Tuesday, December 30, 2014

goodbye, 2014! ✨


2014 has been one of those years with extreme highs and extreme lows, and now it is finally coming to a close. I am quite relieved to be honest! Come January I'll be starting life anew as a student and putting a lot of negativity behind me. This past month has been a flurry of getting my things in order before the semester starts, plus the baseline chaos of the holidays!

The reality is still sinking in that as of 2015 I'll be in classes full time! I'm more happy than terrified, though. 2014 taught me that while I can get by on my own if I put my mind to it, the situation I had placed myself in was a less than ideal one. I became acquainted with struggling financially and the burden the dollar (or lack thereof) bears. I accepted that if I wanted to live comfortably I would need to return to school instead of relying on my job experience in the insurance industry.

Happy new year, dear readers! May your teacups be filled to the brim with happiness and good fortune in 2015! ☕❤

Thursday, November 6, 2014

hosen sencha from ippodo tea co.

hosen sencha.

Today is one of those rainy grey November days that reminds you autumn is coming to a close. I trudged through the parking lot at work, got splashed by a car driving by, and was chilled to the core afterward. I got home and decided to tackle some of the tea reviews I have pending! The folks at Ippodo Tea Co. were kind enough to reach out and send me two of their sencha offerings in a beautiful gift box! I received the Hosen and Unro teas.

Today I am brewing their Hosen tea. A cup of this was bright enough to combat the chill I got outside! On the website it states this is the sencha they recommend to newcomers. It is bright, palatable, and complex without being overwhelming!

hosen.

The dry leaves are shiny and a beautiful emerald green. The aroma is very light and sweet -- almost sugary! Ippodo recommends you brew 2 tbsp of this tea in a kyusu teapot at 80° C / 175° F for one minute.

ippodo tea.

The color of the cup is a pale yellowish green. The sweet scent of the dry leaves remains after brewing and is very aromatic and pleasant when sipping. Upon first taste the tongue is hit with a mellow vegetal flavor that lightens up on the palate into a high citrus note. The aftertaste that remains is reminiscent of asparagus -- green and snappy. I accidentally oversteeped mine and found that the tea is exceptionally forgiving. It didn't become unbearably astringent or undrinkable. I found that in a subsequent proper steeping the aftertaste is lighter and more floral if you don't oversteep. It was almost reminiscent of orange blossom as opposed to asparagus. They were still both very enjoyable brews!

This is the tea I'm going to save for rainy days. It is bright, refreshing, and a great way to escape the autumnal blues! ❤

Sunday, September 14, 2014

pax prime 2014.

airborne.

ALRIGHT GUYS! This is one heck of an image-heavy post. I apologize but I can't help but share all my photos from another phenomenal trip out to Seattle to visit my sweetie. I flew out just after my birthday because Dan got us tickets to PAX! PAX is a super-massive videogame expo that occurs annually in Seattle. It is actually so incredibly successful that there are additional expos in Boston, San Antonio, and even Melbourne! My flight out from Philadelphia was delayed for an hour and I quickly realized how many people present were flying out for PAX. We all had our 3DSes out and were playing Mario Kart & Animal Crossing to pass the time. On the plane I was even seated next to a dev who was traveling to promote his game!

waiting.

I was warned ahead of time by people at the airport (and later again by Dan) that PAX is all about lining up to see certain panels and shows. I had no idea just how many lines I would be in over the 4-day expo. Dan and I waited for a lot of great panels including Hironobu Sakaguchi (the creator of Final Fantasy), the team working on remastering Grim Fandango, and my personal favorite: Pat Rothfuss. During those queues I was constantly getting streetpassed on my 3DS. It was amazing!

LCS.

Also occurring within PAX was the League of Legends LCS tournament. I don't personally play LoL but I do enjoy watching competitive gaming. I was really impressed by the huge setup Riot had and the enthusiasm of the crowds. I wanted to sit in on a few matches but seeing as I don't really play the game I opted to relinquish my seat to someone who was far more enthusiastic about it than I was. How could I not poke my head in for a little bit, though? I mean ... LOOK AT ALL THE FLASHING COLORFUL LIGHTS. I was drawn to the area like a darn moth!

pat rothfuss.

The Patrick Rothfuss panel by and far was my favorite part of the expo. He's one of my favorite authors (The Name of the Wind / The Wise Man's Fear) and he read us some excerpts of his work and entertained us with his absolutely excessive use of the word 'fuck.' I mean ... he actually used it with such frequency that a mother escorted her child from the auditorium while covering her ears. After the laughter, the great readings, and mildly disturbing storytime he closed the panel by leading all 3,000 people present in singing "You Are My Sunshine." Admittedly, I got a little bit misty eyed and had chills all over. It also put a huge smile on my face for the rest of the day. It prompted me and Dan to grab coffee & donuts sit in line first thing the next morning to get all his releases signed by him. 100% worth it!

It was also made more worthwhile cause by the time we got out of the signing they had free delicious turkey legs waiting outside to advertise the new Gauntlet game. Breakfast AND lunch taken care of!

oculus rift.

Another really cool thing that happened on this trip was that I FINALLY GOT TO TRY THE OCULUS RIFT!!!! This is a piece of technology I am so excited for. Dan's friend ran the Tuscan Villa simulator for me and I got to explore a cute little house on the sea while being completely immersed in the environment. I hope I one day get to try many other games on this, and I can't wait to see what is eventually released specifically for the Oculus.

omegathon 2014.

The weekend concluded with Omegathon which is a tournament that occurs throughout the expo and is the grand finale for the convention. This year the final game they played was competetive Pac-Man. I never thought I would witness so many people screaming and cheering over the game, but that's exactly what happened. The positive energy in the crowd was absolutely contagious! When we made it back to the house I was a little bit sad it was over -- although my legs were relieved!

PAX felt like a safe haven. Where I could be myself and not feel judged for liking videogames and fantasy novels. It was an extremely positive experience for me. I normally have debilitating anxiety in crowds of people but when I found myself among everyone I only had genuinely pleasant interactions. If you knew me personally you'd know that a lot of my experiences with strangers as of late have been unpleasant and upsetting. PAX restored my faith in humanity. Shoutout to the girl working at Geek Chic who showered me with a lot of really lovely compliments and made me feel super pretty!

Now you guys officially know how much I like videogames. ❤

strawberry crepe.

Also, on my last day out I FINALLY TRIED CREPES FOR THE FIRST TIME!!! That was the icing on my happy cake. :D

review: firmoo eyewear.


Just as the summer sun started getting nigh unbearable I was contacted by Firmoo Eyewear to see if I was interested in trying their online prescription glasses service! I was more than happy to accept -- those of us who have to wear glasses always need to know what places you can shop from that have quality products! Seeing as I'm extremely happy with my eyeglasses currently I opted to try from the prescription sunglasses line.

I was slightly disappointed that some of the cute frames I spotted in the eyeglasses section were unavailable for sunglasses, but I finally found a cute pair of two-tone cat eye frames! I'm a sucker for tortoise frames so these went right into my cart!

The ordering process was rather simple. You need your prescription on hand and you simply fill in the blanks on the website. Something that surprised me was the $10 charge for my PD (pupillary distance) because of the specifications of frames I chose. I've never encountered that at other online shops, but seeing as the glasses were being provided courtesy of Firmoo otherwise I didn't stop to investigate further. To my understanding it was simply because the lens shape didn't accommodate my PD by default so they had to do a slight alteration to make it work.

I placed the order July 3rd, received a processing update email July 9th, and received shipping confirmation the day it arrived on July 14th. The glasses are shipped from China so you must be ready to sign for the parcel when it arrives! The turnaround time from the order being placed to the product arriving was excellent. The glasses arrived in a nice soft pouch with a hard case inside. They included a microfiber wipe to clean off the lenses and a small toolkit.

The sunglasses are made of sturdy plastic and the lenses I chose are extremely dark and have a slight polarization effect. The prescription feels accurate and the frames only needed slight adjusting to fit my head. They are very comfortable on and are great at keeping my eyes from straining in the sun! 


Firmoo's online service is speedy, convenient, and very affordable! My glasses arrived quickly and safely and exceeded my expectations. Definitely give them a try if you're looking for eyewear options!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

jasmine silver needle white tea from teavivre.

jasmine silver needle white.

The folks over at Teavivre were kind enough to send over a few samples to try! Considering how hot it's been ... I opted to start tasting the teas they sent with a very refreshing Mo Li Yin Zhen. The leaves are long, unbroken, and pale in color. Upon opening the bag you're immediately hit with the scent of delicate jasmine.

mo li yin zhen.

The tea when brewed is a very pale yellow and crystal clear. In the past my experience with jasmine teas have been limited to miscellaneous green teas in the form of jasmine scented pearls. Those teas were far more cloying, astringent, and unforgiving if you steeped a moment too long. For that reason I generally avoided jasmine in my teas. This tea is far more gentle than the ones I've tried in the past. The white base is delicate and light on the palate, and the jasmine is not overpowering. When you first sip you'll find that the jasmine fills your sinuses with sharp white floral notes, but then it softens and you get to experience the white tea base. Delicate, slightly nutty, and delightfully sweet. Wonderfully light for a hot summer day like today.

This jasmine silver needle white tea is perfect for someone who loves jasmine but struggles with finding the right balance between the tea leaf and flower! It is a well balanced floral tea that does not rely on heavy jasmine to mask the faults of the tea base. It is high quality all around and a very enjoyable brew!

Monday, August 4, 2014

never looking back.


Gosh, I am one stressed out gal right now! What a lot of people don't know about me is that I am someone who micromanages their life to ridiculous degrees. As much as I like the idea of spontaneity it is simply something that doesn't suit me most of the time. I plan things out weeks in advance. I make reservations for everything.

I'm also a creature of terrible habit. Once I fall into a comfortable cycle I am weary to change anything. It's lead my life into something of a melancholy standstill. After having to give up my cozy cottage apartment I quickly realized that life doesn't care one bit about comfortable cycles and it will derail everything when it gets the chance. And you know what? That's okay. The events following the start of the new year kicked my butt, but it gave me the drive to improve my life drastically. I did a couple spontaneous things that have already paid me back tenfold with happiness. I started to stop caring about being comfortable and started caring about living my life.

With that said, I made the decision to go back to school. What will I study? Hell if I know right now. I got ahead of myself and started trying to plan out the next 2-4 years of my life to ridiculous degrees and became overwhelmed completely. I had to tell myself: "Danielle, stop, just go where life takes you." I'm hoping to get into classes for spring semester with credits transferred from my old college. It's actually a hilariously terrifying prospect -- returning to school after so many years of being disillusioned. Here I am doing just that, though! Eek!

I'm making sure that I always have something to look forward to and work towards from this point forward. :)

Sunday, July 6, 2014

june adventures.

juicy pork dumplings.
(Juicy pork dumplings, aka: dumplings filled with the brothy nectar of the gods.)
May & June were exceptionally busy months! Apologies for my internet absence. My computer situation is squared away at last. It feels so good to have a working desktop and Photoshop back at my fingertips!

June saw me flying alone as an adult for the first time EVER to visit my boyfriend who is conveniently located at the opposite end of the country. Philadelphia to Seattle! 2,821mi commute, no big deal, right? I was utterly racked with anxiety, nerves, and an unrelenting fear that an otherwise reliable modern technology would fail and I'd drop out of the sky in a giant airborne tin can. My flight out was apparently an unusually bad one according to the seasoned travelers seated around me. The takeoff was jarring and the severe turbulence while dodging storms brought me close to being ill. I made it to Seattle in one piece, though!

rattlesnake ledge.
(I didn't believe him when he told me that was what we were hiking up to. I was absolutely wrong.)
The coolest thing about Seattle and the surrounding areas are the forests and MOUNTAINS. I could NOT get over Mt. Rainier in the distance. We have some Appalachian mountains a decent drive out from the Philadelphia area, but they absolutely pale in comparison to the Cascade Range. The weather during my visit was utterly beautiful (sunny and in the 70s, what more could I ask for?) and the first time I caught a glimpse of Mt. Rainier I was in a state of complete awe. It was the first time I had ever seen a snow-capped mountain. One of the things we did during my visit was drive into the mountains a bit and hike up Rattlesnake Ledge -- planting me in the middle of the gorgeous mountainous area just outside the city.

The hike was a motherfucker. I can't think of a more pleasant way to phrase it. It kicked my butt. I was wheezing, sweating, huffing and puffing the entire way up. I was told I sounded like I was in pain. I was. Sometimes it felt like I was just going to collapse and topple off of a ledge. When Dan mentioned we had hit the halfway point all I could think was, "I might actually die today, but at least I tried."

After a while and a few encouraging comments from people making the descent from the top ... we made it!!!

view from the top.
(Not our dog, just another hiker's cute companion enjoying the view with us!)
People had their kids up there, dogs, and so on. The clouds cleared enough for me to see far into the distance. It really was one of those gorgeous vistas that makes you appreciate being alive and well enough to see it all in person. The perilous hike up was absolutely worth the end result.

The descent also sucked, but not nearly as much. By that point the blisters I acquired on the way up had burst and were now just actively bleeding into my shoes. My socks were damp with blood and at some point the pain became so constant that I was able to ignore it. Glamorous, right? Still worth it!

(Cardamom rose cocktail & beef tenderloin w/egg yolk ravioli. Pinch me, I'm dreaming!)
The rest of my visit was far more leisurely. I was taken on a bit of a culinary tour and got to eat at some amazing restaurants. I've never had so much decadent food in my entire life! I think I flew back to Philadelphia a few pounds heavier. I was shown about Seattle proper but absolutely refused to go in the Space Needle because of my fear of heights. I did get to see Pike Place Market, though! We saw the fantasy, science fiction, and horror exhibits at the EMP Museum and went to the Spies exhibit at the Pacific Science Center. The week flew by, and before I knew it I was on a red-eye flight back to the East Coast. I can't wait for my next trip out!

Hope all has been well with you, dear readers! ❤

Sunday, June 1, 2014

a brief pause.

I'm sure you've noticed things have been quiet over here! Last month my computer died and took everything with it ... photos, videos, music, etc. I lost ALL of my data aside from a few important things I had the forethought to back up. I have tea photos on my camera memory card, tasting notes jotted down, and lots of things to share! At the moment, though, I am a bit technologically limited. I have a borrowed laptop I'm using until I can get a new PC, but I don't think Photoshop and Bridge will play nice with it (heck, they didn't even play nice with my old computer sometimes!)

I hope to be back in the swing of things soon!! :) I'm still posting photos on instagram and doing my best with my little iPhone camera in the meantime. Hope all is well with you, readers!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

boxes, boxes, boxes.


Dealing with tons of stress lately ... the other day I was packing and getting ready for my dad & friend to come over to help me move large furniture. I took trash downstairs and a girl was looking for me frantically -- she nailed my parked car while pulling in to the parking lot. At first the damage didn't look too severe. Then I looked at the hit in different lighting. HOLY DENT, BATMAN! I did my best to remain calm and pleasant because she was visibly upset. Meanwhile, I just recall saying, "Why me?" in my head over and over in that moment. Very glad I got her insurance information. Then, while packing, I managed to lose my grip on my camera and dropped it so hard that the lens shattered into a bunch of very irreparable pieces. The camera body was fine, but ... sigh. RIP little Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 lens. Your bokeh was always beautiful. :'(

When it rains, it pours, right?

In the meantime, I bought a beautiful Lomonosov teacup as a sort of "welcome home" present to myself. I had always loved their cobalt & gold teacups, and finally found a teacup in the "Tenderness" style on Etsy for an affordable price. After moving a few more things in today I treated myself to some of Verdant Tea's Mi Lan Xiang Phoenix Mountain Dancong in my lovely new cup! Chai and I need to relax & have tea time in the sun after all this chaos!

 tea time.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

new glasses!


When you're living out of boxes life can start to feel very unglamorous and dreary. Plus, after breakups you generally have to fight an urge to cut your hair, or change something drastic about your appearance to improve your mood.  I love my long hair and didn't want to chop anything off, but I felt that urge and opted to find a new pair of frames to liven up my face instead!

These frames are Ray-Ban RX5226 and I love them! They are perfectly cat eyed and work really well with a bright red pout to match the contrast of the black acetate. My mom even chipped in to get me really nice super thin coated glass lenses as my plastic ones were not as glare resistant as I liked. ❤

I'm wearing Bite Beauty Cashmere Lip Cream in "Port". It is one of my favorite beauty products. It is a super thick highly pigmented lip cream with a semi matte finish that stays all day. A little goes a long way and the color is just incredible. I have a hard time with a lot of red lipsticks because of bleeding color, dryness, and having it wear off on my teeth. The cashmere lip cream stays put and hardly fades. I don't like spending a lot of money on cosmetics, but this one is just too good not to own!

Also, Game of Thrones is back tomorrow! I AM SO EXCITED!!!!!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

spring cleaning.

keemun.
in my cup: premium keemun hao ya from teavivre
It's been raining cats and dogs outside, and I spent all day dismantling IKEA furniture with friends. Any moving we planned on doing was postponed in order to remain dry. We played Munchkin Cthulhu, smoked some hookah, and had a peaceful afternoon spent indoors. After they left I found myself at a loss as to what to do. The weather was still foul and I didn't feel like playing videogames ... so I turned my attention to the blog. I spruced a few things up and fiddled around with images.

I can't wait for my move to be finished! I packed and moved all of my teacups (except one) already. I wanted to make sure they were transported delicately and without any rush. It's funny, but I have been fretting about not being able to pick a cup that matches my mood on a whim! I mean, the one I am using right now is gorgeous, but I need that little bit of variety!

With my big furniture dismantled I feel like things are finally progressing. You pack and pack and pack, but with your furniture all about it feels like you're getting nowhere. My apartment is now a mess and I am happy about it! Progress, yay!

Also, I am in love with this song by The Honey Trees at the moment ... I can't wait for their new album to come out!

Monday, March 17, 2014

this has been a rough month ...


So far 2014 has been a rough one, which in part explains why I haven't been so active on the blog or diligent about responding to emails! For that, dear friends, I do sincerely apologize! I had a run in with a sore throat, injured myself slipping on ice, battled bronchitis, and developed a severe dental abscess and had to undergo a fairly painful procedure to treat. On top of that I need to pack for my move! It feels like I can barely catch my breath with all that happening in between work. My friends always say that I make them believe in bad luck, and now I can see why!

This month in particular was the worst. Just after recovering from bronchitis I developed sudden jaw pain and attributed it to a filling my FORMER merciless dentist did a botched job on. As it turns out, he placed the filling so deeply that it was resting on top of my dental pulp, and it finally got infected. I started browsing new dentists in the area. The pain went from annoying to unbearable in a matter of a few days. Next thing I knew I was blinded with pain. I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep, and I couldn't escape it. Thankfully I found a new & compassionate dentist who squeezed me in for an emergency procedure to drain and treat the infection. The procedure was so painful during and afterwards that I scared my neighbor as I ran into my apartment building with an ice pack held to my jaw and tears streaming down my face. I'm going back on Wednesday to remove the medicinal packing and have the remainder of a root canal performed. I can't wait for this to be done and over with! I want to feel healthy and not ill!


This year so far has been an interesting lesson in life. The instability of relationships, unexpected breakups, working through illness, and coming out stronger than before. I feel like I earned a few battle scars in the span of just a few months, and it has changed my views on a lot of things. I'm a tough cookie and I am taking a positive perspective on this bout of misfortune. The only challenge is giving up this darling apartment and my wonderful neighbors. I swear, if this building is haunted, it is surely by the happiest and most loving ghosts imaginable! Everything here feels warm, joyful, and welcoming, and I don't think I'll ever find another building with so much love radiating from it.

I am looking forward to spring weather rejuvenating me. I need a little bit of sunshine and warmth to keep me motivated!

Friday, March 7, 2014

gokujo hojicha & uji-shimizu from ippodo tea.

ippodo gift.

I was fortunate to be contacted earlier this year by Ippodo Tea Co. and sent a lovely sample of their teas! When I received the package I was completely charmed by the detailed packaging and pretty containers inside. The teas they sent were a Gokujo Hojicha and Uji-Shimizu. I know some tea drinkers may not care about the appearance of what their tea arrives in, but I found that it made the experience all that much more enjoyable.

gokujo hojicha.
hojicha.

First up is the Gokujo Hojicha. As soon as I opened the bag of tea inside the canister I found myself hit with a toasty and nutty scent. The leaves are large, flat, and warm brown in color. This tea should be steeped with boiling water in a kyusu ... but that is one piece of teaware I've yet to add to my collection! I steeped it in a similar vessel and followed the instructions on their website. It makes a rich golden brown brew. I poured myself a cup and took a deep breath in. The toasty aroma remains, but it is isn't strong or bitter. It is slightly savory but remarkably light. It almost reminds me of lightly toasted bread with a gentle malty aftertaste!

This is an earthy tea for sure, but it is not pungent or overbearing. It is low in caffeine and I found that I enjoy it most accompanying dinner. It gives me my evening tea fix and allows me to get to bed without any caffeine jitters!

uji shimizu.
matcha.

Admittedly, I think their Uji-Shimizu is my new favorite tea treat! You can purchase it on their website in either portioned stick form, or as a loose powder to mix on your own. This tea arrived in the midst of several winter storms back to back, and I found that grabbing a packet after a long day of shoveling was perfectly relaxing. It really is as simple as that, though. It is an instant powder tea and doesn't necessitate whisking. It dissolves quickly in water stirred with a spoon. I need to order more of this, because I can see it being a purse staple. Tea on the go is always a delight!

I say this is a tea treat because it is SWEET! It isn't offensively sweet or cloying, Ippodo managed to get a perfect balance to cut the richness of matcha into something that can be consumed at any time of day. It is also a great way to introduce the tea to someone who might find themselves intimidated by matcha otherwise.

They recently opened up a storefront in NYC, and now that the weather is becoming more reasonable I am hoping I'll be able to pay them a visit soon! In the meantime, however, I will continue to cozy up with their wonderful tea offerings!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

winter blues.

winter blues.
afternoon ritual.

Winter has been rough this year. There have been many major storms battering our area, piling up snow, and making it nigh impossible to go out and enjoy yourself. While we had a lovely thaw (which I took full advantage of) they are saying we aren't out of the woods yet. Apparently our usual unwelcome March storm is upon us, and it will be bringing with it 6-10" of snow. I am tired of shoveling, slipping on ice, and getting stuck inside for days at a time until the roads are cleaned up. It also makes going to work THAT much more stressful.

Also, can I just rant for a moment about how utterly neglectful PennDOT has been in regards to the GIGANTIC car-eating potholes on almost every major road? I know that they prefer to repair things when winter ends, but they need to at least put temporary filler in. My mother and I actually drove past a hubcab graveyard today.

Every time I come home after dodging potholes I have to sit down and make myself tea. I need to loosen up, because I get SO tense when I see a giant unavoidable hole in the road waiting to wreck my car. This is bringing out the worst behavior in drivers too. When I see someone ahead dodging potholes I slow down and give them the space they need, but no one is ever that considerate for me. In fact, if you try to evade and slightly drift into their lane they will blare their horn and act like you're being reckless. Must remember to breathe and relax, must remember to not rudely gesture at inconsiderate drivers that totally deserve a middle finger, must remember that spring will be here soon.

sun dried jingshan green.

In the meantime, while being trapped inside, I've been recovering from my nasty chest cold. I spend my afternoons reading, watching Bollywood movies, drinking tea, and playing with Chai. I think I can finally catch my breath 2 weeks after my initial sickness. I can't wait to go outside and not be set into a coughing fit from the cold winter air. I don't even enjoy being out in the sun, but at this point I am longing to sit outside for a while and soak up some sunshine.

Dear spring ... come quickly! We are all in dire need of you!

mischief.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

superfine taiwan ali shan oolong from teavivre.

superfine ali shan oolong.

Today I am sipping Teavivre's Superfine Taiwan Ali Shan Oolong! Today is the first day it has broken freezing temperatures with clear skies. The birds were singing when I went into work early this morning, and everyone is outside soaking up the beautiful sunshine! I even opened the windows in the apartment to let some of the stuffy winter air out.

This high mountain Taiwanese oolong seemed like an absolutely perfect brew for today's weather! The dry leaves were a vibrant green and carried a delicate grassy aroma, and they unfurled beautifully while steeping. When steeped the aroma of the tea becomes more milky and smooth, but it is still very light.

My first sip reminded me of sunshine warming you up during a cool day. The color of the cup is a very pale green. The flavors are incredibly delicate and subtle, and are remarkably refreshing. The soft buttery note gives way to bright florals which linger on the palette and become more pronounced with each sip. Everything about this tea is wonderful, but you must enjoy it slowly or else you will miss the best parts of it. It's the sort of tea you would want to make after a stressful day ... it reminds you to slow down, breathe deeply, and enjoy a moment of quiet tea time.

sunbeams.

Monday, February 17, 2014

golden monkey from teavivre.

golden monkey.

I was recently contacted by Teavivre and was sent a lovely sampling of teas! I was thrilled to hear from them as I had been meaning to try some of their selection. The first tea up for review is their Golden Monkey! I've always been partial to this type of tea ... it is hearty, full bodied, and perfect for winter!

I had been holding off on reviewing teas until a nasty chest cold passed, as my senses were completely dulled and I was too sick to really enjoy anything. I resorted to plucking any old flavored tea from my cupboard to brew in the hopes that SOMETHING would break through my congestion ... but no luck. Now that my senses have (mostly) returned I am thrilled to brew something other than a super strong heavily honeyed chai!

amber cup.

The leaves of the Golden Monkey were lovely ... lots of delicately curled golden tips amongst the black tea leaves. The aroma is earthy and sweet. When hot water is poured on top the scent becomes richer and deeper ... and now smells a little bit like toast and chocolate. It brews a bright reddish amber color, and catches light beautifully.

The tea itself is rich in flavor with notes reminiscent of wildflower honey and roasted sweet potatoes. It is malty but not overly assertive, and is wonderfully hearty. I found it particularly enjoyable after coming in from the wintry cold conditions outside! I accidentally overbrewed it (my kitty distracted me with lots of cuteness) but the quality of the cup stayed true. If anything I noticed a slightly smoky flavor come in to play with the initial sip, and it was still delicious!

tea on the windowsill.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Golden Monkey sent to me from Teavivre. You can find it on their website here! The cute teapot and cha hai were also acquired through Teavivre, although I purchased them separately as an addition to my own collection. You can find the teapot here and the cha hai here!

I am looking forward to posting the reviews for their Keemun Hao Ya, Superfine Taiwan Ali Shan Oolong, Taiwan Jin Xuan Milk Oolong, and Jasmine Dragon Pearls in the future! So many teas to taste, and so little time!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

pulang puerh from jalamteas.

illuminated.

The folks over at JalamTeas reached out and sent me one of their offerings: Pulang Unfermented Puerh!

I am still quite the puerh novice and this was my very first time trying an unfermented cake, and I am excited to say that it exceeded my expectations entirely! I've read horror stories about unfermented puerh being undrinkable and bitter, but this tea shattered my misconceptions and has been an incredibly enjoyable brew.

The puerh is sourced from the Pulang Mountain (2000m elevation) in southern Yunnan and is a Spring 2012 harvest.

jalamtea pulang cake.

The cake is very light and the leaves were extraordinarily easy to break free. I didn't even need a knife as a gentle wiggle released a generous portion of tea. It is a dark olive in color with lighter tips scattered throughout. The dry leaves carry an almost green floral aroma, but I can't place exactly what it reminds me of.

With hot water added, a tart citrusy scent ... reminiscent of a lemon vinaigrette begins to waft from the gaiwan. The dark olive color remains as the leaves unfurl and steep. The color of the brew is a golden amber and is surprisingly light. After pouring the tea the leaves retain a strong vegetal smell ... almost like freshly steamed spinach.

pulang puerh.

The aroma from the cup was powerful and a combination of things I've not encountered before. Upon taking a deep breath I took in fragrances of citrus and green smoky wood. My first sip was a tart bite to the palate, but then a green floral reminiscent of lotus came around and then the sip rounded out to a woodsy finish. The tea lingers on the tongue nicely and imparts a flavor comparable to eating honeysuckle blossoms on a spring day.

JalamTeas offers an exciting subscription model that delivers high quality Yunnan puerh to your door on a monthly basis. You get to share a part of Jeff's travels to remote villages, and each cake comes with a lovely card with detailed information on the tea and recommended brewing methods. It's a great way to dive in to the world of green puerh!