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.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Tea Review Tuesday - A Review of DavidsTea's Oolong Supreme Tea

Typically, I like to brew tea in traditional methods. For an oolong, I might usually use a gaiwan or small yixing pot with a high leaf-to-water ratio and short steep times, leading to multiple infusions and flavors that evolve over time. When drinking today's tea, DavidsTea's Oolong Supreme, at home, I recommend using a gaiwan to experience the full flavor spectrum. However, as DavidsTea gives directions for a more western-style brewing, that the method we will follow for this review!


DavidsTea says that their Supreme Oolong is a "dan cong" oolong, a term which once referred to an extremely high quality oolong from Guangdong Province in China, but is now being used more generically for teas from that region. The tightly-curled leaves give-off deep roasted aromas that have a dark fruit smell to them. DavidsTea describes it as "ripe plum." That seems about right to me!


After brewing about a teaspoon and a half in twelve ounces of water that is not quite boiling temperature for five minutes, a pale golden brew fills the cup. Soft, roasted aromas waft from the tea, but they seem weak. It smells as though there are some sweet, fruit-like hints hidden in the background. I take a sip and am surprised by how much natural sweetness tinges the flavor. The flavors taste roasted, a bit vegetal, and a bit like clean air and fresh rain.


I did not feel that DavidsTea's Supreme Oolong was a good value. For the price, the flavors and aromas were just not as full as I would have expected. On my personal enjoyment scale, I would rate this tea a 3.



Photo credit to Built from Ink and Tea.
DavidsTea's Oolong Supreme can be purchase from their website, here.
This review was unsolicited and uncompensated.
You can read more about my Personal Enjoyment Scale, here.
Text is copyright 2016, Built from Ink and Tea.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Stained Fingers on Thursday - A Review of Diamine Dark Brown 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, July 5, 2016

Tea Review Tuesday - A Review of Teavivre's Tian Mu Mao Feng Green Tea

Fresh for spring 2016, Teavivre's Tian Mu Mao Feng drops into my cup, promising light, sweet flavors and great fragrance. The name of the tea tells us a lot about it, as Tian Mu is the area in which the tea was harvested and Mao Feng refers to the part of the tea plant - the bud, which usually denotes a good quality tea.

While I waited for my water to heat, I open my package of tea. The leaves are large, curled in their dryness, looking ready to unfurl with the water. They smell sweet, like a sweet grassiness that glides smoothly through the nose.


The leaves are so large that I use a full tablespoon, unpacked, to steep in eight ounces of water for three minutes. The water has been boiled and then cooled for about five minutes, so that the leaves do not scald. Over that short period of time, leaves open and rehydrate, returning to a brilliant shade of green. The tea liquid steeps to a pale shade of green and gives off wonderful aromas. The sweet smell of the dry leaves has changed to more of a subtle grassiness, like a dew-covered lawn in the morning.


The tea rolls softly over the tongue. I am intrigued by how the sweetness that was so prominent in the dry leaves' aroma has mellowed to a background hint. As I take more and more sips, the sweetness does linger on my tongue, so it seems as though the tea gets sweeter and sweeter. Meanwhile, I take more and more sips, thoroughly enjoying the drink. Letting the tea linger fully on my tongue for a moment, the slightest hint of astringency sits in the rear of the taste, and I have to look to find it.


I wonder, if these leaves have more to give, so I steep them again, this time for five minutes. Sure enough, the aromas are just as forthcoming, and the flavors have only decreased slightly. Drinking this green tea has been a great experience. On my personal enjoyment scale, I would rate it a 5.



Photo credit to Built from Ink and Tea.
Teavivre's Tian Mu Mao Feng 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.