675 Tasting Notes
I’ve been waiting for snow to arrive, the first ‘serious’ snow since last Winter (5-8 inches says the Weather Channel).
It doesn’t rain here in the Winter, we get ‘sun glare’ instead.
If you don’t know already, leading up to the Academy Awards, TCM (Turner Classic Movies) has been running previous award winning movies from the 1930’s forward, and I’ve been recording some classics to watch with my grandkids.
Today, I fixed some tea dusted chicken using Mr. Han’s Black Tea…and smoked with Hickory chips. I placed the chicken on a bed of buttered, pureed parsnips. (I’ll be posting the pictures later)
When I was done, I sat down with a pot of Yu Lu Yan Cha, and began watching ‘This Is Cinerama’ on TCM.
What a hoot!
The history of moving pictures was the intro, then a demo of the new Cinerama wide-screen technology and early surround-sound (beginning with a daring ride on a roller-coaster from the front seat!).
What was interesting to me was that I remembered my parents going to a Cinerama Premiere in the 1950’s and I still have the booklet from the movie. It was a ‘BIG DEAL’ back then! Yikes I’m OLD!
I sat drinking my tea…enjoying myself…and I noticed that the tea was spicy, with a cinnamon bite on my tongue.
The association with Jin Jun Mei and Laoshan Black came back to me.. the first sip was like a jolt. I thought, “It’s neither of those tea’s really…not chocolate and not yammy.”
If anything, I felt that I’d eaten a dozen assorted cupcakes…honey spice, German chocolate, golden vanilla. The sweet indulgent goodness filled my mouth. DESSERT!
Dessert tea (especially a spicy tea) was the perfect match for my snow day (it arrived!).
I’ve had this tea for awhile, unopened. I was saving it for a special occasion, which wasn’t planned, but ended up being today.
The side-effects associated with migraine and fibromyalgia take over from time to time, and there’s not much I can do about it. Sleeplessness and depression are the two symptoms that I’m glad to get over with the fastest. Physical pain is easy to handle by comparison.
Today I woke up and reached for my Kindle Fire next to the bed. My daughter had a new entry on Facebook with a link to her blog that began with this quote:
“Stand at the brink of the abyss of despair, and when you see that you cannot bear it anymore, draw back a little and have a cup of tea” ~Elder Sophrony of Essex
Then she went on to quote me (shock):
My mother reminds me often that tea has a way of keeping you in the moment. It’s not like coffee which in our society is meant to keep you always moving forward.
Tea encourages the partaker to sit down and rest a moment. It is a sort of “reset” button for the weary.
If we push ourselves beyond what we can bear for the sake of being strong, we will fall over, teacup and all, and find staring up from the darkness of the abyss… far more terrifying than standing at the brink.
(Hum, I thought…something from an Elder (Monk) and my daughter to think about in the middle of my depression, and I went about my morning…considering those words from time to time.)
At about 4PM, I couldn’t figure out where the time had gone. I felt foggy headed and the depression had closed in on me.
I remembered the quote from the Elder (Monk) and went to my tea cupboard…rummaging about until I found the one unopened SPECIAL OCCASION tea that I had left.
Standing on the edge of the cliff as I was, seemed a great time for Hand Picked Spring Tieguanyin!
Without a care for the opinion of others, I smelled the leaves. They reminded me of the many years of art classes, the sweet scent of oil paint on my brushes and canvas (and on me).
When I rinsed the leaves, I was washing the gloom away with tea liquor like a new ritual, washing my hands and face with it’s pale perfume.
Each leaf was so dark I wouldn’t imagine it had seen more than the most gentle rays of sunshine.
I drank the tea.
Beautiful, delicate orchid, cool spearmint like a pool of mountain water…honey cream…that made me sit in another moment different than the one I had been in before.
Drinking the tea, I drew back from the ledge and the sadness was interrupted.
Through cups and cups, I continued to let the tea lift my spirit.
(Not only through the way natural chemicals in tea helps the brain, but through the exceptional flavor of this particular tea.)
Time and again, tea has come to my aid when my body gets the best of me.
Thank you to Eric for this lovely tea gift!
Eric from Happy Lucky’s (like he has no other life than that) went to San Francisco after Christmas and brought back a tea gift to me! What a nice young man he is!
I’m going to review ERIC! (Hahahah)
Eric is a Scientist! He only works part time at Happy Lucky’s but his main job is as Science Instructor at Frontrange Jr. College, until he get’s his Ph.D.
Eric is SUCH a great fellow tea nerd! One of the most endearing things about him is how much he knows about tea and how off-hand he is about it. He knows so much about the science of tea and the history of how tea has been produced and spews out information as though the rest of us know what he knows. Uh, no we don’t Eric!
What he brought me as a gift, was one of his favorite tea’s, which made me feel special.
I prepared the tea in my Gaiwan, just the way Eric would have done.
A short 30 second steep created the scent of flowers and Chinese food. (Something you might smell in the Summer walking by an outside cafe)
The flavor was sweet roasty stonefruit, water on granite rocks and very clean.
I decided to lengthen the steeps which made the flavor more roasty and woody than before with persimmon, peach and apricot sweetened with honey.Cinnamon spice punctuated the finish.
Those were a lot of flavors packed together, but this was a smooth tea. The flavors blended together like an old fashioned stone-fruit pie (my stone-fruit pie) with only the best ingredients, packed full of fruit and dripping with natural juices and a little spice kick.
(This tea is supposed to have an orange flavor but I didn’t taste any orange. I smelled the aroma of orange wafting around the cup.)
Delightful tea made more special by the giver! No wonder this is a favorite of Eric’s!
Thank you Stacy for this sample tea!
I have TROUBLE with Bai Mu Dan and I have no idea why! I didn’t even know that this tea had bai mu dan in it when I brewed it…thinking nothing in particular past the name of the flavor in the sample.
What happens is either I can’t taste the flavor at all, or I get a furry kind of feeling in my mouth with no flavor. It’s odd (to say the least).
Being fair about reviews (and fair to Butiki)…and seeing that I couldn’t really taste the tea, I thought I’d share a funny story from my daughters blog about what happened this morning when the appraiser came to her house.
Annalisa has 9 children at the moment (3 are Foster Children under the age of 3), their 8 year old son in the story is bi-polar and gets excited easily.
Her blog is: http:[email protected]
So, dear friends,the appraiser came. He was very nice and thankfully he has two sons of his own because my 8 year old followed him around the house with his mouth going probably two miles a minute. My son showed the appraiser the plans we have for our micro farm and told him if he didn’t score us well we’d end up on the street (thank you 10 year old brother!). It was amazing what my son fit into a 10 minute interaction. Up to this point while he had been talking this poor man’s ear off he had not said anything particularly shocking. But we weren’t finished yet.
I learned a lot about appraisals and how FHA guidelines differ from conventional guidelines. I learned what a conforming window really meant and what actually counted as a bedroom. We were almost free and clear but just as he was slipping on his shoes to leave my son said “I want to be a pole dancer when I grow up.”
Then he added enthusiastically, “And my oldest sister told me she secretly wants to be one too!”
The man just looked at me and smiled and told me it was okay before he headed out the door. I asked my son if he even knew what a pole dancer was. “It’s someone who dances on a pole.” Hmmmm. “Like at the circus where they climb up and down the pole and do tricks?”
I asked. “Yeah, just like that!”
Of course the appraiser didn’t get to hear that part. All that poor man knows is that we are a extra large family with children who aspire to be pole dancers!
Thank you Lord for the innocence of my son! I hope you enjoy this little chuckle today!
Without my realizing it was happening, my taste in tea and my desire for it has changed.
In the beginning, there was a glittering path with lots of tea all of which I was ready and willing to try out. You could say that I binged on tea much like a child in a candy shop.
I soon realized that some tea’s I was binging on tasted better than others. The best tasting tea’s rose to the top and became the tea’s I craved!
As my appreciation for tea developed, I found that the tea that I loved the most were often harder to acquire. Tea from small farms, seasonal or wild picked soon became part of my new love affair.
This past month in particular, I’ve had some of the best tea’s of my life. Oolong from Verdant and Mr. Han’s Black, a Red Blossom 2010 Wuyi Oolong and Taiwaniese Wild Mountain Black Tea from Butiki have all been outstanding.
The experiences drinking the tea’s stopped me from writing as much as usual. These moments go by quickly, and I need to pay attention to the voice of the tea’s I’ve been drinking. It is very important to be still with good tea.
I kept the steep time rather short with this Oolong. 5 seconds on the first steep after a rinse, then 10-15 seconds.
I’ll discuss the flavor in a somewhat static way…
Fruit leather, stone fruit…plum, peach… Autumn brandied fruit compote. Slight smoky roast with cinnamon stick finish. Cooling on the tongue. Lingering flavor with the memory of Oriental Beauty sweetness. Creamy smoothness.
The first three steeps were best. Later pours were weaker but worth brewing.
When I say “the later pours were weaker but worth brewing” here’s what I mean: The taste of the tea is so good, that even when weaker, there is a longing for more and more…even if it’s a shadow of the first glorious cup.
Fine tea produces that longing for more. A desire for more than flavor. A desire for the entire experience that reaches a quiet place inside.
I put this on the ol’ blog too… www.teaandincense.com
I know, I know, I know…but this is a partial of a story and review on my blog…OK! www.teaandincense.com
I had an appointment with my Priest.
I regularly request time to meet and discuss various things with Fr. Evan. Sometimes we just talk, sometimes I have confession and most times we have TEA.
Previously I had introduced Puer (which he likes a lot) and Laoshan Black from Verdant. This time, I brought Taiwanese Wild Mountain Black Tea from Butiki.
With a smile, he brought out his electric kettle, filtered water and cups for me to prepare tea. Today, I gifted Fr. a fat white Gaiwan and showed him how to use it.
We smelled the aroma of the leaves in a heated dry Gaiwan. Then we steeped the leaves, poured the liquor into the fairness pitcher and into our cups…stopping to smell the wet leaves.
“WOW!” exclaimed Fr. Evan.
“I taste cherry, no peach…wait…plum…some kind of stone-fruit, and the flavor… stays in my mouth!”
Thank you Eric (think it was Eric and not Joe) for this interesting sample tea!
The world of herbal tea is interesting. Leave it to scientist Eric to produce something new for me to try out on a recent visit to my tea shop.
Eric handed me a tea bag and said, “Here’s something you might find interesting. It’s coffee leaf tea and tastes pretty good.”
Sure, I thought. How could coffee leaf tea taste good. I’m not really all that fond of herbal tea, other than mint and ginger. I love herbal blends that I can add real tea leaves or puerh to, but I don’t drink plain herbal tea very often.
I was a big time coffee drinker. Only the best for me!
My Aunt lived in Brazil when I was just beginning to drink coffee in my 20’s, and sent powdery packages of ink black coffee to me in California. I was hooked long before Starbucks existed.
(My family thinks it’s amusing that I’ve switched to tea)
Last night, I decided to try out the tea, with an attitude that was cynical. I didn’t think that the teabag was going to give me enough flavor. I was being a snobbish bore.
The taste was better than I deserved and very much like guayusa and orange peakoe. I had to admit that the flavor was really good! The tea was something that I didn’t expect (no, it wasn’t coffee flavored or weak I had to admit to my snobby self!) and taught me a lesson in pre-judging.
It’s unfortunate that this tea only comes in teabag form because the flavor is tasty and makes a good decaf alternative.
Wish I knew about the leaves when I had coffee trees growing outside my back balcony in Puerto Rico, I could have chopped up some leaves myself!
Chinese New Year!!!
Granddaughter Schey and I went to Happy Luckys after Church like we normally do, and hopped up onto the bar stools that we usually occupy.
“Hey, what did you bring us today?!” Preston asked.
With great excitement, I pulled out my bag of Taiwanese Wild Mountain Black Tea which caught Joe’s eye further down behind the cash register.
“Wow, is that it?!” Joe exclaimed. (He and Preston had tasted the previous small sample from Butiki but this was MORE!)
“Yep, I brought the whole bag in so Eric, Andi, and Schey could have some of this tea too!”
I’ve never seen Preston move so fast! He had a Gaiwan, 6 tasting cups and an aroma set (for me) ready in no time.
I invited a young man at the bar (he was drinking tangerine stuffed puer that the shop now carries thanks to advice from Steepster mrmopar) to join in the tasting.
Preston warmed the Gaiwan, placed the leaves inside…waited, then passed the Gaiwan for everyone to smell the aroma. Delicious waffles…this is what we all think the tea smells like!
We each held the first golden-amber pour in our cups up high as Eric made a toast in Chinese 新年快乐 (xīn nián kuài lè) for Happy New Year!
All that I heard after that were….GROANS AND SIGHS OF DELIGHT!
I’ve seldom seen so many speechless, excited tea people. It was a pleasure bringing a grand tea to my friends.
In the past month…I’ve shared 2 tea’s that have been in the top 3 that Eric and Joe have ever tasted…Master Hans Black Tea from Verdant and Butiki’s Taiwanese Wild Mountain Black.
One final word:
What takes my breath away when I drink this tea is the finish.
Just when I’ve swallowed the tea it lifts me up and I’m floating on the most gentle ribbon of lingering flavor that undulates on and on like small ripples in the water. Eventually, my whole body feels the thrill of the tea. (Hard to explain how good it is)
This was a grand way to celebrate Chinese New Year!
Thanks Stacy for this tea sample!
The last time I tasted this tea, I had been drinking loose leaf tea for about 4 months, so tasting it again was a fun comparison!
I’ve learned that I LOVE strong Kenyan tea so I ignored Stacy’s suggested brew time of 2.5 minutes and opted for 3.5 minutes testing along the way. The longer time would suit others who like the bang of a bold tea that can handle the time.
The taste was black current, sweet dry prune and black pepper…all of which came as a swelling up of flavor towards the back of the throat.
I sweetened my tea and added cream (it was my morning tea)…then sat while my body continued to slowly awaken from sleep.
I’ve never been a morning person, even through three decades of work, I would arise an extra hour earlier than necessary to sit with ‘coffee’, until I had to get ready and could cope with the day.
Now tea is my morning companion, and I can make the wake-up time last as long as I want it to. What a luxury!
While I was sitting in appreciation of my wealth of ‘time’, my thoughts began to wander.
I’ve been making lots of curries, something that I find comforting in cold weather.
Because of my allergies, I’ve adapted recipes to remove beans, tomato, eggplant, green peppers and potato. Thai curries, instead of Indian Curries, have given me more options (Indian Curries use potato and beans in almost everything!) and are delicious.
Along the way, I’ve discovered that certain tea’s are better companions to the curries I make. Kenyan tea’s, some Puerh’s and Thai Chaa Khao Hoom Reistee stand up well to spice (depending on the dish).
I’d like to expand my list of tea’s and welcome comments from other people who make curry.
I appreciate the unique tea sourcing from Butiki (and we all love Stacy!)!
Thank you Nuvola Tea for this Sample!
I shared this tasting with my friend Eric who is a Science teacher at the College and serves tea at Happy Lucky’s several days a week. He’s here on Steepster, and a fellow tea geek!
When I want to discuss tea trivia, Eric’s my man!
We talk about leaf hoppers, the bugs that make Oriental Beauty Tea so sweet, and have talks about Puer fungus.
Eric handled the gaiwan through 4 steepings of this Ti Kuan Yin.
(He teaches a gongfu class so I am more than happy to let him do this!)
The flavor if this tea was lightly sweet, with a mild roast nuttiness.
I tasted brown sugar but the more I drank, the more I tasted old fashioned Horehound candy…bittersweet and tangy.
I was about to hand my cup back to Eric when the sweetest fragrance rushed up at me. Wow,this was the scent in my empty cup… thick like a flower shop but as sweet as See’s Candy!
Each steep was pretty much the same. Nutty roastiness, sweet brown sugar and Horehound candy.
A creamy mouth-feel lasted through the first three steeps.