Black Cat Bytes

Tea reviews for the common cat!


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Curious Tea’s Xue Ya Snowbud White Tea -February 2016

Hello, tea friends!! It’s been a crazy last few weeks! My parents came across the ocean for the first time ever to come visit us in London! I got engaged! I’m trying to find a flat to rent in London for one month that will not cost us an arm and a leg! O_O Exciting times! 😛 My life’s been pretty flip-turned upside down at the moment, but in the happiest way! I haven’t had much time to sit down and properly enjoy a good cuppa lately, but I’ve realized that it is something I must make time for. Let’s get back to the relaxation, shall we?

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Today I’m going to be having a look at Curious Tea‘s Xue Ya Snowbud, a white tea offered in their February 2016 subscription box. This will be the first white tea I’ve ever had from Curious Tea, and given the heaving mass of black tea varities I’ve begun unintentionally hoarding as of late, drinking something different is quite a relief. 🙂

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The leaves are light and floofy, with just the right bit of fuzz that gives the snowbud variety its name, and have a rather vegetal, corny scent. Not entirely expected, based on packet’s description! Interesting :o~

I’ve decided to brew up this tea with my cute little speedy gaiwan-like button pitcher thing, so I’ll be using slightly modified brewing instructions:

70 C / 158 F – 2 tsp per 150 mL – 40 second initial steep with 20 second increments after

First Steep

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As the tea brews, a sweet, grassy fragrance rises up from the leaves. There’s a bit of corn tagging along as well! The first sip has a slightly syrupy mouthfeel, but tastes light and fresh-  a nutty and lightly floral flavor with playful hints of peachy sweetness that linger on the tongue. This tea is so refreshing, with no astringency at all.

Second Steep

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Look at these gorgeous leaves ooomgggg

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The brew is a bit darker this time- a mysterious limey amber color! As the color darkens, the taste strengthens as well: now a bit toasty with stronger floral notes and some astringency. Noooo~ However, there is still that little tease of peachiness in the aftertaste that taunts me to learn to keep a closer eye on my steep timer 😛 Every second counts when you’re brewing gongfu style, seriously! Blargh. Let’s try one more time~

Third Steep

Ohhh yes, yes yes yes- the brew is lighter this time! Success! I forgot to take a picture of the brew color because I was too busy first marveling at the beautiful leaves again, and after, just drinking the tea! 😛 This tea is so sweet and grassy, and I’ve finally managed to pull out the brunt of that peach flavor that has eluded me up to this point. The drink is so smooth, with all of that toasty and corni..ness.. gone at last. It warms my senses- not in an overwhelming or nauseating way, but similar to how a light cotton blanket might protect you from lazy gusts of wind on a beach somewhere. I quiver with delight at the thought ❤

Curious Tea’s Snowbud is a lovely embodiment of spring time, breezy and sweet, with all the exciting promise of beautiful things to come. 🙂 You’ve gotta be careful getting your steep times right (short, multiple steeps are your friend! corny taste (in my opinion) is not!), but if you treat this tea lovingly and brew the leaves as many times as possible, you’ll end up with quite a pleasant taste adventure. 😛 I’m grateful to have had my spirits lifted by this delicate tea on such a gloomy (typical) London day.

Great pick as usual, Curious Tea! 🙂

 

Til next time! ❤

Robin

 

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Curious Tea’s December 2015 Subscription Box

Hi guys! A slightly belated Merry Christmas to you all! Now that the holiday season is (nearly) over, it’s time to settle back into our comfy chairs, enjoy a nice hot cuppa, and wait for winter to finish its tyrannical reign of.. curiously mild weather.. hmmm 😛 Screw it, let’s brew up some tea anyway!

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Today I’ll be having a look at Curious Tea‘s December mixed subscription box, featuring Dian Hong Black Pagoda and King Ginseng Oolong. At first glance, both sound like they have the potential to be seriously intense teas based on the rather imposing sound of their names, but only time (and a few sips) will tell their true nature! Let’s get started! 🙂

King Ginseng Oolong

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The appearance of this tea reminds me quite a bit of a Tie Guan Yin with it’s cute little tightly-wrapped balls of emerald goodness. KGO smells powerfully fruity and sweetly floral, a rather peculiar profile I have never found in a tea before! Pardon the cheesey phrase, but it’s like.. a full- bodied tropical bouquet of scents! Candied flowers and luscious fruits! A little research on Curious Tea’s blog reveals this particular tea is made using high grade milk oolong leaves specially infused with small amounts ginseng, hence its name. No wonder KGO seems so unique!

Brewing Guidelines: 80 C : 1 tsp per 250 mL : 3-5 minute steep time

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With my first sip, the taste of candied flowers is most prevalent with a slight grassy taste following behind. As expected, the flavor is highly potent, though it is actually a bit sour as well! A second steeping yields a highly similar flavor profile, though a bit more sour and with an added licorice aftertaste. I believe this tea is best enjoyed in small, thoughtful sips, and paired with a sweet treat on the side- leftover Christmas cookie, perhaps? 😉  The unique, powerful taste of these leaves will command your attention and admittedly may take a bit of getting used to.

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KGO is exactly the kind of tea I want to receive in a tea subscription box- a bit weird with unique flavor, and of unmistakably high quality- something I would never be able to source on my own. Awesome! 🙂

Dian Hong Black Pagoda

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WOW! I hadn’t checked the description of this tea before I opened the packet, and was actually a bit startled by the appearance of the leaves when I first looked inside! I thought they might be tiny creatures!! 😛 In any case, the unique shape of these leaves (achieved by tying them together into tower shapes before allowing them to dry during the roasting process) makes it quite easy to measure them out for a great brew! The tiny towers smell of sweet honey and brown sugar, nearly like bubble tea tapioca pearls… mmmm ❤

Brewing Guidelines: 100 C : 1 tower per 250 mL : 4-5 minutes

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The leaves are startlingly beautiful as they unfurl, and I am so excited by the fact I can enjoy what is basically a blooming tea flower actually made from high quality leaves!

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Dang, these towers get absolutely huge once they’ve steeped for the appropriate time! Based on the rather imposing, sprawling nature of the leaves, I expected the brew to have just as intense a taste… but I was completely wrong! Black Pagoda has an simple and delicate flavor profile with faint notes of honey and a lightly spiced aftertaste- that’s it! I cowered in front of the towers for no reason, it seems. 😛 The more I sip, the more the sweetness of the honey shines through, and the taste of the brew remains light. Not what I was expecting at all! Another wonderfully unique selection from Curious Tea. 🙂

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I immensely enjoyed Curious Tea’s selections for their December box- both had most surprising flavors and allowed me to enjoy brews I would never probably choose for myself. As always, their blog post was wonderfully informative and made me feel intimately familiar with and appreciative of these teas and the processes that shaped them.

Check out Curious Tea’s website here!