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8 Tasting Notes

74

Figured I’d put this tea through it’s paces today – gongfu style, of course.
Disappointed as I was with the store, the two Taiwanese wulongs I bought from teasme are actually pretty good.
This is the cheaper of the two, at $14.50/50g.

Rinsing. It’s not as cold this morning (and I slept in a little bit later…) so it’s not as steamy. Still smells good though!

First steep: ~30 sec, ~90˚C. Very pale yellow-green liquor. Stronger than it looks.
Aroma: Honey, lilies, vanilla.
Taste: Sweet, subtle, fruity. Milky smooth.

Second steep: ~30 sec, ~90˚C. More colour to it now.
Aroma: As above, though the vanilla note is more pronounced. I sniffed a bunch of things in my cupboard to give myself some ideas to compare it to (I’m really bad at naming smells/tastes), but I’ve forgotten most of them now. Oh well.
Taste: A little more astringency at the back of the tongue, but still smooth, sweet and fruity. Very tasty.

Third and fourth steeps: ~30 sec, ~90˚C.
Flavours and smells are quite pronounced now. Lingers in the mouth for a long time.
I quite like this tea.

Well, four steeps is enough for one morning. My teapot is rather large, so I’ve had almost a litre of this tea now. I’ll give it a break for an hour or two and come back to it later.
All in all, a surprisingly good tea.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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72

Well. We’re all moved in to the new place, so I have a bit of time on my hands to drink tea and things.
This morning I finished off a pot of my (dubiously authentic) Menghai pu’er that I started last night, and it dawned on me that I haven’t brewed this tea gongfu style yet. To the tea cupboard! (I have a cupboard filled with teas. It makes me happy. I like to stand back and admire it… anyway)
So this tuo is packed much looser than my other bing pu’er. It’s much easier to break off bits. In fact, it’s almost too easy; I had to put some back.
I used a bit less than a tablespoon or so in my little pu’er pot – it’s about 150mL, if I remember rightly.
Rinsing. It’s about 4˚C this morning so the steam coming off my gongfu set is lovely. Wonderful smells too.
Reddy-brown liquor.

First steep: ~25 sec at ~95˚C. Perfect strength.
Aroma: Earthy, woody, smoky.
Taste: Malty, bittersweet, buttery smooth. Very little bitterness; no astringency. Much better than my other shu.

Second steep: ~30 sec at ~90˚C. Perfect again.
Aroma: Woody, earthy, smoky.
Taste: Malty, smooth, chocolatey. Even less bitterness, quite sweet. Lingers for a while.

Third steep: ~30 sec at ~95˚C. A little weaker now.
Smell: As above.
Taste: As above, though a little more subtle.

One more…

Fourth steep: ~40 sec at ~95˚C. Perfect again.
Aroma: As above. My nose is being annoying this morning (dust allergies, I think) so I’m having trouble smelling. Grr.
Taste: Despite looking stronger than the previous brew, the flavour has diminished somewhat. Still woody and earthy though.

Well. I’m pretty impressed with this.
Overall a very drinkable tea.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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51

Ok, I think I’ve figured this one out.
I’ve been drinking a lot of this tea the last few days, trying to find the right way to brew it.
You may remember (if “you” existed and actually read my stuff) my earlier post about this, and how it was rather bitter.
Well, after much fiddling I’ve concluded that a low temperature (for shu pu’er, at least; ~90˚C) and short (sub-30 sec) steep are what make this tea happy. It’s still bitter, but not in an unpleasant way. It’s like really dark chocolate – the high cocoa stuff.
It still smells like pine forests, but there’s hints of malt, charcoal, burnt sugar and cocoa in there too.
It’s a very dark brew – almost murky. I think I’m still using a bit too much.
My main issue with it is the dust. Oh, the dust! Whether I rinse once or twice, and even after six steeps, there’s an abundance of fine particulate matter that settles to the bottom of the chahai and cups when left for a minute or two.
It’s not gritty dust (that’s caught by the tea strainer). It’s like… it’s like the scaly, feathery dust that comes off of a moth’s wings when you grab it and put it back outside. It’s not noticeable in the mouth, but it’s hard to miss in the bottom of the cup.
But, I’ve come to enjoy this tea.
It’s smooth, almost creamy. It’s like strong black coffee, but with almost a dark rum-like flavour and chocolatey overtones.

I still don’t know how authentic it is, for two reasons:
- The little piece of paper embedded in the cake is really embedded in the cake. I’ll have to drink a lot of this tea before I can get it out.
- Said little piece of paper appears (from what I can see) to be devoid of the micro-markings that are used as proof of authenticity. This may be because it’s not authentic (which wouldn’t surprise me), though I read somewhere that they only started using the micro-printed paper in 2007 – who knows.
Time to have another round or two!

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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34

Disappointing. Dusty, murky tea with little flavour and almost more stems than leaves.
I had high hopes for this tea after trying Dilmah’s bagged green tea, but this was a major let-down.
It smells OK in its dry state, but when steeped it has a sour aroma, similar to tobacco smoke.
It’s not the worst green tea I’ve ever had (that honour goes to Red Seal), but it’s not that great.

Preparation
155 °F / 68 °C 0 min, 45 sec

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51

(I should mention that it’s a 2007 (2006 harvest), 7572 recipe 357g bingcha from Menghai chachang – authenticity unknown. It won’t let me edit the info above because I’m new here)

Right, I’m still undecided on this tea.
It’s my first real Pu’er. It’s fairly cheap (NZ$40/357g – the cheapest of all my good teas).
I’ve had a bit of trouble getting it right. The first time I tried it, I didn’t use enough. It was weak, but bitter.
The second time, I used way too much. It was overwhelmingly bitter.
This, the third time, I think I got almost the right amount.
Yet still, it’s bitter. So I think I need to bring the water temperature down a bit.
It’s not all bad though: it’s very smooth and quite sweet, and the earthy flavours linger in the mouth for quite a while.
It smells fantastic – it’s like sitting under a pine tree in the summer. Earthy, organic, humus…
That sorta thing.
The first steep today (after rinsing) was quite bitter, but not unpleasant. Second and third were the same, but with bitterness diminishing. By the fourth, it was perfect – probably because I’d understeeped it (think I used too much again, but by this point it was losing strength).
After the fourth steeping, the flavour dropped away rapidly.
The sixth steeping I left in for about two minutes (compared to 30-45 secs at the start) but it came out weak.
That’s the end of that.
Next time I’ll try using a tiny bit less, and not quite boiling the water.
But in the meantime, I feel like some wulong!

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 45 sec

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55

My cheapest (at NZ$38/250g) wulong.
I don’t know anything about it, other than the fact that it’s from Taiwan. The only English on the container is “High Mountain Tea”, and the only Chinese I could work out translates to the same thing.
The first time I tried this tea, I was disappointed.
It tasted like spinach.
After a bit of experimenting though, I discovered that as far as wulong goes, it’s very green. Thus, the reason it tasted like spinach that first time is because I had cooked it.
This tea wants the water temperature to be in the 82-85˚C range. Any higher and it becomes quite unpleasant.
Brewed correctly, though, it’s actually quite nice. Nothing spectacular, but readily drinkable.

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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77

A very nice tea, if you can get it right!
It smells divine in its dry state – floral and sweet.
But the first few times I tried it, I only got a very weak brew. This tea needs quite a high temperature to get the flavour out – near boiling.
Done right, this tea results in a sweet, pale, green-gold liquor. A little dryer than the average wulong, but still very nice.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 45 sec

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90

My very first and favourite wulong. Magnificent!
I bought this tea a while ago, as my first foray into good quality teas. Every tea I’ve bought since hasn’t compared to it.
Floral, fruity and sweet, with a beautiful golden liquor and an intoxicating aroma.
And it’s grown right here in New Zealand!
The dry leaves are a deep green, tightly coiled into little bundles of goodness. At first it looks like a lot of stem matter is included, but upon steeping, the leaves unfurl to a phenomenal size. And they’re beautiful – hardly any bruising, tearing or dust.
The flavour peaks around the third steep, but it doesn’t by any means drop off after this – the tea is of such a quality that it can be steeped up to eight times. (Or more if, like me, you use a (very) heaped teaspoon).
The first few steeps (after an initial rinsing, of course) are best at 30ish seconds (this tea is strong!), increasing bit by bit until they’re about 2-2.5 minutes towards the end of its life.
I didn’t realise how good this tea was when I got it. All the teas I’ve had since then (2008 jade Tieguanyin, Taiwan high mountain wulong…), while nice, just don’t stand up to it.
It’s now my “special occasion” tea – I dread the day that I run out!
Time for me to stop rambling and go to bed.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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Profile

Bio

I procrastinate. A lot.
And I drink a lot of tea. Often while procrastinating.

I like real tea. I don’t drink flavoured crap.
When I say “flavoured crap”, I mean things like “Raspberry cream cheese rooibos with a hint of chicken” or things with names like “summer breeze” or “delinquent angel”, etc.

I drink mostly Chinese and Taiwanese teas, though I don’t mind a bit of Sencha or Matcha now and again.

In order of preference:
1) “Traditional” heavy-roasted wulong, including tieguanyin
2) Sheng pu’er
3) “Modern” lightly-roasted/oxidised wulong
4) Zealong Black (it deserves a category of its own)
5) Shu pu’er
6) Red tea
7) Green tea

Have I missed any? Probably. The list isn’t exactly definitive, and what I drink depends a lot upon my mood and what I’m doing at the time.

I love the gongfu ceremony. It makes me relax.
I also love to brew grandpa-style: Add a few leaves to cup. Add water. Drink. Refill, repeat until satisfied/nothing left in the leaves.

Anyway, I’m going to stop now.

Location

Auckland, New Zealand

Website

https://plus.google.com/10081...

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