Thursday, December 31, 2015

Xin Mu Cha: Nonpareil Taiwan LaLa Shan Oolong Tea, A Tea Review

Thank my lucky stars, my camera is back and functioning again. Sadly I do have several teas where my only option was to photograph them with my phone, but it is not terrible, just not what I prefer. On a completely unrelated note, Ben challenged me to build Neuschwanstein Castle in Minecraft...ughhh that will be an undertaking. My sky castle is vaguely inspired by it, since it is my favorite castle and that little bit of Bavarian history has been a favorite area of study of mine since I was a youngin' so you know, why not? It is not like I get tired of ridiculously huge builds or anything.

Shortly before Christmas, new to me company Xin Mu Cha contacted me to review some of their teas, this excited me immensely because they specialize in Taiwanese teas, yes, it is well known I get excited over teas from Taiwan at this point, they were my first love and have stayed at the forefront of my attention since I was a teenager. Today's tea is Nonpareil Taiwan LaLa Shan Oolong, a green Oolong from not often talked about LaLa Shan in northern Taiwan, and let me tell you, LaLa Shan is gorgeous! From what I can tell (and I might be wrong on this one) LaLa Shan is similar to Da Yu Ling where the majority of the area is a nature preserve and there are only a few tea farms high in the mountains. From the moment I opened the little vacuum sealed pouch I was greeted with a powerfully aromatic tea. Notes of creamy custard and sesame seeds dance with cane sugar and snap peas, with an accompaniment of yeasty sweet cake batter and spring flowers.

Gaiwan time, at first I was torn between brewing this tea in a gaiwan or my XiShi, but I really wanted to see the leaves unfurl, glad I did too because there were some real beauties in this leaf pile. The aroma of the wet and slowly unfurling leaves is a powerhouse of floral, strong notes of iris, hyacinth, narcissus, dianthus, and lotus. The blend of flowers with notes of creaminess and vanilla give it a slight baby powder aroma which I found quite fascinating, it was heady and very sweet. The liquid of the first steep is sweet! Notes of honey and creamy custard blend with lots of heady floral notes, lilac, hyacinth, and dianthus with a touch of honeysuckle and a yeasty sweetness at the finish. Very spring bouquet tea going on here.

First steep is surprisingly thick on the mouthfeel, it is buttery and heavy, I feel as though I am sinking into a warm pile of flower petals. I think that is why I love these floral oolongs, they are vaguely intoxicating, much like being in a hot house full of full bloom flowers but I get to drink it in rather than just smell it. Yes, this tea is sweet and creamy, but it is very floral, strong notes of hyacinth and dianthus with a slight hint of sassafras flowers and lotus. The finish is a blend of sesame seeds and snap peas adding a touch of green to the sweet headiness.

Second steeping's aroma is intensely heady, strong notes of lilac, dianthus, and hyacinth dance out of my cup. Tasting this tea is quite enjoyable, it starts with a thick and creamy mouthfeel and finishes with a slight dryness. The flavor begins with a strong yet delicate blend of floral notes, it is heady without overpowering with notes of hyacinth, dianthus, and lilac with accompanying notes of lotus, again it vaguely reminds me of baby powder, but you know, without soap or perfume. The finish blends sugar cane and snap peas with lingering sweetness that lasts into the aftertaste.

Third steep, the aroma is still very floral and heady, but with the previous notes of lilac and hyacinth, there are also notes of orchid and freshly broken vegetation. It smells like springtime. This steeping has much stronger green notes, fresh vegetation mix with snap peas and sugar cane. There is still a good bit of floral as well, specifically hyacinth and lilac, but it has become more balanced with green notes. The aftertaste is sugar cane and it lingers for quite a while. I pulled several more steeps out of this tea, it transitioned to green before finishing with mineral sweetness.
This tea was sent for review purposes by the company.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

What-Cha: Malawi Livingstone's Twist & Dry Oolong Tea, A Tea Review

I got to paint today, yay! Yesterday I tried painting and my hands were really hurting, and they are certainly not perfect yet, but I got to get some work done and this pleases me. Winter is always wicked tough on my hands, well on my body in general, so I spend a lot of the colder season busily playing video games and reading. It is my version of hibernation.

Today I am taking a look at another tea from the Satemwa Tea Estate by way of What-Cha, a very unique tea you can only get from What-Cha...seeing this I was understandably intrigued! Malawi Livingstone's Twist & Dry Oolong Tea is a tea with some massive leaves, seriously I think this tea has the single biggest leaf I have seen in my tea. The aroma of the twisty leaves is woody, strong notes of dry oak wood and apple wood mixed with ripe juicy plums and sweet dried peaches. The aroma is surprisingly woody, which gives it a brisk quality, however the briskness is tempered by the fruity sweetness.

I gave some thought on how to brew this tea and decided to go for gongfu, several of the teas I have tried for the Satemwa Tea Estate I have brewed in my gaiwan, and none of them have disappointed me. The aroma of the soggy leaves is a bit of leather, a bit of nuttiness, and well hello there sweet fruit! It is like sniffing peach jam with hints of lychee and a finish of burnt sugar. The liquid is honey sweet with strong notes of peach and apricot jam and undertones of wood and apples. Very sweet indeed!

There is a lot happening in the first steep! It starts with a slightly dry and tingly mouthfeel and a woody blended with mineral taste. This move to thick apricot jam and dried peaches, the sweetness transforms to a gentle spinach and leather note with a lingering honey.

Second steeping, the aroma is sweet peach and apricot jam with a touch of burnt sugar and a slight spiciness at the finish. The texture of this steep is a strange blend of buttery at the front and dry at the finish. The taste starts spicy and sweet, like gently spiced cooked plums, it moves to woody, specifically apple wood and oak wood. The finish is gentle cooked plums with a lingering bit of mineral.

The aroma of the third steeping has the same fruit jam, burn sugar, and gentle spice but with a touch of woodiness at the finish. This steep is surprisingly woody, notes of apple and oak wood with gentle notes of clean soil and a finish of burnt sugar and spinach. This is an odd tea, some of the notes seem like they would contrast, but they don't, it blends well and is a wild ride. Plus, the leaf of epic proportions makes a wonderful hat for my teapet!

This tea was purchased by me.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Tanlong Premium Tea Collection: Jasmine Dragon Phoenix Pearl

Hooray, just got an Email from Fujifilm saying my camera is Coming home. This means things can return to normal for me, I have missed it so. There are many packages on their way to me, and this excites me, not just my fancy electronics, I also have a lap desk on the way.

Today we are looking at a tea that I really do not indulge in very often, Jasmine Dragon Phoenix Pearl from Tanlong Premium Tea Collection. I love jasmine scented teas, but I really need to be in the right mood for it, really I need to be in the right mood for flower scented teas in general, but when I am in that mood I indulge fully. The aroma of these adorable pearls of green tea and a few jasmine blossoms smell of heady blooming jasmine, along with a distinct sesame seed nuttiness and gentle fresh vegetation. It smells very natural, like blooming jasmine, specifically like the aroma of summer when the jasmine outside my window would bloom.

The aroma of the gentle unfurling pearls is very heady, strong jasmine and sweet honey notes with gentle hints of vegetation and a slight nuttiness. It smells very much like flower nectar, I feel like a hummingbird sniffing it. The liquid is very heady, though not as much so as the leaves, it is like blooming flowers, sweetness of nectar, and a touch of sharp crushed vegetation.

The mouthfeel of this tea is quite buttery, which surprised me. It starts out with buttered vegetal notes, a bit like cooked broccoli, but very quickly moves to sweet sesame seeds and then a flowery jasmine burst towards the end. It is very much like a flower just bloomed in my mouth, the jasmine lingers for a while in a nectar sweet aftertaste.

The aroma of the second steep brings out the vegetal notes, with buttered broccoli and a bit of lettuce, along with gentle sweet jasmine nectar. The taste is only a touch floral, this steep really showcases the base tea, it is buttery in both texture and taste, with notes of buttery vegetal broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cooked spinach. The finish is a gentle blend of sesame seeds and delicate jasmine, that lingers in sweetness.
This tea was sent for review purposes by the company.

Monday, December 28, 2015

White2Tea: Bang Dong Hong Black Tea, A Tea Review

The waiting game begins!! I did it, today I ordered the Xbone and I am so full of excitement I can barely function. Really I don't think I have been this kind of excited since I was a kid...I hearken back to Middle School where my dad pre-ordered a Playstation and I was just the hotness at school, of course I spent the entire day bouncing off the walls waiting to get home so I could play the pile of demos because I didn't have money for the games yet. I could say I felt this kind of excitement when I got an Xbox360, but considering Ben just surprised me with it one day the excitement was a very short explosion...maybe I could compare it to being super excited about Mass Effect 3 where I went to the release party, that had a sad ending though so maybe not.

Guys, guys....guys...it is Dian Hong time!! I am addicted to Dian Hong, it is probably no secret at this point, I mean I love Hong Cha in general, but I go into full on twitchy addict mode around Dian Hong. So today why not look at White2Tea's Bang Dong Hong Black Tea, made from big leaf Puerh varietal material but processed like a red tea, which means fun times for me! I have had other Dian Hongs that specifically are made from Puerh material and they have made me immensely happy, they have unique nuances. The aroma of the really quite enormous leaves is crisp and gently smoky, with sweet honey and cocoa undertones, a nice starchy yam note, and a slightly camphor finish. It is like sniffing a chocolate covered Sheng, and I hope everyone is as amused by that mental image as I am.

Into my red tea yixing teapot the leaves went for a water filled adventure! The aroma of the now soggy leaves is subtly sweet, with notes of malt and yams, pine resin and camphor, and a finish of honey and cocoa. It has a crispness despite the rich notes, and it is probably the camphor I have to thank for that. The liquid (or soup if you feel fancy) has a gentle and sweet aroma, blending molasses, burnt sugar, cocoa, yams, pine sap, and a tiny tiny hint of camphor at the finish. It smells more of a Dian Hong in the liquid and only has a hint of its puerh cousin.

The first steeping is smooth and sweet, starting with notes of honey and pine sap with a nice midtaste of cocoa that almost borders on chocolate, but not quite that milky sweet. Around the midtaste notes of yam and molasses appear, and the finish brings in a slightly cedar slightly camphor note. It is not cooling, more like the ghost of cedar and camphor, giving it, if anything, a bit of crispness.

Second steeping time, and the aroma is quite malty with notes of pine sap, starchy yams, and a touch of sweet cocoa. This steeping is mostly smooth, with a hint of dryness at the finish, it is not a strong unpleasant dryness, just slight. The taste is rich this steeping, strong notes of cocoa and malt mix with molasses and a slight pine wood note. It finishes with yams, honey, and molasses, the molasses taste lingers for a while after the sipping.

The aroma of the third steeping is still very malty and rich, with stronger yam notes and cocoa, the honey sweetness is not as strong, as it is more rich than sweet. Sipping the red gold (it is like gold to me!) it is all smoothness, no dryness what so ever, just smooth rich sweetness. The taste is sweet and malty, very rich with notes of yam and honey, with strong molasses and malt at the finish. I got several more steeps after this one, it is a Red Tea that keeps giving, getting sweeter after the richness.

This tea was a gift.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Teaware.house: Silver Threaded Red Hat Teacup, A Tea Gear Review

I was going to take the weekend off, but decided holidays or no, I have been far to lazy the last week...I blame the new update for Minecraft coming out. Of course since I will be ordering an Xbone on Monday, well, let's just say I need to get my affairs in order because when that thing arrives I am not going to be doing much other than playing on my new MASSIVE world. It was a good Christmas, I surprisingly got everything I wanted (even things I didn't talk about wanting, Santa is a mind reader) everyone really like their presents, and I was surprisingly relaxed. Usually I am not a huge holiday person because my stress level goes bonkers, but this year I wanted to give myself the gift of 'chill' and I think spending the entire month (ok several months) tea drunk really helped.
Singing to my camera: baby come back! 

So last week I talked about a beautiful cup from Teaware.house and why not continue the series with another beautiful cup, the Silver Threaded Red Hat Teacup or as I call it, the hyperdrive cup! The really astoundingly gorgeous glaze looks like falling through stars, you know, like in Star Wars when the ship (iconically in my mind the Millennium Falcon) goes into hyperspace and the stars become lines and you look like you are falling through light. See, perpetual tea drunk makes me see fun things in my tea cup, science fiction hallucinations aside, this cup is gorgeous, I really do find myself getting lost in it.
I am just glad my phone isn't THAT terrible

I love the shape of it most of all I think, hat shaped cups are possibly one of my favorite shapes for a cup, though really I am a sucker for any wide cup that allows the tea to cool off to a not melting my tongue temperature quickly. Also this shape just feels very elegant to hold, especially with its little pedestal foot, whenever I drink out of it I feel the urge to lounge and recite poetry...conveniently for anyone around I rarely give in to temptation.

For Christmas my awesome grandparents essentially bankrolled an order for more tea gear (because I have an addiction) meaning I have more tea themed loot on the way, including the blue version of this cup, which I am very excited to match to the red. Other than me absolutely loving it, Ben (the Tea Barbarian) also really loves it and keeps insisting on using it...Ben...who usually gets annoyed with my 'thimble cups' and wants to drink large mugs wants to use this cup because it is that pretty. That is my reasoning for getting the blue one to match, I swear!
This cup was sent for review purposes by the company.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

What-Cha: India Nilgiri Teaneer Hand-Made Yellow Tea, A Tea Review

Well, so much for waiting for after Christmas to get a new Betta. I cleaned the tank and made sure the loach and snail were healthy and brought home a new friend. He looks almost identical to a Betta I had back in 2009 called Wraith, who was my baby, he was gloriously red with flashes of blue that were visible when he would turn and his eyes lit up teal like flashes of lightning. He was spunky and was far too smart for his own good, similar to how the late Fish Beleren was. So far this new Betta, who keeping with the Magic The Gathering naming convention is called Niv-Mizzet, also is spunky and clever. Hopefully he will last longer, but he is a petstore Betta, so who knows? I have had some live for years and others for a few days. I am going to try to not get attached to soon, but I am bad at that.

Today's tea come from What-Cha (since it is Wednesday and the tradition must continue!) and is their India Nilgiri Teaneer Hand-Made Yellow Tea, yep, you read that right, it is a Yellow Tea from Nilgiri, which I find just super fascinating! I love when other tea growing regions borrow techniques from each other, it creates some real works of art or at the very least something unique and special. The tea comes from the Teaneer company, who is devoted to small batch teas in a sustainable manner, and the Vijayalakshmi Natural Farm is purely biodynamic, which has some very odd techniques, but hey if it makes good tea then they can be as mystical with their farming as they desire, I am not picky. The aroma of the loose leaf tea is quite interesting, unlike any yellow tea I have had before, it is very herbaceous with notes of sage and pepper, with a lettuce undertone. Notes of spicy white whine and fresh grapes with a slightly wet hay and slightly cooling note at the finish. This is a unique sniffing experience!

Into the gaiwan the leaves traveled, once they were wet the surprisingly dark leaves turned really springy green, quite the vibrant transition. The aroma of the leaves is still herbaceous with notes of sage and even a hint of basil, wet hay and broken green grass, and a finish of honey. The liquid is quite sweet, smelling of creamy honey and broken fresh hay, also a hint of wet hay, it is hay all the way down. At the finish there is a hint of sage and crushed pepper keeping that herbaceous tone.

First steeping, the liquid is pretty and golden yellow, it reminds me of the color of hay. What is it with this tea and hay! Guess what, the smooth and light textured tea tastes like sweet hay, and slightly wet hay, with strong honey notes, and a crisp green finish of sage and celery. This tea balances between green and sweet pretty well.

Second steeping time and wow, the liquid has gone from hay colored to honey golden, it is very pretty. The aroma this time around is a touch sweeter, with hay and honey, and a touch of broken straw as well. There is again a bit of sage at the finish as well. The taste is very similar to the first steep, smooth and sweet with hay notes and honey. The finish is not quite as crisp, more like cooked celery and sage, though it is still refreshing. This tea kinda piddled out after this steep, it is refreshing and light but does not last overly long, so your mileage may vary. I am not sure why, but this tea did not overly wow me, there was nothing wrong with it and it was certainly tasty, but nothing jumped out and grabbed my attention, so it turned out this was a great tea to have as a background tea rather than one that demands my undivided attention. Having teas like that, to me, are just as important as the ones that get jealous if my attention wavers.

This tea was sent for review purposes by the company.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Sanne Tea: Tea Soap & Tea For Tub, A Tea Life Review

It is probably a well known (since I never seem to shut up about it) fact about me at this point, I absolutely LOVE fancy bath products, but with an allergy to Aloe my ability to enjoy what seems like 90% of bath products is severely limited. Seriously, so many things have aloe in them, don't even get me started on razors and wipes! So when I found a pair of tea themed bath products from Sanne Tea, you can bet I was filled with tiny squishy joy! The problem is, reviewing soap takes time...I like to evaluate it after many washes, and when the Tea For Tub arrived it was the middle of summer, not so much soaking season, but it is winter (kinda, still feels like fall) and that means the season of soaks.

Hilariously I used Tea For Tub back in October, but the other day a dear tea friend of mine sent me a box of goodies including a fresh box of Tea For Tub and I thought 'crap, I totally forgot to write about that!' and then frolicked off to the bathtub to steep myself. This is actually a very clever use for teas that are maybe not quite up to being steeped, instead of passing them off as drinkable or tossing them, the black tea is stuffed in a large bag and you toss it in a hot bath. Other than the fantastical decadence of bathing in tea just for the fun of it, it does have a purpose, turns out tea is great for skin inflammation.

Got a sunburn, slap a teabag on it, got puffy eyes, slap a teabag on it, want to soothe dry skin...soak in a tub full of tea! This is not the first time I have done that, I have been known to buy boxes of cheap black tea bags and just soaking in them, but unlike those, these bags of tea smell really good. It smells like quality black tea, meaning it is sensory pleasing as well as soothing on the skin. If you are feeling adventurous, you can reuse these bags at least once, just make sure to squeeze them gently or you will pop the bag and make a mess. 

The next is a soap, which sadly is not in their shop, meaning when my bar finally piddles out I am going to have a panic. This is made from the good stuff, castor oil, coconut oil, olive oil, palm oil, lye, tea tree oil, tea leaves, and water...no aloe to be seen! This soap is pretty great, works as a good cleaning substance for both my face and the rest of me. The aroma is really light and clean, fresh and tea like, which I love! I really love soaps that use lye, call me old fashioned, but I enjoy how it strips away my scales (I have Seborrhoeic Dermatitis and get scaly like a lizard!) and allows my skin to soak up the nice oils from the soap, so I end up feeling all soft after using it. This soap is made of win!

This tea/soap was sent for review purposes by the company.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Teaguys: Maple, Bourbon, & Nutmeg (Eggnog) A Tea Review

It is a sad day in my tea and art area, my little blue peacock of a fish passed yesterday after fighting with dropsy. I live in fear of the pinecone infliction (called that because the bacterial infection causes swelling which makes their scales pop out like a pinecone) because it is almost always fatal. Pretty sure it was brought in by one of the mystery snails I bought, since one died and then a day later Fish Beleren took ill. I was ridiculously attached to that fish and I feel immense sadness, I will get another Betta after Christmas because I like having them around, but I doubt I will find one as epic as him...those fish are a rarity. At least Espeon can tell I am sad and has been staying close to keep me company, comfort from cats is always welcomed.

Today's tea is all sorts of holiday cheer! I totally forgot to get real holiday teas this year, so I am winging it. From Teaguys, this is their Maple, Bourbon & Nutmeg (Eggnog) blend, which is concocted from rooibos, honeybush, buckwheat, maple sugar, almond flour, cinnamon, flavors, nutmeg, sliced almonds, coconut, soy pieces, marshmallow pieces, stevia, turmeric, which is quite the list of ingredients! Browsing around their catalog, they have a bunch of unique looking blends that I need to get my hands on at some point. The aroma of this eggnog themed tea is not so much eggnog, but certainly get the bourbon and nutmeg. Underneath strong bourbon and nutmeg is woody sweetness and coconut with just a hint of maple at the finish. It is very sweet smelling, and the woodiness blends well with the maple and bourbon.

Steeping time, the liquid is rather cloudy, probably from the marshmallow or the coconut, or one of the other random ingredients. The aroma is quite woody and sweet, with strong notes of maple and bourbon, with lesser notes of nutmeg, coconut, and a gentle nuttiness. The liquid sans tea and bits is woody and spicy, very creamy with notes of coconut and bourbon, it is quite sweet smelling and I am starting to pick up on the eggnog idea.

The website gives the instructions to make this into a latte, and in hindsight I kinda wish I would have tried that, but I was only gifted enough for a cup so oops. The first thing I notice is the oily and thick mouthfeel with a slightly dry finish, typical of a rooibos and honeybush blend with coconut, a clever way of combating the strong dryness of this woody plant. The taste is rather sweet, strong notes of bourbon and coconut with a slight metallic note (honeybush always tastes vaguely metallic to me, not really sure why) and a maple and marshmallow midtaste. The finish has an odd coconut candy that lingers. This is an alright blend, not my favorite, but points for unique!

This tea was a gift.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Teaware.house: Geyao Fish Cup, A Teaware Review

I am half tempted to start a new series on my blog called confessions of a teaware hoarder, because wow, I have a lot of stuff. Really though, this will just be a continuation of my long lagging teaware review, but it really could be a tale of how Amanda spends all her money on tea gear and eventually runs out of room to keep it all. Honestly it was running out of shelf space that finally made me realize that I might have a bit of a problem, of course this problem was made worse today by the grand opening of teaware.house, created by TwoDog of White2Tea.

Yours truly was lucky enough to get a little sneak peak at some of the goodies that are being offered at the new shop, like all good drug pushers, the first hit is free...my cart is already filling up with things I don't need but can't say no to. And yes, I know I said no more tea shopping until I get my new Xbone, but well...I have a problem. Plus this means I have the opportunity to talk about teaware again, yay! And first up I am going to showcase the Geyao Fish Cup, oh my one greatest weakness, teaware with fishes!
Why yes, I did take these with my phone since my camera is still being fixed

This cup fascinates me with its beauty! I have seen (and own for that matter) cups with raised fishies swimming around giving the illusion of the fish swimming around in tea, even without tea in the cups they are usually celadon so it resembles water. This cup goes the extra mile, I feel, with the combination of celadon coloring and earthenware unglazed clay, it really reminds me of water lapping against the edge of a pond, the surface gently disturbed as a koi noticing you are close to the edge pops up expecting food.

Plus the texture of the cup is wonderful, it is slightly rough (as one expects from clay) meaning I am less likely to drop it, which is always a serious win!! Also it feels good in my hand, against my mouth when I am drinking, and it holds the heat like a boss, all of these make for an enjoyable sipping experience, especially when you have a friendly fish sharing your cup with you! Now, with any luck my teaware hoarder friends will leave a few pieces of awesome for me to procure with Christmas money, until then I will sit and stare at my full cart with crossed fingers for an early Christmas!
This cup was sent for review purposes by the company.

Friday, December 18, 2015

MeiMei Fine Teas: Organic Sichuan Zao Bai Jian Premium Green Tea, A Tea Review

Wooo!!! The long awaited Minecraft console update is out! I saw it as soon as I woke up and have been busily playing ever since. I am in a happy place, building with the new blocks and playing the the Guardians (I made them an aquarium.) A lot of my builds are getting spruced up with new blocks, especially the various Ocean monument blocks because they are blue. Perfect timing, since I feel like I am coming down with a cold, so now I have an excuse to take it easy for the next couple days.

Today's tea comes from Sichuan by way of MeiMei Fine Teas. Organic Sichuan Zao Bai Jian Premium Green Tea. Usually this tea is processed as a black/red tea, at least everything I read about this tea lists Zao Bai Jian as Imperial Black, but with all teas, you can process the leaves in a myriad of ways, so why not process it as a green, and they are pretty leaves at that, curly little leaves with a silvery shimmer to them. The aroma is crisp and green, notes of gentle chestnuts and almonds along side sweet peas, artichoke, greenbeans, and a touch of celery. It smells quite rich and the vegetal notes are accented nicely by the nutty ones.

In the gaiwan after steeping, the leaves are so vibrantly green, the aroma of the wet leaves is a bit brothy with notes of vegetable broth. sauteed bok choy and asparagus, sesame seeds and water chestnuts. It is rather savory and reminds me of food. The liquid, however, is gentle sweet like roasted chestnuts and sesames with a touch of water chestnut's crispness, and a blend of asparagus and broccoli.

First steeping is very smooth and green, like an explosion of green in my mouth! Notes of veggie broth and sauteed bok choy with a hint of sweet peas. This gentle sweetness moves into chestnut and water chestnut, with a finish of sugar cane. It is mellow and sweet at the finish which is a fun contrast with the savory vegetal start.

 On to the second steep! The aroma is very green and fresh, notes of sweet peas, celery, bean sprouts, and bok choy, it is a bit broth like again, but more like crisp veggies overall. The taste starts out veggie heavy again, notes of cooked bok choy, mustard greens, bean sprouts, and asparagus eventually fade to sweet peas and water chestnuts, and again a finish of sugar cane. The sweet at the finish is rather refreshing.

I did not take too detailed notes as of steep three, mostly because it was mostly like steep two but less, no real change except diminished. I will say this for this particular tea, it was immensely refreshing. It is not the most memorable or nuanced tea I have had, and certainly not the best I have had from MeiMei Fine Teas, though it is tasty so it has my slurp of approval.

This tea was sent for review purposes by the company.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

DAVIDsTEA: Alpine Punch, A #TBT Tea Review

Boo, I have nothing of relevance to start today's blog with, turns out my plans for today are going to go poof and now I am sulking. So instead I shall talk about how Ben's phone keeps changing his ringtone to totally random stuff. He did have the default for a while (so boring) and then about a day after Thanksgiving it switched to random Christmas jingles...which he promptly switched back to the default. Then his phone just rang and it was something random (some lady going do do DO DO do) which prompted him to be immensely confused. I am not sure why his phone is trolling him, but I am ok with it.

Once again we wander through the annals of history, aka my older tea notebook pile for a bit of a throwback tea. Today we are looking at DAVIDsTEA Alpine Punch, and it has been quite a long time since I looked at one of their teas! Usually I would get a sample of a seasonal tea, and by the time I got around to reviewing it, it had already stopped existing, oops, but Alpine Punch stayed around. It is a blend of Rooibos, Coconut Chips, Coconut Rasps, Apple, Cinnamon, Ginger, Cardamon, Black Pepper, Almonds, Rose Blossoms, and Natural and Artificial Almond Cream Flavoring. Looking at that list of ingredients intrigued me, it was like a Rooibos Kulfi, chai...thing, so I had to try some. The aroma is pretty delicious, like a blend of marzipan and roses, spices, and coconut. For some reason this tea reminds me of the best cake ever...not that I have ever had one that smelled like this, the blend is cake like and I want this as a cake.

Into the basket the bits go, I do not look forward to cleaning up the rooibos, always a pain since they get stuck in the strainer. The aroma is super delicious, strong notes of almonds and coconut with a heady accompaniment of roses and apples. The more I sniff the more the spice builds, it starts with cardamon and is joined by ginger and cinnamon with a sharp peppery finish. The aroma has a bit of coconut and apples, with sweet marzipan, and a strong woody sweetness. At the finish is the building warmth of spices that blend quite nicely with the woody Rooibos tones.

Since this is a tea with coconut in it, the mouthfeel is super thick and oily, which counteracts the at times dry and raspy mouthfeel of Rooibos, so if you are a person that hates that about Rooibos (I know several people like that) then I would say this one mostly bypasses it. The taste starts with coconut and apples, right around the end of the front taste, the cardamon, ginger, cinnamon, and pepper starts to build and stays quite strong until the end. At the midtaste there are roses and almonds, and the finish is a woody, honey note that lingers. This is a warm tea, aptly named, because I want to drink this while lounging in a snow fort.

This tea came from a traveling tea box.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

What-Cha: Thailand Winter Frost Jin Xuan Oolong Tea, A Tea Review

Well, I finally got an email from Fujifilm, they plan to have my camera fixed and shipped back in ten days. Ugh, waiting sucks! I am pretty sure everything is going to be covered by my warranty and such, and Ben is telling me not to worry too much because he will make sure things get handled, I just miss my camera. While it is away on its little vacation, I am only drinking teas I have logged notes for in my notebook pile and photographed, basically time for a giant sip-down.

Today's tea from What-Cha is a bit of a magical one, or at least I think it is, Thailand Winter Frost Jin Xuan Oolong Tea. This fancy Jin Xuan is picked during the cold time of the year, allowing the leaves to be covered in frost causing the leaves to turn brown which changes the taste of the tea. Like bug-bitten teas but being bit by Jack Frost! Ok, I admit it, I have a thing for ice and frost, I want to be like Sub-Zero and learn Cryomancy, but since I can't I get my magical frosty fix elsewhere. Also known as Hoarfrost Tea or Dong Pian (winter flake) this tea is quite fascinating, and currently seasonal! The aroma of the dry leaves is surprisingly fruity (unlike what I usually expect from a creamy Jin Xuan) with notes of nectarine, honeydew, and orange blossoms. Along with the fruit (and fruit flower) is honey and a touch of chestnut and a finish of gentle vegetation. This tea smells immensely sweet, and not really like winter, but that is not surprising.

Into the gaiwan the leaves go! The aroma of the now soggy and slowly unfurling leaves is a combination of necatrine and honeydew melon with a strange slightly rank undertone, it reminds me ever so slightly of rotten fruit being both sickly and sweet. The liquid is all sweetness, very citrus with notes of nectarines and oranges with orange blossom and honeysuckles.

The first steep is pleasantly mild, it starts with a gentle mineral note that transistions to sweet cream and then BOOM! Nectarines! it is like I bit into a juicy sweet nectarine (a warm one, mind you) it is smooth and a little citric sharp and immensely sweet. I love tangerines, they might be my favorite citrus (other than lemons, but I eat them wayyy differently than more orange-like citrus, I cover my lemons in salt) so having a note so reminiscent of tangerine in a tea is delightful.

Second steeping time, the aroma of the kinda rank fruit leaks into the aroma of the liquid this time, though giving it a good sniff, it isn't rotting fruit...it is one of those more foul smelling orchids. Not the rotten meat orchid, but certainly one of the ones that smell like a weird mixture of honey and decay. Of course there are also notes of nectarines, and a tiny hint of cinnamon which adds a level of warmth. The mouthfeel is buttery and smooth, a slight sharpness reminiscent of biting into a citrus fruit. The taste is light and buttery with a blend of nectarine and gentle honey, it is sweet and very light, an especially gentle Oolong.

For the aroma of the third steeping, there is only a little bit of that slightly rank orchid, along with honey and nectarines. The mouthfeel starts out smooth and ends with a crispness, like biting into a pile of lettuce. Tasting starts with gentle sweet honey and spice with sweet nectarine juiciness, this moves to a slight hint of cream and spice, and the finish is lettuce (specifically butterhead if you want to know the varietal) with a light aftertaste of nectarine. This tea was very light and pretty much always sweet, I admit the rank orchid aroma was a little off putting, but since it did not show up at all in the taste it was easy to overlook, similar to how I have run into a Sheng puerh that smells like a barn floor but tastes nothing like one, which is always a relief.
This tea was purchased by me.