2855 Tasting Notes
I took a long hot bubble bath, with a book, 2 cups of tea (premium Taiwan Assam & Zingiber Ginger), a glass of ice water, & the “calm Meditation” setting on Pandora. The EO company makes a wonderful line of essential oil bubble baths, by the way, & the one I like is ‘Renew’, which is scented with Rose & Chamomile. …ahhhhh….
Next on my agenda for the day was a one hour ‘Tea time’ performance at a local nursing home. I’ve been playing this tea event on the 2nd tues of every month for over 12 years! I brought along my own teabag, because the stuff they serve is terrible! As far as bagged English Breakfast teas goes, Stash is currently my favorite. I think it’s really because the name of the company harkens back to my Hippy days, when I often carried illegal contraband. Of course, now my only vice is tea (the legal kind), & I always make a point of having a tea Stash with me at all times.
For Tunes & Tea, I’m including a list of the pieces I played:
Blue Bossa – Kenny Dorham (made famous by Joe Henderson)
How Insensitive – Antonio Carlos Jobim
All I Ask of You – From Phantom of the Opera
Equinox – John Coltrane
Footprints – Wayne Shorter
Georgia on my Mind – Hoagy Carmichael
Misty – Errol Garner
Black Orpheus – Luis Bonfi
Corcovado (Quiet Night of Quiet Stars) – Antonio Carlos Jobim
Over the Rainbow/What a wonderful world medley
(there may have been a few more…that’s all I remember)
The audience is wonderful there, a fairly lucid group, & they especially love the Latin Jazz. My favorite moment ever playing there: I was playing ‘How Insensitive’. 2 80+ old gals were sitting at one of the tables with blissful expressions, teacups in hand, eyes half closed. One turns to the other and says, in a sultry voice, “This music makes me feel SO Sexy”, & the other says, “Oh yeah”.
I’m getting ready to start on my 3rd cup of black tea this morning!
First, I want to say that the dry leaves are wild & crazy looking, & I like that! Dense, almost black with a green undercast & occasional peek-a-boos of mahogany (that seems to be my word of the day), hint of malty aroma. I struggled with measuring it out, as they are unruly, crazy little snakes, unwilling to conform (kind of like me). In the end, I just put some hefty pinches in my cup (probably way more than the recommended 2 tsp)
Brewed, it is what I’m looking for this morning. A deep brown red, bold mildly malty flavor, & with the addition of a little soymilk & stevia, I’m off to bubble bath land.
Breakfast is over, and I’m relaxing in my sun room, sipping this bold tea, still trying to wake up. The color is a dark honey, the aroma toasty, the flavor is not as malty as I’d hoped, but robust & smooth at the same time. A few granules of stevia for the last sips lift the flavors, & I close my eyes: Collin Farrell winks at me & says, “Ay lass, pass me a sip.”
I’m having a slow morning. Last week I couldn’t sleep, this week I’m having trouble waking up. I hate allergies!
So, Stacy sent me this sample with my order, & I meant to enjoy it much sooner! It sounds so delicious! It is my first cup today, my breakfast tea.
Before brewing: Visually, it reminds me of Arame, a sea veg I used to eat a lot of. Almost black, thin twisted strands, with an underlying greenish tinge & accents of Mahogany. I don’t smell a lot, but it’s allergy season, & although my sinuses aren’t clogged (it goes straight to my lungs), they are still dulled a little. I turn on the kettle…
As I pour the water & breath in the steam, a begin to experience that essence of apricot that everyone has raved about. The beautiful amber color in my cup says, “Drink me”, and I do. My breakfast gets pushed off to the side…
This is a very gentle, mildly sweet tea, with a lovely mouth feel. No need for sweetener here. I had actually planned to add a pinch of stevia to the last couple of sips, to see what came forward, but, alas, it’s too late, I finished the cup! Very tasty, thank you Stacy!
This is my last cuppa the day. I wanted something sweet, soothing, yummy, & here it is! I LOVE love LOVE Ginger, & I also love coconut, & in this tea I get a little of both, & some almond. I always expect more of a Chai taste (& as they’ll tell you at Teavana, it’s also great mixed with Chai). Of course, if I really wanted Chai, I could have brewed some of this. This has some Rooibos, which I usually don’t care for much, but in this tea, I’ll make an exception. I use 1 T (sometimes more)per cup of hot water, leaving a little room at the top for some almond or coconut milk, & some stevia. I wanted a treat, & it is!
After teaching on & off throughout the day, & revisiting my Gaiwan for additional oolong steepings, I needed something different, preferably sweet, & without caffeine. Digging through the cupboard, I came across the Twinings Fresh & Fruity sampler box. There’s not much left in the box, but I figured I’d give this one a try.
It is tart & mildly sweet, more cranberry than rasp, & with the addition of a little stevia, juicy! Really, it’s like warm Koolaid. Now I want something else…
I have a Gaiwan!!
Last Friday morning I was obsessing over photos of Gaiwans on various sites, & I entered “Gaiwan StL” into the search engine, just for the heck of it. St. Louis is a pretty progressive city, so maybe?
That led me to http://www.fragrantcup.com/, a local importer of teas & teaware that I had never heard of. I had to go out & run various errands anyway, so I called him (Eric) up & asked if I could stop by to pick up a gaiwan from his shop. Turns out, he works out of his house, just doing mail order (although he can be hired to serve tea for events). We had a great conversation, & he ended up inviting me to stop by. When I got there, he served me tea, showing me how to use the gaiwan. We had several steepings of an aged & pressed Red Robe, followed by a puerh, & we visited for about an hour. I bought a 4oz gaiwan & an oz of a tea that just came in, 2012 Oriental Beauty (that’s the one with the bug bites, which I wanted to try), & he sent me home with several samples (which will be reviewed at some future time). A very nice guy, & a fun impromptu afternoon!
My first student came at 10:00 this morning, & I know she loves tea, so while she was warming up, I brewed the Hand Picked Summer Tieguanyin from Verdant, to share with her. I quickly realized that it would take 3 steepings to fill our cups, so I did those back to back, pouring into a larger teacup (now I need a larger gaiwan & a pitcher) so that all the flavors would blend. Then I poured into 2 4oz cups to serve. She loved it, I love it! It’s so beautifully fragrant & flavorful, & although the earlier steepings (10 seconds each + or -, which now I think might be too long) were somewhat astringent, I continued steeping & drinking after she left. I have no idea what steeping I’m on now, but it is still a pale green & that creaminess that others have alluded to is starting to come through. I have enough left in my sample to try again another day, so next time I drink it I will pay more attention to each individual steeping & try to document the difference.
I will offer this advice, regarding the gaiwan: Don’t fill it too full!
Vegans, don’t hate me! I used to be a vegan. It started when I was young & lasted until January 1012 (I’m 53, BTW), & I won’t give you the long version, but I was vegetarian/vegan & even into raw for a couple of fairly long stints. I didn’t change to a Paleo lifestyle (meat & veggies) easily, I fought it all the way. Over the years, I developed one food sensitivity after another: Dairy & sugar first, but then gluten, then all grains, then legumes…my guts hurt all the time, I had tendonitis, chronic fatigue, chronic lung problems, etc. I won’t bore you with the long list, but amazingly, within a few months all of those symptoms were gone! With the exception of some seasonal allergies.
I still experiment occasionally to see if I can get away with something, & I always regret it. So I eat locally raised meat & eggs & veggies, & some fruit. I won’t Harp on it, I won’t try to convert you, this is how I am. I loved being a vegan, & I love the way I feel now.
I started the morning with a bowl of soup (homemade chicken stock, ginger, bokchoi, a few slices of the strip steak Tony grilled for me last night, & a egg poached in the soup) & a cup of Matcha. My guts were hurting from my brown rice experiment Saturday night, & nothing soothes the gut like good broth & well cooked veggies. If I’d had some Kim Chi (I need to start a new batch of that, & some other cultured veggies),that would have been good too.
The only appropriate tea for this meal was Matcha, plain old green frothy Matcha! It was a perfect breakfast (for me), the Matcha was creamy & soothing, I feel better already! Now, I hear my 10am students coming in the door. Namaste!
So the Bridal Teas today went well. I set up a small pot of Butiki English Breakfast, some hot water & a few herbal tea bags just in case, some iced Ginger Peach (Republic of Tea), grapes, macaroons, & German Rock Sugar. I also let everyone know I had milk & almond milk available.
One bride drank a cup of the English Breakfast (commenting on how delicious it was), the mother of another bride drank iced tea. Everyone else drank water, they were not tea drinkers. Nobody ate the cookies or grapes either. After my Brides left, I finished off the pot of tea, a few grapes, & one of the cookies. I let my sons have the rest. It is a bold brew, a contrast to the sweetness of the cookie & grapes.