You Can’t Please Them All

Pumping Pomegranate

Gathered Cups of Noble Tea,

Thank you for being tea. I am very pleased to meet you, and for many of your, I thoroughly enjoy your company. Cups of tea have been responsible for my success in completing my studies, long nights and early mornings as a new mother, enjoyable memories with friends, relief from stress, and as a stand in for a worse vice. I am truly appreciative.

Unfortunately, for some of you, I am not that pleased. You see, as a human, I have what is called, “taste’. This means an arbitrary collection of teas gains my favour, and an equally arbitrary collection does not. This is subjective, this is preference, this is how taste works.

You see, noble cups, I have taken to reviewing my enjoyment of you, and I have done so according to my own taste. There are other humans whose arbitrary collections differ from my own, and I have on occasion been told that someone else did thoroughly enjoy a tea that I so thoughtfully decimated in my review. This is going to happen, I’m afraid, and good teas, you must realise, that for however many people delight in your presence, you cannot please everyone. Some teas continue to be touted as brilliant and favourites of many, but I do not always share the opinion of the many.

Let us take, for example, our friend Pumping Pomegranate. This cup indeed smells sweet, and tantilisingly fruity. The strength of pomegranate aroma is definitely promising. But one sip sees hibiscus taking centre stage again. The brew is more floral than fruity. It is too tart, hardly sweet at all, and needs to be cut with something sweet to be enjoyed. Always high on the list of T2 favourites, I don’t really get it to be honest.

Pumping Pomegranate: 2/5
Enjoy with: I want to say iced with lemonade, but that could just spoil your lemonade.

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I Wouldn’t Advise It

Fruitalicious

Things I do not recommend:

  1. Resting your forearm in a paint tin lid.
  2. Looking at the internet from the waist down (the comments are rarely good).
  3. Falling asleep with wet hair.
  4. Borrowing a stapler without asking.
  5. Touching chilli seeds with bare hands.
  6. Engaging with Ricky Gervais.
  7. Getting a haircut or tattoo to infuriate another person.
  8. Inhaling while eating.
  9. Jamming your thumb in a door.
  10. Sneezing into an open container of glitter.
  11. Sharing a deep seated opinion about someone else’s parenting (guilty, like 1000%).
  12. Sunburn.
  13. Beginning a sentence with, “It’s none of my business, but…”
  14. Criticising a roast dinner if you didn’t have to help cook it (learned this from someone else, cheers!).
  15. Treading on Lego.
  16. Pinching your tricep in something.
  17. Fruitalicious.

This is one of the very teas that kicked off the, “I am not a fan of fruit teas,” bandwagon I have so happily ridden before expanding my fruit tea horizons. Even at a 5 minute brew it looks insipid. And it tastes insipid. It doesn’t even have a stand out flavour, it’s just vaguely ‘fruity’. I guess this one needs a crazy long brew time, but I’m not bothered to try it. It’s too much work for a tea that, at its very best, is going to taste like fruit. No thanks.

Fruitalicious: 1/5
Enjoy with: sitting on something pointy

The Ekka

Brisbane Breakfast

Any self-respecting individual that has spent some time living in Brisbane knows that once a year, in August, the Brisbane Showgrounds on Gregory Terrace come into their own when the Ekka arrives. Officially ‘The Royal Queensland Show’, those from Brisbane know the only real names for it are “The Ekka” or “The Show”. If you’re my Grandma you can get away with calling it, “The Exhibition”, but anyone who is not my Grandma should not take that risk.

In Brisbane, there is a public holiday to go to The Show. It is very originally called, “Show Day” or, “The Ekka Holiday”. It is better than Melbourne, who take a whole day off for one 40 second horse race that promotes gambling and a somewhat liberal concern for animal welfare. It is also better than the Northern Territory that take a day off for picnics. While I applaud the concept, the fact it has to be taken in the middle of winter to prevent everyone from sizzling to a crisp is somewhat telling. Show Day is, without doubt, the best localised public holiday in the country. (Ok, it’s subjective. Proclamation Day marks a massive advance in society, so it’s pretty good too).

The real beauty of the Ekka is the way it has maintained its essence as an agricultural show, despite being plonked in the middle of a city. A part of this success is due the enduring favourite foods that show up year after year. Grabbing a strawberry sundae before heading in to the arena for the fireworks, eating a pile of fairy floss the size of your head before 10am, the CWA scones that are equally fantastic year after year, and the risk of eating a dagwood dog on a stick because everyone knows someone who became violently ill eating one, but there’s also the risk you didn’t really go to the Ekka if you didn’t eat one.

Largely, I’m pretty down on Brisbane, but the Ekka is a real saving grace of the place. And somehow, T2’s Brisbane Breakfast manages to remind me of all the nice parts of Brisbane, without the humid, disappointing aspects. It’s a blend based on a smooth black, with a light fruity flavour, but not a bold fruitiness. The mango notes make the cup fresh and sunshiney, like a morning in early spring, when the air is still cool, provided you stay out of the sun that already has serious bite to it. This brew is a pleasure to remember Brissy by.

Brisbane Breakfast: 4/5
Enjoy with: a strawberry sundae and the sheepdog trial.

One Hundred

Oolong Oriental Beauty

This is tea number 100 making its way onto the blog, and it is a doozy!

I love oolong. I thought I had tasted the depth and breadth that oolong had to offer. Oh how very, very wrong I was. You know not what an oolong is capable of, until you have sipped the sweet nectar of oolong oriental beauty. It comes at a price, but it certainly delivers. The following description may sound like a hokey bundle of hype, but I could not possibly care less what you think, I have found a tea worthy of life’s finest moments, and I am going to celebrate it.

The whole tea is an experience. You breath in the scent of a rainforest, mixed with luscious cacao trees. The deep and earthy aroma engulfs you. As you take the first sip the flavour overtakes the piquant experience and draws you further into its world of luxury. The oolong flavour stretches deeper than you could imagine, and introduces a world of complexity and familiarity to your tastebuds at the same moment. This brew is rich, opulent, and thoroughly indulgent. I hate the idea of cigars, but I can sipping on this cup is like appreciating the best Cuban cigar. The tea tastes as though the essence of a goddess was distilled and poured into a cup and will immortalise you as a human by proxy.

There is very little else I can say.

Oolong Oriental Beauty: 5/5 (I held back from giving a 6, but I could, it is off the charts)
Enjoy with: a rainy day and plenty of time to savour the moment.

One hundred teas and counting…

Read, please!

Choc Chip Chai

Post ‘America’s Worst Bakers’, I have missed a weekly infusion of loveable characters with almost know baking skills. Enter the Netflix program, Nailed It!. Three home bakers come into the studio to recreate pinterest-like baked goods for prizes.

It’s actually not that great. The first couple of episodes were amusing, but after that, the format lost my attention pretty quickly. The challenges are nearly always cakes, which gets a bit boring after a little while. The timeframe in which to create said baked good is far too tight for the average professional to turn out something decent, let alone home bakers in a new kitchen with unfamiliar set ups. Also, it turns out there is a limit to the number of people WHO WON’T READ that I’m prepared to watch in a television series.

Seriously, 80% of the issues these people have are because they didn’t read the recipe properly. I can’t understand why you wouldn’t read a recipe the whole way through before beginning. I also can’t understand why, having read a recipe, you would do something contrary to the instructions, while you are GENUINELY ON A BAKING SHOW. Also, if you are going to be on a program about baking, how about reading a little bit on basic baking skills, such as: how full to fill a cake pan, how to grease a cake pan, that melted butter is not a substitute for softened butter, you should cool your cake before you ice the cake, and if you’re on a program designed to show how easily home bakers fail, don’t talk yourself up like you’re a trained pastry chef before the competition (that may not have been anywhere to read before, but I have written it down now, so no more excuses).

So for about 2 episodes it is funny, and then it’s just repetitive and kind of disappointing. Not entirely unlike Choc Chip Chai.

Made on milk in the chai pot, this chai is spicy, but not robust. No real stand out qualities, no strong base of black tea, and generally lacking depth. It would definitely be helped along by a touch of honey, but there is no glimmer of chocolate to be found anywhere in the tea. Which is kind of just sad, like most of the baked goods on Nailed It.

Choc Chip Chai: 2/5
Enjoy with: literacy

What’s In a Name Pt 2

Grand Yunnan

Things that are mightily improved by adding “Grand” at the start:

Pianos
Fathers
Mothers
Parents
Children
Central
Canyon
Canal
National
Final
Old Duke of York
Yunnan

I’m a pretty big fan of bog standard, run of the mill Yunnan, so it really takes something serious to turn “Yunnan” into “Grand Yunnan” and for that to be meaningful. Grand Yunnan is a dark and musky brew with a bold flavour. The full bodied fermented black tea flavour has the necessary amount of tannin to appreciate the richness of the tea It’s woody, a little bit smokey and has a mild sweet aftertaste. This is the kind of tea I drink because I can’t drink alcohol. It’s one to sip, savour and appreciate the complexity of, like a good whiskey (I imagine).

Grand Yunnan: 5/5
Enjoy with: any moment you want to make grand.

What’s In a Name?

Shimmer Punch

I like making up names for things that are just a little bit wrong, especially if it’s something I have a hard time remembering. Some of the tea names I have come up with are:

Lapstand Shoestring (Lapsang Souchong)
Iron Fist of Fury (Iron Goddess of Mercy)
City Sensate (Citrus Sensastion)
What What? (White White Cocoa)
Sucker Punch (Shimmer Punch)

I have previously mentioned the iced tea concoction of Shimmer Punch and Packs a Peach I am fond of. I call it Packs a Sucker Punch. Because I’m cool like that. Shimmer Punch brewed hot on its own presents a fruity, herbal bouquet. It has elements of citrus, floral, and apple in the body of the sip. The overall effect is sweet and sometimes slightly sherbety. This calming cup with a blueberry aftertaste is like a cool breeze on a summer evening. It’s a great cup, and perfect for iced tea, but generally, it’s not all that memorable. Just a nice standard one to have on hand.

Shimmer Punch: 3/5
Enjoy with: Funky names