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.

The results?

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.

Picture: http://instagram.com/p/lspFDtkneC/#

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

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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.

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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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.

180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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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/

160 °F / 71 °C 0 min, 15 sec

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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.

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML
Amanda 'SoggyEnderman' Wilson

Well that tea sounds fantastic and intriguing!

Geoffrey Norman

It is. Pricy li’l sucker, but worth it.


i love your tasting notes so much. hehe.

Geoffrey Norman

Sometimes they make sense. Sometimes.

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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.

Oh, mama…

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

170 °F / 76 °C 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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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.

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Funny thing…

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

Boiling 4 min, 45 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

delicious tea. To me it’s more honey and candied fruit but I love it so much I ordered 8 oz….I don’t want to get out of stock of this one

Butiki Teas

Hahaha. Love love love this tea, especially at 30 second steeps. One of these days, I’m going to have to coerce you to try one of our flavored teas.

Geoffrey Norman

@Ysaurella – I did compare it to a Yunnan Dian Hong for that very reason, actually! Good catch on the honey.

@Butiki – I would try one of the flavored teas IF it has an interesting origin story. :-)

Butiki Teas

Hmmmm, well I’m biased and like to think that most of the teas have interesting origin stories but here are a few ones I like:

With Open Eyes (strawberry, toffee, ginger, buttery dragon well)-based off of a painting and the tea had to be completely made in less then a week (usually takes months to fully complete a tea) for a project that consists of 130 artists and that tea is the inspiration for a Wes Craven Character/plot. More info here: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/consenses. Just not sure if that tea would be your jam.

Hello Sweetie-Coconut, Toffee, praline, banana, Premium Taiwanese Assam. Really fun custom blend that took both me and the customer down a random path. James was initially looking for a coconut cream pie puerh.

Watermelon Xylophone-Came up with the name after hours on a trip to pretty much nowhere.

Foxy Roxy’s Banana Walnut Treat-A random customer mention while we were having an email conversation, which just happened to be at the same time I was working on a banana tea and decided to make a sample based on her ideas.

I like the stories behind pretty much everything except maybe a few of our older staple teas. Right now I’m working with my mother-in-law on a special tea based off of a Philippino dessert.

Geoffrey Norman

@Butiki – You had me at strawberries, Dragonwell and Wes Craven.

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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.

Instagram: http://instagram.com/p/l-6o3oknbq/

Flavors: Fruit Tree Flowers, Grapes, Honey

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

seems really nice. I like geant & hand rolled tea leaves and the flavours you picked out seem really appealing

Geoffrey Norman

I had no idea that hand-rolling was so rare in Darjeeling, but it makes sense. And the flavor profile was far different as well.

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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.

Full write-up: http://steepstories.com/2014/01/16/born-virgin-white-tea-revisited/

205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec

Sounds wonderful. It looks like Mariage Frère’s Thé Blanc Sacré is the same as this tea? Maybe I will pick some up when it becomes available again…

Geoffrey Norman

Just looked that up. Whadd’ya know! It IS the same tea! Although, according to the Mariage bio, it’s from a “secret” estate. I would hardly call it a secret.

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I moonlight as a procrastinating writer and daylight as a trader of jack. I appreciate good tea, good beer, and food that is bad for me. Someday I’ll write the great American novel. And it’ll probably have something to do with tea or beer…or both. In the meantime, I subsist.

Tea Blog: http://www.steepstories.com

TeaCuplets: http://lazyliteratus.tumblr.com/





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