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Recent Tasting Notes
I did it! I successfully bred a Pteranodon! Breeding in Ark, especially the carnivores, is stupidly hard. You first have to make sure the egg is incubated properly (because Ark creatures are very much so still with the Victorian idea of maternal dinosaurs rather than more recent thoughts) and then as soon as it hatches/is born you have to feed it by hand until it reaches juvenile stage (10% of its maturity) which can take hours! Really the first hour is the toughest because they are very fragile, they can only handle a small amount of food weight and have no health, so a few minutes missed feeding means dead dinosaur. As they mature they can hold more food so it means you can do other things, like making sure you have at least two food troughs filled with meat, babies are tough! Since I was successful I am doing it again, thinking of starting a high level Pteranodon trade to make up for the price I paid for the Quetzal!
Today I am taking a look at Grey’s Tea Jin Shan Shi Yu China Green Tea, a green from one of my favorite tea producing regions of China, Anhui! Truly the green teas that come from Anhui are among my favorites, so I was pleased when I had the chance to try one I had not tried yet. The name translates to Golden Mountain Timely Rain, named for where it is grown and the time of year it is picked, at the spring rains. The aroma of the adorable curly leaves is crisp and green, with notes of broccoli, bell peppers, asparagus, and sesame seeds. It is however, very faint, I definitely had to work to pick these notes up, only really noticing them after I placed them in a warm gaiwan.
Brewing the tea did not give much in the way of aroma, savory notes of asparagus and bell pepper with a hint of mineral, it is very faint. The same can be said of the liquid, super delicate and not very much there, just faint vegetal notes and a bit of a buttery one.
I could not get this tea to really work for me, I tried it first in my gaiwan with the usual parameters I use for greens, 175 degrees with a 30-60-90 second steeping and nothing really ever came of it. It was like drinking vaguely salty buttery asparagus water. The mouthfeel was excellent though, so that at least was a plus. Not wanting to give up I tried a session with 190 degree water at 10-15-30 and still nothing.
Thinking to myself that maybe this is one of those greens that is best steeping bowl style I tried that next and while the taste was a bit stronger it was still immensely weak. I think I know why too, see some Chinese green teas can stay viable for quite a while, I have a Dragonwell from last year’s harvest that still tastes like it did when I first got it, however many of them don’t last quite so long, the biggest example that I have run into of that is definitely Bi Luo Chun, which seems to become a fluffy pile of nothing after about six months. In fact I was drinking some of last year’s Tian Mu Qing Ding this morning and while it is still tasty, the flavor is starting to fade and I am not sure it will last much longer. I believe since this is mostly from last year’s harvest it has given up the ghost, you can taste hints of what was there once and I believe it would have been delicious. Clearly I must seek this tea out come the spring harvest and see if my predictions are correct.
What does one do at 2 AM when the wind brings the promise of spring through open windows? One drinks tea, plays video games, and feels the slow charge of inspiration return. This winter was warmer than any I have experienced since I moved from the South as a teenager, but oddly with the warmth and clement weather it was also the most glum I have been in years. I suffer wicked seasonal depression, but it manifests not as sadness but as a complete void of inspiration. I can barely write, painting and artsy endeavors is a no-go, it is like I go into dormancy (proving that maybe I am in fact just a sentient house plant) and only spring really wakes me up. I am sad that winter was sooo boring this year (and not just because the climate implications) but look forward to upcoming storm season. In fact we might get storms later today!
It is funny, with the promise of spring comes the reports from tea gardens about the first flushes starting to arrive, and here I am drinking Darjeeling Sungma Muscatel Second Flush from Grey’s Tea. It is the first second flush I have had in a while and that is dumb because their rich notes are a perfect accompaniment to colder weather, especially autumn, since usually their taste profile reminds me of that time of year. The aroma of the leaves do not disappoint, it blends notes of the expected raisins (to me the big difference between first and second flush is definitely grapes vs raisins) with underlying notes of tobacco, malt, and a nice robust autumn leaf pile finish that blends really well with the heavy sweetness of the raisins.
Into my magical steeping apparatus (aka the double boiler bottom) the leaves go for their bath. The aroma of the soggy leaves is very sweet, strong notes of raisins blend with molasses and cocoa and a touch of distant spice and underlying notes of bark and leaves. The liquid is mild in comparison to the intensity of the wet leaves, with notes of very sweet raisins and molasses and underlying notes of spice and bark.
The taste is pretty excellent, everything I want out of a second flush! It starts with a mild briskness and gentle sweetness of honey and raisins, then the notes of autumn leaves and distant spice (it is a cross between allspice and nutmeg) build in strength. They then fade to a finish of molasses and gentle woody notes, with a lingering sweet aftertaste. The mouthfeel is a touch dry at the start but finishes smooth and bright. A delicious tea for a bit of late night sipping.
Hello everyone, back from my little hiatus! For those who don’t know a close family member had to have crazy intense heart surgery and frankly worrying about that made my brain a pile of mush, so now that it is over and they are in recovery I can think again! I have of course been using this time with a mushy brain to play Ark and drink tea, like I do, Ark is great, set up a huge new base in The Gulch of Lamentation (best name ever) and currently I am getting ready to hunt down and tame a Quetzal. This has been one of the biggest goals of the game for me, I love those giant flapping majestic things. Plus they act as giant winged transports, meaning taking an Anklyo to the mountains to get metal will be soooo much easier.
This week I am going to look at three different GABA Oolongs from three different growing regions, to see how terroir affects taste! I love being able to do comparisons and thought this was the perfect opportunity. First off, GABA Oolong is special because it gets exposed to a nitrogen heavy environment during its oxidation, making it high in gamma-Aminobutyric acid. This is thought to have a lot of health benefits and I am a complete skeptic (like I am with most health claims) but find it intriguing because yours truly took a synthesized gamma-Aminobutyric acid for the neuropathic pain and Fibromyalgia, granted I had to stop taking it because it caused me a mess of problems (like ‘hey this isn’t working anymore, take more until you get seizures, bahh) but in a low amount it can’t hurt. Mainly I sought this out because I find taking tea and processing it out of the norm to be fascinating, and that brings us to Grey’s Tea Formosa GABA Oolong, from Taiwan! The aroma of the leaves is sweet and surprisingly mellow for the level of sweetness present. Notes of peaches, papaya, raisins, raw honey and caramel mix with a woody undertone. The woody notes remind me a bit of fruit wood with a slight sourness and a distinctly odd ‘GABA-ness’ that I associate with this kind of tea but cannot accurately describe it. It is a like a mix of loam and fruit but with a familiar note that I just cannot place, it is maddening!
Into my gaiwan the leaves go for their first steeping. The aroma of the only lightly unfurled leaves (it takes GABA a while I have noticed) is very fruity and sweet, like a blend of dried papayas, peaches and mangoes with a touch of woodiness. The liquid is also quite sweet, but with the added note of dates and malt and just a little hint of loam. It is quite light but intensely sweet.
First steeping time, it is a fairly mild start, being thick in the mouth with an undertone of being very thirst quenching, like it sends the salivary glands into overdrive like some Shengs do. The taste is gentle, notes of sweet dried papaya and woodiness with a honey finish. This first steep is very light bordering on delicate in taste but the mouthfeel’s thickness makes up for any lightness.
Second steeping time! The aroma is both woody and fruity, and really the wood notes are astoundingly fruity, it smells like apple wood blended with dried papaya and a touch of dried apples. All the fruit notes are definitely the sweeter dried versions rather than juicy fresh. This steep is darker and stronger, the mouthfeel is still just as thick. It has a distinct GABA-ness again that I find hard to describe, it is like tasting solely with the sinus cavities in my forehead rather than my mouth, it is weird and more of a sensation than a taste, again I only get this with GABAs. The taste is more balanced, still sweet and fruity but with more loam and woody notes and a sour finish. The sourness is not like a citrus, but like sucking on a piece of greenwood, it has a lingering apple note that stays for a while.
Third steeping and the aroma is quite woody, with a strong underlying sweetness of dried fruits and a touch of raisins. This taste is strong, the mouth is thick and slick, bordering on oily, and with the accompanying sour and sweet blend makes me salivate a lot. This steep is balanced in woody and fruity notes, dried papaya and apples are dominant, but a sour plum note sneaks in at the midtaste and gets stronger till it dominates at the finish. Of the various GABAs I have had, this one is the lightest while also being the woodiest.
One of the things I love about playing on the server I do is the minimal trolling. Other than one complete jerkwad everyone is super nice, and one person even came to my rescue today! I had just finished taming a new Rex up in the frigid north (aka one of the really hard regions) and I got stuck thanks to my Pteranodon being an idiot (its pathfinding sometimes is made of utter fail) inside someone else’s house. So I called out for any ideas to get unstuck in chat and someone came in on their Quetzl and got me out. There is just a great little community with this game and it pleases me, being notoriously shy and not good with people I tend to avoid multiplayer games like the plague, but this game really works, there is a great camaraderie while also competition, big tribes look out for little ones and the newbies get lots of love. Unless someone is a troll, then watch-out because payback on a PVE server can be…interesting.
You know what I love, Kenyan Silver Needle, so imagine my bit of joy when Grey’s Tea contacted me to review some of their teas and one of them was a Kenyan Silver Needle from an estate I had not tried before, exciting! Kenya White Lelsa Silver Tip Tea is from the Lelsa Tea Garden in Kenya’s Kericho District in the Rift Valley, this garden also grows a decent amount of tea, but from what I gathered most of it is black tea. The needles are small compared to other silver needles from Kenya I have had, delicate things with downy fluff, they did get a little crunched in the mail, but mostly the needles are intact. The aroma is gentle with a surprising slight toasty note, like distantly cooking bread, blended with pollen, sugarcane, caramel popcorn, bamboo, and a finish of melon. Its sweet with an underling graininess that really endears Kenyan silver needle to me, like eating kettle corn or some summertime snack in that nature.
Into the gaiwan the leaves go, I tend to brew my silver needle (and whites in general) a bit more heavy handed than a lot of the other teas I drink, I find that a good silver needle can be brewed at 195 for like 15 minutes and it won’t be bitter…intense and only good for one steep sure…but not bitter. So I take my already pretty flexible brewing method and bend even more. The aroma of the soggy leaves is pretty intense, it smells like summertime to me with pollen, watermelon, kettlecorn, and sugarcane, the aroma is very strong on the nostalgia front for me, bringing back memories of late summer and happy times. The liquid is very sweet, less corny and grainy and more straight up sweet, melon and honey mix with pollen and a touch of crisp celery at the finish.
So after my five minute steep, it is time to chug some white tea! I was expecting the familiar kettlecorn and peony notes I associate with Kenyan silver needle, but this tea surprised me. It has the peony, lightly, but it also is more green. Notes of celery and cucumber mix with gentle pollen and a touch of sugarcane at the finish. This first steep was fairly light and has a smooth mouthfeel.
Second steep brought the kettlecorn note I know and love! This is definitely more familiar, the first steep was like a blend of a Kenyan silver needle and a Fujian one, fascinating stuff, and the crisp greenness was very refreshing. This steep is sweet and grainy, with a little bit of the cucumber and melon notes and a finish of lingering sugarcane. Since I brewed this one long and hot I found it finished at two steeps, but it was entertainingly contrasting, so I don’t mind the lack of longevity.
How’s this for three words that I never thought I’d see together? An Instagram follower asked what it tasted like. My response was oak smoked peaches.
Flavors: Oak, Smoke, Stonefruit, Sweet
A name that was confusing for me because Keemun means black tea to me, and Peony means white tea to me … so was this a black or a white? It’s a black tea!
A very rich and satisfying Keemun. Wisps of smoke, not overpowering or off-putting even to me and I tend to be kind of sensitive to the smokiness of a tea (although I’m finding that I’m less sensitive to it than I once was.) The smoke here is more like what you might experience if you were to have a fire roasted plum. And yes, there is plum-y notes to this too.
Reminiscent of a well-aged wine, but with a delectable honeyed sweetness.
Here’s my full-length review: http://sororiteasisters.com/2014/01/13/keemun-peony-china-black-tea-greys-teas/
Smoky but not so smoky that I’m overwhelmed by the aroma the moment I open the pouch. It’s not an off-putting, strong smoked essence.
An interesting cuppa … Fruit notes (plum and peach), together with the smoky notes and notes of flower. While it would seem that there are so many unique Oolong teas out there, this is definitely one of the most unusual ones that I tried, and I really liked it a lot.
Here’s my full-length review: http://sororiteasisters.com/2013/10/19/assam-smoked-oolong-tea-greys-teas/
A really delightful tea. A very autumnal fragrance to it – I smell notes of apple and caramel, mmm … caramel apples! When I tasted it, at first I wished I tasted more of a caramel apple taste. But there wasn’t much of an apple like flavor … but there was plenty of caramel sweetness!
Rich and robust. Notes of spice. A wonderful Kenyan tea.
Here’s my full-length review: http://sororiteasisters.com/2013/07/04/royal-tea-of-kenya-tajiri-black-from-greys-teas/
Rich and a delicious, powerful kind of flavor. This is one of those kinds of teas to keep on hand when you need that extra kick to wake up in the morning, but even though it’s got a certain rugged appeal to it, it’s got a lot of subtle nuances that make it an excellent cup for relaxing with on a contemplative afternoon, too. (This tea does double duty!)
Fruity, caramel-y, with notes of earth and leather and smoke and hints of flower all within one sip … layers and layers of flavors waiting to be discovered with this tea.
Here’s my full-length review: http://sororiteasisters.com/2013/05/17/china-keemun-dahlia-black-tea-from-greys-teas/
This is a really different tea. It has a strong smoky presence, as I would expect anything that has “Lapsang” in the name of it … but it’s not like a typical Chinese Lapsang Souchong. Instead, it is a Formosa Black tea (Taiwan) that has been prepared in the traditional Lapsang Souchong style, so it has the strong smoky presence, but the tea base is a little different.
It’s unique and unusual … but I like it!
Here’s my full-length review: http://sororiteasisters.com/2013/04/30/formosa-lapsang-from-greys-teas/
For the first time in weeks I have got a few hours spare to tidy my room, listen to some music I have bought recently (ska music today) and drink my way through a pot or so of tea. You can’t go wrong with this tea. I left it brewing far longer than I normally would, and it still tastes wonderful. I love afternoons like this, in their understated way
Enjoying this tea this evening. It is lovely … a nice alternative from the typical orange spice teas … the orange isn’t over the top and neither is the spice. The clove is gentle and warm, the orange is bright … but the black tea stands out as the strongest flavor. Pleasant and delicious, something that’s cozy and comforting … not quite strong enough as a first cup of the day perhaps, but makes a nice evening pick me up that is also warming me up.
A very surprising Darjeeling. I was surprised to taste a honey note right up front … sweet, delicious honey! Floral notes, woody notes … a really interesting and unique Darjeeling. Here is my full-length review: http://sororiteasisters.com/2013/01/23/darjeeling-monteviot-organic-first-flush-from-greys-teas/
Thank you TeaEqualsBliss for sending me some of this tea!
This is really lovely! Sweet with lovely fruit notes. I love it when I come across a pure green like this that is stronger on its fruit notes than its vegetal notes! This has more of a fruity taste than one of grass or spinach or beans or peas. I taste notes of sweet nectarine! Hints of mango. This is deliciously juicy and sweet!
The tea is fresh and sweet and it has a brothy sort of texture, but not a strong brothy taste (that is to say it doesn’t taste like veggie broth! It tastes like a broth made of fruit!)
This is really good.
Thank you to TeaEqualsBliss for sending me a bit of this tea!
When I opened the package I could smell a hint of smokiness and a rugged, earthy kind of smell. After brewing, a smoky aroma really emerged, as well as a hint of peppery essence … kind of like what I think it might smell like if I were to burn peppercorns in the fireplace along with pine wood.
This is much different than I anticipated before opening the pouch… I expected a typical afternoon tea… you know, something on the lighter side, like a Darjeeling blend. This is more like a powerful kick-in-the-pants kind of pick-me-up in the afternoon. I’m enjoying it though!