Tuesday, March 17, 2015

White 2 Tea's Lao Cha Tou, First try

I saw Oolong Owl's Review of this tea, which she got in the February tea club, and I got really excited for it, when I realised I had that same tea in my samples from White2Tea. 

 A little over 5g of tea went into my gaiwan, and I did two, five second rinses.

steeps started at 10 seconds, adding half the time again to each steep.

This is the result. Beautiful, dark, and mysterious.

The tea tasted fine at first. But then I noticed an odd aftertaste, similar to chewing on styrofoam, Now, I had descaled my zojirushi the day before, so the flavor wasn't limescale. I don't know if something was up with my mug, or gaiwan, or pitcher, or what. I will try and brew it again, and will amend my review if something changes, but as of right now, it has a 4/10. I HATE saying that, because, the tea did taste fine until the aftertaste kicked in. But I don't play games when reviewing a tea, I tell you all what I think honestly, and honestly, that aftertaste made me physically ill, and until I figure out what the deal is, I CANNOT recommend this tea at this point in time.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Unboxing Some Samples from White 2 Tea and brewing 2007 Repave

A Mysterious Package arrived on my doorstep this morning, 

As soon as I open it- A note has appeared!
I see, these are the samples Paul from White2Tea said he would send me for review.

7 sample pouches and a fairly large mini tuocha that smells vaguely of hay and raisins.

 What to try first? OOH OOH I KNOW!! The 2007 Repave! Little did Paul know, I have been looking at this particular cake for a while, but hadn't been sure enough to order a sample...
 The dry leaves smell like a pine tree forest just after the rain stops.

He gave me enough for at LEAST two brewing sessions, so I'll just take 5g for now into my gaiwan.

Since this is just a quick morning tea sessions, after tasting each brew I combined them in my little pitcher, 3 at a time.

I stopped taking pictures at this point because I well, kinda forgot in all of the tea tasting madness that followed this picture.

Brews 1-3: Menthol and Camphor dominate, with a minerally earth finish, lots of lingering sweetness as well.
Brews 4-6: still a little menthol on the back of the throat, but mainly earthy with a hint of pruney sweetness on the tip of the tongue.

Overall, it is a very good pu'erh, and I am still drinking on it as I type, will update the review once I exhaust the leaves, which might take me all day.

I give it a strong 8.5 out of 10. I wish the camphor notes had been more pronounced in later brews. If they had, this would have been perfect. otherwise, this is a very good strong contender for my new favorite pu'erh, and I may just have to buy myself a whole cake or have someone do that for my birthday (^_^).

This tea was provided for review by White2Tea, but even if I had bought it for myself, the review would be unchanged (I don't play the "i have to review it well because it was a free sample" game).

Friday, March 6, 2015

New Mexico Tea Company- Ginger Green (Chinese Sencha) review

New Mexico Tea Company's Ginger Green is more of a shortcut tea for me than anything.

I prefer to make my own ginger green tea with the ginger I keep in the freezer, so I can easily adjust the amount of ginger flavor I get. But sometimes, I just don't want to go through the trouble of getting the ginger out, shaving it into slivers adding it to boiling hot water, removing it after 2 minutes, adding the leaves (the water is usually close to 175 at this point), waiting another two minutes, removing the strainer then being able to finally drink tea. 

This should be a welcome shortcut int this process.

I will be brewing this tea at 175 for 3 minutes, my standard for most green teas, I understand this is a little hot for a sencha, but I wanted to see how the dried ginger would react more than anything.

As you can hopefully see, the tea comes out fairly cloudy, That is not from any mistreatment of the tea, although I did brew it 10 degrees hotter than many people brew sencha-style teas. This is, I believe from the dried ginger.

My opinions on it's flavor are thus-
Nice ginger flavor, reminiscent of a traditionally made ginger ale (think Vernors.) Not near as strong in the spicy qualities though. It's like it's ginger tea, but with no bite, all the sweetness of ginger, none of the heat.

I give it a 5/10, would suggest adding a product such as this if you want more heat.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Rosie Earl Grey and Cardamom Black Reviews- Teas from New Mexico Tea Company.

I went ahead and tried both the Rosie Earl Grey and the Cardamom Black last night, and I thought I would share my views of both.

Rosie Earl Grey

There was about a tablespoon of tea in the sample of the rosie earl grey, Just enough for my rooster tea pot. ( yes that is a davids tea perfect mug infuser, I like using it in this teapot, because it is exactly the right size.)

I went with 208 F water, and a 3 minute steep. I have such an aversion to earl grey, just because of a bad experience with it being too strong, and it making me ill, that I wanted it to be fairly moderate in strength. The pot made 2 rooster mugs and a small mug much like this, only a darker shade of brown.,

I had husband and mom-in-law try it as well, because they usually like earl greys, so I had to put their opinions as well, since they are different from my own.

This may become something I buy to drink regularly

The opinions are as follows-

Me: Has enough rose to not make me violently ill from the mental association I have with straight bergamot flavored earl greys. Nice and floral, with a citrusy finish, not overly malty, I believe because of the Qimen base. 6/10

Husband: Alright, but since having eaten something spicy just before drinking it, it was too subtle for me to be able to taste as well as if I had drunk it at a different time. Tastes decent though. 4/10

Mom-in-Law: I like Earl Grey and this is a nice variation. The rose isn't overpowering, and since I dislike floral flavors, this is a good thing. It has enough bergamot to keep me drinking it, and enough rose to make it different from regular Earl Grey. 5/10

Cardamom Black

I put a tablespoon of this tea into the infuser, and brewed it at 208 for 4 minutes. This one I drank on my own.

I snuck a couple of little shards of frozen ginger into my mug after tasting a bit with a spoon, It is good plain, but I think with a touch of ginger it just got elevated.

This tea tastes like how a warm hug from a favorite aunt feels. So calming, so soothing, and it just made me smile. I can not find good words to describe the warmth that this tea gave me. It was more than just the comfort of a hot drink on a cold rainy day, it was sunshine and rainbows. It is simply a very good tea, and well executed. 8/10

Monday, March 2, 2015

Mini Haul of Flavored Teas from Purveyor New Mexico Tea Company, with first "scent-pressions"

Yay! A treat from husband for being a good kitty-kat! (I know, I am strange)

I had not ordered any teas from New Mexico Tea Company for the past two years, and I had not bought ANY flavored teas since before christmas (and I didn't even buy the one flavored tea I got after that time, it was from my mom). I do usually prefer "plain" teas, but sometimes I just want a flavored tea.

I went with mostly 1 oz pouches, I find that to be a good "starting size" for teas, they are easier to store, and much easier to finish.

These are just my first impressions of scent.

Below is the entire haul- including the requested free sample.

  • Russian Caravan, this one is weird for me, because I am EXTREMELY scared of smoked teas in general, but this one was not as scary seeming, so risked the $2.00 and bought a single ounce. It does not smell near as scary as I thought it would. To me, it smells exactly like smoldering mesquite wood chips after you let the barbeque burn out.

  • Black Jasmine Cream is more my style, You all know how I love the Sunflower brand jasmine tea in the friendly yellow tin. This takes it to me, to the next level. It has a vanilla-cream black tea with green tea and jasmine flowers. It smells like my gramma's perfume, sweet and floral with that creamy vanilla coming after, it is a very soothing scent.

  •  French Blend, another jasmine and vanilla blend, this time with the inclusion of lavender and rose. This smells like a garden. The musky floral lavender with the smoldery rose, light playful jasmine, Ooh-la-la indeed.

  • Essential Lemon is just that, lemon balm, verbena and grass mixed with peppermint, spearmint, and a little hibiscus. I LOVED lemon zinger from celestial seasonings, back in the early-mid 1990s.  Then they must have changed the formula on me, because it just doesn't taste right any more. This smells how lemon zinger used to taste. I hope the flavor lives up to the scent.

  • Wild Blackberry is really for husband. He loves everything blackberry, and I thought he might like this one. The smell is like a fresh out of the oven cobbler, with LOTS of fruit, very little goo, and a crispy, golden, pastry top.

  • I very rarely get rooibos, I like it, but it's hard to find it in flavors I like well enough to keep on hand. Bourbon Street Vanilla may change that. It has almond slices and it smells like REAL vanilla. I am PICKY about vanilla teas, even "Natural" flavors can sometimes be vanillin, which is made from WOOD PULP. Natural, yes, appetizing, absolutely not. Taste will tell,  and I am hoping this sports real vanilla and not imitation.

  • Ginger Cinnamon, how much you smell like winter time, I hope I don't run out of you too fast. I plan to use you in a tea down on the list to make a clove-less masala chai.

  • Coconut Black, how well you smell like a certain chocolate covered coconut confection. I hope you taste as good as it does.

  • African Summer smells just like orange, lemongrass, and rosehips. I'm hoping the honeybush will be more pronounced in brewing, but if not, I am seeing this as more of a Sicky-Icky day tea

  • Vintage Earl Grey, I did not expect to "connect" with the scent of this tea like I did. It must be the rosemary, because my mom has rosemary plants all over her property, and they bloom mid summer, and they get very fragrant at that time.

  •  ok, y'all should know by now that I love oolongs. I haven't met one I don't like yet. Yet again, I have never had a flavored one, other than a random ginseng oolong I got as a sample. Orange Blossom smells like a Florida orange grove, mid spring, when the blooming starts. This is one of the four teas I bought more than an ounce of.  Just two ounces total, but still, that's a gamble on something I was not sure of,

  • Yes, I do this one homemade all the time with fresh ginger, but a little convenience NEVER hurt anybody. Curiously this Ginger Green is made with chinese sencha, which is kinda interesting.

  •  Black Currant, oh how I love the bagged version from Twinings. I hope this is as good as that one, if not, I'd have to go down in quality to get the flavor I want, luckily it smells good enough that my fears are very minimal.

  • Cardamom Black, this may be my holy grail morning tea. I DREAM about swimming in oceans of cardamom infused teas. And this is the ONLY one I have found from a vendor I know that has one that doesn't contain any other things. I HATE CLOVES. This, with the ginger/cinnamon allows me to make chai that does not have it. all I would have to do is toss in a few mint leaves from my mint plant while it boils. It smells like spicy exotic perfume, or the spice aisle in an indian market. MINE, NO TOUCHY!!

  • And here is my requested free sample, which, I am probably going to make  today, there looks to be enough for one go in my rooster teapot, which is perfect for husband and I, because it fits two matching mugs perfectly. It smells like earl grey and roses, there isn't much to really elaborate on here, I picked it because along with the other 'Grey' blends, I am trying to get over a bad experience I had with badly done starbucks tazo earl grey.

My husband purchased these for me as a gift. They were not provided by anyone outside my family, and I have no affiliation with New Mexico Tea Company.