100

Had a friend over for dinner last night. We prepared a basic Tuscan-style tomato suase with garlic, chopped nuts and shrimp, alongside some sauteed red bell peppers and zucchini, and a simple salad dressed with fresh squeezed lemon juice and olive oil. Super delicious meal, and I am grateful to have a friend so talented in the culinary arts. We washed it down with DIY lemon soda (just squeezed lemon into a glass and added plain carbonated water); an excellent palette cleanser.

As my friend so kindly conceived, purchased and prepared the better part of the meal described, and had expressed a sincere enthusiasm to experience some Gongfu tea drinking for the first time, I decided that the best expression of my gratitude would be to treat his generosity and interest to the two finest teas in my cupboard. The first of those teas was this Spring Tieguanyin, and the second was my Xingyang 1998 Golden Leaf Pu’er. I will write a separate tasting note for the latter, as I’ve yet to review it here.

As for the Spring Tieguanyin, before and during my preparations to serve it, I hyped it to the skies for my friend. He’s a newcomer to this way of appreciating tea, but definitely has a good frame of reference for understanding it from experience with fine wine tasting and his culinary adventures. The moment I opened the vacuum sealed package and let him smell the leaves, he was just about knocked out from the beauty of the fragrance. We drank four infusions in bliss, and the tea was better than even I had remembered from the numerous occasions I’d had it before. How is this possible? I imagine that the feedback and reflection generated when a host shares his tea with a truly and fully appreciative drinking companion enhances the whole experience.

After a good number of infusions, I confided in my friend that when I was praising this tea to the heavens for him, I had a faint worry at the back of my mind, “Will it really be as good as I say it is?”, but then when we got to drinking it the tea inevitably outstripped my praise by a length that I wasn’t prepared for. My friend concurred, saying, “This tea is 120% of what you said it was.” Drinking the next infusion, he expressed to me a very deeply felt gratitude for my providing him the opportunity to be introduced to this manner of tea drinking and tea culture. He said that he had felt for a long time in his life that an experience like this existed and was somewhere available in this world; and that it was something he’s been looking for, but previously found no access to. My friend went on to characterize this first exposure to Gongfu style tea drinking as a life-changing experience for him. I can’t explain how grateful and happy it made me feel to have some part in precipitating an experience like that for another person.

Needless to say, my friend there became a fully fledged lover of tea, excited to explore the great world of experience it provides… And that was before we even tried the exceptional Xingyang Pu’er! Concluding my note on the Tieguanyin, I will say that we continued to drink infusion after infusion of it for a good hour and a half. I have no idea how many infusions we had, but its flavor was merely settling, and hardly at the point of diminishing, before it felt like the right time to move on. I put the leaves aside in a container for later use, as I’m confident they will continue to produce good infusions for a while yet.

A tasting note on our experience with the Xingyang Pu’er is to come. I can’t begin to express my gratitude to have access to teas of this quality!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec
David Duckler

Wow!
This makes my whole day. Thank you for sharing this tasting experience. Nothing makes me happier than hearing that tea culture is being shared. it looks like you have had a profound cultural impact on your friend, and I am honored to have had a small part in connecting you to the farmers and artisans that make that possible.

On a side note, I got word today that the autumn Tieguanyin harvest is the best in years, meaning that the next shipment to replace the spring tea should live up to its predecesor.

Very good choice on teas by the way- I always pull out the Tieguanyin first to new tea drinkers. It is such an inviting tea that can focus people onto flavors and smells and prepare them for something like the Xingyang 1998.

Kashyap

this is a beautiful tribute to an amazing tea and a awe inspiring way to celebrate the sharing and illuminating social nature of what a cup of tea can bring…a wonderful way to praise verdant teas offerings and David Duckler’s kind heart and gifts….I wish each tea review was such a way of bridging the way we celebrate our lives in the cast reflections on a cup of tea and within the core of a sharing community

Spoonvonstup

What a great review! Thank you very much for sharing. I also always feel like the TGY (and most other teas) are almost always better when I am sharing them with someone else. And that’s the way it really should be. Looking forward to hearing what you think of the Xingyang!

Geoffrey

@David: Thanks for this note, and for making the tea available! I’m happy that the story made your day. I’m looking forward to this Autumn Tieguanyin you mention. Cheers!

@Kashyap: I appreciate your kind words. I had described this kind of sharing with tea as “a great fulcrum for friendship”, when my mentioned friend and I were drinking.

@Spoonvonstup: Indeed! I think drinking with a friend is the way to go. For me it seems to be so much easier to make liminal time and space for deep and attentive appreciation of the tea when sharing it with good company. Just posted my note on the Xingyang. I quite enjoyed what you had to say about that one, and totally agree with your assessment of it! Hope to see you again at the next Verdant tasting.

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David Duckler

Wow!
This makes my whole day. Thank you for sharing this tasting experience. Nothing makes me happier than hearing that tea culture is being shared. it looks like you have had a profound cultural impact on your friend, and I am honored to have had a small part in connecting you to the farmers and artisans that make that possible.

On a side note, I got word today that the autumn Tieguanyin harvest is the best in years, meaning that the next shipment to replace the spring tea should live up to its predecesor.

Very good choice on teas by the way- I always pull out the Tieguanyin first to new tea drinkers. It is such an inviting tea that can focus people onto flavors and smells and prepare them for something like the Xingyang 1998.

Kashyap

this is a beautiful tribute to an amazing tea and a awe inspiring way to celebrate the sharing and illuminating social nature of what a cup of tea can bring…a wonderful way to praise verdant teas offerings and David Duckler’s kind heart and gifts….I wish each tea review was such a way of bridging the way we celebrate our lives in the cast reflections on a cup of tea and within the core of a sharing community

Spoonvonstup

What a great review! Thank you very much for sharing. I also always feel like the TGY (and most other teas) are almost always better when I am sharing them with someone else. And that’s the way it really should be. Looking forward to hearing what you think of the Xingyang!

Geoffrey

@David: Thanks for this note, and for making the tea available! I’m happy that the story made your day. I’m looking forward to this Autumn Tieguanyin you mention. Cheers!

@Kashyap: I appreciate your kind words. I had described this kind of sharing with tea as “a great fulcrum for friendship”, when my mentioned friend and I were drinking.

@Spoonvonstup: Indeed! I think drinking with a friend is the way to go. For me it seems to be so much easier to make liminal time and space for deep and attentive appreciation of the tea when sharing it with good company. Just posted my note on the Xingyang. I quite enjoyed what you had to say about that one, and totally agree with your assessment of it! Hope to see you again at the next Verdant tasting.

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Bio

Tea drinking, tango dancing, rock climbing, and reading are my main activities of interest.

Currently obsessed with Fenghuang Dancong Oolongs and Wuyi Yan Cha. My fascination with Pu’er is steadily growing, and I imagine it will take over one of these days.

I typically don’t feel ready to say anything conclusive about a tea (and thus, say nothing) until I’ve tried it three or four times, which helps prevent both false positives and false negatives, and offers a more comprehensive sense of a tea’s dimension and character.


As of 01/12/2012, I’ve accepted full-time employment as the Business Development Manager at Verdant Tea. From that date forward I’ve decided to stop rating teas on Steepster due to my professional stake in the tea business. I have no interest in manipulating the rating system in our favor or against other tea businesses. All my ratings on Steepster were made before my employment with Verdant Tea, and reflect nothing more than my personal opinions as a tea drinker.

I want to continue writing tasting notes without ratings from time to time, for both our teas and teas that I enjoy from other businesses; but as my life has now become much more busy, my activity on Steepster will be lessened. And in any case, my future contributions here will have to be made on my personal time.

Location

Minneapolis, MN, USA

Website

http://verdanttea.com

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