911 Tasting Notes
Well, I finally got an email from Fujifilm, they plan to have my camera fixed and shipped back in ten days. Ugh, waiting sucks! I am pretty sure everything is going to be covered by my warranty and such, and Ben is telling me not to worry too much because he will make sure things get handled, I just miss my camera. While it is away on its little vacation, I am only drinking teas I have logged notes for in my notebook pile and photographed, basically time for a giant sip-down.
Today’s tea from What-Cha is a bit of a magical one, or at least I think it is, Thailand Winter Frost Jin Xuan Oolong Tea. This fancy Jin Xuan is picked during the cold time of the year, allowing the leaves to be covered in frost causing the leaves to turn brown which changes the taste of the tea. Like bug-bitten teas but being bit by Jack Frost! Ok, I admit it, I have a thing for ice and frost, I want to be like Sub-Zero and learn Cryomancy, but since I can’t I get my magical frosty fix elsewhere. Also known as Hoarfrost Tea or Dong Pian (winter flake) this tea is quite fascinating, and currently seasonal! The aroma of the dry leaves is surprisingly fruity (unlike what I usually expect from a creamy Jin Xuan) with notes of nectarine, honeydew, and orange blossoms. Along with the fruit (and fruit flower) is honey and a touch of chestnut and a finish of gentle vegetation. This tea smells immensely sweet, and not really like winter, but that is not surprising.
Into the gaiwan the leaves go! The aroma of the now soggy and slowly unfurling leaves is a combination of necatrine and honeydew melon with a strange slightly rank undertone, it reminds me ever so slightly of rotten fruit being both sickly and sweet. The liquid is all sweetness, very citrus with notes of nectarines and oranges with orange blossom and honeysuckles.
The first steep is pleasantly mild, it starts with a gentle mineral note that transistions to sweet cream and then BOOM! Nectarines! it is like I bit into a juicy sweet nectarine (a warm one, mind you) it is smooth and a little citric sharp and immensely sweet. I love tangerines, they might be my favorite citrus (other than lemons, but I eat them wayyy differently than more orange-like citrus, I cover my lemons in salt) so having a note so reminiscent of tangerine in a tea is delightful.
Second steeping time, the aroma of the kinda rank fruit leaks into the aroma of the liquid this time, though giving it a good sniff, it isn’t rotting fruit…it is one of those more foul smelling orchids. Not the rotten meat orchid, but certainly one of the ones that smell like a weird mixture of honey and decay. Of course there are also notes of nectarines, and a tiny hint of cinnamon which adds a level of warmth. The mouthfeel is buttery and smooth, a slight sharpness reminiscent of biting into a citrus fruit. The taste is light and buttery with a blend of nectarine and gentle honey, it is sweet and very light, an especially gentle Oolong.
For the aroma of the third steeping, there is only a little bit of that slightly rank orchid, along with honey and nectarines. The mouthfeel starts out smooth and ends with a crispness, like biting into a pile of lettuce. Tasting starts with gentle sweet honey and spice with sweet nectarine juiciness, this moves to a slight hint of cream and spice, and the finish is lettuce (specifically butterhead if you want to know the varietal) with a light aftertaste of nectarine. This tea was very light and pretty much always sweet, I admit the rank orchid aroma was a little off putting, but since it did not show up at all in the taste it was easy to overlook, similar to how I have run into a Sheng puerh that smells like a barn floor but tastes nothing like one, which is always a relief.
Patiently I am waiting, any day now the update for Minecraft will be released and boy is it a doozy! Currently I am wandering around my creative world, Ramble, making sure my transition to the update will be smooth. Building an aquarium for Guardians, getting the gardens ready for new flowers, creating a spot for a new ice castle…lots to do!
It is time for some Sheng! Today I am looking at Tanlong Premium Tea Collection’s 2011 Mengku Snow Mountain Hundreds Year Old Tea Tree Puerh, this Sheng comes from old trees high up in the mountains, and wow, are these leaves BIG. Big and silvery, covered with delicate trichomes, I admit I admired them for quite a while before I got around to drinking them. The aroma of these leaves is pungent! Strong notes of wet cedar, camphor, wet hay, and sweet raisins mix with a distinct aroma of white wine and cooked lettuce. Definitely an intense smelling tea, one that I indulged in sniffing for the entire time my kettle was heating up.
I decided to brew this one in my gaiwan, sometimes I give my Sheng pot a break, usually that is when I want to admire the leaves, and this was one of those times. The aroma of the now soggy leaves is a pungent blend of wine and fresh grapes, wet hay, wet grass, spinach, and an extremely delicate distant floral note that is almost impossible to pin down. The liquid is surprisingly sweet, with aroma notes of apples, honey, sweet freshly broken hay, grapes, and a hint of sweeter raisins. The aroma borders on creamy with its sweetness, making this possibly the sweetest Sheng I have sniffed.
The first steep is delicious! Very mellow and sweet with strong notes of raisins and broken hay, the raisin notes freshen up towards the end with notes of grapes and a finish of slightly crisp lettuce. I notice right away how this tea has a very relaxing and cooling qi, I will not be surprised if this tea gets me super tea drunk.
For this steep, the first thing I noticed about the aroma is the slightly surprising note of fresh dill, not what I was expecting! There are also notes of honey and grapes with a touch of hay and sage. The herbaceous turn of the aroma carried over to the taste, blending intensely sweet honey and grapes with a finish of sage and lingering dill. The taste reminds me of summer and gardening, and the cooling qi is refreshing.
That dill note is still here, which is really fun, I love dill and might say it is my favorite herb. There are notes of hay and oxalis with a touch of sage, not really sweet anymore focusing instead on herbaceous. Whoa, this tea did an about face, instead of being intensely sweet it starts out with an herbaceous bitterness that reminds me of fenugreek and spinach. After this bitterness there is a burst of sweetness like grapes and an intense salivary response, the finish is a floral blend of dill and asters with a lingering cedar coolness.
I went several more steeps with this tea, it stays herbaceous for quite a while, finishing off with mineral notes and a lingering sweetness. My prediction was correct, the qi was mellow but strong, I found myself wanting to melt into my chair while contemplating the wafts of steam coming from my cup.
I have finally made a really tough decision, one that will affect a large part of next year…I am not buying any more tea or tea gear until I save up enough for an Xbone. I mentioned my reasoning for getting an Xbone over a new computer before, basically I want to expand and keep working on the world I have been building since the beginning of 2013, if I get a PC I would have to start over, and as silly as it sounds, Ramble is my home. Problem is I am running out of room, on the Xbone it will expand A LOT, and this is something I really want. So I have to make the choice, more tea or a new system, luckily I will still be in the couple of tea clubs I am a member of, so it is not like I am going to run out…plus I have a lot of tea I need to drink, like seriously, my stash is out of control. The hard part will, of course, be staying away from the thrift stores!
Today I am taking a look at Rosali Tea’s Blend No. 1 Assam, a single origin Black Tea from India, though alas I am not sure as to which estate it comes from. Assam was one of my first loves, I used to drink it a lot, well until the Dian Hong seduced me away with golden fuzzies, but I still love me a good Assam. But before I get into that, I just learned Rosali Tea is holding a contest to win a year of their tea, yeah I am so entering. So, back to tea! The aroma of the really quite sizable leaves (for Assam, I am used to them being small and tippy rather than full leaves) is really sweet. Strong notes of honey and malt with thick molasses and a slightly woody brisk undertone. This might be the most mellow and sweet Assam black teas I have sniffed, there is even a slight cacao shell note at the finish, which is neat!
Steeping apparatus time! Poor thing has felt neglected of late. The aroma of the now quite soggy leaves is malty and sweet, with a strong molasses presence, it kinda reminds me of a molasses cookie with its sweetness and slightly yeasty dough notes. Along side this is a slight woody briskness, which gives it a bit of liveliness in my nose. The liquid is rich and sweet, heavy notes of molasses and honey with brown sugar and malt. This is shaping up to be a killer sweet Assam, which is really quite entertaining.
Tasting time, and I decided to use my really quite outrageous vintage teacup, all about the lustreware! Starting out, the mouthfeel on this Assam is a fantastic blend of smooth and brisk, it is mellow while also waking up my mouth, it is pretty enjoyable. Sometimes I find Assam to be a little too brisk, but not this time. The taste starts sweet and stays sweet until the very end, with notes of caramel, molasses, and brown sugar. This moves to malt and a touch of a woody finish. I ended up resteeping this tea no problem, though I did not find much had changed between steepings. I think this might be the sweetest Assam I have had, not only did I love it, but the Tea Barbarian really enjoyed it, he practically drank all of it himself!
It is a bit chilly at the moment, but I am sitting happily with my windows open listening to the song of rainfall. Plus I live in the age of modern conveniences, specifically an electric heating pad which soothes my creaky old joints (fun not actually true fact, joints age 3 times as fast as the rest of you.) In fact the other day I was reminded how lucky I am for electric heating pads, back in the day I would have used a warming pan, basically a metal cannister on a stick you fill with coals and stuff under a cushion…or if my feet were cold I would have used a metal box filled with coals. In theory I would not be using either, since according to a doctor from 1709, the noxious fumes of the coal were detrimental to people with health problems, though I can admit I was sorely tempted to buy the (most likely) reproduction I saw at the thrift store the other day, not that I would use it. Personally the biggest me danger with one of those is a double whammy of being accident prone and having cats, both of these things and fire really do not mix.
Today we are looking at another tea from Thai tea company, Tea Side, specifically their Dong Fang Mei Ren (Oriental Beauty) Oolong Tea #AAA. This tea is one of those glorious bug-bitten Oolongs, and you know I owe it an apology, the first one I ever had (several years ago now) was pretty bland, so I kinda ignored it til about a year ago, and now I can’t seem to get enough of it…in fact I am debating getting a Yixing pot just for Oriental Beauty, or just mixing it with my Concubine pot…decisions decisions. Forgive me all those beautiful Oriental Beauties I ignored in the meantime, I was dumb. The leaves of this particular Dong Fang Mei Ren is delightfully fuzzy and fairly small, lots of little buds and small leaves. The aroma is a bouquet of citrus tree blossoms, grapefruit blossoms, tangerine blossoms, and orange blossoms, along with those are notes of fresh juicy white grapes, bee balm, honey, and the most delicate hint of autumn leaves at the finish. The bee balm citrus notes give it a sharpness, but the honey mellows it out.
Gaiwan time, and the aroma is intense, it totally fills the room with with intensely sweet floral note of grapefruit blossom and orange blossom, grapes, bee balm, honey, and zest. I am very amused by the levels of refreshing citrus. The liquid is zesty and sweet, with notes of grapefruit flowers, actual grapefruit, and lots of honey and grapes. I might be drooling just ever so slightly.
The first steep is entertainingly velvety in texture, due in part to the fuzzy trichomes, but also the texture is bouncy and smooth, I have no qualms saying it is sensual. The taste starts out a touch autumn leaf pile, not loamy, just like a pile of dried leaves, this moves pretty quickly to a sweet honey drenched grape explosion. The finish is a sweet and delicate blend of zest and grapefruit blossoms, the sweetness lingers for quite a while.
Onward to the second steeping, and the aroma intensifies along with the color darkening to a rich amber (like it looks exactly like a melted piece of amber, where the first steep liked a bit like copal…I am a dork) the aroma is sweet and filled with zest, honey, grapefruit, and the oh so wonderful grapefruit blossoms. The taste, oooh, not only it is aromatic, it is very tasty, definitely one of those teas that has a strong ‘taste in the nose’ starting with intense grapefruit blossoms and honey. This moves to zest, grapefruit, white grapes, and a lot of honey. This steep is immensely sweet and the aftertaste of honey lingers for sooooo long.
The third steeping is still quite aromatic, strong notes of zest and honey, grapefruit and more honey, and did I mention honey? Yeah, it is very sweet, the citrus notes and floral notes add a fascinating depth that I really like. This steep is smooth and sweet, the grapefruit and zest notes are mostly diminished, this steep is all about grapes and honey, it is mellow and so sweet, and that sweetness sticks around for a long time after the sipping. I really, really, enjoyed this tea, and foresee myself buying a nice stash of it when I run out of my sample.
Today I had a hilarious conversation with Ben about gods, mythology is a frequent subject we talk about since it is a mutual life-time obsession of ours, so apropos of nothing when he asked ‘what is your favorite obscure random god?’ it didn’t take me long to answer. I chose Zi Gu, the Tang Dynasty Chinese angry ghost who terrorized a toilet after being murdered, was then blessed by Empress Wu and turned into the Goddess of Toilets…that is some serious (if not very ill advised) life goals. Of course this led me to research other culture’s toilet gods and I learned that the main sewer of Rome was called the Cloaca Maxima and their Goddess was called Cloacina, who was eventually merged with Venus. I think eventually I should make a bathroom shrine to all the various toilet deities, because a functioning bathroom is a very important thing!
Oh man, I am stupidly lethargic today, so clearly that means I need to review an herbal tea, though honestly I drink so much tea that caffeine doesn’t affect me, but drinking an herbal tea before a nap or bedtime I find immensely soothing. The blend in question is Spring Clean by Blendbee, a combination of Dandelion Leaf, Nettle Leaf, Milk Thistle, Rose Hips, Ginger, Strawberry Leaf, Licorice Root, Chamomile, and Natural Fruit Flavor. No caffeine, plus a lot of these herbs (ginger, licorice, and milk thistle in particular) aid in healthy digestion, and nettle leaf is said to be good for allergies. The aroma of this herbal tea is quite, well, leafy and herbal! I can smell the ginger and citrusy rose hips, the sweet licorice, the dried chamomile and leafy nettle and strawberry leaf. It reminds me of the way an herb shop (or my mom’s kitchen during drying season) smells, and I find that comforting.
I decided to classic it up a bit and brew this blend in a steeping basket stuffed in my mug, mainly because I wanted a mug of it and not a dainty teacup. The aroma of the steeped leaves and bits is leafy and green, definitely strong in the herbaceous department, along with warm ginger, zingy rose hips, and sweet licorice. The liquid smells like a blend of straw and apples (hello chamomile) along with green leaves, citrus, and a touch of honey sweet licorice.
The first thing I noticed about this blend is how light it is, there are definite notes of licorice sweetness (and slipperiness, I find licorice has a slippery texture) at the front starting the tea sweet and having it stay that way. There are also leafy notes of nettle and strawberry leaf, they taste herbaceous and green, there is a subtle underlying earthiness, and the finish has a citrus slightly sour note from the rose hips. It taste sweet, refreshing, and very clean, the flavors are light which I find to be quite enjoyable. I think it might be nap time now!
Something is afoot in my aquarium! Two new creatures have moved in and are busily acting as vacuum cleaners, a pair of Black Mystery Snails! My combination of happy warm water, decent lighting, and fake plants has created a bit of an algae problem, and I thought…I need snails. Back when I had ALLLLLL the aquariums I had very little algae and all the snails, clearly my problem this time was a serious snail deficiency. Jace is confused by his new tankmates, he keeps slowly following them, and Liliana just drapes on them because she is a Kuhli Loach, draping on things is her favorite hobby. To keep with the Magic The Gathering naming convention, they are named Sorin and Nahiri, though I have no idea which gender either of them are because snails are notorious hard to sex.
Today I am looking at a black tea from what just might be my favorite Ceylon tea estate, presenting Joy’s Teaspoon Amba Ceylon OP1! This tea is a bit on the special side, since it takes the black tea and blends it with flower from the tea plant, and I absolutely love tea flowers. They are both beautiful and taste really good, mostly I have had them solo, but blending them with tea just makes sense. The aroma of the leaves and flowers is quite delicious, notes of sweet potatoes, boiled peanuts (minus the salt) honey, asters (giving it a bit of a straw and pollen quality) and a finish of gentle malt. Usually I am not a huge fan of Ceylon black teas, because for some reason they smell and taste vaguely metallic to me, except for the ones that come from Amba Estate. They share similar qualities (more robust less sweet and chocolate) that I really appreciate in the Gongfu Red Teas from Fujian. The addition of tea flowers give it a flowery depth that makes it quite unique.
Brewing this tea in my steeping apparatus is quite a treat, the heavy tea leaves sink to the bottom and delicate blossoms dance on top of the liquid. The aroma if the leaves is sweet, with gentle notes of sweet potatoes, boiled peanuts, straw flowers and aster, with a finish of bright malt. The aroma of the liquid is sweet potatoes, honey, boiled peanuts and a nice finish of malt. It has a slight briskness to it, as well as a tiny distant floral note.
Sipping this tea, the first thing I noticed was a nice briskness, I mean a very nice briskness, not astringent or dry, it is lively on the tongue while also being smooth. The tasting starts out with notes of malt and sweet potato, with subtle sweetness. This moves to boiled peanuts (again minus the salt, because that would be unpleasant) and moves on to a touch of woodiness. At the finish the tea flowers really shine, bringing in notes of wildflowers, aster, and gentle honey, the honey notes lingering long after the sipping, it also finishes with a thick mouthfeel contrary to the brisk and smooth beginning. Luckily this tea holds up to another steeping, though it is not very strong, however the second steep really makes for a sweet and floral cup, and is very mellow.
What a beautiful day it is, so sunny and warm, and yet with all its warmth I have a very clingy cat. Espeon has been practically stuck to me today, which has made painting…interesting. I should consider myself lucky that she just wants to sit in my lap instead of playing with the brushes, but one wrong move of her tail means disaster. Or at the very least an inconvenient smudge or mispaint.
Today we are looking at a Yancha from White2Tea, their Qilan Trees! This tea was part of the tea club to go in tandem with their Qilan Fire, two rock Oolongs made by the same farmer, but processed differently. Namely Qilan Fire has a heavier roast and Qilan Trees is more gentle and in theory more tree themed. The aroma of the long curly and very dark green leaves (they are truly quite pretty) has a gentle bit of char, you can tell this is a Yancha, but the char is super delicate, good news for those who dislike the empyreumatic tinge to Rock Oolongs. Of course there is more going on then just faint char, there are gentle notes of wood (hello trees) distant flowers, mangosteen, cocoa, and honey. This is a very sweet smelling Yancha, which I like.
The Yancha pot hungers for leaves, so I load it up with its much wanted leafy friends and go to town steeping. The aroma of the soggy leaves is gentle in the char department again, like a distant pile of coals rather than wet coals or a burning fire. There is also notes cocoa and distant flowers with a subtle spice, like a spicy cooked quince and sweet mangosteen. Well this tea is winning on the exotic fruit department. The liquid is gentle in char again, with accompanying notes of mangosteen and cocoa, at the very end is a gentle wilted orchid aroma giving the distant floral note a name.
Ooh, that mouthfeel is silky! Usually I find most Rock Oolongs have a robust and at times sharp mouthfeel, but this one is like silk, it is so smooth. The flavor on this first steep is pretty light, starting with a gentle blend of mineral and distant char which pretty immediately moves to sweetness that stays for the entire sip. Blending spice and fruit, specifically quince and mangosteen (not a combo I ever expected) with a woody almost reed like finish.
The aroma of the second steep brings out more of a woody note, reminding me a bit of bamboo or some more reed like wood, combine that with cocoa and very sweet mangosteen and it is safe to say it smells quite good. The mouthfeel has moved from silky to almost creamy, which is quite fun, but it does move back to silky at the finish. Tasting the tea it starts with sweet cocoa and quince, moving to mangosteen and gentle mineral, and the finish is a blend of char and bamboo making for a woody finish, since it is the taste of older dry bamboo rather than the bright green shoots.
Third steep time, and the aroma is quite sweet, a light blend of bamboo wood, mangosteen, cocoa, and a touch of wet slate and char at the finish. The taste has a bit more char and mineral this time around, like a blend of limestone and wet slate and distant charcoal, specifically bamboo charcoal. The one thing that really struck me with this steep is how the gentle char, mineral, and a sweet honey and quince taste blended for a really light and almost airy flavor, something I generally don’t associate with Yancha. Sadly my plans of tasting this one along side with Qilan Fire did not go as planned because when I finished with this steep my kettle died! Luckily it has since been replaced, but I have not had the opportunity to get back to the pair of Qilans, I think when I do I will coerce the Tea Barbarian to join me and I will do both in my gaiwan, meaning my Yancha pot will get cranky, but it can deal with it.
Well I finally did it, I finally sent my camera off to get repairs, after much dilly-dallying. I know, I know, waiting this long is certainly not going to get my camera back any sooner, but part of me is terrified something will happen to it…also I feel really naked without a camera. My phone’s camera only barely counts, for so many years I have always had a camera with me, so it just feels really weird. Hopefully it will come back soon, all shiny and flashy again!
Today my addiction to Vietnamese teas continues with What-Cha’s Vietnam ‘Dragon Cloud’ Green Tea. This tea is fascinating, it is a hybridization of the native ‘Ta’ cultivar and the ‘Long Jing’ Chinese cultivar, a coming together of tea cultures, which I think is cool. The leaves are really quite pretty, deep green with a silvery sheen, the name dragon cloud seems very fitting. Sniffing the dry leaves is quite a treat, it is both very nutty and very green, blending crisp bell peppers and bok choy with sesame seeds and peanuts. It has a real freshness too it, reminding me of freshly stirfried veggies where they still have just enough crunch to be extra yummy.
Into my clay teapot the leaves go for their quick steeping, and I mean quick, this is a 10 second steep. Usually I just ignore vendor steeping instructions because I have my own system, but when they recommend something extreme like a really short time or low temperature I tend to listen, because I don’t want a cup of yuck. The aroma of the wet leaves is deliciously vegetal and nutty, again reminding me of stir fry with notes of bell pepper, broccoli, bok choy, and sesame seeds. The liquid is pleasantly mild with sweet sesame and fresh bell pepper and spinach leaves.
The first steep is quite smooth and light, with a sweet nutty start of cashews and sesame seeds. This moves to crisp bell pepper and bok choy with a finish of spinach leaves and broccoli. It is refreshing and sweet at the finish, like gentle notes of honey.
Second steeping has a mixture of sweet and savory for the aroma, notes of honey and cashew blend with bell pepper and spinach, though this time the spinach smells cooked rather than a leafy salad. The taste is much sweeter this time around, with notes of cashew butter and honey, combined with the smooth and slightly thick mouthfeel, it is very pleasant. After the initial sweetness there is a burst of bok choy and spinach with a touch of bell pepper crispness. The finish is a touch of tarragon and sesame seeds, the sesame seed taste lingers. Pardon me, I got lost in the tea, it is quite tasty and vegetal without ever getting bitter.
Alas, for it is a day where I cannot really think of anything interesting to start today’s blog off with. Now it is true that I have plenty to talk about (always was accused of loving the sound of my own chatter) but it seems that it is just geared towards tea, so without further ado, let us get to steeping!
Today’s tea is from Eco-Cha, and sadly it is a tea that is quickly vanishing from the tea world. Da Yu Ling High Mountain Oolong, it is one of my favorite Oolongs, but the area it is being grown in is being taken back by the government to return it to its unique natural state. The naturalist in me approves of the preservation of unique eco-systems, the tea lover in me cries at the loss of one of my favorite Oolongs, where it was expensive beforehand, the remaining tea is now going to cost a fortune. So what makes this tea so special to me, well, let’s start with the aroma of the dry leaves. In a word, delicious! It starts with a distinct yeasty farm bread and butter note, it has a sweetness and lack of grain bread note, if you have ever had that delightful fluffy, white bread that goes perfect with soup and butter, then you know that exact smell. After that there is a gentle spice and sweet Asian pears, it smells vaguely of poached pears rather than fresh ones, and the finish is a gentle blend of chestnuts and honeysuckles, with a delicate touch of wildflowers.
I love how many stems there are in this tea, lots of several leaves balled up into one…well…ball, it is very cool. The aroma of the soggy leaves is intensely buttery, there is a sweetness but it comes from the nectar of honeysuckles and hyacinths. The finish is wonderfully warm baking bread and sweet yeast. The aroma of the liquid is sweet and buttery, like freshly baked bread just slathered in honey butter, and that loaf of bread is sitting next to a blooming hyacinth.
From the first sip I am struck with the intense buttery thick mouthfeel, it is really amazing, I think if this tea had no taste (oh trust me, it does) and was just relying simply on the mouthfeel I would still be in awe. The tasting starts with sweetness of yeasty bread, butter, and honey, which then moves on to intense hyacinth nectar. The finish though, it swtiches pretty intensely to thick buttery greens, very much so like a mix of cooked bok choy and spinach, it manages to be very green and buttery without being overly savory…umami without the slightly meaty aspect that you get from some green teas, if that makes sense.
The aroma of the second steep is buttery sweet yeasty bread and hyacinth blossoms, again it reminds me of eating bread sitting next to a vase of blooming hyacinth, quite lovely. Again with the intensely thick and buttery mouthfeel, it coats the mouth and is oily without being slimy (drinking teas with coconut, now that I call slimy, this is only oily in sensation and not actual oil, an important distinction.) So this steep is intensely green and buttery, strong notes of turnip greens, cooked bok choy and cooked spinach. Usually when I have an oolong with green notes it is the taste of crushed vegetation (like walking through a forest and crushing leaves underfoot, I am tasting that smell) and not vegetal, so this buttery green intensity is immensely pleasant. The finish is juicy sweet hyacinth nectar that lasts for quite some time.
Third steeping! The aroma is a double punch of hyacinths and lilies with yeasty honey smothered buttery bread, it smells so good! One thing I find really fascinating is how sweet the aroma is and how savory green the taste is, me thinks this is why the taste is savory without being meaty. The taste starts out like the last steep, intensely buttery green with turnip greens, cooked bok choy, and cooked spinach. The finish kinda creeps up on me with a distinct blend of pear and apple that lingers well after the sipping is finished. I got as many steeps out of this tea as I could possibly muster, probably drinking it after it was done, but you know, getting more of this tea is going to be a hassle, so I need to make it last! I even ate the leaves when I was done!
Wow, it is beginning to look a lot like not Christmas, well, if you are paying attention to the weather that is. All of next week is supposed to be in the upper 50s-60s and that is kinda awesome, because it means I get to have my windows open and enjoy the fresh air. I might even have a tea picnic or just a picnic in general, get in one last frolic before it gets cold. Assuming it gets cold, if the long term predictions are to be believed it will be a mild winter for my part of the world. I wonder if that guy in Boston is going to be exporting his snow again this year…
Today we (it is the royal we in case you were curious) are looking at Tea Side’s Red Tea From The Old Trees, #3. This company specializes in teas from Thailand, and this particular red tea is made from rather large leaves from 100-300 year old trees, and let it be said, I have a weakness for large leaves, these remind me of long dark serpents that you might find while hiking in an old forest. The aroma of the pretty dark leaves with their smattering of golden trichomes is rich stuff. Blending notes of cocoa, strong malt, sharp wooden notes, honey, plums, and a very entertaining note of a bourbon barrel sans the alcohol bourbon note. I kinda love it when things smell boozy but lack the booze, certain red teas have that specific note and they make me rather happy.
I had quite the adventure with this tea, the first time I steeped it I used my standard amount of leaves (no, I don’t measure, I just eyeball to what feels right, though I really should get a scale someday to see how close I am to standard conventions) and steeping times, but that ended up with a tea that was too brisk and metallic with bitter astringency. So I tried grandpa style and it was much improved, but I wanted to gongfu this stuff, so playing around I found the sweet spot…the trick is light on the leaves and short steeping times. The aroma of the wet leaves is sweet and malty with notes of honey and oak wood, cooked plums, peanuts, and a very light touch of flowers, the website lists rose and tulip, and I do not necessarily get the rose, but I can definitely agree on the tulip notes. The liquid is sweet again, honey and gentle floral notes (not so much tulip, more a blend of distant flowers) burnt sugar, malt, and a woody bourbon barrel finish.
The first steep is light and brisk, this tea has a briskness to it no matter how I steep it, the briskness reminding me of an Assam, but the flavor profile reminds me more of cross between a red Jin Xuan and a Dian Hong. The taste starts out sweet like wildflower honey and ripe plums, it moves on to an autumn leaf pile and oak wood. The finish is very light, blending gentle sweetness and a touch of mineral.
I think that the steeping leaves look like sea monsters, which is fitting since the dry leaves look like snakes. The aroma of the liquid this time around is much sweeter, picking up strong notes of molasses, ripe cooked plums, honey, and burnt sugar. Underneath that sweetness is a delicate floral note and an autumn leaf pile with oak wood. These woody and leafy notes are making me think of late autumn when drinking this tea, so perfect timing. This steep is ramping up the sweetness and intensity, still brisk in the mouth a sensation that is good for waking up the senses. It starts with sweet honey drizzled cooked plums and tulip flowers, this moves to burnt sugar and malt. The finish is leaf pile and wood, both of these are dry in nature, not wet and loamy, the aftertaste is gently sweet and a touch mineral.
The aroma for this steep is sweet and fruity, notes of malt and plums with molasses and wood, but there is a distinct fruit wood finish unlike the previous oak wood notes. This steep is smoother in mouthfeel, it is still brisk but not as much so. The taste is gentle sweet, a near perfectly balanced blend of leaf pile, oak wood, fruit wood, honey, molasses, and plums. At the finish instead of leaf pile and wood, there is a resinous sap taste and burnt sugar that lingers. I was able to get a few more steeps out of this one, it is very light past this point and pleasantly sweet, though not very nuanced.