612 Tasting Notes
Drank this multiple times over the weekend while framing and hammering up new wall art, making soup, and continuing my old lady pose (but I think spring is shaking me awake a little…I woke up this morning with “Dancing in the Dark” in my head, due to the sentiment behind it I imagine). I still think Shang’s Silver Needle King is far and away the greatest white tea I’ve ever smelled or tasted (aiee!), but this offers that thing good whites often do, an indelibly luscious mouthfeel. It has a lot of layers going on too. Hopefully I can sit down and write a proper note about them next time, ack. Been drinking my tea all willy nilly in the midst of things (busy beaver spring cleaning and scheming and all that), without good logging. I fear I may never return to being an adequate, potentially helpful logger. :/ (beavers…logs…spring…my head’s full of fuzz!) This is becoming more and more just another diary. Whoops.
Ohhh, all I can say is this is a nice, nice tea—so nice I’m too busy enjoying it to think. My gosh. I like how the brassy elements one might wish to have smoothed out in a typical Indian Assam are indeed gentled or just plain not there thanks to the (what’s often for me too subtle, mind) Taiwanese style, which in turn gets amplified when given the backbone of a substantial general tea type like Assam. Wow I didn’t write that well. Hrm. The second steep yields more chocolate, delicious.
I’ve been impressed with Taiwan Tea Crafts (and grateful as always to Steepster—ain’t no way I’d have learned of them otherwise)—I love that they offer fancier teas in reasonably small amounts that make them a possibility for me, and that they have promotions and fair shipping policies if you want to try before you commit. And even when one of their teas proves generally not something I’d reach for often given my own proclivities, I have yet to encounter any where the care and quality (indeed, the craft) in producing the leaves wasn’t readily apparent from dry leaf aroma to finished cup and unfurled leaves. And some have knocked me completely off my socks (that one Red Jade!) with qualities I’ve never tasted together in a single tea before. We’re so lucky to live in this age when incredible tea is being crafted so many places AND thanks to modern transport and the internet etc. someone in a place as un-hot-tea-focused as the US has ready access to some of said tea. AND can learn and trade notes with fellow fans to boot. Awesome.
Speaking of, the dry leaf aroma on this one is a splurge. It’s rich and grapey, deep without being cloying like so many sweet grape-smelling teas. And the appearance of the wet leaves! Big and gorgeous, with these ripples of brilliant brighter red streaks here and there. I am surprised sometimes how often big, beautiful leaves can sway me. Admiring them makes tea even more of a pleasure.
Couldn’t resist the Mandala sale, and as always the customer care was top notch—got samples and a wonderful, surprisingly long note from Garret tucked in with my tea!
It’s no secret I love Golden Needle. Golden Monkey seems more popular in general here, but for me it’s the needle all the way (ehrm, that came out wrong). I like the way it tends to balance sweetness with a thicker body, and this is a prime example of that—the body on this is exquisite, nearly brothy. I love it. I’ve still got Shang’s in my stash to try (and can’t wait!), but it’s so great to know I’ve got a really good version of one of my favorite tea types on hand. Yay.
Been drinking my fancy straight teas in the evening while acting full on old lady, yeesh—I’m growing my hair out which has lead me down the well worn internet rabbit hole that is the Long Hair Community and next thing I know I’m on the couch drinking tea with cats on me while perusing video tutorials on bunning hair and looking up old fashioned dressing tables, all while Golden Girls serves as background noise. I’ve even had a recent resurgent interest in trashy historical romance novels of all things (trying to find someone I can stomach like Lisa Kleypas). Next I am going to wind up doilying the house if I don’t check myself, ee.
I had this last night. Really enjoyed this one; one of the best Amoda offerings I’ve tried so far along with the Butikis. Makes sense—I’m a huge fan of the honey oolongs-so-dark-they’re-practically-blacks like Honey Orchid and…I forget the other couple I’ve tried, but yeah (one was disappointingly weak IIRC but I don’t remember where it came from). I like how relatively soft but full of sweet honey aroma and flavor they are, a nice break from brisk breakfast blends and the usual malt and sweet potato of many Chinese black teas. If I didn’t already have plenty of Honey Orchid I’d consider looking into purchasing more of this. It’s a nice specimen of a tea type I love.
I’ve been boring for what feels like months now, where I just want to dwell a bit on old favorites every day and rediscover why I fell in love with them in the first place. Means a dearth of logging but wonderful tea time as some I feel I almost appreciate more upon revisit. This is a good example. What an excellent tea. This morning was slow going for no good reason at all, and one of those where you wake up having to do approximately a billion little tasks before you can even make your first cuppa. When I finally had a second to do so I wanted it to be failproof satisfying and this fit the bill and how. I’ve had something like 6 cups—I figured I’d waited so long I deserved to do this in the gaiwan and set myself free for 15 minutes, whee—and it’s still going strong, smooth and sweet and clean but rich bordering on hearty. Present but refined. Delicious. Teas that offer so much flavor and depth in a matter of seconds when it comes to steep time still amaze me.
Afternoon tea today, with lemon ice daisy cookies and an assortment of jams, spinach spread, and pimento for crackers. Using my new fleur de lis condiment spreader I nabbed in NOLA. It’s the little things…
You don’t see mint earls very often, at least I haven’t, so I was intrigued but also a little worried it’d prove a case of “well, now you know why!” But this is pretty good if you’re up for a little medicinal mint tang with your afternoon refreshment; the mint gives it a planty earthiness and tingle I like, and the bergamot leans toward the flowery type which normally I’m not down with but works with the earthy cleanness of the mint here. I think it would be excellent when you’re feeling slightly under the weather or queasy—not ill enough to make black tea a bad idea, mind, but just a little funky from, oh say, a heavy lunch. And I reckon this will be wonderful iced. I think I may, a year later (!), have finally cracked the code to Sazerac’s Garden District cocktail (it’s got earl grey infused vodka, honey, lemon, mint, and—the secret ingredient I only discovered last week!—pear brandy) and when I try to perfect it at home next go round I’m going to use this to infuse the vodka/gin. Mm.
I do imagine this could get unpleasantly bitter steeped longer than I went with, so I’ll have to remember to keep playing gentle with it.
Hit the ground running with our return post-snow week and spring break (out of town twice, sorry I was absent guys), feeling weirdly pretty good about it. Refreshed and ready to roll up my sleeves and work a while without complaining, ha. Last night getting ready for the work week I was contemplative but not broody, realized just how much I feel dreamy and restored. It’s a good mood to be in. Also been feeling really nostalgic lately for music—this comes and goes and when it’s here, it’s like a tidal wave—so loud goofy Siamese Dream and metal-shoegaze and Siouxsie and older Neko Case early this morning and this tea (in my new Cafe du Monde mug! Contributes to the dreaminess :), which is like some all-purpose morning security blanket/bowl o’ Goldilocks’ porridge, not too anything to startle me first thing, always just right. Are there louder, more interesting, more special or complex teas out there? Yeah sure. But this is so reliably pleasant and easy to enjoy. Didn’t even realize it was St. Patrick’s Day and thus a fitting choice ’til I hopped on Steepster and saw all the Irish Breakfast logs in the stream, ha. Ours is meant to be a close and enduring friendship, I think.
Maybe it’s the unexpected snow day (complete with yesterday’s late night Criterion fest, this morning’s sleeping in and making out and cuddling bewildered-by-snow cats, and the promise of beef stew with collard gratin and cheese biscuits for supper tonight) and the fact this is my favorite week in the Catholic calendar (up next: pancakes and ashes), but I’m in good spirits today and I’m guessing that’s making this cup even more delicious. Perfect. It’s great at a low maintenance boil, smooth and satisfying, but at this lower temp it’s even silkier and more divine. Yum.
It’s 70F today, gotta get something spring-y in before tomorrow’s supposed winter storm! A nice mellow weekend spent mostly indoors scheming and dreaming for spring break travels in a week…
Sweeter than most greens, and brothier, with a silky heft that makes it feel like some sort of magical healing elixir, an ouchless soup when you’re feeling funky to help you get better. Satisfying. And like always, resteeps like a dream. I have yet to be disappointed by any of the stuff I’ve tried from Shang, and if this keeps up they’re going to become one of my very favorite purveyors of whites and greens. Yum!