2193 Tasting Notes

I asked hubby and youngest if they wanted to join me for tea last night and they were wishy-washy until I mentioned this tea. Then they were on board.

I haven’t tried mixing these pearls with plain jasmine pearls yet, but I mean to do it soon. Meanwhile, these are really awesome and pretty much everyone who tries this tea is smitten. It is sweet and smooth. If you want that little bite that greens can give before they turn on their sweet aftertaste, steep it grandpa style and give it some extra time. Don’t like that? Just add hot water and you are back in business. I am experimenting with teapot steeping style lately!

Another teapot story for you on the heels of my teapot purchase – Years ago I inherited a tea/coffee set made of pewter. It is the style you would see in Williamsburg or the Moravian village of Old Salem. My husband loved that tea set and didn’t understand why I didn’t use it more. I will tell you why. NO INSULATORS. Those little pieces of bone, ivory, or wood that you see on metal handle teapots really work. The few times I used that teapot, I had to use a dishtowel folded several times to pick it up because the handle was ridiculously hot.

Then one day I saw a pot with a sort of rattan woven handle and started thinking, and inspiration came from a puerh knife that was given to me by mrmopar. It has a black cord wrapped handle. I went on YouTube to see how to do it on knives, went to a craft store and bought paracord, and VOILA! I think the teapot is much more attractive now, and best of all, the handle is never more than comfortably warm even after I filled it all the way with boiling water. I had planned to store it away as a memento and never use it again, but now I can keep it out and use it when I want a large capacity teapot.

Kristal

reminds me of my metal, electric tea kettle. don’t touch the side after boiling water unless you want a burn!

tigress_al

Little creative touches make things special!

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drank Queen Catherine by Harney & Sons
2193 tasting notes

I got a new teapot!

We do not have lots of money – we made the choice to have four kids and homeschool them, and although I have always taught music/worked elections/done bookkeeping, etc. it still takes a while to save up for things. A long, long while!

Five years ago I started looking for a little silver teapot. I wanted it to be an older one, but it didn’t have to be too old. It had to be a serious bargain, because that is all I can save up for. It had to look pretty to me! I decided I really would mostly use it when having tea alone, especially maybe when I need a little boost, so the small bachelor size teapot would do nicely. I didn’t need the milk and sugar since I don’t use either, so a single pot would do nicely. Someday maybe I will get a full size set, and if I ever do I want it to include the hot water pot with the short pouring lip, because they are also great to use as a coffee pot or chocolate pot. A short lip or spout is easier to clean when using a milk based product in the pot!

A few weeks ago, I found this combination of qualities in my price range. It is an 18 ounce capacity pot made in London in 1891. It has enough pattern not to show dings easily and yet isn’t gawdy. And it arrived Tuesday night!

I wanted the first tea to be special or meaningful and I thought of this one. Without saying what I had picked, I asked my youngest daughter what she thought the first tea should be and she answered, “Queen Catherine” immediately.

It isn’t my best tea or most expensive tea, but it is an old friend. Five years ago it was my comfort through the cancer diagnosis I received four days before Christmas. The Queen was my fortifier throughout treatment. And even before that, this tea made me feel better when I was feeling down about things way back when I still added milk and sugar.

So the Queen was first in the pot! I am experimenting with the best way to use the pot, and I “grandpa steeped” this. It worked, and I didn’t get a bitter mess and the resteep was really good. It was fine without milk or sugar, too.

My husband loves green, white, and oolong tea but he started out on black tea with lots of sugar and some milk. Sometimes in winter he still likes it that way, so I may set out a little sugar bowl sometimes and make a pot for him.

__Morgana__

Congrats on your new teapot. What a great story!

ashmanra

Thanks, Morgana! Every time I nearly bought a pot I would feel panic – as I usually do when spending much over $40! Ha ha! But I felt perfect peace when I bought this one, so it must have been just right and I am really pleased with it.

Fjellrev

I’m so glad you went with it! Sounds beautiful.

tigress_al

You deserve a nice teapot! Way to go for kicking cancers butt!!

Sil

awesome! so glad you found YOUR pot :)

rosebudmelissa

Yay for your new teapot! We’re expecting our third child and I’m getting ready to start homeschooling our oldest, so I understand how nice it is to buy something you’ve been saving up for.

Kristal

Sounds lovely!

gmathis

Perfect tea for the christening!

Skysamurai

My mom took us out and homeschooled us. I’m very thankful for what she did and I know your kids will be (if not already lol) too.

ashmanra

rosebudmelissa: Enjoy your homeschooling years! This is my last one, and I have very little to do since my youngest daughter is doing concurrent enrollment and completing her first year of college along with her senior year of high school. In our state, those classes are offered free, so it knocks the college expense down!

Skysamurai: That is wonderful! You have no idea how much it means to a parent to hear their kids say they appreciate something! I have loved my homeschooling years.

I was a performer when I was young, and some doctors wrote me a note to have a homebound tutor until I could clear my schedule enough to get my tonsils and adenoids out. The tutor came once a week and dropped off assignments and picked up my work, so it was like being homeschooled for half of eighth grade and my mom and I really enjoyed it.

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drank Fete de Versailles by Nina's Paris
2193 tasting notes

This was the final tea served today for tea party, and I have only about a teaspoon of leaf left. This came in a beautiful special tin from Nina’s. It is predominantly orange flavored, rich and thick orange flavor and aroma! I love that it isn’t your run of the mill black tea-orange-cinnamon-clove that every company seems to make, that usually have a slightly bitter taste. This one is fresh and lively.

Regarding serving tea for events – here are a few little things I have picked up and I hope others will share any tips and tricks they may have.

First, you can write on your ceramic, porcelain, etc. teapots with a Dry Erase marker. I used to write the preparation instructions for my youngest daughter because she would prepare the tea while I welcomed the guests and kept them company until the table was fully ready. I wrote the time and temperature for each tea and away she went. Then you just wipe it away before bringing the pots to the table, or you can leave the name of the tea on the pot so you don’t forget which tea is in which pot, or so the guests can know what they are drinking.

Secondly, I just bought a metal cloche for keeping the hot foods hot, but when my guest was late one day I put a glass cloche over my teapot and it kept the tea nice and hot for a very long time. I don’t own a cozy other than a knitted Christmas one (thank you, Sandy!) that I obviously don’t use all year round.

The last tip I have is…invite people over even if you serve tea and Oreos. People want to socialize more than we think! It is nice to connect, so don’t wait until you can make some Martha Stewart extravaganza. Just do it! Truth is, they will probably be more comfortable if things are NOT perfect, because then they know you are human and they don’t mind returning the invitation.

I am fortunate to work at home, and I know that gives me a lot of freedom some people don’t have. I also have a daughter who loves to cook and never complains about being asked to make something special. In fact, she gets bored when I don’t. So when I invite other people over, I usually have a candle lit, soft spa music or coffee house music playing, and a general atmosphere that I hope will both help guests relax and help them have fun. I bring out the best of everything I have. I buy linen and cotton napkins for 50 cents at estate sales. The dog (or dogS if I am sitting for family members) have a bed under the tea table so we can slip them the occasional treat and get lots of love and kisses. So it is at once as elegant as I can make it, and also as relaxed and friendly, I hope!

I would love to hear anyone else’s tips and also what you have done that you love, that worked, or even what you will never ever do again! :)

Veronica

I love this! You are so right about people wanting to connect. Phones are amazing (I can text with the best of them), but I don’t think anything will ever replace sitting across a table from a friend and talking. With tea and cookies of course. :)

I think the first lesson I learned early on is for me to pick the tea that I’ll be serving. I have a large enough stash that I used to tell friends to pick whatever sounded interesting to them, but honestly most of them had no idea. And it was a huge ordeal to make several single servings of tea at once. Now I pick the tea ahead of time an we all get to relax and enjoy.

tigress_al

I always enjoy hearing about your tea parties, and you are right, people do just enjoy socializing. Period!
I wish I had more friends that enjoy tea as well. I only have a couple!
I agree with choosing the tea beforehand rather than letting them choose. Most people are overwhelmed with so much choice! Not everyone has a tea shelf like mine!!

Sil

i agree on the inviting people over! We have a standing open invitation (though we check with everyone again the morning of) for folks to come over every wednesday night. We feed them and then the guys usually pick up random whiskies to try – shared purchases let them explore, and the ladies join me with sampling various wines. I’d do it with tea, but so far no one’s interested in that haha. But it’s great to have everyone come over every week so we all get to see one another, catch up on our lives and such. I’m hoping that when everyone starts having kids it’ll still continue :)

gmathis

A dear friend of mine, pastor’s wife, say, “Just put Oreos on a doily and people will think you fussed :)” I live with pathological introverts and they have, over the years, rubbed off on me, but I do miss those “just come over and visit” connections. (Small groups, thank you; big parties make me hyperventilate a little.)

Nicole

Great tip on the dry erase markers! I just did an open house where I had several pots of tea and I did use cozies since the pots were going to be sitting for a bit. I safety pinned a decorative paper with the tea name to the cozies so everyone knew what was in what pot.

I tend to forget about music, but that’s a great way to set a relaxed mood.

If you serve tea sandwiches (totally easy stuff), you can dress up an edge or two quickly by dipping them in a little mayonnaise or yogurt and then dipping into chopped herbs like parsley. And if you spread a very thin coat of unsalted butter or cream cheese on the sandwiches before you fill them, you can wrap them loosely in waxed paper, uncut, and store them in the fridge for a day without the bread getting soggy. This doesn’t work as well with cucumber sandwiches, though. More for things like egg/ham/chicken salad.

ashmanra

Veronica and tigress – you are right! I pick the teas ahead of time unless it is a first time. Then I sit down and ask lots of questions about what flavors they enjoy, whether they drink coffee and how they take it. That helps me then choose the teas I think they may like.

Sil – That sounds awesome and fun!

GMathis – I agree, it’s the little things like a doily or a pretty plate, and I buy so much at estate sales. I got sterling spoons for $4 each and came home and saw them on eBay for $30 each. Doilies, linen napkins and tablecloths, old depression glass and crystal and silverplate, all for cheap cheap CHEAP! And they make a nice table. I also do small groups. Most of my tea parties are my daughters and one or two friends and myself. Today I had three girls who with their brother are QUADRUPLETS! They are my students, and we did exactly that – Oreos and assorted cookies on a silverplate dish I inherited.

Nicole – I love writing on the pots, and I also bought three boxes of real slate floor tile at an estate sale. I hammer the edges, add cork backing, and oil them and make cheese servers/trivets out of them, and you can write on them with chalk! And I love your sandwich idea and plan to use it next week! I have lots of parsley and oregano and such still growing well in the garden!

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What a fabulous tea. I am sorry to say that we finished the tin today. My youngest daughter doesn’t know it is all gone, and she will be sad when she finds out because this was a favorite of hers.

The chocolate is so rich. It really is one of the most decadent tasting cups of tea I have ever had. The rose is sweet but not so floral that it will turn off the people who don’t go for floral teas, in my opinion. The chocolate really reigns in this tea.

I had no idea it was International Tea Day until this evening, but it just so happened that today was tea party day for us. We had a chocolate chip and pecan Dutch baby, cherry chiparoon cookies, and sugar cookies. The first tea served was Kenilworth Ceylon from Tin Roof Teas, which was okay but not as good as the Harney Kenilworth I had a while back. Then this tea, then Fetes de Versailles from Nina’s. So it was a good tea day!

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drank Wild Black/Dian Hong by Teabook
2193 tasting notes

I received a few Teabook.co samples from K S this week! Thank you, K S!

These teas are sent in a subscription box. The first box included a double walled glass steeper. An assortment of individual serving pouches is included. When you open the little wrapper, you may expect to pull out a teabag but it is loose leaf, measured and ready to pour in your steeper. It in intended for grandpa style steeping.

The leaves of this one were very fine and I don’t have their steeper, so I used my Stump pot which has a very fine infuser. It worked quite well. I only filled it halfway since it is larger than their steeper.

The tea smells good and tastes good, not bitter even though it is fine. Baked bread that has a touch of molasses in it might be a good description. The flavor does have a little staying power, lingering for a while.

There is sediment at the bottom of the last little cup of tea from the pot, but it didn’t make it bitter. I resteeped the leaves and the color is much lighter now even though I forgot about it. The resteep is noticeably less flavorful , so I think the grandpa style would be better on the greens.

I think this would be a great setup to buy for a tea newbie who wanted to try lots of things and be able to make tea at work easily, while having a nice selection that can be neatly stowed away. I just bought a similar steeper for hubby to take to work.

This would be a good gift for the workplace tea drinker who doesn’t want to resort to cheap bagged tea and can’t have a ton of tea accoutrement around them.

gmathis

Looking forward to trying mine this weekend.

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I chose this as one of my samples when I ordered my son’s Christmas puerh. My two eldest kids went from hating all tea, including the sweet iced tea that prevails here in the South, to asking for puerh, matcha, and white tea for Christmas every year.

The leaves are so cute – little brown and black snails, tightly curled and begging to be made into a delicious cuppa. (Like Meet the Meat!)

The fragrance of the the dry leaves was light but they released a lovely aroma when warmed gently with my breath. I made the tea Western style.

I thought at first that it reminded me a lot of Golden Monkey, but it is a little more earthy, though the sweet potato is there. There is a bit of malt, and a strong smell of earthy honey. The flavor lingers after the sip and is lightly creamy. It is smooth enough that I would never think of adding milk or sugar, but if you like those in your tea it can certainly handle it. There is that mouthfeel that I get from teas that taste like unsweeted cocoa – a sort of scraping-on-the-tongue feeling, a strength, yet it doesn’t really taste like cocoa or chocolate to me. And that is a feeling I like, by the way! I think it makes it pair better with food. It isn’t briskness, and I don’t know quite what to call it.

Sami Kelsh

Oh man, this sounds so pretty. And lovely to hear that your sons have become tea people!

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drank Fengqing Golden Buds by Zen Tea
2193 tasting notes

This came as a sample with my last herbal tea order from Zen Tea Life. I decided to try it out for breakfast today to test its suitability for serving at tea time today.

I made one steep in my smallest Kamjove, gave a taste, and decided it seemed like a resteepable tea, so I decided to go ahead and combine two steeps. The review is based on the two blended steeps, but you can amp up all the factors for an accurate idea of what the first steep was like.

The company description is pretty spot on. Dian Hong teas usually have a strong sweet potato flavor to me. That is true of this one, but there is a lot more going on. It is heartier and made a great breakfast drink with my scrambled eggs with French thyme and cheese (eggs courtesy of Blondie, my rescue chicken who looks bedraggled but lays like a champ) and Viili with honey. It takes a decently strong tea to go well with all those flavors.

This has a heavy mouthfeel which is why I refer to it as hearty. I take my tea without milk or sugar, and this was smooth enough not to ever need milk to take the edge off, and sweet enough not to require sugar to make it interesting.

I made a third steep as a stand alone and it was delicious. This is a winner.

I must add that I have received excellent customer service from Zen. I ordered a couple of cast iron pots from them as well as a number of teas over the years and have always had a good experience, with reasonable shipping costs, quick arrival of goods, and good communication when I had questions.

Evol Ving Ness

Good to excellent customer service and rapport is so very important. It completely sucks when you have to deal with the opposite. No reason for it whatsoever. And from a customer’s perspective, unforgivable.

Jim Marks

Dian Hong is a tea which, when of good quality, can be steeped many many times (10-20) if you get your parameters dialed in properly. This sounds like a good one!

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My daughter, Superanna, is really amazing about supporting my tea habit. She brought this tea with her for Thanksgiving yesterday.

The packaging is gorgeous. The tin is a really nice double lidded one that will definitely be getting reused when the tea is gone.

The aroma of the tea is really great upon opening, and the main thing I smell is fresh orange, like the spray of orange juice in your face when you are peeling a fresh orange.

I was surprised that sugar is listed as one of the ingredients in this tea. I don’t think I have ever seen that in a Mariage Freres before. But there must not be a lot of it there. I think it would have really leapt out at me since I don’t add sugar to my tea.

The tea has that fresh orange taste and there is a hint of the hazelnut as well as the bevy of other flavors which I have found to be very done by French tea blenders in the past. Just as with perfume, they know how to mix lots of flavors and end up with layers instead of a mishmash.

My daughter was surprised at how much she liked it. She really doesn’t care for black tea, mostly white and green, but she loved the smell of this and said that the base didn’t taste like a black tea to her. It was a nice, mild base rather than one of the astringent ones that I particularly find in a lot of French teas.

Very nice indeed and very Christmas-y.

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A few days ago, I was called by a lady who has come to tea at my house a couple of times. We met about twenty years ago but only had quick, passing emails once a year on homeschool association business so other than that first time we met, I didn’t really know her. Last year I invited her over for tea and she loved the teas she tried. A couple of months later she called and asked if she could bring her daughter, who likes tea but wanted to know more about it.

Last week she called again and said she saw something that just spoke my name to her and she had bought it for me, and she wanted to bring it over. It was a tea set with tray from Vietnam, with a Kyusu style side handle teapot and six cups and saucers. I was stunned and overwhelmed to say the least! Wow! People can be so incredibly nice!

So tonight, I made an Asian style vegetarian meal for my son and his girlfriend who are visiting us and I got this new set out and this tea after we ate.

I didn’t remove the leaves from the pot, but poured tea to all and added more water as we emptied the pot. I made three steeps this way.

It worked very well with this tea, I am pleased to say. It didn’t not become bitter or sour. It was not terribly strong, and reminded me of kale. I thought it was quite good for a post-meal tea. It had nice green leaf veggie flavor, wasn’t sour or bitter, and wasn’t super light like the Mao Feng I drank recently or like the Snow Bud tea last week.

Sil

that’s awesome!

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drank Weishan Mao Feng by Harney & Sons
2193 tasting notes

This is a sipdown for me. I stand by my earlier notes. This is so fresh and clean tasting that I just want to guzzle it instead of sipping it. Snow melt is the description that comes to mind every time. It is very light – the liquor color, the taste, the aroma, but nonetheless really, really delicious.

I understand this is no longer available. I would love to have something just like it.

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Bio

I am a music teacher, tutor, and former homeschool mom (25 years!) who started drinking loose leaf tea about seven 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 and oolongs.

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

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

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North Carolina

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