Monday, March 30, 2009

Cup 11-- Milk Oolong

Yes i am FINALLY getting around to those oolongs that caused the tea carnage :)

Milk Oolong, sometimes called silk-oolong, has a following and also a lot of critics. Many people are skeptical about the milk taste since it's not normally found in tea. Many producers of this tea actually spray down the leaves with milk or milk concentrate to produce the flavor in the end product. But true milk-oolong should not be produced this way, instead the taste should naturally occur as a by-product of the leaves being stressed by a drop in temperature shortly before the leaves are harvested.

the ancients had a different tale about where the taste came from. The moon fell in love with a comet that was passing through the sky. The comet passed by and went on and burned out. The moon, greatly saddened, sobbed and howled causing a great cold wind to blow across the earth. The tea that they harvested the next day was found to have a milky taste that they attributed to the moon's tears.

From what i can tell there are few places that can or do produce real milk-oolong. Most people seem to get theirs from producers in Taiwan and they fall under the category of "jian xuan oolongs". Many people seem to have had the shoddy versions of milk tea that will normally result in an overpowering milky scent and taste.

This tea is quite pleasant. Dry it has a faintly milky scent, brewing this scent intensifies a bit. the taste is smoother than other oolongs I've had it's kinda of creamy or sweet, but the scent is only slightly milky and the color of the tea isn't muddled at all, it's a pale to medium yellow. it reminds me of daffodils only a tad lighter. While many people tend to use gong-fu brewing of small and short infusions, i brew most of my tea English style, i like lots of tea :3 So that might be why the second cup doesn't taste quite as good as the first but is still enjoyable. The third cup doesn't have the same taste as the previous cups, it's rather plain. But the first and second cups are worth the lack of staying power i think.

While this isn't my most favorite oolong, it's pretty good...but i think that you have to be in a certain mood to really enjoy it. It's not something that i could mindlessly choose and enjoy, i think i would have to really have a thirst for it in particular and seek it out.

As a side note, i got some new tea-objects! Over my spring break i ventured into a crate and barrel and they had their bodum electric kettles on sale! i also picked up a bodum mug, because the double walled glass is awesome to look at and also keeps my tea from going cold too quickly :3 i'm enjoying both of my purchases! i really like that the electric kettle has an automatic shut off and will heat up rather fast!

I'd also like to apologize for the lack of posts recently, between sicknesses, breaks, and the semester wrapping up, I've also had to start making decisions about which grad school i'll go to next year and weighing my options. It's been pretty busy! regardless, I've had 400 individual viewers so far from 28 countries and 33 states! exciting times! i hope to update some more this week with more of my oolong offerings!

Kind-Oolong Tea
Brew Time-90 sec
Water Temp-195* or there abouts
Color- pale to medium yellow
Fragrance- milky, flowery, sweet
Taste-sweet floral, smooth, milky
Best during-meals, i thi nk this would be good before-bed as well
Style- Loose
Price per oz- $7.10 (abt)
Place bought- TeaCuppa
Overall- good, but only when you're in the mood for it

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sick Leave...again D:

brought on by perhaps the major change in temperatures, or perhaps by my own negligence, i've somehow gotten sick yet again.

while i'm rather sure that it's not strep again, i still can't smell anything :< very saddening.

I'm also sorry for the lack of posts recently, between getting ready for break, being on break, and getting back from break i've been crazy busy @,@; i hope that things will return to normal soon :3

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Celebration 3-- St. Patricks Day!

A merry morn to ye lads and lasses!

I hope that ya'll have had a great St. Patrick's Day! Hopefully you're wearing green as not to be pinched!

While that delicious looking cake is not green, it was delicious and spring-y! To celebrate spring, spring break (which i'm currently on :3), St. Patty's Day etc, my mother and i ventured forth today in search of a north GA teahouse called Crabapple Tea Room & Bakery.

We went for lunch, and we got quite a lot! While I did not peruse their loose-leaf tea menu, instead opting for some of their iced peach tea, i did find their lunch offerings to be plentiful and delicious! My mother had one soup of the day, a tomato bisque, while i had the other, chicken noodle. Both were hot, steamy, and chock full of vegetables. The chicken noodle reminded me of the soup that my grandmother makes with the chicken stock left over from making chicken salad. it was really comforting and delicious!

For our entrees My mother had the quiche of the day, a bacon cheddar deal, while i tried their three different 'salads' tuna, chicken, and egg salads on top of greens. The quiche did not disappoint, and the salads were rather fantastic. The tuna salad was better than any other i've had and the egg salad had pimentos i believe, which added a different swing from the usual egg salad that i've had. The chicken salad was different, but good. It had chunks of apples and raisins mixed in among the chunks of chicken.

For dessert My mother chose their brownie, which was easily as big as my hand, while i decided upon the hummingbird cake. Oooohhh the hummingbird cake. That is what you see at the top of this post. The strawberry, coconut, cream cheese frosted goodness. After soup, salads and multiple glasses of iced tea i wasn't able to finish the entire slice of cake. Words are not enough to describe the goodness that is this cake.

Also, along with both the soup and entree came cherry-chip scones, which were light and sweet, smaller than the normal scone ( they were about the size of a half dollar) they were the perfect sweet treat.

While we were two of the four total visitors in the tea-room on this gorgeous day we were served promptly, our glasses were kept full, and we were even given cups to take the rest of our tea with us! This is definitely a place i will visit again, and when i do i hope to better peruse their tea-menu and their pastry selection!

Crabapple is located off a main thoroughfare of the town in which it resides, but it's a quiet place, the building in which it resides is an old house, from which it seems they have retained many features, including the wooden floors and windows. The shop offers not only delicious treats and beverages, but also a rather good selection of European style tea-ware, candles, and other goods. It has both indoor and outdoor seating it looked like, although here in the Atlanta area people seem to think that it's still cold when it's in the 60's.

I'd really enjoy visiting this place on a Saturday for their high-tea. perhaps i can rally a few more people next time to come with me. I'm sure the lure of delicious desserts and pleasant engaging wait-staff would be more than enough for most :3

if you're looking for a lunch get-away, a delicious place to give in to the cravings of your sweet-tooth, or just a nice place to have lunch and relax i'd highly recommend this tea-room!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Cup 10--Emerald Needle

It seems like spring has sprung here in Indiana, and while it's likely that it'll spring right back to winter-like conditions, it has caused me more and more to think tea that is.

Today's Tea is Emerald Needle, an aptly named tea since it highly resembles the shedding of a Christmas tree. Dark green buds make up the entirety of this tea, and while they don't open up to show themselves off like oolongs or some other greens, the still have some visual interest, and the buds seem to have lighted in color after steeping. The dry leaves smell rather like a forest, kind of like bark and flowers, maybe more like dried flowers? Slightly herb smelling as well, but not overly so. It's a very pleasant and calming scent that reminds me of when i used to build forts out in the forest when i was in grade school.

The tea seems to retain some of these characteristics since it smells about the same brewed. While the taste is a bit vegetal it still has a flowery taste. While the fit cup i brewed of this i steeped too long and go a slightly bitter/smoky taste, it still wasn't an unpleasant or lasting taste. The second cup i brewed shorter than usual and there was just the slightest touch of smoky, and i had to focus to actually get that taste. Subsequent cups were just as pleasing.

While this tea isn't some sort of Rare-Super-Premium-A+-High-Grade green tea, it isn't bad as an everyday tea. While i could see some people being put off by the smoky/bitter taste, i think it's a great addition to my breakfast. The floral and foresty scent makes me think spring as well. It's probably not a tea that i'll keep a stock of at all times, but it's not something that i'll never re-order either.

Kind-Green Tea
Brew Time-Less than a minute
Water Temp-170* or there abouts
Color- pale gold or a darker yellow
Fragrance- floral, forest,herb
Taste-sweet floral, slightly bitter/smoky, smooth
Best during-meals, early in the day
Style- Loose
Price per oz- $4.00 (sample tin)
Place bought- Adagio
Overall- rather common, but not bad

Friday, March 6, 2009

Cup 9--Sakura Sencha

oh sakura sencha, you taste like spring. You make me think of warmer weather. You remind me that winter will eventually end!

Den's tea has a seasonal cherry flavored sencha. To their normal delicious sencha they add in some cherry blossoms. and my oh my. I'm very tempted to start up a tea-fridge just to store some of this!

I had my first taste of this on a sunny day. Very bright outside. The tea made me feel like it was spring already. i decided to leave my coat inside, and walked out into the 8* weather, and then promptly walked back inside to retrieve my coat. needless to say this tea is quite the trickster for persuading me that it was warm outside because it tasted like spring.

so what exactly does spring taste like? tart cherry with a backdrop of sweet corn. It seriously reminded me of a cherry pie almost! Not overly sweet, not astringent or bitter in the least. it didn't have the fake cherry taste like cough syrup (although i have had a lot of that recently!) but a very pleasant glowing flavor.

but how's it's staying power. 4 rounds in and i can usually get a few more decent, if less cherry and more sencha-y, cups. of course all of this is brewed in my new kyusu. I'm very happy with this little fella. While he does leak a bit around the lid when filled full and doesn't always stop the complete flow of tea when you plug the hole, he does brew up a good sized cup and rinses out well.

Kind-Green Tea
Brew Time-Less than a minute
Water Temp-170* or there abouts
Color- light green
Fragrance- flowery, cherry kinda sweet
Taste-tart cherry and sweet corn
Best during- cold weather? ;D
Style- Loose
Price per oz- $4.75
Place bought- Den's Tea
Overall- very nice flavored sencha!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Boil 2-- Pu eggs and other new things!

So i had some eggs, and so pu-erh tea from Adagio that i had gotten as a free sample. I've tried drinking this pu-erh twice and both times the taste has just been drinkable, but the smell was rather bad. so i decided to use if for my tea-eggs this time around... in retrospect it wasn't the best of ideas.

brewed in a small batch the pu-erh is just a bit smelly. add it to an entire pot of boiling water and let it simmer for an hour or so and the entire room will smell like a pachyderm house. no. i am NOT kidding. i actually heard people in the hallway wondering where the funky smell was coming from. a spell in the fridge was actually worse. the entire fridge smelled like pu.

i'm sure in time the smell of pu-erh will not faze me in the slightest. but currently it makes me gag a bit. Pu-erh, i've been told, is rather like dark wine, it's an acquired taste. Apparently very earthy and delicious. Pu-erh is usually tea that has been pressed into Beengs, basically Frisbee like disks of tea. Tea producers sell these beengs and the people that buy it will age it, usually at least 3-5 years before having some. Older beengs of pu are usually sold for more. However if stored properly it can supposedly last much longer than wine, which will eventually re-ferment and become nasty sour tasting wine.

When you decide the pu is ripe for the drinking then you take the beeng and using a pu-pick (i'm sure that this has a proper name... but it's basically like a letter opener) you break apart the disk of pu. slowly working your way around the pu to break it in half and then flexing the half of the disks carefully so you wiggle the individual leaves free instead of riping and tearing them.

Pu collecting is something that many serious pu-drinkers do. Some people have seperate storage areas for their pu, much like a cigar or wine collector would. This is not unlike the tea-fridge's that many white/green/oolong drinkers have started to use to store their teas.

i actually have not tried these yet. i'm worried about how they'll taste, maybe i'll mix them up and make egg salad? i'll keep ya'll posted.

In other news! Meet the newest member of the family, the Shudei kyusu from Den's Tea.

isn't it cute?! it's a 9oz glazed kyusu that they're currently offering to past customers for 9 bucks, or if you're a first time customer you can order it in a 'novice package' which is basically the starter package with this kyusu. If all kyusus are this cute i may have a problem restraining myself from buying them @,@

I christened the new pot with some Houjicha Gold, or roasted bancha. It was cold today and it really hit the spot! In this order i also got some more of the Genmaicha Extra Green that i've previously reviewed. But the main reason that i ordered right before the new greens came out was because i wanted to try their sakura sencha.

ohhh. it was good the first time around. i should be reviewing it later this week since i'm more or less recovered from my strep.