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Recent Tasting Notes
One of the teas of my first (and only) tea subscription pack of Cha Tale (they closed their activities shortly afterwards), I hadn´t tried yet. I honestly must say I´m not a huge fan of teas that are described as “slimming tea” without further explanation, and maybe that´s why I hadn´t opened this tea yet. I´m not sure whether I had to use the entire trial size (and whether I could use it again a couple of times?), so I split the pack up in 2 units, trying to have a bit of every ingredient in both units. I checked the ingredients, and no notion is made of (candy) sugar crystals, but I´m quite sure they are part of the tea. For the rest, it seems a flower tea, with the small chrysanthemum flowers. Well, the resulting tea is nice enough, but the only flavour I can appreciate is the sweetness of the sugar, nothing really related to the other ingredients… a shame, I reckon. Further more, should a tea which is supposed to be slimming contain sugar crystals??? Summary : nice and sweet, but of little significance.
It´s been an exciting tea discovery last week… this is the second tea to be found in my ChaTale tea box and a first for me, as I had never taken a dark tea or pu erh before. I started looking for information about the product and the way to prepare it (should I loosen the mini cake first or just pour boiling water on it? do I need to rinse it? can I reuse the leaves and if so, how to adapt the steeping time? …), and discovered some interesting youtube videos : http://www.charteas.com/Buy%20Puerh%20Toucha%20tea%20online%20at%20Charteas
Pu erh is a type of tea which has undergone fermentation, and this “detail” makes that pu erh actually can age well. I don´t have information about the age of these mini cakes, but I do know this was a unique tea experience and I really liked it. Maybe the only thing I didn´t like that much was the bloating effect this tea had on me twice during the course of using a single mini cake (and I reused the leaves four times in all).
So, finally, my pu erh experience was as follows : I heated water to 100ºC, used the freshly boiled water to give the mini cake a quick rinse (10s max.), and inmediately poured new boiling water on the mini cake which I then steeping for 2 minutes. I used a ceramic mug with a (ceramic) tea filter which can easily be taken out, so I just withdrew the filter and the loosened cake in the filter was inmediately ready for a second brew. The first brew was very dark, the aroma´s of the tea were quite strong and reminded me of wild mushrooms (I adore wild mushrooms, so this was definitely a positive thing). The taste was quite strong as well, with a very present smell and taste of something having undergone a fermentation. Logical of course, but I was impressed : the tea tastes completely different from anything I´ve tried before! About half an hour later I steeped the pu erh a second time, by pouring freshly boiled water over the tea filter in the mug. I had it steep 30s longer (so, 2.5 minutes in total) and the colour of the tea was similar to the first brew. Not a lot of change in taste and smell either. The 3rd-5th brew I made the day afterwards. I guess the tea might have lost a bit of its qualities, but I must say that the 3rd and 4th brews were still very nice (steeping for 3 or 3.5 minutes by then). The 5th time (steeping time of 4 minutes) the result was clearly inferior, and almost no colour developed.
As it was my first time drinking pu erh, I didn´t have a reference, but I liked the experience and look forward to trying other pu erh teas. I might buy a larger cake, but I need then to get some more material (tea needle, tea knife) to loosen the tea leaves. http://www.teavivre.com/info/pry-pu-erh-tea/ tells you a lot about this process.
Flavors: Mushrooms, Peat
Recently I discovered there existed something as a tea box subscription, and I started to compare different plans by different vendors who send to the UK. I decided that I wanted to give ChaTale a try and subscribed to their Yummy Breakfast plan (always including an Earl Grey tea). I had barely paid for the plan when I received a mail from ChaTale that their tea box subscription plans weren´t going as well as they had expected and that they were stopping it. A wonderful start to my decision. On top of this, my box got lost in the mail, and so I finally received a replacement box about 1.5 month afterwards. This was the Earl Grey tea which was included in the box. The smoky aspect is very subtle, which gives it the huge advantage not to need milk. I followed the directions in the box and had the tea steeping for 3 minutes. The aroma´s from the tea are very gentle and in a way, you get a similar impression when drinking the tea : smooth, aromatic, almost velvety in the mouth. This Earl grey isn´t strongly citrusy, neither does the smoky touch dominate…it stays very well balanced indeed.
Flavors: Earl Grey, Smoke