2201 Tasting Notes
Today I decided to try to brew this gongfu style. I’ve actually never tried to steep a black tea gongfu, though I have of course tasted a black tea steeped gongfu when I was in China. I watched David’s video on the Verdant website, and guestimated the amount of leaf to add into my pot (since I lack a scale, and also lack the confidence to know by sight).
My first steep was a rinse, but honestly it smelled too good not to drink. And man I’m glad I didn’t throw it out. The wet leaf smells deeply chocolatey and a bit roasted, and the liquor smells caramelly, honeyed, and like toasted grains. The flavor isn’t very strong (what do you expect from a rinse), but it is deliciously full of notes of chocolate, mollasses grains, and honey, including a rather prominent sweetness as it cools.
The second & third steeps were about 10 seconds, as per the video, and wow, this is a flavor I have never tasted when steeping it western style. It is more minerally, and more grainy. Chocolate notes are still there, but less prominent. The sweetness is darker, less honeyed and more like bittersweet chocolate (though not really “bitter” per se). It’s roastier, also, toasted and warm.
Fourth, fifth and sixth steeps return to the chocolatey, caramelly flavors that I know from this tea. Definitely delicious.
Seventh steep (at 1 min) started getting weak to my tastes, so I stopped. Still, this has to go down as one of my most successful gongfu brewing sessions with my ru kiln set. Can’t wait to try some more black teas in it!
Another day, another matcha. Still no power at my apartment, though I slept over at some friends’ last night because freezing temps do not sound like good sleeping weather to me.
Rose is one of my absolute favorite flavors. Can’t get enough rose. Rose candies, rose tea, rose everything, so rose matcha had to be high on my list to order. I decided to use this one to try out the white tea base, especially after Alphakitty talked about how delicious it was. I ended up ordering the robust flavoring because like I said, I can’t get enough rose. You can find this matcha here: http://www.redleaftea.com/matcha-tea/rose-matcha.html
When I opened the package, it was like whomph rose! It smelled so delicious and sweet. Not even what I would consider “perfumy” but more like a big fresh batch of loukoumi. When I smelled a little closer, it definitely had that rose-white-tea aroma, which of course makes sense. Unlike the black matcha yesterday, this one didn’t form any reasonable foam at all while whisking, but so it goes.
My first sip was rosey and delightful, and I probably could have drank the whole bowl as is, but I have gotten used to a little sweetness in my (hot) matchas, so I added just a pinch of sugar. It wasn’t actually enough to really make the bowl sweet, but it did bring out more flavors from the white tea base, including a bit of fruitiness. I had a hard time keeping the matcha in this one suspended in the liquid while drinking and had to whisk it every so often to re-mix it. It also, like the black matcha, wasn’t quite as disappearingly smooth as the green matcha.
The white matcha base definitely works well with the rose matcha, but I’m not sure I would go for it again; instead, I might try a more premium grade of the green. Still, a very delicious matcha and I won’t have any problem drinking it up!
I’m back in NY, and disappointed to find out my house still doesn’t have power. Unfortunately I have an electric stove, so I am SOL when it comes to trying to make tea at home. Also it was freaking cold last night (low of 33°F overnight), so my now-unheated apartment was not pleasant.
I schlepped all my matcha-making equiptment in to work today (it’s where my variable-temp tea kettle is anyway), except of course my almond milk, which sadly did not make it in my fridge. I got a package of Red Leaf matchas not long before I left last weekend but I never got around to trying them because I was so busy, and then they just sat on my table. I brought this one in today to try.
I chose this one to try out the black matcha base because I was intrigued by it and figured hazelnut would pair well with a black base. I got this one with robust flavoring, because that’s how I roll. You can find it here: http://www.redleaftea.com/matcha-tea/hazelnut-matcha.html
When I opened the pouch on this one I immediately smelled hazelnuts and black tea, but then an odd fruitiness crept in as well, almost like I might expect if this was a green matcha. When I whisked it, it produced the thickest, most luxurious foam I’ve ever had for any matcha I’ve tried. I sipped it while it was still hot and didn’t taste much, which could be more to do with the hotness of it than anything else, but I still went ahead and put in about a tsp of sugar. The result is nutty and smooth and delicious. There is maybe a hint of fruitiness but I am unsure whether that is a quirk of the hazelnut flavoring or the black matcha. I am enjoying the black matcha base and will probably get it on any future matchas that are chocolately flavored. When I got down to the bottom of the bowl it was a little grittier with a little more fallen pieces of tea than the green, but it really wasn’t bad at all. Can’t wait to try this one as a latte (eventually).
This tasting note is pretty much exclusively a check-in for me. Some of you may know that I live on Long Island in NY, which was hit hard by Sandy. Fortunately for me, I have been in Ohio visiting my boyfriend since last Saturday. I was originally scheduled to return to NY on Tuesday, then Thursday, but horrible conditions in NY and Long Island have kept me trapped here until the weekend. But my school has been closed for the rest of the week, so I don’t have to worry about my teaching obligations. I know that my apartment fortunately didn’t flood, but that it probably still doesn’t have power (too bad for my food in the fridge/freezer).
I drank this cold on my drive down to Ohio, and definitely thank it for keeping me awake.
First of all I have to say thanks to Nature’s Leaf Teas for sending me these samples to review. I was also very impressed by the packaging of the samples—resealable, heavy plastic zip-top pouches with the brew instructions printed on them—and also the amount, a generous 1oz. I look forward to trying them all but today I had to jump right in with this one. I have a relatively newly-discovered love of fujian black teas, so I am excited to try this one.
The dry leaf has a nice look, pretty long with a few lighter colored leaves throughout, though not as long and spindly as some that I’ve seen. It smells grainy and alfalfa-y, which is what I would pretty much expect. Steeped, more chocolatey, molassesy aromas start coming out. The flavor is pleasant, a bit of cocoa powder, a bit of grain. When it was still a bit too hot for me to drink there was a hint of sweetness that made me think that the honey notes would grow, but alas, it seems to have faded as it cooled. I am thinking next time I will monkey with the steep parameters, but even so this is a tasty fujian and I’m glad I got the chance to try it. Thanks again!
I had this one cold at the gym tonight. At first I was unsure of how nutty matcha would be cold, but holy moly, it was delicious.
Again, 1/2tsp for a liter of water. I actually usually put it in my water bottle with a little water in the morning, then fill it the rest of the way up with cold water at the gym. Not sure, but I sometimes feel like giving the matcha time to stew in the cool water all day boosts the flavor. This one was nutty (natch), very pistachio-y, and even a hint sweet (no sugar involved!). Yum. I think I prefer this one cold, even.
I am revisiting this tea for the first time in a while. I would like to bust through some of my older Dammann Frères teas so that I can possibly make an order from them… there are so many of their teas I want to try.
This one I have the least left of all of them. It really does remind me of Harney’s Florence, though I would have to taste them back to back to really remind myself of that because I haven’t had Florence in a long time. It’s lightly chocolatey and very nutty, with the barest hint of orange to it. When it was warmer it was a touch sweet in the aftertaste, though this seems to have faded and it is more astringent when cooled. Really quite a tasty tea, though not quite as spectacular as my other favorite DF teas.
The last few times I went to exercise, I switched my usual water with some cold matcha. I read that matcha can boost calorie burning during a workout, and also that it can provide more energy during the workout (which is kind of a well duh since it has pretty energizing properties anyway). I figured, why not? Just a half a teaspoon in my one liter of water is flavorful and really tasty. I’ve done it with my Sea Buckthorn Matcha, Black Currant Matcha, and today with this Caramel Matcha.
The first time I didn’t think it really made any difference in my energy level, but then again that class was with an instructor that I don’t really like anyway. Yesterday was my second time with it at spin class and I didn’t really think it made a ton of difference at the time, but today my regular instructor (who I love) came up to me before class and asked “Did you drink a Red Bull before class yesterday? You were going so fast!”
So I guess it must be doing something! Haha. Also, for what it’s worth, I have tried to exercise to lose weight before, and though I often come out feeling stronger it never seems like I lose pounds or inches. There is probably a lot of stuff at work this time, but I actually do see quite a difference during this latest exercise kick, and this time I have been drinking matcha in the morning during the entire time. Yay matcha.
Sorry I haven’t been posting lately; I have finally reached that stage in my tea life where I am drinking tea but don’t have much of a desire to write about it. Mostly it’s not new tea, for one. Actually I have been missing my usual “tea times” for no good reason except that I am preoccupied and stressed. Tea would make it better, of course!
The first time I had this tea, I was underwhelmed. The second time, I was pleasantly suprised. This time I am not surprised, but it is pleasant. The raspberry is so juicy and natural tasting, and the oolong is a nice background. It’s not really easy to pinpoint as a green oolong or dark oolong, but rather has subtle characters of each. A slight touch of roastiness here, the hint of a floral background there. It’s really quite a nice blend.