60 Tasting Notes
Had to get up at 6:30 today, which is brutally early for me. That is why I made this tea “Tea Fairy” gaiwan style, meaning using a ton of leaf with 10 second brews. I think I’m starting to feel alive and I love this tea tastes very different and much fruitier than the way I normally make it which is more chocolatey. It tastes almost like a different tea. It is very strong this way but I sometimes enjoy a bit of astringency.
Tonight, me and my friends are having a surprise birthday party for my best friend. We are doing a potluck, decorations, and a painting/creative session. Normally, she hates birthday stuff but for some reason this year she wanted to do something special but both days (one with her boyfriend and one with her friends) she had stuff planned, it turned out to be a disaster so we are organizing tonight to make up for that. We are trying to do a lot of special little things for her today. A couple days ago, me and my really good friend decided to make special guayusas for her. She loves guyausa and strawberry and chocolate so both of us came up with special blends for her based on that. My friend made a Salted Chili Chocolate Strawberry Truffle and I did Espresso Cupcake with Strawberry Cream. We even put some really cute pics of us with her on the labels. Here are the pics if anyone is interested: http://i1094.photobucket.com/albums/i446/butikiteas/tea_zps574ae381.jpg. I’m crossing my fingers that tonight doesn’t turn out like her other 2 disaster days.
Whew, we are finally starting to dig ourselves out of all the backorders that have been piling up over the last month. We are down just to problem orders and should have everything out by Monday. I really just hate when we are behind, it adds this level of gnawing stress. I’m so relieved that it is almost over. Next week we are focusing on taxes and inventory but the following week I can’t wait for because that is when we start preparing and adding new teas to the website. We have about 20 new teas to be added over the next few months. The first one up will be Hello Sweetie since that has been getting a lot of requests to be put online. We have so many new flavor ideas. There are a number of new teas that are far along in the testing stage as well as some remakes of teas. Here is a sneak peak of a few flavors: Pecan Toffee, Mangoes & White Chocolate, Plum Brandy Cheesecake (to replace Plum Pudding), Exotic Chai, and Lemon French Macaron (custom blend contest winner). We have many other flavors too but those are top secret at the moment. We will be removing some other teas from the website as well. Recently, I’ve been thinking about removing Pumpkin Milkshake since that doesn’t seem to be receiving the best reviews.
It’s no secret that I am a big fan of Assams. We taste as many Assams as possible before deciding on a number of different Assams that have different flavor profiles. This is a second flush Assam and the reason that I fell in love with this one is the strong raw cacao notes. Mmmmmm. If you like dark, almost bitter chocolate, then this Assam is for you! It also has some oaky notes and the standard malty Assam notes. This tea is so chocolaty, that we must come up with a chocolate tea for it.
This week has been pretty busy for us. We just got back from vacation mid week which was really a work vacation and will start prepping for another office closure as we will probably be taking off for another 2 weeks in about two weeks but this time for a real vacation. Also, we received in a ton of tea, including many new teas. We are also changing up a few teas. Here is a sneak peek of just a few of the many changes:
Adding: Hattialli Golden Paw (very similar to our Hattialli Golden Lion)
Changing: Irish Cream Cheesecake. Based on the reviews, we are thinking the base is just wrong for the flavoring. We used our everyday Sourenee, which is very good but also very fickle. It can be pretty challenging to get that tea to its sweet spot and it can turn astringent if the water cools too much.
Changing: Sourenee. We are exchanging the current everyday Sourenee for a very high quality limited edition Sourenee.
Adding: Hello Sweetie. It’s coming soon but first we will be doing a promotion with it.
Changing: Da Yu Ling. We moved too slowly on the Da Yu Ling for the winter harvest but the Fu Shou Shan is a fantastic replacement!
Adding: A baked Ali Shan.
Mi Xian: Just a little warning. We are low on Mi Xian right now and will not be able to get more when we run out as it is scarce at the moment.
These are just a few additions and changes. There are many more to come and many more flavors in the works, including the Custom Blend Contest tea which is getting close to finishing the recipe. We will also be removing a few flavors and teas that just aren’t up to the standards of the rest of the teas. I would love to hear any suggestions from anyone who believes there is a tea that should be removed from our collection.
On to the tea! This harvest has a slightly deeper dark chocolate note. There really isn’t much difference from this harvest and the last harvest but the chocolate is stronger and the malt is slightly stronger. There are less stems, which is fantastic! The upgrade version on the other hand has some cherry notes that were not detectable in the previous version.
Happy New Year, everyone!
This morning, I was in pretty rough shape. Doing a little better now. Woke up completely stuffed up (the heater has been working overtime lately since it is super cold out and that has been angering my allergies). I’m also half tired, a little hung over, and my brain just doesn’t want to function properly. I decided I wanted to start off with a gentle tea and opted for this one. The honey notes are so soothing. Normally, I would go with a strong breakfast tea but I wanted a lot of flavor and complexity and a gentle alertness. I’m slowly starting to recover. I had such a wonderful night last night. Normally, we do huge parties at our house but since both my husband and I had been super busy lately we didn’t want the added stress of hosting a big party. Instead, we ended up visiting my best friend in Philly and had a small gathering of just 6. We played games, drank, and then went to the roof of a nearby building to watch fireworks. It was really nice. Here is a pic of me & the hubby on the roof (2 hoodies and a snowboarding jacket and of course, I was still cold): https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1428774404024535&set=a.1402962459939063.1073741830.100006759666084&type=1&theater
I have to go in to work today but I’m currently debating whether or not to visit a friend. They are hosting a Winter Classic party. It would be really nice to catch up with some friends and see the Winter Classic but they do have 2 newborn babies which I’m not sure if I can handle right now. I’m pretty content just chilling here in my jammies, catching up on the internet, and playing my new crystal singing bowl. My husband had ordered a singing bowl for me on behalf of his parents for Christmas but it didn’t make it here until yesterday. I have a singing bowl collection and this is my first crystal bowl. I love this bowl! There is just something magical about singing bowls.
We are finally down to the last 5 Black Friday orders! These are the last of the “problem orders” and special requests and they will be shipped out tomorrow. This Black Friday definitely went down quite differently than anticipated. I was thinking we might do 20% more in sales than last year’s Black Friday but instead we ended up doing 6 times that. In addition to the large number of orders, a lot of teas that usually aren’t ordered as much became the stars of the Black Friday sale, like our Oriental Beauty and Anji Bai Cha. This lead us to scramble to have teas shipped in from China and Taiwan and flavorings as well as other ingredients being special rushed to us. A lot of very late nights were put in by all, including my 70+ year old mother-in-law who was frequently staying until 2 or 3 am to work. She only normally puts in a few hours a day but she was really amazing during the rush. She also wants everyone to know that a lot of love went into the teas that she made. Working with her is a lot of fun. She’s a retired chemist, so she loves making the teas. I’m trying to convince her to come up with her own special blend. We all felt bad that a lot of orders were really delayed. I’m hoping that most orders make it to people in time for Christmas (or whatever holiday is celebrated, whether it be Christmas or Yule or Kwanzaa, at that point there was no way we were getting orders out in time for Hanukkah though).
During our Black Friday sale, we ended up running out of our current Irish Breakfast. I had seriously underestimated the amount of Hattialli we would need for the year, so unfortunately, that version won’t be coming back until the summer. For this new blend, we started with maybe 17 different combinations. We just tried the final 3 and I think we have a winner. Here is a pic of the final 3: http://instagram.com/p/iKQszalfDg/#. The Dinjoye Assam is the most prominently featured tea with the Khongea Assam just behind it and then our organic Ceylon from the Venture estate. This tea can be really strong, depending on how its brewed. I’m enjoying it slightly less strong by using 1 ½ teaspoons of tea for 3minutes in boiling water. At this level, I’m getting a heavy malty flavor that leaves a tingle on the tongue without being astringent. There are burned chocolate notes up front but a citrusy finish. Some bread notes are present. The citrus is somewhat like bergamot. This is very enjoyable, especially piping hot. It’s not overly complex but a great breakfast tea.
The following is a shameless plug. Sorry guys! I was lucky enough to be involved with 130 other artists (though I don’t consider myself an artist) in essentially a large complicated game of “telephone”. Basically, there are artists that work in different mediums (for instance, dance, painting, music, poetry, photography, film, etc). Each artist is given a piece of art and asked to interpret its soul in their art medium. So, I was given a painting and asked to make a tea based on the soul of that painting. Well, I did and that tea is “With Open Eyes”. That tea was then given to Wes Craven (how crazy is that) to create a character/plot. Here is a link for more info: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/consenses. We are used in the example, so its ok for me to mention it. You can see the painting that inspired it. Sally Taylor is the artists who ran with this amazing idea and she is just super sweet. They are looking for funding. Please check it out if you can, share it, and donate if possible. This is just such a super cool project and I really can’t wait to see the final result.
This week is really chaotic. I’m taking a nice break now to enjoy this phenomenal tea. I love it so much! I’m not sure how well it will be received, maybe it’s just me that loves it but I really feel like both Kenya and India have just been producing some amazing white teas lately. I’m not really a white tea drinker. I usually only have white tea when friends are over and I can brew it in a nice glass vessel of some kind, often when we are playing poker. Our poker friends really love our White Whisper and it gives a nice little buzz when we are up all night playing cards. This tea is just different. While it’s still on the lighter side, it has really rich and sweet caramel notes. It also has some malt, sweet potato and the standard white hay notes. I prefer to brew this one with boiling water since it adds to the malt flavor. Overleafing can cover some of the rich caramel so I tend to measure this one out. This has now become my go to tea. I’m starting to reach for it a little more than the Premium Taiwanese Assam though I think they are fairly equally yummy but in different ways. This tea is a substitute for our Royal Golden Safari, even though that is a black tea. Unfortunately, our photo for this tea is too dark, it really is more golden in color but unfortunately our camera broke and we are waiting on some parts. So in order to get this up in time for the sale I had to use my cell phone. Terrible, I know.
Blarg, I’m noticing my writing skills have gone way down since I’ve only had 4 hours of sleep. Tonight will be nice since its date night. The hubby and I will be enjoying Thanksgiving leftovers and binge watching all the shows we put off since we have both been so busy with work. I think we have multiple Ultimate Fighters, Walking Dead, Marvel, and maybe 1 American Horror Story. Lately, I feel like watching Walking Dead is more of a chore. I think after season 1, I just never enjoy watching it but I keep watching it to see if it gets better. The hubby still loves it though. The whole farm season was pretty awful in my opinion.
Just taking a minute to relax before I plunge back into the craziness of Black Friday. This morning I had to go to get blood work done for my annual physical. I’m so glad I finally got that done because I dread it for months before I go. One time I went to have blood drawn and it was such a horrific experience which left me covered in bruises and a little mentally scarred. Because of that I now can pass out while having blood drawn, so I have to wait for a special recliner and an experienced lab person. Luckily, I did not pass out this time. Yay! No cold sweat either. Only had my heart rate elevated just a little and a bit of fast nervous talking. Go me.
This Black Friday sale is insane! At this level we may surpass last year’s sales in a few hours, and we still have more than 3 days left. We have already run out of Vanilla Carrot Cake and there are a few other teas that are in danger of running out. I love the insanity of these 4 days and at the same time, I’m a little terrified that we will have all sorts of issues of running out of teas and whatnot.
I love this tea! If I could drink only one tea for the rest of my life, this would be it. The caramel and cocoa notes are just perfect right now and since I brewed it a little extra strong, the maltiness is coming out nicely. Yum. Perfect tea for my mood right now. Next I think I’m going for the White Rhino. That is just a real caramel-y tea.
So, I’m sitting here working and watching Sherlock (ok so maybe I wasn’t working that hard) while drinking a lovely cup of The Black Lotus when all of the sudden they mention that a gang is called The Black Lotus. What a random coincidence. I definitely didn’t name this tea with the show in mind but that is kind of cool. The name of the tea is a nod to one of my husband’s hobbies, Magic: The Gathering. The most prized card in that game is the black lotus card, so I thought it would be fun to name this tea that. It is very much suiting my mood at the moment with the fantastic mushroomy earthiness and chocolate, caramel, and citrus notes. Yums!
We are shaking things up a bit over here. Moving out some old teas, preparing for some new ones. I love changing things up and constantly looking for higher quality and making more interesting flavors. There is no room for average teas. So, we just finished off our Classic Earl Grey, Organic Imperial Gunpowder, and Birthday Cake (we are reworking this one with a different base tea) and there are a few other teas that are set to be removed once the current batch is finished.
Btw, if you haven’t voted yet for your favorite custom blend in our contest, please do. It will help someone create their dream tea blend. Also, we super appreciative of any sharing of our contest on social media sites. Here is the link: www.butikiteas.com/Contest.html
Taking a little break right now, enjoying a cup of this watching Gary Numan live! https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=uzLe-ufp_Zw#t=112. I haven’t listened to Gary Numan in a while and I’ve been meaning to pick up his latest album. Maybe I will peruse Amazon and pick it up. Most bands seem to turn out less awesome music with age but he is just awesome. The tea goes well with the video.
I must say there is definitely a sweet spot with this tea. There is a point between floral (too diluted) and astringent (too strong) that is just absolutely perfect. At that point, wonderful notes of Brazil nuts, burned chocolate, wood, and earth are present. It makes an excellent substitute for my beloved PTA but it does take more work to get it to its ideal point. Out of all the Darjeelings I tasted this year, this was certainly the most unique. While, still a high graded tea this was one of the cheaper teas at the estate but I just felt like it had the most flavor and it is an excellent value. Right now it is on sale for $3.75 an ounce.