New Tasting Notes
Yay!! My new kettle is here!! This is the first electric kettle I’ve ever bought and it is exactly what I’ve been looking for! I love that it’s simple and easy to use. It’s sleek and stylish. And most importantly, the pre-set brewing temperatures are exactly what I like to use to brew various types of tea.
I used to enjoy the laborious, time consuming ritual of boiling water on my stovetop, pouring it into a cup and adding a thermometer, waiting till the water reached just the right temperature and then adding the leaves, then waiting some more for the tea to steep, and finally FINALLY having a finished ready-to-drink cup of tea. Well, now that I have a baby…ain’t nobody got time for that!
Now with just the click of a button, I can have water that’s just the right temperature for my cup in no time at all. This thing boils water FAST! It also lets off a lot of steam so I don’t recommend putting it directly underneath your cabinetry. I do wish it kept the water warm longer than 20 minutes but that’s not a huge dealbreaker.
I’d say that’s my biggest critique of this kettle. The keep warm function isn’t entirely logical or intuitive to use. If you lift the kettle off the base, it automatically shuts off the keep warm function. You can press it again but it goes off within a couple minutes. So I guess you have to reselect the temperature each time you lift it off the base? That’s silly. Still, it’s better than what I’ve been doing. I’ll take pressing a button over my old routine any day. This kettle rocks! Now I just have to resist the urge to buy one for the office…
Due to an very odd and somewhat distressing set of events last night, I did not sleep well at all.
This is a problem, as I have a job interview ish thing today- lunch with a lady who needs a personal assistant. So I want to make a good impression and not be a tired mess. Ugh.
Two things will help! Concealer (the wonder makeup), and tea.
Forget my sipdown attempts today- its all about the classic, beloved teas. May this delicious fruity cup lead me through the day triumphantly.
Didn’t know what to expect with this one. the dry broken leaf looked anything like a green tea. The aroma was not of a green either, but when steeped it did provide a unique tasting experience for this Gua Pian/Bi Luo Chun lover. The Teabox descriptive notes are pretty much right on, menthol, vegetal and I would add smokiness. I missed the citrus yet it is definitely a complex flavor profile with some fun palate and back of the throat sensations.
I did wonder, if this tea was given the same treatment as the Yunnan raw Pu Erh’s we all love, it could be a fun experiment.
From the EU TTB
I used to drink a lot of Chamomile, but not so much recently. I’m hitting up the calming teas at the moment, though – this week I’ve got nerves like never before. Anyway, the tea. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 4 minutes in boiling water. No additions. I like watching whole flower chamomile as it brews – I think that’s at least half of the calming effect. The liquor is a bright, sunny yellow.
To taste, this is one of the nicer chamomiles I’ve tried in a while. I mean, yes – they’re all pretty similar, but whole flower ones are definitely different to bagged varieties. This one is mildly floral, with gentle notes of hay and honey. It’s not overpoweringly sweet or cloying, and it’s not at the tasteless end of the spectrum either. It’s just…right.
I might have to snag this one for copious drinking over the next few days.
Tea Soda! But first I need to rant…
Even though I spent the whole day in the living room (not that unusual), I felt like I was holed up somewhere, under bed covers, avoiding the world. I don’t know why; but I just felt sad. All day. And Tre didn’t help; he’s gotten himself into this really, really weird situation. And frankly, I have no right to be mad at him over it – I just found it really irritating today, and I wanted to be alone.
Basically here’s what’s going down in the life of Tre:
His stupid friend Adam introduced him to a girl named Ally/Allie/Aly/I don’t really know how it’s spelled and he’s infatuated; and I honestly am really, really happy for him. He deserves to finally find someone to be happy with; but it’s a weird situation. He found out after like their second date or something that she’s best friends with our landlord’s eighteen year old daughter Maria. And, through this girl, he’s even hung out with her. I’m not totally sure why I find that so odd; Maria’s 18 and he’s 21 – that’s not a huge age difference. And it’s not even like she’s the one he’s interested in (that would DEFINITELY be crossing a line). I just have this gut feeling that if Rob, my landlord, found out about it that, despite how much he likes Tre and I, he wouldn’t be happy with them spending time together. And I guess maybe to some extent I still view Maria as a very immature child. She might not be living above us now but she used to and I can’t deny that we witnessed/overheard some incredibly childish behavior from her. Not to mention she used to throw house parties when her Dad was out of town (that he encouraged us to quietly ‘chaperone’) and maybe because I still view Maria as very childish I’m viewing her friend as childish, and kind of get the impression Tre’s taking advantage of her to some extent? Even if maybe he’s not.
Regardless, the whole thing makes me uncomfortable.
And then last night… Ugh, last night!
He left the house at one in the fucking morning to go out for a walk with this girl; whatever, I can get over that. Not any of my business no matter how uncomfortable I feel. However, I had work in the morning at 9AM so I made sure to tell him to be quiet coming back in because I needed to sleep. When does he get back? 5:30AM! And she’s with him. They woke me up getting in – though I pretended to be asleep because I really didn’t want a confrontation or anything. That’s a ridiculous time to get back – especially after what I said before he left. The cherry on top was that this girl, who I’m pretty sure isn’t older than 18, was clearly drunk. 18 is underage here in Saskatchewan; and I know underage drinking happens – hell I drank underage, but I’m not comfortable with that going on here at the house. We’ve always been very good tenants; no parties, very minimal drinking at home, and with her being a friend of my landlord’s daughter I just have an especially bad feeling about this. She spent like an hour in our bathroom throwing up – which I pretended to sleep through but just couldn’t.
They finally went to bed at like eight or nine in the morning? When I should have been getting up to get ready for work. Except I’d barely slept at all and felt like shit so I called in sick. I finally fell asleep at about 11AM, and I expected when I woke up that she’d be gone – but nope instead they spent the entire day here. And again, I kind of feel like I’m just being a super bitch without much of a right to complain because he can see whoever he wants to but I just really, really felt bad today and I wanted to be on my own. They left, to go to the mall(!?), at 11PM to meet up with one of this girls friends. And I’m thankful they’re gone now but what the hell!? There’s no mall in the city open that late! This whole thing just seems… Juvenile. And I have a bad feeling.
So there’s my rant for the week; anyone who actually made it through all of that and has any advice to offer would be appreciated – I don’t know if I’m out of line being upset by this. Regardless, I just had to voice it to someone, even if that’s just here on Steepster to inevitably be ignored.
As for the tea soda – it was like my only moment of ‘escape’ today. For a brief half hour I got to curl up and watch some Netflix and sip on this super creamy, kind of tropical tea concoction that made me feel like I was somewhere (anywhere) else. The mellow, sweet coconut and apricot notes ended up very well suited for a tea soda format. Fruity, but different…
When I placed my last What-Cha order, Alistair thoughtfully hand picked out this as an extra sample for me to try. It’s definitely a very interesting looking oolong, visually it reminds me of another very lightly oxidized oolong from Camellia Sinensis I tried not all that long ago; the same kind of pale silver/green tea leaves with a fine fuzz and down on them. They both remind me strongly of moonlight! But I don’t have expectations this will taste all that similar given this is from Nepal, and the other tea I’m reminded of aesthetically was from Darjeeling.
I found the cold brew I made was so interesting, with a very diverse range of flavours! The immediate and obvious ones to me were floral notes, sweet hay/grass notes, and a fruity flavour that reminded me a little of white grapes/white wine! It had that very slight sourness/acidity that wine has, but softened and contrasted by those other dominant flavours. Once I scratched the surface with the more obvious flavour notes I also noticed notes of citrus, almost a grapefruit-like flavour but also a touch lemony which probably contributed to that little bit of sourness and acidity I initially attributed to the winey/grapey notes.
Also interesting and different, I tasted a note that reminded me strikingly of the green ‘peel’ part of a cucumber? Just in that it was vegetal, crisp, refreshing and juicy in that cucumber sort of way – but with that very slight bitterness that comes with cucumber peel over cucumber ‘pulp’. In this case that bitterness is just present enough that it becomes a very pleasant quality. The overall feel of the tea is this fruity, fresh ‘Spring time’ kind of drink that reminds me of April showers, and helping me Grandma in her flower garden when I was a little kid. The presence of both sweeter fruit notes and more green/vegetal ones creates a very refreshing flavor.
So overall, this actually did end up tasting a little similar to that Camellia Sinensis Darjeeling! Not exactly the same, sure, but comparable anyway. I wonder why that’s so; possibly the terroir shared between both growing regions? Or possibly the way the leaf itself was processed. Either way I find that kind of fascinating and it’s something I’d be interested in learning more about.
I look forward to a hot cup, to see how the flavours change.
Oh wow, this is fruity. Fruitier than I was expecting to be honest. Predominantly VERY juicy cantaloupe (a favourite of mine), but there’s also peach and a hint of grape (both very juicy as well). There’s a hint of floral elements as well, but considerably in the background.
I will note that I completely ignored the brewing instructions, fearing 96 degree water would burn the green tea in it. Probably a good move as even 4 minutes at 85 brought out the slightest hint of bitterness (barely noticeable, but I might go for 3 or 3.5 minutes next time).
Overall a rather nice tea. I do love the cantaloupe. I might prefer this as just a green tea; the black is a little heavy for the fruit. Will give it a go iced as well to see how it fairs.
Flavors: Cantaloupe, Floral, Grapes, Peach
Thanks for this one The Last Dodo! This looks like an Earl Grey blend (the cornflowers must make it the “blue tea”?), but there is something tropical about it… The base pairs well with the flavors, but the flavor is not really for me. It seems almost like cherry cough syrup than anything else which is odd because there isn’t any cherry here. That’s too bad! I’ve sipped this once before without writing a tasting note and it seemed more unique and intriguing last time. Maybe I had better fruits in the teaspoon I parceled out last time. I think I saw a rosehip in this one.
I find myself torn on how to begin today’s tea rambling. Do I go with neutral things like how much I enjoy my new painting table, or do I go bad news with how I have not really gotten the chance to use it because of these stupid seizures. Do I say happy news on how whatever was causing that really awful itchy rash has gone away (thanks, allergies) or do I say that my throat hurts constantly (thanks allergies) It is a problem living with chronic illness/pain, how much do you hide behind an internet or social persona, or how much do you let it all hang out. And why, for that matter. Are you looking for understanding or compassion, complaining because there is really nothing else you can do sometimes and you just need to vent, are you fixated with your health problems because it controls your life, are you bringing awareness to health problems? Are you hiding it for fear of trash talk, hiding it because if you don’t talk about it maybe it really isn’t that bad, avoiding it because you are tired of being a chronic complainer, hiding how bad it is because you are tired of being sickly and just want to be perceived as normal even if it is by a small group? The internal politics of what to reveal and why is staggering in its complexity. What I will say is that I am thankful for my readers, whether you are here simply as tea lover or here as friends sharing a digital cup with me, thank you all. It sounds silly, but tea and my blog is one of the greatest joys in my life, so being able to share it and keep at it means the world to me.
Ok, ok, I am done being sappy and introspective, I want to write about tea, specifically one of my favorite teas, Gui Fei Oolong. Also known as Concubine Oolong, this tea is what happens when leafhoppers become great friends with the tea leaves, by friends I mean they go om nom nom, and the leaves go into defense mode and release an enzyme and start to oxidize, this makes the tea incredibly sweet, just like its non-rolled cousin Oriental Beauty and Honey Black Tea. This happy accident originated in Taiwan, though this specific Gui Fei comes from Tea From Vietnam, a new company focusing on introducing the Western world to the rather diverse world of Vietnamese tea. It is a passion of mine, exploring different lesser known to us barbaric westerners tea growing regions, I consider it research for the book I am perpetually working on! Anyway, this tea, as I was saying earlier Gui Fei is my favorite Oolong, hands down, when I opened the pouch and poured out the tea I was going to steep into my abalone for photographing, I was practically giddy. Photo taken, that means sniffing time, and I let out a very loud yay! It has been over a year since I had any Gui Fei, correction, any GOOD Gui Fei, and the aroma of these silvery leaves is so good. Notes of intense spicebush, orange blossom, sugar cane, honey, almonds, and a tiny bit of roasted sesame at the finish. Really, this tea smells heavenly, I want to invent scratch and sniff for computers so you all can sniff this too, now maybe it wouldn’t smell as good to everyone else, it has been well known that these smells are some of my favorites, each note seems to resonate with some nostalgic happy time, so the emotions are wrapped up with sensory delight.
I decided that such a beautiful tea, it is named after Yang Guifei, one of China’s legendary beauties after all, deserved my audacious princess of a gaiwan. The two seemed to be made for each other, the leaves matching the gaiwan beautifully. The now somewhat steeped leaves take on a very fruity tone, lots of citrus notes of apples, pomelo, intensely floral with notes of orchid, grapefruit blossom, crepe myrtle, and a finish of sugary sweet almonds and cane sugar. It is heady and sweet. The liquid is nutty and sweet, with notes of almond and chestnut, pomelo and apples, plums and a touch of cooked cherries.
First steep…guys, I need a moment. The texture is smooth and thick, impressively so for the first steep. The taste starts out fruity and intensely sweet, it is very much like honey drizzled apples, pomelo and plums. This moves on to citrus blossom, a blend of orange and grapefruit, with a touch of orchid. The finish is spicebush, almonds, and gentle roasted sesame. The taste of citrus blossoms seem to linger for a while.
Second steeping time, I fear I might be getting tea drunk already, one of the problems of the golden gaiwan, it is a whopping 150ml, big compared to my 90-100ml ones! Also the headiness of this tea might be adding to the tea drunkenness, much like sitting next to a pile of blooming Angel Trumpets (a rather toxic flower, the Angel Trumpet, or Moonflower, is part of the Datura family, beautiful flowers but don’t eat!) In fact the floral notes remind me of the sharp, heady, and slightly citrus notes of the Angel Trumpet flower, mix with honey, orange blossom, and a touch of almonds. Oh so much thick sweetness, it is a creamy flowery explosion of happiness in my mouth. Tea Bliss achieved. Notes of orange blossom, sweet cream, almonds, spicebush, pomelo, and a wonderful finish of orchids and toasted sesame.
The third steeping, the leaves have really unfurled and you can see little nibble holes, which I find endearing. The aroma really highlights the citrus notes this time, strong grapefruit and orange blossom with gentle pomelo and a tiny hint of lemon. The taste is nutty almond, sweet honey (oh so sweet) and wonderful spicebush. I sat with this tea all night, it kept me company for eight steeps, ending with gentle minerals and distant citrus flowers and a finish of honey. It was a grand companion for a night of gaming. I will treasure the rest of my sample and then promptly buy more, here on my blog, I solemnly swear, I am never running out of Gui Fei again!
Flavors: Almond, Apple, Citrus Fruits, Cream, Orange Blossom, Sugarcane, Toast
Additional notes: I wanted to try this one again, as I know the parameters I used last time didn’t work. It was the wrong everything. The steeps were closer to ideal than last time, but the second cup was still a little too bitter. This is a picky steeper and cooler water/ less steep time/ less leaves work with this one. I’ll describe the flavors of the first non-bitter steep – it’s more like the flavor notes than before: light, buttery, pastries, maybe a little like jam. Definitely not chocolate to me though. This one is so touchy to steep though, so it isn’t a favorite and too light for me. Though it is a different flavor profile. One serving left, hopefully to perfect the steeps next time! It’s also interesting that one of my favorite OLDER blends of 52Teas is the Blueberry Cream Cheese Danish and the old base at least uses a nilgiri base, so that is probably where some of those butter/jam/ pastry flavors come from!
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 tsp// 12 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // few minutes after boiling // 3-4 min
Anyone suffer from claustrophobia? I ask because I have always been slightly claustrophobic but lately it has gotten worse…much worse. And by that, I mean I have had two panic attacks in the past two days at work. So, that has been fun. Basically I am asking though because I am trying to determine why this might be and if anything can even be done about it. My guess is stress (thanks to my job forcing me to simultaneously do two different jobs to prove I can do the job they are considering promoting me to) is causing my claustrophobia/anxiety to be heightened and so attacks are more likely to be triggered. Does that sound plausible? Also, is there anything that can even be done for claustrophobia? I have an appointment set up with my doctor but I am just curious if anyone has any knowledge/experience about it.
Anyway, with that said I can get to the tea. I prepped this while cooking dinner so by the time I finally started drinking it, it had cooled quite a bit. That isn’t really a problem though given its a melon tea and melon is a nice flavor to enjoy at cooler temperatures. Overall, melon is the strongest flavor but it comes later in the sip and then sits on your tongue after you’re done drinking. Leading up to that point, there is a touch of malt. It’s weird because the two blend seamlessly together despite being so drastically different. I personally relate malt with a warm, wintery flavor while melon is brighter and more of a summer taste. However, in this it works. Though, I am sad as the flavoring has dulled slightly due to age. It is nice enough but nothing that I will cry over when its gone.
Continuing my gongfu sessions, my ‘purple black tea’ yixing is getting a real workout today!
The predominant tastes of this one are an herby eucalyptus, a sweet sugarcane, with hints of chocolate & rose, if that all makes sense.
First note! I can’t believe no one has written about this tea before. Does that mean I’m the only one to have purchased it so far? I highly recommend you trot on over to Verdant’s new website and check out this tea’s story. There’s a very interesting video about how they cultivate the wild tea trees and how they prefer to process the tea by hand and lay it out to dry in the sun because it creates a better flavor.
I used my gaiwan to brew this gongfu style. I started with a 6 second steep and added 3 seconds to each subsequent infusion. Towards the end I lost count and ended up steeping this for a couple minutes. The early infusions have a light yellow liquor that deepens with each subsequent steep into a dark golden amber.
This may be a Yunnan Black, but it tastes like Puer to me. The primary note is aged leather, which is definitely a puer flavor note in my experience. There’s a minor underlying note of spice in the later infusions, which I’m really enjoying. It’s a dark woodsy tea. The description says it’s farmed in the oldest tea forest in the world and I feel like you can taste that in the tea. It has a strong presence and evokes the kind of reverence owed to a wise elder.
I can’t say I understand or agree with Verdant’s other flavor notes on this one though. It’s described as “very vegetal” akin to “tulsi” and “floral” like “orange blossom honey.” I’ve never had tulsi so I don’t know what that tastes like. But I have had plenty of vegetal teas and I wouldn’t use that word to describe this. Similarly, I have had lots of floral teas and I wouldn’t necessarily use that word to describe this either. There is something honey-esque in the cup but nothing overtly flowery. I’m interested to find out what others detect in this tea. Get some and see for yourself! For me, I will enjoy this sample but won’t be buying more. It’s not a flavor profile that I particularly desire.
Flavors: Dark Wood, Leather, Spices