1876 Tasting Notes
Two of my daughters had tea with me today. Youngest and I had this one – it is a favorite of hers – with Hungarian Embassy cake which is basically pound cake with a streak of cinnamon and brown sugar and chopped pecans.
This is an easy introduction to smoky tea. The blend is very nice and has a lot of body and character, with a little Darjeeling personality thrown in with the smoke. It is a real pleasure to drink.
My best friend had never had unflavored matcha before so I offered to whip some up today. Even using my metal kitchen whisk in a plain cereal bowl I got a really decent froth.
My friend said she felt like she had just had a serving of vegetables. I thought it tasted a bit like buttered kale, although sometimes leafy green veggies can have a bitter taste and you really don’t find that here. She agreed about the taste. This is the veggie goodness. I told her I hoped she was prepared to do some housework with all the energy that would be hitting her in about twenty minutes!
Somehow I had failed to add this to my cupboard. What an oversight because I love this one!
Today I made a new cake to try out some new pans. I bought the half size Bundt pans and though I really should have made my pound cake recipe I decided to try a new recipe called Hungarian Embassy cake. I got the recipe from a friend who was at an embassy dinner over twenty years ago. She loved the dessert so much she asked for the recipe, and then was featured in our local paper for her baking and they ran the recipe, too.
I invited my best friend over for cake and tea. I also wanted a good excuse to use my new variable temp kettle again. The cake has a streak of brown sugar and cinnamon through it, so I thought this would be a good match for it.
My friend was captivated by the honey aroma of the tea. She really loved it. The resteep was just as good, making this an excellent value as well as an excellent tea. It was a great value even without its resteep-ability!
Smooth, honeyed, a tiny tad malty, and utterly delicious, this is a cupboard staple. Teavivre blows me away.
Finally! I have my variable temp kettle! I like the way it looks, especially with the filters in it, isn’t that silly? But it is attractive just as a pot for boiling water, too.
All of this section will be the pros and the facts. First, you can set the kettle on the base any old way. It spins – you can turn the handle how you wish. I find that handy.
The lid comes all the way off for filling and cleaning. (Some brands don’t, and they are harder to fill and clean because of the angle you must hold them.) The lid twists on securely so you don’t have to worry about burning yourself with steam or water as you pour as could happen if a lid popped off.
The lid and filters are plastic but they are BPA free. The dual filter allows you to tout leaves or bags in the small filter, insert into pot with filter raised, then you can lower it when the water reaches your desired temperature. When time is up, simply twist the top and the filter draws up out of the water and you can serve straight from the variable temp kettle if you wish. I bought this just to heat water, though!
The water came to a full boil at about 4 minutes 38 seconds. Testing it against my English kettle on the stove, which was more expensive than the electric kettle and is designed for super fast heating, the electric was a little faster as my stove kettle took 4 minutes 50 seconds to come to a full boil. I have noticed it whistles starting at about 195F so I gave it until I could hear the water rumbling a bit to stop the timer.
One of the deciding features for me – this kettle will hold your temp for ONE HOUR! Most others cut off after 20 or 30 minutes.
The lid and glass must be somewhat insulating because HOURS after I tested the pot I poured out the water and it was still warm. Not tea making warm mind you, but I expected it to be cold by then.
Now the one and only con I have found so far. It only holds one liter of water. I often make two Beehouse pots at a time and on tea party day I make three. One liter doesn’t quite cut it, but I can work around that, especially since I really bought this for gong fu steeping sessions.
Edited to add: Also, it doesn’t beep when it hits the target temperature. The blue light on the base turns red and flashes. I don’t know if that is a pro or a con! Beeping would get annoying, but sometimes I might not be paying enough attention!
So far, I really like it and I am not disappointed!
These are available at Tin Roof Teas and I had waited a long time for them to come back in stock. Just when they did, I found out that none of my kids were coming home for a couple of weeks, and I wanted my kettle yesterday, so I ordered it with a discount coupon code from Macy’s and also got free shipping. LOL! So it all worked out in the end, and I think I am still going to be picking up one more from Tin Roof for a friend!
This was sent to me by Bonnie a while back, and I really, really wanted to brew it gong fu style but I really didn’t want to be tied to the kitchen stove for 18 infusions! I vowed that I would not try it until I had a variable temperature kettle to make it easy. (The ancient Chinese didn’t have to worry about it. They had cast iron warmers with coals beneath that kept the water nice and hot for a long time! I have used my tetsubin in a similar way but a tea light candle doth not make the same heat as coals!)
So, of course my shipping notice said that my new Krups kettle would get here on the day I was going to be out of town ALL DAY LONG. But my neighbor watched for it and snagged it so it wouldn’t be in danger on the porch! And now the tea…
I out 2T in my little thick and easy gaiwan and gave it two rinses as the website suggested. The steeps are about four seconds and believe me, that is enough! The later steeps are my favorite, and quite frankly I feel like I am floating because I have drunk so much tea! Hubby abandoned me several steeps ago so here I am plugging on all alone and drinking it all! They aren’t kidding when they say you can expect about 18 infusions.
The first steeps were a bit astringent because I was having trouble juggling the new kettle and the somewhat awkward place I put it to be near an outlet and getting back to the tray in four seconds! They weren’t bad, just not remarkable. The later steeps are quite good – lots of stone and mineral taste in this with a nice overtone of the apricots and even a little spice like Ceylon cinnamon, the milder sort.
I plan to try it western style very soon! I will also review the Krups. Spoiler: I think I am going to love it, and youngest has already claimed it for making her tea on school days!
Next to Lapsang Souchongs, this is my youngest daughter’s favorite tea. I wanted to make a pot of tea that everyone in the house would like today. I had just made a batch of sugar cookies based on the America’s Test Kitchen/Cooks Illustrated recipe that is supposed to be nearly perfect. (It is.) Hubby got off work early – well, he got off slightly later than he was supposed to, but having just worked one 18 hour day followed by a ten hour day, it felt like “early” and I wanted to have a family tea time to celebrate. Plus, tomorrow is our annual Christmas shopping trip out of town and we are feeling festive!
This was the best choice for an “everyone will drink it” tea. I am not sure, but I think that for the first time, hubby drank a black tea without adding milk or sugar! If so, that is a huge deal. He drinks greens, oolongs, and puerhs without additions, but black tea ALWAYS gets at least some sugar!
Great tea, great cookies, a very nice day!
This was so good yesterday that I just had to have it again today. This was the first tea of tea party, as I wanted a great unflavored black tea to pair with our food. Today we had slices of homemade buttermilk bread, buttered and toasted, then spread with black currant jam, lingonberry jam, and/or Double Devon Cream.
How good was it? It was the only one of today’s teas that my guest requested a second cup and though she liked the other teas, said that this one was her favorite of the day.
Smooth, cocoa-y, hearty without biting, this is indeed a great black tea.
This is the third and final sample from Zen Tea in this round of tastings!
I requested this sample because a young man who works at the big tea company which shall not be named told me that this is one of his favorite teas. He really encouraged me to try it sometime. What better time than now when Zen is offering to let me pick a flavor to try?
I served this at tea party today as our final tea. The last tea is usually served after we have eaten all we are going to eat, so I often choose a flavored tea for that spot.
The dry leaf has an amazing coconut aroma. The wet leaves, when removed from the pot, scared me a little as they had a bitter smell. Nothing to worry, though, because the actual tea was sweet and smooth.
The coconut flavor is really dominant here and tastes very natural and pure. It is just like opening the bag of Baker’s Flake Coconut for the first time, and the smell of the sweet coconut rushes out.
There is nothing bitter or offensive in this anywhere.
Another great tea from Zen!
I was hungry but I have had a moderately angry tummy since yesterday. I wanted black tea with a snack, but I knew I couldn’t drink just any black tea or I risked making things worse. I thought this one from Nature’s Tea Leaf that was sent as a very generous sample (I STILL have some left, thank goodness!) would be just the thing. It is delicious and would satisfy the black tea craving, but it is smooth enough not to upset things further. At times like this, Assams are out of the question for me.
This is an excellent Chinese black tea. I steeped one teaspoon of leaf in 8 ounces water, resteeped, and poured it all in my big Christmas mug. This accompanied second breakfast which was cinnamon toast, heavy on the brown sugar and cinnamon. So yummy! I have really got to reduce my cupboard enough to order several teas from this company. This one and their Dragon Pearl Green are definitely on the list.
I made this by the hot latte instructions they include in the tin. I added Turbinado sugar instead of the six cubes of Demerara. YUMMY! I know this isn’t pumpkin flavored, but the spices in this make it taste like liquid pumpkin pie. I think this is my favorite chai, mostly because it doesn’t taste like other chai I have had. No turmeric, no pepper, just yummy spices. Of course, it doesn’t have chai in the name so maybe it is not really considered one.