320 Tasting Notes
This little treasure was a surprise. Well, I knew I was going to like it since it had the word “Gold” in the title, and the fact that it had a lot of tippy leaves in the mix. Okay, sure, I’ve heard that such a presence doesn’t affect the taste any…but I like shiny things. So, shush.
This tasted like a cross between a tippy Dian Hong and a 2nd flush Darjeeling – Arya Ruby or Giddapahar clonal, to be precise. There were shades of malt, honey, cedar, peppers and grapes – all juggling at once. I’ve had a few Nepalese blacks in my time, but not one that actually tasted like something from China. I just dug the fact that it was so smooth and – for all intents and purposes – on the far side of unique.
(In case you haven’t guessed by now, “unique” is my thing.)
Wow, been awhile since I’ve been here. And – lo! – the site is working! Double-celebration!
This tea had three things going for it: One, it was from Nepal. Two, it was an oolong from Nepal. Three, it had the word yeti in it. The fact that it was going to taste good seemed to already be a given.
This is the first Himalayan oolong I’ve tried that actually mimicked the taste of an oolong for Taiwan or China. I like the muscatel kick of the region, but this offered something more traditional.
And, of course, in “traditional” fashion, I had to write more about it…and mythical creatures: http://steepstories.com/2013/04/16/wrestling-a-wild-yeti/
‘Bout damn time I got to this sample. It was my second day off, didn’t roust ’til the most excellent hour of NOON!
I thought to myself, Damn, I haven’t had an oolong in, like…forever.
So, I decided to rectify that with this. I didn’t have too high o’ hopes for it. The last Nilgiri oolong I tried…didn’t taste like an oolong. Like, at all.
Tasted IDENTICAL to a Dan Cong – right down to the tart-sweet delivery. I was in flavor-FULL heaven. And if I displayed any more ALL CAPS-ness, I might come across as an eighth grader. Point being, holy balls this was good.
Okay, ’guess I am an eighth grader.
These days I’ve been in an “In Teamorium” phase. As in, finishing off the last of teas that have been on the shelf. Today, I finished the last of my Dan-Cha from Phoenix Teahouse. It was extra special because it was the first cup of tea I’d had in 26 hours.
I got two burly pots out of this sucker. I probably wasn’t as delicate with it as I should’ve been, but I thought I’d take it to its limit. It held up to the punishment I dished out with “x-treme” gusto. Even took on shades of malt as an act of sincerity.
Good show, Danny-boy. Er, girl. Whatever.
Prologue: It took me for bloody ever to update Steepster with his tea. Ten minutes! That’s ten minutes that could’ve been spent sipping tea. Grrrr….
I originally was saving this for a special occasion, or for when I accomplished something magnificent – like curing cancer of the butt or something. I figured, however, that surviving the work week was just like surviving butt cancer, so, I whipped it out on my day off.
I’ve only heard of (and had) two other teas that were cask-aged. Those were from Smith Tea. I was glad to see that others were taking up this trend. This autumn flush Nepalese was cask-aged in Cab-Franc and Merlo barrels for…I-dunno-how-long.
The result was a tea that smelled vaguely of wine, but mostly of Himalayan black, which was fine. On the taste, it was really hard to tell the difference between the natural muscatel notes of the leaves and the wine-scenting from the barrels. If I were a betting man, I would say they showed up in the aftertaste the most. More Cab-Franc than Merlot (thankfully).
If I were to impart a suggestion on further experiments, I would say to use a wetter barrel when beginning the casking process. Otherwise, this was awesomeness in my mornin’ cup.
Edit: Would you believe this tea was somewhat instrumental in saving my trip to World Tea Expo? Well, it was. http://steepstories.com/2013/02/11/high-fives-to-o5-and-a-world-tea-expo-update/
Backpedaling a bit
I actually had (and finished) this a few weeks back. The first time I had it, though, was in the summer. I even included it in a story I wrote. That good. Very up-to-par with the other Darjeelings of 2012.
Unlike the other Darj’s, though, it had a rather unique trait – putting up with a forever-steep of about ten minutes. Seriously, I brewed a pin of it, left to take a shower, then revisited it. The brew didn’t bitter at all; it merely strengthened. As for taste? It was a bolder profile than before, heavier on he muscatel with an added presence of smoke and malt.
It even inspired its own metaphor in a write up (here: http://steepstories.com/2013/01/31/lowbrow-low-expectations-and-lowland-darjeeling/).
Whoever said lowland Darjeelings aren’t as good as the higher-elevation ones didn’t know what they were talking about.
I forgot I even had this. And – lo and behold – I finished the whole thing in a two day’s stretch. The pots I brewed of it turned out perfect – smokey, sweet, and…nostalgic?
Hard to explain.
It was accompanied by several other “finali-teas”, which I had to expand upon here: http://steepstories.com/2013/01/29/a-week-of-lasts-finali-tea/
Point being, sometimes a perfect pot o’ tea is the perfect omen for a week of goods and bads.
It’s not really a secret that I love me some white teas. I’m especially prone to fits of glee over unique white teas not from China. For the better part of the Summer and Fall, I was on the hunt for a Taiwanese white. I knew they existed, but I didn’t know how difficult they were to find. Well, I finally found one…sourced by a Russian Orthodox monastery near Seattle, WA.
I know, right?!
This was a light-roast white that required a gongfu prep over a Western-style steep. The results were magic, smoky grapes and roasted nuts. Combining feminine delicacy with masculine posturing. SO glad to finally have it in my collection.
To read my story o’ discovery, go HERE: http://steepstories.com/2013/01/21/russian-orthodox-white-tea/
I was seriously fearful of this blend. Two words: Licorice root. I hate the stuff. Sickly-sweet is a flavor I need in my tea. Thankfully, enough of the citrus and spice did their darnedest to mask the damnedest of all roots.
One word of advice: Obey the two-minute steep time to the letter, though.
Boy, I’ve been really failing at that whole “consistency” thing this month. I have plenty of teas to go through, plenty of diversity in there. But with a 6AM wake-up time, the only thing my mind wants to veer toward is the Earl Grey and get on the road.
I guess that’s what days off are for.
I actually had time to tear open a sample of Mi Xian black – a Taiwanese “red” tea with an interesting twist. Like Gui Fei and Oriental Beauty, it uses leaves that have a special coating of…uh…stuff on them to prevent leafhopper (read: bug) attacks. With Gui Fei and Beauty, there is a noticeable flavor difference as a result. And you know what? The same can be said for Mi Xian. It’s like a Ruby 18 black crossed with Oriental Beauty with a dash of Dan Cong. The flavor is spry, tart, somewhat malty and creamy – all in contrast to its rather light liquor. That and it holds up to a neglected steep time.
I’ll probably do a more formal review on it soon, but this was my positive first impression.