Thursday, August 25, 2016

Stained Fingers on Thursday - A Review of Diamine Coral Ink





This scan was done on an HP Deskjet F4280 at 600dpi.
Note: Because these scans are done with a light emitting printer, actual colors will, more likely than not, be slightly darker than they may appear, here. The colors shown, here, are probably a bit more reminiscent of what the ink would be like under a bright light or if it were held up and viewed with a light behind it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Tea Review Tuesday - A Review of Adagio Teas' Pu Erh Poe Tea

Following on the dregs (rather than the heels!) of last week's review of Pu Erh Dante from Adagio Teas, another of their unflavored pu'erh teas is filling the cup this week for our review. This shou pu'erh promises "clean, woodsy aroma" and "wilted flower notes and a faint dark chocolate texture". To me, the description Adagio provides seems to suggest flavors that might be a bit milder than Dante. I have started brewing the water and am eager to find out!

If you have not already, I recommend reading last week's post, here, where I briefly summarize Adagio Teas' pu'erh offerings and dive into a cup of Pu Erh Dante. Likely, I am going to make some comparisons, throughout this post, since at first glance they do not seem to dissimilar. To begin, with Pu Erh Poe, I followed the same brewing instructions as I did with Pu Erh Dante, a more Western-style brewing of one and a half teaspoons of loose leaf in twelve ounces of just-boiled water. Adagio recommends three to five minutes, and I went with five. In part, this was due to my preference for stronger tea, but also I accidentally steeped the cup of Dante for that long, as well, so I want them to be fairly equal as far as strength.


I love pu'erh. Even the aromas of a cheap pu'erh will make me smile, as the earthiness wafts my way. Smelling Pu Erh Poe, I put my nose almost into the bag, breathing deeply, and the aromas that fill my nostrils are gentle and soft. They seem almost like a woodsy blanket, as if the smell of this tea was the aromatic embodiment of a cotton blanket - not too thick and not thin, like a sheet might be. I agree with Adagio's "warm hay inside a barn" description, and this is where I noticed one of the differences from Dante: Poe smells more dry. Now, of course the leaves are all dry, until you steep them, but the smell itself seems drier. Taking a few more deep breaths of Pu Erh Poe, I think I smell faint floral notes, and I am curious to see if they manifest themselves in the flavors.


I smell the brewed cup, when the steeping is done. I frown. An eyebrow raises, questioningly. The tea smells muddy. While not entirely unpleasant, muddy aromas were not what I was expecting, nor were they what was suggested that I might expect. For that matter, muddy aromas do not comprise my typical experience with pu'erh, so these were certainly a cause for me to wonder. I took another moment to really breathe-in the aroma and try to break it down, mentally. The warm hay smell presents itself, and it still seems to make the aroma "dry." Faint floral notes touch the edges of the cup's aroma in much the same way that they did the dry leaves; there is little change with them. Woodsy mushroom aromas seem to tease the smell of the tea, suggesting their presence and little more.


This may seem like a strange differentiation, but it is here that I think I might have hit upon the main difference between Pu Erh Poe (this tea) and Pu Erh Dante (last week's tea). Poe feels "woodsy," while Dante felt "foresty." The distinction is hard for me to put into woods, but let me try. Dante felt like a walk in a forest after a rain, all dark greens and browns everywhere, damp aromas filling the air, running the spectrum from deep and wet-earthy to high and sweet and wet-mushroom-like. Poe feels like laying on the earth, deep in some woods, surrounded by silence, a dryness filling the air, while the smell of soil and trees and a distant meadow of flowers reaches the nose, the body shrouded in an invisible blanket of stillness and of "presence."


It took a moment, but my tongue finally located the flavors of the tea. That was strange, that for a brief moment, I did not taste anything, when I took the first sip. Then the flavors started dispersing across the tongue, and I picked-up on them individually. With my second sip, I focused on the tea as it settled. It tastes almost exactly like the brewed cup smells. Almost exactly. The aftertaste carries flavors that I do not recognize from the aromas. They seem more damp, more reminiscent of soft, damp earth. They also have with them some of the mushroom aspect.


Despite the ramble above on the differences, I feel like Pu Erh Poe provides another great daily-drinking pu'erh, just like Pu Erh Dante did. I think each will have their own fans, who prefer one of the flavor profiles of one over the other. For me, Poe took about half the cup before I really "got into" it. The tea was enjoyable, but I think I preferred the more forest notes of Dante. On my personal enjoyment scale, I would rate Pu Erh Poe a 3.



Photo credit to Built from Ink and Tea.
Adagio Teas' Pu Erh Poe is available from their website, here.
This tea was provided for my unbiased review by Adagio Teas.
You can read more about my Personal Enjoyment Scale, here.
Text is copyright 2016, Built from Ink and Tea.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Stained Fingers on Thursday - A Review of Diamine Hope Pink Ink





This scan was done on an HP Deskjet F4280 at 600dpi.
Note: Because these scans are done with a light emitting printer, actual colors will, more likely than not, be slightly darker than they may appear, here. The colors shown, here, are probably a bit more reminiscent of what the ink would be like under a bright light or if it were held up and viewed with a light behind it.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Tea Review Tuesday - A Review of Adagio Teas' Pu Erh Dante Tea

In the past, my feelings have been mixed about pu'erh offered by Adagio Teas. I really enjoy most of the tea I have tried from Adagio, but when fruit and pu'erh start to be thrown together (see this review of Adagio's Pu Erh Hazelberry), I raise a questioning eyebrow. However, today we are taking a look at a tea that promises nothing but the flavors of earth and woods - keys to a perfect pu'erh for me. Adagio Teas offers three unflavored shou pu'erh teas (outside of their Masters line of premium teas): Pu Erh Dante, Pu Erh Poe, and Pu Erh Pearls. The descriptions suggest differences, but only a review will tell. As a pu'erh enthusiast, I do wish that they would provide more information about their pu'erh, such as age, origin, etc.

In my cup today, I have brewed Pu Erh Dante. Given the western audience for this tea, I used Adagio's directions and brewed 1.5 teaspoons in 12 ounces of water. Originally, the intention had been to only steep it for four minutes, but...distractions happen, and it had steeped for five before I removed the leaves. And the cup was dark. Very dark.


The dry leaves had given off really mellow aromas of mushrooms with a touch of sweet, dark fruit, akin to plums. It initially disappointed me, as the smell seemed very one-dimensional. The steeped cup seemed a bit less...simple. I wanted to say a "bit less bland," but bland is neither fair nor accurate. The dry leaf aromas are rather pleasant, but they seem to lack complexity that I know pu'erh can provide. So, that said, a "bit less simple" actually stretches things. In the aroma from the cup, mushrooms are joined by undertones of damp earth, and I smile at the familiar and joy-bringing scent. Once the tea cools slightly, I take my first sips.


Well-rounded forest-y notes wash over the tongue and fill the mouth. For the simplicity of the aroma, I am surprised by the fullness of the body. The lighter mushroom flavors seem to come in and out, and still there is a natural sweetness of sorts, which in the aroma I had compared to dark fruit. On the finish, that sweetness lingers in the back of the throat, providing sharp contrast to the deep notes of wet earth that underscore the overall flavor.


Overall the flavors of this tea seemed far better to me than did the aromas. For the price, this would make a good daily-drinking pu'erh, and the loose leaf format makes it easily manageable for different steeping environments. On my personal enjoyment scale, I would rate Pu Erh Dante a 3.


Photo credit to Built from Ink and Tea.
Adagio Teas' Pu Erh Dante is available from their website, here.
This tea was provided for my unbiased review by Adagio Teas.
You can read more about my Personal Enjoyment Scale, here.
Text is copyright 2016, Built from Ink and Tea.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

We Are Still Drinking Tea...on a Brief Hiatus

Hi folks! We are still drinking tea and writing things with our pens, but due to our travel adventures to discover more great tea and pens, we are currently on hiatus from new posts. We hope to resume our content in the second week of August. Talk to you soon!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Tea Review Tuesday - A Review of Teavivre's Organic Superfine Dragon Well Long Jing Green Tea

This week's review encompasses another spring 2016 offering from Teavivre. Back in 2014, I reviewed this same tea, here. Back then, I remember the tea being super fresh and green, less than three months old. Likewise, what we are drinking this week was harvested in early April of this year.


The rehydrated leaves look so intensely green! Teavivre's steeping recommendations listed one to six minutes, so I settled on four, as I like my green tea to be stronger. I used a little over a teaspoon of leaf with twelve ounces of water that had been boiled and then left to cool for five minutes or so.


To me, Dragonwell green tea embodies two main characteristics: sweetness and nuttiness. The sweetness is in the vegetal, fresh, wet-leaf aromas and seems to be more prominent in the dry leaves than in the brewed tea. The nuttiness provides more of a background to the aroma but comes forth more strongly in the flavor.


Sure enough, our cup of very pale green tea gives off pleasant nutty and slightly-roasted smells, closest to roasted almonds, if I had to make a comparison. (Make no mistake, there are not actually any almond flavors, here.) The flavors are smooth and bold, the latter in part due to my four-minute steep time. The nuttiness immediately hits the tongue, spreading in a mellow manner. I can find no fault with the cup that I made.


This spring's Teavivre's Organic Superfine Dragon Well Long Jing is fantastic. I highly recommend giving it a try. This tea embodies everything I look for in a good Dragonwell green tea.



Photo credit to Built from Ink and Tea.
Teavivre's Organic Superfine Dragon Well Long Jing Green Tea is available from their website, here.
This tea was provided for my unbiased review by Teavivre.
You can read more about my Personal Enjoyment Scale, here.
Text is copyright 2016, Built from Ink and Tea.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Stained Fingers on Thursday - A Review of Diamine Sepia Ink





This scan was done on an HP Deskjet F4280 at 600dpi.
Note: Because these scans are done with a light emitting printer, actual colors will, more likely than not, be slightly darker than they may appear, here. The colors shown, here, are probably a bit more reminiscent of what the ink would be like under a bright light or if it were held up and viewed with a light behind it.