257 Tasting Notes
After reading *TheTeaFairy*’s inspiring note about Mandala’s milk oolong the other day, I developed such a hankering that I’m really grateful that I had a little ziploc of a milk oolong of my own that I brought with me to tide me over until I can move my whole tea stash down from Manchester into my new flat here on the weekend. I do love a good resteepable tea that I can just keep drinking all day, and man, does this one go on forever. So much lovely, sweet honeydew flowery goodness, perfect for an idle Tuesday of drawing some things for a secret project for an interesting publisher, wandering to a wool shop down the road from Gentleman’s home, and making Hungarian cucumber salad. I shouldn’t be in such good spirits for someone so recently unemployed, but I think just not being in a godawful job anymore is enough to make me feel a little better about the world.
Today’s mildly more exciting than yesterday, at least inasmuch as I bought office-appropriate linen trousers from M&S and I’ve decided to phase out wheat and processed sweeties in order to try and get my inflammation in check a bit, given that my ankles now hurt to stand on. Tomorrow, I’ll invest in some pineapple. Pineapple’s an anti-inflammatory.
So something moved me today, before dashing to submit a few job applications before their noon o’clock deadlines, to do a few steeps of this oolong. It’s not the most remarkable tea in the world, and it’s not something I crave very often if at all, but sometimes it’s a good, simple I-don’t-know-what-I-feel-like-drinking-so-I’ll-just-have-this choice, and it fulfilled it well. Still as autumn-leafy as ever, at once light and wholesome, with toasty granola notes and traces of dry earth. Ho hum.
Well, poopsicles. Looks like the computer ate last night’s tasting note somewhere between my writing it and it actually being posted! And here I was just thinking y’all didn’t like my ridiculously over-sharing personal rant-reviews anymore. Let’s see if I can remember what I had to say:
Ah, well. Remember that bakery job I told you all about that I started a few weeks ago? Hated it. Hated it so much that I quit on Saturday. My manager, an absolute sweetie to whom I bear nothing but good feelings and apologies for taking off without a notice period, was absolutely understanding. That, at least, was something. The upshot of it was that instead of the R&D I’d been told I was going to be doing, they started what will be about 3 months of ongoing renovations, leaving a kitchen with concrete dust and wires hanging from the ceiling while people are trying to make bagels and brownies in a tiny, cramped space that’s scarcely sufficient for the volume of stuff being done. It’s hotter than Lucifer’s scrotum, and in addition to my hands seizing with tendonitis and becoming useless, it hurts to stand on my ankles, and my eczema’s manifesting itself in places it’s never been before, like the backs of my hands and arms. It’s not like building up the muscles you need to do heavy lifting. This is the kind of chronic stuff that only gets worse. Coming home in tears isn’t worth 4 6-hour shifts a week at 6 quid an hour. Sorry, gang, it’s back to a functional home bakery (and unemployment) for me. OH GOOD.
I’ll miss the fanta floats. It’s not on the menu, but man, a pint of fanta with a scoop of raspberry sorbet and vanilla ice cream? MAGICAL.
So last night, feeling a combination of relief and fear (given that I’m paying rent on two flats for the month of July, which I decidedly couldn’t even afford on my meagre bakery income, let alone none at all – feel free to tell your friends I’m taking illustration jobs!) I brewed myself a load of mambo, because mambo is a feel-good tea. It’s got just enough je ne sais quoi to it to keep you interested, without being overly challenging. It’s smooth and gentle and recalls flavours of ripe peaches and soft dustings of cocoa. There’s something incredibly comforting about it, while retaining a lightness: it’s like being hugged by downy soft pillows when you need someone to tell you that everything’s going to be okay. I’ll be sad when I run out of this one, and then I’ll be immediately onto Adagio’s website to restock.
Ok, I REALLY need to get a proper big bag of this stuff before it’s properly gone, because I love rhubarb. Indeed, if anybody has any other rhubarb teas they love, I’d be happy for the heads-up!
I decided, because I’m a rebel, to completely disregard all tradition and tea-making wisdom and ADD MILK TO A GREEN TEA. And you know something? It’s actually really nice. It adds a creaminess behind the lovely rhubarb flavour, backed by a pleasing whisper of green. It probably shouldn’t be good, but it is. Too darn bad. Good Gosh, this is pretty.
My life continues to be a big bowl of scary, and as such I’m drinking tea until I’m not scared any more. It’s impossible to be unhappy while drinking a tea this silly. This is silly, silly tea.
Okay, okay, this tea is meant to be a bit ludicrous, admittedly, but don’t think for a moment that it isn’t also very moreish. The real question ought to be ‘how many cups of Nimon blend tea can you drink in one sitting?’ and the answer is loads of them. The tea smells like a luscious chocolate liqueur, with masses of depth and sweetness. It brews beautifully into a soft, sweet blend, the background vanilla and almond notes adding layers of complexity to the chocolate. It’s lovely with a bit of milk and sugar, and I love it as much as Soldeed loves his Nimon friend. And the rooibos is flavoured in such a way that it harmonises with the other flavours and isn’t super-strong, which is always a bonus because rooibos as a thing in itself isn’t really my scene. The Nimon be praised!
ALSO, AND THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT: The last time I drank this tea, I spilled a 20-ounce cup of it on the shorts of a prominent children’s author who shall, for the protection of his shorts, not be named, while we were having an afternoon by a hotel pool on a sunny day in Los Angeles. It was hilarious and great.
GOOD GOSH it gets stupidly humid around these parts! I had the most ridiculous headache this afternoon before it finally broke and started raining for a while. Such a blessed relief when it did.
Wednesday I’m having a chat with the university about doing some admin work soon, so fingers crossed. I’m fine with the baking (though MAN, if I can escape the politics of that place sooner rather than later, good) but it’s hot as balls in the bakery and it’s doing bad things for my eczema! Ho hum.
This is another tea it turns out I much prefer when it’s cold. It’s got a nice balance between earthiness from the beet and sweetness from the fruit. I dig it.
Back up in Manchester and packing up a ton of stuff to move down in anticipation of having proper new digs in 2 weeks. Moving is the most stressful thing ever.
BUT. Today is the 40th anniversary of Tom Baker first gracing our television screens as Doctor Who, and some friends of mine and I have some things to say about it (and I painted a thing):
Oh yeah, and this tea! Okay, so this wasn’t my absolute favourite the last time I tried it. But you know something? It definitely improves when you cold-brew it overnight in the fridge instead of serving hot. Yes, definitely. It’s meant to be refreshing and sweet-tart, with citrus and jammy sweet. This is good.
Okay, so I think I’ve managed to sort out some of this work nonsense and we’ve reached a point where I can keep going without bursting into tears at the end of every shift. I’m not good at having to fight, so glad management is on my side here. It’s a massive relief. So much so, I think I might take Gentleman to Levenshulme market and then bake a cherry clafoutis on the weekend. I loooooooooove cherry clafoutis. If I could only eat one pudding for the rest of my life, it would be cherry clafoutis, hands down.
But I digress. I’ve taken to chucking a spoonful of this into a bottle of water and leaving it to steep overnight, then sipping happily away all day long. It’s just refreshingly watermelon good, not too sweet, and altogether just right. I’m really glad it exists.
In spite of the constant threat of rain (and the occasional drizzle) it remains hot and humid as balls here in Oxford, and I am a sweaty mess every time I step out of the safety of the house for more than a few minutes. GROSS, for reals. So, given that it can only get grosser as summer looms like a hulking, sweat-dripping beast over the south of England, I’m icing the living heck out of my lighter, fruitier, most refreshingly herbal teas. Ice Warriors is a glaringly obvious candidate, no?
I feel I can say with confidence that if Ice Warriors drank tea, this is the tea they would drink. I am met with a cool blast of peppermint on opening the bag, with a hint of sharp citrus following. And in spite of its largely green (gunpowder and mint) composition, the blend brews up a deep, menacing shade of red The combination of tastes and aromas wakes up your whole mouth: peppermint cools the top of the palette like a smooth, sibilant vapour, flanked by whispers of tart hibiscus, then a lingering dark green, lightly smoky astringency that intensifies when served cold. A refreshingly gorgeous tea. (I had to try so hard to resist typing all my letter s words like thisssss, because Ice Warriorsssss. Dork.)
Yes, rhubarb good. The past two days I’ve been off work (because apparently “we can give you full-time hours” actually means “we’ll text you at 4:30 in the afternoon to let you know whether or not to bother coming in the next day, and then wait another day to tell you if you’re coming in at all this week”) and MAN have I apparently needed mountains of rest. Left bed proper at, umm, 3 today? The good news is I can sort of lift my right arm but my ankles are a bit wobbly. Doesn’t bode well, nope.
But rhubarb and custard is always a welcome treat. I pretty much love rhubarb anything, and since this tastes joyously of sweet, cooked rhubarb, it comforts my beleaguered soul quite well indeed.