Thursday, January 26, 2012

DongDing Charcoal Roasted

The wonderful folks at ChanTeas graciously sent me a couple samples of tea! This is one I was quite excited to try.

As all TungTing (DongDing) teas I have had, the leaves are pretty small and tightly compressed. They look great, and smell fantastic.
There is a surprisingly green smell, like fresh grass, coming off the leaves. A woody background is present, as well as the lingering smell of stone fruit!

The charcoal scent really presents itself in the wet leaf as it cools off after the initial rinse. Authentic? I think yes. I am just not sure on the year...(anyone care to fill me in?)

It is very relaxing and warming in its presentation and characteristics. This is exactly what I need at the moment. I need to bring myself back from stress and the hustle and bustle of everyday life for a college student and business owner.

The aroma of the liquor is enticing. It seems sweet, yet balanced.
Stone fruit, vanilla, roast, and a light scent of hazelnut complete the aromatic spectrum of this tea.

As for the flavor,

Lots of peaches.

A fresh, juicy peach.

Absolutely astounding that a tea can be this fruity. I find it wonderfully appealing!

The tea is smooth in texture, and does not have a heavy roasted flavor. A roast, to me, is meant to compliment and enhance the existing flavors. The roast on this tea is a great example of how to execute this properly.
The finish is clean.
Just a ghostly hint of the tea's character.

The sweet, peachy notes of the tea slowly recede as the session goes on.

Fantastic tea.

And now, off to sample some coffee for business!
Perhaps a new alias is on the horizon...Sir William of the Bean...?

We shall see!


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Ceylon Vithanakanda

It is a bit of a mouth full to say, but from this tea, I can tell they have great productions!
The estate is at about 2400 feet above sea level, and is categorized as a Ceylon low grown tea.

This tea is from the Cultured Cup, and as some of you know, I am well acquainted with both Kyle and Phil, the owners of the shop, located in Dallas, Texas.

The leaves are beautiful. They are wonderfully wiry, with slender, silver tips scattered in great numbers throughout the dry leaf.
The smell has hints of wheat and honey, and a distinct, light malty smell I can only associated with Ceylon teas.

The mouth feel is thick, and flavorful, only exhibiting the best qualities of a Ceylon.
There are notes of honey, sun dried tomato (interesting, but only truly understood once tasted), grains, and a bit of a woody hint.
I am surprised that this is the product of a low-grown region. Not to say that in a negative way, just referring to the fact that usually low-grown teas are a bit more assertive and bold in the way in which they present themselves.

Astringency is not too powerful, but is evident and lets me know I am consuming a black tea. I almost couldn't picture a Ceylon black without astringency, nor would I necessarily want to.
Astringency contributes character and dimension to tea.

During the glass brewed session, I was only accompanied by my accounting project, and the stillness of my dorm in the evening hours.
My recommendation, get your hands on some and get to steeping. This is a tea that you will not want to miss out on.


Friday, January 13, 2012

Yerba Mate Latte

I have been keeping up with industry trends surrounding tea and coffee, especially when it comes to retail locations and cafes. There are some very good resources out there for people wanting to learn more.
Today's blog has come about out of an inspiring article in Fresh Cup magazine, titled "Building your non-coffee menu."

I have thought about doing this for quite sometime, but never had the means or the know-how. I recently bought a (cheap) espresso machine, and have been studying up on coffee for a while now.
It was time to try the Yerba Mate Latte to the best of my abilities.

The mate is put into the built in strainer, which water is then forced through at a high temperature and pressure. This is what gives espresso its bold, although, creamy flavor and texture.

The yerba mate comes out quite dark and quite hot. I didn't know how the leaves would stand up to the temperature. When I brew mate (especially when done in a gourd) I like to brew it at around 150 because there is such a high volume of leaves. If I brew it too hot, there is too much bitterness and bite.
I figured milk would help tone that down though.

Final outcome?

Not bad. It could use some honey, or perhaps 2% instead of whole milk. Or possibly soy, which is my favorite choice in a latte or cappuccino.

It is a mild, grassy flavor that is easy on the stomach. I quite enjoyed the two cups I was able to make!

It may be smart to experiment with other herbs or teas. One that came to mind immediately was rooibos. Perhaps another day!