148 Tasting Notes

87

Today I’m getting a lot more sweetness out of this sheng. It may be because I decided to wash it a bit more – 2 washes, 1st was 5 seconds, 2nd close to 10 seconds. Before I was really just getting smoky flavor out of this tea but on my 2nd kept steep I can actually taste some apricot and a little bit of cream. Of course, I discover this as I’m running out of this tea!

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100
drank Krampus Brew by Handmade Tea
148 tasting notes

Oh my gosh. Is this a genius level tea blend? My taste buds are saying yes. They are also mourning the fact that this is not permanently buy-able somewhere. This tea feels like it could wipe out the coldest day and make you feel toasty and snug and safe inside, parked in front of a crackling fire. I am also now asking myself why did I not open this sooner? Why?! I could have been enjoying it for the past two weeks!

The ingredients are perfectly blended, each one standing out on its own but not overpowering anything else. There’s a beautiful undertone of smoky gunpowder, a touch of clove and cinnamon, and then on top a bit of sweet and tart cherry.

I have a sudden urge to be like Oprah and just give this tea to everyone while going TEA FOR EVERYBODY!!! And you get one and you get one!

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 0 sec
Sil

Please do lol. I tried asking the other day about whether they had gotten any further in looking in to shipping to Canada since back in August they said they were but I never heard back. Sounds like a win this go round :)

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78

How has it been a week since I’ve posted a tasting note? I confess, my tea habits have been rather repetitive of late. I’ve been drinking Mandala Phatty cake, the last of my Fuhai ‘07 sheng from Verdant, David’s Orange Pekoe, and this breakfast. Okay, repetitive but satisfying!

This has a lovely toasty flavor and a spicy bite, a little bit of maltyness and very little astringency. Perfectly good without milk. Between the two black teas I picked up from David’s, I definitely prefer this to the Orange Pekoe but it’s still not a re-buy for me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good breakfast tea but not so delicious to me that I’d want it 5 days a week!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 30 sec

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72

I’ve been drinking a lot of regular ole’ black tea lately and decided to pick up an ounce of this on my way out of the mall (after I snatched up a Lupicia happy bag). My favorite for awhile now has been Harney’s Malachi McCormick, to the point where I’m thinking about just owning up to my love for that tea and getting a pound of it.

This is nice and unfussy, like basic black teabag tea but just not ground up and put in the teabag (which is probably exactly what this is). It’s got a nice astringency to it without being overpowering. This is not a kapow malt monster (which I like) but there’s a wee bit of malt to this as well. It’s good, but not something I’d drink on a daily basis for the price.

In other news, my boss offered me extra hours at the library this month until school starts again, and I’ll have TA work starting the 7th grading 25 papers a week until late March. It’s a nice start after the towing bill!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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87

First person to review this tea, woo! I picked up a sample of this from Upton along with a bunch of cheap green tea to make iced tea for the housemate (iced green is his new favorite).

This is really reminiscent of a darjeeling, just a hint of muscatel and lightly sweet. Slightly nutty and astringent. Still looking for more things like David’s Nepal Black but this is good!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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87

Hello Steepsters! It’s been a long time since I’ve had a chance to post (or read Steepster) and it’s good to be back. I survived finals and 6 days in Utah (oh the nose bleeds). The day we flew out I found out my car had been towed. Apparently if you park in the same spot for three days the city can tow you, even though there are no signs posted indicating this law (anywhere). Since we rarely drive, the car was in impound for 5 days before we realized it was gone, and the grand total to get it out was $968. Christmas almost didn’t happen but thankfully we have some amazing family and friends and just made our flight. Now it’s time to sell the car. ;)

I’ve had this and been drinking it for awhile, but I haven’t posted yet because I feel like I don’t have much to say about this puerh! It’s pleasantly smoky to me and a bit nutty, and definitely a high energy tea. I also get the back of the throat scratchy feeling with this one.

How was everyone’s holiday?

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec
Sil

Welcome back!

Bonnie

So sorry about what happened to you with the car!

Claire

It’s a total racket Bonnie! When we picked the car up no one else there knew about the law either, and I know it doesn’t cost nearly that much to tow and store a car. Unfortunately it completely drained our savings but my grandpa helped us with some of the money, and I’m taking an extra TA job for January through March. It stunk but we’re making the best of it!

Bonnie

When my mother-in-law died (I was married at the time) it was Thanksgiving and we had to go to Fairbanks Alaska from California in a hurry (-20 when the plane landed). We had to park one of our cars on the street in front of the house. The car was there more than three days and even though a neighbor told the police and tow truck that we were at a funeral, the car was towed. What a shock! They felt sorry for us when we returned and only charged us half price $600!

Claire

Oh my gosh that is awful Bonnie! We were really shocked at our tow too.

Bonnie

I totally sympathize! A racket for sure! Mine wasn’t even on a busy road or one with lots of cars.

Donna A

That’s a shame that this kind of racket is allowed! It would be different if there were signs posted. It’s not like most people would visit a state and read up on all their obscure laws prior to going!! Very unfriendly to tourists especially.

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95

Drinking phatty cake today while I agonize over finals. This morning shortly after breakfast my right eye started to twitch; this has happened to me before around finals times, and it means I am way too stressed! I figured that meant it was a good day to drink some good and calming puerh. Monday I have a 9-10 page paper due for my Shakespeare class, and I’m writing on devils and exorcism in Twelfth Night and King Lear. After writing five pages of that today I felt like I was ready for an exorcism myself. ;)

canadianadia

I hope the papers and the final writing go well and are over before you know it, so you can relax and really enjoy a well-deserved cup of tea without such stressful distractions.

Garret

Claire, you had me at “drinking phatty cake”! :) I am so happy you are enjoying that…. yes the eyelid twitching thing is no fun…. liver wind, as it is called in Chinese medicine, oft manifests as a twitching eyelid. Stress can definitely create such a situation. You are getting enough sleep, I hope??

Terri HarpLady

What a great topic for your paper! Hang in there Claire!

Claire

Thanks all! Garret – now you’ve got me wondering where the name liver wind came from! I try to get at least 8 hours a night, preferably more. I really can’t function without a lot of sleep! I am getting plenty, and working pretty steadily during the day. I think the stress comes from being a perfectionist about grades. ;)

Terri – I think it’s coming along pretty nicely. So far I’ve discussed the fool’s “exorcism” of Malvolio in the Twelfth Night, and some of the implications of Malvolio as devil possessed. I’m moving onto Edgar’s disguise as Tom of Bedlam which is a lot harder for me to wrap my head around. I’m trying to argue that when he tricks Gloucester into thinking he survived falling off the cliffs of Dover it’s a kind of metaphorical exorcism.
Oh, Shakespeare! So much fun and so much grief.

Garret

Claire… when there is heat or congestion in the liver, it needs to go some where. And just like heat rising up in a chimney, so too the heat in the body can travel upward. In TCM, the liver opens/manifests in the eyes and so frequently excess heat in liver will affect eyes. And so heat, in this case, is in the form of wind and will cause the eyelids to twitch – this is perhaps the more benign manifestation of liver wind. A bad case can be migrainous headaches, dizziness, convulsions and on and on… In the case of the slight eye twitching, it is frequently seen as a need for some detoxing of the liver. I’d try the juice of 1/2 a lemon in warm water in the morning 20 minutes before eating or drinking anything else. It’s mini-detox and stimlulator for the liver. Also – organic foods, less sugar and abstaining from alcohol/drugs for a bit can be quite helpful.

Claire

Garret – that is super interesting and thank you!

Terri HarpLady

When my son Leif (now 20) was in Jr High, he played Malvolio in the school play. :D

Claire

Lucky guy! :) Fun fact about Malvolio and Twelfth Night: during Shakespeare’s lifetime the play was commonly referred to as “Malvolio” even though “Twelfth Night” was the real title. King James’s personal copy of Twelfth Night still exists, and he actually crossed out the title and wrote Malvolio instead.

Terri HarpLady

I believe it! You’d have to know Leif to fully appreciate this, but he is a very straight laced guy, looks a lot like a young Robert Plant with long ring curls, but as straight as an arrow & as dry as a bone, personality wise. He had a lot of speech therapy when he was young, due to a verbal comprehension problem, so he has an amazing vocabulary (& isn’t afraid to use it), and speaks rather eloquently. He’s also very shy. So we were all quite amazed to see him come alive on stage, turning & addressing the audience like Ferris Beuller talking to the camera. We (his family) were blown away, as were his classmates, and he literally stole the show. It was awesome! I still feel proud!

Claire

That is awesome Terri, I bet you were so proud! Malvolio is a great character and it takes a good actor to play him. It sounds like Leif was more than up to the task. :)

I ♥ NewYorkCiTEA

A most interesting set of comments to read. Both b/c I love Shakespeare, esp King Lear, and b/c I found eastern medicine v interesting in my complementary and alternative medicine class in grad school.

Claire

chrine – I think King Lear is Shakespeare’s best play (my opinion). My final paper ended up discussing the nature of disguise as a kind of possession and accompanying exorcisms (Viola as “monstrous”, Edgar in disguise, the Fool in disguise exorcising Malvolio). I’m happy to say that the professor really liked it!

I ♥ NewYorkCiTEA

Sweet! I’m glad you did well on your paper. =)

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90
drank Blood Orange Pu-erh by Samovar
148 tasting notes

Who’s awesome? RAYN IS AWESOME!!!

Today Rayn gets home from work and says, “some strange boxes came for you at my work today”.
I respond with “that is odd, I’m not expecting anything right now”.
He opens up his wheelie suitcase and starts piling small boxes on the floor while saying “yeah, all this tea came for you for some reason”.
I stand there slack-jawed for a minute before I realize that they are Samovar boxes. And then it dawns on me that Rayn has brought home the Samovar celebration kit, and I didn’t ask for it. He just decided to randomly surprise me with about 2 pounds of tea from a local retailer that I love (insert excited exclamation points here). Do I have the best partner or what?

Another random tea moment happened on Saturday that made me realize how lucky I am. We were at his company’s holiday party, and around dessert time Rayn decided to get another drink, and asked me if I would like anything. I said a cup of tea would be nice. He asked “what kind?” I said black tea. He asked again, “what kind?” At this point I realized he’s learned enough about tea to know that “tea” is not specific enough, and neither is “black tea”. And while he does drink tea a few times a week, it’s always because I made him some.

Now onto this tea! I love blood oranges, and I’m learning to love puerh. I like the combination of both! I am smelling a vaguely fishy scent, but I can’t tell right now if that’s the tea or because I made prawn stir fry for dinner. I have to try this another night (a fair, non prawn dinner night) and see if I still smell it.
I LOVE the blood orange flavor in this. It’s not even remotely artificial, and really specifically blood orange and not regular orange. It’s slightly creamy and spicy, and the ginger and grapefruit in this really pops. I can’t taste much of the puerh when it’s hot, but as it cools I get a bit of damp earthyness.

Oh yeah, and here’s Rayn’s review: frowny face…“not my thing”. Guess you can’t please everyone. ;)

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec
Cavocorax

Well at least he tries it! My bf isn’t interested in tea at all, although he’s indulgent about my newest hobby!

Miss Starfish

Awww, that’s too cute!

Hesper June

What a sweetie!

Angrboda

How awesome!

Also, I’ve long held the belief that puerh and orange are just two flavours that go extremely well together. My Perfect Orange Tea is the orange flavoured pu-erh from Nothing But Tea. :)

canadianadia

Aww… What a thoughtful guy

Becky

That’s a lot of tea! I should come over and help you drink it.

Claire

Becky, yes you should!

Becky

I started thinking about maybe taking a road trip to SF during winter break, but we can’t afford it because of lolmas. Maybe after spring term or before fall term, though!

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96

Wow, Steepsters. Just wow. Garret very kindly sent me a sample of this, and I am completely floored. This is a 2012?! I’m not getting any bitterness from this, even at 205f. I’m certainly not a puerh expert, in fact I think I barely qualify as a “newb”, but I would be very excited to try this tea again in 5 years (and 10, and 15…). It’s subtly sweet, smoky, and almost creamy. Slightly reminiscent of a vegetal green but the smoky element really sets this apart.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec
JC

Do you know where the tea comes from? Lincang and Yiwu produce ‘ready-to-drink’ Puerhs that match your description. Sounds nice!

Garret

JC – I bought the material made in to this cake when I was touring dehong area in April 2012. Was enamored with it and for days I kept coming back to the samples of it and got continuous confirmation to do a pressing of it. It just made me feel good. Lincang was also an area where I spent several days and got the material for the “hear of the old tree” pressing that I did. I’m working on another pressing which will be a blend of several leaves from various places I visited in April. I’ve tweaked the combo of leaves over the last couple of weeks and the pressing should happen in the next week or so!

Garret

“heart” not “hear” of the old tree.

JC

Thanks for the answer Garret! That makes sense. Those areas produce very nice and ‘ready-to-drink’ Puerh. That new pressing sounds interesting!

Garret

JC… I don’t know if you are into ripe teas at all, but I am totally pumped about a ripe blend that I completed since my April trip. It is a combination of 4 leaves from Yong De (love it there) all picked and processed in 2011. The pressing finally happened and I am so pleased that pressed over 400 cakes of it. Also got 150 pounds to have as loose leaf here in the shop. I’ll have the loose leaf up online in the next week or so. The cakes are not ready to ship out of China yet so we will not see the bulk of them for some time. But… I had 10 of the cakes airmailed to me and they arrived yesterday. Fantastic! The clarity of the liquor and the lack of post-fermentation smell is boggling my mind. I am so happy about it that I am seeing if I can possible squeak anymore of the same batches of leaves to make one more pressing.

Garret

Sheesh, I get too excited, hit send and find out I should proofread… I meant to say “see if I can possibly squeak out anymore of the same…”

JC

Edit Version
Hahahaha! I was just thinking about Yong De, all that area (refering to Dehong/Lincang and vicinity) seems to produce a Burgundy ripe tea that is incredibly clean looking. I wonder if that is the reason why usually has some ‘juiciness’ to them.

I don’t have much experience with Puerh… yet. lol I’ve been drinking both ripe and raw for about 3-4 years now and I’m just amazed on how with some experience you can begin to understand the traits the tea will/might have just by knowing where it comes from. The way around as well. Puerh is a world of its own in my opinion.

JC

Same here I had to edit my comment and if I read it again I will find many other things to edit. New found and true loves are like that, they get in your brain.

Garret

In your brain, for sure, and more importantly, the heart :)

Yes… pu’er is a world unto its own… raw pu’er – one world. ripe pu’er – another world. I keep diving deeper and deeper in to each, a daily pilgrimage… you know what I mean, I can tell!

JC

You are very right indeed. Honestly, tea in general, but specially puerh has sparked all sorts of interest in me. As well as pursuit for knowledge. Puerh, in my experience so far, is very humbling. You slowly start to form an idea of what ‘composes’ the traits of a ripe/raw and then comes along a new one you haven’t tried yet to shatter (in the greatest of way possible) that ideal. It is like the teacher that presents you with a challenge and keeps you forever interested in a lesson.

Garret

Thanks to Claire for getting JC and I together in a conversation :)
Late night tea session here in MN, complimented by the musings of a fellow lover of the leaf! Tea keeps bringing great folks together!!!

JC

I drink to that! (A late night session in DC). Chá Dào

Terri HarpLady

I hope you all don’t mind my evesdropping, this has been an interesting conversation! I’m still new to Pu’er myself, but am loving it. Thanks for the review Claire, this sounds like one I’d like to sample as well. Garrett, the tea you’re describing sounds exciting, and I’m checking out your website!

Garret

Hi Terri! Eavesdropping… always an interesting word to me. And I’m glad you eavesdropped in! I’m glad you are getting interested in pu’er tea. I drink anything of camellia sinensis (if it’s good, that is), but pu’er is definitely my 75% of the time drink. Thanks for checking out the site, too… lots of changes coming for Mandala Tea as we move our headquarters to another city in a few short weeks, bring on a new biz partner and gear up for website changes, more travels to China for finding more raw material for or private label pressings and work hard to help others discover the joy of all things tea! I see you are a musician! Me, too! I have played drums and percussion and also voice for many years. Music and tea make for incredible companions!

Terri HarpLady

Hi Garret! Nice to meet you! Music is my life, and Tea has been a big part of that life. Between gigs, students, & CD sales I manage to make a pretty good living, and have lots of free time to sip tea in the process. I even wrote a song, “TeaMind”, (I also sing), that’s on one of my CDs.
I’ve had some really interesting experiences with Pu’er, which initially freaked me out a little, but I’ve been reading a lot of things, and am developing an understanding of Chaqi. I’m not new to energy work & movement, but I had never experienced the kind of sensations I was having from Tea! I’m looking forward to sampling some of yours!

Claire

I wandered away from the PC for a few hours and came back to some great comments and conversation. I love this community!

I’ve been sipping on the wild monk for most of the night now and it’s still fantastic, very calming for me. Perfect end to a long and tiring week.

Sil

Some day i’ll need to get in to pu’ers…

Garret

Yeah, Claire, see what you started? You’re like a little tea socialite, getting people together like this :)

Sil… pu’er is great stuff, but it is not everyone’s cup of tea. I’ve got so many friends and customers who never really get into it. Pu’er tea is definitely interesting stuff, but it is no king/queen of tea. Tea is no monarchy, rather it is a democracy and each person elects their favorite each time they reach into their personal tea vault. I love that I get to hold several elections every day!

I just encourage everyone to practice joy, no matter what tea they are into. With joy in mind, any cup of nice, well-prepared tea can take us on a journey deep within, get us closer to our friends, closer to the perfect and inspire our future successes.

white, green, yellow, wulong, black, pu’er – all are merely different paths up the same mountain. Drink up and LOVE what you love :)

Best of health to each of you!

Sil

Ill have to but you when I get into them garret and see what you recommend from your store :)

Claire

I love Rayn’s little “reviews” of teas, and I forgot to add his from last night! He took a sip and said “hay…smoke”. One more sip and then “a burning barnyard”.

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84
drank Golden Blend by Harney & Sons
148 tasting notes

Another little sample I had this morning in my to go mug, and I quite liked it! I really love Golden Monkey, but it’s not a tea I get often since it’s pricey, and I can drink all of it really fast when I do.

This was nice and robust thanks to the Assam, but not too strong to be drank by itself, sans milk and sugar. There was also a spicy note in this that I don’t typically associate with Assam or Golden Monkey, but it was nice. Just kind of like, interesting spicy flavor…I don’t recognize this…but not bad! I don’t think this is a blend I’ll get for every day, but I am continually impressed by the quality of Harney’s black tea blends for the price. The Malachi McCormick remains my favorite, and let’s be honest, it’s probably because Rayn is a McCormick. ;)

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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Profile

Bio

I mostly drink straight tea, and some of my favorites are green teas and oolongs. I almost always have some sencha and tieguanyin in my tea cupboard (and if I run out, awesome, an excuse to buy tea). I do like some flavored teas, but can’t stand really sugary stuff so if it’s very sweet I probably won’t like it. I can’t drink milk so all my reviews are of tea without milk and sugar!
I’ve been getting into puerh the last few months.

Outside of Steepster I’m an English Lit major, and will FINALLY be graduating after the Fall 2013 semester. After that I plan on applying for graduate school to obtain a Master’s in Library Science. Currently I work as a student assistant in the Archives and Special Collections department of my school’s library.
I also like reading (of course) and playing video games when I have time for them.

I’m happy to send samples to anyone in the US or Canada. Just ask. :)

Location

San Francisco, CA

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