I think I might finally be done with Ark for good. They had promised that this year Xbox was also getting the Halloween event, not only would I be able to enjoy the spooky atmosphere, I could finally have an army of skeleton dinosaurs and zombie dodos, I was so unbelievably hype. Today with the release of Fear Evolved on PC they announced that nope, sorry, no fun for Xbox, again. I love dinosaurs, I love the concept of Ark, but I am so done with the incompetent development team, the constant broken promises, and the frequent broken game. I know it is in pre-alpha and expect a lot of bugs, but really it is the constant saying they are going to do something and just not doing it, I can only take so much and it seems a lack of Skelesaurs is the straw that broke the Rex’s back. Probably I will try playing again when the game has actually been released, til then, I guess it is just Minecraft for me.
Ok, clearly I need something to cheer my up, and I have just the thing, because I discovered a new favorite tea. Tillerman Tea’s Bai Hao (Oriental Beauty) 2016 is by far the best I have had, and I have had quite a few Bai Hao (or whatever name you wish to give them, it has several) and while many I have enjoyed I frequently feel they fall flat, I love the flavor notes that are present but wish they were more intense or lasted longer, so usually I just end up going for this tea’s cousin Gui Fei. If you put Tillerman Tea’s Bai Hao next to my favorite Gui Fei, chances are I would pick the Bao Hao, and here is the lowdown. First off, that aroma, it is super sweet, notes of apricot, pumpkin, acorn squash, peanuts, carrot cake, and magnolia nectar waft out of the leaves as I bury my face into them. Usually I find Bai Hao to be super autumnal, largely because it blends notes of squash and pumpkin with autumn leaves, this one lacks the autumn leaf note but still captures that autumnal bliss with pumpkin and carrot cake. Yes carrot cake, it is autumnal because it was often my birthday cake and I am an autumn baby. I had such a hard time pulling my nose out of the leaves, I think I could have sniffed them for hours, but I was thirsty and my kettle was ready to do its job.
Into my Bai Hao teapot the leaves go, yes I have a Bai Hao pot because of course I do. The aroma of the steeped leaves is something else! Notes of magnolia, gardenia, and orange blossoms blend with carrot cake, pumpkin, and acorn squash. It is very sweet and aromatic, again I had a hard time pulling my nose away. The aroma of the liquid is amazing, notes of honey, magnolia, pumpkin, acorn squash, caramelized sugar, and just intense sweetness. The magnolia notes are so awesome, I love that flower so much so it is much appreciated.
You know, this tea is almost too good to write about, I don’t feel I can do it justice! The smooth and thick mouthfeel is joined by a sweetness that washes over my mouth. Notes of orange blossom and magnolia start the tasting out, then it moves to a more earthy and rich pumpkin and squash, both drizzled with melted brown sugar. Towards the finish a gentle autumn leaves and golden raisins blend with a delicate lingering floral note. All the notes are intense, and the aftertaste sticks around for a long time, I found myself getting lost in this tea very easily.
Honestly this is one of the hardest teas I have written about, the notes present are not at all hard to identify, they are familiar and very clear, but trying to accurately represent the level of intensity is where the difficulty is. It transcends mere taste and mouthfeel and moves into something more like trying to describe why two pieces of art which are similar can have very different emotional impacts to a person who has seen neither. I want to sit down to a session with this tea and share it with everyone, but since I can’t do that I have to try to convey how good it is with words. This steep increases richness and the notes of orange blossom, peaches, and apricots. Like an exotic dessert of stewed fruits in orange blossom water, reminiscent of Persian food. The notes of squash and pumpkin are still present and wonderful, as is the autumn leaves at the end. Like the first steep the aftertaste takes a while to fade.
I have a confession, Tillerman Teas sent me a generous sized sample, and it is already gone. I got a whopping nine steeps out of this tea, but I loved it so much that when the leaves were done I started over again with a new pile of leaves. Then the next day I pulled my larger bug bitten oolong pot out and brewed up the rest to share with Ben, who absolutely loved it. He totally supported my plan to get 2oz of the stuff after holiday shopping is done and I can go back to indulging in tea shopping! Honestly if I could afford it I would buy the largest amount the store was offering and drink it in enormous quantities. This tea continues getting richer and sweeter until steep seven where the strongest notes are pumpkin and autumn leaves with a gentle sweetness, but even at the end that sweet aftertaste lingers.