672 Tasting Notes
Tonight I made some pancakes with leftover pumpkin risotto. If this sounds odd to you, YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW GREAT THIS TASTES!
The risotto was creamy, nutty, sweet and spicy from seasonings and butter that I pared half and half with buttermilk pancake mix and a dash of Vietnamese Cinnamon. So good!
A little bacon and Maple Syrup and dinner was on!
(I love pancakes on a cool evening once in awhile)
What tea would compliment my pancakes?
I remembered the Strong Fire Tieguanyin that I picked up recently, with a haunting deep honey flavor, almost tasting like a peach liquor. I could imagine the woodiness I had tasted with the dash of cinnamon I added and how delicious the combined flavors would be.
It was easy to steep a small pot of tea to set on my dinner tray but hard to wait two minutes before beginning to devour the pancakes.
The savory-sweet, cinnamon-wood, bacon-butter and cakey-risotto flavors rocked! All my taste-buds thanked me.
What a fine tea to keep drinking with many meals over the cool months ahead.
By the way, I’m testing out http://www.teaandincense.com if you’d like to give me any feedback. thanks.
Thanks Stacy for this tea sample
The night was soooo windy! Down the mountains came the winds with howling hoots and bellows.
I tossed and turned feeling the effect of the weather change. It was as if I was at Sea, with waves and wind rising and falling, which set off a minor nausea migraine.
Morning brought more wind. All day the bright gold leaves will be torn from the trees, flying down the street like shimmering rain.
Strong tea is good for nausea migraines.
I found this Keemun tucked in the ‘to be reviewed’ drawer and knew this was the choice for beginning my day. With the way I was feeling
I was NOT in the mood for setting up an elaborate tasting session that was going to take a long time. I wanted my tea fast.
My experience with Keemun’s isn’t very deep. I’ve had some from Teavivre, another from Butiki and one from Happy Lucky’s. That’s about the extent of it.
I’m gradually beginning to realize that Keemun Tea’s are varied and worth exploring more. Every one I’ve tried has been vastly different than the last.
When I tasted this Keemun it was smoky, quite like a pine smoked Lapsang Souchong (but not nearly as strong). This was unexpected.
I had played with adding LS to a little Black Tea on occasion and this is close to what this tea tasted like to me.
There was some astringency up front in a pleasant way, a tangy bit of malt smoothing out at the finish.
I grew up across from an Italian Plum (prune) orchard and to tell the truth, the smoke was strong and I didn’t taste any plum.
I wasn’t too interested in this Keemun even with cream and sugar.
My favorite Keemun to date is Congou Keemun also from Butiki Teas.
I can’t go out on deck today, have to stay indoors deep in the bowels of the ship. I’ll get knocked into the ocean if I venture out, dizzy from the wind. Migraines behave strangely.
In any case, the tea did make me feel better…I’m not seasick!
Thank you mrmopar for this most silky Puerh!
Yesterday there was a long grey cloud parallel to the foothills by my house.
The cloud didn’t move.
When I walked from my car to the house I looked up at the texture and thickness of the huge monster and recognized it as a Lenticular cloud that you see at high altitude and was formed by moist air blowing over the Rocky Mountains. Constant light winds were keeping it in place, still and waiting.
I knew what was going to happen at sunset. I had seen from a greater distance a cloud monster like this one at Lake Tahoe. But this cloud was right over my head!
I went into the house, got my camera and checked how my buddies on Steepster were doing, when I noticed that my room was suddenly lit with golden light.
The cloud was illuminated by the setting sun which lit up my room!
I ran out the door with my keys and camera, took 3 shots over the complex and drove a block away to the entry of the Equine Center so that I could take my sky shots without buildings or cars.
I sat in the dirt and had the best time shooting a sky that was an ocean of gold, purple, pink and fire red. The color was so bright from ice crystals that the ground reflected a rose tint.
(I hope these pictures show up because I’ve been having trouble with flickr/yahoo.)
Sitting on the ground with the colors of Autumn thick and textured stretched across the sky, it was as if one enormous wing of an Angel was shielding me in an ethereal glow.
I can understand why the shephard David sat on a hillside writing songs of thanksgiving. I want to write Psalms after seeing or experiencing beauty.
The experience of last evening was so awe-inspiring, that I had no question about what kind of tea I wanted to drink this morning.
I picked Puerh.
Puerh always binds me to the appreciation of nature. I get all mushy sometimes about how much I love the rich and earthy thickness of it.
This Puerh I picked out of my to-be-reviewed stash at random.
I couldn’t find any information about it so the opinions are entirely my own.
My usual method is: A 30 second rinse followed by 3 steepings all at 30 seconds. The 4th steeping was increased to 3 minutes (pushing the envelope).
The wet leaves had a remarkable vanilla bean scent. I was surprised!
The liquor began as honey brown, deepening to rootbeer color with later infusions.
The first tasting was mild, lightly sweet and very light cedar. It was hard to tell that this was a Puerh for the lack of earthiness.
I expected the flavor to develop as the leaves opened though. The second steeping was the same as the first.
By the third steeping, I wondered what to do. Not a thing had changed from steeping 1,2,3.
I checked the leaves which HAD opened enough to produce some darkening as the steeping’s progressed.
Should I just drink this as I would a tea that wasn’t a Puerh? Add some sweetening?
I sweetening it a little and it was smooth and light but a bit boring to me.
I decided to increase the time to 3 minutes on the 4th steeping.
Now this was clearly a darker liquor, very smooth tasting, silky and mild. The only change from previous steeping’s was a little cedar bite on the tongue that quickly disappeared as the tea cooled.
This wasn’t a review of the earthy Shu Puerh’s I’m used to… quite the opposite. Don’t get me wrong though, this is a fine enough Puerh for people who DON’T like the earthy, stronger Puerh’s.
For anyone who is fearful and wants to try these exquisite tea’s this may be exactly the rare, golden beauty you’ve been looking for.
Backlog> (Can’t believe this is the first time I’ve used that word!)
Sunday is my day off from writing reviews but not my day off from drinking tea.
I decided several weeks ago that I needed to have time to visit tea houses, have tea outside my own 4 walls, take pictures for my blog or do other things that are enjoyable and feed my soul.
The point is that there should not be any pressure to produce a review. No words.
You might think that’s an easy task. Huh? I’m a talker, it’s not so easy for me to be quiet and to stay off Steepster.
I keep 3×5 cards in my purse so that I can jot down notes if I happen to drink tea when I’m out somewhere. Do you do that too?
So it’s no use. Having a day off means I’ll write a backlog the next day. It will just have to be done that way. I’m addicted.
At about 3:00 I stopped by my H.L. tea pub for a pot of one of the new tea’s added for the 3rd Anniversary Celebration this weekend.
The shop was FULL of people buying tea from ‘The Great Wall’ where about 350 or more tin bins of tea are stacked with samples in front for sniffing. People stand and sniff, pick a tea and buy some for home or have it brewed up.
Joe was manning the ‘behind the bar’ orders, Eric and several others were making pots of tea, setting timers, weighing tea and answering questions.
I just sat and waited for the dust to clear. It always does.
I had been to Church, visited with my granddaughter and forgot to eat lunch. I was in the mood for a hearty tea.
Joe told me that there was just enough Second Flush Assam left for 1 pot and then it would be gone until the next order came in.
“Let’s do it”, I said.
Joe brought me the tin box and a dry sample to smell.
The leaves were a mix of yellow gold and chocolate brown with a scent of hay and pepper.
The wet leaves were cocoa colored and malty sweet smelling with some honey in the aroma.
The liquor was golden honey in color and scent.
When I took a sip the tea was tangy, strong almost like a malty clover honey with horehound.
I drank the tea straight then added milk and raw sugar.
The improvement was dramatic.
I invited Joe and a mountain man that looked like ZZ Top to have some of the tea with/without milk and they agreed that milk was the best way to drink this tea, even if you don’t add sugar.
I dawdled over my last cup, took some pictures of my favorite place in town.
This Assam was one of the better ones I’ve ever had.
I asked, “How do you guys always stay so cheerful? I never see anyone who works here in a bad mood. No one’s ever cranky or complaining.”
Joe laughed, “That’s not an option, we’re professionals and there’s no place for that kind of thing here.” (He wasn’t joking, he said this with pride)
When I thought about what he said, and the fact that the whole staff is following this same work ethic and pride in what they do, that’s commendable and pretty rare.
Can you imagine if every business had employees who were cheerful, kind and helpful, gave great service without ever being cranky?
Thanks to DHart1214 for this sample tea!
It appears that the clocks have reversed and I’ll have to nose about for my Summer clothes this week. The temperature will hike up around 78-80 Degrees which is perfect for speeding around the hills in my jalopy with a packed lunch, tea thermos and camera, knowing I’ll find lots of Fall color to shoot.
This Black Lemon Tea was my first tea today.
With the first tasting, I was so glad it wasn’t bitter. (I was expecting it to be bitter actually because the amount of lemon peel
was large and I steeped it 5 minutes ( Ovation suggested 5-6)).
Contrary to my prediction, the flavor was lighty lemon flavored and almost completely overshadowed by the Assam which was full bodied and strong.
I was afraid to add any milk because of possible curdling but I did go back on a second infusion and no harm done.
Adding sweetening brought the lemony taste forward. That is the way I would drink the tea, sweetened at the very least.
As the tea cooled it became astringent and for me undrinkable.
As long as this is kept hot enough, it’s tasty and a ‘lemony twist’ on a strong Assam.
Off to write a bit more then to see the red and golden trees of Fall!
I’m so excited! Today is the Anniversary Celebration at Happy Lucky’s Tea House and there’s free tea tastings and Oolong and Puerh classes in the afternoon (and prizes).
I’ll take some pictures to share on another review, but for now…I’m kick-starting this rainy day with a little Green Almond Chai.
It doesn’t take a lot (1.5 tsp) of Chai for an 8oz. cup, but you need to read the instructions. This is meant for adding 20% volume milk and should be sweetened with something. The steep time is long at 5-10 minutes. I chose 5 minutes and can’t imagine going longer. My tea was just on the edge of bitter before adding milk and honey.
The instructions for adding milk and sweetening are serious. I wouldn’t drink this plain (tried and bitter). Adding sweetener was fine but the best way to drink this Chai, in my opinion, is with honey and a rich milk. Whole milk, half & half, soy or almond.
You can really taste the cardamom and almond. The cinnamon and clove spices are very light (thankfully the clove isn’t taking over the Chai).
The Green Tea base wasn’t a player. I couldn’t taste any tea, just almond and spices which I didn’t mind.
Depending on what milk and honey used, that could overpower the taste of the tea too.
I tried Clover honey and whole milk, which was more subtle flavored and gently scented than when I tried Wildflower honey with Almond milk, much bolder.
This is where you can play with how you want your Chai to taste. Orange Blossom honey? Coconut milk? Raw sugar?
My store http://copocoshoney.com (here in Fort Collins) has lots of flavors of honey for tea experiments as well as cooking.
I prefer Black tea Chai’s because I can taste the tea base, but this is nice to play around with and I’m not sure I’d do that with my other Chai’s as much. I’ll have fun experimenting.
I’ve already written one review of this lovely tea, one where I was happily sipping it. Drinking the sweet and savory green bean and roasty rice deliciousness.
I couldn’t resist the next step. COOKING WITH TEA!
I’m always fiddling around in the kitchen with tea, mostly steeping, steaming, making a marinade or sauce of some sort.
(I have a few holiday goodies up my sleeve that I’m working on for gift giving…ho ho ho).
Tonight the lightbulb went off ‘bing’ when I decided to cook some tilapia in the oven. My usual method is stove-top but I had been considering a butter and Laoshan Genmaicha sauce to poach the fish in and just went with it.
All I added was a little sea salt and ground pepper when it was done.
I steeped 4 oz. tea 2 minutes then put in 1TB unsalted butter.
When the butter was melted, I poured the tea mixture over the salted fish and then into a hot 350F oven until the liquid was almost gone and the fish was flaky.
While the fish was cooking, I infused some Verdant Zhu Rong in a little Clover Honey, strained the tea leaves out and added a little unsalted butter to make a glaze. I pan cooked carrot spears adding the honey/tea glaze towards the end and cooking further until the carrots were caramelized.
A few minutes before the fish was done I put a handful of fresh spinach on top of the fish to steam.
How did it taste?
IT"S ALL GONE! I ATE IT ALL UP!
Play with tea! Butters, sauces, honey…it’s easy to do.
I mixed a bit of this brewed Genmaicha last week with some butter and poured it over spaghetti squash…then topped it with a little cheese…oh my…yes! Just a little pat of butter in the tea and it stretched through the whole dish making it rich and YUM!
I know this is a different sort of review but it’s still about our passion… TEA!
Thanks mrmopar for this Pu-erh sample!
A day at home with rain expected in the afternoon was the perfect setting for Pu-erh sipping with steeping multiple times.
As I made my preparations, I was suspended in a timeless space with the thrill, the drama of what was to happen next?
Steeping times: After a 30 second rinse, the steeping for the first 3 sessions was 30 seconds, the 4th was 1 minute.
The wet leaves smelled like sweet dark chocolate, then light leather with raisen and chocolate, then faint leather and sweet.
The color of the leaves changed at the end to dark Jade Green!
The color of the liquor was light brown on the first steeping becoming dark red brown on steeping 2 and 3, dark golden brown on steep 4.
The process of discovery was like a first date. The tea flirted a little, let me get just a hint of flavor to see if I’d respond. A bit of cedar, sweetness and some slight dryness on the tongue. Nothing to write home about but not scary either. Pretty smooth.
(The tea was obviously, holding back and waiting for the right moment to reveal it’s true personality.)
The second encounter was way more flirtatious, even sexy with a baked cedar plank dryness up front becoming smooth on the finish. There was another flavor lurking in the shadows, a secret.
Peach or Cocoa? I needed more time to inquire, to explore again.
The third encounter was not revealing. I sensed that something wasn’t right. The flavor was so much lighter. Wasn’t the water hot enough? Was the steeping too short? (I always blame myself, never the tea first!)
I decided to become bolder, demanding more now that we had spent considerable time together. I felt that we knew each other well enough. My instincts told me that if I pushed a little bit, there was great strength of character just under the surface.
I challenged the timing increasing it 3 fold.
The Pu-erh held steady without a flinch but it looked different.
The liquor had changed to golden brown and the leaves to jade green.
The flavor was supprisingly very mild, dry cedar, sweet, juicy and easy to drink.
Even with the mild dryness this was a smooth tea with no harshness.
I was expecting some sort of aggressive punch with the longer steep, but that’s not what this Pu-erh was about.
It was kind and mellow, sure to keep me happy for a long time.
(For any off-the-wall people who add sugar on occasion to pu-erh, well after the 4th steeping I checked it out and the caramel flavor that appears with sweetening is very nice!)
For anyone who read my notes yesterday about how I was searching for my CANE (I need to name her, she’s 3 years old with silver, blue and black little squiggle flowers and a black wood handle), and I’m reporting that I found her at Old Navy. She was shopping.
Usually I find my CANE having tea at Happy Lucky’s.
I went looking for her after my hair appointment.
There was an odd ad on the radio for a Viagra type product that you had to ‘qualify’ for (huh?) and the first 200 men who called would receive a free stop watch to time the effects of the product (really?!). I certainly got some good puns out of that ad.
When I got home I finished some tea from earlier and roasted some root veggies for dinner. I set some tea aside for the morning, hoping the weather would brighten so that I could take some Fall Photo’s.
This morning was what I hoped for, shimmering light and blue sky.
I’m going to Douglas Lake behind my daughter’s house to get a sweeping view of the Rocky Mountains. I’ll post later pictures from my shoot.
I had to have the tea I set aside first.
When this tea was ordered I had a long conversation with the owner of Kally Tea and enjoyed the down-to-earth friendly conversation about tea and life.
He lives in the small high desert town of Hemet, California.
In my whole life as a consumer, I can’t think of any product besides tea where you can get to know the owner of the company providing the product.
I’m 64 and unless I walk into a physical store in my town and confront an owner and get to know them, it isn’t going to happen. TEA IS DIFFERENT!
(It’s a miracle really)
The dry Oolong was loose, not tight little pebbles of leaves
that would unfurl during steeping.
They looked like Black tea leaves and smelled sweet.
I used 1.5 tsp dry to 8oz. water at 160F and steeped 3 minutes.
The liquor was light honey brown, and tasted lighter than I expected for a first steeping. (I will try a little more leaf next time.)
The flavor was soft clover honey melting away on my tongue like water. There was a roastiness so light and savory that it kept drawing me back for more.
I sipped and sipped the smooth, gentle Oolong, thinking how nice
it was to have a tea that wasn’t requiring much of me.
could just relax, not going into ecstacy over it’s wonders or
into disappointment by some flaw.
As the tea cooled, it didn’t blink. Everything stayed as it was.
“Well now, an Oolong for anytime drinking,” I thought.
This type of Oolong is harder to find and one that I’m glad to have. By the way, I think this is one that’s good pared with food.
Here’s a picture from the LAKE http://flic.kr/p/diVvp6
Somewhere in Fort Collins, I’ve misplaced my CANE. Usually I leave it at Happy Lucky’s Tea House, so last night on the way home from giving grandson Donovan his birthday gift is where I went hunting for it.
It wasn’t there. Oh No!
I had some tea though (which always makes things better)!
Joe was minding the shop and it was pretty empty except for one other regular. We sat at the bar talking now and then about dancing (she’s a 20 year old dancer) and about tea. We got along well.
Joe and I were discussing the Kenyan tea that I reviewed and how it tasted a little like an Oolong. I mentioned how I enjoyed the roasted Oolongs in the Fall and Winter. He asked if I had tasted the Strong Fire Tieguangin?
“What?” I let him know that I hadn’t been informed about that tea.
Off he went to pull the metal canister for me to smell the leaves.
“Um, yes…very roasty smelling leaves and dark too”, I thought. I’d try this one.
Joe prepared a large clay pot and I waited 4 minutes until the timer went off and the leaves were pulled out.
Gracious! The leaves were Black-Brown and looked more like Pu-erh!
The scent was charcoal and french roast coffee with a little tea sweetness. (I could have spent all my time smelling the leaves if I wasn’t worried about the tea getting cold.)
The flavor was not as smoky as the scent. It was sweet and roasty, savory (not vegital), nutty with an unsweetened chocolate undertone.
The second pot was steeped 3 minutes and the leaves were woody and still half unfurled, with an aroma that was more meaty like a good roast chicken.
The flavor was not as sweet or charcoal, dryer in the mouth but never becoming bitter or astringent. This tea was easy to drink.
I talked to Joe about how I could drink pots of tea with roasted chicken or with a savory rice dish, even something buttery where you need to cut through the fat texture and wash it down like when you eat a pulled pork sandwich.
Yes, this tea could stand up to food without being too heavy on it’s
I liked the roastiness very much with a hint of smoke, not too sweet but with character.
Still looking for my CANE….