494 Tasting Notes
6 tsp (I think) for 1000mL water @100C, steeped five minutes in the Breville, basket cycle on, drunk bare.
Oh oh oh! Peppery, foresty Yunnan! Clean finish, mineral sparkle, and pepper notes that I really like. The leaves are long and spindly, so it’s hard to measure this tea in a scoop. I feel I made it too weak yesterday, but then I always find tea made in a pot versus in a smaller cup seems weaker. That’s just me. This Yunnan tea is a delight. It doesn’t have the honey-like heaviness of some, but it’s got a crisp simplicity (that’s not really a simplicity at all) tI find invigorating. Not a lot of caffeine, either: I can drink this in the evening and not disrupt my sleep. But it does energize, in a more subtle, interesting way. A treat.
1.5 tsp for 300mL water @ 90C, steeped 2 minutes 30 seconds Western style.
I’ve been wanting to try this blend for a long time. Frankincense is one of my favourite scents, and to think of it in tea …
This works. This works so very well. My first thought was “I want the goji berries out and a pinch of lapsang in,” but I’ve changed my mind. I find goji berries get a bit too sweet for me, so I might try a pinch of lapsang later in a second infusion. Frankinsence cries out for smoke, but I’ll need to be careful, because the tieguanyin could get overwhelmed.
An unusual but very well-balanced blend. No one flavour dominates, and using tieguanyin instead of a black tea as the base was inspired. As for tasting notes, I haven’t got anything much to add to the Verdant write-up; they describe it well. I can say that the frankincense gives a slight pine note to the finish, which, with the bergamot, is intriguing.
1.5 tsp for 250 mL water @ 90C, steeped 3 minutes Western style, first infusion.
Tieguanyins are one of my favourite things to drink.
I adore the 2012 Autumn Harvest Tieguanyin from Verdant, greatly enjoying its depth and snap. The 2013 Spring is creamier, a bit more suggestive of orchids, almost like a Quangzhou milk, and more — well, springlike, fresh and new. The creaminess stands out for me, suggeting sweetness and vanilla. Lovely.
1.5 tsp for 300mL water @ 98C, steeped four minutes, drunk bare.
I found some! I found some in a kitchen cupboard whole looking for some tea to ice.
Musk and pepper and honey and forest. Refreshing. No longer my favourite Yunnan
-Verdant’s Golden Fleece stole my heart - but an excellent one, a brilliant example of what’s so good about Yunnan teas.
1.5 tsp for 300mL water @100C, steeped 4 minutes, drunk bare.
Assertive and comforting, a bit like a take-charge grandmother. Much classic black tea goodness going on here, with the Keemun (I suspect) as ever adding a rich note. A very bold tea. The slight bot of smoke is very comforting on a dreary, wet day.
1 bag for 300mL water @100C, steeped four minutes, drunk bare.
Here in St John’s, the store that carries Barry’s tea has it in the green box, but the green box says nothing about it being “Irish Breaskfast.” This seems to be a marketing label for tea drunk outside of Ireland. I could be wrong. This box of Barry’s came direct from Ireland, though, so I do wonder.
I’ve had this teamany times before. Sometimes, yes, even Michelle the Tea Snob just wants to plop a bag in a mug, pour in the boiling water, and get some tea with minimal fuss. Call it lazy. I don’t care.
The first tea I ever drank was King Cole, a blend once very popular in Atlantic Canada. The bags were generously filled and would get very plump, tea leaves straining against the gauze — yes, gauze, not paper. King Cole only in the last year or so stopped using gauze, as gauze was getting expensive and hard to source. King Cole was a blend that satisfied with English war bride grandmother and being “almost” strong enough. In my memory, it was heavy on the Assam, very malty and pungent.
Barry’s in the green box tastes a lot like that. This blend’s got some Kenyan in it, too, and that’s fine. The result is strong black tea that can help you through bad weather, bad news, bad days …
Decent caffeine punch. Malty, with a medium to heavy body. Some Assam fruitiness, and a very strong pucker at the end. This is not a smooth tea, not after the China oolongs and blacks I’ve been drinking, but it is perfect for what it wants to me: unpretentious, dependable, everyday, blended black tea. There’s much worse out there than Barry’s.
1.5 tsp (roughly, a fluffy tea) to 300mL water @ 85C, steeped 3 minutes Western style, drunk bare. First infusion.
I like white tea. I love Yunnan tea. I love good hit of jasmine. I figured I’d be pretty happy with this one, and I am. I have a painful medical condition that disables me to varying degrees, which I mention here because I find the ritual of making tea, the whole process of checking water temp and time, of sniffing the dry leaves and then tasting the tea, of parsing out the flavour and scent notes, can be a potent and therapeutic distraction. The blend of jasmine and good silver needle here is subtle first, then almost ravishing. The tea seems to produce an energy all its own, one that makes me forget some of what bothers me and instead focus on what is good and beautiful.
This tea is beautiful. The first sip was mostly a clean, silver needles flavour, with something heavier at the end: a promise. Then came the jasmine, which is mixed with apricot in both scent and taste. All of this is light, but it opens up in the mouth. I probably steeped it too long, as the finish gives me the slightest threat of astringence — almost coniferous, like the scent of wet spruce.
Complex, nuanced, subtle, and quite lovely. I will never drink this for a mere caffeine hit. I will drink this to understand beauty.
1.5 tsp for 250 mL water @96C, Western style.
1st infusion, steeped 3 min 30 seconds.
I made this strong, but I wanted a storm of tea this time. I am getting lots of honeyed malt and also a creamy, almost vanilla soybean flavour. Very refreshing. Lots of forest floor in the scent, too. Rich and sweet finish.
2nd infusion, steeped 4 minutes.
Some dark winey-notes, and some leather and honey … almost like a blend of Yunnan and Keemun. And that soybean taste again. Really good.
1.5 tsp for 250mL water @90C, Western style, drunk bare.
I know, that’s a lot of leaf for one cup of water. I am being greedy.
I adore tieguanyin. My three favourite oolongs are tiguanyin, Red Robe, and Quangzhou milk. I cannot pick just one of these. Oolong heaven.
1st infusion, steeped 3 minutes.
Lots of leaf and a longish steep for an oolong. The leaves are a brilliant green, as if just picked. I have never seen such bright green tea leaves in my life. The scent is potent, with that slightly sharp and floral sweetness that defines tiguanyin. The liquor is a bright pale green. The notes of grass, fruit, orchid, and even cream are ravishing.
2nd infusion, steeped four minutes.
Leaves are slightly less brilliant but still brighter than any other oolong I’ve seen. Liquor is tending more to pale yellow than green. Body is heavier, and I probably steeped this infusion too long; much more and I’d be getting that bitter, soapy edge abused oolong can give up. Orhid notes from start to finish, and a juicy, almost fuzzy mouthfeel: this tea tastes nothing like peaches, but it feels like peaches.
I cannot comment on how this compares to a spring tigaunyin, because I’ve only ever tried two other tieguanyins, and I don’t know when they were harvested. I can say this is the best tieguanyin I’ve drunk … and even bad tieguanyin is better than almost anything else.
Oh, Iron Goddess of Mercy, thank you.