Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Tea Review Tuesday - A Review of Teavivre's 2006 Fengqing Raw Pu'erh

This morning's review is possible, thanks to Teavivre for providing the sample of this old, raw pu'erh!

Contemplating the package of sheng (raw) pu'erh in my hand, it seems that this is a worthy tea for using a small yixing pot that I have dedicated to raw pu'erh. I start heating the water and open the package of tea in the meantime. The small sample package contains leaves and clumps of leaves, broken from a tuocha or a cake. And the smell of the leaves...what a raw smell it is, and I do not just say that as a pun. A raw pu'erh from 2006 has had some years of aging in which to intensify in flavor. From the aroma of the dry leaf comes a very green scent, mellow but figuratively seeming to have come straight from the tea plant. As the water finishes boiling, I put the leaves into the pot, then pour some of the freshly-boiled water over them for a quick rinse of no more than ten seconds, which is discarded. Having added a large amount of leaf to the pot, I decide to begin with twenty second infusions, rather than my normal thirty. The rinse did the leaves a lot of good - it awoke the aromas and flavors.

The smells, rising from my cup, are complex. Deep in the heart of the aroma is the raw greenness that I noticed with the dry leaf. Yet spreading outward from that is the more mellow scents of earth and floral notes. The earthiness does not begin to compare to the deep, dark earthiness of a cooked pu'erh, as I have reviewed in the past, but is lighter and less intense. The first sip of tea is strong...very strong...but it finishes quite spectacularly. Like a strong green tea, the initial taste permeates one's mouth and overwhelms all else. but in the finish of the sip come the taste manifestations of the aroma. Those floral notes, slightly reminiscent of the floral aspects of some oolongs, sit in the finish and the aftertaste, hovering on the edges and lending their complexity.

For the second cup, I steep the leaves for another twenty seconds. The leaves are fully expanded and fill the small pot in which I am brewing. The aromas have not changed much, but the taste is smoother. I would not describe the taste as more mellow, for it is still as intense as the first sip, yet it does not seem as overwhelming. The leaves last through several more infusions. The flavor is, in many ways, refreshing in its complexities. Yet, it can be consuming quickly and without much a thought to the depth, and one will still receive from it an enjoyable flavor. On my personal enjoyment scale, I would rate this sheng pu'erh a 90/100.

This tea is most definitely worth trying. If you have never before tried pu'erh and you are a fan of green tea, this would be a good starting place for you.

Photo credit to Teavivre.
Teavivre's 2006 Fengqing Raw Pu'erh can be purchase from their website, here.
This tea sample was provided by Teavivre for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Stained Fingers on Thursday - A Review of Platinum Green Ink

This is only the ink, which came from the green cartridge of a Platinum Preppy. Perhaps the bottled Platinum Green looks different? Sorry for the minimal notes on this 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, April 15, 2014

Tea Review Tuesday - A Review of Tea Forte's Raspberry Nectar

Preparing to try out this herbal blend, the first thing that I notice in the smell of the dry leaves is "Hmmm, hibiscus." After boiling some water, I steep one pyramid infuser in a cup of water for five minutes to prepare to taste the "nectar"! The steeping brew still smells a lot like hibiscus, but the raspberry and orange peel smells are noticeable as well.

The first sip of this herbal tisane is a massively juicy explosion of flavor. Tea Forte's website had listed the ingredients as "rosehip, hibiscus, apple pieces, blackberry leaves, raspberries, orange peels, flavoring" and there is so much going on in the taste that I believe it has all those things and more. Thankfully, since this blend is called "Raspberry Nectar," raspberry is one of the dominant flavors. The sweetness of the apple does come out quite nicely, albeit subtly. This would be a decent desert drink, especially if one is looking for something low in caffeine. On my personal enjoyment scale, I rate it a 72/100.

This herbal blend may be purchased from Tea Forte's website, here.
Photo credit to Tea Forte.
This review was unsolicited and uncompensated.

Monday, April 14, 2014

And the Winner Is... Giveaway Announcement and Furrow Books Kickstarter Update

Thanks to all of you, who entered the giveaway for the Levenger True Writer! The winner of this beautiful fountain pen was entry #14, Roger Calhoon. Roger, I will be contacting you, soon!

Even though the giveaway has ended, you can still read the review of the True Writer, here. Levenger was very generous in sponsoring this giveaway, and I encourage you all to take a look at their website. the True Writer in foliage is available, here.


In other news, Aaron Zeller, of the Zeller Writing Company and Furrow Books, has announced that the project has been 100% funded! It is now more than $1,000 over its goal. Even more exciting is the revelation of stretch goals for the Furrow Books Kickstarter campaign. Furrow Books is moving in wonderful directions, and I cannot wait to see just how far their campaign goes. Visit them and back the project on Kickstarter, here!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Stained Fingers on Thursday - A Review of Diamine Steel Blue

It looks very teal, but Diamine Steel Blue is a solid color for a variety of uses.

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.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Reminder! Levenger True Writer Fountain Pen Giveaway - Ending on April 13!


Hi all, I just wanted to remind you that the giveaway for the Levenger True Writer fountain pen is ending soon. If you have not read the review and entered with your comment, you can do so here at this post! Remember: your comment must share what your current, favorite pen is in order for it to be a valid entry! A winner will be chosen after 12:00am PST on April 13, 2014. I will announce and notify the winner within forty-eight hours of the close of the giveaway.


Thanks again to Levenger for the opportunity to review this pen.



Update, April 14, 2014: The giveaway has ended, and the winner has been announced, here

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Tea Review Tuesday - A Review of The NecessiTeas Vanilla Cola

Wow...the smell of this tea is great! It truly does smell exactly like vanilla cola. Yet this is the part where my mind catches up with my nose and hits me over the head, telling me to stop and think for a moment: Vanilla cola tea? As in...a hot liquid that tastes like vanilla cola? (I must be careful here to not call rooibos "tea," for the sake of the tea-political correct.) While my mind is still trying to make a judgement call about whether or not it likes the idea of hot vanilla cola, my body forges ahead into the unknown to investigate and make some of this interesting mix.

It truly is a mix, according to the label. Rooibos, vanilla chips, and "natural flavors" come together in some magical manner to emulate the smell of this carbonated drink...minus the carbonation! Steeping is incredibly straightforward. 1 teaspoon per eight ounces of boiling water. I double this for my two-cup teapot and steep the blend for the recommended five minutes.

I had mentioned that the loose blend smells entirely of vanilla cola. Upon removing the infuser from my teapot, I catch my first whiff of the prepared drink...and now I get more variety to the aroma. The rooibos smell is much more prominent, the cola scent itself is there, and the vanilla laces the whole of the aromatic profile. Still charging onward with this endeavor, I pour my first cup and sit back to sip.

The taste of the brew is not as strange as I had anticipated. The rooibos comes through heavily in the flavor, causing this tea to be better described as "vanilla-flavored rooibos with light hints of cola." The first thought that comes to my mind is "Well, this is fun." The spiciness (meant, theoretically, to emulate the cola) adds a nice touch. Having experienced great vanilla rooibos in the past, this twist was novel and tasty.

Overall, this rooibos definitely made for an enjoyable and fun experience to try. If you like vanilla rooibos, or even rooibos in general, I highly recommend checking out The NecessiTeas Vanilla Cola. I would give it an 83/100 on my personal enjoyment scale.

This rooibos blend may be purchased from The NecessiTeas website, here.
Photo credit to The NecessiTeas.
This review was unsolicited and uncompensated.