674 Tasting Notes
My big tree came down today and it looked like the first phase of Spring cleaning.
One thing leads to another.
Then the wreath and garland came down from the mantle, the mantle got a good scrubbing…and the Pacific Northwest, Native American Art (which I love) got a cleaning before going back up.
The floor, carpet, side table with mini tree in the dining room were changed back into their former configuration before the Holidays,but with a scrub.
The tea’s I ‘could’ have had today, new tea’s that I got from some kind Steepster friends for Christmas and New Year’s, need my full attention. I’ll devote a day to each one next week (maybe sooner).
Before beginning my tasks this morning, when I rummaged around in my cupboard pushing packets aside looking for a bolt of lightning to strike me with inspiration,…I brilliantly picked this tea for a couple of reasons. It’s tasty (no brainer) and it reminds me of days gone by (sigh).
This tea is very romantic.
I was feeling nostalgic with delightful memories of Christmas’s past.
My Dad’s WWII Navy trunk (called a boot) has stored my best ornaments since 1967 including some from the 1920’s. It’s one of my treasures.
Some of the ornaments were created by my Grandmother (born in 1901) out of walnut halves…made into little beds with a tiny baby sleeping in it.
My mother made Victorian Lace ornaments with empty spools of thread. Red Glass Bells from my mother’s childhood are carefully wrapped in tissue. These are my treasures along with ornaments made by my children and myself which are wrapped and stored carefully in Dad’s old trunk.
Bergamot Rose Laoshan Black Tea has the black tea base that I’ve loved from the first time I sipped it, so rich with chocolate.
The floral, citrus bergamot adds elegance and a slight briskness.
Tea is able to help us pause with our memories if we take the time, and this tea was the perfect choice for me today. Cleaning up from the Holidays, remembering the past.
Thank you JC for this sample tea!
New Year’s Eve mail…samples from JC! I picked this Black Tea for my first tea of the New Year!
JC had reviewed this tea using a Gaiwan and short steeps. I decided to use longer steeps and a finum filter in a glass mug, a more Western Style brewing method with a heavy and rich taste.
When I opened the packet of tea, the scent of the dry leaves was sweet and the leaves were long, medium cocoa brown with golden threads.
My steep time was 3 minutes (JC don’t fall over!). While this may seem long, I used 1TB. tea to 7 oz. water and had no problem.
The flavor was not cocoa or malty like I had expected.
Instead, there was a clean, brisk taste that reminded me of Teavivre’s Bailin Gongfu Black Tea, but better. (As much as I’ve always loved the Teavivre Black tea, it has an aftertaste that’s vegital that I don’t like.)
There’s citrus in the scent and flavor (barely orange) as though this is a lovely Nepalese Black Tea blend. (By this I mean that Black Tea from Nepal often has a fruity flavor, close to Darjeelings which can have a citrus taste).
One of the journey’s I’ve been on (if you can call it that) is trying lots of different Black Tea’s. Strong Irish and Scot’s Black Tea’s, Kenyan and Chinese Black Tea’s from different regions (Yunnan, Taiwan, Laoshan, Etc.), Darjeelings, Assams, Thai Black, Ceylon.
This has been my Winter Project…and works well with drinking
lots of Pu’er punctuated by many sessions with roasty Oolongs.
This Guizhou is one of the best black tea’s I’ve ever tasted!
Next time JC, I’ll try this in a Gaiwan your way and follow your steeping style. This time I was my own wild woman!
I sweetened the tea during the second steeping (many black tea drinkers do this so I had to check it out) Sweet but not diminished. (Same with adding cream.) The flavor stands up to additions. (I hate losing the flavor of tea to milk and sugar!)
Great way to begin tea tasting for the New Year!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Thank you Invader Zim for this wonderful tea gift sample!
I saved this ‘Experimental Pressing Sample’ that Invader Zim shared with me from her Tea Club offering for tonight, New Year’s Eve!
(If I saved every tea to drink on special occasions that I’ve received from friends here on Steepster, each day would have to be a Holiday!)
Steepster people are the BEST!
The little cube of pressed Pu’er is beautiful. It looks like a jewel. You really can’t tell from the picture, but there’s a sheen…a brilliance that I’ve never seen before as though delicate silk threads are woven into the leaves.
My instructions were to use half the small square jewel, boiling water…1 rinse and then steep 6-8 seconds in 4 oz. water multiple times.
The aroma after the rinse was different than any Pu’er I’ve had before. It smelled like a light black tea with honey and malt and no aroma of typical earthy Pu’er. This was altogether peculiar.
The liquor was pure bright gold, which sparkled in my glass mug. (It’s worth it to have clear glass to see the color on this tea!)
My first sip was sweet and juicy, more like a light Nepalese Black Tea with a hint of Darjeeling than Pu’er. Brisk and clean, not astringent or dry.
How could this be a Pu-er? I’d never tasted anything like this before. No earthiness! No barn or stable, no mushrooms, cedar, bread or cake. What was this all about?
The second steep revealed raw sugar crystals…the kind I sometimes don’t put into my tea but just pop into my mouth like little candies with their faint taste of molasses. Smooth, clean and lovely tasting.
For the third pour I added a few seconds on the steep time and thought there was a fruity flavor, very faint but there. I couldn’t figure out what it was because every time I went… “That’s the one!”, it was too strong. Not peach, apricot or any other flavor, so…I changed my mind. I concluded that the taste was honey/agave. Mixed together agave reduces the honey taste which is what I imagined tasting this delicate tea.
As I was pouring the 4th steep into my glass, I was mumbling to myself…“What’s the fruit flavor in this tea, something is in there, I know it from somewhere?”
I was turning to sit at the table where I was making my notes…and the answer came to my mind.
“Ripe…yellow Golden Delicious Apple Pulp!” Just like that.
That was it! These sweet apples grew outside my bedroom window in California from age 7-20. A dwarf golden tree that spread out branches horizontally and had to be propped up on stakes because there were so many apples. I had eaten my share of sweet, warm fleshed goodness and this Pu-er tasted remarkably like them.
Other apples are tart and may have tart skins but not these apples. Everything is sweet like candy and juicy. The sunshine comes inside to such an extent that you can almost hand-squeeze the apple juice out of them. Nothing in the stores can compare with these lovelies.
(If you’re not familiar with this taste, it’s a bit like the flesh of a sweet Bosc Pear).
To be more certain, I added a few grains of sugar and the tea flavor didn’t turn into caramel. It stayed apple.
This is a unique and absolutely outstanding Pu’er!
The Best Thing to happen to me in many years has been finding the people here on Steepster!
I am amazed at how generous and caring everyone is!
If I were able to do it, I’d rent a resort and fly everyone in for
a vacation where we could all share tea and good food. You are the
best and I couldn’t be more proud or humbled to be a part of such
a place as this.
Thank you to the creators of Steepster!
With Great Affection for All of You, Happy New Year!
http://youtu.be/STqDowSbSTQ Auld Lang Syne on Bagpipes (What can I say, I’m a Scot)
Thank you Ashmanra for this sample tea!
I found this in the sample bin…having lost it’s way…poor dear! I have reviewed this tea before but it was 7 months ago…a tea lifetime!
I have changed (haven’t we all!). Talking to myself (nobody else is here so that’s not a stretch), I was thinking about how we are so plugged in to flavor. We live in a world that over salts and over sugars with artifical flavor enhancers in almost everything we eat and drink…yet we tea drinkers are inspecting our favorite tea beverages for every little nuance of aroma and taste. We seek the best.
I got on a cooking kick today. It was all about spices in my house.
There was a recipe for Vadouvan Indian Spice Blend (onions, garlic and shallots sauteed in spices and baked until dry). http://flic.kr/p/dG1Kvy
Then I made gingerbread with ginger chai in it, layered with toffee in the middle. (I made toffee for Christmas and had small pieces left over in the freezer steeped with Laoshan Black Tea).
My house smelled really good!
While the oven was doing it’s job (I had chopped the onions etc. by hand and ground all the spices with mortar and pestal), I made a pot of this Pu-erh!
Yikes! I had forgotten that this is like having a good cup of coffee in the old days before I discovered tea!
Dark, rich and bready…no bitterness. Smooth.
My mood was not about making notes about how many steepings I could get out of this pu-erh…hah…I wanted to drink mugs full of tea…lots of it with cream and sugar! That’s what I did! Gulps of tea sweet and caramel, creamy…good!
What’s better than this?!
A good cuppa PU, Spicy Smells filling up my house and gingerbread baking in the oven!
Thank you ‘mystery person’ for this Tuo Cha!
This was the first Tuo Cha that I disasembled completely with my
Pu-erh knife. It wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. Tough critter!
I was trying to be careful to lift off leaf sections so that I’d end up with chunks of Pu’erh instead of dust.
It took about 15 minutes but I finally worked the knife and now have 100 grams of Pu-erh in a tight canister. Phew! (I’m glad I watched a video first about how to break apart Pu-erh)
I rewarded myself with cups and cups of tea.
Because this tea was in hard chunks, I rinsed it twice…then steeped 30 seconds…poking the hard mass with my Pu-erh knife.
My usual method (the way of a lazy woman) is to use a small purple clay Gaiwan that I use only for Pu-erh, a small strainer and a white mug. That’s all.
Steep-Pour and Strain into my mug the tea goes.
Some mornings, I might put several steepings in the mug all together and fill it up. (Not the first time I taste the tea though)
The liquor this time was very dark and sweet smelling like cookies or cake. Even the leaves smelled like baked goods.
When I read the directions on this Pu-erh earlier, it said 1-2 minutes for each steep…I choked…ha ha no way! Not the way I drink it! It’s strong enough at 30 seconds! I used about 4 grams leaf for 4 oz water.
The flavor like the aroma was like sugar cookies. Not the sort with pronounced vanilla, but sweet and smooth without any typical Pu-erh cedar or earthy flavor at all.
Every pour was sweet and delicious, juicy and full bodied.
This is a good Pu-erh! Thank you to my ‘friend’!
I don’t drink many White Tea’s. The few I have are very special.
They seem mystical with an energy that is healing and complex.
I used a Gaiwan to brew this tea. My timing was 20 seconds for the first three steeps then I added 5 seconds for additional steeps.(If you go too long the tea gets bitter )
The liquor began as light pastel yellow gradually becoming deeper gold with each pour.
The scent of the wet leaves was savory becoming milder, and finally having a light vegital aroma.
Artichoke was the first flavor I tasted, savory and delicate like the memory of something eaten earlier in the day that was delightful.
Hidden behind the artichoke flavor was the taste of lilac with a peppery bite.
My mouth was full of an energy that I sometimes feel with a very good tea.
The second pour was less savory and more floral with a cool Pine vapor to it. This type of Pine I associate with wild herbs and sand at my feet, Pacific Coast Fog oozing in through the scruff on a hot Summer day, spritzing and fluffing the wilted branches back to life.
By the third steep, the artichoke and lilac flavors were back… dancing around each other with flirtatious abandon. One was brisk, the other creamy. So very good together that I drank them down with an “ah that was good”!
The pictures in my mind that went with the tea and mental imaginings as I savored the flavor :
My grandmothers house…
The story part is on the blog www.teaandincense.com
When I first tasted this tea it was called Laoshan Green.
This savory Green Tea changed my mind about Green Tea’s because I used to think Green Tea was a bit boring. (Some of you shudder)
I had never tasted a tea as savory or smelled wet leaves that had the aroma of roast chicken before this Laoshan Green Tea!
Today I was running around town…going to the bank, the pharmacy, the grocery… before New Years and more snow flurries.
At 3:30 pm, I had gone through my whole day without any TEA!
I stopped in at my tea shop to drop off some Pu-erh samples to a new shop employee, and found that the ‘guys’ were sampling 4 Oolongs and 4 Black Tea’s from Nepal.
They set all 8 bowls and leaves in front of me to sample. (I love the sweet Darjeeling-like flavors from Nepal) A few will end up on the Tea Wall for sale. (I should have taken a picture, it looked like I was on a tea binge at a BAR!)
When I returned home, cold (25 degrees) and hungry I made some Summer Laoshan Green Tea. (I had enough Black Tea to drown Nepal!)
This was such a savory tea…really a meal in a cup.
I get very creative thinking of how I can transform recipes using this tea. I can’t help myself! I’ve melted butter in some tea and drizzled it over squash. I’ve steeped it in cream. I’ve added a few drops of sesame oil and poured it over chicken.
Drinking the tea always comes first for inspiration of course. Then I cook something with it!
I know this is a revisit of a tea, something that I’ve reviewed before…but in the middle of a cold Winter night…a luscious green Summer Tea that’s savory like broth hits the spot!
Thank you Roughage for this wonderful tea sample!
I haven’t written in a few days with all the excitement of Christmas.
I must write about it, I am after all a grandmother and it’s in my grandmother disposition to do so.
The Weather Man predicted SNOW! I had finished the last of giftwrapping (some small Skylander Giants for 3 small grandsons), then stopped by the grocery to get sausage for gumbo.
I was already dressed in Black Christmas Velvet, pretty Snow Boots and a Handmade Red Sweater from Sweden with Black Fur Collar.
Granddaughter Schey called to meet for tea before Happy Lucky’s Closed. When I arrived, the Servers were drinking an Oolong that I had gifted them and they treated Schey and I to a pot of tea.
Church was early (4pm).
After the service, we sang Carols…and various members of the choir sang solo’s. A man from Georgia (former U.S.S.R.), someone from Germany. (We sing in English, sometimes Greek, but the tunes of the Church are ancient Byzantine and beautiful)
Driving home, the snow began and continued all night. A rare White Christmas even for this part of the Country. I loved it…exciting even at my age to feel like a child with snow on Christmas!
I got up at 6AM to make Gumbo…rushing off as soon as I was done to my daughter’s home so that the 8 grandkids could open presents.
Half the kids had the flu! Grandma (ME)…had her flu shot this year!!!
We had a great time, opening gifts and Skyping with my son in San Francisco. I got a Kindle Fire HD so that I can keep up with my Tea Peeps anywhere I go!!! Nice gift!!!
We ate ribs, made lots of noise and bonded the way families should.
One other thing happened this Christmas…something that I have no words to express!
A Steepster sent me a Yixing Teapot (My First One Ever!), another sent me some Stamps so that I could send out samples to people, and I received tea samples, and Scot’s Shortbread and tea samples all the way from England!
If this isn’t enough to make a grown grandma cry…well..I’d have to be the grinch!
I could not believe it! Shock, real shock! The loving care of people who I’ve never met in person…who have no idea what I’m going through right now…and are so nice!
I feel like I got propelled into a movie with Jimmy Stewart…“It’s a Wonderful Life, Bonnie Johnstone!”
You know how thankful I am for all of you who over the past year have slipped me some tea as a surprise. Sometimes I don’t mention much because maybe you can’t do that all the time for everyone.
I know I can’t either.
Much of the tea I have is only a tablespoon of this and that.
A BIG THANK YOU
Reviewing This Tea:
I decided to begin with this new Christmas Gift Tea from Roughage…
and right off, I have to admit my experience with Darjeelings is still pretty limited.
When I read Darjeeling reviews it seems that there are references to muscat, muscat, muscat. I’ve had California muscat desert wines which were very good from Sonoma and Murphy’s.
In season I love eating the pale pink small grapes which are fragile, sticky with natural sugars and super sweet. Delicious and warm in the mouth (like apricots)!
When I started sipping this tea, I forgot all about the muscat references to Darjeelings. I had just eaten a Scots Shortbread cookie…buttery and sweet. (Very rich too)
The tea was clean but not astringent, and reminded me of an Earl Grey without the Bergamot.
The fragrance has a slight musky fruitiness like an empty dry wine barrel with floral which I think is the way I’d like men to smell. (Roughage has just fallen off his chair laughing)
I didn’t find anything acidic about the tea. It’s sweet enough, no nonsense and perfect for concentration. You can begin the day or a meeting with a tea like this one.
Very good Mr. R !
Thank you mrmopar for this fantastic Pu-erh Sample!
I really should read up on Puerh’s before I go off brewing up on my own. Somehow, a purist will probably be horrified at my methods here.
I was enjoying myself, having a great time with this Puerh!
I have a lovely little seasoned purple clay Gaiwan that I use for Puerh. A pick, strainer and cup is all I need for a good session.
Usually I use less leaf than other people because fibromyalgia has made me very sensitive to taste. I make quantity adjustments because of that and use 3 grams of Puerh when others use 5 grams with the same taste results.
Today, I wanted to try a larger amount of leaves. I used 5 grams, which is a huge quantity for me, then did 2 quick washes.
(I poked the hard nugget of Puerh during the first 30 second steeping to break it up a bit.)
The liquor was dark golden brown with a hint of red throughout.
Steepings 30 seconds unless noted otherwise.
1. First steepings are usually not my favorite. They can knock you down with a fuzzy cedar or redwood taste and texture that’s very strong and sometimes bitter.
But this Puerh…HA!
This tea was extremely Smooth, Juicy and Semi-Sweet, with a light cocoa, sugar date flavor! I was pleasantly surprised!
2. The second steep flavor was like Bittersweet Chocolate or a light Pinot Noir. There was no grit or earthy flavor, but a thick mouth feel that made me think of sipping chocolate.
I added a few grains of sugar and the caramel flavor came up with a richness that I had suspected was hiding deep in the thick, smooth tea.
3. As an experiment, I tried a quick immediate steep.
The color was dark, the flavor…a bit dryer and spicy on my tongue like cinnamon and clove. The creaminess wasn’t as strong and the richness was lighter.
There was more of a wood cedar taste than when I steeped the leaves longer. I liked the longer steeping better.
4. Returning to the longer steeps, this time at 40 seconds, the Puerh was spicier.
Cinnamon, clove and allspice. A bright Paso Robles Zinfandel with Sunshine and Ripeness in the bones of the flavor.
This tea was beginning to remind me of…a Chai base, or Sangria.
It’s the Holidays…and I remembered that the person who sent this Puerh to me…who has become a true friend…has at his side the love of his life. She is fond of Chai.
So, I did what anyone other than me would NEVER do with a great Puerh! I made some Puerh Chai in honor of her, hoping that this is something that he’ll try. Here goes…
I made 2 steepings of Puerh, added half and half, then a little sugar and a little honey (I don’t like too much honey because it can overpower the taste of the tea). Stirred it up…and YUM!
Caramel, smooth, spicy, creamy…(Hey mrmopar, you have 5 cakes of this Puerh, so tell me if you make this for your sweetheart!)
This Puerh is great stuff! Probably the smoothest I’ve ever had and the closest to the experience of drinking wine.
Thanks again mrmopar my friend!
Thank you Invader Zim for sharing some of this with me!
I have trouble tasting special tea’s alone. If at all possible, I prefer tasting with other people who appreciate tea as much as I do. I’ll usually taste the tea first, then take the rest for a comparison tasting with other people. It’s fun!
I took some of this sample to share with Joe, Eric, Sam and George while the tea shop was quiet. It had snowed and business slowed down for a few hours. This was perfect timing.
Eric set up a Gaiwan and some small tasting cups, washed the leaves and began pourings. We accomplished 6 steepings with great success.
What amazed me first was the scent of the wet leaves. The aroma almost knocked me off the high bar stool I was sitting on!
Man-o-man this was some strong but delicious scented tea!
Floral, a little savory, orchid, honey. It had little scent droplets with wings that fly way up into your sinus’s and explode like pop rocks! Honest!
I told the tea guys that if I pass out, put the wet leaves under my nose. I’ll revive!
The flavor of the tea was milder than the aroma. Hallelujah!
It had a sweet, juicy floral bouquet with a slight roasted finish. (You can see the light roasting on the edges of the leaves)
There’s orchid…and honeysuckle fading in and out…changing, elusive.
Every steeping was like scarves being pulled off a belly dancer one by one as she weaves and turns mystically around and around dancing to the music… with her eyes enticing you to follow her, hands and feet moving with grace.
An exotic floral taste, one that doesn’t give up after two or three steepings.
Everyone was impressed. Quality tea.
I have some more tea left to drink alone.
Really good tea is something I like to taste several times and savor.
Thank you Invador Zim!
I just wrote a story on my blog called Christmas Eve Call. It’s about a call I got from the Police Department one Christmas Eve.
My children were small and a waitress where I had breakfast had remembered my name when she was attacked in her home…
THERE IS MORE www.teaandincense.com