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Recent Tasting Notes
So, it is probably not a secret, what with my occasional rambling on Instagram and my constant painting of various undead things…I want to be a necromancer. When I was a kid I brought the class hamster back to life, so clearly I have the talent for it, and just think of all the use you can get out of well trained (and clean) zombies? They can carry things, do the cleaning you don’t want to do, there are so many uses, plus it is like recycling and who doesn’t want to help the environment? Of course what kind of tea would a necromancer want to drink?
The obvious answer is Puerh, specifically one that has some age on it, doubly so for a traditional Hong Kong stored one. So that brings me nicely to today’s tea, Grand Tea’s Raw Pu-erh Cake-Simao 1999. The reason I say this is the tea that necromancers drink is two-fold, first this kind of tea has some sweet microbial action going on thanks to being in a wetter climate, a lot of ‘wet’ stored pu can have a bit of fuzzy mold (I didn’t see any on my sample) and it certainly speeds up the fermentation. Blame Magic The Gathering and my penchant for loving the Golgari (hello green black mushroom zombies) but that is where my head goes. The other reason is the smell, the aroma of this tea is like deep earth, wet cave, a bit of swamp, wet books, wet decomposing wood, leaf mould, and mushrooms. It smells like the kind of place a necromancer would hang out, I love the smell, though I admit my brain did this whole ‘wait, you are going to consume this’ moment, which was a bit funny.
Gaiwan time, I am using my baby Sheng gaiwan since I am always leery of a new Sheng Pu hurting my guts, though supposedly the older and wetter the easier it is, so maybe the tiny gaiwan was unnecessary. After a rinse and first steep, the leaves have opened a bit. The aroma us potent stuff! Strong notes of beets, leather, wet earth, old wet wood…and a bit of swamp and medicinal roots. Specifically a bit like Valerian root or one of those nasty TCM blends I drink when I have a nasty cold, it is pleasantly pungent. The liquid is sweetly medicinal, pungent roots mixed with a touch of the herb sweet annie, there are also old books, wet cypress, and a bit of wet leaves.
The first steep is surprisingly sweet, like wet wood, sweet annie, wet leather, wet leaves, and swamp. The real standout thing from the first steep is its incredibly thick mouth and long lingering aftertaste. For the real party you need to go to the next couple of steeps where it ramps up in intensity. Strong bitter medicinal roots, beets, and wet wood with a sweetness that shows up at the finish and lingers for a bit.
Steeps in the middle are something else, I feel like I am going spelunking! It tastes like cave, and roots, and fermented soy beans. It starts to have a tiny bit of a savory quality and a thick almost oily mouthfeel. I feel as though every inch of my mouth has become a cave and this is some sort of transcendent communication with bio-luminescent fungi. It tastes old and wet, it is pretty fun!
The final steeps (and that is many steeps later) it takes a while for the medicinal bitterness to fade back to sweetness, and even the sweetness reminds me a bit of medicinal herbs and the sweetness of wet leather. There is a savory quality of mushrooms and fermented soy beans, along with wet leaves and old books. I can see this being an acquired taste, it is very earthy and wet, conveniently I love the taste of caves and deep soil, wet wood and swamp…I spent a large chunk of my younger days playing in a swamp and playing in the dirt, so this tea evokes a lot of nostalgia for me.
This Rose bud tea is a great herbal alternative for the evening. I love floral teas and this one is elegant rose with a sweet finish. It’s pretty pricey for a herbal tea and compared to other companies that have rose bud tea. I’d like to try out rose bud tea from some other companies too but this one is really good.
RAISINS – This tea is all about raisins. Dry it smelled like raisins. Brewed up, tastes like sweet sweet raisins. I am not overly fond of raisins , more because of their texture instead of their taste. However, even though I am enjoying this tea, I find 3 infusions of raisins is quite enough.
For anyone who loves raisins, they will love this tea.
Flavors: Raisins, Sweet
This is from a sample Grand Tea sent me when ordering my two white teas. Thank you Grand Tea for this fine sample.
This green tea is soooo good. Brewed up with a barely there colour. It’s light like a white tea but has that sweet green pea flavour and a bit of chestnut. It’s so fresh. It does remind me of Anji Bai Cha. This tea is so good I am considering ordering some of this (even though I just placed an order with Taiwain Tea Crafts). It is so light in the caffeine but plenty of flavour.
It’s supposed to be a bit floral. I didn’t get any floral but that’s all a matter of interpretation. There’s was a sweet aroma coming off the cup but to me it was like a fresh chestnut aroma.
Flavors: Chestnut, Peas, Sweet
I gave it two chances to this tea, and I am happy to have done so!
First time I brewed it gong fu style with a gaiwan of 130ml, but I don’t know, probably because I’m still not an expert of this style of brewing, but it seemed to me to flat and “simple”. Beautiful green color, strong taste of chesnut since the first infusion, but a weird “thermal” flavor was always persistent. Not bad but I was not so enthusiastic. Very nice green leaves with white dots at the edges once they are open.
Second time I tried brewing it in a tall glass, and well, it changed. Still this good taste of chesnut was persistent, but the tea revelead his more fresh taste leaving a pleasant sensation in the mouth. It has never been astringent.
I brewed in a tall glass to see when the needles stay vertical and than pouring the tea in my pot.
Interesting greyish – light dove foggy color in the cup
I was surprised of the taste, very velvety in the mouth and a soft sensation. Initial scent of peach but mostly a round feeling of butter and cream all the time, cup after cup. It’s surely a pleasant tea for the evening but I have the feeling that I need something a bit more structured for my taste. Beside this I can’t say anything bad for this tea. Very good.
Flavors: Butter, Cream, Peach
Finally my sample box from Grand Tea arrived, actually it was very fast considering was coming from Hong Kong. First tea that I tried is this Chenpi Pu-erh. I have to say that is my first experience with Pu-erh so I can’t really do some comparisons neither give a vote, but I can definitely say what I felt. The tea comes in a little dried tangerine and the smell is very interesting: delicate but consistent. As recommended I brewed it with a gaiwan and I rinsed it twice. Dark color, very deep copper – brownish. While tasting of course you’ll feel a bit of tangerine but not so much as you could imagine. Surprisingly I felt a distinct note of rose. I did few infusion and the rose was always there. Nice aftertaste: this particular sensation that the mouth feels when a citrus zest is eaten.
I don’t know if this is my cup of tea :-9 but surely interesting.
Flavors: Citrus Zest, Rose
The blog is getting a make-over of sorts! It came to my attention that my blog is not as FTC compliant as it should be, especially if you are viewing it from a feed reader or a phone (pointed out by a fellow blogger talking about FTC stuff) I had not updated things in that nature since I started this thing. Yipes. So going back and adding disclosures to all the posts, adding a new page for disclosure information, and that means as a side note that the blog got a new look. I am not 100% sold on the color scheme, I think it might be a little too cold, so I might play around and see if I can get it more ocean blue than ice blue, to match my hair better. So that is what I am doing, giving this thing a much needed update.
Having spent my entire day staring at my blog and editing things, I decided that for tonight’s blog I wanted something relaxing and fairly short to work with, so I reached for Grand Tea’s Osmanthus Tea, a tisane made from what is possibly my favorite drinkable flower…ever. The competition is steep too, competing with lotus flowers, rose, and various citrus flowers, but wow, Osmanthus is something else. The Osmanthus plant has a ton of different species, but the one most frequently used for culinary purposes is the Osmanthus fragrans variety, and is native to various parts of Asia. It goes by the name Sweet Osmanthus, Tea Olive, Sweet Olive, and Fragrant Olive, but like many plants it grows other places, one of which is my grandmother’s garden so points for nostalgia. The aroma of the tiny flowers is heavenly, like a blend of honey, apricots, scuppernongs, peony, and pollen. They are immensely sweet, though to me they never come off as heady, just sweet and flowery.
Usually I have this flower blended with other things (love it blended with chrysanthemum) or used for scenting teas (like my beloved Osmanthus Oolong) but on its own it is quite wonderful. The steeped flowers are very sweet, honey and apricot jam with a creamy undertone and notes of honeysuckle, peony, and pollen. It is a complex blend of notes for such a tiny flower. The liquid is really sweet and surprisingly creamy, like some sort of strange honeysuckle themed ice cream with a side of apricot jam. Someone make that as a dessert for me please.
Oh yum, this little cup of flower nectar is heavenly, seriously, I love osmanthus so much! It is smooth and very sweet, I am not joking when I say it is nectar because it really reminds me of what it feels like to be a butterfly or hummingbird, it tastes like flower nectar. Notes of apricot, honeysuckle, creamy sweet honey, and pollen blend with a gentle pansy petal and violet flower note. Those last two are only present because I leave a few of the flowers in the liquid to nibble on, without them it is all nectar. There is a powerful aftertaste too, it lingers in sweetness for quite a long time. There really is no wrong way to enjoy these little flowers, you can drink this tea chilled for a stronger sweetness, blended with other teas, as a late night sip for those watching caffeine, as a cooking ingredient…it really is quite versatile.
I received this tea as a prize in a photo contest. For blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2016/04/grand-tea-osmanthus-tea-tea-review.html
Raising a baby T-Rex is hard! Seriously, the wiki was not kidding when they said it was best tackled with a tribe, and considering my tribe is either out of town for an indeterminate amount of time, busy with a new game, or possibly just not playing anymore…so it is just me….queen of the swamps. I’m mostly ok with this, except for the insanity of raising a baby rex! Five hours of incubating an egg, which is mostly spent gathering ALL THE MEAT, then nine hours of hand feeding…the first couple of hours you can’t really do much since it can’t hold much, but the last stretch is easy. Then three days of maturity (unlike real rexes that had like fifteen years!) which means every thirteen hours filling up the food bin. It is a good thing I really like the games that require hours of grinding because wow does this game go grinding to the max!
So what does one do when they are raising a T-Rex and being stricken with either allergies or a cold? Drink flowery tea in the evening of course! Today I am looking at Grand Tea’s Chrysanthemum Tea, specifically the Tai Ju variety, which are small and yellow and are only partially opened. I first developed a love of Chrysanthemum at the same time I started studying Chinese Medicine, I was drawn to its cooling properties to help with inflammation and more importantly its ability to help with breathing problems. Allergy season is rough on my asthma, and if I am not super careful I develop asthmatic bronchitis really easily, and just between you and me I get sick of the meds. The aroma of the little flowers is definitely chrysanthemum…yeah not helpful…it is a blend of pollen, pepper, straw, honey, and straw flowers. It has a sharpness, this is not a heady flower, bordering on spicy without heat.
Since this is a classic brew it needs a classic setup, so vintage teapot and cup it is! The spicy pepper notes are quite potent, with an addition of pollen and straw, with floral undertones of wildflowers and a touch of lettuce. The liquid is sweet and peppery, sharp notes of straw and wildflowers blend with honey and cane sugar. It is mellow and very pleasant to sniff if you are a fan of chrysanthemum!
So does it work medicinally? Well yes and no, I would not say it beats out my guaifenesin and certainly is no substitute for my inhaler, but it does help. I put it in the same category as sitting in a bathroom I have filled with steam or drinking a ton of caffeine, helpful but only part of the puzzle of fighting with my lungs. Now that I have that little blurb out of the way, tasting! It’s yummy, but I really like chrysanthemum, it has wildflower and pollen notes with honey and a crisp sharp peppery quality that really livens up my mouth. When I am wanting something extra sweet I toss in some osmanthus flowers as well to really go for the flower overload! Whether or not it has any medicinal properties, I will keep drinking it because it tastes good.
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.
There were no brewing instructions on the package or on the website, so I went with what I usually do for oolongs – around 185F and gong fu style. I had a very long (not bad, just long) day at work and thought that this tea would be just the ticket. I put about 1t of leaves in my easy gaiwan (don’t judge – remember it was a long day) and started steeping. I was too wiped out to time the steeps so I just brewed by instinct, as I suspect many people do. Luckily the tea was very forgiving.
Pics and the rest: https://tealover.net/2015/08/grand-tea-organic-gaba-oolong/
The tasted improved dramatically when in a gaiwan versus regular open glass brewing, glad I wanted to review this one until I had time to respect the leaves. Usually I just dragonwell village style glass brew it before the gym which results in a plain jane green tea taste. I got the daintly sweet asparagus notes with a whiff of ever so slight floral nature I would have got off a higher end shi feng but a little bit of the complexity was missing.
Not a bad example but I think this takes fourth place of long jings for me with verdant’s shi feng and tevivre(premium xihu) offerings tied for 2nd and jing tea shop shi feng AAA a clear top place for the unbelievable quality of leaf and complexity.
Flavors: Asparagus, Floral, Lima Beans, Sweet
One of the best Dan Cong Oolong teas that I can ever remember tasting. Light yet flavorful. It’s sweet and has a delightful floral aroma and taste. “Spring” like in that it has light floral notes and a fresh, “green” like taste that reminds me of the newness of the start of the spring season. How everything is so fresh and new and refreshingly green.
Lightly vegetal without bitterness, tasting more like mild steamed veggies with a drizzle of melted butter. Flowery. This tea is more about the floral notes than anything else, but they are lovely. If you like those floral notes in an Oolong, you should try this.
A true pleasure to sip.
Here’s my full-length review: http://sororiteasisters.com/2014/08/09/green-dan-cong-oolong-from-grand-tea/
Sweet! A honey-like sweetness. Notes of fruit that are reminiscent of a slightly underripe plum: sweet but with distinct tart notes too. Hints of grapefruit. A woodsy tone that develops in later infusions.
The fruit notes also developed in later infusions as the tea became smoother and silkier to drink.
Here’s my full-length review: http://sororiteasisters.com/2014/07/26/2014-zhi-lan-xiang-dan-cong-oolong-tea-from-grand-tea/
I’m not sure if this “Premium” Bi Lu Chun is the same as the “Supreme” Bi Lu Chun that I tried a couple of months ago: http://sororiteasisters.com/2014/07/09/supreme-bi-lu-chun-green-tea-from-grand-tea/ but I decided to put my tasting note here rather than start a whole new entry for “Supreme” Bi Lu Chun.
This is a top notch Bi Lu Chun. A really intense sweetness with light vegetal notes and a butter like note. A sweet nutty tone is in the distance, along with hints of fruit and flower. Overall, the cup is quite delicate and just … really lovely!
I have not tried this yet so I am cheating as this is not really a tasting note HOWEVER …
I have added this to my cupboard because I do believe this is what I purchased at an Asian shop in St. Louis.
The Tea Company I know is correct.
The packaging looks identical.
HOWEVER I find no DATE on mine.
If anyone has advice on how to find the date to be sure this is in fact what I have please let me know.
Otherwise I have to assume this is it since it looks right and is the only one like this I find here under this company.
Then again I suppose the company could have others LIKE it that are not yet added.
I am a bit “iffy” about trying it.
The gunpowder green I got from this shop is very nice but with Puerh I tend to be skeptical!
Especially since I got a 350g in a nice box (reminds me of fireworks) for only 6.49!!
This was very light (and I mean v-e-r-y; prep recommends a tablespoon and I had to turn the bag inside out to make a full teaspoon) and cereally. First verbal imprint when I tasted was “rice water.” Had I made it properly, though, probably would’ve been a nice variety for those who prefer green tea that tastes less green.
The write up of my first clumsy, but not entirely successful experience with pu-erh is up:
I waited till I had a whole afternoon to play with this one, primarily because I wanted to prep a decent review for www.itsallabouttheleaf.com, and secondarily because I understand that pu-erhs keep going and going and going and going …. will be writing about it more gracefully elsewhere, but it surprised me that it wasn’t as peat-moss tasting as I had expected.