I am excited! Currently on Coursera (my go-to site for online free courses) is offering three courses on Paleontology! The University of Alberta is the college presenting them, they were the same who offered Paleontology 101 I took a year or so ago, so I was pleased they were continuing the series. The current course I am taking is about early Vertebrate evolution, specifically the lecture I am listening to is about Placoderms, everyone's favorite bony faced fishes! Gotta love the Dunkleosteus! The other courses are on Cretaceous Theropods (my personal area of specialty) and ancient marine reptiles, another favorite area of study.
Two of my favorite things in the tea world are bug-bitten teas and hong cha (though depending on my mood the location where said hong cha originates changes) so is it any real surprise that I just freak out over Honey Black Tea? No, it really isn't, and Beautiful Taiwan Tea Company's was super high on my list of 'to-try' so I am super glad I got a sample at the Midwest Tea Festival. Mixiang Hongcha (or Honey Frangrance, that Xiang shows up a LOT in tea, especially Dancongs where all their different names are 'something' fragrance) is nibbled on by adorable little green leafhoppers which causes the tea plants to release an enzyme, in turn making it super sweet. The aroma of these curly long leaves is unlike any other tea, it has the rich yammy and malt quality associated with Hong Cha, but with underlying raisin, pumpkin, chestnut, and of course honey notes I associate more strongly with teas like Oriental Beauty, clearly the little buggies have done a wonderful job! It is sweet and rich, and the notes seem vaguely autumnal to me.
Into my clay pot the leaves go, because of course I have a pot dedicated to specifically Taiwanese Hong Cha (though not Red Jade, that gets its own pot!) The aroma of the leaves is yummy, strong notes of malt and pumpkin with underlying notes of honey, peanuts, yams, raisins, and chestnuts. At the end is a note of cumin seeds that have been roasted in a pan, it adds an almost savory quality at the finish and no joke, makes my mouth water. The liquid is almost sweet cream, it smells creamy (but not milky, more vanilla creamy) with strong notes of honey and raisins and a finish of malt and pumpkin. Keeping the sweet and still reminding me of autumn.
My goodness that first steep is sweet! I even went a bit heavy handed with the leaves, expecting a tiny bit extra briskness, but nope! The mouthfeel is thick, almost syrupy, like warm honey water, and honey is a fair comparison since the taste has strong raw honey notes. There are notes of yam and pumpkin, with accompanying notes of chestnut, and a finish of rich raisins and brown sugar. I feel as though I am drinking a dessert!
I wasted no time to move to the next steep, the aroma of the tea has a stronger pumpkin note, along with a slightly stronger malt, it is still very sweet though. Again, no briskness to be found, just smooth thick mouth and sweet rich taste. It starts with warm honey and vanilla sweetness, then moves to more rich yam and raisin, with a finish of chestnut and brown sugar. The blend of nuttiness and sugar reminds me vaguely of nut brittle, and I want chestnut brittle to be a thing now!
BTTC is not wrong when they say you can get three good steeps from this one, after steep three it really starts to pitter out, but the three steeps you get are pretty wonderful. Aromatic and flavorful, and never brisk, bitter, or watery...just sweet, smooth, and thick in the mouth, though this steep is a tad less sweet. This steep takes on the notes of yam and adds oats and stronger chestnut, the honey taste is replaced almost entirely with brow sugar, and there is a touch of pumpkin at the finish that lingers into the aftertaste. One thing I found surprising was this tea's Qi, it is very mellow and I am so chill after drinking it, it is also a bit cooling in the chest which is nice on a warm day.
This tea was purchased by me.