2015 Pretty Girls Shou Puer from White2Tea

I purchased White2Tea’s 2015 Pretty Girls shou puer at launch, and it got lost in the back of my pumidor, along with Brown Sugar and Red Shroom. This puer is one of their most expensive shous, clocking in $39 for 200 grams. I overheard that “Pretty Girls” is some sort of reference that flies right over my west coast head. However, the wrapper art of Pretty Girls has a nice robin on the front.

I was inspired to finally give this puer a try as my house is under siege by bird turf war since the spring. As with many Seattle area houses, I got lots of tall trees lining my house. The front of my house has a crow family. My deck has two robins nest that has hosted many babies. The jerks starting the war is the Stellar Jays.

Audubon.org

I’ve seen the Stellar Jays attacking the crows and the robins, but also stopping by my office window to say hi (in their crazy “song”) to inform me they bombed my car. The Stellar Jays also seem to like eating my roof, puking peanuts in my gutters, eating my fruit trees, and spitting the pits on my driveway. The biggest offender was I caught a Stellar Jay who broke into my kitchen and was eating my tortilla chips. I can never photo them as they are agile ninja turds, but at least their gang war is fun to watch a WWE style taunting of all the birds in the area. Though it is creepy when there is a Jay standing at my porch door looking like he would flick a toothpick at me.

Dry Leaf and Steeping Method

Wow, look at that gold in this cake! Very nice!

I used 1 gram of leaf to 15ml of vessel size, steeping with boiling water. I feel you can easily leaf more than this. The hot leaf smells like milk chocolate and caramel. First couple infusions are kind of cloudy.

Tasting of White2Tea’s 2015 Pretty Girls Shou Puer

First, Second, Third, and Fourth Infusion: The flavor of 2015 Pretty Girls Shou Puer is chestnut shells mixed with shiitake mushroom, with a hint of bittersweet chocolate. Pretty Girls dominate flavor is mushroom. The aftertaste is a smooth chocolate, contrasting the heavy earthy taste. The broth is on the thick side, with the flavor doing a great job coating the mouth in chocolate.

I noticed the silver teacup does wonders for any funky shous. I found the silver teacup cut through the mushroom and bringing out the sweeter flavors.

Fifth and Sixth Infusion: Pretty Girls is starting to clear the mushroom notes and lost the cloudy appearance. The flavor is getting sweeter with each infusion, as well as getting cleaner in taste. Right now it is getting more chocolate, mineral, and bright in flavor. There is some interesting depth with the strong profile of sweet over the earthy background.

Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth Infusion: Pretty Girls shifted to sugary sweet, with flavors of mineral, chocolate, and background of earth. The body is slick and thick like melted chocolate. This tea is in addictive chug mode, and I can’t steep it fast enough to drink.

Tenth, Eleventh, Twelfth, and Thirteenth Infusion: Pretty Girls was consistently sweet but slipped fast in flavor.

I struggled to keep this tea going. I likely could have gotten more infusions with a thicker walled gaiwan or teapot, or leafed a bit harder.

Comments

The earlier the infusion, the more dirty White2Tea’s 2015 Pretty Girls is. With each infusion, Pretty Girls gets cleaner and sweeter. The body and longevity is pretty good as well. Pretty Girls is a solid, high-quality shou and if you love sweet and clean ripes you will enjoy it. Pretty Girls has an addictive, zoned out zombie chug quality, but you can also take your time to savor the body and flavor. New to shou tea drinkers might not like the ultra mushroom infusions, but in the later sessions, Pretty Girls would appeal to many drinkers. Though I am curious with time whether the mushroom would clear up.

I like 2015 Pretty Girls Shou puer, though I think I like White2Tea’s 2016 Trap Bird better…. but that is another review and likely some owl bias.

Bonus! The shou smear on the side of the gaiwan gave me a good chuckle.

2017 Baozhong Comparison from Floating Leaves Tea

Multiple Taiwanese tea sellers and farmers have told me this year is the year for good Baozhong. Today’s review is a comparison between Floating Leaves Tea‘s Farmers Choice and Competition Baozhong. One of Floating Leaves Tea’s popular oolong is the Farmer’s Choice Baozhong. Year after year, Farmer’s Choice Baozhong is a high body and reliable oolong, that is much cheaper than the Competition grade, which makes it a great buy. With killer Baozhongs this year, Competition Style Baozhong might give Farmer’s Choice a run for its money. To be honest, I find Baozhongs just too green for me, so I usually pass, but this year I was wowed and purchased both from Floating Leaves Tea to have some fun. Let’s roll!

Dry Leaf and Steeping Method

Comparing them both, the Competition style has bigger and longer leaf. Smell wise, I really can’t tell the difference, but both smell fantastic, buttery, and floral.

Floating Leaves Tea tells you to boil your oolongs, including these super green Baozhongs. That said, I did around 1 gram of leaf to 16ml of vessel size, steeping with boiling water. I love being able to double gaiwan things, I find comparison tastings a lot of fun. Farmer’s Choice is on the left and Competition Style is on the right.

Steeped up, the Farmers Choice has a bit more brown in some of the leaf whereas Competition Style Baozhong smells a little more floral.

Tasting of 2017 Baozhongs from Floating Leaves Tea

First, Second, Third, and Fourth Infusion: Interestingly, the Farmer’s Choice is the darker tea.

Farmer’s Choice Baozhong is smooth, savory, thick and buttery. The sip is like melted butter, with the flavor smooth of buttered corn and husk. The aftertaste is a big shift from the sip, with a sweet floral note that is stronger than the tea. I always enjoyed how dense Farmer’s Choice body is it is like drinking a thick smoothie.

Competition Style Baozhong is also dense, thick, and buttery, however, the flavor is brighter, defined, but lacks the savory note. It is crisply floral and sweet, with also a sharp, harder hitting floral aftertaste. It leans closer to tulip bouquet, with fat juicy aloe notes. Competition teas, to me, always taste brighter. Competition Style Baozhong is also dense in body, but sharper – like a pungent crisp, freshly pressed juice.

Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Infusion:

Farmer’s Choice Baozhong is starting to get bitter here. However, Farmers Choice is still creamy, buttery and leaning on the savory with heavy vegetal flavors. It kind of reminds me of Gai Lan with that sweet with bitter vegetal note. The aftertaste is starting to slip, but still a nice floral sweetness that lingers. I am finding starting at the sixth infusion that I am losing flavor and it is getting drier.

 

With these infusions, this is where I noticed Competition Style Baozhong is shining. It is still going strong with heavy, dense body that sinks into your gut when you drink. It is brightly crisp and floral that sings after each sip. I want to drink this one more slowly to enjoy all the flavors and feels. With each infusion, the flavor is getting more vegetal and savory, but the finish is still crisp and floral.

Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth Infusion: I did long infusions here, around 10 to 20 minutes.

Farmer’s Choice Baozhong had very little flavor left, leaning more to herbal notes, and has dry feel in the mouth. I stopped at the eighth infusion as it completely died.

Competition Style Baozhong is still going. It is slightly astringent but interestingly heavy, vegetal sappy in flavor. It still is slick feeling and makes you float with the pretty floral aftertaste, which is a more vegetal this time around. The final infusion is clean, crisp aloe and sticky dryness, with all the floral gone.

Comments

I have had both Baozhong teas a number of times both separately, compared together, and of previous years. This particular session Farmer’s Choice sang to me and did better than other sessions with that dense buttery savory thick body. Generally, Floating leaves Tea’s Farmer’s Choice Baozhong is the pick for types who want a high body tea with depth, not necessarily a pretty bright floral baozhong. I really enjoyed the early infusions’ contrast of savory body and sweet floral finish.

Competition Style Baozhong especially shines with an excellent crisp floral flavor and impressive resteep power. I enjoyed the complex floral notes until the last couple infusions, where it got more savory, but yet not too astringent. Previous years I found Competition Style Baozhong are generally just as bright and floral, but crash and burns after 4 or 5 infusions into bitter overcooked sludge. It is meant to judged on bowl or taster set to be awesome, yet not for the long haul.

Both 2017 Baozhong teas are great, a lot of it boils down to personal preference of wanting more floral notes. Farmer’s Choice Baozhong is still reliable, but this year’s Competition Style Baozhong is the better bang for infusion power.

Either way, snag some 2017 Baozhong – it is good this year and don’t miss it.

New 3 Leaf Flavored Matchas

3 Leaf came out with new matcha flavors! I had 3 Leaf’s Peach and Coconut matcha last time, and they were great. 3 Leaf sent me some of their new flavors – Lavender, Lemonade, and Raspberry Matcha. I love flavored matchas once in awhile, they are usually best iced or with milk, and I love both for tired mornings or workouts.

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I followed their instructions, which is close to my usual method anyways. 1 teaspoon of matcha is around 2-3 grams.

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3 Leaf Lavender Matcha

This Lavender Matcha is the one I’m scared about. I do like lavender, but lavender has a high failure rate of being too much like soap. The matcha powder smells strongly lavender. Like, I have bath products not as strong.

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I went with a milk base, so I whisked the matcha with water, then topped with milk in hopes of muting the lavender. I failed, this Lavender Matcha is heavy so it is like drinking soap and that is all I can taste. I’m not a fan, but if you love strong lavender you’ll enjoy this.

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3 Leaf Lemonade Matcha

I decided Lemonade Matcha has to be iced. I decided to not be completely lazy, so I whisked it like normal, but then added a large volume of ice cubes to finish. For iced matcha, I usually just add matcha to water and ice in a shaker bottle, but the whisked way added nice presentation and foam.

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As is, it is lemon tart and grassy, with lemon being the main flavor. I found best use is water this one down a bit more for a light matcha lemon water flavor so it isn’t overly tart. I tried adding agave syrup to cover the tartness and it tasted way too weird – imagine sugary lemonade and matcha, it just doesn’t work in my brain and it was a pour out. I could be convinced to purchase Lemonade Matcha for pre-workout or hot day iced matcha drinking.

3 Leaf Raspberry Matcha

My Raspberry Matcha froth on this one is sad, but that is more my fault as I used an electric whisk. I don’t like using bamboo whisks with flavored matchas as I don’t want to contaminate my whisk again – I had to clean my whisk thoroughly after the last two matchas as the smells lingered.

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I made the Raspberry Matcha traditionally. It is not bad – it sips in tasting matcha – creamy grassy and fruity. The fruity note doesn’t taste too weird as I’ve tasted fruity in some matchas. The aftertaste is when you know something is amiss – which is of raspberries. The flavor is fairly natural as it is tart and even a little seedy.

I tried Raspberry matcha as a latte and it didn’t turn out well. The raspberry flavor is too delicate, so the milk and sugar overpowered it. That said, Raspberry Matcha is great traditional and likely iced.

(tea provided for review)

2012 Noble Mark Shou Puer from Mandala Tea

Everyone likely remembers their first. Way back when, and likely you can dig through this blog’s early posts, I bought my first puer cakes through Mandala Tea. Garret is super awesome and helped me out, and it is when I bought their 2012 Wild Monk Sheng puer. I quickly sunk further down the pu-hole and bought samples of all Mandala Tea’s house puer. Noble Mark is one of my first favorite shous that caused me to stock up to later. I didn’t even review this tea on Oolong Owl despite it being one of my favorites. I did review Special Dark, which is another OMG Epic tea (now long gone), Phatty Cake I & II, and Temple Stairs. Mandala Tea went on online hiatus but recently came back. Let’s do this – a long awaited review of Noble Mark. I even have a stack of Noble Mark in loose – the 2011 Noble Mark Ripe Puer Blend which is still available for purchase, but let’s drink the cake.

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Dry Leaf and Steeping Method

By the way, this cake has been sitting in my storage since November 2013. It got a little banged up from moving, so there are some edges missing. It smells like my storage, which is strong earthy shou with a hint of funk… I should really let my shou air a bit more.

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I tend to feel nervous when I drink old favorites as I know my tastes and steeping style has changed. I am going in here heavier on the leaf – 1 gram of leaf to 12ml of vessel size, steeping a bit shorter with boiling water.

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Tasting of Mandala Tea’s 2012 Noble Mark Shou Puer

First, Second, and Third Infusion: Noble mark is sweet, super clean, and chestnutty. The flavor is bright and sharp, leaving a lingering sharp bittersweet nutty flavor after each sip. There is an interesting contrast between clean, sweet, yet that bittersweet hit that reminds me of murky coffee.

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Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Infusion: I finally got a taste of the rich depth Noble Mark can do and how I remember it to be.  It is smooooooth, rich sweet cocoa, with the sip turning sweeter and sweeter as it goes on. It lost the bittersweet. The texture is slick and oily that I am worried it is taking my bitch to remove lipstick off.

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Something that I didn’t notice before, but I do now as after years of experience, is I pay better attention to body feel. The body feel is chill and grounding like I am sinking into a bean bag chair. I should be drinking this after dark with dessert. I personally tend to not go for sleeper energy teas, I like the maniac “get shit done” tea body feel. I am curious if this is a tea that I could drink later than usual and sleep. I know plenty who can drink shou before bed, but I generally find the caffeine or energy hit too strong, so I’ll be bouncing till 3am.

Seventh and Eighth Infusion: Screw it, I need a dessert with this tea and then I’m going to pass out. I have some eggy sponge cake that I got at the Korean bakery.

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I’m sure people will scream blasphemy, but dipping the sponge cake into the tea is awesome. This kind of cake is fluffy but very dense with fine bubbles – it just soaks up liquid without disintegrating. It also isn’t that sweet. Noble Mark is sweet and nutty and dark chocolate, it adds another dimension to the dense eggy cake.

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Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, and Twelfth Infusion:

Noble Mark has slipped to ultra sweet and lighter – I had to do a 5-20 minute infusion to keep this one alive. It is brightly sweet and light, like wet yet malty rocks. It is easy to chug here, I am dozing off in between infusions despite it being 6pm.

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The steeped out leaf is quite chopped up and messy. The description of Noble Mark makes note of using smaller leaf.

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Comments

Noble Mark is a sweet and smooth puer that is well balanced. It has its rich thick moments but settles later on to light and sweet. It is a shou puer that you cannot go wrong getting, it is one that can win over a coffee drinker or anyone new to puer, but smooth and chill body feel enough to interest a more seasoned tea drinker. Noble Mark is the perfect tea to wind down after a long day or impress people to serve along with dessert.

I have no regrets getting this cake and stocking up. My only criticism is I found the cake on the dusty side – I had a lot of fine flecks of tea that made a mess on my tea table or dumping last of my cups. Likely a finer strainer would have been a good call here. I am not sure if it just my cake being beaten up over the years, but I don’t recall problems with the loose material.

Mandala Tea still has some 2011 Noble Mark Ripe Puer Blend material! Be sure to check out their other teas, they have some epic ones!

2017 Natural Redhead Black Tea Cake from White2tea

Woohoo, I finally got my claws on White2tea’s 2017 new teas! As much as you all want to hear about the new puer, or perhaps the new white cake, I will be starting off with the 2017 Natural Redhead Black tea cake. I did a big White2tea sample order and I decided to split half a sample of Natural Redhead with a friend. I haven’t been doing as much black tea over the summer, so I didn’t feel like buying a whole cake like I would have done in the past. Since I was doing a huge sample order that was expensive, I was in pruning mode and I almost left this tea out if I didn’t end up splitting it with a friend. By the way, Natural Redhead is one of the teas that has been EU 440 pesticide tested.

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Dry Leaf and Steeping Method

The sample smells fruity, creamy, and a little cakey rum. I oddly think of a Christmas cake with the rum sauce poured on, but without the sugar tooth ache.

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I went a little heavy handed on the leaf for gongfu style, so 1 gram of leaf to 13ml of vessel capacity. I used boiling water, a single rinse, and quick infusions to start.

Tasting of White2Tea’s 2017 Natural Redhead Black Tea Cake

First Infusion: The hot leaf smells fruity and sweet, I could almost mistake this for a ruby black. The first infusion is soft, sweet, and quite fruity. The notes lean slightly into berry territory, but I am not sure what berry. There are a few creamy notes and the body is already heavy – the feel in the mouth and throat is like drinking rice porridge and getting punched in the diaphragm. I could be fooled that this is a underleafed Taiwanese ruby black. The colour here is gold.

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Second, Third, Fourth, and Fifth Infusion: The second infusion was stronger in flavor, still quite ruby like, but has an aftertaste that is malty and woodsy. Each infusion the malty woodsy and brisk notes are fighting the ruby fruity sweet ones to take over, but with each steeping, I still taste that ruby.

In a silver cup, Natural Redhead tastes brighter fruity and little of the woody malt notes. I am even more fooled here, this is a mellow assam varietal ruby black. In real life, Natural Redhead is that orange red, similar to an orange pekoe, but my camera kept making it look like kool-aid.

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With each infusion, Natural Redhead got more and red.

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Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Infusion: Natural Redhead’s colour hit overdrive of deep dark red.

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The flavors switched up, so now it is brisk, willow branch woodsy, and slightly orange. Some sips almost taste orange pekoe like – the good stuff with the long ridiculous acronyms, not the floor sweeping junk. The aftertaste is exploding fruity ruby. The flavor intensity is strong – like I should be drinking this tea in the morning or my dead time of 3 pm. A warning that likely I should have leafed a little less as these infusions will make more chest feathers sprout. However, there is the odd sip and aftertaste of ruby fruity. My mouth is feeling moderately astringent, so my cheeks feel gritty. The body on Natural Redhead black tea tanked to be on the thinner side, but I can certainly feel it kicking my stomach.

The leaves reached max capacity here, I have to jiggle the tea pot to get the lid on.

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Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh Infusion: I steeped quite long here, 10-15 minutes, to get the flavor rolling strong. It is on the astringent side, but the flavor is bright and brisk. The 10th infusion Natural Redhead black tea totally died, but the aftertaste was a crazy orange, floral, clean, that produces a lot of salivation and travels in the different direction than the whole session. I would rate the 10th infusion as the best infusion as the aftertaste is completely nuts, that I tried for 11. After a 30 minute steeping, and keeping it hot with pouring hot water on the teapot, I got a final good infusion.

The leaves look pretty good with lots of buds and a little stem action.

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Grandpa style

I used 4.5 grams of leaf, steeped at 200F/93c. I dig Natural Redhead grandpa, though a lot of the complexity is gone. The flavor is rich, bittersweet, and malty, with a densely heavy body that has a nice sinking feel in the body. Natural Redhead didn’t get bitter or dry, nor too strong. It does do flavor packed, easy drinking grandpa style, but I keep thinking how awesome gongfu style was.

Comments

I quite enjoyed White2Tea’s 2017 Natural Redhead black tea. There was some interesting complexity with the shifts of flavors, and my brain was certainly stimulated by being confused that I was drinking a Taiwanese ruby at times. If you are a black tea lover, 2017 Natural Redhead is certainly unique and delicious, good to fill “I don’t know what black to drink… why not Natural Redhead as I get them all.” I think this is a great black tea for the moretypical tea drinker used to English blacks, but I honestly say it would be wasted on.  People who are big hong’oholic black tea drinkers would get this tea and the best application is gongfu style.

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I am not sure how 2017 Natural Redhead black tea will age. I keep meaning to revisit my Yunnan Sourcing 2013 Drunk on Red to see how that tea is doing. However, Natural Redhead is more than ready to drink now.

I told myself that I’d likely buy a cake of Natural Redhead with my next White2tea order, but I already failed and ordered expensive sheng instead. Maybe next time, once I’ve gone through all my samples.

Sunday Tea Hoots 33 – 5 things you might not know about me

There is a tea blogger challenge going around, that started with Tea For Me Please, which is to talk about stuff beyond tea. Occasionally in my tea reviews and other Sunday Tea Hoots, you’ll get snippets of my madness. Here are 5 things you might not know about me.

Hoarding Going Beyond Tea

Nail polish. I swatched them all recently and I hit close to 200. When I moved to California and Seattle, I purged over 40 bottles both times. I particularly love holo and I do my own gels.

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Yarn. I got a lot of yarn. My other blog, Awkward Soul, is dedicated to crochet and yarn, though my energies have been focused with Oolong Owl. I collect more yarn than I have projects for. If I find anything fun that would make a good Tea Owl, I buy it. I got 2 huge totes of yarn, plus 2 overflowing totes. I also have another tote filled with undyed yarn. All my yarn isn’t close to organized at the moment, so no photos.

Fabric. This is a new one since I got a new sewing machine and started playing with quilting. OMG ALL THE OWL FABRIC.

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Not to mention all the owl knick knacks I own. Hopefully, you’ll never see me on Hoarders.

Strange Career Path

Right out of high school, I went to animation school, then after worked various jobs in the industry like storyboarding, layout, character illustration, and flash animation. I didn’t like the animation world at all as it was very seasonal work, extremely competitive, with grueling overtime to meet deadlines for little pay. I then went back to school and did an undergrad in Psychology, then later got more specialized with Addictions Counselling, so I worked in mental health homes, concurrent mental health/addictions centers, and women’s shelters. Moving to the US killed this work, as it is paid peanuts here, so I feel the stress isn’t worth the pay.

So now I am just a writer. I do Oolong Owl and various other writing projects.

Hobbist Cook

I always loved cooking. I would watch my grandmother cook every day and I knew all her cooking secrets, which no one believed (the biggest secret was the jar of MSG in the back of the cupboard). My parents worked full-time jobs, so I was self-sufficient at a young age to cook for myself. I got really good at baking.  When I worked at women’s shelters, I was cooking for 50 women most shifts, on top of my other duties. A couple times I stepped in for our cook to do dinner for 97 clients.

I made all the desserts for my wedding. I regularly send my husband to work with pies, cookies, and cakes – which gives me an excuse to bake, eat a sample, and not eat the rest.

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I rarely go out to eat, maybe 2 or 3 times a month, and when I go out it is for things I cannot cook myself, food festivals, or I planned my day poorly.

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Also related to above, I have a ton of spices and kitchen gadgets. I’ve had a sousvide for years, crazy sized BBQ smoker, and I also make my own sausages.

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I should do more tea food posts, but what my household is not good at is cleaning and my current kitchen is in dire need of remodeling.

Weight Lifter

When I moved to California, I got into Brazilian Jiujitsu. I started lifting weights to get stronger. I eventually quit BJJ and weight lifting became my main activity. I mostly focus on powerlifting, with dreams to try strong man, if I can get around to making/finding the equipment. My goal is to just lift as much weight as possible. I am also injury-tastic outside of weight lifting – I have benched myself for sore shoulders, knees, sprained ankles, broken toes and fingers – all done at BJJ, walking around the house like an idiot, or trying yoga.

Weight lifting is a part of why I like matcha, generally I don’t drink green teas, but matcha is a great preworkout due to the caffeine explosion.

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Endometriosis

I took a break back in November-December 2016 as I had surgery for never ending pain caused by a “cyst/ potential cancer” the size of a grapefruit, to find out it was severe Endometriosis, to the point of it attaching some organs together. It all made sense, as ever since I was in my late teens I’ve been in lots of pain, 3 days a month I could not leave the house as I was in too much pain or could pass out or even vomit. Many doctors didn’t take me seriously. Most were just failing to understand this isn’t normal or thinking I was exaggerating, one doctor even told me that I “should go clean my house, it’ll make me feel better.” After years of that garbage, I gave up and muddled through life taking max doses of Aleve routinely. It slowly got worse and worse, lasting longer and longer. I finally went to doctors last year when my pain started to not end, I was up to 2 months of intense, never ending cramps. Endometriosis was brought up twice, but both doctors figured I wasn’t in enough pain since I have been managing so long, and when they saw a huge growth on my ovary, they figured it was a cyst or cancer and it had to be removed.

There’s no cure for Endometriosis, it is just hormones to stall the growth plus regular surgeries to cut it out once the pain becomes too much again. In fact, they can completely gut me and there is still a decent chance I’ll still have Endo. It is quite annoying as Endometriosis is 1/10 women, but not talked about as it is squicky women’s pain, heck I feel like a rebel talking about it now. Getting a diagnosis is difficult, many similar to me, getting told by doctors for years we are just being hysterical and everything is normal. Not to mention, just about every women will get ovarian cysts, which can be horribly painful, yet not talked about.

Hope that was cool. Check out Tea For Me Please‘s post to see what other tea bloggers have said too.

Kitchen Kite Glass Teapot with Infuser Set

Glass teapots are loved by many as they can show off a tea and its beautiful appearance. There are many glass teapot out there, especially on Amazon. Today’s review is a quality western sized glass teapot sold over on Amazon – the Kitchen Kite Glass Teapot.

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Kitchen Kite Glass Teapot Specs

  • 1 Liter/ 1000ml/ 35oz size teapot
  • 4 double wall tea cups(SIZE)
  • Borosilicate glass
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Microwave safe
  • Electric or Gas stove top safe for kettle use
  • Large, fine mesh, removable stainless steel tea infuser

The Kitchen Kite Glass Teapot set is packaged well and safe. I had it shipped to my home and everything arrived in perfect condition, with the box design and wrapping to ensure a safe trip. I decided to keep the box, as this is likely the safest place to store the tea set when not in use.

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Kitchen Kite Glass Teapot

Out of the box, you have 4 pieces – the glass teapot, tea filter, lid and a weird metal piece.

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The metal piece snaps onto the glass teapot, which makes the pot hold the lid and infuser. You don’t need to have the infuser in to have the lid fit – which is a nice bonus as some tea pots of having issues with this.

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Both the filter and teapot have the brand etched on it.

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Pros

Solid Construction – All the parts of the Kitchen Kite teapot fit seamlessly. Nothing is rattling or falling out while you pour. This good quality and design set this teapot apart from other glass ones. So many glass teapots I’ve tried have poorly fitted lids.

Nice clean pour – I love the pour of this teapot! It pours just where you aim it, with no fuss. The spout of designed well.

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Awesome Infuser – The filter is well designed and fine mesh. There is a swing handle to pick it up. I have used this filter in other tea pots or mugs and it works great!

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Cons

2 handed pour full capacity – I found the Kitchen Kit Glass Teapot difficult to physically pour. This sadly comes with many glass tea pots this large – the thin handle in the back and weight makes the teapot tip forward. I also found the handle uncomfortable when there was this much weight involved. Rest assured, I am a pretty strong owl. But each use when the tea pot was full I needed a cloth to brace under the spout so I don’t drop it. Half or quarter full, I had no issues.

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Other Considerations

Basket Infuser only – note there is no infuser coil behind the spout, nor any type of leaf resistance in the spout. If you want to not use the basket infuser to see the full leaf, you’ll be dropping leaves in the tea cups.

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Stove Kettle – Yes, you can boil the Kitchen Kite glass teapot on your gas or electric stove! I was nervous, this was the first time I actually used a glass pot to stove boil. It worked! It did not explode!

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However, since it is glass, and glass has poor heat retention and is not a conductor, it took bloody forever to get this pot to a boil on my electric stove. I likely could have boiled 4 batches of hot water in my electric kettle. Then since it is awkward when heavy, it was dicey with oven mitts to drag it off the stove. If you intend to use this to heat hot water, you are doing it inefficiently with a glass teapot. Get a stainless steel or electric kettle – both, especially the latter, will boil water much faster.

Best stove use is to use with a single hot plate to keep your tea hot. You can also pop it in the microwave to reheat. No, do not boil water in the microwave for tea infusing.

Glass – So many things I don’t like about glass teapots, yet many people use them and push them despite these flaws. Glass is very fragile. Glass has bad heat retention. I always advise sticking to cooler teas, like green tea, if you are using glass teaware. The poor heat retention leaves hotter teas to steep up weaker in flavor. However, since this teapot works with stoves, pairing it with a hot plate or candle teapot warmer would work well to keep the temperature up and the tea at a hotter serving temperature.

Double Wall Glass Tea cups

The Kitchen Kite glass tea cups are pretty standard double wall glass. If you have any size of these, you’ll know how these cups are as they are.

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The cups have a design etched to the bottom.

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Pros

  • Cool to the touch and lip for easy handling.
  • Tea looks absolutely beautiful!

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Cons

  • Super fragile!
  • Fat bubbly lip.

I am personally not a fan of these cups, though I know plenty of people who do like them. I find the beauty of them does not make up for the awkward drinking. They are cool to the touch, but the fat lips make it easy to dribble, nor can you slurp. The same time, a thin lip makes the cup hot on the lips, so it is a no win. If you are drinking cooler teas like green, these cups are fine.

Comments

The overall design of the Kitchen Kite glass teapot is well put together. All the parts fit seamlessly and the pour is good – making for a quality teapot. The cons mostly boil down to the limitations of glass. However, if you looking for a high quality glass teapot, the Kitchen Kite one is very good. Best use would be the pair this tea pot with a hot plate or warmer, as well as a cute tea towel or hot pad – then you’ll be very happy with it.

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(teaware provided for review | Amazon affiliate links)

 

2016 Space Girls Sheng Puer from Crimson Lotus Tea

So either it was my slow owl butt at reviewing things or people went ham on buying out all the Crimson Lotus Tea’s 2016 Space Girls sheng. I had the review written, then saw it was sold out, and stalled on posting even longer. Then I thought I shouldn’t let my tasting notes go to waste, and at least you all can get more of an idea of Crimson Lotus Tea’s tastes. EDIT: There was a restock!  There are more Space Girls! GO GO GO!

What is unique about 2016 Space Girls Sheng Puer, in particular, is there are 4 matching wrappers, which was illustrated by Seattle local artist Stasia Burrington. I picked out my favorite Space Girl, Molly, which was difficult as they are all cute. The Tea Owls like Molly’s space helmet.

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Dry Leaf

My brick of Space Girls was hiding in my pumidor for a few months and when I took it out I was greeted with a lovely fruity smelling tea. I appreciate the thoughtful wrapping job here with the outer wrapper folded and closed with a single sticker instead of glued. Glued wrappers tend to need surgery to keep the wrapper art intact, nor much real estate to house your tea for storage. Even the glued inner wrapper is done well.

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However, look out! The puer brick is pressed tight!

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I suggest a flat knife over a thin puer pick. My folding puer knife did an awesome job hacking big pieces off.

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Steeping Method

I was warned not to push Space Girls too hard, but you know I will. Girls are tough, this chick owl can overhead 100lbs. I went with 200f/93c water temperature, 1 gram to 15ml leaf to vessel ratio, and quick infusions.

Tasting of Crimson Lotus Tea’s 2016 Space Girls Sheng Puer

First, Second, and Third Infusion: Space Girls is gentle tasting, with a pleasurable amount of sweetness. The flavor is quite soft, so it is hard to pick up the notes other than some wisps of floral, fruity and sweet. The body is watery jello thick but slips quickly. The aftertaste is soft but I get a light fruity flavor. After each sip I can feel a slight dryness, yes you shouldn’t push this tea too bad, it has that potential for astringency and I can tell it is coming.

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Fourth and Fifth Infusion: Space Girls is starting to brighten up. It is quite creamy, mineral, sweet mystery sweetness, with a nice slick body. I can sense the astringency is still looming and it is waiting to punch people in the face. At this point I am feeling a slight pep in my step, there is a little bit of spunky energy in Space Girls.

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Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Infusion: I pushed on these last infusions and got an interesting citrus syrup flavor. The citrus here reminds me of drinking the syrup out of a tin of mandarin oranges, but lighter in flavor. Space Girls did get astringent but fine to drink. The final infusion was finally overpowered by astringency and lost its mojo, so I stopped here.

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Comments

Crimson Lotus Tea’s 2016 Space Girls Sheng Puer has a soft profile, with easy drinking notes of cream, slight citrus, and sweetness. The notes are gentle and hard to pick out, but if you can balance timing well with the right amount of push, you can pull out some nice notes without triggering too much of the sensitive astringency. You don’t want to forget you were steeping this tea. You could go lower on the temperature, but keep in mind it is quite compressed so it’ll take some time to have the tea open up.

If you love those sweet and soft puers, you’ll like Space Girls. It also sports fun artwork, if you love puer wrapper art and collecting. For me, I didn’t mind Space Girls, but it is a tea to pay attention while brewing and brewing skill testing. I’ll likely lock this one in the pumidor and see whether the astringency will slip. It seems, like many of Crimson Lotus Tea‘s house blended sheng line, they lean more towards the sweeter profiles.

(tea gifted by Crimson Lotus Tea)

2017 Teabook Raw Puer

Today’s review is an entry level raw/ sheng puer from Teabook. 2017 Teabook Raw Puer is a 100 gram cake made of spring Lincang area material. To start off, this cake is affordable it is only $10.95. Teabook also has a ripe/ shou puer for 200 grams for $9.75. I got this little cake at the PDX Tea Fest and had it stashed for about a month.

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Dry Leaf and Steeping Method

The 2017 Teabook Raw Puer is pressed loosely, so the leaf breaks off easy. No special tools needed, I was able to break a chunk off with my fingers.

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Close up, you can see the fuzz on the leaf.

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Teabook Tea Master notes recommend using 5 gram of tea for 3oz/88ml gongfu cha style, which converts to 1 gram of tea per 17ml of vessel size, with no mention of temperature other than 185-195F/ 85C-90c for glass/grandpa style. I went with my usual gongfu style using 1 gram of leaf to 15ml of vessel size, all in on boiling water with very short infusions starting at 5 seconds and slowing adding to 2 minutes. Boiling water shows all the flaws, and for a young tea this inexpensive, I might as well see if it is bombproof.

Tasting of 2017 Teabook Raw Puer – Gongfu Style

First, Second, and Third Infusion: The hot leaf smells fruity and floral with a touch of pan scorch.

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These early infusions are clean and light with notes of citrus pith and cotton. The body is lightly slick, enough to feel my lips are glazed with a bit of sticky lip gloss. After each sip, I got a touch of an aftertaste at the end with more slight citrus. The tea isn’t dry or astringent – despite over clocking the recommended temperature.

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Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Infusion: The slight citrus note clears. I get a slight honey note, mixed with some amber mineral, and grassy dew flavor. Overall the flavor is still quite light and subtle. I got a slight astringency grit feeling in the cheeks. The tea flavor and aftertaste is so fleeting, as well as the body. Overall, these infusions were easy to drink and pleasant.

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Seventh and Eighth Infusion: We’ve entered dry territory – this raw puer got stewed fast! Otherwise, the flavor is gone, as all I got was clean mineral water with a dry texture. I tried a power infusion, letting it go for 10 minutes as the final infusion. I was expecting this flavor earlier, as it is strong, bitter, lightly pan scorch notes with a long citrus sour pith aftertaste. This tea does have a limit, but it took some decent abuse to get there. Without a power steep, likely one would end this tea at the sixth infusion.

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Tasting of 2017 Teabook Raw Puer – Glass / Grandpa Style

This time, I followed Teabooks instructions – I did their grandpa style, using the Teabook Travel Tea Tumbler, 3 grams of 2017 Teabook Raw Puer, steeped with 190F/88C water. I took a drive, drinking this for an hour during Seattle traffic.

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2017 Teabook Raw Puer came out buttery, yet clean, mineral, crisp citrus, and dewy in flavor. The flavor was much stronger and more pleasant in taste, though low on body and aftertaste. The smell is floral and delicious. The extended steeping is the best application for this tea, though it does get stewy and dry after about 1 hour of being in a glass.

Comments

The 2017 Teabook Raw Puer is an easy going, light tasting, young puer tea. Priced at $10.95 for a 100 gram cake, it is a pretty flexible tea that is hard to screw up in brewing. I went all out with full temperature and high leaf ratio which resulted with a gentle flavor until pushed. The 2017 Teabook Raw Puer works best in a travel tumbler or grandpa style – the longer infusions bring out a stronger flavor.

2017 Teabook Raw Puer is best for tea drinkers who are completely new to puer or intimidated by it. You don’t need a pick to break the cake apart as well as the Teabook Raw is fairly forgiving to infuse. I would describe the 2017 Teabook Raw Puer as designed to be as little as offensive as possible as it isn’t bitter, smokey, or strong. It is flexible to infuse, plus the price point is enticing to try something new without an investment.

If you are a seasoned puer drinker this Teabook Raw Puer is a hard pass unless you haven’t found a sheng that grandpa styles well. I felt this tea was boring as it is too light, had little body or aftertaste. I didn’t notice much of a body feel either. I banged out a 110ml session in less than 30 minutes, killed the leaf, and was looking for something else to drink. I figure the citrus notes are from it being young, and I am unsure how much this tea will change with age. There are plenty of good daily drinkers at this price point per gram, especially if you are okay buying 200 grams or bigger cakes.

(tea provided for review | affiliate links)

Love Some Tea – Northern Thailand Tea

I don’t do many of these flavored tea reviews these days unless the tea is unique. What first caught my eye of Love Some Tea is their use of Northern Thailand tea as their base. Investigating further, Love Some Tea’s tea is also wild picked and fair trade. Second, they have exotic flavoring in their line up, plus unflavored tea. I have the entire tea line up to review, so let’s get to it.

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Tasting of Love Some Tea

Green Teas – All steeped western style at 175F/80C water temperature for 2 minutes.

Kind Green – This is Love Some Tea’s unflavored green tea. I am starting here to establish our base tea.

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I did grandpa style, 175F/80c, started sipping at the 2 minute mark.  The flavor is quite clean, sweet, buttery, fresh pea vegetal, with some mineral notes. This green makes my mouth salivate for some reason after each sip. The texture is lightly slick. The longer I let it steep, the more dry sensation I get in the mouth, otherwise no bitterness. This is a pretty easy going green tea and I can see many who would enjoy this as it doesn’t have any notes some find unpleasant like marine, bitter, or heavy grass.

Apple Delicious  – This green tea blend features ginger, strawberry, cherry, cranberry, and apple.

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I am partial to ginger, so I personally found this tea quite tasty. The apple and ginger flavor is the most pronounced, but I can also taste cranberry and some sort of miscellaneous berry. The flavor is natural tasting, a bit on the tart side. The background has a nice vegetal level like there is a bit of apple leaf thrown in. This would be fantastic iced and would respond well to a bit of sweetener.

Green Coconut

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This one has strong coconut qualities – flavor is fleshy coconut and a buttery texture. There is a slight floral hint over the buttery vegetable base. Green Coconut is also not as sweet as I thought it was going to be. This one is a struggle as some sips I find it is heavy coconut, others taste like mostly the green base with some coconut on top. Out of all the greens, this one is the weakest, but still good.

Green Rainbow is a green tea and passion fruit blend.

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Opening the sample packet and boom – a huge wave of passion fruit. Steeped up, the flavor is also potent with passion fruit, melded with the buttery mineral base. This one stands out as the flavor is strong and distinct. I have a love hate relationship with passionfruit, but Green Rainbow pulls it off as it doesn’t taste soapy to me. This one is fantastic iced.

Tropical Sunset is green and black tea blend, with mango, passionfruit, papaya, rose, blue lotus, and jasmine.

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Now we are talking – Tropical Sunset has some interesting ingredients, plus pretty flowers. To throw a wrench in our plans it is also a green and black tea. I decided to keep with 175F, so I don’t bitter the green tea.

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The flavor is interestingly smooth, bright, and minerally with a hint of woodsy. The flavors of tropical and floral are balanced well, not overpowering the tea. I can pick out the mango (and oddly my brain wants to also fill in pineapple), and the jasmine. I had this one iced and it is quite delicious. The only con is I can see is some might think Tropical Sunset is a little soapy due to the floral.


Black Tea – All steeped western style at 200F/93C water temperature for 3 minutes.

Black Midnight

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Black Midnight is LST’s unflavored black tea. I made this grandpa style and started sipping close to the 3 minute mark. The smell is a coffee like heavy bitterness. The flavor is bold, malty, dark woodsy, with a bit of bittersweet cocoa in the background. Some sips taste subtly like incense smoke and raisins. The flavor level is interesting as it has qualities of heavy face punching black, but the level is more moderate in intensity. There is no bitterness or dryness. I let it steep over 20 minutes and came back, and it wasn’t bitter but a frankincense note came out.

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Gongfu style – I did short infusions, using 1 gram of tea to 12ml vessel size, steeping with boiling water. Gongfu style brought out the punch! Midnight black mule kicks on flavor. It is creamy and taste like potent malt, bittersweet high percent dark chocolate, and a bundle of willow sticks. The gongfu version is on the bitter side as the notes are strong and overdrive of dark chocolate. As it steeps out, it gets sweet sappy wood notes and more frankincense and amber before it dies.

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Black Midnight is quite an interesting tea and I can see many black tea drinkers having fun with it.

Dark Coconut

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The black tea pairs much better with the coconut than the green base. I found the coconut very tasty over the malty woody base. This was hitting me like I was having dessert, yet this tea isn’t particularly sweet. I would love to have this with a custard flan or something with a caramel flavor, as paired with this tea it would be amazing. You don’t need to add milk to this one as the coconut adds a smooth creamy note.

Black Mango

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I wasn’t a fan of this one, and this is the weakest out of the blends. The mango is too subtle in my opinion, so the light mango mixed with the heavy tasting notes of the black makes it taste like dishwater. Iced, Black Mango tastes much better, but still not as good as the other teas. The cold temperature brings out the mango flavor, but it is still quite subtle.

I drank all these teas (except the gongfu session of Midnight Black) in one sitting. Look at the damage!

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Comments

Ever had Northern Thailand wild picked tea? Love Some Tea makes non-plantation tea accessible at a fair price. Love Some Tea ships out from California too. My favorites are Black Midnight, Dark Coconut, and Tropical Sunset, with Green Rainbow close behind.

The running theme with Love Some Tea’s teas is the flavoring is quite natural. The flavors taste distinct, leaning on the tart side without any herbal elements like rosehips. You would think them to be on the sweet side, like how many other flavored teas are and the flavors they feature, but they are not. All would pair well with afternoon tea sweets to add some exotic flavors, but not overpower the food.

(tea provided for review)