1858 Tasting Notes

I am sitting in my living room watching the dog sleep in his chair as a torrential downpour floods my garden and the last candle from tea party is about to gutter out. Youngest has become passionate about cooking and has made the most wonderful meals and treats for the past few months. Today’s tea party treat was Raspberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake.

This was the first tea of tea party, chosen because it is unflavored and won’t compete with the dessert, and has enough natural flavor to stand out and complement at the same time. I had forgotten how great it is, but thanks to the generosity of K S, we had three magnificent teas for tea time today that brought sighs…every, single one of them.

Though the flavors section mentions astringency. I only tasted rich, malty goodness. Bready, yes. Cocoa, yes. This is a real tea shelf necessity and I am glad I got to refresh my memory on this one before placing my Teavivre order.

Thank you, KS, it was sooooo good. I wish where we have the option to recommend a tea, our choices were “No”, “Yes”, and “Yes! Yes! Yes!”

K S

Awesome… I mean Yes! Yes! Yes!

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As I look at the dates on other reviews I am forced to wonder when I got this sample. Note to self: start labeling samples and place them in a better spot to encourage quicker sampling.

I have tried this before and liked it, but didn’t get to give it the attention it deserved. Today I am all alone for about an hour, something that almost never happens, and I am having a little gong fu session.

My water was 194F and I started with a two minute steep, no rinse. I think I should have rinsed for gong fu with this one, because it was very light. The first aroma to hit was sweet potato but with an edge this time. There was little to no astringency and the flavor was quite light.

I gave the second steep three minutes and the color deepened. Now there is astringency but not an unpleasant one. This is accompanied by a creamy texture.

This is a very good tea for when you want TEA. I don’t think I would serve it with food unless I made it western style with extra leaf. It is not really a breakfast tea for me, but rather an afternoon or,even a contemplative evening tea.

Thank you for the lovely sample, Teavivre!

Indigobloom

I do the same thing. Hold prized samples for so long that they don’t taste the same anymore. Must stop doing that!

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drank Matcha organic 40g can by Zen Tea
1858 tasting notes

This is a decent matcha for matcha lattes. I have had it for a long time and am continuing to try to sip down some of my older teas. I have been wanting to try a kefir matcha latte, and I chose an unflavored matcha to try to duplicate something like the Starbucks drink.

For those who are not familiar with it, kefir is a cultured milk drink, and thanks to Mercuryhime I am making it myself now. Think of something like a cross between Greek yogurt, unflavored Gogurt, and sour cream or buttermilk. The funny thing is that I have never liked buttermilk but I LOVE kefir. The chickens like it, the dog likes it, and my hubby and daughter like it. When a batch comes out just right, I can’t get enough! When it is really tart, the chickens get it, and they are quite happy.

This batch of kefir was thick and creamy. I added a tablespoon of sugar and a half teaspoon of matcha to eight ounces of kefir. I stirred it with a spoon instead of using a blender stick this time. The overall effect was like drinking a glass of matcha ice cream that has melted. I would call that a success.

I am not clicking that I recommend this tea, not because it is bad, but because you can get better matcha for this price.

K S

Buttermilk biscuits… Mmmmmmm Yogurt… Mmmmmmm Turned milk…. uh, no, no thank you. ha. I still don’t know what kefir is but I’d try it, once anyway.

ashmanra

Well, KS, if you like buttermilk and yogurt, you should like kefir. You take kefir grains, a type of scoby (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast), and put them in milk, any kind as long as it is from a ruminant. Kefir grains look a lot like little bits of cauliflower. They are alive and must be fed. Let it sit a day or so at room temp or a week in the fridge, strain it, and drink! If left a long time it separates into curds and whey, but shake or stir and it is thick and creamy. Leave it too long and it gets as tangy as vinegar. Yogurt is prebiotic, helps while it is in your body. Kefir can actually colonize your gut and change your flora for the better. Since kefir grains process the lactose in milk, kefir milk is low lactose or lactose free, depending on how long you leave it. Since the yeast is a different type, it can boot the candida yeast out of your body. Left tightly sealed, it carbonates lightly. Thick, fizzy milk. I add a spoonful of jam and stir, and it ends up tasting like Gogurt or Danactive to me.

Once you strain it, you reuse the grains for the next hundred or so years. Oh, but they propagate like mad, so you will have to some to give away or feed to the chickens or put in your smoothie. You can buy kefir in most grocery stores. Most of it is made with a culture starter from a lab that approximates the properties of kefir rather than with living kefir grains. Buy some and let me know what you think!

Anlina

I’ll have to give kefir another shot. The one time I tried it, it was a bit too fizzy and boozy tasting for me, but kefir with matcha has me intrigued.

Cwyn

Kefir is cheap to buy, I wouldn’t bother making it myself.

boychik

I love kefir. We drink it everyday. I buy from supermarket “Lifeway”. I like it plain but they have flavored too. I would like to try to make my own. Where do you get culture? Or should I just add kefir to milk?

ashmanra

Anlina: when you make it homemade you can control how fizzy, how boozy, how tangy it is. My neighbor has tried starting it from culture and failed. She has good success with the grains I gave her that are the “babies” of the ones Mercuryhime sent to me.

Cwyn: Kefir is pretty expensive here! Five dollars for a small bottle. I can make about eight or nine bottles from organic milk for that price, and it costs even less if you just buy regular milk! Plus it is tons easier to make than yogurt. We just can’t afford to buy much of it from the grocery store at that price.

Boychik: they do sell both water kefir and milk kefir grains online and sometimes Craigslist or freecycle may have them. I have milk kefir grains. They multiply pretty quickly if the room is warm. It isn’t like yogurt, where you can just add a bit to your milk. It is best to get the grains, which are living “scobies.” I Ike it plain, or with a teaspoon of cherry preserves from Bon Maman stirred in.

Anlina

I have a lot of friends who are into fermenting and cultured foods, so I can probably get a scoby pretty easily if I ask around. Or possibly just get someone to make me some. :)

Buying kefir here in the store is also very expensive.

ashmanra

I think I also read that when you buy it in a store it is not always made from a live culture. It might be made from a laboratory approximation of the bacteria and yeast, and it might be made from kefirran, which only works one time. So there is no guarantee it is coming from fresh, live culture. The dog and the chickens love it, and both need it right now because the yeast helps fight skin infections for the dog who is having grass pollen allergy problems, and the chickens are in molt and need the extra protein! They actually eat the spare grains.

ashmanra

Anlina: I have told my friends I will very gladly make kefir for them if they will simply provide the jug of milk! That way my little grains get fed, I don’t spend a fortune on milk feeding them, and they get cheap kefir! It is so easy and only takes a second to strain it and pour over for a new batch, but mine were trying to make two batches a day!

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I have been craving Keemun lately at breakfast time. I have some of the finest Keemun, but it is not as bracing as I was wanting for my morning tea, though I love it as afternoon tea.

This one really hit the spot today! After a sweet pancake breakfast I wanted something to cut the sweetness and give me a little boost and this did the trick. I had one cup at home and took a JoeMo to go with me. There was a nice bread and cocoa flavor, and the smoke was more evident somehow from JoeMo, perhaps just because the tea was starting to cool and the flavor profile was morphing. It reminded me a bit of my beloved Queen Catherine.
Very nice tea experience!

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drank Blossom Earl Grey by Twinings
1858 tasting notes

I had a hankering for black tea and could not decide what I wanted. I am trying so hard to SIPDOWN some teas that are older or have very little left, and I realized that making a whole pot would send this expired box well on its way. I drank one cup and decided the fresh, fruity aroma was crying out to be tried iced and sweetened. Now I wish I had some more hot to refill my cup.

The base is pretty smooth as long as it doesn’t sit too long and cool on you, the bergamot is present but not overpowering, there is a lovely orange blossom scent, and I swear I think there is a tiny little hint of jasmine.

For a bagged tea, this performs.

MzPriss

You know, this was pretty much my first tea. I’ve been drinking it as long as I can remember. As a child I always had it with honey and milk. And I still like this tea. It’s like a comfy blankie.

ashmanra

Wow! For some reason I thought this must be a relatively new blend! I guess I just never saw it in our local stores before and still have to buy it in a bigger city.

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77
drank Irish Afternoon by Bewley's
1858 tasting notes

I ran out of my mystery Keemun so I am now making our iced tea with this. I make two gallons at a time and put it in a Pottery Barn glass dispenser in the fridge. It makes a really good iced tea, as the sugar really requires a little more heft in the leaf so you don’t lose the tea flavor and just taste syrup. I am using about five tablespoons of leaf and thee cups of sugar for two gallons. My mother made her iced tea with three cups of sugar PER GALLON, so…I’ve come a long way, baby. Actually, I drink a lot of my iced tea sans additions but this batch is for family and friends and unsweetened just won’t fly.

I keep the tea from getting cloudy by adding about 1/4 tsp. of baking soda per gallon or two. You don’t taste it, and your tea stays clear even after days of being cold in the fridge.

I decided to try to drink it as a hot tea, sans additions. The first sip or two with breakfast was okay, but then I noticed that burn in my stomach I get when I drink Assams and Darjeelings. If I added milk, there would be no problem, but I would rather get a tea that requires no additions for me to enjoy it than to add milk, so this is staying an iced tea blend for me. Those who love their brekkie teas with milk and sugar would probably enjoy it, as would I if I simply put those additions on the table and used them!

Sil

i really need to try making iced tea from a straight black lol. I have generally just been using fruit teas since i like the juice factor…but i love a good solid black iced tea

ashmanra

I liked this one straight and hot the first time I had it, but sometimes my stomach is just dicey with certain teas. It really is great iced, though, as a sweet southern style tea!

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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.

darby

Cool! Thx! We have whole food so I’ll check it out.

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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 of Lórien

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
1858 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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Profile

Bio

I am a music teacher and homeschooling mom who started drinking loose leaf tea about five 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…

Location

North Carolina

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