2170 Tasting Notes
I have been drinking my matcha in a little soup bowl for years now. It is okay, but one who loves tea just needs teaware, right?
For years I admired the Zen Brush bowl at Zen Tea Life, but when I finally decided to bite the bullet and ask for one for Christmas they had stopped carrying the dark blue one and had a brown one. They had this lovely Aurora bowl in blue, though! Yes!
I love using it! I have had matcha every day. The depth is great for whisking. Also, you can swirl your tea so the particles don’t settle and it is deep enough that it doesn’t slosh over. I love the scalloped, wavy lip so you can pick your most comfortable spot to sip. It is very pretty and when it is wet from washing, the lighter blue shades almost sparkle.
My eldest daughter gave me this tea for Christmas. I haven’t had any of it in about three years, although I have had lots of other Teavivre shu. The amazing thing about this tea was its staying power.
I used one tuo cha in a small pot, and made pot after pot after pot, often combining steeps. It was lovely after the meal, a little earthy and not too horsey (as my daughter put it), and the rose scent is strongest in the first steeps but is not a big player flavorwise. it adds a nice sweetness to the tea without being heavily floral or peppery as rose can sometimes be.
I love how one little piece made enough tea for five people to drink for two hours.
I haven’t ordered the tuo cha teas from Teavivre in quite a while for myself, although my son gets a big bag every year for Christmas by request! I am glad to have this on hand. It is a reliable old friend.
This tea smells great in the bag, and keeps a nice scent while steeping. The flavors are soft and mild and the base lacks that bitter bite that I find in so many flavored greens.
This actually belongs to youngest. She sniffed it while we were Christmas shopping in Chapel Hill and loves the scent, so I threw it in the basket to serve as a stocking stuffer.
The coconut and almond are well-balanced, and I enjoyed it sans additions. The friend who drank it with me immediately placed money on the table and asked me to have some picked up for her.
Eldest daughter, SuperAnna, gave me this for Christmas. Sometimes she Steepster-stalks me for gift ideas, and sometimes she makes notes on what I like. She picked a winner here!
When she asked what I wanted for Christmas, I requested the beautiful Aurora matcha bowl from Zen Tea. She added this to the order and I am glad she did.
First reaction this morning was a growl as I lifted the cup. This is breakfast Keemun. Not so bold that you have to add milk and sugar, but bold enough that you are not going back to bed! (I don’t need tea to wake up – I am pretty at it once I awaken and I have to go out first thing and feed the chickens anyway, so that gets me going. If I don’t make it out quickly, the chickens “moo” annoyingly and I am afraid they will disturb the neighbors!)
There is the raspy scrape of unsweetened cocoa on my tongue and the very light hint of smoke, then as you sip, the building fruitiness. Nice tea! This would be very good with milk and sugar for those who like it that way.
I really loved the sample of jasmine green tea at the local bubble tea shop but at the time I needed something fortifying so I got a Taiwan Milk Tea. I decided to try making a homemade version, and I remembered this economical beauty from Teavivre and thought it would be the perfect base. I was right.
I made the tea strong, about double strength, added sugar, and let it cool. I added too much milk but we live and learn. Even with too much milk it was good, and when I get my proportions right it is going to be phenomenal.
I think I may reorder more of the base just for this purpose.
My eating habits have been deplorable these past few weeks and I can feel it. I keep getting hungry, and tonight I wanted to hydrate and have something healthy at the same time. Since I got my first ever matcha bowl (chawan) for Christmas from my daughter SuperAnna, I picked matcha! I got a nice treat and felt like I was making a great choice at the same time.
This is a vibrant green matcha and I haven’t had another like it at this price point. The wonderful spinach aroma as I whisked it was mouthwatering, and I really want to have more but shouldn’t this late at night. The only bad thing about this matcha is that it sells out and stays out of stock for long periods at times, so if you want some, grab it while you can.
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! :)