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Memory

Memory from Virginia Tea Company

Ginkgo biloba touts an amazing comeback story. Had it not been for one monastery keeping it as a sacred plant, it would have disappeared from our planet entirely! A group of these trees in Hiroshima even survived an atomic bomb (soooooo yeah, bulletproof coffee needs to step it up a bit, eh?)

And had you all not heard that amazing story from a biology class, you’d still be in luck, because fortunately the Virginia Tea co has done all the herbal medicine research and responsible sourcing for you, Thank you Kickstarter supporters! This tea is entirely to credit (blame??) for any extra wild anecdotes I happen to remember from Fall Quarter

This offering has beautiful, large leafy components and all sorts of flavor packed little herbal goodies just perfectly balanced. There is a distinctly sweet, innocent floral scent going on here that is super relaxing, a good “stop and smell the roses” kinda moment. Very youthful and uplifting.

I love drinking these “mind-boosting” teas on exam days. As usual I personally prefer a bit of sweetener in these teas. Whether they truly help me remember how to do a crazy math skill or not, I’m at peace even with just the placebo effect.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Herbal
Where to Buy: Virginia Tea Company
Your brain is a very powerful organ and needs to be nourished. This blend of gingko, gotu kola, spearmint, and sage are exactly what your mind needs to increase awareness and retain memory.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Mini Yunnan Toucha Mix from Teasenz – Reflection on Scent and Memory

I am far from an expert, but I’ve always been both intimidated and entranced by pu erh tea.  The tea comes packed in cakes and wrapped in decorative papers, and you might even have a tea pick especially for breaking up these tightly packed leaves. There’s a proper way to brew and taste pu erh, and all kinds of special teapots and accessories.  There’s something inherently magical about having the right tools for an ancient ritual.  With the Mini Yunnan Toucha mix sampler from Teasenz, I could give the whole thing a try at my kitchen table.

I’ve brewed enough bad cups of pu erh tea to know that it’s worth following the instructions.  For this sampler I used the following process for each: 20 second awakening rinse (pour off the liquid), 5-10 second brews following.  I only did three brews for each tea, though a good pu erh session would have many more.  I only used a small piece of each tea cake for my taste-test– I would not recommend throwing the whole thing in your teapot, no matter how small and cute the tea cake is.

For instructions I found helpful, I recommend Teasenz advice on using this sampler and White2Tea’s guide on on brewing pu erh at home.

I’m going to use the same naming convention that Teasenz used on its website, referring to the teas by the color ink on their wrappings.

First up was the brown wrapper tea.  This smelled like what I typically associate with pu erh: wet hay, earth, and old leather.  If you’re new to pu erh, these flavors may take a little getting used to.  Feel free to shorten your steep times to as little as 1 to 3 seconds if anything gets too intense.  This tea very much smelled like the outdoors after the rain, with notes of wet mulch and damp leaves.  I mention all these wet adjectives because there was definitely a sense of age or plant decay in the smell and taste.

The mouthfeel of pu erh is worth noticing, known for being exceedingly smooth, some might even describe it as creamy.  Black teas can be bitter or have a strong astringent bite, but no such sensation was present in the brown wrapper tea.  By the second and third steep, I continued to notice wet garden flavors, with more mineral tones like mushroom or beets or kale, especially on the aftertaste.  The wet hay fragrance remained throughout, coming on the strongest when first brewed and dissipating slightly as the tea cooled.

Next was the red wrapper tea, in a cube shape.  This tea felt similar to the brown wrapper, with notes of wet earth and grass.  However there was a bit of brightness in the red tea that wasn’t present in the brown, maybe citrus or orange, a touch of something tart. The second steep had more of this brightness, like lemongrass, along with the typical pu erh wet hay flavors.  By the third steep, the citrus verged to more of a bright pine note.  If the brown wrapper tea was a deciduous woods full of wet, autumn leaves, then this red wrapper tea was a damp, evergreen forest with crushed hemlock needles and pine resin.

After the brown and red teas, the blue wrapper tea was quite a departure.  As soon as I rinsed the leaves, I was hit with a striking popcorn scent.  According to Teasnez, this “sticky rice” flavor is a staple of certain pu erh teas.  My boyfriend was walking by the room at this point and said it smelled like Fritos corn chips!  As for the taste, this tea still had the expected wet grass notes, but the brew was more savory, like a soup broth.  The plant-like flavors were a little different than the brown and red tea cakes, this time tasting more like corn or celery.  As I tried more steeps with this tea, the sticky rice note became more mellow, and the damp earth and corn husk flavors were more prevalent, smelling more like an autumn cornfield maze.

Finally we get to the yellow wrapped tea.  This is a different type of pu erh tea entirely.  The brown, red, and blue wrapper teas were all pu erh shou tea.  The yellow wrapped tea is a pu ehr sheng.  Shou tea is fermented prior to packaging, while sheng teas are packaged “raw” and age in the package over time. This yellow wrapped sheng tea occupied a flavor profile somewhere between the wet earth flavors of the brown wrapper tea, and the toasty rice notes of the blue wrapper tea.  The yellow wrapper tea had flavors like starchy baked bread and old paper alongside the damp grass tones. This tea had the most variation between steeps, the second steep having flavors that reminded me of black licorice or roasted nuts, and the third steep brightening up to more of a celery and sweetgrass blend.

Personally, I find the smells and tastes of pu ehr tea to be memory-inducing, reminding me of playing and exploring as a kid.  The scents of damp paper or old leather are akin to going into an undisturbed attic, and the damp earth scents make me think about playing in neighbors’ barns or crawling under the porch for hide-and-seek, while the wet leaves flavors make me think of walking in the woods after the rain.  The flavors of these aged tea leaves provide me with a strong sense of nostalgia and history.

Or maybe I’m just waxing poetic here, and I’ve just brewed one too many cups of tea for one afternoon. Either way, I highly recommend this sampler as a great way to experiment with pu ehr tea and its traditions.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Pu erh
Where to Buy: Teasenz

teasenzlogoDescription:

If you are new to pu erh tea and have yet to discover the different types of aromas it offers, then this mini tuocha tea mix is the right place to start. Reap the weight loss benefits of this pu erh while enjoying the diverse mix of flavors that ensure you will never get bored.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Persistence of Memory Green Tea Blend from Hari Tea

PersistenceOfMemoryTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  Hari Tea

Tisane Description:

Sometimes it feels like the drawer is open and the file is right there, but the printing is in some other language. It is the persistence of memory that we count on.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Yeah, I held off trying this one for a little while.  I’m not a big fan of ginkgo, and since it’s one of the main ingredients in this Persistence of Memory Green Tea Blend from Hari Tea, I was hesitant to try it.  But, this is alright!  I like it.

Perhaps it’s the other ingredients in this tea – lemon grass, pepper and basil – together with the Sencha green tea that elevates this tea for me.  I taste subtle notes of pepper and hints of citrus.  I also taste the rose.  The herbs together with the floral tones really turn this tea into something tasty.

The aroma of the dry leaf is herbaceous and sweet with floral tones.  The brewed tea doesn’t have a strong aroma … it smells like Sencha green tea … but it’s a soft scent.  There are whispers of herbal tones along with the green tea fragrance.

An enjoyable and soothing drink.  A really good way to add ginkgo to your diet if you’re like me and don’t find it to be particularly enjoyable … this is a good way to get your ginkgo and enjoy it too!