675 Tasting Notes
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.
Thank you Brenden for the surprise in my mailbox of this sample tea!
The last time I had some tea from Whispering Pines was…well…in the beginning of the company during the short phase where most of the tea’s (if not all) were smoky. There was a lot of feedback from Steepster folks that Brenden listened to (this is what makes a great tea vendor by the way) and now there is a wide variety of tea’s to choose from on his Whispering Pines Website.
I’ll have to admit though, that I hadn’t looked at the website for a long, long time (over a year).
Brenden noticed my lack of attention to his company (he being a regular Steepster hawk), and sent me a couple of tea samples (smart man).
Kudo’s that this Fujian isn’t smoky! It arrived not contaminated with smoke from the other tea’s that Whispering Pines is known for…the outdoorsy tea’s!
I’m not going to play games with a long review. I’ll get right to the point and then explain.
If you love tea’s like chocolaty Laoshan Black or Fujian Black Pearls this is the tea for you!
Brenden doesn’t lie when he discribes his tea as chocolate. It doesn’t taste like barley or bread, just chocolate tea with a hint of malt. Medium thickness, rich and smooth with a gentle fading of the flavor lingering softly in the mouth.
Delicious dessert tea!
This is the only truly chocolaty black tea that I’ve tasted other than Verdant’s and companies that carry Fujian Black Pearls (which are maltier).
If this was a stock, I’d buy it! Winner!
Hope you don’t mind but I’m attaching another little musical piece by my granddaughter with my photo’s. http://youtu.be/bOKtmS5L9BQ
Added note Oct. 4th I just discovered a talent that Brenden from Whispering Pines has… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUYSjbD0kW4&feature=share&list=UUIhSZ7loxDZ7166OavqfrhA
Last night, after many months explaining the health benifits of tea and constant invitations to join me at Happy Lucky’s Tea House, two members of my Fibromyalgia Support Group showed up at the tea bar!
I was so elated!
Like most (if not all) our group members, these ladies don’t leave their homes unless it’s necessary. It’s just too painful to move and walk even short distances, and a sort of brain fog is a common side effect that comes and goes…making it embarrassing to dialog with other people.
I know how hard it is to function, but being alone is worse!
We sat at the bar where I introduced my friends who graciously served us tea and explained how tea benefits health. Eric served some of his personal tea from a gaiwan before we ordered an herbal blend and finished with Chocolate Aire.
As much as my friends enjoyed the new world of tea, which they did, was gift of inclusion offered to them in the tea shop. They were not outsiders looking in, but accepted. This is what I love about my tea shop, many beloved tea vendors and the people here on Steepster!
It was ‘Food Walk’ evening in Old Town. This is an evening where many shops give out free samples of food as you walk through town every third Friday of the month, and it’s fun! There was a Fall ’Apple" theme, with Apple Pie Tea at the tea shop.
The ladies wanted to try a walk around 1 block. Can you imagine not knowing if your body can take the pain of 1 block?
Off we went to the cheese shop for apples and goat cheese and chedder, then a spice shop for cherries with 5 spice and apple cider…past the outdoor concert where families were dancing and a booth with childrens meals had the biggest Rice Krispie Treats I’ve ever seen!
We made our way in and out around and back to Walnut Street where Happy Lucky’s is located, watching the hummingbird moths gather nectar in the flowers.
Our evening cost under $4 for a pot of tea but was priceless for the joy it gave me to share with these ladies.
Tea is my amazing friend, but it’s meant to be shared.
A note on sharing: (Many already do this, some may like to begin)
When I read about sip-downs it makes me a bit sad, as though tea is something to be gotten rid of. Forgotten, old, unwanted tea once enjoyed or loved.
Consider, instead of ‘sipping down’ unwanted tea’s, could they be sent to a student or struggling Steepster short on funds to buy tea? Newer Steepsters would benefit from the run-off from many of our overstocked, bursting cupboards too. Swapping isn’t always necessary. When one person has nothing in their cupboard to swap gifting would be an act of hospitality! This is the way of tea.
Most people have never tasted Yak Butter Tea made with REAL Yak milk, myself included. So I was very interested when my Steepster friend ‘Roughage’ (who lives in England) sent me a notice that Yunnan Sourcing had just added a salty and sweet versions of real Yak Butter Tea! We had discussed the real taste before, because he had some on a visit to China.
One problem for me is that Yunnan Sourcing has huge shipping costs.
There is however, a Yunnan Sourcing US website that’s way less expensive to order from, so I checked to see if the new tea was available there.
I emailed a note…and received a prompt reply from Scott Wilson:
OK… I will eventually offer it on the US site. Thanks for your feedback!
No review of Yak Butter tea on Steepster yet, but an encouraging note that a vendor is willing to supply customers with the tea they want to drink because we ask. This is good to remember.
If you’re in Europe, these two varieties are available now, sweet and salty, for $6.50 a box U.S. Let us know if you try it!
I’ll be waiting for a note from Yunnan U.S. when it’s available!
There is never going to be a time that isn’t right for a review of Laoshan Black tea…
this is my favorite…my ‘chicken soup’ cure-all tea!
However, I’m using this today because I wrote about it AGAIN on my blog… www.teaandincense.com
Hear ye hear ye
Thank you to Teavivre for this sample tea!
As always the service from Teavivre is of the highest quality with the best packaging and kind notes from Angel!
Now and then I encounter a tea that is…“not my cup of tea” and there is no way to get around saying it. I can’t possibly love all tea’s… nobody can.
I discovered last year is that I can’t taste some green tea’s whatsoever! A few Butiki’s flavored green tea’s taste like water to me because I can’t taste the base tea. Silly taste buds!
The fault isn’t the tea or Teavivre or me, it’s what happens in human beings.
All that being said, I’ll tell you what the tea tasted like to me and you might chuckle (or not).
I’m a super-taster of sorts due to the health condition I have which gives me a stronger than average sense of taste and smell. I have to be careful not to wear perfumes when I drink tea. I tasted Golden Monkey on two occasions to make sure there wasn’t anything interfering with my senses.
What I tasted both times was like V8 Juice.
Primarily Celery leaf juice, brothy diluted tomato with mixed vegetables. Not the best tasting tea if you know what I mean, but an ok soup.
I know, I know… different than anyone else…yada yada.
I’m a black tea lover not a hater but this one hit the stranger than strange tea alarm in my mouth.
Sorry Angel, this one was a giggler. It happens.
Thank you Stacy for this sample tea!
I sellected Ruby Pie this morning because it matched the beginning to my day. How? It matched the color of the sunrise this morning!
Vibrant rose, streaks of gold and cream… bright lights in a black sky.
I was awake at 5:45 AM, the wind howling hard through the trees and if I hadn’t been disturbed, would have missed the most glorious sunrise.
If you watch the you-tube video (made this morning), the last pictures this special sunrise. My granddaughter Megan’s music is paired with it, as a tribute to the 100 year storm we’ve been through here on the Frontrange.
Here’s the You-Tube morning photo’s with music… be kind, it’s my first attempt! http://youtu.be/vaIUqSXnqDE
Ruby Pie isn’t heavily hibiscus (thank’s Stacy) or too strawberry either. The blend is pie-ish. I like that word, ‘pie-ish’ because it means that Stacy got it right, adding cookies (huh?!) to the tea blend. Comforting, dessert tea.
Stacy’s nuts, so she added those too! Nut’s, crust, berries and a little tang in a colorful combination that makes me chuckle at how creative she can be. (What tea delights will transformulate (made that up) from her brain as she becomes a Whovian?!)
After the storm
Thanks to all who sent me little notes of encouragement during the 1000 year storm in Colorado last week!
When you live by yourself, kindness is appreciated, especially when my daughter was across the river unable to get to this side of town and her phone and internet was down (poor thing)!
What you’ve seen in the news isn’t ever what is happening on the ground. Anyone who’s been in a major disaster knows what I mean.
The National News (even what you’ll see tonight with Brian Williams) will be all about Boulder, where less than 200 homes were lost. That is a horrible tradgedy!
I don’t mean to underplay what was lost in Boulder, but here in Larimer County we’ve lost 1500 homes, flooding is still happening out on the plains right now, 20,000 homes are damaged and rescue helicopters (the big ones that can carry 20 people) have been flying low over my house since yesterday.
Over 100 people are still missing here…and rescues are going on as I write this!
Bridges, roads, businesses are gone and farm animals will need feed…if not found dead. 13 Post Offices are gone, sewage plants gone. http://youtu.be/IfvfIEMZ0tg A Short from Friday before copters could get in the air for assessment (Monday was the first dry day).
This 1000 year storm is our Katrina.
Granddaughter Schey called… the phone service was on at the house, and internet so I invited her to tea at Happy Lucky’s and dinner at my house.
Some of the bridges over the Poudre River are open (but not all).
The sun was out, people were flocking into the shop for tea and to talk about the flooding.
I ordered this tea, knowing that Schey loves mint, and we chatted with all the people coming and going. Joe’s mom, Paxton from Firehouse Bookstore, and Maggie (a new tea slinger who lived in China).
When we finished our tea and visit we went to one of the candy shops for malt balls (needed for watching Derek with Ricky Gervais on Netflix). On the way back, we saw something new…which neither of us had seen before. A Hummingbird moth flitting around the flowers in a large flowerpot. It looked like a tiny hummingbird without a beak. http://youtu.be/Jn9zx1gHD6I
I’m mindful at the best and most challenging times of how blessed I am to have kind people in my life. People here on Steepster, kind people at my Tea Shop and a granddaughter who regularly checks up on me and meets me for tea.
If you get a chance to see the new Netflix series Derek, pay attention to the main theme which is kindness. It is charming and refreshing.
Enjoyable to watch with malt balls candy and Chocolate Mints (made some at home too) by the pot! (I’ve indulged myself!)
FYI To people who have sent me tea to review, I have been too distracted with the storms and not sleeping well. Weather alarms, helecopters and all… I couldn’t do a good job reviewing your tea… but will get back to normal soon with some rest.