74 Tasting Notes
There was nothing on TV, so I decided to do a night of experimentation with tea.
The first was this – an Australian blend. I bought this today from an Aussie shop that’s right next to the place where I buy my clean water. (I did it on foot today, trying to build up my endurance.) Yeah… I’m kind of amazed how many different tea opportunities are open to me in my own backyard of San Jose. Looks like I got into a good passion.
So, yeah. Bought this, because I remembered someone I know in Australia offered to send me teas a while ago, though she never got around to it. Apparently, they do grow some black tea in Australia, so I decided to I might try some out. Unfortunately, it turns out this tea was grown in India, but I decided to give it a chance anyway – try out the tea tastes of the Outback, at the very least.
So, the leaves were extremely fine – really, a box full of fannings. Probably the smallest they could get it before being forced to put it in bags. Made it in a gaiwan, about half full. I would have used less leaf, but the box completely filled one of my biggest tins. Wasn’t expecting much of a good flavor, what with the obviously low-quality leaf, but it didn’t smell too bad.
Upon infusing… well, not bad. Bold – I’d say between English and Scottish Breakfasts, though I don’t have too much experience with those types of blends… Infused it three times, and it got progressively less enjoyable. Basically, all the good taste steeps out quickly, and the rest is the unpleasant flavors.
Though not a great tea, I am rather interested in exploring the Aussie tea culture. I’ll probably make more visits the shop in the future, though, what with import costs, everything is rather expensive. On that note, I should also look more into the UK’s tea cultures… I really haven’t paid much attention to these blends, as I’ve focused more on the teas from their source, and the countries that produce.
I’ve got a few things to research tonight, the first on the list is UK and AU tea styles.
Next up for review are an Herbal, a Pouchong, and a mystery oolong.
Man, I wish I could describe this tisane.
I wish I knew what it was, even.
I got it while visiting China, in Shanghai.
While touring the Yu Gardens – stunningly beautiful, and I don’t say that kind of thing often – and the guide took us up to a teahouse where they serve exclusive buddhist-picked teas (or something along those lines. I don’t recall all the information.)
All the teas had a number; I picked up #2 and 10. 10 was some sort of dried flower – chrysanthemum, perhaps. The other, 2… no clue. It’s green, with small leaves. I can’t tell what it is, because the containers are completely in Chinese.
In any case, I wrestled with the proper brewing of this tea for a while when I got back in April. Always came out EXTREMELY bitter, so I kind of gave up on it, and I’ve had the container sitting in my collection for ages. Yesterday, a friend came over for morning tea, and I decided to give it another try.
Realizing that any hint of heat gave it an offputting astringency, I decided to just put it in a gaiwan with some cool water. Wonder of wonders – absolutely delicious. I mean, I really wish I knew where to get more for when my stock runs out. Really refreshing – it felt as if the water actually got colder through brewing somehow… great stuff.
The taste is… well it tastes like somehting familiar, but neither my friend nor I could put our finger on it. In any case, flavor held out for several infusions, and the liquor had only a very slight green tinge in the water.
Something special, really. Love it.
Finally got water yesterday. Shwizam.
Was going to clean up and rearrange my tea room, but I ended up babysitting my 5-month nephew instead. Decided to turn him on to the Dark Side… (of the Moon). It’s pretty good babysitting music, actually – he fell asleep on my shoulder near the end of “Money”.
Onto the tea…
A Korean tea – I think it was relatively new when I bought it from the shop.
In taste, rather similar to Chinese tea. In scent, it’s identical. Kind of like a more refined Dragon Well, with a mild butteriness and a gentle flavor. Lasted well through four infusions.
Rather enjoyable. Nothing to fall in love with, but I could see a person having it as a daily tea. The flavor didn’t really jump out at me, but… wouldn’t mind having more on-hand.
So, to make up for my lack of description on the flavor, I’ll talk about the leaves – perhaps the best feature of this tea.
Dry, the leaves are tightly rolled, much like gunpowder, with a really… sexy glossiness. After steeping… I wish I had the equiptment to take a picture to show you guys. Maybe it wouldn’t excite you as much to see it, but it’s gorgeous. It’s this forest-green, twisty, seaweed, medusa hair, tangled mass of tea leaf beauty in my teapot.
If I met a woman with hair that looked like this, I would fall in love with her. She’d probably be a mermaid. A Korean one. Who lived in a sea of green tea.
Enough of my Pygmalion fantasies. Good tea. Buy it, if you get the chance. Though you probably won’t, unless you live near a Korean tea shop. Eh.
(Don’t swim away, Eun Jung… I’ll never oversteep your gentle locks…)
I made this tea with bottled water.
Nothing special about this cup, made it around 2AM. Of course, I mixed this with corn tea…
Know what? Forget the review of this tea.
Frustrated story time.
I’m having a small water crisis. All my jugs of clean water are empty, and I avoid using tap water for my good teas, because it ruins the flavor a bit. I also don’t like using tap water in my boiler
(this is it, by the way. Gorgeous machine, perfect element for my teatime)
The main problem here with getting more water is that, as I’ve mentioned in a previous log, my sleeping hours are way off. Because of this, I’m generally not up and awake until around 9ish (PM), when everything closes. This means I can’t get to the clean water store – very annoying. Especially when a gallon of water costs only 25 cents. And while they technically have slots outside that actually vend water 24-hours a day, all my water jugs are gross – one of them has green junk on the bottom.
So, the other night, ‘round midnight I believe, I put on my family’s kettle with some nasty tap water, with the intention of making the very tea I’m reviewing – the kernals, in fact, were in the cup. While I waited for it to boil, I sat down for a moment at the computer and tried out a flash game. Nothing special, but pretty fun, so I keep playing. Eventually, my sister, with her childbirth-enhanced sense of smell, calls downstairs and asks if something is burning.
So, I’m down a kettle.
Still wanted tea. So I put a bit of tap water in my H2O boiler thing… watching it slosh into my glass kettle, with all the stuff added into our water becoming increasingly visible… I just poured it all out, losing my entire appetite for tea.
The next night, (technically yesterday morning) I was getting bored sometime after the witching hour – watching late-night television and taking care of my decrepit dog so he doesn’t wake everyone else up can only hold me for so long – so I took a trip to get some food and spend some time in front of this fence. Yeah, a fence – I’m not going to explain the whole story, but it’s a really special spot for me. So, I consulted the fence for advice.
It told me, in short, to stop being so lazy.
When I got home, I wrote out a hearty “to-do” list for the day, though I had to wait until the world woke up to do anything. I had things, like “set up appointment at DMV”, “take donations to Good Will” and “contact Alex about gig with the newspaper”. I was going to keep myself awake, too, and maybe even get onto a normal sleep schedule.
In the end, I fell asleep around 4 while waiting for my mother to return with the car so I could do stuff, and I didn’t check a single thing off my list. Including number 2, “Get Water.”
I made this tea this morning, the kernals still in the cup from a previous night, with bottled water.
I’m hungry, and there’s nothing to eat in the house.
Very few places are open at 1AM, so I’m making tea, to curb my appetite.
This is probably the reason I’m so skinny.
A pleasant potful (consulted the dictionary, that actually IS a word), and it did what I needed it to do – make me not hungry.
So, cheap pu-erh is generally… kind of unpleasant. Weird smell, and the taste doesn’t really make up for it. The ginger and orange peel does a good job of making it more tolerable, though. Though the extra flavors are subtle, they do add a nice touch. I wouldn’t say this is a tea I’d use to impress guests, but for some reason I enjoy making a pot of this for myself.
I’d say, if you get the chance it’s worth a try. Probably one of those teas where you hate it, or you oddly like it.
I’ll probably have another tea tonight… I’m on a weird sleep cycle.
My hours are roughly 6PM – 10AM, and mostly for the sake of productivity as a writer.
For the past three days, I’ve been indulging in a small window of time at Peet’s Coffee and Tea, 5-7AM, when the atmosphere is just… perfect. Trying to get a certain poem written… Ah, as is the life, ya know?
Only real problem with this situation is that my 5:30-6AM “dinners” consist of a scone, a cappuccino, and a cigarette. (Yes, I’m aware of how unhealthy the entire thing is. Don’t need it to be reiterated, thanks.) But at five bucks, it’s hard for me to argue with – especially with my funds quickly waning.
So, enough rambling. I’ll try to get a serious review in soon.
Well, discovered an unopened packet of this the other day, and it turns out the expiration date in February, 2010. So, I’m trying to drink through it quickly.
I’m sure I bought this for some occasion a while ago, and completely forgot about it – oh well.
Brewed it in one of those three-piece cups (cup, infuser, lid), which I rarely use.
Kinda sketched out by the fact that it was kind of…foamy. Regardless, I took my chances with the rabies, and took a sip.
Nothing to write home about, and barely something to write Steepster about. The lychee flavor is really mild, and the oolong itself (as to be expected) was rather subpar.
The smell is kind of pleasant. Very understated hints of Lychee, which fortunately don’t bring my mind to the overbearing sweetness and texture of canned lychees…
As I mentioned, not much to say. I wouldn’t suggest going out any buying it, unless you’re planning on making tea for someone who’s crazy about lychee or something.
Was rather wary about this tea at first, but the employee in the store brewed me a cup, and sold me on it.
While I usually don’t like things flavored, and pu-erh is something I’d usually have straight, it’s a pretty good tea.
Though I’m sure there’s no justification for this, I used this tea to cure a headache. I think it worked. Nice and mellow, and at the very least a good alternative to soda.
I made a pot of it. Glad I did.
Don’t have much to say… in a weird mood.
Hey, remember me?
Yeah, I’ve been gone a while…
Busy with stuff:
Moving back home, being a new uncle, trying to write enough so I don’t look like a COMPLETE drain while I take a semester off college, taking care of an aged dog, reconnecting with people, seeing an old friend for the first time, co-owning a hookah…
Oh, and my laptop is broken. Need to send it in. Been like that for a while… (on my father’s computer)
So, now I’ve pissed away a lot of money (much of it to a good cause), and I’m connecting with the kid pretty well. “The Kid” being my nephew, not a child of my own. And I’m thinking about some literary career options – wish me luck.
(a little more life blabbing, though)
When I got home, and finally sat down for tea in my tea room, the first thing I said to myself was,
“It’s too cluttered.”
My sister is moving back home with the kid, and tomorrow (or, rather, today) she’s moving her furniture back home, into the garage. When that’s all taken care of, I’m going to see how much space is left for me to move any extra tables from my tearoom out… blah! The clutteredness (amongst other things, obviously) is keeping me from spending too much time with tea…
So today (getting to the tea tasting, I promise)
I was in Puripan, and they’ve had all their tea sets on sale since the holidays. Finally decided to buy one. So, with the 40% discount, and a $40 gift card, an $80 set ended up costing $12 from my pocket. Woo!
So, the tea:
Very pleasant. Marvelous. I used my new set for the first time, and made sure to clean it thoroughly with hot water when I washed the leaves, because the chick at the store gave me the set that was on display. Brewing went very well – I got three solid infusions, and luckily my tea brewing skills haven’t atrophied from disuse. I could have pushed more, I’m sure, but I found myself very content at that time, and seeing as the set, tray and woonsan I was using were all Korean made, and three is a lucky number in Korea (or so I’ve been told by the store’s Korean manager), I decided to let things work out that way.
Good tea, good tea. Glad I bought it, in the long run – Great when I want a nice, elegant tea moment, and I’m not trying to impress anyone, and I don’t need an amazing, expensive tea.
So, if you’ve bothered to read this far, I’ll treat you to a description on the tea set as well!
Very simple set: three cups, a pot, and a decanter. The pot and decanter are both solid cylinders, the latter having no handle – it’s basically just a tall bowl with a lip for pouring. The handle on the pot is a long, smooth round thing, that comes out from a 90 degree angle from the spout, as you find on many Korean and some Japanese infusers. It’s a thick clay material, brown – almost ugly. I prefer the term rough.
I had the choice between this set, and an identical one in a smooth, turqouis ceramic one, with all those tiny cracks that are supposed to absorb the tint of the tea over time. The one I bought it much more dull, and not so smooth… ya know? I bought it because, well, I don’t have anything in my collection like it – everything else is so fine.
Drinking with it… almost felt a bit gritty. Something I’ll get used to with time, I’m sure.
Overall, a good purchase, a good tea time, and hopefully I’ll be writing on here more frequently.