676 Tasting Notes
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!
I began my adventures with Chocolate Orange ‘flavored’ Pu-erh
about 9 months ago and fell in love.
It appealed to the ex-coffee addict in me. I had no idea that
there was a vast world of PU waiting for me to discover.
What I started with on my journey was the equivalent of a
Wine Cooler before my discovery of Fine Wines.
Without that ‘Wine Cooler’ though, I never would have developed
a taste and desire for what was under all the flavoring.
I’m indebted to the companies who introduce Pu-erh to people
like me who might otherwise might have passed it by.
I’ve been away from those first flavored Pu-erh’s for a long time, preferring straight leaf and natural blends from several tea vendors who do a really good job mixing Pu-erh with mint, cocoa hulls, other types of tea, roots, vanilla or spices. They are fantastic!
When I saw the Tropical White Pu-erh from Kally, it was too different (weird) to pass up. I hadn’t heard of a Tropical White Tea Pu-erh before and I was almost certain that I wouldn’t like it.
Tropical Pu-erh? Seriously?
Since it was a warm morning ‘Tropical’ sounded appropriate.
I steeped the leaves 3 minutes and made a small pot full of tea.
The liquor was dark and fragrant with a floral, fruity scent.
The flavor was sweet and smooth, like a golden delicious
caramel apple. (Golden delicious apples have a floral,
sweet scent and flavor that is unlike other apples.)
The caramel was light with no earthiness at all.
The tea had body without astringency or bitterness.
I kept thinking about the golden floral caramel apples.
There was a dwarf Yellow Delicious Tree outside my bedroom window growing up. It grew horizontally like a vine, held up by numerous stakes… filled with dozens of yellow apples ripe for pies, applesauce or added in my lunchbox.
Years ago, when I entered a Johnny Appleseed Pie Contest, these
are the apples I used to win first place. They melt in your mouth.
I added sugar and cream to my Pu-erh because I had a feeling that it was meant as a morning tea or dessert tea. It seemed right to do so.
I was waiting for bitterness, the one thing that I can’t
stand in flavored Pu-erh’s, but this didn’t happen.
I’m glad really. Kally Tea didn’t go too far with the flavoring
but kept this blend light and bright.
One good flavored Pu-erh and definately different than the rest!
Thank you DHart1214 for this tea sample!
DHart1214 sent me a bunch of little Persimmon Tree samples in little individual servings with a logo seal on them all neat and ready to go. Thanks!
This fruit tea was one of the only packets without caffeine, a good pick for the evening (watching the Project Runway Finale!).
I noticed the first ingredient was hibiscus flowers, then lemongrass and rose hip shells. I don’t mind hibiscus like some other people, but with the other two, I was worried that the sour factor was going to be way up in the high pucker upper range.
With blind faith, my pot of tea was brewed and ready 5 minutes later.
Fortunately, the tea tasted good.
It wasn’t too sour or bitter, but was certainly a tea for drinking with sweetening. If this was a lighter tea maybe you could drink it straight, but this had a heavier fruit liquor and needed sweetening to bring all the fruit flavor to full ripeness.
When sweetened, you could taste the strawberry and cherry as well as the tang from hibiscus and lemongrass. The blend worked well.
I’ve had similar tea’s that were successful when hibiscus and berry flavors were blended together.
This isn’t a story, more of a grandma ‘brag’.
When 2 of my grandsons were adopted two years ago (they are brothers), they were thrilled that my daughter was going to Home School them. They ‘wanted’ their new mom to teach them. I remember Donovan (age 7) with tears telling my daughter, “I want the first words I learn to read to be from you.” It was so sweet. So they joined the other 4 kids and were taught by mom.
As time progressed here in Colorado, all the kids have done better emotionally. One by one several of the older teenagers have gone to local Charter Schools (excellent ones).
This year, all three boys began public Charter School with great excitement and gusto. They are Lovin school!
First Report Cards came today! All the boys got multiple A’s, some B’s and one C. All got A’s in Math and Science.
I’m sooo proud of them. These boys came from the worse situations and still are battling early childhood trauma. The youngest is bipolar. They are jewels!
I’m proud of my daughter for preparing them for this day!
Thanks DHart1214 for this tea sample!
I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned WHY I write about being ‘OLD’. Maybe I have and I’ve forgotten which is something I chuckle about to myself. My short term memory just isn’t what it used to be.
I write about what ‘OLD’ is like so you’ll know what your parents, grandparents and your own future might be like one day. Nobody seems to want to talk about ‘OLD’. It’s not a dirty word!
If I want to drink caffeine and stay up late I can, sleeping in without worrying about being late for work. It’s great!
I don’t have much money but I look forward to the little things in life like being with family, the next cup of tea, a trip to my Tea Pub, free events in Old Town and at Church. I love my daily routine spending time with my Steepster friends.
Towards the end of the month my funds get tight right before my monthly Social Security Disability Check.
Before it arrives my pantry begins to look a little bare. This is when I become creative.
If you read last evening’s tea review about the pumpkin risotto pancakes, that was one recipe born from of running out of breakfast cereal. I got creative and made enough pancakes to last for a few days.
Today, I’ll make soup for lunches. On my patio Kale is ready to pick from one of my long planters again, another way I’ve added to my on-hand diet this year.
Life is good.
This morning, I decided to make some bread before having tea. This didn’t take long and I topped the bread with Sea Salt and Greek Dry Herbs.
As soon as the bread was cool enough, I sliced it, buttered a piece and ate it. Um, good.
I made a small pot of Immortal Nectar loose Puerh, rinsing it off lightly, then steeping about 1.5 minutes.
The fragrance was sweet and the liquor fairly dark brown.
I wouldn’t call the flavor earthy by my Puerh standards, but it was sweet, savory and smooth more like a good coffee. Maybe an Italian Roast. This was really tasty.
Another slice of warm bread and I couldn’t help treat the Puerh like a cup of morning coffee. In went cream and sugar which was perfectly delicious, rich but still robust.
I’d definitly drink this as a coffee substitute. If you are squeamish about Puerh’s, this is tame. Not too earthy, no mushroom or cedar flavor and not fishy at all.
What a lovely start to my day! I have so much to be thankful for.
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.