672 Tasting Notes
This Is The Best Chai I’ve Ever Tasted!
I said it and I mean it! In fact, I already called David Duckler and left him a message pleading with him to make this a regular offering and not a ‘Special one-time only Blend-Club selection’. I’m in a panic! What will happen if the ounce I have is all I’ll ever taste of this fabulous Chai. Wah!
How do I discribe the taste…oh dear.
There’s so much flavor blended so masterfully, that I have to talk about it more like food. Chai is like curry, you know right away if the spice blend is ‘eh’ or ‘yum’.
The Master Blender has woven a web of colorful spice held together by resplendant Yu Lu Yan Cha. The tea is rich, elegant and round with hints of savory cayanne. No hard edges, smooth refined flavor!
Brewed straight or with milk and honey every method is superior.
(My granddaughter arrived while I was writing this and smelled the wet leaves…“they smell like Christmas Grandma,” she said. And they do!)
Please…Verdant! Make this tea available to everyone! It’s my favorite Chai ever!
*PS*Today I took my glass teapot from home to Happy Luckys Tea House because I wanted to be sure that the chai would taste just right for sharing with Eric, Sam, Joe, Andy owner George and anyone at the bar.
‘I’ measured the leaves…and the strength was what I wanted. You could really taste the pepper and Burdick, however…for all the ingredients…it’s not easy to pick any one or two flavors out. We all think that adding at least a little honey enhanced the pepper. Eric liked it naked best. We liked the savory blended with sweet and spicy.
Thanks Brenden for this tea sample!
A shockingly wonderful surprise arrived in the mail…Chai!
What made this arrival more glorious was that I didn’t pick up my mail until it was 30 degrees out. Old Man Winter was blowing his icy breath across my face. Burr!
I stepped gingerly through a pile of dry leaves and into the house arms loaded with two bags of groceries and the mail. I wondered outloud, “What’s this mail from Whispering Pines?”
No matter how lame it sounds, we all have a ‘happy dance’ even if it’s not a literal dance. I have an internal ‘happy dance’, or ‘victory whoop’ that happened last night when I opened the mail and saw two samples of Chai!
I’ve reviewed Fujian Black Tea, which is the high quality very chocolaty tea base for this Chai. I loved it and ordered some for myself! For Brenden to use this as the base for this Chai was brilliant. (Most people use bland black tea’s for Chai, which I just don’t understand!)
The Fujian Black Tea is so flavorful that it blends with the spices weaving together the malt and spice gently without any harsh edges. It reminds me of eating a spice cookie and sipping a cup of creamy cocoa.
My preferred way of drinking this Chai is with cream and clover honey, not sugar. The honey gives a bakery taste to the tea like graham cracker, and the milk or cream enhances the cocoa-malt flavor and creaminess.
If you want a traditional Chai with more spice Whispering Pines Golden Chai is for you and it’s lovely.
Chocolate Chai is smoother and mellow without much bite from spices. The chocolate is more cocoa than candy bar. Don’t expect a gooey Hershey’s Kiss.
As soon as I began drinking my Chai, the tea warmed me up from head to toe, rapidly chasing Old Man Winter’s frosty chill away. A comforting, satisfying and festive mug of tea!
High marks for this one! Quality blending, Brenden!
Thank you Stacy for this lovely sample tea!
I’ve been absent but busy lately tasting tea’s that aren’t ready for Steepster yet for a couple people, spent a little time with grandson Micah cooking vegetables, (he loves Brussel Sprouts!) and I went to a Native American Pow Wow at the University Saturday. ( a free local event http://youtu.be/65uifoEUMAw my homemade video)
I had just drifted off to sleep last night when there was a huge flash of light and loud explosion of thunder…bang! Hail then snow (it had rained during the evening briefly).
This morning there was fog and snow on the ground (which will melt quickly) so I made cauliflower alfredo and froze batches of the sauce for later. Here’s the link if you want to try the recipe. It’s not vegan, but it can be adapted. http://ahealthytreat.com/2013/09/26/cauliflower-alfredo-sauce/
After clean-up, I remembered that I had this tea from Stacy! I love Silver Needle and my friend Eric went “WOW” when he saw that it was ‘Doke’.
When you touch the leaves they feel like the softest velvet, remarkably delicate… slender, long strands that become longer and fatten up when wet. Beautiful olive green leaves with copper!
I placed the tea in my smallest Gaiwan, steeped a very short time at 180 degrees.
The aroma was a combination of bosc pear skin, honeysuckle, nutmeg and saffron.
I made a sweet cream white sauce yesterday, into which I grated fresh nutmeg. It was a rich and delicious sauce, delicate… without being too spicy. (the sauce became the base for stuffed Greek Zucchini)
When I tasted the Doke Silver Needle, I thought of sweet cream sauce I made the day before. Somehow, the connection between both sweet and savory, spice and tea came together. I love the combination.
I went to Butiki’s website to add this tea to Steepster and was surprised that my taste experience was so different than Stacy’s description. Maybe another time I’ll taste something different.
Tea is an ever-changing experience and Silver Needle is a tea that always takes me on a journey.
‘Doke’ Silver Needle Tea is complex and full flavored.
An exquisite tea!
Right before my Social Security check comes every month (tomorrow for me) I’m out of almost everything except tea!
So yesterday, with a couple of eggs and some flour I made noodles for the first time in my life. The results were a bit iffy, but I did manage to make some pretty good broad noodles!
I had two tilapia waiting in the frig.
With those two fish, I created a delicious Thai coconut curry, enough for two dinners, then added my homemade noodles at the end to bathe in the savory broth. It tasted so good! I love making my own from-scratch curry!
The last of the apples were roasted with almonds, cranberries, cinnamon, spiced apple balsamic and a little brown sugar for today and tomorrow’s breakfasts.
I’ve learned over time that I can live very well without much money.
Celebrating life costs me nothing.
It’s Faith, Family, Friends, and lots of tea that warms my heart and makes me happy…!
After dinner, I sat down to watch a movie, placing a tea tray on the wooden bench table in front of me.
I picked Campfire Blend as my evening brew because it’s spiciness could stand up to the curry.
While the tea was steeping, I was ‘Googling’ tea houses in Canada for a friend on Steepster, completely loosing all sense of time.
Tick, tick tick…
(Luckily my teapot was safely tucked under a domed tea cozy nice and warm…steeping away…on and on.)
“Yikes! 15 minutes!” I said out loud!
I was so happy this was an ‘herbal’ blend and not regular tea! But had I gone too far? Was it going to be ruined and bitter?!
I poured myself a mug. The flavor was somewhat like Verdant’s Winter Ginger Blend and my favorite Peek Freans ginger cookie, but with more citrus and coriander (I do love coriander!!). This was unbelievably good tea and strongly (yes strongly) good tea I have to say! Spicy, orangy and gingery, coriander yumness!
I sweetened my cup and added milk (which I was hesitant about). Again it tasted… sooo good…. really good!!!
(I use condensed milk. Just pour it into a resealable glass jar and it doesn’t taste wierd.)
Of this month’s three Club Blends, this is my hands down winner. I’d do a longer than recommended steep again but not 15 minutes!
If I had one tea to pick that I’ve disliked more than any other tea in the world… (this is something I shouldn’t do but for the sake of this review, I’m going to do it)… the winner/loser would be David’s Tea… Carrot Cake. (shiver)
Bleh…made my skin crawl! Like cat fur in the mouth bleh!!!
The reason I decided to try (with fear and trembling) Butiki’s Vanilla Frosted Carrot Cake Tea was one thing… Stacy!
She’s ‘I Love Lucy’,‘Whacky Tea Sorceress’, Tea Airbender Blender’ who comes up with the most innovative ideas without resorting to tanks of spray-on chemical flavors.
Stacy, how’d you do it again?!
First there are orangy chunks of real carrot in the brew basket then creamy icing vanilla supported by a soft bready tea base. The spice is subtle, more so than the carrot cake I make. (I’ll probably add a few ‘true’ cinnamon chips to see how that tastes later)
Unlike my previous awful experience with carrot cake tea, Butiki’s tea is flavorful, mild and smooth. The tea is quite gentle for a vanilla iced carrot cake.
I’m always one to play around with tea so I think that if you like more spiciness or are used walnuts in your carrot cake, it wouldn’t overpower the tea if you added a little in the brew basket. Stacy would do this in a heartbeat.
I’m a believer Stacy! Carrot Cake Tea is possible! You did the impossible and did it well. I’ll drink all of my tea with a smile!
(Reposted this older review under the new tea heading for Happy Lucky’s online… this CTC is very inexpensive and a staple kick in the pants caffeine boost when I need a strong tea that tastes good! )
As soon as Andy puts the information on the website, i’ll review their new Ugandan CTC which is unique. I’m loving these new tea’s from small farms in Africa and Happy Lucky’s makes sure the sourcing is ethical!…stay tuned!
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
The first time I tasted naturally blended flavored tea using herbs and spices I was hooked! These tea’s came from Verdant (two years ago, I don’t know anyone else who was doing blends like this!).
I’ve played mixologist myself from time to time, and Pu’er is my favorite tea to use as a base when I’m being creative. I love steeping tea multiple times and pu’er allows me to do this.
When I saw the packet of Master Hans Forest Grove…I chose it as my first tea to try because it was a pu’er blend (my favorite).
Pleased at the addition of star anise, this spice is often overlooked but adds an exotic, truly Asian character that I love.
(I would have added more!)
The first steep was light and cooling, lifted by the airy mint.
I expected the second steep to be more intense as the pu’er released it’s liquor which didn’t happen. The second and third steep were only slightly stronger than the first.
My impression was of a cool walk through the forest in early Fall after a rain. The coolness mint. The peppercorn, juniper and birch bark scent released underfoot while walking, breaking twigs in the damp forest mulch.
You would not come across anise in the forest but fennel fronds release a similar aroma.
The tea is soft and smooth…very quiet.
I kept thinking as I sipped the tea, that I should cold brew the leaves. There’s something very refreshing that would be better cold than hot. Coolness that goes beyond the obvious mint.
Many pu’er’s when iced are like diving into the purest mountain water and once you’ve tried it, you’re hooked!
I’m convinced this will be one of those best cold blends!
Perfect cool morning for a blend with the name Northern Wilds.
True, Verdant is further North than Colorado, but it can get pretty ‘wild’ in the Rocky Mountains. I love the drama of cloud formations that tumble and sweep like brush strokes off the higher peaks behind my house…across the prairie ahead.
Snow, thunder and lightening on winds so fresh that I wonder how I ever lived in a city with a million people.
Today is my son’s 45th birthday. Sigh.
I posted pictures of Aaron as a little boy on Facebook because it’s my job to remind him that for 45 years, I’ve loved every moment knowing him.
A pot of Northern Wilds and my Kindle in my lap to read the comments about my son’s birthday began my morning today.
At first, I was put off by the aroma of the tea. It smelled strange.
I’m sensitive to smell, so I gave myself some time to cozy up to the ingredients. Maybe I was expecting more pine or sage…a savory woodsy instead of mint. I don’t think of wild woods and mint together. When I lived in the Pacific Coast mountains sage was everywhere but not mint.
I’d take the mint out and make this a stronger blend, more robust. The other blend ( Master Hans Forest Grove) has mint and spice too.
This almost never happens, but…I’m not fond of this blend. It tastes strange, and out of place to me.
Andy is the mixologist at Happy Lucky’s Teahouse and shop Manager.
Whenever I think about Andy blending new tea’s, I imagine the Sorcerers Apprentice http://youtu.be/mHTnJNGvQcA?t=3m3s . He’s Micky Mouse with an out of control wand. The music is building and the outcome appears to be heading for disaster. Miraculously, a ray of sunshine…a moment of brilliance and clarity and in the end, all is well.
I sometimes imagine other tea mixologists that we all know well here on Steepster. In my mind there are three standouts in particular… Giada de Laurentiis, Yul Brynner and Steve Jobs.
Can you guess which tea vendors match these characters?
For 6 days last week, I was in and out of a migraine on one side of the front my face. Finally, had to get out of the house so I went to tea.
Andy (the Sorcerer in my imagination) came out of the back room very excited that I had arrived at the shop. He had his coat in hand, ready to leave for the day. “Oh good, you’re finally here. I’ve made a batch of Harvest Moon Tea and I think it’s better than last year’s blend! I really want your opinion on it. Need to know what you think!”
Off came his coat with a flourish (not missing a beat). Displaying the smooth and elegant moves of a professional, Andy made me a big pot of Harvest Moon Tea, smiled broadly, waved goodbye and headed out the door (the doorbells jingling behind him).
The dry mix had smelled wonderful, the way apples smell when they’ve been soaked in apple cider, spices, vanilla and brown sugar.
(I’m a skeptic! Apple tea’s almost always had disappointed me.)
I waited for 9 minutes for the tea to steep and took my first skeptical sip (although admitting, the aroma was wonderful).
This was BY FAR the BEST Apple Tea I’d ever tasted! The flavor was the kind of vanilla spice, caramel apple desired in a prize winning Apple Pie.
I know what great Harvest Apple Pie should taste like, because I’ve won first, second and third prize in the Johnny Appleseed Pie Contest so I’m picky. Quality ingredients matter!
This week my son Aaron, turns…gulp…45! I mailed off a tea care package for his Birthday. Harvest Moon was one of the tea’s I sent to cheer him up in often-foggy-in-Fall San Francisco. He’ll love it!
As far as who Giada de Laurentiis is…well, maybe Stacy the kitchen wizard of Butiki Tea. Yul Brynner http://youtu.be/KlmCy4qGX_M (who’s the person we know without any hair?)…Garret, King of Puerh! And Steve Jobs, well…when I think of a contemplative person that comes up with new ways to educate, innovate and enhance tea appreciation…it’s David Duckler. It’s how I picture them in their tea guru kitchens.
I’ve already played with this blend as a base for puerh, added black tea when I want caffeine… and as it comes, Caffeine free.
Thank you Teavivre for this sample tea!
At first, I underbrewed this tea. It was very pale and delicate…
I let the leaves steep longer in the gaiwan, observing the transformation…playing with the water, moving the lid back and forth in a figure eight then straining the liquor.
The color had changed only a half tone and the taste was as it should be. A delicate whisper.
The flavor was a thin coat of unsalted sweet butter brushed lightly across my tongue, tingling towards the back and a subtle floral finish.
I would never drink this tea in the morning. I’d roll over and go back to sleep if this was next to my bed.
It’s too…relaxing…it…floats in my mind…like sunbeams flickering through the trees.
I’m sipping this Ali Shan and I want to sit by a stream, lay in a hammock, watch the Fall leaves waving back and forth…back and forth out my window.
This is a soft, gentle, tranquil tea.