240 Tasting Notes

75

I began this yesterday, thinking that I would like a sheng to drink through the afternoon. The dry leaf smells nothing like any of the other shengs I have written about. If anything this tea brick reminds me more of a shu than a sheng. It is earthy and not camphorous (is that a word?). The leaves are dark and look inviting.

Brewing the tea confirms that the taste is more shu than the sheng I am used to. That could simply be that I have not tried many aged shengs. As advertised the mouthfeel is full. There is a pepperiness to the taste that is pleasing alongside the earthiness, and a slightly metallic tang. This is not the stableyard that I refer to so often with shengs. Instead it is more like a freshly turned garden awaiting planting after the rain. A lingering sweet earthiness remains after the tea is drunk and my mouth feels warm. I am not blown away by this tea but it is certainly not bad either. I have enjoyed every cup so far and am on to the 10th steeping without having to increase the steeping time beyond 20 seconds yet. Perhaps it is just that I am not used to this type of storage. Time to buy more teas that have been stored similarly perhaps?

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 0 min, 15 sec
Bonnie

I enjoy the thought of the garden awaiting planting after the rain. That was lovely. I hope you have that kind of day.

Roughage

My day today seems to be somewhat fallow. Too much staring at a computer screen and not enough writing being done. I should switch the router off so that I cannot “just quickly check my email, and steepster and facebook and …”. On the other hand, I have enjoyed discussions on here and FB, so it is not all bad. :-)

Jim Marks

This sounds like a tea I need to try.

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82

Yay, back to tea tasting after a week in Denmark with only coffee available for most of the time. The coffee was not bad but I did miss the good teas. I took some easy to brew teas with me, which helped but I felt the lack of my water filter, variable temperature kettle, etc! I was able to visit ‘Simply Tea’ in Aarhus where I had a rather nice sheng pu, but overall it really was a coffee-drinking conference. So now I have returned and can control my brewing properly. The first tea I picked out was this Snow Buds that I bought from Canton Tea because I wanted to see how it compared to others that I have had.

The dry leaf is light and grassy, smelling like a sweet summer meadow. It is most aesthetically pleasing to look upon, an olive green leaf with a light white fuzz on the underside. The aroma mellows as the tea brews, developing a nuttier note to it that carries through into the taste. It is light, sweet, slightly nutty and very drinkable. The liquor is a pale straw colour, almost colourless in my cup. The tea resteeps well through the third steeping. I have not tried more. Overall it is an excellent choice for drinking on a hot summer’s day, a bit like today in fact.

Preparation
145 °F / 62 °C 2 min, 0 sec
Scatterbrain

Would you recommend Canton Tea overall? I’ve been very curious about them, I’m just worried about shipping costs to the US.

Roughage

I am based in the UK, so have only had experience of that service, but it has always been excellent. They have responded well and promptly to queries and sent out the teas very quickly. I have also found that the teas they sell are all pretty good. Overall, I would recommend them to you if the shipping costs are not too great.

Bonnie

I’ve been drinking samples from Roughage of Canton tea’s and they are worth trying if not to expensive to ship.

Angrboda

What! But! That’s here! That’s my city! Why did I not know about this?

Anyway, I hope you found it well. I should like some thoughts from you about the Simply Tea place. My boss and I have talked about it some, but didn’t really like the way it looked from the outside. We thought it looked very tiny and cramped in there, so we’ve stuck to our usual place which have lots of atmosphere but probably lower quality selections (some of their teas really have been hit and miss there, but they do excellent cake). The husband and I were given a gift card for our wedding which we thought we might spend at Simply Teas. What did you think of the place?

Roughage

Angrboda, you are in Aarhus? Noooooooo!!!!!!! I thought you were in Copenhagen for some reason. No idea why. Ah well, there is a good chance I shall be back in Aarhus in the future, so perhaps you and your husband can show me the tea houses of Aarhus then, not that I had much time for sight-seeing this time. The saga conference was an all-day thing every day for the week.

Anyway, I found Simply Tea to be quite pleasant. It was quiet, the location was not particularly appealing on that side of the river and the shop is quite small inside. We sat outside which was very pleasant. The staff were impressed that I ordered a sheng pu and seemed very helpful and happy to chat about tea. I imagine it could be very crowded if there were a lot of customers. I’m not sure quite how busy they get. I would suggest trying it and seeing what you think. I enjoyed the tea, so I would happily go back again, although if it were busy it might get a bit much for me. I don’t like crowds.

Angrboda

Well since a fifth of the population are in Copenhagen + surrounding area, I would call it a qualified guess. :) Also the Danish companies I tend to order from are all situated in Copenhagen which might also have thrown you. But yeah, we live in a village about 30 minutes outside of the city proper, so if you come back one day, I would enjoy a meet up and a nice cup.

That sounds pretty good. When I wnet past there it seemed like a pretty discreet sort of location, which is good for me, because I don’t care for large crowds either. It’s totally stressful for me. I’ll see about getting us organised soon then and get our gift card used. :) The fact that they even have ANY pu-erh at all and even know what a sheng one is sounds like they’re more serious about the tea aspect than the cafe that the boss and I go to for our ‘afternoon meetings’ (in which we gossip and nom cake). That place have a wide selection but the emphasis is really on the cafe aspect there.

Roughage

Yes, they seemed keen on the tea aspect. Apparently the owner goes over to China to buy tea.

I ordered a 2007 sheng that was on the menu, but they came back with a different 2008 sheng in a basket, telling me that the other was no longer in stock. I was impressed with the fact that they showed me what they did have so that I could get a good smell of it before ordering. They made it English style rather than gong fu, but it was still good. Since you have a gift card, it will not really cost you much to try them anyway, so you will not lose out by doing so. I hope you enjoy it.

I think the fact that I had not seen you mention Aarhus, while you had mentioned Copenhagen threw me. I prefer Aarhus. The Viking stuff is better there, especially out at Moesgaard! I shall remember to email you in good time next time I am at the university.

Angrboda

I was just looking at their site now. They do tastings and everything! I’ll have to suggest that to the boss some time. She’s not really as into tea as either of us here on Steepster, but she does appreciate a better quality than your average supermarket brand. :)

Apparently they do afternoon tea as well. Perhaps then I can finally get that ticked off my list! O.o

Moesgaard is nice. :) We spent a whole day there once, first on the exhibition and then walking in the surrounding area. There’s this particular path which takes you through forest where different parts of the forest has been planted with the sorts of trees and plants that would have been there during different eras of the stone age and such. I quite enjoyed that. My icon here is from a photo the husband took for me of their stave church replica. :)

Roughage

Have fun with your afternoon tea. :-)

I did wonder if your icon came from a stave church. The stave church replica at Moesgaard is nice. My PhD supervisor was responsible for carving an obscene runic inscription in it, with permission of the museum of course.

Angrboda

What, like viking age graphiti? I didn’t know they did that! O.o

Roughage

Yes, like Viking Age graffiti. The Vikings and medieval Scandinavians loved to write graffiti on things. There are some excellent examples from stave churches in Norway. Some are obscene and many are not, but they tell a story of everyday Norwegians.

Angrboda

Well, that makes sense really. People have always done that, and there are many examples of it ancient Rome. Still though. It strikes me as such a modern thing to do. :)

Roughage

People were people, even back then! :-)

Bonnie

Ah small world Steepster. I feel like a mum watching people meet up. Indigobloom and Kiteena in Canada, Alex and I in Boulder and Jason and I in Fort Collins, You guys maybe in Aarhus! (I’m sure there are others who meet up too). And why not! Tea and hospitality go hand in hand.

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90

Free sample from Teavivre. Thank you.

Wow, opening the packet hit me with a strong aroma. It practically knocked my socks off. The smell is asparagus and pork chops. More asparagus in the dry leaf, which is a dark brown. Then I brewed the tea and the aroma was much meatier on the first steeping. The liquor was as advertised: yellowish green. The leaves turned from brownish to bright green in the hot water, and such dinky little leaves too. Lovely. The taste was fresh, grassy, slightly nutty with a light, sweet aftertaste. There was no astringency that I noticed and it rebrewed well three times. I really enjoyed this one.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 1 min, 30 sec
Bonnie

Hey, what’s this…you’re a little too close…hahaha!
If your socks came off it’s your feet you smell!
Actually, I know what you mean. I’ve smelled roast beef and so on and been amazed. Sounds very tasty. We do love our teavivre’s!

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77

I bought this sample with my last order to Yunnan as part of my effort to maximise the amount of tea for the postal charge. It’s all done by weight so I spend ages sitting there with the shopping cart trying not to tip over into the next charging bracket. Hours of fun!

Anyway, I started on this sample yesterday, brewing it in my ben shan pot, and it is still going strong after a dozen or more steepings. The sample was basically a chunk of a cake and is quite compact. It has that slightly smoky, floral hay smell that I like. The brewed tea is a light orange colour. It has a fairly strong flavour with a pleasing astringency to it and an enduring aftertaste that leads my wife to say to me “You’ve got pu breath!” I can taste it as I breathe in and out. It’s a bit like honey with some floral notes; sweet, enduring and really jolly good. A beeng or two of this will be going on my wish list.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 0 min, 15 sec
Bonnie

So, smoky…floral…honey…hay smelling ‘po breath’ is jolly good? I think it sounds Jolly Good too! (come to think of if I believe someone may have sent me a sample of this that I’m waiting to try!)

Roughage

Could be worse! Could be Yak pu breath!! ;)

Jim Marks

None of the camphorous notes many sheng have?

Bonnie

Yak pu breath are grounds for divorce!

Roughage

@Jim: I guess some of what I was trying to describe could be called camphorous, now that I think about it. The associations I have with the aroma from the shengs I have tried do not immediately bring that sort of description to mind, but it works. Similarly, there are elements that some might call tobacco too. It’s just that those are not my first thoughts. I really need to learn the vocabulary of pu and employ it for clarity of communication! :)

@Bonnie: Please don’t tell Karen that. She has not objected to my Yak pu yet.

Jim Marks

I claim to represent nothing normative in terms of pu language. :-)

I’ve described sheng in the past as the smell that a cabin in the woods in the sun which hasn’t been disturbed for some years smells like. It is something that, if you’ve smelled it, you’d know exactly what I mean, and if you haven’t, will have no clue at all.

I find that if I brew sheng with a lot of leaf, these biting, camphor like notes come out, but if I brew with scant leaf, they don’t.

Roughage

Is there a pu norm? Yikes, I hope the pu police don’t come for me! :-D

I’ve noticed that a lot of people seem to talk about pu in terms of tobacco and camphor. I’m still drinking this one (8g of leaf in a 170ml pot. No idea what that is in old money but it seems to be going on forever) and your mention of camphor makes me think of it when tasting the tea. There are definite camphor and tobacco notes, but they are the same notes that I would have described as being like the warmth and wecloming aroma of the stableyard! I guess it’s all down to the associations we have with particular things. :)

Love your description of the cabin in the woods. It all goes to show how personal tea tasting is.

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97
drank Silver Buds Yabao by Verdant Tea
240 tasting notes

Thank you to Bonnie for this sample. You are most excellent, m’dear.

It looks like bits off an ear of wheat. Well weird, so naturally I wanted to taste it, but I have held off until I was in a fit state to do so properly. So, I have set up my books and laptop in the kitchen next to the kettle and am getting on with some work while taking time out to enjoy this tea. I should probably focus solely on the tea until my eyeballs are swimming but that is not practical, alas. Enough of my wittering on. What’s it like?

The aroma of the wet leaf reminds me of pine resin and freshly baked oat biscuit (that’s cookie to some of you!) with cinnamon. Behind that is a hint of spring, apple blossom and fresh rain. Yikes, look at me going over the top with the descriptions! The liquor is practically clear too. And the taste? There’s that pine again, something peppery at the back of my tongue, a hint of apple and a lingering sparkly, peppery aftertaste. It reminds me of champagne in tea form. This is feelgood tea. I love it and it is going on the shopping list.

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

So glad you do! I’m fond of it too and enjoy’d you letting go as you should. After all you are a son of the North and could drink this on the moors. I think it’s champagne too but a bit more mystical. Try it chilled.

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86

Free sample from Teavivre. Thank you.

On opening the packet I did my usual thing and stuck my nose right inside, before breathing in deeply. There is a warmth to the aroma of the dry leaf. My first thought is of hay, but tempered with the smell of fresh wheat, newly harvested and threshed. This aroma develops into something slightly malty and a bit flowery when the tea is brewed. The taste of the liquor is sweet and mellow. There are chocolatey undertones here, but little of the maltiness of other similar teas. Instead it is lighter and the unmalted grain flavour comes through. I’m not sure I get the fruitiness that Teavivre’s site tell me is there, but the sweet, mellow, grainy flavour is very good, and the aftertaste lingers pleasantly on. I like this tea.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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95

Sample from Bonnie. Many thanks.

The dry leaf is smoky. It reminds me of a winter’s day in the mountains. The campfire is burning (as is dinner, probably), the skis are stacked for the time being and the sun is out. Or maybe it is the smell of the smokehouse with racks of meat hanging in the rafters being cured. It really is that sort of smell. Very strong but utterly lovely.

Drinking the tea, it is smoky, sweet and there is depth to it as waves of flavour break on my tongue. In some ways there is too much going on for my fuddled brain to sort it all out. It is fantastic though. As I drink the tea a beautiful lethargy comes over me. I am calmer and more relaxed. It is also somewhat cooling. It’s odd really. I feel kind of spaced by this tea but not in any unpleasant way. I have thoroughly enjoyed this tea and I’m off to make more right now.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec
Bonnie

Aha my buddies at HL will be pleased that on this opening day of the Olympics good ol LS
from our shop in Fort Collins has been a hit with you there in the UK!

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71

Thank you to Bonnie for this sample. Muchly appreciated.

This is another summery tea. The pineapple is present without being overpowering and I can taste the oolong behind it. The whole package is light, easy to drink and very tasty. I am on my third steeping of it and it is still very nice. Good stuff.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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78

Thank you Bonnie for this sample.

I needed more than my usual caffeine kick this morning and thought I would try this. I’m not familiar with guayusa at all, so this sample beckoned for that reason to.

The lemon smell was lovely and sweet when I opened the packet. The aroma of the brewing drink was the same. Nothing too intimidating there then. Then the taste of the brewed leaf is creamy and lemony, not bitter, just right. It’s novel for me is this guayusa but I reckon I might well get used to it! Let’s hope the caffeine kick helps me too. I have a lot of writing and editing to do today and I need all the help I can get! :)

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 min, 0 sec

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88
drank Laoshan Black by Verdant Tea
240 tasting notes

Sample from Bonnie. Thank you, Bonnie, you have done me a great service with your excellent tea samples.

Dark leaves when dry. Unfortunately I cannot watch them steep easily now because I dropped my small glass teapot on the kitchen floor yesterday and it is now in a thousand pieces in the bin. :( When steeped the brew gives off a malty aroma (I seem to be calling every black tea I try at the moment chocolatey and malty!). There are dark cocoa notes in there too that enhance the whole aroma. The taste is more cocoa than malt. It’s really good. I’m sitting here holding the liquor in my mouth trying to work out everything that is going on here and trying not to laugh at memories of sitting with Benedictine in my mouth as the delicious pain builds and you eventually have to swallow before slurping down your coffee. Hmm, anyway, back to the tea. More cocoa than chocolate, malty, the aftertaste endures nicely. I could definitely drink this one regularly.

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec
Bonnie

Poor glass pot! Mine has a plastic overcoat thing or I would have broken it long ago!

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Profile

Bio

I am a historical consultant, Vikingologist and tea enthusiast! To be honest, I have always liked decent tea, but in 2011 I started working at learning what good tea really is. I continue to expand my horizons and discover new teas with the aid of my chums on Steepster, much to the chagrin of my wife, who despairs of my enthusiasm.

My favourite teas are Darjeelings, sheng puerhs and Anji Bai Cha. I return to these every time, after whatever flirtation with other teas I have been involved with.

I no longer rate the teas I drink because keeping ratings consistent proved to be rather hard work while not really giving me anything in return.

Location

East Yorkshire, England

Website

http://ruarighdale.wordpress....

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