Yi Hong Jing Pin A – Teaspring

August 19, 2009

Yi Hong Jing Pin is said to have characteristics of Chinese red dates, which was an aroma I picked up from the Rou Gui yesterday, but outside of a basic sweet aroma I was not getting any of this. My initial notes were: Sweet. Fermented. Tobacco. Wood. As the hot water hit the leaves in my gaiwan I was presented with more of a smoky/wood scent coming off of the liquor. The instant flavor profile I was met with was that of Bai Hao (Oriental Beauty) oolong but minus the sometimes present citrus note. Slightly malty and long after a very slight red date flavor is present in the back of the mouth.

While I can’t help but think that if I wanted bai hao oolong I would just brew some instead of going to a black tea to get almost the same result, there is something captivating here and it does make you want to explore it further. I personally do not like the citrus hints in Oriental beauty so this actually has an advantage in my personal tastes in that regard. It’s not super complex or noteworthy so it doesn’t really assert itself into a place in my favorites list but it is pleasant and interesting enough to finish what I have.

Rou Gui Oolong – Teaspring

August 18, 2009

Ahh… finally back to tea. My shipment arrived after the normal struggles with the USPS and their inability to grasp the concept of accepting the signed form *they* provide and the fact that most normal people are not home at 11AM to personally accept packages. I wish I was however. Regardless, I am now the happy owner of some teas in a totally new direction for me… red/black tea. I also snagged some Rou Gui because it is a tea I have heard a lot about but have never tried. So, I started with it.

Rou Gui is often spoken about as having cassia/cinnamon-like qualities which intrigued me, however the nose of the freshly opened packet was more of red dates. I wasn’t getting anything resembling cinnamon at all, in fact I wasn’t getting a whole lot of anything from the dry leaf. In my gaiwan I began to brew the tea and the initial aromas from my notes went like this: Citrus. Chamomile. Nestea Instant Iced Tea w/ Lemon.  The last one might seem strange but it was the perfect explanation of the scent, those pre-sweetened instant tea granules that come in the can have the exact aroma of what I was getting. As it brewed a bit longer the aroma changed abruptly to a green TGY and it lost those former notes completely.

The first sip was purely green oolong. Thin, watery, not very complex, not much of anything. Again, certainly no cinnamon. A bit of a letdown. I moved on to a second brewing to see if anything new might appear but unfortunately nothing did, more of the same. Pretty disappointing. It is a good tea for what it is but nowhere near what I had been expecting or hoping for, and since I’m not a big green oolong fan there was little for me to get excited about. I’ve not given up yet, though, and I will track down a more finely crafted version before giving up on it.

Thai Deodorant Stones

August 17, 2009

This is totally not about tea, but fear not, my shipment of new tea will be at my door when I get home tonight. In the meantime I had to make a post about something else that has completely won me over: Thai deodorant stones/crystals. I recently went on a trip and the silly liquid restrictions for flights annoys me to no end. I already have too many important items to keep track of in the hurried rush of TSA checkpoints that I don’t like having to deal with another in the form of a Ziploc bag with tiny bottles in it. I can survive any length of time (even in modern society) with just two items: Dr. Bronner’s peppermint soap and some deodorant. The Dr. Bronner’s is good for toothpaste, soap, shampoo, and even a bubble bath of sorts. I usually use it in liquid soap form but I can buy a solid bar. I’m never sure if deodorant needs to be in the Ziploc or not and I just hate dealing with something that could melt and leave a waxy perfumy mess. I all-around just hate scented deodorants in general and especially when I am hiking/camping or travelling.

Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Soap

Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Soap

In some research on alternatives I came across a number of travellers who swore by Thai deodorant stones. Being a fan of many things Thai I looked into it further. Basically, it is a quartz-looking whitish/clear stone that you slightly wet and apply like deodorant. The upsides are many… it contains no aluminum, it is completely clear, dries instantly, no scent, no residue, no staining, it’s solid, a single stone lasts a year or more of daily use, it weighs almost nothing, and it packs small. A travel size option is about the size of half of a tube of lipstick! I like to pack ultralight when I go camping so this was a boon for that as well. But would it work?

Thai Deodorant Stone Crystal

Thai Deodorant Stone Crystal

One other thing I should mention is that I do not use anti-perspirant at all, just deodorant, and that is what this is designed to replace. Clogging up pores is not my idea of a smart solution, it’s natural to sweat. And you will still sweat but the Thai crystal eliminates the bacteria which causes odor issues. It does this so well I will never go back to chemical laden deodorants again. Not just for travel but every day. I am 100% satisfied and amazed at how well this works, so much so, that like my new-found soy blueberry yogurt, I wanted to share it with everyone even if it might not be a direct fit for my usual content. I promise new tea coverage is on it’s way!

Stonyfield Farm O’Soy Yogurt

August 12, 2009

Yes, I know yogurt is not tea. But this yogurt was so good I was compelled to sing it’s praises to The Internets. I am not one of these organic instantly means it is good types, or even one to be overly fussy about the true provenance of my food, but on a whim I picked up a couple Stonyfield Farms O’Soy Blueberry Yogurts since I am not a fan of growth hormones in milk. Most yogurts don’t expressly state if they contain such things, so a soy-based yogurt was a sure thing… but what about taste? I couldn’t be more pleased. Some of the best yogurt I’ve ever had, in fact. It’s not overly soy-milk tasting and what is there enhances the flavor and brings this to new heights. All natural and organic ingredients are the topper to make this without a doubt my new go-to yogurt. Perfectly balanced in flavor and sweetness and totally satisfying. Easily worth a shot the next time you are in hot pursuit of yogurt.

Bentley’s Papaya Green Tea

August 4, 2009

The unfortunate tea situation in most offices is tragic. A few forlorn Lipton packets of unknown vintage are normally about it, so you can imagine my (slight) delight when this assortment showed up!

Bentley's Royal Classic 12 Flavors

Bentley's Royal Classic 12 Flavors

Sure, they’re not the finest teas from China or Japan but they are better than nothing when stuck in a meeting. My first selection was the Papaya Green Tea. I was completely happy with it! It was naturally flavored and the papaya is a very mellow undercurrent on top of a passable green tea. The papaya is very well represented and tastes exactly like papaya should, very subtly sweet and a mild peach/pineapple/tomato flavor. Together it works quite well. Bently’s has always been a decent teabag and I regularly stock their Mango White Tea at home which I really enjoy. It seems they have a knack for getting the flavored tea angle right and balanced and while it won’t blow your mind with complexity, it will get you through that next board meeting.

New teas on their way

August 3, 2009

The tea rut is about to be over finally! A new order from Teaspring has been placed and it may take a little while to make its journey to my door but when it does expect some new coverage. I had initially planned to go with a couple other vendors for variety but none of them had the one main reason for my breaking out: Rou Gui. Teaspring did, so while the vendor will not be new the teas will be.

The order: Rou Gui, Long Jing Huang Pao, Yi Hong Jing Pin A, and Yunnan Gold