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Recent Tasting Notes
The blog is getting a make-over of sorts! It came to my attention that my blog is not as FTC compliant as it should be, especially if you are viewing it from a feed reader or a phone (pointed out by a fellow blogger talking about FTC stuff) I had not updated things in that nature since I started this thing. Yipes. So going back and adding disclosures to all the posts, adding a new page for disclosure information, and that means as a side note that the blog got a new look. I am not 100% sold on the color scheme, I think it might be a little too cold, so I might play around and see if I can get it more ocean blue than ice blue, to match my hair better. So that is what I am doing, giving this thing a much needed update.
Having spent my entire day staring at my blog and editing things, I decided that for tonight’s blog I wanted something relaxing and fairly short to work with, so I reached for Grand Tea’s Osmanthus Tea, a tisane made from what is possibly my favorite drinkable flower…ever. The competition is steep too, competing with lotus flowers, rose, and various citrus flowers, but wow, Osmanthus is something else. The Osmanthus plant has a ton of different species, but the one most frequently used for culinary purposes is the Osmanthus fragrans variety, and is native to various parts of Asia. It goes by the name Sweet Osmanthus, Tea Olive, Sweet Olive, and Fragrant Olive, but like many plants it grows other places, one of which is my grandmother’s garden so points for nostalgia. The aroma of the tiny flowers is heavenly, like a blend of honey, apricots, scuppernongs, peony, and pollen. They are immensely sweet, though to me they never come off as heady, just sweet and flowery.
Usually I have this flower blended with other things (love it blended with chrysanthemum) or used for scenting teas (like my beloved Osmanthus Oolong) but on its own it is quite wonderful. The steeped flowers are very sweet, honey and apricot jam with a creamy undertone and notes of honeysuckle, peony, and pollen. It is a complex blend of notes for such a tiny flower. The liquid is really sweet and surprisingly creamy, like some sort of strange honeysuckle themed ice cream with a side of apricot jam. Someone make that as a dessert for me please.
Oh yum, this little cup of flower nectar is heavenly, seriously, I love osmanthus so much! It is smooth and very sweet, I am not joking when I say it is nectar because it really reminds me of what it feels like to be a butterfly or hummingbird, it tastes like flower nectar. Notes of apricot, honeysuckle, creamy sweet honey, and pollen blend with a gentle pansy petal and violet flower note. Those last two are only present because I leave a few of the flowers in the liquid to nibble on, without them it is all nectar. There is a powerful aftertaste too, it lingers in sweetness for quite a long time. There really is no wrong way to enjoy these little flowers, you can drink this tea chilled for a stronger sweetness, blended with other teas, as a late night sip for those watching caffeine, as a cooking ingredient…it really is quite versatile.
I received this tea as a prize in a photo contest. For blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2016/04/grand-tea-osmanthus-tea-tea-review.html
Raising a baby T-Rex is hard! Seriously, the wiki was not kidding when they said it was best tackled with a tribe, and considering my tribe is either out of town for an indeterminate amount of time, busy with a new game, or possibly just not playing anymore…so it is just me….queen of the swamps. I’m mostly ok with this, except for the insanity of raising a baby rex! Five hours of incubating an egg, which is mostly spent gathering ALL THE MEAT, then nine hours of hand feeding…the first couple of hours you can’t really do much since it can’t hold much, but the last stretch is easy. Then three days of maturity (unlike real rexes that had like fifteen years!) which means every thirteen hours filling up the food bin. It is a good thing I really like the games that require hours of grinding because wow does this game go grinding to the max!
So what does one do when they are raising a T-Rex and being stricken with either allergies or a cold? Drink flowery tea in the evening of course! Today I am looking at Grand Tea’s Chrysanthemum Tea, specifically the Tai Ju variety, which are small and yellow and are only partially opened. I first developed a love of Chrysanthemum at the same time I started studying Chinese Medicine, I was drawn to its cooling properties to help with inflammation and more importantly its ability to help with breathing problems. Allergy season is rough on my asthma, and if I am not super careful I develop asthmatic bronchitis really easily, and just between you and me I get sick of the meds. The aroma of the little flowers is definitely chrysanthemum…yeah not helpful…it is a blend of pollen, pepper, straw, honey, and straw flowers. It has a sharpness, this is not a heady flower, bordering on spicy without heat.
Since this is a classic brew it needs a classic setup, so vintage teapot and cup it is! The spicy pepper notes are quite potent, with an addition of pollen and straw, with floral undertones of wildflowers and a touch of lettuce. The liquid is sweet and peppery, sharp notes of straw and wildflowers blend with honey and cane sugar. It is mellow and very pleasant to sniff if you are a fan of chrysanthemum!
So does it work medicinally? Well yes and no, I would not say it beats out my guaifenesin and certainly is no substitute for my inhaler, but it does help. I put it in the same category as sitting in a bathroom I have filled with steam or drinking a ton of caffeine, helpful but only part of the puzzle of fighting with my lungs. Now that I have that little blurb out of the way, tasting! It’s yummy, but I really like chrysanthemum, it has wildflower and pollen notes with honey and a crisp sharp peppery quality that really livens up my mouth. When I am wanting something extra sweet I toss in some osmanthus flowers as well to really go for the flower overload! Whether or not it has any medicinal properties, I will keep drinking it because it tastes good.
I have a Bionic Rex!! Yeah, in Ark they have a skin that you get once you tame all the tameable creatures and kill the boss, I was working towards it but wow, so many animals I really did not want, and I do not want to tangle with the giant spider boss. Someone in chat was asking if anyone was selling and someone was, but their price was too high for this fairly new player, for me though it was a piece of cake. So for a pair of fridges I got myself a robot skin for my favorite Rex. This pleases me, not only does my Rex look epic, I also get to focus on animals I want to tame other than working for the skin, I foresee a pack of Compies and army of frogs in my future.
Today I am continuing my look at GABA Oolongs, this one is from Grand Tea, I won this tea in their photo contest they held several months back and got a big ol’ box of the stuff, which has been steadily getting smaller. This specific GABA comes from Huang Shan, meaning (unless I am mistaken, always a possibility) it is from China. The aroma of the dark curled leaves is both sweet and woody, notes of apricot and raisins blend with apple wood and a gentle toasted grain note at the finish and bamboo wood at the finish. This is probably the woodiest of the three GABAs I am looking that, and as a person who adores woody notes, this pleases me.
Into my gaiwan the leaves go, I let GABA steep longer than I usually do for Oolongs, similar to the 45-60 seconds I use for Gui Fei and on the rare occasion I Gongfu up Hong Shui. The aroma has that distinct sour woody and sweet fruity notes that scream GABA to me, it smells lovely and a combination of soothing and invigorating. The liquid is gentle and fruity, notes of raisins and apricots, a slightly sour woody note at the finish but mostly it is sweet dried fruit.
First steep is richly colored and richly sweet, a strong thick mouthfeel that vaguely reminds me of fruit juice but more tea like. It starts with a slightly sour woody note and then pretty immediately moves to dried apricots and dried apples. The finish is all raisins, like a cooked raisin compote but without any spices, it tastes almost like raisin candy and is yum. The aftertaste is delicate but has a lingering plum note.
By the second steep, the leaves have unfurled more and you get to see their mottling of green, brown, red, and a touch of golden. The aroma of the liquid is raisins and peaches with grainy undertones and fruit wood notes. It is not as sweet, but it has a heaviness to it that is quite mellow. This steep is not as sweet, there are raisin and plum notes, but it has a musky woody quality that reminds me of deep forests, but high in the canopy and not on the shou puerh floor. It has a distinct sourness at the finish like slightly under-ripe plums.
The third, but not final, steep of this tea is a bit sweeter, notes of honey and peaches blend with raisins and wood in the aroma. The taste is a perfect balance of the first and second steep, blending strong fruity notes and strong woody notes for a rich and lingering taste. The sourness is still there, I have seen in various places that the sour note can be off-putting to some, I can certainly see that being an acquired taste, but I like it since it reminds me of fruit wood and adds a level of complexity. I was able to get several more steeps out of it before it called quits.
There were no brewing instructions on the package or on the website, so I went with what I usually do for oolongs – around 185F and gong fu style. I had a very long (not bad, just long) day at work and thought that this tea would be just the ticket. I put about 1t of leaves in my easy gaiwan (don’t judge – remember it was a long day) and started steeping. I was too wiped out to time the steeps so I just brewed by instinct, as I suspect many people do. Luckily the tea was very forgiving.
Pics and the rest: https://tealover.net/2015/08/grand-tea-organic-gaba-oolong/
The tasted improved dramatically when in a gaiwan versus regular open glass brewing, glad I wanted to review this one until I had time to respect the leaves. Usually I just dragonwell village style glass brew it before the gym which results in a plain jane green tea taste. I got the daintly sweet asparagus notes with a whiff of ever so slight floral nature I would have got off a higher end shi feng but a little bit of the complexity was missing.
Not a bad example but I think this takes fourth place of long jings for me with verdant’s shi feng and tevivre(premium xihu) offerings tied for 2nd and jing tea shop shi feng AAA a clear top place for the unbelievable quality of leaf and complexity.
Flavors: Asparagus, Floral, Lima Beans, Sweet
One of the best Dan Cong Oolong teas that I can ever remember tasting. Light yet flavorful. It’s sweet and has a delightful floral aroma and taste. “Spring” like in that it has light floral notes and a fresh, “green” like taste that reminds me of the newness of the start of the spring season. How everything is so fresh and new and refreshingly green.
Lightly vegetal without bitterness, tasting more like mild steamed veggies with a drizzle of melted butter. Flowery. This tea is more about the floral notes than anything else, but they are lovely. If you like those floral notes in an Oolong, you should try this.
A true pleasure to sip.
Here’s my full-length review: http://sororiteasisters.com/2014/08/09/green-dan-cong-oolong-from-grand-tea/
Sweet! A honey-like sweetness. Notes of fruit that are reminiscent of a slightly underripe plum: sweet but with distinct tart notes too. Hints of grapefruit. A woodsy tone that develops in later infusions.
The fruit notes also developed in later infusions as the tea became smoother and silkier to drink.
Here’s my full-length review: http://sororiteasisters.com/2014/07/26/2014-zhi-lan-xiang-dan-cong-oolong-tea-from-grand-tea/
I’m not sure if this “Premium” Bi Lu Chun is the same as the “Supreme” Bi Lu Chun that I tried a couple of months ago: http://sororiteasisters.com/2014/07/09/supreme-bi-lu-chun-green-tea-from-grand-tea/ but I decided to put my tasting note here rather than start a whole new entry for “Supreme” Bi Lu Chun.
This is a top notch Bi Lu Chun. A really intense sweetness with light vegetal notes and a butter like note. A sweet nutty tone is in the distance, along with hints of fruit and flower. Overall, the cup is quite delicate and just … really lovely!
I have not tried this yet so I am cheating as this is not really a tasting note HOWEVER …
I have added this to my cupboard because I do believe this is what I purchased at an Asian shop in St. Louis.
The Tea Company I know is correct.
The packaging looks identical.
HOWEVER I find no DATE on mine.
If anyone has advice on how to find the date to be sure this is in fact what I have please let me know.
Otherwise I have to assume this is it since it looks right and is the only one like this I find here under this company.
Then again I suppose the company could have others LIKE it that are not yet added.
I am a bit “iffy” about trying it.
The gunpowder green I got from this shop is very nice but with Puerh I tend to be skeptical!
Especially since I got a 350g in a nice box (reminds me of fireworks) for only 6.49!!
This was very light (and I mean v-e-r-y; prep recommends a tablespoon and I had to turn the bag inside out to make a full teaspoon) and cereally. First verbal imprint when I tasted was “rice water.” Had I made it properly, though, probably would’ve been a nice variety for those who prefer green tea that tastes less green.
The write up of my first clumsy, but not entirely successful experience with pu-erh is up:
I waited till I had a whole afternoon to play with this one, primarily because I wanted to prep a decent review for www.itsallabouttheleaf.com, and secondarily because I understand that pu-erhs keep going and going and going and going …. will be writing about it more gracefully elsewhere, but it surprised me that it wasn’t as peat-moss tasting as I had expected.
OK… this tea scared me. I have not been a big fan of pu-erh.
The aroma of the dry leaf is very earthy. The brewed liquor also smells quite earthy.
Taste: yes, it’s earthy. There is also an underlying sweetness to it, almost a floral note and a faint vegetative note.
It’s not bad nor is it as disagreeable as I thought it would be.
This is a nice one, it brews up looking pale and delicate but it ha has a nice kind of bold flavor.
It flavors are slightly vegetal maybe hay like, really sweet honey like notes a little nutty even with a slightly buttery mouthfeel.
Another tea from TeaEqualsBliss
This is only the second kind of Genmaicha + Matcha blend I have tried.
This is good.
Dry leaves give off a bit of dried Seaweed smell, add water and a tinge of bitterness and popcorn shine through.
Taste does not pop but it is a good tea to have with lunch.
I didn’t know I had this until I was going through my cupboard. Nor did I know what to make of it – was it a sheng pu-erh or a shou? I couldn’t tell. On smell, it seemed cooked. On taste…things get dicey. If it’s a shou, then it’s a very good shou. If it’s a sheng, it needs work. But it lasts quite a few infusions…and it woke me up plenty. So, I guess that’s something.
Here we have another tie guan yin by Grand Tea. These always interest me a great deal, as they have the potential to be so wonderful, and yet many companies’ offerings of this style of oolong fall flat. As I open the package, I notice that this tie guan yin has a much more roasted aroma than the one that I previously tried from Grand Tea (the Monkey Picked Anxi Oolong). In fact, they are almost entirely opposite. That one was far more floral in aroma, and this one, initially, is more dark and roasted. At least so far as the dry leaves are concerned.
I preheat my gaiwan and my teacup, add some of the tea to the gaiwan, and give it a quick rinse. As I pour the water to begin the first steeping of thirty seconds, already I can smell the dark roasted aromas. If I take a deep breath, I can just barely detect an edge of grassy scents and a touch of floral notes. Steeping number one smells much the same, albeit watery and half-hearted. The liquor is bright and a transparent pale yellow. Tasting it, I find that it tastes much as it smells, which is to be expected for the first steeping. It feels incredibly light on the tongue. Steeping number two follows quickly after the first, using the same amount of time. This round, the aroma and the flavor have become darker, picking up more of the roasted flavor. This makes the tea seem richer, in a sense. Mmm, this third steeping (same time used), is full of rich, oolong goodness. It makes me want to sit back and savor this single cup for a long while. However, I know that this tea has more to give! The next two steepings continue this same trend, only changing in making the flavor more rich and intense. This is one of the best roasted oolongs I have had in some time. I certainly enjoyed trying it! On my personal enjoyment scale, I would rate it an 85/100.