978 Tasting Notes
Up and moving (sort of) since daylight – its only 6:58 now. Bagel, cream cheese, and creamy earl grey. Excellent start to an excellent day?
This is light on the bergamot and the vanilla. That does not mean it is without flavor. Hint of citrus up front, tiny touch of bite later on, and light vanilla in the background. Easing me into the day. Ow yeah.
Now its time to go rock the casbah, or maybe just the congregation.
I had three cups of this today. As you may remember, I complained yesterday about tea made at home not tasting right lately. This one was made with the north corporation water. We have south at home. It tasted ok but nothing special (in a cheap bagged tea sort of way). I am now leaning towards my allergy medication being the main culprit. Most of what we detect as flavor is actually smell. I think I am either going to have to drink powerful tea or loose the medication. Maybe I’ll try both for a few days.
The dashboard is down and I can’t read any new reviews :( So I will write my own. This tea has its work cut out for it. While brewing it I fixed a ham and turkey sandwich with farmers market spinach, leaf lettuce from our garden, muenster cheese (should have used smoked gouda). I also poured on my new favorite – great value chipotle ranch dressing. It is not overly spicy. Just the right mix of spicy and creamy, but it is more potent than some teas could handle. The tan yang smells so good in the cup. Best of all the sweet potato and honey cut right through the sandwich when sipping. What a tremendous tea. Nudging the rating.
I’ve noticed since being out of work, the last 4 months, that tea hasn’t tasted as deep or amazing to me. Which is odd considering I have tried some really deep and amazing teas lately. So it got me wondering. If it is not the tea, then what? Is it my attitude? I really don’t think so. I am actually adjusting quite well. I am making plans for the future – something I haven’t done in years. It can’t be my brewing equipment since I brought it all home.
That leaves one thing unchecked. The water. I used tap water at work and had great tea. I am using tap water at home but it is a different source. I have always complained of microwaved water at home – maybe it is not just the microwave. So I am using bottled water today.
Unfortunately after that long introduction, I can’t yet determine if it made a big difference. I think I got the water too hot for this white / green blend – or just maybe I am going to have to adjust how I brew things. Wouldn’t that be fabulous. Leaving the rating alone because I can’t redo this cup as it is a sipdown.
I normally don’t read the reviews before I post on a new tea. I did for this one. I did not get the same consistently amazing results others reported. I believe it was my own fault. I insisted on using my standard western big mug approach with half the sample. Do not try this at home! The result was generally an overly weak mug. Go ahead use all the sample and a smaller cup.
Even though I kind of blew this one, the second mug was fabulous. Here are my notes on that one:
For the second mug I steeped about 2 1/2 minutes. This cup fills your mouth with delicious combination of floral and fruit. The first sip was one of those Mmmmm moments, you know when the world goes into momentary freeze frame and you get lost in the cup. Yeah, its that good. It still has that wonderful thick creamy feel and I notice a fair amount of cooling sensation on my breath. The aftertaste hangs around with kind of a melon taste.
Tie Guan Yin normally has a distinctive floral taste, well except this one. I mean it is there, but it is just different. This is so much fresher, lighter, more defined but harder to describe. Normally I think of Tie Guan Yin as tasting like a geranium plant smells. This is closer to something like rose petals with citrus (peach and melon?), and warm spices. It is just Wow!
Not rating until I brew this one correctly. The second cup was easily a 90+.
Technically this was made for coffee but it is my tea brewing vessel of choice. I found this at Starbucks. It currently sells for $16.95. The carafe is borosilicate glass. The frame is 30% post consumer plastic. The plunger and filter screen parts are stainless. The 4 cup version holds up to 17oz (503ml). I generally fix a single cup at a time.
To use, the loose leaf is put in the carafe. Water is heated in a separate kettle and poured into the carafe. The lid/plunger assembly is placed on top the carafe with the plunger in the up position. The leaf is free to move about. When the steeping time is done the plunger can be pushed down or left up and the tea poured into the cup without the leaf escaping.
Clean up is as simple as removing the lid, turning the carafe upside down over a compost bowl and wiping with a paper towel. Since it is glass it does not absorb any of the flavor of the tea so a simple rinse is usually sufficient. Honestly, most of the time wiping with the towel gets it clean enough. It is dishwasher safe. Occasionally I dismantle the stainless filter assembly for a more thorough cleaning.
This is excellent especially for green and white teas where holding the heat in is not as important. It has the added advantage of allowing you to observe the dance of the leaf during steeping. To me if you can’t watch the leaf you are missing an important part of the experience.
I also use it for black, puerh, and oolongs. Puerh generally uses such short steep times that heat dissipation is not an issue. For teas that require long steep times of several minutes, you may prefer another method but I personally have never found heat dissipation to be a problem. Rooibos and very fine leaf is better served with a Finum basket.If you push the plunger down after steeping, it does not actually press the leaf. There is a good half inch of space between the screen and the bottom of the carafe. If you don’t push the plunger down, you will need to put a finger over the lid to keep it from sliding and causing some spilling.
I chose the press over a gravity feed system (like IngenuiTEA) because this was glass, not plastic, and it was cheaper. I also was concerned any device that pours tea out the bottom might eventually leak.
Apparently the outdoor fire we had yesterday has caused issues. I coughed all night. At two a.m. I awoke to severe chills. This morning I woke up in a pool of sweat. I feel ok but still wondering what I burned that I shouldn’t have. It was all trees we cut down in the yard. Or at least I thought so.
Anyway, I woke up craving this bagged tea. It’s a roasted green tea and way over a year old but the sealed aluminum bags keep it fresh. I do wish I had read my previous notes. In the past it seems I liberated it from the bag and added chocolate mint. I don’t remember doing it but now I am craving it with mint.
A day with my wife and kids, games, and hot dogs. Also a day in America when we remember those who served that we might enjoy freedom and opportunity to prosper.
I added more leaf and steeped this again. Much more and bolder flavor this time. This is such an interesting juxtaposing of flavors. The smooth and mild side of a highly oxidized though lightly roasted oolong, meets the throat scratching and lingering floral aftertaste of a TGY. Very good and interesting cup.
I did not know what to expect with this one. The dry leaf looks more like black tea than oolong. The dry scent is kind of grape/malt/cocoa with very mild roasted hints. When I put the leaf in my freshly washed and still wet press, the aroma became like the leaves of a tomato plant. Brewed up the golden liquor scent was mildly roasted tomato leaves.
I was apparently not awake enough to leaf this properly so I added a bit of sweetener to compensate. The front of the sip reminds me of the Formosa oolong I had a couple days ago. The late sip and aftertaste are tiguanyin. While floral it is not overly so. It is fruity and sweet (not just from my additive). This is much more subdued than I expected. By the look of the leaf I thought it would be very strong. I am going to add more leaf now that I am awake and see what happens.
Yesterday I managed to get several good cups in. Today not one until bedtime. I have got to get back in the tea groove. This is pretty good for helping me relax. Just wish it had less or no spearmint. Drop the mint and make it apple flavor – that would be nice.