1893 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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
Tonight was writers’ group night at my house and that means tea. One member was turning 22 and we had cake that was VERY sweet. This tea went amazingly well with it. I think I made 3 steeps of 22 ounces each, and only four of us were drinking tea.
This is a fluffy tea with lots of flowers, so they recommend using extra leaf. It has a great resteep so that stretches it a bit, and that doesn’t always happen with flavored teas. I believe this is sourced from TeaGeschwendner. It is always well received so I need to make sure I keep it on hand.
This was the second tea I served to my guest yesterday, a lady I met about 25 years ago but never really got to know as we saw each other only rarely, and briefly.
She liked it very much and said she liked the puerh better, which really surprised me. Then she explained that this tea was delicious, but she knew she would only drink it when she felt very stressed and needed something to help her calm down. She wouldn’t consider it an every day tea, and I understand because I use it in just that way.
So she liked it very much, liked the ouerh more for regular consumption, and here is a spoiler….The tea she really flipped over was Yunnan Dian Hong – Golden Tips.
She said she did not consider herself a foodie and felt that she is an old fashioned cook, using just a few spices that her mother used and not exploring new things. Yet she was spot on with all of her descriptions of what each tea smelled like, how it tasted, what it would be good with. I think we have a potential hardcore tea addict in the making!
I waited to pick the third tea for my guest until I had seen her try shu puerh and jasmine silver needle. I used her opinions to pick the final tea, and was leaning toward black tea since she loved the puerh but it had to be just the right one since she had been scared off by a bitter black tea someone else gave her. I called in youngest to help with suggestions. She said, “What about the one we had last week that was so good?”
I turned to my friend and asked, “Do you like sweet potatoes?” “I LOVE SWEET POTATOES!” It was almost a roar! I laughed and pulled this pouch of tea.
This time I got out my tray and tiny teapot with a fair cup. We’d had two teas western style, now she could see gong fu style!
She smelled the liquor and was astonished at the remarkable scent of sweet potatoes, so distinctive. She sipped and said, “This is it! This is my favorite. I liked the others a lot, but this one is perfect. I could drink this all the time.”
She is right. It is a remarkably good tea and I am getting a little low. So I guess that is one more to add to my next order.
Well! this was a bold move, but one I have made successfully before!
A lady was coming over whom I met over 25 years ago, but our interaction has been a once a year email to confirm her address and the occasional “Hi! How are you?” in the grocery store.
I invited her for tea and she accepted. I asked about preferences and she said she liked hot tea but drinks a few herbals and some things from the grocery in bags that she wasn’t really sure what exactly they were. She described a bitter black tea that someone gave her and she hated.
I chose to open with a second steep pot of this puerh! So many people, including myself and some of my friends here, were afraid of puerh at first. I am finding it to be a great opening tea for newbies, though.
Bottom line – we sniffed it, commented on the aroma, I said barn, she said horse manure, we laughed, she drank, she…..LIKED it! A LOT!
It was paired with toasted bread, crusts off, topped with diced German Johnson tomatoes from my garden with Brie melted on top and Sunny Paris seasoning which has the most delicious bits of purple shallots. It was really nice together because the pu held its own with the food. She refilled her cup several times before moving on to the next two teas. One of which totally won her heart….
My best friend has a son who is autistic. Their autism society worker is like family, and she was diagnosed with breast cancer not long ago. She completed her surgery and now has to have radiation, but she is fearful. We invited her over today so I could give her a pep talk and some helpful hints to get through it. (I had it in 2010.) She also asked if drinking tea would help improve her health and prevent a recurrence, so we talked about the benefits of antioxidants, flavonoids, and such in different teas and how they may possibly help. At the very least, replacing sugary drinks with unsweetened tea will help tons! Cancer loves sugar.
She drinks grocery store green tea, but I told her there are things she can actually ENJOY and not just choke down for the health benefits. This was the tea I chose to serve to her today since it has a lot of natural sweetness from the fruits and coconut, and it is so creamy and refreshing whether hot or cold.
The best part was when she said, “I could drink this every day!”
It really is a great tea and I love it especially in the summertime with all of the fruity flavors.
I may have to pick up more in a couple of months when I go to Ireland, but thankfully Gurman’s has fabulous customer service and offered quite a while back to ship orders to the US for us, even the teas that don’t appear on their website but that you know they have in store.
3 tsp. in 22 ounces water, 174F for three minutes