Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Trishnna Tea: A Pair of Cold Steeped Teas, A Tea Review

I have a serious problem, I hoard scarves...Before I moved to Madison I had a decent collection of about 20 scarves, but the local thrift store (especially the bin store where you pay by the pound) is a haven for scarf collectors...I now have a ridiculous 72 scarves. My only problem with this is storage, how do you accurately store that many scarves while letting you see what you have? My current method (which needs work, I had a plan that I will be implementing later) is to go to dollar tree, get a bunch of shower curtain rings, and hang them off hangers. Eventually I want to get a bunch of those removable sticky hooks and have a wall that is nothing but scarves.

I decided today to look at a pair of cold steeped teas, both from Trishnna Tea. Starting off with Ginger Tulsi Green Tea, a blend of ginger and tulsi (two of my favorite herbs) and an organic Indian green tea, making for a very refreshing and crisp blend (especially cold steeped on a hot day!) The aroma of the leaves is a strong mix of ginger and tulsi, making it warm and spicy along with sweet and herbaceous. I was not a huge fan of this tea hot, the ginger and tulsi is not as strong as I would like if I brew it with green tea temperatures, and at hotter the green tea is bitter, however cold steeping it is perfection! The taste is pleasantly warm and sweet from the ginger, refreshing and crisp from the green tea, and of course the tulsi maintains a wonderful herbaceous quality all through the sipping experience. It was a little cup of sunlight on a rainy day!

I find in the evening I like to have something cold and herbal, once the temperature stays above 60F consistency a cold drink after a warm day is bliss. So the Chamomile Mint Tea was a good choice for cold steeping. The aroma is the sweet blend of spearmint (a very mild yet also very present mint) chamomile's honey and straw notes, and a touch of citrus. Drinking this one hot I really enjoyed, but as with the other tea I really enjoyed it the most cold, the sweet notes from the chamomile and crisp notes of mint makes for a very refreshing evening drink. Oddly I kept wishing this one had lavender, not sure why, but my brain wanted it to be mixed with lavender. Either cold or hot, this tea was a win in my book.

Teas sent for review

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Golden Tips Tea: Spring Signature Darjeeling Black Tea - First Flush 2018, A Tea Review

Ughhh it is hot today!! Hot and very muggy, I still don't like the heat at all so I am full on being a lump mode today, only shaking off my fugue to blog and check the weather in the vague hopes that it storms. It is the only thing about warm weather I like, and we had a glorious storm the other night, though it was not good for practicing my lightning photography, it was a sky rave with hail and crazy torrential rain. I have not had to water my plants the last couple days thanks to all that rain!

Since it is gross hot today, I decided I wanted something sweet and crisp, Golden Tips Tea Spring Signature Darjeeling Black Tea - First Flush 2018 delivers. The sizable and fluffy leaves are mottled brown and green with a bit of fuzzy tips here and there, they smell really good! Very strong aroma, with notes of nasturtiums, white grapes, celery leaves, and a green herbaceous finish that lingers in the nose. Steeping the leaves brings out notes of honey and wildflowers with the already present notes of the dry leaves.

Oh man, this really is the perfect tea for a hot day, the taste is very crisp and juicy, really it is like biting into a fresh white grape, but with a side of nasturtiums, chervil, celery, and lettuce. It tastes like a summer salad, but with a sweeter edge. Later steeps bring in more pronounced floral notes, with wildflowers and honeysuckles, and a finish of lingering sweet apricot.

It goes for several steeps too, for the third steep I paired it with some really delightful juicy (and very sticky) fresh mango and it was a wonderful flavor combination. On a whim I took the fourth steep and chilled it (again, I am roasted) and it tastes really refreshing chilled, those greener notes of nasturtium and chervil take the forefront when it is cold. This seems to be one of those teas that soothes no matter what you do with it!

Tea sent for review

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

ChaiChun Tea, Sunshine and Moondrop, A Tale of Two Darjeelings!

Currently where I am staying there is a beautiful view of Lake Monona from the balcony, on most days having the windows open to bring in lake sounds and smells would bring me happiness, today not so much.  There is a toxic algae bloom ongoing due to all the rain we have gotten recently, record high heat, and of course the ever present fertilizer based pollutants crashing into the lake. I feel a strong kinship with this lake (which is honestly more than a little weird) and seeing it sick has not been the best for my mood of late. Especially with another burst of record setting heat on the way this weekend. I want to go swimming and to enjoy the lake, and I am not a good enough necromancer to turn it into a giant shambling monster, so instead I just have to watch the dead fish float to the surface and smell the stench.

North Tukvar Sunshine First Flush 2018

Sorry, that was grim, but it is my view right now and pervading my thoughts. Luckily I can drown my sorrows in delicious tea so let us get to it! ChaiChun sent me first flush teas (yay!) and I am looking at two of those today, starting with North Tukvar Sunshine. First off, this estate is making waves with its sustainability, using its own compost and gravity irrigation, AWESOME! The leaves are fairly small and a bit chopped up with a vibrant color, I pretty immediately ignore the appearance when the smell hits me like a wave! Strong and very aromatic, this tea smells of white grapes and honey (classic with a Darjeeling) and toasted nuts with a woodsy and slightly fruit tree floral smells. It is a pleasantly nuanced smelling tea! After steeping the tea retains most its notes and gains a fun grapefruit note that was surprising and very refreshing, which is good since my brain is mush at the moment of drinking this. The taste is crisp and light with an intensely sweet start reminiscent of cotton candy, honey, fresh very juicy grapes (omg you guys, this tea tastes of cotton candy grapes) and a slight bittergreen finish that reminds me of microgreens and a bit of radishes. This tea has some staying power as well, I was worried with the smallish leaves that it would putter out quickly but nope, it gives for many steeps.

Puttabong Moondrop First Flush 2018

I want to say I picked the moon and sun themed teas to compare on purpose, but that credit goes to ChaiChun for sending them, perfect though! The aroma of this very fluffy leafed tea is also pretty potent, I can tell these are super fresh teas because I swear the aroma just explodes out of the bag when I open them. Strong notes of sage and fresh grapes with undertones of orange blossom and green peppers. The first thing that struck me when drinking this tea was the smooth mouthfeel, it is so velvety and soft, it was very pleasant! Tasting the tea, I was presented with notes of grape and apricot skin, herbaceous notes of savory, sage, and oregano, and a lingering aftertaste of orange blossoms and fruit trees. It too goes for many steeps, and becomes crisp and greener as the tea fades out.

Once again, ChaiChun sent me super yummy tea!

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Teasenz: 2012 Fuding Gong Mei White Tea Cake - Aged White Tea, A Tea Review

Very recently (as in yesterday) I got a new nose ring in the mail. It is very pretty, made of 10kt gold and synthetic purple opals, it is very flashy and was surprisingly cheap. However it has caused a hilarious problem, I am not used to seeing something purple out of the corner of my eye on my nose, so I keep thinking it is fluff or something and end up trying to swat away my nose ring. I am slowly getting used to it, but for now my brain is convinced there is a purple fluff on my nose.

Today I am looking at an aged white tea from Teasenz, their 2012 Fuding Gong Mei White Tea Cake, a cake that, when I opened the box it arrived in, Ben insisted that I share when I get into it. Ben loves aged white teas as much as I do, so when I lifted the cake out of my 'to try' box he was descended on my tea desk like a vulture onto carrion.

And I can't say I blame him, there is something truly magical about unwrapping a cake for the first time, the pristine wrapper all delicately tucked around the cake, and then the reveal! Beautiful big leaves with mottled brown and reds, with hints of greens, fuzzy whites, and a few stems here and there. I love white tea cakes, they have a wild look to them, like something I imagine a woodsy wizard drinking in a forest cabin somewhere. I also really appreciate that they are easy to break apart, I can just peel off chunks with minimal effort, which is good since my tea knife is in storage and I am not entirely sure as to where!

The aroma of the leaves is very sweet, notes of apricot, quince, grapes, and fresh hay. There is a slight earthy and malty undertone as well that adds a richness to the light (in notes not intensity) aroma. Once steeped the aroma of the tea is nectar, it smells so much like a pile of fresh apricots and nectarines, it is so good and really reminding me how I am craving good stonefruits! There are undertones of fresh hay and a touch of sweetgrass as well.

Oh aged white tea, you really are a treasure! I swear no matter how fowl a mood I am in or how bad I feel, it always puts me in a good mood, something about drinking it is like consuming pure sunlight or the very essence of a perfect late summer day. The early steeps are light in taste but with a thick and very coating mouthfeel that cools my insides. Notes of sweet quince, apples, nectarines, and apricots blend with a finish of subtle hay that lingers.

Later steeps, they become nectar thick and nectar sweet, massive strong notes of apricot and quince (man I love that quince note) specifically it starts taking on a quince jam and stewed nectarine quality. Again the finish is a lingering hay that sticks around for quite a while. One thing that I really love about this style of tea is that you can do anything to it, Ben has his western style steeping each cup like 15 minutes, I liked mine in my clay teapot with heavy leaves eventually bringing the steep times to match his.

You can boil it, cold steep it, bowl steep it...it really is the most versatile tea I have ever met. Well done Teasenz, you have presented me with a wonderful tea, and I am going to have a very hard time not drinking it all and letting some age!! With luck (and moderate self control) I can come back to this tea in a few years and tell you all how it tastes with even more age on it!
Tea cat is always watching me


Tea sent for review

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Tillerman Tea: Muzha Tieguanyin Spring 2018, A Tea Review

Guys, I am so sad!! Ok, so I have this plush vulture I got from the zoo...it is my favorite plush that I sleep with every night, and of course it is starting to look more than a little knackered. I bought a replacement on Amazon that is very similar to my favorite but in theory bigger! Well it arrived today, and it is bigger, however it is also rigid and with a hard insert...'super soft and squishy' my eye! I always hate having to return things, but this one has to go back. At least I can just go back to the zoo and get another of the same vulture.

Today I am looking at Tillerman Tea's Muzha Tieguanyin Spring 2018, I am always excited when I get to look at their teas, and it is well known my love of Muzha TGY! The website describes it as a classic, meaning medium oxidation and charcoal roast, which sounds perfect on a slightly chilly and rainy day. The aroma of the tightly curled up leaves is, in fact, quite classic! Notes of roasted chestnuts, caramelized walnuts, and the faintest hint of distant orchids, it smells very sweet and the floral note adds a wonderful level of depth that a lot of Muzha lacks.

I steeped this tea in my duanni gaiwan, embarrassingly I forgot to take pictures of the unfurled leaves, I was having too much fun playing around with droplet photography. The aroma of the steeped leaves is so sweet, the floral notes are still around but with an added char and almost malty molasses finish. Again it smells very sweet, which I like!

Tasting the tea (after I had taken many photos) is a lovely experience, it is both crisp and a bit dry at the start, and finished with a lingering buttery mouthfeel. The taste goes on a rollercoaster of delicate orchid to roasted walnut shells, toasted grain to whipped honey butter, finishing with an aftertaste of caramel and honeysuckle. I was able to get many steeps of golden colored goodness out of this tea and ended up sitting with it most of the day, it kept me feeling warm during the rain! This one is one of the more varied tasting Muzhas I have run into, usually they taste primarily of sweet grains and caramel, this one had a lot more nuance and depth. If this is what this year's Taiwanese teas are going to be like, color me excited!

Tea sent for review

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Teasenz: Dian Hong Tea - Black Needle Tea, A Tea Review

Today's blog is a bit hilarious to me, it mixes the old and the new...at least with my camera! Yes, I finally got a new camera, a beautiful Nikon P520 that is my new baby, feel bad for the people who follow me on facebook because the stream of photos has been constant. I am beside myself with glee at this camera, especially after capturing a bolt of lightning last night! So, the first few photos of this blog are with my old camera, and the last one was from today, since I wanted this tea for breakfast and need to get the settings right for my much loved drip photos!

I am looking at Teasenz's Dian Hong Tea - Black Needle Tea, it has been too long since I got lost in a Dian Hong, I had missed the beautiful gently fuzzy golden leaves of Yunnan black tea. Seriously, I love the myriad rainbow of Dian hong types, each one is different and wonderful. The aroma on this one is wonderfully malty and sweet, this is one of those Dian hongs that smell heavy of molasses, brown sugar, and a touch of distant cocoa powder. Sniffing it calls to mind cookie dough of molasses cookies and I am perfectly ok having my nose in these leaves!

Brewing the leaves increases the maltiness and sweetness, definitely getting brown sugar and a starchy cookie finish, it smells sweet and enticing! The liquid is so sweet smelling, I found myself almost getting it up my nose I was taking such big sniffs of it, even after I chugged the cup I was snuffling like a truffle pig in the cup. The sweet and sticky molasses and brown sugar aroma just linger around forever, like the ghost of sweets past!

And now, my favorite part (ok second favorite, ogling the golden fuzzies on leaves might actually be my favorite) of tea, drinking! First off, I made the mistake of letting Ben taste this tea...and then he kept trying to steal my cup!! I ended up having to make him his own mug of it to keep him out of mine! It is both a good sign and a bad one, because it means my precious sample will diminish quicker than I would like.
My camera needs a splash guard! 

The mouthfeel is great, nice and thick, which when paired nicely with the sweet taste, giving it almost syrup texture. Considering the tea tastes of molasses, brown sugar, maple syrup, chocolate, peanuts, and malt...syrup is a good way to describe it! Later steeps bring out stronger malt and chocolate tastes, it has a truly iconic molasses heavy Dianhong taste which I adored. It gets many steeps, one day I pushed this one all day and get fourteen steeps, so it goes the distance. This Dianhong gets my seal of approval...now if I can only keep Ben out of my stash!!

Tea sent for review.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Golden Tips Tea: A Pair of Darjeeling White Teas

I survived my camping trip...mostly...my archery wounds are healing up nicely (though they still just look nasty, especially the massive bow bite) but the mosquito bites are killing me! My body is just covered with them, I counted a whopping 76 of the blasted itchy things, which was miserable in the record setting heatwave that just ended. But with heatwaves come the necessary ways to beat the heat, and one method I use is white tea, thanks to its nicely cooling cha qi! So let us take a look at a pair of 2018 First Flush Darjeeling white teas from Golden Tips Tea!

Spring Sensation

This is a very pretty and fluffy white tea, combining fuzzy tips and broad green leaves with slight mottling of light brown and patches of trichome fuzz, very visually appealing leaves. This tea smells as good as it looks, the aroma is a combination of fresh hay, sweet wildflowers (especially dandelions) and a lingering note of honey soaked fresh green grapes. First off, this tea is thick! The texture is so thick it is almost a syrup mouthfeel, it is impressive! The taste is very sweet, starting with honey and a hint of grapes, this transitions to a slight celery and lettuce with a slight astringency that hints at bitter green herbs, but is quite tolerable thanks to the strong sweet start and thick mouthfeel. The tea finishes with wildflowers and lingering aftertaste of pollen and grapes. I really liked how this tea is very clearly Darjeeling but also clearly white tea!

Pearl of Darjeeling Organic 

So, this tea and the previous do not list which estate they come from, but I know this tea, it is Arya Pearl! I have had previous harvests and really liked them, so getting to try this year's harvest is fun. The aroma of the very bright and fluffy green leaves is fairly faint, notes of celery and honeysuckle are the main notes you can pick up. Once you steep the leaves they do not smell sweet at all, instead you get savory spinach and cooked celery. Of course I know this tea and it is full of surprises, it is why it holds the distinction of being one of my favorite Darjeeling teas! The taste is very light (the first steep) as is the mouthfeel, one of those teas that seems so light it is almost effervescent, but what is there is very sweet, like cotton candy and wildflowers with undertones of hay. Later steeps are still fairly light, but with added notes of celery and of course intensely sweet honey nectar. It really amuses me that the tea tastes so sweet but the steeped leaves smell so savory and green.

Teas sent for review