1811 Tasting Notes
One of my student’s mom has started finally accepting my offer of tea when she waits for her son in his lesson. Up to now I have made “safe” black teas. She adds a tiny bit of sugar, and I knew she was an Earl Grey fan but only drinks the grocery store stuff, so I have chosen teas to ease her into other things, mostly floral or fruit flavored.
Today was my big push outside her usual box. I told her we were having green tea and she made a face. Then I told her it had pineapple and coconut flavors and her eyebrows went up. There was hope! She and her son both took a cup of it, and they liked it! I enjoy introducing people who “hate green tea” to the good stuff and changing their minds. Her son commented that it was a nicely balanced blend of flavors – a rather astute observation for a seventeen year old boy who doesn’t drink green tea. He didn’t add any sugar to his, but I am pretty sure his mom did.
The aroma of this tea is captivating, both the dry leaf as well as the steeped tea. The coconut lends a creaminess to the flavor and the pineapple is nice, not at all tart.
I have a friend who I have known for about fifteen years, but we don’t see each other often. She had two children when we met – a boy and a girl – and went on to have four more little girls. They live a storybook life in a storybook house. She decorates beautifully, the children love old Roy Rogers movies, she homeschools, and they use Spode every day. The oldest daughter sews the most amazing dresses and makes precious felted animals and dolls for her etsy shop.
I wondered if all those little girls might not get tired of being with ALL those little girls all the time! I suggested that my friend choose one of the four young ones to send over for a grown up tea time with me. She picked her middle daughter, ten years old, to be the first to come over. I made S’Mores sandwiches and I had asked her in advance what kind of tea she liked. She said she liked English Breakfast and Earl Grey.
I picked this one as our first tea to cut through the sweetness of the sandwiches. She added milk and sugar, I took mine plain. They call this their number three level “strong” tea but I found it milder than their number two strength. I steeped it at 203F for three minutes and it felt just right for me. This is loose leaf but definitely not whole leaf – more like particles, which is why I keep the steep short.
My oldest daughter had just sent a message from Ireland to ask if I needed for her to pick up some more M&S tea, but I told her they have brought so much I can’t finish it all before it gets stale. She also told me that she purchased an assortment of teas from Covent Garden and Whittard when she was in London, but I can only have part of it now as the rest is for Christmas. I do, however, have a key to her apartment…
How is it that I have no tasting note for this? I could have sworn I had it before! This is a free sample provided by Teavivre for review.
We haven’t been out for Asian buffet take out in a few weeks and decided to go tonight. We like to drink a nice green or oolong tea with our meal and this one caught my eye. I put the entire sample packet into my 24 ounce pot, heated the water to 175F, and steeped for just barely over one minute. The tea was so fragrant already! I immediately poured that steep into a tetsubin and resteeped those leaves, again for just a few seconds over one minute.
There is a lovely, light chocolate-y aroma here, as if I had eaten a candy bar and a little chocolate melted on my fingers and I can smell that faint scent. This tea has a lot of body, a vegetal taste, and just enough strength to make it taste super mellow with your food and still really good even without food. It doesn’t get astringent or bitter making it this way. I am rarely a fan of astringency. As I was eating, I noticed that the tea sometimes seemed creamy, without tasting buttery. Lots of body here!
This is a tea of high pedigree, and I would gladly recommend it to the friend who wants to start drinking greens but until last week had never found one she liked. This is a very enjoyable dragonwell!
Thank you, Teavivre, for the marvelous and generous sample!
This morning I experimented with making a homemade chai with just my favorite things in it. I am not a huge fan of turmeric in chai but my Indian acquaintances here put a lot of it, as well as black pepper. Now, it may be sacrilege that I didn’t put any pepper, and maybe I can’t legitimately call this chai, but it was really good.
I add 1/2 tsp. of whole cardamom, a few whole allspice, and a bit of Ceylon cinnamon to two teaspoons of Assam. I simmered this in two cups of water for almost twenty minutes. I strained it into a teapot and added sugar, gave it a good stir, and added some hot milk. It. Was. YUMMY.
For all you chai lovers who like the black pepper and turmeric, I apologize for offending your sensibilities. I will happily call this just “spiced tea” and keep on drinking it. My only regret was that I hadn’t made a larger portion!
Okay all, I am getting ready to preach!
Three years ago this week I went for a mammogram. I was about a year late because I was too busy to get one and since I was the poster child for low risk factor I really didn’t need to go, did I now? There was no lump, no changes. But it came back abnormal.
A second one was ordered, then a biopsy, and finally on December 21st I received the official diagnosis. I had cancer. The cancer it was impossible for me to have because I had four kids, I breastfed them, and there was no family history of it.
How does this apply to tea?
This is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and Panera Bread sells a special bagel in the shape of a ribbon. It is cherry vanilla flavored and I miss it when they quit making them.
Today I ground some wheat and made my usual buttermilk bread loaf, but this time I added some vanilla, Craisins, and chopped walnuts to try to recreate the taste of the bagel I love but can only buy one month out of the year. This loaf of bread is already history. Writer’s Group finished all that was left after tea time today! I also made a homemade version of Panera’s Cheesecake Spread, which is just cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla, and a hint of cinnamon. (I left out the crushed graham crackers.)
What would be more perfect to pair with it than Mike Harney’s masterful Boston Blend? Everyone went so nuts over this tea that I made three large pots just for group, and one at tea time earlier. One group member who is crazy about green teas and jasmine teas said it was her most favorite tea of all the ones she has ever had at my house…and she isn’t even a huge black tea fan!
This is an intimate, cozy up tea. A quiet steady friend tea. A comfort tea.
Now, if you are female, make sure you have had your mammogram. If you are male, pester the women in your life to get one. My husband prodded me to go, “just to be sure.” I am thankful.
After drinking lots of puerh, my friend wanted to try a green tea. She said she had never had a good one so I took her to my tea wall and we sniffed some different ones. She loved the smell of this one, but she said, “I want it to be something easily accessible to me!” I told her they were sachets and were available at Barnes and Noble and she was ready to try a cup.
We made a pot, and again she did not reach for the sugar. She took a sip and said rather shocked, “So the only reason I have been adding sugar to tea was to cover up how nasty it was? This is fantastic by itself!”
I have a new tea padawan! :D
This is my favorite puerh without a doubt. If I have a new guest coming to tea and they say they already like and drink tea, I often serve Harney’s Paris or some other flavored black that I feel is a sure thing. If they say they drink coffee and don’t really drink tea or know anything about it, they get this!
A few days ago, a lady I haven’t seen in five years posted that she needed feed bags for a project. I offered her mine and told her to stop by when I have time for tea. She said she didn’t really drink it and to surprise her with something unusual and adventurous. I made this!
When she arrived she told me that she normally took her coffee with milk and sugar, and that was how she had tried her grocery store greens that she dumped out. But she tried this puerh with nothing added and nearly swooned. She loved the cedar-y flavor, the smoothness, and the creamy mouthfeel. We had about eight steeps and honestly, I think the last was my favorite. We swished it around and such a sweetness and bright yet mellow flavor was there. It was pure delight.
This is one of the teas that must ALWAYS be on hand.
I forgot that I had already tried this tea and bought two sachets at Barnes and Noble to make at home.
My opinion remains the same. It is one of the more palatable rooibos blends (I am not a fan of rooibos but was tasting it to see if my pumpkin obsessed daughter would like it) and reminds me of mulled cider more than pumpkin pie.
I noticed they also have it at Target, and a young man told me yesterday that a friend loves it and had recommended it to him. If you like rooibos and mulling spices, try it! It is certainly a very fall, cozy, holiday sort of tisane.
One of the first fine teas I ever bought was Harney and Sons Royal English Breakfast in the Historic Royal Palaces tin at Barnes and Noble. My youngest daughter really loved it and I bought it several times, but we really got away from making anything but loose leaf tea and she started drinking Vanilla Black or Lapsang teas.
A couple of months ago I asked her to finish up the tin as I was doing a tea clean out. Those last two cups recaptured her heart and she wanted more. What to do? I didn’t want more big sachet tins, and I wanted loose leaf. As I looked at their website I discovered that Big Red Sun and Royal English Breakfast seem to be exactly the same tea!
Harney and Sons even repackaged it for me into the black and gold tin so it would match the others on my tea wall!
I had it with my bagel yesterday and I am convinced this is exactly the same as REB. It was so robust that with my meal it actually tasted fruity. It has that really distinctive flavor that shouts TEA!! early in the morning. Slightly astringent, bold, full of body, yet I was able to enjoy it plain and didn’t have to tame it with milk and sugar. This is a keeper, and I am planning to share this with my new doctor who is from Eritria and loves Kenyan tea. I think he will love it even more blended with this smooth and malty Ceylon.