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Recent Tasting Notes
Not that I’ve had many lapsangs, but this tastes like what I think a lapsang souchong should be! Just the right amount of smoky. Don’t think this is a tea I’d do every day, but this is exactly what I’d keep on hand for that every-once-in-a-while I feel like brewing up a smoky cup!
P.S. I broke the damn infuser basket on my new teapot!!! Shows ya what I get for trying to clean it more quickly by turning it inside out. It looks like the mesh just slides up into this little crease in the rim and that’s how it stays, but… ugh. Not sure if it’s even worth the effort to fix it or if I should just get myself a new infuser basket. At least it’s easy to just dunk my tea ball in, hook it on the latch, and use it in place of the basket.
This is my second lapsang souchong, and one that came as a free sample with my significantly more sizeable order of their fenqqing dragon black pearl. I have to say I am more impressed with this version than the one from Mountain Rose Herbs. It is a LOT more subdued… perhaps to the point of being a little too mild. O.o What that means, though, is it’s easy to control your variables so that you can adjust for a tea that’s a little more or a little less smoky, especially if you’re not into OH DEAR JESUS IT SMELLS LIKE A WILDFIRE tea. In fact, the aroma was so subtle I could barely smell it from the opening I’d cut in the bag. … I might try a little more tea next time. But highly recommended if you like a bit of smoke but not a lot!
This morning’s cup is dedicated to Past Me. I usually don’t like the decisions Past Me makes, but this time around, Past Me scheduled an 8 AM dentist appointment that’ll probably take about 25 minutes to get to. In doing so, Past Me got Present Me out of a 7:30 AM work meeting (which nobody in my store knew about before Tuesday) that would have been a 45 minute drive if you don’t count 7 AM rush hour on Columbus-bound route 33, which is a four-lane highway trying to handle six- or eight-lane worthy traffic.
So, Past Me, I raise this warm mug of malty cocoa-tinged perfection to you.
I really, really need to stop writing notes on this tea.
Also, I just realized I’ve had the current bag since summer of last year.
This is my evening cuppa as I practice my bass. And make no effort to get this version of this song out of my head: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCXEtvbJkkY
I’ve reviewed this tea approximately 903 times I think. I actually laid off it for a few months while I didn’t drink tea as much, and when I did it was usually something flavored. Getting back to it… there’s a reason it’s my favorite. It is the quintessence of everything I want in a tea: a flavor that is is familiar and desirable (cocoa) yet unexpected (earthy, raisins) at the same time. I have never had anything else quite like it.
First of all, a belated Merry Christmas to anyone celebrating today!!! (Or yesterday… whoops.)
I got some lovely tea-related things, including a replacement infuser, two insulated tumblers, and (quite possibly my favorite) a double-walled glass mug so I CAN ACTUALLY SEE THE COLOR OF THE TEA. DUUUUUUUUUUDE. (I can’t wait to try my Harney & Sons lavender tea in it!)
I had a bit of the H & S Holiday Tea this morning to go with present-opening and such. Then I decided to try this in my new glass mug. It’s, as one might expect, a lovely reddish amber hue, and delicious as always. Even my mom said, “Oooh that’s pretty! What is it?” when I showed it to her.
I look back on 2013, and it has really not been a remarkable year at all. In fact, in many ways it’s been quite bland. But I can honestly say that one of the coolest things about it was that it was the year I got into tea, which has brought me such relaxation, fascination, and non-intestine-shredding caffeine kicks. The “tea” culture/mentality has also encouraged me to find peace and positivity in my life, two things which I am very good at rejecting, haha!
I’m so thankful to have tea – and THIS tea – in my life.
And now I have just successfully incorporated New Years’ Eve and Thanksgiving into Christmas. BOOM.
Backlog from this morning plus tonight at work. This is always the tea I bust out when I’m stressed. My boss has been gone the past couple of days and tomorrow, which means I’m in charge, which I’ve done several times before but it always makes me just a little nervous. Then, one of the part-timers scheduled an “instrument fitting” (when the kids going into school music programs try out different band instruments to figure out which one they want to play) at a time when both the people in the store (myself and the other part-timer) aren’t fully qualified to do fittings, and for some reason it made me get REALLY STRESSED. Luckily, it worked out that I got one of our lesson teachers, a former band director, to do it. I owe her some kind of baked goods. And now I’m working on my program notes, which are probably fine, but I’m entering that stage of paranoia and perfection, in which I start wondering if I’m writing notes that are helpful enough, or accurate enough, and then I start thinking of what might happen if some hoity-toity music critic from New York read my notes and thought they were absolutely the most asinine analysis of Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto he had ever seen. OK, TeaKlutz, time to step awaaaaaaay from the Word document!
I went on a casual date last night. The guy messaged me afterward, and this morning I sent the “hey-I’m-not-really-into-dating-right-now-but-thanks-for-meeting-me” reply. Which shouldn’t sound like a big deal, but these kinds of things (possibly hurting someone’s feelings and/or making them upset) drive my anxiety THROUGH THE ROOF! Why am I so bad at handling these things? Sometimes I wish I was the kind of person who just… didn’t give a damn about what other people think.
…Sorry for the rant. I’m stressed and I don’t feel like I should be stressed and somehow that’s making it worse. Mmmm guilt complex.
So I’m drinking my comfort tea. I used 3 pearls per cup, which I’ve found is my happy place. I keep trying to find other chocolatey/malty teas, and there are some reeeeeeally really good ones out there, but somehow, it all comes back to this. I wonder if that’s because this is the first tea of its kind that I tried? It’s just so… perfect. Until I drank it, I doubted it was even possible to have a tea that smelled so much like real cocoa. (Cacao?)
Also, I would like to point out that I got mad that Steepster ate my note – and then I opened my other window and realized I hadn’t published it yet. I am so smart! I am so smart! S-M-R-T! I mean S-M-A-R-T!
I interrupt this broadcast to celebrate two things:
1. MY GAIWAN CAME TODAY!!! MY GAIWAN CAME TODAY!!! Aaaaaah! (happy dance) I feel like a real tea connoisseur now! Good thing I haven’t sipped down my last Verdant oolong yet! It’s so gorgeous and delicate! I’m scared I’m going to drop it, but I’m so excited to try it!
… Uh, how do I use it?
and of course it showed up after I brewed a pot of this tea. Ah well!
2. Got a notification that my Teavivre order has departed Bethpage, NY. Only a few days! Making the dragon pearls last just long enough to make it until the big bag comes.
And in addition to changing my name from Aeoliana, I decided to change my userpic as well.
I need to stop doing tasting notes on this tea, but I can’t stop drinking it! I’ve figured out 3 pearls per cup for 5 min in the teapot is my bliss; any longer or more pearls and it gets raisin-y, although it’s still great. I’m getting dangerously close to a sipdown. And I’m beginning to wonder if I should have done the free China Post shipping on my Teavivre order. I’m not the most patient, and 22 to 30 days is starting to be a really long time… ah, first world problems.
Stepping out of my comfort zone. This morning, I registered for a songwriting workshop. I’ve been attempting lyric-writing for years, but only in the past year or so have I really been trying to write songs with music and chord progressions and stuff. I’m still a beginner and I don’t consider myself particularly good, plus I always get nervous when I have to present my creative work to people, especially when it’s not finished. I’m not sure whether I’ll have to do any of that at this workshop or not, but I figured it’s a chance for me to get out there and learn about something I love doing. And if I want to play my songs for people, I’m going to have to let them hear them at some point…
I knew I was gonna ruin this cup of tea this morning. I haven’t cleaned the strainer in a couple of weeks and I put it in the big mug that tends to subdue flavor, so it kinda tastes like metal. Dammit.
Seriously. I got like 11 teas. 5 of which are the oolongs in their sampler. Then some black teas, and a restock of this. SO excited to have a variety of new, quality things to try again!
I have just discovered that it is, in fact, possible to oversteep this tea. I’m on cup 2 of infusion 2, and after steeping the first cup for 7 min (which actually wound up tasting a little weak), I just left the infuser in the pot. It’s not as unpleasant as several oversteeped teas I’ve had, but there’s that little soft bitterness that makes me go “Mmm – egh.”
I’m getting to the point where I may be placing an order for this soon. Which’ll provide me with an excuse to buy it in bulk, and try out the bailin gongfu and some others I’ve been eyeing as well from Teavivre. Oh darn!
I was so excited about my new teapot that came in the mail! Cute, practical, easy to use, and a good bit smaller than the asinine crapper I’d been using. I showed it to my mom, thinking she’d find it cute – and she laughed at me! “You’re obsessed! How many pots is this now?” (Two, Mom. It’s two.) I did the offended-laugh and reminded her of her “small” collection of singing bowls. She concurred.
Anywho. Resteeped the batch from last night. I was so excited about having the weekend off and doing fun things today that I didn’t sleep for crap, so it’s a good thing I had two cups worth of this stuff I’d preserved from yesterday!
This week. Has been. A freaking. CIRCUS. I’ve spent the past five days wondering if there was a full moon out or something because ALL the crazies are out, and ALL the crazy things are happening, and they’re out and happening ALL at once… the week I had to work the store by myself for pretty much the whole time.
Well, that question was answered on the 11:00 news tonight when they were talking about the “Supermoon” that was supposed to be out tonight.
I was going to start sipping down some English Breakfast or Yunnan Noir this morning. Instead, I made this. Because some mornings you just need your favorite tea. And I didn’t finish what I made.
To hell with it being midnight! To hell with the caffeine! To hell with me wanting to get up relatively early tomorrow morning! I’m drinking this mother and nobody’s gonna stop me!
P.S. I don’t think this is the first time I’ve gotten raisin-y vibes in this tea, but I think this is the first time I’ve known what to call it. Sigh. Raisins. First they betray me in cookies that look like they have chocolate chips, now they betray me in tea that smells like cocoa. Raisins are traitors. Damn raisins.
Okay. This time I did three pearls for two cups of tea. I’m on infusion one, cup one, right as soon as it reached drinkable temperature. It smells cocoa-y and heavenly, as any black dragon pearl should. At this point, it’s earthy, a little astringent, with an undertone of the maltiness that I really came for. From my experience, though, the cup I like best is usually the second one, the one that’s had the chance to sit and cool for a bit. That’s where the maltiness and the cocoa undertones really come in.
Isn’t it funny how different flavors become prominent as temperature changes? Tea is awesome!
Edit: Infusion 1, Cup 2: The tea had cooled down enough that I reheated it a bit… by the microwave… (lights and sirens) (Tea Police pull up outside and surround the premises) THIS is the tea I bought this big bag for! Astringency is toned down and the smoothness is more prominent.
Infusion 2: I added one more pearl, boiled water, and let this steep for about a minute, seeing as the liquor was the deep dark red color almost instantaneously as I poured the water. The cocoa aroma has intensified. There’s still a bit of astringency (perhaps a bitty bitty bit more than the Adagio version of this tea?), but this is the black dragon pearl tea I fell in love with.
The thing about this tea is that it’s just off to the side of being perfect. I find that foods and beverages that are like that, that have a good flavor that’s just off the center, are the ones that hook me the most. Good in the morning, good in the afternoon, good in the evening. Love this tea love this tea love this tea.