320 Tasting Notes
True story: I tried this right after getting out of a showing of Twilight: Breaking Dawn – Part 1. Even two beers couldn’t erase the badness of that movie. Perhaps tea could do what alcohol failed to do. Thankfully, it (mostly) did. This is the anti-sencha; the anti-Japanese pan-fried green tea. There was quite a bit of complexity going on with the flavor – equal parts citrus, tang, sweetness, seaweed and a tickle of vinegar. And the best part? It was a green tea I could boil the s**t out of with a lazy brew-up.
This was a different sort of Yunnan black. It was gold-tipped, so it was inevitable that I was going to like it. What I was NOT expecting was how burly it would be. Dare I say, this was a gold tea that could rival some dark Assams out there? It tasted of peppers, earth, smoke, and leather. Yes…leather. And it woke me up right quick to boot.
Pu-erh? What pu-erh? I don’t taste any pu-erh. In short, here’s what a drinker is getting into: It tastes like a Mao Jian green tea that’s been blended with lemongrass. If you like both of those things (which I do), you will most certainly love this. Is any bit of it reminiscent of a raw pu-erh? Not yet. Far too young to have that flavor profile yet. That said it is a perfect introduction for the uninitiated.
Never before has a tea defeated me like this. I went a good seven or eight rounds with this pu-erh – the first five were gongfu-style, the last two were Western. Same leaves each time. It didn’t lapse in strength until steep seven, and even then it still had juice to jolt me. Odd spectrum of flavors, too – peat, oak, wilderness leaf, juniper, strawberries-’n-cream (yeah, you heard right) and earth. This was one tough sip. Totally worth it, though.
I actually received this before the Purple Tea of Kenya but didn’t get around to it after. A travesty given my love of teas with the word “GOLD!” in them. This bears a lot of similarities to Yunnan Golds both in site, smell and taste. Where it differs is the subtlety of its character. It’s not as “thick” as a Yunnan gold on delivery, instead presenting its berry-sweet, honey-like presence in a fluttery sorta way. It can also take a brew-beating of five minutes far better than a Yunnan can. Approval was met with gusto.
I absolutely love notching a unique tea off my list. I’d been looking for Kenyan Purple Tea for over half a year, and Butiki was one of the ONLY suppliers of the stuff. It lives up to its experimental moniker; as in, it’s a hard one to classify. Part green tea, part oolong, and oddly tisane-ish on taste. I had a tough time coming up with a label. I tried three different temperatures to see which one I liked best. Boiling the ever-loving s**t out of it seemed to fit my palate the best. All in all, though, I really liked it and look forward to more like it in the future.
This offering from Stash had me at three words: Smoked. Assam. Oolong. Two of the most manly descriptors in my tea lexicon….plus the most habit-forming. I did this up both with a gongfu prep and Western-style. Both yield the peaty presence this oak-wood-fired oolong possesses, but the gongfu approach also brings out some of its nuances. Yes, this thing actually has nuances beyond the lip-smack first sip. I liked it quite a bit, but it doesn’t surpass other smoked varieties like good ol’ Lapsang. Peat doesn’t quite outweigh hickory. That said, it’s the perfect cup for cavendish pipe tobacco smokers, whiskey drinkers, and any others who want a burn for their buck.
It takes a lot for me to say a tea is perfect. That and I’ve only ever encountered one perfect Darjeeling. Well, I think that’s been upstaged…by an oolong, no less. Castleton has produced an oolong that is both muscatel and dipped in creamy/fruity/floral nuances. It was a hard tea to identify…and even harder to put my adulation into words. Truly a perfect a cup, in my opinion.
I’ve been wanting to notch off this A-MURR-ican-grown white tea for some time. Luckily, it’s now available for purchase – both at Tea Hawaii and at KTeas. I received this one-off sample amidst a bulk of others, and I’m rather surprised it took me a month to finally get to it. This is a very burly and full-bodied white tea with a complex character. Flavors it evokes range from tropical fruit to volcanic earthiness…as well as the flutteriness of a good Bai Mu Dan. Like all Hawaiian teas I’ve tried, it’s in a league of its own. Not sure for which sport, though.
To quote Hannibal from The A-Team: “I love it when a plan comes together.”
If any of you were paying attention a ways back, I was whining about wanting to try some Iranian-grown tea. Through mysteeeeerious methods, I was able to acquire some. And it lived up to the hurdles it took to acquire it. It’s smoky, malty, fruity, nutty, and just plane pleasant all around…if a bit on the light side.
I would definitely break a U.S. blockade for more.
Full write-up here: http://lazyliteratus.teatra.de/2011/09/06/iran-so-far-for-tea/