43 Tasting Notes
Thought I would give a short review of this since it came up today and we will be selling it online shortly-ish. Right now I’m doing anything to avoid working on taxes which really need to be done. Must do taxes today and not get distracted by everything else. The things I’ve done in order to avoid taxes. Definitely the worst part of this job.
On to the best part, tasting tea. This tea is somewhat similar to our Organic Sourenee Second Flush with one huge difference it is way more forgiving and less astringent. The regular version of Sourenee needs to be brewed with precision or it can taste very bitter. I think this is why we had very mixed reviews and feedback of that tea. It was difficult to get it to the precise spot where it was perfect but when you did, it was amazing. This tea is much more forgiving and based on memory it is sweeter, less astringent, and has a much fuller body. Mmmmm, this is super buttery, chocolatey, woody, with a hint of floral at the end of the sip. It is also a little bit malty. In some ways this reminds me more of an Assam than a Darjeeling until the end of the sip, which it becomes unmistakably Darjeeling. This cup is certainly hitting the spot right now. Delicious! I’m so glad we picked up this tea, even though we were really late to the game.
In addition to this tea, we have some other teas that are slated to be added to the website soon. We are bringing back the Birthday Cake herbal for a limited time but also adding a Baked Ali Shan and a Fu Shou Shan (which is our answer to missing out on the Da Yu Ling this year, really could kick myself for missing that). We still need to add the Lattakoojan Assam but there is very minimal prep work needed to be done before that goes online.
Oh man, this is such a wonderful tea! It is quite a bit more chocolaty than last year and just very smooth, yet it is malty. I’m loving the complexity of this tea. It has a variety of notes, including: cacao, sweet potato, oak, apricot, citrus, floral, bread. This is just one of those teas that you start sipping and before you know it the whole cup is done. This has to be my favorite Assam (from India, I qualify that because the Taiwanese Assam is my absolute favorite), though the Lattakajoon is a close second favorite. It is just such a high quality tea.
Today we are working on getting 5 teas together to be added to the website. They probably won’t all go up tonight but we will have a good start.
I’m also very excited because I just bought some tickets to see Beats Antique live. I enjoy a lot of their music, which is world fusion/electronic/tribal-ish but the show looks absolutely insane. It has a bizarre circusy feel, wild visuals, belly dancing, and giant inflatable animals. Here is their short little tour promo if anyone is interested: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32wnEGTE-8A. Love that this tour and last album was based on the works of Joseph Campbell. I’m a big fan of his work. Also, here is their song Cat Skillz: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCLCZbzL3WA, which always gets me going, especially the second half of the song. It always puts me in such a great mood. Yay for great tea & great music!
Big hangover this morning. Luckily, I have a great hangover cure. Seriously, best hangover cure ever: 1 large glass of water, 1 bagel, 2 large cups of Malty Irish Breakfast, 2 Excedrin Migraines, and an insane amounts of B vitamins. I’m already starting to feel great. Last night, I went to see Gary Numan live again. I have really been limiting my concert going as much as possible due to the plantar fasciitis that is still lingering. I have to drink enough to tolerate the amount of pain I will have standing through an entire show because I refuse to sit at a concert. For me concerts just are not as fun unless I’m in the crowd, dancing, and scream singing. The pain was so worth it though because it was such a fun concert. Gary Numan is great to scream sing to. Are Friends Electric? has to be one of the funnest songs, with all of it’s ‘oh ohs’. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7yx8Wwt7zDw.
Some really great people watching at this concert since there is a real variety of people that enjoy his music. The venue has a bar to the left so, when you enter the floor area people were already segregated by age. Most of the people on the right were young and the people on the left were older. The hubby and I went to the underage area since it was less packed and were able to make our way up front. It was interesting to see that the right half had so many people recording the concert on their cellphones but I didn’t see a single cellphone recording on the front left. Also, the younger section seemed more alive and dance-y, while the left section people were more just standing still. It was also interesting seeing the crowd react to older versus newer songs.
This tea is just perfect for my mood. It’s nice and malty, a little woody, little citrusy, with some chocolate notes peeking through. Just what I needed! It’s not overly complex but I wouldn’t enjoy that right now.
Had to get up at 6:30 today, which is brutally early for me. That is why I made this tea “Tea Fairy” gaiwan style, meaning using a ton of leaf with 10 second brews. I think I’m starting to feel alive and I love this tea tastes very different and much fruitier than the way I normally make it which is more chocolatey. It tastes almost like a different tea. It is very strong this way but I sometimes enjoy a bit of astringency.
Tonight, me and my friends are having a surprise birthday party for my best friend. We are doing a potluck, decorations, and a painting/creative session. Normally, she hates birthday stuff but for some reason this year she wanted to do something special but both days (one with her boyfriend and one with her friends) she had stuff planned, it turned out to be a disaster so we are organizing tonight to make up for that. We are trying to do a lot of special little things for her today. A couple days ago, me and my really good friend decided to make special guayusas for her. She loves guyausa and strawberry and chocolate so both of us came up with special blends for her based on that. My friend made a Salted Chili Chocolate Strawberry Truffle and I did Espresso Cupcake with Strawberry Cream. We even put some really cute pics of us with her on the labels. Here are the pics if anyone is interested: http://i1094.photobucket.com/albums/i446/butikiteas/tea_zps574ae381.jpg. I’m crossing my fingers that tonight doesn’t turn out like her other 2 disaster days.
Whew, we are finally starting to dig ourselves out of all the backorders that have been piling up over the last month. We are down just to problem orders and should have everything out by Monday. I really just hate when we are behind, it adds this level of gnawing stress. I’m so relieved that it is almost over. Next week we are focusing on taxes and inventory but the following week I can’t wait for because that is when we start preparing and adding new teas to the website. We have about 20 new teas to be added over the next few months. The first one up will be Hello Sweetie since that has been getting a lot of requests to be put online. We have so many new flavor ideas. There are a number of new teas that are far along in the testing stage as well as some remakes of teas. Here is a sneak peak of a few flavors: Pecan Toffee, Mangoes & White Chocolate, Plum Brandy Cheesecake (to replace Plum Pudding), Exotic Chai, and Lemon French Macaron (custom blend contest winner). We have many other flavors too but those are top secret at the moment. We will be removing some other teas from the website as well. Recently, I’ve been thinking about removing Pumpkin Milkshake since that doesn’t seem to be receiving the best reviews.
It’s no secret that I am a big fan of Assams. We taste as many Assams as possible before deciding on a number of different Assams that have different flavor profiles. This is a second flush Assam and the reason that I fell in love with this one is the strong raw cacao notes. Mmmmmm. If you like dark, almost bitter chocolate, then this Assam is for you! It also has some oaky notes and the standard malty Assam notes. This tea is so chocolaty, that we must come up with a chocolate tea for it.
This week has been pretty busy for us. We just got back from vacation mid week which was really a work vacation and will start prepping for another office closure as we will probably be taking off for another 2 weeks in about two weeks but this time for a real vacation. Also, we received in a ton of tea, including many new teas. We are also changing up a few teas. Here is a sneak peek of just a few of the many changes:
Adding: Hattialli Golden Paw (very similar to our Hattialli Golden Lion)
Changing: Irish Cream Cheesecake. Based on the reviews, we are thinking the base is just wrong for the flavoring. We used our everyday Sourenee, which is very good but also very fickle. It can be pretty challenging to get that tea to its sweet spot and it can turn astringent if the water cools too much.
Changing: Sourenee. We are exchanging the current everyday Sourenee for a very high quality limited edition Sourenee.
Adding: Hello Sweetie. It’s coming soon but first we will be doing a promotion with it.
Changing: Da Yu Ling. We moved too slowly on the Da Yu Ling for the winter harvest but the Fu Shou Shan is a fantastic replacement!
Adding: A baked Ali Shan.
Mi Xian: Just a little warning. We are low on Mi Xian right now and will not be able to get more when we run out as it is scarce at the moment.
These are just a few additions and changes. There are many more to come and many more flavors in the works, including the Custom Blend Contest tea which is getting close to finishing the recipe. We will also be removing a few flavors and teas that just aren’t up to the standards of the rest of the teas. I would love to hear any suggestions from anyone who believes there is a tea that should be removed from our collection.
On to the tea! This harvest has a slightly deeper dark chocolate note. There really isn’t much difference from this harvest and the last harvest but the chocolate is stronger and the malt is slightly stronger. There are less stems, which is fantastic! The upgrade version on the other hand has some cherry notes that were not detectable in the previous version.
Happy New Year, everyone!
This morning, I was in pretty rough shape. Doing a little better now. Woke up completely stuffed up (the heater has been working overtime lately since it is super cold out and that has been angering my allergies). I’m also half tired, a little hung over, and my brain just doesn’t want to function properly. I decided I wanted to start off with a gentle tea and opted for this one. The honey notes are so soothing. Normally, I would go with a strong breakfast tea but I wanted a lot of flavor and complexity and a gentle alertness. I’m slowly starting to recover. I had such a wonderful night last night. Normally, we do huge parties at our house but since both my husband and I had been super busy lately we didn’t want the added stress of hosting a big party. Instead, we ended up visiting my best friend in Philly and had a small gathering of just 6. We played games, drank, and then went to the roof of a nearby building to watch fireworks. It was really nice. Here is a pic of me & the hubby on the roof (2 hoodies and a snowboarding jacket and of course, I was still cold): https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1428774404024535&set=a.1402962459939063.1073741830.100006759666084&type=1&theater
I have to go in to work today but I’m currently debating whether or not to visit a friend. They are hosting a Winter Classic party. It would be really nice to catch up with some friends and see the Winter Classic but they do have 2 newborn babies which I’m not sure if I can handle right now. I’m pretty content just chilling here in my jammies, catching up on the internet, and playing my new crystal singing bowl. My husband had ordered a singing bowl for me on behalf of his parents for Christmas but it didn’t make it here until yesterday. I have a singing bowl collection and this is my first crystal bowl. I love this bowl! There is just something magical about singing bowls.
We are finally down to the last 5 Black Friday orders! These are the last of the “problem orders” and special requests and they will be shipped out tomorrow. This Black Friday definitely went down quite differently than anticipated. I was thinking we might do 20% more in sales than last year’s Black Friday but instead we ended up doing 6 times that. In addition to the large number of orders, a lot of teas that usually aren’t ordered as much became the stars of the Black Friday sale, like our Oriental Beauty and Anji Bai Cha. This lead us to scramble to have teas shipped in from China and Taiwan and flavorings as well as other ingredients being special rushed to us. A lot of very late nights were put in by all, including my 70+ year old mother-in-law who was frequently staying until 2 or 3 am to work. She only normally puts in a few hours a day but she was really amazing during the rush. She also wants everyone to know that a lot of love went into the teas that she made. Working with her is a lot of fun. She’s a retired chemist, so she loves making the teas. I’m trying to convince her to come up with her own special blend. We all felt bad that a lot of orders were really delayed. I’m hoping that most orders make it to people in time for Christmas (or whatever holiday is celebrated, whether it be Christmas or Yule or Kwanzaa, at that point there was no way we were getting orders out in time for Hanukkah though).
During our Black Friday sale, we ended up running out of our current Irish Breakfast. I had seriously underestimated the amount of Hattialli we would need for the year, so unfortunately, that version won’t be coming back until the summer. For this new blend, we started with maybe 17 different combinations. We just tried the final 3 and I think we have a winner. Here is a pic of the final 3: http://instagram.com/p/iKQszalfDg/#. The Dinjoye Assam is the most prominently featured tea with the Khongea Assam just behind it and then our organic Ceylon from the Venture estate. This tea can be really strong, depending on how its brewed. I’m enjoying it slightly less strong by using 1 ½ teaspoons of tea for 3minutes in boiling water. At this level, I’m getting a heavy malty flavor that leaves a tingle on the tongue without being astringent. There are burned chocolate notes up front but a citrusy finish. Some bread notes are present. The citrus is somewhat like bergamot. This is very enjoyable, especially piping hot. It’s not overly complex but a great breakfast tea.
The following is a shameless plug. Sorry guys! I was lucky enough to be involved with 130 other artists (though I don’t consider myself an artist) in essentially a large complicated game of “telephone”. Basically, there are artists that work in different mediums (for instance, dance, painting, music, poetry, photography, film, etc). Each artist is given a piece of art and asked to interpret its soul in their art medium. So, I was given a painting and asked to make a tea based on the soul of that painting. Well, I did and that tea is “With Open Eyes”. That tea was then given to Wes Craven (how crazy is that) to create a character/plot. Here is a link for more info: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/consenses. We are used in the example, so its ok for me to mention it. You can see the painting that inspired it. Sally Taylor is the artists who ran with this amazing idea and she is just super sweet. They are looking for funding. Please check it out if you can, share it, and donate if possible. This is just such a super cool project and I really can’t wait to see the final result.
This week is really chaotic. I’m taking a nice break now to enjoy this phenomenal tea. I love it so much! I’m not sure how well it will be received, maybe it’s just me that loves it but I really feel like both Kenya and India have just been producing some amazing white teas lately. I’m not really a white tea drinker. I usually only have white tea when friends are over and I can brew it in a nice glass vessel of some kind, often when we are playing poker. Our poker friends really love our White Whisper and it gives a nice little buzz when we are up all night playing cards. This tea is just different. While it’s still on the lighter side, it has really rich and sweet caramel notes. It also has some malt, sweet potato and the standard white hay notes. I prefer to brew this one with boiling water since it adds to the malt flavor. Overleafing can cover some of the rich caramel so I tend to measure this one out. This has now become my go to tea. I’m starting to reach for it a little more than the Premium Taiwanese Assam though I think they are fairly equally yummy but in different ways. This tea is a substitute for our Royal Golden Safari, even though that is a black tea. Unfortunately, our photo for this tea is too dark, it really is more golden in color but unfortunately our camera broke and we are waiting on some parts. So in order to get this up in time for the sale I had to use my cell phone. Terrible, I know.
Blarg, I’m noticing my writing skills have gone way down since I’ve only had 4 hours of sleep. Tonight will be nice since its date night. The hubby and I will be enjoying Thanksgiving leftovers and binge watching all the shows we put off since we have both been so busy with work. I think we have multiple Ultimate Fighters, Walking Dead, Marvel, and maybe 1 American Horror Story. Lately, I feel like watching Walking Dead is more of a chore. I think after season 1, I just never enjoy watching it but I keep watching it to see if it gets better. The hubby still loves it though. The whole farm season was pretty awful in my opinion.