2855 Tasting Notes
Thank you to Eric, proprietor of The Fragrant Cup, for this sample!
An afternoon of private students is the perfect opportunity for me to brew tea in my Gaiwan, & I’m happy to say I’ve got my technique down!
I opened the sample package to find lovely buds, looking like large oat groats, with a light scent of fresh linens drying in the sun. Per Eric’s instructions, there were 4 steepings:
1) 1.5 minutes: The scent & taste is of a creamy breakfast cereal, like cream of wheat. Very soothing!
2) 2 min: In my minds eye, I see a bowl of that creamy hot breakfast cereal, topped with butter, cream & a spoonful of honey.
3) 3 min: hint of vanilla, linen, paper?
4) 4 mins: right before I did this steeping, I smelled the buds & they had taken on a bitter petro-like smell. That taste & smell didn’t carry through to the tea itself, but this last cup was more astringent, but not unbearably so.
All in all, this was a really pleasant break from all the black tea that I’ve been drinking (& loving!). Sometimes you just need a different perspective.
This is Tony’s (my BF of nearly 12 years) current favorite tea, so I’m reviewing it in honor of the fact that he is the most wonderful man in the world. One of the nice things about relationships is that you don’t have to like all of the same things, & this tea is one place where we agree to disagree.
This tea is dark & bold, which is always a favorable quality in my mind. They created this brew in honor of the diamond anniversary of the Queen. It’s a good quality of tea, though a little on the bitter edge, & if you like Earl Grey with a twist of orange, you’ll be in love, because there’s a hefty dose of bergamot here. Tony loves Earl Grey, especially with a slice of orange brewed in the cup, so when he found this on the menu at the London Tea Room, he fell in love! He’s been drinking it every morning since! I’m Happy, because he’s Happy!
I, on the other hand, am not a huge lover of Bergamot. I enjoy the smell, but the taste has an acidity to it that I find uncomfortable. Nonetheless, I drank this cup with a little stevia, & pictured his smiling face. To each their own!
As a prelude to this review, I’d like to say that I’m not rating teas at this time, due to my allergies. However, I’m still enjoying them!
As a further prelude, I’d like to thank Bonnie, who we all love, for sending me my first tea trade!! She was very generous, & this is the 1st tea I’m sampling from her offerings. Thanks Bonnie, you’re awesome!
I poured the sample into a small bowl so that I could look. It’s a beautiful blend of teas, including 2 of my newest favorites (Jin Jun Mei & Laoshan Black). The aroma is of the earth: Minerals & Chocolate.
I brewed all 5 steepings, back to back, western style: 2 t of tea, 1 minute first cup, adding 10 sec to each additional cup. I’m sitting here, comparing sips… My son just walked past, looked at the 5 cups lined up in front of me on the table, rolled his eyes, & walked away shaking his head.
cup #1: sweet, vanilla malt scented, very smooth.
cup #2 is my favorite, exhibiting the best of the chocolaty malty tones
cup #3 creamy, light caramel rising.
cup #4 the flavors are starting to fade, as the astringency rises.
cup #5 more astringent, I didn’t finish this one.
I’m happy to say that I ordered some of this beautifully balanced morning blend the other day, & I’m looking forward to enjoying it again…and again!
This is my 2nd cup of the day. Sometimes I like my Elder Berry straight, sometimes I like it with rose, cinnamon, & stevia. This is a gently sweet blend, with a short ingredient list! The Elder Berry is the prominent note, with it’s tart & bright flavor & slightly musky, almost Valerian-like scent. The roses add a soothing quality, the cinnamon brings some depth, & the Stevia sweetens the cup & pulls all the flavors together.
I have a few minutes before my next student, & am trying to use up the teas in my cupboard & review them all before some new stuff arrives. This is the last of this one, & it always amazes me that is smells just like a Thin Mint girlscout cookie!!
The brew is very dark, with a nice whiff of chocolate & mint, & a mild undertone of hazelnut. Flavor wise, I get all of those, along with the deepness of black tea. Adding stevia, it becomes a girlscout cookie! The mint lends a nice cooling sensation to my throat. Ahhhh…
And now my student has arrived…
Cold Brewed Tea, where have you been all my life???
My sister, Ms. Whatsit, has bragged about cold brewed tea (& coffee) for a long time, & I’m only now getting around to it. You see, I’m very organized in certain ways, & very disorganized in others.
I’m re-reading the ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’. I won’t tell you how many times I’ve read it, or how many journals start in January with my attempts to live it, but the numbers are legion, & each time I get a little farther along at implementing these Habits into my life & business, before I start backsliding into the 7 Habits of not-so effective people.
So Habit # 1 is “Be Proactive”. That basically means do the pre-requisite things that need to be done, so that you’ll be able to do the next things. My life is full of pre-requisites, & cold brewed tea is a perfect example. If I want to have cold brewed tea, the pre-requisite is to start the tea before I go to bed, & it will be happily waiting for me at lunch time! It seems so simple, & yet this is the first time I’ve actually done it.
Cold Brewed, this tea is reminiscent of iced coffee! It’s a deep unsweetened baker’s chocolate malted infusion of crystaline clarity. I have errands to run now, & I suspect this will power me through them! I usually drink my cold teas unsweetened, but I’m tempted to add a little sweetness & almond milk…maybe…
My morning session of students has ended, & after four back to back steepings of Jin Jun Mei, it’s time for something light!
This tea is a pleasant one. Opening the canister I get a tingly whiff of ginger, then a mild citrus & bergamot, & a hint of anise. It brews up a pale orange liquor, naturally sweet & juicy. It’s nice counter balance of flavor to the deep dark chocolatey brew I had earlier, & will cleanse my palate for what is to come.
*Sweet potato hash browns cooked in coconut oil with cinnamon added.
*Locally raised eggs scrambled with locally made chorizo (from locally
Tea: Wild Picked Junnan Jin Jun Mei
Dry: What a pretty tea! Skinny little strands of black & tan, with an aroma of sweet potato, sprinkled with cocoa & cinnamon.
Prep: I actually followed David’s instructions, 2 t (rounded) in my cup, brewed 1.5 minutes.
Cup #1: It’s a very dark, chocolatey looking brew!! That alone excites me! There’s also a foam on top, which is unusual & enticing, so I scoop it off with a spoon, & I swear it has a cocoa powder taste! I sniff the cup. Undeniable scent of buttery toast with honey. I burnt my tongue, I couldn’t wait…malty, robust, & peppery! Yum! I added a tiny bit of Stevia & almond milk for the last couple of sips, & that touch of sweetness brings forward chocolate & a very small hint of orange (it’s probably in my imagination…I used to love love love orange marmalade on my toast).
Cup #2: (2.5 min) The peppery notes are definitely more prominent in this steeping, & my tongue is wrapped in velvet. A little stevia, & it’s the sensation of a chocolate croissant.
Cup #3: (3 min)Still a very dark tea! I went ahead & steeped #2, 3, & 4 while I was drinking the first cup, so that I could attempt to compare them. In this cup I begin to notice cloves & a tiny bite of tannins.
Cup #4: (3.5 min) a little tannic, but still a deep, toasty, tasty cup!
My first student of the day has arrived! I just combined what’s left of brews 2, 3, & 4 into one cup, & “Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to work we go!”
I am out of Meditative Mind Tea, & I keep waiting for Whole Foods to get some more. I think I’ll have to order directly from the Tea Spot. I wanted a cup this afternoon (on Tuesday) to commemorate the anniversary of 9/11, the saddest day of the 21st Century. Even now I can’t begin to comprehend the tragedy of that day, I am still numb.
Meditative Mind is a beautiful tea to look at: an amazing blend of white peony tea, green jasmine pearls, mint, & lovely pink rosebuds!! The first time I bought this tea, I opened it & it was a visual feast! I breathed in, & the combined scents of Rose, Mint, Jasmine, & Tea are pure Heaven.
This is a tea for healing the soul, for soothing the spirit, for opening the heart. It is a tea for Peace, which I hope we will someday find in this crazy world of ours. Preferably sooner than later.
I’m a lousy employee (at least when it comes to doing desk work), but luckily, I’m a really NICE boss! I spent the morning drinking tea & basically trying to get motivated, & stayed in the tub way too long. I had a more productive afternoon, what with the gig, & some errands. I booked a funeral for this Saturday morning, scheduled a new student, & I also have a wedding on Saturday afternoon.
Being a musician is not all just sitting around, being creative, & plucking & strumming. I’m a performer, sure, but I’m also my own promoter, manager, & everything else (teacher, composer, arranger…)
The desk work is always the hard part. I have a whole list of things to do: phone calls & emails to return, website to update, bills to pay…
I’m (suppose to be) working at my desk now (“Actually, I am working at my desk, this is my break”, she said.), so a little more caffeine was in order.
I drank a cup of Chocolate Phoenix Chai last weekend, using 2 tsp & brewing as directed, & it wasn’t really what I expected, I was kind of disappointed. I really hate saying this, but it wasn’t as spicy or as chocolatey as I thought it would be.
So today I used a heaping tablespoon & brewed for 3 full minutes. Much better! This is a tasty treat! The background is dark unsweetened cocoa powder, with a gingerbread flourish. There is both a powdery feeling on the back of my tongue, & the decadently rich sensation of vanilla tinged whipped cream. I re-steeped, & the 2nd cup was tasty too! I also started a pint of cold-brew, & tomorrow I’ll let you know what I think!
Now for some administrative work…