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Recent Tasting Notes
I received this in my tea swap with Nattie. I won’t feel too bad about being harsh on this tea since she admitted she didn’t like it and she custom-blended it!
The garlic in this is very strong and in the front of the sip. It stays all through and continues into the next sip. I get a little bit of chili at the beginning, but it’s overpowered by the garlic in the end. Honestly, it tastes like eating garlic bread, which, if you’re in the mood for, might be good. I could see this as being sipped as a savory tea if you had a stomach ache, similar to broth but lighter.
Flavors: Chicken Soup, Leeks
I was going to do a side by side taste test of the Yunnans and Yunnan-like teas in my cupboard today. I got out my little demi-tasse cups, little steeping bowls, heated filtered water, got my note paper ready and put 1 teaspoon of tea in each bowl. In retrospect, and something I should have known at the time, far too much tea for the 1 ounce of water I was steeping with! In my defense, even if I had realized in time to adjust the amount of leaf, it would have been hard to determine how much to use with the larger leaves. I don’t have a scale, either.
Here’s a pic of the set up: http://tinyurl.com/ls6mo4p
Horrible lighting and a reflection made it look like there was a tea bag or something in the upper row cup.
I steeped, from left to right, bottom to top: Golden Strand from Mandala (not in picture, alas), Royal Yunnan from New Mexico Tea Co., Yunnan Imperial from Single Origin Teas, Pure Bud from Mandala, Yun Nan Dian Hong Black Tea Full Leaf from Teavivre, Superfine Tan Yang Gong Fu from Teavivre, Yunnan Gold Tips from A&D & Morning Sun from Mandala.
I steeped at 200F for all and for 3 minutes, give or take about 15 seconds. And yikes was that too long for that much tea in that little water! Without exception, all of the teas were bitter. I probably should also not have tried the same temp for all of them. After realizing my mistake I used the rest of the filtered water and tried resteeping in the full 8 ounces. I didn’t have enough filtered water to do all of them, though.
On a second steep, here’s what I figured out: Golden Strand was the cleanest and sharpest tasting. Tan Yang comes out slightly ahead of the Dian Hong Full Leaf, Morning Sun was the smokiest. Yunnan Gold Tips didn’t resteep very well. I didn’t have enough water to try the others.
So, all I managed to really find out is that 1) to do a proper side by side with variables controlled, I really need more than just me doing the prep or I need to not do all of them at once 2) follow steeping directions: all teas are not the same! and 3) even allowing for way improper steeping the most undrinkable were the Royal Yunnan and the Yunnan Imperial. The Imperial is the least expensive of the bunch, but the Dian Hong Full Leaf was the second least expensive so I don’t think that necessarily reflects quality in all cases.
Next I need to try a better comparison and do only the Mandala and then only the Teavivre so I can figure out better what I like about each one and if I really feel a need to keep every single one in my cupboard. Right now I think I do, but I’ve not had them side by side so every one has been The Most Awesome Ever. :)
Oh and after steeping each full cup, I didn’t drink the whole thing right then, I poured them all together and have been sipping on the combined mixture all day. I get almost none of the awesome aspects of any of them but it’s pretty drinkable so I don’t feel like I wasted all those leaves. :)
2tsp Cool Cucumber mixed with 2tsp Pom Tango
1.5tbs of rock sugar
Brewed hot and then chilled.
My friend recommended Cool Cucumber/Pom Tango as an iced tea and, since I’m trying to clear out my cupboard, I made some this weekend. I think I used too much of the cool cucumber, though, because the mint from that tea overpowers everything else. Pom Tango adds a nice – if subtle – sweetness though.
1.5tsp Pineapple Kona Pop! mixed with 1.5tsp Wild Orange Blossom. Steeped for five minutes in my large Perfect Mug.
My best friend’s mom actually came up with this one. She and my friend gave me a sample of each of the teas in it, and curiosity got the better of me once I was home. The first steep is very pineappley when warm but the orange comes out to play once it cools. I like it better bot because cold, the citrus is overwhelming.
The second steep is much weaker than the first and the citrus flavor is muted. I like the second steep better just because it’s not as forceful with the fruit flavoring.
Golden Peach from Tealish and Organic Guayusa from Butiki Teas
I want to both get rid of the straight guayusa and ramp up the caffeine in this coldbrew, so I used about half guayusa and half golden peach. I’ve been sleeping way, way too much lately, it’s starting to freak me out. For instance, last night we went to sleep around 11 and got up around 7:30. At 8:30 I went back to bed because I couldn’t keep my eyes open, and slept until 12:30.
So, I’m hoping a little jolt of caffeine will help me keep from crawling back into bed again.
However, I should have picked a stronger blend to mix the guayusa with. This is all guayusa, earthy and green, with just a hint of peach. I will not be mixing these again, nope.
I hope this doesn’t come off as ranty, but I’m using the chance combinations to do a tasting note of Herbal Infusions Cacao Tea and a few teaspoons of a random tub of cacao nibs I bought at Home Goods.
After trying the HI Cacao Tea, I did some research regarding cacao and the chocolate making process. Apparently, the husks that they are using for their tea are a byproduct of the chocolate making process; the cocoa beans are roasted and the husks/shells are sloughed off, leaving the inner nib that’s processed further into chocolate. Apparently, it’s very common that the husks/shells are sold as mulch ridiculously cheap. We’re talking 22 pounds for under $25 (not affiliated http://www.amazon.com/National-Cocoa-Shell-BLCH001-Blommer/dp/B000VYL2CA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1394904677&sr=8-1&keywords=cocoa+shell+mulch).
So, I wouldn’t necessary go out and buy mulch and make it into tea cause it wasn’t made specifically for human consumption, but the idea of spending so much on something that is sold so cheaply for other purposes seems really unnecessary to me.
I’ve taken a liking to the HI cacao tea and I actually find I like it even more mixed with the cacao nibs I bought. I’m too lazy at the moment to run downstairs, but it was a 8oz tub of organic nibs for $8.
I think though, that one could get a very similar result from buying whole cacao beans (included their shells) that were roasted (and specifically sold for human consumption) and using some kind of food processor to grind them up coarsely to use for tea. If you only like the husks, you can apparently, peel them by hand or by using some type of rolling pin, but I am super lazy and I like it all mixed together anyway. I found a few youtube videos that outlines that process; what’s funny, is these are all chocolate making videos and the husks are thought of as the waste in the process!
Just my two cents!
I mixed up some of the 52Teas Eggnog Honeybush and Cornelia Bean’s Sweet Temptation Rooibos. It’s a good combo, as Sweet temptation is sweet, and the eggnog honeybush is kind of lacking.
Then I added maple syrup and cream.
Oh goodness. I added too much maple syrup, but it’s SO GOOD. Sweet, mapley, nougaty, not too rooibosy. :)
The last of my DavidsTea Pineapple Oolong with some Lupicia Pineapple Oolong.
I get coconut, pineapple, coconut, mango.
Yeah, I know. It’s called “Pineapple Oolong”. I also only expected there to be pineapple.
At any rate, this is really nice iced, right at this moment. :)
Thanks again to Dinosara for the Lupicia samples!
(Steeped then over ice in a 16oz mug.)
So I’m drinking:
1 tsp Verdant Autumn Harvest Tieguanyin
1.5 tsp Fusion Cherry Tisane
steeped in 16 oz of 85 C water for 3 minutes
Why am I drinking this?
The Tieguanyin is too green too floral for my tastes. LOVE the cherry tisane. Both of these are on my “oldest teas” list. Toss them together and I’m getting a cherry green oolong that the fruit is taming the floral. This works better for my tastes and I’m drinking down two old teas at once. Win/Win situation that’s making me happy.
Well, it is official, I (along with my noisy kettle, lamp, and noisy craft supplies) am being kicked out of the bedroom. Since my sleep schedule is cyclic and Ben’s is not, he is tired of being woken up when I am nocturnal…which is completely fair. So to rectify this he is setting up a nice little nook for me in the (slightly scary) basement so I can make noise without waking him up. Hooray!
Tonight I am doing something a little special with my tea review, I am reviewing a blend sent to me for Christmas created by my mother (also known as Gumby), a Masala Chai. This is a sort of celebration of what this blog is at its heart, meaning I will review any tea no matter where it came from (be it giant company or someone’s wild invention in their pantry) I want this blog to explore all the teas and give them an honest reviewing. This specific Chai is blended from Cardamon Black Tea (from Ahmad Tea) Green Cardamon Pods, Black Peppercorns, Fennel, Cloves, Cinnamon, Candied Ginger, Star Anise, Ground Coriander, and Love (it is in the ingredient list, it counts!). The aroma of the loose leaf is potent, I had a nice sneeze when I stuck my nose in the jar (I really need to remember to waft with teas that have pepper in them) the most prevalent note is the cardamon which fades into ginger, anise, pepper, and the cinnamon. At the finish there is a malty hint and a promise of briskness, also a very tiny hint of fennel.
Once brewed the aroma of the spices flow out of the leaves, I can almost imagine a chai colored spice cloud drifting from the basket and slowly overtaking the bedroom, and I am not complaining. After all, he who controls the Spice controls the universe. The main spice note is the cardamon still, the other spices sneaking in behind it like troops behind a general. The liquid has a sweet aroma with notes of honey mixed with the spices, cardamon still wins but is joined at the top with the ginger. There is also a very lovely malty tone that leaves a bright feeling in my nose.
Mixed with milk (whole milk and a splash of half & half for the inquisitive minds) and sugar, as per the instructions and the usual way of drinking chai. The taste is surprisingly earthy, other than the Pu Erh Chai I reviewed last month this is the first chai I have had that can be described as earthy. I am going to go out on a limb and say it is from all the ginger, sometimes I notice that it can add an earthy tone to teas and foods. The blend of spices is perfectly balanced, I was expecting the cardamon to be the supreme ruler of the spice brigade, but they all seemed to reach a peaceful agreement and shine equally. The taste is sweet, I barely needed any sugar thanks to the candied ginger, the mouthfeel is very tingly from all the spices and enjoyable. This chai is fantastic, no surprise since she has been blending her own chai for years, sadly I cannot say it is my favorite ever (the Taj Mahal restaurant still wins that) but it is certainly in the top five, possible taking the silver medal of Chais. Perhaps I need to have a Chai Contest?
*If anyone wants to try some of this chai, let me know, I am not sharing my stash, but I do know where the source is ;) *
I found a decent bubble tea place fairly close to me in Boston! Or maybe I’ve just been here so long that my standards have just lowered. Anyway, I got a roasted oolong milk tea that was pretty good. I also picked up a pitcher and some paper tea filters for more cold brewing. All in all, a pretty good afternoon!
So I just got a notification from the library that the book I requested was now on hold for me, woohoo! So I trekked over to Cambridge to pick it up (Cuckoo’s Calling if anyone was curious) and took the opportunity to visit Tealuxe. It’s actually a very warm day today (relative to the past few months), so I opted for a bubble tea with their mango green tea. The mango was very powerful such that it almost felt like drinking a smoothie. I wasn’t getting much of the green tea base except for a hint of bitterness at the end. Anyway, I sat at the window sipping on my bubble tea and breaking open my new library book. What a lovely way to spend a Saturday afternoon!
I’ve been terrible about logging teas while on vacation, but I’ll use this as a catch-all for all the boba I’ve been having lately. Among my favorites: roasted oolong milk tea, genmaicha milk tea, and melon milk tea all with boba. There’s a place that has really good roasted barley milk tea, so I’ll probably try and hit that up before I leave California. Gotta stuff it all in while I can!
I certainly had fun coming up with a way to list this here on Steepster… I like the analogy of using assorted teas to create some kind of Frankenstein’s Monster of tea.
Side note: I will hunt you down and punch you in the face if you make the mistake of calling the monster itself Frankenstein: Frankenstein is the scientist! It’s a bit of a pet peeve of mine when people mix that up.
Anyway, I’m getting tired of trying to find new ways to use up the leaf I have from my DAVIDsTEA Earl of Lemon, DAVIDsTEA Goji Pop, and my McQuarrie’s Ontario Ice Wine so I figured why not try and kill three birds with one stone and throw some of each leaf into a teaball and steep myself a random mishmash of tea. I fully expected to hate it, but figured it’d use up some of everything so I might as well TRY it and then if I had to dump it I could feel somewhat justified in doing so.
Preparation was kinda tricky: I had to balance the steeping requirements of three different teas. Fortunately, I didn’t care a whole lot so I more so went with simplicities sake. I used a somewhat heaping 1/2 tsp. for each tea – bringing me up to around 1/2 tsp. for the total amount of leaf used.
Temperature wise, I used closer to what would normally be used for the Ontario Ice Wine since it’s the most sensitive to temperature (approx. 80 degrees celsius) – and then I left this to steep in my 10 0z. mug for around 8 minutes (closer to the steep time of Goji Pop). The liquor turned about the same colour as gingerale.
Well, colour me shocked… Because this isn’t so much a “monster” of a tea but a miracle of one. Somehow this has worked out to be DELICIOUS! It’s like the best aspects of each blend somehow are the only present flavours. There’s a gentle sweetness and tartness from the Goji Pop that marries nearly perfectly with the bergamot and light lemon flavours from Earl of Lemon, and then as the tartness fades there are these really gentle berry notes from the Ontario Ice Wine. And somehow the white bases from Earl of Lemon and Ontario Ice Wine work quite nicely together. The aftertaste is a lightly “red berry” kind of fruitiness with very gentle lingering bergamot.
Damn I am a happy camper! I suddenly feel like MAYBE it wont be so hard to drink down the rest of these blends. If someone sold a tea just like this one I’d certainly buy it. It’s gentle but still flavourful and none of the things I greatly hated about each blend come through. There’s also no astringency or bitterness despite this being a long steep time for the white teas – and it feels quite refreshing.
For this FrankTea blend, my rating would be around an 85-88.
So since I’m sick, I decided to break out the best of the cold fighting fruits. I bought fresh ginger and lemons yesterday, chopped them up, squeezed a bit of extra lemon juice, steeped in a basket for 5 minutes, and added a spoonful of honey. The result is a crazily lemon tasting concoction, quite tart and tasting like it’s full of vitamin C. Feels like it will do my body good. Almost like that hot lemon cold medicine but without the drugs in it adding a chalkiness and knocking you out lol. I’m pleased with this blend, and hope it kicks this cold’s butt! It does feel like it’s fading a bit at least.
I changed up my chai recipe a bit tonight, only 1 clove, more ginger, maybe more coriander and fennel, less cinnamon. Oh and in total used the ingredients coriander, cinnamon, cadamom, fresh ginger, black peppercorns, a single clove, and fennel. It smelled a lot spicier, I like it. I also used 12 oz water, simmered spices for 10 mins, and steeped Verdant’s Shui Xian Wuyi oolong in it for the base, one of my favorite oolongs. This made for a buttery smelling chai, and to top it off, I used 1/8 cup cream and 1/8 cup 2% milk today lol. And… If that wasn’t creamy enough.. When I added honey (1 tsp) I also added in 1/8 tsp vanilla extract (unfortunately artificial extract).
The result? The creamiest, richest chai I’ve ever had. My goodness. It probably didn’t need the vanilla, and I was worried it ruined it, but it adds a wonderful sweetness. My next experiment, I want to buy whole vanilla beans and put one in. Lol and the added cream with the Wuyi just puts it over the top into decadent, buttery goodness. I imagine my lactose intolerance will be furious with me, but I am gonna enjoy this slice of heaven for now. I quite enjoy my chai experiments!
I made my chai again, this time with less honey..it is definitely much stronger. The tea base is very prominent haha, I also used 1/3 of a cup of milk instead of 1/4 by accident, but I don’t mind. I might try less cloves next time though, because I think that’s my least favorite spice of the bunch. It is so cozy and warm tonight though, with the snow falling outside. I still might have my nightly matcha later too haha, we will see how caffeinated I am!
I made myself a homemade chai blend tonight! We went to the Little Italy market in the city, and I conveniently happened to end up in the spice isle..and the jar of star anise caught my eye. I didn’t get any for my chai, but I did get coriander, cardamom, ground cinnamon, black peppercorns, fennel, cloves and fresh ginger root. I blended according to Verdant’s blending recommendations on their site – blend until no one scent overpowers the others. I reached this point after adding a lot more pepper and cardamom and ginger when I put a bit too much cinnamon lol. I am not sure the individual amounts (darn it, will probably end up different every time now) but I ended up with ~1.5 tablespoons of chai mix.
For my base tea..I picked Tiger Assam by Andrews & Dunham..I know people might be thinking gasp, why would you put such a good tea in a chai?! But I wanted an Assam in it, and I am out of LB, which would have been the first choice lol. So I put in 3 tsps, after simmering the spices in 1.5 cups of water for 10 mins. Simmered another 2 mins and then took off and let sit and steep for 4 mins.
Then I strained it, and added a large dollop of honey (homemade too, my parents have bees!), probably a bit over a tablespoon. Mixed that around, and added 1/4 cup of milk. Brought to a low boil again then poured it in my cup.
The verdict? HOLY GOODNESS. SO MUCH HONEY. LOL. Maybe a bit less next time..I was a bit worried it’d be too clove-y, as that was the predominant scent when it was simmering, but it actually is pretty well balanced! I definitely taste the fresh ginger, and the cloves and maybe a bit of fennel. The honey brings out everything sweet in it, next time I will probably put less in haha. But it is sweet, cozy and soothing! Ah! And the base is there too, providing a bit of astringency I think, which goes well here. A bit of a burnt clove note too. Overall it’s sweet, smooth, and surprisingly well balanced, for my first attempt lol. Next time, less sweet things though! But I won’t have trouble sleeping after this, and will gladly slurp it down and head to bed! I think it was a good success, and I will definitely make more chai in the future! Excited that I’ve blended my first tea blend!