390 Tasting Notes
I am stumped, I cannot think of a clever opening to today’s review so I guess I will just fill you all in on how life is for me. I folded all 200 Advent Calender envelopes in more or less one sitting, I couldn’t sleep so I stayed up all night watching Doctor Who and folding, it was very nostalgic. It is getting dramatically colder so there is a cat in my lap, the other cat is extremely happy and playful since she likes the cold. Also my stomach is being a real jerk so I decided to try out another of Raizana Teas herbal blends.
This tea is geared towards soothing the savage belly beast with its easy to remember name, DigestTea. Made from Cilantro, Dill Weed, Passionflower, Spearmint, Chamomile, Lemongrass, Stevia, and Natural Papaya flavors. The aroma is sweet and minty with notes of chamomile herbaceous tones. There is also a bit of papaya sweetness that lingers at the end. The aroma is very clean and it smells refreshing, sinus cleansing! As I pull the bag away completely I notice there is a tiny, tiny hint of dill, which I really liked.
As the tea steeps I start to notice the lemongrass aroma wafting out of my leaves, it is a bit strong and made me sneeze! Oddly I did not find the lemongrass off-putting like a usually do, I guess because it mixes really well with the mint, dill, and chamomile aromas. The liquid, sans steeping basket, has a very savory aroma. To me it smells like a really good soup or pickle spices, lemony and dill with a hint of mint and cilantro. I almost want to make a marinade using some of these together because it smells delicious.
The taste, however, is not savory at all, it is sweet like papaya. The taste also reminds me a little of lemon poppy-seed cake. The savory herbs are not really present in the taste, it is mild and sweet. This tea is really perfect for days when your stomach is being a real jerk and most things make you feel kinda ill. Withing a few minutes of drinking this tea my stomach was soothed and I felt much better. The aftertaste of the tea is sweet with a hint of tingling mint, as it cools the mint also becomes stronger and sweeter.
Even though I feel like garbage with a Lupus flair in full bloom, I still managed to accomplish something today and that makes me immensely happy. I am almost finished with my room rearrange and massive reorganize meaning I have a tea tasting station at my craft area (so much better lighting than the kitchen) now I can tea and craft in peace. I am fairly reclusive so always having to be social in the kitchen was grating on my nerves, plus it meant I was a whole room away from my craft supplies, tragic! Once I am finished I will have to post some photos, but I can tell you it involves Octopus art, a jellyfish lamp, a magical electric firefly in a jar, and of course my various Minecraft loot, it is an area conducive to creativity.
Today I am going to review a fruity and colorful tea from The Persimmon Tree, Fruit Fusion. I was extremely lucky and won a tin of this tea in a contest run by fellow tea enthusiast The Cup of Life. The tea (or really Tisane in this case) is made from Strawberries, Rose Hips, Hibiscus Flowers, Applies, Orange Peel, Cherries, Lemongrass, and Sunflower Petals, some amazing ingredients and a few that I am notorious for not being a fan of. The aroma is very sweet and super fruity, I love all the different fruits and can certainly detect the strawberries, cherries and apples. There is a tartness from the fruit (and hibiscus flowers) as well but it is not as strong as the sweet. The aroma vaguely reminds me of a fruity trail mix and is making me kinda hungry. Thankfully I do not smell any of the dreaded lemongrass, yay!
Giving the tisane a thorough steeping reveals an incredibly vibrant liquid, it is very red and reminds me of maple leaves. The aroma is very sweet, but it is also very tart, like a mixture of very tart cherries and fresh apples. There are also undertones of strawberries and citrus. The ruby liquid is very sweet, it has the aroma of fruit juice or maybe a wine-less Sangria. I can certainly say it smells delicious.
I am excited and a bit apprehensive to taste the tea, the aroma is sweet (which you all probably know by now I like naturally sweet things) but it is also tart (which, I really don’t like at all…but yet I love sour) so if it is more sweet than tart I will be a happy Enderman. Nope, nope, nope, it is tart, crazy intense tart! That popping sound was probably my salivary glands exploding from the tartness. I have no shame in admitting I am adding some sugar to this tea because I really want to taste it, I just find that much tart painful. With the sugar it is still tart but much easier for me to drink, the taste is very fruity as expected. The strongest flavor that pops through is cherry followed by rose hips and a bit of strawberry. I am not a huge fan of this tea, it is certainly a great fruit blend and the flavors are really clear, I just don’t like them. I gave a visiting friend who loves tart teas a cup of this and she loved it, so I can certainly say to this tea ’it’s not you, it’s me.’ I will certainly have to try more from this company though, so stay tuned.
I am so glad that I take extensive notes on tea or I would not be able to write a cohesive blog today. Why, you might be asking, well because my Lupus is acting up and it always gives me a serious case of brain fog. I have been lucky to get sentences out today that were not a garbled mess. As per usual, enough whinging and on to the tea, today we are reviewing an Oolong (surprise, surprise, I know) but this is a special one that has been on my ‘to try’ list for a while.
Taiwan Jin Xuan Milk Oolong by Teavivre is a fancy Oolong from Alishan, Nantou, Taiwan. As you can suspect from the name, Milk Oolongs are known for their creamy sweetness, sadly a lot of these teas are artificially enhanced. This Jin Xuan, however, comes by its milkiness naturally, which is one of the reasons I was waiting so long to try it, I wanted the pure stuff! The aroma is mostly sweet and floral, like fresh vegetation and lilacs. There is of course a creamy, or more accurately milky, aroma with a slight hint of nuttiness. The sweetness reminds me of honey, so mixing cream, honey, and lilacs together you get an amazingly delicious smelling tea!
The steeped leaves unfurl into a lovely sweet and creamy aroma. Not only is is creamy it is also nutty like chestnuts with a tiny vegetal hint of green beans. Actually mixing the creaminess and nuttiness with that hint of beans vaguely reminds me of a hint of green bean casserole, neat! The liquid is crazy sweet, probably the sweetest aroma that I have found in an unflavored Oolong, I love it. Mostly the smell of honey and milk, but there is a tiny hint of nuttiness as an after thought, it sneaks in as you lean away from the steaming cup.
Time to taste the first steeping! Quoting my notebook directly “Drop the Mic, that is bangin’ sweet” just goes to show that maybe I shouldn’t be allowed to write! Goofiness aside, it is sweet, really sweet and creamy. It is like drinking sweetened cream without the thickness (I actually just drink straight cream on occasion, and not having the heaviness and just the cream taste is a plus). It is more honey sweet than sugar sweet, but there is a slight note of caramelized sugar in there at the end. After the initial creamy sweet taste fades you are left with a mild vegetal taste evocative of green beans and a tiny buttery chestnut aftertaste. As the tea cools it gets even sweeter.
I had to do a second steep, seeing this tea evolve through steepings was too tempting not to. The aroma of the leaves is more vegetal this time around, more of an artichoke and citrus than creamy sweetness. There is still the aroma of chestnut and sweetness in the liquid, though it is not as sweet of creamy as the first steep. The taste is still really sweet though, but it is not quite as creamy. It takes on more of the vegetal notes of green beans and chestnut and continues to become sweeter as it cools. This is a really unusual Oolong, but I like that about it. Well worth the wait and certainly a new favorite.
Ah, this time of year always leaves me in an emotional funk. I have been trying to cure it this year with copious amounts of Minecraft (because of course) reorganizing my stuff, and planning craft projects. I can see the light at the end of the proverbial cloud bank and my annual ‘Beginning of November Funk’ seems to be ended early. I am especially excited because my Rheumatoid Arthritis in my hands seems to be better so I can go back to Origami again, woohoo! Speaking of hands, today I am going to review a hand themed tea that has been in my notebook for a bit.
Upton Tea Imports has a fancy named Oolong named Buddha’s Palm that I wanted to try because it have Buddha in the name and is an Oolong (I am easy to please) but sadly their website does not have much info on the tea other than it is from Fujian and it has superior aroma, flavor and leaf style. You know me, I want more info so I went researching! Buddha’s Palm is not named after Buddha exactly but after the (kinda horrifying looking) Buddha’s Hand Fruit, a kind of citrus. It is a Se Chung variety and also goes by the name Yong Chun Fo Shou. The aroma of this tea is very rich and heady to the point of making me dizzy. I notice intense malt and a bit of nuttiness and campfire smoke, but mainly there is the intense floral aroma. The floral is sickly sweet like flowers that are old and have been blooming for days, or like some of varieties of orchid. I admit the aroma is not too my liking, it is a little too intense and makes me feel a bit queasy.
Adding the tea to some nice warm water I notice the leaves start taking on a strong Tobacco aroma mixing with pine smoke and loam. It reminds me of a Gentleman’s library in the Victorian era, complete with pipe smoke and polished wood bookshelves. The aroma is not entirely unpleasant but it certainly is a little too strong on the Tobacco front. The steeped liquid sans leaves is very rich, pine wood and campfire mixed with an undertone of honey.
The taste is crazy intense, and not in a good way. The taste is like pine fire mixed with cigar smoke, I kid you not it tastes like a cigar that has been stored in a pine box. It is a touch bitter, like the bitterness of oak wood, not astringency. There is a roasted aftertaste that is somewhat pleasant but the cigar taste is giving me a nasty headache!
I am going to try a second steep, sometimes I have noticed the unpleasantness of the first steep can make for a really delicious second steep, wish me luck. The taste is still a bit too much like a humidor for my liking, but it is better than the first steep. The bitterness is gone entirely and the taste (other than cigar) is piney and sweet. I am not going to say this tea is bad but it does have qualities that I am entirely not fond of. I think if I want a smokey Oolong I will stick with the significantly less expensive Shui Hsien and pass on the Buddha’s Palm in the future.
This tea is not full of skeletons, but does evoke the oh so stealthy archers, mixing White Peach (for their bleached bones), Almond Oolong (for their sounds that to me sound like almonds hitting a floor), and Vanilla Green (to celebrate the growing power of bonemeal). The aroma is very sweet, blending the fruity peach, creamy vanilla, and nutty almond. Under the initial flavors you can detect notes of papery white which I always associate with Bai Mu Dan. There is also a tiny floral note and a bit of vegetal green.
Once the skeleton gets a a good steeping, the aroma becomes more roasted oolong and rich almond. The peach and vanilla aroma fades leaving the almond to be prominent. The aroma is sweet and smooth with a touch of earthiness. Removing the skeleton from the water leaves tea that has a warm and sweet aroma. The almond is much more mellow with the vanilla become more of a presence. The peach is also there but it is more of an afterthought.
Time to drink the skelley tea (as Ben and I lovingly call it) there are no skeletons, bows, arrows, or other rare drops in this tea though, I should point out. Before I get into too much of an analysis of the flavor, I should point out that Ben loves this tea, Ben who dislikes most greens and oolongs and only mildly enjoys white teas. He is very picky with his tea drinking so him enjoying this tea was a huge feather in my diamond helmet. Bragging aside, the taste is initial sweet and warming, the first thing you notice is the almond and creamy vanilla. There is a slight undertone of peach that reminds me of cooked peaches in a cobbler, just without the spice. Under all those delicious flavors are notes of roasted oolong and a touch of papery white. As the tea cools it gets sweeter and a touch tart, more like a fresh peach, with a note of artichoke and sage. This tea is also pretty good iced, when it is iced it tastes mostly of peach with a tiny bit of vanilla sweetness. And now off to play Minecraft and brood that I am not at Minecon in a Creeper costume.
Happy All Hallow’s Eve everyone, it is my favorite holiday of the year because it is centered around some of my favorite things: pumpkins, ghosts, monsters, candy, more pumpkins, and select gourds. Obsession with pumpkins aside, this holiday has a lot of spook in it, lots of haunting and booing, in fact I am wearing a white sheet with eye holes cut out as I type this. Ok, no I am not, I would be if there was a white sheet in this house but a golden ghost or one with stupid patterns would be embarrassing. Ghosts are meant to be white, or maybe pale, ectoplasm blue. Just like the ghosts of blueberries!
Yes, blueberries have ghosts, how else would we have Blueberry Boo! by Della Terra Teas? (which they have run out of tears, I wanted more but there are other spooky teas) OH, apparently there are ghosts AND blueberries, well that changes everything. I like having ghosts in my tea! Along with adorable little sugar ghosts there is also Black Tea, Dried Blueberries, Blueberry Flavor, and Mini Chocolate bits. Yes this tea immediately made me think of my beloved Boo Berries cereal, the love of blueberries, chocolate, ghosts, and tea was too much for. I had to have some of this tea! The aroma is sweet and fruity! Very obviously a blueberry tea, luckily the blueberries smell fresh and sweet and not at all tart like some much hated by me blueberry teas. In the pouch the aroma of chocolate is very faint but once I poured some out for photography purposes the chocolate was much stronger and blended wonderfully with the blueberries. There is no ghost aroma, but that is not necessarily a bad thing because ghosts tend to smell musty.
Time to turn the ghosties into liquid ectoplasm (no, not Ectocooler) with a bit of hot water. The aroma is much more chocolaty and malty, I would describe the ‘tea’ aroma as bright, not outshining the flavors but not disappearing under them either. The blueberry is not as strong and comes in as an afterthought. The liquid sans leaves is sweet and creamy with note of malt and a hint of chocolate. I do not detect any blueberries (or wandering haunts) but as I wait for it to cool enough to drink I notice the chocolate becomes less of a haunting and more of a full body apparition.
The taste is mild and bright, it really lights up the mouth with its Black Tea quality while still maintains its mild, smooth aspects. It is sweet and malty with an initial chocolate taste. Sneaking in like a phantom is the blueberry, it is faint at first and then as the tea cools (hey, just like when ghosts show up!) the blueberry becomes much stronger and sweeter. This tea is pleasantly sweet on its own, but if you want a real kick adding a bit of sugar and cream makes for a treat that is phantasmagorical, also the color is more ghostly so that is a plus. I have certainly learned that if this tea comes back next All Hallow’s Eve I am going to need to stock up because I went through my supply of it really quickly.
For spooky photos and blog: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2013/10/della-terra-teas-blueberry-boo-tea.html
Today, as you might know, is the day before Halloween, All Hallow’s Eve…Eve. It has been a perfectly stormy day complete with hail and a nicely flooded basement, a great sign for a good Halloween. I do have a special tea that I am reviewing tomorrow that is on theme, but I wanted to start off the festivities with a bit of pumpkin goodness (I did not carve one this year, tragic).
Presenting Pumpkin Pie Spice Black Tea by Republic of Tea, an Autumn themed tea made from a blend of Black teas, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Ginger and Cloves. They advice adding a splash of cream but I am a completely out and there is no way I am using the much maligned skim milk that is in the fridge. The aroma is very spiced, and very evocative of pumpkin pie spice. There is of course absolutely no pumpkin and just spice, but the it said that on the tin so you won’t get me raging about being misled with squash. There is also a touch of buttered rum aroma which I always enjoy. The most prominent spice aroma is clove, definitely lots of clove!
Time to dunk the teabag! The aroma is super sweet and pie like, I can even detect a bit of crust but I am willing to chock that up to ghosts. The spices are well balanced after being steeped, no one spice sticks out unlike the un-drenched bag. The aroma is practically crying out ‘drink me on a chilly day! Enjoy me with mounds of Autumnal foods’ not to mention the desire for cream.
Drinking the tea the first thing I notice is the sweetness and balanced spices. I do love a spiced tea that is well balanced and nuanced, having one spice drown out all the others is sad. The taste is very much so pumpkin pie spice with a delightful mouth tingling from the cloves. As per my usual gripe, the tea tastes nothing like actual pumpkins, one day I will find a pumpkin spice tea that tastes like pumpkins, but as just spiced teas go this one is pretty good for a tea bag! Not that there is anything wrong with teabags, I just have gotten very spoiled with all my loose leaf. So far this has been my favorite bagged pumpkin themed tea that I have yet tried, so give it a try if you are part of the pumpkin craze!
Tie Guan Yin Master Grade Oolong Tea from Yezi Tea is an Oolong from the famed tea growing region of the Nanhu Mountain Range. To brew this beauty I decided to go all out, sitting outside on a warm sunny day with my Yixing pot, my vintage Chinese tea bowl, and all my fancy Gong Fu tools. I don’t use my Yixing nearly as often as I would like to, something I plan on rectifying in the future. The aroma of this Tie Guan Yin is nothing short of heavenly, very floral and sweet. I mainly notice orchids and honeysuckles but for an extra treat I can pick out the aroma of scuppernongs. As an afterthought there is a tiny wisp of green, similar to spring time vegetation and an even more scant ghost of honey. This tea’s aroma very much so embodies ideal of Spring.
I was very fortunate to get multiple awesome steeps out of this tea, so I will start with the first soaking of the leaves. The aroma of the brewed leaves is slightly nutty with strong floral notes. There is also a tiny hint of a roasted aroma in the leaves. The liquid is mostly floral, primarily orchid, but there is also a slight hint of vegetal, like spinach. The taste is very smooth and mild! Intensely floral like honeysuckles or possibly lilacs. The tea tastes very clean and fresh, just like a tiny bit of spring time in my mouth. The aftertaste is one of orchids.
The second steep brings in more of a roasted aroma to leaves and a stronger floral aroma to the liquid. The taste of the tea brings in more of a green, vegetal tone. Somehow the tea seems cleaner, like it purifies the water. It reminds me of fresh spring water with a tiny taste of the moss growing near it. Having drank from a mountain spring (it was significantly colder than hot tea) the similarity is surprising.
The third steep brings in even more of a roasted chestnut aroma and it is very heady. The liquid has the aroma of orchids, but instead of being freshly opened these are orchids that have been sitting in the sun for hours and start to have that old flower sickly sweetness. The taste is intense! Best steep of the set, it manages to be intense but still mild (ah the magic of Oolongs) the flavor is mildly roasted chestnut at first and then it fills your mouth with intense orchid. The aftertaste is mineral-like, bringing in the mountain spring imagery from the previous steep.
The fourth and final steep, I notice that the leaves have lost most their aroma but what is left is sweet and evocative of honeysuckle. The taste is sweet and floral bringing out the honeysuckle notes that were in the aroma. There is also a slight mid taste of roasted chestnut and then lastly an aftertaste of mineral spring water. This tea was fascinating and very enjoyable, it was like I journeyed through early Spring with the first steep and traveled through to Midsummer. I recommend seeking this tea out if you want a very different experience with each steep.
Today I am reviewing another tea by Tea Forte, Cherry Marzipan,a Green Tea blended with Rooibos, Cherry Flavoring, Raspberry Leaves, Almond Flavor, Berry Flavoring, Superfruit Berry Flavoring, and Acerola Cherries (all organic and natural flavorings). I love cherry almond as a smell, for years I used a soap that had that scent and so did my mom so to me it is extremely nostalgic. Instant happy aroma points! Oddly I have never had this combination as a food/drink, I love cherries, I love almonds, but never had them together so this tea excited me. The aroma is very VERY sweet, lots of cherry and almond. It is a great mixture of tart cherries and sweet, nutty almonds. The only problem is I do not smell any tea at all, you could have told me this was just a fruit tea and I would not be at all surprised.
Once the teabag is popped in its hot water bath and given a nice steeping the aroma mellows out a bit. It is still a sweet mix of almonds and cherries (with almonds being more prominent) but there is also a tiny hint of leafy green under all that sweetness. The blend is really smooth and is pleasing to my olfactory bulb.
This tea is surprisingly mellow and smooth! There is absolutely no tartness like some cherry teas can have, and no bitterness like some almond teas can have, bravo for a good blend! The almond is the most prevalent taste and the cherries take the back seat while a hint of hay like green peaks through. I wish the tea would have been a little sweeter, like marzipan and not just almonds, but that was easily rectified with a bit of sugar. There, now it tastes like cherries and marzipan with green tea. This tea is not bad, it certainly gets points due to the nostalgia factor, but I could see myself sipping on this tea when I want to drink tea without having to think about it.