68 Tasting Notes
I gave it another go at creating a sun tea using these leaves. Here ya go:
I used 2 tea balls, one that held, 1/2 full, about 3 tablespoons, the other 1/2 full held 2 tablespoon, into my 2.5 quart jug, and left it sitting in full sunlight for about 8-10 hours.
That ratio seemed to work pretty well. I got a nice, dark colored tea, with all the flavor I can expect from this tea brewed the traditional way with hot water. The fresh Earthy, nutty, woodsy aroma and flavor were all there, present and accounted for.
I prefer the longer brewing time to really pull all the flavor out, and I don’t mind a bit of bitterness getting into the mix. Shortening the steeping-in-the-sun time down to 4-6 hours might lighten up the flavor a bit, maybe I’ll try that next time.
Long story short, this basic white tea makes one hell of a great sun tea!
Time to get more familiar with the thing called Pu-Erh. Here is the jem I bought when I was in the city last weekend and stopped in to see the good folks at Red Blossom tea company. They recommended this on, and I can see why!
The aroma is so big and bold, with hints of smoky chocolate and malt. It smells dry, but still has that sense that there is so much more to it.
The very first taste is subtle and non-assuming, but 1/2 a second later all those flavors hit your pallet and soar. Slightly dry tasting and finishing, with a big malty middle.
This is one hell of a tea! Glad I stopped in and picked it up!
3rd steeping. The individual flavors, both aroma and taste, are blended even more now. It’s hard to pick out each one, where the 1st and 2nd steeping had distinct Earthy, smoky, nutty, slightly fruity and ocean-ie aroma and taste, the 3rd steeping they are more mixed and harder to pick out. I’m getting a bit more of a bitter feel this time as well.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s still damn good, just not quite as good as the 1st and 2nd steeping.
Had to do some work in San Francisco with the ladyfriend yesterday, so I made a trip over to Red Blossom to introduce her to my Mecca. We hung out for 15-20 minutes, smelled some great teas, chatted with the good folks working there, and walked out with a Pu-erh for me and a Honey Orchid Oolong for her. More on those later, but today was steeping number 2 for Red Blossom’s Monkey Picked Tieguanyin Anxi Oolong tea.
I am a big fan if this one, hence the forcing myself to wait a couple more days before trying my new Pu-erh. It’s such a great, solid, straight up, straight forward Oolong.
The second steeping, in my opinion, is even better than the first. It’s a bit more subtle, but the different tasting motes are a bit more balanced. The Earthy aroma and taste that dominated the 1st steeping was not as dominant today, which let the smoke and fruit flavors loose.
And, maybe it’s my brain/bad memory, but it seems to be overall a bit smoother, with a slightly cleaner, not as dry, finish than yesterday.
This is such a solid, well balanced, enjoyably drinkable tea.
I used a little more leaves this time, and steeped them for a bit less. Combine that with a good pre-rinse, and wow, did it bring out that flavor! This is an amazingly complex tea, and I think I am just now starting to get close to its potential.
The aroma is the first thing that really opened my eyes. The Earthy smell hits you first, followed closely by a hint of smoke. Red Blossoms description mentions roasted nuts, and on second smell, that’s just right. (don’t trust my nose, just so you know…) The aroma isn’t done there. In addition to all this complexity, the Earth, roasted nuts, smoke, even a hint of ocean, it is still super light and crisp.
Then there is the taste. It has a dry feel right when it hits your mouth, but not bitter dry. Sort of a refreshing, soothing, Earthy dry. The taste is just as well balanced and complex as the aroma. In addition to the Earth, roasted nuts, the hint of ocean, there is also a hint of fruity taste. And all these flavors some together is a surprisingly light, crisp, and sweet tea.
Definitely a go to Anxi.
Flavors: Earth, Fruity, Nuts, Ocean Air, Roasted nuts
2nd steeping. It’s official, I’ve figured this one out. If you like your tea like I do, of course. Big, bold, and beautiful.
Start with a rinse. It really does make a big difference, but for reasons other than the 1st steeping rinse. That one cleans them off and opens the leaves. The 2nd steeping cleans them a bit, but more of getting the last of yesterdays water off, as opposed to cleaning off the dust before first steeping, while sort of waking them up some. The aroma and taste are so much brighter, crisper, cleaner. And they finish cleaner and smoother as well.
Yesterdays 1st steeping was pretty big, so today I decided to not add more steeping time, I left it at 1:30. I think that did the trick. It’s a bit less bitter and more subtle.
Aroma: Aroma is clean and crisp. Hints of grass and earth. Very smooth.
Taste: Taste is even more balanced than yesterday’s 1st steeping. The grass and earth tastes are a bit more subtle, but still there. The slight roasted hint from yesterday is nearly gone. Mouthfeel is crisp with a dry feel.
Finish: Finish is super clean and fresh. No lingering aftertaste, no different, unintended flavors popping up. Just super basic, super clean, super consistent from aroma through taste to aftertaste.
A good green tea collection would need something big, bold, and in your face like a Gunpowder and something more smooth, subtle, and clean like this here.
A green tea with a huge flavor! Perfect!
I think I nailed it this time. The pre-rinse really brought out the bright, golden, grassy feel and flavor. I’m not super great with steeping times, often getting caught reading something and forgetting for several minutes, but I pulled this one at 1.5 minutes.
The aroma is a great balance of earth and grass, with a nice roasted touch, nice and bright and potent. Then the taste. It’s even bigger than the aroma. That classic grassy, earthy, crisp, golden green tea flavor is perfectly balanced in this tea. Big and bold, almost like a gunpowder but less bitter. The finish is clean and a bit dry.
A perfect example of a really good, straight up, basic, extremely well balanced green tea.
Flavors: Earth, Grass, Roasted
Going to take a sharp left with this one today. I used it for sun tea.
Yeah, that’ s right, a Lapsang Souchong sun tea. Had to at least try it.
How did it come out? Pretty exactly how you would expect. I thought the much longer steeping time at much lower temperatures would hold down the intensity and bring out a better balance. It did, a bit. This batch did get a pretty good balance between the piney campfire taste and the black tea base. But it still tastes like campfire.
Like, the 2nd morning camping when you wake up and realize that you set up your tent directly downwind from your campfire and stayed up late drinking and burning all the wood you brought, continuously filling your tent with that piney woodsy campfire smoke.
But seriously, it is actually really good. I do like it. And the final product after leaving it in the sun for all the day long was a really poppy, woodsy, pine smoky black tea that actually has a decent balance. The natural tea flavors were able to pop out.
Not the best sun tea I’ve had, but certainly one I would do again.
2nd steeping of the same leaves. I lowered the steep time down to just under 2 minutes, and that seems to have improved the balance even more.
The aroma is still overwhelming smoke with a hint of, well, more smoke. It’s a damn smoky smell. And it’s roasted with pine needles, invoking in it that campfire memory. But the taste is much more balanced.
Here’s today’s process:
Rinse the leaves for 30 seconds.
Tumble water at first boil over 7 teaspoons of leaves in 32 oz Bodum Assam tea press.
Steep for just under 2 minutes.
I can’t change this now since I want to know what the 3rd steeping will be like, but the next time I do this with fresh leaves I will use the same process as above but with less leaves, maybe 5 teaspoons instead of 7+.
Still experimenting with this punch you in the face, full flavored, uber smoky campfire of a tea. I think I’m getting closer, and I have a good idea of what to do next time.
I used a little less leaves than last time, and cut the steeping time, and both of those seemed to do the trick, but both need to be done even more so next time. And, of course, the pre-rinse is a necessity with this tea. It’s just too smoky without it, you get the smoke from the roasting but no tea flavor. The rinse cleans the leaves, removes just enough of the smoke, and opens the leaves up to bring out more of that black tea flavor.
I went from 9 teaspoons to 7, next time I’ll use 5 or 6. Steep time was lowered from 4 minutes to 3, and it still needs to be lowered. Maybe even as little as 1 or 1.5. Next time.
All three of those things really helped balance the final flavor much better. The smoke still dominates in both aroma and taste, but the tea leaves at least stand a chance in the fight.
I think I’m finally figuring this one out!