675 Tasting Notes
Thank-you to Whispering Pines for this Pu’erh sample!
Sunday afternoon I was ready for my second session on a live Google+ video chat with my new ‘teageek’ group. Our discussion was set for a Liu An Basket-aged heicha tea (which I had never heard of before).
One by one members joined in from Canada, Australia, Seattle, California, New York, Oregon and Eric (Happy Luckys) and I in Colorado. (There are others in other locations who come and go). It’s so much fun!
The reason I’ve been mentioning this group is that so many people have said, "I wish I had a place like Happy Lucky’s to go and drink tea!
“Bonnie is so fortunate to have a tea pub in her town!”
So why couldn’t a few Steepsters get together now and then to drink tea on a google+ video chat?
It’s so easy to do! Pick a common tea, discuss it and enjoy each other’s company! Think about it!
Back to this tea!
I didn’t have one of the basket tea’s to taste for the meeting so I began about an hour earlier with some Imperial Shou to get myself in
a proper fine state of mind.
I had been reading about several methods that two very different
experts use to prepare Pu-erh . One is more geared to hospitality and ritual, going to great lengths to preserve multiple steeping’s over a long time period.
The second method is faster, poking the leaves during steeping to release more flavor, and keeping the steep time at about 30 seconds.
I chose the second method.
I used a 4oz. Gaiwan and I understand that this Pu-erh is from the Menghai factory.
1. The wet leaves had the scent of sweet leather, mushrooms and vanilla and the liquor was golden brown.
This first cup tasted smooth and sweet with no earthiness. There was a little cedar flavor but not much. I felt a mulch, fuzz texture and sensed that this was going to be a special tea.
2. I picked at the Toucha while it was steeping then poured the tea through a strainer. The wet leaves smelled like black cherry,
and liquor looked like very dark drippings from a pot-roast.
I was stunned at how exquisite the taste was. The mouth-feel was smooth and silky like a placid lake. The flavor was close to a pot of creamy bitter hardly sweet chocolate still warm on a spoon, being licked off and melting in my mouth.
There was a very light cedar flavor at the finish but not much.
It was the silkiness that impressed me so much.
3. The leaves were now completely disintegrated from the little Tuocha and they looked black, holding a light leather aroma.
The liquor was still deep espresso brown.
I can’t remember ever tasting a Pu-erh that tasted like CAKE but this one did! How? I dunno! This was good! How interesting and continuing to be very smooth!
(I noticed that the water had been a little cooler, and maybe it had been a factor. I don’t know.) This was so delicious that I was impressed. Most Toucha’s are just not this complex!
Because of the cake taste, I added a little sweetening to the last of my cup which made the tea very caramel, creme brulee tasting.
A nice little dessert flavor.
I went one more steep, still finding the leaves full bodied, rich and smooth. Filling my cup again, which I took to my desk for my ‘teageek’ discussion group.
My vote on this Pu-erh is a big thumbs up! Whispering Pines picked up a fine quality Toucha!
Thanks to Janet at sTEAp Shoppe for this tea sample!
This review is part of #2 Virtual Tea Tasting. What a great idea!
I’ve been chatting a bit with Janet, getting to know her better and she’s a really nice person! We Steepsters are blessed with tea vendors who don’t just care about making a living with tea, they want us to really have a great experience with their companies too!
I sat down today flipping between the Weather Channel and CNN, watching the development of Hurricane Sandy. Like a grandma Hen, I’m worried about all my Steepster friends in the South and East who are going to be in the path of this monster system. If I could manage it, I’d scoop everyone of you up and bring you to my house for the duration, feed you and serve you tea.
I have not forgotten the kind words when the hills were ablaze during the High Park Fires here in Colorado this Summer, the comfort when I was hunkered down with a cloud of smoke like fog outside.
Now, it’s my turn and I will keep you in my prayers also!
The dry tea smelled roasty, reminding me of coffee and chicory with a little sweet caramel.
The wet leaves had the aroma of a cocoa-raisin energy bar.
The base flavor tasted ‘green’. Maybe it was the fenugreek but I’m not convinced. The tea wasn’t malty or strong like I had expected.
Plain (no cream or sweetening) there was a light cocoa flavor and caramel scent more than taste. A bit disappointing.
I was certain that what the tea called for was sweetening and milk to bring out the true flavors. I added sweetening first, which brought out the caramel right away, then milk which brought out the cocoa taste just a little.
(I wouldn’t recommend drinking this without sweetening it at the least.)
There was an aftertaste of raisin…not sure why.
The only thing that I would love to taste more of is ‘chocolate’.
A little more of the nibs would be fantastic or a maltier tea.
(I didn’t feel that the base tea was contributing enough depth to the blend.)
Knowing the sTEAp Shoppe this will be part of their continuing commitment to bring quality natural ingredients and good taste to tea drinkers like us.
I was out and about, running errands and stopped in at Happy Luckys to meet up with tea guru Eric (who works at Happy Lucky’s) to taste some Pu-erh that I received from a Steepster friend. That review will be on my blog in a few days and is remarkable!
When we finished our Puerh tasting, I still wanted some tea! Our little delicate cups of gentle Shu were wonderful but now it was time to pour the big lady serious tea and get down and dirty.
I was sitting at the bar.
I wanted a pot of Lucky Tea House’s finest black tea. Now.
Sam looked at Eric and said under his breath, “How about the Kenyan Ajiri?…no, no, it’s too strong…well…maybe she would like it, she likes strong tea. What do you think?”
“Hum, Eric laughed, maaaybe, OK.”
Then they turned to me.
“Let’s do it guys, I’m that kind of gal, wild and crazy! Set it up!” I said.
First, Sam brought me a tin of the super-small black leaves
(they looked more like poppy seeds) which smelled salty and savory.
Then, the wet leaves which were smaller than coffee grinds were presented with a very malty, rich aroma.
Last the dark brown liquor which was very strong tasting, and I liked it! It wasn’t smoky or malty but tasted solid and a bit fruity. I sipped for awhile.
I then added some cream (I was told the tea was too strong to drink plain but found it to be smooth enough for me).
After drinking a full mug of tea, I ordered a ginger cookie to eat along with my tea. The taste of these two together was out of this world! I’m a bit of a ginger cookie, black tea lover. An addiction as a treat!
A great piece of information!
100% of the profits from the tea sales of AJIRI goes to pay for uniforms and books for orphans in Western Kenya! What a great way to
enjoy tea and help others!
Check out www.ajirifoundation.com
Asante sana (thank you very much!) http://flic.kr/p/dphd5h
Another hidden DAVIDsTEA in the tea bin that I needed to drink up or shut the door. I loved this tea when I got it. The coconut and chocolate were so delicious. Now, 9 months later, what would I think of it?
I woke up to 3 inches of new snow outside and a forecast of 60 for Sunday and back to the high 70’s next week. This is typical of the weather here. Keep the boots and flip flops handy! Make your hot tea and Chai when it’s cold then switch to the cold brews when it heats up. I get weather whip-lash! (but the variety is thrilling)
I have a growing collection of Pu-erh that I’m taking to show Eric at Happy Lucky’s today. He’s a more knowledgeable person about such things and can help me sort out what I have. For me, this is FUN!
As much fun as shopping at the Mall ‘USED’ to be for me.
(I can’t believe that I just said that).
Back to this morning’s tea, which needed to be a tea other than a Pu-erh which I’ll have later, I remembered how much I liked the coconut flavor and chamomile blended with the black and white tea base. It’s an interesting combination. Most people either loved it or hated it when I read reviews before. I was one who was a lover.
I taste the coconut, which I like, not much chocolate though,
which was the same as before. Now, the ‘not much chocolate’ has a sourness that comes from the artificial flavoring which I don’t like.
If this ‘flavoring’ was corrected with natural cocoa nibs or hulls this would be a much more delicious tea.
The use of natural flavors costs more, but the result is so much better tasting that I wish DT would set an example and convert more of their tea’s (like this one).
I don’t buy from DT often and I know they have/had some unflavored tea’s now and in the past that were/are very good. I hope the demand for natural flavors increases!
I’d almost forgotten about this old DAVIDsTEA herbal blend. It’s an old tea friend that tastes really good.
I don’t think DT has carried it for some time. It has Hawthorne berries, eleuthero root, linden, ginkgo, nettle leaves and rosehips. You steep it for 4-7 minutes and wind up with a sweet berry-like tea that has other taste nuances I have a hard time figuring out.
I have no idea how to describe this tea other than… light berry cream with light rose flavor and ground nutmeat. Something close to that. Light and tasty. Oh bother!
I wish this was still available. Caffeine free and delicious isn’t easy to come by now, is it?!
Earlier today I reviewed a Ginger Chai, one of the bottled concentrates by Third Street Tea out of Boulder, Colorado.
For dinner tonight, I decided to use the Chai in my stir fry
along with some soy sauce, sesame oil and garlic.
When my sliced chicken was ready, all nice and caramelized in the Chai sauce, I made a slurry of water, more chai and cornstarch and added this to the pan to thicken into a sauce with the meat.
The whole dish served over rice was a success.
No, more than that, it was super good! The sauce was perfect!
One thing I like about this particular brand is that it’s not overly sweetened and the concentrate is nice and strong. Good for making Chai and good for experimenting in recipes. If you want to try Chai this way, look for a low sugar concentrate or unsweetened.
I can replace the liquid in deserts with Chai and add some to squash soup.
Lots of options.
This is what I do with my cold snowy evenings!
Let it snow let it snow let it snow!
All the people in California, Washington and Oregon who were dripping wet a few days ago from horrid rain storms, Thank you! It turned into pretty white flakes of Snow when it hit the Rocky Mountains!
Yesterday, I went to the grocery store to stock up on good stuff for watching snow from the warmth of my couch. I put gas in the car, went to Sprouts (grocery store), then Happy Lucky’s for a blend of Keemun/Assam Tea with a side of ginger cookie. Hurrying home to unload and I was off again to ‘Open House’ at the grandson’s Charter School.
When I arrived at the ‘Open House’, my little guys were dressed as Greek and Roman citizens, ready to display their knowledge of art, architecture,WEAPONS and literature to grandma Bonnie.
When the event was over and we walked outside of the building, it had begun to snow lightly. I was thrilled. As I drove home in the dark, I was careful on the icy roads. I couldn’t wait for morning and the first look out the window. What would I see?
There was only about an inch of snow on the ground, with steady light flakes falling.
I found my warm robe and fluffy socks, pulled this Spicy Ginger Chai from the frig and put 8oz of 2% milk on the stove to slowly warm.
Part way through warming, I added 4oz Third St. Chai and 1TB honey.
(I had learned from previous experiments with the vanilla flavor Third St. Chai that a 50% Chai to 50% milk ratio wasn’t to my taste. I liked about 1/4-1/3 Chai to milk better.)
When heated, the flavor was wonderfully spicy with a bite but not bitter. It was very fresh and gingery! I loved it!
One thing I’ve discovered about this brand is the versatility of liquid Chai. I can add it to other tea’s so easily, or to sauces if I want to. One day, I made a tea that was a little weak and I added a little of this mix and perked up the flavor. I’ve added a little to a stir fry base and it gave a sudden zing to chicken cooked with sesame oil and a little soy sauce.
I have some squash soup and I’m going to add a little to the soup at lunch!
Today, I sat like a lump on the couch in my robe with my fluffy socks and a big mug of real Ginger Chai, sipping and looking out my patio window at the snow. In my mind, I wanted it to snow some more and I wanted to play in it. I’ll always be a kid at heart, but I’ll have to be content to play with my tea and enjoy the view!
The wheels are in motion for the adoption of one of the Foster toddlers! Court was yesterday and the decision was made that makes this possible! We are all thrilled! He has really bonded with my son-in-law, my daughter and especially grandson Micah.
I couldn’t be happier for him and for us! When it’s legal to do so I’ll post a picture! He’s SOOOO cute!
It’s been a loooog time since I drank this tea!
I stood at my kitchen counter just standing…looking at my electric kettle. What to drink this morning? Shrug.
I had a big day ahead, off to the Justice Center to talk to a Pro Bono Lawyer about a Trust. Faxing a legal paper to the ex in California, groceries and Open House at the grandson’s school. A busy day for Grandma. (Tomorrow it’s supposed to snow…get it done today Bonnie!)
Tea, Tea, Tea. What will it be?
I opened all the drawers in my to be reviewed container and each time it was nah, no, uh uh.
I went to the BIG CUPBOARD with my BIG STASH of favorite tea’s and larger, non-sample sized tea’s. Verdant, Butiki, Happy Lucky’s, Kally, Teavivre, Menghai Puerh, UK, and…up on the top shelf…
Wow, how long had it been since I picked a flavored DAVIDsTEA?
These were my fav’s 9 months ago. I waited for the packages to arrive from Canada…raving about the peppermint or chocolate flavors. It seems like such a long time ago!
I picked Love Tea #7. Yes! I needed some love to start my day!
I made a whole little pot of tea, sat on the sofa with the Today Show as company and sipped my way down memory lane.
It was like going back to Disneyland as an adult. Fun to do but not as great as the first time when it was new. When I was less exposed to other tea’s it was the bomb. Now, I can taste things that I don’t prefer…but I’m willing to ignore just because it’s an old memory
that I don’t want to mess with. I prefer natural flavors more now.
This is still tasty.
Thank you Mrmopar for this Puerh Sample I’m backlogging for a reason.
Here is the beginning of the review of this tea, but the rest of the review can be found on my new blog www.teaandincense.com so please take a look!
Any corrections or suggestions, let me know. I’m a rookie! The music is my granddaughter Megan’s that she wrote when she was 16.
I chose this 2010 High Mountain Charm Pu Erh because of soft earthy floral quality, and smoothness. I was looking for the best tea to pair with my trip to the Scottish Games in Estes Park, Colorado.
Pu Erh is a wild tea in my opinion, and there is nothing tame about a Shu! Something about Shu says Men in Kilts, Pipers, Whiskey, Laughter…and friendship all around (at least it says that to me)!
On the ‘Cameron’ side of my family, joking and golf, singing and laughter (always more golf), bagpipes, the fiddle and dancing are who we were. (We still try to live up to the old ways.)
Grandpa Charlie made bathtub beer during prohibition in San Francisco. His Uncles and Great Grandpa Duncan would drink beer and Whiskey. Jack would play the fiddle, Alan the pipes, Duncan told jokes in Gaelic and all sang loudly half the night. My mother (only about 6) would sit hiding under the dining table listening with glee, laughing with them and understanding not a word.
Thank you mrmopar for this Pu-erh sample
With Steepster down, I had time to reflect on some things that have been on my mind.
My writing has been slushy. You know…when I try to write and for whatever reason I just don’t sound like myself. I haven’t been able to figure out what’s wrong.
Sunday, I was invited to be in a Google+ live video tea group with people in various parts of the World. I was the least tea educated person, the dumb one in the group but ready to learn. Most of the others spoke Chinese, owned tea companies etc. As we discussed the tea of the week, I became sicker and sicker and almost had to sign off early. Something was wrong with me.
The rest of that day I had a terrible migraine that felt like the flu.
Monday came and Steepster was down. I had the flu-like symptoms still hanging on, coming and going with body aches and nausea.
What had caused my illness?
When I was on the chat Sunday I was sitting by a window with the curtains closed. However, there was still enough bright light outside that even though I was wearing my dark glasses, the light made me sick! Isn’t that crazy?
Why am I telling this story?
I was thinking last night about this time of year and writing about tea. I remembered that in the Winter when the barometer changes setting off my migraines almost every few days, I write more from the heart.
I see clearly, listen better, appreciate my time with tea in a deeper way. Life is more precious.
Could this be why I haven’t been myself? Did I need this malady to write better?
Embracing what is ahead with all it’s difficulties far outweighs the pain. My experience in the quiet places where there is true beauty, is why I began my journey with tea in the first place.
There’s no place to hide from difficulties in this life, it’s how we use what we go through or have gone through that matters.
I’m glad to return to the place of struggle even though I’m sure to complain now and then.
Timing and prep.
Gaiwan 4oz. 30 sec. rinse and 30 sec. steeps.
Wet leaf scent changes! Here’s what I like to do.
First, I put my nose over the rising steam and breathe it in and out, deeply.
Next, I put my nose closer and almost hyper-ventilate, then back away and come closer again.
Finally, I pass the leaves side to side at a distance of about
7 inches to catch a lighter scent.
I smell the leaf aroma hot, warm and cold.
These particular leaves smelled like Nilla Vanilla Wafers and Camphor then later like light Leather, Bread and Earth, then Light Leather and a Sweetness which is where it remained.
The first steeping was salty and tasted like a Trisket Crackers, not sweet but smooth. The finish had a little sour black current flavor.
The second steeping was strong, dark like coffee and tasted like cedar, rasins and velvety 90% chocolate. I was so intrigued by the idea of the chocolate that I sweetened the end of the tasting which didn’t mask the flavors but removed the bitterness almost entirely.
Steeping three was lighter with a salty/savory cedar flavor becoming peppery at the end and astringent. I was distracted by my own awareness of well-being. My nausea was gone and I was feeling such a great sense of gratitude for what this Pu-erh was giving to me.
Ah the forth steeping and beyond. This is where I believe the Pu-erh was at home. Lighter, sweeter with a cinnamon spicy taste and less cedar. There was so much light and smoothness here without having lost body.
At one point I added sweetening to see what would happen for those who sweeten Pu-erh and found that the flavor didn’t change
(some Pu-erh’s take on a floral or caramel taste with sweetening) but remained spicy.
A solid, recommended Pu-erh!
Personal Notes about Pu-erh:
I’ve found Pu-erh to be a faithful friend. Since my Migraines and Fibromyalgia both have chosen to attack my core more than anywhere else on my body, my stomach area is often twisted with nausea and pain. My back hurts and bones ache.
When I drink Pu-erh, the nausea and pain are greatly reduced without an upset stomach. Pretty wonderful benefit for me wouldn’t you agree!
Thank you sTEAp Shoppe for this sample for Virtual tea tasting #2!
Yesterday I received the samples to review for the second Virtual tea tasting scheduled for Oct.28th. I’m all for tea companies getting feedback from consumers on what we think about the tea blends they create. We want great tea and I think all of us want tea companies to be successful.
Both the tea’s I have are CHOCOLATE! (It was a no brainer for me!)
One was sTEAp Shoppe’s choice and one was mine.
This morning I brewed up a small pot of the Chocolate Chai before heading out to the downtown Farmers Market.
The suggest steep time of 3-4 minutes wasn’t long enough. The tea was way too weak for Chai. I added 2 minutes which was the correct Chai strength without adding any bitterness.
The flavor was spicy from cinnamon and fruity from the Oolong tea base. I looked for the chocolate taste but never could find it because of the dominant fruit and spice from fennel, cardamom and ginger (with the cinnamon). I couldn’t detect nutmeg until the tea cooled. It might not be necessary, not sure. The ginger was handled beautifully.
Adding honey was delicious, and blended with the spices in the way you want most from Chai. Adding cream wasn’t as successful. My feeling on the milk was that the Chai would have been better steeped in milk and honey instead of water if you wanted a traditional Chai.
Getting back to the lack of chocolate flavor, either there needs to be more cocoa nibs or possible a blend of malty Black Tea with the Oolong.
This is my opinion.
If the word chocolate had been removed, I’d say this is a nice spicy Chai. Very balanced and not too peppery.
Increase the steeping time though!