean notes are almost heady with their intensity, there is also a much stronger floral note (a cross between lilac and honeysuckle) with a finish of faint smoke. The liquid is a delightful blend of chestnut and green bean with a delicate touch of sweetness at the finish.
The first steep starts out with a delicate creamy mouthfeel, this is one of those teas that really fills the mouth up with each taste. And what a taste it is! Delicate vegetal notes of green beans and lima beans with a finish of sweet chestnuts. The taste is incredibly delicate and subtle but incredibly nuanced.
For the second steep, the aroma is very sweet and nutty with a distinctly gardenia aroma at the finish. The taste is sweet, very sweet, like sucking on a piece of sugar cane that fades to chestnuts. The finish is lima beans and green peas with leaves a lingering vegetal taste.
The third steep’s aroma is still delicately floral and chestnut sweet, I really like the aroma of this tea, it has a very natural and spring like feel to it. The taste for this steeping is mostly vegetal with delicate notes of lettuce, green beans, and green peas. For the finish there is a delicate sweetness that lingers long after the sipping ends.I decided to do a little experimenting, I was going for a ramble around the Plaza and did not want to pay for overpriced and usually poorly brewed tea, so I got my trusty (and now broken) travel infuser out and had a little fun. Filling half of the infuser with 145 degree water, adding the leaves, and then topping it off with 145 degree water, letting the leaves soak in water for the entire hour or so I was out rambling. I can say that this experiment was a success! The taste was very good, the vegetal notes of the third steep and the sweet notes of the second steep. It started out more sweet and by the time I had finished my tea it had transitioned to mostly rich vegetal. I was thrilled at the utter lack of bitterness, plus wandering around carrying an infuser of such beautiful leaves made me feel quite posh.
My day started kinda gloomy for me, I had a much dreaded dentist appointment in the afternoon and the thought of it was making me cranky. I was expecting to go back and find out I had more work to be done, that some new problem had arisen thanks to my wacky immune system, but no! I was given a clean bill of mouth health! Combine that with my ‘Sistah from anothah Mothah’ buying my leftover jewelry supplies meaning I could finally get the new travel gaiwan set I have been dreaming of for months means I actually had a surprisingly good day.
Today’s tea from Teasenz is of the floral variety, Snow Chrysanthemum Tea or Xue Ju Hua Cha. This is a fancy type of Chrysanthemum, not the usual fluffy white flowers I am used to, these are a beautiful blend of golden petals and amber ‘disks’ (which are actually a cluster of tiny flowers, an interesting quirk of composite flowers) that are quite small and delicate. Grown only on the Kunlun Mountains, this flower is lauded for its health benefits thanks to having 18 amino acids, pretty cool little flowers! The aroma is a strange yet not unpleasant blend of strawflowers, dill weed, cocoa, fresh flowers, caramel, and raw honey. It is really complex, I found myself sniffing the flowers for quite a while just trying to pick out all the notes and see how they blend together.
Steeping the tea changes the flower’s aroma to more herbaceous and dill like, with notes of strawflower. There are still delicate notes of sweetness, but they are mostly overshadowed by the other notes. The bright red liquid has captured all the sweetness! With a blend of caramel and cocoa, there are only hints of dill and strawflower.
I am drinking this tea hot, as I usually do, but I am astounded by how cooling the tea is. If I didn’t know that is an affect of chrysanthemum tea (in Traditional Chinese Medicine, chrysanthemum tea is recommended for people with too much heat) I would be thinking that the snow themed name was putting ideas into my head. This tea is surprisingly rich for a floral tea, there are flavor notes of dill and sage with a nice kick of strawflowers. This fades to sweet caramel and apricots that leaves a lingering sweetness. I gave this tea a second steep and had the same result, it is very enjoyable…and as someone who is usually not the biggest fan of chrysanthemum tea, I consider that a win. I did run into one little hiccup while drinking this tea, it had some very grainy sand-like sediment that was made for some unpleasant dregs. Teasenz website does not mention rinsing, but after doing a little research on the Snow Chrysanthemum I saw quite a few recommendations for rinsing, so that should take care of any sediment. Other than that, this tea gets my seal of approval!
Today I recieved an awesome gift from my awesome sweetheart, the gift of paper! Barnes and Noble has this great massive book (and I say book lightly) of origami paper in a load of fun patterns. This Origami Paper Mega Pack (as they are calling it) has more than 895 sheets of paper! Why they cannot just tell me the exact amount of paper is beyond me, but it doesn’t matter since I prefer smaller paper and will most likely be quartering and cutting up all those sheets. I think I will need another box for all the paper I will get out of it since my other three are quite full.
For today’s Teasenz tea, we are taking a break from springy greens and going with Mini Pu’erh Tea Bar, a nice candybar shaped block of ripe, 2012, pu erh. This is actually my first block of pu erh, and I had a blast breaking a nice chunk off for brewing. The aroma a great blend of sweetness, wet leather, peat, forest floor, and a touch of that slightly metallic market place aroma that I have come to love in ripe pu erh. This tea has a strong and quite bold presence, it does not demure! A very nice contrast to the green teas from earlier…almost a shock to the senses really, delicate, delicate, delicate…whoa, hello there!
Their website suggests brewing the tea in a yixing teapot, meaning this was the perfect oportunity to try out my new seasoned for ripe pu erh teapot! This lovely pot was a gift from my friend and fellow tea enthusiast. After the tea was rinsed and steeped, the aroma of the wet leaves is rich and earthy with strong notes of wet leather, loam, and wet pinewood. It has a wonderful summer forest floor after a rainstorm feel to it that makes a nature lover like me very happy. The liquid has a surprisingly smoky note, not a strong one, but the whisper of a distant forest fire. There are also notes of loam and pine wood.
The teapot is small by teapot standards, but I have gotten used to my tiny gaiwan and tiny servings, it just makes having a ton of steepings a lot easier, so I was only able to get three steeps before I started sloshing around like a very full Kool-aid man. The first impressions of the first steep, dense. Not in a ‘this is a tea that is not passing its physics class’ but more like ‘this forest is very dense and heavy’ kinda way. It fills up the mouth with the taste of loam, sweet wet pine wood, and a bit of the acrid peat. There is a tiny finish of smoke that ties the sipping off nicely, completing the forest aesthetic.
Steep number two and three had an identical aroma and taste. The aroma is very rich and earthy, it is loamy and dark with notes of wet leather and wet wood. The taste is very smooth, absolutely no bitterness whatsoever. There are strong notes of loam, pine wood, and wet leather with a stronger smokier finish. Unlike the first steep there is no sweetness in these two steeps, just smooth earthy tastes. Overall, I would say this is quite good! I am tempted to age my bar and come back for a visit once a year, let’s see how much it changes. This would be a great pu erh for someone who is wanting to give this type of tea a try since it lacks any of the unpleasant qualities that some ripe pu erhs can have.
Flavors: Earth, Leather, Loam, Pine