1255 Tasting Notes
It seems like the Bailin Gongfu is a super-popular tea around Steepster these days. It warms my little Fujian-loving heart, that does.
And it’s inspiring too. And utterly disappointing when one realises there isn’t a single solitary Fujian black in the house at the moment. GASP! WHAT A HORRIBLE FATE TO BEFALL A PERSON! What is a household with no Fujian black in it? It’s truly poor, that’s what it is. This should not have been able to have happened at all.
I’ve got Lapsang, but that’s really a very different beast.
Fortunately my TeaSpring order is now in transit so I’ll only have to struggle through 7-14 days more before receiving a substantial amount of my beloved Tan Yang Te Ji and I can join you all in the Fujian black lovingness.
In the meantime, though, I have to look for something to substitute, and although this is an oolong it’s a Fujian oolong, so it’s close enough for jazz.
Oh Fujian. You are made from nom.
Oh damn and blast!
Last week I thought I placed a Nothing But Tea order, a quite substantial one containing among other things a Mystery Box with things they were clearing from the stocks and things they had too much of and such. I was quite excited about that one as well as getting some of the other things I had added to the order.
I think I must have missed a step though, because I was looking at my bank balance (other reason) and noticed I had still not been charged for that order at all. A little detective work followed and I can’t find as much as a shadow of that order anywhere at all. I think something must have gone wrong and I thought I placed it but didn’t actually. Perhaps a final confirmation step, or something. Unfortunately their site can’t remember the contents of the basket between visits, so… Yeah, that’s gone. I can’t remember what all I put in it now.
Shoot. Oh well. There will be other orders. Missed out on that stock clearing box, though.
In the meantime this one is nearly gone. I don’t think I’ll be re-stocking this one again. It’s good and all, but it’s not the perfect strawberry tea. I think we’ll go back to that blackberry one for a while instead, and there are still a couple other fruity teas from AC Perch’s that I want to try. I’m debating the necessity of trying their cranberry flavoured black based on the fact that I really enjoy their Late Summer blend which is cranberry and vanilla. I have a strong suspicion that I’ll end up preferring the Late Summer anyway, so I don’t know if I can be bothered to actually test it.
How much do I love this one?
Normally I make this with a water temperature of about 90°C, but on a whim today I tried lowering it even further to 80°C. I’m not sure why I did that. It was just one of those things.
I was craving this one today for some reason. My day went a whole lot better than yesterday, and I just figured some truly awesome tea would be a good thing to add to it.
Actually, that’s a lie. It was the vanilla from yesterday, really, that I fancied, but then I decided to do that thing with the temperature and thought it would be better to do that with one I knew inside and out and sideways so that I could really compare the results.
The result is that 80°C is too low for me. The tea seems a bit watery and weakly compared to my usual experience, as if it has not been able to fully develop during steeping. It lacks a lot of creamy-ness that it usually displays so prettily.
Okay, then. That’s useful knowledge. 90°C really is a very good temperature.
The Yunnans I am most familiar with are the golden ones, so this is a rather new experience for me. I may have had Dian Hong before, but I don’t think I’ve ever had it since learning the Yunnan connection, and I learned that, I expected it to be similar to all the other Yunnan’s I know. As in golden and hay-y.
But as many of you will already know, it is neither. The aroma does have that hay and spice pepper-y note that the golden Yunnans also have, but it’s not quite as grainy as they are. This has a rather more fruity nature I think, and I wonder how it would behave if one were to flavour it. Probably it couldn’t carry just any odd kind of flavouring well, but the idea strikes me as interesting.
The flavour is primarily fruity as well and somewhat astringent. I may have used a wee bit more leaf than was necessary, but it definitely has a fruity note to it. Cocoa-y as well, which isn’t a note I would normally associate with Yunnan at all. That’s more of a Fujian thing. In fact the whole thing strikes me as Yunnan-flavoured Fujian, only stronger and bolder. It has all the elements I love in Fujian black teas topped with Yunnan characteristics.
I know that this has nothing at all to do with Fujian what so ever and that it’s all in my head. But that’s the association that I get, and it gives me a sort of best of both worlds feeling about it.
I’m quite pleased with this one. I’ll have to remember to explore Dian Hong in the future.
I am on an oolong kick this week! Barely had anything else at all than oolongs. This one has been lying around for a while, I think it came from QuiltGuppy
Unfortunately it has been lying next to some fig flavoured stuff, which I haven’t dared try yet, and I thought I detected a vague trace of something figgy or date-y in the aroma of the dry leaves. The dry aroma was not generally very strong though. I had to search for it a bit in order to be able to identify it, but when I did I found it mostly wood-y and slightly cocoa-y. Perhaps just a smidge spicy too, but I can’t really agree with myself on that.
After steeping the aroma is all cocoa. Wall to wall chocolate! With nuts in. It makes me crave Toblerone, really. I’ve never been very experimenting with my Toblerone, but I’ve seen that there is a dark chocolate one, and that’s the one I want now. (Does it still have that honey almondy stuff in it when it’s not milk chocolate?) If I’m hard pressed, I can also find some woodsy undertones to the aroma, but thankfully none of that figgy business.
Flavour is a bit weak here on the first cup. I used rather a lot of leaf, and so the first steep was very short. Probably too short, as I can now tell. Mercuryhime gave me some good advice the other day of the sort that you would have thought I ought to have realised myself many years ago. Why make a whole pot each time? Why not just do a half? That way I can go through a lot more steeps without having to run to the bathroom constantly and also with growing bored with the tea and start wanting something else. The one I use when it’s just myself is one of those tea-for-one sized pots, so half of that pot makes about 250 ml. Suitable amount, I should say. Also gives me a chance to use the cup and saucer that came with the pot. :)
Anyway, as I was saying, the first steep was probably too short because the flavour is not very strong. To my disappointment it’s not so stuffed full of dark chocolate (although I still want some!) as the aroma was, but rather more wooden and earthy. The cocoa is still there, but now it’s taken a back seat to the strong wood note. It’s so wooden that it’s actually giving me a prickly feeling on the tip of the tongue. As the cup cools it becomes increasingly astringent too.
I should hope on further steepings this woodenness will calm down a bit. There is really no call for such aggression. At this point I am not super impressed.
Second steep is much like the first, only with a fuller flavour experience. As there is no real difference to be found, I shan’t document it further.
Auggy shared this one with me. I admit it was a while ago and I have had it a couple of times before, but just haven’t posted about it. I’m using the last of it now, so I have no choice but to write a proper post.
The first thing that struck me when I removed it from the package was the word barley. I thought it was flavouring! I thought it was a pretty odd thing to flavour a tea with, but I’ve seen enough bizarrely flavoured teas in my life that I didn’t consider it further. It isn’t flavoured though. It’s completely naturally occurring notes of grain and corn.
The aroma of it is exactly like corn on the cob. Freshly boiled and with butter. I can see it in my head when I smell it. Such an incredibly strong naturally occurring aroma of something else entirely I don’t think I have encountered before. I wish I had some now. Probably shouldn’t have made this tea right around lunch time, really. I suspect that was a tactical error. Nothing in the house seems good enough now.
The flavour is really difficult to pin-point. It’s definitely grainy, but not so much with the sweet corn as in the aroma. It’s also quite toasty and very oolongy with the shade of earthiness around the edges.
Underneath these somewhat masculine flavour notes, I’m strangely reminded of an average milk oolong. Smooth and thick in texture. If the top notes are a handsome young man, this bottom note is a well-rounded grandmotherly type of the sort that wears a purple dress and curly grey hair. And she will always play and she ALWAYS has sweets. Anyway, apart from this being a tea recommended particularly to people who also enjoyed the milk oolong, I can’t for the life of me see the connection or why the bottom notes remind me of that. Apart perhaps from the texture of it, there’s nothing milky about it. Strange.
So all in all, it’s smooth and soft and with an interesting grain-y finish.
I can totally understand why they call it barley oolong.
Yesterday I had the Clear Jade Orchid and I just keep steeping the same leaves throughout the day. Three cups all in all, the last one I had sort of mid-afternoon-ish and at that point I had to pee constantly. Large cups, these.
Today we’re having another oolong and this time it’s a real genuine chinese Tie Guan Yin. Yes I am aware that all Chinese tea is genuine Chinese tea, but as this came to the household via a chinese colleague of my boyfriend’s who brought it with her when she got to Denmark and then gave him, for some reason, a whole bag of the stuff. We don’t know why but my theory is that he must at some point (he has worked with her before, and then she was home in China for a few months and is now back to work there again.) have told her about me and my interest and that would be the reason why.
My gain, anyway.
This is packed in portion sized samples and it’s in those wrappers where all air has been sucked out of it before sealing. It only says ‘Tie Guan Yin China Tea’ on the wrapper, which is golden, and then it’s got some Chinese characters on it as well. Nothing wtih western letters giving a clue as to brand or similar. I have attempted to take a picture of the wrapper so that you can see, but as the kittens were ‘helping’ me operate the camera… I have included picture links at the bottom. If anybody can read the Chinese writing for me, I would appreciate it. One portion packet seems to go quite well in size with my small teapot, so that’s what we’re going with here. That tiny wrapper held a whole little handful of leaves. Amazing how little space things take up just by having the air sucked out of it.
I actually remembered to smell the leaves before putting them in the pot. They had a rich, thick smell. Sort of dark green and woodsy, which made me think of a forest environment. Deciduous, mostly. I know it’s really fields and plantations, but I rather like the idea that it might be tea growing among a bunch of other plants and trees, and maybe, just maybe, there’s a tiger or a firefox just around the corner…
After steeping it smells more toasty and woodsy, and the colour has changed. It’s more orange now than green. Strangely enough it’s the same orange as the colour of the tea in the cup so that leads me to think that perhaps this particular smell does not actually trigger synesthesia so much as my brain belives it does because it makes the association with what I can see in the cup. It does smell like that colour though, so who knows, really?
There is a strong floral note to the aroma as well. If I close my eyes I picture little white flowers, although I have no idea what sort of flowers they are. I don’t know plants. I think my brain is just inventing some random flowers really.
It has a very full flavour. Just a few sips and my whole mouth is filled with a strong aftertaste. Again it’s got a quite toasted note which I rather like. In spite of the leaves looking very green oolong it gives the flavour a more darkish oolong boost. I’m not really a fan of those very very green oolongs. To me, with those one might as well have gone for a green tea proper instead. I like it when an oolong actually tastes like oolong.
That means woodsy, slightly earthy and toasted flavours. It’s kind of grainy and nutty too. A bit like the ricey aspect of a genmaicha, really. If you picked a genmaicha apart and focused ONLY on the flavour that the popped rice in it imparts, that’s what I’m reminded of.
I’m very pleased with this and would rate it around 85 points. As I don’t know the brand, I’m not going to put an official rating on it though. Others might have other unknown TGY’s and it would just be a mess, I think.
I’m sorry to say that I thought I had already posted about this one, so when I used the last of the leaves this morning to make a cup for me and my better half, I was not paying too much attention to what I was drinking. This is particularly bad because this is one that Ssajami shared with me, and I’m not happy that I can’t write a proper post about it.
So since I can’t give a detailed review of it, I can at least say that there was nothing about it that surprised me. No unusual flavours that made it particularly good or ruined the LS experience.
It was just a nice, smoky tea which made for a very pleasant morning cup. Nothing out of the ordinary when it comes to LS’s but it seemed a good representation fo LS as a type. Very nice.
(I promise to pay more attention in the future)