1582 Tasting Notes
This morning my wife asked if I wanted to drive her to Ben Franklin. That may be a regional store, so it is like an old time small town general store – crafts to plumbing, it’s all there. Anyway, it was a beautiful morning in the low 70’s so I ask her to wait five minutes. I reused yesterday’s leaf and poured the tea into my ceramic travel mug. While she shopped for sewing items I sat in the car and sipped tea in the sunshine. I think I got the better deal. This is delicious.
While those of you who are slaves to your jobs were busy making someone else rich, the idle jobless among you went fishing. What a perfect day for it. Lots of birds and frogs chattering all around us. Great day. There was a Lilly pad in bloom. I kept looking at it thinking Mmmm Lotus. So here I sit with a mug. I am not sure what kind of green tea this is but I love it. Green, vegetal, and buttery. The lotus is hard to describe but excellent. It is kind of anise, kind of. It is just so good. I have been hoarding this one to make it last as long as possible. I can see this one being a staple when I feel safe in ordering again.
The mint really has lasting power in this one. Peppermint on top with spearmint underneath. The chocolate curls disappear in the cup and add a good back flavor – which is about as chocolate as chocolate teas ever get in my limited experience. I am not really picking out the puerh in this first cup. A year ago I wrote I did. I’ll check again in the second cup. This is good enough to require another steep.
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.