Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Teasenz: 2016 Zi Juan Purple Tea Cake - Sheng Purple Tea, A Tea Review

I am currently cleaning up my mess of Magic The Gathering cards, they are a giant unsorted disaster after the move and I am finally tackling them. Between long winded sort sessions I decided to take a break and write this blog, because frankly if I had to sort cards anymore I might have started screaming. My one big complaint with having that collecting is the endless upkeep.

Today I am taking a look at a tea type I don't drink much of, a sheng puerh, specifically 2016 Zi Juan Purple Tea Cake - Sheng Purple Tea from Teasenz. I don't drink sheng much because for some reason it gives me killer gut-rot (yes I have tried many types, ages, and storage style, before you ask...because everyone always asks, it just does not agree with me) so take that into consideration. I cannot really give a long description of this tea's longevity because I had to call it quits at steep four.

However I can say I love this cake, it is a perfect example of a quality purple tea, with rich darkly purple leaves that smell of grape skin, apricot, and asparagus with undertones of fresh hay and honey. I always find purple tea, no matter how it is processed, always has a slightly fruity aroma and this one is no exception, plus it is just beautiful to look at. After an initial rinse and steep the aroma is very sweet honey and hay with underlying fruit and green notes.

The mouthfeel was an exciting combination of thick and dry, starting off with a bit of a dry slightly unripe apricot taste and feel and then flowing to the back of the mouth with a honey sweet thickness that lingers in the back of my throat for a while. There are also notes of fresh hay and a crispy lettuce green taste as well.

The later of the steeps starts to bring in that bitterness, like the bitterness of a red wine or underripe plum, very fruity rather than green in its bitterness. Sadly when the bitterness starts is when I have to stop, I have this theory that it might be tannin related since I have a harder time (lately, it is a new and terrible development) with very heavily tannic black teas. I can tell this tea has a lot of life left in it, I've noticed that purple shengs tend to just go on forever before they fade out. I did like what I could taste though, and if my stomach would have let me I could have kept this train running! And now...back to sorting magic cards!

Tea sent for review

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Golden Tea Leaf: Ali Mountain Oolong, A Tea Review

New blog schedule alert! I have decided to blog once a week on Tuesdays now, might be permanent, might change as I try to find the perfect balance of blogging to time. Thank you all as I try to figure things out through trial and error, as someone who likes schedules being followed I can understand any annoyance.

Now that the bureaucracy is finished, onward to tea! Looking at Golden Tea Leaf's Ali Mountain Oolong one of my favorite mountains from one of my favorite places to get Taiwanese oolongs. This is the 2018 harvest, delightfully fresh and super aromatic, definitely one of those teas I need to sniff while sitting down because you just get hit with a wave of delightful green oolong goodness. The aroma is a blend of sweetness and green, with notes of honeysuckle, fresh vegetation, pineapples, daffodils, and a sweet cream and sugarcane finish.

Brewing the leaves up (photos is obviously after a ton of steeps) the aroma is a blend of fresh alpine air and a touch of distant pine, also with notes of pineapple, lychee, daffodils, and honeysuckles. It is very sweet with a crisp green quality that keeps it from being cloying and gives it a very refreshing quality.

Man this is sweet! The first couple steeps are very sweet with a very pleasant subtleness, sweet but again not too cloying, with strong notes of hyacinth and honeysuckle, lychee and papaya, and a lingering aftertaste of pineapple and flower nectar. It has a pleasant thickness that does a wonderful job of coating the mouth with that sweet flavor.

This tea goes through a lot of steeps too, I legit lost count but it is certainly more than a dozen and I am still sipping it as it finally finishes out with subtle sweetness. The later steeps before it starts to fade bring in the green alpine notes of fresh mountain air in summer, it tastes immensely clean and humid, it is honestly kinda hard to describe it other than just being really high up in the mountains. Along side that refreshing taste is the long lingering notes of pineapples and flowers, specifically hyacinth and orange blossoms (it is a bouquet in my mouth) and the fruity and floral notes just linger for so long in the aftertaste.

I really enjoyed this tea's longevity and how it never got bitter or funky if I...accidentally...wandered out of the room and steeped it for too long. It is delightful and I will drinking a bunch of this one!

Tea sent for review

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Teavivre: Nonpareil Te Gong Huang Shan Mao Feng Green Tea, Same Tea Two Ways

I have a serious case of the grumpies today, woke up in a hellish funk and I am pretty sure it is because for the last couple days the construction site has been in full on beeping mode for HOURS. I am not sure what it is, but something is beeping, loudly...loud enough to creep in my construction grade earplugs, and wake me up earlier than I would like. At least tomorrow is a holiday so I should have a nice sleeping in.

Today I decided to look at Teavivre's Nonpareil Te Gong Huang Shan Mao Feng Green Tea both as a hot tea and as a cold steep, because it is summer and I occasionally want cold tea. A brief note on the dry leaves before I get to the two different steeps, they are very fresh and delicious! The aroma is sweet and green, with notes of water chestnut, honeysuckles, and a finish of fresh asparagus and green beans. I find it combines the vegetal green and sweet green really well!

One thing I really like about Teavivre's green tea is it can take the heat, they are quality so that is not a huge surprise, but it is nice to be able to flash steep the tea at 195F and not getting a bitter death pile. It is sweet, like sugarcane, honeysuckles, water chestnuts, and a sesame seed finish. Later steeps bring in the green with snap peas, green beans, and lettuce, combining with the sweet earlier steep notes for a very well balanced tea. Also it goes for many steeps, usually I find green teas putter out early but with the whole hot water and flash steeps it goes for a nice solid eight steeps.

Some days, it is hot, and while green tea is delightfully cooling, sometimes you really want the extra enjoyment of fridge cold. I find green tea cold steeps wonderfully in general and when you have a quality tea it makes it even better! The taste is so refreshing, unlike the hot tea, cold tea is greener with notes of asparagus, bell peppers, green beans, and a slightly sweet chestnut finish that lingers well into the aftertaste. Either cold or hot this tea is delicious and I am sad I have already torn through my sample!

I won a sample of this tea in their spring tea giveaway

Friday, June 29, 2018

Tea Bento: Cloud Leopard (DongFeng MeiRen Oriental Beauty) A Tea Review

Hey, guess what? If you guessed that it is hot and I have turned into a humanoid blob undulating across the floor instead of bothering to walk anywhere...well you are oddly specific in your guess. One thing about Kansas City heat I liked was the fairly low humidity, if it was say 95F it was uncomfortable but not melt into goo levels, but when you live next to a lake the humidity is real high, much like living in the south. So I am sitting wrapped in a wet towel with a fan blowing on me because I refuse to turn on the AC, I moved north to avoid having to turn the blasted thing on after all. (Ok that was not the only reason, but escaping heat was a BIG one!)

But, you are not here (presumably) to listen to me rant (once again) about how much I hate temperatures over 90F, you are here for tea...probably steeped at a temperature around 90C (because I steep everything at 195F) Today I am looking at Cloud Leopard by Tea Bento, they sent me this one back in February, at the time I could not find it in their store and I admit was too distracted by packing to properly follow up (fail) but today I was rooting around for a tea to drink and found my pouch, and lo and behold! It is on the website, so I can give it the review it deserves! Cloud Leopard is an Oriental Beauty (or DongFen MeiRen) from Taiwan, one of my favorite types of Oolongs. Lately I have been powering through greens since my stomach has been stupid, but today I desperately needed something heavier, and this was a perfect pick. The aroma is sweet and light, somewhat unassuming at first sniff, but adding it to a warmed teapot and POOF massive burst of juicy apples, apricots, orchids, honey, distant spicebush, and a finish of pears. It is very fruity, which I like!

Brewing the leaves the aroma is somehow sweeter, taking on more of a stewed fruit rather than fresh fruit, but man is this ever a fruity oolong! The first couple steeps are light and sweet, like a light wildflower honey over apples and pears. The aftertaste is one of distant flowers and an ever so subtle note of spiciness that lingers like an autumnal dream.

Later steeps increase in sweetness, bringing in notes of peaches and apricots along with the apples and pears, it is like a fruit harvest in my mouth and I am perfectly ok with that. It is very well rounded in the mouthfeel with a full and slippery feeling, it is not immensely thick, more light and floaty which matches with the fruity sweetness. It hit the spot in so many ways, especially this morning where I needed something rich in flavor and sweetness, plus it has decent longevity which is always a plus for me.
Tea Sent for Review

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Teasenz: Wild Orange Pu'er Tea - 2009 Ripe Tangerine Puerh Cha, A Tea Review

So, observant types might notice that it is in fact Tuesday rather than Sunday when I usually blog, mostly it is because Sunday I was under the weather, also I have decided that my blog needs a new schedule! From now on blogs will be Tuesday and Friday, and not be a definite 'review and random' pattern, it will just be what I feel like writing about at that time. And today I feel like delving into the world of Puerh thanks to Teasenz, looking at Wild Orange Pu'er Tea - 2009 Ripe Tangerine Puerh Cha.

There is something a bit magical about tea stuffed in a thing and dried, be it oranges, bamboo, lotus flowers...and I am sure there are other things out there I have not run into...I am not entirely sure why I find them so endearing, but I do. I find these Chenpi Shous come in two varieties, really small ones you can brew the whole thing, or larger ones you need to break up if you want to gaiwan it up, this is the larger variety so I broke off a decent amount of peel to go with the tea. The aroma is wonderful, just the right amount of wet pine needle earthiness blended with sharp citric orange peel and a finish of yeasty sourdough at the finish.

After a rinse and steep I find the leaves and peel smell a bit malty and cocoa like, along with the orange and earthy notes giving it a bit of a chocolate orange aroma. The liquid is the same, earthy, malty, sweet and cocoa with a strong orange aroma. I love these things, they smell so good, especially on a rainy day (which is was the day I drank this...it is also storming right now and has me tempted to get into the other half of the orange, but I must wait for now)

The first couple of steeps really bring the earthy quality, so if you are not a fan of loam, wet pine needles, wet leaves, and autumnal air with undertones of orange peel you might want to go for a double or triple rinse. I am a huge fan of those tastes and love it with the orange, which takes a sweet shou and makes it sweeter, it adds a richness to the tea which I really like. Hilariously Ben hates the first couple of steeps, but later ones wanted in on.

Because, later steeps bring out the strong orange and cocoa notes followed by malt and molasses. What really fascinates me about this style tea is the way it feels incredibly balanced with the chaqi, the shou is very warm (and part of the reason I can't drink a ton of it, I have too much heat, I get my heat from black teas mostly, but lately I have had to steer towards 'cool' teas) as is the chenpi (the peel) but it manages to not feel like I am drinking an inferno, somehow it makes me feel a bit cooled off, which believe me, I like! Especially when I am feeling all congested in my lungs, because this stuff acts a bit like an expectorant (at least for me) so it is a godsend during allergy season.

Being a puerh, it has the expected ridiculous longevity that one expects, I ended up drinking it all day going for massive long steeps and drinking it fairly cold because I just let the leaves sit in the water for like half an hour, and it never gets bitter. If you feel particularly adventurous, you can do the boiling thing with the spent leaves to squeeze every bit of orange goodness out of it. Also, since everyone is different, this style tea takes well to tweaking, I like my orange shous to be heavy on the orange side so I add more peel, but you can just add shou to get a slight scenting of orange, it is one of the big benefits over the single use mini oranges.

Tea sent for review

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