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Recent Tasting Notes
The loose leaf tea version of this black tea was my favourite tea from Sierra’s advent this past winter so when I saw she was re-releasing it in coin form I was on board. It’s got such a lovely, rich body with almost equal parts more savory notes and darker fruits. Leather, exotic woods, red wine, and pomegranate molasses all overlaid with roasted and caramelized sweet potatoes. I think, because of the mini cake shape, I maaayyy even like it better. It’s so hard to argue with the convenience of coins; so much easier to travel with and way easier to store!
Tea Photo: https://www.instagram.com/p/CoIjXKuO_rW/
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GJKOOFpCOWU
The Tea Practitioner Advent Calendar 2022 – Day 24
I feel like this one was completely lost on me.
I didn’t really get a lot from it other than charcoal and a bit of sweetness. I steeped it many, many times, hoping to get the leaves to unfurl a bit so I could taste something else, but eventually gave up. The leaves really didn’t end up unfurling much at all, not sure if that’s normal for an aged tea. The roastiness did mellow out eventually.
I think I might keep the leaves and steep it again tomorrow, but we’ll see…
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Dry Leaves, Roasted, Sweet, Woody
Adventaggedon Day Twenty Four – 5/6
I was so upset when I saw this tea today. I mean, it’s such an incredibly nice tea for the last day of this advent and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to appreciate its flavour fully because of this fucking cold.
I still wanted to brew it gongfu and at least attempt to taste it, but I made sure to reserve enough of the sample that I’ll get to have a second session when I’m feeling fully better. I’m glad I made that call because the deep roastiness and hints of baked quince, minerals, and toasted coconut were very good but just dull enough that I KNEW I was missing out on a lot of nuance and flavour with each infusion. It really bummed me out, and made me sad that this is how I was finishing off this advent…
I’m gonna make this again when I can appreciate it though, and one lousy day at the end doesn’t negate the fact that overall this advent has been a pure delight. Sure, there were more green teas that I’d have liked – but I appreciated being challenged, and a few of those straight greens did really surprise me in a pleasant way!
Today’s Advent Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/CmkRKxwuisG/
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HdSIJaAI-FM
Adventaggedon Day Twenty Three – 4/6
Very cool concept though I was a bit confused what kind of barrel this is supposed to be aged in? Most barrel aged teas I’ve tried will indicate if it was port, rum, whisky, etc that they were aged in…
I struggled to taste this one clearly today, but thankfully the sample was generous enough that I’ll be able to go back to it on a day when I’m not feeling sick. It may be the stuffyness effecting my palate or it may just be the tea, but this didn’t seem particularly “Darjeeling like” as I drank it today – at least not in the classic/expected sense. The leaf was very spindly looking and the taste was sweet with notes of honey and fruits. With my palate as dull as it is today I can’t get more specific than that, but I don’t think I’d have registered this as Darjeeling at all without the label – but it’s also not anything distinct enough to make me go “Oh, it was fruity because it was port barrel aged” or something to that equivalent…
Today’s Advent Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/CmhsXY6ut-w/
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7VJ1b8mE7AM
The Tea Practitioner Advent Calendar 2022 – Day 23
Ooh, this sounds interesting!
To be honest, it doesn’t really taste different from a second-flush Darjeeling to me? It’s a very nice tea and I like it, but I don’t really get any extra woody or boozy notes. It’s extremely smooth with yummy bread notes, hay, and a very strong and lovely honeyed flavor. Definitely some raw grains in there as well, maybe steel-cut oats? I do get a touch of that muscatel floral note, but it’s quite subtle.
It’s a yummy Darjeeling, not really getting the barrel aged part though. :P
Flavors: Bread, Creamy, Floral, Grain, Hay, Honey, Muscatel, Oats, Smooth, Sweet, Thick, Woody
The Tea Practitioner Advent Calendar 2022 – Day 22
Aha, and finally we got a ripe pu’erh ha ha. Well technically this isn’t pu’erh, but same difference.
Thankfully, this is quite mellow. It’s not overwhelmingly earthy like some shou pu’erh can be. It’s smooth and somewhat creamy, with soft and sweet wood and musty hay notes alongside toasty grains, dark honey, and syrupy dried fruits like dates or jujubes. There is definitely a mineral earthiness to it, but it doesn’t taste like dirt and that’s a win for me heh heh. The color is also quite light and orangey compared to most ripe pu’erhs I’ve had.
Surprisingly very enjoyable, especially in the cold snap we’re having.
Flavors: Creamy, Dates, Dried Fruit, Earthy, Grain, Hay, Honey, Mineral, Musty, Smooth, Sweet, Syrupy, Thick, Toasted, Tobacco, Woody
Adventaggedon Day Twenty One – 2/6
This was the laziest gongfu session ever, and short too. In part because I was so busy working from home to devote attention to the tea and in part because I simply didn’t want to. I hate Sencha.
Honestly, not my cuppa – but could have been so, so much worse too. Very umami and oceanic in a way that gives me seafood kind of vibes in a not cool way, but also lighter than expected overall too. Maybe a touch buttery and a tough like the more white and pithy part of a melon rind – but not quite bitter.
Someday I’ll drink this again with more mindfulness, but today was not that day.
Today’s Advent Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/CmciwMSufdM/
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fdB2q3izFW0
The Tea Practitioner Advent Calendar 2022 – Day 21
It’s always funny when I get a Japanese green tea in one of my other advents, in addition to always having one from the Nio Teas calendar.
This is a lovely karigane. It tastes like a lighter and sweeter version of a kabusecha or gyokuro, with the same silky and rich vegetal notes and layered umami. But then the texture is thinner and it has a clear, mineral sweetness to it, along with some gentle nutty notes. Subsequent steeps lose a bit of that shaded intensity and have more of a grassy presence instead. There’s a bit of a melon-y fruitiness to it as well, that becomes a bit easier to identity in the second and third steep. In the first steep it’s more musky, like a cantaloupe, and then it becomes more clear and sweet, like a honeydew.
Flavors: Cantaloupe, Cashew, Freshly Cut Grass, Grassy, Honeydew, Melon, Mineral, Nuts, Smooth, Spinach, Spring Water, Squash, Sweet, Umami, Vegetal
Sipdown! (47 | 450)
The last tea from my The Tea Practitioner advent leftovers, and my last tea for 2022!
I don’t have much more to say about it – it’s a lovely soft lemony tisane that reminds me of lemon drops, and it’s definitely going to be in my cart when I get around to ordering from them. This advent was definitely my favorite of the bunch, and I’ll considering repeating it if they continue to offer it in future years.
Happy New Year’s Eve, friends!
Flavors: Candy, Dry Grass, Hay, Herbaceous, Lemon, Lemongrass, Sweet
The Tea Practitioner Advent Calendar 2022 – Day 20
I happen to love lemongrass, so I was excited to see this one. Mine looks a bit different from the photo, it’s chopped up and more green than yellow.
It’s very lovely. To me, it tastes like a gentler form of lemon drop – naturally sweet with a mellow lemony flavor and soft notes of honey. There’s a soft herbaceousness to it as well, which just makes it supremely comforting for me and perfect for settling down with the pugs and White Christmas.
Definitely going on my to-buy list!
Flavors: Candy, Hay, Herbaceous, Honey, Lemon, Lemongrass, Round, Smooth, Soft, Sweet
Adventaggedon Day Twenty – 4/6
Two of my advent teas today were lemony tisanes, so I decided the best thing for me would be to brew them in cupping sets as a side by side and just get them out of the way for the day. I’ve definitely really having it drilled into me that 7:30AM is not a good tasting time for me to process what I’m drinking because all I remember is thinking “This lemon is gross – that lemon is not.” Wasn’t my thing.
Similar to what I said in my EDC tasting note for Lemongrass Green, there’s just this intense Citronella flavour to this tea that coats my palate very aggresively drinking it this straight/concentrated. I’ll probably need to get a little more creative to finish off the sample.
Today’s Advent Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/CmZ9_kDukMP/
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fvEH3f00EYY
This was my afternoon cuppa, and it was a really nice cozy drink that provided an reliable sip to fall back on while working. Warm, toasty and just a hint fruity – sort of like date bar kind of vibe, where it’s kind of like a thicker brown “paste” that binds everything else together. Typical notes of barley, nuts, and wood. Really cereal-like too. I feel like I’ve been using “cereal” as a tasting note a lot lately, but it just reminded me a lot of plain Cheerios on a couple sips – just a little darker.
I have a lot of similar teas in my stash right now, so it wouldn’t be truthful to say this sample will be missed. However, I loved trying it and if I didn’t have some many overlapping teas I would probably be repurchasing it!
Adventaggedon Day Nineteen – 2/6
Today’s advent selection leaned pretty heavily into things that just weren’t really my vibe, but when I saw this tea I got very excited. I decided to make it as my first tea of the day. I almost regret that choie. In part it’s because I was sooo fucking sleepy that I had a hard time processing the tasting notes, and in part it’s because every cup of tea for the rest of the day was just a bit downhill from this one…
It was so toasty and golden with really cozy notes of roasted barley, buttered toast with just a hint of char on it, golden syrup, and maybe a little bit of raisin? It was silky smooth and tasted like breakfast in a mug. I can’t wait to revisit this one!
Today’s Advent Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/CmXZOHku6m1/
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WT9v9BagDN0
The Tea Practitioner Advent Calendar 2022 – Day 19
Enjoying this one grandpa style today, in my pretty teaware-printed glass tumbler from Tea Thoughts. ♥️
As I suspected, this is very similar to my beloved Kyobancha from Obubu. Both are made from the leftover leaves after all of the other harvests, but these leaves are harvested just before winter, and kyobancha is harvested after winter. Both are left unshaped and are roasted to perfection.
This has such a lovely smooth and gentle toasty flavor that I just adore, along with a lingering natural sweetness somewhat reminiscent of maple syrup. It’s such a wonderful cold weather tea, it just brings to mind jumping into a huge pile of freshly fallen autumn leaves and inhaling their crisp earthy scent. There’s a touch of sweet dried fruit as well, maybe figs or dates?
It’s basically the mellowest hojicha ever, and I love it. So light and yet so cozy at the same time… :3
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Dates, Dried Fruit, Fig, Honey, Maple Syrup, Roasted, Roasted Barley, Smooth, Sweet, Toasty, Tobacco, Woody
Adventaggedon Day Eighteen – 3/6
We’ve been getting a lot of Chinese/Japanese teas in this advent, so it was a nice surprise to see an Indian black tea this morning. It was an even nicer surprise to see how long, spindly and beautiful the well twisted leaves were – definitely a very nice grade of tea to be coming out of Assam. Not common at all.
It was probably my favourite tea of the day – and there were a lot of good ones today. As I said in a different tasting note yesterday, I’ve been craving black teas a lot lately – so that probably helped. It was deliciously smooth even though it had a lot of body and the taste was so rich. Very golden with a lot of starchy sweet notes: fresh bread with a thick golden crust on it, baked yams, caramelized sugars. Also bits of molasses and dark honey, and a little golden raisin.
I wish I would have made myself a larger amount of this during the day, but I was worried I wouldn’t get all my advents in before five – I had a bit of a mid afternoon pause from advents while Marika and I did some recording. That just means I have lots of the sample left though, so I’ll enjoy this lovely tea again on a later date!
Today’s Advent Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/CmU0moLO1Ug/
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wn_0AfLiyg4
I think this is the third song I’ve shared from this album in the last couple months. It’s a really good and comforting album – would totally recommend if you just need chill Sunday afternoon music vibes.
The Tea Practitioner Advent Calendar 2022 – Day 18
This tea has beautiful long, dark, twisty, spindly leaves. I’ve had Taiwanese Assams before that looked similar, but I don’t think I’ve ever had such a large-leaf Assam from India.
It’s very smooth and malty, and fairly light in body. There’s a touch of green beany savoriness that reminds me a bit of a Chinese black tea, along with those nice, deep brown sugar and raisin notes that are common among Assam teas. Definitely some woody and earthy qualities as well, which I would also associate more with hongcha.
This is an interesting one, to me it almost tastes like the fusion of a classic Assam and something like a golden monkey. I like both of those styles, so it’s quite enjoyable for me! Also love how incredibly smooth it is, and surprisingly light.
Flavors: Bread, Brown Sugar, Caramelized Sugar, Earthy, Green Beans, Malty, Potato, Raisins, Savory, Smooth, Woody
Adventaggedon Day Seventeen – 2/6
Like Cameron, I found this tea didn’t quite live up to my expectations for it. It wasn’t unpleasant (and I think I would have been okay with it even if it was – I’m a little pu’erh starved right now) but I thought the flavour was a bit dull/flat. The mouthfeel was really nice though – thick liquor was a really even light to medium level of astringency throughout the whole session. I picked up woodier tree bark notes, some minerals, definitely more of a vegetal quality – it reminded me a little bit of eating kale in a forest. But, like, sad kale. I’ve had some really good purple sheng before though, so there was a lot this tea was competing against and it just… didn’t quite get there.
Today’s Advent Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/CmSPlmfOy2m/
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6xn_4zrFmA
The Tea Practitioner Advent Calendar 2022 – Day 17
Sheng puerh again! I steeped this gongfu style in an adorable little grey ceramic houhin with mountains on the lid.
If I’m honest, I felt like I was missing something with this one. Not to say it didn’t taste pleasant, but I didn’t find a lot of complexity in it and that flavor didn’t change much for me over the course of the session. It reminded me of a combination of aged white and Chinese green tea – with cozy woody and lightly musty straw notes, hints of stonefruit, and a slightly astringent finish. I enjoyed sipping on it, but I guess I was expecting more? Then again, I don’t have much experience with sheng heh…
Flavors: Apricot, Astringent, Autumn Leaf Pile, Drying, Earthy, Hay, Musty, Stonefruit, Straw, Woody
Adventaggedon Day Sixteen – 2/6
Feeling a little today so I just went with a Western style mug instead of a full gongfu session. Today’s tea sample was very generous though so there’ll be enough leaf left for me to gongfu it in the future when I have more time and energy.
First thing is that this white tea was really soft – even for stereotypical white tea standards. The gentle notes of hay and cucumber skin were pleasant but I found myself wanting more. I usually like Bai Mu Dan a lot but the things I kept coming back to over the mug was how much more significantly I was impressed by the Shou Mei earlier in the advent. In general, I feel like I’ve had a lot of really strong white teas across all of my advents this year – so the bar was high for this tea and it just didn’t quite measure up.
Today’s Advent Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/CmPqzUnOfl0/
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0N0w3ORM6SA
The Tea Practitioner Advent Calendar 2022 – Day 16
Steeped in a sort of casual hybrid style, also known as me lazily putting some leaf in my glass steeper, going “sure that looks fine,” and then doing multiple steeps that aren’t timed and are judged solely on the color of the liquid. Oh, and never reheating the water, so it just gets progressively cooler as I go… ^^’
Seems to have worked just fine for this tea though ha ha. This is a lovely bai mudan, so smooth and soft with airy notes of sun-warmed hay and raw oats and mild honey. Some steeps had so much natural sweetness to them, some had hints of grass or cream or or cucumber. All were delicious and were greedily slurped by yours truly. :P
Definitely the best bai mudan I’ve had, so smooth and gentle, without any sharp edges. I’ll have to order some when they get it added to the site!
Flavors: Creamy, Cucumber, Dry Grass, Grain, Grass, Hay, Honey, Oats, Smooth, Soft, Spring Water, Sweet
The Tea Practitioner Advent Calendar 2022 – Day 15
Ugh, I was not excited to see this one this morning. I find butterfly pea flower to be such a trendy ingredient, based only on the color it imparts and nothing else. I’m just tired of seeing it, to be honest. So, like the hibiscus, I put most of it in a bottle of lemonade to cold steep, and saved enough for one single hot cup, which I’m having now.
The color is an alarmingly intense blue, I feel like it’s going to stain my teeth lol. And yet in contrast to the intense color, the flavor is very light. Just a touch musty, with a bit of an earthy, slightly grassy flavor to it. It’s not unpleasant, it reminds me somewhat of a generic white tea. But nothing I would feel the need to revisit.
At least I have pretty lavender-colored lemonade to enjoy tomorrow, he he. :P
Flavors: Dry Grass, Earthy, Grass, Hay, Herbaceous, Musty, Smooth
I bought some straight butterfly pea flower, steeped a cup, and it tasted like I had drained a can of peas and heated the juice. I mean, that isn’t horrifying but when you are expecting it to taste like flower and you get peas….
I must be the only person that likes straight butterfly pea flower… well, ish. I like it with a teaspoon of lemon juice and honey added. It doesn’t really taste like vegetable water then.
Masters Alita: I didn’t hate it, it just totally didn’t taste the way I expected! Maybe I should try it with additions. I haven’t had it since the first time I tried it.
I’m a little over the pea flower blue in tea wave too. Most of the time they don’t overpower the taste of peas enough to make a cup that isn’t distracting.
Adventaggedon Day Fifteen – 3/6
Probably my least favourite thing from this advent so far. I find butterfly pea flowers a bit gimmicky, and they don’t taste great on their own – so to me the best usage of this tea was to use it as a component in another drink instead of drinking it on its own.
What I ended up doing was making a concentrate and layering it over a matcha latte of an unreleased matcha flavour from DT, so oops – can’t really elaborate on that one. It looked very cool though; had this sort of “earth latte” feeling with the green on the bottom and the blue on top. It tasted… well, like matcha latte.
But that’s better than it tasting like butterfly pea flowers instead.
Today’s Advent Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/CmNGE2juu53/
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Kx7kU_yxF4
The Tea Practitioner Advent Calendar 2022 – Day 14
I steeped this Western-style, because given the name and that Sierra was talking about it being floral quite a lot on her Instagram stories this morning, I wasn’t exactly expecting to love it. And I also didn’t feel great so I wasn’t in the mood for a multi-steep process.
But it’s actually quite nice! There are definitely floral notes, but the roastiness helps to counter them somewhat. It has some lovely toasty grain notes that remind me slightly of a Fujian black tea. And then there’s a nice crystal-clear, subtly mineral sweetness that makes me think of fresh spring water, and then the nectarous floral notes come through at the end. There’s a nuttiness as well, Kelly mentioned peanuts and I have to agree.
Overall, very tasty. Looking forward to giving it another try after advents are done. :)
Flavors: Floral, Mineral, Nectar, Nuts, Peanut, Roasted, Roasted Nuts, Smooth, Spring Water, Sweet, Toasted
This was a lazy Sunday session with the refill pouch of this I snagged back at TO Tea Festival!! It’s got such a lovely deep, bold roast and is packed with minerality and woodiness; something I love so dearly about Wuyi oolongs. Alongside all of those charcoal and nutty flavours is a slowly crescendoing note of rose that builds from soft undertones in early steeps to a much more starring role in the mid session, before taking its last bow as the session peters off and the leaves get closer to being spent. This was another from Sierra’s advent calendar that I really enjoyed and was hoping to stock up on again, so I’m glad I could make that happen!
Tea Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/CoksdZ9umr5/
Song pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jTcUvCYumIc