152 Tasting Notes
This was my 3 am middle of the night tea and I’m having it again at 6 with a little break for morning Special Dark (mmmmm) ritual. I was going to switch it up it, but it’s hard to mess with perfection so…
This is from my stash of the “old” vanilla, and while I do love the “new” vanilla just bit a more, I have to say that in the unlikely event you can let your stash of GO lounge around for a while, it just gets better and better – even more vanilla fudge flavor. Just so smooth and lovely.
It is no secret that I’m an enthusiastic fangirl for Whispering Pines teas. I was very gratified (and in excellent company with the lovely TheTeaFairy) to be one of the first tasters of the new WPTC blend Elderwood. When Brenden sent a list of the ingredients along with the sample, I was already salivating before I even tasted it. A blend of Imperial Grade Dian Hong, Ailaoshan Black and hand-cut Tahaitian Vanilla Beans sounded to me like my very much beloved Golden Orchid turned up to 11.
Only it’s not the big bold vanilla-fudge bomb I was expecting. This tea is a lady. An elegant lady dripping with class and good taste. This is a whole different experience from Golden Orchid – more subtle and nuanced. The word that comes to mind for me is pretty – though lovely is a far better word. Have you ever seen Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday? She’s so bright and beautiful and adorable, a pixie who is also a princess.
The dry leaf is gorgeous with sparks of gold. This is like nectar – not just merely sweet, but complex and nuanced with an earthy bass note. There is a hint of malt and bit of chocolate, with a luscious creamy vanilla winding it’s way through it and a fruity undertone. There is a bit of a floral lingering taste toward the end from the vanilla and absolutely zero astringency. This lady is smooth and sublimely elegant. If Cate Blanchett showed up at my house wearing her Oscar gown, this is the tea I would serve her.
Elderwood has lots to give. I took it though 4 steeps and the put the leaves in a cold steep overnight and woke up to a silky little honey taste. I really loved the third steep (though the first was my favorite), by that time it was really down to basiscs – earthy cocoa and a little jammy fruit. I had extremely high expectations for this and it did not disappoint – it’s enchanting.
I want to thank Brenden for letting me do this preview!
The song for this? Well this lady is a classic, so Beethoven I think: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lkcvrxj0eLY
You know those wee little packets of enough black Chinese tea to make a big cup that only have Chinese writing on them so you have NO idea what they are? I’m having one of those now. I really wish I knew what it was. It’s nice and chocolaty with lots of body. I got a shitload of these little bags one day and I’m glad I did as they will be good for my travel bag and the tea stick.
I still have some sheng leaves left from yesterday that I will likely be getting back to today. Right now, I’m being MzMicrobe. Terri has inspired my microbiologist side. I’m working on: Root Kimchi (recipe by Terri), milk kefir and water kefir using my new kefir grains. After lunch I’ll be making some blackberry cobbler with the blackberries from my garden with a batter using almond flour and a recipe thoughtfully provided by Terri. In between I’m trying to organize my tea.
So. I am in a hotel, traveling for business. I had a really nice tea set up all packed in a zippered bag that has: a wee little stainless electric kettle, a tea stick (http://www.crateandbarrel.com/gamila-tea-infuser-stick/s132094?a=1552&device=c&network=g&matchtype=&gclid=CLGWqtfchb8CFSJo7AodYxEAlA ), and sevral kinds of awesome tea. I was willing to live with the little glasses they have in the room to brew in. I’m guessing the little tea things bag looks really cute sitting on my kitchen table where I left it.
The hotel lobby has a coffee set up and has some boxes of tea beside it. No hot water at 4:30 am, but there is a teeny coffeemaker in my room. So I am drinking two bags of this infused into one cup of whatever temperature of water comes out of the in-room coffeemaker.
And you know what? It’s not that bad. Except for the clove explosion which is a bit much and kind of overwhelms everything else, but I think I stepped it a little too long.
It reminds me of what my parents used to make for us when we went camping as kids. It was called Spiced Tea. It included: Nestea Instant Tea, Tang, cloves, cinnamon. It was all mixed together in a tupperware container and we would spoon the mix into cups and fill with hot water from the camp stove. We LOVED that stuff. And this reminds me of that, so I’m enjoying this.
Flavors: Clove, Orange
Weekday mornings around my house are fairly frantic. Even though I wake up really early (translation: I don’t sleep much), I wait until pretty much the last possible second to get dressed, feed critters, etc. I also need a low-stress, low-key way to start my day. I have lots and lots (and lots) of teaware. I’ve been trying figure out the easiest weekday morning tea system. Pretty sure I’ve found it.
This mug holds a perfect-for-me 16 ounces. It comes with a nice large stainless steel infuser basket and a lid that doubles as a basket trivet. I measure the tea into the basket, pour in water of the correct temperature, set my steep timer (aka – my iphone) and when it’s done, I remove the basket, shake it into the cup to let it drain, set the basket on the lid where it waits patiently for a re-steep and I have easy morning tea.
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BOOM BOOM! I’m gonna shoot you right down. Right off your feet. Take you home with me. PUT YOU IN MY HOUSE! Haw Haw Haw. Sorry. I can’t stop John Lee Hooker-ing (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSnQ0bdHW0s) over this tea. Boy howdee this is good. There are many teas out there that I like a lot. But I have a pantheon of tea. Mandala’s Special Dark, my necessary shu pu-er, Verdant’s Golden Fleece – the best golden tip black, Whispering Pines Golden Orchid, my favorite black blend, and now – this. It is a genuine pleasure just to stick your nose in the bag and inhale (a quality it shares with Golden Fleece). Deep, rich luscious chocolate. Dark, creamy chocolate.
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Round three of the MzPriss Mood Adjustment Project of the morning (after Special Dark and Jun Chiyabari). I brewed this cup from my “oldest” bit of Golden Orchid – which doesn’t last long around here. It’s interesting to see the way it changes over time. The vanilla becomes more pronounced and opening the beautiful little jar I have it stored in releases an aroma of vanilla fudge. It is so very smooth and silky and lovely. This tea makes me very happy. Maybe one more cup of this and some Golden Fleece and I’ll be ready to face the world with some grace today.
I’m all grumbly/grumpy and am attempting to adjust my mood with tea. Yesterday was a fairly craptacular day, including among other things: my debit card quit working (for some reason it decided it wasn’t “activated” anymore), I thought I left my wallet in my shopping cart, went running back through the parking lot to retrieve it and I broke my baby toe by hitting it on the concrete parking bump thingie. Right now my baby toe is the color of 7 minute steeped Special Dark (which I had a cup of as soon as I woke myself up by getting my broken toe caught in the covers and which hurt like howling HELL). And also? It’s Monday.
So today I get to look forward to: going in late to work because I have to go to my bank and straighten out my debit card and hobbling around on my hurty toe without vicodin because I can’t take vicodin and drive/work and a crappy meeting that I’ve been not looking forward to.
Soooooo that is a lot of grumpiness right there. I’m trying to adjust my attitude. I had my big cup of comforting Special Dark, have now started on a cup of this delicious Jun Chiyabari from our Unflavored TTB and have Golden Fleece and Golden Orchid waiting in the wings.
I really like this tea and need to do a real note on it. I have enough left for one small cup after this and will do an actual note on it then. But right now I’m enjoying the floral, muscaty, lychyeeness of this. I plan on ordering some because this is happy tea. It’s all sparkly and lovely and I’m happy drinking it. It’s different from anything I’ve tasted before and I’m enjoying it very much. Another happy thing is that my dahlias are starting to bloom and they make me smile. Maybe today will get better.