287 Tasting Notes
Tea ordered on Sunday night and arrived Tuesday morning. The service I have had from Canton Tea Co. has been superlative throughout my dalliance with them and their products. So, what does one do when the tea arrives so quickly? The answer has to be “drink it.” Given my predilection for Darjeelings and my dearth of same over the past few months, there was clearly only one choice for my first taste of this new batch of teas: Arya Diamond. I have tried and enjoyed all the other Arya jewel teas, so I was particularly excited about this one.
The newly opened packet did not disappoint. An earthy, floral aroma wafted out and got my taste buds tingling. The leaves I deposited in my teapot reminded me of an autumn forest: light greens, russets, dark browns. The colour was delightful. Then I brewed it. the leaves all turned a mid-reddish brown. If only I had my Munsell chart, I could have given you an exact colour match. The tea itself has the taste of Autumn too. It is fruity with a slightly heavy muscatel feel to it and there is a nuttiness behind all that. Probably not enough nuttiness to persuade my beloved to ignore the floral elements, but it does provide a beautiful contrast. As it cools, an astringent note creeps in, but nothing too distracting. The aftertaste is lovely too. I feel like my breath is now all sweet plums and red grapes. Yes, I like this tea and think it belongs near the top of the list of my favourite Darjeelings. It’s tough to say which is my absolute favourite though. I think I need to go back and taste them all in rapid succession. Now, where did I put my credit card?
Thank you to a Steepsterite who wishes to remain nameless. Said person has done me a good turn by sending this tea to me.
So, I spent most of today trying to persuade my new router/modem to talk to my laptop via the wireless connection. Needless to say I got somewhat frazzled as well as being irked that the wireless speed was registering at less than one tenth of the wired speed. Clearly the issue was to do with my laptop (a venerable old soldier, if ever I saw one) and the young whippersnapper that is the new router. I suspect the router made a disparaging comment about old people, or something like that, and the laptop rapped the router on the shins with its stick. Then they both sulked. Anyway, it is sorted now, and I rewarded myself with a pot of tea. I think I deserved it!
I used a 170ml Yixing pot to brew this tea and put 8g of tea in the pot. Then I rinsed it for a few seconds to clear it out and wake it up. The rinse was rich and dark already so I steeped it for 10 seconds in the first instance. The liquor was still very dark. It tasted earthy, slightly metallic, but with a hint of cinnamon behind those other flavours. I found it to be smooth and light overall. The mouthfeel was silky and much less full than most teas I drink, but that made this a particularly easy tea to drink. Given how the tea is lasting (Steep 8 and still going strong) that is probably a good thing because I shall be drinking it for the rest of the evening. I shall certainly not complain about that!
mrmopar kindly sent me some samples of his pu. Thank you.
I decided to try this one first because I loved the name. Golden peacock brings to mind the faded grandeur of a royal court. I wondered if it would bring that grandeur to my faded kitchen.
The dry tea smells earthy with a slight fishiness that I expected of a shu. It arrived as a chunk from a beeng so I picked it apart carefully. The leaves seemed quite loose and easy to pick apart. They were smallish with a couple of golden ones in among the brown.
Brewing the tea up, the first wash smells of that same earthiness and the liquor is bright red. I threw the wash and brewed properly. Still the same dark red liquor but the earthy aroma has gone and it is replaced by something sweeter that I cannot quite describe. Tasting the tea, it was initially too hot to pick out any real flavour. It was mellow and rich. As it cooled I was stunned by the sudden emergence of a flavour that took me back to my childhood and the sweet shop near the bus station. I used to regularly by a quarter of boiled sweets from there on my way home. The tea reminded me of Cola Cubes. Not the sugary sweetness but certainly the flavours at the back of that. Then, as it cooled more I thought I detected a note of sherbet pips. And that was just the first steeping.
Repeat steepings have shown that I was not imagining it. This shu is earthy and mellow with the sweetness of cola and sherbet at the back of it. I am now on steeping number 6 and feeling like my eyeballs are swimming, despite the small size of my pot. The tea is still going strong. Ah well, it has been great reaching this point and I can see how it fares later after a rest. This tea is a really nice example of a shu that I could drink a lot of. It lacks the fishiness of some shu and has a mellow sweetness that works greatly in its favour.
Ooh, I’m first! :)
So, yesterday I had an infestation of nephews. They are not bad lads but they do take a lot of work to keep entertained and seem to require your attention 24/7, thus wearing me out. I had, and still have, a sore throat and was feeling a bit run down yesterday, so that did not help either. Still, there is an up side to this too. Elder Nephew likes tea. Better yet, he appreciates good tea already, despite not even being a teenager yet. Younger Nephew follows suit to join in more than because he really enjoys it.
Me: “EN, what would you like to drink?”
EN: “I’ll have one of your special teas.”
Please is no longer part of his vocabulary now that he is approaching his teens. Hmm. Well, a spot of tea would do to stop the pair of them bickering and ensure that peace reigns if only for a little while, so I dug this one out along with my Oolong pot. Note to self, I really need to get a Wuyi Oolong pot, because this will spoil the seasoning of my Anxi Oolong pot if I mix the two too often. Hmm, that’s just an excuse. I really just want another Yixing teapot because they are so cute and adorable.
Anyway, time to bring peace into the house for a wee while. I dug out the pot, the sample packet of this tea and the cha pan. We’re so rock and roll that we are going to do this one gong fu style. I threw the packet of tea into the pot and brewed away. Several cups of silent tea drinking later, I asked what they thought of it. YN was not too interested. EN commented that it was earthy. I could not get much more than that out of him though. He wanted to know if he was right. My answer that there was no right answer did not meet his approval.
So, this tea, it was earthy according to EN. I tasted a baked, malty, wheaty flavour that reminded me of Puffed Wheat breakfast cereal. There was an element of toasted rice in there, like a nice genmaicha. At one point I thought I caught a hint of lemon and honey at the back. The roasted flavour was lovely and made for a great drink to contemplate for itself. EN and YN sat quietly and drank their tea, but the interlude was all too brief. Then the chaos began again.
I left the leaves in the pot overnight and shall try them again later to see if there is anything left in them. I hope so, because this was a really good tea that I would happily drink whenever the mood takes me.
This is a superb LS. Many thank yous to Bonnie, who supplied me with my fix. It is greatly appreciated. All my previous tasting notes still stand. It is everything good about an autumnal camping trip, the smoky fire, the barbecue flavour. All that and more. But, better yet, in addition to drinking it today, I made some LS chocolates this week and have been scoffing those alongside the pot of LS. Yum! The LS works well with dark chocolate, producing a smoky flavour that two friends thought was like smoked Bavarian cheese. They came back for more, so success then. This LS wins on yet another count.
I’m not feeling particularly inspired today so I went for an old faithful rather than something that requires concentration and attention. This is still my go-to shu even after all this time and all these teas that I have been trying.
It brews dark reddish-brown, reflecting beautifully in the glass cha hai and gleaming with an internal light. There is something marvellous about seeing my yu ru pot steaming on the chapan with a full cha hai next to it. The earthy aroma wafts upwards from the tray and I sip the tea down. It is round-ound-ound and rich, a freshly ploughed field. There is no fishiness to the flavour or to the aroma. Lovely. A perfect accompaniment to my lunch (a bacon and stilton sandwich). The flavours seem to complement each other beautifully: sweet, salty, sour and earthy all together. And while I digest it, I read The Wanderer again (Anglo-Saxon poem not Dion or Quo!) and contemplate my need to include so many parenthetical statements in my tasting notes. I should be contemplating my lesson plan for tomorrow, but parenthetical statements just seem so much more interesting than what I am supposed to be doing.
Thank you to Bonnie for this sample. I have had it a while and have been saving it for when I felt I could properly appreciate it.
The ‘cigars’ of tea look fab and brew up with a vegetal, lemony aroma. The liquor is very pale, possibly slightly green, but clear and light. Sipping the tea, my first thought was that I was drinking a lemon torte. There is a definite lemony flavour to it alongside something vegetal that I am not certain about. It is light and refreshing and just what the doctor ordered this morning.
Sunday afternoon and feeling a bit frail. No, I did not have a skinful last night! I just have a bad back and a few other aches and pains. It’ll clear up soon enough, so no worries there. Anyway, I felt in need of a bit of colour, so I made a pot of Canton’s Dancing Dragon in my large glass pot. I love watching flowering teas unfurl and this one does not disappoint at all. The green leaves fold outward and allow a string of jasmine flowers topped by a red globe amaranth to pop up and wave gently in the warm currents of water. Now that’s the sort of gardening I like! Better yet, I don’t have to wait weeks or months for the crop to ripen. A few minutes later I am able to harvest my crop, and it was well worth the wait. It’s a delicate jasmine green tea. The jasmine is not overpowering and the green tea flavour shows through quite clearly. The whole is sweet, refreshing and lightly floral. Perfect for making me feel better. Better yet, the tea meets the approval of Mrs Roughage too. Sounds like a win-win situation to me.
The dry leaf smells grassy and is a light olive colour. It is almost flat and looks great. The wet leaf smells meaty but retains the light olive colour. It looks fantastic suspended in my glass teapot. The liquor is almost clear. For all the colour it has, it might be plain water! But then the tasting proves this tea. It has a silky smooth mouth feel. It is light and refreshing. The meatiness of the wet leaf does not come through in the taste until the third steeping. Instead it is really light, sweet and a bit floral. All in all, this is a lovely, refreshing cuppa that is perfect for days when you need a light pick-me-up.