Norbu Hong Mao Feng black tea w/roasted mate. 3:2. It’s not bad.
“Yes, I drank tea today. Yes, I am lazy, but I was also busy all day, so in an effort to not post lame reviews about teas I drank hours ago, & have reviewed plenty of times, I am once again going...” Read full tasting note
“pssst….i had a bit of tea today. but it was family time with extended family in town for a day and my parents up for the weekend. more to come tomorrow afternoon once everyone is gone. Miss...” Read full tasting note
“Labelled: Anhua Hei Cha 2009 Aged Black. From Dexter. Thank you! I have no idea what this is. So of course I decided to try it! It’s pressed like a cake, and although I left the largest pieces in...” Read full tasting note
“Since I’m in the neighborhood, I stopped by press tea and had the Wild Himalayan Black Tea. Last time I had it with cream and I felt I couldn’t properly gauge how the pressed tea...” Read full tasting note
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Grandpa brew all the things!
It’s been a ridiculously busy few weeks and March doesn’t look like it’ll be fun at all. I’m out of the country for about two weeks for a class and have so many things to turn in/submit when I get back. I’m computerless in the meantime, since my laptop’s been out of commission for months (I do all of my writing on my desktop). I doubt I’ll be able to properly type out papers on my phone, haha.
Anyway, I’ve been grandpa brewing the hell out of anything that I can get my hands on in the morning over these last few weeks. Quick note of things brewed in my 12-oz Thermos Tea Tumbler, all water temps at 195F. Leaf quantities all ‘eyeballed’ but definitely on the lower end of everything, since the leaves just sit in the tumbler all day. I lug a 40 oz thermos around in my bag alongside the tea tumbler and top off the water when it gets low (half or 2/3rds gone).
Verdant’s Laoshan Roasted Oolong – use very, very small quantities of it. Roasty, chocolaty, with a cocoa bitterness that becomes more of an overwhelming burnt chocolate when too much leaf is used. Lasted for a full day— it got uncomfortably bitter for me the morning of the second day so I dumped it and went for fresh leaves.
White2Tea’s 2014 Bulang Lao Cha Tou – really sweet (molasses or brown sugar type sweetness with a touch of powderiness that reminds me of Special Dark), about 4-7 rinsed nuggets will do for an entire day. Got a sample of it from the tea club a week or two ago and immediately ordered another 100g that just came in this weekend, and now I wish I’d gotten even more just because of how convenient it is. This lasted for a day, but I probably could have pushed it to two days with hotter water on the second day.
Mandala’s Not-So-Mini-Tuos – dropped one in the mug, gave it a quick rinse, and off I went. Really bold/hearty and earthy, and the first mugful or two were really strong for me. Halving the mini tuocha might be a good idea next time. This lasted me for two days.
Mandala’s Pu Wen coin – I really loved this one grandpa style. It’s tied with W2T’s Chocolate Mini Shu and Bulang Laochatou in terms of tastiness/convenience when busy. Unfortunately, it’s the priciest of the three so I’m trying to save the ones I’ve got. Lasted two days.
Mandala’s Rou Gui – fruity and sort of cinnamon-y, mildly roasty and ‘bright’. A pinch or two of leaves lasted for about a day— the flavour started weakening near the end, so I don’t think it could have gone for two full days.
Trying out my newly seasoned yixing, which I fear I’m already madly in love with. ;)
So far I’ve brewed:
Ailaoshan Black (Whispering Pines)
Tanyang Gongfu (Nannuoshan)
Heaven’s Trash (Butiki)
Qi Hong Xiang Luo (Nannuoshan)
I cannot get over how delicious everything that I brew in this vessel turns out to be. They are all very very good teas but the yixing imparts a lush, juicy, fullness that I can’t describe. It enhances the natural flavors of the tea and also adds to them. There is a lot of honey because I seasoned it with a combination of Honey Black (Green Terrace), Coonoor Nilgiri (Single Origin), and Laoshan Black (Verdant). Many of the teas I’ve brewed contain elements of grain, malt, stone fruit, cocoa, caramel, and honey…Essentially a combination of all of my favorite flavors. Every cup I’ve brewed has been perfect. I wish I still had thicker, maltier, more chocolatey teas around, but I sipped many of them down in an effort to downsize my cupboard. It will have to wait until my shipments begin arriving. Until then, I’ll be sitting in the corner, clutching my new teapot and making crazy eyes at anyone who gets too close.
Okay, since I don’t feel like making a custom tea for this blend that I’m working on just yet, I will put it under this ingenious tag.
I have been drawing out my supply of Vanilla Mint Mate since Teaopia closed down two years ago. This is an old tea for me, but a really classic wake-up tea that I genuinely miss in my cupboard. It’s great for those mornings that I really need a caffeine hit, but don’t want anything as strongly flavored as a black tea. I attempted to replace it with The Killers Vanilla, but that tea is just so chocolate-y to me (something about the addition of lavender), and I detest chocolate! The original tea had a definitive, but mild green mate flavor on the sip with a heavy dose of cooling on the swallow, but maintained a pleasant level of sweetness and creaminess from the vanilla all the way through. I have one cup left of the original, so I’m hoping to compare it with several options of my finished blend.
Fast forward to my first online order of tea from Upton last year. I got a giant bag of green mate and an even bigger bag of the most cooling peppermint I could find. Dinosara spoiled me with a bundle of Madagascar vanilla beans to complete my project. Well, I’ve finally gotten around to experimenting. I figured my tea log was the best place to record the endeavor for posterity. My goal today was to determine the ideal mint/mate ratio, into which I will toss a vanilla bean and let it age.
To make each sample comparable, I made sure the brewing was exactly the same (side note: who knew I had three tea balls floating around my house?!) for each mix. I will now review them separately:
1/2 mint/mate mix: I really can taste the earthy greenness of the mate, tempered just slightly by the mint. The cooling really shows up on/after the swallow. The cooling is just not quite what I want it to be, but it taste the most similar to the original.
1/1 mint/mate mix: The cooling is at the right amount now, but the flavor is much too peppermint. The mate is there, but the bad influence of the mint overpowers on the sip when I really want it confined to the swallow. This blend really loses the warm and fuzzy smokiness of the mate. It was a tough call, but I think this is too much mint.
2/1 mint/mate mix: This is basically like a pure mint tea. The sod-like under flavor of pure mint shines through the overpowering cooling of the tongue. Definitely not the winner.
For now, I will most likely proceed with variable amounts of vanilla bean in the blend with the most mate, but perhaps I will bump up the mint just slightly in that mix and try it first.
Well, I found this amazing little café in one of the buildings on campus. It’s about 2/3 of the way between two of my classes on Friday, so I know where I’ll be going every week. Their tea is great, too (loose leaf? on my campus?!). Sadly, I have no idea what brand it is. The shop itself is an offshoot of Lavazza but their tea looks nothing like what I had. What a mystery! Maybe I’ll ask if I ever catch them at a slow time.
On to the tea: this jasmine green is really good in a subtle way. The jasmine flavor sneaks up on you. It’s a little bit fruity at first, then sweet, with a beautiful floral aftertaste. The green flavor is a steadying presence in the background but never overwhelms; the whole cup is subtle. Utterly delicious (and even better with a lemon bear claw)!
Houjicha of the Autumn Moon
Home-roasted houjicha from Obubu Tea Farms Sencha of the Autumn Moon
This is my second time turning some of my Obubu green tea into houjicha. This one was particularly tantalizing, as it smelled like pumpkins as I was roasting it. It smelled sweet, a bit like yams, and even more like the smell of a freshly carved jack-o-lantern when you’ve got a lit candle in it, perhaps a bit sweeter. I’ve always picked up a pumpkin note in this tea, and roasting it brought it out in the scent even more. It’s great. Definitely autumn, without belonging to the generic “pumpkin spice” persuasion.
The scent of the brewed tea is very caramely and sweet, with a hint of roasty char and cigar tobacco. The taste is mellow and mostly reminds me of cigar tobacco, mildly sweet. It’s really comforting. I tiny hint of the pumpkin taste comes through in the finish.
The second infusion tastes a little more green, with a pistachio like taste and a hint of cucumber, and it has a sweeter lingering aftertaste. I could swim in this cup. It’s so delicious.
The best two houjicha I’ve had now have been the ones I roasted at home from Obubu’s green tea. I may just end up doing that from now on. I’m not sure if houjicha is just better when freshly roasted, or if I’m just using teas that are more to my liking for this type of flavor. Either way, Obubu sells their teas at greatly reduced prices when they aren’t in season, so I’ll be picking up some of these to roast with my next order from their website. Order from them direct. So many people I know order Obubu’s tea from Yunomi, and pay the huge markup that comes with it. I’m not sure why.
Flavors: Cucumber, Nuts, Pumpkin, Roasted, Tobacco
Tonight I am drinking a caffeine free tea purely for the benefit of my stomach, peppermint tea. A lot of people don’t realize this, but a strong cup of peppermint tea, as long as it is high in peppermint oils, is excellent for certain gastrointestinal problems. Tastes pretty potent though, not one I drink for the taste. You have to brew it really strong to benefit your stomach.
I brewed this once in a 14oz mug with 5 tsp leaf and boiling water for 8 min.
1 more steeping left of my no-name assam (I’m sure it had a name but I lost it) then I can replace it with a new assam. This one is rather flat only a little malt note in the front if I add condensed milk. I prefer a really strongly malty assam so next time I’ll be looking for the malt. This one does the trick of clearing the fog and waking me up. Steepster ate a lot of my notes lately, lets see if this rather inane one “sticks”