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.

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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!

Azzrian

Cheers!

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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!

Terri HarpLady

Yum! It is full, it is rich, it is sweet, it is delicious. Not a hint of bitterness or astringency, such a smooth cup. I added Stevia for the 2nd 1/2 of the cup & now I’m ready to get something done!!

Azzrian

Nice review! Verdant has the good stuff!

Bonnie

I like to make mugs of this using a finum basket. Easy to do and it’s my morning tea many days. I add milk and sweeten it like my old cuppa joe some days. Love it every way though.

Terri HarpLady

oops! My comment above should have started with saying that I’m new to the world of doing multiple short steepings, so I made another cup of this awesome tea with 2 t of fresh leaves in my finum, steeped in my mug for 3 minutes. (Somehow this part of that comment got deleted). It was wonderful!

Angrboda

Typically me, I can’t remember what I actually ordered the other day… I hope this one was in it!

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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.

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drank Cacao Mint Black by Teavana
2855 tasting notes

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…

Nik

I’ve never had Girl Scout cookies. I feel so deprived… I don’t think I’ve had a chocolate tea, yet, either, but I think there is at least one somewhere in my stash (which includes several unopened boxes because I ran out of room—oops). I think I want to try a mint chocolate tea, and I think that (after I’ve tried it on its own for a bit) I want to try it sweetened with hot chocolate.

MsWhatsit

Hi, I’m back. My goodness, you seem to be having a chocolate fest today.

Terri HarpLady

Nik, yum!
Whatsit, Yay!

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83

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…

Bonnie

I like people to improve their lives but I worked for one of those people who writes those books…barf…(wrote a book called ‘How to get an ’A’ in Life’ with the forward written by John Wooden). I had to prepare all the materials for seminars with Jay Abraham and Antony Robbins where executives paid big bucks to attend. Blech. I know a lot about things…anyway, thankless job. #1 rule of my boss was pay the help as little as possible while squeezing work out of them till they pass out. I think one of the contributors to my being sick was working there.

Bonnie

Uh, sorry. That’s a yes on the venting!

Ms. Whatsit

I found blog especially amusing as I was just thinking today I ought to slow down and start doing more hot tea.

Terri HarpLady

Bonnie, you’re welcome to vent anytime!
Ms Whatsit, LOL :D

Terri HarpLady

And I have to say, the most messed people I’ve ever met are psychologics, psychiatrists, & the various self-help gurus. I think (& I hope I won’t offend anyone here) most of them are focused on helping others so that they can avoid looking at themselves.

Nik

Yes, but in this age of 37signals-inspired productivity, there are also a few books/resources that are actually worthwhile. They are written/created not by self-proclaimed self-help gurus, but by people whose job isn’t to motivate/help/inspire/“fix” others, people who are just going about their business and have found something that has worked for them, so they want to share it with the rest of us. That’s the type of thing I can appreciate.

Bonnie

I agree that there are helpful books. Don’t get me wrong. I just ran into the marketing guru’s… business guru’s out for money that charged $5,000-10,000 for executives to attend seminars. Every client of ours was a CEO. I could vent but won’t.

Terri HarpLady

Something I also noticed long ago is that usually when someone writes a book like that, the first one is really genuine & good. After that, at least in some cases, they are just looking for a new angle to profit from. I’m an extreme right Brainer, my entire adult life has been, in part, a quest to be more organized & business-like. The 7 Habits have helped me in some ways, to get some kind of focus, although I’ve never really been able to totally implement them. The 12 Steps (recovery) have helped me in other ways, to understand that all of my problems begin with me. Readings from the Taoism, Buddhism, Rumi, & various other sources also help me in many ways. Thus I grow…

Bonnie

I think I just heard a familiar theme and went BOING…back to that placed….sorry. There are lots of great people and books that are helpful I read lots of books.

Angrboda

I didn’t know you could cold brew coffee! How exactly is that done? Is it just steeped like tea overnight?

Terri HarpLady

Angrboda, ask MsWhatsit! She just joined the site.

Angrboda

I was hoping she might see it. :)

MsWhatsit

There are some pricy contraptions for it, but I just use a mason jar, put the normal amount of coffee or tea in it, fill it with water and leave it in the fridge until it’s reached the desired intensity. Then I pour it through a coffee filter or tea strainer into another jar and it’s done.
Just like sun tea only it doesn’t get rancid and keeps really well. You can even heat it in the microwave if you like.

Angrboda

Thank you! I do have a weakness for iced cafe latte in summer. I might be able to do something similar at home then without having to have access to fancy-pants coffee making machinery. :)

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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.

Ms. Whatsit

Sounds lovely.

Terri HarpLady

I think I sent you some…:D

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98

Breakfast:
*Sweet potato hash browns cooked in coconut oil with cinnamon added.
*Locally raised eggs scrambled with locally made chorizo (from locally
raised pigs)
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!”

Azzrian

This whole tasting note is YUMMY!

Terri HarpLady

:D It was a really tasty tea!

Terri HarpLady

and the breakfast was good too (actually I had the exact same breakfast yesterday…)

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86

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.

Terri HarpLady

After I posted this, I went to the teaspot website & ordered a new tin of Meditative Mind, plus a few samples.

Bonnie

I know the Tea Spot will be very glad that you chose this tea on such a special occasion!

Ms. Whatsit

Rose, mint, and jasmine….these are a few of my favorite things…

Terri HarpLady

Bonnie: it seemed like the only appropriate choice. I only wish I’d had some! BTW, meet my sister, Ms Whatsit!
Whatsit: I’ll be sure & send you some in your ‘next’ care package (I say next because I finally went to the PO today!)

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83

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…

Bonnie

Most of the alchemy blends use more tea quantity than regular tea because the flavor’s aren’t coming from chemicals. I had to get used to that myself at first (real herbs and such added to the tea creating bulk and needing a bit more for steeping).

Terri HarpLady

Right! I originally followed the instructions on the Verdant page, which said 2 t, so I’m wondering if it was a type O, and should have said 2 T. :D

Bonnie

I think you did what I would do. Brew as directed then adjust to taste the next go round. Easier that way then the reverse which many people do and throw down too much leaf to begin with. Same with puerh. I usually brew about a tablespoon (I’m talking about a chunk) of pu in about 3-4 oz gaiwan and get tons of flavor.

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Profile

Bio

I’m so excited to have found this community! I’m a self-employed Harpist (acoustic & electric – Originals, Classical, Rock, Jazz, etc) & Singer/Songwriter. My days & nights revolve around teaching at home, playing gigs, gardening,& fixing awesome food to eat. My schedule is different everyday, but I just go with the flow, & I sip a lot of tea!

My love of Tea began with Herbals back in the 70’s. One of my favorites was a licorice blend from House of Hezekiah, an old tea shop in Kansas City. There was also a tea with mint, rose petals, chamomile, etc called Nuclear Casual Tea.
In the 80’s I gave up caffeine, chocolate, alcohol, (& a few illicit substances…), and brewed medicinal blends & tinctures to support 4 pregnancies (all children born at home). In the 90’s my love affair with green teas began when I discovered ‘The Republic of Tea’. Their beautiful teas & packaging inspired my original song, “TeaMind”, from my CD “Zen Breakfast”. If you’d like to hear the song for free, drop by my website.

In general, I drink my teas straight, but occasionally I add a pinch of Stevia & maybe some coconut or almond milk (I’m allergic to dairy, gluten, & various other things & avoid most sweets.)

I’ve explored a variety of teas:
Whites tend to be a little bland…sorry
Oolongs – wonderfully sensual
Roobios – I’m not a fan in general
Puehr – a fairly new direction for me
I’m not a huge fan of flavored teas, but I do make exceptions, & I’ll try just about anything once.

And Black Tea, Oh how I love thee!!
I am on a quest for the most wonderful breakfast cup! I will find you, my Love!

Location

St. Louis, MO

Website

http://www.harpsinger.net

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