921 Tasting Notes

So I am finally getting around to getting the mouthpiece and valve oil for my thrift store French Horn, took me long enough, and I find myself in a bit of a pickle. A lot has changed in the world since I played my little heart out 15 years ago, mainly I have no idea where to find sheet music…or really how to read music (I gotta start over from scratch, I hope the knowledge comes back quickly) so that is going to be a fun search. I definitely think one of the things I will look for is the Jurassic Park theme, that piece is wonderful for the horn and was a favorite of mine years ago…well that and Bolero!

Today is a lazy day, meaning I lack the brain power to write about a tea with many many steeps, instead I want something relaxing…so I turn to an old classic relaxation tea, a Hojicha! Looking at Yunomi’s Ocharaka’s Hojicha Mint Chocolate Flavored Roasted Green Tea, a blend of Hojicha , black tea, peppermint, cornflowers, flavoring, and my favorite part…silver sparkles! Edible ones of course. The aroma of this tea is like a piece of toast with chocolate sauce and a very distant mint. Like chocolate mints for someone who wants more chocolate than mint and I am totally ok with that!

I was gifted this tea from a tea friend and thought it was just chocolate hojicha, so it was quite the surprise when it had mint and the silver sparkles, it was kinda epic steeping it and seeing the sparkle. The aroma of toasty chocolate (reminds me of the smell of the edge of a pan of brownies, actually) with gentle cooling mint notes as an afterthought. The liquid is pretty balanced with chocolate and mint with a finish of roasty toasty notes that are quite pleasant, like blending autumn warmth and the crispness of winter.

I found myself really torn, was this a winter tea or an autumn tea? On the one hand the gentle sweet mint and chocolate remind me of winter, with cooling mint notes and my favorite holiday indulgence (so many chocolate mints get devoured that time of year.) On the other hand the notes of pine sap, burning autumn leaves, and woody leaf notes remind me of autumn. This tea is a perfect relaxing cup of sweetness that feels like a warm blanket and afternoon naps, which is something I was much in need of.

for photos and blog: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2016/03/yunomi-ocharaka-hojicha-mint-chocolate.html

Liquid Proust

Hopefully it didn’t stale out any over time. It is quite a unique tea.


Didn’t seem at all stale, still fresh and delightfully mellow. I hope the various Ocharaka teas come back in stock, I want to try the pumpkin one

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Recently I was contacted by Ghograjan Tea Estate to review some of their teas on my blog, and I thought to myself, who do I know that is all about Assam blacks, Earl Greys, and Masala Chai? Duh, Ben, so I pulled him in to do a guest post with me covering these three teas (he shall be voiced by italics for the duration.) What makes Ghograjan Tea Estate fancy is their Farm2Cup model, having just opened a retail branch in the US, they are trying to bypass the middleman and have consumers buy straight from the estate. This is actually pretty darn cool, even us fancy tea bloggers usually have to go through a source most the time. Without further ado, here is Ben’s intro: It is late winter. The air grows warmer, new life stirs within th- okay, no. What Amanda calls “warm and clement weather,” I call a lack of compelling imagery. (It is not my fault I wrote about the weather just yesterday and soiled your flowery prose!) But still! I, the Tea Barbarian, have come forth to review an Earl Grey, in accordance with tradition. You can tell it’s a tradition, because it has now happened twice. VERY traditional. The first thing I noticed about this Earl Grey is that it’s actually three teas, only one of which is an Earl Grey at all. Amanda is sneaky like that, always twisting these sacred traditions which I in no way am making up as I go along. The other two teas are a straight-up Assam and a Masala Chai, so we’ll talk about them first.

Or try to. Sadly, I only have so much to say. We brewed these teas according to their instructions:1.5-2 minutes. The result was very mild for a black tea, and I tried again with a longer steep. That worked better, but for both brews of all three teas, it was less robust than I tend to expect. That wasn’t much of a problem for the Chai (which does have a very nice mix of spices, with a lot of cardamon), but the straight Assam suffered for it. Assams in general have a mix of woody flavor with a slightly bitter aftertaste, and for this one I got a lot less “primary” flavor than aftertaste.

I have to say, trying the Assam Golden Tips I do not disagree with him, it has a pleasant aroma and taste, but nothing really to make me go ‘whoa’ about. Notes of oak and malt blended with a touch of a zingy citrus note are the main flavor notes here, but I found myself wanting more depth, it is one of the things I love in an Assam, briskness without harshness, boldness without bitterness, it can take milk and sugar or stand on its own. But before I sit here and say meh to this tea I want to point out the price, $8 for 3.5oz of tea…wow…that is a lot of tea for a killer good price! So then I thought to myself ‘who is this tea for?’ and I thought possibly for people like my grandmother, casual tea drinkers who have to have black tea every morning and possibly with lunch too, people who want quality tea but who do not necessarily have the same level of obsession as me, so nothing wrong with that!

Which brings us to the Earl. I was concerned about this tea from the moment I smelled it. A good Earl Grey always seems to be too strong at the outset; there’s a reason I always joke that you can tell quality if people couch after a sniff. This was very light, with a promising mix of tea and citrus scents almost wasted by its faintness. The tea itself wasn’t nearly as faint as I’d feared, but it didn’t quite gel, either. The richness of the Assam was hidden by the bergamot, which itself had to contend with the black tea’s underlying bitterness. It’s sad to say this in my second-ever feature on this blog (that is going to change, you are getting more features), but I can’t recommend this tea the way I did the last one.

Oh Earl Grey, one of my first loves, named Vintage Earl Grey for using legit Bergamot oil instead of lemon (which is a crime, using lemon makes it a Knight at the most, no Earl to be seen) and I should point out, Ben and I like very different things in our Earls. I like mine mellow on the Bergamot and heavy on the richness, unlike Ben who wants to be pelted in the face with citrus. This tea was pretty mild on both accounts, except it had this strange soapiness that I could not shake in the aftertaste, this happens sometimes with teas blended with oils, and I will be honest it seems totally random when it decides to bug me. Sometimes I can have an oil blended tea and I get no soapy taste, but I can have the same tea a few days later and it is soapy, just proof on how tastes can change day to day. I will say this Earl had a great midtaste. malty and sweet with a hint of citrus zinginess, it came off as bright and invigorating.

Ben wandered off with my bag of Royal Masala Chai, wandered off and forgot to write the feature for me, though I did get out of him that he liked it…so much that he whipped up a thing of curry and a pot of the stuff to accompany it…ladies and gentlemen, the only person who can beat me in a Chai drinking contest!

No surprise this one was both our favorites, it had the right balance of spices and richness and won serious points in my book for being heavy on the cardamon and not overpowering on cinnamon. A frustrating thing here in the States, our Masala Chais tend to be loaded with cinnamon and all sorts of other spices making it taste more like pie then the wonderful Masala blend I prefer, so when I get one that focuses on cardamon and ginger it makes me happy.

For blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2016/03/ghograjan-tea-estate-assam-golden-tips.html

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What does one do at 2 AM when the wind brings the promise of spring through open windows? One drinks tea, plays video games, and feels the slow charge of inspiration return. This winter was warmer than any I have experienced since I moved from the South as a teenager, but oddly with the warmth and clement weather it was also the most glum I have been in years. I suffer wicked seasonal depression, but it manifests not as sadness but as a complete void of inspiration. I can barely write, painting and artsy endeavors is a no-go, it is like I go into dormancy (proving that maybe I am in fact just a sentient house plant) and only spring really wakes me up. I am sad that winter was sooo boring this year (and not just because the climate implications) but look forward to upcoming storm season. In fact we might get storms later today!

It is funny, with the promise of spring comes the reports from tea gardens about the first flushes starting to arrive, and here I am drinking Darjeeling Sungma Muscatel Second Flush from Grey’s Tea. It is the first second flush I have had in a while and that is dumb because their rich notes are a perfect accompaniment to colder weather, especially autumn, since usually their taste profile reminds me of that time of year. The aroma of the leaves do not disappoint, it blends notes of the expected raisins (to me the big difference between first and second flush is definitely grapes vs raisins) with underlying notes of tobacco, malt, and a nice robust autumn leaf pile finish that blends really well with the heavy sweetness of the raisins.

Into my magical steeping apparatus (aka the double boiler bottom) the leaves go for their bath. The aroma of the soggy leaves is very sweet, strong notes of raisins blend with molasses and cocoa and a touch of distant spice and underlying notes of bark and leaves. The liquid is mild in comparison to the intensity of the wet leaves, with notes of very sweet raisins and molasses and underlying notes of spice and bark.

The taste is pretty excellent, everything I want out of a second flush! It starts with a mild briskness and gentle sweetness of honey and raisins, then the notes of autumn leaves and distant spice (it is a cross between allspice and nutmeg) build in strength. They then fade to a finish of molasses and gentle woody notes, with a lingering sweet aftertaste. The mouthfeel is a touch dry at the start but finishes smooth and bright. A delicious tea for a bit of late night sipping.

For blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2016/03/greys-tea-darjeeling-sungma-muscatel.html

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Guys, I might take up daily blogging again, I am missing my daily writing about tea. Now no promises because like I said when I decided to go to three days a week, blogging is time consuming…but I do have a lot of time, so we shall see. In other news, namely Ark news because it is the other thing that I am obsessed with, my base in the Gulch of Lamentation is complete, it is egg thief proof, secure from giant snakes, and currently very teal. Ok, I am still painting it so it is not totally finished, but building is done, yay! My next bit of Ark shenanigans is deciding if I should upgrade to a Fabricated Sniper Riffle (because I am always a sniper if the option is there) or if it is kinda irrelevant on a PVE server and I should just hunt dinosaurs with my Long Neck Riffle with a scope attachment. These are the thoughts that keep me up at night.

Last day of the GABA Oolong week with Tea From Vietnam, whose website is currently down and has been for a while, much to my sadness. I hope they come back because I fell in love with some of their teas and will be sad if I can’t get more. This GABA is pretty different from the others in aroma, it starts with a strong note of sweet potatoes, like freshly baked sweet potato pie but without any spices. Sweet notes of molasses and honey blend with a tiny bit of walnuts and a finish of ripe plums, it is incredibly rich and sweet, I felt like I was sinking into a sticky dessert while sniffing the dry leaves.

Into the gaiwan the leaves went for their steeping, and the aroma that wafts off the wet leaves is intense. Notes of plums and sweet potatoes mix with molasses and raw honey with an earthy spicy undertone and just a hint of wood. Unlike the other two I looked at this woody notes in this GABA are incredibly light, focusing more on plums and earthy notes. The liquid is soooo sweet, strong notes of honey and brown sugar with molasses and sweet potatoes, my goodness this smells like baked sweet potatoes but with a side of juicy baked plums and a touch of mangosteen. Holy moly the sweetness in this tea is something else!

The first steep starts out immensely sweet and smooth, it just flows in my mouth like warm honey but without the thickness or stickiness (it is so much harder to chug warm honey, trust me on this.) It starts with molasses and plums and pretty quickly moves to brown sugar and mangosteen. There is a touch of the familiar woody sourness I associate with GABA Oolong, but it is really quickly replaced with sweet potato sweetness and earthiness at the finish. It lingers for a while in the aftertaste.

The second steep’s aroma is similar to the first but with a much stronger plum presence, it is like plum candy or jam with that extra level of sweetness. The taste is not much changed from the first, the thing that really stands out is the increase in plum and mangosteen with an addition of peaches, it is immensely sweet. No sourness or woodiness in this steep, just heavy and heady fruity sweetness and a finish of sweet potatoes that lingers for what seems an eternity. As of the second steep I was so zenned out, just kinda melted into my chair.

For the third steep the aroma takes a bit of a toasty note along with plums and sweet potatoes, making the pie similarities even stronger. The one downside some might say to this tea is there is not a ton of variation between steeps, but I personally was very ok with this considering it was immensely tasty. This might be one of the sweetest teas I have slurped, but it is just short of cloying so I never got sick of it, I kept steeping this tea for many more steeps and even when the leaves had hit their limit the resulting watered down tea was very sweet.

For blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2016/03/tea-from-vietnam-gaba-oolong-tea-tea.html

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I have a Bionic Rex!! Yeah, in Ark they have a skin that you get once you tame all the tameable creatures and kill the boss, I was working towards it but wow, so many animals I really did not want, and I do not want to tangle with the giant spider boss. Someone in chat was asking if anyone was selling and someone was, but their price was too high for this fairly new player, for me though it was a piece of cake. So for a pair of fridges I got myself a robot skin for my favorite Rex. This pleases me, not only does my Rex look epic, I also get to focus on animals I want to tame other than working for the skin, I foresee a pack of Compies and army of frogs in my future.

Today I am continuing my look at GABA Oolongs, this one is from Grand Tea, I won this tea in their photo contest they held several months back and got a big ol’ box of the stuff, which has been steadily getting smaller. This specific GABA comes from Huang Shan, meaning (unless I am mistaken, always a possibility) it is from China. The aroma of the dark curled leaves is both sweet and woody, notes of apricot and raisins blend with apple wood and a gentle toasted grain note at the finish and bamboo wood at the finish. This is probably the woodiest of the three GABAs I am looking that, and as a person who adores woody notes, this pleases me.

Into my gaiwan the leaves go, I let GABA steep longer than I usually do for Oolongs, similar to the 45-60 seconds I use for Gui Fei and on the rare occasion I Gongfu up Hong Shui. The aroma has that distinct sour woody and sweet fruity notes that scream GABA to me, it smells lovely and a combination of soothing and invigorating. The liquid is gentle and fruity, notes of raisins and apricots, a slightly sour woody note at the finish but mostly it is sweet dried fruit.

First steep is richly colored and richly sweet, a strong thick mouthfeel that vaguely reminds me of fruit juice but more tea like. It starts with a slightly sour woody note and then pretty immediately moves to dried apricots and dried apples. The finish is all raisins, like a cooked raisin compote but without any spices, it tastes almost like raisin candy and is yum. The aftertaste is delicate but has a lingering plum note.

By the second steep, the leaves have unfurled more and you get to see their mottling of green, brown, red, and a touch of golden. The aroma of the liquid is raisins and peaches with grainy undertones and fruit wood notes. It is not as sweet, but it has a heaviness to it that is quite mellow. This steep is not as sweet, there are raisin and plum notes, but it has a musky woody quality that reminds me of deep forests, but high in the canopy and not on the shou puerh floor. It has a distinct sourness at the finish like slightly under-ripe plums.

The third, but not final, steep of this tea is a bit sweeter, notes of honey and peaches blend with raisins and wood in the aroma. The taste is a perfect balance of the first and second steep, blending strong fruity notes and strong woody notes for a rich and lingering taste. The sourness is still there, I have seen in various places that the sour note can be off-putting to some, I can certainly see that being an acquired taste, but I like it since it reminds me of fruit wood and adds a level of complexity. I was able to get several more steeps out of it before it called quits.

For blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2016/03/grand-tea-organic-gaba-oolong-tea-review.html

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Hello everyone, back from my little hiatus! For those who don’t know a close family member had to have crazy intense heart surgery and frankly worrying about that made my brain a pile of mush, so now that it is over and they are in recovery I can think again! I have of course been using this time with a mushy brain to play Ark and drink tea, like I do, Ark is great, set up a huge new base in The Gulch of Lamentation (best name ever) and currently I am getting ready to hunt down and tame a Quetzal. This has been one of the biggest goals of the game for me, I love those giant flapping majestic things. Plus they act as giant winged transports, meaning taking an Anklyo to the mountains to get metal will be soooo much easier.

This week I am going to look at three different GABA Oolongs from three different growing regions, to see how terroir affects taste! I love being able to do comparisons and thought this was the perfect opportunity. First off, GABA Oolong is special because it gets exposed to a nitrogen heavy environment during its oxidation, making it high in gamma-Aminobutyric acid. This is thought to have a lot of health benefits and I am a complete skeptic (like I am with most health claims) but find it intriguing because yours truly took a synthesized gamma-Aminobutyric acid for the neuropathic pain and Fibromyalgia, granted I had to stop taking it because it caused me a mess of problems (like ‘hey this isn’t working anymore, take more until you get seizures, bahh) but in a low amount it can’t hurt. Mainly I sought this out because I find taking tea and processing it out of the norm to be fascinating, and that brings us to Grey’s Tea Formosa GABA Oolong, from Taiwan! The aroma of the leaves is sweet and surprisingly mellow for the level of sweetness present. Notes of peaches, papaya, raisins, raw honey and caramel mix with a woody undertone. The woody notes remind me a bit of fruit wood with a slight sourness and a distinctly odd ‘GABA-ness’ that I associate with this kind of tea but cannot accurately describe it. It is a like a mix of loam and fruit but with a familiar note that I just cannot place, it is maddening!

Into my gaiwan the leaves go for their first steeping. The aroma of the only lightly unfurled leaves (it takes GABA a while I have noticed) is very fruity and sweet, like a blend of dried papayas, peaches and mangoes with a touch of woodiness. The liquid is also quite sweet, but with the added note of dates and malt and just a little hint of loam. It is quite light but intensely sweet.

First steeping time, it is a fairly mild start, being thick in the mouth with an undertone of being very thirst quenching, like it sends the salivary glands into overdrive like some Shengs do. The taste is gentle, notes of sweet dried papaya and woodiness with a honey finish. This first steep is very light bordering on delicate in taste but the mouthfeel’s thickness makes up for any lightness.

Second steeping time! The aroma is both woody and fruity, and really the wood notes are astoundingly fruity, it smells like apple wood blended with dried papaya and a touch of dried apples. All the fruit notes are definitely the sweeter dried versions rather than juicy fresh. This steep is darker and stronger, the mouthfeel is still just as thick. It has a distinct GABA-ness again that I find hard to describe, it is like tasting solely with the sinus cavities in my forehead rather than my mouth, it is weird and more of a sensation than a taste, again I only get this with GABAs. The taste is more balanced, still sweet and fruity but with more loam and woody notes and a sour finish. The sourness is not like a citrus, but like sucking on a piece of greenwood, it has a lingering apple note that stays for a while.

Third steeping and the aroma is quite woody, with a strong underlying sweetness of dried fruits and a touch of raisins. This taste is strong, the mouth is thick and slick, bordering on oily, and with the accompanying sour and sweet blend makes me salivate a lot. This steep is balanced in woody and fruity notes, dried papaya and apples are dominant, but a sour plum note sneaks in at the midtaste and gets stronger till it dominates at the finish. Of the various GABAs I have had, this one is the lightest while also being the woodiest.

For Blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2016/02/greys-tea-formosa-gaba-oolong-tea-review.html


Wishing your loved one a speedy recovery (:

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One of the things I love about playing on the server I do is the minimal trolling. Other than one complete jerkwad everyone is super nice, and one person even came to my rescue today! I had just finished taming a new Rex up in the frigid north (aka one of the really hard regions) and I got stuck thanks to my Pteranodon being an idiot (its pathfinding sometimes is made of utter fail) inside someone else’s house. So I called out for any ideas to get unstuck in chat and someone came in on their Quetzl and got me out. There is just a great little community with this game and it pleases me, being notoriously shy and not good with people I tend to avoid multiplayer games like the plague, but this game really works, there is a great camaraderie while also competition, big tribes look out for little ones and the newbies get lots of love. Unless someone is a troll, then watch-out because payback on a PVE server can be…interesting.

You know what I love, Kenyan Silver Needle, so imagine my bit of joy when Grey’s Tea contacted me to review some of their teas and one of them was a Kenyan Silver Needle from an estate I had not tried before, exciting! Kenya White Lelsa Silver Tip Tea is from the Lelsa Tea Garden in Kenya’s Kericho District in the Rift Valley, this garden also grows a decent amount of tea, but from what I gathered most of it is black tea. The needles are small compared to other silver needles from Kenya I have had, delicate things with downy fluff, they did get a little crunched in the mail, but mostly the needles are intact. The aroma is gentle with a surprising slight toasty note, like distantly cooking bread, blended with pollen, sugarcane, caramel popcorn, bamboo, and a finish of melon. Its sweet with an underling graininess that really endears Kenyan silver needle to me, like eating kettle corn or some summertime snack in that nature.

Into the gaiwan the leaves go, I tend to brew my silver needle (and whites in general) a bit more heavy handed than a lot of the other teas I drink, I find that a good silver needle can be brewed at 195 for like 15 minutes and it won’t be bitter…intense and only good for one steep sure…but not bitter. So I take my already pretty flexible brewing method and bend even more. The aroma of the soggy leaves is pretty intense, it smells like summertime to me with pollen, watermelon, kettlecorn, and sugarcane, the aroma is very strong on the nostalgia front for me, bringing back memories of late summer and happy times. The liquid is very sweet, less corny and grainy and more straight up sweet, melon and honey mix with pollen and a touch of crisp celery at the finish.

So after my five minute steep, it is time to chug some white tea! I was expecting the familiar kettlecorn and peony notes I associate with Kenyan silver needle, but this tea surprised me. It has the peony, lightly, but it also is more green. Notes of celery and cucumber mix with gentle pollen and a touch of sugarcane at the finish. This first steep was fairly light and has a smooth mouthfeel.

Second steep brought the kettlecorn note I know and love! This is definitely more familiar, the first steep was like a blend of a Kenyan silver needle and a Fujian one, fascinating stuff, and the crisp greenness was very refreshing. This steep is sweet and grainy, with a little bit of the cucumber and melon notes and a finish of lingering sugarcane. Since I brewed this one long and hot I found it finished at two steeps, but it was entertainingly contrasting, so I don’t mind the lack of longevity.

For blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2016/02/greys-tea-kenya-white-lelsa-silver-tip.html

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You know what is really awesome? Having a mobile taming unit, aka, a loaded with supplies T-Rex, because nothing messes with a Rex so I can tame whatever new dino I need in peace. Ok, not totally true, alphas, Gigas, and other Rexes will come and bother me, but usually I have nothing to worry about. Even in the swamp which is a harrowing place I feel very little fear because what is going to bug my big ol Rex friend? I named him Marc Bolan for those who are curious, and when I manage to bag me a female I am naming her Electric Barbarella, and if you get those references you have excellent taste…and if you follow my train of thought on why those names go together consider me impressed!

Today’s tea themed rambling takes us back to long time blog favorite, Eco-Cha! Looking at their Spring 2015 Tsui Yu Jade Oolong, and going to look at it bowl/grandpa style today since in the past I reviewed this tea gongfu style, I like mixing it up a bit! The aroma on this lovely pile of leaves is a blend of green and sweet, mixing gentle notes of sesame with lettuce, sage, broken vegetation, and a touch of distant apples. It almost reminds me of a mix of apples and apple leaves, very gentle and crisp.

Tossing the leaves in the bowl and adding hot water, I notice the aroma takes on a buttery quality to it, blending with fresh vegetation and mellow herbaceous qualities. There is a touch of fruity sweetness, though mostly the aroma has become green and springy. At first the taste is very mellow, not a whole lot going on, gently sweet with apple and sage and accompanying notes of fresh vegetation and sesame.

As the tea unfurls and the water is refreshed the green notes become stronger and crisper with an addition of lettuce and hyacinth and a sweet nectar finish. This is a tea that I love drinking when I am feeling off, there are not a lot of notes and it is somewhat subtle, the notes that are present are very crisp and the tea has a clean, pure quality to it that feels really good to drink when I feel off my game (or when I am gaming, either one really) and it is good both gongfu and bowl style. If you are wanting a more floral green experience go the gaiwan route, it really brings it out.

blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2016/02/eco-cha-spring-2015-tsui-yu-jade-oolong.html

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Happy Lupercalia everyone! It is an ancient Roman festival held roughly February 13-15 celebrating things totally outdated, like cleansing and fertility! It is all about the she-wolf that suckled Romulus and Remus (maybe) and fertility gods of the fields (maybe) basically it is one of those holidays that history has not been kind to so researching it is just a mess, but it is special to me! See when Ben and I first got together we didn’t want to celebrate Valentines because neither of us have good associations with that day, so we rummaged on the internet and ran into this archaic holiday and decided to use it instead, specifically on the 15th because that means the restaurants won’t be packed, everything stops being hideously pink and red, and the candy goes on sale…perfect reasons to celebrate! Plus wolves are cute and fuzzy and cleaning things is always worth celebrating.

Just because my blog is exploring a new schedule does not mean I have forgotten about my beloved What-Cha Wednesdays, they are still kinda happening, just more random and not always on Wednesdays, like today. Plus my stash was running low and I need to stretch it out a bit! Today I am looking at China Yunnan Simao Pure Bud Golden Snail Black Tea, possbly some of the prettiest leaves, I mean just look at them, they are adorable, all fuzzy and curly. I am such a sucker for Dian Hongs it is ridiculous. The aroma is super sweet, strong notes of cocoa and malt mix with yams, toasted peanuts, a bit of cooked peaches, and a finish of a pepper and resin, a bit like pine sap. The yam note is strong, very starchy blends well with the cocoa and malt.

The saddest part of steeping these golden beauties is watching the fuzz go away, but the color of the liquid makes up for the lack of fuzzy. Woo, the aroma of the wet leaves is intense, not so much sweet, but strong notes of yam and toasted peanuts with malt and cocoa, at the finish is a burst of black pepper and a touch of woodiness. The liquid is very sweet, blending honey, chocolate, dried peaches and a woodiness that vaguely reminds me of bourbon.

This tea starts strong, not a weak first steep here. Smooth in the mouth with a slightly sharp citric note in the texture, but not in the taste. It starts with yams and malt and quickly moves to cocoa and molasses and the finish is a blend of peanuts and raisins. It balances sweetness and richness really well, I was impressed with the oomph this tea started with.

The aroma of the second steep is malty and molasses heavy, with cocoa and that woody bourbon note again, I almost want to get a bourbon barrel and toss this tea in it to see if I can really bring the quality out. Somehow this steep manages to be stronger and richer, but luckily there is no astringency or bite to this tea, it is smooth as silk and heavy with its richness. I feel like sinking when drinking it, this tea makes me melt in my chair just a bit. The taste is sweeter this time around as well, the cocoa has gone straight to chocolate and the yam is more candied. Notes of roasted peanuts and molasses at the finish and just a tiny, tiny, hint of rose in the aftertaste.

Last steep, ok not really, I could pull a few more out of this one, not a ton, it seemed to max out at five but could go for a couple more but only be really light. The aroma for this one is malty and starchy, strong and sweet with undertones of resin and bourbon. The taste is similar to the second, formidable in its intensity of texture and taste but smooth and gentle, I assure you I can make a few off colored jokes here, but I resist. The best part is my notes are a jumbled almost unreadable mess, totally unintelligible to anyone but me, and only barely to me! Strong notes of yams and malt give this tea its start, it is not sweet but starchy and rich. The middle and the end are sweet like chocolate and a touch of peaches with a slight woody finish and a lingering peanut note. I kinda love that peanut note, reminds me a little of boiled peanuts but without the salt, and being Southern I cannot get enough boiled peanuts, ever. As you can tell I really liked this tea, my next What-Cha order will definitely have more than just a sample of snails, I’m getting a big ol bag of this stuff…but like all my other Dian Hongs it will be gone far too quickly.

Blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2016/02/what-cha-china-yunnan-simao-pure-bud.html

Daylon R Thomas

I might have to get some of that myself. Dian hongs are the best. Emphasis on the period. Too bad I’m a bit past my current budget and have too much tea I’m not a fan off…


seems to be a fascinating tea. and those leaves are really cute!

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drank Spa Hydrate by Tealyra
921 tasting notes

I think I am coming down with a nasty cold. Ben has been fighting with one all week and I happily seemed to have missed out on it, until last night a double slam of sore throat and fever headache hit me and all I could say was ‘oh no’ and hope it was passed in the morning. It wasn’t. I feel much worse today and my brain is mush, so I am delving into the archives for a blog I wrote specifically for days when I feel bad! Sometimes I can use foresight!

Once more into the pile of teas from the past, or at the very least tea notes from the past! Today we are looking at Spa Hydrate from Tealyra, a blend of Green Tea, White Tea, Oolong Tea, Lemon Myrtle, Lemon and Orange Peel, Goji Berries, Papaya, Pomegranate, Lime, Stevia Leaves, Osmanthus Petals, Cornflowers, and C’watre Minerals. Yes, minerals, this tea is infused with minerals to hydrate the skin, yeah I selected this tea because it sounded odd, but also because I like osmanthus flowers something fierce. The aroma of this tea is sweet and tropical, it has heady floral notes from the osmanthus, sweet papaya, lots of citrus (it smells like orange, lemon, and lime) and undertones of vegetal green and freshly cut grass. It smells very refreshing!

Brewing this tea is wow, my tea area ended up smelling like a citrus pile! Strong notes of orange and lime with undertones of lemon and lemon leaf. Underneath that are notes of papaya and sweet goji berry and a slight note of osmanthus flower. The liquid smells citrusy and refreshing with notes of papaya nectar and osmanthus flowers, at the finish is a honey sweet note of goji berries.

Tasting time, and it starts out kinda odd, it is very sharp and sour, like biting into a lemon on steroids, then it immediately goes to sweet citrus and papaya. The one two punch of sour then sweet certainly woke up my mouth and my brain! Next comes the flowers, osmanthus and lemon myrtle with a touch of green vegetation and hay undertones. It manages to make my mouth feel super dry from the lemon and then immediately quenched from the salivary explosion from the sourness. This tea was kinda fun, not a favorite, but certainly entertaining.

For blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2016/02/tealyra-spa-hydrate-tea-review.html


feel better soon :))

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I am a nerdy, obsessive, crafty, tea blogging, gaming nut. Yeah, that about sums me up! Ok, you want something more informative….

I am a Geek, hardcore fan-girl Geek. It shapes my life. I spend a large chunk of my life painting miniatures and contemplating my various army layouts. I hoard dice, get obsessed with games, and will talk about whatever fandom, game, etc that I am obsessed over until I am blue in the face. I am not just a gamer girl type Geek, I also fit in the collecting knowledge and spending way too much time reading and researching category of Geek.

But there is more to me than just being a giant nerd. I love tea, always have and have just gotten more and more obsessed as I get older. I love trying new teas and then writing lengthy descriptions about them on my blog, I love reading and researching the history and culture of tea, I love collecting tea pots and fancy tea tools.

When the weather allows it, I love to go mushroom hunting. I don’t eat them, instead I use them for photography and spore prints. I love nature and worked as a Naturalist in the Northwoods one summer, it might have been the best job ever.

I have Fibromyalgia, it sucks, but I feel people who are going to interact with me should know since I tend to vanish because of it so fair warning! I do tend to not vanish very long though. Also I have some ‘social disorders’ which basically translates to I am really awkward and bad at socializing, so forgive any lack of social graces.

I also have cats, love the ocean and all aquatic life, have teal hair, love cheese, and collect hats.

My favorite tea is definitely Oolong, but I also love Japanese greens and…ok I just love tea actually :P I am not a huge fan of lemony black teas or tart fruit teas. I also loathe hibiscus (usually)

This is my actual tea wishlist, you know that I actually update and keep track of…I tend to forget Steepster’s https://www.facebook.com/notes/amanda-wilson/tea-wishlishtshopping-list-perpetually-in-progress/10152336515414411 I use my steepster WL to keep track of teas I have had and really want more of :P


Kansas City, MO



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