Monday, June 30, 2014

Shan Valley: Shan First Flush Green Tea, A Tea Review

Ok, this post might end up being more whimsical than usual. Why, you might ask, because over the course of the week I have gotten maybe fifteen hours sleep, total. The worst was the last two nights where I got maybe an hour of sleep, turns out my new sleep medicine did the exact opposite of make me sleep. No fear, I pick up new(ish, I had them before, they work wonders on pain and insomnia) ones tomorrow. I look forward to some nice long sleep.

But enough about sleep and medicine, that is boring, let us talk tea! Specifically Shan Valley's Shan First Flush Green Tea. You are probably thinking 'didn't you review this in the early spring?' Well yes and no, this fancy tea from Myanmar is from Shan Valley's 2014 Collection, so nice new tea. The aroma of these fairly large leaves is an interesting blend of vegetal and sweet. There are notes of lettuce, asparagus, spinach, honey, and fresh cherry. The vegetal is much stronger than the sweet, which is more of a finishing aroma.

I decided to go the gaiwan route with this tea, because I love my gaiwan. Once the leaves have been steeped and the tea poured off, I notice a slight hint of citrus among a very intensely vegetal aroma. There are notes of roasted veggies, lettuce, asparagus, artichoke, and spinach. I am really diggin' how green this tea smells. The liquid's aroma is totally different! There are notes of honey, citrus, sweet sticky rice, and cherry. I have a salad and dessert with these aromas.

The first steep is quite subtle and vegetal. It starts out like citrus and fresh vegetation, this transitions into the real vegetal treat. With notes of green beans, lettuce, spinach, and asparagus, I feel as though I had my dose of vegetables for the day. The aftertaste is a bit like sticky rice and toasted vegetables.

The second steep's aroma is like the previous, deliciously sweet with notes of honey and sticky rice, but this time it has a bit of the vegetal at the finish. This steep is fun! There are distinct notes of lotus leaves, honey, sticky rice, citrus, lettuce, and spinach. It starts out sweet and then builds into the rice taste in the middle and finished with a leafy and citrus note. Last year's first flush was ok, I enjoyed it. This year's hit the spot for me, I loved how richly vegetal the flavors were and how contrasting the aromas were.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Nina's Paris: Nina's Japon, A Tea Review

Dabbling in watercolors is a messy, messy activity. Currently I am covered in various shades of green paint and a few splotches of black, yes, I am watercoloring a Creeper. The first one I did had the most lovely wash and excellent Creeper face, but when I added a bit of calligraphy I realized the character for Creeper (as in creeping vine) looked like a face and I cannot un-see! I am trying again without the calligraphy.

Today's tea is from Nina's Paris, (specifically their USA branch) Nina's Japon, a blend of Black Tea, Sencha, Genmai Cha, Caramel, and Vanilla. I have a trilogy of teas from Nina's Paris to review, thanks to a nice promotion on Steepster, and I will say French accent is terrible! It is this reason (ok, there are others as well) that I do a blog and not so much the vlog. The aroma of this tea is nothing short of mouthwatering, but it did hit my 'OMG I love these' scale pretty hard, with strong notes of vanilla, caramel, and nutty rice. There are also notes of hay, malt, and a tiny touch of grass at the finish. I took a minute sniffing the tea thinking to myself, 'this tea reminds me of something, something sweet and tasty that I have not had in a while,' and it hit me, this tea smells like Creme Brulee!

After I finally manage to pull my nose out of the tea leaves and steep the tea (it was really hard) it was time to sniff the wet leaves. The aroma is still very sweet with strong notes of vanilla, toasted rice, caramel, and a tiny touch of molasses. It has gone from reminding me of Creme Brulee to Rice Crispy Treats, you know, maybe I am really hungry for sweets. The aroma of the liquid without the steeped leaves is also very sweet, with strong notes of caramel and rice, again the image of Rice Crispy Treats float into my head, but with a much richer tone.

Sipping time, I am excited, if this tea tastes as good as it smells, I have found a new favorite. I admit when I saw the ingredients I had a very strong suspicion that I would love it, but picking a sample that didn't look like something I would like seems a little odd. Unless it is a blend that is really weird and I am doing it for an adventure, that is a whole different story...but I am getting distracted, and that is unfair to the tea. Ok, this tea is delicious, all my cravings for sweet things have been satisfied (for now) with this perfect dessert tea. The taste is a sweet blend of caramel and toasted rice with a strong vanilla taste. The vanilla taste is pretty neat because it tastes like vanilla extract smells, it is sweet and very vanilla heavy, but with just a hint of alcohol as well. After the initial sweetness there is a slight malt taste and a tiny bit of smoke at the finish that lingers into the aftertaste. I am so glad that this tea was exactly as good as it smells, I burned through my sample at lightning speed and really need to get more.
Painting is totally not my usual art. 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Della Terra Teas: Organic Makaibari Darjeeling, A Tea Review

My hair got a nice trimming today. Turns out that having an asymmetrical cut when you have very thick, wavy, fluffy, hair will just end up as a progressively fluffier mound of hair, much like cumulonimbus clouds on a summer day...just with water vapor and not hair. I did notice that my hair is really faded and needs some new blue, I think I will go with turquoise rather than cobalt this time around, for summer!

Today we have Della Terra Teas' Organic Makaibari Darjeeling, a black tea hailing from the Makaibari Estate in West Bengal, Darjeeling, India. This specific Darjeeling is a FTGFOP Autumn Flush, or Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe (or Far Too Good For Oridinay People, because tea drinkers are full of wit) that ridiculously long winded (or short acronym) term refers to the grading system set up back in the day, with some debate by Sir Thomas Lipton. The aroma is sweet and muscatel, with a bit of a sharp leafy aroma, similar to that of grape leaves and oak wood. It is mild and pleasant, an enjoyable sniff that is reminiscent of nature and plants and a slight sweet finish of raisins.

Once the tea has been brewed, the wet leaves are much lest muscatel and more brisk. The aroma of oak wood is more prevalent, and there is a touch of loam as well. Have no fear, I found all the muscatel sweetness, it is in the liquid. The liquid has a great aroma of fresh grapes and raisins with a drizzling of honey. There is a tiny undertone of brisk oak wood, but you almost have to stick your nose all the way into the teacup to notice it. (Note, I do not recommend this, from experience, it is a good way to get a singed nose and tea in one's sinus cavities.)

Tasting time, I am excited, I have come to greatly love Darjeelings, especially after I learned that boiling the tea leaves will give you a cup of gross. That was a great lesson to learn about a year ago! I know, with every Darjeeling I review I have to mention the 'do not boil' thing, I do this because for years bad tea instructions had me believing that Darjeeling was bitter death and all those people who tasted sweetness and grapes were bonkers. The taste of this tea is deliciously mild and muscatel with notes of freshly mown hay and new vegetation. This fades to a rich, brisk, oak wood taste that really wakes up the mouth (and the me.) After this burst of wood it fades to a honey sweet raisin that that lingers as a delightful aftertaste.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Harney & Sons: Kenilworth Garden OP, A Tea Review

I have been window shopping for a new gaiwan but have hid a real road block. There are just too many that I want, I narrowed my list down to seven that I would be quite content having. I have a feeling that it is going to be a long process trying to narrow it down further. On a fun side note, when searching for 'green gaiwan' bing was convinced I was trying to look up Gawain and the Green Knight.

Today's tea is Kenilworth Garden OP from Harney & Sons, from one of the oldest tea estates in Ceylon...err...Sri Lanka. I am going to admit, whenever I see OP I have myself a little giggle, in tea terms OP means Orange Pekoe and is in reference to the grade of tea. In gamer terms OP means over powered, so it is hard to not assume that this tea is really an overpowered weapon in a PVP game. Enough nerdiness (for now) and onto aroma! The aroma of this tea is rich and sweet, with notes of caramel, malt, molasses, and a tiny hint of cocoa. This aroma has a presence, and that presence is richness. It also has a slightly brisk finish of oak wood which adds a touch of lightness to the smoldering richness.

Once the tea has been steeped and removed from its happy little bath, the aroma of the wet leaves is less sweet and more robust. There are notes of oak wood, molasses, and a touch of pepper at the finish. The liquid is creamy sweet with notes of brisk oak wood and dried leaves on a forest floor (specifically not wet loam.)

Tasting time, let us see if this OP tea is Over Powered! The taste is quite intense and brisk, yet very smooth, with no astringency at all. It starts out brisk and oaky with a touch of loam, this fades to molasses, and lastly loam and pepper at the finish. The mouthfeel is dry, in a lip-smacking good way. In a not terribly surprising turn of events I decided to add some cream and sugar. Doing so cause a minor mouth explosion of happiness, it is so rich with the cream and sugar! The briskness is still there but reduced a great bit, so it is mostly rich and malty. I feel an overpowering need for scones and tiny sandwiches now.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Teavivre: Da Hong Pao (Big Red Robe) Wuyi Rock Oolong, A Tea Review

On a whim I decided to try something daring! Ben was using the Xbox and I wanted to play Minecraft, so I borrowed his much superior computer to play the demo. It was the most fun I have had in ages, I died so much because I was not used to the controls (also using a laptop mouse instead of a real mouse) but it was a thing of beauty. I might have happy cried a little. The good news is Ben said if I buy myself a new mouse and a PC copy of Minecraft I can borrow his computer while he is at work!

Today's tea is the famous Da Hong Pao Wuyi Rock Oolong from Teavivre. Hailing from the Wuyi Mountains in Fujian, China, this Rock Oolong (or Yancha) has an interesting legend about it. During the Ming Dynasty, the Emperor's mother took ill, luckily a tea she sipped cured her and in thanks the Emperor sent great red robes to clothe the original bushes that grew the tea, hint the name Big Red Robe. The aroma of this tea is a blend of sweetness and smoke. There are notes of baking bread, honey, tobacco, coal, and a finishing hint of cocoa. It is quite a fascinating aroma that is well balanced.

Into the gaiwan the curly leaves go! After a fairly short steep, the aroma of the wet leaves is as complex as the dry leaves with notes of charcoal, baking bread, honey, and touch of floral. I should note that the floral is like orchids near the end of their life, heady sweet with just the faintest touch of decay. It is not an unpleasant smell, it is just very distinct to flowers which are about to fall off the stem. The poured off liquid is a blend of sweet honey, charcoal, and a finish of tobacco.

The first steep starts out sharply sweet, like honey coated tobacco with a strong note of coal. There is a great blend of pine wood and smoke at the middle of the sip, the titular midtaste, after the initial sharpness fades I realized that the mouthfeel was quite smooth. The finish is sweet with an aftertaste of cherry and the faintest hint of smoke.

For the second steep, the first thing I notice about the aroma is that it is only barely smoky, like a distant fire and not a piece of charcoal, it is more floral and much sweeter, like honey and flower nectar. The taste starts out very sweet and smooth, with strong notes of raw honey and flowers, specifically orchids and a touch of honeysuckle. There is a finish of cherries and smoke, just like the first steep.

Th aroma of the third steep has taken a different route from its previous forms, this time it is faintly fruity sweet with a distinct mineral and spring water aroma. The taste also has a strong mineral presence, it tastes like drinking straight from a spring (having done this many times, I highly recommend it) very clean and very mineraly. This fades to a gentle floral taste and a honey sweetness that lingers.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Tazo Teas: Rest Herbal Infusion, A Tea Review

Ugh, today was one of those days where I got absolutely nothing accomplished. I had a list of things I wanted to do, but I think the utter lack of sleep last night sapped any desire to do anything today. Well, it is a lie, I have successfully mastered the fine art at staring at a website without actually reading it. We all have one of those days sometimes.

Today's tea is Tazo Teas Rest Herbal Infusion, a blend of roses, valerian root, and citrusy herbs. I will admit, I have no idea how this tea bag got into my stash of tea, but I wanted an herbal tea to sip in the evening, so why not? I am very curious where this tea came from, maybe the tea fairy visited me, you know leave a tea-ball under your pillow and wake up with a soggy mess...and maybe new tea! The aroma is a soothing blend of lemony, herbaceous, a little bit of floral sweetness, and a finish of bitter herb (hello valerian, you still smell kinda awful.) The rose aroma is pretty faint, mostly the dominant notes are herbal and citrus.

Once the teabag has been steeped, however, the rose becomes more dominant. As does a bunch of different herbal notes, some of them not so pleasant and bit astringent smelling. There are also strong notes of citrus, honestly the tea smells like a medicinal cacophony with some rose perfume covering it up, it is not bad, but it does smell like medicine!

The taste of this is not offensive, which is always a good way to start out with a tea that has valerian in it. There is some bitter root taste, but it is pretty faint and only at the end, a bit of honey or sugar takes that bitterness right away. The taste of the tea is mild, with notes of citrus, rose, wildflowers, sage, and a general herb and grass feeling to it. I didn't hate it, if this tea magically shows up in my stash again I would drink it before sleep, granted there are significantly better night time herbal teas out there, but this one is not bad.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Persimmon Tree Tea Company: Assam Gold, A Tea Review

This is one of those introductions to today's tea that is a little lame, I had a mostly uneventful day today and sadly I have not really had any inspiring thoughts. I did some laundry, had some tea, walked to the drug store, watched some lectures, and did a bit of writing. Also Tao did something clever, she learned that meowing in front of the closed window and trying to pull open the window with her paw was a clear way to get me to open the window. That was my day!

Today's tea is Assam Gold from The Persimmon Tree Tea Company, a lovely black tea from Assam, India, with a sprinkling of curly, fuzzy, golden tipped leaves. You all know me, you know that if my tea has fuzzy, golden leaves I am immediately happy, I am not too hard to please. The aroma is rich and malty with sweet notes of dried cherries. This fades to a blend of cocoa and tobacco with a touch of cedar at the finish.

After what seems like an eternity of steeping (one of the side-effects of doing a bunch of gongfu brewing, all those short steeps!) the aroma if the wet leaves is brisk and sweet, almost surprisingly sweet! There are strong notes of cherries and malt with a faint finish of molasses. The liquid is richly sweet with a tiny bit of tartness, like a more tart cherry. Accompanying this are notes of malt and molasses.

Well, this is certainly not a mild or unassuming tea! The initial taste is quite bold and bit brisk, with notes of cherries, cocoa, and a touch of oak which adds a bit of astringency. This fades to a rich malt that lingers as an aftertaste. Feeling whimsical I added a bit of cream and sugar, this takes away the briskness and that touch of astringency and leaves a rich and very malty cup. The notes of fruit and cocoa are not as strong, there is more of an earthiness as well. I found this tea quite good both creamed and sweetened and straight, it is a great breakfast tea.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Teavivre: Liu An Gua Pian Green Tea, A Tea Review

Today's mail was awesome, I knew that my Meteorology book was supposed to arrive today (because yes I obsessively track packages whenever I have a tracking code), but I also got my Geology textbook today! Now if only I could find a Mycology textbook for less than $100 I would be happy, turns out those more obscure subjects have pricier textbooks. I also received a Calligraphy book to review thanks to Goodread's First Read program, so I have a reason to break out my ink and nibs.

Today's tea is Liu An Gua Pian from Teavivre, a green tea from Liu An, Anhui, China, specifically on Qiyun Mountain. The name Gua Pian translates to Melon Seed, for the way the leaves look once they have been steeped. I do want to take a moment to point out how beautifully verdant the leaves are, their color is a deeper green than a lot of famous Chinese green teas. When I was sniffing the dry leaves, I had one of those mouthwatering moments, there are certain smells that I just love in tea, and this one certainly has it. The aroma is quite vegetal and also quite nutty, with note of green beans, spinach, chestnut, sweet sesame seed paste (Halva for those who enjoy Middle Eastern desserts) and a very delicate finish of toast. It manages to be sweet and vegetal without the clashing, in fact sniffing this tea makes me a bit hungry.

Once the tea has been given a nice soaking in the gaiwan, the leaves become an even richer green, I would go as far as to say they look like fine Nephrite Jade. The aroma is rather complex, the wet leaves have notes of toasted sesame seeds, green beans, asparagus, lychee, and spicebush. Again these notes do not clash, but compliment each other. The liquid in my cup is a lovely shade of green, again reminding me of jade (why yes, I have been brushing up on my Mineralogy, why do you ask?) The aroma is delicate, with notes of honeysuckle, lychee, sesame seeds, and chestnut. It is more nutty and floral than vegetal, and is quite sweet.

The first steep, well on the first steep all I can think is 'oh my that is sweet' I even wrote that in my tasting notebook. There are notes of lychee and honeysuckle at the front, the mid taste is nicely vegetal with notes of asparagus and green bean. The Finish is a blend of apricots and sesame sesame seeds, it is very complex and light. If the rest of the steeps are this tasty I could become addicted to this tea.

And onto the second steep we go! The aroma is a blend of asparagus, sweet lychee, and a nice sesame finish. The taste is still light, but has more of a vegetal and herbaceous tone than sweet this time around. The taste starts out with a bit of asparagus and green beans, this fades to a hint of sage and cooked spinach. The aftertaste is sweet, like lychees and a hint of cherries.

The third steep's aroma is fairly faint, there are notes of spinach and lychee and the faintest hint of sesame at the end, but mostly it is vegetal and discreet. The taste is not faint, however. It is a perfect blend of spinach, lychee, green beans, and sesame seeds. They all seem to dance in perfect tandem, like a very strange waltz (I say strange because usually spinach is a terrible dancer). The tea has a slightly dry finish, but it is still refreshing, especially with the lychee aftertaste that lingers.

For the fourth steep, well, before we get into aromas and taste, I have a confession. I had to nibble on a leaf, they looked so pretty, turns out they were really tasty! Sometimes you get lucky and used tea leaves are sweet and vegetal, sometimes they are really bitter. The aroma is sweet, with strong notes of sesame seeds and a touch of honey, no real vegetal or fruity notes this time. This is a nice finish to a delicious tea, the fourth steep is light, with delicate notes of sesame seeds, a touch of lychee, and touch of green bean. I really enjoyed this tea, though I really wish I would have gotten more than a sample, at least I know what will be in my next Teavivre order!
Also, Espeon says hello!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Susan Branch Private Blend Tea: A Fine Romance, A Tea Review

Happy day after the first day of Summer everyone, even if that was an incredibly awkward greeting! I spent most of my solstice hiding from the heat and sun in the basement (like I do) and sipping tea (also like I do). I did come out for a brief date with Ben in the backyard, and by date I mean we turned on the sprinkler and played in it, along with having a hose vs sprinkler fight. He was armed with the hose and won, but considering I got soaked and cooled off I think it is more of a tie. 

Today's tea is Susan Branch Private Blend Tea, A Fine Romance, which is a blend of Earl Grey Tea, Lavender Buds, and Rose Petals. Even though those are two of my favorite flowers to have in tea, what really sold my British self (well, half self since I am only half a Brit) is the Corgi in a crown on the packaging. The aroma is quite like a summer bouquet of roses (specifically it reminds me of the English Rose perfume I was much enamored of as a kid) with relaxing notes of lavender, bright citrus notes, and a finish of slightly sweet malt. 

Once the leaves and petals have had a nice hot bath, the wet leaves have a much more brisk aroma. It smells more like tea with flowers than flowers with a touch of tea. In the dry leaves the roses were strongest, but now they are well balanced with the other ingredients. Luckily the bergamot is not too strong, which is good because too strong makes me scared. The liquid without its leafy friends is quite rich with strong notes of malt and vanilla, and more subtle notes of flowers. 

The description on the website says this tea is great with additives, but I decided to try it straight first. First sip in, I really do not think this tea needs sugar or cream, it is rich and sweet enough on its own. In my mouth there is a great dance of roses, lavender, malt, and mild bergamot, each one well balanced and accenting each other in harmony. The taste is pretty rich while also being mild, it seems like a bit of a contradiction, but the floral aspects make it rich, the black tea base is subtle. I like this tea, it would be a great tea for tea parties or an afternoon sip in the garden. 

Friday, June 20, 2014 and Obubu Tea: Sencha of the Summer Sun, A Tea Review

It is certainly summer time now, even if technically the solstice isn't until tomorrow. We have not had a day below 85 degrees in a few weeks, and I have achieved full melt. I really dislike the heat, you would think growing up in the South would make me used to it, but each summer I seem to hate it just a little bit more. Good thing the basement tea lair stays mostly cool, for now anyway.

Today's tea is Sencha of the Summer Sun from Obubu Tea Plantations by way of This particular Sencha from Kyoto grown on an uncovered west-facing slope and plucked after it has been bathed by the July sun. It is a strong Sencha, perfect for washing down oily BBQ on a summer day, at least that is what the website says and I am inclined to believe it. The aroma of the vibrantly green leaves is sweet, a blend of sweet hay, grass, and spinach. There is a touch of seaweed at the finish giving the tea a bit of that sea-side aroma that I so love in teas. It might be the name playing havoc with my sense, but the aroma really does remind me of summer.

Once the tea has a nice visit with some water in my Kyusu, the aroma of the wet leaves is sweet like fresh hay and just a little bit fruity. There is also a hint of kelp and vegetal, though it is not as strong. The aroma of the liquid almost seems ethereal, there are faint notes of sweet grass and kelp, but they seem ghostly and like a memory.

The first steep is sweet, it starts with a sweet grass taste that fades to fresh cherry. After this initial sweetness, the taste fades to a grassy bitterness and a touch of kale. The finish returns to a gentle sweetness that takes all the bitterness away, the hay sweetness lingers for quite a while.

On the second steeping, the aroma is much more grassy and strong, no more ethereal memories of tea, you can definitely tell you are sniffing a cup of Sencha this time. The taste is also more intense, quite green and grassy that fades to vegetal kale bitter green. Like the first steep after the bitter green taste you are greeted with a nice sweet finish that lingers.

The aroma of the third steep is much grassier and kelpy, it is more savory than sweet this time around. The taste is also quite grassy and fresh, this fades to kelp. Lastly the taste is quite sweet with a fruity aftertaste. This tea I found quite refreshing, I think it actually does go really well with heavy foods, though I did not test it with BBQ, but I am sure it works just fine. I can see people who are not a fan of bitter green tastes not enjoying this Sencha as much, but since I am a fan of it I found it quite enjoyable.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Numi Organic Tea: Cardamon Pu-Erh, A Tea Review

So, I might have bitten off more than I can chew with this Biochemistry class that I am taking. It turns out that jumping into a class that covers materials that have not been fresh in my mind in at least a decade (really, I can't believe it has been ten years since I graduated High School, so weird!) might have been a bit silly. I am having to learn in reverse, not that I mind of course, but I really should have taken a refresher course first.

Today's tea is Cardamon Pu-erh from Numi Organic Tea, a blend of Pu-erh and Green Cardamon nicely secured in a teabag. I might prefer loose leaf tea, but I am not too snobbish to admit that I still enjoy a bag of tea ever so often, provided it is good, but that same stipulation applies to loose leaf too! I know there is a big 'war' among tea drinkers as to which is superior (bag or leaf), but in my book whichever makes you happy is the best, so if anyone judges you for enjoying a teabag or tea with lots of sugar and cream, you have my permission to tell them they are lame. Ok, enough soap-boxing, onto smells! The aroma of this teabag is mostly spicy cardamon, there is a slight earthy undertone, but for the most part we have lots of cardamon. Which is good if you are a big fan of cardamon, because it is not a subtle spice.

Phew, that is a strong little teabag, the aroma of cardamon has filled up my room. There is also a very rich, earthy aroma coming from the cup that blends really well with the cardamon's spice. There are also some notes of loam and a 'market' smell that is distinctly Pu-erh. I call it a market smell because it reminds me of all the various smells of an Asian market, but with an earthier tone.

Tasting this tea reminds me more of a strong Black tea rather than a Pu-erh, it is very bright and a touch astringent. After the initial tea kick the cardamon decides to dance right onto my tongue, this adds an exotic richness and slight sweetness. The aftertaste is just a touch nutty. Adding a bit of cream and sugar to this tea takes away any astringency and makes it similar to a chai (a bit of a one-note chai, but still) with a much earthier flair.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

DAVIDsTEA: Mom's Apple Pie, A Tea Review

I was introduced to the most awesome thing today, apparently there are websites where you can audit college level classes for free. I foresee lots of science classes in my future, because let's be honest, if I was able to go back to college I would go for science. Of course trying to finally decide if I want to go the Meteorology or Mycology route would be the real hard part, for now I will just sponge up knowledge in barely contained glee.

This is one of those teas that was no surprise at all when I saw it was part of the 2013 Autumn collection. I mean really, what is more autumn than Mom's Apple Pie by DAVIDsTEA? A blend created from Green Tea, Apple Pieces, Cinnamon, Artificial and Natural flavors, this tea is all about nostalgia. Except for me, my mom was more of a carrot cake or berry pie kinda lady, so I don't have a huge attachment to apples. Unsurprisingly the aroma is very much apples, sweet and a little tart like a Granny Smith apple, there is also a moderate presence of cinnamon which thankfully does not overwhelm. I do not really pick up on the aroma of the base tea, but there is a tiny hint of freshly made crust.

The brewed leave's aroma is very warm, blending cinnamon spice and cooked apples, and still a little hint of crust. The cinnamon and apple are well balanced and sweet, I still do not notice any green tea though. The liquid is much sweeter with less crust and more apples, the cinnamon is pretty mild, just a gentle warmth.

It's Apple Flavored! Yes, that is an obscure Bleach reference for you. There is a touch of grassy green, a subtle sweetness, and mild cinnamon warmth. But let's be honest, the main show stealer is the apple, it has a baked apple and a little bit of an artificial sour apple taste. I am really hit or miss with apple things, actually with apples in general. They are very much so one of those fruits that I love to smell but rarely like to eat, especially if the apple is at all tart. I think that this is a tea that apple lovers could really enjoy since it is more real apple than fake, so points for that. I doubt I would ever seek it out myself.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Red Leaf Tea: Milk Gao Shan Tea, A Tea Review

So I saw my new Rheumatologist today and I have some interesting news! Turns out I might not have Lupus, I might just have Hypothyroidism and Fibromyalgia (just like my mom, genetics!). He is not quite ready to rule out autoimmune disorders entirely since I show a lot of signs of Lupus, but my blood work came back negative and I have all the symptoms of Fibro (just an added bonus butterfly rash for fun?) and thyroid problems on the blood work. So new medicine to try for fatigue and pain management, and lots of monitoring my condition. I would be quite content with this diagnosis, the fear of Lupus trying to kill me was getting really old.

Today's tea is another from the Red Leaf Tea 20 Teas Sampler, Milk Gao Shan Tea (number 5). I am slowly making my way through all the teas, ok actually I have long since tasted all the teas in this sampler and recorded my notes in my tea-notebook, so really I am slowly adding them to my blog. You can tell these tasting notes are a bit old since this was pre-gaiwan days, such nostalgia. From what I gathered from a quick skim of the internet, Gao Shan is translated to High Mountain, so this tea is essentially a Taiwanese High Mountain Milk Oolong. The aroma is very sweet, true to its name it smells very milky and creamy. In fact I would go as far as say this tea smells like vanilla ice cream with a touch of chestnut and hay. If you are unfamiliar with Milk Oolong's distinct aroma, it can seem a little unreal. There is also, at the very finish of a particularly long sniff, a touch of pineapple.

After giving the tea a nice steeping and watching the leaves unfurl a bit, the aroma of them in their little steeping basket is less intensely sweet and creamy and much more like you would expect a green oolong to smell. There are notes of chestnut and fresh vegetation with an underlying aroma of sweet cream and honey. The liquid is a buttery mix of sweet cream and fresh vegetation. It is fairly mild and only slightly sweet.

First steeping time! The first thing I notice is that buttery smooth mouthfeel, I am such a sucker for oolongs that have that distinct mouthfeel. The taste starts out quite sweet and floral, like sweet cream and honeysuckles. This fades to vegetal, mixing notes of fresh vegetation and fresh spinach. After this my mouth is treated to a bit of chestnut and an aftertaste of cream.

The aroma of the second steep is really sweet and creamy, much more so than the aroma of the first steeping. The taste starts out a bit bitter, like kale, this very quickly fades to chestnut, sweet cream, and honeysuckles. The mouthfeel is also still pretty smooth and buttery, which I enjoy. As the tea cools, all bitterness fades and we are left with a mouth full of sweet, milky, goodness. This Milk Oolong is not bad, I have had better and I have had worse, this is a perfect example of adequate.