673 Tasting Notes
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….
One of the things I love about meandering in my local Whole Foods
at dinner time is that no one is there!
At my store, they just moved the tea section to a larger and more visible spot.
Unless I go to Happy Lucky’s Tea House, there isn’t any other place in town with a big variety of loose leaf tea.
A good number of the tea’s are from Colorado which is another feature that I love. The Tea Spot from Boulder is represented, and at least 6 or more companies as well as large bins of loose tea and lots of better National brands (including Matcha).
I was looking around and noticed this Chai Concentrate.
For just under $4.00 I could make 64 ounces of Chai…which I thought was pretty good considering all the ingredients were high quality. All I needed to add was milk. There were several flavors available but I picked Vanilla Chai.
First I tried unflavored vanilla almond milk and mixed half Chai, half milk.
I heated a cup in the microwave and …uh…it didn’t turn out well. The flavor was sour and the milk looked curdled.
I scratched my head trying to figure out what went wrong.
Too much Chai perhaps, or wrong milk?
Next I tried less Chai, more milk and the two still didn’t mix well.
I’m not a chemist so I have no idea why this didn’t work out.
I said, “Forget the almond milk.”
I switched to cow’s milk, heated it up (not overly hot per the label instructions) then added 1/3 Chai to 2/3 milk (not half and half)
which worked out tasting the BEST. NO curdling!
The spices do overpower the vanilla taste.
(it’s the clove that’s the culprit and I’d tone it down or take
it out if I was the tea master).
The taste reminds me of Christmas-time with the scent of a clove
studded potpourri and vanilla frosted gingerbread men.
This is another tea that would be fun to play with in recipes.
A little added to pumpkin puree? Now I want to try the other
I’ll keep hunting for these Colorado tea companies. They seem
to be brewing up around Boulder. I hope the trend continues.
In the meantime. I’ll keep hunting for more local brews.
Thank you Martin Sankale of Wanja Tea of Kenya for this sample tea!
All of my life I’ve met people who have been to Kenya with fantastic stories to tell. Stories of the Great Rift Valley, with herds of exotic animals and vast lush vista’s.
I bought objects made in Kenya for my home, fabrics and small wood animals, musical instruments. I even had some magazines from Nairobi that a friend brought back from a trip that I would read over and over again, especially loving the Kenyan version of ‘Dear Abby’. One particular letter was from a young woman who was in love with a young man who had ‘tribal scar’s’ on his face. She was concerned that he wasn’t modern enough now that she had a job as a secretary. (remember this was in the 1970’s)
Being a mixed race family, I filled my home with items from Kenya especially, because they were the easiest to find.
I bought small wooden animals, musical instruments and fabrics. I prepared exotic meals and then we danced around to music I found at the library.
The Scot’s side of our heritage wasn’t left out. That side allowed us to have tea time in the afternoon’s, scones and Scot’s eggs, and go to the Highland Games (which we still do and yes, my son has a kilt!).
In my well blended family, we celebrate with bagpipes, drums and an American Flag…the African-American, Scot’s way!
Today I also listen to Kenyan Chant.
I’ve had purple tea before but not often. Sometimes I forget how it tastes, different than other tea’s. Even the steeping is different.
You must use less leaf (.5 tsp) and lower temp. (160f) for 4min.
otherwise you won’t have a happy cup.
The first thing I thought when I took my first sip was Oolong.
The savory, floral flavor were a familiar recent tasting memory I suppose. That might give you an idea of where my brain began it’s journey of discovery with this unique Kenyan Purple Tea.
I mentally shook that thought off and began again.
The flavor was sweet and savory in the same way artichoke hearts effect me, I thought, and then I remembered…oh yes…this is one of my rare Umami moments. A deep Umami because the flavor lingers for a long time.
The flavor was at the back of my palate and went up into the nose more like tasting wine would do. I love tea that does this. If you make a little huff, like a nose sigh you get more sense of flavor. Try it some time.
I wouldn’t call this tea woodsy but a little dry as it cools due to faint astringency. Don’t be afraid of it though. The presentation is a dry feel and not a bite.
This is really good tea. Not heavy but really good.
Thank you DHart1214 for this big tea sample!
I was laying in bed this morning thinking about Steepster and who was missing. I’ve been on this site for almost 9 months developing friendships with so many amazing, wonderful people that I truly care about. However, something happened between June and now.
Some people have disappeared!
I miss Jason, Ian and ScotTeaMan who drifted away over the Summer.
(You have your own lists of who’s gone missing too)
I was thinking of Steepster as a Cruise Ship full of Staterooms and fancy places to gather and talk about tea.
The Internet Cafe for Reviews, Clubs, Bars (with tea of course) and PM corners for getting to know each other.
Every day we stop and pick up more Passengers.
We’ve even had a few storms. (Remember the upgrade when Steepster was DOWN most of a week!)
Now and then, someone gets off the ship.
Obligations, school or jobs may have required more time. ADIOS!
Still, I miss them. I hope that at some future Port they will get on the ship again because each person is unique.
I’m hopeful that nobody ever feels lonely or left out.
There are several cruise directors who can help guide the new people and a couple of bartenders. (watch out for the ones with the lampshades on their heads though)
If you’re new, find me on the Lido Deck at the Puerh Bar late at night, nursing a multiple steeping and talking to whomever will listen…telling stories. I’ll be glad to help.
Please stay! I care for you all!
Ah Yes The Tea Review
When I lived briefly in Puerto Rico, there was tropical fruit I had never seen before such as Guanabana, Blood Fruit, and Mango’s in various shapes and flavors (such as Pineapple Mango and Apple Mango). But, I loved fresh, ice cold Passion Fruit juice! It was by far my favorite.
When this tea arrived from DHart1214 I said, “Really?” Thinking about how Passion Fruit Wulong would taste.
I followed the steeping instructions for Oolong.
The leaves were very dark green and the liquor champagne yellow.
The scent of the leaves was a bit odd because of the vegital and fruit clashing but the aroma of the liquor was very fruity and sweet with no vegital smell.
The first tasting was mild fruit, lightly sweet and smooth.
I added a little sweetening which improved the Passion Fruit flavor.
The mouth-feel was light and never transitioned to butter, bitter, or astringency.
The second and third steeping’s were still faintly sweet and mild with a more sour fruit taste which would be more like real Passion Fruit. Adding sweetening is something I suggest. The mouth-feel was still light but a little dry.
I read that this is good when iced.
Overall, a very mild and gentle cup of tea.
This is the last of a full one ounce sample that Jason sent me about 4 months ago. The Chai is very Gingery and got mixed reviews depending on how you feel about ginger really. This is my final cup (sigh).
I’m a fan of ginger. It makes me feel better when my stomach is upset (happens often). The taste of this Golden Chai is not sharp but sweet and mellow. Ginger can be bitter but this tea isn’t even after re-steeping several times.
I love how my body feels warmed from within like a soft glow when I drink this Chai.
I brewed my tea early which was comforting when I turned on my computer. I had slept in a bit, wrote a tea review then went to my email and read some sad but not unexpected news.
The Godmother to my grandchildren, and dearest family friend Terry Beck passed last night after her 5 month battle with cancer.
I’ve spoken of her before. Her 60 foster children, 5 adult children and 5 adopted. She leaves her Husband Fr. Andrew Beck and 2 adopted sons 4 and 8 still at home.
So Memory Eternal to my friend!
I made this tea and looked at pictures of Terry holding my naked Grandson Micah at his Baptism… all smiles. Then I looked out my window and the snowflakes were just beginning to float down.
For about an hour, a steady quiet snow fell.
When she became ill, Terry had a tea time once a week at her home in the Redwoods. Ladies (and a few men) from the neighborhood and the Church would come and make tea and visit. My daughter met with her for tea on the internet and they chatted and laughed.
She communicated to everyone her joy and gratitude for life.
Tea, life, gratitude. I can drink tea and practice gratitude in her memory. I’ll have to work on it since I can be a grumbler.
I’ve gone all over the place with this review. Some people might think this is not appropriate on a tea site. Maybe so. Just don’t hit like and carry on. I’m not offended if people don’t like me. Just be kind to others…that’s when I get upset!
For the end of this discontinued Chai, and the first snow…
…and Terry! http://youtu.be/p3iYnHx8P0s
Thank you DHart1214 for this sample tea
I’m not a hibiscus hater like lots of people on Steepster, and find that it’s nice with fruit blends as long as the other ingredients have enough flavor on their own to keep from being overpowered.
Sort of like not putting mint with a softer vegital tasting tea because it would hide the flavor completely.
So I looked at the ingredients, apple, raspberry, rose hips, hibiscus, natural flavoring and a ‘Guatemalan black tea’ (really?), all organic, and thought that the balance should be tasty.
Yow! The tea brewed up like a Shu Puer on the 2nd steeping, almost black and thick! You could remove grease from a frying pan with the astringency.
Like any good culinary scientist (which I Ain’t),I put a little milk in the tea and watch an instant churning like DRANO as a whirl-wind of tea stirred itself and became a curdled cup of icky gunk!
I began again and tried a lighter steep and still there was a sour bad taste.
No apple, no black tea flavor to be found. Even sweetening could not make this a happy tea.
How can I find the good here. (That’s my job)
I’ve got it! It’s organic!
Thank you Terri Harp Lady for this sample tea!
I woke up at 6:00 a.m. this morning, not my usual time but early enough for a leisurely sit down and cup of tea before heading off to drop my ‘Grandma Van’ at Hawkers Garage for a fix of my windshield wiper fluid delivery system.
I know snow is coming!
When I looked outside, I could see a smattering of snow already on the top of some of parked cars but not on the street. “It’s only October 5th!”, I told myself, then turned away to more important thoughts and decided to make this tea from Terri.
Black Tea, Black Tea, oh how I love Black Tea on a cold, cold day!
The anxiety of not knowing if this was going to be an EH’ tea or an
AMEN’ almost drove me to pull the steep short of the 3 minutes I
set my timer for.
I knew I would add splenda and cream but I tried the tea straight first. Um, the brew was very dark, strong, sweet and rich without being malty or bitter.
When the additions were stirred in, the tea was very smooth and delicious.
I loved the almost blackberry flavor with the roasty honey taste.
I could easily drink this often.
When I finished my tea, off I went to Hawkers where my daughter met me and whisked me off to breakfast at ‘The Breakfast Club’ (real name) for cornbread with sausage gravy. I know…it’s not good for you…blah, blah, blah…!
(I haven’t had this in over a year!)
After much running around, picking up the car and coming home,
I steeped another cup of tea from the morning leaves and enjoyed
more rich, smooth goodness.
I’m on snow watch now, and making rice (potato allergy) clam chowder, looking often out the window. I know this snowfall is only a fluke.
Things will warm up next week I know.
The real snow doesn’t come until Feb.-Mar. but I love the first
Like the little girl I once was instead of an older woman I now am, I watch out my window with joyful anticipation.
I’m waiting for a giant hand to shake a heavenly snow globe, creating a magical white wonderland just for me.
First Tasting…from a sample I received with my last Verdant order. (Prior to my full cake purchase arriving.)
I didn’t realize at first that the sample I received with my order was the same as the 07 cake I later purchased. The label was marked 06 instead of 07.
I thought I had received one of those extra’s that are never going up on the Verdant site, or a future tea that might be released in a few weeks. You never know with tea, things are always changing.
Tasting at H.L.
So I took my little sample to Happy Lucky’s to taste with my tea friends, Sam and Joe, and my granddaughter Schey.
Joe set up a little Gaiwan and 4 cups, then rotated through 7 short steepings.
From the beginning I didn’t think he used enough leaf and the steep time was instant, but he thought otherwise.
The first steeping was tongue numbing, and tasted ashy. The smell was sweet tobacco. The Pu’er was never bitter or harsh, just ashy tasting and vegital.
That didn’t concern me, I knew how a first steeping was so often unreliable in judging what future steepings would taste like.
It took 3 additional steepings for the ash and tobacco taste to subside, finally allowing a lighter, green tea flavor to emerge with a slight astringency.
I determined then to spend time at home brewing this Pu’er ‘MY WAY’. Something wasn’t right.
Curious about my sample, I sent David Duckler an e-mail. He said the handwritten sample said ’06 but was really the 2007 Fuhai Sheng. Aha!
Now I knew how to brew!
I decided to do a Western Style brewing to get a larger amount of tea all at once to envelop myself in the aroma and flavor. I also wanted to use lots of leaf.
I used SPRING WATER!!! (I do believe this made a big difference)
Steep time….1 minute! 8 oz water 5 grams or so leaf
The aroma of the leaves was lightly vegital with a background scent of Grammer School paste.
The color remained pale yellow.
The scent of the tea changed in such a peculiar way. I smelled sweet tobacco in the beginning then sweet spiced pickle, cinnamon, savory and sweet green tea.
Second Tasting Western Style
With the very first sip I was stunned at how instantly the tea numbed my tongue. Not just the tip but under the tongue.
The flavor was an ash-vegital taste that wasn’t too salty. The Pu’er was never bitter or harsh and had a natural sweetness.
I had the sensation of cream without a thick mouth-feel.
As the tea cooled just slightly there was a growing presence of cinnamon.
I was pleased that my choice to brew Western Style using more leaf and longer steep time had worked out so well!
The second steep was like the first and the third was less ashy, dryer and a weaker cup.
I needed to make an adjustment!
At Stepping #4, I changed the time to 1 minute 45 seconds. Perfect!
Always the experimenter, and following a hunch…I took a small break, took a bite of chicken and came back to my tea (just seconds away to keep the tea hot).
By taking that break, I discovered the Pu’er’s Savory personality! Sipping the Pu’er was really good with my light chicken dish in a way that an excellent light savory broth would be.
I could still feel a bit of tingle, that numbing feeling in my mouth that was kind of cool and a green plantain starchy flavor that is a little sweet as it begins to ripen with a hint of cinnamon (super light). (The cinnamon was sometimes only on the nose)
For my first encounters with this Pu’er, I didn’t taste apricot or nut.
The environment often changes what you taste from one day to another too. This is why I seldom eat before tasting tea.
Perhaps in the future my experience will deepen and I will taste many things as the Pu’er itself changes.
My recommendation is to use the best water, don’t skimp on leaf and steep long enough to get good flavor. If at first you don’t succeed try again. I bought a cake and a sample size to play with. Sheng is not like Shu Puerh. This is not earthy, fishy or mushroom tasting.
Sheng are a whole different adventure in the world of Pu’er and I for one have a lot to learn.
Thanks mrmopar for this nice Puerh Sample!
Yesterday someone said in their review that it seems that overnight the trees had turned color without them noticing the change. Blink and it’s Autumn!
I agree! When I lived in California the seasons didn’t change as dramatically as they do here in Colorado.
I was just looking at the forecast this morning. 82 today dipping to 28 tonight (Obama and Romney better have Jackets in Denver) and on Saturday the daytime will be 37 degrees (that’s an almost 50 degree drop!). ‘The times they are a Changing’.
One September I went to visit my mother-in-law Selma in Fairbanks, Alaska and drove way out along the Pipeline towards Valdez. After you pass the Air Force Base around North Pole Alaska, you see few people or cars. After about an hour, if you pull to the side of the road and get out, there is a panorama of golden trees UNBELIEVABLE and not the sound of ANYTHING. No birds, bugs, people, cities or cars. Total quiet. (The birds have gone South and the animals are hunkering down for the Winter which would come within a week or two.)
On the return drive, as the night sky turned black, the Aurora Borealis lit up the sky with an iridencent green light show. Again, stopping and getting out of the car to hear the siren sound of the sky and see the amazing movement of light that only is visable twice a year.
Ah Autumn. http://flic.kr/p/dgv2Nm Fall Alaska Set
The color of the liquor for this Shu Puerh was first a golden honey brown and thereafter a clear dark red-brown.
Although I love to smell wet leaves, I didn’t find this to be a extremely potent or strong smelling Puerh. It was just a mellow, easy scent that was tame, a little earthy and pleasing.
After one 30 second rinse, I kept steepings at 30-45 seconds which was more than enough time for a rich broth.
The lightest (and first) steeping was like honey and Bing cherries with a light spicy finish. There wasn’t any earthy flavor or bread taste. I did find the sensation to be wet, not juicy.
My mind went off to thinking about water and then I came to my senses realizing how odd that was.
I poured another cup. This was more like the Puerh’s I was used to, like digging into rich, dark and chunky premium potting soil.
It tasted juicy and extremely smooth, becoming thick at the back of the palate.
There was something sweet about this Puerh. A cherry flavor and a creaminess during later steepings that I had not come across often in Shu’s. (I thought I was wacko about the cherry flavor but I tasted this tea over again the today and I’m convinced, though the Bing cherry taste is elusive.)
The other illusion that I had with this Shu was water.
As I sat sipping one round after the other I began to tea regress. Have you ever felt like tea is your shrink taking you back to your childhood? Well I have.
I thought about a night sitting on the beach in Santa Cruz, CA all alone. It was one of those starless nights when all you could hear were the waves crashing like thunder. Now and then, there was a glimmer of light from a wave but nothing else as I dug my toes deep into the still warm sand. I must have been 16 or 17 years old and a real dreamer. Fearless and full of wonder.
An older guy in his 20’s that I knew came along, sat down next to me and we began to verbally make up poetry in the dark. He said a line, then I made up a few, then he made up some more. A perfect romantic experience in the purest sense.
We never spoke again.
Tea can be a beautiful moment like that. Like a poem or a crashing wave.
Some are an experience that lingers for a little while.
My favorite ones are the tea’s you remember forever.
And some, well not so much.
This one was better than many I’ve had and will linger.
Story (I have a review of tea for the morning)
I’ve had quite a long day. My ex-Husband, needed me to get some legal paperwork together so that he could sell his house (not mine anymore). I had to prep and fax 47 pages off to California along with notarized proof of my name as a favor.
What did I do to relax afterwards? Go to Happy Lucky’s for tea!
I always know that it’s dead quiet around dinner time, nice time to relax at the tea pub.
Sam was about to get off work and Joe (the cute guy in the picture that some of you ladies commented on) was minding the shop alone.
After a few minutes at the bar, my granddaughter Schey came in with Purple Hair…very cute on her…and joined me for tea.
We really had a great time until….the ghost tour arrived again. The line of ladies (no men) filed behind the bar, downstairs, then up again…grabbing iced tea and back out the door.
We drank our pot of yummy puerh (this is a great and reliable, smooth and rich puerh! I’ve reviewed it twice before and this is my really tasty every day kind of puerh. Not fussy, makes a good latte too.)
So we’re drinking puerh and then Schey had a meeting and left.
All of a sudden, 7 women came up from the basement with purple, pink, black and blond wigs on…all dolled up. Older women looking like they’ve been up to something (no idea what though).
I have no idea where they came from.
Joe said, “Didn’t you see them go downstairs before?”
“No I didn’t!”, I answered. Which was true. I never saw them go with the other people and why were they coming upstairs long after the others had left?
Strange. Don’t you think that’s peculiar?
I pointed out the firehouse poll and said something really stupid.
“That’s where the employees pole dance.”
(“OH shut up Bonnie! Whatever are you saying!!!”, I thought, exasperated with my bad habit of speaking without thinking first.)
The next thing that happened was that each woman had their picture taken in a sexy pose with the firehouse poll in the middle of Happy Lucky’s. Yes. Of course they did this. It was almost my idea!
Joe was laughing, I was hoping he wasn’t going to be mad at me later for my big mouth! (I did give him some news though.)
Hope the word doesn’t get out. I’d hate Happy Lucky’s to be the place in town for pole pictures!
Such is life. Never a dull moment.
Good Puerh and an interesting way to end the day!