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Recent Tasting Notes
What an interesting few days!
Sunday I had my final baby shower. We also got hit with quite the snow storm. Like to the point where I couldn’t get the car out of the driveway.
Then Monday… well the greatest and craziest thing happened. I had my little boy!
Monday went by like any other day. I hung out… went for dinner with my dad and just as I was about to go to bed that night, I started to get some weird symptoms. Come to find out my water was starting to break but I wasn’t sure if that’s what was happening for sure or not. Anyways I eventually decided to go to the hospital to get checked out and I went from 2cm to 8cm in an hr. Our little guy was born about 3hrs after I got to the hospital. It was the fastest delivery of a first baby ever! Born at 35.5weeks. Isaac William James is 4lbs 11oz. 19" long.
Only problem is his lungs aren’t quite right yet. He’s on a ventilator right now and we’re hoping and praying that’ll change soon. He’s slowly getting there but it’s taking a while. I’m hoping he can stay breathing on his own fully soon.
Alright onto the tea. This is the one they have ay the hospital and honestly it’s not too bad. I’ve loaded the cups up with milk and sugar and there has been something so comforting about it. Maybe it’s cause it’s the only tea I have on hand but it’s been great to have. I’m so thankful for it today and yesterday. I’m slowly getting anxious for loose leaf again but honestly it doesn’t matter. Thinking about tea is just my distraction for worrying. I know the little guy should be fine but I’m really having my moments. And it’s hard not getting to hold him. I’ve only held him once and it wasn’t long enough. And I was in such shock from giving birth that it feels like a dream instead of reality. Hoping today I’ll hold him again.
Wow I’m really using this tasting note to voice all my thoughts and fears. .. haven’t really voiced all this yet. It’s kinda nice to get it out.
I enjoyed a cup of this tea on the flight home from my brother’s wedding in New Orleans. The wedding was great, and I especially enjoyed reconnecting with family I haven’t seen in a decade. We flew back safely on Saturday afternoon before Hurricane Sandy hit. Thank goodness we didn’t stick around all weekend for Voodoo Fest or we might not have been able to get home at all! Luck was on our side.
But man, the weather was cold that last day in New Orleans! It was supposed to be sunny and 84 every day we were there. Then on Friday evening, we walked outside and the temperature had dropped about 20 degrees in 10 minutes. Yikes! I don’t think people had turned the a/c off yet either, so we pretty much froze everywhere we went.
The plane ride home was especially cold, so I asked for a cup of hot tea. They served me this Mother Parker’s Orange Pekoe. It wasn’t the best cup of tea I’ve ever had, but it was hot and tasted like tea, so it met my expectations. :) I’d rank it somewhere in between Lipton and Twining’s. Not bad stuff!
I know many of you will not drink any cup prepared with a tea bag. That’s fine. I have a few I still enjoy but mainly I have them in iced tea at my parents, or at a restaurant. This one I drink hot. It has far more depth than expected from a cheapster. Today this had a light smokiness that melted into very floral and fruity notes. I checked the wrapper to make sure it wasn’t an oolong. Honestly this CTC in a paper bag impresses me more than the high dollar loose leaf Darjeeling I had yesterday.
As you may have noticed I am definitely not a tea snob. I enjoy a bagged tea from time to time. Today was experimental day. I have a bag that I brought home with me. A thought occurred to me that part of the reason I enjoy this one is the water. The restaurant is one block away from where I used to work. The tap water made awesome tea. Our county water is pumped out of the ground right next to the city water pumps. Basically it starts out the same and goes to two different filtration plants. Our county water does not make awesome tea. It has to be filtered to remove the chlorine stench.
There is no chance of making a short story out of this now. So I brew my cup at home. Wait for it to cool. Yeah, most of the flavor elements are there but muffled and twisted more earthy than the lightly smoked leather I get in town. I’ve tried bottled water and it does not seem to help. I may have to start filling up a five gallon bucket once a week in town. I’ve done crazier things. The weird thing is Denney’s is next door to Steak N Shake and our Denney’s tea (Lipton) tastes like fish. Gross as it sounds. Yeah, I don’t go there any more.
My back is better but not great. I took my guitar Sunday (just in case). I had no intention of playing until the Pastor told me the keys player wasn’t going to make it. So I played. It hurt. The third song was a fast and rowdy song where the beat is like galloping on a horse. If you haven’t heard Stand Up Stand For Jesus done that way – you should. I made it through but was out of breath. I am on portable oxygen for those who don’t know. The next song is a beautiful slow song (Your Beloved) where I make my electric guitar sound like an acoustic. I thought no problem. Wrong. I could not catch my breath but made it through. Fortunately, the lead singer had plenty to say before the last song. Back when I took guitar lessons, my instructor and I made up an arrangement to Holy Holy Holy. It’s not Led Zeppelin but it is a lot closer to it than my mom’s version of this song. I made it but it took all day to recover. Next time I do something stupid like that (because I will), I’m loading up on painkillers first.
Like many of you, we have been in the deep freeze this week. This morning the sun was shining and we ventured out for breakfast anyway just to blow the stink off from being cooped up ;) Anyway they were really busy. The manager brought my tea. Typical restaurant version – kind of steaming water in a metal pitcher, a cold cup and a tea bag. Some assembly required. Tea was good but not like usual.
A friend happened in at the same time and I asked him to join us. His 90+ mom was in the hospital and is now back at the nursing home. She has given up. My friend is coming to terms. He has been her care giver for as long as I have known him. He is a good man and a great son. It was sad talking with him but glad I could be an ear today.
The server who loves tea was working the other side of the room. My wife took her the chai I had sacked up for her. She told my wife she starts chemo tomorrow. It brought a flood of thoughts as we just lost my sister-in-law right before Thanksgiving. The server told my wife, so far the jasmine pearls are still her favorite. I don’t know if chemo and caffeine are OK so I may need to hold off any more sacks for a while.
Had a second cup of tea and gave thanks that today we are doing well.
My weekly update: I was so excited to play with my new (used) teapot I almost forgot to share about this one. The tea loving server saw us coming in this morning and begged the others to let her wait on us. Yeah – cause that means way better prepared tea. And a new tea bag with each cup. What a novel idea.
This week I took her a baggie of Teavivre’s Yunnan Dian Hong Golden Tips and a sample bag of Teavivre Jasmine Dragon Pearls. The pearls were harder to give away because I don’t know if I have any more at the moment. I told her these blow the ones I previously gave her out of the water.
I asked her if she was steeping the teas more than once. She said, “Are you kidding me, I’m steeping them until they have nothing left to give.” Awesome. She told me she pulled the teas out at her book club and shared with ‘the girls’. They loved them – dragon well was the favorite. As you can tell, I’m loving this.
I asked if she was willing to try pu-erh. She did not know what it was. I told her it smelled like a horse barn and tasted like leather. Her eyes lit up. Now I have to go through the drawer and figure out which one I have is the best example of what I just told her.
Tune in next week, same bat time, same bat channel.
My Saturday morning restaurant tea. It is pretty funny right now watching the guy server trying to butter up to me because I gave tea to the lady server. He is trying. It is kind of like an agnostic trying to talk Bible with a believer. He doesn’t really ‘get’ the connection. I’m working on him. I think I’ll take some Candy Cane Lane and Sugar Cookie for him to try. He isn’t ready for meat. Right now, he sort of heats the cup but the water is already cooling by the time he gets to the table. Still a pleasant tea for cheap bagged stuff.
Total Tea Girl – the lady server – was swamped but we talked as she ran past the table. She wasn’t feeling well so kind of glad she kept her distance. ;) First time she ran past she said, I just have to say I have been enjoying some amazing teas all week. Specifically she mentioned the Dragon Pearls. The one’s I gave her are good but no where near as good as the Teavivre Premium. I’ll dig through my stash and find her the good stuff.
She also mentioned the Nina’s Earl Grey. She said it was amazing. Her roommate could smell it across the room and asked what she was drinking – nothing, move along nothing to see here. This is not the tea you are looking for. (I sense a disturbance in the force from a pilfering roomie – just guessing)
Talking about all of the teas, and especially some of the green’s (dragon well for one), she commented on how clean and crisp they were. This comment made me very happy.
She told me she lived in China for a while and has been asked to return as an English teacher. Can’t wait to discuss this more in depth with her.
I promised her some lapsang souchong next time, which she has never heard of, and I think she needs to experience golden tips. It was a game changer for me. I’m debating on pu-erh. Ashmanra has much success with it. Since I can’t control the pot, I’m not sure about it yet.
Remember me telling you about the ‘total tea girl’ server at our Saturday breakfast? As I crossed the river this morning, I remembered I did not pack tea as I promised. D’oh! Anyway our server today (a guy) brought my extremely preheated mug and a pot of already brewing tea to my table. I told him I was impressed. As he walked away I said to my wife, Steph must be rubbing off on the other servers. I took a sip and went Mmmmmm. Later total tea girl stopped by the table, I mentioned the morning cup. She told me when she saw us come in she started heating the mug. She added the other server asked her how come she made better tips than him. She told him it is because she goes the extra mile. When the guy came back to check on us, I explained to him how it really did make a difference. Progress has been made. Let’s see if it sticks. Now I need to pack up some teas and set it with the Saturday coupons. For cheap tea, when prepared going the extra mile, this stuff is pretty darn tasty.
Our usual tradition is to go out for breakfast on Saturdays. Always the same place where I always order hot tea. Because of my wife’s craft shows we haven’t gone for a month. I was happy to see our server today is the same that told me she was a total tea fan girl. When I ordered she warned, “You know it will take a while because I have to warm up the mug.” When she brought it out the tea was already in the steaming mug and she placed a saucer on top as a lid after setting it down. Awesome. I told her how cool it was to be served by someone who ‘gets it’. She was busy so I waited for a slow moment and asked if she ever drank loose leaf. She does. I told her I would bring her a thank you package next time. She said her favorite is chai but she would try about anything. I might still have some white chai. That made her eyes light up. Now if she can just get the other servers trained in the ways of tea, this corner of the world will be better for it.
Even lowly tea-bag tea actually can be pretty decent if prepared correctly especially when served with a meal.
Got up made my green tea milk drink and some toast. Started out the door to take Spike to the vet. My son popped in as we opened the door. The 3 of us plus the dog piled into my cruiser and headed out. After dropping the dog off and a quick stop at Wallyworld, they wanted breakfast. Sigh. I really am trying to watch what I eat. So Steak and Shake here we come. I ordered hot tea. The server brought my cup full of steaming water, the silver metal pitcher of water with the bag in it, and a Styrofoam cup. At first my thought was, you are going to get in trouble when they find out you are the one staining the pitchers. She said she likes to heat her tea cup and that I could pour the water into the extra cup. Neat. It really did make the tea fruitier. For a tea bag it is pretty good anyway. She said she was a total tea girl. A moment of conversation and I realized she meant she drank a lot of tea bag tea. Still, she was correct on this one. I may have to sack up a few loose leaf samples and help her expand her horizons.
I have reviewed this cheapster steepster many times. Today’s experience was interesting. I caught hints of leather. I have no idea what was different. Nothing on my end that I am aware. No matters, I enjoyed 1 1/2 cups. The waitress was talking with my wife and kind of poured decaf into my first cup. She was embarrassed. I was amused. It made my morning seeing how quickly she scrambled to get another cup on the table.
It is really warm today for the middle of February – but we kind of earned it this winter. I wanted a green tea frap but the wife wanted breakfast. This is the bagged tea at the restaurant. Normally I really like it, good taste and decent depth for what it is, but today I must have gotten the bottom of the box. Pretty much tasted like cardboard. Oh well, the biscuit was good.
The gloom and doom forecast was four to six inches of white stuff. Instead we woke to a light rain. For fear that it could all ice over tonight we decided to head out in the rain for breakfast and mostly for our sanity.
The first cup was meh. About what you expect from bagged tea in a restaurant. The problem is the water. I asked Andy our waiter why the water was sometimes only warm. He said it depends on how many pots of coffee they made – as in the water is just being used to quickly to get hot. He promised the next silver tea pot would be hot. It was, and the second cup was once again the delight I expect.
I have praised this simple bagged tea many times. Today is not one of those times. The waitress brought me the little silver pitcher and I noticed the water took its time turning dark. I picked up the cup and tasted. It was lukewarm and tasted like bland nothingness. Asking for a new pitcher, thinking she had gotten distracted on the first, the second cup was no better. I started to ask for a third, telling her someone may have turned off the hot water dispenser.
“Oh, the machine is broke, that water is just hot out of the tap. I guess I should have told you.”
Do you think?
Anyway, this makes my point. Bagged tea too often gets a bad wrap it does not deserve. Is it as good as loose leaf? No, but many bagged teas are quite nice, you just have to take care in preparing them, otherwise you get bland nothingness.
Off my rant. Leaving my score from past experience.
Looks like Steepster is down again. who knows if this will really post. Anyway, I think the allergy medicine is actually working. I still feel stopped up but man o’ man this tasted so good today. Probably shouldn’t moan out loud in a restaurant but I did anyway. Multiple cups. It is just a cheap bagged tea but has more depth than most. Today it had a light earthy roastedness to it. I swear I was even catching some leather notes. So glad to taste again.
I had three cups of this today. As you may remember, I complained yesterday about tea made at home not tasting right lately. This one was made with the north corporation water. We have south at home. It tasted ok but nothing special (in a cheap bagged tea sort of way). I am now leaning towards my allergy medication being the main culprit. Most of what we detect as flavor is actually smell. I think I am either going to have to drink powerful tea or loose the medication. Maybe I’ll try both for a few days.