Tea Monster: December 2016

Monday, December 26, 2016

Merry Christmas from the Tea Monster!

On the 12th Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me ... Christmas Treat Oolong Tea!

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE! However you celebrate it, and even if you celebrate it at all, may today be filled with the right amount of good people, food, and your favorite tea. You know I am! While I may be chillin' at home with the brother-husbands, messages and calls from all my family around the globe pour in to check in, and I am so grateful to hear from all of them. It's so great to have ways to let your family know that even though you can't be there physically, you can at least send them some love and be there in spirit. Yay Holiday Spirit!

Anne really did save the best for last. This is quite a special tea - green, balled-oolong with spices, and banana. Smells divine in the pouch. I love the visual appeal of the banana alongside the deep green oolong. Back when I drank nothing but this style of oolong, I may have been able to tell what style or region or even season that tea is, but I have fallen out of the habit. The creamy scent of the banana matches the buttery smoothness and thick mouthfeel of the oolong. I like the added dimension of spices and possible marshmallow root. It adds a festive and warming vibe to the cup. Even though it doesn't sparkle or have any pretty sprinkles included, I still consider this a sparkle pony tea. The phrase also counts for decadent as all get out blends, which this tea definitely falls under. It's a great special tea for the holiday. I even felt the need to break out the gaiwan for this tea!

I am so glad that I got to take part of this countdown! Thanks to the wonderful minds at work at 52Teas for making great blends to drink and write about! Can't wait to see what else you have in store for 2017! Here's to blogging again and drinking great tea!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

12 Days of Christmas - Day 11

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me... Marshmallow Treat Genmaicha!
Happy Christmas Eve everyone! The excitement for the upcoming holiday is so saturated in the air that I can almost cut off a slice and spread it on toast. My little Christmas tree is started to fill up with presents and the Christmas music playing all the goddamn place sounds less annoying today.
I am happy to see another genmaicha on the label today, I will admit. As I have raved in an earlier review, I freaking love genmaicha blends, and Anne's in particular. And, as I  have had this tea before, I decided to play around with the tea and up the temperature and add some awesome Hello Kitty green tea filled  marshmallows that I got at the Japanese supermarket nearby. Oh my gawd. I don't know if it's sacrilegious to put marshmallows in tea, but the mallows and sweet green tea jelly took this already awesome brew to another level. 10/10 Would recommend A+ 
Tanuki loves a good genmaicha

12 Days of Christmas - Day 10

On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me... White Christmas Black Tea!

Dang, only two more teas left in this countdown? My, how time flies! Wasn't Thanksgiving like a week ago?

I did not know what to expect when I read the label on this tea. The name White Christmas could really go in many different directions to describe almost any blend. White chocolate, vanilla mint, holiday sprinkles are all quite plausible choices. To get to the bottom of this, I opened the package of tea to discover the wisps of marshmallow root and plenty of strong, fresh minty scent. The combination of the two instantly made me think of good old pillow mints.

The brew wafts a minty smell to my nose holes. I smelled crest toothpaste, altoids and candy canes. All of which, in my own opinion have their own distinct mint characteristics. I really enjoyed the smooth marshmallow finish. It gave the tea a crΓ¨me de  menthe feel. I wish I could have gotten more of a fudge-y note with the Fijian black tea, but it was still refreshing and energizing. I've always been curious as to why cooling things like mint are so popular in the winter... when it's cold... Nevertheless, I still order a peppermint white mocha whenever I come across a Starbucks.  πŸ˜žπŸ˜›

Friday, December 23, 2016

12 Days of Christmas - Day 9

On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me... Coconut Cream Pie Black Tea!

As the days get closer and closer to Christmas, I find myself getting more and more into the spirit of the season. As Yule has passed, and the days are no longer getting shorter, all those scrooge-like curmudgeony feelings start to melt away like the week old snow on my front lawn. It's soothing as well as energizing feeling, just like a cup of brisk, hot tea in the cold.

Frustratingly, many small events prevented me from enjoying my first cup this morning. Long story long, I usually filter my own water in large glass jugs with a stick of binchotan charcoal inside. But the last few days I have been without water on account of some stupid plumbing issues involving a dishwasher, a new disposal, 12 chopsticks, and some aggressive mice. (That may be another story for another blog...) I ran out of drinking/tea water last night and forgot to fill my water filtration vessels. Woke up late the next morning to plumbers fighting off the King mouse to hook up our kitchen sink again. Once they had left and I had a mere 6 minutes to get out of the door. For some reason, my sleepy brain thought it would be okay to just use the water from the tap for my tea this morning. Since I don't live in a place that has good tap water, It made my first brew taste like garbage. I could hardly taste the tea over the metallic and chlorine taste. Granted, I'm the kind of person who won't even use tap water to boil pasta.

When the time came, I managed to brew a decent cup. I really like the combination of vanilla and coconut to compliment the black tea in this blend. It felt like a much thicker, creamy coconut element than the previous blends with coconut in them in the countdown. When brewed up properly, I could finally enjoy the richness of the coconut and even get a good velvety vanilla mid note. I am happily surprised at how sweet this blend is. The black tea even gives it the buttery and flaky crust aspect. A very vivid tea when the flavors have been extracted with good water, which if today is any kind of reminder, it would be that 99% of tea is good old H2O.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

12 Days of Christmas - Day 8

On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me ... Hot Buttered Spiced Rum Green Tea!

I am a little sad that this countdown is ending soon! I am really enjoying discovering a new tea each day. I still have a little bit of each tea to drink down, and part of me wants to savor them longer. I feel this way about plenty of teas that I've bought and all but forgotten. Chalk it up to my tea hoarder mentality; I don't want to run out of all these teas I like, so I let the last little bit sit around my tea cupboard for all eternity - or at least until I buy more and find I no longer have room. Trust me, the irony is not lost on me.

Opening this tea this morning, I wondered how the green tea would play out with the flavor I discovered on the package. Cracking it open, I see some dried citrus slices and some chunks of various spices. Butterscotch and rum waft up the package to greet my nose. The green tea looks like the Chinese sencha that was a part of the first day's blend. I was kind of hoping for a nuttier, creamier Chinese green tea like a Bi Luo Chun to match the buttered rum, but I liked the pale and slightly grassy sencha on the first day. It's lighter than the traditional Japanese version and can take a beating with temp and brew times.

I personally have never had hot buttered rum, but I can take a guess at the flavor. It brings thoughts of butterscotch pudding and lots of Bacardi.While this tea is not something I'd pick out for myself, I am surprised at how much I am enjoying it. While I feel like the Chinese Sencha used in the blend is a bit of a milder flavor profile in comparison to the spices and rum, it adds a smooth, refreshing finish to this dessert tea. I love how the spices combine with the rum flavor. It's like I spiked my drink with a little Captain Morgan. It's teas like this one that makes me happy I got the box. Finding something totally new and unexpectedly delicious is what's giving me life right now. Excuse me while I find some real rum to add to this tea...

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

12 Days of Christmas - Day 7

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me... Marshmallow Assam!

Happy December 20th! Yesterday was my brother in law's birthday, so we saw the new Star Wars movie. It's kind of a tradition of sorts, last year we saw episode VII on his birthday as well. Except this time, we didn't have to wait an hour and a half in line to get in. I snuck in a thermos of the last of the Coconut Flan Genmaicha from Day 3 of the Countdown just in case. But I did learn that genmaicha tastes great with movie popcorn πŸ˜›

Death Star Does Not Approve

As I scratched off today's label, I pondered on how this tea will play out, I vaguely remember some old tea friends discussing the original blend when Frank was still part of the company; yet I never tried it for myself. Marshmallow and Assam are on such different flavor levels for me, so I am curious to see if the Assam will play nice with the marshmallow.

I went by the package instructions because I know how touchy Assam can be when it's over-leafed or over-brewed. A level teaspoon for 2 1/2 minutes - another short steep time - and I was good to go. I could smell a light creamy sweetness, just as if someone had cracked open a jar of marshmallow fluff in the next room.

I hate to say this, but I may have found the one blend in this countdown that I do not like. I love marshmallows, and I think that the flavor is sublime in tea, and Assam is a comforting, almost nostalgic tea that brings back a lot of happy memories. However, the two together just don't vibe. The Assam that Anne used is a very drinkable black tea on it's own, but the robustness and the astringency of the tea itself almost completely drowns out the fluffity puffity marshmallow. There is just the slightest hint of a sweet creaminess at the end. I feel like the blend is a bit simple for what I know Anne can cook up.

ETA: I made this tea into a latte at work with eggnog and some extra nutmeg sprinkled on top.good lawd, it was tasty!

Monday, December 19, 2016

12 Days of Christmas - Day 6

On the Sixth Day of Christmas my true love gave to me... Winter Cabin Chai!

Wow, we're halfway through the countdown already? It's hard to think that in less than a week it'll be Christmas. Wasn't Thanksgiving a week ago? My how time flies.

I was pretty stoked to see the name of the tea reveal itself underneath that scratch off foil. I saw the words, 'winter cabin' and 'chai' together and got a little thrill. I love chai in the wintertime, it is such a soothing, warming collection of spices. And the words winter cabin immediately put in my head visions of a smoking chimney and comforting warmth.

Upon opening the package, I was not disappointed. The menagerie of spices mingled with a strong note of spice made all more enticing to my nose. I scooped out some tea to toss into my teapot and was pleasantly surprised to find that the cardamom pods in the blend had already been popped open. Usually, whenever I make myself a cup of chai, regardless of preparation, I always use my stone grinder to slightly crush the cardamom pods. That way, all the goodness and flavor will become more prominent in my cup. I do notice that the blend itself is very fine. I take note of this and reducing my usual black tea brewing time to just 2 1/2 minutes.

Sipping the brew, I let out a sigh of comfort. I love smoky notes in tea, so the more the merrier for me. Following the smoke flavor is a combination of cloves and allspice. Rounding out the cup is that cardamom I keep going on about as well as cinnamon and a light touch of black tea astringency. A very soothing cup for a cold December Monday!

12 Days of Christmas - Day 5

On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me... Banana Pudding Black Tea!
Sweet freezing jeebus, it has been so goddamn cold this last couple days. Yesterday was so cold, my fat Alaskan Malamute, Kuma didn't even want to go outside. It dumped a ton of snow on our doorstep, and temperatures dropped to -5F during the middle of the day. And to think, it was in the upper 50's not two days before. Thanks Denver. So grateful for a steaming cup of black tea today!

Cold fat doge

I have had a couple of banana blends from 52Teas before, and I have enjoyed each one. I was unaware before opening the package that there would also be coconut in this blend. I can see the flakes of coconut being useful in achieving that creamy pudding feel in the tea. I also like the combination of flavors, it reminds me of a blend from Etsy seller Ami Tea created that Muse Monthly had in their box one month.

I confess, I really do not like pudding. I know, I know. Many people are surprised when I say this. It's all about the texture for me. It's thick and ultra-creamy texture makes me gag every time I put it in my mouth. I feel as if I am swallowing Crisco. I am the same way about mayonnaise. Thankfully, drinking a tea inspired by pudding does not have the same effect. This deliciously desserty blend was a good balance of banana, malty black tea, with a hint of creamy coconut. I got more of a coconut sprinkled banana bread rather than pudding. An interesting choice to have two blends with coconut in a row, but they are varied enough for me not to care. Another delicious day counting down the days till Christmas! Am I getting a bit stressed out just thinking about it? Yes. They say tea calms you down, right? *continually chugs tea* This better fucking work.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

12 days of Christmas - Day 4

On the Fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me ... Coconut Flan Genmaicha!

I was honestly so excited to see this blend on today's tea. I am always a sucker for a genmaicha blend. I am such a fan of Anne's gemaicha blends. When this came out last May, I bought it instantly. It came out on my birth week and got it in time to have as a birthday brew at work. It was perfect birthday teat! I am always on the lookout for non-traditional Japanese tea blends. Houjicha, matcha, you name it.

Since I knew what to expect with this tea, I didn't pay to close attention to the cups. The distinct coconut creaminess shined through, nicely tying up the nutty, toasty flavor of the popped rice with it's coconut cream quality. It's a delicious and straightforward blend that hits the mark. I pity a fool that doesn't like the flavor of genmaicha, because this blend is hecka slammin'.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

12 Days of Christmas - Day 3

On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me ... Snickerdoodle - Reimagined Black Tea!

Before we begin, I gotta make a shout out to the  ladies at 52teas for the entertaining aspect of the scratch off reveal for the tea names! Can I just say, I freaking love those little silver discs. I get so much satisfaction from the simple act of scratching off the shiny shavings and brushing it off like an archeological dig. Kudos!

Upon opening the package, I get a strong note of sweet cinnamon. A twinge of trepidation crept though me as I can be pretty picking about cinnamon - I find it to be a strong flavor and tends to overpower other supporting flavors. I also catch the sweet and rich scent of gingerbread waft up to me just before I scooped out my 4 grams.

After the after the appropriate amount to brewing time as well as some time to cool, I took a big swig of my mug and almost forgot to swallow in surprise. It was as if I had taken a bite out of a freshly baked snickerdoodle with hot, slightly caramelized cinnamon sugar on top. It did a great job staying hot and comforting in my stainless steel travel mug without much affect on flavor.

The leaves from Vietnam were quite interesting. The difference in leaf size varied a lot. They came in all shapes and sizes and I even came across a large leaf with two little buds hidden inside. The flavor and texture of the tea really made the blend for me. It had a nice, smooth thickness and a prominent baked-goods note throughout.

Until the next silver scratch off!

Friday, December 16, 2016

12 Days of Christmas - Day 2

On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me... Crisp Cranberry Soda Green Rooibos!
For the second day of 52Tea's Christmas Countdown, I was lukewarm to the name of the blend. I was so not ready to get my rooibos on when I scratched off the silvery label.  Try as I may, rooibos and I are just not very friendly. I enjoy drinking caffeine-free tea late at night, and I want to like it, I truly do. Luckily for me, typically green is the lesser rooibos evil (sorry red), so I was ready to give it a shot. Reminding myself that 'it's for the blog!" Helps too.

Cracking open the package, a deep whiff of bubblegum and Crest hit me on the nose. The blend is very visually appealing - large hunks of cranberries, whole and sliced. The brewed tea had another scent entirely. To me, the brew tastes exactly like Country Time pink lemonade. It was love at first sip. The sweet, subtle cranberry blended well with the fruity rooibos. I was worried that all those cranberries would affect the infusion in a mouth puckering sour way. Not so with this blend.

Once I brewed my first cup, I kept craving more. Without much thought, I finished the whole package in one day. So far, I am looking forward to sharing my experience. Stay tuned for day three!

Note: For some reason, my post for the first day of this advent calendar has been eaten by the ever hungry blog monster. My apologies. Will I find that post? Hopefully. Stay tuned folks!