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Recent Tasting Notes
Sippity Sipdown (714)!
Finishing this off currently – needed to take a mental pause from the task I was working on as well as just stretch since I’ve been at my desk for a few straight hours so I got up to make myself a mug of tea!
This has actually grown on me a little bit!? Like, today’s cup is mellow and vegetal but it has a nice crispness to it as well – like fennel bulb!? With a hint of snow pea and corn silk!? It’s reminding me a lot of Chinese greens like Bi Luo Chun, even though it looks so completely different…
I might actually miss their weird Hawaiian green tea!? The only green tea in my work stash, in fact! What will be my new green tea for at work!?
Had an exciting morning today at work…
So, I work in a tea lab (as I think most of y’all know) and our door requires a key code/authorization to open – well, this morning the scanner was offline and not a single person could access the lab for the first three hours of the day until they got it back online. For most people that just meant working at their desks for the morning and completing their tasks in a different order than planned – however I now work exclusively out of the tea lab and house all of my stuff in the lab so I didn’t have much of anything to do most of the morning…
I did respond to a bunch of emails from my phone, but mostly I drank tea in the lunchroom and waited. This was one of a couple teas I found lying around – and I think it’s actually my tea that I just left lying in the lunchroom one afternoon for other people to try/finish. I can’t recall right now if I’ve tried this before/what I thought of it but this morning I actually thought it was pretty nice! Smooth and toasty, with notes of roasted corn/chestnut and timothy hay. Kind of weird – not what I’d expected from a Hawaiian grown green tea but ultimately nice!
I decided to try to go to a walk-in clinic in London because my cough has gotten pretty bad and so I mustered up some energy to go over. Except when I got there and gave my health card to the person at reception, she told me my card was likely invalid since it is an older version of the Ontario health card that is being phased out. I told her I haven’t gotten a letter to update it yet and that they are being accepted until July 2020. She put the info into the system and when the card came up invalid, she just looked at me and basically said “I told you”. She then told me it would be $50 to see the doctor and when I offered my credit card, she told me they only accept cash and the closest ATM is at the Shopper’s Drug Mart across a busy main road.
Given that I am sick, I didn’t have the energy to (1) attempt to dodge traffic and run across a busy road or (2) walk the block to get to a light to cross the road and walk down the block to the Shoppers and then circle back again to return to the clinic. So instead I just went home.
My sister took pity on me and sent her husband to come get me. Then this morning, my brother took me to a walk-in clinic by my sister’s place. Initially my health card came up as invalid at this clinic too. However, unlike the jerk in London, this person called Service Ontario to look into the matter and it turns out the card is still valid, they just missed a letter because on my version of the card, the number is in the middle of the card but the letter is in the bottom corner.
So this very long story basically ends with me finally seeing a doctor and getting prescribed a puffer and antibiotics and lots of fluids and this tea from Roswell Strange came to mind. It’s a mild green tea which takes honey quite well so it’s nice for when you’re not feeling great. Thanks Roswell Strange for sharing. Like you, I don’t love green teas but as far as they go, this is pretty good.
This was not in my cupboard despite Roswell Strange sharing it with me a little while back (thank you!) so I am back up to 229. Oh well.
Anyways, my throat has been a bit weird all day in the sense that I get this slight soreness when I swallow. Realistically it is probably nothing but I am still indulging in some tea and honey. Since green tea is recommended for colds and I don’t usually drink straight green teas, I thought now was a good as time as any to use some of the sample from Roswell.
It’s mostly honey-tasting (which makes sense since I put a lot), but it is not overly sweet. The base tea is providing a little bit of savory. It is actually really easy and really soothing to drink. I am half way done already. I am even debating resteeping the same leaves…which I never do b/c this cup is that nice on my throat.
This past Saturday I was on my friend TheOolongDrunk’s IG live tea show as a panelist. One of the handful of topics that was covered was American grown tea, so I thought it would be fitting to steep up this Hawaiian grown oolong.
Personally, I don’t think Hawaiian grown teas are quite “there” yet in terms of taste – this one was a little flat overall though it did have some thin floral and fruity notes. It was very spent by just the fourth steep, as well. However, it’s an interesting terroir to think about and with enough years of trial and experimentation I think we could see some really lovely and delicious Hawaiian teas on the market.
That’s why I think it’s important to show support to these new terroirs as they begin those first steps towards development – enough interest and demand will continue to fuel that natural innovation and curiosity even further. It makes me really think about what kind of exciting new types of tea will emerge within my own lifetime and how tea culture will continue to grow and adapt.
I’m not sure if I should have used more tea leaf, more steep time or a combination of both of the two because this cold brew was light. I mean, the plus was that it was SUPER refreshing – like having a mildly flavoured tumbler of ice cold water. However, just not much body or otherwise happening here. If I didn’t know better, I would have 100% thought I was drinking some kind of delicate white tea.
I think this is my first Hawaiian oolong, which is pretty cool!
I drank this one Gong Fu though I do have a sneaking suspicion that it would probably come out better in a Western mug – but I wanted something Gong Fu and I thought this would be a cool experiment/trial just to see what it could be like. I’ll be honest, I’ve not ever really been WOWED by a Hawaiian grown tea: they’re almost more appealing just as a novelty type of tea – this tea wasn’t an exception to that. However, tea growing in Hawaii is still very new and experimental, and I think that given time there’s real, genuine potential for Hawaiian grown tea to become something very cool and tasty!
My experience with this particular oolong was that, as absolutely STUNNING and beautiful the dry and steeping leaf was, the taste was a little bit flat/dull and lifeless. It was fairly green tasting and grassy/lawn clipping-ish with floral body notes and undertones that reminded me a bit of lily. I didn’t really experience and evaluation of flavour throughout this session, and even the two main notes that were present (the grassy quality and floral note) lacked the clarity and sweetness that would have made them more appealing qualities. The cup just tasted kind of muddled and unstructured. The finish was also a little bit astringent, which could have been an interesting contrast if the main notes were sweeter/more lively, but given the general flatness of the cup the astringency served more as a negative reinforcement of those traits.
I think the saving grace was actually that I was munching on slices of dragon fruit throughout the session and dragon fruit is so delicate and lightly flavoured with a soft, overall sweetness so it was almost like it was “injecting” sweetness into the session.
So far I think Hawaiian grown black tea has been my favourite type of Hawaiian grown tea…
Shocked/horrified that I haven’t yet reviewed this. It’s a (very expensive) tea I picked up on my honeymoon – I just couldn’t resist a Hawaiian-grown oolong tea. I’m having a hard time describing it, but it’s quite good – the leaves are impossibly long and unbroken (I’m not kidding – they are like 2" long and very thin/wirey). It’s definitely a less-oxidized oolong, perhaps similar-ish to pouchong, but it’s not quite so vegetal. It’s really kind of in the middle, with a lovely sweetness and oolong finish. Worth the sample (I probably paid $1/gram or more, yikes!)
I feel like I’ve had Hawaiian black tea before, but I can’t be 100% certain. I mean, I have DEFINITELY had tea from Hawaii – I just don’t remember what kind. Clearly it didn’t make that big of an impression…
This was fine; maybe I over did the steep time a little bit but I just found that it had a lot of initial bite/tannin to the top of the sip though that did fade into the mid sip quite quickly after that initial little bit of “edge” to it. Aside from that, I thought the profile was a little malty with a surprising sort of delicate smoky quality to it as well.
I’d be really curious to revisit it again and see if I feel the same about it a second time.
I purchased this and Onomea’s standard black tea from their website, and tried this after having first tried the standard black on the previous day. I can’t say that I notice much of a difference between the two, and in fact may prefer the standard black a bit. However, that still makes this tea extraordinary for a black tea. It is very smooth with dominant notes of cocoa and honey, with a bit of a mineral taste that I didn’t get from their other tea.
I purchased tea from this estate in Hawai`i a few years ago and it was the single best tea I’ve ever had, so I decided to buy it again. There must be something about those volcanic soils and ocean air. My second purchase proved me to be correct the first time around – it is still the best black tea. Ever. And this is just their standard black (review of the koko ki to come). I purchased it straight from the company via mail order, as it’s a little cheaper than buying from a tea seller middleman.
The dried leaves smell honey-sweet, and the tea is true to its name (“ono” means “delicious” in Hawaiian, and “mea” means “taste”). The strongest notes are honey and malt. On top of that are cocoa, caramel, and a little orange. I didn’t time my first brew, but it was not very long – a minute at most, and the liquid was a light amber. The next infusion was longer and I began to taste the tea’s potential to be robust. Then the caffeine took effect. This tea can pack a punch.
I don’t know why I waited several years to purchase this a second time. I guess because shipping is not cheap, but I may just buy in larger quantities in the future. I visit Hawai`i often, and I hope to visit this estate sometime.
This is my gold standard for black tea.
Flavors: Caramel, Cocoa, Honey, Malt, Orange
Dry leaves have a sweet cocoa aroma and a large twisted leaf appearance.
The cocoa sweetness, however, doesn’t carry through to the liquor much, which disappointed me. The tea gets an A+ in terms of mouthfeel—super rich and velvety mouthfeel which is a pleasant surprise in a black tea. The liquor is quite savory and umami in flavor with just a teensy hint of that cocoa and sweetness that you get in the dry leaf aroma. The flavor improves as the tea cools a bit. Definitely cool to be drinking a high quality tea grown in the US!
Flavors: Cocoa, Roasted, Umami