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Recent Tasting Notes
This isn’t random actually, it’s Eco Cha’s Tsui Yu Jade Oolong. But for some reason a couple companies’ entries—Eco Cha, Vintage Tea Works—just won’t let me add to cupboard or write tasting notes; any time I try it just redirects me to my dashboard.
And it’s a shame here, because this tea is wonderful. I have this weird kitchen set-up where when the dishwasher’s on I can’t use my electric kettle (shorts the electricity) nor use the kitchen sink as a water source (our dishwasher hooks up to the faucet…I knew that’d be a huge pain and begged my husband to bother connecting it directly to the water tank but he wouldn’t, so here we are :b). This gets really annoying this time of year when by the time I have a guaranteed free moment for some real tea time right after dinner it’s hard because the dishwasher needs to be on doing the day’s load. I think I’ve figured out a decent solution for now though—I prewarm my king thermos and then fill it with the right temp water from my electric kettle, seal it nice and tight, get out the gaiwan and a tea meant for resteeping (so oolong or green usually), and then turn on the washer. As it does its thing I have a little private gongfu session. Very nice!
Anyway, got this as part of Eco Cha’s recent promotion. The site directions for gongfu brewing are kind of confusingly unusual, so I didn’t follow them exactly but did what I’m used to doing (quick rinse, more leaf and less water, short steeping times, a bit cooler than boiling). Figured if it wasn’t optimal and I should follow their directions I have enough left to do so. But I was pleased with my setup—the first few cups yielded a marvelous true-fresh-flower fragrance, a little like jasmine but also like honeysuckle or summer flowers. Remarkable stuff, not unlike some of Verdant’s best spring offerings (Hand-Picked Early Spring Tieguanyin, White Jasmine). The flavor is sweet and clean and slightly herbal, smelling a bit like clean hay as the flower scent tapers off. Eco Cha mentions this is great cold steeped, and I can definitely see that—it has a lot of the qualities the tastiest cold steeped green teas I had this summer (like Bilochun Green) have. It edges towards grassy as it cools, but the sweetness and true-flower aroma make that pleasant. In the middle of winter this is a fantastic way to transport yourself to a warm sunny field out in the country on a late spring or early summer day. This is a spectacular tea that merits the hype of the company’s copy. The price is quite reasonable considering the quality too—under $4 an ounce or (if I’m calculating right) about $1 a session.
I’m using the Steepster app, while I wait for my breakfast to arrive. I played another early morning gig today, out the door at 6:30am. The teasI brought along this morning were laoshan black & laoshan black chocolate genmaicha.
So some random comments because I’m drinking teas not in the database…I can’t believe it’s only 10:30…it serious feels like 4pm.
I’ve been sipping on a sheng from Verdant’s reserve rewards – Xuejiao Longlai 2010 Sheng. I have been enjoying the steeps of this one this morning, since i haven’t had much chance to do much else with tea. it’s…well i could see myself drinking this all day without getting tired of it, as i often do after drinking some puerhs all day. It’s light, but still has body to it. There’s a bit of a woodsy feel to it but not like an earthy woodsy. Yep. that’s as descriptive as i can be. I like this. Would buy it again if i had the chance, but i don’t so enjoy it i will!
This is some random rooibos chai I found in the cupboard. I steeped it for, umm, about 30 minutes (oops?) then remembered it was on the counter. All it needed was a splash of cream, because the cinnamon and the long steep sweetened it enough for me tonight. I had originally planned on having it with some maple syrup.
It’s really good with the potato pancakes I made. Mm. (http://www.theironyou.com/2013/11/sweet-potato-latke-turkey-burger-aka.html)
I actually don’t mind a rooibos chai, and will have to see which local shops carry one. I can see it being a welcome addition to my cupboard this winter!
Back home from vacation! Super happy to be back with my tea stash, but will definitely miss the warmth of Kuaui!
With my order from TTC, I received a surprise sample of a new black tea they are growing themselves called ‘Formosa Golden Dragon Tippy Black Tea’. It’s not on their website site yet, but when it is, I’ll move this review over to the appropriate steepster page.
This tea is delicious. Has that signature Taiwan Black Tea flavor, but is markedly different as well. The aftertaste is totally cinnamon, like cinnamon candy, but not fake, just good. The cup is super smooth and has a bit of a Fujian flavor to it. Will definitely order it when it pops on the website. But their samples are so huge, I have several cups left before I’ll need to order.
TTC has quickly joined the ranks of Verdant, Butiki, and Yezi teas for me. Amazing tea and customer service.
Had a cup of Rosemary Leaf tea with two wedges of orange squeezed in. Could’ve been better. I need to let it steep longer next time so the orange isn’t so overpowering.
Once upon a time it was easy to buy bulk herbs and spices around here in small proportions, but now if they even have the herbs you end up having to buy prepackaged bags with fixed proportions. Which is how I ended up with a huge bag of lavender. It’s a nice lavender sweet and spicy, not soapy thank goodness. But I still have tons left. I’ve given it away as sachets, drank it straight as tea, added it to my bath, and used it to flavour other teas. This is a continuation of project, move through the lavender.
Tonight I added the lavender to cocoa nibs, and cardamon.
You know what it’s not too bad. Though I think next time. I’ll use a little bit less lavender and add a little more cardamon. The lavender sweetened the cocoa and added a little bit of spice, and the cardamon was slightly detectable underneath, doing the same.
I’ll have to try it again, but lavender actually goes quite nicely with chocolate.
around 1tbsp coca nibs, less than tsp of lavender, a couple cardamon pods, sreeped in a 16 oz mug for around 7 min.
I started my day resteeping the leaves of the Cactus Flower tea I had last night. The flavor held up perfectly so I was very happy sipping away at it as I looked through different online stores and debating if I wanted to buy more things or not.
At the same time, I steeped some Georgia Tea Company’s Sleepy Hollow Pumpkin Chai tea in my timolino. This came to me from JennyFur and I was excited to try it out. Unfortunately, I never got around to it because I ended up going with my roommate to actual stores to shop. Usually I would avoid stores on days with big sales, especially when I can get the same deals online,but she needed to get sized for bras and I needed a white collared shirt for my grad photo on Thursday (both of which we got so YAY!). However, this got left behind.
Luckily, we went into CaesarsTea and got some teas to go. My roommate had a coupon for a free cup of tea (the employee who sold me the 25 different teas a couple weeks back gave us each one but I forgot mine at home). She was only supposed to be able to choose between their two teas of the day but the saleswoman helping us let her chose any tea she wanted. She got a tea called The Energizer which was minty and very nice. I got a fruity Pu’erh and white tea while I was there called Pu Show. It was rather enjoyable because despite not adding sweetner, the Pu’erh was so caramel-y.
Then our shopping trip turned into a bit of a day out since we planned on meeting a friend near by later in the evening to go see Catching Fire. We decided to kill time by going to get some bubble tea. I got a Passion Lemon tea which was amazing. They basically take passion fruit black tea and throw in some lemon sorbet. It was fruity and tart and super delicious.
After the movie, which was AMAZING!!, we went back to our friends house and she made some Osmanthus tea. That tea was so buttery – it was almost like drinking liquid butter. Not really for me but an interesting taste experience for sure.
Now I have finally returned home to find some awesome tea packages from MissB and Roswell Strange. And after 12 hours of sitting in my freezing apartment, my timolino managed to keep my Sleepy Hollow Tea warm. Although it tastes a bit soapy. I will have to try brewing it again and having it fresh to really review it.
All in all, I had a pretty great tea filled day. Plus, now I have a bunch of new teas to try to keep me busy until all my awesome Black Friday orders arrive!!
So this is a gold packet that says “refined Chinese tea” that I think originated with Sil and I got from Heather.
I have no idea what it is. It smells tasty. All sweet, rich notes. I’m steeping it as I do my usual black teas – 3 min at about 195F. I think the instructions say 3-7 minutes, but I could wrong. I don’t really read Chinese, I only recognize a couple characters.
At any rate, steeped it smells like roasted squash. Kabocha, when it gets nicely browned in the oven. So sweet and delicious. I don’t think it tastes as good as it smells – there’s a weird sour note I sometimes get with tea – but it’s pretty good.
I’m currently enjoying a mystery Ceylon that I picked up at the Polish grocery store. I haven’t had it for a while, but I forgot how nice it was.
It has this beautiful mix of fruity blackberry, floral notes, toasted grains, hint of sweet potato, malt and spice with some slightly earthy/leathery notes and a sugary note that has a dark maple syrup tones. As it cools it remains quite sweet and citrus tones come out. The tea has a nice body and re-steeps really well.
I wish I know for sure where the tea came from. It is a large leaf ceylon, with broad twisted leaves. I suspect it comes from this company as they have supplied teas to the store in the past.
but there are several other local companies it could be from.
I think it’s so funny that my picture of puerh at the Chinese diner has ended up being the picture for this “tea”. :)
I stuck two bags of tulsi in with one bag of wild berry zinger. It’s getting a little late, and I need to turn off the computer and chill. Maybe sleep some. I have a lot to do at work tomorrow, and then need to head out to a tea shop for some holiday shopping. “One for you, and one for me.” Right?
The mix is actually pretty good. I’m not much of a fan of the zinger teas hot, but with the tulsi I don’t mind it. The tulsi and berry combination is one I can get behind. It will be a good way to use up both boxes of tea. :)
Happy USA Thanksgiving & Happy Hannukah!
I spent the day making food, as did my daughters. It took 2 kitchens, 3 chefs, & 2 sous chefs (my sons), then we transported the food made at my house to my daughter’s house (1 block away), & the feast was on.
Meanwhile, I DID drink tea, several pots full, most of which I’ll have to review the next time I drink them, but I also tried a delicious experiment, which I’ve been dying to share all day. Here it is:
1.5 Tb Laoshan Black + 1.5 Tb Shui Jin Gui Oolong + 1 cinnamon stick + 1 vanilla bean (after I used the seeds in something else), chopped up.
All of these were combined in my 16oz green cash iron dragonfly teapot.
Steep 3 minutes, and Oh My God!!! I also tried adding a little maple…
And of course, there were the resteeps…sigh…
I’m grateful for tea!
So. I finally blended my own chai. I included pink peppercorns, crystallized ginger, whole cloves, whole cardamom (which I crack open with a mortar and pestle right before brewing), broken up cinnamon sticks, and rooibos (this is our nighttime treat). I scoop in a perfect teaspoon and a half per 8 oz of water, and serve it with vanilla infused honey and a splash of milk.
Wow! Maybe because the spices are glorious ones from Penzeys, or maybe because I used just enough to make things flavorful but not ultra spicy or bitey, but — I’m in love! My husband is in love, too! He requests it every night, and I have to cajole him to try another tisane at least one night a week!
I want to try it with black tea and I also have 2 packets of flavored rooibos and one of honeybush I want to give the chai treatment to. I hope that will allow us to have chai throughout the winter without purchasing more tea!
This time it’s Harmonizing Tulsi mixed with Redberry Tonic from DavidsTea. IDK. I think I like tulsi and apple mixed together, but not so much hibiscus or rose hips. I’ll have to find just dried apples, and mix up some tulsi and apples and some Nana’s Fruit Garden to see what happens there.
(This time unsweetened, incredibly overleafed, and I didn’t manage to finish a bag of anything. Oh well.)
This is a mix of Wild Orange Blossom from Teavana, and Harmonizing Tulsi from Herbal Republic.
Yes, I’m aware that I’m stretching a bit here.
Umm, it’s drinkable. I did 1 part orange, 2 parts tulsi. Mostly I’m getting the tulsi, which I generally don’t mind, but don’t LOVE in the blend from HR.
I really like tulsi blended with apples and berries, so I’ll be trying that out with the plain tulsi I have. However, I think the Harmonizing one will have to be drunk on its own, as it just isn’t right with other flavours. The candy-sweet orange just doesn’t go well with the incredible herbal flavours in the tulsi blend.
Out for Chinese food with a friend tonight, and we’re served puerh instead of the usual green! So awesome.
It’s actually a really nice puerh, too. Not what I’d expect for a cheap late night diner. :) Tastes like dirt. In a good way.
This feels like cheating, but I haven’t actually had any tea today.
Instead, I’ve just made some ginger-tumeric tea, with a sprinkle of tumeric, 1 tbsp ginger grated, and 2 tbsp honey. Nom nom nom. Lemon is also good in this. I’m steeping it like a tea rather than simmering it for 5-10 min on the stove, because I’m wiped and cold and want to go curl up in the nest with the cats.
Gunpowder & Mate by Teapots & Treasures
Backlog from this afternoon. This is one I got on a curiosity-whim back when I visited this store in July while I was staying with my friend in Indy, and because I always want black tea, I haven’t done anything with it until this afternoon. Since I was feeling sleepy and wanted to simultaneously tidy up my room a bit and watch Back to the Future: Part 2, I decided to give it a shot.
I think it’s self-explanatory; it’s gunpowder green tea mixed with yerba mate. I have no experience with either, so I have no basis to go on for this tea. I was afraid I was going to roast it; the instructions said “almost boiling (180 degrees).” To me, 180 doesn’t count as “almost boiling,” and that kettle was definitely “almost boiling,” but I poured the water, let it steep a comparatively short time (1-2 minutes?), and hoped for the best.
It’s decent. Since it’s a backlog, not a whole lot to say, but it was quite smoky. Not really in a bad way. A twinge of grassiness, maybe a hint of spiciness but I can’t remember? The yerba mate definitely did its job, though; I was nice and awake for the rest of the afternoon! … Although there was, admittedly, more movie-watching than room cleaning.
I have missed Steepster so so much. I’ve been drinking tea but writing reviews has been a trial. I’m encountering a great deal of writer’s block—in reviewing books and tea, researching, even writing the odd email. But I think I am back. I think.
Awabancha was a weird experience. And in not a bad way at all. Weird as in it took me a couple of sips to understand. At first the faint taste of pickle-slight vinegarish saltiness— was kicking me right in the face. Definitely strange when you’re drinking tea. But I kept sipping and it kept growing on me. Sure, there is a slight pickle-ish bite but there is also a slight nuttiness on the finish. It’s definitely different and unique—it’s a step up in weird from pu’er. Perhaps not something I’ll reach for a lot but I will have the odd craving for this one. I can tell.
Thank you to Stacy for sending me this (and other) lovely teas.
P.S. Why isn’t this showing up on my Dashboard?
Mm a simple chocolate/mint black tea with a vanilla twist. A slight coffee aftertaste. It’s ok but the flavors could be tweaked a bit.
So I worked and worked and worked on my blend of earl grey, the Earl’s Garden (a berry earl grey from DAVIDsTEA), and vanilla tea. Each time, it felt like it needed more vanilla. So I finally got it tasting exactly how I thought it should taste this morning, and then realized – gosh this tastes an awful lot like Paris! That is wonderful — because I love Paris! But it’s also kinda funny because I have a half pound of Paris in my cupboard already (!). Now I have another 4 oz, more or less. OK!
Today was a fun day with regards to tea for my roommate and I. It all started when I got home and my roommate told me she wanted to go to Camellia Sinensis. This is unusual for her because typically I am the one dragging her to tea shops because I like to try all the fun and different flavored teas whereas she has a lot more plain teas that she buys in Asia. However, she told me that she is almost out of Genmaicha and she checked out Camellia’s website after I told her about it a couple days ago. She wanted to check out the store and pick up some of their Genmaicha with Matcha and Sencha and since I am always willing to visit a tea shop we decided to head out.
Unfortunately despite its close proximity to our apartment we got lost and ended up wandering until we were near a shop, NosThes, that according to my roommate makes “the best bubble tea in Montreal”. So we decided that once we were nearby we might as well pop in there and get some tea. Based on the recommendation of the waitress we both ended up getting a Vanilla and Nuts black tea. Mine was a hot latte with no sugar and no bubbles and my roommate got hers done as a hot latte with some sugar and bubbles. This tea done both ways was AMAZING! My roommate was still talking about her bubble tea hours later and as I said before, she does not usually like flavored teas.
Anyways, while we enjoyed our NosThes, we looked up the location for Camellia Sinensis and so we back tracked towards our apartment and finally found the shop. First of all, when you turn onto the street where the shop is, it looks like you teleported back in time. The shops have an old-timey look to them that is just super adorable. Inside, Camellia Sinensis, is quite lovely. Its walls are lined with silver tins filled with tea (although there are no labels – you have to look through a book to see the different types of tea they have) and different mugs and teapots they have for sale. I was tempted to buy some of their tins because they are really pretty however they were also quite expensive and I could not justify spending surplus amount of money on tins. However, while looking at tins, I noticed a small tin filled with Lichee (their spelling, not mine) and peony tea that my roommate and I both thought smelled amazing. Then I realized the small tin was actually one of many small tea-filled tins that were for sale so I picked on up and we headed over to the counter. My roommate had come prepared and knew what she wanted to buy so she ended up getting 50 g of the Genmaicha with Matcha and Sencha and a small tin of Matcha Uji that the salesman recommended for casual matcha drinking. I, on the other hand, had made the mistake of not checking out their teas beforehand and because their tea book was in French I got overwhelmed and intimidated and decided just to stick with my small tin of Lichee and Peony tea which my roommate ended up buying for me.
We left the shop with our new purchases and made the short walk home. When we got home, my roommate quickly started the kettle so that we could try her new teas. This was funny because usually I am the one who comes home with a million new teas and I make her drink them with me but today was her turn to brew cup after cup for us to try.
We started with the Genmaicha with Matcha and Sencha. I had never tried Genmaicha and I have only ever had flavored green teas so this was a brand new experience for me. Anyways, the first steep, though delicate, was definitely far more vegetal than any tea I would ever by however to my surprise, I quite enjoyed it. The second steep brought out more of the toasted rice flavors which I thought was quite delicious. However, my roommate, though she quite liked her new tea said that the Genmaicha she already had was better. She started to brew that so that I too could try both and compare. Her Genmaicha had more of a robust and roasted flavor to it upon the first steep. Similarly to the other Genmaicha, the second steep once again brought out the flavors of the rice. So basically from this tasting, I learned a couple of things – I no longer mind a vegetal tasting tea and apparently I prefer the second steep of a Genmaicha because I like the roasty-toasty rice flavoring.
Once we got the ball rolling on tea tasting, my roommate seemed to realize why I like sharing teas with her so often and so she decided we should switch things up and try the Lichee and Peony tea. This tea was delicate and floral but the lychee helps balance the floral taste so that it did not come off perfume-y. The second steep of this tea was quite similar to the first with the exception of the lychee flavor being a bit more pronounced. Our third steep lacked flavor so we both concluded this tea should only be steeped twice.
After all that, my roommate thought I needed to try a good Pu’erh tea she had from China. She got very excited and had me smell the dry leaf. She then poured boiling water over the leaves and dumped it out since apparently you should always rinse a good pu’erh to bring out the scent. So once she rinsed the leaves she made me smell them again and she was right as the scent was definitely more robust. She then informed me that a good pu’erh is always better after the second steep so we had our first steep and then a second. Since the tea was fermented I worried about the flavor but I was pleasantly surprised. The second steep was definitely more delicate than the first but both were delicious. Unfortunately, we then had to rush our last cup because we decided to go to a Body Pump class at the gym.
All in all it was nice exploring new flavors that I would not usually pick myself. I tend to go for bold flavors but more and more I realize the value of a simple yet delicious tea. That is not to say I plan on giving up my love of flavored teas anytime soon. In fact, arriving home from the gym I found a swap package from Courtney in my mail box filled with many new flavored teas that I can’t wait to try.
So I found an deliciousssssss hard iced tea! I’ve been drinking it since halloween. The boyfriend came home with it as a surprise for me and I was in heaven! Beer and tea in one?! Its called Twisted Tea. Oh man its the typical original iced tea flavor I love it! Just thought this was a worth sharing:)
Oh and if you haven’t tried signing up for the Steepster Select subscription here’s a coupon for $10 off :)
( I love the tea that I get from Steepster Select. You can get $10 off when you click here to sign up!