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300 Tasting Notes

My son Rowan was sharing some of my Dong Ding and took a big slurp then breathed out in my direction and said “Oolong breath!” I love my three year old. Huzzah 300th tasting note, sorry it wasn’t profound ;) Happy sipping Steepsters!

Fjellrev

Happy 300! Love that your son enjoys having oolong breath.

Sil

YAY! Happy 300th!

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My son Rowan and I enjoyed this steeped up in my new gaiwan set that arrived today: http://verdanttea.com/teas/crystalline-glaze-gaiwan-tea-set/

Beautiful set, beautiful tea. At first I thought my water was too hot, but now that I see the soy milk description, it really is spot on. It doesn’t taste quite as vegetal as some of the previous harvests, it was softer all around but it still has the signature bean quality and a lovely sweet aftertaste that surprised me when it first hit my tongue.

Very grateful Verdant included this generous sample as I await another order of just tea which I think is on hold for, well this tea… it still says pre-order on the website. Patience, I have plenty of tea to tide me over.

TheTeaFairy

it’s gorgeous!

Autumn Hearth

And recently got an email that its the Bai Mu Dan that is holding things up

Tamm

What a beautiful set!

Fjellrev

Gorgeous set. You have great taste!

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97

My son and I are enjoying this tea iced today. He had some that had cooled off. He took a small sip and practically squealed with delight ‘mmm that’s good!" then took a gulp, then a chug and asked very earnestly to make more of it for him. Lovely raisin, chocolate and sweet potato notes. Smooth, cool, malty and naturally sweet. Love! Poor husband is having stomach issues today :(

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Been drinking through a few samples of Asian grocery oolongs courtesy of tunes&tea from ::gulp:: Christmas. Should have brewed these long ago, but was overwhelmed by too much tea, bouts of depression where I didn’t want to drink tea (silly as the ritual of tea helps me) and various cold/flus/infections and travel.

I started off yesterday with one labeled: “Asian grocery oolong, red octagonish can, $5.99- 8oz, similar to Wei Chaun” after some searching it seems Wei Chuan is a brand not a varietal and since this is a greener oolong, I’m guessing it’s similar to a tieguanyin. This was my least favorite of the three, there was something in the smell even after two rinses I wasn’t digging. I’m guessing it was stale, which is my fault for keeping it in a ziplock for 5 months, but I gave it my best shot, 5 infusions a few sips of each but ended out pouring it out. It wasn’t that it was undrinkable, I just didn’t want to waste my time drinking it. I know that probably comes off snobby or ungrateful, let’s try: “too much tea, too little time”.

I rinsed my teaware and moved on to the “traditional Asian grocery Dong Ding” and as soon as the water hit the leaves I could I was going to like it. Most of the first infusion went into an offering cup, because it smelled heavenly but I figured I should still treat it as a rinse (good tea goes in offering cups, blah tea goes down the drain and I brew more than one offering cup can hold) still I took a sip. Yes very nice roasted Dong Ding. I enjoyed several infusions before making cous-cous for dinner. Had to take the tea into the other room as the kitchen was becoming saturated with cumin and curry. Have plenty of leaf for a least two more sessions.

The third I have just started on this afternoon. It’s labeled “Ti Kuan Yin, asian grocery- good though” and it is! Very good indeed. It’s a darker roasted tieguanyin and these are always a rare treat for me! Going to savor this one. I’m eager to try the “Asian grocery Pouchong” as well, but that will probably be for another day, or perhaps this evening. Thank you “tunes&tea” sorry it’s taken me so long to get to some of these.

Also wanted to mention here that my dad has recovered very well, he was given the go ahead to drive by the doctor two days ago (I had a dream the night before that he had my nephews on his lap in the drivers seat and was accidentally squishing my sister into the side of the garage when I volunteered to drive and had to go with him on the road for business for the next three months, very strange) and I have gotten over my flu and have been cleaning. These teas are a bit of a reward for a clean kitchen ;)

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Sipdown! Getting amazing hazelnut notes this time round! I could smell them right after pouring so half the first infusion went into an offering cup. Lovely!

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I find the name of this tea amusing “Hint of Mint”, pretty sure it’s nothing but mint. Had a few cups of this at Boyd and Wurthmann in Berlin, OH http://www.boydandwurthmann.com/ It’s a neat bustling seat yourself restaurant filled with locals and tourists alike.

It was much more enjoyable than all the bland “Amish” kitchen/buffets (we only went to one this trip, but I’ve been to a few). I find it amusing that all the reviews for those places said the staff and cooks were clearly not amish, despite their uniforms, but honestly what do you expect? Amish women have better things to do, it’s all the other people in the area that need jobs.

I had the trail bologna and swiss sandwich with potato salad. Trail bologna is pretty awesome, it’s made in Trail, Ohio and we brought some back with us. The husband and son actually made me a trail bologna and cheese omelet yesterday brought to me in bed (Rowan actually sent me back to bed), unfortunately I could’t eat it.

Sick story follows:

The moment I smelled the bologna frying I knew I was going to be sick, I actually had the husband run out to get me a pregnancy test, negative (which I’m grateful for, I have an IUD in but you never know). They also made me oatmeal with raspberries that I opted for, but couldn’t keep down. Yesterday was just awful flu + migraine is my personal idea of hell, complete with fever and hallucinating that my body was made up on things it is not. The only way I was able to regain stability was by just focusing on just my breathing for over an hour. Feeling significantly better today, but not without issues that need not be spoken over tea.

End sick story, resume travel/food log, still not tea related but there is wine:

Next time we’re in Holmes County I want to have breakfast at Boyd and Wurthmann, The Wreck sounds fantastic! Third favorite place to eat was the Chalet in Valley, owned by Guggisberg Cheese in Charm, OH. We ordered way too much food as we wanted to try their fondue, which was delicious, we took most of our entrees home and split an apple dumpling.

We also went wine and cheese tasting around Sugar Creek, the Little Switzerland of Ohio, elderberry wine, strawberry-rhubarb, dandelion wine, ice wine, sherry, tawny port, fun! We brought home Apricot, Peach and a Watermelon Wine (which is surprisingly boozey), sage derby, smoked bacon cheddar, salami cheese and butter cheese.

Our last stop was just down the road from Chalet in the Valley, Hershberger’s Farm and Bakery. It’s really a pie shop the sells other goods like bread, apple butter, jams, cider, condiments and other dried and jarred foods with petting farm (with Holmes County’s biggest horse who looked very sad and lots of goats, momma and baby goats inside and billy goats on the roof that you can send treats up to), a hamburger stand, kettle corn and a wooden toy store and pet shop cringe. Elderberry, Strawberry-rhubarb and dandelion fry pies were fantastic and now I know what a fry pie is, or rather what the packaged things the husband picks up from the gas station are, so much better fresh.

On the way home we stopped at the Toyota dealership and traded in the husband’s leased Corolla for a new small, very orange (habanero) Prius. We bought this time, because with his commute to work it made no sense to lease. My credit is even more solid than it was before, husband’s is not great but it’s getting better. None of the picture online due that orange justice. Husband got made fun of at work for it, someone asked if he was a “fairy”, yeah… they didn’t know him when he had a yellow beetle, but then again neither did I.

Fjellrev

Hope you’ll feel even better soon! And the wine and cheese tasting sounds like an awesome experience.

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I had seen this tea on the Tarragon fall menu online before they updated and was very glad when we got there that it wasn’t just seasonal. I had two tea cocktails to chose from, both presumably made from the same tea bag as this said “spice tea” on the menu and the other said “orange spice” but the tea bag I got was definitely orange spice, I think it was Numi. So the main difference between the two is that this was made with Di Saronno Amaretto and the other was with honey and a honey whiskey that had a fancier name I can’t recall.

Cinnamon was really the dominant flavor here both from the stick and probably the bag. I would have preferred this to be more almondy, with an actual almond based loose tea blend. Husband suggested vanilla which would be a nice addition. Still it was a nice treat and complimented the amazing strawberry-rhubarb bread pudding quite nicely. And of course it gives me inspiration to experiment with my own almond tea, because if I ever open a tea bar there will be tea cocktails and tea infused beer for the evening.

Back to the restaurant though. Sunday night I had the most amazing seared duck-breast. It had a honey chipotle glaze and was served with a roasted poblano pepper stuffed with potato and duck confit, and a roasted “squash salad” was actually warm thinly sliced zuchini and summer squash in pesto. This dish delighted my taste buds, hitting every spot, I was actually moaning while eating and had no desire for desert. The seared glaze on the outside was like candied bacon and the balance of sweet, spicy and savory was perfection!

Monday afternoon after our couples massage (which unfortunately left me sore for three days, husband’s was very relaxing, I should have told my guy to be gentler) we had lunch at Tarragon. Husband and I both had the Beef and Wild Mushroom Cottage pie, which was more of a souffle with potato and cheese on top, I had a great gaspacho as well and that’s when we had tea and dessert. My only regret is that we didn’t stop in for just cocktails, because the chef makes his own herbal infused liquors. Tarragon’s menu was also very vegetarian friendly for those in the area that are so inclined ;)

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So last week the husband and I celebrated our four year wedding anniversary (8 years together) with a relaxing four day/three night stay in Ohio Amish Country (Holmes County). Husband was originally skeptical about vacationing in Amish Country, thinking it was all furniture shopping and knickknacks, but not at this little gem in the woods: http://www.innathoneyrun.com/ With a fantastic restaurant, spa and walking trails.

I couldn’t decide on what type of room/suite when we were booking so I told Jay to pick and he left it a surprise until we checked in. He choose the Trillium Cottage, clever boy. Total privacy, wood burning stone fireplace, great architecture and the only room with a two person Jacuzzi tub. We had a welcome tray when we arrived Sunday evening with local cheese, fruit, wine, chocolate covered strawberries and cookies (though shortly after we arrived they called to invite us down to the restaurant for complimentary wine and appetizers, we decided to stay in).

I’ll talk more about their restaurant when I review the special tea cocktail I had there, but this is a about a k-cup. Monday morning I took a shower and walked out to find the husband reading the paper while drinking a cup of coffee and eating biscotti, I found this both amusing and annoying as the husband isn’t a coffee person. He informed me there was tea for the Keurig as well.

Now I’d never used a Keurig before, customers at Teavana used to ask me all the time if they could brew with theirs, so I was curious. Husband said it really felt like German engineering, shrug. Tea was so-so, pretty mild with a slightly astringent finish, but not much bergamot, bummer. At least I had delicious pastries that my sister sent us off with Sunday morning from Black Bird Bakery in Lakewood, Ohio (they have fantastic scones).

Full disclosure here: I honestly don’t know if it was Celestial Seasonings, they had a Celestial Seasonings herbal k-cup that I didn’t make, but looking at images of Earl Grey k-cups it was definitely not Twinnings and the Bigelow, which would have been my first guess, looks different. This design looks the most familiar and husband agrees, so I’m going with that rather than creating a new tea, because I’m tired and sick, again… Won’t rate though.

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This one came in the tea of the month box that I accidentally continued after the free trial (more on that later perhaps) and so is I believe the last of the Autumn harvests Verdant got in. I really don’t remember if I order this one when it came in, I’m leaning toward not, though I certainly ordered the first Autumn harvest of 2012. From the description on Verdant’s website: http://verdanttea.com/teas/hand-picked-autumn-tieguanyin/ This is not the usual Bi Family Tieguanyin. I suppose I should have read the info included with my tea of the month club, but it came just before going out of town for a week and I only got back Sunday with a cold so…

But I noticed it was very different, first note I got was banana?! then cool candy sweetness with a tang. After reading the description I totally get apricot. This is fantastic!

On third steep. May update more but really enjoyed brewing this in the kitchen watching a grey and black squirrel chase each other through the sea of grass and dandelions while a male cardinal and robin flitted out of their way. Husband just came home so cutting this short.

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So two weekends ago I went to my cousin’s wedding in Michigan then drove down to visit my in-laws for a week in Indiana. There were only two or three nice days at the very beginning and end of our stay. Rowan got to ride one of their new miniature horses but I didn’t get to ride one of the big ones due to allergies, rain and cold of doom that every one had (father-in-law actually got a pneumonia).

However I did get to sit down and order tea for my mother-in-law from Butiki and 52Teas and the Butiki box arrived the morning I was leaving so we brewed this up with breakfast. I probably would never order a banana tea for myself, I’m weird about banana flavors. Ripe bananas are great, bananas in homemade smoothies and banana walnut bread all good, but anything flavored banana, no thank you. This however was like drinking wonderful warm fresh banana bread, quite scrumptious! Hope she enjoys all her teas as much as we enjoyed this one, we brewed two pots!

Fjellrev

I normally don’t like banana teas but you make this sound wonderful.

TheTeaFairy

yay, glad you like it :-)

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Bio

Druid, artist, poet, mum, lover of tea, ritual and myth. I grew up on Celestial Seasons herbals but fell in love with straight loose leaf tea working at my local Teavana for a year. I am grateful for the introduction and the experience, but have moved on.

I see tea as an experience for the senses, I like to imagine tasting the land and the weather as well as the effect of sun, air, fire and the human hand. I have a soft spot for shu pu’er, yabao, scented oolongs, wuyi oolongs, taiwanese tea as well as smooth naturally sweet blacks, creamy greens and surprisingly complex whites.

I began ordering lots of samples from Upton to educate myself on different varieties of tea we didn’t have at work and have fallen head over heels for the unique offerings from Verdant Tea. I am learning things I like: buttery mouthfeel, surprising sweet or spice notes, woodiness, mineral notes, depth and complexity and things I don’t: astringency, dry and sour notes.

I collect tea tins and am in danger of collecting pots, though I am trying to restrain the urge due to current lack of space. I brew mostly in a glass infuser mug or a tea maker, only using cast-iron for company now (still need to get a gaiwan) and tend not to sweeten my teas unless they are British or fruity and iced, which is not often.

As far as ratings, I lack a definite system and haven’t been assigning numbers lately, wanting to spend multiple sessions with a tea first. I usually only log a tea once, unless it is a new harvest or I have significantly different observations, but will go back and edit or comment if I find something interesting or new.

Location

Baker Street, Berea, Ohio

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