240 Tasting Notes
Once more I return to the LS. It is familiar and comfortable like my old Norwegian woolly jumper. The campfire and pine elements seem just perfect for celebrating the Norwegian national day (17th May, in case you come to this note late. : ) ). It is the bicentenary of the signing of the Norwegian constitution and you can find out a little more on my blog if you wish (http://ruarighdale.wordpress.com/). It also provides links for further exploration. I recommend having a nice cup of suitably Scandinavian tasting tea while you read. ;)
I was sent a sample of this tea by a fellow Steepsterite and it has sustained me through today. It’s a sheng, and it smells like a sheng: hay and horses to my nose. The liquor is a yellowish amber and smells sweet, but not strong. It tastes sweet too with a smokiness that I liked, but the promised cha qi did not appear. Never mind. I’m convinced that cha qi is more about your relationship with the tea than it is about inherent qualities of that tea. Even without that, I enjoyed this tea and it has sustained itself well through the day. I am still getting a smoky sweet liquor after about a dozen cups although I am now up to a 1 minute steep. Still that’s pretty good. I’m off for another cup now and then a large glass of port before bed. :)
I started drinking this yesterday and it is still doing well. As I noted on the pu drinking thread in the discussions area, my first thought upon drinking the first cup was “Crikey, that’s smooth!” So, time to write it up properly before getting back to my revision. Only two days to go! Eek!! I’m not panicking much. Honest. Actually I am calmer that I might be but I put that down to the tea.
The beeng is loose. Not so much as to just fall apart but a far cry from the iron hard beengs and bricks I seem to get so often. This makes it easier to pick apart and means that the leaves remain whole, which is no bad thing. It smells of horses and hay, a sweet aroma that carries good memories.
The liquor is a yellowish amber in colour. It smells of hay and honey. Sniffing the empty cup, I am struck by how much it smells of honey and fresh flowers. I think it might be a magnolia aroma, but I cannot quite put my finger on it precisely.
The first sip, as noted above, was incredibly smooth. It was sweet with a creamy mouthfeel. There’s a walnut nuttiness to it and the astringency only starts to make itself felt as the liquor cools. The aftertaste is sweet, sparkles and lasts for ages.
After the first cup, the tea starts to make itself felt in my whole body, especially in my legs. I can feel it forcing me to relax and I almost immediately feel slightly tea drunk. This tea seems to have a fairly strong cha qi. It calms my mind and I almost feel like I am entering a meditative state while becoming more focused. It is quite remarkable and certainly helps with the work I am doing.
The tea seems to tail off after a dozen steepings, but I probably need to increase the duration of the next one to see where that goes. I also found that it did not respond as well with steeping at 90 degrees C, whereas 85 degrees C works beautifully. I’m off to do that now, then it’s back to work for me.
Flavors: Flowers, Honey, Nuts
I have spent the past few days drinking this tea and I have enjoyed it. The dry leaf is musky with camphor notes, while the liquor is mellow and dark with hints of cedar and allspice. It is a warming tea and one to keep you going on a cold winter’s night (or through the endless travails of revision, as I am doing at the moment).
Making myself take time out from my revision schedule to spend quality time with my beloved, I decided it would also be a good opportunity to sample this tea, which a good friend sent me. The leaves are thick, fuzzy and curly, ranging from almost white, through green to a brownish olive green colour. The dry leaf has a sweet earthy aroma with caramel overtones. It already does not feel like a normal white tea.
I brewed the tea in a gaiwan because my teapot had not been washed from my Lapsang binge this afternoon and I am rather glad I did. The experience was much enhanced by this. The steeped liquor is amber in colour with a strong floral aroma and a definite citrus edge to it. It tastes silky sweet and floral, with a hint of caramel and that citrus edge comes through to cut the other flavours and produce a very different experience for a white tea. The aftertaste is phenomenal. It is sweet and citrussy but goes on forever. The sweetness leaves after a while but the taste of fresh, sweet tangerines remains even almost an hour after finishing the cup. Better yet, this is a whole body tea infused with a sense of well-being and relaxation. As I drank the tea I could feel this week’s crap melting away. I really needed something like this and am so glad I picked the right tea.
This is a truly superb tea that deserves a quiet contemplative moment if you are to enjoy it to the full. Don’t worry if you don’t have the time because the tea will grab you and massage you into submission. This is no shrinking violet. It is a firm yet compassionate nanny that will take proper care of you. It is not cloying like some white teas can be and it has so much more depth than many teas. It rewards care and the attention you pay to it. I so need more of this.
Flavors: Caramel, Orange Zest
I had a 50g carton of Awesome Assam at the beginning of this week and have just finished it off. It was an impulse purchase while we were in the Mountain Cafe in Aviemore, driving home from Durness on the north-west coast of Scotland. Anyway, the tea was being sold at about 20% discount on a display next to the tills where I went to pay for our food. Big mistake. How could they possibly put a display with big signs informing me of discounts next to somewhere that I would have my wallet out? It’s not right, I tell you. They should make a law against it or something. At least I did not need to feel too guilty though, because Beloved wanted to buy cakes that were near there too, and they were not discounted! The food in the cafe was great, by the way. I recommend it, and I am not just saying that because it was the end of the day and the manager gave me free bread and scones to take home that would otherwise have been thrown out. They were good too. So, anyway, in my best rambling Abe Simpson manner I should try getting to the point. Yes, now where was I?
Oh yes, this tea. Umm, I finished the carton in a week. That pretty much tells you all you need to know. It’s malty and well-balanced, although I only got two good steeps out of each pot. I did not notice any great depth to the flavour but as a daily brew it really worked, which is good because I have plenty of teas with great depth that require real focus to truly appreciate them, and not enough that I can just quickly make and enjoy. That does not mean that I do not enjoy the other teas when I don’t have time to sit down and focus on them. I do enjoy them but I always feel like I am missing out on something by not exploring the tea in detail. Ah well, I had better add this Assam to my shopping list now.
I’ve spent most of this week enjoying the last of the sample I was sent. It has been a real pleasure to drink this tea, even though my life seems to be too busy and my mind racing too much to sit down and think hard about what I am drinking. The mellow character of the tea has forced a certain amount of calm. Nice.