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Recent Tasting Notes
I woke up at 1PM today. 1PM. that is craziness and I don’t know how that happened, but even waking up at such a late hour I felt so groggy. this was a sample from the July Sipsby box and it was alright, I put a bit of almond milk in it because who knows and enjoyed it with a stroopwafel. and because I’m a klutz, I also spilled about a tablespoon of the leaves on the floor! THE FLOOR where my cat drags little tiny bits of litter everywhere! so, those leaves ended up being sacrifice to the old ones, who I hope enjoy a brisk tea.
Second Sips By July 2018 Tea.
This is a very interesting tea. I can’t decide if I like it or not. It ticks the savory aspects of rosemary and mint. The lavender is an interesting choice. It smells like my shampoo, to be honest, and that might be influencing how I feel about this tea.
The taste is rossemary and lavender with a touch of mint, and it overwhelms the black tea base. I tried it with and without milk but I still can’t decide if I like it or not, which probably means I don’t. Still, an interesting experiment.
I’ve not come across many Oolongs from Darjeeling in the years I’ve been drinking tea, but the ones I have tried have always been something special. This one is no exception.
It starts with the leaf, which in appearance reminds me a lot of a first flush darjeeling (although it’s actually a second) crossed with a very fresh white peony. The are a high predominance of downy silver buds, some verging more on silver or pale green, plus some brown-ish-copper leaves. The scent is sweet and lightly jasmine.
See my full review here: http://sororiteasisters.com/2016/11/15/uper-fagu-darjeeling-oolong-from-the-tea-shelf/
Not exactly my favorite style, but a great experience nonetheless. Highly recommend going easy on steep temp/time. Far more delicate than a typical black, and I would definitely not consider it to be one. Later steeps were very enjoyable.
Flavors: Apple, Floral, Honey, Sweet
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Flavors: Astringent, Floral, Honey, Malt, Wood
I had this in the morning to wake me up before work. The tea is mix of sturdy black leaves with some golden strands. The dry leaf carries a heavy wood aroma. I brewed these up western styled in my tetsubin. The flavor is a little off. This brew carries a lot of malt and wood tones, but its also a little sour. This was an okay drink for me. I did not enjoy the overpowering dry wood flavor; it kinda gave me a headache. This brew would have possibly been better with a little milk and sugar. I am happy to have been able to try it though.
Flavors: Heavy, Malt, Oak wood, Sour
Happy Firework Day Weekend, the one time of year where firework legality and fire common sense is thrown out the window in a clear celebration of gunpowder. Thank you China for inventing such epic displays of color and light, your method of scaring away bad spirits has lived on and transformed beautifully. All silliness aside, it has been nonstop booming fireworks all day, starting yesterday really, and just intensifying, I never thought I would say this, but for the love of my favorite explosive, knock it off people! Ugh, I think that means I am getting old, but really I am just tired of comforting a terrified cat, poor Espeon is not a fan of all the booming. There is a chance I might take the weekend off to party, and by party I mean cuddle my cat, get very tea drunk, and play Minecraft and board games all weekend!
It is with a heavy heart that I announce today’s tea from the Tea Shelf, only heavy because it is the last of their tea samples, clearly I will have to get more! Palampore Kangra Black a second flush black tea from Kangra Valley on the slopes of the Dhauladhar Range of the Himalayas. Apparently this tea is the only crop in India to grow the same variety of tea introduced 160 years ago by Dr Jameson, which is a fantastic little bit of knowledge. Also fun little snippet of knowledge, a Palampore is a bed cover made in India back in the late 18th to early 19th century, they were super fancy and expensive, and not many examples exist today. So, enough info snippets, time for tea! The aroma of the fairly small leaves is very refreshing and sweet, blending tangy notes of citrus peel (specifically a strong note of grapefruit) with sweet juicy white grapes and distant peony flowers. The citrus notes almost give the tea a effervescent quality, it certainly livens up the nose.
Steeping the tea brings a creamy quality to the leaves, no longer effervescent but still just as sweet. Adding notes of orange blossom, pepper, and lettuce to the notes of grapefruit and grapes, it is still refreshing, but the other notes give it a slight heaviness. Holy moly, the liquid is a nose party! Super sweet with strong notes of honey and juicy grapes with orange blossoms, zingy grapefruits and sweet oranges. It smells pretty yummy.
And you know, it tastes pretty yummy! Like really yummy, like I am really sad that I tore through my sample already because I want more yummy. It is very creamy and sweet, with a smooth mouthfeel, it starts with juicy white grapes and honey, this transitions to a refreshing crisp lettuce and grapefruit zest and blossoms. The finish is a blend of gentle almonds and orange blossoms with just a tiny hint of pepper; This tea mixed refreshing notes and sweet notes quite perfectly, I am not going to say this is the best tea I have ever had, but it is one of those that just fit perfectly for the mood I was in while tasting it. I think I will have to order some of this for my private stash to drink once in a while, especially on cool days with a gentle breeze and a need to just relax while being refreshed.
Floral white tea lovers get your hands on this one! I found this white tea a tasty bouquet of flowers with honey notes and silky texture.
Out of the two white teas I had from The Tea Shelf, I liked this one the most, though I think it’s personal taste due to my love of floral teas. The price is quite steep though, $41 for 100g at this time.
Full review on Oolong Owl http://www.exoticmeatmarkets.com/lionmeat.html (I compare this white with the other white The Tea Shelf carries)
A solid white tea! The one I had is a 2015 winter flush. I got creamy, straw, corn stalk and leafy green notes. The tea is sweet, thick creamy texture and very fresh clean in taste.
Full review on Oolong Owl http://www.exoticmeatmarkets.com/lionmeat.html (I compare this white with the other white The Tea Shelf carries)
Oh good heavens today has not gone as planned at all! I was going to bake and pack since it was supposed to be cool (y’all know by now I hate the heat) but it turns out that was not in the cards today. Unsurprisingly fiddling with my medication dosage throws my body for a loop, so I feel really quite awful. With luck I will feel better in a few days after my equilibrium returns, and that the fatigue will be fixed by lowering the dosage a bit. If not then I have to up the dosage, and if that doesn’t work then who knows. This is by far not the first time my dosage has been fiddled with, and certainly not atypical of a reaction, but UGHHHHH it is about as pleasant as being pecked in the backside by a mockingbird and flipping face first off a chair into a rose bush (thus establishing the hatred I bear towards those birds till this day.) But it is supposed to stay cool til Saturday, so even if I am just spending that time letting my body adjust, I won’t be roasting.
Today I am taking a look at another offering from The Tea Shelf, continuing my journey through Nilgiri with Billimalai Nilgiri Oolong, so far I have been really enjoying learning about this region, specifically this estate. Before I get into the tea, I need to point something out that I have forgotten to in the past, The Tea Shelf’s packaging is pretty great, the tea samples came in a jute bag (totally using as a dice bag) and the pouches have awesome little icons saying which mood, time of day, and character the tea has, you can find these on the website too, but I think having it on the packaging is awesome. The aroma of the curly leaves is quite floral and sweet, blending delicate orange blossoms and osmanthus, with fresh muscatel notes and a pleasant underlying aroma of nectarines and nuttiness. It is a light and almost ephemeral aroma, spring like in its flowery and fruity notes.
The aroma of the brewed leaves is delightfully floral and delicate, notes of orange blossom and grapes, like a blend of a Darjeeling and Taiwanese Oolong, it is fascinating in its delicate complexity. There are also notes of nuttiness and citrus, pleasantly sweet! The liquid poured away from its leafy friends, it is a combination of tangerine, orange, nectarine, and orange blossom, it is very citrusy, and combine it with notes of honey and delicate nuttiness and you have a delicious smelling tea, but I am such a weakness for citrus notes.
This is a very delicate brew, the earlier description of ephemeral fits because not only it is delicate, it is also sweet, light, and mellow. Starting off with notes of orange blossoms and apricots, the taste then moves to grapes and honey very quickly. Underneath these floral and fruity notes is a gentle touch of fresh vegetation and a hint of pepper. I keep being pleasantly surprised by these ‘unusual’ teas from India, veering away from the typical black teas, I hope to be continuously surprised.
I am cooking some Khaman Dhokla the first time from scratch, as I write this it is happily steaming away. After my dinner is complete I will bake something as a dessert, probably something with Matcha, or maybe some other sweet. Getting in practice for being all fancy and domestic when we move soon, I will have a whole house to take care of! It is going to be so awesome, granted I will not do all the cooking, Ben and Fish are actually professional cooks, so I know they will want to hog the kitchen.
Today we are taking another visit to The Tea Shelf, specifically their Billimalai Virgin Green, a beautiful fluffy green tea from Nilgiri. This is one of their Winter Flushes, from the Billimalai Tea Estate, nestled in the Blue Mountains at 6,400ft about sea level. The aroma of the really quite pretty leaves is very green and peppery, blending notes of green beans and cooked spinach with hints of veggie broth and a tiny touch of mushrooms. The finish is a delightful peppery green note that is a blend of just outright pepper and nasturtium, I am such a sucker for peppery notes in teas.
Giving the leaves a steep, my tea area smells like food! Specifically green cooked veggies, a mix of peppery cooked spinach and green beans and a bit of mushrooms and asparagus. It is a very vegetal tea, savory and green. The liquid is very much so vegetable broth, clean and peppery with dominant notes of asparagus and green beans, there is a slight hint of nutmeg at the finish giving the tea an extra bit of depth.
The liquid is delightfully pale, it reminds me of some of the jadeite I worked with as a jeweler. The mouthfeel is light and delicate, with a slight tingling at the back of the tongue. The taste is also very delicate, and quite vegetal, starting with a very delicate floral and lemon note that moves quickly to green beans and a touch of lima beans. The finish is a blend of pepper, smoke, and just a hint of asparagus, with the pepper lingering as the aftertaste. This was a very clean, green tea, not a sweet one, but erring to the savory side…as an aside it was a great accompaniment to a pile of fried eggs and bacon!
As a painter of miniatures, I have finally gotten to the point where one wet palette is not enough. I was using stacking plastic cups, you know the kind that sauce comes in at restaurants, I have a big blending project in my actual wet palette, and these work on the short term, they still dry out pretty quickly. So I saw this tutorial for making stacking wet palettes out of bead sorters, sponges, and palette paper…so yeah…so many wet palettes are in the making, in three different sizes! Hooray for being an ex-jeweler!
Today’s tea on this most fanciest of Tuesdays (ha! take that holiday, I know what day it is!) is The Tea Shelf’s Halmari Clonal Assam Black. This beautiful fuzzy gold tea is from the Halmari Tea Estate in Assam, an old and fairly iconic tea estate, this tea is all about the tippy goodness, which is where all those glorious golden pieces come from. Plucked during the Monsoon Flush, picking the tea during this heavily rainy season gives it an intensity and richness, also making it a much desired flush. The aroma of this tea is intense indeed! With strong malty notes and a nutty sweetness, like peanut butter made from roasted peanuts and added dates, which sounds utterly delicious to me. There are also lesser notes of distant flowers and a hint of orange at the finish which gives the heavy tea a bit of brightness.
Into my beloved steeping apparatus the beautiful little leaves go, farewell glorious gold, I always miss their lovely fuzz which vanishes into the water as the leaves steep. The aroma of the now soggy and much larger leaves is a delicious smelling blend of malt, yams, dates, and roasted peanuts. It is a very intense aroma that has a rich heaviness to it. The amber liquid is a sweet blend of dates and yams with a rich malty finish.
I forget how much I enjoy a really high quality Assam, I have been called away from the richness that Assam gives by the more delicate Darjeelings, so I am glad to have a dance with this tea, for the sake of memories if nothing else. The taste starts out both rich and robust, with notes of malt and oak wood, a touch of molasses as it transitions to the sweeter midtaste. The middle is sweet dates and a bit of roasted peanuts, as the tea finishes off it has a brisk note of citrus that lingers alongside with the malt at the finish. This is a great morning tea, or afternoon tea when you need a boost, it mixes richness with briskness, all good qualities in a morning tea!
Flavors: Citrus, Dates, Malt, Peanut, Yams
Outside is ominous as all get out, serious, it is so ominous that we are under a tornado watch, first one of the season…well unless there was one during that crazy storming bought a week or so ago that I slept through. I am hearing the sweet music of thunder getting closer, the wind is bringing in a definite chill, and the radar looks bonkers. I think that this storm might actually hit us full force instead of fall apart on the heat island, which could mean massive hail and power outages. Oddly, we have only had one power outage from a storm in my time living in the Midwest…of course by saying that I totally jinxed myself…oops.
Today my education in Nilgiri teas continues with The Tea Shelf’s Billimalai Nilgiri White! Hailing from the Coonoor region of Southern India, the Billimalai Tea Estate sits 6,400ft about sea level in the Blue Mountains (fun fact, Nilgiri means Blue Mountains) Terrain, and looking at pictures of the area, it is absolutely beautiful. The leaves look like a mixture between a green tea and a white tea, blending vibrantly green leaves with fuzzy silver leaves, I spent quite a bit of time enjoying the different textures and colors presented in these leaves. The aroma was quite the surprise, no sweet at all, but instead rich savory and smoky notes! I picked up notes of lettuce, tomato leaf, vegetable broth, and a slight sauteed mushroom almost sausage meatiness at the smoky finish.
Ok, storms, you are a disappointment to the skies that spawned you! They totally fell apart and then reformed about half an hour north, ugh. If storms were a sentence where I live would be the comma, this always happens. Anyways, I decided to gongfu this intriguing tea, and after the first steep the aroma of the leaves is a fun blend of vegetal notes and savory tones. Hello okra, green beans, tomato leaves, dried tomatoes, and smoky vegetable broth! The notes are making me a bit on the hungry side, but that tends to happen with savory teas. The liquid is a blend of okra, lettuce, sweet flower nectar and a bit of honey at the finish.
First steeping is like drinking a book, not because it tastes like paper or books, but because it has some many different stories! At the first sip it tastes like a field of wildflowers complete with a bit of hay and grass, then it moves on to distant wildfires, next it is sesame seeds and green beans. The finish is honey and flowers, this is a peculiar tea, but it is a tasty peculiar tea.
The second steep has a strong smoky aroma mixed with wildflowers and okra, more teas need the note of okra, I love that stuff. The taste is a dead even mix of wildflowers, smoke, citrus, and sesame seeds. I was surprised how balanced and blended the notes were this steep, last steep they were very distinct. I found this tea fascinating, it blends different notes that I do not usually associate with white teas, so I appreciated the mouth adventure.
Well, the Dropzone Commander Tournament is over, and my dear Ben won quite handily. I am very impressed with his skill, but sad it was not me that faced him in the finals, also sad because one of my good friends who I wanted to win was his opponent, so the great ‘I hope you win and I hope you lose’ dilemma happened. So I spent the night painting and working on modifying a miniature, the golden Prowlers are almost done, and I need a LOT of greenstuff and some sculpting tools to finish the modifying. Wargaming is a long and expensive road…I think it is as bad as collecting Puerh!
Today’s tea comes from The Tea Shelf, their Glendale Nilgiri Black, yay for trying more teas from Nilgiri, a region of India (among a few other lesser known tea producing regions, but more on that another time) that I still need to experience more of. I feel I have a good grasp on teas from Assam and Darjeeling, but Nilgiri is still mysterious and new to me, so I am very glad to expand my education. This tea comes from the Glendale Tea Estate and is a Winter Flush Tea, a term used mostly in Nilgiri, since they do not have an autumn flush…or they just have very mild winters, I will admit to not being 100% clear on that one. The aroma of the lovely curly (or twisty) leaves is intensely sweet and fruity. A blend of honey drizzled grapefruit, grapes, cherries, and apricots, it is like a fruit salad with honey and a distant note of orange blossom at the finish. I am surprised by that floral note, it just kinda crept up on me, which was entertaining.
Into my trusty steeping apparatus the leaves go, I love this thing, it is so perfect for twisty black teas, allowing them to puff up beautifully while allowing me to see them. I am so glad that I could see these leaves, the colors displayed are quite striking, mottled reds, greens, and browns, very pretty. The aroma is very muscatel, blending scuppernongs and muscadines with the slightly sharper notes of white grapes. There are also notes of cherry, honey, and a tiny bit of lettuce at the finish. The liquid is a total surprise! There are notes of cocoa, roasted peanuts and raisins…it is like the leaves are a first flush and the liquid is a second, how intriguing!
Waiting for the cup to cool to drinking temperature was kinda torture, I was so curious to see which the taste would reflect, the wet leaves or the liquid, turns out it was a bit of both. This tea is delightfully brisk, a definite wake up your mouth briskness, but without the drying tannin effect, it is sharp finishing on creamy. The taste starts out fruity, a blend of raisins, dates, and cherries, I even get a distant note of dried fig around the midtaste. Along with the tiny hint of fig at the middle is a green vegetation note and a honey sweetness with a gentle note of orange blossoms. The finish has a lingering hint of sweet orange and slightly spicy stewed cherries, the orange note lingers keeping the briskness alive long after the cup has finished. Winter Flush, you are a fascinating thing!