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

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Oollo Tea: Alishan High Mountain Oolong, A Tea Review

Things never go as planned, that is what I have learned from life, no matter how hard you try to stick to them they frequently go poof! Turns out I won't be moving til the first of next week at the earliest, probably closer to August 1st, which makes sense but it annoying because as soon as I packed up almost all my tea gear I was given this news. At least by the time I move this super annoying summer cold (really they are the worst) and the nasty heat advisory will be over, trust me on this, I have moved over a dozen times in my almost 30 years, moving during a stupid hot day with a cold is a nightmare! But hey, life is change and it is best to just go with the flow and things will happen as they should, no need to stress...I just really hate summer colds.

 So, it is Oolong time! Specifically Oollo Tea's Alishan High Mountain Oolong, yes, time for some Taiwanese Oolong from over 2,000 meters above sea level on the Alishan Mountain range, lots of fog, mist, and cool temperatures to make for an awesome tea. I have had several Alishan Oolongs and all of them I loved, but when do I not at the very least enjoy an Oolong? So, aroma, the nice, tightly balled leaves starts off with gently toasted notes and a touch of something starchy, like a blend between cooked rice and tapioca. This moves to sweet cream and then a touch of gentle floral notes, it smells delicious, a bit faint, but delicious.

Into the bat gaiwan the leaves go for a nice happy steeping. The aroma of the wet leaves is a powerhouse of yum! Notes of spicebush flowers, lilies, toasted sesame seeds and a sweet starchy note that to most people smells like baking bread and a touch of rice (to me it smells like destroying angel mushrooms but I am a weird fungophile who goes around sniffing mushrooms, and no, I never eat them because mushrooms are best as photos and study subjects) the starchy notes mixed with the floral notes really are killer, I just love them mixed together, it is why I enjoy Alishan so much. The liquid is so floral! Only a touch of sesame and starch notes remain, now it is mostly lily, hyacinth, orchid, and honeysuckle, it smells like a conservatory in my cha hai.

Ah, that is creamy, so very creamy! Spicy too, that delicate floral and spicy note of spicebush blend with hyacinth (which is also a little spicy) and dianthus (which is like spicebush but not as musky) blend really well with the creamy notes from the initial sip. The finish is a tiny touch of sesame seeds and rice pudding. This might be one of the best first steeps I have had in a while, very full bodied and sweet!

The aroma of the second steep is a blend of flowers and gentle toast, a bit of sesame seed blended with a bouquet of spring flowers, lots of lilies, hyacinths, and spicebush. The mouthfeel matches the initial sip, creamy! Sweet cream and flowers kinda explode in my mouth, more definite floral than spicy floral this time, lilies and honeysuckle with a touch of hyacinth. The finish is a gentle touch of sesame seeds and rice, not so sweet as the first steep, with a lightly green vegetation aftertaste.

Third steep's aroma has a hint of vegetation, growing things and crushed leaves along with flowers. Hyacinth, honeysuckle and lily, with also a touch of orchid, no real sesame notes or spicebush in this steep's aroma. The taste takes its cues from the aroma, the first note that shows up in my mouth is gentle vegetation, crushed leaves and a touch of lettuce. It tastes like tea leaves but without that slight bitterness that the unprocessed leaves have. This moves to gentle floral notes and a nice finish of mineral with a lingering floral aftertaste.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Puerh Junky: 2010 Imperial Palace, Langhe Tea Co, A Tea Review

It is a glorious day, nice and cool after the nasty amount of heat we had lately. I have my windows open and I can enjoy a session with some Shou, something I find less desirable when it is near 100 degrees outside, since I find Shou to be very warming. While sipping I am packing, trying to decide which pieces of tea gear are 'essential' and cannot be packed away til last minute...and it is really hard! Yes I am wrapping everything in old cloth (my dryer broke and ruined a bunch of my clothes, so hey, free packing material...though I have to buy new underwear now, ugh) and the boxes are RIGHT next to my desk and really easy to access, but I don't like seeing such bare shelves.

So, onto some Shou! Today we are looking at 2010 Imperial Palace by Langhe Tea Company a well known tea company (from Yunnan of course) that is known for its mellow and clean taste. If the aroma is anything to go by, this one will live up to Langhe's reputation, notes of sweet and mellow molasses, loam, pine wood, and a distinct cedar trunk finish with just the tiniest hint of leather. Honestly the aroma of this tea reminds me of being in a cabin deep in a pine forest, you keep your belongings in a trunk and your leather pouch for carrying whatever things you take on a forest adventure hangs nearby, it is very evocative and fills me with peace.

Into ye old elephant duanni the tea goes for a rinse and steep! The aroma of the wet leaves is very sweet, strong notes of pine sap and molasses with clean soil and wet wood. It is less forest floor and more just straight up forest. The liquid is creamy, sweet and rich, I am detecting notes of cocoa, molasses and a lovely finish of wet pine wood.

I decided that I wanted to share this with my friends, and luckily my elephant pot is big enough that we can all share several small cups. The first steep has a pleasantly thick mouth, coating the mouth with a full burst of flavor. Rich notes of cocoa and molasses with an accompaniment of wet pine wood and a clean cedar finish.

Onward to the second steep, the sharing of tea continues! Notes of forest loam (mostly pine forest and cedar leaves) wet wood, cocoa, and a touch of malt waft from the steamy little cups. The taste is strong and malty, intense coniferous wet wood notes blend with dark chocolate and a touch of loam. The finish is a clean cedar note that is rather invigorating.

Third steep, we are surprisingly tea drunk...my friends are total light weights, but there is no excuse for me, clearly this is an intense tea! The aroma is dark and malty, rich dark chocolate and a touch of loam, I feel a relaxing, sinking feeling when sniffing this tea, like I am melting into loam. The taste is heavy as well, thick and sweet, warm notes of wet wood and fir trees, loam and chocolate. Finishing notes of malt and cedar, this tea is kinda great! I love the cocoa notes, they blend really well with the loam and woody notes, Langhe Tea Company, you have some made Puer skills!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Midori Spring: Ceremonial (Emerald) Matcha, A Tea Review

I think that Matcha Monday will not be a weekly thing, but a random thing, because it turns out that massive Matcha Showdown covered a LOT of the Matcha I planned on reviewing, so I will have to come up with some other ways of talking about Matcha. However there is at least one Matcha up my sleeve I have not blogged about yet! 

Thanks to Tomoson, a new (to me anyway) site which supplies bloggers with cool stuff, in this case I got myself some Midori Spring Ceremonial (Emerald) Matcha, Emerald being the class of Matcha, which makes it in the middle, suitable for culinary projects and also for sipping as bowl of Matcha, a good beginners Matcha. I think after sipping Matcha in one form or another for almost 15 years I can safely say I am not a beginner, but it never hurts to try new things (that is kinda the whole point of this blog after all!)  

A photo posted by Amanda Wilson (@soggyenderman) on
I decided to use this Matcha first in a baking project. I admit I was astounded when I saw the amount of Matcha, I was expecting a small tin, but nope, it is a sizable amount! I love baking with Matcha, drinking it traditionally and whisking it has a wonderfully meditative feeling, but the inventive ways you can use it in food really get me the most excited. For my baking project I decided to make Matcha Coconut Macaroons, basically I took a standard Coconut Macaroon recipe (1 large bag coconut, 1 can condensed milk, a handful of rice flour) and tossed a bunch of the Emerald (a good description, very green!) Matcha into the coconut and rice flour mix and tossed it until the coconut was richly green. I then added the condensed milk and baked it at 350 for about 20 minutes (or until the tips of the coconut turned golden brown) the result was delicious! I definitely think this might be my new go-to Matcha for baking. It is sweet and green with a strong Matcha taste and no bitterness.

Next I decided to try it whisked traditionally, the color is quite lovely, not the most vibrantly green ever, but certainly a good middle grade coloring, it is a little pale, like the underside of an oak leaf, but lacks any brown tones to the coloration. The aroma is nice and sweet, notes of hay, sticky rice, and fruitiness waft up, with a slight hint of seaweed at the finish. 

Once whisked the aroma is primarily sweet rice and a touch of fresh cut grass, and I can say it whisked beautifully! The taste is a little dry and brisk, very robust and green, starts out like green vegetation and leafy vegetables, grass and kale, this fades to a touch of sweetness at the finish. I prefer this as a baking Matcha I think, it certainly lives up to exactly what it says on the tin, it is a good medium grade, and I like that, it doesn't say that it will be the best ever cup of Matcha, it says it is excellent in baking and lattes, and you know what, it is!

Thank you Tomoson for supplying this Matcha!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Tea, Geekery, and Moving

First off, Tea! I am not writing about tea today, well I kinda am, but not about any specific tea. Consider this a substitute for tomorrow's Tea (insert gear, book, event) post which will probably just be a standard ol' tea post. So, I was presented with a magazine Fish found at the store (totally random find at Aldi's) that had an article about Shang Tea which you can conveniently read on their website. I found it an awesome read and totally advise reading about Kansas City's most awesome of tea shops. Also in the subject of tea, I have been using all the excess Matcha from the various Matcha Showdowns to create tasty Matcha treats, including working on a recipe for Matcha Cream Soda (still tweaking that one) and Matcha Adzuki Bean popsicles. On a final tea note, I have been working on my drip photography, catching the tea midpour, it is hard with a dying camera but I have been getting some good shots. 

Now, Geekery! It is EVO weekend!!! The Fighting Game Community's biggest tournament of the year, think of it as the Superbowl or World Series but for Fighting Games. It has become a tradition to watch it while gorging on junk food, and in about 20 minutes I am going to do just that. I have also been working on an epic sky castle in Minecraft!

The spending a ton of time doing Minecraft is also kinda therapeutic for me, sometime in the next week, not sure on an exact date yet, I am moving! Just somewhere local, and it will be awesome, just moving is very stressful and I am exhausted from doing all the prepwork for it. So, what this amounts to is, if posts are a little sparse this upcoming week that is why. Try not to miss me too much!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Sanne Tea: Taiwan No.18, A Tea Review

You know what is really gratifying? Blowing a professional chef's mind with my baking creations. I am pretty much in charge of baking stuff in the house, but since I have to eat gluten free, my stuff is always gluten free. Many years ago (what we with gluten problems call the Dark Times) it was nigh impossible to find decent breads and such (it was always weirdly textured or tasted really odd, and cost a small fortune) and baking was practically fancy alchemy left to the pros. Poor Fish had to spend a couple years living gluten free and has grown to hate it, so he understandably felt a great deal of trepidation when he found out my baking would lack the glory that is wheat. So far he has been really impressed by my creations, but what really took the cake was the dumplings in the soup the other night, I made them totally from scratch and they were some of the best I have ever had and he is still raging about it. I seem to have developed mad skills, who knew?
Sanne Tea sent me some more tea to review, yay! I am such a sucker for Taiwanese teas, and totally made a squee when I saw that one of the samples was Taiwan No. 18, you might know this glorious black tea as Sun Moon Lake Tea, Hong Yu, Red Jade, or Ruby Black...a tea of many names and many faces. I say many faces because this is one of the most unique aroma and flavor profiles I have run into in tea, and this is thanks to the strain of tea plant this tea is made from, a hybridization of wild mountain tea plants and Burma Assam tea plants, of course the terroir of region helps as well. The farmer of this particular tea roasted it on a lower temperature, meaning it takes longer to roast and there is a larger element of uncertainty. Well, as expected, I was floored by the aroma, I just love this stuff, blending strong notes of sassafras and menthol (but without the mint, it is weird, you need to sniff this one yourself to truly understand the menthol without mint) with an accompaniment of cocoa, malt, and sweet potatoes. It is very sweet and rich, probably sweeter than other versions of this tea I have sniffed.

Brewing the tea (I really want a special Yixing for this tea, it is so unique, I want to know how the clay would affect it) the leaves are very complex, there is just so much going on! Strong notes of sassafras and menthol with honey, dates, cocoa, malt, sweet potatoes, and even a touch of cinnamon and licorice at the finish. The liquid is very sweet with notes of sassafras, dates, and sweet potato, not so much on the menthol, but the sassafras is wonderful. If you ever get the chance to have a rootbeer with real sassafras in it, go for it!

Ok, I am sitting down, I know how Red Jade affects me, I get tea drunk from the first sip of this stuff! The cup comes to my lips, I sip...and omg that is delicious. There are a pile of exclamation points in my notes. The taste starts out with sweetness, notes of honey and dates as the first burst of flavor, this moves to sassafras and the cooling sensation of the menthol, really it is like the sensation and not the taste, it is very strange but so good. The finish is a blend of malt and cocoa with an aftertaste of dark (but not too dark, like 60%) chocolate that kinda curves up to sweet quite a while later.

Second steeping, the aroma is a sweet blend of honey, cocoa, sweet potatoes and of course the iconic (to me) sassafras notes. The taste is a bit more brisk this steep, with notes of woodiness, sweet potato and malt taking up the forefront, this pretty quickly switches to sassafras and menthol at the middle, the menthol lingering into the aftertaste with an accompaniment of honey and dates at the finish. This was a steep to wake up the mouth, similar to eating a mouthful of ginger without the burn.

Third steeping, like the previous one, notes of honey and cocoa blend with sassafras, though no sweet potato this time, but there was a bit of malt. This steep is a bit more mellow, more similar to the first steep, it lacks the briskness of the second but makes up for it in sweetness. Starting out with honey and dates, with a bit of chocolate, this moves to a burst of sassafras and finally finishing out with I swear it tastes just like candied yams! Another fine example of a tea that is a work of art, the more I drink of Red Jade (or whatever name you know it by) the more I love it and crave it.