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Recent Tasting Notes
I spent the day on friday at Hershey Park in Pennsylvania. The supposed reason we went was to ride the rollercoasters (we did all 10 that were open!! The rollersoaker in the waterpark was not running for the season yet) but I ain’t gonna lie – I love going to Chocolate World. There you will find all the chocolate Hershey makes (including many things never seen in my local stores) in enormous quantities, all so perfectly fresh. We brought home some serious loot!
Last night it was our task to eat this enormous Reeses bar which I’ve never seen in a store with peanuts and wafers and a sort of peanut brittle in it (so good!) – and I decided to simply go for broke with the pairing – the most chocolate-y tea in my collection. Some half and half and sugar to just make the whole thing as decadent as possible.
The tea held up nicely to the strong flavors, and helped with the Peanut Butter Phenomenon – you know how peanut butter sticks to the roof of your mouth?!?
Great pairing – it was the equivalent of going on a roller coaster – a short, intense burst of WOW!!!
So as I was straightening my cupboard this morning, I noticed that my tins of both Florence and Chocolate Tea from Harney and Sons were less than half full, and the wheels started to turn…I wondered what would happen if I combined them, and then added some mini chocolate chips like Adagio does with their Chocolate chip tea…
Success! I was afraid that the chocolate chips might overwhelm the tea and especially the hazelnut flavor, but not to worry – each taste comes through. I’m really pleased with this one!!! It is working to satisfy my chocolate craving AND it made a little much needed room in my cupboard!
So very yummy. I prepared this accord to takgoti/teaplz’s instructions ( http://steepster.com/teaplz/posts/20967 ) and now I think I need to re-rate all of my chais so that this one doesn’t have an unfair advantage. I had been preparing my chai like normal black tea – hah! I only added a little bit of stevia for sweetener, but it tastes much sweeter; something about heating the milk, I think? Anyway, very very tasty.
I always forget that there’s black pepper in this chai blend, because it’s very understated – mostly cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves – just enough to give it a little bite. I can barely taste the assam, but it enough there to make this taste like tea, and to keep it from being too sweet.
Today we went on a nature walk and picnic, and for days now I planned to cold brew this for the picnic drink. Well, I woke up today smacking my head – I FORGOT TO COLD BREW THE ICED TEA!!!! Siiiiiggggggghhhhhh!
I quickly made a double strength hot brew of it, cooled it down over ice, and took it on our adventure. It was really good, and very refreshing with our spicy peanut noodle picnic, but I definitely prefer the cold brew method. This was a little harsh and strong, where the cold brewed one is delicate and so much more fruity. I didn’t get any of the grapefruit/St. Germain notes today.
Moral of the story: Don’t forget to put your iced tea to cold brew before going to sleep the night before a picnic or you will be sad!!!
WOW. I made a cold brewed iced tea with this and it is amazing! It really is like St. Germain liquor iced tea because of the Darjeeling. I am really impressed. Very sweet and fruity with that almost grapefruit edge. Very sophisticated! I’m going to save this one for hot summer evening dinner parties :) It’s too good for every day!
1st steep, 1st impressions: okay, so green/raw/sheng puerh is clearly a whole different animal from black/cooked/shou. Noted. Seconds impressions: smoky aroma, warm cream/pale orange color, smoky/grassy/complex flavor profile. Not a hint of barnyard or fish. Did I just spoil myself for lesser puerhs? :(
Holding off on the numerical rating for some longer steeps
Steep 2, ~2 minutes, boiling water into room temp pot. Same warm gold color, slightly fainter aroma; this is reminding me of a Formosa Oolong in character.
Steep 3, ~3 minutes I think I’ll try cooler water on the next steep, because I’m getting some very roasty toasty notes but not a lot of depth; this tastes like it ought to be bitter, but of course it’s puerh so it isn’t actually.
Steep 4, 4 minutes. Did the boiling water → cup → pot this time, so it ended up around 180°F. I don’t think I mentioned yet, but the leaves are big and beautiful, dry and wet. Very little scent; I think I should start upping the steep time more, but I’ve certain these leaves have more to give. Still a nice pale gold color, and the flavor profile hasn’t changed much (smoke, hay, roasty), but the flavor isn’t as intense this time around.
Certainly a fine example of a cooked puerh, from my limited experience. Looks and smells a bit milder than Maiden’s Ecstasy, but also a bit… sweeter? More floral? Sipping: either I got used to the barnyard taste overnight, or this is a better puerh than I’ve had before. The latter seems more likely. It’s still there, but muted; more sweet hay than dirt. There’s a bit of spice, too. And some fruit, now. It still doesn’t have the kick of a black tea, but this is definitely growing on me.
I’m finding that the mood/energy effects of puerh are more like yerba mate than regular tea or coffee; smoother, and more drawn out.
Steep 2 at ~2 minutes is rather weak; need to up the steep time I guess
Steep 3, ~5 minutes, scent is getting weaker but color and flavor are still good. Starting to lose some of the nuances I got on the first steep though
Steep 4, <15 minutes (I forgot); not oversteeped, of course – bless puerhs for that! Color: weaker. Scent: stronger. Taste: sweet! almost honey sweet. Not enough body for my taste though.
This was with 1/2 tsp in 4oz water; I’m sure with a higher leaf/water ratio it would give more steeps.
I used a bowl that has cup demarcations to measure out my water for a pot of this tea because my measuring cup was otherwise engaged in making Russian Tea Cakes (and my extra measuring cup smashed to bits about two weeks ago – SUCH a butterfingers!).
When I went to pour the brewed tea, each cup was barely half full! I guess this was not the worst way to find out that this bowl’s marks are COMPLETELY off (imagine if I measured the liquids for baking in it!!). The resulting pot of tea was quite, quite strong! I put some extra milk into it, but it served to make it lukewarm, too milky, yet still too strong.
I want to throw these bowls through the window! but I will use them as prep bowls (especially since they were a gift from my sis in law)!
The Russian Tea Cakes were fantastic though :)
Oh my goodness! It’s actually under 80 degrees today! Also, when I went grocery shopping, there was Halloween candy in the store. This means Fall is going to come soon, right?!
In tribute to the signs of my favorite season’s approach, I wore my hair down today :) and I am having some Vanilla Assam. I love Vanilla and Assam all year around, but I find it best when there is a chill in the air. The heavysweetsmoky is really hitting the spot today, and making me very excited and happy!
I am completely, utterly, and delightfully shocked how good this tea is without any cream and just a half teaspoon of sugar! My coworkers brought in sweets for my birthday today (awwwwwww!) and I wanted to drink this tea with them, but didn’t have any milk! So, I said “Oh throw caution to the wind! You are now aged enough to be considered an eccentric old bat – do something wacky!!!”
I lowered the temperature and steep time and voilà! Delicious, vanilla tinged, excellent with pastry breakfast tea. Yay! I think this eccentric old bat time of life suits me!
Yesterday, I made a key lime style pie (I say style because I used regular limes, and made the crust out of pretzels that I put in the food processor instead of graham crackers – it was great!!). I was at a loss as to what tea to serve with it, until I thought of this Vanilla Assam! It was an excellent pairing. The earthy vanilla bean and pod taste was an interesting and delicious counterpoint to the citrusy sweet dessert. A+!
Let the eating, I mean grading, begin!!
I knew we were going to have delicious sweet things, so I brought a little tin of this in, along with some half and half. I walked in with my cookies, but another coworker already had CINNAMON BUNS out!!! Good, sticky, walnut topped cinnamon buns from a little neighborhood bakery. YES!
I quickly put my kettle on and gosh, this tea is REALLY good with cinnamon buns. The natural vanilla and good tea is something special, but does not complete with the cinnamon bun. Pure indulgent synergy is going on :) Yum, yum, yum. I’m soooo glad I took this in today.
I made brownies yesterday to contribute to yesterday’s dinner – tried a new recipe because I was out of baking chocolate (!!!):
changes: used 1 stick butter instead of 1& 1/4, 1 cup sugar instead of 1& 1/4, and sprinkled coconut and mini chocolate chips on top to make “chocolate coconut easter egg brownies” They were rich and very chocolate coconut easter egg!
Anyway! I set two aside for tonight’s dessert. That hint of good vanilla flavor with the full bodied Assam complimented the dense chocolate brownie so well. This vanilla tea went particularly well because it’s not the creamy kind which would compete with the dessert.
I had one of these brownies with coffee last night and it was just not the same. The coffee stomps on the dessert, but the tea dances with the dessert!
I just drank two cups of this tea as fast as I could make them! There is something about me and vanilla tea – I just can’t seem to get enough! I baked black bottom cupcakes (chocolate cupcake with the top third a sort of cheesecake, and mini chocolate chips to decorate), and brought some into work (the rest are for a Tupperware party I am going to tonight. Everyone that I mention it to says “They still HAVE Tupperware parties!?!?” and I am here to say, yes, they do, and my niece is having one. I think the “2010” part is that it’s being held in a bar (!).
Anyway! The combination of these cupcakes and the Vanilla Assam is great! The tea tastes really caramel-y (perhaps the mixing of the malty Assam and vanilla with the rich chocolate and cheesecake?) and very decadent. Tupperware parties at bars, blackbottom cupcakes and vanilla tea at 10am – what can I say – I am a wild, wild woman.
Today is an exciting day! My Vanilla Assam is ready for consumption!!!
I took about 3 oz of Very Good but Nothing Earth Shattering Like Dear Thomas Assam (Premium Steap’s Assam Khongea FTGFOP-1) and cut into it a vanilla bean (one Extremely Intoxicating Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Vanilla Bean). Let sit for 3 weeks to a month, shaking whenever you remember, to infuse. When you make your tea, steep the vanilla bean pieces along with the tea leaves.
Ooooooooh it’s FANTASTIC! If you are a vanilla lover, you HAVE to try this! I guess because I used an entire high quality vanilla bean, the tea is just making me swoon with deliciousness! So much vanilla bean flavor and that slight smokiness. BUT – because it has no extract or flavoring, it’s delicate and really lets whatever tea you use shine. It’s old fashioned and home made and just wonderful. It is sublime for drinking and I think it would really be great infused into a vanilla tea buttercream frosting. I’d also like to play around with different vanilla beans with different origins – e.g. Tahitian Vanilla bean instead of Madagascar, and different teas.
Not really an ‘experiment’ this time, per se, but a quick cup. This weekend has been an end-to-end slog of geekery of the highest order, capped off, two nights in a row, with a night out at a noisy bar with about 12 other people all conversing over the noise, and then a drunken collapse into bed (alone, not with 12 other people).
I am hoarse. I am raw. I’m exhausted. And I am about to do it for night #3.
No time to make a full chai, I steeped 1 teaspoon of Samurai Chai Mate and 1 teaspoon of Samovar’s Masala Chai (which I have mysteriously not written a tasting note for, yet?) in a quick 16oz. of water, and threw a tiny bit of milk and sugar at it. I need the caffeine from the mate if I’m going to survive.
Reminds me, as it usually does, of a holiday tea. I’m at a point where I think I really need to get some yerba mate that isn’t dressed up as a chai so that I can try it alone, prepared in a gourd and all of that good stuff. I’m not sure I’ll like it, but there’s no denying that the impact of the caffeine from mate kicks the pants off of the caffeine from almost anything else I’ve tried (though I did manage to get an interesting, refreshingly mellow mood lift from the pu-erh I’ve been drinking, after prolonged periods of sipping — something I can thank takgoti for pointing out).
Anyway…today, back to the con. One last day, one friend’s b-day dinner, and then rest…sweet, sweet rest.
In an effort to reduce Adagio sample tins, inspired by Bethany, I decided to go ahead and start mixing stuff together. Today it was Assam Melody and Keemun Rhapsody, and the results are pretty good…one teaspoon of each for my 16oz. teacup. Raisiny-sweet without being too astringent, a smooth cup to start the day.
And yes, that’s Mr. T. Mr. TEA. …yeah, I know, it’s not that funny.
I made dinner, dessert and this tea iced to bring to my mom for Mother’s Day. I made the big 8 cup pitcher cold brewed with some simple syrup and half a lemon. Very refreshing! The cold brewed method makes the bergamot subtle enough to be delicious with food. I still prefer this with lime, but I used all my limes for the pie!
I also gave some tea to Mama Earth today. I compost all my used tea leaves, and my garden got a nice helping :) It’s so great to see my used tea leaves, vegetable scraps, the leaves the trees shed in the winter, etc. become food for my garden, then food for me, then food for my garden, then food for me… :)