599 Tasting Notes
I am so worn out! I spent the day redoing my room to make room for my newest treasure. Ben’s parents wanted to get rid of an antique writing desk that had been in their family for at least three generations, possibly four. In a near spastic fit I claimed that thing in a heartbeat, I have a real weakness for antiques and desks, so it was the double treasure. Now I just need to get another tea kettle so I can have tea in the bedroom and in the tea lair!
Today’s tea is from Yezi Tea, Yi Fu Chun, a tippy golden tea from the Nanhu Mountains in Fujian, China. Apparently these mountains are covered in a dense fog 200 days a year, meaning the tea that grows there is more or less kissed by clouds, it seems to make it a bit whimsical to me. Add the fog to my intense love of fuzzy golden teas (they are just so cute!) and that makes me a happy tea sipper, or at the very least an interested one. Oh my that is a pleasant and heavy aroma, it seems the leaves collected the dense and heavy feeling of fog rather than the wispy one. There are notes of oak wood, molasses, cocoa, and a touch of smoke. It is intense, not sweet, but more like a rich molasses cookie and cocoa powder.
After the golden leaves have been steeped (and have left their delicate fuzzies behind) the aroma is still strong in the real of molasses and chocolate, though this time it has a sweetness the dry leaves lacked, also a tiny hint of loam. The liquid is even sweeter, retaining the chocolate notes but adding in some delicious stewed plums and cherries.
I decided to do something a little different with this tea, I brewed it Western Style! The first steep is incredibly sweet, like a bit of peaches and honey mixed with my tea! There are also notes of molasses and oak wood with a slight hint of smoke at the finish. The tea manages to be very rich while maintaining an air of lightness about it.
For the second steep the aroma is sweet, with notes of stewed fruit and roasted peanuts, there is a delicate hint of smoke at the finish. The taste is much richer with notes of oak wood and roasted peanuts, this fades to molasses, and lastly a delicate hint of smoke and peaches. Kind of like the way peaches cooked on a grill tastes, this lingers as an aftertaste. This tea is delicious and very smooth, I like it!
For blog and photos (including my cat pretending to be a secretary) : http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2014/07/yezi-tea-yi-fu-chun-black-tea-tea-review.html
Flavors: Honey, Molasses, Peach, Peanut, Smoke
I am revising my review and score just a little bit, I still love this gaiwan and use it constantly…but it does cause me a bit of grief. See it has a fairly tiny rim, meaning teas that require longer steepings really heat the thing up and I end up burning my fingers.
it is one of those I am pouring tea the entire time going ‘ow ow ow ow’ which is not very fun. So I tend to use this one more for cooler teas or ones that require very short steeps. It is still a wonderful tea toy and is perfect for travel. I just wish it had a slightly wider rim…or I had slightly less wimpy fingers.
Ah, freshly dyed hair is always such a good feeling, especially when it is a shade of blue. I have spent most my life envying vibrantly blue birds, wishing my drab Peahen ash blonde hair was more of a Peacock blue. Then I grew up and realized, Holy Plumage Batman, I can dye my hair whatever color I want thanks to the art of science…and cosmetics! So having had my hair pretty much every color of the rainbow, I tend to stick with either Grackle Blue Black or some shade of blue, this time dark teal. Rock on my feathered friends.
Oddly enough, for all my rambling about feathers, this review is centered around bats. Specifically my new amazing tea set procured from China by way of ebay shop StreetShop88. This lovely blue set consists of a Gaiwan, a Cha Hai (or pitcher, fairness cup, or tureen) and a pair of cute cups. A little backstory, I have two other gaiwans…my fish themed travel gaiwan and my now quite chipped white gaiwan, I wanted a third one specifically I wanted a third matched set for everyday use. It took me about a month and a half of window shopping till I found the one I wanted.
I had a few specifications: it needed to be 100ml or less, it had to have a wide rim, it had to be less than $35, and lastly it had to have an awesome design. I had originally settled on a Phoenix themed set from the same store and then I saw the bats and it was all over, I had to have that one. Bats and the round Shou character are very auspicious symbols in Chinese art, five bats, according to A Dictionary of Chinese Symbols by Wolfram Eberhard (my go to source for all Chinese symbolism) represent the Five Blessings-a long life, riches, health, love of virtue, and a natural death. The Shou character represents Longevity, it is a symbol that I like to have around.
Symbolism and aesthtics aside, how does this set function? First off, I don’t burn my sensitive little fingers, I love my fish gaiwan to pieces, but its fairly small rim tends to heat up very quickly meaning on steeps that go on a big long end with me going ‘ouch’ a lot. The really wide rim and equally wide and somewhat squat body means that leaves get to really roll around and unfurl beautifully.
This set was put together beautifully, when you pour off a steep from the gaiwan into the pitcher, there is a perfect amount for both cups. No leftover and no one gets left out, this is the first set I have had where I get that result. The Cha Hai makes me exceptionally happy, it pours wonderfully and looks like a creamer. Also I absolutely adore that inside the gaiwan and cups the Shou character is printed inside.
For the most part there are no real flaws with this set. There are a few errors on the printed design of the key pattern on the rim of the gaiwan’s lid, but oddly I find this a bit endearing. The only other problem is it is fairly thick porcelain so the temperature tends to stay pretty warm, this might make brewing green teas a little difficult, but that is easy to adjust with cooler water or shorter steep time.
Over all I love this thing, I recommend it if you are looking for a new gaiwan tea set, especially if you love bats!
For photos and blog (including my blue hair!) http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2014/07/an-auspicious-tea-set-tea-gear-review.html
Well here I am, mostly back in the proverbial tea saddle, by which I mean my desk chair and not lounging in bed. I am still a bit out of it from my Endoscopy and of course have to wait for the results of my biopsy, but first impressions have pros and cons. It looks like I may not have Celiac disease, just Gluten Intolerance and IBS…which is the good part, bad part is my stomach has some nasty inflammation and ulceration, if I am lucky it is just from medication or bile reflux, if I am unlucky the H. pylori never did get knocked out of my system all the way. I will never wish that infection on anyone, the methods to remove it are as bad as the infection, at least it was to me. No use counting evil chickens before they hatch though, for now I am just going to relax with tea.
And speaking of tea we have today’s tea from SerendipiTea (whose name makes me smile) who recently sent me a nice pile of samples to try out, I wanted something relaxing so I decided The Big Sleep was the way to go today. An herbal blend of Anise, Brahmi, Coconut, Honeybush, Pomegranate Peel, and Vanilla Bean (all organic) blended with the aim of putting the sipper into a nice dream state. I really like SerendipiTea’s use of references, as a massive Geek I always appreciate them, even if I have not read The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler (or seen the movie inspired by the book) I certainly recognize the reference. The aroma of the dry leaves is pretty interesting, a blend of herbaceous and spice notes with a touch of sweet vanilla, nutty coconut, woody honeybush, and a hint of fruity tartness at the finish. It is quite unlike any blend I have sniffed before, I especially like how well the anise and coconut compliment each other.
Giving the tea a nice long steeping (which is so unusual when I do so much Gongfu brewing, it feels just so long!) the aroma from the wet leaves waft up to my nose. The aroma is a blend of sweetness and spices, it reminds me of my favorite Indian market’s spice aisle, but with an addition of coconuts. It smells soothing it me, but that could be because I am having a nice nostalgia. The liquid without its leafy friends (or more herbs and spice friends) has an aroma very similar to the wet leaves, but it is woodier.
Ahh, this tea is quite soothing. It has an oily coating from the coconut and dryness from the honeybush, it is an interesting mouthfeel, since it starts out oily and fades to dry at the finish. The taste is a mild blend of sweet vanilla and caramel and gentle anise. There is an herbal taste to it as well that reminds me a bit of fennel seeds. I am not sure if it is the tea or convenient luck, but I am feeling very relaxed and wanting to go curl up and nap. There is also a slight tingly feeling in my throat, similar to the tingling of cloves, which is nice. This is a nice sipping before sleep tea, it is tasty without being overpowering.
Flavors: Anise, Caramel, Coconut, Fennel Seed, Sweet, Vanilla, Wood
I am going to apologize in advance if there is no blog post tomorrow, because I am going in for an Endoscopy, and they tend to leave you a bit dopey and derpy afterwards. Man, my doctor group that I currently have is awesome, I was expecting to have to wait at the very least a week before I could get a biopsy, but only a day, that is so crazy. Color me impressed, though slightly cranky about not being able to eat or drink after midnight. No late night sipping for me tonight.
Today’s tea is Desi Masala Chai from Tea People, a blend of Assam tea, Cardamon, Ginger, Cinnamon, and Cloves. I am so enamored of Chai that is loaded with big chunks of spices and whole cardamon pods, I tend to giggle maniacally when I get my greedy little fingers on some like that. Not only does this chai have some awesome looking ingredients, Tea People is one of those companies that is really focuses doing good things for tea growers, I suggest giving their website a looking over, it is pretty nifty. The aroma of the tea is expectantly spicy, deliciously so, I would go as far as mouth-wateringly so, but it is no secret that I go gaga for spices. The Assam is rich and malty with notes of molasses as well, it is quite sweet, also the spices are strong but well balanced. None of this cinnamon elbowing its way to the front or the ginger tripping the cardamon so it can be the bell of the ball. We all know cardamon is polite and would never do anything to be a dominating aroma.
After giving the dry leaves and spices a nice steeping, the now wet leaves (and accouterments) still smell aaaamazing. Very rich and malty with sweet molasses and intense spices. As with the dry leaves the spices dance together perfectly and do not engage is spicy slap fighting for dominance. The liquid (pre-cream and sugar) is very rich, almost heady (or at the very least intoxicating) with strong notes of malt and molasses and intense and well balanced spice. I am practically bouncing with excitement to try this this.
Adding cream (actually half and half) and sugar for a traditional chai, my favorite way to sip this spicy, Indian tea. Oh man, this is one delicious chai, it is extremely rich and malty with sweet notes of molasses and an almost earthy finish to it. Of course the spices are having a party across my palate, the cardamon and ginger seem to be dominate and the cinnamon and cloves takes a backseat. Even though those two dominate they still seem really balanced, it is not a kick in the face of ginger or cardamon (cardamon can do no wrong!!) but more of a gentle strength. Personally I am a very big fan of Chai that are more dominated by cardamon (no surprise there) or ginger, but I think those who are also fans of the other spices will not feel neglected.
Flavors: Malt, Molasses, Spicy
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Flavors: Cardamon, Cinnamon, Clove, Ginger, Malt, Molasses, Spicy, Sweet
You know, I am like so many, a great lover of music. I have played it, I listen to it all the time, it just shapes my life. For all my love of music though I always have a hard time narrowing down a favorite band, there are just too many different bands and musicians for different moods. But it got me thinking, which is the one that fits for all my moods…well that was simple, it is Queen. So I think maybe it is safe to say my favorite band is Queen…apropos of nothing, and now, tea.
Today’s tea is a blend from Butiki Teas called Tamarind Pop, originally dreamed up as a custom order, they found it so interesting they decided to make it a regular product. Starting off with a base of Organic Black Tea from the Guranse Estate in Nepal, this is blended with natural (vegan) flavorings and Safflower, for a tamarind like taste. The aroma is leafy, like fresh vegetation, this fades to vanilla sweetness and a nutty tone. At the end of the sniff the aroma is sweet and a touch floral. I do not smell much in the way of tamarind, but it has been a long time since I sniffed any.
Steeping the tea, the wet leaves have a great blend of muscatel, fresh vegetation, and creamy vanilla sweetness. I might have spent more time than is necessary sniffing the wet leaves. The liquid without the leaves is vanilla sweet, creamy, a touch of fresh vegetation and a touch of tamarind. It is sharp yet earthy, tamarind is one of those strange smelling fruit, or really, strange smelling pods.
Tasting this tea gave me a bit of a surprise, because it reminds me a bit of coffee! There is also sweet vanilla and cocoa with a distinct tamarind tang at the end. This tea is a little odd, but also kinda tasty, it certainly reminds me of tamarind, which I have mixed feelings about because I am very hit or miss with it. I tend to like tamarind in things, but find it overbearing on its own. Luckily this tea is not at all overbearing. It is bold and has an interesting blend of flavors, I doubt I would seek it out again, but I would not run in terror if it was offered to me.
Oh man, waiting for a possibly life altering doctor’s appointment is tiring! In two days I go to a GI doctor to find out whether or not yes, that rather ill thought out dismissal of me having Celiac disease after an unplanned biopsy when I was 21 was correct of not. Actually this will be a lot of looking at medical history and bloodwork and scheduling a new biopsy. I have been pretty gluten light for years (out of fear!) but lately I noticed that gluten makes me feel like death, so to prepare I have been gorging on the stuff, I feel like a corpse, but it is for science!
But enough about me, how are you? Fine I hope, enjoying some nice sunny weather while sipping tea? This is a good time of year for lounging on a tropical beach while sipping teas, but if you are like me and live too far away from beaches, you can evoke the feel with Green Rooibos Key West by Adagio Teas! With a blend of Green Rooibos, Marigold Flowers, Natural Passionfruit Flavor, Orange Peel, Mango Pieces, Natural Mango Flavor, and Natural Apricot Flavor, it is certainly a tropical party. The aroma is a great blend of tropical fruit and apricot, citrus, a touch of floral, and a tiny hint of woodiness and bamboo. It certainly lives up to its name as of sniffing the dry leaves, which is always a good sign.
Whoa nelly, steeping the dry leaves has turned the Tea Lair into a tropical paradise, minus the coconuts that I usually associate with the tropical things, but that is ok. Sniffing the now soggy leaves inside their little basket reveals some tantalizing aromas of fruity sweetness, primarily mango and apricot, there is a hint of floral in the middle, and at the end there is a nice zing of citrus. The liquid without its basket of leafy bits has a sweet and mild fruity aroma, very tropical, a fusion of citrus, passionfruit, and mango.
Tasting time! The first sip starts off a little dry and mild then all of a sudden a tropical fruit stand explodes in my mouth like a Jamaican Kool-Aid Man busting through a beach bungalow. It is not overwhelmingly sweet, more like delicate nectar of mango, passionfruit, and orange…this fades to a gentle floral and fairly delicate apricot taste that lingers into the aftertaste. The rooibos is there, but it is more like a guidebook on a tropical tour than part of the actual scenery, useful as a base but not overwhelming.
I am a shame to my proud Southern upbringing as in I rarely make traditional iced tea anymore, when I want iced tea I just cold brew it in my fridge for a few hours using my handy travel mug. Actually I am a shame to my upbringing even more because I just do not drink much iced tea, but some days are too hot and I want something cool. This tea seemed like a perfect candidate to cold steep for an evening sip (on my perpetual quest to find more evening teas that I love) plus iced tropical teas are just where it is at, yo. Remember that dryness and bursting in of fruit flavor? Totally gone as a cold brew, instead it is a smooth fruity sweet transition to a cool relaxation, it starts out with mango, then to apricot, then orange, until finally I am left with the afteratste of passionfruit. Why the apricot and passionfruit get reversed in cold steep is beyond me. Usually when I cold steep teas I just mention it as being good and if it had any awesome qualities, this is one of the few times that I think it is better cold. The flavors are more subtle and relaxing, it is like the difference between a busy afternoon and sunset. And with that, I am going to go lounge in bed fanning myself while sipping my cold tea, because it is HOT!
Just a typical Sunday in my neck of the woods, I slept in, the weather is getting to be unpleasantly hot again, and everybody (but my working sweetheart) is home. It has been a mostly lazy day for me, just catching up on some reading and tea sipping.
Today’s tea is an old classic and much loved staple of my tea collection, Genmaicha! This specific rice filled bancha is from Good Life Tea, a company just recently brought to my attention. It is always nice to discover new places to find tea, especially if you are a hardcore addict like me. The aroma is exactly what you expect from a Genmaicha, if you have never had the pleasure of sniffing one, the notes are a blend of roasted rice, a touch of honey sweetness, a bit of freshly mown grass and hay, and just a touch of fresh vegetation. It is a delightful blend of green tea and popped rice, the aroma is one of those that has always been very homey to me.
After I give the tea a steeping (oh great tea gods do not smite me for not using my kyusu, I didn’t want to get out of my chair) in a tea basket, the aroma of the now wet leaves is even more toasted rice. In fact I am pretty sure I cannot even smell the green tea over all the delicious toasted rice aroma. The liquid without its leafy and rice friends has an aroma that is a blend of rice, a touch of grass, and a bit of butter. It is very mild and subtly sweet.
The taste of this Genmaicha is a nice blend of green and rice. There are tasty notes of hay, grass, and a touch of honey at the start, this fades to a nice burst of toasted rice and a touch of nuttiness. The finish is creamy and a touch sweet, with a nice lingering toasted rice taste. This is certainly a tasty Genmaicha, it evokes that feeling of being comfy at home while tasting good, I approve.
Flavors: Grass, Hay, Rice, Toasty
It is a nice tea made from roasted corn, the smell is like a mix of popcorn, sweetcorn, roasted coffee, and touch of burnt. It is another one of those smells that makes me feel like I am tucked under blankets on a cold day.
Oh dear, it seems I have been doing this wrong…one of those big ol’ bags is enough to brew a pot of tea and not a cup. I guess I like this stuff strong! The taste is exactly like the smell, roasted corn, sweet corn, a touch of toast, and a bit of earthy graininess to it. There is also a similarity to roasted coffee, just without any of the coffee elements, it is probably the only roasted tea I have seen any real similarity to coffee other than a few Hojicha here and there