332 Tasting Notes
I actually bought this at World Tea Expo back in June…but hadn’t dipped into it until – well – now.
I gongfu-ed the hell out of this old sucker. For a ten-year-aged oolong…it’s…uuuugghghbarlghghgh…tea-drunkening. The flavors present defy logic. Roastiness comes first, followed by a medicinal quality makes your brain feel fuzzy (in a healthy way), and the rest is just…uuuughsserblblersbaaaflerp.
I’m sorry if this isn’t more…uh…“immaculate” a description.
Someone take away my keys.
I got a good helping of this stuff from Lochan Tea to play with. And play with it, I did. I gongfu’d it, I boiled it, I did a green tea-ish approach with it. Basically, I’ve been rolling in this particular tea for the better part of a week.
But what I hadn’t done was observe the brewing recommendations from another vendor selling the stuff. I looked at the Butiki Teas page, and they recommended a four-minute steep at 170 degrees. That seemed light, but I gave it a shot.
So much going on with this oolong. It’s slightly malty – like an Assam. There’s a grapiness to it – like a Darjeeling. And, oddly enough, there’s a bit of pekoe-ish-ness – like a Nilgiri. On top of that, a bit of white tea character also shines through. It’s like an amalgamation of many different teas and traditions.
For this, the lighter approach is the best approach. So much nuance.
Oh yeah, I also did a guest blog for Lochan Tea about Indian oolongs in general. Go looky, if you wanna: http://lochantea.com/index.php?route=pavblog/blog&id=21
I paid a visit to The Jasmine Pearl earlier in the afternoon right after work. With traffic, I was worried about making it on time, but I arrived with an hour or so to spare. Originally, I intended only on having their yellow tea and any other new orthodox offerings they had on hand.
Then I came across this blend.
I rarely go for blends. Even rarer is my inclination toward a cooked pu-erh blend. But this…whoah. It tasted like…earthy root beer. “Root Beer of the Earth”! Oh man, I have to write that down. Great book title idea.
Where was I?
Oh yes, great blend. Tastes like a flavored tea without any flavoring. Tastes pretty darn spiffy when iced as well.
I was actually getting done posting my write-up about this tea (which you can find here: http://steepstories.com/2014/02/25/taiwans-wild-side-big-brass-butikis-round-1/) when I thought to myself, Oh yeah! I should brew up some of that! First time that’s ever happened. So, for my way-to-work tea, I brewed some of this up.
SO much going on here – cocoa, malt, mint…uh…awesomeness. I seriously wish I had more of the stuff. It has all the features I adore in Taiwanese black teas plus a little roughness behind the edges – like porno hair. (Wait ,no!)
Flavors: Cocoa, Malt
After a fairly rough weekend at work, I collapsed on the bed at around 7:30PM last night. Which…unfortunately prompted my body to roust around 3AM, thinking it was well-rested. Instead of trying to force it back into submission, I chose instead to sip-speriment.
This is the first hand-rolled Darjeeling I’ve ever encountered. The leaves, frankly, resembled an oolong – only not as tightly ball-fisted. Because of this, I made the twilight decision to “gongfool” the sucker- gaiwan, three cups, and one-minute steeps each.
The results were subtle, sweet, floral- no over-arching spice flavor, to speak of. Very unlike any other Darjeeling first flush I’ve ever tried. At times, it was almost too subtle, but I blame that on the wacky approach I used. A three-minute steep later on turned up a bolder profile.
Flavors: Fruit Tree Flowers, Grapes, Honey
It’s been three years since I last revisited this white tea, but last week, I’ve been having it in spades. At first, it was to fill a notch in my “White Tea Week” series of blogs, but then it became my go-to evening picker-upper. Arguably the most expensive white tea out there, it has an extremely wonderful flavor of fruit, spice and wine that holds up to almost-boiling water. (In fact, that’s what the Sri Lankan estate recommended.)
I’m glad I had a second crack at this.
I’m not usually one for young, cooked pu-erhs. A lot of the time, they have this fishy, composted taste that I just don’t find appealing. Aged about five years or more, they take on more earthy characteristics. This was…something completely different. A cooked pu-erh without a fishy taste. It was woodsy, minty, and strangely herbaceous – reminding me of echinacea and cinnamon bark for some reason. A smoky underpinning also kept me sipping.
A peculiar and taste-worthy pu-erh.
I’ve kinda been living on this all week. But I hadn’t had it prior to a work shift. Luckily, I was up early enough to gongfu the heck out of this as a pre-funk for the work day ahead. I was on a bourbon barrel-aged tea drunk high all morning. Even broke out into song. At least five times.
Don’t judge me.
If you want to know the origin story of this tea, well, I was a witness!: http://steepstories.com/2014/01/07/bourbon-barrel-pu-erh-origin-story/
Since I’ve spent the better part of the weekend knee-deep in flu plague, I’ve been on a white tea kick. However, this Monday morning, I wanted to go for something a little more pu-erh-y. I split the difference and went for this “white bud pu-erh”. I use quotations on that because I’m still unsure what the difference between a white bud pu-erh and an aged white tea are? Neither really go through a wet-piling, and sometimes aged white teas (and young white teas) are compressed into cakes. So, how does one classify that?
That aside, the taste confused the issue further. It resembled – beat for beat – a young, Yunnan-grown Silver Needle. Citrus and herbal notes and all. Toward the finish, it had some of the winy properties of a sheng pu-erh, only rougher – given its young age.
I guess I’ll leave my philosophical question aside and just answer with, “NOM!”.
It’s two days after Christmas, and this arrived with all the fanfare of an opening mailbox door. I noticed the label on the package, and immediately ducked inside. I’d been waiting to try this tea the moment I first heard about it. Heck, I was there during the initial brainstorming session. Over beer!
I’ve notched off a few barrel-scented teas, and this one is the strongest yet. The earthiness of the pu-erh is there, but it’s a runner-up to the rich, strong, smoked fruit notes of the bourbon barrel scenting. Wood, peat, gasoline, earth, and fireball sweetness all took turns pummeling my tongue. And that was just with gongfu-style.