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Recent Tasting Notes
I do believe it is time to admit defeat, and then immediately yell at myself internally for calling it a defeat! Having this blog be daily has been a goal of mine since I started it, but I have never made it a month without missing at least a day, usually due to health problems but also due to electronic glitches, kettle woes, things just happen. Not being able to reach this self imposed goal has caused me more stress over the last few years than I would like to admit (because I am ridiculous) so starting in September this blog will update every other day. I am super excited about this upcoming change and I had to share!
Today I am taking a look at Grand Tea’s Yunnan Pure Gold Black Tea a beautifully fuzzy golden Dian Hong, and you all know how much I love my golden fuzzies. I wasted no time sticking my nose into the needles and enjoying the aroma. Notes of dried tomatoes, malt and cocoa blend with light yams, dry cherries and a bit of woodiness at the finish. The aroma is not too potent, fairly light and fluffy much like the leaves themselves.
Ok, I managed to stop ogling the leaves and tossed them in my gaiwan, I am always a little sad to steep the fuzzy golden leaves since they are not quite as pretty after they are doused with water. The aroma of the now soggy needles is malty and a bit rich, with accompanying notes of dried tomato, black pepper, dry oak wood (hello tannins) and dry cherries. The liquid, wow, it is super delicate and light, I almost dipped my nose trying to pick up notes. All I detected was a faint malty sweetness and a touch of cocoa.
The first steep is really quite light, but despite its lightness it is very thick in the mouth. I was quite surprised by its thickness and smooth quality, even though the taste was very light the texture kept me entertained. The front taste is delicate malt and honey, then moves to yam and peanut with a slightly lingering yam aftertaste.
So the aroma of the second steep is pretty light, but it does pick up more. Notes of gentle yam, malt, and cocoa dance in my nose as I enjoy the steam from my cup. Like the first steep, the mouthfeel is pleasantly thick and smooth, though the taste is a bit more robust this time around. It starts with a strong malt and peanut sweetness, then moves into a mellow yammy sweetness with a hint of cocoa. The finish is woody, a bit brisk, with a sweet note of honey that lingers.
On to the third steep, it is still fairly light in the aroma, with the same notes of yam, malt, and cocoa but with an extra little burst of molasses as well. This steep had a lot in common with the second steep, sweet, mellow, and very smooth. This is not a real stand out Dian Hong (granted I drink a lot…) but it is solid, I would say this is a great daily drinker with a very pretty aesthetic.
For blog and photos (I got a killer droplet photo this time): http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2016/08/grand-tea-yunnan-pure-gold-black-tea.html
I tried this sample from Grand tea (thank you!) and I’m so surprised how much I liked this tea!
I brewed it on 80’C, started from 1-2 minutes, in the first infusion, to 5 minutes on the fifth and last infusion.
Just in the first infusion I can taste the floral and honey notes.
Accentuated notes but at the same time it’s delicate, sweet.
The colour of liquor is very light yellow and clear, the body of the liquor is smooth and creamy. The taste persists in the mouth for some minutes.
From the first until the third infusion is equilibrate and static, from the fourth infusion it start to lose notes.
It’s fantastic, I would so much drink this tea also in the future. I recommend it! ____
Flavors: Flowers, Honey, Sweet
Another sample from Grand Tea
This brews up a similar dark color to the Simao 1999. This one however is much more enjoyable for me. There is little storage taste and and ever so slight bitterness. The flavor is primarily earthy with slight camphor, cinnamon, and old book notes and a mild brown sugar sweetness. It’s very easy drinking and reminds me of shou but with a cleaner and more mineral taste and mouthfeel.
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Camphor, Cinnamon, Mineral, Wet Earth
A free sample from Grand Tea
Fluffy and pure gold buds with a slightly sweet aroma
This is a very soft and mild black tea. Lightly sweet with slight citrus and floral notes. Light bitterness and a slight savory musty quality, a bit like yue guang bai or a silver needle. Definitely on the lower end of the oxidation spectrum for a black. The second steep has a nice thick, molasses-like quality
Flavors: Citrus, Floral, Molasses, Musty
A free sample from Grand Tea
It didn’t come with brewing parameters, so I brewed it at 195F like I would an Oriental Beauty oolong as it sounds like something similar.
The dry leaves are curly and medium-small. Mostly medium brown with some redder and greener leaves and white tips. The aroma is slightly sweet and herbaceous.
It brews a light yellow-orange. It’s got a strong note of ripe, juicy peach and dried herbs; sort of mint-basil-cinnamon-spice cabinet. Slightly floral with a honeyed coriander sweetness. A very enjoyable tea, even my non-tea drinking father approved.
Flavors: Coriander, Honey, Mint, Peach, Spices
A free sample from Grand Tea
This is the oldest sheng I’ve yet to try and my first Hong Kong stored pu’erh. Brews a dark, coffee-like brown. The first steep tastes of damp earth and menthol with a sweet tangyness like beets. There is no bitterness or astringency to speak of. Also no off flavors. I hoped that the flavor would evolve with subsequent steepings, but the flavors stayed more or less the same; wet earth and beet root. While it was unoffensive, I wasn’t as impressed with this tea as I hoped I would be.
Flavors: Tangy, Wet Earth, Wet Wood
This tea was excellent for an aged tea. It was also not for the feint of heart. This was a wet stored tea. There was a strong and ever present note of wet wood in this tea. It was present in the first steep, it was present in the sixteenth steep. I did not notice any other unpleasant storage flavors. I did not notice taste of leather and tobacco for instance. It was a very smooth tea throughout all sixteen steeps I gave it. In it’s own way it developed a sweet note of sorts. Not in any way the apricots of a young sheng though. I liked this tea. As to qi, I may be feeling a little, but it is not a tea with powerful qi like a Yangqinghao tea. It is a long lasting tea. I steeped it sixteen times. And all indications are it would have gone five or ten more steeps. However I can’t allow myself that much caffeine. I liked this tea when I do not like a lot of aged teas. I think this one fairly well aged provided you don’t mind the wet storage taste. It was not too powerful but was always present.
I steeped this tea sixteen times in a 50ml gaiwan with 4.4g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, 30 sec, 45 sec, 1 min, 1.5 min, 2 min, 2.5 min, 3 min, 3.5 min, and 4 min. I would recommend this tea for people not averse to wet storage taste. This managed to be a smooth tea despite this taste.
Flavors: Wet Wood
So, it is probably not a secret, what with my occasional rambling on Instagram and my constant painting of various undead things…I want to be a necromancer. When I was a kid I brought the class hamster back to life, so clearly I have the talent for it, and just think of all the use you can get out of well trained (and clean) zombies? They can carry things, do the cleaning you don’t want to do, there are so many uses, plus it is like recycling and who doesn’t want to help the environment? Of course what kind of tea would a necromancer want to drink?
The obvious answer is Puerh, specifically one that has some age on it, doubly so for a traditional Hong Kong stored one. So that brings me nicely to today’s tea, Grand Tea’s Raw Pu-erh Cake-Simao 1999. The reason I say this is the tea that necromancers drink is two-fold, first this kind of tea has some sweet microbial action going on thanks to being in a wetter climate, a lot of ‘wet’ stored pu can have a bit of fuzzy mold (I didn’t see any on my sample) and it certainly speeds up the fermentation. Blame Magic The Gathering and my penchant for loving the Golgari (hello green black mushroom zombies) but that is where my head goes. The other reason is the smell, the aroma of this tea is like deep earth, wet cave, a bit of swamp, wet books, wet decomposing wood, leaf mould, and mushrooms. It smells like the kind of place a necromancer would hang out, I love the smell, though I admit my brain did this whole ‘wait, you are going to consume this’ moment, which was a bit funny.
Gaiwan time, I am using my baby Sheng gaiwan since I am always leery of a new Sheng Pu hurting my guts, though supposedly the older and wetter the easier it is, so maybe the tiny gaiwan was unnecessary. After a rinse and first steep, the leaves have opened a bit. The aroma us potent stuff! Strong notes of beets, leather, wet earth, old wet wood…and a bit of swamp and medicinal roots. Specifically a bit like Valerian root or one of those nasty TCM blends I drink when I have a nasty cold, it is pleasantly pungent. The liquid is sweetly medicinal, pungent roots mixed with a touch of the herb sweet annie, there are also old books, wet cypress, and a bit of wet leaves.
The first steep is surprisingly sweet, like wet wood, sweet annie, wet leather, wet leaves, and swamp. The real standout thing from the first steep is its incredibly thick mouth and long lingering aftertaste. For the real party you need to go to the next couple of steeps where it ramps up in intensity. Strong bitter medicinal roots, beets, and wet wood with a sweetness that shows up at the finish and lingers for a bit.
Steeps in the middle are something else, I feel like I am going spelunking! It tastes like cave, and roots, and fermented soy beans. It starts to have a tiny bit of a savory quality and a thick almost oily mouthfeel. I feel as though every inch of my mouth has become a cave and this is some sort of transcendent communication with bio-luminescent fungi. It tastes old and wet, it is pretty fun!
The final steeps (and that is many steeps later) it takes a while for the medicinal bitterness to fade back to sweetness, and even the sweetness reminds me a bit of medicinal herbs and the sweetness of wet leather. There is a savory quality of mushrooms and fermented soy beans, along with wet leaves and old books. I can see this being an acquired taste, it is very earthy and wet, conveniently I love the taste of caves and deep soil, wet wood and swamp…I spent a large chunk of my younger days playing in a swamp and playing in the dirt, so this tea evokes a lot of nostalgia for me.
This Rose bud tea is a great herbal alternative for the evening. I love floral teas and this one is elegant rose with a sweet finish. It’s pretty pricey for a herbal tea and compared to other companies that have rose bud tea. I’d like to try out rose bud tea from some other companies too but this one is really good.
RAISINS – This tea is all about raisins. Dry it smelled like raisins. Brewed up, tastes like sweet sweet raisins. I am not overly fond of raisins , more because of their texture instead of their taste. However, even though I am enjoying this tea, I find 3 infusions of raisins is quite enough.
For anyone who loves raisins, they will love this tea.
Flavors: Raisins, Sweet
This is from a sample Grand Tea sent me when ordering my two white teas. Thank you Grand Tea for this fine sample.
This green tea is soooo good. Brewed up with a barely there colour. It’s light like a white tea but has that sweet green pea flavour and a bit of chestnut. It’s so fresh. It does remind me of Anji Bai Cha. This tea is so good I am considering ordering some of this (even though I just placed an order with Taiwain Tea Crafts). It is so light in the caffeine but plenty of flavour.
It’s supposed to be a bit floral. I didn’t get any floral but that’s all a matter of interpretation. There’s was a sweet aroma coming off the cup but to me it was like a fresh chestnut aroma.
Flavors: Chestnut, Peas, Sweet
I gave it two chances to this tea, and I am happy to have done so!
First time I brewed it gong fu style with a gaiwan of 130ml, but I don’t know, probably because I’m still not an expert of this style of brewing, but it seemed to me to flat and “simple”. Beautiful green color, strong taste of chesnut since the first infusion, but a weird “thermal” flavor was always persistent. Not bad but I was not so enthusiastic. Very nice green leaves with white dots at the edges once they are open.
Second time I tried brewing it in a tall glass, and well, it changed. Still this good taste of chesnut was persistent, but the tea revelead his more fresh taste leaving a pleasant sensation in the mouth. It has never been astringent.
I brewed in a tall glass to see when the needles stay vertical and than pouring the tea in my pot.
Interesting greyish – light dove foggy color in the cup
I was surprised of the taste, very velvety in the mouth and a soft sensation. Initial scent of peach but mostly a round feeling of butter and cream all the time, cup after cup. It’s surely a pleasant tea for the evening but I have the feeling that I need something a bit more structured for my taste. Beside this I can’t say anything bad for this tea. Very good.
Flavors: Butter, Cream, Peach
Finally my sample box from Grand Tea arrived, actually it was very fast considering was coming from Hong Kong. First tea that I tried is this Chenpi Pu-erh. I have to say that is my first experience with Pu-erh so I can’t really do some comparisons neither give a vote, but I can definitely say what I felt. The tea comes in a little dried tangerine and the smell is very interesting: delicate but consistent. As recommended I brewed it with a gaiwan and I rinsed it twice. Dark color, very deep copper – brownish. While tasting of course you’ll feel a bit of tangerine but not so much as you could imagine. Surprisingly I felt a distinct note of rose. I did few infusion and the rose was always there. Nice aftertaste: this particular sensation that the mouth feels when a citrus zest is eaten.
I don’t know if this is my cup of tea :-9 but surely interesting.
Flavors: Citrus Zest, Rose
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!