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Recent Tasting Notes
an amazing tea!
when i smell the leaves dry, they smell like grass and veggies.
when i smell the leaves wet, they smell floral and like veggies.
when i look at the brewed tea, it looks light and yellow.
when i smell the brewed tea, i smell apricot, sweet and floral.
when i taste the brewed tea, i taste apricot, sweetness, floral and veggies.
i rate this tea a 100 because i like the taste/aroma
many thanks to amanda’soggyenderman’wilson for this lovely tea!
Flavors: Apricot, Floral, Grass, Sweet, Vegetables, Vegetal
I have played a lot of video games in my life, and I have been driven to fits of rage by many of them. Something that my dear fiance and I share is a tendency to get really ragey at our games, we just show them differently, where he is likely to just yell at a game, I take a page from the RageQuit book and get really imaginative with my vitriol. I bring this up because few games have made me rage as much as Terraria. Seriously, I hate the boss fights, I can have myself kitted up and buffed to the extreme and it never fails, I die at least half a dozen times before I get the ‘trick’ to killing a specific boss. Of course then I proceed to farm it mercilessly, giggling at my godlike power the whole time. Oh man, or that one time when you are mining and accidentally hit the TNT button instead of the pickaxe button and blow yourself up. It. Is. MADDENING! But I also love it because I can be a dark elf with a hoard of spider summons with a pet dinosaur who rides a unicorn while wearing feathery wings, gypsy robes, and a Spartan helmet. Skills.
Today’s tea from What-Cha is a funky little number, Thailand Sticky Rice ‘Khao Hom’ Oolong Tea, hailing from Thailand, this tea takes Jin Xuan and scents it with Nuo Mi Xiang Nen Ye, an herb from China whose leaves smell uncannily like sweet sticky rice. Used quite a bit with Puerh, (if you have ever seen sticky rice Puerh, this is the herb used) and I will be honest, mixed with Shou Pu, I find it utterly repugnant, usually because it is mixed with the really low grade fishy garbage and those are two things I do not want mixed. Ever. So I was really curious to try it in something else, specifically the glory that is Oolong. The aroma of this tea is something else, I advise not sticking your nose into these leaves, sniff from a distance because wow is it strong. Super sweet sticky rice notes with sweet cream, rice pudding, coconut milk, and an underlying almond nuttiness. So much sweetness, it is a little overwhelming.
So the first time I tried this tea I made the mistake of brewing it when I had a headache, one whiff of those brewed leaves and I needed to lie down, something about sticky rice scented teas make me feel really ill and dizzy if I have a headache (which is often) so I waited for a day when I had no headache to try the rest of the sample. It was a good idea because whoa, it is super strong, very sweet notes of rice pudding, caramel, flowers, green beans, grass, spinach…it is a bit of a cacophony, though oddly it blends well together. The liquid is more subtle thankfully, though not by much. That sticky rice scent is strong and sweet, notes of coconut milk, almonds, and rice pudding mix with a creamy underlying floral note.
I thought for a second, this could be one of those sensory overload things that happens to me with certain smells, so I got Ben to sniff it and he thought it smelled mild and sweet, where I thought it was like being face planted in pudding. The longer I sniffed it, the more I started developing a headache…oh dear. So, enough being nervous, I tasted it, it is smooth and sweet, and surprisingly cooling for an oolong. There are strong notes of cream, rice pudding, orchids, and warm milk. This moves on to caramelized sugar and a nutty aftertaste. There is however something ‘wrong’ about the rice taste, not wrong as in toxic or something like that…wrong as it tastes like rice but doesn’t. Like how stevia leaves are sweet but don’t taste like sugar, so when used as a substitute you can tell, it is uncanny and hard to process for some reason.
Second steep, the aroma at this point has permeated my tea area, which I am not entirely happy with. The taste is milder on the rice front, more of the underlying orchid and creamy notes of the Jin Xuan showing their color. The finish has a nutty rice note that lingers for some time. I called it quits after this steep sadly, the taste was quite pleasant, but the smell of the leaves was way too intense and killing my head, not to mention I spilled some on my tea table and just can’t get the smell out, whenever I get a whiff of it I am slammed with vertigo, it is safe to say that my sensory weirdness could not handle this herb. Clearly if I try to drink this tea again, I should do it with a nose plug, or maybe store the leaves in another room. It is a pity I had such a negative reaction to the aroma, the taste was really quite fascinating.
For blog and photos (and a link to a page entirely in Chinese about the fancy herb): http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2015/08/what-cha-thailand-sticky-rice-khao-hom.html
Flavors: Coconut, Flowers, Orchid, Rice, Rice Pudding, Sweet
A sample from Roswell Strange. I’ve never tried a Silver Oolong before, so she’s certainly pushing my tea boundaries with the samples she included! That’s the joy of swaps, though. I love getting to try new things, and especially things I’d never have thought of! I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it approximately 2 minutes in water cooled to around 170 degrees. The resulting liquor is a very pale green, almost colourless.
The leaf is an intriguing prospect. It’s a little twisted and downy-looking dry, and the buds are a fairly variagated grey-white-green. Wet, they’re a much lighter, brighter green in colour, with a flash of orange at the stem, and the odd touch of brown on the leaves themselves. It’s actually possible to unfurl the leaves to see their full extent. They’re on the small side, but it’s intriguing to observe how they’re twisted up to form the dry version of themselves. The wet leaf smells absolutely amazing – very “green”, almost in a seaweedy sort of way, with a touch of pine and a strong mineral undertone (like wet stone).
To taste, this is an entirely different prospect. The first thing I noticed was the spiciness, which tingles on the tongue. It’s not quite cinnamon, but that’s the closest I can get in terms of description. It’s a felt spiciness – a sensation – more than a taste, if that makes sense. Warming, rather than hot. I’m also picking up strong notes of hay, a touch of floral (which puts me in mind of pears, as I associate those with a floral flavour), and a whole lot of maltiness. That’s odd to me, in such a pale tea that’s mostly reminiscent of green in many respects. I can taste pithy, mildly bitter orange zest at the very end of the sip, and a touch of white grapefruit. It’s interesting to end on such a tangy, fruity note after the sweetness of the mid-sip. It’s a vibrant contrast, and one I actually like a lot more than I could ever have anticipated. If I saw it written down, I might think “ugh”, but in practice it’s strangely poetic. I can feel a warming spiciness at the back of my throat long after I’ve taken my last sip. It’s a truly intriguing cup.
I’m really impressed with this one, and I’ll certainly be having a good look at What-Cha on the strength of this sample. It’s good to know that there are still teas out there than can surprise and delight, even after having tried so many over the last few years. This is the best journey I’ve ever been on. Thanks again to Roswell Strange for sharing this with me.
There are a lot of things I could say to start off today’s blog post, but they can wait for a later day, today’s intro is something special. It is my two year Tea Blog Anniversary! It seems pretty crazy that I have been rambling about tea on my blog for this long, and that all of you are still hanging out with me on my corner of the internet. I have met some wonderful people and of course tried some awesome teas, found many favorites, and turned into a real teaware hoarder. Thank you all for reading my rambling, it means the world to me.
Since, unless my mind deceives me, it is Wednesday, meaning the day I review a tea from What-Cha, in my probably very silly attempt to review all the teas. Looking at India Bihar Doke ‘Black Fusion’ Hand-Made Black Tea, hailing from the much talked about Doke Tea Gardens in Bihar, India, run by the Lochan family, pioneers of the tea world! Trying teas from the Doke Tea Gardens has been pretty high on my to-do list for a while, because they are much loved by fellow bloggers and tea sippers, plus I really like their mission of treating the people and the land like they are precious, bravo! Eyeballing the leaves, they are really dark and quite pretty, I am a sucker for curly dark leaves, oh who am I kidding, I am a sucker for leaves! The aroma is delectable, malty and spicy, like curry without the heat and turmeric without the earthiness, a touch of floral notes, and a very sweet finish. That finish is one of stewed raisins and plums with molasses, it is like a malty compote!
Into my steeping vessel the curly leaves go, to make their transformation to plump and not as dark leaves. The aroma of the soggy leaves is malty and molasses sweet, with a definite spice which is hard to pin down, it is like saffron, turmeric, and curry…but not, it is more like you are smelling a blend of them from a distance. It is maddeningly hard to pin down in my olfactory memory, I wish I could create a scent photo album for referencing in just such occasions. The liquid has a note that I have not smelled in what seems like forever, sumac! There are also notes of molasses, malt, spice, and a touch of raisins and peanuts.
The tea is really quite vibrant, like a sky at sunset, the kind that won’t scare away sailors, but where you know there are wildfires somewhere. The initial sip starts brisk and strong, this tea has a presence that makes you sit up and pay attention, maybe I got it wrong and this is a story sunrise color! The taste starts with notes of malt and raisins, this transitions to sassafras, that maddeningly hard to place down spice (ok, you know what, it is Spice, there, a nice Melange heavy tea for the Navigators) and a touch of sumac adding a lemony note at the very tail end of the midtaste. Then it moves to creamy stewed plums and molasses, which moves into the aftertaste and lingers. I really like how this tea has a brisk boldness to it while also having depth, a lot of times teas that wake you up are focusing more on having oomph than subtle nuances. As someone who does not really drink a lot of breakfast teas and tends to go for the subtle teas to gently shake me into wakefulness, I could see myself really craving this tea on those mornings I want the extra mouth punch while also being treated to a dance of tastes in my mouth. I can see why so many of my fellow bloggers go gaga for Doke if they are half as good as this one!
Flavors: Malt, Molasses, Plums, Raisins, Spices
I dare you to open the bag and inhale this then walk away. Ain’t no way. Dry this smells like a bouquet of peonies. So sweet and pretty. The leaf is equally beautiful with red and brown steaks along with silvery white tips. Once brewed the steep leaf scent is peaches, no grapes, no its orange. Love. The brew is liquid sunshine so bright and golden. The taste is muscat grape and hints of malt. Then it turns into mountain streams that fade into light orange blossoms. I was not in the mood for tea today until I opened this one. Gentle and amazingly complex. A definite winner.
Oh hey, I think my sleep schedule flipped back to being diurnal-ish. Yay? It has its pros and cons, same as all sleep schedules. At least since I got up dark and early this morning I got to watch some more of the Perseid Meteor Shower, watching a few fireballs shooting across the sky brings me great joy. I am somewhat sad that things did not work out where I could not go out to the country to watch the sky, but I got to see some of the show, which is wonderful.
It is time to look at a powerful tea from What-Cha, their Indonesia Dark Roast Tie Guan Yin Oolong Tea. This tea had my attention from the name (a charcoal roasted Tie Guan Yin, that is one of my favorite things) and the description calling it powerful, what can I say, I have a type! That type is empyreumatic, also Tie Guan Yin, I am predictable with my love of oolongs. So, the aroma of the tightly balled leaves will knock you off your feet if you are not prepared, strong notes of tobacco, rich molasses, baked plums, loam, and heavy charcoal waft off of them. It is both very rich and very sweet, without the char notes overwhelming.
Into ye ol’ roasted Oolong pot the tea goes, and hello strong notes of coal and smoke, reminds me a bit of incense because it has a resinous quality with a distant floral note as well. Under this smoky and coal is tobacco, molasses, and roasted plums, it is pretty intense. The liquid is smoky and char, like burnt grains, buckwheat and oats, molasses and honey. It smells like granola that is being roasted over a fire, though without the headache. (For some odd reason whenever Ben’s mom roasted the granola for her…well…granola, the smell gives me a migraine and I spend the day in misery. I try to be out of the house on those days, sad because the smell is great.)
Whoa! That first steep is sweet! Surprisingly so, with a strong honey and molasses start with juicy plums in the middle. Over this sweetness is an overhanging cloud of smoke and char, like eating roasted plums next to a campfire. The finish is grainy, notes of buckwheat and oats mix with a finish of molasses, this is some serious granola tea.
The aroma of the second steep manages to kick it up a bit in intensity, strong notes of char and grains, buckwheat and oats, mixing sweetness and granola with a strong punch of burnt. Yes my mouth is watering, don’t judge me. The taste is much less sweet, bringing out the intense char and grain notes I am more familiar with when given a roasted TGY. Notes of walnut shells, oats, buckwheat, actual wheat, and a hint of molasses blend with an explosion of char and gentle smoke.
Third steeping time, the aroma is very similar, not so much sweet, strong notes of grain and char with a very pleasant finish of molasses, the only sweetness in the aroma. Looks like the tobacco and plums rejoined the party, starting off with delicate sweet roasted plums and walnut shells, this moves on to tobacco (kinda fruity pipe tobacco, actually) and roasted grains. The finish is sweet molasses and char with a surprise floral aftertaste. I had quite a few more steeps with this tea, it has a fantastic oomph to it and lasts for a while. I am, however, kicking myself for forgetting to order more, I am betraying my love of the Taiwanese roasted TGY, but I think Indonesia might take the coveted favorite spot.
Flavors: Char, Grain, Honey, Molasses, Oats, Plums, Smoke, Tobacco
This is an interesting tea. I tried it three times before putting up a review. I’ve never had a TGY quite this dark before, so it was definitely an experience! The first time I brewed it gongfu, followed the brewing instructions (194 degree water, 45 second infusions), but the flavor was lacking for me. Increased the time and still, not much. Second time I did western style in my cast iron teapot, and boosted the temp to 200 for 3 minutes. I thought that because the leaves weren’t unfurling much, that the temp was too low. That didn’t improve the flavor much either. So this morning, I tried again, western style, boiling water, 5 minutes. Tasted after five and added another 2-3 minutes, and perfect.
So I learned a few things: You apparently cannot oversteep this tea, and the leaves are not going to open up or unfurl like a traditional oolong because they are roasted all to heaven and back. Also, it’s delicious.
Flavor is lovely, no astringency, lightly smoky – surprising actually, I thought it would be more so b/c the leaves are charred black. Sweet flavors of roasted plum and dried figs. The charcoal finish is there but again, not overbearing. I’m not sure what the piece of bitter melon adds to the flavor party, but I did that because the tasting notes recommend it. I also ordered 100 grams for a chance at getting a whole bitter melon, which Alistair generously sent.
In sum, this is a lovely tea for anyone who loves a dark roasted TGY.
EDIT: Decided to see if the leaves had anything left, so I steeped it again for 10 minutes and had a nice second cuppa.
I am food drunk again! It is a thing that happens to me, I eat a big meal and then get loopy, tired, and very much so like I am tipsy. Not really sure why, but I have a full belly, and that is awesome! Just came home from a friend’s birthday, though I have a fierce craving for cake now since the one was not gluten free (obviously, having a GF cake when only one person there has a problem is dumb) and foresee a cake in my future. The real question is what kind, maybe another Matcha chocolate swirl?
Today’s tea from What-Cha is China Anhui Huangshan ‘Yellow Sun’ Yellow Tea, a Yellow Tea that us turning out to be a giant pain to research! See, you look up Huangshan and you get primarily Huangshan Mao Feng, maybe so references to the place, you look up Huangshan Yellow Tea and you get Huoshan Huang Ya, I mean yeah, they are both from Anhui, but still, they are not the same tea! Frustratingly I cannot really find out anything about this mysterious yellow tea, yet, but I intend to devote more time to it at a later day. The aroma of the curly leaves is incredibly nutty, it reminds me of almond paste and sesame candies, combining sweet and nutty. There are also delicate notes of wet hay, sourdough yeast, distant flowers, and a touch of tart cherry at the finish. It is an oddly complex tea that is strange yet very tasty smelling.
Ooh, going to use my super tall gaiwan, I never get to use it because…well…for some reason I tend to forget about it (the shame) which I hope to not do in the future once I unpack all my gear. The aroma of the soggy leaves has taken on a bit of a woody tinge, alongside notes of sesame seeds, and a surprising spiced floral note and fresh tobacco leaves. I am trying to search through my memories, are the blossoms on a tobacco plant spicy, or is it the dianthus my mom had planted nearby? The liquid is fascinating! Notes of sweet nuttiness and gentle spicy mix with cooked broccoli and cauliflower with a finish of chestnut and hay.
So, first sipping time, and…it is really mild. An odd combination of notes that instead of clashing work really well. Starting with delicate notes of flowers and sweet sesame and almonds. This moves to a blend of sweet, wet, hay and greenbeans, and then a finish of wildflower honey and slightly smoked cherries. The mouthfeel was smooth with a touch of cooling similar to a Sheng Puerh.
The second steep brings in notes of primarily sweet nuttiness, blending sesame seeds and chestnuts with a surprising finish of orchids and wildflowers. Again, this tea is really odd yet tasty! It starts out more green this time with notes of broccoli and greenbeans, then it pretty immediately moves to flowers and hay. It has a perfumed like quality where you are definitely tasting more with your nose than tongue. The finish is hay and honey with a lingering fruity note. Again cooling, more so this time.
I am beginning to thing this tea is the result of some tea themed lovin’ between a Sheng Puerh and an Anhui green. The aroma takes on a strong note of hay, along with sesame and a hint of greenbeans. The taste this time starts off nutty again, sweet sesame and almond, this moves to greenbeans and broccoli, and a finish of sweet honey and flowers. There is a lingering coolness that stays around for a while, very soothing. This was an odd yet amazing tea, I love the blend of different notes that you do not necessarily run into together very often.
Flavors: Almond, Cherry, Green Beans, Hay, Nutty, Smoke
I was sure I’d seen other reviews for this tea, but since I’m the only reviewer currently I guess that’s not the case. I’ve been wanting to try a sticky rice scented tea for a while now; and when I made my most recent What-Cha order I noticed this one offered on their site so I ordered a sample size to satisfy that deep curiosity. What I didn’t expect was just how accurate or obvious the flavour of the sticky rice would be.
Even from the moment I cracked open the sample packet, the smell of fresh sticky rice was filling up my kitchen and getting me excited with how potent and dead on it was. In fact, my first few sips were so overwhelmingly close to real life sticky rice it was hard to taste or notice anything else. I ended up doing three very strong Western Style infusions before the flavour of the sticky rice started to deteriorate. 2 1/2 tsp. of leaf for a 16 oz. mug, with 85C water steeped for two minutes initially with an extra 30 seconds tacked on with each infusion after the first.
The mouthfeel of the liquor was very soft and creamy and it managed to find a way to creep into every crevice of my mouth. Even though I only needed small sips to get a good sense of the strong flavour with each infusion I found myself taking big hearty swigs just because I loved the feel and taste of the tea so much. But it wasn’t just the mouthfeel that was creamy; in addition to the super accurate flavour of good sticky rice this tastes rich and creamy with a lovely buttery quality as well! Some of the greener vegetal notes from the oolong base cut through as well, particular in the finish which provided some subtle contrast of flavour. One of my favourites about this tea, as well, is that it had a delicate taste but not a subtle flavour; and ever though it’s not particularly complex or nuanced it’s scary accurate and really tasty if sticky rice is your thing.
I actually can’t believe I haven’t heard more people talking about sticky rice scented teas; I feel like I just gained access to some sort of exclusive club! I like jasmine scented oolongs as much as the next tea drinker, but this is ten times as good as that – it’s only been a few hours since I finished that last infusion and I’m already salivating at the thought of another. My 10g sample will be gone before I know it, and I definitely intended to buy more of this once that happens.
More people should try this!
I had a thrift store adventure today! Feeling the predictable ‘I need to go to the thrift store’ tingly feeling in my brain, weirdest super power ever (though sadly not as useful as my finding lost things super power) so Ben was nice and took me to the store. My usual store did not have anything of interest, sadly, so we went to the other store up the road that never has anything, and lo and behold, there were things! I found a Guan Yin statue, something I have always wanted (but never bought new because it is me and I like getting old stuff at stores) so I was so happy, I did a loud squee. When I was checking out the cashier dropped the statue, knocking the head off, eek! Thinking my beloved statue was ruined, I examined it and saw the head could very easily be glued back on, so I bought it and was given a discount, awesome! I am debating painting it to look like some of the paintings, or all gold to look like a temple statue, one thing is for certain, Guan Yin needs a bath!
So, tis time for tea! What-Cha’s Vietnam ‘Wild Boar’ Black Tea, a tea I bought because boars are kinda awesome. The tea is named by the local hill tribe that picks the wild growing leaves after the boars that roam wild in the hills. The aroma of the dark leaves is odd, I kinda teared up a bit because the aroma reminds me of something from my memories, something very far into them but I could not place it, it was maddening and caused an intense feeling of homesickness. Memories aside (since you cannot really smell those) there are notes of cocoa and malt, with a delicate note of peanuts, and surprisingly wildflowers and a touch of roses, it has a gentle sweetness, but it is mostly from the floral notes, the cocoa is like dark chocolate rather than the sweet stuff.
Into the green gaiwan the leaves go for their nice little bath! The aroma of the wet leaves is rather rich! Notes of malt and oak wood with a touch of peanuts and loam. Distant notes of flowers at the finish with a tiny touch of turnip greens. The liquid is a gentle blend of cocoa and sweet honey with malt and again a touch of flowers.
Whoa! That first steep is robust! It starts off a bit brisk while remaining smooth, a good first thing in the morning tea, will wake you up without kicking your stomach in the process. The taste starts off malty and blooms into an almost coconut milk sweetness and creaminess, toss in some cocoa and honey and well, yum!
The second steep’s aroma is rather diminished from the first steep, only mild notes of flowers and malt remain. The taste is also kinda diminished, but still tasty, notes of malt and creamy sweetness with a touch of cocoa are what stand out, with a tiny mineral and floral taste at the finish. This is a great first steep, with the later ones had more staying power, but eh, sometimes just one steep is not a bad thing. Still trying to find out what memory that smell is evoking, the brain is strange sometimes!
Recently I placed a What-Cha order for myself, and one of the things I was looking for was a Houjicha to stock up since it’s one of my favourite kinds of green tea and while I currently have a Genmaicha stocked that I really like there’s a hole in my cupboard where a good Houjicha should be. This one comes from Australia, and personally I’ve never tried an Australian grown tea before though I was aware that they were produced. Australia is one of those regions that isn’t typically thought of as a tea growing region among people who aren’t more learned tea drinkers the same way people don’t realize tea is grown in places like Kenya or Hawaii and I’m very excited to get my first taste of an Australian tea, especially considering how affordable this blend was. It was an easy thing to gamble on.
I do think this was worth the gamble. While it’s not as straightforwardly roasty as I tend to prefer from a good Houjicha there are some very, very nice subtle nuanced flavour notes that more than makes up the different. For starters, there’s an interesting nutty notes that seems to make itself known in each part of the sip in a different way. With that first initial taste it’s light lightly toasted nuts, and then in the body it weaves in and out between the other flavours. In the aftertaste, you’re tasting the shadow of the nut flavour which once was.
There’s also some really nice sweeter notes like caramel and cocoa which gently stretch out across the surface of your tongue, creating this really nice, smooth body flavour. The finish is lightly smokey, and leaves you wanting to go back in for another sip so you can experience the flavour dynamics all over again. Overall it’s a very warming and welcoming cuppa.
I definitely think I’ll clear my purchase of this easily, and will probably go back for more after that. More than that, this only gets me even more excited to try more of what Australia has to offer!
What an interesting tea this is. I have to say I’m never disappointed with the products I select from What-Cha! Even when they aren’t teas I would select for another purchase they are always such high quality and always worth a try.
This is one of those teas which I wouldn’t consider for a large purchase, but that I’m very glad I had a chance to try. It has a very unique flavor. Smooth and mellow, a bit fruity and a little bit of liquor. No astringency at all. A bit light for my personal taste but I did enjoy my cup.
Flavors: Alcohol, Brandy, Fruity
Fish and I just made the best Chicken Soup! We decided to combine our different styles of soup and specialties, he sauteed the chicken and onion garlic blend, and cooked the beans, I was in charge of the root veggies (the store was out of ruttabagas, and sadly we ran out of carrots) the broth, spice blend, and the surprise. I call it a surprise because at the last minute I wanted dumplings (not dumplings really, but dumplin’s) but have never made them gluten free, so I winged it and they turned out awesome! Not to toot my own horn, but I seem to be really getting the hang of baking gluten free and adapting recipes, there is a lot of trial and error, but the ratio of edible to utterly gross baking creations is mostly edible. Man, this soup is good, I am on my third bowl!
It is Wednesday (I think, my sleep schedule has gotten weird, I ended up staying up 24 hours again and sleeping for a couple hours…hmmm) which means it is a What-Cha day! Making my way through my notebook and the adventure of trying to taste all their teas brings us to Yunnan Silver Needle White Tea. Good old Dian Yin Zhen, like Fujian silver needles, but with a distinctly Yunnan quality and smokiness. The aroma is not really sweet, it is a savory tea with notes of smoke, tomato leaves, lettuce, sauteed bok choy, and a touch of fresh tomato as well. At the finish there is a tiny touch of smoked peaches that adds a hint of sweetness, but only a hint.
I decided to do a psuedo-western bowl steeping kinda thing for this tea, brewing it in my green gaiwan for a long time (7 minutes if you are curious) because I kinda love the way silver needle really shows off with longer steeps. The aroma of the leaves is very savory, bok choy and tomato, smoke and mineral, cedar and a touch of peach at the finish. The liquid is lightly smoked peach (think a grilled peach) with a touch of tomato leaves and lettuce and a tiny finish of distant floral.
The tea is very smooth and smoky, it starts out with sauteed bok choy and hay with a touch of tomato leaf. This moves on to delicate cedar notes that start off mild and build to a sharp cooling sensation that feels like it goes all the way to the tips of my fingers, gotta love that distinct Yunnan cooling sensation. The finish is mild peach and honey sweetness that mixes with the cooling cedar for a very refreshing end.
I went for a second much longer steep, the aroma is much sweeter, less smoke and more peach. The taste can be summed up the same way, but with an extra boom of cedar and now camphor for a peachy resinous cooling tea with a slight smokiness to it. The finish is delicate honey and distant flowers. Yunnan silver needle is a unique tea, if you were expecting the more familiar taste profile of a Fujian silver needle, you will be a bit shocked, but pleasantly so, especially if you are a fan of Sheng Puerhs and Yabao.
I was pretty ill over the last 6 months. During this time I had this tea waiting to be reviewed but never got to it. Sorry What-Cha. So, I pull it out today, took pictures for the blog, but all the time I had decided this one was just for the love of tea. I just wanted to enjoy the look and the smell of the leaf. To watch the dance, and breath in the brewed aromas. To taste like it was my first cup. Lately I have forgotten how to just let the tea take me on a journey.
It is a good thing I went in with this attitude as this tea is no longer available and may never come back. Well poo. Not sure if I’ll go ahead with a blog post or not. Either way, I really enjoyed the trip.
The dry leaf is really dark for a green tea. It is lightly twisted and curled. It smells leafy and loamy with some tobacco notes, and an earthiness to it that made my mind briefly envision puerh.
I steeped in my clear glass teapot so I could watch the dance, and dance it did. Some leaf stubbornly clung to the surface while others white knuckled the bottom. It reminded me of school kids at a first dance – boys on one side and girls on the other. The brave leaf that did dance, swirled with abandon and glided about, occasionally tapping one of the clingers and dragging them to the dance floor. Thank you for the dance.
The wet leaf is large broken pieces that become green and revived. What really struck me as unexpected was the wet leaf scent. I can think of no other way of describing this. It is the aroma of a filtered cigarette. Not the nasty ash kind but the sweet and fragrant kind. I have never been a smoker, but there are certain brands that from a distance I enjoy the scent of in the open air – for a brief period. This is like the that.
The liquor is a beautiful mix of honey and orange in color. The taste is… oh yes this is green tea. It is sweet with a solid bite. Underneath is a subtle smoky note that is welcome. It is not like the wet leaf scent, and not like a camp fire. It is a roasted kind of smoky. This is also quite crisp. The aftertaste is sweet with a light fruitiness.
Glad I got to try this one.
This sipdown was actually a bit of a let down; I decided to try something difference I’d cold brew the last two nettles – though not the full 25 oz. I normally do because that’d be quite watered down. Instead I did about 14 oz. but sadly it still tasted very weak. Like, very filtered, slightly peachy spring water? It was a sad experience. I may very well revisit this tea though because I found both hot times I drank it were really quite wonderful!
In other news; I got trained in another area at work today! I’m now going to be doing the ordering for all of the chocolate bars/gum/batteries faced in my department which is a pretty much daily job. I definitely feel good about the fact I’ve been getting increasingly more responsibility at work and more recognition at work, though it does kind of suck my job ‘title’ hasn’t changed and none of these new responsibilities have come with an increase in pay…
Still, praise/acknowledgement feels nice.
This is a queued tasting note.
Earlier near the beginning of the month we had the monthly ‘engagement meeting’ at work which of course, as my departments rep, I had to attend. Despite the content discussed at the meetings themselves, they’re actually fairly low-key and I love getting to learn about the different departments and how they’re run, as well as just hanging out with all of the department reps each month. It’s a fun time. Genuinely.
Each month one of us brings food as well – generally something relating to our department. This month Jillian, one of the two dietitians, provided food: a lovely mango/cucumber and red onion salsa and chips made out of beans. “Dietitian approved”. While it’s no cheesecake (which is what I brought last time) it was delicious.
And speaking of food/beverages – each meeting we get free coffee made for us by the coffee bar but I don’t drink coffee! Not a drop – the last time I had an actual cup of coffee was (I’m pretty sure) my 20th birthday when my manager bought me one as a birthday present and I drank it so as to not be rude. So I decided to ‘one up’ the coffee drinkers and bring tea. I brought some of DAVIDsTEA’s Movie Night for anyone else who wanted some – there were a few takers. This is what I brought for myself – and I have to say I had a fun few minutes talking to people and explaining why it didn’t look like any tea they’d ever seen before.
I did enjoy two good infusions of this during the meeting; I could have made more but getting up multiple times to do so probably would have been at least a little frowned upon despite the ‘casual’ feel of these meetings. Even though everyone’s having fun there’s still lots of work to be done!
Sadly, I couldn’t devote my full attention to the tea as I was taking minutes in addition to just contributing – so there were moments I was sipping without noticing anything. At the end of the meeting I had that feeling of drinking really good tea but not recollecting anything about it. Thankfully, my tea obsessed self made time to write a few things in the margins of the meeting’s minutes. So, in order of what I wrote and word for word:
- Apricot notes
- Honey finish
- A nice ‘fog’/malt/cream to it
- Taste & mouthfeel
- Reminds me of a good white tea; White Rhino?
- (A drawing of ‘The Rhino’ from Spiderman)
Can’t believe I’m the first to review this one…
This is a very cool tea; and while I don’t know for sure that’s it’s unique to What-Cha I’ve personally never seen another oolong rolled like this. When I opened up my sealed package I was quite surprised too; the ‘nettles’/spears of tea are actually quite large and thick – maybe about the length of my pinky finger? And just slightly thicker across than the widest part of my finger. For my tasting, I used two of the nettles/spears since the suggested measurement was 1-2 pieces and I was using a mug just slightly bigger than 12 ounces.
The first infusion was very soft and delicate, like a very lightly oxidized oolong but with flavour notes traditionally found in white, oolong, and black teas – exactly like What-Cha describes in the tea description! The notes I observed throughout the cup were apricot, overripe peaches, hay, flowers, malt, and a dewy/rainwater like flavour. The emphasis was on the really supple stonefruit notes though. It also surprised me a little that the nettles stayed almost completely the same shape as they were before steeping – just slightly ‘swollen’ from steeping.
The second infusion was quite similar to the first – though the apricot, hay, and malt notes all got increasingly more prominent and I wasn’t tasting overripe peaches or the same ‘dew’ flavour anymore. The mouthfeel was initially soft, but it left a tingly feeling on my tongue like I’d eaten too much pineapple recently. All subsequent steeps followed the layout of this one up until the flavour started to really suffer. The nettles never really completely unwound, either.
This was a fascinating tea, and I really enjoyed it quite a bit! However, that said, the first infusion actually was my favourite. There was something really perfect about the taste of apricot and fresh rainwater. It’s hard to put it into words.
The uniqueness of this oolong (and some of the others I’ve recently tried) just makes it even harder for me to believe that people can completely rule out this tea type as one they’re interested in.
Sorry VariaTEA I mean, you seriously can’t find a niche you’re interested in? Oolong tea is just so diverse!
Flavors: Apricot, Flowers, Hay, Honey, Malt, Peach
Oh what a gloriously lazy day it is today, very cool and rainy, perfect for lounging in comfy clothes and reading. Or playing Minecraft. Or painting…one of these things I plan on doing this evening, possibly all three. So far my day has been filled with sleeping in (because with a day like this it is practically mandatory) and a combination of baking and cleaning the kitchen, hooray for productivity.
Today is the last of the What-Cha teas from my butterfly notebook, from here on out it is the Japanese block print notebook and the silver snake notebook…and whatever others I fill up in the future. Specifically the tea is Fujian Narcissus ‘Shui Xian’ Wuyi Rock Oolong Tea, one of my favorite of the Yancha or Rock Teas from Wuyi, the first one I ever tried is not surprisingly the one with the biggest place in my heart. The aroma of the curly leaves is a gentle char, with an accompaniment of richness! Strong notes of chocolate, cooked plums and cherries, cooked cream (not quite as sweet as creme brulee, but in that same vein) and a finish of loam. Over all of these notes is the char notes, it hangs over it like a foggy morning after a bonfire in autumn. Very comfy and nostalgic smelling.
Into the Yancha pot the tea goes for its awaited steeping, and well, it is almost too good for words! Sometimes Yancha just blows my mind and instead of perceiving aroma notes I just get explosions of color in my mind and melt into a state of bliss in my chair. I will try my best to give a description and not just a pile of maniacal giggles though! Notes of char, raw honey, cocoa, autumn leaves, and wet slate waft up out of my teapot, it is like a fuzzy warm robe for my nose (and this is not even a Da Hong Pao…that pun was painful, I am sorry y’all.) The liquid is creamy rich sweetness, raw honey and plums with chocolate and bonfire. Think both charcoal and burning leaf pile, it is lovely!
First steeping! Does this tea hold up to its powerful happy smell? You betcha! The mouthfeel is smooth and thick, bordering on soupy, the taste starts off with char and grilled plums and peaches, this moves on to a burst of dark chocolate and loam, the finish is wet slate and a touch of distant floral that lingers in the aftertaste.
Second steeping. Oh, I got lost in this tea, my notes are all sideways and there is no third steeping note, just the word yum. Real helpful me! The aroma is so rich and sweet, plums and chocolate, loam and fire, with a finish of honey and distant flowers. The mouthfeel is a little sharper with this steep, and the taste is delicious! Grilled plums and char, a touch of peaches and dried cherries as well, then moving to dark chocolate and pecans, with a finish of loam and slate. This tea had a lot of stuff going on, unlike most Shui Xian I have had, this one is lighter on the char and with more fruity and cocoa notes, I feel like I could taste the tea over the char! It is one of the best examples of Shui Xian I have had.
Ah, today is a good day, Minecraft TU 25 is finally out, meaning we who play on the console finally inch closer to the PC version. Pros and cons, yay for finally having stained glass, I was immensely excited for the building potential presented with all the colorful glasses, especially when combining them with stained clay (my weakness.) Sadly the hinted at new biomes, all the flowers, and bunnies were not added with this update which is causing a massive wave of disappointment with the console players. Hopefully the next update will bring them out, I am craving the Ice Spike biome something fierce! I am wondering if they decided to do a small updated in time for Minecon, if so, I am ok with lots of small updates rather than months between big ones.
In grand traditional fashion, it is Wednesday, so time for a What-Cha tea! Flipping through my notebook I notice I am starting to run out of tea notes, le gasp! Clearly a shopping trip will be in my future, conveniently looking at the website I just noticed a ton of new teas, which is awesome. Today’s tea is Georgia Old Gentleman Black Tea, from the Nasakirali Village in Georgia, handmade by Iuri, who I am assuming is the old gentleman this tea is named for. The aroma of the lovely dark curling leaves is sweet, with notes of tobacco and cherry wood, a lovely fruity tobacco reminding me of my dad’s pipe tobacco. Add in a touch of smoke, delicate honey sweetness, and a tiny hint of cocoa and you have a very pleasant smelling tea. Honestly the aroma is nostalgic, like the smell of a pipe being smoked in a library, it gives me the warm fuzzies.
After giving the leaves a steeping, the now quite plump leaves have become malty and brisk, with notes of oak and cherry wood, raisins, and a tiny hint of citrus peel. It is very livening, and just a little bit sweet. The liquid is very rich, I was surprised, expecting a brisk aroma, but it is intensely rich with notes of pipe tobacco, cherry wood, a creamy sweetness with a finish of malt and raisins.
So, this cup has a lot going on, it is very rich, starting out with raisins and pipe tobacco with just a gentle hint of smoke, This transitions to a midtaste of citrus and malt, giving it a slight brisk and sour taste, this fades to a creamy sweet finish of cocoa. Amusingly the aftertaste was brisk with a slight dryness and a lingering taste of citrus. I found this tea enjoyable, it has a nostalgic feel and a complex blend of notes, plus the briskness was a perfect amount for me, not too intense, just enough to liven up the senses.
Finally managed to get around tasting this magnificent tea, on a lazy, warm, late afternoon. Just the smell promised a treat, and a treat it was…
The taste was fruity but tender, with hay notes present during every infusion. Speaking of, with my Gong Fu powered Gaiwan I managed to get 10(!) whole infusions before losing that precious taste. Sweet!
Gaiwan 100 ml, 3,33g for 5/10/15/20… sec @ 82°C
Flavors: Fruity, Hay, Pear
So, this was supposed to be posted yesterday, but I was super busy, swamped even, with deciding what I am doing with my life. No really, yours truly might be going on an epic adventure pretty soon! No spoilers yet, because I do not have all the details and such, but I can safely say I am excited and a little scared. Unless something goes drastically wrong (like my computer explodes again) it won’t affect the blog long term, there might be a week or so where I don’t update, but I will be sure to let everyone know ahead of time.
Since I missed my What-Cha Wednesday review, this will be a rare What-Cha Thursday! Today it is time to revisit the country of Malawi with Malawi Bvumbwe Handmade Treasure Black Tea, I was really blow away by their Antler and Peony White Teas, so I am super excited to dive into the Satemwa Estate’s Handmade Treasure Black Tea. For a while I was rather apprehensive about trying new black teas from Africa, a few nasty run-ins with some particularly dirty tasting Kenyan black teas unfairly soured me on the whole continent for a while. Really, quite narrow minded of me, but they were really gross. Anyway, onto more pleasant things, like these lovely twisted dark leaves! The aroma is pretty rich, blending notes of an oak brandy cask with roasted peanuts and yams, and a touch of loam and spice. Something about the way this tea smells reminds me of home, not any homes that I have lived in, but a feel of ‘home’ yes people, this tea smells like a concept to me.
After steeping the leaves (they get rather huge post steeping) and giving them a good sniffing, I am pleasantly surprised by the fruity notes that have now shown up. It has the oak wood and slight earthiness of the dry leaves, but now with a blend of cherries and orange zest with a hint of cocoa, oh yeah, and a spice finish. A little like allspice and a little like nutmeg, with a faint sweetness to go with it. The liquid has a lot more of the spice notes, definitely allspice with pepper, and a tiny hint of nutmeg. There are also strong notes of cocoa and cherry, with just a delicate hint of orange zest and distant flowers.
The tea has a definite briskness to it, and is quite bright, the texture is light and it really livens up the mouth, kinda like liquid sunshine for a morning wake up, without being really overbearing. I am really picky about how brisk and astringent I like my black teas, and not just because they tend to give me a belly ache, I find when they are really intense they are just too overbearing, much like some people find mint too much or flowery teas. I like my black teas (more traditional western style ones, not the delicate Chinese reds) to have just a little bite to them. The taste is both robust and sweet, blending creamy notes of cocoa (bordering between milk and dark) and peanut butter, with earthy notes of sweet potatoes and woody notes of oak. The finish is a delicate mix of cherries and orange zest with a citrus aftertaste that lingers. I feel this tea has the potential to be a really iconic morning tea, proving once again that the Satemwa Tea Estate has some mad skills.
Got this as a 10g sample from What-Cha. This is the first pu’er I’ve ever tried that didn’t smell like tobacco and/or seaweed. It smells like wet grass. Just shy of 5g of tea, gongfu, 200 degrees, two short rinses. First steep 10 seconds. Deep amber liquor. Aroma is moving beyond wet grass into something else. Hay maybe. I taste grass, hay, kale, greens, and pepper. Well, at least I can now say I tried a pu’er that didn’t taste like cigars!
So I am brewing this tea in less than optimal conditions, at work, with hot water provided by my Keurig (192 degrees I think) and steeped grandpa for 3 minutes. The dry leaf smells of cocoa, which is quite pleasant. The liquor has a lovely amber color and the cocoa aroma is still there. After 3 minutes the flavor is weak, so I’m turning over my hourglass brewer for another 90 seconds. Much better. Very robust, sweet, smooth, chocolatey, and not a hint of bitterness. Lovely! Will have to try this gongfu style and see what the tea reveals.