2913 Tasting Notes
This is my green tea selection for the day.
The Fragrant Cup is a St. Louis purveyor of fine teas & related products. The owner, Eric Glass believes great tea improves everyone’s day and special occasions. He loves tea, travels to Asia to study and purchase teas, and the first time I talked to Eric, he invited me to his home (where he runs his tea importing & selling business from) and served tea to me as if we were sitting in one of those tea houses in China that David Duckler talks about, sharing his knowledge & tea with me, and it was a real treat. He sent me home with several tea samples, which have all been excellent, and this is one of them.
I’ve enjoyed several 4 oz cups today, brewed gongfu style, and it is delightfully vegetative and buttery. If you’d like to check out Eric’s tea selections and web page, he’s at http://www.fragrantcup.com/aboutus.asp
The Republic of tea and I go way back. All the way back to the year my son Leif was born (1992). Back then I was just drinking herbal blends & medicinal brews. Furthermore, I’d been free of caffeine, chocolate, sugar, and a melange of (mostly illegal) substances for about 12 years.
I saw their display and was hooked. I stood there (with my children complaining), reading the canisters, and went home with “Tea of Inquiry”, & thus began the reintroduction of caffeine into my life. (You don’t want to know how much coffee I used to drink, and it was so long ago anyway). For a number of years ROT was the company I loved, the only company I knew about (not counting lipton), and I gradually built a collection of quite a few of their green teas, and a few black ones, and even some oolongs. I didn’t care much for their blends, but they were my tea education, and I even dedicated my song, TeaMind (Zen Breakfast CD) to them. (you can hear it at www.harpsinger.net).
Then I discovered on the internet that they weren’t the only company around, and started expanding my horizons, something I continue to do to this day. I love tea and the exploration of it all!!
I received this sample with a their catalog yesterday, and it was my ‘bubble bath’ cup of the day. Opening the package, the aroma is intense! It took me a few minutes to place it, and then there it was: it smells like mincemeat pie! I brewed as directed, and of course plain…so-so. I added stevia and it wasn’t bad! A little heavy on the cloves, in my opinion, but off to the bubble bath we went. Not something I’ll probably purchase, but I’ve been thinking I need some holiday varieties to get me in the mood for all the xmas gigs & concerts I have coming up. I’m open to suggestions.
Speaking of which (shameless self-promotion blurb), if you like xmas music & you’re looking for an inexpensive gift, my xmas CD, “MidWinter’s Canon” is available on my website www.harpsinger.net. It’s an hour of holiday medleys with influences of jazz, folk, classical, and new age stylings. (And any CDs you purchase contribute to my PlayPal account, so that I can buy more tea!)
Last night I cleaned out and rearranged my Tea storage system, again! It’s nothing fancy…a 3 shelf corner cupboard, plus an old wicker shelf with a series of cardboard boxes (that teas I ordered came in). I think I need to probably do this at least once a week, moving all of my favorites to the back so that I’ll give the other teas a chance once in awhile. Then I came on steepster, and got in on a chat (on some tea review somewhere, can’t remember where though…) about how people line up their teas and such. I felt right at home!
I’m really making an effort (this time around) to stick to the Tea Rotation plan I made, so this morning this was my Black tea pick. It’s from one of Adagio’s black tea samplers (along with yunnan jig, yunnan noir, Puerh Poe, and Assam Melody).
Per their instruction: 1 tsp in a cup of hot water, 4 minutes.
Meeh….it’s ok, but nothing to write home about.
Not to be unfair, I made a 2nd cup, this time using 1 Tablespoon of tea, and steeping 3 minutes, and NoW We’Re TaLkInG! When in doubt, add more tea! I also added some stevia, and it’s tasty! It seems that most English breakfast blends are heavy on the Assam and tend towards tartness, but this one is a Keemun, which I find to be more of a smokey malty fruity mellow kind of thing. Very nice.
I used to drink a lot of green tea, especially Dragonwell and Sencha.
Then I kind of lost interest in greens for awhile. It just seemed like they oversteeped too easily and went bitter.
Today I’m in a bit of a green tea mood, and having fun alternating between several different teas for comparison, contrast, and my own salivatory entertainment. I also re-read the article on tea storage from the Verdant site, and am making a real effort to polish off all of my spring picked green and white teas.
This tea is so buttery and sweet, with a creamy texture, like a bowl of steel cut oats that were cooked in the crockpot over night and drizzled with soymilk. The leaves are so tiny, tender, slender and delicate.
This is possibly one of the most beautiful teas in my collection, it’s beautiful ‘leaf and bud’ sets floating gracefully, gradually swelling and unfolding, and finally sinking to the bottom.
I brewed it per the Dragonwell style directions on the Verdant product page, and have been savoring it all morning, along with an occasional cup of the Laoshan black for contrast, which is still in my Gaiwan (who knows how many cups I’ve had of that by now). When I drink it this way, no matter how much I try to blow the tea across the top of the cup, I always end up with tea in my mouth. No problem, it gives me something to chew on and contemplate.
Sweet, savory, vegetal. I don’t drink it everyday, but probably should drink it more often, and I’ll be sad when it’s gone.
Of course, I usually start the day with something dark and sexy, and after sharing a pot of White wedding with Leif, I had to turn to one of my most favorite teas of all time! Just for fun, today I’m brewing Gongfu style, I think for the first time. I’ve already been through 6 steepings, or maybe more. I love this tea.
Regarding Gongfu brewing:
What I like:
*The ritual of it, of course, and the way the tea gradually unfurls, and I really like the subtle differences between each cup.
*Also, I can sit around and drink from the same leaves for hours…and hours…and hours…
What I don’t like:
*I end up waterlogged! Of course, that happens anyway, cuz I like to drink tea, no matter what brew style.
*I keep having to reheat my water, because face it, a little 4 oz Gaiwan makes about 3 oz of tea (because the leaves absorb some), and that cools quickly, so I’m always coming back for more.
Also, I keep drinking from the same tea leaves for hours…and hours…and hours… so I can get a little bored. I never carry a tea to 18 steepings, it just doesn’t happen. Variety is the spice of life.
Solution? Buy more Gaiwans, have 3 or 4 teas going at once, so I can alternate through them, offering small cups to students as well. I think David Duckler said something like, “The best way to experience tea is with more tea.” That’s not real quote, just my attempt at quoting him, because I’m too lazy to look up the real thing!
I finished my NaNoWriMo project last night!! Yeah!! Of course, the novel is far from finished. There will be the rewrite, then another rewrite, etc, but for now, I’ve proven to myself, once again, that I can set a 30 day goal and actually complete it!! WooHoo!
This morning I had breakfast with my son, Leif (age 20). He lives at home, but is a college student and we don’t really get to hang out as much as we used to. So I fixed the food while we chatted, and he picked out the tea. He wanted something white, so I laid out a selection of option, he smelled them all, and this was his pick.
I’ve reviewed it before, and my former description stands. We drank it plain, talked about that fact that neither of us has ever eaten wedding cake, and Leif’s comment: “It’s very light, and a little sweet. Do you that’s from the chestnut flavoring?”
It’s an ok tea, something to bring out when someone wants “white”. I have a few more cups-worth left, but once it’s gone, it’s gone.
47,203 words and counting!
I’m still sipping steepings of Pu’er and Zhu Rong, but I like to think that I’ve washed all the caffeine and ‘energy’ out of them by now.
Meanwhile, I was digging for something sweet and caffeine free, and “Oh, Yay! I didn’t know I still had some of this!” Little Terri said.
This is probably my most favorite Teavana Blend (there aren’t really that many that I like, to be honest). I use a heaping T per cup, sweeten it with stevia, and it’s a heavenly dessert. Yum num, slurpin it down! Now back to my story…
I really enjoy this rich dark Yunnan, with it’s chocolate and spice profile. This is the first time I’ve actually steeped it gongfu style, & I really am gaining an appreciation for doing it this way! It’s fussy, in a way, and I combined a couple of steepings at a time in a cup so that I could go relax and enjoy before having to reheat the kettle, but I’m liking using more tea with shorter steepings. It’s really very very good! Each cup holds slightly different nuances of flavor. Now back to my NaNoWriMo Fairy Tale.
Heaven, that’s what I’m experiencing right now!
After an all day affair of savory teas, starting with the last of my Butiki English Breakfast (very tart!), then Butiki Organic Assam (potent!), then the Sheng (which I’m still drinking, LOL) and Matcha I’ve already documented, I wanted something sweet.
This really hits the spot. I didn’t even bother to try it plain, just dumped in some stevia, and YUM! I don’t really need any extra caffeine, but I plan to write on my novel until it’s finished tonight (if possible, I’m at 44,356 words, only 5,644 words to go), so maybe a little caffeine is in order?
I think this is the best Chocolate flavored tea I’ve ever had, it really is good! The tea base they use at the Tea Spot is also good.
Yeah, I think I want another cup…