851 Tasting Notes
I had the most delicious plum today, really it was amazing. Not the most informative intros about how my day went, but all thought of the day pre-plum just kinda vanish in a fruit filled haze.
Today we are taking a look at West Lake Dragon Well Green Tea (Long Jing) by MeiMei Fine Teas, ah Dragon Well, you are a tea I have a serious soft spot for, probably one of the spring harvest teas I get most excited over. This specific Long Jing was harvested pre-April 5th, making it a Pre Qing Ming tea, one of the more coveted of harvests. When looking at the leaves I noticed some had wonderful trichome fuzzballs, a sign that yep, these are picked super early and have their young leaf fuzziness, most of the fuzz gets rubbed off during pan firing, but some gets left behind as little fuzzballs. I call them lucky, because whenever I see them I know I am in for a treat. Sniffing the leaves, and hello vegetal! Take bell peppers, green beans and Lima beans and saute them with some sesame seed oil and a touch of sweet honey and you have the aroma for these leaves. Just at the start of the saute process too since the bell pepper note still has its crispness.
The tea has made its way into my dragon gaiwan for its steeping, I kinda lost track of time and steeped it a little longer than I meant to, so hopefully that won’t ruin all the things. The aroma of the soggy leaves is very green, keeping that Lima bean, green beans, and bell pepper and adding in some okra and only the slightest touch of sesame seeds. The liquid is light and green, notes of green beans, sesame seeds and bell pepper mix with an undertone of honey.
First steeping time, did I ruin it by over steeping? Pfft, no, though I think I did remove any chance of the first steep being very sweet. It starts smooth and a little tingly from the trichomes, the taste is mostly savory, only a hint of sweet at the finish that lingers as an aftertaste. Notes of green beans, Lima beans, bell peppers, and artichoke make up the tasting profile. It is crisp and refreshing in its smoothness.
Onward to steep number two! The aroma is vegetal and savory, only a tiny hint of sweetness at the tale end of the sniffing. The taste starts sweet this time, like sesame seeds and a gentle note of honey. This moves on to a strong vegetal and slight nuttiness, and then finishes with sweetness. I did have a third steep, but it was pretty mild and mellow, since I steeped it too long at first steep. Also, fun fact, this tea was awesome in my travel steeper, kept me going through a rather vigorous game of D&D!
Last night was amazing! Not only did I get to photograph the eclipse, I got to share tea and not very tasty (what I get for getting the cheap ones) Mooncakes with Ben (yay for him getting off work at a decent hour) and I got to share this experience with many friends via the internet and phone apps. It was great, lots of moon photos with ‘I am drinking this tea’ posts, and it gave this wonderful feeling of togetherness, and for the people who were unable to see it, they got to live vicariously through all the photos. Usually I tend not to get all squishy about the epic tea family I am part of, but after the epicness of last night, and the way everyone has been so wonderful to me with my recent bout of health woes, how can I not get the warm fuzzies?
So, it is Monday, meaning time for a Matcha Monday! We are looking at three different Matcha from Encha, specifically their three different grades of Matcha. Before I get into the Matcha, I want to point out the excellent amount of information present on the website, not only do they say where it is from, they also say when it was harvested and ground, how to make it, the mg of caffeine, theanine, and catechins, and while there are some listed health benefits, this is not one of those companies that shoves Matcha being a panacea down my throat. Encha, for that pile of information and transparency, you have my gratitude!
Ok, time to delve into the green! Starting with the Ceremonial Grade Matcha, first thing I notice is the beautiful color and fluffy texture, I barely had to sift it! The aroma is nutty and sweet, with notes of honey and chestnut, this moves to freshly cut bell peppers, and a finish of slightly sweet hay and yeast. Once whisked into a very lovely foam, the aroma is much more green, strong notes of bell pepper and a hint of kelp with an undertone of sweet nuttiness.
Underneath the foam, the color is a rich algae green, like my beloved Marimo (moss balls) that I used to have in my planted aquarium. The mouth is thick and creamy, no graininess (I really hate grainy Matcha) and it starts with a strong umami note, like a mouth full of steamed spinach and kelp, it is not at all bitter, just robustly green. This moves to gentle notes of grass and a touch of lettuce, and the finish is a subtle sweetness that lingers. I find there are two types of Matcha that knock my socks off, ones that are naturally very sweet and ones that are like drinking pure, undiluted chlorophyll, like I am becoming one with the green growing things of the world.
(I feel lazy, for the other two Matcha and photos, blog): http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2015/09/encha-trilogy-of-matcha-matcha-monday.html
You know what, I can’t wait til Monday. Apparently my new camera will be delivered then…oh, did I not mention I got a new camera? Well, I was able to make some money and I used that to buy a refurbished Fujifilm S8600, it is not my first choice (really wanted one of those fancy multi-lenses pro $700+ cameras) but with mine dying, the time for saving up for the one I wanted has passed. The new one will be a significant upgrade over my Fujifilm S1800, specifically it has a slimmer profile (unless I unleash the MASSIVE zoom) meaning my tiny hands can grip the thing better for some epic pouring tea photos. The search for the illusive perfect mid-air droplet shot continues.
Today we are looking at another tea from Tea from Vietnam, specifically Ta Oolong, an oolong that is very uniquely Vietnamese! This is a native oolong, having been grown there for thousands of years, most likely originating as wild grown tea trees of the same stock found growing wild in Yunnan, the place where tea originated. Tea trees are so rude when it comes to borders, they tend to ignore it and wander off to other places. In the 90s a bunch of Taiwanese teas were brought into Vietnam, slowly pushing the Ta Oolong to only be grown in a few small gardens, this one came from a garden in Lam Ha. The aroma of the pretty green leaves is very floral with a hint of sweet cream. Notes of orchid, honeysuckle, osmanthus, spicebush, and a touch of hyacinth and lilies, I feel like I walked into a summer garden or flower filled conservatory. I might have spent more time inhaling the floral explosion than is necessary.
This is a tea that calls for my Xi Shi Yixing Teapot, yeah it is named after that Xi Shi, inspired by her probably very perfect bosom, what with being one of China’s great beauties. The leaves, now steeped and unfurled a bit, are a wonderfully flowery explosion, notes of orchids, lilies, honeysuckle and hyacinth are the main flowers, with a gentle crushed vegetation finish. The liquid is honey sweet and creamy, and very, very heady. It is like a garden in full bloom in my cup, just want to sniff and sniff…and yes I dipped my nose in the tea again, it was inevitable.
First steeping, oh it is a creamy thing, the oolong’s mouthfeel is definitely a thick one, coating the mouth with its texture, and I am totally ok with that. The taste starts out green and a bit buttery but that is very quickly shoved out of the way by a small storm of flowers. If you are imagining a cloud of petals that also rain flower nectar you are on the right track. Notes of lilies (giving a touch of spice) honeysuckles, orchids and osmanthus bloom in my mouth, with a lingering honey aftertaste.
On we go to steep two, the aroma is creamy and sweet, I managed to not dip my nose while sniffing the flowery sweetness. This time the lily note is very present in the aroma, giving it a gentle spiciness. The mouthfeel is still buttery and thick, and very well rounded. The taste skips over the green note and goes straight into the flowery explosion, so many notes of flowers, lilacs, osmanthus, lilies, and honeysuckles, finishing out with a creamy sweetness.
The third steep brings in more of the lily spicy notes, strong floral and honey with a wonderful spicy note that lingers through and through. The mouthfeel still has that buttery texture that I have come to expect, though it is a touch lighter this time. The taste starts out with a touch of green, similar to the first steep, like crushed fresh vegetation. This moves to sweet honeysuckles and nicely strong lilies whose floral spiciness lingers for quite some time. Many steeps were had.
I totally fell asleep during my MRIs yesterday, I just want everyone to know this fact. So first was the EEG which all the strobe lights and fast breathing in the world could not make me have a seizure…though I did find out that even when I am asleep my eyes never stop moving so much so that the technician felt the need to point it out, even having it where my eyes were open while I was asleep, which made for some amusing results. Also I had a hard time falling into a deep sleep while being in a dark room with a comfy chair. But, put me in a tube with loud banging and crazy laser noises and I go right to sleep…I should point out this was also after I chugged the entire much needed contents of my travel steeper full of oolong. This just goes to show you that the brain is a weird thing, They think I should have results of the MRIs on Monday, and the way the tech went from cracking jokes to very comforting and not letting me see my brain at the finish has me hoping that he just thought I was exhausted. In all seriousness though, I want an MRI tube to sleep in, they are quite relaxing.
Today we are looking at a tea that I honestly need to look at more, but it seems that I frequently forget it exists, which is pretty unforgivable since it is a bug-bitten beauty. Oriental Beauty to be exact! This is Dachi Tea’s No 7 Oriental Beauty Oolong, grown in the northern low elevation triangle (I didn’t know there was one of those, which is cool) between Miaoli, Shiding, and Hsinchu, plucked during the summer, once a year, Bai Hao (this tea’s other name) is the fancy stuff, like all those bug-bitten treasures it tends to be both rare and pricey. And totally worth the price (I may or may not be obsessed with bug-bitten teas, I blame my love of leafhoppers) I also blame the Concubine Oolong for my tendency for forgetting the graceful Oriental Beauty exists, for shame. So, how does this one smell, so first let me say I got a bit of a surprise with this one, the first note I detect is ever so gentle peppery nasturtiums. After that there is a burst of sweetness, rich brown sugar and sugar cane, scuppernongs, and muscadines, and a finish of honey and delicate flowers. This is a very sweet Oriental Beauty, and with a suitableness I appreciate.
The wet leaves are so colorful, definitely one of my favorite things about Oriental Beauty, shades of browns, greens, and reds remind me of autumn leaves. The aroma is sweet and slightly delicate while being very distinct, it is graceful like a silk scarf in the breeze. Notes of honey and grapes, specifically more like muscadines, and a finish of allspice. The liquid is like sniffing a honey drizzled muscadine grape, ah, like a juicy bite out of my childhood.
The first steep is sweet and very smooth, again the silk scarf in a breeze image comes to my mind, this tea is silky and gentle, distinct while light. The taste starts out with sweetness, a juicy burst of muscadine grapes and and honey sweetness, it starts gently and swells to an intense sweetness. The finish is sweet and the aftertaste is one of grapes.
Second steep time, the color is as rich as autumn leaves, and the aroma is sweet and wonderfully muscatel, honey and grapes mix with just a touch of sugar cane. The taste is sweet and gentle, me thinks that is a theme with this tea, along with its silky mouthfeel. It starts with notes of honey and juicy muscadines and moves into rich honey and a touch of allspice. This finishes with muscadines and a sweet lingering honey.
The third steep comes in with beautifully large leaves in a practical rainbow of leafy colors. The taste keeps in theme, silky, gentle and sweet. I found it did not really evolve much throughout steeping, just sweet muscadines and honey with occasional spices. It is pleasant, the muscadine notes remind me of late summer feasting during my childhood and the gentle sweetness I found to be peaceful.
Today I was given a reminder as to why I stopped taking care of fish. Anyone who ever says they are easy is full of it or not doing it right. Years ago I had a ton of tanks, I was rescuing Bettas from local pet stores and trying to rehabilitate them, but one month I was sick, like really really sick. I lost pretty much all my tanks except for my self-sufficient 20 gallon, it was devastating. After that I had a Betta here and there that I rescued and loved for a couple years, by no more massive tanks. Recently the bug bit me and I want to get back into tank management, hardcore, I have two small ones but when I move I expect my tea room to also be filled with aquariums, cleaning water is a really good workout after all. What all of this about is I woke up to a dead Ugin the Spirit Dragon this morning, no idea why, he seemed fine the night before happy and healthy, with fine water. I am filled with sadness at the loss of my fish, debating cleaning the tank, moving the Otoclinus in with the other betta and his ghost shrimp and retiring that tank, or just getting a new Betta. Time will tell.
Ok that was a really depressing intro, I am sorry about that, so I am going to make it up to you all with some really pretty happy tea, yep, it is a fuzzy golden tea, this time with an epic twist! Whispering Pines Tea Co’s Earl Gold, a blend of Golden Snail (one of those Yunnan fuzzies I rave about quite often, and WPTC’s is something else) and cold pressed Bergamot oil, and then it was aged for 30 days. Before I get too into this review, you might have noticed I do not review a ton of Earl Grey Tea, turns out I am not really a huge fan of it, the real Erlkönig (think folklore not Goethe) is Ben, he is a connoisseur of the stuff. With that in mind, allow me to describe these fuzzy coils’ aroma, they smell really good, like really good. Blend cocoa and malt, chocolate and roasted peanuts, and underneath all of that is bergamot’s citrus zing that grows and grows until it is like having my nose pressed into a bergamot fruit. I like how it is not an immediate punch to the face with bergamot, since that is usually what I don’t like about earls.
Into the gaiwan the tea goes, yeah, this is going to be a gongfu earl session, that might be a first for me. The wet leaves are very sweet, notes of yams, cocoa, peanuts, and rich malt blend seamlessly with bergamot. The aroma reminds me of like the best ever chocolate orange, man I love those things so much. The liquid is a delicate blend of peanuts, yams, and cocoa, and hello bergamot at the finish, it just sits there and is friendly, not at all overbearing.
First steep, oh that is smooth, very smooth and very sweet. Not what I ever expected to encounter from an Earl, the expected bliss from the Golden Snails with a really crisp and tangy bergamot blend together really well. It starts with malt, cocoa, and peanuts, this builds to a really strong cocoa sweetness and honey, with a lingering honey finish. And then there is the bergamot, it starts mild and builds, underneath the other notes and never overpowering them. Again, it reminds me of the best chocolate orange.
Second steep, the leaves have more or less totally unfurled now, and the tea area smells really good. The aroma is a balance of cocoa and bergamot, like a perfect balance, it is rich and sweet and mouthwatering. I am salivating over an earl, what has the world come to? The taste is rich, very rich, hello malt and cocoa, and of course bergamot. This steep is not as sweet, and the bergamot has a touch of sourness that really wakes my mouth up, and it lingers for a while.
Third steep! Strong cocoa and bergamot reaches my nose from the cup, tea blenders, please, make more EG that is a citrus themed nose caress and not a punch! The punch is nice for some, but I really like being able to tell how good the base tea is. The taste is very rich and balanced, the sweetness returns and blends well with the cocoa and malt notes. The finish is citrus and lingers. Ben and I had many steeps of this and both became quite tea drunk. So what does the Tea Barbarian have to say for himself when it comes to this tea?
“Like all the best Earls Grey, I could smell the Bergamot from across the room as soon as Amanda unsealed the package. That’s a promising start, even if it didn’t make her cough when she sniffed it as some past favorites have. Actually drinking it was an unusual experience – Earls are, of course, usually made with ‘Western Standard’ teas from South India, which tend to be strong nearly to the point of overpowering. As a tea barbarian, that’s the sort of thing I’m used to. The fuzzy gold used here is much more mild – enough so that I’m not sure I would call it an Earl Grey, exactly. However, to my pleasant surprise (and unlike several other “Early Grey but with fancier leaves” experiments I’ve tried before), it actually works really well. Whether Gongfu-style or Western, the milder leaves compliment the Bergamot, rather than being overwhelmed by it – the result is a smooth, earthy Earl variant less suited to kicking you into gear before exploring ancient ruins than to soothing contemplation atop a throne of skulls. An Ambassador Grey, if you will.
All the powers in the world couldn’t convince me to review an ANYTHING Grey going strictly by Gongfu – an insistence upon English-style* steeping is part of why I called myself a Tea Barbarian in the first place – but there’s one further surprise there. Don’t tell Amanda, but this tea actually remains much more flavorful when taken Gongfu. It’s a very unique Grey variant, all-round."
- Okay, fine, it predates the English using it. In fact, Amanda tells me the Mongols were the first to brew tea that way, so that’s EXTRA barbaric. Though I use rather less milk than either the Mongols or the English tend to.
Flavors: Bergamot, Chocolate, Citrus, Cocoa, Malt, Peanut, Yams
Today has been an utterly lumpy day. I have pretty much spent the entire time I have been awake staring at my screen, a big lump in my chair, wrapped in a fuzzy sweater. The very ideal lazy Sunday, which is nice since I did not sleep so well last night. I do not indulge very often, but some days just doing nothing is refreshing.
For today’s tea I am taking a look at Yunomi’s Onocha’s Mochi Rice Genmaicha, a classic tea with a slightly unusual twist, and you all probably know by now, I really like atypical Genmaicha, I find them fun. Yunomi recently redid their website, and their usual wealth of information about the tea is not present yet, though there is a bit about Onocha and its history. From what I can gather about this tea, it is good old fashioned Green Tea (probably Bancha) with Mochi Rice, though this is not too uncommon, but it seems for the most bog standard Genmaicha it is toasted brown rice with popped sorghum to give it the ‘popcorn’ appeal. Once in a while you get one with mochi rice. The aroma of the rice and tea blend is a great blend of toast, fresh grass, and a gentle sweet nuttiness much like you get when you open a steamer full of rice. Hilariously it smells nothing like the Mochiko flour I use for my various baking projects.
Into the tiny kyusu the leaves and rice go for their bath, and I can smell the toasty aroma creeping ever closer from my tea desk to my computer desk, it is quite nice. No surprise the leaves are very toasted smelling, strong notes of toasted rice and grain with an equally strong grassy green aroma, this is a robust Genmaicha. The liquid is a balance of grass, umami rich kelp, and toasted rice. This is an aroma that is very much so savory and not at all sweet.
The taste is very rice heavy, a perfect blend of toasted rice and slightly sweet steamed rice. After this initial rice burst is savory kelp, fresh and slightly sharp grass, and a bit of a grainy finish. It is rich and refreshing, one of those teas that to me tastes like a warm comfy sweater, probably because years ago when I was recovering from surgery I pretty much lived off of Genmaicha. I will say this one is more savory than most I have had, but brewing at a lower temperature I find brings out the sweetness, so take that as you will.
I recently discovered something that might prove to be very dangerous. A beautiful little thing called Hero Forge, a site where you can design and then have created, a miniature based on your creation. This of course is geared towards people with RPG characters that just do not fit the various other minis out there, or for my purposes, creating a miniature of something that already exists but not in mini form. I have spent the better part of a year trying to find a miniature I can tweak into Prince Elien from Summoner Wars board game. Because Ben and I are total dorks we started with this as a competitive game, and very quickly weaved it into a massive story and RPG, His Royal Grumpiness as I affectionately call him, is one of the main players in this RPG and I wanted a mini, so soon I will finally have one.
Since the weather is getting cooler, my desire to drink Shou is stronger, I want that warming Qi to cuddle my insides like a fuzzy blanket, so today we are looking at Puerh Junky’s 2013 Sweet Brick, Shancheng Tea Co. a Shou that is apparently an economy brand by Langhe Tea Factory. So far I have enjoyed the Shous I have had from Langhe Tea Factory because they blend sweetness with loamy notes, and they get me crazy tea drunk, but that could be because I was using my monster sized Elephant Duanni for Shou. The aroma of these tightly compressed leaves is very sweet, bordering on caramel and molasses, with sharp dry oak wood, and a touch of well loved leather. This Shou smells dry, not at all like a loamy forest floor, more like a cabin during summer.
So, introducing my newest friend, a teeny tiny micro pot, perfect for doing a ton of steeps of Shou, The liquid is thick, notes of molasses and malt, caramel, a touch of wet leather, and a tiny hint of wet slate waft from the still pretty compressed leaves. The liquid is sweet and woody, with a touch of loam, a nice burst of caramelized sugar, and a finish of slate and leather.
This tea starts thick and sweet, strong notes of molasses which almost makes me think of molasses with the texture. The initial sweetness moves to woodiness blending wet wood, dry wood, and a touch of loam. The finish is wet leather and lingers.
And right on to the second steep! The aroma is woody and sweet, and I can swear there is a cocoa note alone with the caramelized sugar and a hint of loam. The taste starts loamy and sweet, still a thick mouthfeel and thick Qi, I have that great sinking into my chair feeling I get when drinking a Shou, always makes me think of sinking into a pile of loam on a summer day. The finish is oak wood and a touch of wet leather which lingers.
Third steep! The aroma is woody and malty, with a nice burst of cocoa and caramelized sugar. The mouthfeel is still thick but it takes on a creaminess this time as well, the taste starts with loam and molasses and moves to an even stronger loam note with a touch of cocoa and woodiness. No leather this time, just loam, cocoa and a finish of sweet woodiness that lingers. I got many more steeps out of this before it fades to nothing.
I have a fun story to tell today, a story about little ol me, specifically very little me. See, my mom has a nickname for me, ‘moonshine’ short for both ‘pumpkin moonshine’ and ‘moonshine girl’ so yeah, nothing to do with mountain booze, all about moons. This name came about when I was still toddling around, when we would visit my grandparents in Augusta (we lived in Aiken, SC, so really close) I would insist on wandering off in the evening to talk to the moon in some random made up language. I was especially drawn to moon viewing and chatting while there because they lived on a hill and I swear the moon was massive and frequently pumpkin orange, a magical looking thing to a tiny child. My obsession with the moon did not end as I grew up, you can still find me outside when everyone is asleep conversing with the moon in my own made up languages. And yes, the Tasha Tudor book by the same name was also a childhood favorite, but I think most her books were.
Today’s tea is one of many names, Red Jade, Sun Moon Lake Tea, #18, Ruby Red, Hong Yu, and I know there has to be something I am missing. Dachi Tea’s No 11 Sun Moon Lake #18, a tea with a unique story, see what makes this tea so special is it is a blend of native Taiwanese tea trees and the Assamica cultivar, usually this tea comes from the valley around Sun Moon Lake (name drop!) but this tea was sourced from their grower in Pinglin, adding a unique spin to the familiar tea. This tea is also a tea of many faces, if you look at a dozen vendor’s descriptions they all list it as distinct, but they all seem to have similar yet different notes: cloves, mint, cinnamon, eucalyptus…but none ever list the note that makes this tea iconic to me, and I admit it took me tasting it a few times before I facepalmed realizing that note that kept escaping me was one right out of my childhood. Sassafras! I had sassafras trees all over my yard in Georgia, their differently shaped leaves and wonderful smelling bark was a staple, that I would nibble on more often than I probably should have. If I am doing my quick and very scan-heavy research correctly, Safrole is chemically similar to cloves, bay, cinnamon, and a ton of other things, fascinating! Anyway, tangent aside, leaves! The aroma is complex, strong notes of sassafras with an accompaniment of cinnamon, sweet potatoes, peanuts, honey, and a touch of menthol and pepper at the finish.
Brewing time, and whoa, that is a potent pile of soggy leaves. Strong notes of cinnamon and menthol waft out with the steam, alongside cloves and peanuts, with a finish of sassafras. There is a hint of woodsiness at the finish as well. The liquid is nutty and sweet, peanuts and cloves, and a distinct woody sassafras note at the finish. Definitely smells like I just broke some sassafras sticks under my nose.
The first steep is yum, it is smooth and rich, and very sweet. Starting out with notes of cinnamon and sassafras, it moves on to yams and honey. The finish is a lingering sweetness of honey, a touch of malt, and a delicate roasted peanut earthiness. The aftertaste of honey lingers for quite a while, making me feel all fancy and contemplative.
Second steep, the aroma is strong with the sweet potatoes, and I find it amusing that the smell is sweet potato and the taste is yam, such a subtle yet important distinction. Alongside the sweet potato is sassafras and a touch of honey. The taste is ramping up, the sassafras notes and cinnamon notes are joined by cloves and a touch of menthol at the front. The midtaste brings with yams and honey and still really potent sassafras and cloves…kinda makes me want candied yams. The finish is all honey and lingering sweetness, with just a tiny tiny hint of malt. This steep has some oomph to it.
Third steep, and wow, it is still going strong and also getting stronger, I was not sure that was possible because the aroma is already pretty intense. Strong notes of sweet potato and cloves, sassafras and honey great my nose. The taste is still ramping up, strong notes of malt, sassafras and cloves take the forefront. The midtaste is woody and yam heavy with a note of peanuts. The finish, like before is lingering sweet honey. I went on for a couple more steeps, and yeah, I got very tea drunk from it, this is an intense #18!
Flavors: Cinnamon, Clove, Honey, Malt, Mint, Yams
Two very interesting bits of gaming related news today! The first one, the newest Minecraft snapshot introduced Skeletons on skeleton horses, how cool is that? First they tame spiders and now skellie horses, truly those bony archers are the true masters of Minecraft, Ben and I have been theorizing this for years. The other bit of news is a bit personal, in Terraria, after many nights summoning Pumpkin Moons and killing soooooooo many Pumpkin Kings, I finally got the Raven Staff and the Spider pet. So yes, I am a dark-elf summoner with an army of ravens and an adorable spider…who occasionally rides a UFO, or unicorn when I am feeling fancy.
Tis time for my daily-ish tea rambling, looking at What-Cha’s Malawi Zomba Steamed Green Tea, a tea whose name will forever make me think of zombies, same with the Zomba Pearls, I am sorry, that is just the way my brain works, same with seeing blooming teas as baby Cthulhu. This tea hails from the Satemwa Tea Estate in Malawi, a place that has made several of my favorite teas, but really the artisan teas that come out of Africa I have found to be mind blowing, at first I wondered if it was just the uniqueness factor, but the more drink them I realize that nope, I just really like them. So, how about these leaves? The aroma is surprisingly nutty, like cashews, with a strong green presence, notes of greenbeans, cucumber, a tiny touch of seaweed, and a touch of sweet honey and a zingy note of citrus. Hilariously at the finish is a very distinct note of zucchini, I say hilarious because it comes out of nowhere, like you are sitting sniffing your tea and a zucchini falls from the sky into your leaves, it is quite distinct indeed.
So for brewing I did a somewhat pseudo gongfu session, brewing in my gaiwan but for a longer time more similar to western style. Basically I wanted to play with my gaiwan, like I do. The aroma is no longer a finish of zucchini, the zucchini decided it liked me and wanted to stay at the forefront of things, it is joined by hay, sweetgrass, cut grass, and a bit of flowers and citrus. It oddly reminds me exactly of my Grandparent’s garden during summer. The liquid however, is nutty, blending cashews and chestnuts, with lemon leaves and grass.
The tea is really light with an almost buttery mouthfeel, it has a bunch of things going on for such a light tea too. Starting with a gentle sweetness of nuttiness and honey, it pretty immediately moves to gentle sea air, and then to a pile of vegetal notes, bell pepper, zucchini, and a slightly peppery spinach finish. What a fun first steep!
Second steep, the aroma is a blend of sweet nuttiness and green, it is a tea that smells very much so like ‘tea’ like the distilled essence of what fresh off the bush tea leaves smell like. This time the mouthfeel is more brisk, less buttery, starting with sea air and moving on to zucchini and chestnuts with a very snappy green pepper finish.
Alas! It did not storm yesterday, and on second looking at the weather, apparently I misread ‘early Thursday morning’ as early Tuesday, whoops! It is ok, because today was another comfy, blustery, windows open day, a day made for daydreaming about mountain forest frolics and coming home to a pile of fuzzy blankets and freshly baked bread. Ah, daydreaming!
Today we are looking at a tea that is anything but evocative of autumn, it is Tao Tea Leaf’s Shifeng Longjing Green Tea-Premium. Longjing (or also commonly known as Dragonwell, the translation of Longjing) is one of the most well loved teas of the spring harvest, some of us spend all year excitedly waiting the various harvests of this flat pan-fried leaves. The name Shifeng refers to one of the mountain peaks in the Xihu growing region, I think, it might be a mountain range and not a peak, or the name of a region in Hangzhou. As interesting as all that is, the real important thing is whether or not the tea is any good. The aroma is fairly delicate, not an overpowering scent, but it does have very distinct notes, specifically vegetal ones. Blending notes of snap peas, celery, greenbeans, asaragus, and a finish of sweet and sesame seeds. Sniffing this tea it is definitely a dragonwell, blending the iconic vegetal notes and that toasty sesame seed note that to me is very iconic, which I believe comes from the pan firing step of processing.
Dragonwell means time for the dragon gaiwan, just lungs everywhere! Though surprisingly I did not use my dragon cup, opting for my possible Tongzhi era cup instead, because it is still the new hotness in my collection. Now that the leaves have had a steeping, the aroma is heavy and thick in the vegetal department, especially the notes of asparagus, cooked cabbage, and greenbeans, it is a savory aroma with just a hint of nutty sweetness at the finish. The liquid is very light, but the notes that do waft out of my cup are green and fresh, asparagus with a hint of sauteed sesame seeds.
First steep, it starts out very smooth with a nice nutty blend of chestnut and sesame seeds, bringing out just a touch of sweetness at the start. This moves on to peas and edamame with a slightly savory sauteed bok choy and a slightly spicy (like VERY distant allspice) honey sweet finish.
On to the second steep, still a fairly light aroma, with asparagus and sesame seeds, adding a tiny hint of peas with this steep. The tasting experience is still very smooth, a nice light and smooth mouthfeel. The taste is all vegetal all the time, notes of asparagus and bok choy, edamame and peas, and a finish of greenbeans. Even though the notes are distinct none of them are very powerful, this is a delicate tea.
So, this last steep had pretty much no aroma, just a hint of asparagus. The taste was also pretty mild, almost nothing going on, like spring water and a touch of asparagus and bok choy. Even though this tea kinda petered out, I found the first two steeps delightfully light and refreshing. I am certainly fond of these delicate teas once in a while, as for an everyday drinker I prefer a Longjing with more of an oomph that I can just have, a tea as dainty as this needs concentration and complete focus, so not a bad thing on occasion.