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260 Tasting Notes
Meditate on the tea.
The tea is light.
The tea is love.
The tea is love, and you are going to buy more.
The tea is light, and you are getting your purse.
The tea is light, and the tea is love.
I’m out of Moorish Mint.
All right, Wallet. Methinks it’s time to get ready for a little workout. Have you been doing your exercises? Go wake up little miss Credit. Listen, don’t get me any lip. Shut your pie hole. I SAID, shut your PIE HOLE! It’s not my fault they put crack in this shizz.
In Virginia, we typically get a number of transition days between summer and fall where the weather doesn’t quite know what to do with itself. The day turns grey and the sun beats against the clouds to heat the residual moisture in the air and make the atmosphere hint at the humidity we sweated in during the previous months.
What results, when days like this occur, is a sense of overall gloom, where the sky feels like it is being lit from behind a dirty sheet of laminate. The temperature is cooling but not crisp like it gets when autumn is truly upon us. The best equivalent I can think of is when you get one of those hot microwaved towels that they offer at some Chinese restaurants. After the initial clean, fresh, and striking warmth evaporates, you’re left with a damp, limp, lukewarm piece of cloth that feels like an uncomfortable handshake. And then you get bitten by mosquitoes. Welcome to Virginia.
This kind of weather tends to make me grumpy, even though I know that it generally signifies that autumn is around the corner and if I can just hold out for a couple of weeks I will be invigorated into a frenzy that will drive my friends absolutely nuts. [Fall is my favorite season.] It also makes me sleepy and prone to have my thoughts wander. I believe it’s sometimes good to have those melancholy days where your mind can meander and you allow yourself to wallow in the sludge of personal gook that you’ve pushed away to simmer on the back-burner.
This becomes a problem, however, when I know that I have approximately 27 other things I need to be doing. So what should be a slow-moving, lethargic, draining-of-emotional-phlegm kind of day instead ends up being intensely stressful because I’m having a hell of a time getting anything done.
When I find myself in these kinds of situations, I need to step away, breathe, and allow myself to take a few minutes to do something distracting so I can clear my brain. You know, hit the personal “reset” button.
One of the best remedies I’ve discovered for this funk is to make some Masala Chai. It only takes fifteen to twenty minutes, which I can justify as being an excusable amount of time for a break, and once you remember how to make it it’s pretty mindless. The ritual is perfect because it requires attention, but not a lot of thinking – an excellent way to cleanse the mental palate.
My favorite thing about making Masala Chai, though, is the end result. This tea is something that wraps itself around all of your senses and gives you a gentle squeeze. Everything about it, from the aroma, to the creaminess, to the permeating warmth, to the quiet sense of accomplishment you get because hey, you just made yourself some goddamn Chai tea, is comforting.
Samovar’s Masala Chai has proven to be one of my absolute favorites, and I have a big tin that sits in the cabinet and waits patiently for days like these.
By the time I finish making my batch, 99 percent of the time, I find myself calmer, awakened, soothed, and ready to take on the world again. I’d say that for a tea to be able to accomplish that is a pretty big deal and certainly worth a try. And what harm can it do? At the very least, you will end up with something delicious. Plus, if the first cup doesn’t get you to where you need to be, there’s always cup two.
And now, to complete my axis of [not-quite-evil] tea reviews for tonight:
5 MINUTES 30 SECONDS. 5 MINUTES 30 SECONDS. 5 MINUTES AND 30 FREAKING SECONDS!!!!!!
If you have been reading my previous notes on this tea, you will know what this means. [And even if you haven’t been, you might be able to figure it out because you’re smart.] Feed the birds.
I love to smell this tea.
If this tea were household products, I would be in an elementary school PSA about huffing aerosol cans. [How 1990’s am I?]
Drinking it is certainly nice, too, but I need to play around with the steep times a bit because I think I tend to brew it weak.
Hey, Trish McEvoy! Want to make me a lychee candle? Kthx.
Today’s overcast day filled of greyness and puppy fecal matter told me that drinking a nice hot cup of earth might make me feel better.
It also told me it might wake me up a bit.
I can confirm on both accounts.
Apparently, the amount of time you should steep this tea is approximately put-it-in-the-infuser-and-then-forget-to-pay-attention. [If that sounds unfamiliar, it’s probably because it’s part of the metric system.]
Flavor is light and citrus-y, but becomes slightly more intense as you breathe in. Like it’s being absorbed by your tongue.
This is by far one of my favorite drink-before-sleeping teas, but it’s even better when I get the steep time right. [Let it sit too long and this one will get extremely strong. Like knock you upside of the head strong.] I just burned my tongue and it was totally worth it.
We’re not going to talk about how long it’s been since I’ve logged a tea. In my defense I’ve been devoured by and residing in the bowels of schoolwork. Today I decided that for my own mental sanity I needed to put the books down for a few minutes [and Top Chef is on a commercial break]. Long preamble to simple question short: should you feel special because I’ve decided to spend some of my not-banging-my-head-against-my-desk-time to write this for you?
Short answer: probably not.
Longer answer: but if you do, have some warm fuzzies courtesy of me and the internets.
I tend to drink a lot of the same tea, so…I figure you can only hear about how much I want to marry the same four or five teas from Samovar x number of times. [Yes, that’s how I roll.]
However, the lack of money [being a student is over-rated] and time [ditto] has led to the need to branch out into my tea stash a little bit more.
Not that this is at all a bad thing, because as fall is beginning to waft into Virginia, I find the hot cup of Yunnan Golden Bud in front of me to be deeply satisfying. It’s got a bit of sweetness to it, but more of a brown sugar kind of sweetness. There are many different tastes that swirl around in this tea, but my palate isn’t nearly sophisticated enough to pick them out. I can tell you, though, that the flavor profile sings of autumn to me – it’s deep and rich and would probably be awesome with something heavy and savory. Oooh, like potato torte.
Oh my god I could really eat some potato torte right now. Want to make me one? I’ll split it with you!
It is occurring to me how funny word “drank” looks. Maybe it’s because I find it difficult to disassociate it with any number of rap/hip-hop/R&B songs about getting your drank on. But I digress.
As I sit here, sipping on my Ryokucha, a couple of thoughts [other than Akon warbling something about dranking in a distant corner of my brain] are crossing my mind.
One, is that this tea is completely different from anything else that I drink. I love that about it, but given that there are already a number of mixed reviews on here, I think it’s safe to say that it’s not for everyone.
Two, is that I had some coffee the other day I am beginning to realize just how imbalanced [which is really just me trying to undermine the word crazy] it makes me. I talk like I’m on speed, and I can’t focus on what I’m doing. Granted, it makes for some…interesting…blog entries from time to time. I also imagine that I’m either incredibly entertaining or hugely obnoxious to those around me, but for general everyday waking up, tea is so much less taxing.
The matcha in this Ryokucha always gives me a nice little boost, which helps especially when it’s grey and rainy out, like it is now, and I need to get some work done, also like I do now. [The deterrence of steepster in terms of getting work done, I won’t comment on.]
It IS slightly vegetal, and the rice makes it smell a little bit like breakfast cereal, but it does have a bit of a sweet aftertaste. This is a tea that I like more the more I drink it. What I can recommend to you, is that you concentrate more on what it does to you mentally for the first few cups while you let yourself get used to it, and then take it from there.
And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go get my drank on and try to crank out some of this work that’s sitting in front of me.
I JUST FOUND THE MAGICAL STEEPING TIME FOR THIS TEA.
Did I time how long I steeped it for?
Was I at all paying attention as I was making it?
Because I was too busy clicking on twitter and watching, of all things, Dumb and Dumber.
Dumb and Dumber.
I don’t even really like Dumb and Dumber. If there were ever to be an award for most appropriate movie title to coordinate with simultaneously occurring human behavior, I think I’d be at least nominated, because I just took a sip of this tea and it’s like rainbows and ponies and I think I just saw Jesus riding a unicorn pass by my window.
So I’m going to just savor this cup in front of me because while this tea is good, and I’ve had quite a bit of it, it’s never been THIS good.
I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to teagasm all over your web browser. Seriously, though, this is good stuff. Does anyone have a cigarette?
Sweet baby Jesus, I love this tea. The proportion of the mint is just right – enough that it gives you that tingle, but gently. I’ve also found that a couple of deep breaths to inhale the scent every now and then does magical things for clearing the head. Definitely ordering the big tin when I run out of this one.
Stressed out and looking to relax. Enter: Ocean of Wisdom. I haven’t had this for a while. I forgot how awesome it is. Mmmmm.
Woke up with a little bit of this earlier today. Feeling downright peppy.
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I drank this yesterday after some friends and I stuffed ourselves to the brim with food and topped it off with some crazy good chocolate cake. You wouldn’t think that I had room for tea after all that decadence, but you’d be wrong.
I’m drinking it again now, in an effort to wind down from the day and study for my final tomorrow. It’s doing the trick quite nicely. Going for cup number two as I type.
Yeah, I did it. I went for the hard stuff in the morning. You got a problem with that? Whatcha gonna do about it? You wanna step?
I apologize. I’m very tired. Which is why I decided that it was pu-erh time. I don’t drink pu-erh too often, because it’s something I like to spend some time with and I usually go for a second or third cup. [Or fourth. Or the occasional fifth.] That, and it tends to get me a little “tea high.”
Maiden’s Ecstasy is a favorite, for sure. It smells like you’re about to drink a big cup of tree bark and dirt. [That may not be appealing to some of you, but please don’t let that deter you from trying it.] If you have it in a glass mug or one that allows you to see the coloring well, it looks not unlike coffee.
The taste of this is bold and intense, which only grows the longer you steep it. I’ve found that more of the sweetness tends to emerge when you let it sit longer, but it will also intensify when it gets a little bit cooler. Allowing it to travel over all parts of the tongue and linger a little at the back of the mouth will also make the flavor of this more enjoyable. [There’s a dirty joke in there somewhere, but I’m too lazy to find it.]
For me, this is a tea that gets better the longer you let it go, though I don’t think I’ve ever gone past ten minutes on any given steep. I have a tendency to continue re-steeping this until I’ve stripped all the flavor from it because I think it’s just that good. It’s perfect for when you know you’re going to be chatting with a couple of friends for a few hours.
This is a tea that just seems to get better and more complex the more that I drink it. I like to drink white teas in the afternoon or early evening, when I know that I might not want to be running around on a caffeine high for too long. That’s why I’m sipping on this one right now and trying to get some work done. It is subtly flavored, I’ve found that there is more sweetness to the aroma than the taste unless you suck some air over it. It’s one of those teas that lends itself to some slow breaths and concentration. Perfect for quiet contemplation [or trying to remain relaxed while studying].
Lovely note to start the day on, and difficult one to stop. I’m on cup number three.
I’ve grown to really enjoy mint tea for its refreshing qualities, so I was really excited when this one came in the mail and it didn’t disappoint. [I swear, I don’t work for Samovar, it just looks like I do.] The sweet aftertaste that I’m guessing comes from the cardamom and the fennel intensifies deliciously when you take a deep breath after taking a sip.
I can only imagine what this would taste like with some flourless chocolate cake.
Damn, now I’m hungry.
Ruh roh, Steepster. I’ve been away from you for a few days because I didn’t have internet access and I drank a LOT of tea. In the interest of accuracy [and…ahem…the school work I put on hold to log in briefly], I’m only going to write about this one because I am also drinking it currently.
I usually try to set a timer [like this one, that I believe steepster themselves tweeted out – http://steep.it/ ] when I’m steeping something like a green or a white tea, especially when I’m doing other things [like studying or rooting around for things online] and know that I might get distracted. Herbals are ones that I usually let go because I typically like them with the fuller flavor. One time I let this one sit for Thor knows how long and when I remembered to take it out and try a sip the ginger decided that it was going to give me a nice punch to the tonsils.
Since then, I steep this one a little more carefully. It doesn’t take too long to get a nice, deep flavor. [Trust me on that one.] I love just about everything there is to love about citrus fruits. It often is incorporated into my favorite perfumes, shampoos, drinks, and foods. This tea is no exception, and I love that little puff of warmth the ginger provides [when I’m not oversteeping it like mad]. I actually do drink this after yoga sometimes [like the description suggests] and it’s wonderful.
Also, I drank this on a recent evening after some good friends and I stuffed ourselves with tarte tatin [recipe from the fabulous Molly Wizenberg of Orangette, to be found here | http://is.gd/136Ki ], and I think I may have foodgasmed. TMI?
This was more earthy than I was expecting, and the sweetness more subtle, but I’m definitely enjoying it so far. I’m going to try and steep it a little longer on the next cup. Another cup may be asking for trouble because I can already feel the caffeine kicking in, but what can I say? I live on the edge.
A friend and I drank four cups of this last night between the two of us. I used the proportions that was in the video Jesse from Samovar and Kevin Rose made, but appears to be down [was here | http://is.gd/RMKC ]; 2 cups water, 2 cups whole milk, 2 tablespoons sugar, 2 tablespoons chai. That’s good for two cups and adds just enough sweetness for me, so I don’t mess with it. [You can halve-ish, the proportions if you’re making it for one, but might want to play around with the amount of sugar and/or chai a little bit.] Some instructions can be found here | http://is.gd/RMPn if you’d like to try it out.
This makes my house smell like I want to bite into it. The chai itself is delicious. It obviously takes a little bit more prep than your traditional brew, but wholly worth it. Especially on a rough day.