676 Tasting Notes
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.
Thank’s to Verdant for this sample tea that came with my Laoshan Black order!
Could not go anywhere today, neither could my daughter because of the rain/floods. Not sleeping well until this is over so my review might be squashy. Apologies.
This is one of the tea blends that I had been wanting to try, and it came at the best of times… weather-wise, this has been the worst of times for thousands here in the Colorado floods.
Yesterday was especially hard. My TV had been bleeping frequent emergency warnings for many days. Three nights with not enough sleep caught up with me.
Because of so many road closures and flooding everywhere… I sat and wrote on my blog about the importance of sharing tea with others and said it’s not good to drink tea alone all the time.
When I finished writing, I checked my Facebook, and had a note from Preston (who works at the tea house) inviting me to come to town…and he’d buy me a free pot of tea.
What great timing! I had just written about how sharing tea with others produces kindness and here I was receiving this exact gift.
I arrived as tea slinger Joe was leaving…off shift for the day at 5 PM. He stopped short with his cool bike helmet still on his head to make me some lovely sea urchin tea that he went and pulled from the back room.This was a tea not for sale…but his gift to me.
Sam was sitting at the bar, having a dinner break. He got up, walked over and brought me a ginger cookie (my favorite) to go with my tea.
Preston made me his custom blend with cocoa nibs and puerh. Very tasty!
Like adopted Grandsons, these young men made sure that Tea Shop Grandmother Bonnie was taken care of, not alone in the storm.
I was humbled by them and truly blessed.
If you have time, you might like to read what I wrote before I was summoned to tea. www.teaandincense.com
For my breakfast tea, I made Sweet Cinnamon Puerh! Perfect rainy weather tea!
I make my own puerh blends using Old Comrade and Laoshan Black with cinnamon chips and cocoa nibs or whatever I want to add…Winter Ginger Blend is good to use with puerh. In the past, some Verdant puerh blends were seasonal and I couldn’t get them so I improvised.
I’ve done pretty well, so I was skeptical about the sweet cinnamon puerh being better than my own blend if I’m being truthful.
I made a small pot of tea and was surprised at the velvety sweetness of the cinnamon.
You can order expensive, sweet ground cinnamon but not chips that are as sweet as Verdant’s…and I’d bet Verdant is producing their own since I remember a conversation about creating spice chips with David Duckler some time ago.
The mint and goji berry add needed complexity but take a back seat to the comforting Cinnabon-like cinnamon.
This is Fall and Winter Puerh! Grandma’s kitchen with baking pies and inviting warmth!
I will purchase this, I can’t replicate the cinnamon and I want it!
Thanks to Janet for this sample tea still in the testing stage!
Just because I Love Tea doesn’t mean that I ‘hate coffee’!
Coffee was my first love, and occasionally I’ll request a Vietnamese coffee (with sweetened condensed milk) at Happy Lucky’s Tea House. They make it with Chicory Coffee from New Orleans, Community Coffee. It’s so rich that it’s like having a thick, coffee flavored truffle!
I was surprised to see this blend coming from tea lover Janet, but then remembered her location in Northern California where coffee tradition runs deep. Bridging the tea/coffee world is smart.
Chicory as an ingredient is potent. A third the amount of chicory to coffee for brewing is the rule or the result would be too bitter for drinking. The amount used in this blend is perfect and forms a base for the puerh, black tea and espresso.
The use of cocoa nibs didn’t make the blend chocolate flavored but added maltiness and the maple syrup didn’t add maple flavor but added enough sweetness for those wanting to drink the blend with just added milk or straight up.
It’s the allspice that transforms the coffee-tea drink into something different.
Chicory and puerh can be a bit spicy or tangy on their own which would have gone unnoticed except for the addition of allspice.
The allspice whispered chai. I kept going back, refilling my cup and wanting more.
I’m not sure if the name should be changed to Spiced Cuppa Coffee or Exotic or something else…or if the spice isn’t intended is it necessary (even though I liked the allspice quite a bit).
Naturally flavored Puerh blends that Janet has been creating are fun and this is another one that I’ll give a thumbs up!
Just got an invite from Preston and Sam for free pot of tea and a cookie so I’m off…
New blog entry… www.teaandincense.com
Laoshan Black for calming nerves!
Every hour the emergency warning system blasts announcements about the current flood emergency. The whole State has need drenched with a year’s rainfall total in 4 days (120 inches of snow equivalent).
The 100 year storm they call it.
This will pass.
Living at an elevation, weather is much more interesting than it was in California!
I ducked into the tea shop early along with young friends Devina (a Linda Hop Dancer and student at CSU), a Drama student and Bryce who plays trombone in the CSU marching band. All my young friends are a reminder of how generous and welcoming the tea community is to people of all ages.
Schools are closed, roads are rivers in some places and the morning will bring news of flooding. My favorite comfort tea makes me feel better no matter what!
Laoshan Black was my first great tasting tea. I’m never without my favorite tea in the cupboard so let the rain fall, I’m set with my tea!
You’ve heard a hundred zillion times that I’m allergic to rooibos and honeybush. They’re in the bean family which makes me SICK.
So what! Nobody else cares really UNLESS you’re my tea slinger friends at Happy Lucky’s Tea House.
Why? I’m a particularly annoying pest at the tea house because I ask them to create blends that don’t have rooibos in them.
Most tea companies do not make caffeine free, natural tea blends without my allergy specific ingredients ‘that taste good’. Usually they’re all about the same. Ginger, hibiscus, chamomile.
(A few companies do ok, but I can count them on one hand)
It’s not only the allergy concern, but I like to serve tea to little ones without caffeine too, and Andy (our Master Tea Blender) has been listening to my plea’s for rooibos free tea. Bless his sweet tea heart, he created Chocolate Mints.
Anyone who likes after dinner chocolate mints (and a little coconut) will adore this delectable blend.
This should be brewed by the pot.
The secret to the rich chocolate bar flavor is a long steep of 5-7 minutes extracting the goodness slowly from the cocoa hulls.
Coconut is sprinkled throughout the mixture, which adds a nuttiness
that is brilliant.
I add milk and sweeten just a bit for an even richer creamy, sweet, indulgent dessert!
Andy won’t mind me saying this, because he already knows how much of a tea nerd I am. But when I want to make this a blend with caffeine, I’ve added black tea to it…especially a pinch of cocoa malty tea like a the shop’s Black Pearl or other tea from my cupboard.
Great herbal for chocolate lovers who are tired of fake chocolate.
Thank you Janet for this Sample Tea
My first puerh’s were flavored ones. I don’t really consider this ‘flavored’, not like the ones that were sprayed with who-knows-what alcohol artificial flavorings that would make me barf if I drank them now.
But then, I thought that tea was dessert and a subsitute for cake and cookies. Tea was a way for me to indulge my cravings and lose weight.
It worked for awhile. I lost 20 lbs. in the first few months that I landed here on Steepster.
Then I became a tea snob.
No, no, no! I hope I didn’t/am not. I just changed and learned some things about tea and how it effected my health.
Tea has been revolutionary.
Within the last several years of drinking tea, I decided to change. I lost more weight, made new tea friends, ate healthier, and now drink tea that is naturally flavored or not flavored at all(I wouldn’t be rude if offered artificially flavored tea).
I was pleased when Janet created her first naturally flavored Puerh Tea, Cinnamon Swirl (which was outstanding)! Talk about a good dessert!
This new pound cake tea was a direction I didn’t expect. Usually, companies create chocolate or strawberry puerh but Janet was playing with bready Puerh instead of more common cedar or woody tasting puerh. I think her choice was smart.
The first steep was ‘nice’ (as in ok or average).
The second steep was much better because the puerh was ‘awake’ and contributed more flavor and full-bodied breadiness to the pound cake tea making it truly dessert-like.
I suggest adding milk for sure, even coconut or almond milk would be delicious. Stir with a cinnamon stick or throw in a piece of ginger for flavored pound cake.
I re-steeped 3 pots of tea 20oz each.
A cocoa nib version of this same tea would taste just like chocolate chip cookies!
Thank you Teavivre for this sample tea!
When you open the silver packet of tea, the rose fragrance is potent…released as it should be from a properly sealed container (which Teavivre does so well with much care).
The rose scent can be a bit off-putting. Even I was wary…and in my mind I spoke to myself “Oh no, a perfumy tea!” But I was wrong.
I had Eric brew some up (I tried it first at home and was excited for his reaction at the tea shop). He said out loud what I had thought when he put his nose down into the dry leaves…“A perfumy rose tea!” And when he sipped the tea, “Huh, it doesn’t taste strong rose, in fact this is really good!”, said he.
George lumbered behind the bar…with his “Watcha drinkin”, rinsed out a cup and poured from the gaiwan after sniffing and saying the third “Oh wow ROSE!”…then “Huh?…this isn’t strong like I thought, it tastes Yunnan Black, really good, almost Golden Monkey.” And off he went out the door. (He owns the shop)
I like having other opinions after I’ve made my own. Makes me chuckle to see other people have the same reaction…like I have a secret that I’m springing on them.
My Black Tea loving friends are thumbs up on this rose tea. I think it’s the best Rose Black I’ve had too.
Very, very fragrant aroma…lovely not icky strong scent that fools one into thinking the taste will follow and be rose too but it doesn’t go there.
The flavor is hearty with a HINT of floral not a bouquet just the way it should be. Plenty of body and robust flavor in the tea. Not girly, fru-fru or tea-party-only tea.
I’d share this with a man (if I could find one).
One of my hobbies is cooking even though I don’t cook high calorie foods unless I’m cooking for a crowd of people! For me, it’s lean and delicious!!! I had a wonderful creative outburst at lunch today and made a smoothie with Spring Harvest Laoshan Green Tea but no dairy or other milk!
Cucumber and Spring Harvest Laoshan Green tea sounded like good partners with added lime, ice and clover honey. That was all I needed for creating a SMOOTHIE.
The technique was the trickier part of the process because I don’t own an expresso machine or matcha grinder for making a proper green tea shot!
Here’s what I did to compensate:
The recipe and photo are on my blog www.teaandincense.com
I live in a brewery town, BEER TOWN USA is what it should say on the town sign!
Breweries buy ingredients for beer in the tea shop and the 2 spice shops in Old Town. Fields of golden hops grow close by. New Belgium Brewery, Coopersmith’s, Odell’s, Feisty Spirits Distillery, Fort Collins Breweries, nine just within a few blocks of each other.
I wondered what a Hoppi Tea would taste like? With some excitement, I rushed with my little packet of Butiki Tea for Andy (tea blender) to taste. I love Stacy’s creativity and had been talking to Andy about a beer tea creation of his own for the tea shop since we’re a brewery town (but not a Peach Hoppi copy).
When I arrived at the shop, people were wandering in after classes ended at the University. It was the end of a hot (95 degree) afternoon. Today was the first NFL football game of the season with the Bronco’s playing and I was asked to explain football to a newly arrived Cambodian agriculture student who had never seen a Football game before and had just slept in a bed with a mattress for the first time.
I took a deep breath and did my best.
By the time I finished my explanation, I needed a real beer (and he probably needed one too!). He asked me why I came alone today to the tea shop, because he had seen me before with my granddaughters Schey. I knew it would blow his mind, but I had to tell him that I lived by myself and not with my daughter and 8 grandchildren. He was a bit shocked at the idea that I as a grandmother lived separate from my family.
Ah well. Culture shock. Poor young man.
I love my tea shop! There’s never a dull moment!
Back to the Hoppi Tea!
Joe did a splendid job steeping a batch for tasting and everyone had pretty much the same reaction to the taste.
The comments were:
This is a drinking tea and not a tea tasting tea!
Meant for drinking with food more than on it’s own.
A little bitter but in a great way!
I listened to the opinions and comments around me and agreed that the tea should be ‘drunk’ not ‘sipped’.
I’d prefer drinking the tea with a food like pizza which would counter the sweet-bitterness with saltiness (classic beer pairing foods would work well…chili and so on!).
I liked the flavor! Can’t wait to play with it at home some more!
Stacy, some more brewery tea’s!!!
August 2013 Picking
I almost wish there had been another listing for this tea by season because I’ve written reviews for last season and this new one is different.
Yes, I still have some tea left from last season’s purchase which I shared with quite a few friends here in Fort Collins and sent to California. That tea was outstanding “sweet like cotton candy”, Joe at Happy Lucky’s Tea House likes to say.
Joe works on Thursdays, so today I took the new Taiwanese Wild Mountain Black Tea in for tasting.
When I arrived, Joe’s mom was at the bar and joined in with fellow tea slinger Sam (Andy came by for a sweet sip later on).
In no time, tiny cups of fragrant, golden tea was being passed around for tasting…and immediately we could tell the difference from last season and this season’s tea. Both take your breath away with the quality of flavor, the sweet scent but this season was slightly less sweet than last.
When we were on the first steep I told Joe that the tea aroma was permeating my head with an intense flavor imprint. When this happens usually I get a little stabbing headache between my eyes, but not with this tea.
Joe’s mother had never had a tea this good. It was a treat to share with her, and she loved the experience.
Something else was different that I discovered much later.
We tasted another tea, then, I drank a pot of tea (which is my custom when I go to the tea shop).
At home, I drank another pot of tea…but I kept tasting the Taiwanese Wild Mountain Black Tea!
This was my first experience with any tea flavor lingering such a long time!
How Stacy pulls strings to bring such a fine tea to us is a mystery! This is one of the finest tea’s I’ve ever tasted and close to the original tea she introduced before!
This is a not to be missed tea!
Steep in a gaiwan or use a finum infuser basket (or teacup and strainer) for best results and short steep time. Western style brewing wastes the leaves in my opinion.
If you only had few tea’s you could buy, this would be in my top 5 at least!
Added note I just remembered Joe’s mom (also named Stacy) asking when one should drink this tea?
Joe answered, “While watching a beautiful sunset.”
To which I added…“On Santorini or Hawaii.”
“When you propose, fall in love, your Anniversary.”
You get the picture of how special this tea is!