Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Teavivre: Yunnan Chrysanthemum Dragon Ball Tea, A Tea Review

Soon, on the Xbone, Ark will be getting some new creatures, including a favorite of mine, the Megalosaurus! In Ark they are adorable nocturnal death machines that you find sleeping curled up like a cat into a little ball during the day, and that is cool and all, but missing one of the best things about Megalosaurus, and that is how it shaped Paleontology! If you are not familiar with the history of Paleontology, Victorian Paleontologist had a really...unique...way of thinking that dinosaurs worked. Megalosaurus was one of the first non-avian dinosaurs named and became an early poster child for bringing awareness to the general public, problem was the was it was presented was so unbelievably wrong that it was hilarious. Originally thought to be a quadrupedal hunch-backed amphibian who were only carnivorous to old and ill animals. Obviously, we have advanced our understanding of dinosaurs, each year some new advancement seems to completely change the way we think they looked or behaved, but in part we have the incredibly derpy early depiction of Megalosaurus to thank for a lot of advancement. 

You all know me, I could go on about dinosaurs all day (I have done this a few times to people foolish enough to get me started talking about them) but this is a tea blog and not a dinosaur blog, so it is on to today's tea! Teavivre's Yunnan Chrysanthemum Dragon Ball Tea, a hand-rolled ball of Dianhong with an addition of a yellow chrysanthemum flower, combining two of my tea loves into one. I have had several blends of Shou and chrysanthemum and it has never really worked for me, I often thought that blending with a Hongcha would be amazing, so when I saw Teavivre had just that, I knew I needed to try it. Sniffing the tightly rolled ball I was greeted with the sweet pollen, aster, and peppery aroma of chrysanthemum flowers along with malt, chocolate, yams, and honey. Oddly the blend of chrysanthemum and Dianhong give a slightly savory finish, though not necessarily like a specific savory food, just a savory quality, which is pretty neat. 

Steeping time! My large engagement gaiwan got some love with this tea since it is a big ball that needs to expand. The aroma after the first steep is very strong, notes of chocolate and white pepper, malt and yams, and of course, chrysanthemum flowers. It, like the dry ball, is surprisingly savory, almost herbaceous. Similar to a white pepper and, well, the herb savory blended together, it is a surprising thing to smell with the more familiar Dianhong but it really works. The liquid lacks the savory quality, instead, it is sweet honey, peppery chrysanthemums, cocoa, and a rich malt, more what I expected this tea to smell like so no surprises there! 

Oooh this tea is fun! First off, that mouthfeel, combining the usual thick and smooth texture of the Dianhong with the thick and cooling texture of the chrysanthemum makes for quite the thick treat, almost like a high mountain Oolong with how thick it is. The taste is pretty unique too, mixing familiar notes of malt, cocoa, and molasses with undertones of yam sweetness with the peppery and pollen note of the chrysanthemum blend together into something unlike anything I have had before. It was so unique that it took my brain a moment to really process it, but it is not a surprise that I ended up really enjoying it. Especially with the pollen and honey aftertaste that lingers. 

I went for another steep of course, the aroma has a stronger cocoa note with a slightly stronger chrysanthemum note as well, which is not surprising since the ball has unfurled a great bit more. The taste is very similar to the first steep, just more! Stronger cocoa and yam, sweeter honey and molasses, and blooming chrysanthemum coat my mouth with soothing cooling tea. 

This tea has longevity, getting many steeps out of with strong chrysanthemum until the fifth steep, at that point the chrysanthemum has mostly faded and what you are left with is a rich chocolate and yam heavy Dianhong. Since I frequently turn to chrysanthemum when I am unwell, I brewed up one of these balls when Ben recently had that nasty sickness, he found it very soothing and the two of us happily spent the day drinking this tea. 

This tea was sent for review purposes by the company.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

CuriosiTea: Lady Earl White Tea, A Tea Review

Friends, it is time for a change, specifically a hair change. Yesterday was root day (aka the day I hide it from the world that I am naturally a blonde) and I realized I needed to touch up my blue tips. Sadly I also realized I was out of blue dye, so I thought...why not change things up a bit? I went to the store to get bleach and some purple and later today I will have purple tips instead of blue. Maybe. Last time I went purple it was not the best choice, but I think since it will be the tips rather than my whole head it will look pretty cool.

Today I am taking a break from my usual gongfoolery to try an Earl Grey variant from CuriosiTea, Lady Earl White Tea. A Blend of Bai Mu Dan, Bergamot Oil. Rose Petals and Lavender. I like my Earls with lavender, I love roses, and am quite fond of Bai Mu Dan so I thought this would be a take on an Earl I like...since usually, I am not a fan of straight up Earl Greys. The aroma of the leaves is quite potent, not really getting much of the white tea, roses, or lavender, just a small explosion of bergamot...this made Ben happy because he loves his bergamot super strong. After this initial citrus burst, undertones of roses pop up, though they are faint next to the powerhouse that is the bergamot.

Into the steeping apparatus the leaves and petals go for their soak, the aroma of bergamot pretty quickly escapes the steeper and wafts around my desk like an orange wave, it is very refreshing. There are notes of roses and wet have in the wet leaves, along with bergamot of course, though the promised lavender has not popped up quite yet. The liquid is a double blend of roses and bergamot with a slight underlying sweetness of honey from the white tea.

Well, if tasting this tea were a battle (I have been reading about European history in the 10-1200s and there are a lot of battles, it is on my mind) I would say hands down the bergamot wins. It is very decisive, I did not really taste anything else until the aftertaste of gentle roses and very distant lavender. Sadly I do not really taste the white tea base, it is totally overshadowed by the bergamot, which is a little sad since I think these flavors together could work well if it were toned down just a bit, Ben, who is well known for being Der Erlkonig felt the same way, really liked the strength of the bergamot but wish the base was stronger or the bergamot were weaker so that the base stood out more. I did give this to my housemate who I am corrupting into the ways of fine loose leaf tea and who was craving an Earl and she liked it, so I am perfectly willing to say this would be a fine introductory tea and that Ben and I are just too picky after all these years!

This tea was sent for review purposes by the company.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Origins Tea: Oriental Beauty, A Tea Review

Happy Black Friday everyone! May your shopping be excellent, may all your favorite shops have sales, may everyone who is going out only be met with polite fellow shoppers, may your Thanksgiving leftovers taste even better, and of course...if you are a business, especially a small one, may you cut a fantastic profit today! I only partook of one sale, it involved tea cups of course, since I still needed to get myself a birthday present after my last attempt was a mess, and now I wait...the really hard part!

Today I am looking at Origins Tea Oriental Beauty, one of my favorites of the bug-bitten teas that come from Taiwan, to me this tea embodies autumn, as I think I have said the many other times I have looked at an OB! So onward to sniffing the colorful leaves, the first thing I notice is this tea is super fruity! Notes of cooked apricots and plums with a touch of toasted almonds as the undertone giving it a fruit tart quality. There is a bit of an autumn leaf pile note, along with distant notes of plumeria blossoms and very faint pecans. It is a very sweet aroma, with the sweet not becoming overwhelming thanks to nutty and leafy notes.

Into my little shui ping the tea goes, this teapot is much happier in its new role as my OB pot! Ooh the leaves smell so fruity after their soaking, strong notes of grapes, plums, apricots, and lychees blend with orange blossoms and a distant nuttiness. I can see why a lot of people compare an OB to a Darjeeling, they are similar sharing muscatel notes, though I have to admit OB blows Darjeelings out of the water with their sweetness. The liquid has a slightly creamy note, like someone made a wonderful fruit compote of plums, apricots, and grapes and drizzled a tiny bit of heavy cream on the top, and I want to drink it NOW. I have no impulse control when it comes to naturally sweet goodness in tea.

The first steep is light in both mouthfeel and taste, silky, much like a silk scarf in the breeze...and ooh boy it is going to be one of THOSE blog posts where I get all 'poetic' hopefully I just got it out of my system. The taste is fruity, notes of fresh very sweet apples (if I actually ate apples more I could tell you what type, but I don't like eating them, just drinking their sweet juice) with ripe plums and grapes. It then moves to delicate lilies (not the spicy kind, more the heady lily of the valley type aroma)  and a touch of autumn leaf pile. The finish is a lingering sweet dried apricot that hangs around for a while, this pleases me because I adore dried apricots.

Amusingly the second steep's aroma is sweeter and also leafier, like I took a mouth full of stone fruit compote and cream and then jumped into a pile of leaves...see, very autumnal!  The taste and mouthfeel is warmer, silky in texture with a warm Qi in my mouth and belly, it flows quite enjoyably making me very relaxed. Ok the taste is really ramping up the autumn! Plums and grapes take a back note while persimmon and pumpkin takes the reins, it is sweet but not as sweet, it is now richer and starchy. The finish is a blend of lilies and autumn leaves with a finish, again, of sweet dried apricots.

You are probably wondering if I had another steep...well yeah, I did...and several more, because I love OB and will steep it until is is slightly golden sweet water. I could tell by the third steep that it was going to be a long lasting tea, the taste has similar notes to the second steep  but is even richer. With an almost malty quality, the sweetness of pumpkin and persimmon dance with plums and a distant subtle raisin note. As the later steeps continue on the fruit becomes the dominant notes, specifically plum and apricot with a long lasting aftertaste. I greatly enjoyed my session with this tea.

This tea was sent for review purposes by the company.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Second Alarm Farm: Orchid Isle Oolong, A Tea Review

If you follow me on Facebook you might have seen that my wonderful plan of having all my Christmas (and my birthday) shopping done blew up spectacularly. Wish my luck that the company actually refunds my money like they said they would! To drown my sorrows and frustrations I did my thing of going to the thriftstore to hunt for treasures. I found a new teapot, it is blue Yixing clay with a cricket on a banged up lid, and I adore it.

Today I am looking at a rather hard to get tea, Orchid Isle Oolong from Second Alarm Farm, a 3-acre farm on the Big Island, Hawaii. Their small batch tea is completely harvested and processed by hand, composted with local rainforest material, nourished by lots of rain and volcanic soils, it is a tea that really captures the terroir. At least I believe it does, I have never been to a Hawaiian rainforest, though I have been in rainforest exhibits at zoos and aquariums, and the smell and taste of the air will stick with me forever. The leaves are a treat to look at, some have fuzzy trichomes, others are green and twisty, others a rainbow of browns, they are fascinating and colorful similar to the way a Bai Hao a looks. The aroma is exactly like an orchid hot house, specifically it reminds me of the orchid and citrus conservatory at the local garden. Of course, it reminds of a rainforest, wet leaves and rain on a warm humid day. There are also notes of cucumbers, magnolias, pine needles, peaches, and a touch of mineral. It is surprisingly evocative!

Into my little shiboridashi the leaves go, once steeped the aroma becomes slightly sweeter with notes of squash blossoms, magnolia blossoms, warm honey, with more green notes of cucumber and zucchini. The liquid has notes of gardenia, plumeria, orchid, with a tropical rainforest after a rainstorm undertone.

The mouthfeel was interesting, slippery in texture and glossy, with a slight thickness. The taste is light and sweet, starting with magnolia nectar and green notes of zucchini. It then moves to a refreshing cucumber and squash blossom with a mineral finish and light magnolia aftertaste. Again this tea is very evocative of its terroir, I really feel like I am drinking a bit of a Hawaiian rainforest.

I decided, of course, to have a second steep. The aroma is much the same, notes of various tropical flowers with gentle mineral and rain water. The taste stays pretty consistent, starting sweet and nectar-like and moving to greener notes while being crisp and not really savory. This seems like the kind of tea you would want to sip on a summer day, it feels vaguely cooling and the crisp vegetal notes blend well with the sweet but not too sweet tropical flower notes.

This tea is somewhat versatile, I found I enjoyed it bowl style as well as gongfu, and it had a decent amount of longevity both styles, and no bitterness which is always pleasant. I think my favorite thing about this tea is how it really does feel like I am drinking a little bit of the rainforest, allowing me to travel somewhere new that chances are I will never see!

This tea was sent for review purposes by the company.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Tillerman Tea: Dong Ding Spring 2016, A Tea Review

Ben and I play a fun game, while he is at work either he or I will pick some random subject and I will send him a long winded ramble on the subject. Usually, it is science or history related since that is my specialty, but sometimes it is something totally random. Today it was all about Shocked Quartz, a very fascinating form of quartz where the rock is deformed from impact, usually from space rocks meeting the ground in a dramatic fashion, but also from nuclear blasts too. Just looking at the rock, it looks like any other quartz, but if you toss it under a microscope you see the difference, Planar Deformation Features, aka stripes (really easy definition, I am pretty sure I am making scientists cringe) which kinda look like the patterns in some of my teacups' glaze.

Geeking out of rocks aside, it is time for tea! Today I am looking at Tillerman Tea's Dong Ding Spring 2016, an unroasted Oolong grown from the Qing Xin cultivar, yes dear friends, this is an unroasted Dong Ding, something I rarely drink. Not sure why, but my brain draws a blank and always thinks Dong Ding is roasted, like it just magically comes from the tea bush perfectly roasted...which is a bit silly. I rarely have the stuff, so it is a pleasant escape from the norm, especially since the other teas I have had from Tillerman Tea I have really enjoyed. The first thing I noticed is that those are some big leaves, the second thing I noticed is wow, that is sweet! Strong notes of chestnut, sesame seeds, sweet oat cakes (ever had British flapjacks, because if so that is what this tea starts off smelling like) with an accompaniment of sugarcane, spicebush blossoms, and tulip tree flowers. Gently floral and nutty sweetness makes for a happy nose.

 Into my ever hungry for tea Xishi Yixing teapot the leaves go to steep and start their unfurling. Notes of sweet yeasty bread, freshly cooked oats, sesame halva, spicebush, lily blossoms, and a hint of very sweet tulip tree blossoms. The aroma of the wet leaves is almost intoxicating with its sweetness! The liquid has a starchy, yeasty sweetness of freshly baked farm bread drizzled with honey, sitting next to it on this imaginary table is a dish of sesame halva (a wonderful dessert made from sesame and honey) and a blooming bouquet of spicy Asiatic lilies. I feel as though the aroma is very transportive in its nature.

Whoa! That first steep is thick and buttery! I think I need a minute, too distracted by texture to focus on anything else. Ok, I have had my moment to be in thick tea bliss, the taste is quite simple while intense, now this sounds odd but bear with me. The notes present are halva, spicebush, lily flowers, and buttery yeasty bread. These notes are so distinct and strong that even if there are other lesser notes they are powerfully overshadowed by the intense primary notes. For the aftertaste the lily and gentle spicebush note lingers around for quite a while, and I feel like the mouthfeel sticks around for quite a while too!

The golden liquid is so thick that I think calling is both luscious and viscous is totally reasonable, it is so buttery and dense! The taste sends away some of the nuttier tones and brings in more floral, keeping the spicebush and lilies and adding distant orchid and tulip tree blossoms. There is a slight yeasty quality to the finish that dances with the lilies at the aftertaste. It is almost hard to pay attention to the taste because the mouthfeel is so outstanding.

This tea just goes and goes...and goes. Towards the end of steeping the leaves have expanded so much that I can't fit my lid on my teapot, they want to escape! The viscous mouthfeel also sticks around forever, when the taste has faded by steep 14 (I told you it sticks around) the mouthfeel is still buttery. I was very pleased with this tea, this little adventure out of my usual roasted Dong Ding safety net and into a greener pasture, the taste and longevity were great, but that mouthfeel was something else!

This tea was sent for review purposes by the company.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Influenster: Flawless VoxBox, A Product Showcase

Oh hey, Influenster has bestowed upon me another box of random goodies! Sometimes I can really easily pick out the theme behind the VoxBoxes, but this time other than the Flawless tag I got nothing. I will say that it seems all the products are themed around self-care and pampering oneself, things I can get behind with a gusto. To start it off, here is an unboxing video showing off what was in the box! Yeah, I have skills with filming.
On to the products! I say let us start with the elephant in the box, Dr. Teal's Eucalyptus and Spearmint Epsom Salt Soak, whose bag somehow busted open in transit and turned the box into a very pungent (not necessarily bad) smell explosion. The aroma of eucalyptus and spearmint wafted out of the box and filled my entire room, it was very refreshing to my sinuses. 

Usually I am not a fan of bath soaks with eucalyptus and mint, I find their tingling to be pretty painful (Fibromylagia means nerves react weirdly to things) but I do find them to be soothing on my feet when they get sore. So, on the weekend when my housemates moved in and I helped move a bit of furniture, I decided to take my achy feet for a foot soak, and wow was that soothing. So much so that I did not notice any of the tingling coolness that I usually associate with these additives, so later I took a full on bath with Dr Teal's soak and I am in love! It felt great on my sore body and made my skin super smooth. I will be getting more of this for sure, not only did it feel great it was soothing to breathe since eucalyptus has long been used to help with allergies and breathing problems.

Since we are in the realm of bathing, why not look at Simple Skincare Cleansing Facial Wipes. I used to love these, carried them in my purse to wipe my face clean and just periodically use them to clean my face between full washes. I am not sure if they changed the formula or my skin has managed to get even weirder, but wow did it ever cause irritation! My Seborrhoeic Dermatitis went a bit haywire, my skin was very red and irritated after a few days of using it and very scaley, it took a LOT of work to get the inflammation down. I gave the rest to Ben to use and he didn't have any problems, but I was sad that wipes I used to love no longer love me. 

Next on to the Simple Skincare Micellar Water, and I will admit I had no idea what this was, so off to Google: 'Micellar Water is made up of tiny balls of cleansing oil molecules suspended in soft water' well ok then. So you gently rub it into your skin and don't need to wipe it off, not really sure if it is a cleanser or a moisturizer, though according to their website it is a little bit of both. My face certainly felt clean afterwards and soft, but since I only had enough to try once I have no idea if my skin would freak out at it. I wouldn't mind getting more though since it did feel soothing. 

Makeup time! Specifically a bit of mascara from Covergirl, So Lashy BlastPRO Mascara has by far the freakiest looking applicator I have ever seen. It looks like something from an eldritch horror story, it frightens me a bit. The mascara itself is awesome, it doesn't smudge if I get crazy and rub my eyes, it doesn't clump giving me freaky spider leg eyelashes (ughhh hate that so much) and it doesn't irritate my eyes. Can you tell by now that I have really sensitive skin, buying and wearing body care products is an adventure. No matter how good this mascara was that applicator just didn't work for me, the giant ball got in the way, the applicator was too wide and the brush prongs I found were too short. I just want a good old fashion applicator brush...so that is what I did, I love the mascara but this trend to make mascara applicators way too complicated is just not my thing. 

SinfulColors Nail Polish by Kylie Jenner (and her tendency to Mortal Kombat like spell everything with a K) might have been my favorite thing in this box. I was lucky, they sent me a color I actually really like, the Trend Matters Velvet Matte 'King Size' a royal purple with gold pearl. I love purple (though usually I like it darker) I love shimmery nail polish, and I love matte. 

The color is lovely, sadly if you just slap on a couple coats without a basecoat and a varnish it will flake off pretty quickly, so if you are wanting long lasting fancy nails spring for the extra steps. If you are like me and only leave the house once in a while and want to have pretty nails for your outing then a couple coats of polish is plenty. 

You can't pamper oneself without snacks, so next up is Harvest Snaps, their Lightly Salted baked peas. Ok really this is my favorite, but it doesn't really count since it isn't new to me, I've been nomming on these for quite a while. I really like having them by my desk to snack on while or between tasting tea, since they are very mild and do not really interfere with the taste of tea. If you like a snack that is super salty, very strongly tasted, or you know...junk...then you might want something else, but for me, this is a great healthy nibble. 

For snacks you also need drinks, this one was my speciality since it is tea, specifically two teabags from Yogi Tea: Lavender Honey Stress Relief and Soothing Rose Hibiscus Skin Detox. Usually I loathe teabags, loose leaf or bust, but you know, herbal tea I can tolerate as a bag because it usually can take a beating. 

The Lavender Honey tea I found quite tasty (though a little busy, but Yogi tea is like that) but the Rose Hibiscus was not at all for me, too tart! If you want an easy tea on a night when you only feel like a teabag I feel you can't go wrong with one of Yogi's many teas. 

The last thing was odd, Ebates. Apparently, you sign up and use their link to buy things and they get a commission and you get money out of it, with shops like Amazon, eBay, and the like. I browsed around the Amazon one before I placed my most recent order and there was nothing I needed, I honestly do not see myself using this much...or ever...but maybe? 

All these items were provided free from Influenster for me to review, I received no compensation and the opinions are my own. 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Origins Tea: Shui Xian, A Tea Review

My Fibromyalgia is kicking my backside lately, that complaining earlier in the week of being sick alongside the rest of the people in the house, well I have a secret. I don't get viruses oddly enough, instead in the desperate attempt for my immune system to surprisingly do its job I get a flair up instead, pros and cons, having a week of severe joint and muscle pain over a week of a messed up sense of smell and taste is better for the blog, plus I feel blind when my nose is not working, meaning clearly I am a star-nosed mole. Also, you all guessed it, I might be in pain but I am in a great mood today, tomorrow being my birthday helps, but really I have yet another secret, this one will have to wait to be revealed but I am super excited about it.

Today I am looking at Origins Tea Shui Xian, a Taiwanese Oolong. You might be saying 'now hold on Amanda, that is a Wuyi Oolong, from China, what are you on about with Taiwanese?' Well, a while ago Wuyi Oolongs were brought over to Taiwan, usually you see Taiwanese Tie Guan Yin, but it was not the only tea brought over. It is really fascinating seeing how terroir affects taste, and how different processing affects taste, because as you noticed this is not a long strip style Oolong, it is all rolled up in typical Taiwanese fashion. though not as tightly rolled as some. I will warn my Yancha loving friends, don't go into this one expecting a high char, super roasted, kick in the face like you would from a Wuyi Shui Xian, this is its delicate and subtle cousin. Sniffing the leaves brings the first hint this is a whole different animal, notes of orchid, gentle toasted yeasty bread, plums, caramelized sugar, toasted hazelnuts, and a gentle blend of earthy and wet coals. I say wet coals specifically because the char is mellow and blended with the earthy back tone it truly smells like coals of a wood fire the day after a rain, it reminds me of happy camping adventures.

I decided to (literally) dust off my roasted Oolong yixing, yes the good old lidless barrel pot! One day I will actually find a lid for it instead of just putting the cup on top while steeping, though probably not. The aroma of the unrfurled leaves is pleasantly nutty, notes of toasted hazelnuts and roasted chestnut blend with dried cherries and honey drizzled toast made from a sweet yeasty farm bread. The liquid is full of surprises, notes of toasted nuts, gentle char, fruity pipe tobacco, and honeyed toast blend with a delicate distant orchid note. It is funny, but my brain always registers flowers and char as someone throwing a bouquet into a bonfire and I just want to know why someone would do that!

First steep, and you know, I am just going to lay this on the line, if I ever have the opportunity to go on a hay ride I want this tea to come with me, it is just so autumn! Notes of roasted chestnuts, dried cherries, honey drizzled toast and kettlecorn blend with tobacco and distant char, it reminds me of the distinct taste that the air gets during autumn and I adore it. The mouthfeel is smooth with a buttery upturn at the finish, the aftertaste is a lingering honey sweetness that sticks around for a decent time.

On to the next steep, the leaves have almost fully unfurled and the aroma has taken on a slightly sweeter and stronger char note, like a raw honey drizzled burnt stick, trust me it smells better than it sounds. The taste notes from the firststeep are still present, they are a bit stronger but maintain their sweetness. Sometimes I find roasted teas lose their sweetness in later steeps while ramping up the char and other notes, but not this tea. The roast is mellow being reminiscent of toasted nuts, caramelized sugar, and kettlecorn. If you want a roasted tea that stays on the mellow side this is a good one.

I went for many steeps of this tea, it was a fantastic companion for painting, which is how I drank it. It is no secret by now that I love Oolongs that last a long time, are roasted, and make good painting companions, aka are mellow and sweet with distinct notes and nuances without being too overwhelming and distracting me from painting. It needs to be flavorful enough to keep my mind active (my brain likes multiple things going on while I am focusing, fun fact I cannot write a blog without music or Youtube playing in the background) and the notes of sweet kettlecorn, toasted chestnuts and hazelnuts, and distant flowers do just the trick.

This tea was sent for review purposes by the company.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Teavivre: Organic Jinhao Golden Tip Black Tea, A Tea Review

I am having too much fun painting my Chaos dudes, deciding to make my Khorne hoard zombies was a fantastic choice. Currently I am working on the big guy, Skuldrak (because Warhammer names) and I modled his paint scheme after a Magic card (since MTG's take on zombies is what I am going with) called Liliana's Reaver and as I finish shading the skin I can say this was a great choice.

In case it is not completely clear, I am on a mission to try all the Hongchas from all over Asia, if I can gongfu it, I want it, so I was very excited when I found Teavivre's Organic Jinhai Golden Tip Black Tea. This fuzzy golden tea hails from Guangxi, China, a region probably most familiar to those who pay attention to tea regions for the production of Liu Bao, but there are quite a few teas that come from there...like this one! Sniffing this tea I can certainly say it is a unique one, unlike the Fujian, Yunnan, and Taiwanese Hongchas I am most familiar with. It starts with notes of tomato and malt, then moves to woodiness, cloves, saffron, lychees, and a touch of distant anise. Complex brisk and sweet, with herbaceous undertones makes for a fun adventure for my nose. It would be a lie to say it was not love at first sniff, but you all know me and my obsession with the glory of red teas.

I tossed the leaves into my gaiwan and went to town pretty instantly, once steeped the aroma kinda blew my mind a bit. Notes of strong cherry and lychees, with honey, anise, sassafras, and saffron. It is fascinating, if I was to compare it to other reds/blacks I have tried it is similar to a Red Jade with that sassafras, clove, and cherry note but that is where the comparison ends. The liquid is fruity and sweet, notes of cherry, mango, lychee combine with woody cocoa pods, saffron, anise, and a finish of sassafras. What a fascinating blend of notes, I keep using fascinating, have I proven this tea is fascinating yet?

The first steep had a pleasantly smooth and light mouthfeel, bordering on almost buttery which was surprising. The taste was not light, it was rich and full, starting with anise and sassafras with just a hint of clove. It then moves on to sweet potatoes, chocolate, and a bit of woodiness in the middle. The end is sweetness, the sweetness of lychee and goji berries with a hint of lingering cherries in the aftertaste, and boy does that aftertaste linger!

On to the second steep! The aroma is like the first steep, but with stronger anise and sassafras, it is sweet and potent! This steep is rich and bold, the taste is not as sweet as the first steep, instead the richness of cocoa and sweet potatoes and the herbaceous notes of cloves and saffron take the dominant notes at the front and midtaste. In the end, the taste picks up the sweet cherries and lychees with a hint of sassafras and anise. The aftertaste is cherries like the first steep and it lingers for quite a while.

This tea lingers on for many steeps, being similar to the second steep where the richness dominates over the sweetness for four more steeps, and then for the last three fruity sweetness returns. I really enjoyed this tea, and not just because I am obsessed with Hongcha or because it is from a region I don't explore very often! I enjoyed it because it has flavor notes I greatly enjoy and found its long lingering aftertaste to be delicious. Also, it behaves very well bowl steeping style, which is always a plus, brewing versatility is a wonderful thing. I seem to be saying it a lot lately, but this tea is a favorite and I want more!

This tea was sent for review purposes by the company.

Monday, November 14, 2016

MeiMei Fine Teas: Organic Huang Shan Mao Feng Green Tea Wild Grown, A Tea Review

Last blog intro I was lamenting not knowing how I want to paint my Khorne dudes from my Age of Sigmar box, and Ben helped me figure it out! What I want most from Warhammer is the undead, sadly Warhammer is not cheap so I am not getting them anytime soon, so my Choas horde is gong to be a horde of zombies! Specifically, zombies inspired by my Mono-Black zombie deck I play in  Magic (aka, Liliana themed) so the accent colors will be glowing purple and black. Because I am a giant dork, but I am glad I finally can start painting them.

Today I am very under the weather, and immensely annoyed by it, so I am going to review a tea sitting in my notebook that evokes spring and happier times. MeiMei Fine Teas' Organic Huang Shan Mao Feng Green Tea Wild Grown, a green tea and one of the few types of greens I make a point to get each spring harvest, Huang Shan Mao Feng is a comfort green, it is iconically spring to me. The aroma of the long leaves is very fresh, notes of artichokes, distant peony blossoms, a touch of sea air, fresh asparagus, lima beans, and a touch of green peanuts to give a gentle nuttiness to the predominantly green aroma.

Usually I like brewing these delicate Chinese greens in a tall glass to really show off the leaves, but I have always enjoyed this style tea in a gaiwan so that is the route I went. The aroma of the steeped leaves is quite green, with notes of artichoke, spinach, asparagus, and chard with an undertone of sea air, it is savory and vegetal. The liquid is not all savory like the leaves, there is a nutty sweetness of sesame seeds and peanuts with a touch of peony blossoms along with chard, chervil, and asparagus.

One word to sum this first steep up: nectar. It is wonderfully sweet, honeysuckle and peony with sesame and peanuts that fade to orchid and a building green chervil and bell pepper crispness. It has a pleasant lightness, both in taste and mouthfeel, and the gentle floral notes linger into the aftertaste.

The second steep brings the savory while still maintaining the sweetness. It is very smooth and still light though with a stronger presence and thicker mouthfeel. The dominant note is chestnut with an accompaniment of peony and a building vegetal broth that reminds me of soup with a heavy note of asparagus and bell pepper. It is smooth while also being a bit crisp, which is enjoyably refreshing.

The final steep is quite mellow, it might seem as though I have a ton to say, and granted that is partially because I am all sorts of sick, but also because this tea is very mellow and chill. When I was drinking it I found myself relaxed and thinking of flowers blooming and trees budding, it was peaceful and reflected in the taste. Definitely one of those type teas I like to sip when the only thing I have to think about is the tea, no distractions from the outside world.

This tea was sent for review purposes by the company.