321 Tasting Notes
This morning’s cup is dedicated to Past Me. I usually don’t like the decisions Past Me makes, but this time around, Past Me scheduled an 8 AM dentist appointment that’ll probably take about 25 minutes to get to. In doing so, Past Me got Present Me out of a 7:30 AM work meeting (which nobody in my store knew about before Tuesday) that would have been a 45 minute drive if you don’t count 7 AM rush hour on Columbus-bound route 33, which is a four-lane highway trying to handle six- or eight-lane worthy traffic.
So, Past Me, I raise this warm mug of malty cocoa-tinged perfection to you.
I really, really need to stop writing notes on this tea.
Also, I just realized I’ve had the current bag since summer of last year.
Backlog of yesterday’s sachet sipdown at work.
The more I drink this tea, the more I like it. It’s a great comfort and restorative and I will DEFINITELY be ordering some more of it in the future.
I’m working on my positive thinking. It had been going extremely well the past couple of days, then yesterday afternoon I overreacted internally to something and my mood snapped (it always happens on Tuesday afternoons!) I think I unnecessarily pissed off a customer in the wake of it. Still feeling guilty. It’s such a habit for me to think of all the stupid crap that’s going to happen today, it’s a challenge to turn that around. But I’ll keep trying!
Backlog from last night.
The latest installment in TeaKlutz’s pu-erh adventures.
Gonna be honest, I groaned when I read this one was a sheng. I’ve tried two other shengs and I haven’t been a fan. However, I’ve also discovered that the way I’ve been preparing them isn’t optimal: I’ve been doing Western style steepings of between 3 and 5 minutes, and they’ve turned out bitter as all hell. Per the instructions on the little sample baggy, I referred to Butiki’s website for steeping instructions. Nothing about a teapot, only short steepings in the gaiwan. But I’m trying to write program notes tonight and I’m already behind schedule and I don’t really have time to – sigh. Fine. Fine.
Water heated to roughly 200-205? degrees, by my estimate.
Steep 1: Somewhere between 5 and 10 seconds, when you count me fumbling around to pour the gaiwan water out. There’s the recognizable sheng brightness, but it’s not obnoxious at all. Rather, it’s a complement to the pleasantly woody, fresh-twig-like flavor that is rounded, subdued, and actually rather enjoyable.
Steep 2: 15 s. Sadly the water has cooled quite a bit, as I’ve been working a while and didn’t cover the pot to keep the heat in. This go-round, I’m getting a bit more earth… or… mist… it’s a somewhat intangible flavor. Just the tiniest bit of mineral in this one, but once again, not enough to be intrusive. (Also, program notes are coming along fairly well so far. I’m enjoying writing these more than normal.)
Steep 3: 20 s. This go-round is starting to taste a bit more like what I know as the “sheng” flavor: bright, planty-mineraly, not quite astringent but you can tell it’s on its way there. Hmm. I would have thought the flavor progression for the multiple steeps would have gone the other way, rounding out with more steeps. Hmm.
I’m done with steepings for the night, but the leaves in the cup smell really cool! There’s a heavy smoky aroma that I didn’t get in the tastings, and the trademark “sheng” note is kind of like a shining overtone. I can’t stop sniffing the leaves, trying to figure out what’s going on in the aroma!
Well, now I’m glad I took a few extra moments to create this experience. I really was not optimistic about my future with shengs, but this has completely changed my opinion of them. (See what happens when you do things the right way?) I’m eager to go back and try the ones I previously wrote off to see if my opinion of them changes as well. All in all, this is a very good tea and one I enjoyed drinking. Don’t know if it’ll be at the top of my next shopping list, but I would happily drink it again.
Thank you VERY much to Stacy of Butiki Teas for the sample!
Grr! There are beagles (from god knows where) running all over the neighborhood and yapping nonstop, and our bullmastiffs think they absolutely have to eat them and are thundering around the house bellowing.
I’ve had this sample from Butiki for forever and never paid any mind until last night, as I was working on my program notes and decided to go with a peppy black tea.
I did the 212 degrees at 3.5 minutes like Stacy said, and it was actually quite a pleasant cup. My understanding of Irish Breakfast is that it’s supposed to be quite strong (my one other Irish Breakfast was QUITE strong), but last night’s cup was rather mellow. A bit of that breakfast-tea almost-not-quite-mushroominess, but really no astringency. Not sure if it’s what you’re looking for in a breakfast tea, but no complaints from me.
I did a resteep this morning for about 5 minutes. It was a tad bit stronger at first, but with the subsequent sips it’s mellowed.
And now for one of the pieces I’m doing notes on. The third movement (the first one in this vid) took my breath away. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTAMISjMLS0
So this is the second raw pu-erh I’ve had in my life.
I looked at the instructions on the little sample bag – and it said to use the entire bag! I’m kind of glad I didn’t, because this tea is pretty potent as it is.
I forgot to smell the raw leaves before I stuffed the rest of the sample back in my cupboard, but the smell of the tea reminds me of hay mingled with a little dirt. The flavor is VERY bright! Very mineral, with a little bit of that hay essence in the back of my mouth somewhere. It’s actually fairly bitter (bag said steep 3-10 minutes, I steeped it for 3-4) and it remains in the aftertaste. Honestly, that astringency is getting in the way of me noticing much else. Are you supposed to steep shengs for less time, or is that just how this tea is?
I’ll do the second steep in a separate review. No numbers for now.
I got a free sample of this tea when I ordered my pu-erh sampler (LOVE Teavivre’s deep understanding of the value of samples!) because I absolutely adored the regular Yun Nan Dian Hong and, well, this was marketed as the best!
I don’t remember the regular Dian Hong being quite this mushroomy. But there’s this sweetness underneath is that is just… not the right kind of sweetness. It’s one of those that went to two places when I took a sip: 1) into my head between my eyes and 2) into my stomach, which did a very slight turn. The best way to describe it would be honeysuckle, which I normally like but somehow it’s just a little odd in this context. I steeped it about 4 or 5 minutes (once again, I didn’t have my eye on the timer), so I can play with parameters, but I’m not sure how much that’ll change. Really, I think the sweetness is my issue. Not a tea quality issue, a my-taste issue.
There’s still a little bit of what I call the “chameleon flavor” with this one, in which the flavor drastically changes as it sits on your tongue.
I’m going to wait on the numbers for now.
WAY WAY WAY WAY backlog!
How in the WORLD did I not review this?!? I sipped this down MONTHS ago!
I got a sachet to-go tin back in the winter. I quite liked them. The chocolatey flavor was perhaps a bit cloying, but not in a genuinely off-putting way and it had nice little rose flavors in it. It was a hug-a-plushie comfort tea. If I was presented with it, I’d drink it again.
And that’s what I gotta say about that.
Tea 3 of 5 from Teavivre’s pu-erh sampler.
As usual, I didn’t do a rinse on this, which maybe I should have done. Because I’m impatient, I will probably do separate tasting notes for the second (and third?) steeps of this.
With its thin reddish-brown leaves, it looks like a pretty typical pu-erh. Since I got the sample, it’s in loose form rather than cake form, although there are a few clumps. I boiled the water and didn’t do a super-long steep on this one; didn’t use a timer, but it was around 3 minutes.
This is very pleasant. It’s one of the mellower shus I’ve had. The earthiness is on the deep, sweet side. There’s a bit of fishiness, but not really enough to put me off. The flavor is pretty understated, possibly because of my relatively short steep time, which I don’t really regret but my only concern is that it’ll become too understated in the later steeps. We’ll just have to find out, won’t we?
Have you ever gotten almost done with writing a really long and involved tasting note on Steepster… and then you hit the back button?
OK. Two reviews of this tea in a row. I’m doing a resteep of this, but as I usually do when I resteep something that’s been sitting for hours, I added some fresh new leaves.
Green, astringent, bright, mineral, cleansing, just a hint of “minty” or some cool overtone like I mentioned in my last note.
I now know the difference between a sheng and a shu! Knowing that this is a sheng makes me feel more confident in my description of it because I’m aware of the usual flavor associations with shengs. If they’re all similar to this, shengs probably fall in the category of “I really have to be in the right mood for them, and I’m rarely in that mood.” But I appreciate their qualities a bit more, especially if you like bright, cleansing teas. (I’m still fascinated that I’ve finally had a tea I can actually call “mineral” tasting.)
Another noteworthy thing about today: after a year of watching seven seasons’ worth of episodes, I watched the season finale of Star Trek: The Next Generation tonight. I still have a bit of heaviness of having finished something I loved. Actually, I got into tea and TNG at almost the same time, so they’re kinda linked. They’ve both become unexpectedly comforting presences in my life. I am definitely going to have to give TNG a second go-round, because, as usual, I was REALLY good at following the character development and REALLY bad at following the, you know, plots. The thing that kinda makes it science fiction. Whoops.
Tea. The (hopefully not final) frontier. These are the voyages of the TeaKlutz Enterprise. My continuing mission, to explore strange new teas, to seek out new flavors and new infusions. To boldly go where… somebody else has gone before and already written a Steepster review but I’m trying it for the first time and I didn’t read the parameters and I boiled the water too hot and then I oversteeped it but it’s still kinda good and I think it’s gonna grow on me now I know what to expect.
(orchestra wonders whether to play the opening theme or not)