156 Tasting Notes
From the Lewis & Clark TTB (delayed)
I needed a kick in the pants this morning, and this looked like just the thing. It certainly delivers a lot of flavor, largely due to the pu-erh base. The taste profile is mostly chocolate, though the puerh provides most of the power behind the chocolate. I thought I smelled nuts when I started to drink but may have been an unconscious comparison to Harney’s Florence tea, which is one of my favorite flavored teas.
This tea certainly delivers on the promise: big bold flavor; not at all subtle; yet none of the off-flavors you can sometimes get from pu-erh. I’m enjoying it. (Note: I added nutra-sweet, which is my usual practice for chocolate-flavored teas).
I’m starting to think that I need to start using two numbers to rate pu-erh tea. The first would be the flavor rating that I use for all other teas, and the second would be the psycho-active rating, or cha qi.
This tea is a great example. I don’t really like the taste, which is still pretty bitter at the 6th steep. However, halfway through this 6th cup (first cup this morning) I have this relaxing “buzz” going on that is probably what people talk about as “tea drunk”. I’m not going to provide a rating on steepster (or seriously propose a two-point system) but my internal rating system for pu-erh become based upon a combination of flavor with qi, but it would be better to use two numbers. This is not the only tea that I enjoyed for qi but didn’t care for in flavor. Of course, a few special teas have both.
So, on to this tea: It starts with a grassy flavor, which is my preference in a green-style tea, but with a little more veggie than I like to see. Very soon into a sip, a very powerful bitterness starts to build and it dominates the taste to the point where very little else is noticeable. I steeped at 185, which I would think would produce less bitterness than at boiling, or my ususal black tea temperature of 200. I’ll try at 175 degrees next time just to see if that makes a difference.
Lewis and Clark TTB #18
Oolong and puerh aren’t very well suited for travelling tea boxes, at least those with a deadline. You need to do half a dozen steeps to get the full picture of the tea, which means you can only do a couple of teas per day.
This tea is a good example. I wasn’t terribly impressed by the first steep: it seemed very dense and dark, like a black tea without a whole lot of character. however, on each subsequent steep, a richer, green flavor started to build, making for a fuller, richer tea. The darkness is still there, but now its more of a cello in the orchestra, providing depth underneath the violins, which dominate.I’m on my fourth steep now and it’s still going strong, Unfortunately, It’s nearly 3 PM, which is my self-imposed deadline for caffeinated tea. As a result, I’ll never know how far I could have taken it.
Lewis & Clark TTB # 17
Rich caramel aroma. The tea flavors are stonger than the caramel in this tea. Both are quite powerful. After about 1/3 cup, I added sweetener, which I found enhanced the caramel flavor to the point where the flavors were balance. I’m a big fan of caramel, so I liked this tea.
Lewis and Clark TTB #16
My first impression of this tea is that it is delicate. There is a nice blueberry flavor that rests lightly on a white tea base. It works nicely, but my ideas of blueberries are formed from pie and muffins and I expect a bolder taste. The intent of this tea seemed to be to just add blueberry highlights to a white tea.
The concept works. The white tea base is of good quality, and even when I lose the blueberry flavor (it’s subtle) I still enjoy the base tea. When I notice the blueberry, it lifts the tea a bit. I enjoyed the tea, but probably wouldn’t purchase any more.
Lewis & Clark TTB #15
Deep tarry aroma. The initial taste reminds me of walking in damp woods, but underneath is a rich mix of tar and tobacco and wood. The finish is long, but not overly powerful. As the tea cools, I’m left with mostly just the damp woods.
There is a lot going on here, but it doesn’t seem well-integrated: just a mix of flavors that don’t coordinate all that well. I’m not that fond of the leafy/tarry taste, though some of the other flavors are appealing.
While I’m not excited about the tea, someone whose tastes are different from mine might really like it, since it does have several things going for it.
Lewis and Clark TTB #14
I didn’t know what to expect from this tea. YS is famous for pu-erh, and this dry tea looked a bit like a young sheng. However, it tastes pretty much like mao feng, with rich vegetive flavors. Unfortunately for me, I’m not particularly wild about this style of tea. For those who are, this is well-made, smooth and flavorful, with a long finish.
I’ll withhold a score, since I don’t like the style.
Lewis & Clark TTB #12.
I’m a big fan of “Golden” Yunnan teas, and still have 2014 YS Simao and Mojiang Golden in my cupboard. This is similar in style, though perhaps not as good as the Siamao (my favorite).
The tasting starts with a nice sweet potato aroma, with cocoa underneath. The taste continues those flavors. It isn’t as strong as I might like, though not weak. Good finish. As the tea cools, the chocolate comes to the fore, along with a hint of smoke, while the sweet potato recedes. The finish also becomes slightly bitter.