3004 Tasting Notes

This has been a rough & non-productive week for me, for the most part. My desk is piled high with unfinished business, I did almost nothing in my garden all week. OK, I did pick some asparagus, onions, & lettuces, & today I finally went out there for an hour & weeded the gazebo, where hopefully tomorrow I’ll plant grapes & kiwi’s. But that’s really pretty much it. Allergies suck!

This tea, on the other hand, is a lovely oasis of delight. I sipped it over the afternoon, & I know I should give some description of it, but I’m brain dead, & I just can’t think of anything to say. Except it is lovely.


You can grow kiwis where you are??? Come to think of it, I have no idea what kind of plant produces kiwis. I’d always imagined a palm-like tree…

Terri HarpLady

The Kiwi’s that will grow in the midwest are also referred to as Kiwi Berries. They are smaller, self-pollinating (although I bought 2, just in case), can handle the freezing weather, & aren’t fuzzy like the ones that come from Down Under. You don’t have to peel them, & they are also suppose to be sweeter, & higher in Vitamin C. They grow on a vine, & I planted them before, but didn’t give them a big enough trellis, & didn’t know what I was doing when it came to pruning them, so I accidentally killed the plant, LOL. We live, we learn, right? I still don’t know what I’m doing, but I think I have a better understanding than before.

I’m planting them on a wrought iron gazebo that’s about 7 feet tall. It has 6 trellis panels, so I’m going to alternate red grape, kiwi, something else…still not sure what, but thinking of passion flower, which makes an edible fruit & grows here…then another red grape, another Kiwi, & another of whatever I end up using for the 3rd fruit. The visual image is of course to be able to go into the gazebo & have all these amazing fruits hanging down, plus a little summer shade. Last year I grew cucumbers on some panels. We’re still eating the cultured dills. My basement frig (nicknamed the Laboratory) has at least a dozen full jars still, along with jars of kimchi, sauerkraut, & other culturing experiments. Also on the Gazebo last year I grew various green beans, sugar snap peas. Underneath all that I had salad greens, radishes, turnips, beets, & parnips. I still have leeks in some of the beds.


Your garden sounds amazing! I just tried kiwi berries a few months ago. They’re really good. Good luck with them this year… :-)

Terri HarpLady

Really? I’ve never seen them in the store, so I’m just going by what I read.
It will be a few years before I actually get any fruit, but I have learned that time goes by quickly, & I’ve already put this project off for a few years. If I hadn’t, I’d be eating them this summer…sigh…


Oddly enough, Trader Joe’s here had them. I’m in the Napa Valley, so we always have a great selection of produce in our grocery stores. They did look and taste very much like kiwifruit (only very small, of course). They seemed to go from perfectly ripe to overripe very fast, though…

Terri HarpLady

I’ll have to check the local trader joe’s, just to see if they have them too.

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drank Black Pearl by Mandala Tea
3004 tasting notes

I made a cup of this, using 4 pearls for 4 minutes, & really it was perfect in that moment.

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Time to rehash my day, through tea :)
This was the gong fu cha of the morning. The black leaves are small & tightly twisted, with an aroma of chocolate.
5G + 4oz (rinse) X 15/30/45 sec
This first round of 3 steeps featured roasted grain, sorghum molasses, & a quickly building satisfying mouth of hot cocoa, with an unbelievably creamy texture.
In the 2nd round of steepings the flavors began to fade, until I was left with sweet wood & a slight lingering incense feel.
A perfect start to my day :)

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Ah, Jin Jun Mei! Thank you Wang Yanxin!
This was my morning gongfu session tea, which I thoroughly enjoyed. The dry leaves are tiny & twisted, in shades of black & mahogany, with an aroma of honeyed toast. Warmed, I also smell hints of chocolate.
54G + 4oz (rinse) 10/20/30/45 sec, then 1 min/2/etc

Even at 10 seonds, this is immediately rich & satisfying, with flavors of sorghum molasses, sweet potato, toast, & malt that build with each successive steep. So thick & delicious, a real treat.

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I’m still fairly early in the steepings of this, but it’s putting me the perfect taichi frame of mind. I’m ready to go move some energy, if you know what I mean.
I’ve written a much better review than this one previously, & I stand by it. This is a lovely textured sheng, light & savory, with hints of lime, unglazed clay, & a creamy vanilla feel that is coming up now. I’ll have to return to this one later, as I brave the pollen count to drive to class.


Hints of lime? …mmm…


I find the unglazed clay mention really unusual. Earthy I can understand, but clay sounds less palatable.

Terri HarpLady

I know, lol. I just re-read my description, & it’s funny how we will perceive tastes & textures that we normally wouldn’t seek out, & yet we enjoy the tea anyway! Anyway, this one is definitely not earthy. The clay taste/texture is clean, mineral, kind of like a brand new yixing.


Oooooh sounds glorious

Terri HarpLady

Revisiting this one some more today, & I’ve sipped through a limestone kind of taste & texture, not to be confused with the earlier lime fruit qualities.
My current cup is creamy, but also kind of fruity & bright.

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The 2nd of the bathtub teas. I really didn’t accomplish much today, but sometimes you just need to relax, right? So, I’m clean & serene, but sadly, I feel the Zyrtec wearing off, & I have to leave the house in a few minutes, for my Taichi class.


You are so neat!

Terri HarpLady

Wow, thanks! :)

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The first of 2 bathtub teas, sipped while reading Sherlock Holmes, “The crooked man”.

carol who

Don’t you love it when you have time to drink tea and read in the bathtub? :-)

Terri HarpLady

Yup! There is nothing like a tub of hot water, something good to read, tea, & ample time to enjoy them :)


Some day I’ll have a real bathtub :(

Terri HarpLady

I actually hate my bathtub. It’s old & yucky looking, & the worse part is that my water pressure is really crappy, so my favorite baths are always in Tony’s tub, cuz it’s big & deep, & he has amazing water pressure. It takes half an hour to fill my damn tub, & 5 minutes to fill his, I kid you not!


My tub is a half tub…those crappy apartment tubs where if you twist a little you an almost get half of yourself submerged lol

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Does anybody want to buy my Harley? 1200C sportster, in excellent condition. I just can’t find time to ride anymore, plus my allergies make me tippy, if you know what I mean.

This is a lovely tea. Beautiful brown leaves, like dark chocolate, with mahogany highlights. The dry aroma is like dried apricots & fragrant wood.
per Mandala’s suggestions: 1 Heaping Tb + 8oz X 30 sec
Beautiful Wuyi aroma, sweet & roasty good. Hints of sea salt caramel in the cup, with a sweet cinnamon after taste & aroma.
45 sec – a little bolder, slightly tart & tangy, with a growing taste of raisen, makes me think of cinnamon dusted pastry, or maybe cinnamon raisen bread.
1min – a sweet & mellow cup of goodness. This is the cup I’m on right now, & it is tasty!


Glad you are digging it! We had one customer claim that this tea “stopped time” during a gongfu session. Love that. Making wishes for relief from your allergies, my friend!

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I am accomplishing nothing today, it seems. It’s a gorgeous day, I only have 1 student at 4:30, & I could be doing great things in my garden. However, yesterday my allergies were so horrendous that even though I finally broke down & took a Zyrtek, which I reserve for emergencies, I just can’t bring myself to go outside. So I’m sitting here in my PJs, drinking tea. I did prune my lime, meyer lemon, & kumquat dwarf trees, all in the sunroom. I watered a few plants.

I’ve also been sipping a pot of Nettles, a natural anti-histimine herb, which usually calms things down, but was no help yesterday. I added some Lapacho powder to it today, on the suggestion of the Herbalist I get my herbs from, to help balance out my immune system, so hopefully (over time) it will quit over-reacting to everything in the air.


My allergies have also been going nuts today. I guess it’s time for me to back off from the gluten again.. :-/

Terri HarpLady

I’ve been totally gluten free for 2 years now, & although I’ve seen major improvements in all areas of my health (& I do mean MAJOR), my allergies haven’t changed. Of course, they run in the family, & I’ve had them my entire life, but still, I keep hoping!


I left the house this morning (under protest – not really) with my head feeling like it was full of pudding. Bright side is we had Americanized Chinese food for lunch. The Hunan Beef was so delicious and it moved the pudding out of my head. Finally feeling like drinking tea. Oh, another story – while eating my wife said, “I wonder what kind of tea they serve here.” I told her I had asked before. The young girl looked at me confused and said, “Sweet and unsweet.” Yep, I eat in high class establishments.

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I’m trying to drink a green or white tea each day, so today it is this one, from last May’s TOMC. The tea features huge bud sets, stems, & leaves in shades of pale off white, beige, sage, cream, gray, & Black.
5G + Test Tube steeper (I love that thing!) X 5 sec = Immediately sweet & creamy, with a texture of lightly soured cream, and/or a white sourdough bread.
5sec = A fuller version of the first steep, with a slightly chalkie quality added
5sec = Sweet, with an almost cheesy = yeasty after tase & feeling, like a more robust & tangy mature sourdough.
10sec/15sec/20sec = Admittedly, these next 3 steeps became a little boring for me, gradually becoming more savory, with a rocky quality in the final cup.

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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!


St. Louis, MO



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