1098 Tasting Notes
I am a relative newcomer to the world of Mao Jian, having tried only one other example of this tea. What I can conclude on the basis of an induction on two cases is that I do like Mao Jian! Teavivre’s variety, Xin Yang Mao Jian, has a distinctive dried leaf form, with long, thin, spindly leaves which look a bit like twisted ropes with some silk threads interspersed. Lots of shadows and light—and very attractive to behold!
I brewed about 4 grams in about 16 ounces of water for about three minutes. The resultant liquor is a somewhat darker shade of yellow with a hint of green. The flavor starts out seeming somewhat robust and vegetal but as it settles on the palate it becomes more smooth and soft. My packet contained some smaller particles which passed through the sieve, so it’s possible that the tea would be less robust if I filtered those out.
For now, based on this initial experience, I can say that I am happy with this tea—a fine lunchtime brew! I am looking forward to a second infusion of the spent leaves, which are redolent of further Mao Jian goodness to come…
I may have overleafed—or rather overbudded—my big Bodum of Harney & Sons Egyptian Chamomile tonight. Oh well, no harm done. The liquor was darker gold, but the flavor was still chamomile, chamomile, and more chamomile. Next time I’ll weigh out my serving, rather than eye-balling. I should have today, but I just kept popping buds while watching Billionaire Boys Club, which is basically Rope meets Hustle.
I reached for this Numi Decaf Simply Green tonight because I was suffering from a severe green tea deficit, but it was way too late for caffeine. It was fine. Not Numi’s best offering, but good enough, under the circumstances. This batch seemed more like Chun Mee than Gunpowder, but perhaps it is a blend of n’importe quoi?
On the decaf question, it occurred to me that perhaps I should start setting the first infusion aside to put in the refrigerator for iced tea, and then I could drink the second and third infusions at night. I definitely will not going out of my way to obtain any more decaffeinated green, because I can make my own using this method.
I did it my way. That’s right: I completely disregarded the meticulous instructions offered by Tea Setter on its sample packet of Jasmine Pearls Green Tea! I had even watched the charming YouTube video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ji55CQSLYTI) on how to “experience” (rather than just drink) tea, but I ended up deciding that for this brew I should use more or less the same amount and method which I’ve been using for Jasmine Pearls over the the past week or so.
Instead of using all 4 grams, I counted out half of them (13 pearls), and steeped them for about 2 minutes in a glassful of water. It tasted good, and the liquor was pale greenish yellow with a very slight tinge of peach. The second infusion was even better than the first, and now I am wishing that I had followed the prescribed procedure.
My hesitation to get hip with the gaiwan method is two-fold. First, I cannot really imagine brewing only 3 ounces of tea! What? That’s a single gulp! Guilty as charged: I am indeed a tea gulper. Second, how can I steep something for 10 seconds? What?
Well, I’m sure that I’ll come around at some point in the future, but for now I am sticking with the much-maligned “Western” method.
second infusion: still rather floral
third infusion: the leaves are now fully unfurled and to my surprise I see that they are mainly long stems rather than broader leaves. This round was not very flavorful—perhaps the stem to leaf ration had something to do with it… Or perhaps I should try the gaiwan method, since 10 seconds + 20 seconds + 30 seconds + 60 seconds adds up to my first infusion but four infusions using a gaiwan!
It is rare for me to leave the house without first having imbibed some form of green tea, but it happened today. I awoke rather late (it was nearly noon), and since I had eaten ice cream sandwiches (plural, that’s right…) last night, I wasn’t even hungry enough to eat lunch, so the need for the obligatory post-lunch green was obviated given my squelched appetite.
My first “brew” of the day ended up being a venti (unsweetened) iced Passion chez Starbucks. As usual, it was very good. I defy anyone to identify the alleged difference between this “new” iced tea, which they refer to as “Passion Tango” and credit to the Teavana company, and the iced Tazo Passion with which I have a long and steamy relationship. Well, not exactly, but I do tend to drink it on hot and humid days like today!
Memories light the corners of my mind …
Flower power continues tonight chez sherapop with Tazo Rest. I’m approaching the depletion of my supply of these filter bags and do not know whether it will be possible to restock, given that the company is apparently awaiting a death knell to be delivered by my favorite global beverage hegemon, but I’d consider replenishing for sure because the blend is truly unique among contending bedtime brews.
Sugary rose petals in a viscous golden liquor. I realize that may sound outlandish (if not repulsive), but I’m not imagining the viscosity, as I espied small particles of what look like very fine gelatin in the bottom of the glass!
I ended up drinking two servings tonight, so hopefully this will put me over the top for a long and deep sleep. I’m aiming for ten hours!!!!!
Make it happen, Tazo Rest!!!!!!!!
[stage instructions: to be articulated in my best Godfather voice]
I received a couple of sample sachets of Kusmi Linden (Tilleul) a while back, and since I’ve been imbibing a lot of flower juice of late (jasmine, rose, chamomile, lavender, etc.), I thought that I’d try this one. I love linden blossom in perfume, but did not really know what to expect from an infusion.
My initial impression upon opening up the hermetically sealed envelope to find a cotton-stitched muslin cloth (not silken) sachet was that it smelled rather like vinegar. It even reminded me a bit of pickles!
After more than five minutes of infusion (6? 7? 8?), the liquor was orangeish gold. The flavor, happily was not vinegarlike, but I’m at a loss as to how to describe the taste. Perhaps that is why Kusmi describes their Tilleul only as “subtle”.
I wouldn’t say that it was necessarily floral. My only lasting impression was that it seemed healthy, which is not to say that it tasted bad, but it definitely gave me the feeling of having consumed a functional tea. It does not really taste like anything familiar to me.
Hopefully I’ll sleep well tonight!
I was initially struck by the darker appearance and stronger scent of the dried leaves in Zen Tea’s Long Jing, relative to other Long Jings familiar to me. I also noticed quite a few smaller and broken leaves in the envelope. Then, upon brewing, though the liquor was very pale greenish yellow, the taste was more robust and vegetal than I have come to expect from this type of tea. That said, the brew is very tasty, so now I’m wondering whether I have been underleafing my Long Jing pots.
Today’s three-glass tetsubin was prepared using 5 grams of tea, so I’ll be sure to use that same amount when I brew other versions in the days to come… It’s nice to have a small scale so that I no longer have to eyeball dried tea servings!
For now, I am happy with this tea, just wondering about the darker vegetal facet, which seems more pronounced than the silken buttery side of this Long Jing.
second infusion: this seemed far more Long JIngy to me—with the characteristic pale greenish yellow liquor and smooth and silken mouthfeel—and now I am wondering whether this might be an example of a tea the first infusion of which the Chinese would toss? I rather liked the more robust first infusion, but it did seem like a different tea…
Tonight’s bedtime brew was Pukka Love. Lots of vibrant yellow chamomile is in full evidence in this ever-so-slightly sweet blend. (That would be the licorice root…)
I now consider Pukka Love to be the much less sweet second cousin of Tazo Rest, although from the other side, it could be compared to Harney & Sons Yellow & Blue or other chamomile and lavender blends. In the case of Pukka Love, the lavender is rather low-key, but still discernible. A nice change of pace from straight-up chamomile soliflores—there is lots of chamomile here as well!
In an endeavor to ascertain whether I was simply having a “bad Earl Grey day,” I decided to brew up a glass of Numi Decaf Earl Grey right after the Kusmi. This was not exactly a steep-off, since I brewed and drank the teas separately (in succession), rather than side-by-side, which is a requirement for a true steep-off chez sherapop.
Nonetheless, I did keep the controllable parameters as similar as possible, using 4 grams, the same glass, and boiling water, and steeping for about five minutes. The result was clear: Numi is the winner. The black tea base is much better, in my opinion, and the bergamot aging process used by Numi is obviously superior to the “spray on” application method (I assume) favored by Kusmi. My understanding is that the Numi caffeinated Earl Grey uses an Assam base. It is unclear whether this same base is used (after being CO2 decaffeinated) in the Decaffeinated Earl Grey, but I suspect that it is, as the flavor is rich and deep like a good Assam. The dark amber liquor becomes an enticing caramel color with the addition of light cream and tastes very good.
Despite being brewed from filter bags (I used two so that the total amount of tea would be the same, 4 grams), the Numi proved to be significantly better than the brewed loose-leaf Kusmi Decaffeinated Earl Grey. In fact, this Numi decaf tastes better than many caffeinated Earl Greys and easily beats the grocery store competition!