2204 Tasting Notes
I wasn’t sure where to put this so I just made a new entry. Tonight as I was Christmas shopping I wanted to show my daughter a coffee shop that I knew she would be interested in. It happened to be closed so she couldn’t go tonight, but it is a coffee shop/bakery/antique shop where you can sit and read and sip your cup of joe while enjoying being surrounded by cool antiques. I don’t know if they sell tea, but I would love that!
Lo and behold, there was a bubble tea shop on the other side of the shopping center!
I have never tried bubble tea. Sandy and I tried to go to one in Chapel Hill but sadly it had already closed – for good.
We went in and there were two young women working. The Asian girl was very, very young, probably still in high school, but she really knew her tea. She was able to tell me that they sourced their tea from China, used quality leaf, mixed black tea and golden tip for their black tea blends, and gave us free samples in little cups since I had never had any. The jasmine green milk tea was heavenly, but for some reason I wanted the heartier black milk tea tonight, perhaps because it was raining. Oh, and I saw a little sign that said to mention the rain, and I didn’t. As she rang me up, the young lady said she really wished I would say something about the weather, so I told her it was terrible out there? It had been pouring rain for hours. She smiled and said they have a rainy day discount and took ten percent off my order.
They had two tip jars, one labeled “Death Star Rejuvenation Fund” and the other “Hogwart’s Tuition Fund.” Cute!
The tea itself was bold even with milk and sugar, and had a definite espresso vibe to it with touches of chocolate and the barest hint of light smoke. Youngest told me it tasted a lot like the Taiwan milk tea she got in Chinatown in New York earlier this year.
I will be going back to get some of that jasmine green milk tea. I think in future I will leave out the tapioca pearls. They were okay but didn’t do a lot for me and I would rather enjoy the tea without them. They have so many other options that you can add – many of which I have never heard of but I am sure they are common to bubble tea.
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.
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.
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! :)
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.