1812 Tasting Notes

Yesterday was an adventure. I needed to finish my pickles, which take about three days for all the steps. Youngest was waiting for the chance to have the kitchen because she was making an Italian Cream Cake from scratch, from freshly ground soft white wheat. As I was pickling, I managed to set a spoon on fire, scorch my dish towel, and burn my hand (on the flaming spoon whose nylon hanging string melted and burned into my hand). Then the phone rang and the lady who has breast cancer wanted to come over to talk about her surgery and pre-op some more since, like mine, they didn’t get it all the first time, and I had a new student coming just after lunch and needed time to eat lunch myself, and….well, you get the idea.

So today was the first day of school for my final homeschooled child, who is a junior this year, and it was TEA PARTY DAY!!! Yay! It has to be a better day when you are going to have Italian Cream Cake and tea with with friends.

I checked the package today and noticed that this tea is technically expired. It is still truly delicious, and I do have more of their newer harvests as I ordered a couple of different ones because the samples were so, so good. It would be considered expired on 6/12/13. We have actually had it a couple of times lately and it was a favorite with guests both times. In spite of the age, this is a fabulous tea that still shows its fine pedigree. It is almost gone, but expired tea is what happens when you buy way more than you can drink, even when you drink it in groups.

I keep thinking that I will pare down my cupboard, and then I see a tea I must keep on hand for so-and-so, or one that I have been wanting to try, or one that I can’t bear to run out of. Ah well, I will keep I drinking and sharing and it will all work out!

Mercuryhime

Hope your hand is feeling okay!

ashmanra

It is great, thanks to a miracle salve called Seabuckthorn that I buy from Chagrin Valley Soap and Salve. I have never seen anything like it for making a burn stop hurting almost instantly and taking the red out. Last time I got a burn it didn’t even peel. I am a burn wimp and usually whine for a long time with my offended part in ice water. Not anymore.

darby

Where do you buy that Ashmanra? I work in a restaurant and burn all the time!

ashmanra

Darby: I buy it online. I know it is sold in Whole Foods Market up north somewhere, near their physical location. I think it works far better than lavender oil. I also use their shampoo bars, chickweed salve, soap, and shampooch for the dog! A friend who lives up there recommended them to me. She has lots of serious allergies and uses their products now to prevent reactions. They have a Facebook page and they send out a monthly email if you sign up for them. Burns stop hurting in less than two minutes for me, sometimes less than one.

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This tea is so far superior to the one from Teavana in my opinion, and it is probably half the price. It is a tea that can go with any mood, any food. I served it today to youngest and her friend and I forgot to put milk and sugar on the table. It didn’t matter. They drank it plain. I think both girls have been trying to drink their tea straight for a couple of months now, and this one is an easy one to learn to like like sans additions.

Mercuryhime got me thinkkng…and looking around. She mentioned having to clean when you invite people to tea. Well, Mercuryhime, if I am ever in the area, don’t clean for me because I just want to be with you! Let your dogs lick my face, let me get dirt on my shoes in your garden, I will be happy! I love getting to know new people and learning from them.

BUT…I am going to bare all and tell you PART of what is cluttering my kitchen right now. Remember, my kitchen is large though my house is small, because this was a kitchen/den combination when the house was built, with a tiny dining area. A den was added, so the old “den” is now informal dining and school table and the formal tiny dining corner is now the laundry area and bread making center.

Okay, here goes. Tomatoes everywhere on the island, cucumbers because I am about to make pickles, teapots all down the counter, a Breville, a mixer, two ceramic egg holders because I don’t refrigerate my eggs. (Fresh, unwashed eggs have an antibiotic coating from the hen.) There is a cooling rack out still from muffin making, a cast iron Dutch oven that I can’t put away due to my surgery and am waiting for someone else to do It, two jars of kefir fermenting, a compost pail, some recycling that hasn’t been carried out, lots of spices, a mortar and pestle full of eggshells that need to be distributed, a bowl of fruit. I have my mother’ s and godmother’s rolling pins and my MIL’s old hand powered egg beater. All sitting out or displayed. It really does look like an old general store in there. On the fireplace, there are candles, lanterns, a candle box, a paper towel tube (WHY?), and some magazines. That is probably less than half. LOL!

Does anyone else dare tell what is sitting out in their kitchen? Several OCD people probably just fainted. I am sorry! :D

FYI: we eat almost all our meals at the little tea table in the “L” of the living room because of all the stuff in the kitchen.

Mercuryhime

well, this does make me feel better. :) Though I think I do have a mild form of OCD. I’d glad you’re someone I can invite over without having to worry about cleaning first.

Cwyn

Now that sounds like my idea of a kitchen. Wish I wasn’t old and lazy, cuz I can get down with all things like homemade pickles, kefir, bread, muffins and fresh farm eggs. My comparatively empty countertops testify to this, or maybe a testimony to no longer having young children around to feed. A lovely read! I’ll be over to your place tomorrow. :P

MzPriss

As honest as you’ve been about your kitchen – I can’t even begin to tell you about mine – mine is all taken apart – because I am going on a purging binge. I am getting RID of things and I have pulled things out of cabinet and closets and I have stuff stacked everywhere. I am planning on it all going away after I start my vacation next week. I’m jealous of your produce :(

gmathis

Overflowing tea baskets pretty much everywhere, fried pies, turnovers and an apple crumb tart from the farmers’ market; a ziplock bag of expired coupons; mail we don’t quite know what to do with; a platter of assorted vitamins and supplements; a dish rack stacked with drying stuff like Jenga because nobody wants to put it away; colander full of banana peppers (and that’s just the stuff that isn’t in its rightful place).

gmathis

I did, however, start on a reality-check clothes closet pitch. Shirts so tight they cut off circulation in my upper arms now in brown-bag purgatory awaiting their second (third?) life at Goodwill.

Terri HarpLady

My kitchen counters are loaded with bubbling crocks of various culturing veggies, crockpots & dutch ovens awaiting their next episodes, a dehydrator, piles of tomatoes (even though I brought 5# worth of them to Tony’s because we’re making a batch of sauce tomorrow), a bread kneading area with sack of flour, because although I can’t have gluten, one of my sons has really gotten into making bread. There’s a dehydrator, from my raw foodie days, which I still use, a coffee maker that the kids (who are adults) use, a bowl of fruit, a dish draining wrack, a large compost bucket, & lots of spices, & a mortar & pestle. The Table, which is in the kitchen, has an electric kettle, a tea towel where I dry my various teapots & cups, a pile of cookbooks (because although I don’t generally follow recipes, I love reading them, LOL).
Most of my tea is in my office, along with my teapots & other paraphernalia.
The Sunroom windowsills are piled with tomatoes, all kinds. There are also 3 wonderful large baskets that I use for picking produce (one is currently full of zucchini), & there are buckets with gardening tools, & the little table back there is covered with seeds, my garden journal, & other gardening stuff.

ashmanra

Keep it coming, everyone! I love this! Cwyn, I wish you could come over. We would have a tomato sandwich and let the juice run to our elbows!

MzPrizz: I have been contemplating a real clean out. We have lived her for 21 years and things add up. Some things are not really needed anymore, like cute cake pans of trains and lambs, but what if I get grandchildren? LOL!

GMathis: I left out my thee tea stashes. One is on shelves on the wall, one is a chest under those shelves and there are two spots in the cabinets with tea, as well as a super old cast iron Dutch oven with samples in it. Oops, and another basket under the fruit basket. Oy.

TerriHarpLady: I am making pickles right now, so my Kilner jam pan is sitting on the bread table. Underneath that table are buckets: hard red wheat for cookies, hard white wheat for bread, soft white wheat for cookies and pastries, Kamut for waffles and pancakes, oats to flake, and hard red winter wheat for the chickens. There is also frequently a jar of seeds sprouting for the chickens, though they just ate the most recent batch.

Lariel

You guys are making me want salad.

boychik

My turn. Produce from farmers market on island. I cannot put tomatoes or peaches to the fridge. Pecan pie, croissants . Counters are loaded with 2 gaiwans, 2 tea baskets and 1 glass gongfu pot, strainer. All waiting for their resteeps. Thank you for posting this.

gmathis

…and then there’s the wire Basket O’ Condiments, stuffed with leftover ketchups, mustards, and whatevers from take-out…

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This is my second note on this tea. The first time I had it, chamomile was the first aroma that rushed from the sample pouch, then Rose, and then chamomile with creamy white tea was the dominant flavor to me, the Rose coming in as a sweet taste.

Tonight I opened my new pouch of this and set up a gong fu session for my youngest daughter and her friend who is spending the night. They are having lots of food adventures and made us a wonderful French onion soup for supper. Since it is quite late, I thought this would be a great night time tea with the chamomile.

This is such a beautiful tea. It really should be displayed briefly before steeping whether you are having people over or drinking it by yourself, because the beauty of the flowers is a part of the experience with this one. This time it was more rose-y to me. Both of the young ladies loved it, and said that the Rose flavor lingered for a long time. They stayed for three steeps before getting ready for bed, and I continued steeping for two more steeps.

This is a truly lovely tea, and I already knew I would enjoy it in the evenings for a quiet, contemplative cup.

Terri HarpLady

This sounds lovely :)

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drank Keemun by Marks and Spencer
1812 tasting notes

I made two gallons of this iced a few days ago to keep in the refrigerator. I put it in the Pottery Barn dispenser. Guys, if you buy a dispenser, get one with a real metal spigot and not a plastic one. You will pay more but it will last years longer. Just ask Pioneer Woman. It is worth it not to have to clean up from those leaks all the time, and I love having enough on hand for guests.

Anyway, yesterday a neighbor was walking by with her wee dog and stopped a moment to chat. We have been neighbors for over twenty years but hardly know each other. I asked if she wanted to see my chickens and we called them to the gate. She said she wanted chickens, for a long time, badly!!! And now she swore she would get some. She lives four houses away but didn’t realize I had chickens before.

Today I got a text that someone was giving away five laying hens. I walked to her house to ask if she wanted them. Yes! Yes! She and her hubby came over to see my coop so they could build theirs, and….they had tea. Her husband said this was the best iced tea he had ever had in his life. His wife promised to come learn how to make it if he would get the coop built! We also gave them blueberry muffins and kefir.

The wife was very interested in my tea wall and wants to try puerh, so we are going to schedule a tea tasting soon. She said it smelled horsey but she could tell it would taste sweet and creamy.

I also found out that she has tried making kefir several times and was never successful. Thanks to Mercuryhime , I am now a kefir maker myself! So she is also going to learn to make kefir and when my grains make enough babies I am going to share them with her.

Tea makes friends. Friends make tea.

Sil

Awesome!

Christina

You know, I have a neighbour who says he likes tea, and recommended a store to me that did British High Tea. I’ve given him cuttings from our front yard, and should make a visit sometime to give him the seedheads from our poppies.

Maybe I should invite him over for tea as well!

Mercuryhime

I would invite people over more often but that means I have to clean. :(

DeliriumsFrogs

I loved reading this…it really made my day! :) (and I read in your bio that you’re a homeschooling mom, which is awesome, because I, too, have my three kiddos at home. Man, I’d love to be your neighbor. lol)

ashmanra

Christina: do invite him! I invite a lot of people. Some don’t accept, some do. The ones who do have never regretted it, and come back for more. Most of them get addicted to tea. I had never met the man who gave me my Marans until he brought them but he is now addicted to puerh and just got another Mandala order in. LOL! He is placing a Teavivre order next!

DeliriumsFrogs: Mercuryhime and I were just talking about how we need a Steepster village, with all our pets and a wildlife sanctuary, and lots of tea, and our own gardens. Think of all the tea children frolicking in our yards, learning about the whole world from all of our wonderful tea neighbors. Have fun with your kiddos! I homeschooled all four but three have graduated and I am on my last two years with the youngest!

Veronica

How fun! I love the little moments that bring people together.

Cwyn

Sigh. I’d give my left arm for another jar of cherries in port wine from Marks and Spencer.

DeliriumsFrogs

A Steepster village would be a dream!! :)

Christina

Well, if we can’t have a Steepster village, I would settle for a nice cabinet to store all my tea. Either that, or to secretly become ashmanra’s neighbour. :)

ashmanra

Cwyn: I will be there in eight weeks. Shall I pick up a jar for you?

Christina: Lots of houses in the area for sale! Come on over when you get yours! :)

Mercuryhime: I have to keep my living room relatively clean because I teach music lessons in there, and I have a small dining table in there with a sideboard, but naturally guests want to wander into the kitchen. So far no one has fainted! LOL! My house is pretty clean, but very cluttered sometimes because of all the things we get interested in. There are soooo many musical instruments and lots of craft supplies, dishes, wheat buckets and and the grinder…Clutter! And more clutter! We won’t talk about all the books…

gmathis

Books are furniture. Enough said. My mom always advised that one should choose friends you’re comfortable inviting in no matter how the house looks. She was a pretty wise woman.

ashmanra

She was wise indeed. One friend has a much larger house that is always clean, at least when I am there. I always tried to keep her in the living room and then a couple of times she went in my kitchen (which is large because originally it was a kitchen/den combination and it has a fireplace) and each time she exclaimed that she felt so AT HOME in that room and just loved it, and it reminded her of an old timey general store. I realized that it really made her feel totally accepted and “IN” the circle to be invited into the messy but warm and lived in kitchen.

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Tonight was writers’ group night at my house and that means tea. One member was turning 22 and we had cake that was VERY sweet. This tea went amazingly well with it. I think I made 3 steeps of 22 ounces each, and only four of us were drinking tea.

This is a fluffy tea with lots of flowers, so they recommend using extra leaf. It has a great resteep so that stretches it a bit, and that doesn’t always happen with flavored teas. I believe this is sourced from TeaGeschwendner. It is always well received so I need to make sure I keep it on hand.

Veronica

and onto my wishlist it goes. :)

gmathis

I’m going to have to figure out where to find fresh figs locally. (Had hubby’s birthday dinner at a Carrabba’s in NW Arkansas and fell in love with their tenderloin in port wine fig sauce.)

Veronica

My grandpa has fig trees on his farm. There are a couple of chefs out of New Orleans that drive out to get figs from him and they often bring him some delicious dish as an added thank you. I always thought that was cool of them.

I really wish I could find fresh figs here at a reasonable price,but I don’t see that ever happening.

ashmanra

I think figs are so delicate for shipping and such that it drives the price up. I wish I had planted an offshoot of my MIL’s fig bush years ago. Then I would have plenty now!

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This was the second tea I served to my guest yesterday, a lady I met about 25 years ago but never really got to know as we saw each other only rarely, and briefly.

She liked it very much and said she liked the puerh better, which really surprised me. Then she explained that this tea was delicious, but she knew she would only drink it when she felt very stressed and needed something to help her calm down. She wouldn’t consider it an every day tea, and I understand because I use it in just that way.

So she liked it very much, liked the ouerh more for regular consumption, and here is a spoiler….The tea she really flipped over was Yunnan Dian Hong – Golden Tips.

She said she did not consider herself a foodie and felt that she is an old fashioned cook, using just a few spices that her mother used and not exploring new things. Yet she was spot on with all of her descriptions of what each tea smelled like, how it tasted, what it would be good with. I think we have a potential hardcore tea addict in the making!

Tealizzy

Yunnan Dian hong – golden tips is the best! She’s got good taste!!

Cameron B.

I agree, the Golden Tip is fantastic! :D

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I waited to pick the third tea for my guest until I had seen her try shu puerh and jasmine silver needle. I used her opinions to pick the final tea, and was leaning toward black tea since she loved the puerh but it had to be just the right one since she had been scared off by a bitter black tea someone else gave her. I called in youngest to help with suggestions. She said, “What about the one we had last week that was so good?”

I turned to my friend and asked, “Do you like sweet potatoes?” “I LOVE SWEET POTATOES!” It was almost a roar! I laughed and pulled this pouch of tea.

This time I got out my tray and tiny teapot with a fair cup. We’d had two teas western style, now she could see gong fu style!

She smelled the liquor and was astonished at the remarkable scent of sweet potatoes, so distinctive. She sipped and said, “This is it! This is my favorite. I liked the others a lot, but this one is perfect. I could drink this all the time.”

She is right. It is a remarkably good tea and I am getting a little low. So I guess that is one more to add to my next order.

caile

Love this one too!

mpierce87

This is now going on my wish list – I love your tea party descriptions!

Lariel

All hail the mighty sweet potato tea!

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Well! this was a bold move, but one I have made successfully before!

A lady was coming over whom I met over 25 years ago, but our interaction has been a once a year email to confirm her address and the occasional “Hi! How are you?” in the grocery store.

I invited her for tea and she accepted. I asked about preferences and she said she liked hot tea but drinks a few herbals and some things from the grocery in bags that she wasn’t really sure what exactly they were. She described a bitter black tea that someone gave her and she hated.

I chose to open with a second steep pot of this puerh! So many people, including myself and some of my friends here, were afraid of puerh at first. I am finding it to be a great opening tea for newbies, though.

Bottom line – we sniffed it, commented on the aroma, I said barn, she said horse manure, we laughed, she drank, she…..LIKED it! A LOT!

It was paired with toasted bread, crusts off, topped with diced German Johnson tomatoes from my garden with Brie melted on top and Sunny Paris seasoning which has the most delicious bits of purple shallots. It was really nice together because the pu held its own with the food. She refilled her cup several times before moving on to the next two teas. One of which totally won her heart….

K S

You are amazing. How you got a casual friend to trust you enough to drink horse manure is mind blowing stuff. Once past the smell this sure does sell itself. I have no idea what most of what you ate is, beyond toast and tomatoes, but glad it worked.

KiwiDelight

ooooooOOOOoooooo she was brave to try it even though she said it smelled like horse manure.

Cwyn

Lolz on the horse manure…

ashmanra

Lots of shu puerh smells like a faint whiff (okay, sometimes more than a faint whiff) of horse manure to me. But the taste is magnificent! The first pu I tried smelled like dead fish and shrimp shells and THAT took some courage to try! Fortunately, it tasted all right, but I have found lots of nice puerh since then!

I know, wasn’t she sweet and trusting to taste it anyway, since it was something she never heard of and didn’t expect?

Cwyn

The first ripe I ever had was a box of free puerh tea bags I got with a teapot order. Those bags were the fishy-est things, no wonder they were free. Vendor suggested rinsing fishy puerh in cold water before doing a hot rinse, it helped a little, but man oh man…

K S

I still have some of the first I bought. It came in a 8 oz tin and cost like $8. It smelled like dead fish wrapped in wet newspaper and stored in a cellar – seriously offensive. I drank it anyway – with lots of chocolate mint. After a few years it has mellowed out and is actually quite drinkable all on its own.

mrmopar

I remember the first sheng , tasted like heavy smoke an XiaGuan 8113. Didn’t toss is still have it. First shou, a $12.00 Ebay auction. One brew and I tossed the whole cake. You did well to make a convert.Very hard to do with puerh.

ashmanra

I kept that fishy stuff for a long time, and finally read on here that if you let it air out for a couple of hours that aroma would dissipate, I let the little tuo chas sit out for two days in a bowl, drank them, and never bought those again! Even the better pu at A Southern Season has a bit of a wang to it.

Cwyn

A wang! :D

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drank Seven Samurai by Gurman's
1812 tasting notes

My best friend has a son who is autistic. Their autism society worker is like family, and she was diagnosed with breast cancer not long ago. She completed her surgery and now has to have radiation, but she is fearful. We invited her over today so I could give her a pep talk and some helpful hints to get through it. (I had it in 2010.) She also asked if drinking tea would help improve her health and prevent a recurrence, so we talked about the benefits of antioxidants, flavonoids, and such in different teas and how they may possibly help. At the very least, replacing sugary drinks with unsweetened tea will help tons! Cancer loves sugar.

She drinks grocery store green tea, but I told her there are things she can actually ENJOY and not just choke down for the health benefits. This was the tea I chose to serve to her today since it has a lot of natural sweetness from the fruits and coconut, and it is so creamy and refreshing whether hot or cold.

The best part was when she said, “I could drink this every day!”

It really is a great tea and I love it especially in the summertime with all of the fruity flavors.
I may have to pick up more in a couple of months when I go to Ireland, but thankfully Gurman’s has fabulous customer service and offered quite a while back to ship orders to the US for us, even the teas that don’t appear on their website but that you know they have in store.

3 tsp. in 22 ounces water, 174F for three minutes

Christina

I hope she does well. And it sounds like you may have started a conversion!

looseTman

The autism society worker is very fortunate to have a friend like you!

Nxtdoor

This is a great story. Thanks for sharing.

ashmanra

Christina: I am hoping to start another conversion today!

looseTman: We feel so fortunate that our friends have such a committed and reliable person to stay with their son, she goes above and beyond the call of duty all the time. And when I had breast cancer, I wondered if someday my experience might help someone else. Well, I hope it has now. We are going to make it through her diagnosis together! The army hospital is sending her to the same cancer center I went to for my radiation treatments, so I was able to give her lots of info. It is a really great facility and they offer lots of support, but sometimes you want someone you know and someone who has been through it, and I can be both for her.

looseTman

That’s truly awesome & quite a blessing!

Cwyn

A similar story for me that is opposite, I was the worker for a lady with autism and she had cancer. Spent 14 years with her and she was like my family. Many weeks I spent more hours of my life with her than with my “real” family. I can say there were no books, no literature, nothing on how to help a person with autism live with cancer, or how to die with cancer. I loved her so much, still do a double-take on the street at times when I glimpse someone who slightly resembles her.

ashmanra

Cwyn: I am so sorry for your loss! My son used to work with autistic children and he started a game night at the local coffee shop for autistic adults. Now he works in another town with mostly adults though I think they have one or two teens. He loves “his” folks and they all get attached to one another. What a blessing you to her! It is so rare to have the same autism assistant for a year or two, but for fourteen years!!! That is amazing! My son works for the creative living center so they have an art director on staff who helps the participants learn to draw and paint, and my son’s group takes them out to learn social skills and to volunteer for various charities like Meals On Wheels and 10,000 Villages. He loves his job!

mrmopar

I think she has a great friend in you for support and encouragement.

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This is a fabulous shu. It is so smooth and creamy, with a thick mouthfeel. There are rich aromas of dark, fertile earth and barn, with a high note of dark cedar, and the taste is sweet and full. I had several cups today, I will be resteeping this tomorrow, and I have a feeling that I will be ordering more very soon. This is one of my favorite flavor profiles in a shu puerh.

Preparation
10 g 26 OZ / 768 ML

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Profile

Bio

I am a music teacher and homeschooling mom who started drinking loose leaf tea about four years ago! My daughters and I have tea every day, and we are frequently joined by my students or friends for “tea time.” Now my hubby joins us, too. His tastes have evolved from Tetley with milk and sugar to mostly unadorned greens.

We have learned so much history, geography, and culture in this journey.

My avatar is a mole in a teacup! Long story…

Location

North Carolina

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