How Does One Taste Fiction: Western Wild

One of the most wildly known about fictional adventures, for those I’ve met, has always been The Chronicles of Narnia. It’s of no surprise that I would do a Narnia tea; after all, how can you enjoy Lord of The Rings and not Narnia? Both are wonderful stories with a lot being said for the reader to figure out in regards to today, the past, and the future.

Picking a place in the Narnia world to create a tea for wasn’t hard at all. The beginning of the story (as some will say), symbolic to the Old Testament, is when a silver apple is bitten into which creates the White Witch. Take a forest area with pine trees, the idea that it’s winter now, and a silver apple with the whole idea that a witch was just created in this place… I got this!

Part 1: The Apple

Dried apple, check!

20161128_1539181Edible silver, check!20161128_1539411

Now wrapping those apple pieces with silver… well, what an experience! Blending tea has taught me so much in the food world such as how hard it is to use these edible sheets of silver.They want to attach to anything and hate doing what you ask of it. It’s also hard to take a decent picture. Anyways, all that hard work for something like this:

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A little pile such as this may look pathetic to some, but now that I’ve done it… I know that this took time and it wasn’t easy.20161128_1553411

Finishing up, this is all I ended up with sadly.20161128_1652151

Par 2: Tea

I was so ready to blend this tea. For whatever reason, I already knew what I was going to do. I haven’t done anything floral in a long time and a forest surely has some flowers going on, especially when I think of an untouched one like this. So I used a jasmine scented white needle from China that wasn’t of the delicate sort; this is due to not wanting something so precious being over saturated in other notes that eventually make it disrespected in a weird ‘I’m a tea enthusiast’ point of view. This base tea provides substance for the root of the taste, but not the feel. Look at the green stuff, can you guess?20161130_1725251

And from Canada they came! I was able to talk to someone who has pine trees on their property away from any roads and all that good stuff. Had them picked and dried for my blend which makes me super excited because they were really intense with aroma when I got them in the mail. I actually cut them in half because I was trying to get the needles (white and green) to be a decent size for compatibility without ruining the pine needle look.20161130_1736021

Above you can see what it looks like. In my kyusu that I used to brew it up, it looked like a miniature forest patch itself.

Part 3: Tasting

As odd as a tea as this is… jasmine and pine? Well, it’s pretty awesome in this taste and feeling experience. The jasmine needles give off a light floral taste while the pine needle has this spike’ish note that comes across but does something much more unique. The liquid leaves this tingling feel after you drink it. Its as if you walked through the forest and the scents seep into your taste buds which gives a tickling sensation.

I was curious above steeping it longer than my own method and found the jasmine took over so this is a delicate blend that requires some attention to brew. There is a small amount of viscosity and if you drink 6 cups back to back, like someone who might have been testing out the brews, there is a slight throat dryness from the jasmine and pine.20161210_090336120161210_0904001

This tea isn’t perfect in the sense that I want to feel like I’m in Western Wild, but that would never happen from a tea alone so I decided to watch Narnia with the tea which helped; even though it’s not in there. Reading has been harder to do with the busy end of year at work since I work in finance, but this is one calming cup to accompany a fantasy movie while winter is outside your walls.

I am actually sending this tea out with additional apple pieces so others can play around with the blend themselves. Really looking forward to what others say about this since it’s pretty unique in the way that you really feel the tea as the mouth is tickled.

 

Next up, a tea dedicated to Percy Jackson. It might be a good month though as it’s one of the hardest blends to do that I’ve worked on… just wait and you’ll see.

-Andrew / Liquid Proust

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The 2017 Sheng Olympaid

With the 2016 Sheng Olympiad behind me, I had learned a lot so it was my goal to not only host this event each year but make it better. To do that, I needed to form relationships so I could really get things moving towards where I want this event to be one day. For information about 2016’s event and the current thread for The 2017 Sheng Olympaid please refer to http://steepster.com/discuss/14654-the-sheng-olympiad-of-2017

Part 1 ,a bunch of words:How did I approach The 2017 Sheng Olympaid
Realizing how much work was involved last time, I knew that I should start early. So I began February 2016 for an event that would come December 2016 for January 2017. Lots of different ideas were thought about and it eventually came down to remembering why I do this: community. The question was clear, what is it that I could put together that would provide the best experience for the community? The first thought was that of the aged oolong group buy I did, find stuff that won’t be around any more so more can enjoy it before it is gone.This wasn’t an easy task at first because aged pu’erh was the first thing that came to mind, but that’s its own thing entirely. This thought had to take the back seat for the moment.

A few weeks went by and it hit me that I could get some exclusive stuff going for the event if I invest early because the spring season was occurring. All I had to do was find out who would be willing to help as well as what kind of cost it would be. So I reached out to the two places that had some of my favorite productions of 2015: White 2 Tea and Crimson Lotus. The Tuhao as F*** from White2Tea and the Midas Touch from Crimson Lotus Tea were top notch for me so I decided to see if I could get something special done with both. Communication happened and the numbers worked out quite well, so with much appreciation, I was able to have both made into balls for the event!

Well there’s two teas down, but a lot a work was ahead of me.Around the middle of the year I started to watch as Bitter Leaf Teas was emerging as a new big time player in the pu’erh world, so as I normall.y do with newer companies, I reached out to see if I could be of help through the event. I gave Bitter Leaf Teas control over what they would like to provide which yielded in two options that are very different than what I already put together, a haungpian and a Bulang

Back to my first thought, how do I go about getting something that’ll not be there anymore so we can all enjoy it? Well, I wasn’t able to figure it out so I moved forward. As I started to think about new pu’erh drinkers joining into the event I was curious about what I could do to make this beneficial for them.Duh, I’m an idiot, the answer was in-front of me all the time: pick a specific region to highlight each year. Well, that was easy enough… not really. I thought about LaoBanZhang. Not going to happen. Then I decided to go to Naka, but that is also a bad choice. Both being for money sake and not being very friendly to new drinkers. So I went with my bias and picked what I think is the best bargain out there: Bang Dong.

Went about the spotlighted area by getting material from the same harvest, but ten years apart to provide even more experience and exposure over another aspect that pu’erh has being age. Maybe one day I can find the same cakes stored in different towns to provide that experience, but for now this is a wonderful opportunity.

The Sheng Olympiad of 2017 was looking wonderful from my perspective as I saw two exclusive balls from high quality blends, helping a new company, and having a spotlighted tea that I could provide a 10 year gap with. Yet, it got even better than I thought. While talking to Tea Urchin about some 2011 LaoE’Man which is suppose to be kick ass, I realized they had some Bang Dong. Now this is where we get to the ‘OH SNAP’ moment: This Bang Dong was from 2012. Now I’m going to gently go over this because I don’t want to write four paragraphs of understanding and justification so…. copout version: Cwyn acknowledges 2012 pu’erh harvest being blessed by the Gods.

Part 2:Stuff You May Have Missed

2HAF balls from White2Tea, the quality: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1Cm1_xq2Uw&t=22s

How to split a cake for the masses, a guide for new pu’erh drinkers on Reddit using the 2015 Bang Dong (also referenced below): http://imgur.com/gallery/GXXn4

So you’ve seen the cat and the dog together, but why hasn’t anyone shown their balls next to each others? https://www.instagram.com/p/BJVY4bMgls4/

Step 3, with pictures: Welcome to The Prcoess
So how does that Liquid Proust guy break up all those cakes, weight out portions, package them up, label them, and then make sure everyone has everything for this event?

The easiest answer is: time.

However, there’s something to be said for how I go about this opposed to how someone else might do so. For some tea is something enjoyed in the silence or perhaps to classical music, but there are others who are the complete opposite as they listen to death metal or video game with a raging attitude as they sip. There is no wrong way to enjoy tea, so here’s a look at how I went about it.20161205_090300

I’m just an average day person living in an apartment with my roommate trying to make the world a better place by providing an amazing experience for many. Here you can see that I am watching anime which helps me slow down the process so I take my time; this is due to reading subtitles so I’m not lost as to what is occurring. The simple setup is a breaking tray, a pu’erh knife, pu’erh cakes, a scale, labels, aluminum zip lock bags, and some tea to enjoy myself with.

Today I needed to breakup the 2010 Autumn Bang Dong. I did break the 2015 Autumn Bang Dong with a breaking guide for some who were curious about the process: http://imgur.com/gallery/GXXn4 20161205_090512
Not as green as the 2015, but the leaf still looks wonderful. 20161205_09135220161205_091633I made a letter ‘C’20161205_092159

Successful at wiggling the beenghole out! This is always a challenging task.20161205_093709Anyone in for some aged sunflower seed?20161205_100536

As you can tell from this photo, I did not break everything up because the leaf was not as easy to work with as the 2015 was. 20161205_112441Leftover dust for me. Being that it is all piled up, it doesn’t look so bad.

Tea porn of the 2012 Bang Dong that I am really looking forward to.20161205_11345220161205_11350020161205_11354920161205_12033720161205_120401

Well, there’s a bunch of stuff with a lot missing, but I am happy to know that what I am doing is enjoyed by others and appreciated. The community will be what keeps me going as I find myself restless some days after spending three hours on tea samples. It’s always worth it.

As for 2018…. will we see Last Thoughts made into balls? Will there be some Wild Kunlu maocha? Will there be full 100g cakes for everyone of something? Will there be humid stored tea? Well, it’s not even 2017 so until then…. Spotlight on Jingmai in 2018, now you know.

Thanks a bunch all,

Andrew / Liquid Proust

How Does One Taste Fiction: Mordor

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Lately my blends have been selling out which means that if I want to continue to see my creations enjoyed, I’ve got to blend more up! Liquid Proust Teas is still a hobby as it is my artistic outlet to provide a way for others to have a new enjoyable experience. I recently decided to take on blending three different teas that will resemble a particular place within three different stories: The Lord of The Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, and Percy Jackson & The Olympians.

The easiest of these blends was going to be Mordor, a blend meant to take on a unique take on one the most terrifying places in Middle Earth (Lord of The Rings). Instead of blending a tea that tasked like the area, I decided to blend something up that tasted like the thought of Mordor. By that, I do not mean the taste of fear or desecrated land by means of volcano eruptions. Mordor is a dark place, but it’s quite complex as well as being needed for the story.

The way I went about this was going to a blend that was already done that already gave me those thoughts: Black Sunshine from Andrews & Dunham. Completely Yunnan black teas blended to create a more balanced cup; it appeals to a wide range of people. Unfortunately, when I’m drinking black teas (which I am known to dislike) I look for sweet notes to offset the bitterness. And so the challenge was born: I must blend up straight teas that give off the thoughts that vibe well when thinking about Mordor yet not having any bitterness or astringency.

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Since I’ve been drinking a large selection of straight teas already, I felt incredibly confident.

There had to be a ripe puerh to give that dead ground that was trampled on, but the leaf size had to match the other material.
There had to be something smoky to add to that trampled ground to make it more ruined than trampled, but I wanted it to have more to it than smoke.
There had to be something shiny because for whatever reason I feel like Mordor would have aspects to it that just draw attention, but whatever that shiny stuff was had to also be sweet.

Playing around with the idea of the golden needle puerh I’ve used before, some lapsang, and a roasted oolong… I used none of those because roasted notes didn’t match and the material had to be smaller for what I was aiming for. Trying out different stuff and then it just hit me: Use a dark chocolate black tea and a ripe puerh to offset the bitterness with an earthy taste. From there it was trying to figure out what to do about the sweetness…. and then the sweet potato, caramel, and slight malty black tea jumped out at me as being the perfect choice.

Look at the choices : )20161203_165125

I ended up with a slightly smoked Fujian black tea and a Jin Jun Mei that was sweet. The ripe pu’erh is about to hit 10 years here shortly which makes it subtle while having the characteristics I wanted. It might not be the tea people imagine when they think of Mordor, but that’s the beauty of art as we try to express our own perspective on something.20161203_172642

Next post will have more pictures as they include more elements.

-Andrew / Liquid Proust