1355 Tasting Notes
Hello Tea Friends,
Today I will be reviewing an interesting and somewhat traditional Tibetan tea called Holy Flame. This tea is intended to be used as the base for Tibetan Yak Butter Tea (Po Cha) which is consumed daily in Tibet. I have tried some instant mixes for Yak Butter Tea in the past and honestly found them disgusting, though saying that I am not a buttermilk fan in general. I found it to be far too salty and sickly that I couldn’t drink it. Perhaps having it fresh would make a difference but I may never find out. Either way when I saw Holy Flame for sale and the intention for the tea I was immediately interested to try it. I may not have liked Yak Butter Tea but I may like the Sheng base. I also like the idea of drinking something that is common in Tibet and actually what they would drink themselves. Though I have never visited, Tibet has always been a wondrous place in my mind
Opening the packet (which has awesome wrapper art by the way) I can note the Chinese characters for Xiaguan which is a district in China as well as being a town near the Southern end of Yunnan. Primarily speaking this region is very well known for their tea production and have some wonderful teas to boast. The brick is rather dark in colour with a hue of brown, dark brown and dark green colours. I can also note some stems/sticks are present and the leaves are a mixture of sizes as though they were loosely chopped before processing. It smells musty and wooden though subtle with a hint of smoke.
The tea has some steeping instructions on the website.
Use 5-10 grams of leaves and brew with 75-150ml ( 2.5-5oz ) of water at or near boiling. Rinse once for a few seconds. Start with quick steeps under 10s. With each re-steep adjust the steep time to your taste.
My steeping parameters: 100ml gaiwan, 7g leaf, boiling water. I will also rinse the leaf as suggested.
First Steep – 7 seconds
The tea soup is light brown in colour and bares a dry earth and smoke scent.
The flavour is mild in comparison to it’s pungent aroma. There is a smoky taste with some astringency in the after taste that leads to some dryness. Further bowls show an increase of depth and it becomes stronger though not by much.
Second Steep – 7 seconds
The astringency is stronger and now bares a wooden must that somewhat matches the scent. It’s certainly strong and powerful considering such short steeps. The smoke still lingers in the aftertaste.
Third Steep – 10 seconds
This is a more balanced steep in terms of astringency and smoke, either that or my pallet is used to it. However, the dryness has increased in the aftertaste and leaves my tongue almost dry.
Fourth Steep – 15 seconds
The first sip comes across as astringent but it quickly softens into a smoky melody that envelopes my tongue and dances on the taste buds. Also the dryness is still present though not much of an issue.
Fifth Steep – 20 seconds
Even on this steep it’s strong with ever pressing smoke and astringency. Also some sweetness coming through in the after taste.
Sixth Steep – 25 seconds
This is starting to relax in strength but it’s still at a nice level. Smoke and wood with astringency still hang in the aftertaste.
Seventh Steep – 30 seconds
It’s certainly starting to calm down but still has each flavour present.
Eighth Steep – 40 seconds
And the flame burns out. There is little left in this steep apart from subtle smoke, a distance memory of a once lively Holy Flame that burnt bright.
Conclusion: This Sheng packs a pleasant punch with a lot of mouth feel that makes you wonder what each steep will bring. Like the flame of a candle; it burnt brighter and intensified until it inevitably burnt itself out to leave a smoky finish. Alright that is enough fire talk, I will extinguish any more fire based puns before I get on someone’s wick.
On a more serious note, it promised to be a strong tea and it delivered. Not only that but considering I used average leaf weight for minimum steep time it produced eight successful steeps. While this may be cheap and intended to be used as a base tea I like it as it is. It’s very suited for an everyday tea and I know I will end up taking this to work to drink so I can close my eyes with each sip and pretend I’m in Tibet.
Until next time, Happy Steeping!
I want to state that this cake contained some very random finds, such as corn kernels and some sort of crumbling red stone. Yet I still kept and tasted the tea. While it has some nice large leaves and silver tips it’s also very easy to split the cake and it bares a soft wood scent.
In terms of taste it’s subtle but pleasurable enough. Soft, sweet floral highlights mixed with dry, sour wood and a touch of stone fruit.
It quickly runs out of flavour though and is suited to every day drinking. While it may not be special at least it’s drinkable, even if it does come with some surprises.
I’ve almost finished my 100g bag of this without writing a tea review. In honesty I wasn’t overly keen on this tea but it came in handy for those awkward times that I want tea but have no idea which tea to have. That is the reason I have it today actually, after this cup I have one mugs worth of leaf left. I’m thankful I chose this tea today because when I sat down my cat Ollie jumped onto me for fuss and he lay in my arms for 15 or so minutes. All that while my tea was steeping, but the good thing about this tea is it’s very forgiving. Most black teas would have to be thrown away after such a long steep but this is still mild and unoffensive.
It’s slightly fruity (like dates) mixed with dry chestnut and toasted wood. It’s extremely light, even after that long steep, which makes it easy to drink. There is also a sweetness coming from the date fruit character that becomes slightly sour in the after taste before leaving a dry finish.
It’s not a bad tea, it’s just not my favourite and honestly once it’s gone I will probably forget what it was like. It was suitable as an everyday tea and is easy to transport to work etc when the mood struck. I do find on the whole that Thai teas tend to be fruity and light in comparison to Chinese and Indian black teas which are much darker. If I had to liken this to anything then it would probably be similar to a mild Darjeeling but without the muscatel notes.
Tea number 3 from my Bruu Tea Club package.
This tea us dark brown and loosely chopped, leaving a mixture of small and medium sized pieces with some sticks/stems. In raw form it bares a smokey, dry wood scent.
Once steeped an orange liquid is produced with a malt, sour wood scent.
Flavour is medium strength with sour wood and light malt tones. There is also a soft smoky element towards a dry after taste. A few more sips increase the richness from the malt but it’s still only a medium strength, I imagine this might be forgiving if you steep it too long.
It’s very easy to drink, only a touch of sourness but in a nice way. No need for sugar or milk and would be a nice afternoon brew.
I received my first Bruu Tea Club package today after being tempted by a trial price of £2.99 for my first one instead of the usual £10. One thing that temped me was that you get random little things included each month, one blog review mentioned receiving seeds, chocolates, tealights, tealight paper holder, sweets and that sort of thing. I always love a surprise so I took the plunge.
I took a picture of my box on Instagram.
As you can see this box was Olympic themed and I got a random flag (Somalia in this case), a party blower, a cocktail umbrella and a gold coin chocolate. It also comes with a printed club letter explaining a little information about the teas and some notes on the gifts included with the theme for this months box.
The first tea I tried was Pina Colada Green which is coming to SororiTea Sisters soon. Second is this Brazilian Blend which I have already had a cup of this earlier and my review will be to the second cup. It’s a little silly really because I didn’t know what it tasted of before so I don’t know how I’m going to review it this time.
Ingredients: Mate Green, Red Currants, Papaya Pieces, Bamboo Leaves, Rose Petals and Strawberry Chips.
Raw Leaf: I can see a leaf heavy mix with some rose petals and strawberry chips in though not many, and even less papaya pieces. It smells like soft tropical fruit with a fresh herbalness behind it.
Once Steeped: A yellow liquid is created that bares a mate, herbal type of smell. Don’t ask me what mate smells like because I have no idea how to explain it, it has it’s own unique smell. Think herbal, grassy and toasted all in one.
Flavour wise the mate is the strongest which matches the scent I tried to describe above. It’s not too dry or strong which becomes sweeter with the fruity after taste. Refreshing and light making it easily drinkable which is why I had a second cup of it, that and the stimulating effect. I’ve tried mate a few times and haven’t liked it but this was actually pleasant.
I’m glad I took a chance with the Bruu Tea Club, I have one more tea to try and have agreed to carry on next month for the full £10. I wonder what I will receive next month?
Opening the packet is tricky but I do it eventually. Once opened I pull out a large piece of cake which has remained whole despite it’s journey. There are quite a few golden tips present on the outside of the cake and a beautiful shine. Some of the golden tips have downy hairs that I can stroke, as though the Pu Erh were an animal. I don’t know why I decided to stroke it…perhaps the heat is getting with me? Further inspection shows dark brown leaves the colour of old, dark chocolate. The cake remnant bares a soft, dry wood and clay scent.
Steeping Parameters: 220ml Glass Gongfu Teapot. Tea Leaf 12g. Boiling Water. 2 Rinses each of 15 seconds.
First Steep – 15 seconds
Colour is golden orange with a soft clay scent.
Flavour is mild with some sweetness and an earthy, dusky wood tone toward the after taste. The more I drink the more I can define the sweetness to being brown sugar like.
Second Steep – 20 seconds
Still soft with brown sugar and dusky wood tones, but with added dryness.
Third Steep – 30 seconds
Darker though still soft. Less sweet and more musky now, with old wood and dry earth notes that linger in the after taste. Also the tea liquid is dark at this point too, like red soy sauce.
Fourth Steep – 45 seconds
Slightly sour in this steep and the wood is coming through with some cocoa notes. Still dry and mildly sweet.
Sixth Steep – 1 minute
Similar to the previous steep though with more clay and dryness. It reminds me of autumn, the dry, musky leaves crunching under my feet as I walk through a forest. The smells of an autumn forest match this flavour quite nicely.
Seventh Steep – 2 minutes
An increase of musk though still soft and the sourness is slight. Very wooden.
Overall – I found this Shou to be mild and delicate throughout the steeps which made it difficult to describe the flavours. At least it was consistent throughout. I would say this is an everyday Shou for Pu new drinkers or those that prefer softer teas. Personally I like strength and depth in my tea which this just didn’t have, though despite that it was drinkable and pleasant enough. I had some difficulty breaking up the cake piece so I did it by hand in the middle of my steeps, partly to see if it increased strength.
I honestly cut this steeping short, originally I planned on 10 steeps rather than 7. Don’t get me wrong, it really isn’t a bad Shou when it comes down to it; my personal preference is just that and I can’t like them all. I still think that for the price it’s a decent every day Shou for new drinkers and would recommend it for that. If I can be nothing else then at least I’m honest.
I decided to ice the last of this tea so it would be ready for this morning. While I was sad to see this tea go I thought icing it would be a nice send off.
This morning I served this tea with a slice of lemon. It’s a deep red/orange colour that is cloudy. It looks stronger than it actually tastes but admittedly I did make it a little stronger for a boost this morning. It’s wonderful, slightly sour which is enhanced and sweetened by the lemon. Lightly smoky from the thickness and a date fruit finish.
Why didn’t I ice more of this? If I knew how nice it would be I would have done it more often.
I tried this tea hot last night and mentioned it would be nice iced, so after I wrote the review I got my ice tea bottle and prepared some. I left it in the fridge overnight so I can have it in the morning. While it’s not as hot as yesterday it’s still going to be a scorcher.
I feel like I steeped this a little too strong but it’s probably right on. Raspberry notes are more sour and it’s floral with a perfumed after taste. Slightly dry too. It’s refreshing and hydrating in this mornings heat.
Out of the two I think I prefer it iced, so now I know what to do with the rest of my stash. I think I have around 40g of this left so that is a good few batches of iced tea.
On the cat front, the new stray I have rescued (called Misty) is a little more settled today. It’s still less than 24 hours but she loves her fuss and has finally had something to eat. The litter is another story, I will have to see if she uses it. I haven’t seen her go at all so far but she may have in the night.
I’ve had a feral cat before, Honey became my best friend over time. She took almost all of my patience over the first couple of years but she settled and became happy. She died earlier this year but she was going to be put down without my care, and I feel the same with Misty. She may be younger than Honey was when we got her but no one wanted her and RSPCA refused to take her in. She would either die outside from the dangers (heat, foxes, dogs etc) or someone nasty would find her and hurt her. I still think I am doing the right thing. My other cats are not sure what to make of her but it’s early. And my husband is grumpy…but at least I can sleep knowing I’m trying my best.
What a crazy day! It’s a heat wave with highs of 33 degrees c (which is 91.4 Fahrenheit) and because work is a glass building I had to work outside in the heat. I have also got a new cat now to make number 5. This morning when I pulled in to work someone near by said she has a cat living there and no one wants her. She is black, fairly small and lives in a hedge. I have been talking to my husband all day and after some arguing I brought her home anyway. She has been here for about an hour and half, she’s in my living room with my other female cat. Though they are not seeing eye to eye Cassie is being patient and gentle, the perfect introduction I think. My boys have had to be kicked out of the living room as they stalk her, she needs to be introduced slowly. For now she has no name but I am thinking Misty.
So for a change of my usual tea taste (which has been black and Sheng) I pulled this out of the cupboard. Originally I wanted a green tea but saw the osmanthus in this and thought it was perfect for the heat.
This smells very sweet and floral, the osmanthus clinging to my nostrils like perfume. The steep revealed the leaves are not great quality (some discolouration and holes) but it tastes nice enough. It’s sweet with a slight sourness to it like raspberry and the Oolong is light and milky. On the whole it’s only mild strength and the osmanthus doesn’t last long in the after taste.
Further steeps remain consistent, even the raspberry quality. Essentially it tastes like creamy raspberry tea which is not a bad thing on a hot day. It was 50g for around £3 so I didn’t expect much from it, needless to say it is nicer than I expected. I can see myself using this for iced tea in the near future.
I’ve spent approximately 8 hours hunting down Pokemon thanks to the official release of Pokemon Go in the UK today. I’m pretty thrilled with my Meowth which I found lurking in my house…with 4 cats here already it makes sense another would find it’s way here. I will have to put more effort in tomorrow, today I have been too tired to walk around much.
I have had this tea before but didn’t get around to reviewing it. Frankly everything about this tea is amazing. It’s a good quality Baozhong with butter, cucumber and sweet floral notes before a juicy watermelon after taste that lingers freshly in the mouth. There is nothing about those flavours that is not to like, at least to me. Cucumber and watermelon are two of my favourite foods ever and having them in such a pure and delicious tea form makes it amazing. Not to mention the Baozhong base can be re-steeped successfully a lot of times so it’s a case of having as much watermelon deliciousness as you can handle.
Yay I just caught another Pokemon while writing this review. It’s a good night!