287 Tasting Notes

Can’t believe I’ve not reviewed this tea before. I’m drinking it grandpa style at the moment due to lack of tea-making facilities in my new place of work. It’s strong, smoky, peaty and with a hefty kick. It’s like the Laphraoig of teas. Definitely one for the whisky drinkers.

Flavors: Peat, Smoke, Whiskey

Rasseru

haha Laphraoig. Tbh I dont know much about whisky, but I like that one.

Roughage

It’s a decent whisky is Laphraoig. Even if you think you don’t know much about whisky, you are doing well there. Definite resemblance between it and the FT4.

JC

For non Whisky drinkers, I’d say gargle a couple of charcoal pieces for full effect. :P

Roughage

Pah, JC, that’s hardly the right effect! You need to mix the charcoal with TCP first! :D

Rasseru

I was gonna say TCP haha

Roughage

Great minds think alike, eh, Rasseru, or is it fools never differ? :D

Rasseru

or wise Chinese man say: good whisky taste like cheap medicine

Roughage

But only to those with an undeveloped palate! :P I do like my whiskies to have very high polyphenol levels though. And the best bit is that they are apparently good for you because they rapidly increase antioxidant levels in the blood and eliminate free radicals, although at a slight cost of reduced processing of the alcohol, potentially resulting in longer hangovers. Thus, taken in moderation well-aged malt whiskies are good for you. The research apparently shows that cheap, non-aged whiskies have the reverse effect, so you now have a good reason for buying only expensive whisky. :)

Rasseru

I’m a gin man. Been through quite a few award winners from the last ten years or so :)

Roughage

Sounds good. I was brought up drinking malt whisky, especially the Islay malts, so I am well used to that TCP taste. Wish I could afford the really good ones. :)

Tea and Cheese Lover

I love Islays. When I was 13 I had an unfortunate incident involving a surprise mixture of Old Granddad and Tabasco with my friends blocking this sink. It took until my mid 20’s but a glass of Lagavulin was love at first sip, and an instant recovery from my childhood trauma. I can hack other whiskys these days, but the single malts are the only ones that I can really get in to. Good to hear that they’re healthy for me too!

Roughage

Heh, yes, Lagavulin is a favourite of mine, as is Caol Ila. I just can’t stomach cheap whiskies at all, although Famous Grouse is acceptable. It’s the high content of Highland Park in it that makes it drinkable. The health news about whiskies is particularly heartening, and the fact that Islay malts are the highest in polyphenols also makes them the healthiest. Win, win, if you ask me. :)

Tea and Cheese Lover

Bowmore is my favorite, and a value. Always seems to be the quality of something 50% higher in price. The Legend was in the high $20 (US) range, and was more than passable, Their 18 yr is amazing and under $100 last time I checked. Bowmore Darkest (before they changed it to “Darkest 15”) was the best value I’ve ever found. It tasted like dark chocolate smores slow roasted above burning peat bog! But they stopped making it a few years back. Not Islay, but I’ve always found Glenmorangie to be a great value, too.
As for cheap Whiskies, I can only stomach Old Crow, but that’s a story for another day… involving music festivals and associated debauchery!

JC

Ha! I’m glad I didn’t miss this. I love Lagavulin 16, I love the sweet notes and savory notes under the smoke and that slight medicinal wood that lingers. Try Springbank 12 6in bourbon and 6in peated cask. and Longrow the red.

Roughage

I’m not familiar with Longrow, JC. One for me to look out for. The Sprinbank is a decent whisky but not one I have had often.

Tea and Cheese Lover: Bowmore, yes. Love it. Glenmorangie is what I used to drink as a student when I could not afford anything better. It’s not a favourite of mine, but it is certainly better than Glenfiddich which is what those that do not know my tastes often buy me, probably because it is cheap.

Rasseru

ha. All this talk about whisky – btw this is the best g&t gin I have ever tried (with fevertree tonic) http://www.thedrinksreport.com/media/news/2014/15449-540×335.jpg

other gins have different flavours but this one has energy, perfect for g&t

Rasseru

and I have tasted about 30 of them for my bar

Roughage

Well, at least I know whom to ask if I need gin advice then, although I wonder how much you remember after trying 30 gins (not all in a row, I hope!). :)

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What better tea could you want to go with the grand finale of The Princess Bride? Well, I don’t know but this is pretty darn good for it. It’s a thick dark soup with a strong woody smell. The liquor tastes woody and leathery with a hint of camphor and old books. The aftertaste is sweet and peppery on the edges of my tongue, although it also made my tongue go slightly numb along with my legs. “Hello, tea drunk.” This was a good choice for this evening’s tea and movies session and I look forward to finishing it off tomorrow.

Thank you TwoDog for this sample.

Flavors: Camphor, Leather, Pepper, Wet Wood

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 8 g 4 OZ / 120 ML
__Morgana__

Cool. I would love to drink old books!

Roughage

If only it were that easy to acquire the knowledge contained in them! :)

tea123

Did you think this had a raw beetroot taste? I did :)

Roughage

No, I never noticed any beetroot taste at all. I abhor beetroot and would have noticed something as disgusting as The Devil’s Vegetable (as it is know by me in our house). I got no vegetal notes at all. It was all antiquey things like wet wood and old books.

Kirkoneill1988

ahh tea drunk…. the calm relaxed feeling ;)

Roughage

Yes. It always seems to take my legs first so I cannot go anywhere. :)

Kirkoneill1988

that never happened to me

mrmopar

You guys have to explain beetroot to me. Is it like beets we grow over here?

Roughage

Yes, beets. The devil’s own food. Just thinking about it makes me gag. Well, maybe not but it’s the only food in the world that I have found I really dislike.

mrmopar

Thanks you two. I have had pickled beets but no other way.

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No real change from my last tasting note. This tea is the second one for the movies and tea session. Like iocane powder, I have spent years developing an immunity to it, but the taste could come as a shock to any but the Dread Pirate Roughage.

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This is the first tea that I sampled as part of this evening’s tea and movies session. I chose it because it promised to match the early part of the film in texture and mood. I was right. Oddly enough, this is one of the very few teas where the description matches my experience of it. The cha qi is gentle. The leaves are large and mainly whole. The aroma and taste is of a heavily pollen-laden garden on a warm summer evening, floral and slightly grassy. The aftertaste brings with it a light cooling sensation and a slight salivation. I’m half a dozen steeps in and it is still going strong. I only had a sample to try but I shall certainly add it to my wish list now. It’s really good to drink even now. No idea how it will age though.

Flavors: Floral, Grass

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 9 g 4 OZ / 130 ML
tea123

One is knocking them out this evening.

Roughage

Indeed, and currently drinking a 1990s Hong Kong style sheng puerh for the grand finale of the Princess Bride. :)

tea123

I look forward to that review in particular.

Kirkoneill1988

i shall try this

Roughage

I think it’s worth it. I’ve noticed that the YS 2014 teas that I have tried seem to carry this heady, warm pollen feel to them.

Kirkoneill1988

pollen feel? i dont really understand this feeling too well :/

Roughage

Hmm, it’s the feeling of walking in a garden on a warm evening with lots of heavily scented flowers around, where you can practically taste the aroma of the flowers. Does that make sense? At its core it’s a heavy, thick floral taste but I associate it with tropical gardens that I have been in.

Kirkoneill1988

hmm, i’ve never been in a tropical garden before but i understand you now

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This tea has been sitting in storage for a while now awaiting the day when I was in the right mood to try it. I had no idea what to expect from the snow chrysanthemums either, so it was a leap into the dark.

The brick is highly compressed. The dry leaf has an earthy, cedar wood aroma. It looks great with the orange of the chrysanthemum flowers in it. Most attractive. The wet leaf is primarily earthy and the liquor brews up thick and dark. My first cup was more wtf than anything else. I got an immediate hit of Dr Pepper and tea tree oil with a cooling minty aftertaste. I steeled myself for the second cup and was glad I did. The flavour had moderated itself a bit. There’s still vanilla and tea tree there, but the underlying earthiness of the puerh is more present with a pleasing cedar flavour and chilli pepper notes. I think this tea may be an acquired taste or one for when the mood hits, but five cups in and I am quite pleased with it. Once you get that initial vanilla and tea tree hit out of the way, there is quite a bit of depth to the tea and plenty to enjoy. It’s still a bit ‘interesting’ though.

Flavors: Cedar, Spicy, Vanilla

Preparation
13 g 6 OZ / 175 ML
Jim Marks

Wouldn’t be surprised if this tea doesn’t settle down in another 5 years or so and become something a lot less all over the place. Some leaf just needs time and nothing else will fix it.

Roughage

You could be right, Jim. The underlying shu seems solid, so I think the rest of it is a result of the addition of chrysanthemums. Perhaps they need more time to blend with the shu.

Now that I know what to expect, I think I can give the tea a fairer hearing next time.

Kirkoneill1988

i shall try the 2013 version someday

ashmanra

Any recommendations on a good source for learning more about puerh? Production areas, major producers, etc. I like both shu and sheng, one of my favorites was Mengku Palace Ripened Golden Buds Puerh and I have a moonlight five year old that I love.

Jim Marks

Check out Tea DB. Those guys are serious about the pu-erh.

tea123

Teadb.org and don’t forget to subscribe :)

Roughage

Sorry about the slow reply, ashmanra. I agree about TeaDB. I’ve also learnt a lot by following The Half Dipper blog (http://half-dipper.blogspot.co.uk/) and MarshalN’s blog (http://www.marshaln.com/) plus dipping into blogs and sites they link to.

Kirkoneill1988

@roughage ive tried chrysanthemum before. but what does the snow variety taste like? i hear they sell the snow version on its own.

Roughage

I’m not sure what the chrysanthemum on its own tastes like, but I suspect that the strong medicinal vanilla flavour was a product of the chrysanth because after a few steeps the tea tasted more like a typical shu.

Kirkoneill1988

hmm maybe it was the flowers :)

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Another first for me. I picked a bing of this up back when there was a discount on Mengku product and I am quite pleased that I did. The dry leaf has a strong honey and tobacco aroma. The liquor is strong even with a short steep and has a bitter edge to it that is not unpleasant, with an underlying caramel flavour. It has certainly woken me up now and that is no bad thing.

Flavors: Bitter, Caramel, Honey, Tobacco

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 9 g 4 OZ / 130 ML
Roughage

I continues with this one today and it has not been anywhere near as powerful. I only really got about ten steeps out of it before it was sweet brown water, so strong starter, but definitely a sprinter and not a distance runner.

TeaExplorer

Good to know … thanks!

Roughage

Happy to help. I drink the cheap puerh so you don’t have to! :)

JC

There are some sprinters that deliver, I find that for work they are the best option since you may not have the luxury of all 11+ steeps :P. I brought some 2014 Qing Mei Shan with me, that’s been the highlight of my day. Beautifully foggy and rainy day here at DC.

Roughage

Fog and rain? My favourite! :)

I agree. I think this tea would work as it currently is for times when you don’t have the luxury of gong fu style brewing (or faux gong fu in my case). I’m going to try it brewed western style, and try to keep enough to sample it over a few years. Good job I adhere to the dictum that a tong is an order and a beeng is a sample. :)

JC

Foggy days are awesome, specially when you can sit down and enjoy great tea.

Roughage

I like snow days, but foggy days and rainy days can be pretty good too. All you need is a roaring fire, a good armchair, your tea and a good book. Indeed, were any random Mongol general to ask me “What is best in life?” I would cite these things and add the company of my cats to the list.

JC

I love snow, but here at DC we only get slush and ice lol. Fog to me adds that almost mysterious ambiance that makes me zone out while I drink tea. I usually edit pictures during this time.

Roughage

Ah. We rarely get snow at all here. I tend to get my snow fix from Norwegian webcams.

Fog certainly has plenty of ambience. I usually associate it with images of Viking longships appearing as if from nowhere to raid and pillage. But maybe that’s just me!

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Yay! I’m first!! And I’m really enjoying it. :)

The dry leaf has a warm horse and mild tobacco aroma. The bing is loosely packed with a mix of olive green leaves and silvery, fuzzy tips. It produces a dark amber liquor with no great depth yet, but with a pleasant astringency, and lightly honeyed finish. There is a hint of camphor in there and something vegetal. The aftertaste is sweet and spicy. Where this tea really scores is in the fact that I cannot feel my legs now and my arms are a bit floppy too. After two steeps I could feel the tea drunk coming on, and at four I am almost ready to start telling everyone how they are my best mates. The force is strong in this tea.

Flavors: Astringent, Camphor, Honey, Spicy, Tobacco

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 9 g 4 OZ / 130 ML

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Drinking this tonight. I’ve brewed it western style and note the differences in my experience of it from last time I reviewed it. The dry leaf has a warm horse aroma still, but with mild tobacco notes. When brewed up I get a heady thick floral aroma, like a heavily perfumed old lady at the theatre, or a walk in a tropical garden on a warm evening. It is strong and laden with pollen. The brew is sweet with no astringency and coats the tongue thickly. There’s that word again: thick. I’m getting a lot of honeyed sweetness now, and no vegetal notes at all. It’s very pleasant, although I don’t think I could stomach a lot of this level of sweetness and tropical flowers for too long. All in all, I reckon it is developing well in my carefully curated storage, or is that despite my storage technique? (top of the bookshelf in a cardboard box)

Flavors: Floral

tea123

This made me laugh.

Roughage

It does not do to take oneself or one’s tea drinking too seriously! :)

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I’ve been meaning to try this for a while now and finally got around to opening the box I had forgotten was at the back of the cupboard. Thank goodness I occasionally curate and catalogue my tea stash. So, how was it?

Salty. Very salty. Oh so salty. It’s more like drinking a salty chicken broth than a tea. Next time I shall try adding some sugar to it to see if that kills some of the saltiness. It’s actually not bad, but the amount of salt came as a shock to my system. I suspect that I could quickly become acclimatised to the salt levels if I drank this more often. It would be great to take hiking, because it really woke me up, and was quite filling and energising. I’m going to try adding sugar when I make the next packet to see if that will ameliorate the overwhelming saltiness a little. Despite the saltiness, I enjoyed it and I am looking forward to experimenting with how best to make it to suit me.

My next task will be to get some Yak butter from somewhere (or just use cow’s butter), so that I can make Po Cha fresh for comparison’s sake. I have the Tibetan Flame tea that I am informed is a staple of Tibetans everywhere, so I am quite well prepared. I think it will prove instructive to try it fresh, and having some control over the constituent components can only be a good thing.

Flavors: Chicken Soup, Salt, Salty

Marzipan

I think it’s their version of a sports/electrolyte drink.

Roughage

That’s my impression from reading about Po Cha: a Tibetan energy drink.

MzPriss

I just can’t…..

Roughage

Oh, but you should, Mz Priss … :)

I just reread my tasting note, and I think I must have been hit by whatever energy was in the tea. My writing seems a bit frantic and hyper!

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Finally on to the last of the Spring tea samples from Teavivre. Thank you for these most excellent teas and my apologies for taking so long to write them all up.

Dry this tea has a spinach aroma, and the long thin needles look great. The wet leaf is a mix of honey and vegetal notes. It brews to a golden liquor that is silky smooth and very clean. The liquor is sweet with umami and more vegetal notes. There is a tiny hint of astringency that is expressed more in the aftertaste than in the initial tasting and the aftertaste is cooling on the tongue. Just the job for a Sunday afternoon as I deal with the effects of a little too much red wine the night before.

Flavors: Honey, Spinach, Umami, Vegetal

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 250 ML

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Bio

I am a qualified peripatetic berserkerologist peddling berserkjaknowledge at UCC in Cork.

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

Cobh, Ireland

Website

http://ruarighdale.wordpress....

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