Wednesday, July 24, 2013

"blissful buds" from mellow monk.

blissful buds.

The folks over at Mellow Monk were kind enough to send me a new tea to review after seeing me restock some of my favorites from their store. They sent their Blissful Buds blend! According to them this tea is also know as an "agari" in sushi lingo. Apparently it is what is used to cleanse the palette and refresh after a delicious sushi meal! It is made from the youngest buds and shoots of the tea plants, and it yields a very sweet and refreshing cup.

emerald green tea leaves.

The leaves unbrewed are an incredible dark emerald color, and are so finely rolled that it felt like I was touching dry coffee grounds at first. Once the hot water hit they blossomed into rich, bright leaves with a lovely green mist making the brew take on a more solid and foggy appearance.

The aroma is strongly vegetal and green. Like steamed asparagus -- it is snappy and savory. Followed by that, the first sip is astringent, but not as much as other Japanese greens. The astringency drops off into a sudden tangy sweetness that I found comparable to a mildly tart plum. Followed by that was an aftertaste that was creamy and reminded me vaguely of a milk candy fading off of the palette.

The color of the brew is incredible. Yet again I'm finding myself wowed by how vibrant their Japanese green teas are. It was a lovely glowing green, and the sun caught it and illuminated the cup wonderfully.

It was just my luck that while sipping this and jotting down notes a summer thunderstorm rolled through our area. I sat in the windowsill with the windows open and enjoyed this tea with the rain cooling down the yard and watering all the plants. The color of the tea made me think of our backyard after a rainstorm. Bright green and alive! Now, if only I had some delicious sushi to truly tie this tasting experience together ...

Thank you again to Mellow Monk for having such incredible offerings & for being generous enough to send me another one of their teas for me to write about! It's always such a delight!


Friday, July 19, 2013

new gaiwan ... that's already broken.

lotus gaiwan.

I got this lovely red lotus gaiwan, and was thrilled as it was specifically marketed for "people with smaller hands." The issue I have with brewing using a gaiwan is that I have TINY hands. I always burn my fingers and nearly drop the other porcelain one I have because I can't grip it lightly, I have to get a huge hold on it cause my hand will already be stretched around it and compromised. Plus, this gaiwan had the prettest hand-painted design on it and even had a matching tiny translucent teacup that showed the color of the teas off so well.

So imagine my dismay when I put the gaiwan down after emptying out the leaves, go to grab a box of cereal, and turn my back for 5 seconds only to hear the most disheartening shatter. I had owned the gaiwan for less than a week, and hearing that sound made my heart drop, especially since Ryan and I are are budgeted and I couldn't just immediately replace something that breaks.

I turn around and see the lid shattered on the floor and see that somehow the bowl itself came out unscathed. It was a mix of relief and "well, crap, they don't exactly sell standalone lids, now do they?"

I had been having a horrifyingly bad week and ended up sitting in the kitchen chair defeated and crying for an hour while ruminating on all the crappy things I went through. Strangers saying cruel things to me in person, my mother and I having to rescue a small wounded dog hit by a car on a very busy road, and just overall stress. It was rough. The lid breaking was akin to putting the cherry on top of my miserable little cake.

Thankfully, my glass gaiwan, notorious for burning my fingers despite being small, had a lid that was a PERFECT fit. I was able to pop it on top of the red lotus gaiwan and got the best of both worlds: I could watch my tea steep and get the true color of it against the white porcelain too! Aaaand no burning fingers!

Monday, July 8, 2013

early spring tieguanyin from verdant tea.

rolled leaves.

I ordered some of Verdant Tea's Handpicked Early Spring Tieguanyin and was not disappointed. I am always drinking their autumn harvest and can only say positive things about it. This tea is like a gentler, sweeter version of their autumn offering, and I enjoy it immensely.

summer days.

The leaves are a lovely pale green, and are tightly rolled. Yet again I found that a surprisingly small looking amount of tea filled my yixing pot to the brim after steeping! The color is a lovely light green, and has a sigh-inducing fragrance of orchid and orange blossom.

It feels smooth and refreshing upon sipping, and you're hit with a very sweet grass flavor. Following that you have the faintest hint of sugared vanilla, and a snap of red grape. The red grape sweetness stays on the back of the tongue for a refreshing aftertaste that layers well with every new sip.

After drinking several infusions I found a lovely hyacinth flavor and fragrance came through once the snap of the red grape faded. It was an incredible new floral note to experience on the tail end of my tea time.

The spring harvest was much lighter on the palette than the autumn Tieguanyins I usually brew, and I found that to be very refreshing and appropriate for the weather. I even brewed a small amount and chilled it in order to combat the sweltering heat the Northeast is getting. The flavors translated well to a colder cup of tea -- the florals came out to play with a bit more strength! Yesterday the thermostats hit 92°F and the channels said the humidity made it feel like 98°. The iced tea helped keep me cool, but it was fighting a losing battle. It was absolutely muggy in the loft yesterday, but my mom rescued us with tickets to go see a movie in a gloriously air conditioned theater. :) If only I had thought to put some of the iced tea in a bottle to sneak inside!

spring harvest tieguanyin.

Friday, July 5, 2013



This morning I am drinking Numi's tried-and-true Aged Earl Grey. I can never go wrong with brewing this tea in the morning. I was going to make scones, but as it turns out, I wasn't paying attention to our groceries, and the milk in our fridge was a bit too old for me to bake with. Thankfully my mother dropped off some cream earlier so I was able to have nice milky tea with some of my Abuela's rice pudding for breakfast.

Ryan went to NYC last night with the guys for a 4th of July party ... while I opted to stay home in lieu of cooler accommodations, low noise, gluten free foods, and peacefulness after a very rough week at work. I suspect the humidity the area is getting has resulted in shorter tempers and more briskness overall. Even I found myself irritable at very small things when standing in the sticky heat. I don't think I would have taken well to the way cities smell in the heat of summer, and the overall aggressiveness of the populace.

I realized it was my first night alone in our new apartment. Seeing as the building is so very old I, of course, started thinking about ghosts and the possibility of having an ethereal roommate that only comes out when the lady of the house is alone. I also started thinking about 28 Days Later, and then The Last of Us, and then couldn't stop thinking about fast zombies on top of my previous lingering ghost thoughts.

Seriously, who came up with fast zombies? Those things are TERRIFYING.

(These are things I do to myself often. I even made myself jump over my own reflection in a window.)

In order to counteract my incredible ability to freak myself out, I made an Earl Grey cocktail, and put on a Bollywood move: Om Shanti Om! I used the Earl Grey Infused Gin recipe from The Framed Table, and it turned out wonderfully! I danced away the evening in my Animal Crossing town (aptly named 'Teacup'), watered the flowers in the village, and finally went to bed. I survived my first night alone!

 PS: Do any of you have Animal Crossing: New Leaf? It is one of my favorite things to play!

Monday, July 1, 2013



So I found a blog that I've been enjoying quite thoroughly -- Paige Z's Tarot and Tea. I followed her on instagram, and after seeing her daily readings I decided to find a tarot deck that I liked, and start learning to read the cards! All these years I had seen tarot circulating the internet, but only read posts that broke down the meanings in ways that felt insincere. Her readings were down to earth, made sense, and made me look at tarot in a new light. Thanks Paige! I can't wait to start learning more about these cards!

In my gaiwan is Verdant Tea's 5 year aged Tieguanyin. I got some as a sample with my most recent order (a restock of their delicious Dragonwell) and enjoyed the little bit I received! It smelled like wheatgress and bitter greenness. The leaves were rolled tightly, green, and had slightly broken edges.

It was malty in flavor with an almost chestnut-like quality to it. Following the smooth nutty note I was hit with a splash of kiwi and orchid, as well as olive oil (which I wouldn't have so specifically stated if not for the mention on their product page.) Had they not listed olive oil I don't think I would have EVER been able to figure out what that one mellow flavor was. It would have driven me crazy.

It was remarkably smooth to drink. Sipping on it felt like the tea was making a film on the back of my tongue, giving me a lingering note of orchid. It was delightful. It made for an interesting entry in my tea journal!

tea notes.

The apartment has been so hot lately. The East Coast is getting nailed with humidity, high temps, and lots of storms. I don't mind the storms -- but I do mind the heat. The AC unit my mom got us is keeping the loft nice and cool so Ryan and I can be on our computers in comfort. The downstairs is so muggy, though. I try to use window fans to get some cool air in from the shady forest in the backyard, but it only lets the humidity in.

I actually put down the teacup one afternoon and cracked open an ice cold cider instead! When it's too hot for me to drink tea ... well, it's simply too hot. Dear weather: please chill out. Literally and figuratively, thanks!!!