28 Tasting Notes
Tea at grandfather’s today. Usually I do Copper Cow Coffee while I’m cooking and cleaning at his house but coffee can upset my stomach sometimes and my stomach hasn’t been happy the last couple days anyway, so it’s a tea day. Nothing fancy, just “grocery store fancy” black tea with some sweetened condensed milk in my big ceramic lined travel mug. I prefer it with a little maple sugar and half and half but I was trying to limit the amount of stuff I was dragging with me.
I don’t really consider this good black tea (good compared to the other grocery store blacks around here, though!) and I don’t like it plain but it’s decent with cream and sugar and maybe a couple cookies. Today’s cookies were Biscoff but it also works well with shortbread or digestives. I alternate between PG Tips and Taylors of Harrogate Yorkshire Gold for my basic blacks to drink with cream. PG Tips is slightly easier to find in my local grocery stores. I like that both brands seem to be pretty consistent. I’ve never had a surprise weird box of either of them.
Hot Brandy is interesting. I’m still relatively new to gongfu-ing teas and in my head white teas are delicate and light like silver needle steeped western style and blacks are all sort of English Breakfast-y. Combining those two things sounded weird and not especially pleasant to me but I added one Hot Brandy mini to my order because it was cheap and other teas that didn’t sound great to me have been surprisingly delicious. Hot Brandy is more like aged pressed whites that start tasting a bit like black tea. There are sweet and fruity flavors like I’ve come to expect from shou mei or moonlight whites and then there’s that thick and creamy, feels-like-you-could-chew-it mouthfeel I’ve noticed in fancier black teas like gold needle. It seemed like earlier steeps tasted more like white tea and as it went on the black tea flavor got stronger. At one point I thought I could taste cherry…that reminded me I need to re-order more of that aged dahongpao I thought tasted like dark chocolate covered cherries. Toward the end I wasn’t getting that thick tongue-coating feeling anymore and the flavor weakened into lighter somewhat fruity black tea. It was nice. I don’t know that it’s amazing enough to order in bulk but I’d drink it again without any complaints and might even sneak another ball or two into a future order.
I was all excited about finishing my tube of toothpaste last night because my new one is Vanilla Chai flavored (I hate minty dental care products)…and then I realized how sad my life must be if tea flavored toothpaste is this exciting for me. So I did what any reasonable tea-addict would do and fired up the kettle for a cup of chenpi tea to make me feel better about my non-existent life.
Using my Bodum The de Chine glass mug with glass filter (so proud of myself for remembering to not use a gongfu bottle and having to spend the next week or two trying to get the orange smell out of the rubber seals and plastic connector thing!) but only filling it a tiny bit above the bottom of the handle. That level seems to be enough to cover most minis but not be too watery for gongfu. Someday I’ll measure to find out exactly how much water that is.
I was a little nervous about Saturday Mass because of the description talking about it being all dark and medicinal but it smells a lot like my beloved Golden Horse stuffed tangerines to me. It smells quite orangey but the orange flavor isn’t as strong as some chenpi teas I’ve had. Not sure if there’s less peel in this one or if it’s just hiding in the leaves. The peel in this does seem darker than some others, the age maybe? I don’t know. It smells great. Kind of nice to have more of the tea flavor coming through, though I do enjoy stronger orange flavor too. It didn’t seem to last many steeps but I wasn’t exactly being careful with water amounts and steep times. Maybe I’ll try it grandpa next time.
Since I’ve been revisiting several of the green teas in my stash this week, I figured I should do this one too. I think it’s my favorite of all my jasmine greens. I’m not really sure why I prefer this one over the Fuding Yin Hao jasmine in drank a few days ago. This one smells and tastes a little sweeter to me…not sure if that’s from the leaf type or growing region or something else. Like the Fuding Yin Hao, this one is April 2019 harvest tea with May jasmine flowers.
I decided to use my smaller glass gongfu bottle, 175° water, 120-ish ml, steeps starting at 15-ish seconds, just an eyeballed amount of leaf because I’m lazy. When I don’t weigh the tea I try to aim for slightly less than I think I need and then add more if the flavor isn’t strong enough. I don’t like my greens overleafed and I have a long history of being rather heavy-handed with teas and spices so if it looks to me like it couldn’t possibly be enough it’s often just right :-P
I’m not sure what else there is to say about this tea. Like with many jasmines teas, I can really only identify jasmine in the flavor and aroma. They all just smell and taste like jasmine to me. I can tell if they’re different teas but I usually can’t describe what’s different about them very well.
This is another one of those teas I pretty much only bought because the leaves looked pretty and bright green in the pictures. Matcha and jasmine greens used to be the only green teas I drank regularly but I’m starting to really like these more delicate greens. I have the spring 2019 harvest.I started with a gaiwan and then scooped the leaves into a bottle to experiment with Grandpa style when I got tired of trying to keep track of the steeps. The individual leaves are relatively small but it looks like the tip of each branch (?) was picked as a cluster. I’m no expert on these things but it looks like two leaves, a bud and a bit of stem in each cluster. It’s stiff and pine needley dry and takes up quite a bit of room. I filled my gaiwan most of the way with dry leaves and started with steeps of about 10sec with 180° water. Not sure if I’ve mentioned my water in other notes but I usually use bottled spring water for tea because my tap water smells quite a bit like dirty fish tank to me. Each steep seemed to have a different main flavor…snap pea or sort of tofu beany or some kind of leafy green or floral. Fresh tasting and light but not weak at all. My empty cup smelled kind of spicy in a way that reminded me of Biscoff cookies or maybe snickerdoodles. It was a long day and around steep 5 I was getting tired and not sure how much longer I wanted to pay attention to steep time but the tea still had plenty of flavor left. Into the double-walled glass bottle it went to see how it does grandpa style. It seemed just as tasty and much less work.
I haven’t had a jasmine tea in a while so I went fishing around in the green tea box and this was the first one I pulled out. It’s probably my least favorite from Yunnan Sourcing’s jasmine lovers sampler but it’s not a bad tea at all (the bi luo chun was my fave, followed closely by both of the jasmine pearls). I’m drinking the spring 2019 harvest.
Being lazy tonight so it’s just a good sized pinch of tea in the tiny gaiwan. I’m not entirely sure where my scale is (downstairs with the big tea tray/table maybe?) and it’s been long enough since I’ve had this tea that I don’t remember what tea to water ratio I thought worked best for it anyway. Kettle’s set to 175°. Going to try not to spend the whole night drinking tea because I need to be up early (for me) to spend the day helping my grandfather with stuff. I am not a morning person. At all.
Dry tea smells strongly of jasmine and not much else. Brewed tea also smells heavily of jasmine. Tastes like jasmine. Lots and lots of jasmine. I’m not sure I can taste the tea much at all, just jasmine. It’s not as sweet as YS’s jasmine bi luo chun but it’s got some jasminey sweetness and it’s smooth. While not my favorite jasmine tea, I can happily drink this one all day long when in the mood for jasmine. The jasmine definitely isn’t subtle but I like my floral teas pretty flowery.
This is the final tea of my White2Tea Halloween ripe minis pack. So far I’ve been pretty pleased with all of them. I haven’t thought any were gross (which is good because I still have several of each left!), even if some might not have been exactly what I was in the mood for at the time. Planetary Shark Feed is still the favorite of the bunch.
I sort of had a little accident while getting ready to drink this one. I spilled my “salty water” (water with Nuun fruit punch flavor electrolyte tablets) and some got on the Lumber ball wrapper. The tea ball itself doesn’t smell fruit punchy so hopefully it wasn’t enough to affect the flavor. Going with the smaller gongfu bottle, filling the water side slightly past half full, guessing about 120-130ml.
I don’t usually do two rinses but I did this time, hoping to remove any fruit punch flavors that might have gotten on the outside of the ball. It smells like…soggy bark and pine needles. Like when the snow starts to melt in the woods. Things aren’t frozen anymore but they haven’t started to dry out yet. Or maybe wet campfire. Not really smoky but like the day after you put out your campfire with water. I don’t know but it smells woodsy. I smell a little bit of something sweet too…I hope it isn’t from the fruit punch. The first steep was lighter than I expected. I thought I’d get a lot of really earthy flavors but it was more drinking tea in the woods than drinking the woods for tea. Second steep was a little stronger but not much different. I’m liking the Lumber ball more than I thought I would. I was afraid it’d be just dirt and wet leaves and wasn’t looking forward to it but thought I should give it a try anyway before figuring out my next tea orders. Each steep gets a bit more earthy but I like how it eases into it instead of punching you in the face right away. Funny how teas you don’t really think you’ll like can surprise you.
I think I’m making notes for the right tea…the photo looks like loose tea but mine is in pyramid teabags. I’ve never had anything from Teatulia before. I found this tea in the organic section of my local grocery store and thought I’d give it a try. It looked like it’s the only Teatulia tea the store decided to carry. I’m trying it brewed western style using the time and temperature recommendations on the package (2-3 minutes, water just off the boil) and also tearing open a teabag to try it gongfu style in a gaiwan. The package does not specify what kind of white tea this is but gives the description “abundant white flowers & peach blossoms with a nectarine connotation.”
Dry leaf fragrance is lighter than the shou mei and moonlight whites I’ve been gongfu-ing lately. I guess I can maybe smell something sort of like nectarine or peach. Maybe.
Western style: steeped about 2.5 minutes, I wasn’t sure how “just off the boil” they meant…most western style instructions I’ve seen for white teas suggest a lower temperature like you’d use for greens…I don’t know how accurate my kettle’s temperature readings are but I tried 180° in a glass mug that had not been pre-warmed. The brewed tea is a pretty light golden color. It smells less like actual fruit and more like how certain kinds of flowers smell slightly fruity. I get occasional whiffs of something that smells like cereal or some kind of grain. Not sure what that’s about and I don’t smell it in every sniff. Flavor is light but pleasant. There’s something fruity-ish, but I’d almost say more melon than nectarine. Aftertaste is more peachy. Some light floral in the background. Something a little bit green but it doesn’t seem like grass or hay to me. A little bit sweet. It’s all relatively subtle but there’s a decent amount of interesting things going on. It’s pretty consistent with my western style white tea experiences. It’s maybe not the fanciest white tea ever but it’s pretty good for a grocery store find and I’d drink it western style again if I’m in the mood for a big mug of tea.
Gongfu: contents of one teabag, 50ml gaiwan, water about 200°, super quick rinse and then steeps starting at about 15sec. The leaves in the teabag I used for western style looked less broken up than the bag I opened up for gongfu. Lots of teeny bits. A strainer probably would have been a good idea. Wet leaf smells really sweet with more of a vegetal green thing going on than I had with western style. I tasted the rinse because I’m weird like that. It wasn’t great. Made me worry the water was too hot. First steep definitely harsher and more astringent than western style. More of that green vegetal stuff than fruity or floral. Maybe too hot or needed to start the steeps shorter. Shortened the second steep by a few seconds to see if that helped. Nope, still kinda gross. Dropped the water to 190°. Maybe a little better but still not doin’ it for me. Dropped down to 180°. Better but still not good. I usually go higher temperature for gongfu than western style so I didn’t think I’d need to go this low or lower. I can’t go much shorter on steep time with this setup, I’m clumsy and it takes me a certain amount of time to put the kettle down and adjust the gaiwan lid for pouring. I sort of feel like I should experiment until I find the right temperature and steep time because this is probably a user error thing, but at the same time, the broken up leaf bits are a pain in the rear and I’m not enjoying this at all. I have too many other teas I think are delicious to waste time and energy on something that doesn’t smell or taste good.