921 Tasting Notes
Happy first full moon of the year! According to the various almanacs that divulge such info, January’s full moon is the Wolf Moon, named so because of the hungry wolves that would prowl around settlements. It is a fun bit of American folklore, some of which originated with this country’s indigenous people and some brought from Europe with settlers, and of course some is a blend of both! Since I grew up either near or in the Appalachian mountains, I was very fond of learning that region’s folklore, and they called it the Snow Moon…and considering my mother, nestled in Cumberland Valley near the Susquehanna River between the Blue Mountain and South Mountains Ridges, sent me photos of a massive blizzard they are having, I think the Appalachian name might be more accurate!
So what’s with this sudden obsession with the moon you might ask, well it is not really sudden, but it is certainly egged on by Whispering Pines Tea Co’s newest tea Moonlight Sonata! This is a blend of 2015 Moonlight White Tea and 2015 Snow Chrysanthemums ‘originally blended to steal the heart of faeries’ and as the daughter of a changeling, this should be right up my alley!
After ogling the wrapper and flowers compressed with the ‘Shadow elf tea’ as I lovingly call the Moonlight due to it being shadowy dark on one side of the leaf and silvery on the other, I chipped some off with my pick and gave it a good long sniffing. The aroma is quite delectable, blending notes of aster, wild flowers, honey, hay, sugar cane, sweetgrass, and dill flowers with a touch of tomato leaf and dried tomato. I am not really sure why Moonlight smells like dried tomato and tomato leaf or why Snow Chrysanthemum smells like dill flowers to me, but they do and I admit I kinda love them because of those notes. At the very end of the sniff I pick up subtle notes of pollen and tangerine, which add an extra depth of sweetness.
Gaiwan time! I kinda agonized over which gaiwan would compliment the colors best, so I picked one of my celadon ones, and I was pleased I did! Holy wow is the wet leaf fruity smelling, strong notes of nectarine and dried apricot mix with warm honey and wildflowers with a finish of dill flowers. For anyone who has not sniffed a dill flower, it smells like a blend of dill (but faint compared with the leaves) and hay, it is very pleasant, and tasty too, though they taste stronger than the leaves. The liquid is a blend of nectarine and dried apricot with honey, hay, and clover flowers with a finish of faint dill flower and wildflowers. It smells very sweet!
First steep and already my notes are crooked! I consider it the mark of a good tea when the notes in my notebook start to go sideways. It starts with a creamy mouthfeel, coating the mouth while also being light and smooth. The first taste to pop up hay and clover blossoms with a slight mineral note, this moves to rich honey and nectarines, which in turn moves to apricots and wildflowers with a finish of lingering sweetness and pollen. The first steep is light and refreshing with a slightly cooling feel to it, similar to drinking a large glass of water on a hot day, it quenches the thirst.
Onward to the second steep and the liquid is getting dark, it looks like a moon low on the horizon on a summer’s day. The aroma focuses on the hay and honey, with side notes of pollen, aster, and clover flowers, while the finish has a blend of nectarines and dill flowers. One thing I am really liking about this tea, other than the taste, is the refreshing thirst quenching quality it has, each steep even though the tea is hot, reminds me so much of drinking spring water on a hot day. The slight mineral notes at the start do not dissuade me of this either. This steep is richer, though not sweeter, with strong notes of nectarine and apricot, dill weed, hay, pollen, and honey. Towards the end of the steep the feel, while still refreshing starts to go to warming internally, making me feel extremely relaxed.
The third steeps’s aroma stays strong with the honey and hay, with an accompaniment of strong clover flowers, pollen, and nectarine. The notes that are present are subtle but their presence is strong. This steep loses its mineral notes and picks up a subtle malt note, giving the tea an extra depth. There is a strong nectarine and honey taste to this steep, much like eating a nectarine drizzled in warm honey, this moves to wildflowers and a touch of dill with a nice finish of hay and pollen. I got many steeps from this one, it is one of those you can sit with for a while, perhaps while watching the moon or while being snowed in!
Well after waiting for an eternity last night, my new game finally finished installing and I got to play with dinosaurs in ARK: Survival Evolved. Really though a lot of the game involved me dying in various embarrassing ways, since this game is hard survival and has a bit of a learning curve. Also there are dinosaurs, some of them are real jerks…especial packs of Compys and Dilophosaurus, and the occasional jerk Utahraptor that ‘clever girl’ed me. I am pleased that I managed to never starve to death or die from falling, though as in life my sense of direction is abysmal and I do get lost a lot. One time I got so lost trying to find my way back to my little base camp that I just gave up and wandered to a Spinosaurus to be eaten and re-spawned. Fun times!
Time once again to delve into my never ending backlog of tea notes with Tealyra’s Feng Shui Wellness, an herbal blend of Apple Pieces, Goji Berries, Dragonfruit, Nettle Leaves, Blackberry Leaves, Lemongrass, Orange Peel, Eucalyptus Leaves, Carrot Flakes, Natural Flavoring, Cornflower, and Marigold Flowers. Of all the various blends on Tealyra, I picked this one out because it had eucalyptus, I was having lung problems at the time and that stuff works wonders for me, but I wanted something sweet too, so this looked promising. The aroma of the unsteeped blend mixes cooling and sharp notes of eucalyptus with lemon, pepper, sweet apple, tropical dragonfruit, and the oh so wonderfully honey sweet note of goji berries. It is really quite sweet smelling while also being refreshing.
Giving this tea a steeping, the aroma is now very strong in the eucalyptus and lemon, along with strong herbaceous notes from the nettle, it smells green and fresh. Underneath the herbaceous notes are sweet tropical fruit and honey. The liquid smells a bit tart, it smells like there is hibiscus in here, but there was none in the ingredients…bit they also did not list the red peppercorn so I dunno. The pink coloring and tart notes make me raise an eyebrow, but there is also a good amount of tropical fruit and cooling eucalyptus with a strong citrus note.
The first thing I notice is the mild cooling effect from the eucalyptus, talk about a breath of fresh air, literally, it really does make my lungs happy. This tea is actually really tasty, strong notes of citrus and herbaceous green notes dance with goji berries and sweet yet tart dragon fruit and apple. There is definitely hibiscus in this blend, I taste it with its tart metallic tone, but it is mild so I don’t mind too much. I found this tea was also pretty good cold steeped, and is just best when it is slightly cool rather than hot.
Ugh! I am getting a new game, yes, playing a game other than Minecraft, it is horrifying I know, but the siren’s call of ARK: Survival Evolved’s ability to tame dinosaurs while being a wild nature person hard-core trying to survive is just too much to resist. Download started at 2 PM this afternoon and it is only at 67%. I thought I could nap and when I woke up it would be done, but nope…and on top of that my nap left me feeling haggard, so now I am quaffing tea to help wake me up so if the download ever does finish I can play my new game! Shoutout to the only people I ever game with for buying me ARK, I was thinking I was going to have to wait til the release for me to play it, woo for Beta!
So, since I am quaffing tea, why not write about the one I am slurping while slurping it! Granted I already have the notes for this one in my notebook but sometimes I get inspired, usually it is by writing about a tea and then thinking ‘man I really need to drink that now’ but sometimes it is the other way around, and with that, presenting What-Cha’s Taiwan Sun Moon Lake Ruby Black Tea. Ah, Sun Moon Lake Black, Ruby Black, Red Jade, #18…I probably missed one somewhere, this is the tea with a ton of names and a mystery behind it. I saw mystery because everyone tastes its defining ‘note’ that sets it apart as something different (cloves, sassafras, eucalyptus, cinnamon, menthol…) and last time I reviewed one of these teas I discovered that all these plants have chemical similarities that reallly makes me wish I had a better understanding of bio-chem. Now if these plants’ Phenylpropenes being in the same group have anything to do with the aroma and flavor notes showing up in the tea, that I have no idea on, but I do find it quite fascinating! Science nerding out aside, the aroma of this particular Ruby Black is strong, notes if cocoa and squash blend with sassafras and cocoa with a finish of menthol and honey. This is the first time I have picked up one with a menthol note in its aroma, so that is fun. This tea is so weird but I love it!
Into the gaiwan (I now, fun fact, have a yixing pot devoted to this tea, it is that much of a favorite) the leaves go. The aroma of the wet leaves is all over the place, sassafras, cinnamon, cloves, menthol, along with rich dark chocolate and a bit of acorn squash. The liquid is mellow in comparison, granted it is still pretty potent because this is a not a tea that messes around. Notes of dark chocolate (like the really dark stuff) and sassafras mix with cloves and squash with a nice sweet burst of honey at the finish
First steep and ahhhh that is nice, this tea manages to be warming and cooling at the same time, with its cooling notes of menthol (granted it doesn’t really taste so much like mint, but it feels like it and smells like it and you know it is just kinda weird) with the warming ones of cloves and sassafras. It has a creaminess at the finish reminding me of chocolate and honey, with a touch of malt that lingers into the aftertaste.
As expected, on to steep two! The aroma is stupid potent this steep, strong notes of cloves and cinnamon mix with sassafras and chocolate with a nice finish of squash and honey. It is very sweet and I think the smell alone of this tea is enough to jog my brain from its fugue. The texture this steeping is much thicker and a bit sharp, one of those teas I can feel on the back of my teeth while it also coats the mouth with thickness. One of my idea mouthfeels. The taste is sweet and bittersweet at the same time, mixing milk chocolate with dark and adding cloves, sassafras and cinnamon. At the finish there is malt and honey, with a cooling menthol sensation in my belly that I find quite comforting.
The third steep is very similar to the second, this tea does not vary a whole bunch with Gongfu, just varying in strength. However, this is one of those teas that you really cannot brew wrong, western style brings out more malt notes and is very brisk, Grandpa/bowl style is sweet and rich with more mellow sassafras and cinnamon notes and heavier chocolate, while cold steeping this tea is an intensely sassafras and cinnamon heavy experience. It is a lot of fun and a definite staple in my tea stash.
I am happy, why you might ask? Because SNOW! Yes it is gently snowing out right now, and it plans on snowing on Thursday as well, and this pleases me. To celebrate this snow I had Ben help me with a tea picture taking session, though I only really lasted for one steep since I am small, Southern and freeze easily. Ah, I do love the frigid snow and fantasize about the rugged north, but I will have to enjoy it from my pile of blankets on the other side of a window.
It’s Yancha time! Today I am taking a look at Yezi Tea’s Shui Xian Da Hong Pao Oolong Tea, and the name of this tea confuses me. I am not sure if it is a blend of varietals (Shui Xian and Da Hong Pao) or a Shui Xian made to be a Da Hong Pao, I dunno, and frankly I am getting tired of trying to navigate the convoluted naming conventions of teas. Don’t worry, my passion for tea and knowledge is not at all diminished, I just sometimes like to pay attention to the tea and have its stories be secondary. The aroma of the leaves is sweet, nice notes of cocoa, raisins, and dried cherries with char, dried wood, and a distant note of smoke. It balances sweetness and char really well I think, one does not overwhelm the other.
Into ye’ol Yancha pot the leaves go for a hot and short steep, and the aroma of the wet leaves is very rich and sweet, notes of raisins and cocoa mix with autumn leaf pile and char, the char notes do not overwhelm, this tea errs more on the sweet side. The liquid is very pale of color for a Yancha, but the aroma is intense, strong notes of cocoa, raisins, and rich honey, with underlying notes of dried cherry, loam, and char. The char notes are very mild and the sweetness shines.
The first steep is pleasantly smooth and sweet, well it starts smooth in the mouth and a touch creamy with sweet notes of cocoa and dried fruit, it them moves to a slight dryness with tobacco and orchid notes. At the finish is straight up sweet chocolate that lingers for quite a while, though there was a definite lack of char this steep, and only a slight hint of mineral.
The aroma of the second steep has a bit ore char, and some smoke as well, with notes of cocoa, raisins, baked squash, and sweet cream. There is also a ghost of orchid, but it smells more like an orchid tossed on a bonfire rather than a bouquet. Wow, the second steep is super sweet and creamy, very smooth in the mouth and thick too! Notes of chocolate and char with autumn leaf pile at the first remind me of s’mores, in fact blending with the sweet burnt sugar notes and baked yeasty notes, it kinda is like liquid s’more. The finish has a sweet and gentle note of orchid and dry autumn leaves, with a cocoa shell note that lingers for quite a while.
Third steeping time, wow, the aroma did a turn around on me, no longer notes of chocolate and char, it is all sweet creamy honeysuckle and orchids. The taste is a delicate and sweet blend of honey, molasses, honeysuckles, cream, chocolate, and loam. The finish and aftertaste is really where this tea is at, it is exactly like burnt marshmallows, complete with a touch of campfire! This is a delicious tea, usually I like my Yancha with enough char that you might mistake it for actual steeped bonfire (I think because my first Yancha was Shui Hsien by Sea Dyke, super cheap but super good, so it is iconic in my mind) but changing things up with a lighter Yancha is fun, plus it broadens my spectrum of tastes which is always a plus. So whatever this tea is, be it a DHP or a Shui Xian, who cares, it tastes really good!
On this most frigid of nights with a gentle coating of snow and an endless supply of warm tea, I am researching Slavic mythology. It just seems apropos, but there is a reason for it, I am looking for a perfect name. Studying mythology is one of my favorite past-times, and I like to refresh my memory ever so often, the reason I went with Slavic is I want to name my new teapot something Slavic and earthy, either a nature spirit or forest god, conveniently there are a lot of options, it is all about matching the pot to its mythical figure.
Today we are looking at a quite pretty tea from Golden Tips Tea, Okayti Silver Needle Darjeeling White Tea. Hailing from the Okayti Tea Estate, this silver needle is hand picked in the early morning and is really very pretty, but I am such a lover of fuzzy teas. I also have a great fascination with trying Silver Needles from regions other than Fujian, it is a passion of mine. The aroma of the surprisingly gray under the silver fuzz leaves is very fresh, notes of lettuce, pepper and sage, cucumber, and tarragon as an afternote, it is a very herbaceous tea with only a hint of sweetness.
I decided to steep this one in my steeping apparatus rather than in a gaiwan. The aroma of the wet leaves is a blend of melon, specifically honeydew, and sage with fresh bok choy, pepper, and tarragon notes at the finish. It smells very fresh and herbaceous, with the green notes accenting. The liquid is sweet with notes of honey, hay, bok choy and lettuce. At the finish is a touch of sage and pepper.
Tasting this tea is quite nice, it is mellow and sweet, with a smooth yet ticklish mouthfeel. Gotta love those fuzzy trichomes, they tickle ever so slightly, which I enjoy immensely. The taste starts with gentle sweet hay and honey with notes of melon and dried apple. It then moves to slightly yeasty bread and sage, and then onto the finish which is bok choy and lettuce. The aftertaste is a gentle honey that does not linger for very long, but at the very end there is a slight note of apricot which I found surprising. I only had a small sample of this tea, only enough for a cup, I would love to get my hands on more so that I could try it Grandpa/Bowl style and in my gaiwan, clearly I will have to go shopping!
With the most recent Minecraft update we got bunnies, oh so adorable hoppy fluff balls of happiness. I love them so much, though along with this addition we got a change to wolf mechanics, that change is they attack skeletons and bunnies, along with sheep from previously. I don’t care about the sheep, the skeletons being attacked is hilarious, but I hate how I am watching a bunny and a wolf comes out of nowhere and eats it. It just makes me so sad! I built a bunny sanctuary to keep at least some of them safe from the ravenous wolves, nature you so cruel sometimes.
Recently on Instagram WymmTea had a little giveaway for a sample of their new Tengtiao Dian Hong Black From Ancient Tea Tree tea, and I was selected as one of the winners. If you have even a passing familiarity with my tea rambling or my Instagram, you probably know I have a serious obsession with Dian Hong, I love Hong Cha in general but Dian Hong is like a drug to me. I just can’t help myself from guzzling it in enormous amounts. This specific Dian Hong comes from Mengku, and is made from the same Maocha that if processed differently, would be their Tengtiao Cane Sheng Puerh. The aroma of the pretty curly leaves has a lot going on, it is malty and sweet with notes of molasses and sweet potatoes, a touch of camphor, black pepper, distant rose, roasted acorn squash, and a finish of myrrh and peanuts. It has some very iconic notes of a Dian Hong, which I like, smells very classic to me with a few added bonuses, specifically in the myrrh and camphor.
I had enough for several steepings, and tried it both in my duanni yixing gaiwan and fancy new teapot, in typical me fashion I have already motored through my sample, because I chug Dian Hong like crazy. The aroma of the soggy leaves is quite rich, notes of cocoa and malt with honey and underlying squash and pepper with a slight resinous myrrh undertone. The liquid is malty and sweet, with cocoa and honey, roasted peanuts and yam, and a slight undertone of myrrh. It is not terribly nuanced but it does smell nice.
The first steep is mild and sweet, with a very light mouthfeel. It starts with sweet potatoes and roasted peanuts with undertones of honey and cocoa. At the finish there is a gentle rose nectar that lingers into the aftertaste, sadly the aftertaste does not last overly long. This is a very light first steeping.
Second steep, the aroma is very sweet and rich, strong notes of sweet potatoes and brown sugar with molasses and peanuts, kinda reminds me of baked sweet potatoes with extra honey, yum! Like the first steep this one is light and has an incredibly light mouthfeel, it seems to lack body. The taste is malty and sweet, with notes of molasses and sweet potatoes with an accompaniment of honey and pepper. At the finish there is a mineral note and an aftertaste of cocoa.
Third steeping, the aroma is still pretty sweet, with honey and sweet potatoes, nuttiness and molasses, again it makes me think of baked sweet potatoes (just without the marshmallows because no, just no) and to be honest I really want some of that now. The taste is still light and still sweet, with very little body. It has notes of sweet potatoes and roasted peanuts with gentle cocoa and black pepper. At the finish is a bit of rose that lingers. What this tea lacks in body it does make up for in staying power, it just does not quit. The other night I pushed it past ten steeps and even though it was light and did not really evolve much, it was happily chugging along, so I definitely give it that. I have mixed feelings overall on this tea, I liked the taste and the staying power, though I wish it had more of a thick mouthfeel and richer flavor. I tried upping the leaf amount and that made it way too astringent for my liking, and Grandpa/Bowl steeping it was a disaster, so it is a bit limited. To be a favorite Dian Hong it has to hold up to Grandpa/Bowl steeping so I can take it with me in my travel infuser.
We might get snow next week! Yay! Granted it might only be a couple inches, but the way this winter is going it is certainly better than nothing. I love snow, it is one of my favorite forms of weather, rivaled by storms and beaten by the epic thundersnow! Several years ago when I was living in Pennsylvania we had a freak week before Halloween blizzard, it was a photographer’s dream and I indulged fully. While out walking under the large flakes and heavy with snow trees I saw a blinding flash and then a massive crash of thunder, it was not the most epic of thundersnows (several years earlier it was a full on massive storm during a Nor’easter) but it was the only time I was outside during one and it was close enough to make me feel static in my fillings!
Today I am taking a look at another tea from Xin Mu Cha, their Vivid Retention – Taiwan Premium High Mountain Oolong, hailing from high on La La Shan in northern Taiwan. This is their premium and limited edition batch, so seeing how it compares to their other La La Shan Oolong will be fascinating. The aroma of the very tightly curled leaves is immensely sweet and creamy, it is no stretch to say it is mouth watering! Strong notes of cashews, cake batter, sesame seeds, and cane sugar blend with heady notes of honeysuckle, orange blossom, and sweet pea flowers. There is an underlying and distant note of butterscotch which I found really fun, it added a depth to the sweetness.
Brewing the leaves retains the sweet and floral notes but also brings out some green. Buttery snap peas blend with gentle lettuce and sorrel, then comes in notes of honeysuckle and hyacinth, with a finish of cane sugar, cashews, and a touch of pepper at the end. The liquid is sweet and starchy, yeasty cake batter and cane sugar mix with honeysuckle and cashews, with a crisp butterhead lettuce note at the finish.
The first steep starts out gentle and surprisingly green, it is more buttery than sweet. The mouthfeel is smooth and creamy, mouth coating without being oily, it has just the right amount of thickness. I still think after all these years, the mouthfeel of tea might be one of my favorite parts of the experience. It starts with crisp notes of butterhead lettuce and cooked bok choy with undertones of butter. This moves to sweetness in the form of cashews and honeysuckles, and a finish of honey and a slightly starchy aftertaste that lingers.
For the second steep, the aroma is both buttery and sweet, notes of bok choy and cashew mix with hyacinth and honey, it balances the sweetness making it not overly sweet. The tasting starts with buttery green cooked bok choy and lettuce, with a touch of lotus leaves and cooked bamboo, This moves to a very intense burst of chestnuts and cashews with a strong note of honeysuckle. The finish is a wonderfully sweet note of sugar cane with a lingering accompaniment of snap peas adding a bit of green with the sweetness.
Third steeping time and the aroma has taken on a mostly sweet and floral tone, with notes of honeysuckle, hyacinth, and sugar cane along with a gentle undertone of lettuce. The taste is also more sweet this time around, the green notes of lotus leaf and gentle butter are all that lingers from the previous steeps. After this initial green buttery notes, there are sugar cane and pecan notes, along with sweet chestnut and honeysuckle. The finish has a note of snap peas and cane sugar, both which linger. This was a very enjoyable tea, it had a suitableness to it that I found very relaxing and refreshing, and of course it lasted many more steeps.
For blog and photos (lots of droplets) http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2016/01/xin-mu-cha-vivid-retention-taiwan.html
I wanted to write about how I was surprised with a beautiful new teapot, gifted from the aether, or how Ben got me a book from one of my favorite authors (Randall Munroe, if you are curious) or how my sunlamp seems to be working and I am feeling better…but, all of these pieces of awesome news are dulled but sad news. The other day music and acting icon that helped shape my childhood David Bowie passed, and then today I woke up to Alan Rickman, whose acting I have been watching since I was tiny (I was raised on Die Hard!) having passed, these losses to the arts are sudden and tragic. They were not just icons of nerdity ( as Jareth and Snape) they were icons! They have left this life, but left us a lifetime of entertainment that has cemented their immortality.
I have had several teas from Crimson Lotus Tea, own a small army of tea frogs from them, and have had many excellent conversations with them, but I have not written about any of their teas and that is kinda terrible of me. So I am rectifying that today with 2008 Bulang Imperial Grade Shou Puerh! From my experience (limited as it is compared to the real Pu-heads) Shou from Bulang is usually quite sweet and rich, so let us delve into the tea notebook and see! The aroma of the leaves is indeed quite rich! Notes of loam and wet leather mix with burnt sugar, wet bark, cedar loam, and a distant touch of dates. It blends sweetness with earthiness in a rich dance that is pleasing to the nose.
Into my shou pot the leaves go for their rinse and short steep. The aroma of the wet leaves is super strong and intense, I lifted the lid off my pot and poof, face full of forest floor, with wet loam, a bit of peat, some wet pine loam, and a finish of leather. The liquid is sweet and rich, with notes of pine loam, mushroom soil, burnt sugar, molasses, and a finish of dates.
For the first few steeps, the real focus of this tea was its mellow loam and earthy notes. It has a subtle sweetness and a touch of mushroom soil, but as my notebook says, it is loamtastic. Blending pine loam and more deciduous leaves with gentle notes of distant molasses. It has a thickness which is nice but not overpowering.
Several steeps later and the aroma and taste really become intense, very strong earthy notes of loam and mushroom soil, wet wood, leather, and a deep heavy sweetness in the aroma. Sniffing this tea reminds me of sinking into a nice nap in a sun warmed forest. The taste is loamy and rich, but there is also a creamy sweetness like molasses candy and dates. It is thick and heavy, definitively a very rich shou!
Towards the end the aroma is still potent and loamy, notes of pine soil and molasses blend with oak wood and a touch of leather. This tea outlived me, I stopped at steep ten but I know it could have kept going for more steeps, please don’t think less of my stamina. The finishing steeps bring in more sweetness, molasses and brown sugar with dates and a resinous pine sap finish. It oddly reminds me a little bit of horehound candy on the finish with more of an earthy leaf loam and mushroom soil note. This was a wonderful shou, one I could see myself buying a brick of to slurp on cold nights.
I am going to share the story of Mittens with you all, Mittens the Wither that doesn’t know how to Wither. In my creative world I built a zoo, all the various mobs have a nice little enclosure allowing for viewing in a pseudo-native habitat. So to spice things up I made a Wither enclosure, saved the game, then turned off auto-save and turned on mob griefing and decided to watch the Wither destroy my zoo before I quit out, the destruction having been erased. I have never seen a Wither fail so epically, so much for being the enemy of all life! It took forever to blast through a wall and then when it finally did it couldn’t even manage to kill an Endermite, so I turned off mob griefing and shoved it back in its enclosure, not even bothering to exit without saving…it made that little of a mess. So feeling sorry for it I put a dispenser that ‘feeds’ the Wither random cows and such and half the time it doesn’t notice it, realizing this Wither had…issues…I named it Mittens and created a rehabilitation fund in the zoo, maybe one day, with luck, Mittens can be returned to its native habitat.
Today we are taking a look at What-Cha’s Vietnam West Lake ‘Golden Flower’ Lotus Green Tea, sourced from Hatvala, and this tea is artistry. The way lotus tea is produced is green tea is stuffed into the blossoms, the blossoms close overnight sealing the tea in to absorb the aroma. There are other versions (standard scenting by blended the flowers with the tea and then the flowers are removed, and for really cheap Lotus tea, using lotus oil or extract flavoring rather than scenting) I am not sure if this one is a ‘stuff the blossom’ or standard scenting procedure, but regardless I have a serious weakness for lotus scented tea. The aroma is intense! Strong notes of anise and honey, vanilla and sassafras, pollen and an underlying greenness of grass, hay, lotus leaves, and bamboo leaves. The mix with an overwhelming sweetness and fresh verdant notes, an unusual note with this tea is the sassafras. Lotus smells amazing, with strong sweet notes of anise, this is the first time I have run into one with sassafras adding a fun level of depth.
Steeping the tea ramps up the intensity, which is a little mind boggling considering it was already super intense. Strong sweet notes of anise and a touch of licorice (similar yet different, the same sweetness without the root notes) blended with sharp green notes of bamboo leaves, hay, and cut grass. It is surprisingly cooling to my nose, like breathing in mint without the menthol notes, I find this immensely intriguing. The liquid is a really sweet blend of anise and cream, with a touch of sugar cane, broken bamboo leaves, and a touch of grass at the finish. It balances its green and sweet notes in a very summery way, reminds me of the lotus pond I visited at Wildwood park in Harrisburg, one of my favorite wetlands.
First steeping and wow, it manages to be incredibly intense and delightfully mild at the same time, quite the accomplishment! This is definitely a tea you taste the most with your nose, if I was to plug my nose the taste would be light with notes of anise and bamboo leaves, with a lingering touch of honey at the finish. The moment I breathe through my nose then it is like having my face in a lotus flower, it fills up my nose, mouth, and throat, it is intoxicating! The aftertaste/smell of lotus lingers long after the cup is empty.
Second steeping, because there is no way I was stopping after one. The aroma is strong, notes of anise and sassafras with creamy honey undertones mix with cut grass and broken bamboo, the green notes have a sharpness, very much so the notes of freshly broken vegetation. This time around the majority of the strong lotus notes are not just in the nose, you can really taste them. Underneath this powerhouse of anise and sassafras is gentle notes of pollen and honey. The finish brings in crisp notes of bamboo leaves and a touch of raw spinach. The lingering aftertaste of anise stays for a while, like the previous steep.
The third steep has a strong aroma still, though it is more balanced between the lotus flower notes and vegetation, either the lotus is fading or the green tea is getting stronger, either way it still reminds me of summer. The taste takes a cue from the aroma, it is not just a powerful blast of lotus, but a more subtle and subdued sweetness with strong notes of crisp grass, broken lettuce, and a distinct herbaceous sage note which I found blended really well with the anise notes. This tea lasted for a few more steeps, it is really quite wonderful, but I love lotus tea, even the occasional really cheap bags of the flavored stuff I get from Vietnamese markets, though they do not hold a candle to the real scented ones. I have seen some people say it is an acquired taste, and I can believe that, if you are not a fan of anise then chances are this is not the tea for you, but if you are then boy are you in for a treat!