1374 Tasting Notes
I got off to a late tea start today, but finally had a chance to brew up a nice two-glass tetsubin of this Organic Nonpareil Ming Qian Long Jing from Teavivre.
I may have underleafed this pot and also understeeped (having used rather cool water, at 70C). The flavor was very subtle and light, slightly sweet and less chewy, so to speak, than some of the other Long Jings from Teavivre.
For the second infusion, I added half the water, and observed the beautiful little peapod-like leaves suspended while infused. The color is of the mini-peapods is vibrant light green, but the liquor still rather pale. However, the flavor of the (less dilute) second batch was better than the first round.
I may prefer more robust Long Jings, but this one is good without a doubt and is probably favored in China precisely for its subtlety.
I now have a small tin (about 1 ounce) of Mighty Leaf Chamomile Citrus, and I’ve been curious whether I would like it better prepared loose-leaf than from a sachet.
In truth, though I brewed this batch strong, it still reminds me a lot of Tazo Calm in the full-leaf sachets. The combination is very similar, but I noticed today that the liquor is golden, not hibiscus-tinged, as in the case of Calm. Or is it the rose hips which makes infusions red? Either way, both of those ingredients are present in the Mighty Leaf and the Tazo, along with lemongrass, spearmint, and chamomile. No wonder they taste and smell the same!
The reason why I have been avoiding this blend late at night is because I’ve been noticing more and more that I think of lemon grass and hibiscus and rose hips as “pick me up” herbs, so probably not conducive to sleep. There is chamomile in this blend, but it is pretty much overwhelmed by all of the more powerful flavors. When I really want to get some sleep, I’m better off with a chamomile soliflore or chamomile-lavender blend, or basically anything totally devoid of citrus and citrus-like elements.
I might try this blend cold brewed for something new next time.
I’ve been looking forward to trying these loose-leaf herbal blends from Mighty Leaf ever since I received my sampler box. Let’s see when was that? My tea life has become a blur of box deliveries… Anyway, the reason why it has taken a while is that late at night when I seriously entertain herbalia, I am deterred by the possibly stimulating effect of the pink peppercorn in this blend.
The night is young, however, only 9 pm, so I still have half my day to go! I brewed this colorful mélange rather strong, because I wanted to give it a fighting chance. To be honest, I’m not the number-one fan of rooibos blends, to put it mildly. I do love chai, and I have tried some herbal chais before, including a couple of rooibos chais. But I was not all that optimistic in this case, given past experience.
I am happy to be able to report that my low expectations have been exceeded. I credit the ample provision of coconut and ginger in the blend to its relative degree of success. The coconut imparts a rich feeling, what is so often lacking from herbal chais. With a mediocre black-tea blend, there’s always cream to save the day. But I cannot really fathom adding cream to a rooibos blend. Shredded (unsweetened) coconut does the trick here. And the blend is spicy, with a big hit of ginger, along with the pink peppercorn (which from what I understand is not really pepper—a similar case to wild rice, which is not really rice, but that’s another story…). Happily the cinnamon and cardamom are balanced and do not overwhelm, as so often happens in these sorts of infusions.
All in all, I am pleasantly surprised. I do recommend brewing this blend very strong so as to avoid the dreaded “Vitamin Water” effect.
Flavors: Coconut, Ginger
To my delight, I found another unopened sample packet of Teavivre Liu An Gua Plan. I’ve been doing some homework (ahem…) what with the impending 3rd Anniversary sale.
Congrats to Teavivre! May you continue to flourish in the years to come!
Now that I’ve read everyone else’s reviews and seen the pictures, I am wondering whether my Liu An Gua Plan is from the same harvest. I say this because the leaves are of all different shapes and sizes, but mostly larger and dark shale green and shaped like twisted logs. Very different from some of the other descriptions!
This description does match my previous account, though, so one possibility is that my sample packets were simply drawn from a different lot, perhaps from a different grower.
The flavor is hearty but not very green—not like spinach but more like a cross between artichoke hearts and cooked green beans—with a food-like, satisfying quality. The texture is very smooth and reminds me of Long Jing. The liquor starts out pale greenish yellow and then become pale greenish gold with tiny white filaments floating about.
I like this tea a lot and will definitely consider restocking in the weeks to come…
My first Teavivre Lu Shan Yun Wu experience ran into trouble as I had not properly prepared my new tetsubin, so while I was drinking the first glass, the second was turning charcoal-colored in the pot.
Today I brewed up a two-glass tetsubin and was very happy with the result. The dried leaves remind me of tiny corkscrews, such as a tiny doll would use to open up a bottle of wine. The scent seems more vegetal than I recall. Of course today is incredibly hot, so this no doubt amps up the volatile aromas.
The liquor is pale greenish-yellow—always a good sign—and the flavor reminded me (already downed the glasses…) of snapped green beans meet chestnuts. This ended up being a completely different encounter with this tea. Fortunately I have enough left to try Lu Shan Yun Wu again in less extreme weather conditions before deciding whether to restock, but so far it’s looking good!
Now here’s a darjeeling which I would easily identify as a darjeeling in a blind line-up! This second flush tea from Okayti (by way of Golden Tips) looks, smells, and brews up just like the darjeelings familiar to me. The leaves are of variegated shapes and colors, but on the whole they are veering dark matte chocolate brown and look like a lighter black tea.
The liquor is amber, pure and simple. A perfect example of the color of amber. Not red, not orange, not green, but amber. The taste is slightly astringent and grassy but with real depth and complexity as well.
I drank the first half of this batch while eating fresh raspberries sprinkled with sugar then frozen before drizzling half & half on top. This skewed my tasting a bit, since the berries were very tart and my tongue had to readjust to process the flavor of the tea.
By the second glass (when the raspberries were all gone), I recognized the smooth yumminess of this darjeeling. It may be that, at heart, I’m a second-flush kind of gal. Only time will tell, but by the end of this year I should know for sure!
Before I review this tea, permit me a caveat to everybody on the Golden Tips subscription plan (which I love, so that’s not the warning!): Golden Tips has something like five different company profiles at Steepster. I was unable to locate this tea until I did a Google search, which brought up this page. I was doing a Google search because I was unable to locate the page using the search function at Steepster (and I tried several different terms…), so I was preparing to download a photo and tea info, etc. This must be how so many duplicate pages for teas came to be at Steepster.
Now for my first Golden Tips tea experience: Darjeeling Okayti Splendour First Flush, this one picked on March 28, 2014, and identified as Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe 1 Splendour. But is it a black tea? That is the question before us.
To be honest, this has got to be the greenest darjeeling I’ve ever seen. Granted, most of the darjeeling which I’ve imbibed has been from blends, so not first flush, and not single estate. The dried tea in this first flush, single estate darjeeling from Okayti contains mainly green leaves. I am not imagining this: most of the leaves are various shades of green. There are also some silver tips and a few black leaves scattered about, but judging from appearance alone, I would call this a green, not a black tea—and that’s coming from someone who has consumed large volumes of both.
The liquor brews up greenish gold and becomes more gold and less green after a couple of minutes, but the flavor is very light and—here’s another surprise—it reminds me somewhat of green oolong!
I’m not really sure what to make of all this. The cup was quite tasty, but barely intersected with my concept of darjeeling—almost like a second cousin! Now I am all the more excited to sip my way through my first subscription plan box, hopefully before the next one arrives—which is right around the corner, since this one shipped on July 4th, and today is already the 22nd!
Since my generous sample packet still contains another 7 grams, I’ll withhold attaching a number to this tea until I’ve tried a few more of these darjeelings to give me some perspective on this unique experience.
Another satisfying tetsubin of haute sencha, this one the Superior Uji brought to my doorstep by Zen Tea.
This tea was the perfect accompaniment to today’s first meal of the day (3 pm—I got up at noon…): roasted escarole and endive with scallions frittatta made with provolone cheese, fresh organic half & half, and eggs produced by nonoppressed chickens.
I wonder whether eggs are good or evil at this point in time? The received medical wisdom appears to oscillate back and forth. Not that it matters: I’ll eat them no matter what anybody says!
Let there be eggs. And sencha, of course.