This milk tea was in the mini-fridge in my hotel room, which I’ve never had problems with before, but this one must have gotten too close to the freezer box because it was frozen almost completely when I took it out for lunch today. I love a good taro milk tea slush, but trying to drink it out of a bottle is impossible! It’s slowly thawing, so I’m now getting a nice mix of slush and liquid, but I kinda just want to drink it, heh. I guess it’s delayed gratification for my last taro milk tea!
1221 Tasting Notes
The day has come… my last day in Beijing! I guess that’s not totally true since I will have an afternoon here after I return from Mongolia and before I leave for the States, but tomorrow morning, very early, I am leaving for Ulaanbaatar for about a week. I kind of doubt my hostel room will have a hot water pot like my hotel here did, so I don’t know how much tea I will be drinking in the next week. So I may be very scarce around here for a little while! After my last bottle of milk tea at lunch, that is. :D
This is the fourth and final flavor of bottled milk tea from Wahaha. I’ve had it once before but didn’t review it then. As far as I can tell this isn’t a jasmine green milk tea, but rather a black milk tea with added jasmine flavor.
The jasmine is distinct but not overwhelming here, like most of the other flavors I’ve tried. It even tastes a bit “green” in spite of itself. It’s a kind of fresh jasmine flavor that I’ve encountered a lot in jasmine greens here in China, which is to say it’s slightly different from jasmine greens I’ve had in the States in a way I can’t really describe. It is very tasty, though. I can’t say I’d grab this one over the plain or osmanthus flavors, but I like them all about the same (but not the taro, of course. Taro wins everything).
Yup. Not a lot to say about this one that I haven’t said before, but it had definitely become my go-to tea.
Also, I posted another trip report from Maliandao in the discussions if you’re interested and you haven’t wandered over there already.
Oh taro milk tea, you really are the best. In all the grocery stores I’ve been to around Beijing, I’ve only ever found it in the one inside Xidan Joy City, a big mall. I go past it on occasion, but not very often. Thus I haven’t had this in a while and I forgot how delicious it is. I wish taro was more common as a flavoring in the states!
Oh, it’s morning again. It always seems to come too early no matter how early I go to bed. :P This morning I used the gaiwan and made like the people in the tea malls for tastings… that is, I did a number of short steeps but dumped all of them into one vessel. The result is definitely very tasty, and fairly similar to basically drinking each successive gaiwan steep. As such, even though I end up with a cup of tea that looks the same as “western” style steeping, the taste is definitely different. An interesting experiment, and one I am excited to try with other teas at home!
Today I am brewing this basically gong-fu style in a gaiwan. I’m not sure if people usually do that with jasmine teas, but that’s what I’m doing. My first use of a gaiwan, and hey I’m actually pretty good at it! I don’t even need an easy gaiwan like I thought I would.
Brewing this gongfu (high leaf:water ratio, short time) is really interesting, and it brings out other flavors that I haven’t tasted before. The jasmine is floral but… different in some ineffable way. I don’t know, but it is tasty. It’s also a little sweeter, a little fresher tasting. The first two steeps seemed pretty similar, but I also concentrating very much on the tasting, I just wanted some tea this afternoon. It is amazing how good this loose tea from the grocery store is… it makes me want to go pick up 50g of their high grade tieguanyin just to try it out!
Ok Steepsterites, I finally made a trip yesterday to the Maliandao tea street! I wrote up a very long report over in my “Beijing Tea Travel” post on the discussion boards.
So why am I not drinking one of my new teas or at least using one of my new teawares? Well, I spent all day outside today and I am sunburned and I wanted a cold tea. So I grabbed this one out of my fridge. I bought this one recently because I do love floral things even though I’ve never really been head over heals for osmanthus. I find it to be a pretty subtle floral. That is the case with this tea, as well, which tastes mostly like the original flavor but then there is a light floral note. It’s rather pleasant, actually, though if I’m not paying attention I could almost miss it. But I often find that that’s osmanthus for you! At least it is for me.
Today I tried to room-temp steep this by throwing some leaves into the bottle of water that I usually take with me to work. Let’s just say, it didn’t turn out well. Who knew a cold steep could be so bitter! I definitely need to go for far less leaves, I guess. I’ll try again next week.
But now I’m having this one hot again with dinner. It really is lovely, and oh so smooth. It’s just such a pleasant tea to drink, though I can’t see myself craving it and I think I would get bored of it, too, if it was the only thing I had. I guess I just crave more variety!
I had a bottle of this once before but didn’t get around to writing a note for it then. This is the “original flavor” milk tea, that is, basically unflavored. I remembered that the last time I was in China on a trip (2004), almost all of our bottled water was from this company, Wahaha, and it said that on the bottle in letters (not just Chinese characters). I will always remember one of our Chinese colleagues one time saying “Wahaha… the sound of children laughing.” Oh, Wahaha, you take me back.
Anyway, I enjoy this milk tea a lot. Not quite as much as the taro but not much beats taro. Actually there is a flavor to this that is similar to the taro (not surprising, since that one should have the same base as this), but I had thought that it was not just black tea, milk and sugar. Either the milk is slightly flavored with something else or the black tea is really tasty. I will never know! Oh well, I can definitely say I will miss this when I leave China. But it’s probably good, because I would probably gain 500lbs drinking this sugary rich drink all the time. :D
Yesterday I finally bought some other tea. I had been resisting until I make it to the tea market, but I don’t know exactly when that will be and I am tired of drinking the same tea day in and day out. So I bought some loose tea at the Carrefour (mega grocery store). I don’t know what brand this is, if it’s even listed, and I don’t have the energy right now to try and figure it out. I am so stressed about things at work back home right now, but being 12 hours off means that right now it is the end of the day there even though it’s the beginning of my day… which means I get to stew about my problems for at least 12 hours before anything happens with them. Guh.
At least the tea is tasty. This is a jasmine tea that translates to something like “Dragon Strip” or something. The leaves are nice and long with a few bits of flowers here and there. I let the just-boiled water cool for 4 minutes in my kettle before I steeped it. The resulting tea is sweet and jasminey, with a kind of robust green tea backdrop. Definitely tasty, and I’m glad I have it around. Now if only it would relax me enough that I will actually be able to get work done today instead of worrying all day… :P
Even though my head cold is next to gone these days, this morning I had some uugghh tummy troubles, no doubt from something I ate last night. I’m actually fine now, but I decided to brew up a cup of this to have with lunch anyway just because it’s soothing and pleasant and tasty. I added honey, which helps mask the flavor of this tieguanyin that I am tired of drinking but have so much of. Seriously, why on earth did I buy 100g of this? Clearly it was some misguided feeling that I had to, or something. I think I could have asked for less, but language barriers. They suck.
With this morning’s cup of this blend, I threw in a scoop of the dried jasmine buds I got at the store. I have to say I’m a little disappointed! This isn’t nearly as jasminey as I had hoped… in fact, the added flavor doesn’t seem like jasmine to me at all, just some kind of odd, earthy floral. Maybe I need to just do jasmine and tieguanyin without the rose and see how it plays out.
I am a sucker for pretty packaging, which is why I picked up this bottled tea in the grocery store the other day. Also the grocery store also labels things in (really small) English, so I knew this was a jasmine tea.
This has an odd taste that I can’t put my finger on. It was in my fridge, and thus pretty cold, but it almost tastes like ice, if that makes sense. Like jasmine ice. As it warms to room temperature, it tastes more like a standard jasmine green, but it’s still oddly “frosty”. I’m not sure where this flavor is coming from, and it’s not bad, but it’s unexpected. All and all a pretty decent bottled jasmine tea, but that weird flavor might keep me from returning to it.
Good news, guys, I got myself some Claritin (or “Clarityne” as they say here) and I am definitely feeling better. Not perfect, but much better.
This morning I made up the rose version of this tieguanyin, and I threw in some ginger for good measure. I didn’t taste much ginger (surprising with the amount I put in there), but that’s ok, it was all rosy and lovely anyway.
I haven’t had this plain since I first got it, mostly because I wasn’t that excited by it in the first place. I’m just not as much a fan of roasty teas, and this one is a roasty, more traditional tieguanyin, not a floral green one. How can two teas have the same name and be so different tasting? sigh For this cup I let the water cool (though I’m not sure to what temp), and I steeped it for only 2 minutes. The tea is perfectly fine tasting, but not very exciting.
Honestly I’m not sure that this note has much relevance because I can hardly smell anything right now. My congestion is one of the reasons that I haven’t tried to go tea shopping yet, because I feel like I won’t be able to taste anything properly. Hopefully it will clear up or I will find a remedy soon.
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!