54 Tasting Notes
Ahhhhh, finally getting to enjoy PTA again. I missed it so much! Sometimes it is really nice to have a long break from one of your favorite teas just so that you appreciate it again when it’s back. Malty, caramely, chocolaty awesomeness!
I’ve been doing a lot of experimenting with tea cocktails lately. So far, the reviews from friends have been very good. I’ve also been testing out cocktails against each other to see which ones are favored. The Hello Sweetie teatini is just a huge success. For anyone that is interested in the recipe, here’s a link: http://butikiteas.blogspot.com/2014/08/butiki-after-hours-hello-sweetie-teatini.html.
Last weekend I tested out the Red Queen martini and Lemon French Macaron martini. The Red Queen martini had an espresso vodka and plain vodka and had a mostly espresso flavor with strawberry at the end. This was a huge success with espresso and coffee fans. The Lemon French Martini had Frangelico and plain vodka. The combo of the lemon and fragelico (hazelnut liquor) was similar to a chocolate cake shot but more just like birthday cake. Everyone seemed to love that even people who were not fans of citrus. This one was pretty complex.
I made teatinis for guests yesterday and this tea with Kettle One Vodka was a huge success! I made 8oz of tea and doubled the amount of tea I would normally use plus I added 2 tablespoons of brown crystal sugar while it was steeping. Then added vodka and ice until the shaker was full and shook it. Made about 3 martinis. It came out amazing. It had the perfect sweetness with burned caramel notes, black tea, and the coconut and banana flavors. The vodka was hardly noticeable. The martinis were a huge hit! Will definitely have to come up with a recipe.
Oh man, this is hitting the spot right now. The nice thing about this CTC is that it is quite a bit more forgiving than most CTCs that I’ve had. I know I overleafed but it really doesn’t taste that way and in the past I certainly let the time go for 2min+ without repercussions. Some days you just need a nice CTC to push you out of exhaustion. The bready notes are especially present but I love how the chocolate notes peak through. Sometimes when a cup of tea is just perfect, I tend to let out a sigh. I notice this mostly with the Premium Taiwanese Assam but I definitely sighed when I had this cup.
I’m finally starting to catch up on some emails and random work that has been put off because of the sale. It feels good to have finally gotten every single order out and to be mostly caught up on other orders. During the sale we discontinued Strawberry Oolong & Premium Chai. Unfortunately, we also ran out of our Khongea Golden Tips. Khongea decided not to sell the golden tips this year which means that we have to rework Ruby Pie and Malty Irish Breakfast. I think this time around we will be making the Ruby Pie gluten-free, that way we will have only gluten-free products.
So, I have been thinking about Black Friday through Cyber Monday. I know it is months away but it is really important to prep in advance since it is so crazy. We typically do sales all 4 days. Each day is like our Birthday Bash with the buy certain level and get a certain amount in free tea. Plus each day there are special bonuses like buy $60 in tea and get a new exclusive tea or something like that. We also run contests. I’m trying to figure out if this year we should change the format to gaining a percentage off of the order instead. I waver back and forth. The percentage off would mean we would have to refund every order which would be a pain. This is because we use PayPal as our shopping cart which doesn’t allow for promo codes. Unfortunately, we trapped ourselves into this because changing the cart now with over a hundred products would be very time consuming and potentially expensive but it will have to be done at some point. I do like the idea of free teas because it maybe allows someone to splurge a little. Not really sure what would be preferred.
Also, been thinking about doing a Tea of the Week special. It wouldn’t necessarily be every week but at the beginning of a week I would do a blog about a tea, discuss why it is in our collection, take some more detailed pictures, brew it (western, gongfu, and grandpas style) with notes, and maybe answer some questions. Also, we would offer that tea at a discounted rated for the entire week. Not sure if there is any interest in this.
Darjeelings are not always my favorite. I’m extraordinarily picky about them. For the last two years, my absolute favorite has been from Giddapahar. While, this estate seems to be a tad greener with their processing, the flavor is just outstanding. The tea is very complex and has wonderful sweet almond notes with peach and blackberry notes. There is just so much going on and quite a variety of flavors, including wood, lemon, hay, earth, and jasmine notes. When I heard that Giddapahar was making a special limited handrolled 2nd flush, I knew I had to jump at the opportunity, especially because they only made 11 kilos worth of this tea. It’s absolutely gorgeous. I was so excited when it arrived, I tore open the package. Wow, the scent was so amazing! The taste profile is very similar to the first flush, except that there is a muscatel flavor and the green-ness is much more toned down. It’s also a much fuller body and the astringency is gone. I’m really enjoying this tea quite a bit. It has a wonderful juicy flavor. Almond, peach, jasmine, and hay notes are the most prominent. There is something else present but I can’t put my finger on it right now. Will definitely have to experiment more on this one. Since this is so limited, when it’s gone it’s gone.
In other news, I’m working on 2 new teas today, a caramel apple Gui Fei and a mimosa puerh (this may or may not be a chai). Normally, I come up with flavors then find a tea for them and modify them from there but these guys I’m working with teas that I really want to flavor and trying to develop flavors for them specifically. I have done this with our Champagne & Rose Cream but it’s not typically how I work.
Today has been a weird day. Last night I got home really late. I decided I wanted to unwind and watch a little tv before I went to bed but instead I ended up falling asleep very quickly on the couch. I was so exhausted that I woke up around 8am still on the couch with the tv on. I can’t even remember the last time I’ve done that. I felt very disoriented when I woke up and I’m still not feeling quite so normal. This week has been a trip. At least once a year I go raw for a few weeks. I started eating raw food on Monday. Unfortunately, the first day of being raw is horrible. I was so unproductive because I had a bad headache, was very mentally fuzzy, felt pretty weak, and was hungry all the time. By Tuesday I was feeling a little better but still about half productive. Wednesday, I finally felt better and was able to catch up with work. Now I’m feeling pretty good. In a couple of days I will have that raw food energy. Each time I go raw, it gets easier and I have fewer bad days before the good days start. The first time I went raw, I was miserable and extremely hungry for the first week and it wasn’t until the end of the second week that the energy kicked in. Every day I allow one cheat by having one cup of tea. This tea was my cheat today.
I’m sure this tea is even more amazing since it’s the only warm thing I consume. I love this! Honey and caramel are the main notes. It is very sweet and a little malty. I can also taste vanilla, floral, bread, peppercorn, and plum notes. There is also just a touch of chocolate. It is so very delicious! This tea, our Red Queen Cupcake (strawberry, chocolate, espresso, vanilla) tea, and Taste of India (strong breakfast blend that incorporates Assam, Darjaeeling, and Nilgiri teas) will be up on our website by tomorrow.
This is an interesting tea. While it does have some similarities in flavor to the Taiwanese Wild Mountain Black it also has some of its own uniqueness. It comes from Sansia, Taiwan. That region produces predominantly green tea, so this is a bit unique. Also, a local varietal is used Ching-xin Ganzai. The leaves of this tea are also insect bitten, so it does have that honey sweetness. Such a delicious tea!
Having a nice cup of my favorite tea today on my anniversary. Today the hubby and I have been together for 20 years and this Sunday will be the 12 year anniversary of our wedding. Woo hoo! This week is really packed, we have a good friend’s birthday, our anniversary, father’s day, and a wedding. This week will certainly be busy but for now I’m relaxing and enjoying this delicious cup of chocolaty, caramely deliciousness. In other news, I noticed that the CDC came out with a list of Powerhouse (nutrient dense) Fruits and Vegetables. That’s pretty awesome, but ugh watercress, really. Guess I will have to look into some recipes that kind of hide the watercress. Here is a link for anyone interested: http://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2014/pdf/13_0390.pdf.
I’m loving this tea lately. It’s kind of like a cross between our Premium Taiwanese Assam and our Taiwanese Wild Mountain Black except that it would be a much stronger version of PTA. It has a bit of a stronger maltiness but yet also has the sweetness that is present in the Taiwanese Wild Mountain Black. Very interesting. I overleafed a bit so I am getting a nice burst of malt, very close to astringent but not quite. There are some lovely honey, stone fruit, dark chocolate, and fresh baked bread notes. I’m also getting a slight earthiness and some raisin notes. Absolutely delicious!
Lately, I have been all about gardening. This year I planted a nice box of cabbage, basil, tomatoes, and arugula. I also planted a smaller raised box of jalapenos, tomatoes, basil, and arugula. Each year, I will be adding a new box and fruit tree in our backyard until we have too many fruits and veggies. I also planted a pear tree and a bunch of flowers this year. Yesterday, my first jalapeno was harvested and I made some nachos with homemade salsa and guac. So good! Will be starting composting soon. Very excited to get back into gardening after taking a break last year. Anyone else into gardening?
Whoa, I went very heavy on the tea and man is this strong. I was feeling very sleepy and now quite awake. While I can still taste the burned chocolate, nutty, mahogany, baked bread notes, the bergamot notes are now the strongest. I have really been loving the high quality CTCs from Kenya lately. I feel like CTCs have such a negative association but they can be really tasty.
Did you know it was world goth day? Me either. In honor of world goth day I’m now listening to Fad Gadget. While not the most gothy, I have certainly heard a lot of Fad Gadget songs at many goth clubs. Here is Life on the Line: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TA_8nNNZqD4 If you want to see why you should never have stood in the first few rows at a Fad Gadget concert, check out Lady Shave live. hahaha. Despite being really into goth fashion and music, I don’t have many pictures from those days. I do have one from when I was phasing out of goth, so here is right after I started bleaching out the black hair dye, so it is sorta gothy (1999-ish?). http://i1094.photobucket.com/albums/i446/butikiteas/FridayDecember302005resizedCopy1_zpse89ac58f.jpg. Anyone else into goth music or fashion? I’m still really big into 1970s, 1980s and 1990s goth & industrial music.
I’m taking a short break since today is a long day and I will be working very late tonight in order to compensate for taking a shorter day tomorrow. I decided to gongfu brew some of the Banchang in a 50ml gaiwan. This time around I used a lot of leaf. I think, I prefer less leaf for this one. With less leaves, the apricot notes are very strong but here they are much lighter though still present. The spice notes are stronger now and more upfront. I’m getting a lot of clove, pepper, and cinnamon and some anise but also a nice creaminess and fuller body. Actually, I’m starting to love this despite missing the stronger apricot notes. Very delicious. The rhubarb is now making its way through a little bit. This is definitely my favorite Sheng! Shhh, don’t tell the Wild Purple Buds.
For the rest of work, I’m doing a Joy Division marathon. Unknown Pleasures followed by Closer, and finally Still. As the days are getting warmer, I’m just in more of an old school goth, industrial, and jazz mood. Just came out of a hip hop/rap mood which lasted through the harshest days of winter. Anyone else noticing their preferences shifting as it gets warmer? Here is Joy Division’s A Means to an End because it is awesome: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6oMFMRv5c3o. If I make it through all 3 albums then Sun Ra or Peter Brotzmann will be playing, which I can only listen to at work or with headphones.
Also, have to share this. I just funded this Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/159974695/calamityware-dinner-plate-3. This artist takes the classic Blue Willow pattern and adds ‘calamities’. Super awesome. Can’t wait to serve my guests food on this plate and see if they notice.
This tea is so interesting. I get notes that are not very common in most teas. For instance there are grilled corn notes (bordering on corn nuts but not quite) and roasted cashew nuts. Also, very strong butter and cream notes. This session, I’m also getting a light floral note at the end, maybe jasmine but it is just hardly there. This is definitely the most flavorful white tea I have ever tried. So good.
In other news, we are finishing up adding our new straight teas, so pretty soon we will start back working on flavored teas, which I am very excited about. I say that now before the frustration sets in when the flavors don’t work out how I want them but I do love creating new blends. It’s one of the tasks I most enjoy. Right now, we are working on a new chai. I have really been debating whether we go traditional or do a crazy flavored chai. Not sure yet, which way we will end up. Also, in 1-2 weeks we should finally have our new Silver Needle and Chinese greens in stock. We have been putting it off a bit but I’m excited to finally get the new harvests in.