675 Tasting Notes
Yesterday, I had to run by Happy Lucky’s in the afternoon to sign up for two tea classes. One, for that evening (Gonfu Tea Ceremony with Eric) and tonight will be a Japanese Green Tea class with Joe.
I don’t step over the doorway without having a cuppa myself…so I ordered a pot of Irish Breakfast Tea and some dry leaf to take home.
Irish Breakfast gets you going when you have errands to run. I had to go to Whole Foods and read labels, traversing through the isles under fluorescent lights that make me woozy. Give Me Strong Tea!
Granddaughter Schey came to the class last night which was fun for me. Everyone had a chance to use a Yixing and Gaiwan to pour both Oolong and Pu’er for the small group. Eric is a Scientist and teacher which makes him interesting.
This morning, I took the Irish Breakfast Tea that I had purchased and made a pot to linger over while watching the morning news.
This is one of the best things about being retired.
If it’s too cold outside, I’m warm and comfy inside with my fresh pot of tea on a tray. I have a lovely, large quilted-dome tea cozy from April Cornell that keeps my pot of tea hot between pourings.
(I always have cream and sweetening on the tray just in case I want to add some.)
Ahhh. Dark, strong….strong….Irish tea!
This isn’t one of those wimpy Irish wanna-be tea’s. Without being astringent or dry, this delivers a warming cup that’s what you’d want in a thermos out on the peat fields when the wind has kicked up and a drizzle is beginning to threaten with a damp shiver.
I like my tea with milk.
Drinking one mug, two…then three was easy.
The whole pot gone in no time.
Sometimes I wonder what has happened to the tea in my pot. It seems to disappear without me drinking it.
No matter. It’s delicious!
I set a plan with my new tea energy to put up my Christmas Tree today.
Tonight is another Tea Class and Tomorrow is St. Andrews Day,
the Patron Saint of Scotland. All Scots are supposed to wear Plaid
Here’s another bit of news I found out…
Looks like my daughter and son-in-law are going to adopt BOTH of the 2 year old Foster boys they have. The boys are 6 days apart in age.
I couldn’t be more pleased!!! One has special needs (Williams syndrome) so I’m happy he’ll be in such a loving family of 5 boys and 3 girls!
In another Universe a long time ago, this was to me, one of the finest tea’s ever. Really.
I was new to loose leaf tea and waited impatiently for my packages of flavored tea’s from Canada to arrive. Oh, they were so yummy good!
Oh Canada, Chocolate Orange Puerh, and Read My Lips! Slurp!
As the months passed, I tasted tea’s from Teavivre, then Butiki and Verdant, and so many other tea companies that opened my mind to the realization that the Tea ‘World’ wasn’t FLAT like a tea bag, but FULL of FLAVOR without being chemically ‘flavored’. My ‘World’ was set free, expanded and became ROUND!
I had a little bit of Read My Lips left in a tin and went back to taste it. What would I think?
Remembering my first love of the peppermint scent, I smiled. It was still as I remembered…almost like candy canes in the snow. Cool, with a chocolaty smell that is a vision of peppermint bark frosted with dark chocolate. Oh I hope my daughter makes some of this candy this year!
I took a sip of tea and the memory was ‘Oh yes, I am back at the beginning of my tea journey’, but the taste was…‘Oh dear, I don’t think I can finish this sour, over-flavored artificially spiked tea!"
Where was the tea? “Yoo Hoo, tea? Where are you?”, I wanted to yell into my cup.
Memories are often like this.
My first trip to Disneyland in 1955 at age 7, and later in High School were completely different experiences. Had Disneyland SHRUNK?
Of course not. I had changed.
Looking back, I had a great time with this tea.
I can’t say BLECH…I have to say…HUM.
I went to the IRS today. (That should have made even the most cheerful among you shudder!)
There were taxes from my divorce that I didn’t know would be coming and I’ve been trying to figure out what to do. One thing I’ve learned over the past few months is that I need someone to help me organize parts of my life. I don’t understand paperwork so I’ve got myself into a little (or big) tax mess.
Imagine being very competent mentally but waking up one day unable to understand what you’re reading. Like dyslexia. Information is scrambled and makes no sense. This is what’s been happening to me. I can understand if you show me how to do things, but not paperwork and sometimes I go blank on questions. (I don’t have dymentia, thankfully (I was tested for that).)
Anyway, I went to the IRS in the middle of a brain fog with some papers they asked me for. I was handed papers and asked questions and I just couldn’t understand anything. I told the person, “I have no idea what this means, it could be in a foreign language, I can’t explain anything, I don’t know what to say.”
I got a look and comment…“You need someone to help you.” “I’m not supposed to do this but go to the Senior Center and find help.”
I left and made a ‘B’ line for Happy Lucky’s Tea House.
I looked 3 shades of pale puke…feeling sick and hurting all over from fybromyalgia (which has been a bear the past month!).
Andy (TEA GURU!) took one look at me and said…“Whatcha drinking Ms. Bonnie?”…then he said…“How about a Chocolate Matcha?!”
“Oh YES please!”
I sat at the bar watching the foaming and frothing, stirring in the specialty cocoa…A-n-t-i-c-p-a-t-i-o-n!
Finally a big mug of fluff was set in front of me with a tall tumbler of ice water next to it (thoughtful). Fireworks!
This was thick, thick, thick cocoa Matcha, so creamy and warm with an interesting, almost savory then sweet complex flavor. The foam was playful and wonderful like a puffy sigh of relief.
It didn’t take long for the caffeine and green tea L-theanine to work on my pain and foggy brain.
I’ve noticed for some time that tea helps me feel better. I don’t know how, and it’s not a tea high or anything…but my pain isn’t as bad when I drink certain tea’s, especially Pu-erh and Matcha. This is good! It might not be this way for everyone, but it works for me.
While tea doesn’t cure all my problems, it has given me a way to help with my physical discomfort without resorting to narcotics for pain.
By the time I finished my fine mug of chocolate Matcha, I was feeling so much better and the taste was fantastic!
Why would I post all this here on Steepster. Seems kind of private and personal and inappropriate doesn’t it.
It is personal. And real.
I want you to know that this part of Elder life is joyful, funny, and has challenges just like being young.
“Stand at the brink 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 (A Monastery in England)
Tea makes everything better.
I’m not a Cyber-toothed -tiger! (Cyber Monday in the U.S.A.!)
I’ve been in my pink polka-dot jammies ‘ALL DAY’ because I don’t feel well. Over these jammies, I’ve wrapped myself in a red plaid shawl …and I have red fuzzy socks on my feet. When My body aches I drink tea, go to sleep…drink tea…come here and ’I’m Thankful’ that ya’ll can’t see me!
I can’t afford all the sales that are out there today, sorry to say. Maybe next year I’ll be ready for them. We’ll see. I still have lots of tea to drink in my cupboard and some samples from sTEAp Shoppe to review!
This little tea had a curious combo of ingredients. I couldn’t imagine the tea taste. Sometimes, I have an idea of what I’m about to taste. The ones I can’t imagine can be a disaster if the ingredients are weird.
None of the ingredients in this tea were unknown to me, just never imagined together in a tea. Especially curious to me was the Lingonberry which is sweet/tarte little seed-like berries mixed with Black Tea.
I set the brew time as suggested (2 minutes). My later comment to Janet at sTEAp Shoppe was that I liked a little longer steep (2.5 to 3 minutes) and a 3 minute second steep worked well also.
I didn’t expect this tea to taste fantastic. Lack of respect on my part. I should know better!
At first, before the fruit flavors developed in the black tea, it tasted like yummy Black Tea with Vanilla.
Then, with a little longer steeping…the Honey flavor developed and a little Lingonberry, which was so light, popped up in the background.
Goodness…this tea was so full of rich, layered flavors that it caught me off guard.
Even though there are Maple Sugar Crystals in the tea, you don’t taste Maple. What you taste is Vanilla Honey woven with a Caramel Trio of Black Tea’s and a subtle hint of Lingonberry (like Jam).
This was like having a European layered pastry. A waffle!
So, good. FYI, BTW …(I sweetened my dessert waffle tea!)
I’ve really overdone the eating. BINGE! So good though. The last thing I ate last night was two pieces of cake that I made…
I baked a yellow layer cake in a springform pan and let it cool. Then I made a simple syrup, and infused some Earl of Anxi tea (with the frankincense in it but use any tea you want) in the syrup. I poked holes in the top of the cake and spooned the syrup on letting it soak in. (Put cake in freezer) Later, split the cake in layers and frost with whipped cream on the layers and top. Good!
This morning, I don’t want to eat anything at all!!! No rich food, no bread, cake, pie…nothing! I’m DONE! FULL!
The choice of tea was easy. Janet (the owner of sTEAp Shoppe) and I had chatted about the tasting we had all participated in some weeks ago, and continued tea discussions back and forth. She sent a sample of her Updated Orange Spice Cake tea for me to try.
This sounded like the right tea for this morning.
I have to be honest. The initial tea’s that I tasted from sTEAp Shoppe were too bland for me. I was not expecting this tea to be leaps and bounds, over-the-top better.
THIS IS REALLY GOOD TEA! It’s not bland or weak tasting at all! It’s spicy, has a cake taste and ‘drumroll’, no bitterness even when it gets cold!!! You suprised me Janet!
When I saw the bits of tangerine and orange peel I was wary. Usually this means the tea is going to be sour or bitter at some point. I’ve been so conditioned by tea companies getting it wrong that I do a little dance inside when someone gets it right.
I didn’t put any milk in my tea because of the citrus and even though I sweetened my cup(yum), it was tasty unsweetened.
If you tried the first batch of Orange Spice Cake and went…eh
try it again. This is really good.
500th Review…Woo Hoo! Tooting My Own Horn!
In less than a year I’ve consumed a great deal of fantastic tea! There was a little barfy tea in the mix now and then, especially in the beginning when I didn’t really know what I was doing.
Even now I screw up.
Oh go on…don’t tell me that you never make tea and forget about it?
“OH NO”…you shriek…“It’s the good stuff!” Proceeding to add water or sugar and milk to dilute your tea enough to still drink it. You WILL drink the tea if it KILLS you.
Selection of a tea for ‘Review 500’ has been difficult.
What tea would I pick? My favorite? A tea I’ve been saving for a special occasion?
Sigh…and more sigh’s.
I had just received a reblend sample of the Chocolate Chai from sTEApShoppe to try this week.
You may remember that many of us on Steepster participated in taste tests for sTEApShoppe on two Sunday afternoons, the last of which was in October.
Janet (the owner) kindly sent out samples of several tea’s and then we reviewed them at a set time here on Steepster letting her know what we thought of the tea.
But what happened after that?
Janet has been busy. She listened to what everyone had to say and has made some changes. This Chocolate Chai is one of the tea’s that I wasn’t too excited about originally. I think it’s way better
The new formulation has been warmed with fennel and the licorice has been removed. There’s lots of cocoa nib, some maple sugar and a mix of spices that gives a good bite to the Chai.
I’m not a person who would drink a Chai without adding milk because Chai is a strong brew. Milk was wonderful in this tea as expected, but the best thing was adding a little honey. OH YUM! Now that was the bomb!
Today being Thanksgiving Eve…my home is filled with the scent of yams and apples that I’ve been roasting…brown sugar and Vietnamese cinnamon. My house smells good!
Chocolate Chai with Milk and Honey…what more could I want?!
If you tasted the previous version of Chocolate Chai and said meh…give the new one a try. It’s not for the faint of heart though. This is real deal spicy Chai!
Ginger, Clove, Black Pepper, Cardamon, Cocoa nibs, Fennel, Nutmeg,
Two types of tea, Maple Sugar…oh…and all ORGANIC. (Well you know how Janet is about ORGANIC!)
I picked Janet’s tea because she’s the ‘Little Engine That Could’
and get’s that award from me. It’s not easy to kickstart a tea company by yourself.
Thank you to everyone for helping me get to review 500, for following me for selecting the like heart and making comments
that have made me feel as though I matter. You’ve kept me from true loneliness many times!
Here’s another teaser intro to a quick Holiday Pumpkin Chai Soup recipe on my blog that’s so easy www.teaandincense.com enjoy!
The best treats are sometimes the ones we create by accident when we’re craving a certain flavor but there’s nothing in the cupboard or frig to satisfy the urge.
A few weeks ago, on the only snowy Saturday morning we’ve had this warm Autumn, I was craving Pumpkin Chai.
I didn’t have any on hand. I had some boxed Organic Pumpkin Squash Soup in the cupboard and a bottle of Third Street Chai in the frig.
Take a look!
This is a snippet from a recipe on my blog www.teaandincense.com where you can see the photo also of the pudding infused with this tea!
My grandsons like to have little treats when they come to visit. Since I have three official grandsons, one in the adoption process and a foster toddler, my five loud and rambunctious young fellows enjoy sitting at my round table to eat pudding tea shots. (Tea always follows)
I began collecting plastic shot glasses from my local Safeway over a year ago. The bakery was making small bite sized desserts, then filling the shot cups with them. Every time I shopped at Safeway, I bought a treat for myself, washed out the cup and put it away until I had enough cups for all 8 Grand-kids.
I make mini jello jigglers, mini parfaits, mini trail mix cups and so on.
One day I had an idea to flavor regular pudding with tea. Why not?
As you can see in my picture, I had lemon pudding mix which was easy to infuse with tea by heating milk then using any kind of tea I wanted. In this case, I strained the tea leaves and let the milk chill…then made the pudding, pouring it in my little shot glasses to set.
You can use tea’s like Cream of Earl Grey (which I used here) or Bergamot Rose, Chai (nice in Vanilla or Chocolate Pudding)
or whatever you can dream up. Toppings make it look more attractive when I have some on hand (which I didn’t this day).
Love my bundle of boys!….read the rest on my blog…
When I walked in the door of my favorite tea pub today, the first person I saw was Andy, all tan and refreshed looking…back from Cambodia and a long honeymoon!
He was wrapped with Christmas lights, tasked with decorating the shop for the Holiday’s. All the other servers were bustling about with an influx of tea patrons that had just about used up all the available teapots and tables.
I sat on my usual bar stool, waiting and watching. They all know that I don’t mind waiting when it’s busy.
Besides, I enjoy the show.
Today I came to see George (the H.L. owner). I was there to drop off two tea and spice rubs that I created with tea from Happy Lucky’s and some seasonings from Savory Spice Shop.
Eventually, the crowd in the shop thinned out and I was able to order a tea that I wanted to take to my daughter’s house for Thanksgiving Day. I already knew that Vanilla Black was pretty popular with flavored tea drinkers at Happy Lucky’s, so I gave it a try.
Joe had blended the tea with natural vanilla. This makes a big difference in the taste, and I remembered how we had discussed how even natural flavors are tricky. You have to add just the right amount of vanilla especially and not overdo it.
The base Black Tea wasn’t malty, but was a straightforward Black Tea. (I wish it was malty. This is a matter of my own taste though.) It had a full vanilla flavor. The vanilla wasn’t bitter and softened the stiffness of the Black Tea.
Without milk but sweetened, the tea was a bit brisk but good enough.
When I added some cream, I liked the tea better, creamier.
I’m sure my daughter and granddaughters will enjoy this tea on
Thanksgiving with the other tea’s I bring to share. Vanilla is, after all, comforting and enjoyed by most people.
Like so many of my fellow Steepsters in the USA, this Monday will be spent scampering off to the grocery store for Thanksgiving Dinner ingredients.
My daughter called this morning to inform me that the body count for dinner at her home will be 20 people, 10 children and 10 over the age of 15. Oh my! I’m so glad she has a big house and an acre out back for the 6 non-infant boys to run around and play on a beautiful warm Autumn day. It will be warm here!
As the only Elder, I am required to bring the food memories my daughter can’t live without. Fortunately, that’s easy. She makes my mom’s turkey stuffing and has the antique gravy boat. I create her favorite yam, apple and pecan casserole layered like a lasagna with butter, maple, brown sugar and spice.
This year I’m making the kids ice cream pies. Pumpkin and candy cane peppermint pies for fun. And tea of course.
(I’ll save my prize winning Apple Pie for Christmas when we’re just family and have RIBS!)
Off shopping I must go! But first, TEA! Dessert tea puts me in a good mood. (All tea puts me in a good mood most of the time!)
I made a small pot of Chocolate Covered Strawberry tea, looking forward to several sweet cups.
Right off, this isn’t a tea that I would drink without adding sugar or sweetener. Some dessert tea’s you can omit sweetening, but not this one. The strawberry flavor is released when sweetened and is the dominant flavor in the tea.
I found the taste sour from the artificial flavoring so I added some cream to soften the tea and make it creamy. This helped.
Another thing that I have trouble with is the chocolate. The strawberry flavor is strong and the chocolate is hardly there at all. (I’ve had trouble tasting the chocolate flavor in all the Della Terra Chocolate Tea’s though, maybe the artificial flavoring and my taste buds are at odds with each other)
This isn’t an awful tea, don’t get me wrong. It’s more of a strawberry tea in my opinion.
I think some of the other tea’s I’ve tried have been more successful.
Off to shop!