2165 Tasting Notes
I discovered this bottled milk tea at the grocery store in Xidan Joy City the other day and snapped it up… I love love taro flavored anything, and especially taro milk tea which I usually get as a bubble tea. Maybe I’m overreacting but I am so in love with this bottled milk tea right now. I will be very sad when I can never get it back in the States. It’s milky and taro-y (which I always associate as kind of an almond flavor, but not quite), and the black tea (apparently a blend of Yunnan and Keemun) peeks through a little. I mean it’s not much but for me the star of the show is the taro so I don’t care. I have a bottle of regular flavor in my fridge so we’ll see how that goes, plus I found out that the green bottle is apparently jasmine so I am super excited to try that one too. When it comes to milk tea I am a girl obsessed, though I am sad to find that rose milk tea is not as prevalent around here as I had hoped (or at least, I haven’t found it yet).
At this point my sickness/allergies/reaction to pollution symptoms come in predictable waves… I have horrible coughing fits in the morning when I wake up, the middle of the day I often feel pretty good, and then night comes and my nasal passages close up completely and I feel generally like crap. Today I spent all day outside but a little ways outside the main part of the city, so hopefully the air was better there. Although I did pretty much confirm that the flowering trees are pretty much the only thing on the planet that I’m allergic to. Remind me to avoid Beijing in spring in the furture!
Today I used two lemon slices and it was almost too lemony! I think I’ll stick to one large or two small. I must have ended up with less ginger because I didn’t taste it as much, so I’ll try to remember to put more in. Added plenty of honey, too.
The air quality is supposed to be better today in Beijing (yesterday the air quality index was “Unhealthy”), so I’m hoping my lungs will get a relief.
I debated making a listing for this blend, but I figure I will likely be drinking it often while I’m here so I went for it. I went to the grocery store today, originally hoping to find just some bagged tea with lemon and/or ginger. Right when you walk in the grocery store, though, they have a ton of bulk loose green and oolong tea of various kinds, and while I was looking at what was available I realized that on the table there was also a ton of dried “mix ins” for your tea! All kinds of flowers, mostly, but also some herbs, goji berries, anise, etc. I picked up a bag of jasmine flowers to try, but I was most excited to see a lovely bag of dried lemon slices. Score! I couldn’t find any dried ginger so I picked up a fresh tuber. This cup of tea was made with a small scoop of the Wu Yu Tai Tieguanyin Third Grade, one large lemon slice, and about a half inch of ginger root. I also added honey for its throat soothing qualities. The result? Yummy! My random blending worked out. I could maybe go for a tad more lemon, but I can still taste it there no problem. The ginger is perfect. And it is soothing on the throat, with soothing vapors for my poor, battered lungs. This is definitely the fastest I’ve ever had a cough go from zero to very painful (1 day), and it probably won’t get any better until I leave Beijing and it’s pollution behind (a little over 2 weeks). So yeah, I’ll be brewing up this one often.
I feel like death warmed over this morning. I immediately caught some cold the first day I was in China, and it’s not improving so far. The fact that I don’t have easy access to western medicines I would normally turn to (omg I would kill for a cough drop) isn’t helping. Yes, there are places that sell western medicines, but there aren’t any around me and I don’t have the time or energy to go off looking for them. And it’s not like I can just waltz into a Chinese pharmacy and ask for cough medicine because I speak next to no Chinese. Trying to do that to find a decongestant got me some nasal allergy spray which is helping some but not exactly what I wanted.
Anyway, a cup of hot tea is helping a bit and I’ll probably try to go to the grocery store again and look for some others with some helping herbs. This tea isn’t as rosy today, or maybe I just can’t tell.
When I bought the tieguanyin from Wu Yu Tai, I also bought a package of dried rosebuds because why not? I love rose in tea, and I figured I could mix it with the tieguanyin to change things up. For lunch today I used one scoop of tieguanyin and one of rosebuds, and the results are awesome. The rose is very much prevalent but definitely not overwhelming, and it pairs very well with the roasty oolongy flavor of the tieguanyin. Every time I take a sip I am like “daaamn that’s good”. It’s like giving some florals to this oolong that it lacked in the first place, and because I feel like rose is such a “dark” and “rich” floral, it’s great with the darker oolong. A+ blend, self.
This morning I doubled up on the leaf (two “scoops”) and dropped my steeping time to only a minute to do kind of a semi-gongfu brewing. It’s more vegetal but also a little more floral maybe… it’s hard to pin down the difference, but it does taste different in a way that I like. But then that vegetal flavor gets too much for me, in a way that I don’t like. The second steep (same parameters) is sweeter but also kind of overly vegetal in almost a bitter way, which is definitely conflicting. Maybe I’ll try a scoop and a half of leaf next time to see if I can find a happy medium.
I just had to add a tasting note for this. I have an epic love for Dairy Queen Blizzards, but Long Island has absolutely no Dairy Queens so my intake is limited. Imagine my shock when I came out of the subway yesterday and found a Dairy Queen selling Green Tea blizzards. No way!! It blew my mind. Of course, I had to have one. I chose to get a green tea almond blizzard. From what I can tell, they used their regular vanilla soft serve, added a metric ton of powdered green tea, some very crunchy almond slices, and blended. The DQ there had a sign saying if your blizzard doesn’t get served to you upside down it’s free, and they definitely turn it upside down before giving it to you (only occasionally to you still find ones in the states that do that).
This thing was powerfully green tea flavored. I guess somewhat generically, though it did kind of remind me of matcha-flavored foods I’ve had in the past. After a while it was almost bitter despite the vanilla ice cream base. I could have done with maybe half the green tea powder and it would have been awesome. They have a green tea chocolate option and I’m wondering how that would be. Well I have plenty of time to try it.
Greetings from Beijing! Can you believe that I’ve been here for a day this is the first time I’m sitting down and having a cup of tea? I was just running about so much yesterday and never had time to stop and relax. So I’m having a few cups early this morning before I go do some research. One thing I did yesterday was hit up Wu Yu Tai, a tea store chain in Beijing, to get some tea I could drink in my hotel room (yay for electric kettles and tea cups provided). I went to their big store in the shopping area of Wangfujing, which was pretty busy. Iooked around for a bit then waited for someone to become available to help me. Of course they spoke almost no english, so I pulled out my iPhone with my “tea flashcards” I made to facilitate. First I asked for a gong fu black and struck out completely. Since I knew the kettle in my room was one-setting (and I’m not good at judging water temps), I wanted a tea that could stand up to boiling, so my next choice was a Tieguanyin. This one, of course, they had. They had a few different grades but the lowest was 500RMB for 500g, and since I just wanted something to drink every morning in my hotel I didn’t want to spend too much, so I went for that. If it’s the same as the third grade Tieguayin that’s on their website, I paid a premium for buying in-store, or at least that store.
This morning I brewed it up. The hotel provided me with two tea cups with lids, so I used one like makeshift gaiwan and decanted into the other one. It worked pretty well, but was also pretty messy, no doubt partly because I don’t have experience with a gaiwan and partly because it’s not a gaiwan (double wammy!). I guessed on the amount of tea to put in (one somewhat rounded teaspoon-y thing I got at the grocery store), so I look forward to playing around with amounts. Steeped, it was a fairly dark yellow-amber color and it smelled roasty and pretty vegetal. This is definitely a more traditional Tieguanyin as opposed to the more green ones I’ve usually had. The vegetal smell was a bit off-putting because it smelled like it might even be a bit bitter or too vegetal for me, but my first sip was smooth and not over steeped to my taste. Roasty, vegetal, without florals, not very buttery, this isn’t what I typically look for in a Tieguanyin, but it’s pretty tasty just the same. It just kind of seems like a generic “oolong” tea though. It will make for a good everyday tea while I’m here. The experience did reinforce that buying tea here is going to be difficult with the language barrier, but I will try my best!
I don’t know what I’m doing having a jasmine tea when I’m about to go be totally soaked in jasmine tea in China, but I still hadn’t tried this one from when I ordered samples from thepuritea a while ago, and I decided to open one of the pouches. These seem like pretty standard jasmine pearls and I admit I was kind of fooled into buying this sample because they list this as an oolong. Apparently the rolling causes some oxidation so that it can be considered a pouchong, so that’s why, but I had it in my head that it was more like a jasmine tieguanyin. Oh well, I’m always up for new pearls.
Steeped, this tea smells like a nice jasmine tea… very floral, but in a fresh flowers way, not a perfumy way. I have to say, this is a pretty tasty jasmine pearl! The tea is slightly sweet, smooth, and jasminey without being too strong. In fact I think it’s on the lighter side of things, flavoring-wise. I mean, the jasmine is definitely the main show here, the tea is just so so smooth that it seems like it’s less strong of a flavoring or something. It’s not mind blowing or anything, but it is a very nice, easy to drink tea.
After that last tea I wanted a black tea with a really, truly excellent base, and this is one of I think two that I have that fit that description (the other being Verdant’s Golden Earl). Not just a tasty base, but a base that would or is considered to be a high quality tea on its own. This base really reminds me of a Bailin Gongfu black. With tons MORE CHOCOLATE of course. Yum.