321 Tasting Notes
Not the best day. Had an assignment due tonight that I’m not sure I did right, and I don’t think it’s going to get a very good grade. Not used to grad-school levels of work yet, and I’m feeling the effects of poor time management more than ever. Didn’t sleep so hot last night, and still feeling a bit of a mini-meltdown I had right before I went to bed. And something happened at work that really, really rubbed me the wrong way.
But this tea was sweet goodness.
I am so, SO happy to have this in my cupboard again.
I’ve had this twice in the past two days. It’s just liquid comfort. It tastes like it should be opaque. I never thought a toasty rice flavor could be… so… good. Makes me curious about more genmaichas.
I’m coming down with the sickness right now, so I’m not at my most eloquent. But mmmmm comfort tea.
Bit of a backlog.
Think of George Takei saying, “Oh myyyyyy!” and you’ll have a good idea of how I feel about this tea. It is VERY good. I’ve never had it before, yet it tastes very familiar (perhaps because it’s reminding me of Yu Lu Yan Cha?)
The dry leaves are beautiful. They are so long and twisted, black with gold woven into them. Just looking at them looks delicious.
I didn’t take enough notes to post a super-detailed review, but the tea has a warm, dark, sweet potato/yam/etc. essence with hints of something desserty, possibly cacao. But there’s just a little bit of spunk. I don’t know what it is. It’s not spice, it’s not astringency, it’s just… spunk. It’s exactly the right amount of accessible, exactly the right amount of complex, exactly the right amount of comforting, exactly the right amount of interesting.
After I lambasted Verdant’s Laoshan Green in a tasting note a long while back (to which Lily Duckler responded in the most gracious and professional manner possible), I’ve been looking for things to appreciate about their teas, and I’m truly impressed with how many times they just knock it out of the park. This is one of those times.
Backlog from last night.
I stumbled across a mystery ripe pu erh in an unmarked tin the other day, and from what I remember, this is the most logical choice for what it was.
I did this right after I had a very unsuccessful bai hao tasting (really, it wasn’t worth a tasting note it was so not-good.) Although I used the gaiwan, I wound up pouring all the steeps into the same cup together. Not a whole lot to say about it – it was enjoyably earthy, and the liquor was an absolutely gorgeous true red.
I let my dad try a bit of it, and he had an interesting reaction: “It’s almost nutty. It’s like when you open a hickory nut and eat it right out of the shell.” I have never had a pu erh and thought of it as nutty before – maybe that’s just how my tastebuds work, since I don’t think they’re very good with subtleties – so that was really interesting. Every time I let unsuspecting people try a ripened pu erh, I always think they’re going to be grossed out, but they end up really liking it!
EDIT: Wait… no! I just read that the Wild Purple Buds is a sheng? Is that right? So this isn’t the one I sipped down last night? Oh heck, I have no idea.
Bidding 2014 farewell with an unexpected sheng kick!
Actually, it kind of fits. In most ways, 2014 was a “bleh” year that was no different than the previous “bleh” years, BUT I had two big positive changes that I would never have expected: 1) I overcame a lifelong insecurity about being single/unable to fall in love, which I always thought would end with me finding My True Love, not with me realizing I’m proud and happy to be a gray-romantic “lone wolf.” 2) After years of feeling aimless, I finally found a career field that interested me (professional writing) and began my Master’s. Yay unexpected things!
Okay, so anywho. Me, my gaiwan, my new gongfu-style tea tray that makes my life 1000% easier (thank you Mom), my electric kettle that makes my life 2000% easier (thank you Grand), my glass cup, and my stream-of-conscious tasting notes.
Steep 1: 10 s (my “rinse” steep, which I drank anyway.) Light gold liquor. Wet leaves smell kind of grassy, but also a roasted wooden undertone. Flavor is bright-ish and lightly woody, with a high-pitched astringent note that’s not bitter. Makes me think of young, dewy tree branches. Almost savory? Oh, this is good.
Steep 2: 15s. Liquor color is now closer to amber. Wet leaves smell more like… you know what they remind me of? Dog hair. They smell like dog. Contrary to what I’d expected, this steep is a lot more astringent, actually kind of bitter. Did I screw something up? I’m trying to see what other flavors I’ve got, but it’s hard to get past that bitterness. Seriously, what did I do?
Steep 3: 20s. I’m trying to drink some water/brush my tongue so that the last steep’s aftertaste doesn’t affect my opinion of this steep. The bitterness has faded some. I’m getting that woody, almost-sweet undertone again. You know what? I used more water in this steep than I did the last one. I wonder if that was the issue.
Steep 4: 25s. I think the liquor has lightened a bit? The bitterness is largely gone, but everything else is pretty muted, too. The wood tone has rounded out. Yeah, it’s OK, but it’s nothing like the first steep.
Steep 5: 35s. Used more water in this steep than the previous ones, since this is my final one and I’m finishing off the water. Now the liquor is all pale and precious again. OK, brushing my teeth with toothpaste before tasting was a bad plan. Crapsies. The tea has all but rounded out. It’s kinda good, it’s pretty mellow, but I can’t tell if it’s really flavorful enough to be worthwhile.
I’m not enough of a sheng connoisseur to know how this one stacks up, but I like it. I think I like Teavivre’s Fenqqing Ancient Tree Spring Chun Jian 2012 a bit better (the complexities stand out more, if I remember correctly), but I’ll have to do another tasting of that one to be sure.
I am really, really getting to enjoy doing these gaiwan tastings. It’s so meditative and positive.
Goodbye 2014… bring it, 2015!
Bit of a backlog. I’m so glad I decided to make this before work today, because it wound up being the highlight of my day. I didn’t like shengs for a while; I don’t know what switch flipped today, but I SO enjoyed it. Secretly, I’ve decided that it would be fun to assign teas to fictional characters, and I was testing this one for a character from my favorite anime.
I played kinda fast and loose with the steep times, but I shot for 30 s, 1 min, 1.5 min, and 2 min. The first steep was bright, metallic, and astringent, with whispers of pine and woods. The second and third steeps, which tasted pretty similar to me, were less astringent and more woodsy. The fourth steep, however, was astringent to the point of being bitter, which I hadn’t expected to happen. Maybe I overdid it?
Nonetheless, having this tea was very enjoyable and a treat. I look forward to trying it again with the last of my sample.
Oh my goodness. For Christmas, I was surprised by a gorgeous H&S box with my initials monogrammed onto it – which I didn’t even know they made! Inside was a bunch of bagged tea of several different flavors, one of which was this.
I’d had the sachet version of this before, but I actually enjoyed this one more because it is a lot less spicy. More of the warm, sweet cinnamon flavor. Good enough to be mistaken for a loose-leaf.
Mmmm comfort tea.
I don’t know why, but for some reason I’ve been craving foody-sweet teas lately, like chocolatey teas or flavored teas. I’ve been doing Earl Grey de la Creme a lot, and My Morning Mate happened for breakfast this morning, but I’m really running out of options. I need to get some more of my favorites, but I can’t seem to stop myself from spending money and/or finding things I want to spend money on, and I still have a credit card bill to pay. But for now, this fit the bill.
I’m on the verge of having had this tea too much. I still love it, but I’m getting used to it, like a song I’ve heard too many times (I feel like I compare tea tastings to listening to songs a lot? Like, the first time you hear it, it’s magical because it’s so unexpected, but once you get used to it, it gets almost cloying?)
The good news: Just submitted my final project for class!
The bad news: ….it was due at noon.
If this were me during my undergrad years, I would probably be pacing around, hyperventilating, crying, trying not to throw up right now. But me now? I just… I can’t help but keep it in perspective. Yeah, I shouldn’t have done it, but I’ve gotten all A’s in this class so far, and losing some points on this project… not going to end my life.
So I’m both celebrating/lamenting with some ice cream and Royal Wedding. I don’t know whether or not I actually published the review where I talked about getting placebo-effect caffeine from this tea before I found out it was a white tea, but I’m hoping I don’t have that tonight. It’s still so soft and sweet (although a little odd with ice cream.) Hot tea is especially comforting right now, what with it being cold and my body being like eggh. Yay royal weddings!
Backlog from Friday night.
I was so excited to make this in the gaiwan and to test out my newly-acquired gaiwan pouring skills.
I don’t think I ever noticed how cute the leaves were. They’re downy, and the contrast of the black and gold is very pretty.
Steep 1: 1 min. Everything you hear about this tea is about deep, sweet flavors like sweet potato and yam, but the predominant flavor I get is mulchy, wood-like, with a sweet undernote.
Steep 2: 2 min. Eh, still getting the mul – YEP there it is! The sweetness comes later in the sip. It’s the sweet potato/yam thing, but there’s also some fruit.
Steep 3: PBBT
Knocked over the gaiwan in the middle of the third steep and spilled tea and water everywhere. Computer was just barely rescued. Siiiiiigh. And I still have hot water left…
So I put in some new leaves and started over, steeping until there was no hot water left.
Not quite the tea tasting I’d hoped for, but still quite enjoyable before and after the spilly spilly.