Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Organic Merchant: Golden Chai, A Tea Review

I have come to a sad realization with my current modded skyblock playthrough, my skyblock is very unattractive. Lots of platforms of random mismatched material and randomly placed machines, there is very little rhyme or reason to my created world and I need to change that. Maybe I will start by making some nice paths to the different areas using the chisel mod, a mod made for builders to extra pretty up their world.

Today I am looking at Golden Chai, an herbal blend by Australian tea company Organic Merchant, it is not often that I get boxes from Australia, so that was quite novel! It blends turmeric, calendula, cinnamon, clove, cardamon, ginger, fennel, star anise, and black peppercorns for a very colorful, golden blend, it is a perfect thing to drink on a cold winter night because the color of the dry material looks like a summer afternoon. The aroma is pretty intense, strong notes of spices, especially the cardamon, fennel, and pepper with pleasant earthy undertones from the turmeric. There is a hint of wildflower like floral notes from the calendula, but mostly these petals are used as pretties since they don't add much (one of the reasons they frequently show up in blends.) I really like how strong the pepper and cardamon notes are, I love blends that have those ingredients and often find they are too weak for my liking, so its oomph made me happy.

A tea this colorful needed a glass teapot for sure, one of the really awesome things about turmeric is how vibrant the color is, I use it a lot in my curries to add bitter earthiness and to mellow out some of the other stronger spices while also adding pops of color. The aroma of the steeped blend is strong with notes of pepper and clove with underlying notes of earthiness and anise with a touch of distant flowers and mango which was a pleasant surprise. The vibrant liquid smells of cloves, cardamon, and turmeric with undertones of pepper and anise, it is sweet and spicy, quite pleasant if you are a fan of these things, which I very much so am.

I decided to first try this tea completely unaltered, no milk or sugar like you would normally have a chai, and I can say it is bitter, but a lot of these spices are when brewed straight, one of the reasons that chai has sugar and milk (also because it bulks up a meal and provides nutrients, the origin of most milky teas.) The bitterness is actually kinda pleasant, not the tannic bitterness of a ruined cup of tea, or the bile like bitterness of hops, it is bitter in an earthy and grainy fashion that adds a really fascinating depth to culinary experiments. I decided to add some honey, and it was a fantastic choice because that little bit of sweetness causes this blend to explode with depth! Cloves, peppers, turmeric, ginger, gentle wildflower, anise and fennel notes dance in a chaotic golden cascade in my mouth. This is definitely the right combination of intense flavors, part of me is curious what it would be like with a touch of cumin and fenugreek, but I think that is because I am eating samosas while writing this and have discovered this is a particularly tasty pairing.

This tea was sent for review purposes by the company.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Story of My Tea: Tea Club, A Review

You know what is really annoying? Having a Minecraft world you have been working on go corrupted, and since it is modded I for some reason cannot figure out how to load a backup save, and here I finally figured out how to automate everything, and sort my 21K bones from my mob grinder. Only one thing to do, startov....wait a minute. OMG I fixed it! Oh, that is a giant sigh of relief, that was a huge amount of work almost lost.

Today I am looking at the Story of My Tea monthly tea box, they are putting in the last few days of their Kickstarter and sent me a preview box, but before I get into the individual teas themselves, let me first say that I think it is very cool that they are wanting to include teas that are not in the ordinary. I have looked at a lot of tea clubs, and the majority of them have the same old blends or 'common' teas, so after a while they all kinda look the same, with tea clubs being so prevalent now you need a gimmick to stand out in the crowd, especially if you want a larger audience.

So the first tea from the box I looked at was the Ya Bao, a white (maybe, some debate as to it being technically a puerh) tea (also maybe, there is debate that it is Camellia taliensis instead of sinensis but that is opening up a really big can of worms, for my purposes it is a white tea.) I love Ya Bao, to me it is the very epitome of winter, the combination of cedar and pine notes, cooling qi, and overall sweet crispness, it reminds me of walks in a snowy pine forest. Plus the buds kinda look like frosted pinecones, which is what I have for years affectionately called them.

I was able to go many steeps with this one, which is good, because my biggest complaint with most Ya Bao is a lack of longevity. This is a classic Ya Bao, stong cooling sensation mixed with cedar wood and sage with undertones of peach that get stronger with later steeps. It is light in flavor and crisp in mouthfeel, exactly what I want in this style tea. If you are not a fan of gongfu-ing this tea is pretty fantastic bowl style, never getting bitter only sweeter with the longer time in the water.

The next tea out of the box is a Japanese green, Iccha Kariban, since the tea box is in its beta state it does not have the epic long write up accessed by scanning the QR code on the package like the Ya Bao, but I know from a bit of digging around that this green comes from Kagoshima. The aroma of this tea is savory and nutty, with undertones of flowers. It is a blend of chestnut, sesame, cotton flowers, dandelion flowers and greens, and a touch of seaweed.

The packaging recommends different styles of brewing, so I decided to ice brew it, because cold tea in winter seemed like a good idea at the time (it totally was.) Using my fancy skull ice cube, I let the ice slowly melt and steep the tea, resulting in a very strong 'shot' of tea. It is an intense experience, strong savory seaweed and buttery spinach with a sweet aftertaste of chestnuts and gentle faint flowery note. If you brew this tea hot it is the exact opposite, sweet gentle fruity and flowery notes with a gentle celery leaf and lettuce crispness.

Margaret's Soother, an herbal blend of peppermint, clove, and licorice is the next pull from my box of teas. I am probably hardest on herbal blends more so than any other of the various things I steep, I like them to be made from weird random plant bits or be primarily flowers. I am not a huge fan of mint, but I love clove and licorice, though I did let out a sad sigh when I saw (and smelled) that mint was the dominant ingredient.

Brewing up a cup, I think the reason I am not a fan of mint is its sensation, I have always found it so intense that it is painful...I mean, I love mint ice cream or Andes mint chocolates, but mostly because they have the mint taste and not its icy-fiery gut explosion that feels like I swallowed Vapor Rub, it definitely triggers the over-stimulation response in me. The mint is definitely strong, with a gentle warmth from the cloves and naturaly sweetness and thick mouthfeel from the licorice. Overall I like the idea of this blend, but if I were to drink it again I would probably quadruple the amount of licorice and only have a hint of the mint.

Next is Dark Rose, a Hunan heicha compressed into a heart and blended with roses...I do love me some rose themed teas! Years ago I reviewed this same tea, I believe at the time it was my first not Puerh Heicha and I steeped it western style...I was kinda meh on it at the time. Giving it a sniff it smells like I remember, a rose garden in summer right after the rain, not the strong earthiness of a shou but more the earthy notes you get from some black teas, with rose being the dominant note.

I decided to gongfu it this time, and that was a good call, it was a lot more nuanced and tasty this way, so I recommend that method even if you kinda lose the effect of wathcing the heart change shape while steeping. I think this could be a good intro to the world of fermented teas, it has the warming, earthy quality of a shou (though again, not nearly as earthy) but also the rich chocolate and molasses sweetness of a hongcha, and of course the added flowery sweetness of rose is always enjoyable. I was able to get six solid steeps from this tea before the rose faded away.

Lastly is the Shou Puerh Tuo Cha, I respect a tea club for adding both a heicha and a shou, but I will be honest, I was afraid....I have never had  little tuo cha that tasted good, for a couple years I avoided shou because the strong wo dui I encountered in an early experiment with a cheap shou tuo left me with the worst migraine...turns out it was just poorly made shou that gives me a migraine, not the good stuff, for while I am infinitely thankful. The aroma of the tuo is promising, nice earthy notes without any rank fishiness you can get in a tuo, yay!

I went several steeps with this tea, it is pretty good! Nice rich earthy wet loam and wet wood with undertones of molasses and dark chocolate. It starts light and builds to a richness that sticks around for several steeps. Had I started out all those years ago with a shou like this instead of the garbage tuo I got my hands on I would have been a lot happier! This is a great intro to shou, maybe not the best ever for the hardcore cake hoarders, but as an introduction or just an everyday kinda tea it is a good choice! I am curious to see what teas this club offers in the future!

This tea was sent for review purposes by the company.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Origins Tea: Jin Xuan - Ali Shan, A Tea Review

I was up...til 4AM...chopping down a tree in Minecraft. This was no ordinary tree, this is modded skyblock and I made the mistake of planting a sacred rubber tree, which is the biggest tree I have ever seen. Frustratingly, it was in the middle of my tree farm, which surrounded a giant redwood tree I was planning on turning into a base, so not only did it destroy my tree farm, it clipped into the redwood making it a giant mess. Had I known that sacred rubber trees would turn into some monstrous rubbery nightmare I would not have planted it, just goes to show how much of a noob I am with modded...but at least I will never run out of rubber!

Today's tea from Origins Tea is a bit of Taiwanese goodness: Jin Xuan - Ali Shan, a Jin Xuan oolong hailing from Alishan, one of my favorite mountains (yes, yes, I say that with all the mountains...I just really like Taiwanese teas and my favorite mountain usually depends on my mood, so today it is Ali Shan!) The aroma is everything I hope for from a Jin Xuan, strong notes of Asiatic lilies (the spicy kind, that smell like a lily rolled in cloves for the day) chestnuts, rice milk, sugar cane, and an underlying herbaceous and buttery quality that reminds me of well...herb butter.

This tea took a while to unfurl, usually, I am not a fan of rinsing oolongs, because I want that sweet nectar, but even my standard 30 second first steep barely unfurled the leaves,  so maybe just this one a rinse would have been ok. Even though the leaves took a while to really wake up, the aroma is fantastic, with notes of rice milk, chestnuts, lilies, hyacinths, and a touch of distant crushed sage. The liquid is light and buttery with rice milk and lilies, sweet and gentle.

Since this tea was so slow to wake, the first steep is very light in taste, not so much in mouthfeel though. It starts with a buttery smoothness which only intensifies in later steeps. The taste is ghostly sweet, distant lilies, faint hyacinths, gentle honeysuckles, and a touch of creamy chestnuts at the finish. The tea is being a real tease, hinting at what happens when it really gets steeped.

And hello Jin Xuan! As expected this steep really shows the tea off, strong buttery notes, like a butter sauteed bok choy with chestnuts (and water chestnuts but without their peculiar texture) it is a fairly savory start. This then transitions to sweet rice milk and lily flowers with a honeysuckle finish that lingers for quite a while. This is a very strong second steep, I might be describing a ton of notes, but the ones that are there are potent, and when combined with a very viscous mouthfeel, well, this is not a tea that is to be ignored.

It carried on in this fashion for several steeps, with the sweetness on the back half slowly creeping ever closer to the beginning of the taste, until steep six where all buttery vegetal notes had vanished. I was left with chestnuts, lilies, honeysuckle, hyacinth, and sugar cane juice until the tea called it quits steep ten. I really enjoyed this tea, it was a classic, viscous, Jin Xuan that did not pull its punches once it started going, even though it had a slow start. I wasn't really aware of how badly I had been craving a Jin Xuan until after I drank it!

This tea was sent for review purposes by the company.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Kent & Sussex Tea & Coffe Co: Violet Tea, A Tea Review

So, it is probably known by now that my recent obsession is modded Minecraft, finally getting years worth of wanting to play all the mods I ogle out of my system. Problem is, the modpacks I keep playing either don't work for me (as in I don't like the way they are set up) or they are so beefy that they crash constantly. My new computer is a beautiful machine, but it is not that good, so I thought...how do I play the mods I want but not crash...Skyblock! I decided to start playing Project Ozone 2, a very heavy-duty modpack with a lot of automation and mechanical stuff, no real magic though (maybe that is good, any pack that has Thaumcraft means as soon as I start Thaumcraft I ignore everything else) but it does have the Aether, a mod I thought was long dead and was sad because I wanted to play it, but the Aether lives!

Today's tea is a flowery explosion, Violet Tea from The Kent & Sussex Tea & Coffe Co, a Chinese black tea blended with and scented with violets. Ah, Viola odorata, the most aromatic of the Viola genus, most people in the US are more familiar with the native Viola sororia which pop up in many people's yards in spring-time, if you are one of those people you probably notice that they don't have much of a smell (much like the common pansy, another well note Viola) and if you eat them (like I do) their taste is pretty light, nothing that you expect to scent a tea. The Viola odorata is a lot more common in England (which is why one of its common names is English Violet) which is why you pretty much only see Violet themed teas on the other side of the pond, and let me tell you this, I have wanted to get my hands on some for YEARS. The aroma does not disappoint, strong notes of sweet violet, it is a bit soapy (similar to lavender, as it is frequently used in soap) and very sweet, like candied violets. Trying to describe the aroma of violets is hard, it is like a blend of lilac, grapes, hyacinth, with a touch of baby powder and alyssum. It is pretty potent stuff, heady and sweet but not cloying. I cannot really smell the base tea at all, just all violets all the time, and considering I wanted this tea because of the violets I am completely fine with this.

Into my steeping apparatus the leaves and flowers go, and wow, my tea desk is now a field of violets! Strong notes of grapes, violets, and an undertone of malt drift from the wet leaves. It is very intense, but I can smell the base tea and it is solid, a nice sweet malty accompaniment for the flowers. The aroma is also quite strong and sweet, though not as potent as the leaves, more like sniffing a pile of candied violets instead of a bottle of violet perfume, with a malty cocoa undertone of the base tea.

Back in the Victorian era Violet perfume was all the rage, mostly because it was strong and heady without being cloying, descriptions from that time period call the perfume ethereal, which is a fair description. I feel the proper lady drinking this tea, and not just because I am using my fanciest western style teacup. The taste is something else, sweet candied violets, grapes, molasses, malt, brown sugar, and honey blend together for a very sweet and very floral tea. Do not drink if you are not a fan of strongly scented teas, as the violet taste is very strong, and it lingers forever! I absolutely loved this tea, I enjoyed it hot and chilled, and I plan on using it some in baking because candied violets are a real pain to get around here and I can probably use this as a substitute to get the same flavor in cookies.

This tea was sent for review purposes by the company.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Nepal Tea: White Prakash, A Tea Review

So, I have run into a slight problem with my monstous new desk, it is very tall. Even with my chair all the way up I still feel too low down and I am not entirely sure what to do. It got me thinking, what did people in the 30s do? I've seen those chairs, they are not that tall, so did people do their writing with their arms way up in the air? These are the things about the past that I clearly don't understand.

Have I mentioned before how much I adore Nepalese teas? Because, I really do, there is something about that region of the world that produces some of the most clean and nuanced tasting teas, each one I have tried has left an impression on me. Today I am looking at Nepal Tea's White Prakash, a white tea from the Kanchanjangha Tea Estate. This is not the usual white tea, from the first sniff I could tell this was something unique, notes of familiar cucumber, honey, hay, and peony flowers drift up from the leaves, but also very strong notes of grapes, nasturtium, and wildflowers. It smells a lot like a cross between a first flush Darjeeling and a Bai Mu Dan, which is a beautiful combination of notes to have.

Into my gaiwan the leaves go, the aroma of the steeped leaves is so sweet, strong notes of honey and grapes, wildflowers, hay, and a touch of crisp cucumbers and lettuce. Again the aroma reminds me of a cross between a first flush and a Bai Mu Dan, it is so fascinating! The liquid is sweet, honey and grapes with gentle hay and wildflowers, a touch of cucumber and lettuce at the finish, but primarily sweetness.

Wow, that first steep is itensely sweet! It tastes like warm white grape juice mixed with wildflower honey. Then it transitions to hay and fresh sage with a finish of crisp cucumbers. The mouthfeel starts very thick, combine that with the sweetness and juiciness the mouthfeel is very much so like warm honey. The finishing mouthfeel is very crisp and smooth, I am amused by how this tea goes from thick sweetness to refreshing crispness.

I got a bunch of steeps out of this tea, I ended up having an all night session with it, which was pleasant and unexpected. I started it pretty late, before I decided to go to bed, expecting a quick session of 4-5 steeps and I got 12...and ended up staying up with it til 3AM. Everything about this tea caught me by surprise, the taste and aroma were unlike any white I have had...even ones from both Darjeeling and Nepal, its longevity surprised me, its appearance even surprised me a bit.

The first several steeps were very similar to the first steep, just increasing in strength and sweetness as one would expect as the leaves become fully unfurled and saturated. The later steeps bring in more of the crisp herbaceous sage and cucumber notes with an aftertaste of wildflowers and pollen. Soon Nepal Tea plans on launching a Kickstarter which I plan on backing, and deciding which tea I plan on selecting for my reward is going to be really hard!

This tea was sent for review purposes by the company.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Gopaldhara Tea Estate: Queens Delicacy 2016, A Tea Review

I feel so fancy now, like a member of academia, and it makes me so happy. Yesterday when I went by the thriftstore I found a massive roll-top desk from the 30s for $24. Of course buying it was the easy part, convincing Ben and my housemates that getting it in my tea room was a good idea, because this is a solid oak like 250lb chunk of furniture. It was an ordeal, because it is double the size of my previous desk and now the room is a mess, but totally worth it because wow is this desk fancy! Of course now the fun part of getting my tea room into some semblance of order again. 

Today I am looking at a First Flush Darjeeling from one of my favorite tea estates; Gopaldhara Tea Estate! Their Queens Delicacy was harvested in March of 2016 in typical First Flush style, making it only mildly oxidized when compared to later flushes. The aroma of the leaves is surprisingly green, there are the classic notes of golden grapes, honey, and nasturtiums that I associate with First Flush, but with a strong lettuce and celery note that reminds me more of a crisp green. There are also light notes of pollen and a touch of juicy lychee sweetness, this tea has a fascinating balance of sweet and green that I do not run into very often in First Flush Darjeelings. 

I decided to dust off my poor neglected First Flush Yixing for this tea, even though it has a less than typical aroma. After steeping the leaves, the aroma is still quite green, now with notes of cooked celery and lettuce with a hint of bok choy and cabbage, but with an undertone of lychee, apples, and golden grapes with a hint of peppery nasturtium flowers. The liquid is light and sweet, with notes of lettuce and grapes, and undertones of honey and celery. Again the theme is mixing crisp savory notes and sweet ones.

 Usually, I have a hard time properly categorizing First Flush Darjeelings, I see them put into the black tea category, but I never really feel like that fits, and this one is probably the most unlike a black tea I have run into. It starts with a subtle sweetness of fresh grapes, and that is pretty much all the sweetness I got from this tea, the rest is savory and green. Notes of cooked celery and sage blend with peppery nasturtium and lettuce, towards the end notes of broken hay and bell peppers pop up as well. The mouthfeel is smooth and a tiny bit crisp at the finish, much like biting into lettuce, it is both juicy and refreshing. This tea was definitely a break from the norm and I like how it was not a typical Darjeeling. 

This tea was sent for review purposes by the company.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Origins Tea: Red Jade GABA, A Tea Review

So Ben and I were looking at Necrons today (no reason) and he called the Doom Scythe a croissant...and now I can't unsee it. Of course now I want to get an entire Necron army (which I did anyway, love me some Necrons) and instead of my original theme of making them Egyptian, make them ridiculous French. The ships would be actual croissants, the goss weapons would be baguettes, they would wear berets and silly striped shirts...it would be absolutely silly. Pity that Games Workshop armies cost a fortune and creating ridiculous paint schemes is not a real possibility, so they will only live in my head.

Ok, time to pull my nose out of Minecraft (modded has become my life lately) and review today's tea, Red Jade GABA by Origins Tea, a Red Jade that has been processed as a GABA Oolong, in essence combining two of my favorite Taiwanese style teas. When I first saw the tea on the website, before trying it, I thought it was a hongcha processed as a GABA which I thought would be unique, but no, 'tis and Oolong! The aroma of the leaves is intensely nutty, like a mixed bowl of nuts with almonds, chestnuts, pecans, and walnuts...conveniently sitting next to a bowl of baked apples and pumpkin pie. Now I kinda want to try a combination apple and pumpkin pie, that could be really good. With a nut crust!

Steeping time! The aroma is nutty and sweet, notes of pumpkin pie and baked sweet potatoes. It is very starchy in the aroma, with undertones of fruit. The liquid is buttery sweet and quite starchy, baked sweet potatoes and pumpkin (losing a bit of the pie notes and smelling more like a freshly cut open pumpkin) with an accompaniment of sunflower seeds and chestnuts.

This tea is...unique. Starting off with a thick, almost oily mouthfeel that thoroughly coats every part of the mouth. The taste is a peculiar blend of caramelized peanuts, baked sweet potato and pumpkin...which then moves into a tingly woody taste that is almost more a sensation than taste. I had a heck of a time putting it into words, but it tastes like horehound and teaberry, but combined which is not something I thought I would experience.

The next steep still tastes of caramelized peanuts and sweet potatoes with a strong pumpkin note, but with an extra boost of caramel. It is very thick and sweet, not unlike actual caramel. The pumpkin taste, I should note, is not cooked pumpkin pie, it is straight up pumpkin, which of course puts me in mind of autumn and gutting pumpkins. There is still the peculiar blend of teaberry and horehound at the finish that lingers with a tingly mouhfeel, sweeping away the thickness.

I got a lot of steeps out of this tea, it lasts for quite a while, and I stuck with it to the end. I was conflicted the entire session because I was never really sure if I liked it. The sweetness was wonderful, the tasting notes fascinating, but I am not sure they worked in my brain. I will give the tea credit for being one of the more interesting teas I have consumed in a while, which is part of the reason I continued with it until it was finished. I recommend trying it based entirely on its peculiar taste.

This tea was sent for review purposes by the company.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Teaful: Taste Of Taiwan Chapter 1, A Tea Box Review

So, it is that time of day where I sit down to blog, and I admit I have been staring derp-filled at my screen for longer than I am comfortable with trying to think of a way to start out today's blog. Some interesting little bit about my day...and my day has been kinda dull. I have played Minecraft, there was a glitch that made me use a back-up save, I have been grinding resources. I had a really good cheese bread for breakfast, and I discovered a cup I found at the thrift store recently looks really good with a gaiwan. My day hasn't been boring, but it has certainly been uninspiring!
So let me inspire with tea! Today I am looking at a set of four teas from Teaful, their Taste of Taiwan Chapter 1 box, filled with Biluo Chun Green, Jade Oolong, Alishan Oolong, and High Mountain Black. The box is beautifully packaged, sealed bags inside elegant boxes inside an elegant package, sadly I was sick when it arrived and forgot to take a decent picture, and of course by the time I realized that I had already made a mess of the box.

The first tea I looked at was the Biluo Chun, a Taiwanese take on a classic Chinese green tea, and I am going to let you all in on a secret, I like the Taiwanese version more. The large curly green leaves smell so fresh and gree, with strong notes of chestnuts, sweet peas, zucchini, okra, and soy beans, but with a gentle underlying floral sweetness. The leaves smell of spring time, it is hard to believe that it is the heart of winter when sniffing them.

I was able to go many steeps with this tea, it started fading at steep five, which I find is unusual for a green, usually, I am lucky if I can get a full three out of a Biluo Chun from China. The mouthfeel for this tea is very viscous and thick, coating my mouth with green goodness. Starting with flavor notes of buttery cooked zucchini and peas, crisp snap peas and lettuce, and finishing off with sweet hyacinth blossoms. Later steeps are greener with a much longer lingering floral note that seems to stick around forever.

The next tea on my little journey is the Jade Oolong and wow, this one might be my favorite from the set, mostly because the aroma and taste is strongly of daffodils. I don't think I have ever run into an oolong that has that note before, tons of other spring flowers, sure, but this one is new and intoxicating!

Sure there are other notes going on, but they are hard to focus on because DAFFODIL!! It is very floral, notes of honeysuckle and hyacinth give the already nectar-like tea a more heady quality, making me feel like a hummingbird while drinking it. It is perfectly balanced between green and floral, with the daffodil notes lasting long into the aftertaste. I fell so hard for this tea and very much so intend on getting more!

Next up is the Alishan Oolong, and of course, it is no secret that Alishan is one of my favorite tea mountains, though it is a constant internal debate as to which one is a favorite at what time. The aroma of this tea is very sweet and heady, honeysuckles and lilac blend with sugar cane and a touch of chestnut, it smells like a classic Alishan...and hilariously in my notebook I drew a little heart while describing it because I am a dork.

I think one of the reasons Alishan steals my heart is its thick and buttery mouthfeel, it is supple and lovely, filling my mouth with smooth floral goodness. The taste is very sweet, like honeysuckle nectar and sugar cane juice with undertones of chestnuts and lilac. Middle steeps bring in a bit of cooked spinach and crushed vegetation, but for the most part this is a sweet Oolong. It lasts for many steeps, I got a total of ten before it faded to nothingness.

So the other big contender for favorite from the box is the High Mountain Black, because it is a Taiwanese Hongcha and you all know I am massively addicted to them. The aroma of this tea is something else, there is a lot going on, with notes of sassafras, papaya, lychee, honey, and cocoa dancing out of the leaves into my nose. It is no lie that I spent a LOT of time sniffing this tea.

So if you have ever wanted a hongcha that tastes like a blend of chocolate, dried papayas, honey, rice milk, orange blossoms, oregano flowers, and sassafrass...then do I have the tea for you! There were so many notes, no taste staying for long, it is a frenetic dance in my mouth as it transitions from note to note. Poor Ben said there was so much going on that it was a little too much for his 'tea barbarian brain' (his wording, not mine) but for me it was perfection. The right amount of richness mixed with intense sweetness that sticks around for quite a while! I loved all the teas in this box, two of them absolutely HAVE to end up as permanent staples in my stash and the other two, well, I wouldn't be sad if I had them on hand at all times.

This tea was sent for review purposes by the company.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Quantitea: Genmaicha, A Tea Review

Well, I did it again, I switched to yet another modpack to play on. I kept getting irritated with ways other ones I was trying were setup, with either glaring omissions or if there was questing I found the way they were set up to be kinda awful. So after a bit of trial and error, I have found one that I am not aggravated with, the Awakening modpack. I can tell this is a good one because day two I found a charged creeper outside my door...I have no shame in admitting I immediately switched to creative and shoved it in a glass box to keep as a pet (I named it lightning bug) and I know this modpack has just random charged creepers, but in all my years of playing I have never seen a single charged creeper, so this totally made my day.

Do you have a tea that is like comfort food? Drinking it is the same as eating a plate of fried chicken and biscuits or a hearty soup? For all my talk of Oolongs and Hongchas being my go-to comfort tea, really the comfort tea for me is Genmaicha, mostly because years ago when I was recovering from surgery I pretty much lived on Genmaicha, my tetsubin was always full, so for a while when I was sick it is what I would drink. I have been out of it for a while weirdly enough, so when Quantitea's Genmaicha arrived I was super thrilled! The day I tasted it I woke up with a wicked sore throat (the first sign of that stupid flu I just recently got over) and thought it was a perfect day to open my package. The aroma of the dry tea is pretty fantastic, strong starchy toasted rice that is a blend of sweetness and savory, the usual sweetness of rice turned ever so savory when toasted. Of course there is the tea itself which gives notes of sea lettuce, kelp, celery, and a bit of nutty sesame seeds. Every time I sniff Genmaicha it makes me crave mochi, this time was no different.

The best part of Japanese green tea, of course, is using my Shiboridashi, which I did, my poor kyusu feels neglected I am sure. After steeping the aroma of the leaves and rice is super strong, lots of rice and sea air with an underlying nori and soybean note. It honestly reminds me a bit of a bowl of rice with a generous topping of furikake and I love it. The liquid is a blend of savory kelp and spinach with a sweet toasted rice and mochi note at the finish. Again it kinda reminds me of food, this time my favorite snack arare.

Really I think this is why Genmaicha is such a comfort tea, it tastes like food, and most the time when I feel ick the last thing I want to do is eat. It starts off with strong toasted rice notes, being both sweet and savory, like mochi but a bit nuttier. Then the green tea shows its strength, strong umami kelp and spinach with a touch of cut grass and broken vegetation. No bitterness at all, and a finish of sugarcane and sweet rice that lingers into the aftertaste. I went for a second steep, it was pretty much the same and quite solid, I find that Genmaicha (a good one, not a cheap grocery store one) can get you two solid steeps and at least one mild one before it is time to eat the leaves with a splash of ponzu.

This tea was sent for review purposes by the company.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Teapet Salon: Meowtopia, A Tea for Cats Review

Settling down into my chair after running errands, I feel a little paw patting on my arm. Looking down I see Espeon ever so politely asking (as least I assume that is what she is doing) if she can get into my lap, I move my arm and she hops in and settles down, happily purring. This is no different from any time I leave the room or house, or get out of my chair. Her favorite spot is in my lap.
This, of course, segues nicely into today's 'tea' possibly one of the hardest ones I have reviewed, Teapet Salon's Meowtopia, a tea blended specifically for cats. It blends catnip (obviously) with lemongrass, burdock root, echinacea, valerian, and a flavor blend for a cat safe and approved tea...now you can finally sit and have tea with your cat. Not that Espeon doesn't try to share my tea as it is, I catch her trying to fish tea leaves out of the trash and licking my tea tray all the time, so this tea made me excited, maybe with her own tea she would stop trying to steal mine! 

First off their packaging is super cool, the teabags' wrapper is excellent, and the fact they included a sticker and card, along with product information made my day since it really got to show off their creative art. It is the right kinda weird for me, especially the birthday card, the cat wrestling the carp is just fun, I almost want to frame it and put it next to my desk! But time to get to the point, this tea smells awful, like fishy bacon and apples with a hint of nip...I was grossed out, but Tao and Espeon started hovering around looking very interested in the teabag. Vigorous sniffing ensued.
Here is where it gets weird, I assumed that after steeping they would immediately pounce on the bowl, but no! Tao (who, granted is very finicky but is a hardcore nip addict) sniffed it and then tried to bury it (like she does with anything, she tries to mock bury my food if I leave it unattended if she is around) and Espeon who will eat garbage (no joke, had to take her the ER a few years ago because she swallowed a two foot silk cord...ughhh) sniffed it and walked away. So I tried leaving the bowl next to their water fountain (yes they have a fountain, they are super spoiled) with no luck, mixed it with their food and no luck. I was stumped!

Then the answer hit me with a wet foot the next morning. Espeon pulled the bag out of the garbage and played with it, batting it around and then, of course, leaving it in my path. She is so considerate. So I took one of the other bags out of its wrapper and just gave it to them to play with, Espeon batted it around and bunny-kicked it...Tao happily chewed on it and then fell asleep on top of it. It was the perfect toy for them, I am a little sad they were not interested in consuming it and having a tea party with me, but Espeon is often in my lap while I tea, and Tao is usually in her desk side basket close by, so it is not like I don't constantly have tea with my cats.

This tea was sent for review purposes by the company. Also Espeon would like me to stop typing and pet her.