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I decided some time ago that my one luxury in life would be tea.
I don’t go out to the movies or restaurants (unless I have an occasion) and shopping for clothes is an old habit. (I have too much from when that seemed important.)

Tea is my #1 pleasure.
My contact with other human beings is primarily through discussing tea, reviewing tea online and drinking tea with family and tea shop buddies.

I want the best TEA that I can get. Sometimes it isn’t possible, and sometimes…I find a way.

When I read about Master Han’s and Anxi Fo Shou Black Tea’s I knew I had to have them, if even just an ounce. I ran to my computer as soon as they became available. Then, I waited….

This morning when I opened my curtains to look outside, there were glowing silvery ice crystal flakes, floating down without the will to be snow or stick to anything. This is intense TEA WEATHER! I’m ready with my newly arrived tea!

I have a spotted green/brown gaiwan that I chose to use for the tasting.

I followed the Verdant instructions for rinsing, proportion of leaf to water (I used a little less leaf because I’m a hyper-sensitive taster) and used the suggested steep times.

I’ve never looked at the tasting notes of other people first.
I like to make up my own mind and then check them against other people to see if there’s a match or not.
This time however, I sat with the notes from the website as though I was at a tasting with another person in a tearoom and we were going back and forth discussing the tea.

One of the first amazing but truly Brilliant flavor discoveries was Olive.
(I have to give it to whomever picked this out of the flavors because it’s so spot on.)
The fruitiness of olive oil…pungent and rich…wow! In a tea?!

I began to blither on in my head…picturing myself driving towards Elliot Road and the incline to my old home in Paradise.
The country road was lined with Olive Groves. Sheep and cows grazed between the rows of dusty green trees, the red and gold clay of the Sierra foothills under their feet and purple wildflowers lining the irrigation channel at the edge of the road.
There are tasting rooms for Olives in this part of California, tasting rooms for almonds (ah-mands is how it’s pronounced by the farmers (ah as in achoo)), and wine. Kiwi stands, peaches and apples. http://flic.kr/p/dL2zmW

The next pour, there was Brandy…in the scent of the liquor, which was beautiful clear amber, honey, golden and luscious. (I can’t even go into how the wet leaves smelled.)

The Brandy…scent.
I read that there is whisky and that was not in the scent, it was in the taste. Yes, in the fruity sweetness with a broad finish of the tea the whisky went deep… and lingered way down in the chest like liquor does. A rolling, welcome warmth. (I loved the sensation.)

There were notes about other tastes but I was not tasting them yet. I stopped somewhere else at the third steeping and found a thick syrupy quince membrillo taste, ruby red garnet yam right before they disolve into sugar. Something was changing like a mash.

If there’s anywhere the tea was taking me, it was to the beginning of Spring. Bursting forth…here I am with all my glory! Pushing up and out of a slumber and becoming many things.

From the forth steep forward, I tasted full Grape.
I not only worked at 2 wineries, but I come from a family (on my dad’s side) from Napa and Yountville. Wine people.
This tea doesn’t taste like a cloying too sweet grape, not like a dark grape or a darjeeling with a muscat flavor.

The flavor is something else. I’ve had wines from some areas that are semi sweet and golden, grown in hot climates that are ambrosia.
This is that Springtime golden grape taste, not buttery and not like a chardonney.

In Murphy’s, there’s a winery called Ironstone.
The first time I went to Ironstone, it was early Spring and the roads leading from the small town to the winery had been planted with Daffodils and they were in bloom. Winding country roads with flowers and cows in the fields…on and on. It was magical. http://flic.kr/p/dKW5wX
Ironstone makes a wine that reminds me of this tea, so does Castillo di Amarosa http://www.castellodiamorosa.com/ (worth a visit).

The meaty fresh coconut aftertaste isn’t sweet. It’s more on the savory nutty side of coconut.

Pinning down such a complex and vibrant tea isn’t easy. One amazing Ping of flavor brings to mind a time or place…then another Ping of flavor…and off I go again! This tea is full of Pings!

If you can manage this limited addition tea, do so. The experience is worth it. So much so…I can’t wait to share this with someone!

When something is such a one-of-a-kind and has given so much to me. I can’t compare it with anything else and say, this is better than…what? It’s wild picked for goodness sake. It’s fantastic!

Nicole

Okay, onto the shopping list with this one!

Sil

awesome review Bonnie. Now i’m really looking forward to getting this one!

JC

This sounds amazing!

Invader Zim

I received this as a small sample from an order. It’s the first black tea I’ve ever had that I actually enjoy! I think it was the lack of maltiness to it that I enjoyed.

Indigobloom

Grape?! grape… oh man that sounds good

Kittenna

Sil – this is the super expensive one that just came out. $4 for a 7g sample :(

Sil

Kittenna – aye…my other half treated me to this ;)

MissLena

This sounds excellent. I have 7g on the way, can’t wait now!!

Bonnie

I just got back from Happy Lucky’s. After reviewing the tea, I shared some with my HL friends who loved it too. 9 degrees burr…but I was moved to venture out. As for expensive, when I think of the man hours put into this wild picked tea, and the quality, this as much an art (if not more) as dining at a fine restaurant. This is an option that I welcome. I want to be able to buy special tea’s now and then, but I know that with my budget I can’t do so all the time (which is fine with me).
I’m sure you’ll enjoy the 7g! I can’t wait to read your reviews. Everyone’s notes are so interesting.

Kittenna

Ahhhh, gotcha Sil! I was like, uh oh, I hope she doesn’t think this is the one we’re splitting! And while I did buy enough of the other recent new black to split, I did not buy enough of this one given the hefty price tag.

Mark B

Wonderful review. May be the first tea purchase of 2013…

Kashyap

I’m cupping this now….I lack the wine experience that you speak of so the memories don’t find me there, but the savory notes evolve and I can see the olives and nutty….but my mind imagines the nuances of wines (I have no palette for white) and this will cause me to listen deeper.

Bonnie

Kashyap, it might come later or like you say our tasting comes through our own experience filter so there isn’t anything wrong if you’ve put your foot to a different image path.

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Comments

Nicole

Okay, onto the shopping list with this one!

Sil

awesome review Bonnie. Now i’m really looking forward to getting this one!

JC

This sounds amazing!

Invader Zim

I received this as a small sample from an order. It’s the first black tea I’ve ever had that I actually enjoy! I think it was the lack of maltiness to it that I enjoyed.

Indigobloom

Grape?! grape… oh man that sounds good

Kittenna

Sil – this is the super expensive one that just came out. $4 for a 7g sample :(

Sil

Kittenna – aye…my other half treated me to this ;)

MissLena

This sounds excellent. I have 7g on the way, can’t wait now!!

Bonnie

I just got back from Happy Lucky’s. After reviewing the tea, I shared some with my HL friends who loved it too. 9 degrees burr…but I was moved to venture out. As for expensive, when I think of the man hours put into this wild picked tea, and the quality, this as much an art (if not more) as dining at a fine restaurant. This is an option that I welcome. I want to be able to buy special tea’s now and then, but I know that with my budget I can’t do so all the time (which is fine with me).
I’m sure you’ll enjoy the 7g! I can’t wait to read your reviews. Everyone’s notes are so interesting.

Kittenna

Ahhhh, gotcha Sil! I was like, uh oh, I hope she doesn’t think this is the one we’re splitting! And while I did buy enough of the other recent new black to split, I did not buy enough of this one given the hefty price tag.

Mark B

Wonderful review. May be the first tea purchase of 2013…

Kashyap

I’m cupping this now….I lack the wine experience that you speak of so the memories don’t find me there, but the savory notes evolve and I can see the olives and nutty….but my mind imagines the nuances of wines (I have no palette for white) and this will cause me to listen deeper.

Bonnie

Kashyap, it might come later or like you say our tasting comes through our own experience filter so there isn’t anything wrong if you’ve put your foot to a different image path.

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Bio

Colorado Grandma
http://www.teaandincense.com
Grandmother to 3 teenaged girls and 5 young boys. (we all drink tea!) I began teatime in the Summer over 30 years ago when my children were little. We took a break from play for tea and snacks every day. My children loved tea time.
There are several tea houses close to my home and a Tea Festival in Boulder. Fort Collins is a bit of a foodie town. We brew lots of Beer (Fat Tire is one brand) and have several Spice Shops (Savory was one featured on Food Network).
Colorado State University is a mile from my home and the Rocky Mountains begin to climb at the end of my street. The climate is semi-arid with LOTS OF SUN AT 5000 feet. (Heavy Winter snows start in higher elevations). Living my whole life in Northern California (Silicon Valley) I have to admit that I LOVE IT HERE!!!
I attend a wonderful Greek Orthodox Church and enjoy cooking ethnic foods (all kinds). I am disabled with Migraines and Fibromyalgia.
My family is Bi-racial (African-American, Scots) and Bi-cultural, (Peru, Cyprus, France, Mexico, Native American)
I’ve worked at a Winery, was a System Analyst, in telecom, been an Athlete and Coach, Artist, Vista Volunteer. Love healthy cooking (and delicious food!). Love to travel and have been to Italy, Greece, Turkey, Malta, Peru, Croatia, Canada, Mexico, Hawaii, Alaska

Location

Fort Collins,Colorado

Website

http://www.teaandincense.com

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