346 Tasting Notes
Yet another tea I forgot I even had. This is starting to become a trend. Not sure how I missed the giant bag! this was in…but whatever…
I hadn’t opened these little suckers from their vacuum-sealed packages since I got them. And that was back in 2011. So, in theory, they’ve been accidentally “aging” since then – airtight. Three years ago. That’s a long time to forget about a tea.
Straight butter and lotus blossoms. I’m not usually a fan of the Iron Goddess, but given three years to cool down and she’s as sweet as the rest of ‘em. I should forget about teas more often…but I don’t think I’d have the patience for it.
Mum and I ended up at Smith HQ today, and – contrary to my usual sensibilities – I was craving Chinese tea. On a sunny day like this, I usually aim for Darjeeling…but for some reason I itchin’ for robust wood-sweetness. Who knew?
Anywho, I ended up with a wonderful two-person pot of the stuff, and sipped it rather deliberately. Not spoiling one cup of it. Meditative yet wakeful.
I actually forgot I had this. Today, after work, I plopped down for a nap. Horrible decision. Got up at the crack of 7PM. Then I got the bright idea to throw caffeine into the mix.
Since (as I mentioned prior) my roommates have been sick, I went with a white tea. When I checked the ol’ white tea tin, I came across this li’l puppy. Perfect!
Got three steeps out of it before the leaves lost their kick. It is a note-for-note replica of a Chinese White Peony, if slightly more fruity. A common trait (I’ve found) with Malawi whites.
I actually purchased this at World Tea Expo last year from the Hankook Tea booth. It was an odd sorta beast – powdered Korean sejak leaves. But they did their best impression of a Japanese matcha I’ve ever come across.
The stuff fluffs up nicely into bubbles when whisked, the color is pretty, and the taste is very…uh…sejak-ish with more of a matcha kick. Basically, like a green tea espresso.
I’ve practically been emptying my li’l tin of this stuff for the last two weeks while various plagues have gone through both my apartment at work. So far, I’m holding up fine…if a tad bit over-caffeinated.
One such over-caffeinated adventure can be found here: http://steepstories.com/2014/03/07/teaity-chat-adventure/
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.