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Recent Tasting Notes
This morning, I woke up with a slight sore throat (my hubby has a bad case of a headcold so I’m sure that I’m coming down with it too) so to combat the sore throat, I decided to grab my “Kitchen Sink” breakfast tea which is a combination of small bits of black tea blends from all different companies and brew it, and then add some of my ginger/honey crystals to have a spicy hot soothing cuppa that did WONDERS on my throat. And it tasted good too. I’m glad my tastebuds haven’t been affected (yet) by the cold. Hopefully they won’t!
This particular custom blend is a blend of Nilgiri, Assam, and a high grown Ceylon, along with a few spices that I tossed in, just for fun.
The tea is very pleasant. STRONG. Got a lot of “get up and go” to it. Nice malty backdrop. Smooth transition of flavors. The spices I used (ginger and pepper) add a nice, peppery kick that compliments some of the Nilgiri notes quite well.
I must really be happy with me today, because not only did I have Norbu Oolong tea, but I’m treating myself to some Jasmine Pearls.
Now, a little explanation – these are “custom” because, well, I get my jasmine pearls from various sources. There are some perks to being a tea purveyor. Anyways… as I haven’t really found much difference from brand to brand, I just keep them in my pretty little washi paper tin, combining them as I get them… and to be honest, I really don’t know which source(s) I received these from.
Anyways, until I find the “perfect” pearl – if it exists – a pearl is a pearl is a pearl… and all are equally lovely in my eyes.
When it comes to pearls, I have found that a moderately low temperature and extended brewing time works wonders.
The flavor is amazing. Jasmine. Smooth, delicious, sweet green tea leaves, delicate in flavor. Sweet, floral jasmine tantalizing my palate. Delightful.
I was lamenting the fact that we didn’t have the ingredients for me to whip up some hot chocolate after our Epic Snow Shoveling Adventure, but then I realized I had a tea which is even better! This one is Harney & Sons Chocolate tea and Florence tea mixed, with some mini chocolate chips thrown in for good measure. So rich, but you can taste the tea too, which is utterly delightful. The real bonus is no horrid sugar crash afterwards – that always happens to me after hot chocolate and I am happy to avoid it!
I spent the day on friday at Hershey Park in Pennsylvania. The supposed reason we went was to ride the rollercoasters (we did all 10 that were open!! The rollersoaker in the waterpark was not running for the season yet) but I ain’t gonna lie – I love going to Chocolate World. There you will find all the chocolate Hershey makes (including many things never seen in my local stores) in enormous quantities, all so perfectly fresh. We brought home some serious loot!
Last night it was our task to eat this enormous Reeses bar which I’ve never seen in a store with peanuts and wafers and a sort of peanut brittle in it (so good!) – and I decided to simply go for broke with the pairing – the most chocolate-y tea in my collection. Some half and half and sugar to just make the whole thing as decadent as possible.
The tea held up nicely to the strong flavors, and helped with the Peanut Butter Phenomenon – you know how peanut butter sticks to the roof of your mouth?!?
Great pairing – it was the equivalent of going on a roller coaster – a short, intense burst of WOW!!!
So as I was straightening my cupboard this morning, I noticed that my tins of both Florence and Chocolate Tea from Harney and Sons were less than half full, and the wheels started to turn…I wondered what would happen if I combined them, and then added some mini chocolate chips like Adagio does with their Chocolate chip tea…
Success! I was afraid that the chocolate chips might overwhelm the tea and especially the hazelnut flavor, but not to worry – each taste comes through. I’m really pleased with this one!!! It is working to satisfy my chocolate craving AND it made a little much needed room in my cupboard!
So very yummy. I prepared this accord to takgoti/teaplz’s instructions ( http://steepster.com/teaplz/posts/20967 ) and now I think I need to re-rate all of my chais so that this one doesn’t have an unfair advantage. I had been preparing my chai like normal black tea – hah! I only added a little bit of stevia for sweetener, but it tastes much sweeter; something about heating the milk, I think? Anyway, very very tasty.
I always forget that there’s black pepper in this chai blend, because it’s very understated – mostly cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves – just enough to give it a little bite. I can barely taste the assam, but it enough there to make this taste like tea, and to keep it from being too sweet.
Today we went on a nature walk and picnic, and for days now I planned to cold brew this for the picnic drink. Well, I woke up today smacking my head – I FORGOT TO COLD BREW THE ICED TEA!!!! Siiiiiggggggghhhhhh!
I quickly made a double strength hot brew of it, cooled it down over ice, and took it on our adventure. It was really good, and very refreshing with our spicy peanut noodle picnic, but I definitely prefer the cold brew method. This was a little harsh and strong, where the cold brewed one is delicate and so much more fruity. I didn’t get any of the grapefruit/St. Germain notes today.
Moral of the story: Don’t forget to put your iced tea to cold brew before going to sleep the night before a picnic or you will be sad!!!
WOW. I made a cold brewed iced tea with this and it is amazing! It really is like St. Germain liquor iced tea because of the Darjeeling. I am really impressed. Very sweet and fruity with that almost grapefruit edge. Very sophisticated! I’m going to save this one for hot summer evening dinner parties :) It’s too good for every day!
1st steep, 1st impressions: okay, so green/raw/sheng puerh is clearly a whole different animal from black/cooked/shou. Noted. Seconds impressions: smoky aroma, warm cream/pale orange color, smoky/grassy/complex flavor profile. Not a hint of barnyard or fish. Did I just spoil myself for lesser puerhs? :(
Holding off on the numerical rating for some longer steeps
Steep 2, ~2 minutes, boiling water into room temp pot. Same warm gold color, slightly fainter aroma; this is reminding me of a Formosa Oolong in character.
Steep 3, ~3 minutes I think I’ll try cooler water on the next steep, because I’m getting some very roasty toasty notes but not a lot of depth; this tastes like it ought to be bitter, but of course it’s puerh so it isn’t actually.
Steep 4, 4 minutes. Did the boiling water -> cup -> pot this time, so it ended up around 180°F. I don’t think I mentioned yet, but the leaves are big and beautiful, dry and wet. Very little scent; I think I should start upping the steep time more, but I’ve certain these leaves have more to give. Still a nice pale gold color, and the flavor profile hasn’t changed much (smoke, hay, roasty), but the flavor isn’t as intense this time around.
Certainly a fine example of a cooked puerh, from my limited experience. Looks and smells a bit milder than Maiden’s Ecstasy, but also a bit… sweeter? More floral? Sipping: either I got used to the barnyard taste overnight, or this is a better puerh than I’ve had before. The latter seems more likely. It’s still there, but muted; more sweet hay than dirt. There’s a bit of spice, too. And some fruit, now. It still doesn’t have the kick of a black tea, but this is definitely growing on me.
I’m finding that the mood/energy effects of puerh are more like yerba mate than regular tea or coffee; smoother, and more drawn out.
Steep 2 at ~2 minutes is rather weak; need to up the steep time I guess
Steep 3, ~5 minutes, scent is getting weaker but color and flavor are still good. Starting to lose some of the nuances I got on the first steep though
I used a bowl that has cup demarcations to measure out my water for a pot of this tea because my measuring cup was otherwise engaged in making Russian Tea Cakes (and my extra measuring cup smashed to bits about two weeks ago – SUCH a butterfingers!).
When I went to pour the brewed tea, each cup was barely half full! I guess this was not the worst way to find out that this bowl’s marks are COMPLETELY off (imagine if I measured the liquids for baking in it!!). The resulting pot of tea was quite, quite strong! I put some extra milk into it, but it served to make it lukewarm, too milky, yet still too strong.
I want to throw these bowls through the window! but I will use them as prep bowls (especially since they were a gift from my sis in law)!
The Russian Tea Cakes were fantastic though :)
Oh my goodness! It’s actually under 80 degrees today! Also, when I went grocery shopping, there was Halloween candy in the store. This means Fall is going to come soon, right?!
In tribute to the signs of my favorite season’s approach, I wore my hair down today :) and I am having some Vanilla Assam. I love Vanilla and Assam all year around, but I find it best when there is a chill in the air. The heavysweetsmoky is really hitting the spot today, and making me very excited and happy!
I am completely, utterly, and delightfully shocked how good this tea is without any cream and just a half teaspoon of sugar! My coworkers brought in sweets for my birthday today (awwwwwww!) and I wanted to drink this tea with them, but didn’t have any milk! So, I said “Oh throw caution to the wind! You are now aged enough to be considered an eccentric old bat – do something wacky!!!”
I lowered the temperature and steep time and voilà! Delicious, vanilla tinged, excellent with pastry breakfast tea. Yay! I think this eccentric old bat time of life suits me!
Yesterday, I made a key lime style pie (I say style because I used regular limes, and made the crust out of pretzels that I put in the food processor instead of graham crackers – it was great!!). I was at a loss as to what tea to serve with it, until I thought of this Vanilla Assam! It was an excellent pairing. The earthy vanilla bean and pod taste was an interesting and delicious counterpoint to the citrusy sweet dessert. A+!
Let the eating, I mean grading, begin!!
I knew we were going to have delicious sweet things, so I brought a little tin of this in, along with some half and half. I walked in with my cookies, but another coworker already had CINNAMON BUNS out!!! Good, sticky, walnut topped cinnamon buns from a little neighborhood bakery. YES!
I quickly put my kettle on and gosh, this tea is REALLY good with cinnamon buns. The natural vanilla and good tea is something special, but does not complete with the cinnamon bun. Pure indulgent synergy is going on :) Yum, yum, yum. I’m soooo glad I took this in today.