Wednesday, October 7, 2015

What-Cha: India Darjeeling 1st Flush Rohini 'Jethi Kupi' Black Tea, A Tea Review

I am having so much fun with my new camera, it was a grand investment, especially since I have caught some amazing droplet and pour photos. So splashy! I have noticed one hilarious quirk though, see I am very used to my old camera after using it for five years, I knew what angle to be at and such to get the shots I wanted. I have to figure a new angle because I keep casting shadows on my photos, shadows of my MASSIVE lens. It cracks me up to see this looming lens shadowing over my tea desk. The camera is performing wonderfully, the user has a bit more practice needed.

Time to take a trip back in time to February of 2015 for the time of the first flush, because that is when today's tea from What-Cha was harvested. India Darjeeling 1st Flush Rohini 'Jethi Kupi' Black Tea, as you can tell from the name comes from the Rohini Tea Estate, but what the name doesn't tell us is that it was grown at 330m, is the Bannockburn 157 cultivar, and is grown by Shiv Saria and his son Hrishikesh Saria, yay for extra details! I did a little extra digging around and found out that Jethi Kupi is from the Manipuri dialect and means Jasmine flower, or it is from the Nepalese dialect where Jethi means eldest daughter and Kupi means cone/funnel, and this references it being a first flush. Now that that is all settled, aroma time! Why hello there muscatel notes of scuppernongs, muscadines, sultanas, and grape jelly, you are a sweet tea! This is not all just muscatel notes though, there is also a gentle spice and a slight note of gentle roasted peanuts, it has a richness in all its sweetness...and making me crave grape jelly laden toast something fierce.

In my steeping apparatus, the leaves are so gorgeous, I almost oversteeped it because I was entranced by the vibrancy of the leaves. Once I escaped its hypnotic unfurling in the water, the aroma of the leaves is like a small explosion of flowers and grapes, blending scuppernongs and orange blossoms, spicebush and sultanas, it is so grape heavy, I love it! Certain types of grapes may or may not be my favorite fruit ever (yeah, scuppernongs are the best thing, and teas that have those notes make me go all squishy because I grew up gorging on them.) The liquid is creamy and sweet with fruity notes of apricot and grapes, a touch of rich sultanas as well. There is also a tiny note of orange blossoms at the finish.

The taste of this golden brew starts our with a touch of flowery and peppery nasturtium flowers, this moves pretty abruptly to apricots and gentle spicebush. Then the taste goes on to roasted peanuts, scuppernongs, golden raisins, and muscadines. The aftertaste is a blend of orange blossoms and honey, and it lingers. The start is very much so a familiar first flush notes, but towards the end it gets a hint of what later flushes will taste like, which I find fascinating.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Taiwan Oolong Tea: Lugu High Mountain Oolong, A Tea Review

Well poop, it seems that things have gotten extra complicated in my life. It seems the Silver Nemesis, aka the car, has broken beyond repair, kinda out of nowhere. Not having a car is going to make getting to my various medical visits hard, going to gaming hard, getting to the store hard...oh yeah, and Ben's job as a pizza deliverer kinda hard. I am glad that I have a great stash of tea to last me through what is going to probably be a very tight patch, but I am sad because my epic gift giving plans might not work, well, I might use any birthday money to buy the miniatures I wanted to paint for my friends instead of new paint. Things are going to be tough, but we will figure something out. So, that is my life at the moment!

Oolong time! Today we are looking at Taiwan Oolong Tea's Lugu High Mountain Oolong, a new company located in Singapore, their shop-front is their facebook page and have three Oolongs they are offering, they also recently had a small contest and I was lucky enough to snag some of their tea. This tea was grown in the Lugu region at 800m above sea level and was harvested this spring, and that is all I know about this tea, so onward to the sniffing of the nicely balled up leaves. The aroma starts milky and sweet, gently creamy with a slightly nutty rice and almond milk note. Under the creamy sweetness is a floral blend of honeysuckle and a touch of lilac at the finish.

Into the gaiwan! The leaves unfurl pretty quickly, as of the first steep they are already almost unfurled. The aroma is green and just a tiny bit spicy, like spicebush and Asiatic lilies. It is also a touch creamy and just a touch nutty like almost milk. The liquid is surprisingly mild, with notes of gentle cream and distant floral sweetness.

First steeping, this tea really shines in its creamy and very smooth mouthfeel. I admit the first steeping's taste is really mild, gentle floral notes and gentle nutty notes. There is not a ton going on, but the mouthfeel is pretty great.

Time for the second steep! The aroma is creamy and sweet, much more of a presence than the first steep, strong notes of sweet cream, honeysuckles, almond milk, and a a touch of lilacs. The mouthfeel still shines with its silky and creamy texture. The taste has more to offer with this steeping, though sadly not a huge. amount Gentle notes of honeysuckles and sweet cream mix with lilacs and a lingering note of honey.

Third steep! The aroma is mild, gentle notes of honeysuckles and a touch of creaminess. The taste is pretty mild, honeysuckles and lilacs with a gentle creaminess and a touch of vegetation. Gentle is definitely the name of the game with this Oolong, I almost feel like this would be a great after heavy meal sipping experience, one to cleanse your palate while enjoying a subtle flavor.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Beautiful Taiwan Tea Company: Moonlight White Tea, A Tea Review

I am pretty sure my beautiful half moon double tailed Betta (you know, Jace Beleren, because Magic references are fun) is actually a reincarnation of one of my old Bettas. When I first got him is was vibrantly blue and white with a few black spots, he has gotten darker, he is mostly dark blue with black speckles and he is dichroic. A trait in gemstones, Tanzanite and Alexandrite being famous ones, that when viewed from different angles or types of light appear different colors. It is pretty awesome, when Jace is near the top of the tank, his reflection is vibrantly teal (he matches my hair) which makes him the exact inverse of my fish Dichro, yep named for his dichroic property. These two are the only Bettas I have had that have this interesting if he will stop teasing me and let me get a photo!

So today's tea is a fluffy leafed favorite of mine, Moonlight White Tea, from Beautiful Taiwan Tea Company. Ah Moonlight White (or Yue Guang Bai) you are a tea that causes many debates, White Tea? Puerh Tea? Some epic mix of both...probably, see it is from Yunnan and is of the large leaf Assamica varietal, same as Puerh, you can compress and age it like a Puerh, it is only lightly withered but unlike a Maocha which is withered under the sun it is withered under the moon. Or so the legend goes, I also see that this tea is named Moonlight because of its silvery leaves and it is withered in a warm air tunnel. Regardless of what category this fuzzy beauty fits it, it is time for sniffing. The aroma of this pile of fluff (really, I do love fluffy and fuzzy teas, I think I have a fixation, or I just really love leaves) starts off with gentle notes of sweet honey and hay with a touch of wildflowers and pollen. This moves to gentle yeasty bread, honeydew melons, and a touch of lettuce and cucumber at the finish adding a bit of green. I really like how it goes on a little journey through sweet, floral, fruity, and green.

I decided to use my green easy gaiwan/pseudo-houhin for this one, I just love using this wide thing for fluffy leaves. The aroma of the now steeped leaves is strong with notes of sweet hay, raw honey, pollen, wildflowers, and a touch of cucumber, baked bread, and just a tiny little hint of black pepper at the finish. The liquid is delicately sweet, like pollen, wildflowers, honey, and just a tiny hint of lettuce at the finish.

The first steep, in my fancy clear crystal glass, I am so posh. It starts out nice and smooth, with a slight tinge of fuzziness from the trichomes. The taste is quite sweet, like honey and hay with a definite pollen and wildflowers note to it. The finish is gently green with a tiny touch of malt and a lingering sweetness.

And on we go to the second steep, the aroma is a sweet blend of wildflowers, raw honey, and pollen, with just a touch of melon at the finish. The taste is a lot more intense this steep (which makes sense) really making the pollen and wildflower notes pop, I feel like there is a bee's paradise in my mouth. The finish is honey sweet and gently cooling, and that honey lingers for a while.

The third steeping's aroma is much sweeter, like I stuck my nose in a jar of raw honey, you can certainly still smell the pollen, but it is all sweetness all the time. The mouthfeel is a lot more round this steeping, almost silky in its smoothness. Tasting it, well, I am awash with the sweet honey taste and gentle wildflowers, for all that this tea is moonlight it tastes like sunlight to me. The finish has a cooling cucumber note and a lingering honey one that seems to linger on forever. Many steeps were had, I got a bit tea drunk off this one...ok a lot, I found it an excellent painting companion.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Dachi Tea: No 8 Scarlet Honey Oolong, A Tea Review

Well, I got my results from the MRIs and EEG, and they were for the most part normal. Well except for the weird white mass on my frontal cerebral cortex that they think is not related to my current problems and they have no explanation for. Clearly that means I have superpowers, I will totally tell my neurologist that when I go for my follow up. I am glad I do not have epilepsy or MS, though I admit, not having any answers and still having problems is frustrating, a diagnosis means I get help...but all I have now is more questions, superpowers, and pain. Ah well, at least I have tea and can still paint!

Today we are looking at Dachi Tea's No 8 Scarlet Honey Oolong, oh yeah, time for another bug-bitten oolong! This one is more oxidized than some of the other bug-bitten oolongs I have had, so expect this to be a fun adventure. Opening up my package I am pretty much slammed with an incredible sweetness. It is like someone put a bowl of honey drenched black cherries with a light sprinkling of black walnuts and baked pears in front of my nose. It is immensely intense, rich, and oh so sweet, I feel like I am sniffing dessert and not tea!

Into my jankity sage gaiwan the leaves go, I wanted a smaller gaiwan so I could stretch this tea over multiple sessions, if that aroma is anything to go by. The aroma of the wet leaves is intense, almost heady in its sweetness, I feel myself swooning! Notes of cherry, grapes, cooked pears and plums, and loads of honey. The liquid starts out with a cream and honey note and then it melts into baked cherry, plum, and pear notes and a touch of condensed milk. It is intensely sweet, consider me impressed, this might be the sweetest smelling tea.

First steeping, it starts smooth and gentle, a touch of juicy pears and lychees and then out of nowhere a small honey themed explosion goes off in my mouth. I am totally ok with that. This moves to cooked cherries and plums, with a finish of walnuts. The lingering honey sweetness stays for so long, it is wonderfully sweet.

On to the second steep, it starts with sweet honey and rich cherries, a touch of walnuts and creaminess as well. My notes in my notebook kinda slant and look very garbled, my handwriting tends to do that when I an drinking a bug-bitten oolong! It is a sweet explosion of honey drenched plums, cherries, pears, and a gentle finish of walnut. I am loving that walnut finish, this is like drinking a baked fruit dessert.

The aroma of the third steeping keeps it going with the sweet honey, dark cherries, walnuts, and that oh so decadent creaminess. It keeps my nose happy. Ooh fun! This steep has a new note that has surfaced, alongside the notes of cooked plums, cherries, and pears, there is a nice rich note of dates. Of course on top of that is the ever present note of honey, it is wonderful. I had so many steeps of this tea, I got unbelievably tea drunk too.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Tao Tea Leaf: Precious A Li Shan- Premium, A Tea Review

I think I need to give up on the dream of a black cloth on my tea desk, oh sure it looks fantastic day one, but as of the first time I turn my back on the tea table, it is the cat's table. So, either I need a tortie cat colored tea cloth that will also not show ALLLLL the stains from my tea spillage or I need to get a tiny tape roller to collect all the cat fuzz since she keeps insisting on sleeping on it. Clearly she is jealous of the tea pets and wants to be the alpha pet. Of course I could get one of those cool wooden tea trays with the drain, but it would make accessing my desk's cubbyholes nigh impossible...maybe I should just turn my antique secretary desk into a draining teadesk...that would be so metal. And also really hard!! For those who remember my other tea desk WIP it is currently on hold until after I move...someday.

Today is, unless my notebook is a big ol' liar, the last of the pile of samples from Tao Tea Leaf, their Precious Ali Shan-Premium, though reading the description, I am not sure if the Oolong from Ali Shan or an Oolong from Li Shan, I though about trying to figure it out through taste (or being sensible and contacting the shop) but then decided, maybe I spend too much time getting bogged down in the details, maybe I should just enjoy the tea and let it be the guide, not any preconceived notions of location. So tea, what do you have to tell me? The aroma is creamy, like all sorts of creamy, we have milky notes, sweet cream, honey butter, and almond milk. Underneath that sweet creaminess is a touch of gentle spicebush blossoms and faint papaya fruitiness.

Into my gaoshan pot the leaves go! The aroma of the now steeped and slightly unfurled leaves is gentle almond and chestnut at first, this moves to a nice burst of honey and flowers, honeysuckles, lilac, and that tropical fun burst of papaya at the finish. The liquid is where all the creamy action went, chestnuts and sweet cream with a nice burst of almond milk and distant honey drizzled bread.

First steeping is very creamy in the mouth (I am seeing a bit of a theme here) nice and smooth, one of my favorite thing about gaoshan Oolongs, they have some of the best mouthfeels in the tea world. The taste is sweet and creamy, almond milk and papaya notes mix with gentle flowery undertone. As the sipping continues the flowery notes build to a distinct honeysuckle note, and the finish has that same note with a lingering honey and chestnut aftertaste.

Second steeping, the aroma of the liquid has a nice spicebush note at the first, that moves to sweet cream and nutty notes of almond milk and chestnut. I am really liking the almond milk note, being one of my favorite non-dairy milks. The taste really ramps up the sweetness this steep, creamy and gentle nutty with a blend of chestnut, almond milk, coconut milk (specifically the milk substitute, not the super heavy stuff you get for cooking delightful Thai food, or coconut juice, the coconut note is very light in that stuff) and a touch of actual sweet cream. The finish is a lingering honeysuckle note that just keeps on going.

The third steep taught me something very valid, never rely on an internal timer (fun fact, any teas that require less than a five minute steeping time, I just keep watch on the leaves, count it out, or just wait til it feels right) for steeping tea while playing Terraria, I oversteeped the third steep by a good two minutes. Way to go, Amanda! The liquid was dark compared to the previous steeps, but the aroma was all flowers, no more cream, just a bouquet of lilacs and honeysuckles, very sweet and spring like. The taste was not at all bitter, not a bitter note to be found, hooray! The taste is intense creamy notes of chestnut and almond milk and then BOOM flowers! So many flowers, like I just fell face first into a lilac bush and got all its tasty nectar into my mouth. Well played, Oolong, well played!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

What-Cha: Ceylon Idulgashinna Hand-Twisted 'Blue Nettle' Oolong Tea, A Tea Review

The pile of WIP on my painting desk is slowly shrinking. See my big plans for Christmas gifts this year are buy a miniature I think the receiver will like and paint it for them. It goes with my usual tradition of making gifts for people, and I wanted an early start. My goal is to get the gifts for family finished first and then do a bit of an open season, open it up to like 15 or so of my online friends and tell them to claim a spot and they get a mini. Thank you Reaper Minis Bones line for being affordable! Also yay for not having a job other than tea rambling, so I can devote a ton of time to painting things for people I care about.

Today's tea is one of the strangest looking ones I have had the pleasure of brewing, and I admit I got it entirely because it was quirky looking. What-Cha's Ceylon Idulgashinna Hand-Twisted 'Blue Nettle' Oolong Tea as you can tell from the title of said tea, it is an Oolong from the Idulgashinna Tea Estate in Sri Lanka, specifically in the Uva region. This fun little tea bundle is hand twisted by workers, though I admit I have no idea what it has to do with nettle since it really looks nothing like the plant...maybe it is a reference to the jellyfish? Regardless it is quite pretty, the leaves tightly curled and showing a great variety of colors. The aroma is fairly light, a blend of apricots and persimmons with a slightly sour note like unripe plum, it blends sweet fruity and sour fruity very well.

I thought about gongfu brewing this little cluster of surprisingly long leaves, but decided it would be best suited in my tea brewing apparatus, I want to see it unfurl! And you know, even after a couple steeps, it stayed tight together, which I found amusing. The aroma of the leaf pile is sweet, like cooked apricots and persimmons with a definite honey note. The liquid smells like apricots and apple blossoms, very light but sweet.

First steep, it is smooth and pleasant, fairly light, but it has one very distinct note. It tastes like summer squash, specifically summer squash drizzled in honey. It is pretty mild, with an apricot finish, but it is also refreshing in its mildness. So, on we go to another steep.

Second steep, the aroma is picking up some malty and squash tones along with the persimmon and apricot. I like how the tea is kinda orange and the things it smells like (malt aside) are all orange. This is truly the tea to usher in Autumn, hey blenders, maybe use this in a pumpkin themed tea...because it no longer tastes like just summer squash, it tastes like pumpkin! It is still a bit light, defintely a tea that both has a presence and can be slurped without paying attention, at one point during the second steep I reached to pour myself more and realized my steeper was empty...and was confused as to where the tea went. Clearly I slurped it up and didn't even notice. I also tossed a couple bundles into my tea infuser (sorry no picture, was really distracted with medical crap that day) and this tea handled the long steep very well, bringing the malt and pumpkin sweetness, it was a great accompaniment to a stressful day...and I have a suspicion I am going to get more of this tea to keep around for travel steeping fun.

MeiMei Fine Teas: West Lake Dragon Well Green Tea (Long Jing), A Tea Review

I had the most delicious plum today, really it was amazing. Not the most informative intros about how my day went, but all thought of the day pre-plum just kinda vanish in a fruit filled haze.

Today we are taking a look at West Lake Dragon Well Green Tea (Long Jing) by MeiMei Fine Teas, ah Dragon Well, you are a tea I have a serious soft spot for, probably one of the spring harvest teas I get most excited over. This specific Long Jing was harvested pre-April 5th, making it a Pre Qing Ming tea, one of the more coveted of harvests. When looking at the leaves I noticed some had wonderful trichome fuzzballs, a sign that yep, these are picked super early and have their young leaf fuzziness, most of the fuzz gets rubbed off during pan firing, but some gets left behind as little fuzzballs. I call them lucky, because whenever I see them I know I am in for a treat. Sniffing the leaves, and hello vegetal! Take bell peppers, green beans and Lima beans and saute them with some sesame seed oil and a touch of sweet honey and you have the aroma for these leaves. Just at the start of the saute process too since the bell pepper note still has its crispness.

The tea has made its way into my dragon gaiwan for its steeping, I kinda lost track of time and steeped it a little longer than I meant to, so hopefully that won't ruin all the things. The aroma of the soggy leaves is very green, keeping that Lima bean, green beans, and bell pepper and adding in some okra and only the slightest touch of sesame seeds. The liquid is light and green, notes of green beans, sesame seeds and bell pepper mix with an undertone of honey.

First steeping time, did I ruin it by over steeping? Pfft, no, though I think I did remove any chance of the first steep being very sweet. It starts smooth and a little tingly from the trichomes, the taste is mostly savory, only a hint of sweet at the finish that lingers as an aftertaste. Notes of green beans, Lima beans, bell peppers, and artichoke make up the tasting profile. It is crisp and refreshing in its smoothness.

Onward to steep number two! The aroma is vegetal and savory, only a tiny hint of sweetness at the tale end of the sniffing. The taste starts sweet this time, like sesame seeds and a gentle note of honey. This moves on to a strong vegetal and slight nuttiness, and then finishes with sweetness. I did have a third steep, but it was pretty mild and mellow, since I steeped it too long at first steep. Also, fun fact, this tea was awesome in my travel steeper, kept me going through a rather vigorous game of D&D!