225 Tasting Notes

Brewed with the Western method. Steeping times: 3 minutes, 6 minutes.

How could I not try this one, on the day before I sent the box on its merry way? It didn’t even occur to me that there would be a monsoon flush.

Leaf: Shorter and darker than those of first flush from this box. Nearly black, charred-looking.
Aroma: I had a cold at the time, and my nose was stuffed, but doing even better. The dry leaf aroma was unexpected – barn hay. The wet leaf aroma smelled of malt and damp wood.
Liquor: This is even darker than autumn flush and definitely reflects monsoon weather, as it feels and tastes like stormy clouds. Full-bodied. At first, tastes of nothing. But the longer I let it sit in my mouth the more the flavor profile comes out. Lovely notes of honey fruit.

Preparation
Boiling 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Brewed with the Western method. Steeping times: 3 minutes, 6 minutes.

Aroma: I had a cold at the time, and my nose was stuffed, but doing much better. Still didn’t try to smell the dry leaf aroma. Wet aroma for this one is richer than those of #1 and #2, smelling of strawberries and apricot.
Liquor: Amber color. Thick texture. Thick, smooth. Very sweet. First infusion tastes richly of honey. The second infusion is muscatel. It’s not quite so rich as the first but still flavorful.

Preparation
Boiling 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Brewed with the Western method. Steeping times: 3 minutes, 6 minutes.

Leaf: They look more like green tea leaves. Lighter – greener with more white – than #1 and #3.
Aroma: I had a cold at the time, and my nose was stuffed. I couldn’t smell the dry leaf aroma, still, but the liquor was muscatel, and the wet leaf aroma had strawberries and apricot jam.
Liquor: Amber color. Full-bodied. Creamy. The first infusion has gentle notes of honey and molasses. The more it cooled, the more grapes stood out. The second infusion is even sweeter and more muscatel, tasting a lot like white grape wine.

Preparation
Boiling 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Brewed with the Western method. Steeping times: 3 minutes, 6 minutes.

Aroma: I had a cold at the time, and my nose was stuffed. Couldn’t smell the dry leaf, but the liquor was fruity (indiscernible specifically), and the wet leaf aroma, jams.
Liquor: The color of lighter amber. Thin and clear. Bland flavors…smoke (not something I’d want in a Darjeeling), sugar, honey (too light). Heavy feeling but…not.

Preparation
Boiling 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Brewed with the Western method. Steeping times: 3 minutes, 6 minutes.

Leaf: Very short, curly. Mostly dark with some white-ish leaves.
Aroma: I had a cold at the time, and my nose was stuffed, but not so much this day. The wet leaf aroma evolved quite a bit – vegetal to muscatel to sugar to bread to – lastly – jams. Very rich jams.
Liquor: Amber color. Full-bodied. Smooth and thick texture. Tastes darker than 1st flush but not as much as an autumn flush. The first infusion has flavors of bread and molasses and a plum aftertaste. I couldn’t pinpoint a certain note, but after reading MJ’s it was definitely red wine. Interesting. The second was more malty and bread-like.

Preparation
Boiling 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Brewed with the Western method. Steeping times: 3 minutes, 6 minutes.

Leaf: Dark, very short, curly.
Aroma: I had a cold at the time, and my nose was stuffed. I could only tell that the wet leaf aroma and liquor smelled vaguely vegetal.
Liquor: The color of honey. Medium-bodied. Thin texture. Notes of grape and honey.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Brewed with the Western method. Steeping times: 3 minutes, 6 minutes.

Leaf: Dark, very short, curly.
Aroma: I had a cold at the time, and my nose was stuffed. Impossible to smells the dry leaf, but I could discern that the liquor/wet leaf had a malty/woody aroma.
Liquor: Amber color. Full-bodied. Smooth texture. Tastes darker than the first flush, and quiet. Notes of honey, molasses, and probably plum, with a maple syrup aftertaste.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Brewed with the Western method. Steeping times: 3 minutes, 6 minutes.

Leaf: These leaves are greener and whiter than those of #1 and #2.
Aroma: I had a cold at the time, and my nose was very stuffed. No way I could try.
Liquor: Light gold in color. Medium-bodied. Somewhat thick texture. Notes of honeydew and papaya, with a mango aftertaste. Leaves a slightly dry mouth.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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80

Brewed with a gongfu glass tea pot. 5-second rinse. Steeping parameters: 60, 75, 90, 120.

My first Bi Luo Chun. I have to say that the aspects I took most pleasure out of were the physical appearance of the leaves and the tactile sensation of handling the leaves by hand.

Short, thin, minty green, curly little things. The leaves are so light, they could weigh practically nothing on the Moon. While I waited for the water to heat, I stuck my hand in the tea pot and gently tossed and turned them over. I think I’d enjoy rolling them in the pan to dry them out, if I ever get the chance tour the creation process.

The dry leaf aroma smells sweetly of freshly cut lawn. The wet leaf, in contrast, offers heavier aroma of cooked asparagus and cream of spinach.

The color of the liquor is greenish, which looks bright against the white of my porcelain cup. To my surprise, the liquor is not clear but very cloudy. Lots of unexpected fuzzies, especially in this first infusion. I didn’t see the hairs on the dry leaf. Guess I should have taken a closer look at the picture on the website….I notice that the darker green leaves have few hairs. My sample contains practically all lightly colored leaves. The liquor becomes more pellucid as the session goes on.

The first infusion has a creamy texture and broth-like consistency. There are notes of savory, green vegetable flavors – beans, spinach, and okra. Hmmmm. I dislike okra, but since I get none of the sliminess: huzzah! The second infusion has a thinner texture, and is much sweeter, veggie-wise, with a pea note. Back to thick and soupy with the third infusion. It is also tangy and somewhat fruity sweet, with a lychee taste that appears if I let the liquor rest in my mouth before swallowing.

Three is all I get, forget the fourth. Bi Luo Chun – or at least this one – is more complex than I’d thought. It’s a little on the heavy side for me as a green tea. Still, generally enjoyable!

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 7 g 6 OZ / 177 ML

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Brewed with a gongfu glass tea pot.
Steeping parameters: No rinse. 30 seconds, 45, 60, 120

This would be my second Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong, the first being from Wegman’s years ago. From the dry leaf alone I can tell that this one is of much better quality. Short and twisty, unbroken, they mostly are very dark – near black – peppered with a few golden leaves. They smell of burned conifer wood and smoke. The wet leaf aroma, of barbecued spare ribs. A hint of vanilla rises from the liquor.

Reddish in color, clear, and smoothly textured, it tastes much like it smells, and then some, including a pungent yet mellow smoky meat flavor. This tea leaves behind a sweet barbecue sauce aftertaste and a dry throat.

No rating, but recommended since I enjoyed it. I wouldn’t have this kind of tea often, but this is one I would go to if I wanted something different and smoky.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 7 g 6 OZ / 177 ML
Cwyn

I just used my leftover smoky souchong leaves for a rub on roasted chicken legs. They were amazing.

KiwiDelight

That sure sounds delicious! Never considered using leftover tea leaf for meat marinade.

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Bio

I began drinking tea because its complexity fascinated me. I love learning about its history, its manufacturing processes, and its place in various cultures.

My favorite teas are shou and Japanese greens, and my favorite herbal tisanes are spear/peppermint, lavender and chrysanthemum. I’m currently exploring shou and sheng pu’erh, and any Chinese and Taiwanese teas. African teas are my babies. I adore masala chai – I share with my dad every Friday (“chai Friday” – hee hee). The only teas I truly dislike are fruity tisanes and the ones that have too much fruit. I do like hisbiscus, especially iced, though. Not much of a fan of milk oolong either.

I’m an MFA graduate who studied nonfiction writing and am now an editorial assistant. I mostly write nature essays. I’m birder as well as a tea enthusiast. I also like exercising, Tolkien, and Ancient Egypt.

How I rate:

96-100 I adore absolutely everything about it. A permanent addition to my stash.

90-95 Superb quality and extremely enjoyable, but not something I’d necessarily like to have in my stash (might have to do with personal tastes, depending on what I say in the tasting note).

80-89 Delicious! Pleased with the overall quality.

70-79 Simply, I like it. There are qualities that I find good, but there also are things that aren’t, hence a lower rating that I would have otherwise like to put.

60-69 Overall “meh”. Not necessarily bad, but not necessarily good.

0-59 No.

If there is no rating: I don’t feel experienced enough to rate the tea, or said tea just goes beyond rating (in a positive way).

Location

Westchester, NY

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