903 Tasting Notes
Tea of the afternoon…..
We are preparing for a Girl Scout night…..we are watching both of the Harry Potter 7 movies tonight and then going out for a late night breakfast. Lots of cleaning to do since I am hosting. So, I chose this one in the loose version to see if it was as good as the sachet they sent as a sample, as it has the ability to really perk me up. I am not disappointed. The bergamot notes are so bright in this. It almost leans citrusy orange than citrusy, well musty, like some Earl Greys. I love this! It has a Keemun base. I compared this by sight to my Earl Grey from thepuriTea, and they look very similar. I will have to try them in succession some time….or if I wait long enough (I am planning to get another white ForLife mug the next time I am in Baltimore), I can do a side by side. I have a full pot today, so it is unlikely that I will drink more Earl than that!
Usual teapot method.
Tea of the morning…..
I am trying to get an idea of where this one sits in the line up of Keemun. It does have fewer yellowy tips than the Hao Ya A I have on hand, but it is very similar to my Hao Ya B in appearance. The golden tips are there, just not as prevalent in comparison to the Hao Ya A, and definitely more prevalent than the lower grades. I know that there is a specific grading system for Keemun tea, and in my short online research for a listing of the levels, I can’t really find a good guide in English. I might have to dig further. In comparison to my lower grades of Keemun, the leaves on this are narrower, but about the same length. I am throwing out a guess here, but the fineness might have to do with the part of the plant it comes from. Tips and first leaves are often smaller than leaves further down the stem in my limited gardening/botany experiences. So perhaps the higher grade Keemuns come from leaves closer to the apex of the branch? I did do a bit of reading on Teavivre’s website, and it also has to do with the part of the season they are harvested. My extrapolation of that….the earlier harvest would be the bud and first leaves of the season, the later harvest would still be the buds and first leaves, but produced a little further down on the plant? (I am going based upon my experience with roses and dahlias here…..the apex flower is always the best. Once it is picked, it will produce more flowers, but they are not as big or vibrant as that apex flower of the season.) One of these days, I am going to find that information!
As far as taste….I was thinking it would be easier to detect a difference in taste between this one and the Grade 2, since I am not a tea master. I do think this one is smoother and less earthy (although the Grade 2 is only lightly earthy in taste). Definitely a little less astringent at the end, even though neither is really all that astringent at the end when I brew them properly. The chocolate note in this is more of a darker chocolate.
A very good cuppa the morning!
Usual mug method, a little light on the tea, and a 3 minute steep.
Tea of the evening…..
And tea #6 out of my 2012 Lucky Bag……. This is nice and fruity. I seem to really like Lupicia’s fruit flavored teas. This one has tropical fruit notes on a light green rooibos base. I definitely like green rooibos better than red, and I think this will make a lovely iced tea in the summer. Oh, the summer….how far away you seem today! Probably not a tea I would have ordered, and I am not likely to reorder, but I will enjoy it.
Usual mug method with an 8 minute steep.
Tea of the afternoon….
I did finally purchase some of this for my cupboard. I am always trying to drink more green teas, and this one is just so interesting. I think I am getting a little more spearmint flavor this time. It is very mellow, slightly vegetal with an overtone of spearmint this go….. The leaves are not yet all the way opened up. I can’t wait to see what the second infusion does.
15 oz mug, 2 tsp tea, about 180 water, 3 minutes. No additions.
Third cuppa the morning…..
Resteeped beautifully. I just added a minute onto my initial steep.
Second cuppa the morning…..
I am so glad this one has come to live in my tea cupboard! Roasty and perfect. A little more malty and less cocoa-ey than the Keemun. It is a beautiful tea. And I do agree with JacquelineM. It does taste of sweet potatoes. Really good, freshly baked ones that are slightly browned on the edges for a bit of a caramelized flavor. Yum. It is probably the coldest it has been all winter today (it shows up as 1 degree without windchill), and I am inside, all warm and drinking this perfect tea. Now where is my book?
Usual mug method.
Tea of the morning……
And a lesson in steeping parameters! This cup is so much better than the last. The last was a 4 minute steep with about 2 1/2 tsp tea in a 15 oz. mug. It was a little intense for me, a little too smokey and too astringent at the end…so I slightly lowered the amount of leaf. I also cut back on the steeping time by 1minute. What I have now is the perfect mug of Keemun. Perfect level of smokiness, perfect nudge of astringency at the end (which is pretty slight!) Yum! I am totally changing the rating! The take away lesson…..as tea preparers, we do have control over what we taste to some degree……use that power wisely, my friends! ;)
Usual mug method with a 3 minute steep and 2 tsp. tea rather than closer to 2 1/2 tsp.
Tea of the afternoon……I really wanted to buy a few teas from thepuriTea, and this one kind of just jumped into my cart in the amount of 8 oz. I know, completely shocking! Really, there was not that big of a price jump from 4 to 8 ounces, and I needed to pad the cart a little to get to that golden level of free shipping. Plus, the description……well, they had me at “Fujianese” for the tea base…… What more could a Chinese black tea loving girl want in an Earl Grey?
I am not disappointed in this one…. The bergamot notes are bright. The tea base is very good! I am not sure I could pinpoint a difference between this and my new found favorite EG from Lupicia. Aha! Yet another mystery that needs to be solved by your ace tea detective, SimplyJenW! Comparisons to come at a later date, because all of this perkiness in my tasting note is more tiring than I thought…..or maybe it was the shoveling snow……
Usual teapot method.
Post workout tea…..
This one is good. It amazes me how well chocolate flavor pairs with puer. I get hints of the strawberry along with a chocolaty richness, and then the earthiness (in light amounts) of puer. The taste is very close to coffee. For those of you out there that are puer beginners, this one definitely has training wheels! And I enjoy this one so much better than the Sunny Fruits Puer which I also liked.
(I am wondering if I am now ready for real pu’erh……;D)
Mug method with a 2 minute steep.
Tea of the morning…..
Ohhh. This one is good. I don’t taste near the amount of astringency at the end of the sip like I did yesterday on the Keemun Grade 2. To be fair, I do think I used a little less leaf today, and I steeped for a minute less, too. I will probably give the Grade 2 another go after this cup and tweak my steeping parameters. I am tasting cocoa notes, a slight roasty-maltiness, and then just a little nudge at the end. The leaves are just a little longer and finer (narrower) than the Grade 2.
There are times when I am doing a tasting like this and wonder if I should not have my scale out, rather than eyeballing the level on the spoon….you know, for the sake of science. I am also thinking of getting another white mug set (ForLife 15 oz with an infuser) in order to do some side by side tastings with more exact parameters. I have been over and over thoughts of a gaiwan or a yixing, but I tend to drink tea in larger amounts and such varying types that ceramic teaware seems to fit best. I also have only so much storage space (and honestly, I would rather fill it with tea!) I am not apologizing, but there is nothing petite and refined about my tea drinking. I have also been considering a cast iron pot. Two things stand out for me here…first, while I see the practicality in the even and longer heating (you will not ever be able to separate me from my cast iron cookware!), I drink tea much faster than it would go cold…remember, nothing petite or refined about how I drink it…think far away from sipping for sure! Plus, the more research I do, the less traditional a cast iron pot actually seems. I am not at all posing this as a judgement on anyone else’s teaware, because quite frankly, the gear needs to fit how you drink it.
Back to the tea. This is very good. Like I said before. Need to play around with my steeping parameters on the other two levels of Keemun from Teavivre. Eventually, I will get into comparisons with my Hao Ya A and my sample of Hao Ya B. The parade of Keemuns continues, even though I would probably be very happy to settle on this one for quite a while! And thank you to Teavivre for sending this sample with my order!
Usual mug method with a 3 minute steep.