540 Tasting Notes
My dear friends and readers, I have a terrible confession, I am rather ill and a little bit worried. At first I had a sniffle and sore throat and I just assumed allergies (which apparently I don’t have, still weirded out by that) but nope, this is something much more annoying. Not sure if it is a terrible cold or what, but it has decided to move to my lungs (like they always do) and I am coughing and wheezing up a storm. So I am unhappily living on lots of cold meds, expectorants, antihistamines, and my inhaler…long story short, I am super loopy and so glad that I take really long winded notes in my tea notebooks! It was actually me becoming ill when I first started my tea blogger that I came up with the idea of logging all my notes in a notebook ahead of time, certainly one of my better decisions.
Day two of our Nannuoshan adventure takes us to Yunnan, home of Puerh and a ton of other fascinating teas. One such tea is Dian Yin Zhen, a silver needle white tea whose name translates to Yunnan silver needle, very direct this time. It is important to distinguish that this silver needle is from Yunnan, because it is way different from its Fujian twin. See, Yunnan teas are definitely distinct, they have one of the more defined ‘terroir’ markers of tea with an at times really intense camphor to menthol note in taste and aroma, and if you are really lucky a distant smokiness. And sniffing the leaves did not disappoint, I found notes of hay, lettuce, melon, and a distinct note of sharp camphor and a hint of smoke. The aroma reminds me of a Sheng Puerh with a fruitier, sweeter tone to it, such is the beauty of tea from Yunnan!
Brewing the leaves is an adventure, the aroma really had me confused, if I had closed my eyes and sniffed I would have at first thought it was a Sheng. Upon closer nose examination I can detect notes of melon and crisp cucumber, along with that is the signature hay and strong camphor and faint smokiness. It is a pretty potent smelling pile of wet leaves. The liquid is fruity sweet with notes of melon and peaches with a bit of hay, and of course, crisp camphor.
First steeping, and let me say, if you are a fan of young Sheng you would love this tea. It is crisp with an accompanying fuzzy tingling from trichomes and gentle smoothness. It starts with a rich camphor and smokiness, this moves to hay and a bit of spinach, and a finish of lettuce and cucumber. This tea has a nice hui gan that really lasts and cools the throat.
Second time around this tea’s aroma takes on a slightly bready, yeasty, almost sourdough tone along with sweet straw and a bit of smoke and camphor at the finish. Tasting the tea, the camphor and smoke notes have definitely mellowed out a good bit, they are still present, but this time they are only at the finish. The beginning of the sip is sweet and fruity, with notes of peaches and hay, this moves to a yeasty bread sweetness along with a hint of sourness that transitions nicely to the camphorous finish. I have really mixed feelings on Dian Yin Zhen, it is a fascinating tea with intense flavors, but I am not sure if I like it, and this is definitely not the first Dian Yin Zhen I have had where I spend the entire sipping session not sure if I like it or not, and I certainly foresee many more sessions like this.
Today is the day I fight Ben in the league, against his old UCM army we were evenly matched, but now that he has switched to the Shaltari, I am afraid. I cannot win against that faction, even when I have a perfect army for crushing them, my dice betray me. I know the Shaltari are pretty, but come on dice, stop being dazzled!
It is time for a theme week! I am really on a kick with these lately, they are just too much fun. A couple months ago company Nannuoshan offered samples up for review on steepster, of course I pounced on the offer like a cat with a pile of treats, the samples were sent out in a staggered pattern and yours truly was very close to the bottom, but my samples arrived and all that anticipation gets to be paid off in a Nannuoshan week! Today I am looking at Xue Ya, also called Yangxian Xue Ya and Snow Bud, which is a very delicate white tea. Though, depending on who you ask, this tea could also be considered a green tea, of course researching further seems to present a very even split between calling it a white and green, and my own examination shows that it looks like the world’s most fuzzy green. Me thinks I will spend a long time researching this one, in fact the reason I selected this sample is because when I was working on that 30+ page list of teas from all over the world (really need to get back to that and other tea research) this one caused me a bit of trouble. So, how do these delicate little buds smell, well, pretty good actually! The leaves are a blend of crispness, sweetness, and floral notes, with a strong peony presence accompanied by honey, cucumbers, and a bit of melon. The notes are very distinct while retaining a level of subtlety.
Nannuoshan recommends brewing this tea at 195°F (90°C) now if this really is a white, then that is awesome, I am a huge fan of using hot (same temperature I use for a lot of red teas) water rather than cooler, this is why I think a lot of people say white tea has no flavor, because if you crank that temperature it becomes a thing of beauty. If this tea is a green I should be afraid, because that might end poorly for me! The incredibly beautiful wet leaves (so vibrant!) have a complex aroma, with notes of peony, melon, lettuce, sage, and an unexpected nuttiness reminiscent of Long Jing, that sweet toasted sesame aroma with a savory edge to it. The liquid really has a fun surprise to it, it is sweet and light, almost fluffy. The sweet note reminds me a bit of meringue, blended with peony and chestnuts, with just a whiff of savory green spinach at the finish.
The first steep is light in both taste and color, so it is certainly starting like a white tea, with a smooth mouth ending on tingly from the trichomes. The taste starts out with a blend of honey, lettuce, and cucumber. This moves on to a subtle melon and a hint of chestnuts. The finish is sweet peony nectar with a slightly nutty aftertaste.
Onward to steep two! The aroma this time is much greener, with chestnut, sesame seeds, and artichoke with a finish of peony. The taste is also much greener, is the white tea in fact a very strong green that can hold its own against a higher temperature? The tea has a more crisp mouthfeel this time, with starting notes of artichoke and toasted sesame seeds. This moves to a slightly meaty, umami taste of sauteed green beans and a hint of cooked mushrooms. The tea finishes with gentle sweetness of melon and lettuce with a lingering note of peony that stays around for quite a while.
Third steep, and the aroma is still on the green side, in fact I would say all traces of the more typical white tea notes have vanished and I am left with artichoke, green beans, sesame seeds, and a nice finish of meatiness. The taste has also bid a fond farewell to the white tea aspects of this tea, it is all green now, baby! It is a tasty green at that, blending savory notes with rich greenness. Starting with notes of sauteed vegetables and mushrooms then moving on to a crisp artichoke and fresh kale, imparting just a hint of that vegetal bitterness you get from kale. The finish is sesame seeds and a delicate sweet honey note that stays as an aftertaste. Xue Ya is still a mysterious tea, but I can safely say it was a very tasty mystery!
You know, I am a bad geek, maybe. I have a fancy kindle fire just loaded with books, but I have not read much lately. Each night when I settle into bed, my kindle is there waiting for me, but instead of reading I play games. I have been lately addicted to Plague Inc (though that game has been frustrating me immensely) Mini Warriors (it is tempting to throw all the moneys at this game, it is so much fun) and Townsmen (even if I find the description of women spend all day at the market and men do all the work rather tasteless) I dabble with a few others, but those are the big time sinks.
So today is the last of my Matcha weekend binge, and I finish off with Blueberry Matcha from 3 Leaf Tea, and fun fact, I used to be hardcore addicted to blueberry green tea, I went from consuming a lot of it to it being a fun nostalgic treat. Mainly I gave it up because my favorite one is nigh impossible to get, ugh! Like the Orange Matcha I had the other day, the aroma of the green pile of powder is only faintly the flavor, like having a pile of Matcha sitting next to a pile of blueberry waffles and fresh blueberries. The Matcha is both sweet and grassy, very green, which I think compliments the Blueberry aroma. Adding water and whisking it really brings out the blueberry notes, it has a tiny bit of tartness to the aroma, much like blueberries have at times, but it also has that super sweet blueberry jam note that I love.
And again, like the Orange Matcha, the Blueberry Matcha is really quite tasty as a traditional whisked up bowl of tea. The blueberry taste is fairly light, like eating a mouthful of blueberries and then drinking Matcha. It is green, grassy, with fresh hay and growing things. The finish is where most the blueberry taste it, and it lingers into the aftertaste.
Yay, there is milk, meaning I am making a latte! I have a wicked sore throat (thank you allergies, or whatever, maybe just breathing in the raining tree pollen is irritating my throat) so a bit of creamy cold sweetness sounds perfect. Well, it is delicious, as expected, like a Matcha latte but with a scoop of fresh blueberries and blueberry jam, which is great by me. See, I love blueberries, but I really hate tart blueberries, give me those super sweet juicy ones any day. Adding sugar and making it into a latte gives it a bit of that blueberry candy taste, but I am ok with that (turns out it is one of my favorite candy flavors) and it works well with the greenness of the Matcha. I really liked the blueberry, but I am pretty sure the orange stole my heart.
So, I am pretty sure I have no life anymore, and by no life I mean that I have devoted every moment I am not ‘teaing’ to gaming. Ben coerced me into being a playtester for Seafall, an age of sail legacy game, and we have to (along with some friends of course) playtest 15 games in 10 weeks. On top of that I have decided to pick up at least one more wargame, and god help me I think it might be Warhammer 40K. Everyone knew it would only be a matter of time! Oh awesome! I am listening to Pandora and the ‘dancing Turian song’ came on, meaning yes, I HAD to go watch it, I suggest everyone go watch the dancing Turian and be in awe of his sweet moves.
Yeah, I am in a rambling mood today, not much sleep and lots of tea do that to me, so speaking of tea, Matcha time! 3 Leaf Tea’s Basic Grade Matcha (Unflavored) which is the base Matcha of their flavored Matcha, I figure it would be best to give this a tasting as well as a flavored one, for comparison. The aroma of the nicely green powder is very green, with notes of fresh hay, cut grass, a bit of kale and vegetal notes. The finish is sweet and a bit robust, in my head it is more of a summer aroma rather than a spring aroma, if that makes sense. Whisking the Matcha brings out a definite rich green aroma coming up from the vigorously frothed tea, this is a very green Matcha, and I can see why it is used as a base!
I decided to just have a go with this Matcha traditionally, mainly because I was out of milk (oops) and really was not in the mood for a latte, as much as I love cream and milk fats I just don’t like consuming them too often, and I am going to have one tomorrow (spoilers). So this is a robust Matcha, it seems a bit ‘manly’ with a strong green presence. It starts out with kale and spinach and then moves to sweet fresh hay and cut grass. This is definitely a Matcha I can see myself drinking with a big meal or on a day when I want to feel strong from my tea. This sounds a little odd, but to me Matcha is a tea that has very strong personalities, depending on the Matcha itself, which means I really used the wrong bowl for it, but oh well. Like I said earlier, I can certainly see why this is a the base for flavoring, it has a strong enough presence that flavoring it will not bog down the Matcha itself, that way you can still taste the green along with the flavor.
Guess what I am doing! If you guessed painting my minis then you either read this blog or just know me very well! Currently on the painting desk I have my second Harbinger and my various other unfinished units (yes, I still have not finished my Alphas, for shame) and I hope to have them all finished by Monday when Ben and I have our league fight. Also I have a connection at AdeptiCon, meaning I might be getting my Oppressor early, the excitement is real, to the point that I about had a faint when I found out I might get it early. I just need to settle on a paint scheme since I kinda want to do my command units as different (Desolator not included, it has other special plans) and very showy.
I have decided since it is the first weekend of Spring, that I need some real green in my life, like really green, meaning it is going to be Matcha weekend! Starting off with Orange Matcha from 3 Leaf Tea! This is a Matcha that blends regular ol’ Matcha with orange flavoring (and thank you 3 Leaf Tea for listing that it is Gluten free! A lesson to all tea companies, list if yours contains allergens!) They also sell sample sizes, which I really like, because from experience, flavored Matcha can be VERY hit or miss, and a lot of places only sell massive piles of them, meaning you really have to gamble. To start off, I decided to give this one a try as a traditional whipped up Matcha, this is because after opening the pouch the color and aroma struck me as something I wanted to try as both a latte and traditional. The aroma of this bright green powdery goodness is a blend of sweet grass, freshly mown hay, and very delicate orange undertones. Like a nicely sifted pile of Matcha with a sliced orange sitting next to it! As I give the Matcha a good whisking (and I am sad to announce I am a few bowls of Matcha away from needed a new Chasen, me thinks) the orange aroma almost effervesces up to my nose. It smells like a Matcha and an Orange Julius, and why is this not a thing yet?
I love green tea (especially Sencha) with various citrus fruits, so I am really excited to see what I think of Matcha with orange, it just sounds like something I will like. Upon sipping it, well, imagine a good Matcha that blends a slightly bitter robust taste (kale bitter, not burnt green tea death bitter) and sweet, creamy, hay and sweetgrass notes with orange juice. It is like someone made a normal Matcha and squeezed an orange in with it (I need to try this) while whisking it up. It adds a sweetness and brightness, I could see this being awesome for breakfast!
I also decided to make myself a small iced latte, though I am moderately annoyed that there is just skim milk in the house, I am more of a whole milk kinda gal, or ya know, just give me cream and I am happy! I am also someone who only rarely drinks milk, so it is no surprise that I am out of my milk of choice. The instructions for how to make a latte on the website are just boss, this is how I am making lattes from now on, much easier than having to break out the hand mixer or god forbid, my terrible blender. I did forgo the ice, because I do not want something that cold, plus icecubes get in the way of chugging, I am such a delicate soul. Anyway, making this into a sweet latte is delicious, it is like orange ice cream and Matcha, sweet, green, and delightfully citrus. Not sure which one I liked more, both were quite delicious, and an excellent start to Matcha weekend!
It is a sleepy kinda day today, chilly and rainy, a real ‘spring day’ to me. I think it might be because I spent half of my life in the northeast, but to me, spring means lots of rain showers and being able to go out in the world wearing fluffy sweaters and only one pair of pants, I might even dare going out in a skirt or not wearing a hat! It is honestly some of my favorite weather, perfect for hot tea, enjoying nature, and snuggling under a blanket. A good day for mushroom hunting or doing artsy things, whichever my mood prefers.
Today’s tea came to me from India, by way of England, because getting boxes from other countries makes me immensely happy. Darjeeling 2nd Flush 2014 Rohini Clonal Special Tippy Black Tea from What-Cha comes from the Rohini Tea Estate in Kurseong Valley, which is quite beautiful if you go look at pictures, very lush and green. This tea is not quite lush and green, but slightly fuzzy and rich brown, as a 2nd flush should be. Hehe, in my notebook I list the aroma first as ‘whoa!’ and then actually describe it! The tea starts with a touch of tobacco and malt, and then moves on to raisins and rich, sweet, molasses. I do enjoy the level of richness that these leaves have, and the tobacco note is unusual but quite pleasant.
Into the steeping apparatus the leaves have gone, for a happy steeping time. After they steep the now steaming and soggy leaves have a much sweeter aroma, with notes of molasses, malt, fruit (specifically raisins and dried flowers) and a finish of honey and distant flowers. The liquid is creamy sweet with notes of muscadines, honey, and autumn leaves. Oddly the aroma of the liquid reminds me of sunshine and warmth, it imparts a laziness to my brain.
This tea is delightfully rich and smooth, but I am such a sucker for Darjeeling, I have developed a bit of an addiction to them, and I am constantly waffling between which flush is my favorite. The thing I love most about it is how it reminds me of summer, the best parts of summer, with 2nd flush bringing memories of lazy late summer where everything takes on a golden tone. The taste starts off with a blend of muscadines and scuppernongs with a tiny bit of raisin, this moves on to toasted nuts, autumn leaves, and a really pleasant and surprising orange blossom finish. It is very warm and soothing, much like sitting in a patch of sunlight.
Magnets is hard, I mean it, those stupid super tiny rare earth magnets used in miniatures are a giant pain. So I am trying to redo some of my magnetization today by removing magnets (and the occasional polarization problem) and using bits of metal instead. I am currently covered in dried glue, impaled, cut, and generally beat up, I worry that the magnets are beating me at my own game!
It seems that so far it is Taiwan week, though I can say that was not intentional, but maybe I will run with it. Today we are taking another look at new company Tea Ave (using their awesome aroma tea cup set again, woo!) and their Dong Ding Oolong. So here is the deal, I am just going to come clean, though I am sure a lot of you already know this, Dong Ding Oolong (especially roasted) is hands down my favorite Oolong, possibly my favorite tea. This presents some problems when it comes to reviewing it, because I tend to be extra critical but also easily blown away by it, so let us see how this one measures up. The aroma of the tightly curled leaves is, as expected, delightfully pleasant, with notes of sweet honey and toasted sesame seeds, there are also notes of spicebush, chestnut, and a gentle orchid note. This is a lightly roasted oolong so it still has the floral notes along with the sweetness that roasting brings out, Tea Ave’s website (and awesome packaging) gives the roasting level a 4 (out of 10 I am assuming) and I certainly agree with that.
No surprise, this tea got tossed in my yixing pot for the official steeping, sadly it did not all fit in the aroma cup, so I had to break out the cha hai for the extra. The brewed leaves is a really nice blend of sweet roasted chestnut and sesame and a really surprising potent blend of honeysuckle, lilac, and spicebush. That spicebush note is what makes Dong Ding my favorite I thing, so many happy memories of spicebush flowers. The liquid is not as strongly roasted as the brewed leaves, in fact it has a bit of a vegetation greenness to it, along with spicebush and a touch of chestnut at the finish.
The first tea really starts out floral and sweet, notes of honeysuckle and lilac, a tiny hint of spinach…and then hello roasted! The midtaste and finish is all about the roasted sesame and chestnuts with a sweet honey taste all throughout. The sweetness lingers for a while after sipping experience is finished.
Second steeping time! The aroma is much toastier this time, it is still sweet and floral, but the toasted notes are really starting to shine through with richly toasted sesame notes and of course the spicebush. The taste is also much toastier, starting off with sweet sesame seeds and a bit of toast and delectable honeysuckle nectar. Towards the midtaste the tea picks up a spicebush note and, here is the fun part, there is a finish of sunflower seeds. That is a new one to me, I like!
Third times the charm, I really need to stop saying that because it makes it seem the previous steeps were meh and I need the third steep to make them better…which I don’t, I just never know how to say ‘hey third steep’ I guess I could just do that. So the third steep takes off where the second steep’s aroma left off, mostly all roasted notes of chestnut and sesame seeds, a hint of toast, and that lingering bit of spicebush. The taste is really similar to the second steep, with lots of toasty notes, including notes of actual toast, sesame seeds, and chestnut. The finish is mild honey and spicebush, delicious. Yes, I liked this tea, it passed the delicious taste with flying colors.
Cries, tears, gnashing of teeth, pulling of hair…yeah, for those of you who follow along in my life journey, you know that Monday’s are Dropzone Commander League! I went against my most ancient of foe, the Shaltari, in a killpoint battle and got stomped, the backside of my Desolator was handed to me. At least I got to break out the Desolator and instill fear in my opponent, too bad I could not roll anything other than ones. My skills were on par, but my dice really love the Shaltari and so, I lost.
Enough about my dice betraying me, today we are looking at Sanne Tea’s Honey Black Tea, Sanne Tea is a work in progress company that sent a bunch of samples out to various steepster members and I was lucky enough to receive a few. They specialize in Taiwanese tea, which you all know I have a serious weakness for. This specific tea, comes from Wuhu Village in Ruishi township and is one of those awesome teas that is created thanks to the leafhopper biting the leaves causing a defense reaction in the leaves, resulting in a delightfully sweet aroma and taste. Before I get into the tea, allow me to leave you with this picture of the packaging the tea sample came in, it is beautiful and I had to show it off.
The aroma of the leaves is true to the name, it is intensely sweet and rich, like warmed honey, baking bread, molasses, cocoa, and a very distinct malty finish. It is a very pleasant aroma that I enjoyed sniffing while waiting for my tea kettle to heat up, like a pig looking for truffles I snuffled the leaves happily.
Brewing the leaves I got a pleasant malty aroma wafting around the room, but the real party is examining the wet leaves. I detected notes of sassafras, I love sassafras, I used to have a sassafras tree in my yard and the branches smelled so good when broken. There is also a bit of cocoa and lots of sweet honey goodness. The liquid is a blend of honey, cocoa and a bit of malt at the finish, rich but not too rich.
Well, this tea has a nice intensity to it, it starts out very sweet and creamy, with a combination of honey and cocoa. This transitions to a slightly sharper, in both taste and texture, note of malt and molasses. The finish is honey and it does not linger overlong.
Second time! This steep has a blend of sweet cocoa, a bit of maltiness, and a finish of molasses in the aroma. For tasting, well, this is one of those teas that just works for me taste-wise, it blends notes of cocoa and honey with molasses and malt. It has just the right amount of sweetness and sharpness that makes me happy. Also a finish of baking bread for extra yum, I could certainly see myself buying more of this tea once they get their shop open. I had several more steeps of this one and found that it did not change much, but it had some great staying power, which made it a good painting companion.
For blog and photos (and a friendly Desolator): http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2015/03/sanne-tea-honey-black-tea-tea-review.html
My favorite thing, hands down, about the weather having warmed up is being able to have my windows open. I love sitting at my desk feeling the fresh air, hearing the birds sing…and hearing my weirdo cats chirp at things like they are aliens. Tao only occasionally chips, Espeon sounds like a crazy noise machine, but she is just a much noisier cat. We frequently have conversations and pretend we have some idea what we are saying to each other.
Well, it is official, today marks the start of ticket sales for the Midwest Tea Fest, and to celebrate I am going to take a look at a tea I really should have reviewed ages ago, Shang Tea’s Tangerine Blossom Red. I say that I should have reviewed it ages ago because (spoilers) it is one of my favorite teas, belonging to the surprisingly short (for me anyway) list of teas that I HAVE to have on hand. It is also a tea I have been afraid to review because I was afraid of not doing it justice. Of course the really sad thing is as I review this, this is the end of my supply, so I guess we know what I will be buying very soon. The aroma of the leaves is nothing short of decadent, it blends rich cocoa, roasted peanut, and a tiny dried cherry note with intense heady tangerine blossoms. Me being me, I have spent a lot of time sniffing citrus flowers, tangerine flowers are one of my favorite because they are so heady, blending citrus notes with honeysuckle and gardenia, those combined into one slightly sharp heady flower makes me swoon. Honestly I have a hard time describing it because my brain goes all happy fuzzy while experiencing this tea.
The brewed leaves are so delightfully heady, the tangerine blossom is definitely the dominant note, It reminds me of a pile of plucked flowers on a hot day, if you have ever gardened and had a pile of flowers to deal with, you will notice there is a massive heady note that drifts out from the pile of flowers, now mix that with cocoa, dried cherries, and sweet tangerines. The liquid is a blend of tangerine blossoms, citrus fruit, and a rich cocoa and roasted peanut note. It smells delicious, this is almost a tea I have to sniff and sip solo, because it is a little too sensual.
First steep, oh man, it is so good! A perfect balance of sweetness, richness, and heady floral. Pardon me while I let out a contented sigh, because this tea is intense and lovely. It starts out with a cocoa and dried cherry sweetness and then moves to a heady rich tangerine blossom. It blends the taste of citrus with flower nectar sweetness reminiscent of honeysuckle. The finish is rich cocoa and roasted peanuts with a floral note that seems to linger on my tongue for an eternity.
And now I decide to have a second steep, which is no surprise, the aroma of this steep really ramps up on the sweetness front, the floral notes are intense and the cocoa notes mouth watering. And not just because my doctor said no chocolate and I am having some hard core cravings! The taste starts off intense and it stays intense till the end, and most of that intensity is floral, though it is not like perfume or soapy like some floral teas can be, it is like nectar and sipping a slightly earthy, cocoa, and dried cherry note red tea while sitting next to a bouquet of tangerine blossoms.
Third time and last time, usually I can get four steeps, but the fourth steep is fairly weak, and I let it steep for a while. If anyone is curious, yes I have steeped this tea Western style and it is pretty good, though it does seem to lose some of its more subtle nuances, and even my staunchly western tea drinking boyfriend thinks it is better gongfu style. The aroma of the third steep still has a very strong floral presence, along with cocoa and dried cherry, but it also has a creamy note as well. The taste is a bit milder than the previous one, but there is still a strong tangerine blossom flavor, the nectar like notes are so delicious, though this steep the tea itself really shines. The notes of roasted peanuts, cocoa, sweet dried cherry, and a bit of malt at the finish. I have such a weakness for floral teas, especially citrus flowers of any variety, and I really love that this is a red tea rather than a green or white like I usually run into, Tangerine Blossom Red is one of a kind and delicious, also I love I can go to the shop and talk to its creator when I visit, the personal aspect makes me enjoy it even more.
Guys, I am going to level with you temple rub I feel like absolute crap. I am not sure if it is from the antibiotics my allergy specialist put me on (me and antibiotics do not mix, probably because I was always a Sentinel in Mass Effect) or because of the yogurt I have to eat to keep my body from freaking out completely. I know (maybe) that I don’t have allergies (if that test is to be believed) but I have a growing suspicion I have a Histamine Intolerance, because all the foods that make me feel like I am dying are really high in histamines. Something to talk to the doctor about when I go back in a week-ish, basically, fair warning if yours truly seems ever so slightly out of it on the various social media places I linger. If you just know me from my blog…nevermind, carry on as usual.
Since it is spring, it seems fitting to take a look at a spring themed Puerh, specifically Wymm Tea’s Laohuangpian Sheng (Raw) Pu-erh From Ancient Tea Tree 2014 Spring, Laohuangpian meaning old yellow leaf, refers to the use of the third and fourth leaves to make this brick, rather than the usual buds and first leaves used to make more ‘prettier’ puerhs. These bricks are usually kept by the farmers for their own uses and not much seen on the market. Sneaky sneaky, keeping the good stuff to themselves, maybe. Personally I think this tea is pretty, the tightly compressed green leaves with bits of silver fuzz, it looks like some treasure, specifically it reminds me of Labradorite but not as full of labradorescence, or maybe moss agate. It does not smell like a rock though, which may or may not be good (depends on what you are in the mood for) its fairly faint aroma is a blend of sweetness and green, like fresh cut grass and honey, with a tiny hint of smoke. The faintness of the aroma did not worry me like it would with some teas, those crazy compressed to the point of being like a brick teas tend to have a faint aroma, at least the ones I have experienced.
It is not really a surprise that this tea did not break up after the initial rinse, so I gave it two, and it was still pretty compressed. I poked it with my puerh pick to break it up a bit, not that I had much luck, and I admit I did not poke that hard, because wouldn’t I feel like a real boob if I slipped and chipped my tiny Shui Ping. But now that the leaves are all hot and bothered, the aroma is much more intense, very leafy green like lettuce and fresh spinach, with a faint note of hay and honey, at the end there is a hint of mineral. The liquid is mild and sweet, a blend of honey and fresh hay, and also alfalfa (more teas need that note!)
Ok, I am going to start out by saying how much I love the mouthfeel of this tea, it is thick and almost creamy. When I hear the term soup or broth being used as the official way of describing the liquid state of tea, I always giggle a little because that is food, but the texture is quite brothy, almost sultry. The taste is a really neat blend of faint smokiness, sweet straw mushrooms, hay, honey, and a tiny bit meaty. It blends savory and sweet really well, much like how some BBQ sauces are rather sweet. As the tea cools it takes on a spinach and mineral note.
Second steep time, I honestly noticed no change at all to the aroma, except that the intensity of the notes were stronger. The taste is much the same at the beginning, that wonderful soupy texture is still present as well, this makes a happy me. Towards the midtaste a strong cooling effect takes hold and lingers well past the finish. It does not have the camphor taste that I usually associate with that level of cooling, but when it starts the taste turns more green, like spinach and broken grass.
Third time, the aroma has changed a bit, it is more green with a hint of smoke. There is still the sweetness of alfalfa and a touch of honey at the finish. Well well, what have we here! The texture is still the same (man that texture is killing me, in a good way, I love when my teas are thick and very noticeable) but the taste starts out differently. We start out with green beans, lima beans, and a bit of smoke, this moves into cooling mineral notes and a bit of cooked spinach. The finish is delightfully honey sweet and lingers.
As my usual Puerh adventures go, I traveled along with this one for several more steeps, sadly I did not get to go as long as I would like because I had to leave for the rest of the day, but I did get a total of six steeps in before that point. It stayed smooth and vegetal for the remainder of the session, with hints of smoke and honey at the finish. I really appreciated the fact that this tea never got bitter on me, it lacked the bite that some young Sheng puerhs can have, but that could be based on how I brew them. My secret is water temperature, I go to 195 degrees, tops, because I have found that hotter than that gets you that sharp, hoppy, bitterness that I am just not fond of. I will boil the daylights out of a Shou, but never again with a Sheng. I could see myself getting a brick of this tea and slowly hammering away at it like I am rock hunting and each chunk I tear off is a precious gemstone.