1297 Tasting Notes
This might be a case of slightly dashed expectations, but I am not very impressed with Teavana’s Monkey Picked Oolong. I was probably expecting manna from heaven at this price ($25 for 2 ounces), but I find this to be a somewhat middling representative of the oolong class. This is supposed to be the best of the best, but it comes nowhere near the Wenshan Baozhong from Harney & Sons—or even the Milk Oolong from grocery store brand Republic of Tea!
This tea is certainly drinkable and even enjoyable, but it lacks the luscious creaminess of those two oolongs. It seems that I prefer my oolongs on the creamy side, and Monkey Picked Oolong is certainly not that. It seems to be more highly oxidized but also less flavorful to me. Probably a question of taste. Or is it perhaps the age of this particular batch? How often is the frequently opened and fanned vat of Monkey Picked Oolong replaced? I wonder.
second infusion: already waning and seems more like a resteep of a China green than an oolong. Will not resteep.
Today was my second experience of Hou Kui, thanks to our friends at Teavivre. This Premium Tai Ping Hou Kui leaves a lasting impression—both for its appearance and for its taste!
The dried leaves are truly spectacular to behold. They also take up a huge amount of space and weigh very little, being extremely thin. They are large in size but smashed to paper thin. Actually, they might be even thinner than paper! And the color is bright green veering chartreuse!
The taste strikes me as somewhere between Long Jing and Mao Feng, with a chestnutty facet but also a hint of vegetal flavor. It’s closer to Long Jing than Mao Feng, but Hou Kui does not taste exactly like Long Jing. Now that I’ve depleted my samples, I am adding this unique tea to my wish list!
Today’s batch of Norbu Margaret’s Hope Autumn Flush Darjeeling was not quite as good as the last one, but I blame the infuser. I used a glass contraption which allowed some of the smaller leaves to slip through, so they sat there in the bottom of the pot (and glass), adding just a touch of bitterness.
Darjeeling is so sensitive to brewing parameters, in my experience. I wonder whether the darjeeling detractors are aware of this? One little mistake can turn an excellent tea into a borderline unpleasant experience!
To be honest, I have never really thought of darjeeling as black tea. It’s too temperamental and cannot really be consumed with cream. My Platonic Form of black tea remains Assam, but I am beginning to explore the China black teas, having learned that “China black” is not a dirty word, though the rampant use of inferior China blacks as the base for flavored teas has led countless people to believe that—myself included, until only recently.
Back to this darjeeling. I need to take a picture of the dried leaves (purchased from Norbu). This tea is so beautiful, with spindly leaves of all different shades.
What a relief—according to Tea Setter “High” doesn’t necessarily mean “Better”. I was worried there for a minute, because this Iron Goddess High Grade Oolong, while delicious, did not strike me as appreciably better than the "Medium"grade. I’m working from memory, of course, as I depleted my sample the other day. Probably I should order some larger amounts of both, because I like them a lot.
Now I think that I am beginning to understand my former aversion to oolong. I must have only tried very low grade (in the sense of base, probably swept off the floor after everything good was picked off the table) TGY. I really had a prejudice against this tea because I thought that it was the same stuff that is found in oolong filter bags, which induce headaches and even malaise in me!
I now know more about oolong than I did only a few weeks ago, and one possible explanation is that the substances which are in higher concentration in oolong than in green or black teas are much higher in the powdered form? I don’t know. It’s still kind of mysterious. Maybe some sort of solvent is used to remove the dust from the floor before dehydrating and producing oolong filter bags? All I know for sure is that I have had no adverse effects whatsoever from any of the loose leaf oolongs I’ve now tried…
Pale yellow liquor. Floral scent and flavor. Smooth texture worthy of savoring rather than gulping down.
Palais des Thé Vive le Thé! is another case where I find myself puzzled by the needless adulteration of a pretty decent green base tea. It’s smooth and silken, with a flavor slightly vegetal, but also somewhat buttery. The ginger and citrus just seem like distractions to me.
This tea should not be covered up. It’s a bit like putting ketchup on filet mignon. Or perhaps I should choose another metaphor, since I no longer eat mammals. How about Wild Alaskan salmon with barbecue sauce on top?
second infusion: I decided to try another round and found it to be more likeable than the first—because the added flavors were lighter!
I cold brewed a batch of this tea as a part of my concerted effort to remove most filter bags from my house before summer’s end. No surprise that it tastes a lot like an unsweetened iced green chez Starbucks, since this is that blend.
It’s refreshing enough, but I have never found Zen to be especially “Zen”. Wouldn’t that name be more appropriate for a Japanese single-original first-flush sencha.? It could be called Zencha!
I began my (tea)day yesterday with this oolong from Harney & Sons, having ordered a selection of samples in order to find out whether or not I like this genre, after years of laboring under the (now known to be false) belief that I have an “oolong issue”.
In the Harney & Sons Guide to Tea, author Michael Harney ranks this tea at the near green end of the oolong spectrum, so I figured that it would work as my obligatory green of the early afternoon—and it did. In truth, however, the flavor of the pale gold veering green liquor is very creamy and floral and not at all vegetal. I brewed 4 grams for 2 glasses at 79C for about two minutes, and the leaves had barely begun to untwist.
They do look (as the company states) like pieces of twisted rope—not at all like gnarled nuggets, although the dark green color is similar to some of the gnarled nugget oolongs I’ve seen. Whenever I see that leaves have hardly begun the realization of their full potential, I know that further quality infusions lie on the horizon…
second infusion: just as good as the first. Rich, creamy, still floral.
third infusion: still very tasty and smooth, somewhat less creamy and floral, but just as good as some first infusion oolongs. I rarely do a fourth infusion, because often they taste too close to water to me, but this third infusion was so good…
fourth infusion: the liquor is now bright yellow—similar to many second infusions of China green teas. The flavor is weaker but still enjoyable
Flavors: Creamy, Floral
I brewed up a large Bodum of this chamomile-lemon myrtle blend from Numi with every intention of drinking one glass and refrigerating the rest for iced tea tomorrow afternoon. Whoops. A movie later (I watched Hannah Arendt), the Bodum was drained, and now I have wild and crazy dreams to look forward to, given my previous experience with lemon myrtle at bedtime…