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Recent Tasting Notes
Hello Steepster! I have been away from you for a few days, with the business of last week’s moving to the new half of the office plus a 2 day conference for work, and yard work on Saturday. But I have returned, and had a wonderful tea experience yesterday!
I found out that the botanical gardens near my city host Japanese tea ceremonies. This year they are only offering them on 4 days, and yesterday was the first 4, and on top of that, the only day that offered ceremonies in the small tea room (Ro ceremony). Only 5 people are allowed to partake in this ceremony due to room size restraints, so me, my boyfriend, and 3 other people partook in this special event. Matcha tea was prepared in the traditional method with a whisk and a unique bowl for each person, and we ate a sweet (wagashi) before drinking the tea to complement the tea. We were also shown the way to drink matcha in a ceremony, with the turning of the bowl so as to not drink from the front of it, and the etiquette of drinking tea before the person to your left. It was a truly beautiful experience, and the room was absolutely lovely and simple, one scroll on the wall with a simple flower arrangement as the only focal points in the room other than the kettle, a large cast iron one that was sunk in the middle of the floor (in the hearth). This room also had authentic Tatami mats, while the larger one for larger ceremonies had synthetic.
Oh, and the matcha was fantastic! Enough for 3.5 gulps, and it went perfectly with the wagashi! I thought about asking where they sourced their matcha, but was enjoying the ceremony too much to want to bother with questions that might infringe on my sense of tranquillity.
Overall, a beautiful, relaxing experience that I highly recommend if you ever get the chance to experience a tea ceremony. I would love to do one again sometime, and feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to partake in such a lovely event! My boyfriend also enjoyed it immensely. I also learned the 4 principles of Japanese tea ceremonies: harmony, respect, purity and tranquillity. I felt all 4 of these principles and it was wonderful! Afterwards we wandered through the botanical gardens, even though it was snowing, and a lovely feeling of peace settled over me. A great way to spend a Sunday morning!
After trying Verdant’s Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong recently, I wanted to revisit this one and compare. It stands out as almost the polar opposite on the spectrum of smoky teas. The smokiness here is much more mellow and soft, and taking a deep breath of the aroma is highly soothing. The flavor, though, is less smooth than the Xiao Zhong, with a “fuzziness” lent to it by the various roasty elements, and the finish is drier, but it is still quite enjoyable and has a lingering sweetness.
This tea in particular has me thinking about how much presentation affects perception. If I had ordered this through a prestige company, I might be trying to describe all the aromas I can find in it—woodsmoke, tobacco, vanilla cream. If it had been served in little ceramic cups in a dim sum restaurant, as similar teas often are, I might not have paid as much attention to it, or just concluded it was a pretty good crowd-pleaser. So it’s important to appreciate something on its own merits and not how much I might have paid for it…
This is one of those mystery teas I sometimes end up with from friends and family in China. It has an incredibly rich, woodsmoke sort of aroma and taste, with a little bit of sweetness underneath reminiscent of longan fruit.
When I had more of this, I used to brew up a cup whenever I felt like I needed inspiration. After trying a few more subtle oolongs lately, I think the smokiness in this one is a little too in-your-face for it to be perfect, but it’s still one of my favorites.
Well, normally I do not rinse my puerhs as thoroughly as some might
generally rinsing very lightly as I am scared I am going to miss something…lol..
mistake with this one…
the first 10second steep tasted somewhat “chemical” tasting…I drank that first cup,
not too enthusiastically…poured the rest out….
I am not ready to give a rating as yet,
I am taking a break with one of my inexpensive,
But yummy pumpkin teas with creamer…
I will brush my teeth, rinse my mouth with salt water
and wait a few minutes before trying again
I will not give a rating until I am sure what I think.
Right now I am wondering if my expectations were too high
after seeing “Hawaiian” in the name.
Maybe that sounds crazy, but I have found coffees and tobaccos
to be more rich when grown in volcanic soil…
sometimes being grown in the mountains or near the ocean…
make a difference in the soil which in turn make a difference in the produce…
My second 10second steep will be devoid of any expectations…
blank slate…hopefully, I shouldnt need another rinse after first steep
From the queue, written March 19th 2014
This is another from the EU TTB, round 2. This was as close as I could come with the database. If someone can shed some further light on it, let me know and I’ll move the post.
I didn’t have any black tea yesterday. At all. In fact I didn’t actually have any tea whatsoever. It was a day of Female Issues and they were particularly bothersome this month, so much so that I decided not to go to work. This proved to be wise a few hours later when certain… sacrifices… were made. Yes. I spent most of the day feeling exceedingly sorry of myself.
Therefore I declared it a day of non-caffeinated herbals. Except one, which in hindsight I suspect probably had mate in it… Oh well. I chose that one because it was called ‘Citrus’ and I rather fancied something with a fresh-ish taste.
Today, however! Today all those issues are of the past. Luckily it’s always only really the first day, so I’m back to my normal self, and therefore I’m having a black tea. And a Chinese one to boot.
Or at least, I think it’s a black tea. It’s very green-tea-ish coloured after steeping. All yellow and light… The leaf is black, though, and it smells like caramel biscuits, so perhaps this one just has an odd colour. Or it’s severely underleafed. I always find it difficult to work these out. But anyway, as mentioned, it smells like a caramel biscuit. The ones, especially, that I sometimes bake and which I’m planning on making a batch of later today as we have run out of biscuits. Do you know the cinnamon sugar biscuits that LU makes? We call them Bastogne biscuits here. They’re like that but without cinnamon. Anyway, that’s what the tea smells like.
It doesn’t taste like much, though. Oh dear, I have made this quite thin. I can see the potential in it though. I should have used twice as much leaf, probably. It seems to be quite cocoa-y and sweet and also a bit caramel-y. Is it me, obsessed with the thought of the biscuits I want to make, or does it also taste a little bit like those biscuits? It does. I think it does.
I shan’t rate it now, because I’ve only got a shadow of what it could have been here, but it’s still quite satisfying. I will rate it later when I’m more certain of where on the scale it should fall, but I expect it to be relatively high up.
After steeping the leaves are suspiciously green looking. Are we sure this is a black tea? There’s something here that strikes me as oolong-y.
So I must upload a photo of this canbecause I love this tea. I bought it in the duty free shop in Taipei airport when stuck due to some travel issues. The tea: beautiful brownish green knots with strong floral and lighter smoky aroma. A small spoonful untwists to fill the pot. The first sip is both floral and milky then butters and that hint of smoke over the hills. The tea is drying to the mouth though so you keep brewing and sipping keeping the same floral notes into the 4th brew. The scents are captivating reminding me of a tea route high in the Asian mountains in spring. THe tea is getting older, I’ve been hoarding it but decided to break some out for this quiet “good Friday” afternoon as a special treat.
Flavors: Earth, Flowers, Fruit Tree Flowers, Loam, Mineral, Wood
Alas I am going through my stash of Infusions of Tea final sale items and opened up the Tieguanyin. When its gone I’ll have to venture farther afield for a replacement. THe first sips are light with a hint of honey and grass. Deeper in the pot a flowery fragrance contrasts with an oaky dry taste. The second steep is more Oak and Honey but the third returns the first impression of grass. I like a light tea with gently unfolding flavor to unwind in the afternoon.
Flavors: Flowers, Grass, Honey, Wood
I had never been a big chamomile tea (tisane, if you insist) drinker. I had stuck to teabags and often it seemed like a kind of dusty taste. But was wondering about trying again a better grade of chamomile and the other day in the bio supermarket I was intrigued by their own brand organic herbs. The dried chamomile flowers were really quite huge (and almost grotesque), and even through the packaging there was this nice cosy (much nicer than teabags) chamomile scent. Costing about 2 euros for a big huge package (50 grams? 100? it looks huge because of the volume), I bought it.
And it is a totally different, so much nicer, tisane than the other kinds I had before. Yep, I finally get chamomile and love it as well.
Just a quibble, or warning – this is about the messiest tea ever for my gravity infuser, even worse than rooibos. I just use a small teapot and strainer, or go lazy and fill a make-your-own teabag.
This, or some kind of it, is going to be a staple for me.
Good tea for evening drinking before going to bed. Very nice smell. It’s easy to oversteep, about 1 minute for the first steep is just enough.
Thanks to jasmine taste it’s also suitable for people that doesn’t drink normal tea. I had a date with one girl before a few years, I have invited her into a teahouse and chosen very good Darjeeling tea.. unfortunately I have never dated that girl again – next time I would choose Jasmine tea.. :-)
So yesterday I was at a cafe and ordered some rose green tea, thinking that it would be the perfect choice for Valentine’s Day. There were tea leaves scooped into some sort of disposable t-sac-like pouch and dumped into some hot water. It smelled deliciously rosy, but tasted like rose-flavored soap. Oh, well, at least it kept my hands warm for a bit. I have yet to find a convenient cafe to go to that actually cares about their tea a little more than just offering it on the menu as an alternative to coffee.
So my mom got me this gift set for my birthday, right, and it included a cute little glass tea pot, a glass infuser, two double wall teacups, and a bag of blooming teas. This was an incredibly sweet gesture. We live in different states and don’t communicate very often. The fact that she not only picked up on and remembered that I have a liking *cough obsession *cough with tea, but that she also went out of her way to do a whole gift set says a lot.
It’s been a couple months, and while I’ve wanted to try out the set I really didn’t want to test that tea O.o
She asked me today if I had tried it yet (and incidentally I was actually thinking about testing it out) and to send her a pic of the bloomed tea. The “tea making experience” is a lot of fun with this, and I would love to do this for a few friends- HOWEVER- not with this tea. Unless of course, you like tea that tastes like you accidentally steeped your paper napkin instead of your tea. blargh.
Bottom line? I love my little tea pot and will use it for other blooming teas once I muster up the courage to try some.
When you’re a professional writer… sometimes you just don’t feel like writing just for pleasure. I’ve had a lot of tea musings in my head that I would love to get on paper… But, physically, I have not been able to in a long time.
This tea is great. Utterly comforting. There’s not much more I can say about it other than what I said in my previous note. It’s woody and earthy and campfire like. It’s a hearty but light tea. It just reminds me of experiencing the woods at night, with a roaring fire blazing through a pile of wild trees in the distance.
Sometimes, you really need to step back and realize just how much work does into everything you appreciate. Just imagine how much was done to create one little pu cake… or one ounce of a dancong… Imagine how many people have had to work tirelessly in the heat and at all hours to create this thing for you to enjoy. When I think about that… tea seems even more powerful to me. I wish that I was in the position to give back to those who have done so much for this world.. Maybe one day…
I’m sorry for the lack of notes lately… I want to write them… I just.. I need to be in the place to.
There are a handful of teas that truly haunt me in the most beautiful way – this tea is one of them. Thinking of the tea calls to mind a giant forest, wolves weaving in and out of tall trees, almost hidden from the eye, a small man-made fire in the far off distance assaulting their senses. Smoke, fresh upturned soil, thick, ancient trees, winter, leaves – the notes in this tea are absolutely everything I love about tea. What an amazing thing. Truly, everyone, think about how amazing tea is. One plant has given us so very much.
The highly amusing IM conversation between a friend and I who bought the same tea:
me: WOW. this is slightly smoky. seems like sweet roasted bark
friend: I KNOWWWW
me: so mellow and sweet
friend: IT’S AMAZINGGGG, ISN’T IT?
friend: honestly..it’s one of my favorite teas ever
me: I’m amazed by this. it’s a taste that I have never had before. wow. this strange sweetness. like… the sweetness of pure nature. it evokes such a clear image of a forest with crackling sounds
friend: the way i was describing it to my friends is that it tastes like it’s roasted or kettle-cooked. it’s like they found a way to make “puer kettle chips” and then turned that into a tea. OMG YES. I CAN’T STOP TYPING IN CAPS
me: YEAH. YEAHHHHH. kettle cooked
At Christmas I usually get a mug from someone. Usually it has some tea in it. Usually it is bad unless it is Twinings. This is not Twinings. A little silver bag with 4 tagless, stringless, teabags inside. The dust did plump kinda well. The cup is cloudy but green. This may contain lemongrass. It is not the fake candy lemon typically in these bags but it just is sub par. I really can’t taste tea. My mom would like it. So another Cheapster Steepster Sunday Sip Down for me and special delivery to mom who thinks Lipton green tea is just fine.