325 Tasting Notes
Vague horror movie talk in the next paragraph…
So basically I’m really out of it. Last night I went to a midnight screening of The Shining that was happening in downtown Columbus (largely so I can finally understand the 900,000 references that have been made to that movie), and I had tried and failed spectacularly to take a nap beforehand. I got home from the screening at about 3:30 AM, but had to watch goofy anime before I went to bed to take my mind off… no, not the movie, but this one fake commercial in the pre-entertainment. I won’t go into details unless you want me to (I don’t mind, but I don’t want to upset anyone), but it says something about my psychology when a “hilarious” vintage-cartoon-gone-horrifyingly-wrong disturbs and upsets me more than ALL of a splendidly made Stanley Kubrick psychological thriller. More than just about any horror movie I can think of, for that matter. So then I wound up picking a really dark and angsty episode of a really goofy anime, and despite its angst it STILL took my mind off that stupid commercial, then I went to bed at 4:15 and woke up 4 hours later and my mind was going IT’S YOUR DAY OFF YAY GET UP GET UP GET UP and I’ve been awake ever since and I’m physically and mentally really really out of it!
…Yeah! Tea! This one came out really bergamot-y this morning. I was hoping for more cream, but with the way I’m feeling, some citrus perkiness may not be a bad thing.
Again, many thanks to Nicole for the sample! It’s been an absolute pleasure!
There are certain teas that just command your respect when you drink them. They may not be your favorite, favorite teas per se, but you just go, “Wow. That’s quality.” There are two teas that are like that from me, and they’re both from Teavivre. One is their exquisite lapsang souchong, which I can’t seem to drink without raving like a proud parent talking about her honor roll kid who placed first chair in the band and directed an anti-bullying video. The other is this one.
I don’t know if “complex” is the right word, but the flavor evolves. The longer it stays in your mouth, the more it progresses from earthy to malty, like a chameleon changing color. And it’s a pleasant and satisfying taste all the way. It’s one of those teas that’s best enjoyed when you don’t have to put all your concentration on something else. It is just really, really well made.
I wish it wasn’t night. Because I want another cup of this. Actually, screw it. I’m making another cup!
Did a second steep on this this morning, for a little under 2 minutes because it was a resteep. It’s actually pretty similar to what I tasted last night, except without seeming underleafed. I actually quite like the tea itself, although I think I have to be in the right mood for it. Earthy is a good flavor for foggy gray fall mornings. Still a malty aftertaste, which is unexpected but cool. The smell is something I have to get past.
Next time, I’m rinsing this!
Uh… 3-4 teaspoons for 8 oz?
This is what happens when they don’t put the leafage on the bag! Grrr!
Ah well. It’s a free sample, so there’s only so much griping I can do. I would try steeping it longer, but I have a bad feeling that would only result in the overwhelmingly flagrant essence of FISH! Like the last pu-erh I had, which is still sitting in a bag in the back corner of my cupboard with absolutely no plans for a sipdown anywhere in this dimension of time and space because it tastes exactly like FISH!
This one is… earthy? It’s got a fair amount of FISH!, especially in the aroma, but the flavor itself is darker and bassier. There is actually a bit of maltiness in the aftertaste too. It’s actually fairly pleasant, at least once I stop smelling it. Next time, I’ll use more cake per water. Also I won’t spill it all over the damn stove as I’m trying to pour it.
Just poured the rest of my leaves into the strainer and steeped for a little under 4 minutes. a-HA! THIS is the renowned Assam flavor! Bold, sweet, honey-esque, a translucent flavor. Kind of a classic “black tea” taste with little to no astringency.
This is really good. I don’t know how often I’ll drink Assams, but I’m glad I now have more than one reference for the flavor. I recommend this to anyone who’s an Assam fan, or even just a black tea fan.
Backlog from Thursday night, since my computer was Down With the Sickness.
THIS is the oolong I effed up the first time I tried it! So I attempted it once more the other night after I got home from work. Recently, I found this article that’s actually from Verdant Tea’s website, written by David Duckler. It’s about how to best enjoy tasting a tea, and I found it so enlightening that I’ll leave it here if you haven’t seen it: http://verdanttea.com/how-to-taste-tea/ What hit home the most with me is that, rather than being the Tea Critic who jumps to figure out what I’m tasting, how it compares to what I’m told is in it, and how highly I would rate the tea, the most important thing is just being present in the experience of the tea and enjoying what I’m drinking.
With that article in mind, I took a bit of time to do some gaiwan brewings and tastings of this oolong. This time, I used a thermometer to gauge the water temperature so that I was sure I did not burn it.
I’m not sure I liked the tea itself, it reminds me too much of other oolongs I’m not crazy about, but it was a very enjoyable experience. I did four steepings. The first two had a roasty, slightly “burnt” flavor, but I did find that on the third steeping, the roastiness had subsided and I was getting more of the fruity/floral tone. I’ve rarely had luck with multiple steepings, so I enjoyed finally being able to discern a difference. I also enjoyed smelling the flavor of the wet tea leaves in the nose cup, if that’s what you call it.
But my favorite part about doing gaiwan steepings, honestly, is the auditory experience. Working in a music store, I relish the lack of background noise that I get in a quiet room (we live in what I’d call a rural suburb, so it is possible to achieve complete silence.) There’s something about the sequence of pouring water and the little clacking of the lid on the cup that’s exquisitely soothing, in this way I can’t really describe. I think I would quite enjoy having a whole gongfu set, which I plan on putting on either a birthday or Christmas wish list.
So the tea? Eh. The tasting? Mmm!
Pretty sure this is the last of the untried samples from Nicole – thank you!
For once, I made sure I didn’t underleaf the tea. However, this is still really mild for some reason. I might have understeeped? I’m kind of getting the bergamot flavor but not really (it’s more prominent in the aroma.) It’s more some vague mix of floral/citrus tones. I can’t help thinking it reminds me a bit of soap.
Underwhelmed. I can see how people would find this enjoyable, but its personality isn’t quite pronounced enough for me.
This is a backlog from Friday because Cup 2 proved my review of Cup 1 to be a boldfaced lie. :P And 1) my computer was Down With the Sickness and 2) I was busy helping my parents last-minute clean the house for a rare visitor. For the longest time, my parents were self-conscious about the house, but since we’ve gotten a lot of things redone, it’s a much nicer-looking place.
You know how I said I couldn’t taste the Dian Hong flavor progression? Lies! Once the tea had the chance to cool and mellow a bit, I realized the brightness I was getting at the beginning of the sip was partly due to that Bailin Bongfu-esque earthiness, which tastes slightly citrusy or something when you have rose flavoring. As it stays on the tongue, it does darken and malten (it’s a real word now!), you just still have that floral overtone. And even that mellows out a bit as it cools. It’s really quite a pleasant cup. I’m considering it for a restock once the sample’s gone.
But my favorite part? The wet leaves with the rosebuds. They really do smell like roses!