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Flavors: Blackberry, Citrus Fruits
Hi everyone! It’s been a long time. A lot has happened since I last posted, but I’m going to spare you the details of most of it. Just know I’ve been thinking of you all.
Had a lovely vacation in the Netherlands and Denmark this past summer. Got screamingly good internet. Have had some story sales — some of my stuff is free to read on the Internet, so if you’re so moved you can check the latest on my writing site. Kids are doing well — they’re both in middle school now (gulp). No. 1 is in his last year, too. Mind blown.
I haven’t been drinking tea, though. A lot of sparkling water and coffee so it hasn’t been all bad — but I had a really nice iced jasmine green at a Teavana store the other day which reminded me how much I like tea. I’m trying to get myself back there and part of what may make me do that is I’m loving spinning right now — I feel so clean and awesome afterwards it feels like tea is the right thing to put into my body. So maybe I’ll be around more. But I can’t make any guarantees because the new job is totally wonderful but also pretty demanding.
Anyway, this is sipdown No. 1 of 2017 and no. 282 total.
I believe I made it through the entire 4 oz without actually making this hot. In the old days, that would mess with my OCD. I’m trying to be more zen, though. It’s nice to start the revisiting of tea with a nice-sized empty container I can repurpose.
It’s funny how exercising regularly in a way that makes me feel pumped also makes me want to declutter and put other aspects of my life in order. Anyone else notice that?
Anyway, the last of this is currently cold brewing in the fridge and should be ready to consume tomorrow morning. I expect it to be about the same as last time. Maybe a little weaker as I didn’t have a full 8 scoops to put in my container. More like just over 7.
Hope you’re all well!
I have an embarrassingly large collection of chai, so much so that I think it’s probably impossible for me to drink it all hot in this lifetime. Plus, the few LeafSpa teas I have left are leaving the realm of ancient and entering the realm of prehistoric, so I am trying to find ways to sip them down quickly.
That led me to wonder what a chai blend would be like in an iced tea. So I cold brewed some.
I am not sure what I was expecting. Part of me expected it to suck, and part of me was hoping to be pleasantly surprised. The reality is somewhere in between.
If I didn’t have a ton of this to get rid of, it wouldn’t be an experiment I’d repeat. But it’s not awful, so I’m repeating it. It tastes a lot like cold water laced with pepper and cardamom.
Sipdown no. 3 of 2017 (no. 284 total).
Same deal as with the Sri Lankan Leafspa oolong — put a bunch in to steep as a cold brew and found myself left with just enough to give it a whirl in the gaiwan.
Also, I am so glad I remembered to write down which of my yixing pots I seasoned for which teas. I would never have remembered. I thought about using the pot after I’d already started steeping. Oh well.
Anyway, this is a decent green oolong. I put it through four or so steeps starting at 15 seconds after rinsing. It’s enjoyable enough, but has a slightly bitter edge in the longer steeps. I am reminded of why I love green oolongs. It’s like putting my nose into a bouquet of flowers.
Flavors: Butter, Floral, Orchid
Seems like my first encounters with those of the Leafspa teas that are left tend to be cold brews, just because each container has 4 oz of tea which is a lot in my world.
This actually made a pretty good cold tea. Though much of the magical green-ness of the tea is muted or lost in the cold, the buttery flavor translates better than I would have thought.
Today was a slow day for tea, because I spent the day cleaning the house. Please applaud at the end of my list of accomplishments:
1. took a ton of empty boxes to recycling
2. removed hard drives from old desktop computer and old backup server, and recycled the remains, plus some keyboards, old routers, old power supplies, printer toner cartridges, etc.
3. donated cat diapers and liners to animal shelter (yes, I had cat diapers in my garage; my last kitty before the three I have now became incontinent in her declining months and though I threw away the ones she actually used, I had some that never made it out of the package)
4. finished clearing space in garage
5. moved tubs of toys from family room (and dining room!) to garage and went through two of them with kids to decide what to keep, what to donate, and what to store (there are a ton more to go through)
6. sorted and filed or stored papers found during movement of toys as mentioned above
And then, now that we have moved most of the junk out of the family room we could see our fire place again, so we had a fire! And I cooked dinner.
I’ve been at this since 8:30 a.m. and it is now 9 p.m.
No more tea tonight. Tonight I’m having a couple of glasses of wine and hitting the sack. ;-)
Sipdown no. 49 of 2016 (no. 260 total).
This became my “take it to work” tea and lived in my Timolino for the past couple of weeks.
Sadly, I just don’t really appreciate white teas the way they were meant to be appreciated. This was rather like warm jasmine spa water to me. The jasmine flavor was nice, but there wasn’t much else to it.
I have a lot more white tea in my stash so I’ll have more tries to find one I can discern flavor in, but I think it may be one of those things where I really want to like white tea but just don’t see the point.
In other news, one of our kitties has been quite sick. Thyroid problems, kidney problems, and earlier this week she had a stroke and some seizures that left her blind and unable to walk. We thought Tuesday would be her last day with us, but she made it through and is actually recovering slowly. She is walking a little, but we can’t tell whether she is still blind. Such a sad time in our house. She’s pretty much everyone’s favorite kitty.
Today was a slow tea day. Too much running around.
I cracked open this tin and made some in the Breville, but I just poured it directly into the Timolino so I could leave the house. I’ll have to do a more detailed note later.
Given how much I love jasmine, I expected this to be something I’d adore. But it tasted like a washed out version of the Leafspa Jasmine Pearls which has far more flavor. And not just more tea flavor, more jasmine flavor as well.
It was easy to drink and it won’t be hard to sip down even though I have a ton of it. And I am not sure I’ve had a jasmine silver needle before. I believe I had the Adagio one, but I don’t have a note on it and I remember having trouble finding the sample I thought I had. In any case, I don’t have a lot to compare it to and I am perhaps unfairly comparing it to the jasmine pearls. I have enough to play around with it quite a lot, so I’ll try it in the gaiwan and at different concentrations and steeping times. I hope I can get more out of it but today it was like lightly jasmine flavored hot water.
Sipdown no. 39 of 2018 (no. 395 total).
This is truly the end of an era. It’s the very last Leafspa tea in my cabinet from a Steepster select event many years ago.
I’m on a project to reduce the number of teas in my cabinet, but especially to reduce chais and lapsangs. I have too much of both, and I typically don’t drink either that frequently. So I really don’t need that many different ones.
After this one, I’m on to the Tavalon. I also have a Lupicia, a Tea Trekker, a Samovar, a Mariage Freres, and a Golden Moon — and I’m pretty sure I have some others buried somewhere. So it’s going to take a while before I’ve got this under control.
But this one was nice. It was on the mild side, not ashy, not resiny. In a sideways sort of way, I’ll miss it.
In going through my recent tea inventory/cupboarding project, I made a discovery.
I have way too much lapsang souchong.
I seem to have made a habit of dropping in a lapsang sample or tin in pretty much every order I ever made. This despite the fact that while I do enjoy lapsang from time to time, it is very much a sometime thing for me. I can’t see myself drinking it daily, and I have enough to be able to do that for a number of months.
One of the reasons it is so much a sometime thing for me is that I’ve had widely varying experiences of it. Some versions have been so incredibly smoky, I felt I was going to die of smoke inhalation, and I continued to smell the tea in my nostrils for hours afterwards (or until my next shower). I’m always a little worried before trying a new lapsang that it is going to be like that, so I have some apprehension of them as well, which leads to a lower rate of consumption than I might perhaps otherwise have.
When I smelled the dry leaf of this, I thought I was going to get a mouth full of ashes, but as it turns out, this one is one of the good guys. Smoky, but not ash try tasting, and not stomach turning.
There’s a sweetness to it as well, in both the aroma and the flavor. The smoke isn’t so much that it completely obliterates all other flavors in the tea. It’s not particularly resiny either, but it does have a suggestion of pine, particularly in the aroma.
It’s nice on a cool day that started out rainy and is still overcast. It’s like sitting by a fireplace. Come to think of it, it would be really nice to drink by a fireplace.
Flavors: Malt, Pine, Smoke, Sweet, Wood
Sipdown no. 2 of 2017 (283 total).
After putting most of the last of this into the fridge to brew, I had a little left over. Since I’d barely tried this hot, I figured it was my last chance to try it in the gaiwan.
I rinsed and steeped in the gaiwan. It took me two steeps to realize something was wrong with the water. (Hope I don’t get sick.)
I’d filled up my water boiler and later realized I hadn’t emptied it. The water must have been in there over a year! It was musty and gross. I dumped it out and started over with fresh water.
Better, but hard to get over the trauma of the gross water.
Hot, it does have floral and butter notes which makes it come across as a green oolong. The liquor is golden with a hint of green, and the aroma has a freshness to it. Ironically, it’s a “fresh water” smell that came through despite the very unfresh water, along with the floral and butter in the flavor.
Flavors: Butter, Floral
Tried this today western style in the Breville.
Kind of odd-tasting. Sort of like green tea, but not completely. Not really like a green oolong, or a roasty oolong. A bit roasty around the edges, perhaps. There’s a sort of weird floral flavor to it, like a jasmine note. Not sure where that is coming from as this isn’t flavored. I like jasmine, but I guess I prefer it when I’m expecting it to having it show up as a surprise.
Will try it hot again in the gaiwan. But I suspect I’ll be drinking most of this cold, as it’s quite nice that way.
I was looking around for something else to cold brew and decided to try this. Even though it’s December, it’s nice to have something cold available to drink. And this way I don’t have to rely on Diet Coke for something with flavor. It’s also cost effective in a stupid way. It’s a sunk cost because I already bought it and have had it sitting around doing nothing, whereas Diet Coke is an incremental cost because I haven’t already bought it. I have to think about such things while looking for a job. ;-)
I haven’t actually tried this hot yet — in fact, I cracked open the tin, which I’ve had for a while, yesterday for the first time. It’s been in the fridge for about 24 hours and I just strained out the leaves.
I’m sure when I bought this way back when I was thinking to myself, Sri Lankan oolong? That sounds pretty interesting. Let’s try that.
I suspect now I’m too much of a purist to go there except perhaps in the small sample size rather than the metric ton size.
As a cold brew, this is pretty tasty. It’s got a flavor that is not nearly as toasty as the Se Chung was, but isn’t really a green oolong flavor either. There’s no milkiness or butteryness, and it’s not obviously floral. It’s very fresh tasting, almost green tea or darjeeling-ish flavor, but not as strong and not nearly as wine-like as darjeeling.
The leaves unfurled to a huge size. So big that when I strained this, I lost about a fifth of the volume to water displacement from the leaves.
I’ll try it hot eventually, of course, but it’s doing a very nice job as a cold tea.
Sipdown no. 196. A large tin.
I thought about giving this another shot in the gaiwan or yixing, but decided I didn’t have the patience as it hadn’t been a stellar performer in either in the past. Too much tea, too little time. I’d rather just move on. There are other shous.
So I rinsed it and then steeped it in the Breville. Not a lot to report other than it is warm and inoffensive.
But the best news: I found my Timolino! Yay!
Trying this in the gaiwan today. Have just enough left to do something else with it. Not sure what. Maybe try it in the yixing again.
I am somewhat intimidated by pu-erh, though I like what I’ve had of it generally speaking. I’m just never sure I’m “doing it right” and since pu-erh can be pricey I’ve been reluctant to start with some of the things I know to be good in my stash.
Let me say that another way. It’s more accurate to say I believe them to be good based upon the word of the companies I’ve patronized because, as recent threads here have indicated, there’s a lot of room for everything from misunderstandings to getting ripped off particularly with regards to pu-erh. Which is one of the reasons it intimidates me.
In any case, most of my experience so far has been sort of the toe in the pool method rather than diving in head first. Because intimidated.
So here’s another toe in the water effort. I went for very short steeps after rinsing. Starting in the immediate range (1-3 seconds) and increasing by five seconds each time.
1. Very dark and opaque, like black coffee. Smells like a saddle. Tastes a bit salty and a little like potting soil. I think this is what tasters mean when they say mushroom, as raw white mushroom doesn’t taste like much to me except a little like dirt, and that’s what I’m getting here.
2. Same look to the tea, if anything a bit darker and a bit more opaque. Rather like flat cola. Still some leather in the aroma. But smoother and something else, too. Tobacco, maybe. The flavor is less salty, and actually quite smooth. It just doesn’t taste like an awful lot to me.
3. Color is the same. Less leather and more earth in the aroma. Gosh, this steep still doesn’t taste like much but it’s weird. It’s like the tea is trying to taste like something but can’t quite pull it off. A little like meat, maybe, but not in a lapsang sort of way. More like a shroomy meatiness.
4. No change on the color. No change on the aroma. Flavor is still trying to be something more than it is. There’s a tad of sweetness this time around.
5. Still dark brown but no longer opaque. There is something that makes me think of gravy in the aroma, though I’m not sure why as the salt and leather is pretty much gone. Perhaps its flour? The flavor is sweetening up some, and becoming leafy. There’s no leaf flavor listed among the options except autumn leaf pile, so that’s what I’ve picked.
6. Color similar to 5. I no longer think of gravy when I smell the tea. The flavor is brighter, and I can taste the water through the tea, which I think is a signal to me to stop here. I suppose I could push it further and see if anything miraculous happens in later steeps but I’m not excited enough by this to do that.
I have to rate this less as compared to other teas since I haven’t had many pu-erhs (certainly not many recently) and more on an absolute scale.
Assuming I’m doing it anywhere close to “right,” even if this tea was still available I can’t imagine buying it again. It’s not offensive, it’s just not really there. (The Numi bagged pu-erhs have more flavor than this does.) It makes a better cold brew than hot, and it’s hard to imagine that is how a pu-erh should be.
I’m rather gratified that other reviews didn’t find much flavor in this either, so I can’t conclude it’s just me. I want to develop a taste for puerh and I’d be horrified if I was missing the necessary taste buds to do so.
On the upside, it does seem to have made my digestive tract quite happy.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Dirt, Leather, Mushrooms, Salt, Tobacco
I thought I’d written a note about this but it appears I haven’t.
Before my hiatus, I had gotten up the courage to try cold brewing a pu-erh and I picked this one because I had metric ton of it compared to what I have of other pu-erhs.
I recently repeated that experiment and it was pretty interesting. I was worried that this one in particular might be a bad candidate for cold brewing because in the tin it has that rather fishy smell that some shus can have. But it actually worked out nicely as a cold brew. There’s a bit of saltiness, a leathery note, and some earthiness to the taste, but underneath that there’s a sort of thick black tea iced tea taste. It was surprisingly thirst quenching when I came in from running the other day.
Today I decided to try some in my little yixing that had sat neglected for so long after seasoning. The first infusion had the salty/leathery note I remembered from the cold version and was a sort of light mahogany in color. The second infusion was much darker, a sort of dark chocolate. At first I thought it had less flavor than the first infusion because the salt/leather was pretty much gone and the flavor was mellow and round. But mellow and round what, exactly, I’m not sure. Because there wasn’t a heck of a lot of flavor there. The third and fourth infusions went lighter again, back to the mahogany color, and back to a lesser version of the salt/leather with some round nothing thrown in.
It wasn’t unpleasant, it just wasn’t very interesting. I am thinking that my yixing, which has not been fully broken in, sucked whatever flavor out that might have substituted for the salt/leather. It’ll be interesting to see if there’s a difference when I try it in the gaiwan.
Very helpful in curing cough and cold naturally
Flavors: Black Pepper
Sipdown no. 182.
Tried this in my dark oolong yixing today. It’s really the yixing’s maiden voyage, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.
Interestingly, with the first 15 second steep, I found that the yixing imparted a sort of “roundness” to the flavor for lack of a better word. It manifested as a smoothness in the sip and a freshness and coolness in the aftertaste. I put it through four more steeps adding 5 seconds each time, thinking that the experience might grow from there.
But beginning with the second steep, the new yixing pretty much sucked the tea flavor away and left me with some not unpleasant tasting warm water.
Tried in the gaiwan today and put it through about six steeps.
Frankly, I didn’t notice a huge difference between steeping in the Breville and most of the steeps in the gaiwan. I didn’t find it changed a lot from steep to steep. I had sort of hoped the floral notes would come out more with more steepings but that wasn’t my experience.
I have just enough to give it a try in my dark oolong-dedicated yixing before sipdown land. Will be interesting to see what that does.
The last time I visited this tea, which was really the first time, I cold brewed it. Yesterday I decided to give it a try according to the package directions. Next time I’ll try it in the gaiwan.
Every time I have oolong after not having it for a while, I am reminded that I wish could sit around drinking it all day. This is a darker one. It smells roasty in the tin and has dark, rather short leaves. The liquor is amber, as the package promises, but I didn’t really think of it as dark amber so much as regular amber — it looked the color of the piece of amber I brought back from Poland with a bug in it.
I steeped this twice in the Breville, and it was quite enjoyable — I have no idea whether it was peonies I got, but there’s definite a floral note that sneaks in after the nutty roastiness. But what I really enjoyed about this was the mouthfeel. Initially fairly astringent, making my mouth feeling quite dry, but after that leaving a very soft, smooth feeling with a strange coolness.
I’m not rating this as high as some other similar oolongs only because it seemed a bit on the thin side in terms of flavor. Not that it matters a lot except to me, since the company is out of business…
Flavors: Floral, Nutty, Stonefruit
Hi all! I’m back from Scotland, though I wish I was still there. We had a wonderful time. We spent about four days sightseeing in Glasgow, three in Edinburgh, and took trips to Stirling, Loch Lomond, Loch Ness and Inverness, St. Andrews, and many other places along the way to each of these. And we rode the Jacobite Steam train, aka Hogwarts express. I have a few pictures up at my web site in my latest post there that show some of the castles and lakes (or lochs, I should say) we saw, and the train. I have about a gazillion other photos, of course. Take a peek if you like at www.jjroth.net
My older son got an authentic kilt and he looks amazing in it. We have many great stories to tell from our travels, and I have some new weird ideas for fiction. Now if only I could move to a cottage in the highlands where I could get away from it all and write them!
But you probably want to know about this tea? (Not that it matters a lot since the company is out of business.) Here’s the skinny. I needed some iced tea, or so I thought, to power the packing before Scotland. So even though I didn’t taste this steeped hot first, I decided to try an oolong cold brew since I had a lot of this.
I dutifully cold brewed, removed the leaves, put it back in the fridge. And completely forgot about it.
Fast forward two weeks later, when we got back from Scotland. I wondered whether I dare try it or whether it would be spoiled. The back of my fridge is pretty cold. Indeed, things have been known to ice up there, and this was in the back. So I risked it. Not only wasn’t it spoiled, it tasted terrific. I am now a huge fan of oolong cold brew, at least the roasty toasty kind of dark oolong in cold brew. I haven’t tried making a green oolong cold brew, but now I want to give it a go.
The one thing I didn’t do in Scotland that I should have was drink tea. I just never thought about it while I was there because it was just me with the two kids and we were on the go constantly, but that was a missed opportunity. We did have some lovely haggis and cullen skink, though. ;-)
Hope all is well with everyone!
Sipdown no. 157 for the year 2014. This is a back log from yesterday when I polished off the last little bit of this as my morning hot cup.
I’m on a sipdown roll with these black Leafspas. Though Darjeeling isn’t really black, they just call it that. This is the third sipdown of a mega tin inside of a week, helped tremendously by the cold brewing that is going on pretty frequently these days given the heat here. I let this one steep a bit too long I think, but it’s still tasty and just a tad bitter. Darjeeling makes an interesting cold brew. I don’t know that I’d pick it for that ordinarily as it’s a little piquant for a cold tea in my book.
Which raises a question. What else do you like to cold brew? Is oolong a good choice? I have a ton of it and not as much time these days as I need to enjoy it hot through multiple steeps. If it’s a good choice, how long should it brew, or does it matter?
Also, what about pu erh? I have a lot of loose pu erh and the idea of cold brewing it sounds kind of yuck, but I dunno, maybe it would be interesting?
Thanks in advance for your suggestions and sorry for my continued sporadic appearances. Things are getting kind of complicated here. The BF was admitted to the hospital last night with raging diabetes, and they haven’t let him out yet, so things are under an unusual amount of stress. Hope everyone else is having a better week. :-)
Wow, it’s been five days since I posted a note. Which goes to show how crazy it has been.
The kids were on spring break and going to a day camp, so our schedule got all discombobulated from that, plus work has been such that I come home every day feeling as though I’ve been crushed and ground into a fine powder. And then some nights, I had to get back on the phone for calls with Asia. My left eyebrow has been twitching intermittently for the last week, which sometimes happens when I’m overtired or stressed.
I have been feeling unmoored and I think it is because all vestiges of routine have been abandoned. I haven’t even been having breakfast, really. No morning coffee or tea, or at least not on a regular basis.
Also, it’s been warm-ish here, so I haven’t been craving hot drinks.
But as I mentioned in the last note before the lapse, I cold brewed some of this.
I don’t think my palate is very refined when it comes to tasting iced teas. I mean, I can taste a difference between this and the other cold brewed blacks I have had lately, but not a great difference. I suspect that the fact that the difference isn’t that great is reason enough not to brew this cold, unless I try it hot and it doesn’t send me. Darjeeling may be too complex a flavor to translate to iced tea readily? There’s a little more sharpness to this than there is with the cold Assam but sharpness isn’t really the right word because the cold brewing has blunted it. Otherwise, it’s pretty much a decent black iced tea and does the job of being a refreshing cold drink.
Continued apologies for not reading/commenting as much as I’d like.