Tea Time with Friday Afternoon Tea – CuppaGeek-

Each and every year, tea enthusiasts take a look at their tea stashes/cupboards  and decide to take an earnest attempt at sipping down the tea that they currently own for a variety of reasons.  This year, I’m joining in on this venture for a different reason- I want to dedicate more time to myself.  2020 was a hard year on my family.  Between one of our son’s being diagnosed with cancer to losing a beloved member of our family to an extremely hectic and challenging political cycle (my 9-5) to everything in between which includes basically being a “single parent” for a good chunk of the year while my hubby took care of our son, Parker while he was getting treatment at St Judes.  For so many, 2020 will always be an exhausting and stressful year.  But, it is time to now look at 2021 and make new habits and choices to set the year off right.

One the new habits I am truly striving to establish for myself is literally time for myself.   I am very fortunate to have been working from home for a few years now but with the kiddos also being home and remote learning, that tea time that I always really enjoyed fell by the way side.   And I have too many delightful tea goodies to have that happen.  So I have literally set up time each day on my calendar to take a moment, pop onto Steepster, log my teas, see tea lovelies everyone is enjoying all while enjoying a cuppa myself.  If you aren’t familiar with Steepster, I highly encourage you to check it out. Steepster is a great place to log your tea tasting notes while engaging with other like minded tea friends.  A lovely environment that I am thrilled to be engaged with once again.

To start 2021 off right, my Black Friday Friday Afternoon tea order finally arrived on 1/3 so I thought these would be a nice treat to ring in the new year.  I mainly ordered a variety of black flavored teas but my mystery sampler was also included in this order so there were various tea samples to dig into as well.

#1 Sipdown:

I’m No Prize was the first sample I grabbed.  This blend is  black tea, ginger root, star anise, rose, jasmine blend with cinnamon flavoring.  I’ve been seeing a lot of rose flavored chai blends lately and the idea of mingling floral and spiced flavors was incredibly intriguing.  Brewed up with water at 212F and steeped for 3 minutes, this tea was a joy.  You could literally pick out each flavor on its own and they all worked together nicely.  Pops of ginger, star anise, and cinnamon worked wonderfully well with the rose and jasmine.

I was able to get a few infusions out of the sample serving and enjoyed every sip.  Really lovely blend and one I could see re-ordering more of in a heart beat.

#2 Sipdown:

Butterfly Blend was the second sample that grabbed my attention.  A black tea blend with honey, strawberry, orange peel and lemongrass.  When I first opened the sample- the first thought that came to mind was how much this tea smelled like a strawberry candy.  I was eager to enjoy this one so I prepped up my water at 212F and again allowed the tea to steep for 3 minutes.  Sadly, I think my taste buds are changing and this blend was too sweet for me.    The first sip – my taste buds were super happy.  Super sweet honeyed strawberries was what I was getting.  However, after a few more sips, it was like I needed a bit of something else to round out that sweetness, possibly even a bit more black tea.  The blend itself is beautiful to look at but just doesn’t seem to be the right tea for me.

#3 Sipdown:

Courtesan’s Blend was the last of the three samples I enjoyed during my tea time sipdown.  I will be honest, I’ve received this blend a few different times in my mystery samplers from Friday Afternoon and I have never really enjoyed the blend.  But again, looking at the ingredients I should.  Oolong, clove, cinnamon, and vanilla flavoring.  All sounds delightful.  When you first open the sample pack as well, the blend smells delightful.  To my dismay, those aromas (for me) did not translate into any noticeable flavors until the very end of each sip if not the after taste.  Then I could pick up the oolong, clove, and cinnamon notes.  If the flavors were more pronounced, I have a feeling I would be in love with this blend.  But after trying this blend so many times, I think this one just isn’t for me.

All in all, not a bad little tea party (that spanned a few hours might I add).  The winner for me is I’m No Prize which is already on my list to re-order the next time I order from Friday Afternoon.

Let us know if you have any tea related goals for 2021. We’d love to hear them!


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Where to Buy: Friday Afternoon

Vietnam Red Oolong – Kim Tuyen/Simpson & Vail- Skysamurai-

Another advent tea gift. I find it interesting that while this one is a rolled style the others I have come upon are shaped into balls.

So it makes me wonder why the farmer decided to make that change. It is a gorgeous leaf. Dark chocolate in color with light brown flecks here and there. The flavor is mineral, musty, and filled with wet wood notes. There is honey in the after taste. It isn’t strong but the way it lingers is very unique.

My aroma cup doesn’t reveal much for the liquid but the wet leaf is earthy and kinda mineral. I say kinda because it hides. Sometimes you sense it and sometimes you don’t. Some oolongs can last for many steepings but this one seems to have had its limelight in the first and second steepings.

Though as I’m coming upon my 7th? infusion now I’m find some of the sweeter notes are really shining. The instructions also say to brew four minutes, which I assume would be western style. I’ve tried both western and gong fu but so far I prefer the gong fu. It offers the ability to test it out more at more stages, not that you can’t in western but it just doesn’t steep the same.


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type: Oolong

Where to Buy: Simpson & Vail

Description

This exquisite oolong comes to us from Northern Vietnam, where some of the old tea plants are still partially grown wild. Local villagers traditionally process these leaves and the resulting tea is unique and delicious.

The large leaves resemble a black tea, however, the brewed cup is distinctively oolong in character. The aroma is bright with slight spice and floral notes. The amber cup imparts a toasty aftertaste with a slight honey sweet flavor.

Brew tea at 212º – steep for 4 minutes.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Huang Guan Yin/Harney and Sons – Ashmanra –

Huang Guan Yin goes by several names. The tea plant is a hybrid/cross of a Tie Guan Yin cultivar and a Huang Jin Gui cultivar. The name literally translates as “Yellow Goddess of Mercy.” It is sometimes also called No. 105 or simply Yellow Goddess. It is a fairly new cultivar.

This particular one from Harney and Sons is very light. There is none of the roasty toasty or smokey flavor found in many TGY or Wuyi oolongs. No Tung Ting nuttiness. I think some companies do sell this processed a little more roasty if their descriptions are accurate.

The scent cup revealed floral aroma reminiscent of baby powder – that light magnolia or osmanthus scent, and a baked sugary treat smell that made me think of cream filled dougnuts. Then a herbaceous savory note rises.

It was prepared gongfu style. The liquor is yellow. There is quite a mix of flavor here. The floral scents are still there, but there is a savory note overlaid on all the sweetness. Sipping the tea, I taste the floral aspects first and then the savory nips in at the aftertaste like vegetable liquor from leafy greens, like tender greens (popular in the South where I live) or perhaps bok choy, perhaps more well known.

The leaves held up for steep after steep, delivering a lot of flavor. It was a very interesting tea to try. I wouldn’t want to waste this one by drinking it with a meal. I prefer to enjoy it on it own to tease out all the flavors.


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Harney & Sons 

Description

This is a light Oolong from the Wuyishan area of northern Fujian Province. We have been buying from Mr. Chao for many years. This Spring we stopped by and saw him and his wife. This is one of the 3 teas that we bought from them. This is a cross blend between Ti Quan Yin and Huang Jin Gui, so you have nice floral notes and a bit of sweetness.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

**this tea was purchased and not gifted in exchange for a review**

Victorian London Fog/Harney and Sons

This Earl Grey variation won Harney’s customer creation contest! And I see why, because it’s super-tasty.

Imagine, if you will, Earl Grey — with lavender, oolong, and vanilla added. The contents of this tea SOUND like a sock drawer, but they work together well. The oolong adds a gentler, rounded-out tea note, and the lavender & vanilla sweeten up the citrus of the bergamot.

I’ve never BEEN to London, but I like to imagine it’s classy, rounded-out, and fun like this. Everyone’s tastefully, liberally dressed; there are fun activities like art museums and bookstores; and the breeze is always crisp. Oh, and I’m dating one of the Queen’s Guard with the fuzzy hats. (In this vision, my husband is just himself, with an accent, and, of course, the hat. I can’t even have a fantasy without him intruding. Go. AWAY. Ugh. Married life.)

SO ANYWAY. I’m glad this tea won the prize, because it’s tasty and fun. Next time you want to pretend you’re in London with your fuzzy-hatted partner, get on a double-decker bus with this one


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type:  Black/Oolong

Where to Buy:  Harney and Sons

Description

Victorian London Fog was the winning blend in our customer creation contest! Thousands of blends were submitted and we let you all choose between the top 5 flavors!

The beverage called London Fog originated during the Victorian era. Traditionally, it is an Earl Grey served with steamed milk.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

**by purchasing this tea through the above picture (link), you will be supporting the SororiTea Sisters in their mission to support tea companies.  all monies collected from the amazon affiliate program will go towards future purchases of tea for the SororiTea Sisters to review or shipping costs**

Strawberry Crepes with Cilantro Cream/A Quarter To Tea

There is a new craziness in my life and it is called law school. Yay! But also boo! One step closer to my dreams but a whole lot of miles farther from my friends and family. I do have one great comfort from home though and that is my tea. My tea and (almost) all my teaware which is now proudly displayed on a bookshelf for all to see.

With this new chapter of my life beginning, I have been thinking about the past chapters and I think that’s what made this tea, A Quarter to Tea’s Strawberry Crepes with Cilantro Cream, stand out to me. Crepes have always said Montreal to me, my home for so many years during one of the best times in my life…my undergrad. Here’s hoping this tea is as delightful as the crepes I remember…and also that law school ends up being as amazing as my undergrad.

Drinking the tea, it is definitely a tasty tea however it is hard to discern any particular flavor at first. As I continue to drink, I am picking up some of the strawberry, sweet like a puree you’d find in/on a crepe. Though cilantro isn’t fully clear, there is a savory note at the end of the sip that is different but I can’t decide if I like it or not. The oolong seems to be bridging the gap between the sweet strawberry and the savory end note. At the top of the flavor is baked goods that is light and could be crepes but it could also be a puff or a bun or whatever bakery concoction I am told to look for by A Quarter to Tea.

This is a good tea but I don’t know if this stands out. A Quarter to Tea has made some outstanding blends but this seems to be more middle-of-the-pack. I am enjoying what I have and I am glad I have another cup worth of leaf remaining but at the end of the day, I don’t think I would reach for this tea over another tea.


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type: Oolong

Where to Buy:  A Quarter To Tea

Description

It appears A Quarter To Tea is taking a short break but check out their FB page for updates.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!