676 Tasting Notes
HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!!!
I’m one of those people who spend New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day by myself. I’m probably not the only one…and after years and years, I don’t feel sorry for myself about it.
There was a time when I was forced to be around New Years events that I didn’t want to be around…and I ended up afraid of what could happen to me at the hand of an abusive person.
I’m so thankful in my present life to be safe!
Tonight I put on good music, made some dip and crackers…had a really good dinner too. Worked on my Pinterest Boards.
Now, here we are together…you, my friends on Steepster.
It’s just us with some tea.
If you’re alone like me…make some tea and I’ll tell you how this tea made me feel…how it took me back to another December.
Silicon Valley is a new title for the Valley I grew up in.
Once it was known as the ‘Prune Capitol of the World’ not the center of technology.
On one side of the Valley are the small Coast Range Mountains and then the Pacific Ocean.
At Christmas, my children Aaron, Annalisa and I would bundle up and head up narrow Black Road…winding our way through Ponderosa Pine and Redwood Forests..up, up through mountain mists until we reached our favorite tree farm.
The dirt entry off the paved road was perched above the tree farm. As we looked below us, we could see a low ranch house and a big rustic woodshed decorated with Christmas lights, candy canes and stars. A woodfire billowed sweet smelling smoke into the cold, damp air. A hidden machine blew bubbles like snow high into the sky. It was magical!
When we arrived a rotund, aproned Mrs.Claus greated us with laughter, hot cider and ginger cookies…then gave us instructions on how to cut our tree to protect the trunk for regrowth.
We tumbled laughing and yelling through rows and rows of fragrant trees, letting the branches swipe across our faces…rushing off here and there to be first to find the perfect tree.
Such delightful joy!
I often think that this was one of those moments that God allowed me to be a child…as it does now in the retelling of the story.
When I prepared this tea…the use of real Ponderosa Pine with ‘mild’ Yabao in the blend, transported me back those 30 years.
I could smell the sweet, fresh cut fir tree and the sap. It’s a sweet smell. Then, brown sugar, graham cracker…nutmeg and ginger.
Spot-on this tea takes me deep into the WINTER FOREST.
I’m a lover of raw innovation…bold creativity and high standards in blends. No spay-tan flavors to make-a-buck pseudo-tea for me.
One of the memories that lasts throughout your life is scent and taste. Cool isn’t it. All the tea will associate with places and people…woods and trees, love and celebrations.
Evergreen Spice allowed me to become myself 30 years ago with my young children in the Coastal Mountains cutting down a Christmas Tree with the scent of Redwoods and Pine. Spiced Cider and cookies…
How glorious is that!
Blessed 2014 to you all my beloved friends!
A note: Not a critic of real sugar here but I have a critical note for once below:
(No artificial sweetener…none…nada…it changes the yabao into soap so don’t please.)
(Yikes this is review 666 on New Years Eve…good thing that I have no fear! It’s funny!)
My granddaughter Schey is truly one of those special people (like MOST of you here on Steepster) with a giving heart…full of kindness and love. She loves me not in words, but with her time.
Nobody spends time with me other than her.
One of these days, she’ll be swept off her feet by someone that I know won’t be quite worthy of her…but that’s another story.
In the meantime, we have tea together, she calls me often…and yesterday she came over to bake with me.
Last year I decorated my home for Christmas and nobody came over. I felt bad. (This is something that happens to people when they get old) Young people are busy…(I know this) but it’s a hard reality to sit alone in a beautifully decorated room with your tea. Sigh…
I’ve learned to dig deeper into my heart this year. The source of my being happy is no longer dependent on having people around me, even though I do like it when I have a visit or when I go out to tea.
Schey is allergic to regular ‘Black Tea’. It makes her weep and she gets depressed and moody rather quickly. I’ve never seen anything like it. Puerh, green tea and oolong’s are all fine. I know the reason (too long to explain here).
When Schey arrived for our holiday baking, Pandora was set with classic crooners…Bing Crosby, Michael Buble, Nat King Cole…all the old tunes we could sing along ‘loudly’ in the kitchen. http://youtu.be/_ONkQD1uxkY
We made a double recipe of spice cake (grinding the spices ourselves) and then peanut butter chocolate fudge. http://flic.kr/p/ipxxdi
While the cakes were baking, we sat next to my Christmas tree and watched two recorded epidodes of Once-Upon-A-Time. http://flic.kr/p/ipwDAn
I made a combo tea: Peppermint Bark Herbal and loose Shu Puerh in a large pot.
I know this might sound strange to some people…but most chai’s and herbal blends taste great with loose puerh, especially with cream and honey or sugar. (This tea can be rebrewed once or twice)
The flavor of mint and spice with the puerh I chose (this one was mild) was festive. Perfect pairing for our afternoon! I brewed the tea 3 minutes…longish-yes…but I didn’t add lots of puerh, and the Herbal needs time to release (not the 1 minute suggested by Verdant).
Crafting a latte binds the herbal blend and puerh together into a rich, smooth holiday drink.
I took a picture of Schey. Her peanut butter chocolate dessert was going to both the servers at Happy Lucky’s Tea House and employees at the local Grocery Store. My cake is for tea with my 3 year old grandson’s.
Don’t you think that best memories we have are doing things with other people? This usually doesn’t cost much money, but takes some of our time.
Don’t forget to take pictures over the holidays. (So many people forget to record time with people they love and time is short!)
Wish I could bake together and have tea with all of you!
Tea Review: This is a day of Memorial and Celebration for many people around the World. I was up early, before dawn.
It’s not odd to drink a wonderfully light and celebratory tea to toast a great Grandfather of us all. I wrote much about my own feelings on my blog and if you like, you can read it beginning below.
This blend takes the Yabao that many have tried already and adds Holiday magic to zing it up!
In classic (now after several years I can say ‘classic’) Verdant fashion, the ingredients are blended in such a manor that no one ingredient screams out ‘Ginger’ or ‘Coriander’ or Birch Bark’.
If anything, there is a softness that I amped up a little by steeping longer than the recommended 1 minute.
Yabao tastes like light nutmeg to me. (It tastes like cardamom to David Duckler but what does he know, he’s a young man!)
Yes this is very ‘snickerdoodle’. BEWARE… our tastebuds are on overkill with cinnamon, peppermint and strongish flavors this time of year (love the goodies).
Yabao Snickerdoodle is light on the palate. I HIGHLY suggest adding sugar or mild honey to your tea (as well as steeping longer, and please don’t underleaf…LISTEN to GRANDMA!).
I would say (am saying) that I sipped a grand white wine or two in my day that were in the same league with this tea. Nutmeg, vanilla and ginger… sparkling sweet and delicious. (Murphy’s California)
Cheers to Mandeba!
I woke long before dawn to watch the news feed from South Africa this morning.
It is the day of Memorial for Nelson Mandela.
What shall I say? Some of you are not going to like what I say…
I warn you…
Yesterday, I tried to explain to my granddaughter Schey what it was like during the days of Apartheid and Civil Rights.
It’s not easy for young people to understand what it was like in the 1960′s-1980′s but I’ll keep on telling my grandmother stories no matter what.
As an interracial couple with two young children in the 1960′s and 1970′s, life for my husband and I was often dangerous. I worked in Civil Rights for many years in local projects, then as a Vista Volunteer in Washington D.C. and Philadelphia.
I was living in the Nation’s Capitol when both Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were killed. Riots followed.
Shortly after the riots, my husband and most of the young Black men in the area were drafted. (This was during the Viet Nam War)
It was too dangerous, the Army said, for me to go ‘Down South’ with my husband because of the Klu Klux Klan, so I flew home to California until he was transfered a year later to Texas. (A Hard Place in 1970).
…the rest is on my blog…
Thank you Angel and Teavivre for this sample tea!
The Snow Queen has stretched her Wintry White Robe across most of North America.
Most of us Steepsterites hunker down with copious amounts of tea, hoping to melt the chill from her icy fingers. Burr!
I’ve been drinking Chai, Black Tea and Puerh by the buckets-full! My own additions of cinnamon or ginger to the Puerh warm me head to toe in no time.
Now and then, a reminder of Spring gladdens my heart, and it’s tea that’s able to take me to that golden, glowing place in no time.
While I prefer dark, roasty Oolongs that are cinder-fired and tightly rolled…I love those rare, buttery, floral/savory Oolongs that remind me of the awakening Earth in Spring.
Li Shan is such an Oolong.
Buttery and thickening as it cools, sweet, slightly floral and savory.
I’m not very fond of light Oolongs, but this is perfectly delicious. Not too light and or strong but just right with an aroma sweet enough to make you hunger for vanilla cake.
Winter may be upon us now, but we can remember warm, golden-hued Spring now, thanks to such a tea as this one.
Beethoven’s 6th Symphony http://youtu.be/34dU9RSWf28
Thank you Angrboda for this sample tea!
The Arctic wind swept down through the Rocky Mountains yesterday afternoon…whoosh!
I stepped out of my Tea Shop, driving 3 miles home…just as the first snowkles began to fall. Perfect timing!
On went the Christmas lights and a movie! http://flic.kr/p/dEPKHb
I was waiting for a proper snow day to kick back and drink tea while watching the Wintry Wonderland through my large picture window.
This morning, I woke up early…wrapped myself in a fuzzy pink robe and poked my head through the curtains to view the pristine white blanket of snow over everything. Top to bottom white!
I don’t need to leave home for days. With temperatures predicted to be in the teens and and minus zero, I’ll stay home!
Comfort and Joy!
Lapsang Souchong fits the scene…Christmas lights on the tree, wreath over the fireplace, teapots out on display. http://flic.kr/p/dETRv6
I’m a Lapsang Souchong when-the-mood-is-right sort of person. I cook with LS often but drink it on rarely.
I have to say that this TEA is semi-mild and entirely smooth.
Very smooth actually!
It’s not boring or flat. Sometimes I think lapsang souchongs are toned down and become boring as though someone sprinkled a little smoke on an average black tea. That isn’t the case here.
Rich, smooth with a hint of citrus…no sooty aftertaste or bitterness a very good drinkable tea.
Had a mug with cream and sugar…loved the flavor…um. Sweet with a smoky hint of saltiness.
The Arctic Blast is rolling across North America, heading East…and if you can grab some Lapsang Souchong…take a break and look out the window at the splendor of Winter, keeping warm with a friendly cup of smoky tea!
Thank you Teavivre for this tea sample!
Almost every evening, the sky at the end of my street where the plains meet the bottom of the Rocky Mountains turns radiant! I wander outside regularly with my camera to capture the Cathedral-like stained-glass window array of colors.
Cold winds tumble and dip down to 5000 ft. creating odd shaped clouds that can hover all day in one spot. They catch the setting sun appearing to be an alien spaceship or flat pancakes.
Of all the places I’ve been (Alaska, Greece, Italy, California, Peru and so on) these sky-scapes are the best!
I drank a little tea…this one in particular…and enjoyed the menthol coolness of the leaves when I put my nose close to the gaiwan after a 2 minute steep.
I tasted sweet corn.
Then cool airy menthol with the corn which was refreshing.
The fragrance was floral and corn which I didn’t taste up front, but on my palate as an aftertaste with slight bitterness (not unpleasant), reminding me of lilies.
The term moderately-roasted shouldn’t scare off those who don’t like roasty tea’s. There’s nothing ‘roasty’ tasting about this tea!
What the roast does is bring this Oolong out of the ‘very floral’ tasting Oolong variety but stopping before becoming roasty. (My opinion)
I wouldn’t steep this a long time. 2 minutes after a rinse was very good to my taste.
The reason I wrote about the sky in my neighborhood and this tea is this: When I drink tea, it always makes me a better person in some way if I let it do so.
Before I began drinking tea, I never carried a camera or went out of my way to notice how beautiful nature was unless on vacation.
Tea put my life in the present moment where I have the opportunity to notice what’s around me. Now I notice the sky and so much more!
Thank you Brenden for this sample tea!
I prepared this tea as Brenden recommended using 1 TB in a Gaiwan. The steep time was what I’d call immediate. Glad I had a nice little strainer to catch the pine needles that tried to escape.
There wasn’t a mention of what the green tea was, but when I tasted the tea, my mouth told my brain that the pine and tea was similar to the taste of a very good jasmine silver needle.
I’ve tasted some rather dull silver needles that have a dusky, murky flavor and that isn’t what this was.
You can almost sense a light effervescence.
There’s always something mesmerizing about this type of tea that takes me back to my childhood camping trips.
We camped less than two hours from home along the California Coast at Big Sur State Park http://www.bigsurcalifornia.org/images2/McWayFalls1.jpg . There were streams to swim and fish with huge boulders and deep pools of clear water which smelled fresh. This water, pine and rock scent is what I associate with tea like Sleeping Bear Blend.
The Ponderosa Pine, Redwood trees, Cypress and Oak created an earthy perfume that I associate with Puerh. Campfires at night, bacon and eggs over the woodfire in the morning…that’s my Lapsang Souchong tea frame of reference.
So much about drinking tea is also about memories and about how the tea makes you feel as a whole person.
I shared some of this tea in a tasting with my friend Eric the scientist (who likes to take tea into the mountains to drink when the weather is nice).
He loved it.
Thought the use of pine needles was brilliant.
This approval came from a plant nerd and is high praise indeed. (Eric likes to nibble plants that only he can identify while walking through the forest)
Lovely tea Brenden!
Thank you Angel and Teavivre for this Sample Tea!
I have simpathy for those of you getting ready for Thanksgiving with the latest Winter storm ready to hit. Freezing rain and/or snow!
The West (and Mountains where I am) has had the storm pass by already. Finally we’re coming out of sub-zero temperatures.
What we all have in common, even those who are in the cold Canadian Winter and those of you in Europe…is the comforting glow of a cup of tea which warms us from head to toe.
This Thanksgiving I’ll be with my daughter, son-in-law and 10 children. (One 2 year old is a short stay foster toddler. Another has been with them almost from birth (about a year). The third is three and awaiting adoption into their forever family of 3 bio and 4 adopted children). Grandma Bonnie will be busy in the noisy mix on the farm this Thursday.
Granddaugher Kiah (16) will be butchering the turkey and several chickens. She’s done this before.(sorry vegans, but this is the way this family feeds their brood by raising their own food!)
I’ve been reading my family history. We go back to the Massachusetts Bay Colony…all the way back to those early Pilgrims. My daughter Annalisa laughs…“The African American part of me came over on a slave ship and cooked turkey for others. The British part arrived on a ship as a Pilgrim and my husband (who is part Native American) shared turkey with my Pilgrim ancestors. So there you go,Thanksgiving!”
Whatever our background and story, we can be thankful for many things. I am thankful for my Steepster friends for sure! I’m thankful for so many blessings…too many to count!
This morning, I made a spaghetti squash crusted deep dish pizza with feta and spinich. While it was baking, I made some Taiwanese Osmanthus Oolong Tea.
The instructions say ‘steep 3-8 minutes’. That’s quite a long time! I chose 6 minutes, poured the whole packet of leaves into my larger gaiwan…then added boiling water.
The aroma that wafted up was lovely floral, slightly vegetal…but tasted too strong. 6 minutes was almost bitter, sweet but too much.
The second steep, at 45 seconds, was perfect. Light, sweet with the aroma of sugar cookies. Osmanthus can smell a bit like vanilla.
The Oolong isn’t very vegetal and reminded me of taking a nibble off a skinny stalk of young, fresh uncooked asparagus. (I detected a hint of butter)
Many steepsters love a sweet tea and wouldn’t dream of not adding sugar or sweetener. Adding a little here (just a little) works well.
My favorite time to drink a tea like this one would be when the first bulbs in Spring are coming up, and the ethereal glow of warm sunshine begins to melt the frost. Hope in a cup!
Blessings to everyone this Thanksgiving and to those who are not in this land, Blessings always!
Thanks to Angrboda for this sample tea!
This is the first tea from Tanzania that I’ve ever tasted! The guys and I at the tea shop have been sampling tea’s off and on from Kenya and now Uganda as these tea’s become more available and are increasingly better tasting!
Anyway, this Tanzanian tea was interesting because it isn’t a CTC. (You would typically see a CTC exported to the U.S. as a first offering.)
The tea isn’t very good though. The taste is similar to a low grade CTC. I hope that with time the tea will improve as farmers fine-tune their growing methods.
Wonderful things have been happening with these small tea farms and the benefit to the farmers and tea drinkers like us is mutual.
We can be responsible tea drinkers by drinking tea from poorer area’s of the World.
(End of sermon… kumbaya)
Thanks to Angrboda for this sample!
Up until now, the Golden Monkey tea’s that I’ve tried have been disappointing. Somewhat average tea’s that are malty but lacking the cocoa taste that I can easily get with other Fujian Black tea’s.
Although Angrboda commented that the aroma wasn’t very fragrant, my less than petite nose perked up right away. I noticed more than cocoa coming from the dry leaves. There was a sweet brown sugar candy scent that smelled delightful (like walking into an old fashioned candy store).
Prior tastings of ‘other’ Golden Monkey tea’s left me with the rather odd aftertaste of super dark baking molasses.
This Jenier Fujian tea was mild light brown sugar, cocoa and caramel. Smooth, gentle and with enough body for adding milk.
I can see why this tea is a favorite of Angrboda on a cold day in Denmark!