703 Tasting Notes
Happy My Favorite Holiday, everyone! All the really fun Halloween themed stuff happened yesterday, so today I am just chilling and listening to music, and of course waiting for tomorrow when the candy goes on sale. Actually my breakfast was really scary this morning, it is getting close to grocery shopping time, so I improvised a meal of mustard covered sardines and a can of beanie weenies…yeah, it was nasty-good. Pennsylvania having a different day for ‘Halloween’ than actual Halloween will always throw my groove of, how am I supposed to go ghost hunting if they were all out yesterday?
You know what the scariest part of Halloween really is, the amount of time I spend searching out the perfect tea to review for the event. So many pumpkin themed teas out there, and honestly I don’t really like most of them because they lack a crucial gourdish element. Imagine my squee of glee when I saw M&K’s Tea Company’s Pumpkin Patch Spice, it has that most excellent element I was so missing. An herbal tea, it is a blend of: Butternut Squash (I totally had that for dinner last night actually), Green Rooibos, Pumpkin Seeds, Cloves, Chinese Cinnamon, Alfalfa, Honey, Pumpkin Powder, Vanilla Extract, and Natural Pumpkin Pie Flavor Blend, quite the impressive list of ingredients. Before I get into the tea itself, I have to say I find the packaging used by this company to be awesome, it is eye-catching and full of useful information, I love when labels are loaded with details. Ok, ghosts and ghouls, it is time for tea analysis, so get out your best costume noses! The aroma of the dry leaves is, well, it is pretty great, you can definitely smell the pumpkin and squash, along with the sweetness of honey and richness of spices, there is also a slightly nutty aroma making me think of crust. Don’t mind me, I am just going to drool a little thinking of pumpkin pie, because wow, this tea makes me think of it.
Time for steeping! Since it is an herbal tea I have a few minutes to kill (currently working on a very silly playlist describing one of my RPG character’s romantic angst) but the aroma wafting up is killing me, so good! The wet leaves smell like cooked pumpkin and squash, lots of spices and a touch of sweetness, it reminds me a little of the way I eat cooked butternut squash, just a hint of spices and a bit of maple syrup. The liquid is quite spicy and sweet, there is of course the aroma of cooked pumpkin and squash and just a hint of greenness at the finish.
Tasting time was fun, I shared a cup with everyone in the house and we sat and watched some Youtube weirdness while sipping. I will start by saying this is the best Pumpkin themed tea I have had, hands down, it is not perfection (I have a very distinct idea in my head, oddly enough, something I do not usually do) but really close to it. The taste is great, the squash and pumpkin have a real presence, I feel very much so like I am drinking Pumpkin Juice (yes from Harry Potter) it is not overwhelmingly sweet, just the right amount of a honey taste. The spices are really well balanced, not overwhelming and none of the mouth burning belly ache that I get from overly cinnamoned teas, so that was a love. The only thing this tea was missing was foundation, it is very gentle at the midtaste and I wish it had a little more body. I found myself thinking that maybe a little rooibos (the red more so than the green) or even a bit of a roasted green tea would give that rounding out that I crave. It was a small thing, but since I am on the perpetual quest for the perfect pumpkin tea, I feel a bit ok being super picky. I feel this would be a great tea to sip when getting over an illness or right before bed, or maybe even to accompany a piece of pie?
Flavors: Butternut Squash, Cinnamon, Clove, Pumpkin, Spices
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Tonight was Trick or Treat night in New Cumberland, Pennsylvania has this strange habit of having their candy nights on random days in the various small townships, half the time it is never on Halloween. As much as this weirds me out, tonight was a blast thanks to a ghost and an exorcist. My mom dressed like a ghost (much like the ghost figures in the game Ghost Story) and I whipped together a very awkward dress in imitation of a Hanfu, grabbed my old wooden Bokken, and donned my Raiden hat and did my best Exorcism stance. Sadly I did not create any seals, my sword was not peach wood, and I did not have enough Chi, so in the long run, the ghost won. Our crazy antics were a huge hit, and all our candy mysteriously disappeared!
But enough about my mother and my antics, it is time for tea! Today we have Organic Masala Chai by Fashionista Tea, a blend of Assam, Cardamon, Ginger, Cinnamon, and Cloves, all organic. I have to be careful with my Chai consumption, it usually is stuffed towards the back of my tea shelves, because left alone with Chai, I will drink all of it. The various Indian restaurants I visit in Kansas City know me not by my brilliantly teal hair, but as the girl who drinks at least four cups of Chai and never says no to a refill and always loves a to go cup. The one time I decided to get a lassi instead of a Chai at my favorite restaurant, I think I about gave the server a heart-attack out of shock, and she brought me a Chai on the house anyway! So as you can see, I really love this spicy, rich, drink. The aroma from my little pile of CTC leaves and spices is sweet, spicy, and malty! There is a strong ginger note, a moderately strong note of cardamon, and lastly a mellow note of malt and a finish of cinnamon.
Into the hot water and steeping basket the leaves go! After a steeping it is time to sniff the soggy leaves, and wow are they bright! A blend of almost effervescent ginger with the slightly brisk and malty notes really wakes up the nose, add the undertones of cinnamon and cardamon and you have for an enjoyable sniff. The liquid is a nice blend of malt, ginger, and cinnamon, I am saddened by the lack of cardamon, but I am a cardamon fiend (yes I eat the pods after I get done steeping them…don’t judge me.)
This is a very mellow Chai, taken traditionally with milk (ok I use Half & Half since I love creaminess) and sugar, I can say that this is a Chai that is very chill. It just brings its spices over and sits down next to you, no massive punches of cinnamon or ginger, it just eases you into the spices. The Assam is bold and malty, it really shows off its true colors, usually in Chai the tea accents the spices, this time the spices accent the tea. There is an aftertaste of ginger that lingers for a while and leaves you feeling warm and slightly tingly. I am not sure this is my favorite Chai ever, I really like a lot of kick and of course lots of Cardamon, but it is a good ‘background noise’ Chai, much like the music I am listening to, it is enjoyable but not my main focus. So if you want a Chai with a bold base tea and mellow spices, this is the tea for you!
For blog and photos (oooh spooky ghost!): http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2014/10/fashionista-tea-organic-masala-chai-tea.html
Today was going to be my relax and catch up on reading day, all that travel meant that I am really behind on the various blogs and Steepster friends that I follow, instead it was a day of Steampunk Creepers. My mom got a text this morning about the Steampunk texture pack on the Xbox, we both looked at each other and more or less ran to the console. While she is not as a big of a fan of the Steampunk aesthetic as I am, my mom does enjoy it, plus we always get a kick out of new texture packs. After playing Minecraft we decorated for Halloween, and I am still not caught up on my reading!
It is Wednesday, so that means it is time for What-Cha, specifically their Nepal 2nd Flush 2014 Cannon Ball Green Tea from Greenland Organic Farm in the shadow of Mt. Kancghenjunga. I absolutely love the shape of these little tea balls, I am not sure why it is called Cannon Ball except that maybe it is a play off of Gunpowder Green, and these are bigger so they are cannon balls? Until corrected, that shall be my head cannon (yes I am a terrible person for making that pun, no regrets.) The aroma of the leaf balls is very green and quite sweet, there are notes of cut grass, freshly broken green stems, a tiny bit of hay, and a nice sharp finishing note of citrus. It has a very refreshing aroma that I hope carries over to the brewed tea.
Watching the little leaf balls slowly turn into a pile of small leaves is rather entertaining, they did not so much unfurl as fall apart, much like a cannon ball hitting a fortress wall. The aroma of the soggy leaf pile is a blend of freshly squeezed citrus (reminds me a bit of Yuzu, actually) and cut grass. The liquid once liberated from the leaves is very fresh and refreshing, the aroma has notes of light citrus, fresh grass, and a very mild touch of pepper at the finish.
The first steep can be summed up best as odd yet refreshing! As with the other teas I have had from What-Cha’s Nepal selection, it has a real clean spring water taste to it, I am not sure if it is a terroir thing or a farm specific trait, but I love it. Now I cannot tell you if I love this because of the taste or because it instantly transports me to one of my favorite places, ever, either way it is a powerful effect. There is more than just spring water to this tea, there is also a strong middle presence of green in the middle, it cools my mouth and tastes like broken stems and grass. This passes to citrus at the finish, adding a brightness to the tea and a touch of sweetness.
The second steep’s aroma is much like the first, it smells clean and fresh with a strong presence of green grass and citrus, no pepper this time though. The taste is brisk, not brisk like a black tea, but brisk like a stroll on a cool spring evening, it is refreshing and invigorating. There are notes of spinach and cut grass at the front, this transitions to lettuce and broken stems in the middle, and lastly the tea fades to citrus and sweet hay with a slight aftertaste of saltiness that I found pretty neat. With a lot of types of tea you start to see a pattern, similar tasting notes, similar aromas, so I always get a real kick out of teas that shake me out of similarities.
Today has been a day of tea, I am a wee bit tea drunk at the moment, and I am pretty sure my mom is too. We have been gongfu-ing several different teas that I wanted her to try from my private stash while listening to music and cleaning around the house. You know how it is post travel, no matter how organized and neat the house is when you get home, as soon as you bring in the luggage it ceases to be. It is always a great feeling to have everything in its proper place.
For the chosen tea on this most pleasant of Tuesdays, I am having a look at Life in Teacup’s Tie Guan Yin Traditional Charcoal Roast. So fun story with my relationship with TGY, when I first started drinking it many years ago, I preferred the charcoal roast over its more green variety…then I fell in love with the green variety for about a year…and now I am back to preferring the roasted one again! It is enjoyable to see how desire for certain tastes change over time, sometimes it changes over the seasons and sometimes it changes over longer times, it is a journey. The aroma is quite delicious smelling, it blends baking bread and charcoal with an underlying heady aroma of orchids. The blending of flowers and roast makes for a very interesting aroma, the yeasty notes of baking bread add a level of sweetness to it as well. I always find roasted oolongs that retain their floral notes to be fascinating.
The aroma of the leaves after the first steep is surprisingly floral, very strong heady presence of orchids with a hint of honeysuckle. There are also notes of baking bread and a tiny bit of char and mineral, much like burnt sticks and a freshwater spring. The aroma of the liquid is fairly mild, with notes of buttery baking bread and orchids, there is a finish of fresh vegetation. Surprisingly no empyreumatic notes in the liquid.
The first steeping is very sweet, very strong notes of honey drizzled yeasty bread. The bread notes transition into heady orchids and honeysuckle nectar. Sipping this tea is like eating freshly baked bread while sitting in an orchid filled conservatory. Remind me to add that to my ‘to do’ list.
On the second steep, the aroma has more of a roasted tea aroma, there are notes of toasted sesame seeds, yeasty bread, and a touch of nutmeg. The taste is very sweet, just like the first steep, but this time it is the sweetness of honey on toast! This transitions to heady orchids and a bit of charcoal with a sweet, flower nectar finish that lingers.
For the third steep, well you can certainly tell this is a charcoal roasted tea, because the char notes are strong. There are also notes of baking bread and honey, the previous notes of flowers have faded. I found all the roasty toasty notes! The taste of this steep is rich with charcoal and toast notes, the mouthfeel is dry, and there is a hint of leaf pile at the midtaste. For the finishing note there is rich raw honey and a hint of toasted sesame. As charcoal roasted teas go, this one is pretty mild, one I would recommend for someone who only wants a little of that char taste in their teas.
Monday has arrived, meaning a new week (unless you are someone who prefers to start the week on Sunday, in that case never mind) and a fresh start. I am back in Pennsylvania, as much as I enjoyed my trip to South Carolina, I am glad to be back because I wore myself out! I still have not really relaxed since I left Kansas City, so it will be good to just chill and enjoy the autumn air. Yours truly hopes to go hiking in the mountains before mushrooms go away and all the leaves fall later this week, an exciting prospect!
Today’s tea is all about having a functioning brain, Good Life Tea’s Citrus & Ginkgo Organic Green Tea blends Green Tea from India, Lemongrass, Citrus Peels, and of course Ginkgo. This pungent herb has been used for quite a while to stimulate the brain, I remember back in my school days I would eat strange tasting Ginkgo candies I bought at the local Asian Market, no idea if they helped my perpetually distracted mind though! The aroma of this tea is pretty potently citrus, lots and lots of lemon! Luckily it is not a fake lemon aroma, it smells much like I just stuck my nose inside a crate full of fresh lemons along with the aroma of crushed lemon leaves. There is just a tiny hint of herbal notes and a delicate note of vegetation.
The brewed leaves are much more balanced, I can smell the other elements of the tea, including lemons, fresh vegetation, and pungent herbal notes. There is also a note of pepper and a hint of sharpness that is a bit hard to place, like a mix of green wood and broken grass. The liquid smells more or less identical to the wet leaves, there is just a slight honey sweetness that was not present in the leaves.
The taste is, well it is a bit odd. As with most things that contain herbs, sometimes the taste is nothing short of strange, there is a reason the term herbaceous exists, because it is the best description for it. The tea is a bit sour, both from the lemons and the slightly pungent ginkgo, along with a touch of pepper, and a finish of gentle green notes and smoke. I am not sure how to feel about this tea, it was not my favorite tea ever, but it was not bad, just not necessarily the taste for me.
I have a confession that some of my friends back in Kansas City are going to hate me for, I really don’t like their BBQ, sorry guys! I grew up in the South on delicious Southern style BBQ, and then I left and have not had any for almost fifteen years. Until today. I had BBQ so good that I actually cried, no lie, I sat at the table eating my food while crying. I tolerated other types of BBQ because I craved it, but really, in my book nothing compares to it. So that is my confession, I hope I don’t make too many enemies!
Travel has taken a toll on my perception of time, so What-Cha Wednesday is on a Thursday this week, and the particular tea has an autumnal flair, Darjeeling Autumn Flush 2013 Jungpana Black Tea, which is perfect for this time if year. There is something about Darjeeling teas and autumn that go perfectly together, doubly so if it is an autumn flush. The aroma of the dry leaves is sweet and muscatel, it reminds me a little of white wine and scuppernongs, with a rich undertone of sweet potatoes and roasted peanuts. I think spending time in the South is having an effect on my nose, those are such Southern foods! Regardless of my nose’s current influence, the smells is quite good and of course sweet.
Brewing the leaves seems to make the aroma even richer, very sweet and immensely rich, it has a real depth to it with notes of muscatel, molasses, sweet potatoes, and a tiny hint of distant flowers. The liquid is still sweet and rich, but it has a lightness where the leaves had depth. There are notes of sweet potatoes and scuppernongs with a finish of chocolate and flowers.
This is a Darjeeling to sip while lounging somewhere you can peacefully contemplate something, be it the tea you are sipping or your surroundings, or just the glories of cheese. It has that feeling when you sip it, the tea is a perfect companion for getting lost in thought because its journey through flavor notes is gentle. It starts with a rich molasses and sweet potato, after this the flavor turns light and sweet with a distinct note of golden raises and honey. The end has a cooling effect and a hint of loam with honey sweetness. Surprisingly I gave the rest of my sample to a friend who wanted more experience with Darjeeling, even though I wanted it all for myself I knew it was the perfect Darjeeling to use as either an introductory tea or one to get more experience with. My reasoning for this is it has the distinct notes associated with an Autumn Flush Darjeeling while having a reasonable price and very clear flavor notes. It is also good for experienced sippers because yum.
Oh man, so much busy! Yesterday I was exhausted after finishing the road trip, doing some post trip shopping (it seems this is a tradition now) and eating. I took a nap and ended up sleeping a whopping 14 hours. Then today I went to Hilton Head for more shopping (thrift stores are awesome, found some awesome tea things I am going to have to show off soon) and then to Hunting Island for some ocean fun. The ocean did my soul good, especially since earlier in the day a nice lady asked me if my blue hair meant I was a mermaid. Tomorrow we plan to visit Charleston and the tea plantation, so much excitement for that!
Today’s tea is something soothing and relaxing from The Persimmon Tree Tea Company, Mandarin Cream Oolong! This tea is a blend of Organic Oolong, Organic Lemon Myrtle, Marigold Petals and Natural Flavors creating a tea that is a mix of creaminess and lemons. I am a huge fan of Lemon Myrtle because it gives that essence of lemon without being a kick in the face of citrus. The aroma is nothing short of neat, I say neat as in cool, hip…you know, what people say when something smells unusual but good, at least I assume people still say hip, I am a bit out of the loop. It blends sweet cream, honeysuckles, orchids, and a hint of lemon at the finish for a really unique smelling blend, I admit I find myself very intrigued by these leaves.
Tossing the leaves in my steeping basket for a nice little bath in my teacup, I find myself greeted with a blend of floral aromas, primarily orchid and honeysuckle, and creamy lemons. It vaguely reminds me of a very floral creamy lemony cheesecake. The liquid is much the same without its leafy companions, it is very sweet and creamy with mellow lemons and lots of floral notes.
It is totally unexpected that this tea hits the spot, it is floral and sweet with just the right amount of lemon. It starts out lemony and floral with notes of orchids and honeysuckle to give it sweetness. This sweetness builds to a creamy midtaste and finishes with a blend of cream and lemon, again reminding me of lemony cheesecake. Like I said when sniffing the leaves, it is unusual, but in a very neat way, I found myself truly enjoying this tea and wanting more when I finished the cup!
For photos and blog (including me at the beach being a mermaid): http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2014/10/the-persimmon-tree-tea-company-mandarin.html
Macro Polo TTB
Yours truly is currently sitting in a hotel room in North Carolina, near Lake Norman. Apparently there is an exceptionally large lake nearby, but I cannot see if from my hotel. What I can see is a my travel gaiwan making tea for my mom and myself as we watch TV and relax before finish the road trip to South Carolina. It is pretty exciting to be writing from a hotel, I am not sure why but I feel super fancy with my travel gaiwan far away from home.
Today’s tea brings a bit of closure to a series, quite a while ago I looked at Tea At Sea’s other teas from Indonesia, and today I am reviewing Mountain Organic Indonesian Black. I find it really interesting to experience the green, oolong, and now the black, it was like a journey! The aroma of this tea is sweet and malty, there are notes of berries and raisins with a hint of roasted peanuts at the finish. I shan’t deny it, the dry leaves smell quite yummy, but I do love my sweet black teas.
Brewing the tightly balled leaves brings a malty, rich, aroma from my gaiwan. Investigating the now wet leaves even further with my nose reveals sweet berry notes and a touch of metallic, there is also a tiny note of yam at the finish. The liquid from the first steep is malty and sweet with tasty notes of molasses and yam, with a tiny finish of raisins.
After that especially enjoyable sniffing, it is time for tasting! The first sip is very sweet and quite smooth, it starts out malty and builds to fruity notes of plum and berries. This transitions into a richer, heavier finish of yams and oak wood, the finish is malty and it has a lingering sweetness.
I decided to go for another steep (because it is me, of course I go for another steep) and the aroma has managed to become sweeter, notes of honey and berries with a touch of plum and yam. The second steep is quite similar to the first but brings out more sweetness and berry notes, it is honey sweet with a rich malty finish. This is a great tea for when you are in the mood for a super sweet black tea that is both rich and mellow.
Hello everyone, how are all of you today? I am doing well, quite sleepy after a day of shopping with my mom. We visited some of my favorite thrift stores and found some adorable tea things and then had a giant pile of sushi and dango. For now I am relaxing before we have a friend visit for hot wings and gaming! I will have to put some thought into which tea goes well with hot wings other than Southern Style Sweet Iced Tea, perhaps a chai will do the trick.
Today’s tea is Life in Teacup’s Wuyi Jin Jun Mei, a delicately curly tea from the Wuyi Mountains in Fujian, China. Its name, beautiful golden eyebrows, is a perfect description because the leaves are covered in a golden fuzzy down, though I am not sure about the eyebrows, to me they look like little tails off of some adorable creature. The aroma of these fun little leaves is very sweet and rich, there are starting notes of cocoa, yams, and roasted peanuts which transition to a delicate note of flower nectar and sweet raw honey. I have to be careful when sniffing Jin Jun Mei because I could spend all day with my nose in the leaves inhaling their rich aroma.
As expected, when you place the leaves in a gaiwan and give it a good steeping, the aroma of the wet leaves becomes even more intense. The cocoa notes become more like actual chocolate with honey and molasses and a tiny touch of distant flowers. The liquid is a blend of chocolate, molasses, and honey with a finishing hint of roses. That little touch of roses at the finish adds a hint of the exotic.
The first steep is so sweet! It is like a rich dessert with notes of chocolate, caramel, cocoa butter, and creaminess. It lingers with those notes for a moment before moving to stewed plums and molasses at the finish with a slight aftertaste of roasted peanuts. Since it is the first steep it starts a bit mild, I anticipate some serious richness in the later steeps.
It is no surprise that I was practically bouncing while waiting for the second steep, Jin Jun Mei hits all the right notes for me, blending the delicate and sweet perfectly. The aroma of this steep is very sweet, with notes of chocolate, caramelized sugar, and a nice bit of raw honey at the finish. Tasting the tea is a real pleasure, like the first steep it is super sweet, but it has increased in richness. It is creamy and sweet with a very smooth mouthfeel with notes of creamy chocolate and honey, this transitions to stewed plums and a pinch of flower nectar. The aftertaste is roasted peanuts again, but there is also a bit of cocoa.
For the third steep, the aroma has a more subtle sweetness, like stewed plums and cocoa with a hint of honey for the finish again. The taste is still rich and quite sweet, with more of a molasses taste more so than chocolate and sugar. The chocolate note is still there, but instead of being sweet like biting into a bar of chocolate, it is rich like cocoa, and not as sweet. As I am enjoying the more reserved sweetness, out of no where, the aftertaste explodes with raw honey sweetness and flower nectar that lingers for quite a while. That was a fun finish! Jin Jun Mei never disappointing…and I certainly hope it stays that way!