876 Tasting Notes
The struggle of a nocturnal person living in a diurnal world is real, especially with Ben’s new work schedule! He gets up right when I am going to bed, and with him being such a light sleeper I have to creep around not making much noise (and keep the cats relaxed, they always get rambunctious when one of us is awake) so not to wake him. I am going to try, ugh, again to switch back to diurnal, but it is so hard. Something I have always struggled with, I say I am nocturnal, but really I have a cycling sleep schedule and always have. I sleep fine when my cycle matches up to when I am supposed to be awake, but if not…well…there was a reason in school I would fall asleep leaning against a wall sometimes. So it is that time to brute force ‘reset’ my sleep schedule so that my nocturnal rustling doesn’t bug my more productive fiance, not fun!
Today I am taking a look at Bitterleaf Teas’ Sabertooth 2015 Feng Qing Ancient Tree Dian Hong Black Tea. A Hong Cha from scenic Yunnan, made from old tree leaves and if age was any indication of leaf size, well, this tea comes from an Ent. When I was sharing this tea with Ben it easily fit in my larger teapot, but for a single session I needed a gaiwan because the leaves didn’t fit in my Petr Novak pot and I didn’t have the heart to break them. They were big ol leaves with a hint of golden fuzz here and there, mostly they are dark and twisty, they look archaic. The aroma is rich, with notes of cocoa, malt, autumn leaves, acorn squash, and caramel sweetness. There is also a woody briskness at the finish of the sniff, giving promises of a zinginess along with the heavier qualities in the aroma.
I decided to use the big audacious golden gaiwan, because she is needy and gets jealous when neglected. The aroma of the wet leaves after their first water dousing blend notes of cocoa, malt, molasses, dried cherries…and…hello…notes of sassafras! Yessss!!! I love when that note pops up, I have only had it show up in Red Jade, but considering it is a hybrid of assamica and wild growing trees, picking up this note in a Yunnan tea I am assuming is an assamica is not too surprising. Now if I am wrong and it isn’t then I will admit to being surprised, because I have never seen sinensis with leaves this big. The liquid is sweet and rich, with notes of acorn squash, creamy sweet molasses candy, malt, and a finish of cocoa and a touch of cherries.
Well, this first steep is complex! It is really a coin flip with Hong Cha as to whether the first steep will be a gentle introduction or a complex flavor burst, and I have found it almost always is not indicative of how complex later steeps will be. It is why I love this tea so, it always keeps me guessing and interested. It starts with notes of cocoa and dried cherries, then moves to cranberries and sassafras, on it then goes to finish out with acorn squash and myrrh. It starts smooth and finished a bit mineral and dry, really waking up the palate…hello morning tea!
Guess how long I waited til the next steep…yeah not long at all. The aroma of this steep is straight up chocolate covered cherries and molasses, super rich and sweet. This taste starts out rich and sweet, with notes of caramelized sugar, cherries and a bit of cranberries. The middle is mellow squash and a bit of peanuts. For the finish is a resinous myrrh and pine wood with a lingering rich molasses that lasts for aged. This steep is nothing but smoothness as well, not a single note of dryness or briskness.
The aroma for steep three is rich and super sweet, again it is a chocolate covered cherry and molasses bomb with an extra explosion of yams and squash in the finish. My goodness that first sip is sweet, like a mouthful of brown sugar and cocoa with a rich dark cherry (not dried, juicy fresh this time) note as well. In the middle the familiar notes of squash and yams are joined by a touch of pumpkin and distant sassafras. This tea has great longevity, it just goes and goes, and if it wasn’t totally obvious, its taste is quite enjoyable while being very soothing. In my opinion this is a perfect morning tea, since I do not use caffeine to wake up, I use intense sensory input, and this tea takes the cake!
I do believe it is time to admit defeat, and then immediately yell at myself internally for calling it a defeat! Having this blog be daily has been a goal of mine since I started it, but I have never made it a month without missing at least a day, usually due to health problems but also due to electronic glitches, kettle woes, things just happen. Not being able to reach this self imposed goal has caused me more stress over the last few years than I would like to admit (because I am ridiculous) so starting in September this blog will update every other day. I am super excited about this upcoming change and I had to share!
Today I am taking a look at Grand Tea’s Yunnan Pure Gold Black Tea a beautifully fuzzy golden Dian Hong, and you all know how much I love my golden fuzzies. I wasted no time sticking my nose into the needles and enjoying the aroma. Notes of dried tomatoes, malt and cocoa blend with light yams, dry cherries and a bit of woodiness at the finish. The aroma is not too potent, fairly light and fluffy much like the leaves themselves.
Ok, I managed to stop ogling the leaves and tossed them in my gaiwan, I am always a little sad to steep the fuzzy golden leaves since they are not quite as pretty after they are doused with water. The aroma of the now soggy needles is malty and a bit rich, with accompanying notes of dried tomato, black pepper, dry oak wood (hello tannins) and dry cherries. The liquid, wow, it is super delicate and light, I almost dipped my nose trying to pick up notes. All I detected was a faint malty sweetness and a touch of cocoa.
The first steep is really quite light, but despite its lightness it is very thick in the mouth. I was quite surprised by its thickness and smooth quality, even though the taste was very light the texture kept me entertained. The front taste is delicate malt and honey, then moves to yam and peanut with a slightly lingering yam aftertaste.
So the aroma of the second steep is pretty light, but it does pick up more. Notes of gentle yam, malt, and cocoa dance in my nose as I enjoy the steam from my cup. Like the first steep, the mouthfeel is pleasantly thick and smooth, though the taste is a bit more robust this time around. It starts with a strong malt and peanut sweetness, then moves into a mellow yammy sweetness with a hint of cocoa. The finish is woody, a bit brisk, with a sweet note of honey that lingers.
On to the third steep, it is still fairly light in the aroma, with the same notes of yam, malt, and cocoa but with an extra little burst of molasses as well. This steep had a lot in common with the second steep, sweet, mellow, and very smooth. This is not a real stand out Dian Hong (granted I drink a lot…) but it is solid, I would say this is a great daily drinker with a very pretty aesthetic.
For blog and photos (I got a killer droplet photo this time): http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2016/08/grand-tea-yunnan-pure-gold-black-tea.html
You know what is kinda fun? Playing around with the wedding registry! I have not made it public yet since we don’t have a date set and that seems disingenuous, so I am occupying myself by perfecting it. By perfecting it I mean adding ridiculous captions to all the things on it, and of course removing the completely random nonsense I add at three in the morning when I am bored. The majority of things on it are things that are useful but we have just not acquired, like silicon baking mats and a deep fryer, but there are also silly things like a skull shaped trinket bowl, replacement nerf darts, and of course the much desired skull shaped ice trays. There is a real skull theme going on.
Recently I was given the opportunity to look at an old favorite tea company, Adagio! Over the several years I have been tea rambling they have shown up many times, they were the first online tea company I tried after diving into the vast ocean of online tea shopping, so I have a real nostalgic fondness for them. I am looking at Casablanca Twist, their take on Moroccan Mint, something I have been craving lately but have had no luck getting my hands on any that has been enjoyable. Granted I am not a huge fan of gunpowder, so seeing their blend used Sungma Summer Darjeeling and Peppermint I was very intrigued. I think I got really unlucky with my sample pouch though, I am pretty sure it is 90% mint. You can see a few spindly leaves mixed around with the mint, but mostly it is bright green minty fun. When sniffing this tea, all I smell is mint, fresh and cool and super strong. My nose is now clear and my lungs are happy, mint is good for the sinuses!
I decided to cold steep the tea, it just seemed right…maybe because I am Southern and chilled mint and black tea is kinda a big thing. The aroma after I crack open the cold steeper is a minty blast in the face, it is like walking into a snowy crisp landscape, and considering it is summer this is not too bad a thing. I get absolutely no notes of the Darjeeling, the mint has totally overpowered it. The aroma of the liquid sans leaves is pretty much the same, there is a tiny hint of brisk sweetness but mostly it is all mint all the time.
Well, tasting this tea is tasting mint. There is a slight bitterness to it, not the bitterness of tannins but the bitterness of vegetation, for me mint always comes off a tiny bit bitter, it is one of the main reasons I like mint blends and not just straight up mint. I also like my mint blends a bit more balanced, it is such a potent herb that it will almost always overpower what it is blended with if it is used in abundance. The photo on the website made it seem like it was a more even split, so I think I just got unlucky and since mint is fluffy I got the mint…somewhere out there maybe someone got a sample that is mostly Darjeeling. I really like the idea of a mint Darjeeling blend, but sadly I just got to really explore the mint side, so I do not have a real opinion on this tea. The quest for a Moroccan Mint continues!
Since my favorite plane in MTG is Ravnica, and Ravnica is vaguely inspired by Russia, I decided to dabble in Russian cooking and made a soup. Granted I picked the wrong day since it is freaking hot, but I really wanted a hearty soup. I made Kapustnyak (I saw it listed both as Russian and Ukrainian technically) a soup made with porky goodness (I used kielbasa) and sauerkraut, and man is it good! Definitely keeping this recipe around for what passes for winter in these parts. Also I have a poll with regards to blog scheduling on twitter, answer it if you have the time!
Today I am taking an adventure into Japanese dark teas with Yunomi Furyu: Tosa Bancha! It is my goal to try all the dark teas offered by Yunomi, Japanese dark teas are so fascinating. This one is a blend of pan-fried autumn picked bancha and Chamaecrista nomame, a sweet herb which, if my bit of botanical research is correct, is a member of the pea family. The leaves are gorgeous, big glossy things interspersed with a few stems and herbal bits. The aroma is savory and herbaceous, notes of sage, miso, soy, toasted rice, and a bit of hay sweetness. It is light and fluffy, delicate but distinct.
The aroma of the steeped leaves, which look uncannily like mulch, is a blend of autumn leaves, toasted rice, and toasted sage. It is very autumnal and savory, no real sweetness to be found. The aroma is lightly toasted and very gentle, notes of autumn leaves, barley, rice, and a subtle herbaceous sweetness.
The taste of this tea has a lot in common with a lightly roasted hojicha, gentle notes of autumn leaves and roasted rice. Alongside these notes is a gentle lemony salivary sweetness, then it develops a gentle fresh hay. The finish is a delicate lemon blossom and cocoa sweetness, which is peculiar but tasty. Sadly I only found this tea lasted for a single steep, luckily the first steep, for all its delicate quality was super tasty and very relaxing, it has a wonderfully mellow before sleep tea.
I am so glad I had this written in advance, because I can barely type at the moment. Yesterday there was no blog because headache, and the headache is better but still really annoying…no the problem today is my piece of garbage electronics. Both my computer and my phone have decided to simultaneously act like fails. It has taken me half an hour to just write this paragraph. NECROMANCER RAGE!!! Tomorrow I will be back with tea, or an announcement that my computer has been smashed into a million pieces. Sigh, I so wanted this to be for teaware Wednesday.
It was love at first sight when I spied this shiboridashi on the Teaware.house website, seriously, with a motif of the dragon and phoenix (a common motif used in wedding art, along with the double happiness) and flowers made for a beautiful piece of teaware that borders on the gaudy. And I love things that are gaudy and audacious. I love the color, that shade of green is retro, seriously I had a road-side arm chair from the 60s that had that same color, it is classic. Though in person it is a bit more of a lime green than an asparagus green, very subtle but these things matter.
One this that I really like about this piece is the inside of the shiboridashi, a lot of my favorite pieces have designs on the interior as well as exterior, and this one is no exception. A peony in full bloom is embossed on the interior giving a bit of texture as well as a ghostly appearance, plus it matches the peony lid knob.
At 85ml, it is on the small side, which I like, perfect for a tea that requires a ton of steeps and you are the only one drinking. Using this shibo took a bit of getting used to, the pour is great for larger leaf Chinese teas, I found that the grooves and space between spout and lid did not work for Japanese teas as I was hoping, but it works perfectly fine for other teas. The one little finicky bit I found is that the lid does not fit perfectly flush, when I go to pour I have to wobble around to make sure it is lined up perfectly or it makes a mess. Using it enough times I can eyeball it by matching up the pattern to the spout, but at first it was a bit frustrating.
Now the real important part that sent me on a night of research, what exactly is Huoci? 活瓷 It means ‘Living Porcelain’ and is a modern style of porcelain created in 1986, fusing art and science for what seems like one of the silliest gimmicky things I have heard in a while. Combining over 20 minerals with high heat, this porcelain is supposed to remove bitterness, release healthy ions, dechlorinate water, increase skin beauty, and boil water faster….suuuuure it does. I can see why this is not listed on the website and required me to search elsewhere, that seems far-fetched at best. Apparently this glaze has tourmaline in it as one of the ingredients and I wonder if that is what causes its lovely green? I did not notice any magical taste changing effects, it is a beautiful piece of teaware that is quite happy in my collection. I especially love using it for darker colored teas to contrast the bright green.
Today was a good day! Ben and I went on an adventure, taking a bus to Crown Center to visit Shang Tea and enjoy good company, tea, and food. After that we went for Greek food after I got us both crazy craving it by talking about it on the way back from the bus stop. I was very pleased that I got a great meal of Dolmades and Gyros, lately my stomach has been full of stupid so this is the first real meal I have had all week. Greek food cures everything!
It is Dian Hong day! I am looking at Green Tea Guru’s ‘Mu Shu’ Old Arbor Black tea of Yunnan, a curly big leafed hong cha from Lincang. It is no secret, I am mildly addicted to Hong Cha, Yunnan being my favorite source of it (maybe, I really like the others too) and if I ever run out of it panic ensues. Seriously, last year I ran out of Dian Hong and it was awful, I still have nightmares. The aroma of the big ol’ leaves is sweet with notes of honey, molasses, yams, and a bit of cocoa. Alongside the sweetness is a resinous pine quality, gentle camphor, and a woody finish. It balances notes really well, no note overpowers the others and it is brisk enough to wake my nose up as well as tantalize my sweet-tooth.
Into the teapot the leaves go, I was sharing this session with Ben so that means I get to use a bigger pot. The aroma of the leaves from the first steep is a bit brisk with notes of wood and resinous pine sap. There are also notes of molasses, malt, and a sweet cocoa quality that lingers in my nose long after the pot was placed back on the desk. The aroma of the tea is sweet with notes of molasses, malt, honey, yams, and a nice resinous pine sap finish. I love when teas have that resinous quality, it makes me happy.
The first thing I notice about this steep is the thick mouthfeel, mix that with the delicate brown sugar sweetness at the front makes for a wonderful start to this tea. The middle notes are also sweet, molasses and cocoa with addition of woodiness and a finish of pine resin and a touch of camphor. It balances richness and sweetness without being too sweet.
Woo, the aroma of the next steep is sweet, strong notes of cocoa, yams, and molasses make my nose happy. This steep is richer, starting with a sweetness of brown sugar and molasses, but it is strong and when it moves into the notes of woodiness and yams for a mellow yet brisk middle. The finish is brown sugar cookies with a hint of cocoa, not quite chocolate chip cookies, but pretty close, with an aftertaste of molasses it is delightfully rich.
The third steep is pretty much identical to the second, but the fourth steep has a difference, adding more brisk woody and camphorous notes. This tea goes for quite a while, starting to fade to just faint sweetness and distant mineral notes after the fifth steep. I found this tea to be great in the evening, but also brisk enough to be an earlier in the day tea, waking up the senses. Delicious stuff!
I did something today that I rarely do, I spent several hours doing nothing. Even though I am disabled and really should spend more time relaxing, I can’t, I always have to be busy doing something even if that something is studying, painting, or just keeping my mind busy…I have never been one to just sit and watch TV, I am the type person who watches TV while also doing other stuff. Lately though I have been feeling pretty icky and really didn’t want to deal with another fibro flair, so I just laid in bed and relaxed. I napped off and on, snuggled the cat, and napped some more. It was surprisingly therapeutic, my pain is not diminished, but for the first time in days I don’t feel exhausted.
And so, with it being Friday, that means it is the last day of the Floating Leaves High Mountain Oolong Sampler adventure finishing it off with the 2016 Spring ShanLinXi High Mountain Oolong, ah ShanLinXi, you guessed it, another Oolong I love. What can I say, I drink a LOT of Oolong, my stash of it and Hong Chas are the biggest in my tea collection for a reason. A lot of my experience with this wonderful tea has been the harvest later in the year, so it is good to see the contrast between spring and autumn. From the first sniff I could tell this was a ShanLinXi, it has that to me iconic crisp alpine air, that blends morning fog, cedar leaves, and mineral notes. Alongside this mountainous goodness are notes of sugar cane, blooming tulip trees, and a gentle note of hyacinth and sesame seeds. A delicious combination to make my nose happy.
Gaiwan time! I originally used this gaiwan for red teas, but decided I had enough teaware devoted to that type of tea and decided this gaiwan wanted to be used for oolongs. The aroma of the leaves after the first steep is great, I say it smells alpine but really it reminds me of the air deep in the Smoky Mountains, you can smell the trees and the misty, cloud heavy air…it is kinda fantastic. Speaking of trees there are notes of blooming tulip trees, hyacinth, lilacs, and a distant note of apples. The liquid has notes of sweet snap peas, distant fresh peaches, sugar cane, tulip tree blossoms, and apple flowers. It is sweet and light, very refreshing.
This is one smooth steep, it has a buttery thickness but instead of being oily it is more smooth, like velvet. The taste is sweet and light, notes of sugar cane and sweet snap peas start it out, then it moves to sesame custard and buttery goodness, but the finish, well that is unique! Notes of fresh pears and gentle peaches with a lingering fruity, juicy, sweetness.
On to the second steep, the aroma is mountainous and blooming trees, on the very end of the aroma is a gentle pear and peach note that I am loving. Like the first steep this one is velvety smooth and light while being quite sweet. This tea reminds me more of spring than any of the others from this sampler, with notes of blooming tulip trees (seriously tulip tree nectar is so delicious) apple blossoms, juicy pears and fresh apples. With a gentle note of growing green mountainous air and snap peas, the majority of the taste is very sweet and delicately fruity.
So where the other two steeps were light this one really blooms. By the point the leaves have unfurled and wow, the aroma is intense! Sweet fruit, blooming flowers, and a touch of fresh green vegetation. The mouthfeel is thick and buttery while being buttery smooth, it compliments the juicy fruit notes and blooming flower notes wonderfully. I went in for many steeps MANY, I lost count. It is wonderfully sweet and refreshing and is a strong contender for favorite from the sampler!
Yours truly did one of the most girly things last night, well girly for me anyway…I was up til five in the morning working on my wedding registry and wish-listing wedding related clothing and things. My desire to dress like a princess, have my wedding dress be something I will use more than once, and to not spend a fortune has made this an exciting endeavor. We still haven’t set a date yet, it will at the least be a year away since we are waiting for Ben’s sister to come back from Peace Corps, and I am kinda hoping for a Halloween wedding as to be an excuse as to why my wedding garb looks possibly like a cosplay of two different characters of mine from two separate RPGs Ben and I play, that is a conversation I don’t want to have a million times, but if it is Halloween that is good enough! Oh man, I am such a dork.
You guessed it, today the adventure through the Floating Leaves High Mountain Oolong Sampler continues as I pretend to travel to these beautiful mountains through the taste of teas. Looking at 2016 Spring LiShan High Mountain Oolong today, and this tea mountain has a special place in my heart. If you travel back in time to September of 2013, it was one of the first High Mountain Oolongs I blogged about, I didn’t have my army of gaiwans or clay pots yet, I was doing pseudo gong-fu with quick steeps using a half filled mug and a steeping basket. Oh how times have changed, three years later and it is still a favorite…and I have more gaiwans/teapots/cups than sense now. I got fussed at by Ben while I was sniffing this tea, mainly because I started making a racket and he has a headache, but the aroma is pretty out of this world. It is very sweet, with notes of chestnut, sugar cane, and a bit of starchiness, but the thing that elicited the noise from me was the distinct note of bananas and pineapples, it smells so good!! I had my nose stuffed in the teapot snuffling like a truffle pig for far longer than necessary.
I decided to give my gaiwans a bread and pull out the green Oolong XiShi pot, I say green but really at this point it is only used for Taiwanese High Mountain Oolongs, TGY and Baozhong have their own pots, because I am a hoarder. The aroma of the leaves after the first steep still has that banana note of happiness, but is also has a savory spinach note, sesame seeds, bok choy, hyacinth, and a general aroma of growing things in summertime. The liquid smells like freshly baked slightly buttery banana bread, and I swear if it wasn’t 100° I would bake some. There are also gentle notes of pineapple, starch, and a bit of green vegetation.
Tasting time! While writing this I am watching Roman Holiday, a good backdrop to musing about fancy teas. It starts light and sweet with a wonderfully buttery viscous mouthfeel, it really lights up in the back of the throat, gentle at the front then a light show at the back. The taste of banana and orange blossom at the back if the throat is joined by a beginning of sweet peas and fresh vegetation. Delicious stuff!
Next steep, woo! The aroma is sweet and green, a really good balance of the two. The taste, well, first let me touch on that texture, it is so thick and buttery, but the thickness is accompanied by a rich sweetness that lingers long into the aftertaste, I swear it is so long in the mouth. The taste, once I finally get my thoughts out of the mouthfeel, is floral and sweet, with distant bananas, pineapples, and orange blossoms.
Third steep, the aroma is still going strong with sweet and green, however there is a building hyacinth note that gets quite strong towards the end of the sniffing. The taste is also quite flowery this steep, notes of hyacinths, lilacs, orange blossoms, and a distant bit of plumeria. Towards the end the banana and fresh vegetation notes show up with a lingering buttery sweetness that stay forever. I pulled many steeps out of this tea, when it nears its finish the notes of lilac and hyacinth dominate til they fade away.
Today was a dreaded day that I have been putting off way too long, it was hair dye day. The blue/teal danger floof was getting faded and my roots were super obvious, I couldn’t neglect it any longer, though let me state for the record I hate the process. I’ve never found a hair dye that didn’t make my scalp burn (doubly so for when I have to bleach) or give me a rash, but I have skin issues so it is not the dye’s fault. I recently went from vibrant teal to dark blue, especially at the roots (my hair is getting super long, even with the death hawk) so that I can get away with not bleaching the roots and only having them be super dark blue. For some reason this time the dye barely took on the roots, looks great elsewhere, so I am going to plan three, blue-black roots! It was my go-to color for years and having a slow fade from blue-black, to dark blue to teal will look super cool.
Continuing on the Floating Leaves High Mountain Oolong Sampler Adventure with a tea that I was both the most excited for and the most apprehensive about reviewing, 2016 DaYuLing High Mountain Oolong. It is one of my favorite Oolongs, but not because of its intensity of taste or rarity, no it is my favorite because it is one of the most sublime of the Oolongs. I have, in the past, compared DaYuLing to a symphony, something about it always reminds me of music, of spring breezes clearing away mountain fog in the morning, of afternoon rain. This is not a tea that simply smells and tastes like other things, it is a tea that fills my mind with memories. But there is more to this tea than esoteric navel gazing, it does have quite the aroma. Notes of sweet honey butter, sugar cane, honey suckles, lilacs, and freshly baked fluffy sweet bread blend with a wonderful light note of pineapple and hyacinth.
For this tea I decided to use my carved serpentinite gaiwan, treasure for a treasure, and my camera does not do the luminous green of the leaves credit. The aroma of the leaves reminds me of baking yeasty bread, sage, sugar cane, a distant whiff of spicebush blooming, and a finish of lettuce and light hyacinth. The liquid for the first steep is pleasantly light and delicate while being quite distinct, notes of honeysuckle and lettuce blend with sweet yeasty biscuit dough.
Holy mackerel this tea is thick, super thick and buttery. The dominant taste note is yeasty starchy biscuits with a drizzle of honey. Alongside this sweet starchy goodness are notes of flowers, honeysuckles and lilacs with a faint hyacinth note. The aftertaste and finish combine a bit of lettuce and spicebush and it lingers for quite a long while.
I should warm that while writing this I feel pretty rubbish, but the idea of leaving a blog half finished seems wrong, so hopefully reading back over this later I will make sense! Sniffing this tea is an experience, savory lettuce and bok choy with a sweet starchy bread note that I have, in the past, compared to the aroma of one of my favorite mushrooms, the Destroying Angel. Yeah, I am a weirdo, but an armchair Mycologist weirdo needs to smell mushrooms, it helps with the IDing process. I cannot say if the tea tastes like these mushrooms since tasting them would kill me, but I can say it balances savory and sweet perfectly. It is a thick steep, immensely buttery with notes of sweet honey butter, cooked bok choy and lettuce, and a bit of cooked bamboo shoots. Alongside that is a blooming finish of honeysuckle and starchy yeast heavy bread that lingers for a long while allowing me to resume my introspective navel gazing before moving on to the next steep.
There is something really magical about this tea, how the flavor notes are so delicate and yet so potent, it is amazing. The notes of honeysuckle, sweet bread, buttery lettuce, and bamboo are so clear distinct but none of them are very potent, it is beautiful in its subtlety. I was able to sit with this tea for quite a while, getting a total of twelve steeps out of it, draining every last bit of flavor from the leaves before they were complete, and let it be said I loved every minute of it. In fact, I think I am going to go have another session right now…
You know what is adorable, Ben snuggling Espeon. She is in one of those super cuddly moods, but alas I am melting from the stupid heat, so Ben to the rescue! Usually I never mind a lap cat, but it is one of those days where it is hot and humid so my skin is all crawly. It is all good though since I get to see cuteness.
Day two of the Floating Leaves Taiwan High Mountain Oolong Sampler specifically looking at the 2016 Spring Alishan High Mountain Oolong! Alishan is one of my favorite mountains for tea, especially the green Oolong style, I always get excited when I get a chance to enjoy it. Made from the QinXin varietal, which means sweet goodness, seriously I have never had a QinXin that was not wonderfully sweet. The aroma is buttery and sweet, with notes of chestnuts, sweet snap peas, sugar cane, and crisp celery. It balances sweetness and that refreshing bit of green for a light yet nuanced blend of notes.
I brewed this tea a couple of different ways, specifically gongfu and cold-steep, and let me start by saying gongfu was AMAZING, it is a star example of an Alishan with a thick texture, sweet taste, and mellow feeling, if you get this sampler (or just this tea) I suggest trying it out this way at least once. Since it is swelteringly hot though I want to showcase how this tea really impressed me, cold-steeped! The day I cold-steeped this tea I knew the night (after my session of gongfu) that I had errands to run the next day and would want tea, so I tossed the leaves in for a morning treat.
Oh my goodness this tea, in the aroma it has crisp notes of sweet snap peas and sugar cane, buttery thickness, and nutty chestnut. These notes are present, but they are joined with ethereal notes of freesia and lilac. I pretty much downed my entire first steep instantaneously, I didn’t even get out of the house with it! It was so wonderfully light while being nuanced, I love that.
So here I am with a pile of leaves and the need for tea, so I go grandpa style and add warm water, let it steep for a few, and then top it off with some ice to inevitably melt in the heat while also keeping the leaves around. This time around it really showcases the green aspect of the tea, notes of lettuce and celery, herbaceous oregano and a bit of parsley. It is so crisp and refreshing while still being sweet and floral. I am going to go on the record and say this is my favorite cold-steeped Oolong to date, the perfect combo of sweet and crisp while never being overwhelming.