Saturday, August 1, 2015

Liquid Proust Teas: Jackseed Gyokuro, A Tea Review

Remember a while ago I had allergy tests and they came back that I was not allergic to anything? I think that the test might have been incorrect, because I was feeling better! My sore throat and slightly stuffy nose and cough had eased up, then I spent a day outside and then another with all the windows open and I woke up sick again! There are no new things in the house to cause irritation, so it must be allergies, it being so wet this year that it must be mold. I dunno, I am sick of this sore throat, so time to take loopy allergy meds and crank up the air purifier to full blast! On a more fun note, I started a Wedding Registry (because why not, even though I do not even have a set date yet!) and I am having fun trying to figure out what to add. So far there is a cat tower and a vase, progress!

Today I am taking a look at Liquid Proust's Jackseed Gyokuro a blend of Gyokuro from Wakayama, Roasted Jackfruit Seeds, and a dash of Vanilla. I admit, I found this tea very intriguing! I am a sucker for blends using out of the norm ingredients, I love the imagination and bravery it takes to make and test something like this, and as someone who has dabbled in making bizarre blends...it is hard work! It feels wrong to take something as precious Gyokuro and make it into a blend...or does it? The aroma of the tea is ever so slightly fruity, like apricot and a little like almonds, with a tiny hint of distant vegetation. The aroma is very light, at the very tail end of the sniffing there is a hint of distant sea air, which is fascinating.

It was quite fun watching the tea go from emerald green leaves to vibrantly green once steeped, I just love how intensely green Japanese teas get once steeped! The aroma of the soggy leaves and seed bits is fruity, again the apricot notes are present, add in chestnuts and a touch of almonds for nutty sweetness. Then boom, straight into strong almost salty, buttery, asparagus and kelp, the Gyokuro showed up, hehe! The liquid is pretty mild, not much going on, a touch of green vegetation notes and a tiny touch of nuttiness, really it is very mild.

The tea starts off mild, very smooth mouthfeel and rather thick. Not as thick as I am used to with Gyokuro since I brewed this more Western style than the traditional ton of Gyokuro and very little water method. The tasting starts with buttery asparagus and fresh kelp and sea air, this moves to chestnuts and apricots. It is a little different from apricots, more like a blend between an apricot and banana with a papaya edge, it could in fact, be Jackfruit, but I have not had the pleasure of eating that in well over a decade, and it was only a small taste. Clearly I need to go on another palate expanding adventure! After that burst of fruitiness it moves on to savory again, with a finish of asparagus and a touch of broken hay and grass, which is very subtle. I am honestly not sure how I feel about this tea, I found myself wanting more from the nutty and fruity notes, like they kept teasing me, but on the other hand the subtle wisps of flavor fascinated me, like I was chasing down an adventure, a treasure hunt in my mouth. I am tempted to get more and brew it traditional using my pseudo-houhin and see how the tastes change, a curious tea and a curious experience!

Friday, July 31, 2015

Wymm Tea: Jingmai Sheng Pu-erh From Ancient Tea Tree 2013 First Spring, A Tea Review

Hello tea friends! I am sorry (not sorry) that I missed out on blogging yesterday, but I was super tired after getting no sleep the night before (unrelated) and celebrating the next day, in case you missed it, I got engaged!!! Ben took me to the zoo as a little going away present before he skipped town for a few days to attend a wedding out of state, and in the Australian bird enclosure while being watched by Ibises he proposed. My ring is quite wonderful, a simple silver band embossed with laurels (yay I finally have laurels!) and very comfortable, and apparently the little sneak bought it months ago when I was visiting my mom in PA, and waited for the perfect opportunity to surprise me, in typical Ben fashion it was all very romantic. I am still in  a state of giggly bliss! Now to start planning the Deep Sea Cthulhu Cephalopod themed wedding!

So, giggling aside, today is a day for some Sheng! Specifically Wymm Tea's Jingmai Sheng Pu-erh From Ancient Tea Tree 2013 First Spring, a Sheng Puerh from Jingmai Mountain in the Lancang Lahu Autonomous County in the southwest of Yunnan. This reminds me of how badly I want several very detailed maps of tea producing regions, that would be so cool hanging in my tea area. So, the aroma of this tea is not much to jump up and down about, the tea is very tightly compressed, so I am not surprised by the rather mellow and unassuming aroma. The notes I do get out of this sample are sweet hay, camphor, a gentle sharp woodiness, and a touch of spinach. It took a bit of sniffing to get those notes, but nothing wrong with a bit of tea snuffling!

Once I gave the tea its first rinse and brew, the leaves livened up a good bit. There are notes of wet oak wood and wet and dry hay, like a barn but thankfully without the animals! There is also a bit of sourness that fades to sweetness, like melon rinds, lastly there is a hint of green beans, specifically fresh uncooked snap beans. The liquid has a sharpness, wet wood and camphor, with a touch of smoke and sweetness.
Conciliatory Frog

I apologize for no photo of the first steep, I was unaware that my camera was suffering technical difficulties and ate my photo, all I got was a sad error. After the sharp aroma I was expecting a sharp taste, amusingly not so much! It is fruit sweetness and smoothness from the first to the aftertaste. Starting with honey and hay, moving to apricots, and finishing with a gentle woodiness that does give a bit of dryness at the very end. There is a very gentle camphorous cooling after sipping, but it is very light.

Second steeping! The aroma is not really at all sharp this time, it is sweet and fruity, fresh crisp apricots and honey with a touch of distant smoke. The taste is much thicker, especially in mouthfeel, it is heavily leaden with honey and fruit at the front, this fades pretty quickly to greenness. Notes of greenbeans and grass with a tiny bit of grapes at the finish.

Onward to number three! The aroma is now quite pungent, wet hay and wet leaf pile with a camphor note drift from my cup. What, the? Hey, what happened? It has gone from delightfully smooth and sweet to bitter, just like not entirely ripe persimmons, however the mouthfeel is thick and not dry, interesting! Maybe I steeped it too long, always a possibility (it was 30 seconds at 185 if you are curious) but woo, that was a twist! In me fashion I went for a few more steeps, the next couple were still rather bitter, but fading back into apricots and hay, with stronger camphor notes, so other than that kick in the face at the middle the tea was quite enjoyable!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

What-Cha: Vietnam 'Wild Boar' Black Tea, A Tea Review

I had a thrift store adventure today! Feeling the predictable 'I need to go to the thrift store' tingly feeling in my brain, weirdest super power ever (though sadly not as useful as my finding lost things super power) so Ben was nice and took me to the store. My usual store did not have anything of interest, sadly, so we went to the other store up the road that never has anything, and lo and behold, there were things! I found a Guan Yin statue, something I have always wanted (but never bought new because it is me and I like getting old stuff at stores) so I was so happy, I did a loud squee. When I was checking out the cashier dropped the statue, knocking the head off, eek! Thinking my beloved statue was ruined, I examined it and saw the head could very easily be glued back on, so I bought it and was given a discount, awesome! I am debating painting it to look like some of the paintings, or all gold to look like a temple statue, one thing is for certain, Guan Yin needs a bath!

So, tis time for tea! What-Cha's Vietnam 'Wild Boar' Black Tea, a tea I bought because boars are kinda awesome. The tea is named by the local hill tribe that picks the wild growing leaves after the boars that roam wild in the hills. The aroma of the dark leaves is odd, I kinda teared up a bit because the aroma reminds me of something from my memories, something very far into them but I could not place it, it was maddening and caused an intense feeling of homesickness. Memories aside (since you cannot really smell those) there are notes of cocoa and malt, with a delicate note of peanuts, and surprisingly wildflowers and a touch of roses, it has a gentle sweetness, but it is mostly from the floral notes, the cocoa is like dark chocolate rather than the sweet stuff.

Into the green gaiwan the leaves go for their nice little bath! The aroma of the wet leaves is rather rich! Notes of malt and oak wood with a touch of peanuts and loam. Distant notes of flowers at the finish with a tiny touch of turnip greens. The liquid is a gentle blend of cocoa and sweet honey with malt and again a touch of flowers.

Whoa! That first steep is robust! It starts off a bit brisk while remaining smooth, a good first thing in the morning tea, will wake you up without kicking your stomach in the process. The taste starts off malty and blooms into an almost coconut milk sweetness and creaminess, toss in some cocoa and honey and well, yum!

The second steep's aroma is rather diminished from the first steep, only mild notes of flowers and malt remain. The taste is also kinda diminished, but still tasty, notes of malt and creamy sweetness with a touch of cocoa are what stand out, with a tiny mineral and floral taste at the finish. This is a great first steep, with the later ones had more staying power, but eh, sometimes just one steep is not a bad thing. Still trying to find out what memory that smell is evoking, the brain is strange sometimes!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Oollo Tea: Iron Buddha Oolong, A Tea Review

Boo, I lack anything interesting to say, still waiting to move and waiting to stop being sick. So, I shall instead talk about comics, I recently discovered a youtube channel called Comicstorian, it is all about, you guessed it, comics! I am reminded how infuriating Hush's story is, I prefer my head canon where Hush is actually a Mummy detective, solving crimes and finding a way to get to the Afterlife because clearly someone cursed him...if he could only remember who...I should totally write this. Anyway, Hush is really lame, I wish that he didn't exist, or that his story would not have ended so incredibly stupidly, it just makes me angry! 

Today is an Oolong day, Oollo Tea's Iron Buddha Oolong. Hello tea that is a gift from Guan Yin, this tea, fun fact, years ago was the type of Oolong that got me hooked on Oolongs and taught me tea could be something more than just a drink, that it could be something that is art. That was a different Iron Buddha from Taiwan, since that was over a decade ago! Anyway, nostalgia aside, this tea is wonderful, that distinct aroma of a roasted Tie Guan Yin, blending toast, roasted chestnut, hazelnuts, baking bread, and just a delicate note of char. This is not a charcoal roasted oolong, so the roasted notes are more like toast than fire, at the finish (after I have been sniffing this tea for a while) is a delicate note of plum. 

Brewing the tea in my roasted Oolong Yixing teapot, like I do, the aroma is delightfully toasted. Notes of roasted notes (chestnut and walnut shell) and toasted bread mix with mineral, sweet cocoa, and even a note of roasted coffee. It is really robust! The liquid is a blend of roasted walnuts and chestnuts, a hint of hazelnuts and a tiny bit of toasted bread at the finish. 

The first steep is smooth and fairly mellow, starting out with a note of mineral and toasted nuts. Next the taste moves to walnut shells and hazelnuts, with a touch of toasted bread. This moves on to a sweet finish of stone fruit and a tiny touch of char. 

After savoring the toasty, mineral goodness of the first steep I obviously had to have more, so on to steep two. The aroma of this steep is nicely roasted, with notes of sweet honey and roasted nuts, with just a touch of grainy bread. The taste is nicely robust, rich roasted nuts and grains, toast, sesame seeds, chestnut, walnuts, and even a touch of oats. There is a tiny hint of mineral at the finish, along with a slight sourness like unripe plums, but that fades pretty quickly to sweet plums at the aftertaste. 

For the third steep, the aroma is toasted and not much else, it is toasted grains and bread, with a hint of walnuts. The taste is delicate this time around, roasted notes of walnuts and a finish of honey make up the bulk of this steep. It is nice, but a ghost compared to the previous steep, but being haunted by honey sweetness and walnuts is not a terrible fate! 

Monday, July 27, 2015

Liquid Proust Teas: French Toast Dianhong, A Tea Review

Happy Monday my dear tea friends! I think I have Pharyngitis, this cold thing that I had never really made me too stuffy or cough-y, it has mostly been a nasty sore throat and fever, and pretty much that is all that is left, a stupid sore throat. Luckily it is not affecting my ability to taste things and talk, though it has made swallowing a giant pain. On a side note, I am still angry at the dryer for ruining so many of my clothes, most of them I can 'replace' by going to the Goodwill Bin store and paying 75 cents a pound for clothes, but the underwear that the dryer melted had to be replaced by spending legit money at Target, BUT there is a silver lining, I found that in the little boy's section they had Minecraft clothes! An epic shirt and a Creeper hoodie that I have wanted for a while but did not want to pay a small fortune for, but it turns out a large boy's shirt and hoodie fits me perfectly, and is half the price of an adult small. Sneaky sneaky! I will totally have to get them once I have a bit of extra money and can justify buying new clothes again...it just feels kinda wrong to me, but I have been a thrifter for life.

Today we are looking at Liquid Proust Teas' French Toast Dianhong, a gong yi cha (or craft tea, if I am doing my translation at all correct) basically it is a blooming tea without the flower, and made with Dianhong, one of my favorite Yunnan red teas, and flavored to resemble French Toast. I used to eat French Toast all the time, but since I went to the (sad) ways of Gluten Free, I do not indulge because bread has become stupid expensive! It was a favorite 3 in the morning snack that I often found my dad cooking and would join him for some nibbles, though we ate it with ketchup rather than syrup, and they were savory rather than sweet, but in my older days I found I preferred the sweeter version! The aroma of the sizable ball is a real knockout! I am hit with intense notes of vanilla with notes of cocoa too with a tiny bit of sweet potato and roasted peanuts (hello Dianhong) alongside the tiniest note of bready batter. The vanilla reminds me more of real vanilla extract rather than vanilla beans, that distinct sweet and slightly alcohol note of the extract, this rather than straight up vanilla beans, reminds me of the extract that permeates French Toast batter, especially the way I make it...who needs a measuring spoon?

I decided to gongfu this thing, in retrospect I should have used a bigger gaiwan so it could really unfold without limits instead of having its little needles popping out the top of the water, but all my tea gear is still packed up. I will say that sniffing the tea made me melt into my chair a bit, it smells soooooo good! Very rich notes of vanilla and cocoa waft up from the slowly unfurling ball of now soggy tea. Along side the vanilla (really it is like I am sitting next to a bottle of vanilla extract) there is gentle cocoa, yams, and peanuts, yum! The liquid is a heady mixture of vanilla and cocoa with a touch of peanuts, so much vanilla sweetness.

The taste is kinda fantastic, very very strong vanilla, it has a bit of a cooling alcohol burn similar to vanilla extract, but it certainly is deliciously strong. Like drinking vanilla extract but without the really gross taste if you do that (trust me on this!) Along with the strong Vanilla which waxes and wanes, strong at first, milder in the middle, and strong at the finish with a lingering aftertaste, is notes of cocoa (ok, with this sweetness it is straight up chocolate) and yams, with a mild roasted peanut note at the finish.

Onward to the second steep! The aroma is much like the first, a metric ton of vanilla with cocoa and yams taking up the rear. The taste of the tea (also the unfurling ball looks like a sea monster) has a very similar profile to the first steep, but with stronger cocoa notes and extra yam sweetness.

Third steeping! The aroma is still very similar, though the vanilla is calming down some while the cocoa and yam notes of the tea become more prevalent. The same can be said about the taste, lots less vanilla and lots more cocoa and yams, the tea's natural honey sweetness is shining through, meaning I like the tea and the flavor, always a good sign. I steeped this one once more, after that I found the vanilla taste was gone and it was just the sweet taste of the Dianhong ball. I was mildly perturbed, I was told that the taste would evolve a lot between steeps and it was very similar each steep to me, maybe there is something wrong with my taste buds...but everything tastes the same...worrying thoughts if true. It could also be the difference in steeping styles, temperatures, steeping vessels, and all that fun stuff, so I am not too worried. I will say I enjoyed this tea, not sure I would call it French Toast, since other than the vanilla extract I dump into the batter, it did not taste much like the toast. I certainly foresee myself buying some of these, I love watching the sea monsters unfurl, and I am curious to see how other steeping methods affect the taste.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Tea Leaf Co: Brown Sugar, A Tea Review

There is something incredibly hypnotic about this time of year, something sleepy and just a little bit magical. The air gets heavy with heat, humidity, and the sound of cicadas, the sky goes from brilliant blue to a perpetual haze, and the storms are not as frequent but when they do show they are full of heat fueled lightning. It has been mostly rainy and cool (for the Midwest) this year, and I have been very glad for it, and it seems the current heatwave will be over by Tuesday (hooray!) meaning back to nice coolish summer weather. Also luckily my cold seems to definitely be on the way out, clearly medicinal Minecraft helped yesterday.

Today is a day for Brown Sugar by Tea Leaf Co, and now that song is stuck in my head, fun side story, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure fourth arc has my favorite character, Bruno Buccellati whose Stand (magic superpower, let's just go with that, it would take too long to explain) is called Sticky Fingers, his name is a reference to Brown Sugar and his Stand is a reference to the Rolling Stones album the song is from...and it is probably one of the few Rolling Stones songs I like. So that totally random rambling aside, this tea is a blend of Dark Oolong (the smoky tones make me think it is maybe a Wuyi) Natural Essences, and Safflowers. The aroma of the leaves smells like Canada, or at least what Canada is thought to smell like: maple syrup, campfires, burnt sugar, and more sweetness...that is totally what Canada smells like, right? It smells yummy, I certainly hope that Canada smells like this!


Into ye old steeping apparatus the leaves and petals go. Fun fact, thanks to the inspiration of my instagram friends, when I move and have my own tea room, it will be called the Tea Lab, so my pseudo-alchemy equipment will fit perfectly. So, after steeping the aroma takes on a surprising note of stewed plums with a distinct caramelized brown sugar note, hah, name drop! Blend in maple syrup and molasses and a touch of smoke for a sugary sweet explosion. The liquid is a sweet blend of caramel, brown sugar, maple syrup, and campfire, wow what an impressively sweet tea!

The taste is intense! So many sugary notes without actually being grossly sweet, it is the taste of caramel and brown sugar, burnt sugar and smoke, and a touch of plums. I like how it tastes of sweetness but only has a hint of sweetness, that is a really neat effect. The finish of the tea is a lingering sweetness and smokiness, like eating plums roasted over a campfire.

Minecraft Console Edition: Greek Mashup Pack, A Geekery Showcase

I feel like absolute garbage, so it came as a boon today when I saw that the long awaited Greek Mashup Pack has been released for console. I have been wanting a Greek (and ancient China too) themed texture pack and they did not disappoint!
OMG it is Olympus!
Whoever came up with this, designed the textures and the Greek World REALLY loves Greek mythology and knows their stuff. So many references to the myths I have devoted a large chunk of my life studying that I just can't handle myself.
Arachne was totally a better weaver, just sayin'

Arachne spiders, a Cerberus Wither, Zombie Satyrs (really like killing them) Agamemnon's Death Mask pumpkins, golden fleece sheep, Hippokampoi and Griffin horses, and of course loads of Spartoi are just the tip of the iceberg.
Most adorable Minotaur
Cerberus looking fierce! 
Going into the world built to show this beauty off you find Atlantis, Rhodes, Troy, Athens, Olympus...I honestly almost cried because my obsession for Greek mythology and history goes deep.
A golden birch tree is actually a dryad
Greek art is win
My only problem is the same problem I have with any texture pack that is not just a slight alter of the original, sometimes the way my main creative world looks with said texture pack is awful. My beautifully carpeted river house looks like a giant eyesore because the wools are very stylized. So that means I need a special Greece only build world and found the perfect Archipelago to work with!
death to Satyrs!!

And now, I am going back to playing Minecraft, your regularly scheduled tea rambling will return tomorrow I know, fingers crossed that I feel better!
Poseidon would be proud