Thursday, February 14, 2013

lao tong zhi "old comrades" 2011 shu pu'er.

lao tong zhi "old comrades" pu'er.

My grandparents gave me a lovely little Visa gift card this past Christmas, and I decided to buy my very first pu'er bricks with it! I went to Verdant Tea, because I've always been incredibly happy with what they carry. I've had these bricks sitting in my room for a little bit now. One I've left untouched, it will age and sit and do what it wants to do, but the other is being slowly dismantled and consumed.

I just want to say that this brick of tea is super tightly packed to the point where I'm visibly struggling to be delicate. I have a little paring knife I use, but even then it can be a bit of a struggle to cleanly break pieces off. I've watched videos of people properly breaking apart pu'er and I feel terrible with how rough I have to be on this one. I read a steepster review that reassured me I wasn't just being heavy-handed, and that this was a very dense & difficult brick. Despite that, I've still managed to keep most leaves I break off whole.

Now, I had no idea some pu'ers smell like a sea breeze. I found this utterly off-putting at first (can you tell I'm a novice?) and it ruined my appetite for the tea. My doubts quickly washed away when I saw the color of it after it steeped. It was so deep and dark and red that I had to try it, and once I got past the inital aroma I was quite pleased to find that it was delicious. The cup it brewed was very malty and smooth. The flavor reminded me of a very strong honeybush tisane: caramel-like, with a sweetness like vanilla.

I was also strongly reminded of roasted yerba maté in later steepings of this tea.

It left a nice tingle on my tongue for the aftertaste, and there I got a more damp woodsy flavor from it. Overall I've grown really fond of this pu'er despite the initial struggles, and I love drinking it after a heavy meal. It settles my stomach and warms me up when I'm feeling a bit queasy after being a glutton. :)

little gaiwan.

Monday, February 11, 2013

korean bbq, my new favorite thing.

korean bbq.

Ryan and I went out with some friends and had Korean BBQ for the first time. I've always been a huge fan of interactive dining (ie: hibachi) and I was super excited to try this! I'll admit I also found it very daunting. We ordered, under the counsel of a friend who knew the joint, the samgyeopsal and bulgogi.

It seemed safe enough! Pork belly and seasoned marinated beef! 

I was delighted when the waiter brought out little platters of each condiment/side dish ... except when he placed tiny sardines and green peppers in front of me. Ryan was grinning while I stared in mild horror. The boys egged me on talking about the texture and bones while I busied myself with the salad and kimchi. 

The waiter then flicked on the table grill and threw the samgyeopsal on for us, and from that point forward I was in food heaven. I was instructed to make a little wrap with the lettuce and what condiments I would like. I added some tasty miso paste stuff to mine, as well as plenty of kimchi and some seared garlic. I felt like such a slob while the grease dripped out of the lettuce and down over my knuckles, but after a few bites I stopped caring and proceeded without caution. The same went for the bulgogi. It was so messy that eventually I decided NOT to wreck my dress and ate out of my little bowl neatly with chopsticks. 

I had no idea such a fun little BBQ restaurant was so close to us. I think I might prefer this to hibachi, especially because noodles weren't a huge portion of the meal. It was meat, veggies, kimchi, and I think the noodles were actually rice, but I wasn't brave enough to risk it without looking up what it actually was.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

"frosty garden" by mellow monk.

frosty garden.

The folks over at Mellow Monk were kind enough to send me a tea I wanted to try after reading & enjoying my previous review! I was extremely excited to accept this offer, because I've been meaning to purchase more types of Japanese green tea. They sent me their Frosty Garden tea ... a shiraore!

I've never had this type of tea before ... it is made from tea leaves with some leaf stems included. I've had a kukicha (a stem tea) before, but this is NOTHING like that. It was so fresh looking in the bag, and when I poured a small amount out to photograph I found the leaves were glossy and a very rich green, with light green stems scattered amongst them. It smelled very grassy and strong.

I waited to taste this until after a head cold I had decided to finally leave my system. It was wonderful to get such a flavorful cup of tea after days of dulled senses! The first sip was tangy on my tongue. I got a vegetal flavor from it, like fresh asparagus and grass, and then if softened into ... avocado! If you've never had avocado outside of guacamole/California rolls, it's a savory green fruit with a large pit, and the flesh is a nice yellow green color. The flavor is smooth, slightly sweet, and nutty. Avocados happen to be one of my favorite things to eat, so this tea was an absolute delight for me to drink! (After drinking this tea I cut one up for a snack!)

The aftertaste was light and citrusy, and reminiscent of a sweet lime or sugared lemon zest. 

This tea was absolutely delicious, and I'm so glad I chose it! The color was remarkable too. So bright, like a little peridot gem inside my glass teacup! :D It was exceptionally difficult to photograph and capture the true bright color of it, but rest assured, if you pick up some of this tea you'll find yourself marveling at it too.


Saturday, February 2, 2013

"monk's choice" by mellow monk.

monk's choice.

Today I am drinking a tea purchased from my favorite Japanese tea shop: Mellow Monk! This particular photo shows their Monk's Choice blend, and it is apparently their grower's most popular tea.

I was always extremely fond of their Harmony Blend (a genmaicha!) because it went well with breakfast, lunch, AND dinner ... but when I went to restock this past week I found they were sold out! 

I figured it was as good a time as any to try some of their other green teas since my favorite was unavailable. I decided to purchase the Monk's Choice, and I think I might be in love! I found that the first sip made me think of the first warm day of spring, which is lovely, because it is bitter cold where I live. It has a vegetal/grassy taste, but with very little astringency. It is sweet and smooth, and something about it feels lightly citrusy to me.

The aftertaste is smooth and has a light nutty flavor ... also reminiscent of toasted pumpkin seeds!

It brewed a very light green cup, and was very gentle on my stomach. I usually drink their genmaicha in the mornings because it warms me up, perks me up, and never leaves me feeling a bit queasy. For as much as I love tea ... drinking it early in the morning is generally a bad choice for me. I can only handle taking in extremely mild things prior to 10am. Now I know I can turn to their tamaryokucha/guricha in the mornings when their genmaicha is unavailable. :) So happy to know I have another early morning tea to start my day with!

I highly recommend browsing their selection and picking some tea up. You'll be pleasantly surprised at how affordable and high quality their teas are!