897 Tasting Notes
Two little blog announcements before I start off on the tea ramble. First, the blog has received its first donation from a reader, and I have to say a huge THANK YOU!! When Ben gave me the news (since Paypal is connected to his email) I just sat in giddy awe for a bit, that wonderfully generous news put a positive spin on what was turning out to be a dreadful day. The second bit of news is as I am sure my steady readers noticed (or the ones who follow me on facebook and saw the announcement) I missed a day of blogging, boo!! I had hopped that with this new schedule that would not happen, but I didn’t take into account multiple days of being under the weather, so to make up for it I will post two reviews.
Today I am looking at Golden Tea Leaf’s Charcoal Roasted Jade Oolong, a uniquely roasted Oolong. Usually when I run into Oolongs that are charcoal roasted they are dark in color and very strong in the char department, but this one was roasted repeatedly over low heat meaning it retained some of its green while still having iconic charcoal roasted notes. I was surprised when I opened the package to find silk sachets full of tea rather than loose leaf, but was pleased to see the sachet is fairly large meaning the leaves will be able to expand some. The aroma of the leaves inside their little sack is delightfully roasty toasty, with notes of corn silk, roasted barley, sweet toasted buckwheat, and a bit of freshly baked oatcake. It certainly brings the grains and nutty notes, and even has a slight touch of toasted acorns at the finish, which was peculiar but quite fun.
I was torn on how to go about brewing this tea, on the one hand it is in a sachet so it would be so easy to toss it in a mug and call it a day, or grandpa steep it, or cut the bag open and gongfu as normal since my gaiwan was all ready to go. I decided to be silly with it and just gongfu the bag, I mean, why not? The wet bag of leaves smells strongly of toasted grains, like oats, buckwheat, barley, and a bit of cracked wheat. Alongside these sweet and toasted grains is a touch of cooked spinach at the finish. The liquid has notes of honey drizzled buckwheat and sweet corn with a touch of barley and a distant buttery quality. It is light and sweet with a great amount of toast, reminding me of cereal.
The first steep starts with a honey drizzled oatcake note with a side of toasted buckwheat. It is sweet with a toasted buttery grain quality that tastes sooo good, it is like drinking breakfast. Towards the middle the buttery quality increases, as does the buckwheat, it is not as sweet, but that is fine since the grain quality reminds me of toast. At the finish there is a delicate note of spinach that is light, but adds a touch of green and savory to a mostly sweet steep. There is a light honey aftertaste that does not linger for too long.
On to the second steep, which still smells strongly of cereal and a bit of toast. The roast is a bit more present this time, it is still honey sweet but the sweetness takes a step back and lets the notes of toasted grain become the dominant. Notes of toasted oats and roasted buckwheat blend with a touch of rye and wheat. The aroma reminds me a bit of granola and again, makes me think of breakfast.
For the third steep, there was not a ton of change between the second and third, and the third to fourth for that matter. I sat with this tea for several steeps and was amused by the bag stretched to its limit containing the puffed up leaves, though they did not really get to expand to their full size, it was like a leaf corset. Man, I really wish I could draw because that gave me the best mental image…anyway…On a whim I grandpa steeped the bag for its finish and was rewarded with a wonderful buttery, buckweat and honey tea that was both light and wonderfully sweet. It was my last tea session of the day and quite a relaxing one at that, even if I did really want oatcakes afterwards.
Operation redo my entire tea area and most the bedroom began last night accidentally. Friends were getting rid of an awesome set of glass shelves that I gladly took off their hands, my teaware hoard is getting out of hand and taking over every spare surface in the room! Currently the shelf is loaded with my teaware, it will be thinned out a bit as soon as I get my shelf inserts for the curio cabinet (one day) then the tea storage shelf needs to have all the tea transferred to a different shelf which needs cleaning off, it is a big project. What is done though is my painting desk was rearranged, the bulk of the desk held my fishtank which was moved to where the teapots previously lived and now my big tea tray lives there. Sadly I realized too late that my tea tray is in a dark cubby so now I need a desk lamp. The things I do for organization in a very small space.
Today I am looking at a tea that is not only tasty, it is pretty! One of the things that first drew me to Dian Hongs is their beautiful golden trichomes, the fuzzy goodness. Whispering Pines Tea’s Golden Snail is definitely a beauty, nice tight little spirals covered in gold with bits of the dark leaf showing through…the color reminds me of my Tortoiseshell cat! Luckily (or sadly) the smell does not remind me of my cat (I wish she smelled like tea) the aroma is lovely, classic notes of malt and cocoa blend with sweet potatoes, maple syrup, and a delicate finish of cherries, walnuts, and cherry blossoms at the finish. It is sweet with just a slight nuttiness, reminding me of a loaded sweet potato that needs to be eaten by me…I clearly need food.
The steeped tea in my beloved Petr Novak pot smells super good, notes of walnuts and sweet potatoes (sweeter than the starchy yams) sandalwood, cocoa, and a woody undertone. The liquid is sweet and rich, notes of sweet potato, molasses, peanuts and walnuts, and a touch of cocoa waft up with the steam from my cup.
First steep is wonderfully rich and sweet, with a thickness that coats the mouth with honey and molasses. The dominant taste for the first steep is sweet honey and starchy but not too starchy sweet potatoes, specifically reminding me of those sweet potato patties that you buy frozen in the South (I assume they are elsewhere but I only ran into them growing up) and a bit of a woody cacao nib finish. The aftertaste is a hint of molasses that lingers for a while.
The second steep, while having the thick mouthfeel of the first, is also joined by a tingly camphor like texture, similar to drinking a Sheng, and something that just screams Yunnan to me. Granted some teas from that region have a stronger tingle than others, and processing does have an impact, but once in a while you get a Dian Hong that feels almost effervescent. The taste is very rich, strong notes of molasses and cocoa blend with peanuts and walnuts with just a hint of sweet potato. The dominant note is definitely dark chocolate, think like the 80% dark (I do love that stuff) with an aftertaste of molasses and cocoa.
This steep is pleasantly mellow, still has a thick mouthfeel, but no longer the tingle. The taste has mellowed out a bit as well, still has strong notes of molasses and stronger notes of sweet potato like the first steep, but the dark chocolate notes have calmed down. There is something new, towards the end with a note of peanut there is a delicate note of dried cherry. It kept teasing me in the aroma but has finally shown up in taste! This is a wonderful tea, an excellent example of a Golden Bi Luo Chun (or Hong Jin Luo, it has a couple names) being visually stunning and wonderfully tasting.
Guess who was up all night looking at Magic cards for deck planning? Ugh, it is that time of my sleep schedule cycle where my body insists on staying up later and sleeping later, meaning that in a few days I will have one of those days where I get no sleep then sleep for like 14 hours and my cycle resets. It is obnoxious but at least there is a pattern! I did, in my searching, found a card I was unaware of and want for my in progress Mono Black Commander deck, Army of the Damned! Because dropping 13 2/2 zombies on my opponent late game and seeing the look of anguish on their face. #Unlifegoals
Today I am looking at Green Tea Guru’s The Classic 58, a Dian Hong which hails from Feng Qing, Lincang and is created by the Feng Qing Tea Factory. The name is a reference to the recipe developed by the factory back in 1958, the leaves are hand picked and processed from 50-70 year old bushes. There is a reason this is a classic, and not just the emulation of style, it is a perfect example of what Dian Hongs can offer. If I was introducing someone to this style of tea for this first time, this is definitely one I would recommend as a starting point. The long needles have an equal blend of fuzzy gold and dark leaf color, and the aroma is oomph. Strong notes of malt and cocoa blend with brown sugar and molasses with a mineral and woody undertone. The very tail end of the sniff gives a bit of yams and myrrh, finishing off with sweet starchiness and resinous richness.
I thought on a whim I would play some of the top musical hits of 1958, but sadly I found out I was not a huge fan of that year, so I jumped ahead in the future and sipped this tea while listening to my Acid Rock (it is called Low pH, it also has a good bit of Swamp Rock, which is funny since the blackwater swamps of the South are more acidic, I AM SUCH A DORK) station on Pandora. Musical accompaniment aside, the aroma of the leaves is sweet! Notes of brown sugar, malt, and cocoa dance together with a whiff of myrrh and a touch of camphor. I am impressed with how strong the malt note is, it is definitely the dominant note on the wet leaves. The liquid is also pretty malty, but the dominant note is brown sugar sweetness and roasted peanuts with a resinous pine sap and myrrh undertone.
The first steep is a tiny bit brisk, but falls pretty abruptly into smooth and slippery, leaving the initial briskness as a memory. The first note that pops up is brown sugar, it lingers for pretty much the entire sip, but it is dominant at the front. In the middle there are notes of camphor and myrrh with a peanut and specifically peanut shell woodiness. The finish is cocoa and sweet, it is very rich and the brown sugar lingers happily in my mouth.
Ever had one of those teas that smell so good that while sniffing it you dip your nose into the tea, yeah that happened to me…again. It was worth it for those notes of brown sugar, peanut, and resin. I am not surprised that a tea that prides itself on replicating a recipe from 1958 delivers on consistency. There is no real change between steeps with tasting notes, the addition of molasses at the finish being the most noticeable change. However there is a taste in texture, instead of an initial briskness and slipperiness, it is all smooth and thick, like warm watered down honey.
The third steep takes its cues from the second, not altering much in notes that are present, but it does change in level of intensity. The peanut and cocoa note are stronger, as is the molasses, with the brown sugar and and malt taking a bow and being there in lightness. This tea became an instant favorite, it is called a classic for a reason, it has the iconic notes I associate with Dian Hong and it is not a surprise that I only have a little bit of my sample left!
Last night while playing Ark: Scorched Earth, I finally ran into a Death Worm, and then several other Death Worms, and then an Alpha Death Worm. I find this very amusing since it has taken me forever to find one, let alone several! The trick was using a Wyvern (specifically my really OP Fire Wyvern named Nicol Bolas) and flying at full speed, you see them pop onto screen for just a second while things render in, then I lander and teased one out of the sand and proceeded to eat its face. My first encounter went a bit differently though, I was on my Lightning Wyvern (whose name is Kolagan, yes I have themed all the names around Tarkir) and was out hunting new high level eggs in the World Scar when I landed and out popped a worm! It was very exciting!
Today I am looking at one of my favorite types of Chinese green teas, Artisan Liu An Gua Pian (Sunflower Seeds) Green Tea from MeiMei Fine Teas. It is a fascinating type of tea, hailing from Anhui, instead of the usual buds that are used for green, this tea uses the second leaf and it is plucked so that all of the leaf stem (or petiole for the botany types) is left behind. It is then fried on a wok and rolled giving it the iconic seed shape. The aroma is lovely, you can smell the roasting of the green for sure, giving it a toasted sesame and sunflower seed aroma along with crisp notes of zucchini, peas, asparagus and a very distant savory kelp note. It is very fresh and green, with the toasted notes giving it a sweetness.
One of the things that makes this tea a favorite is its versatility in brewing, you can do just about anything to this tea and it still tastes good. I love gongfu-ing this tea, but my real favorite way of drinking it is good ol’ bowl style, just tossing the leaves into a bowl or travel steeper and topping off with hot water as the day goes on is wonderful. Part of the thing that makes it so enjoyable is the appearance of the vibrant green leaves floating in the water, they are beautifully emerald. Of course the smell isn’t half bad either! It is a blend of savory asparagus and bok choy with slightly sweet and green peas and a tiny bit of cooked spinach. You can tell this is a green vegetal tea, with only a hint of nuttiness.
The first emptying of the bowl (or in my case very large clay rabbit cup) is wonderfully green and refreshing! It has a touch of thickness, but mostly the mouthfeel is smooth and light, which compliments the vegetal notes well I think. There are touches of sweet chestnut and snap peas, a crisp note of asparagus and spinach, with a buttery vegetal finish of bok choy and peas with a tiny hint of cooked zucchini. The aftertaste is sweet, lingering chestnut in the mouth which outlasted my patience for more sips (what? I was thirsty!)
Later refills really bring the sweetness, with crisp notes of snap peas and raw bell peppers (think just the juicy inside and not the skin) with a tiny bit of bean sprouts and a lingering sweet chestnut. Definitely the tea to lazily sip on a hot day since it is so refreshing, even though it is warm, the crisp vegetal notes always seem very cool to me. Even though I am writing this (and sipping at the same time, I started writing and realized ‘hey I want some of that’) on a cool day it still is very refreshing.
I definitely recommend trying it this way, it is a great way to enjoy a quality tea. The finishing refills are buttery and almost savory, with lingering light spinach and bok choy notes and sweet chestnut linger aftertaste. It lasted for a few refills, like most greens it does not have a ton of longevity (when compared to the likes of Oolongs and Puerh) but when it is around it is great.
Oh I am so sleepy today! I stayed up late playing MTG with Ben, mostly building and testing my new Mono Black Control deck. It needs work, but the supplies to build it were light on the ground so for what I had it works well. I want it to be themed around specters and horrors, with lots of annoying discard for my opponent, it will be a fun alternative to my zombie hoard, though I still need to make a blue black zombie deck. So many deck ideas and so little time.
Today I am looking at another blend by Liquid Proust Teas, Berry Genmaicha, which is a blend of genmaicha and strawberries with flavoring. I have a real weakness for blended Genmaicha, something it tends to just work for me…or on a few occasions fail spectacularly. Success or failure, the adventure is always fun! The aroma of this genmaicha is pretty much identical to Captain Crunch berries, I kid you not, if you stuck a box of this cereal under my nose and this tea I doubt I could tell you which is which. The resemblance is pretty hilarious, but upon further sniffing and warming the leaves with my snuffling I can pick out the toasted rice and a bit of grassy green, but for the most part this is crunch berries.
Woo, my tea area smells like Captain Crunch! It is making me laugh a bit since that was not a smell I expected to ever come out of my little houhin! Along with the very sweet crunch berries there are gentle notes of hay and spinach with a touch of rice. The liquid is all berries all the time! Super sweet and a touch of rice, but mostly it smells like a bowl of milkless cereal.
Well, this tea is both tart and sour, it is very berry but not the kind of berry I like. I love my berries very sweet, if I buy a thing of strawberries or blueberries and they are tart or sour, well, it is safe to say my day is not really ruined but certainly not improved. I was so hoping for a sweet berry burst, but alas, it was not to be. I tried a second steep and got the same result, but with more of the grassy and spinach green tea base with a nice finish of toasted rice. Sadly this blend was not for me, really, but I am sure someone who likes their berries tart would love this!
So as it is probably well known, I have been playing a decent bit of Ark lately, mostly on the Scorched Earth expansion. Last night I decided to play around on Primitive+ and came to realize, wow, that update is full of issues. Mostly in the form of missing items, most of which I can just spawn in, but sadly one thing I can’t that really depressed me was the Allosaurus saddle, I was so happy having tamed my first of many Allos to find I can’t take it out because they forgot to put the saddle in the game. At least Scorched Earth seems to be working fine, but Primitive+ has many disappointments.
Today I am taking a look at Bitterleaf Teas’ Blackbird 2015 Dancong Chi Ye Oolong. I love Dancongs, they are probably the most varied type of Oolong in the Oolong world, they are the great mimics, tasting like everything from flowers, to fruit, to incense, specifically cultivated to imitate a huge variety of different things. It is odd, I have tried a decent amount of Dancongs (only really scratching the surface, there are just so many) but have only rarely written about them on the blog, that is something I am correcting now. Bitterleaf has two Dancongs, and I agonized over which one to pick, as much as I as tempted by Firebird’s honey description, I wanted the citrus notes of the Blackbird. Oh that aroma does not disappoint! Notes of orange blossom, grapefruit blossoms, orchids, plumeria, and a touch of fruity muscadines and…surprisingly…starfruit waft off the leaves and into my nose. It is heady and sweet without being cloying, but I always prefer the floral notes of citrus flowers over pretty much anything else.
After I finally managed to pull my face out of the leaves I put the leaves into my Dancong devoted clay pot and gave them a steep. For anyone who is new to the world of Dancongs, definitely go for a flash steep with this tea, more than any other Oolong, this stuff will punish you with intense astringency if you steep it too long. The aroma of the now soggy leaves has increased the sweet and slightly sour note of starfruit, not a note I expected to run into with tea, it makes me happy. There are also heady notes of orange and grapefruit blossoms, plumeria and a gentle sweet candied orange peel note at the finish. The liquid is wonderfully sweet, just the right amount of headiness from plumeria and citrus flowers, but also a sweet note of orange peel and a burst of juicy starfruit and muscadines. It smells quite a lot like juicy fruit.
The first steep is surprisingly crisp in the mouth, it very much so reminds me of biting into a juicy crisp starfruit, and not just in the taste. There are also notes of sweet citrus, a combination of orange blossom and candied orange peel, with a touch of orange blossom honey. Around the midtaste notes of plumeria and orchid pop up, the plumeria only hangs out in the middle, but the orchid lingers well into the sweet muscadine aftertaste.
The aroma of the second steep still has the wonderful starfruit and citrus flowers, but also picks up a note of gardenia headiness which has made me think that this tea is inspired by a hothouse full of tropical flowers. This steep is much fruitier, still crisp and juicy in the mouthfeel, but the notes of muscadines and starfruit are joined by apples and a tiny bit of almonds. It reminds me of a summery fruit salad, sitting next to a vase of plumeria, gardenias, orchids and orange blossoms. The aftertaste of orchids lingers long, like the first steep.
On to the third steep, though certainly not the last, because this Dancong has a bit of longevity lasting for several more steeps. The third steep really stood out to me because the notes of apple and muscadines are the strongest, and the mouthfeel while still crisp takes on more of a smooth, juicy quality. The aftertaste of orchids is still present, blooming in my mouth for quite a while. This is a wonderful example of a floral and fruity Dancong, usually I go for the more nutty or incense flavored ones, but the fresh fruit and citrus blossoms won this one a place in my heart.
Happy Labor Day everyone, I hope you are having a fantastic holiday weekend. I am not doing anything special, well Ben has off from work today so we might play some Magic, but other than that it is just a day without mail. I know one exciting thing I will be doing today, cooking! Making sure Ben has lunch for the week, it will be a grand event.
Today’s tea is another hong cha from Yunnan Sourcing, Big Snow Mountain of Mengku Black Tea * Spring 2016 in my ongoing quest to go all Pokemon with all the red teas. You know, there are a lot of tea blogs out there, and several of them are very single focused, usually on Puerh but also several on Greens and Oolongs, if I am not careful I could easily become a blog dedicated to the world of reds, so I have to limit myself a little…only a little though. So, first with the sniffing, and what good sniffing it is! It is both light and rich, not one of those red teas that smacks you in the face with a bar of chocolate and pile of malt, this is subtle caramel peanut brittle, gentle malt, subtle mineral notes, and a bit of a fresh woodsy quality, like someone snapped an oak twig next to my nose, but one that has gone dry rather than being green. Recently dry, not soggy and rotting.
Oh hey! A peppery red! It seems like the last couple of year’s Dian Hongs have been lacking in the pepper department, so it is nice to run into one with that note. Alongside the pepper is a stronger note of malt, some sweet molasses, and a nice undertone of peanuts. The aroma of the first steep is lovely, very ‘Dian Hong’ with notes of toasted peanuts, malt, molasses, and sweet caramel. I was a little surprised I could not detect any yammy goodness, but not all teas have the orange tuber as a note.
Well hello mouthfeel! This one is not so much smooth as it is slippery, like thinned down okra and that is super fun, it is like a slip and slide in my mouth but with tea! It starts with this smooth slippery quality, but by the time I have swallowed it the texture turns to a more familiar thickness. The taste is delightfully sweet, starting with honey and caramel and moving to malt and sweet potatoes with a finish of peanuts and a touch of very distant roses.
The second steep brings in a fascinating change, distant notes of patchouli and myrrh in the aroma along with the sweet caramel and molasses, I love when tea gets that resinous quality (though technically patchouli is leafy, but shh.) The slippery quality of the first steep is replaced by thick smoothness that sticks around the full steep. The taste has a tangy woody cocoa shell quality that blends really well with a sweet potato and molasses middle. The finish is gentle resinous myrrh and a lingering aftertaste of caramel coated peanuts, yum!
Did I go for a steep three? You betcha, I also went for a steep nine but I won’t bore you all with the details in the middle. This tea does not really change a lot between steep two and the inevitable finish, but this is not a bad thing since when it reaches its stride the stride tastes lovely. I really liked how it could be a solid daily drinker or a special occasion tea and plan on adding more to my collection.
So, I spent the last two days playing Ark like a mad woman. Turns out the big reveal was an expansion pack, one that was a desert world with dragons and giant bugs. Basically it is like Dune, Mad Max, and Dragons of Tarkir (the MTG obsession runs deep) three of my favorite things, Scorched Earth has been amazing so far. Granted I really should have used the $20 it cost to buy some needed clothes, but eh, gaming is more important than leggings.
Today’s tea is one of Liquid Proust Teas’ experimental concoctions, Home Roasted Jin Xuan Oolong and Brazilian Coffee. He took some Jin Xuan and some green Brazilian coffee and roasted them up, going for a tea that is not roasted as much as the other types of Taiwanese Oolongs and for a light coffee. Since LP is not a fan of coffee he asked a local coffee fan who recommended the Brazilian, personally I would have gone with an Ethiopian Yirgacheffe to bring out that sweetness…what? I used to be a manager at a coffee shop, once upon a time I was equally obsessed with the beans as I was the leaf, but it turns out tea is easier on my insides so I only rarely indulge. Anywho, the aroma of this tea is kinda odd, with notes of toasted grains, pine trees, very gently roasted coffee, burnt wood, and a distant note of cigarettes. The blend of coffee and smokes reminds me a bit of an old diner that no longer allows smoking but did years ago and the smell still lingers, but someone brought in a roasted oolong for good measure! It is hitting that nostalgia factor for me for sure.
So how does one brew coffee tea, gongfu of course! After steeping the beans and leaves the aroma of the leaves loses any of that diner aroma to be replaced with nuttiness, toasted grains, pie crust, and an underlying creamy sweetness. The liquid has a blend of toasted nuts, specifically hazelnut and peanuts, with a bit of toast and vanilla cake. It is sweet and nutty with just a slight bit of roast.
The taste of this tea is fun! It tastes a lot like a creme brulee coffee latte, the creaminess of the lightly roasted Jin Xuan blend with the gentle nutty and burnt sugar notes of the coffee. It is light, not very strong in the coffee department, the roasted Jin Xuan being the dominant tasting note. The finish is light and creamy with a lingering nuttiness of peanuts.
Hilariously I only got two steeps from this tea, and not because there was anything wrong with it. See I gave up coffee because it irritates my guts, but also because it is heavy in caffeine…and when I get hit by a strong dose of caffeine I pass out asleep. Give me a soda and within an hour I am snoozing, too many Matcha lattes and I am out, 18 steeps of shou and it is time for bed…you get the idea, I have a paradoxical reaction to caffeine. I thought since it was a blend I would be safe, but no, halfway through this steep I fell asleep in my desk chair, Ben found me drooling onto my keyboard!! What I got from this steep before I fell asleep was pleasant creamy sweetness and a bit of hazelnut and toasted grains, it is sweet and mild, and I guess great to drink before sleep if you are me! Now I am hoping for a blend of a charcoal roasted Dong Ding and a Sumatra Mandheling, that would be epic…and sleep inducing!
I am sitting in a very big ball of anticipation, ready to explode at any minute…because ARK!! Oh yeah, it is update day! My update is busily downloading and I am waiting for the big surprise, they will be streaming some massive announcement from PAX West in about 30 minutes (maybe the update will be done by then, it is a big one) and I am very excited to see what it is. The ‘mysterious mysteries’ teasers for the past couple of months all lead towards a desert biome, and the loading screen is what looks like dragon eggs, so yeah I am super excited.
Today’s tea is Beautiful Taiwan Tea Company’s Farmer Changs Green Oolong, their fluffy Baozhong which is the greenest of the Oolongs, with its subtle oxidation. I love Baozhong, but often get stuck with ones that are uninspiring so I tend to overlook it for more traditional Oolongs, but when I find one that is good I get practically giddy! Before I get into the smell, just look at those fluffy emerald leaves, no amount of photography could do these beauties justice and I apologize, take my word for it though they are luminous. So, the aroma, it has a slight chestnut sweetness, which might be a first for a Baozhong, me likes! There is also a potent burst of lilacs and hyacinths, distant orchids, and the most wonderful herbaceous sage and fresh oregano note. I was really liking the tea until the herbaceous notes kicked in, then it was love! Fingers crossed that sticks around through the steeping!
Steeping the leaves, the aroma after the first steep, well there is a little bit of fresh spinach, some mellow sweet chestnuts…oh yea, and a small explosion flowers, it is like summer burst out of my gaiwan and become a sentient cloud wafting around the tea desk. There are notes of peony, lilacs, hyacinth, orchids, and a tiny bit of apple blossom. Luckily the herbaceous notes of oregano and sage survived after the cloud of flower dissipated a bit. The liquid is very sweet, with notes of lily, lilacs, peony, and hyacinth with a tiny touch of spinach and fresh oregano at the finish. I am loving those herbaceous notes, it kinda makes me want to pair this tea with a salad or something.
The first steep is light in both taste and mouth, a delicate airy mouthfeel which goes well with the light first impression. The tasting notes present are gentle hyacinth and lilac with an undertone of orchid, like one that has just opened and not really turned into a floral explosion yet. Towards the middle a lettuce and cucumber note pop up with a lingering chestnut and lilac aftertaste.
Where the first steep was light, buds just beginning to open in the morning, this steep was a heady afternoon hothouse! Holy wow, I feel like I was hit by a wave of flowers, it makes for some comical mental images, just removing the lid of the gaiwan and swoosh flower wave! The taste is wonderful, for all its heady floral notes it is not perfumed, it is like drinking flower nectar…I have become a hummingbird. Lilacs, peony, hyacinth and finally orchid dance throughout the entire sipping experience with bursts of oregano blossoms, fresh sage and cucumber adding a depth to the flowery notes. The aftertaste is honeysuckle, it came out of nowhere and I am ok with that.
One thing that really surprised me with this tea is how thoroughly and quickly it got me tea drunk, I was pleasantly loopy by the third steep and getting a bit poetic in my notebook (and no, I am not sharing my tea drunk poetry or handwriting, both are awful.) I will however share that this tea is still delightful! The flowery notes have calmed down a little, or the spinach, cucumber, sage, and oregano notes became stronger…not really sure, but it really works! At the time of writing this I can safely say this is my favorite Baozhong to date!
I was looking at the statistics of my blog and realized that once again I was oblivious to a milestone! I totally derped over a week ago when I missed my three year blog anniversary, and four days ago I derped and missed my 900th post. That is a lot, and considering I have notebooks filled with notes that have not made it onto the blog yet (or ever in the case of some teas and companies going away) I really do drink a lot of tea and have a lot to say about it, in perspective you can say that yes I am obsessed. Also, speaking of the blog, starting tomorrow posts will be going up every other day, I am excited to see how this new schedule will affect things!
You know one of my favorite things about reviewing Darjeeling teas? Knowing the name of the estate they come from so I can google the region and ogle pretty pictures, really this region of India is so gorgeous. Today’s tea is one of those, Teabox’s Upper Namring Exotic Spring Black Tea, this estate is both old and big, so big it is split into upper and lower, and then split into three gardens, with Upper Namring being the highest. The leaves are quite pretty, marbled greens, silvery fuzz, and golden tones, they look like sunlight through summer leaves. The aroma is delicate, notes of coriander and delicate distant flowers mix with fresh green grapes and a bit of raw rice blend with a subtle honey sweetness.
I decided to be a weirdo and brew this tea pseudo gongfu style and use my clay pot dedicated to first flush Darjeeling since the poor thing was gathering dust. After steeping, wow, the leaves really woke up! Very sweet scuppernong and honey aroma blend with a bit of arugula and nasturtium flowers giving it a peppery zing. The liquid has sweet scuppernongs and delicate distant nasturtiums with a bit of lettuce and coriander, blending green and sweet fairly well.
The first steep starts sweet, but has a slight briskness to it that keeps the sweetness from becoming too cloying and thick. The first note that popped up was sweet white grapes, they have a bit of tanginess making them more like table grapes than my beloved scuppernongs. Next is a blend of coriander, lemon blossom, and a crisp lettuce note. For the finish it is herbaceous coriander and a touch of sweet starchiness and distant flowers that linger into the aftertaste.
The second steep is much lighter in both aroma and taste, the aroma being mostly distant lettuce and sweet grapes. The taste is so sweet, no briskness to be found, just dense honey thick grape juice with a hint of lettuce at the finish. This is definitely the type of Darjeeling I would recommend to someone who likes their tea sweet, or is new to the fine world of first flush, it needs a little bit of a gentle hand with temperature, but will result in a wonderfully sweet steeping session.