346 Tasting Notes

100

I don’t often say to people: YOU MUST BUY THIS NAO!!! But I’m doing so here. Especially to those of you with palates that lean toward the smoky. This is a sugarcane-smoked black tea from Taiwan, and it tastes just like that description implies. It’s smoky-sweet with a floral sensation throughout, much like a Li Shan black…but without the malty kick.

I can’t sing praises about this enough.

I even roped friends into trying it with me. You can read about that here: http://www.norbutea.com/JinXuanXiaoZhong?category_id=133

Yeah, I was floored.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec
Bonnie

Eric mentioned this.

Geoffrey Norman

Probably heard it from me. heh

Bonnie

No doubt.

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43

Been awhile since I’ve talked about a tea on here…and it had to be one I didn’t like very much. Oh well. This one meant well.

This is the first blend that I’ve delved into since…uh…yesterday. (That English Breakfast teabag shouldn’t count!) First impressions: It was a blend. A green tea blend. Specifically, Chinese sencha as the base with orange and red bits strewn about. On smell, it was…well…fruit sugar. Not sure if they were aiming for apples with the aroma, but I got the impression caramel dipped apples. And we’re almost two weeks out from Halloween.

I obeyed the brewing instructions to the letter(ish) – 1 tsp. of blend in a 6oz. steeper cup, infused for three minutes. The water used was “about” 170F degrees. Couldn’t say for certain.

The liquor brewed a pale, somewhat foggy green with a leafy (but sweet) aroma invoking a sense of honey-dipped peanut butter. When I sipped it, I must say I recoiled a little. There was an unwelcomed syrupy texture on the forefront. It settled down, allowing the rest of the tea aspects to shine through, but it was definitely jarring. Like, “flavored tea” jarring. The middle was sweet and lightly floral. Some of the natural grapy lean of the Chinese sencha even poked out like a prairie dog. But…the finish.

Ugh.

No polite way to put it. The epilogue and aftertaste were…soapy. Astringent, still sweet-ish, kinda lavender-y…and just unpleasant. If only everything from the middle and top note had remained. I think that the blended elements themselves could’ve held this infusion up better without the flavoring agents. ]

A second infusion was a drastic improvement, keeping hold of the fruitier aspects, while ditching the soapy palate texture.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec
NofarS

Ugh. I hate that “flavoured tea” flavour, which is why I stay far far away from flavoured tea

Geoffrey Norman

I’ve encountered some flavored teas I’ve liked. This is not one of them.

Bonnie

Hi GN come to Happy Lucky’s in Fort Collins and have some tea with Eric and I.

Geoffrey Norman

@Bonnie – I had no idea you worked there. So does another tea pal o’ mine – Eric Scott. Been to the site, seen the tour. Love the selection.

Bonnie

Nope I don’t work there, I drink TEA there with Eric and the gang. It’s my pub. I write about Happy Luckys all the time and post pictures on Facebook with Eric if you want to check it out (Bonnie Johnstone). It’s a great place!

Geoffrey Norman

Too bad I’m on the wrong side of the country.

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100

I’m almost completely certain Oriental Beauty is my favorite type of oolong. I’ve enjoyed every variant I’ve tried of it, thus far. And this is, by no small margin, my favorite. No, not just because it had the words “wild” and “arbor” in the title. (Although, that certainly helps.)

The taste is all tart, sweet, fruity, and some form of magic not known to us humans. I would say more…but that might be windbagging it a bit.

Like I did here: http://steepstories.com/2013/09/19/wild-arbor/

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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100

There are certain words that will instantly trigger my interest. Five of them are “whiskey”, “barrel-aged”, and “Lapsang Souchong”. When combined…my head explodes. No, not literally, that’d be messy.

I had mused on what a whiskey’d Lapsang would taste like. There was no doubt that I’d enjoy it…but I didn’t know how much. It seemed perfect. Well, the first time I tried it, it almost was. Almost. Something was missing. Then I decided to steep the heck out of it for five minutes. Holy wow…flavor country dialed up to eleven.

Oddly enough, in and around the time I tried it the perfect way, I was gearing up to see The Great Gatsby. Naturally, I had to draw parallels between that flavorful experience and the movie I just watched because…well…science.

You can read that tangent here: http://steepstories.com/2013/05/16/carried-away-by-whiskey-tea/

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec
looseTman

Hello, I share your interest in Rare Tea Cellar’s barrel-aged tea, SST’s No. 01 Rogue Whiskey Barrel, and TeaVivre’s Premium Keemun Hao Ya to name a few. Have you also tried Vintage TeaWorks? Recently, I contacted you on your website: http://www.lazyliteratus.com seeking a recommendation. Thank you.

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100

Finally! Finally, finally, FINALLY!

I got to try this. And it was perfect. I have a fetish for Yunnan golds in general….but now I have one for this tea in specific. After nearly two years of people extolling its virtues, it finally made it into my cup. It was honey-ish, malty, floral, and teagasmic in all the right ways. Definitely worth the hype.

Even better was the conversation it invoked. You can find that here: http://steepstories.com/2013/05/09/golden-fleece-feast-fest-a-taste-of-eugene-and-tea-from-neighbors/

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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96

As if I hadn’t had enough caffeine today, I decided to rip into a bag I received from Rare Tea Cellar – an oak-aged Keemun. I’m a sucker for anything that says “cask-conditioned” or “oak-aged” in the title. Although, that usually applies to beer, not tea.

This is very much a Keemun through-and-though, only a lot bolder. Like Assam bold, only with a bit more seniority. It’s hard to pick up on what the oak barrel contributes, but it is easy to see that this has all the trappings of a semi-aged hong cha. The flavor has a sense of “experienced” to it. Funny thing, too, the wood-sweet aspects of the Keemun are there, but there’s a wildernessy presence as well – usually a trait found in Yunnan blacks.

All said, I’m sold on the oak-aging thing.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec
KittyLovesTea

Ooohhh this sounds delicious!

Geoffrey Norman

And I just realized I had the information in reverse.

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92

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.)

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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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/

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec
Bonnie

These tea’s are tricky. My tea friends and I at Happy Lucky’s really had to play with temp and timing…throwing the rules out the window with these tea’s. Worth it though, the results proved to be wonderful.

Geoffrey Norman

I agree. I just kinda went with what I felt like.

Bonnie

Good! Some did better with lower temp’s and became magical. I’ve got a mind to talk to Pat and see if they’re going to be at the Rocky Mt. Tea Festival this year (hope so!)

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97

‘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.

This, however…

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.

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 4 min, 0 sec
Bonnie

Too funny to be an 8th grader!

Geoffrey Norman

I shouldn’t remember it so clearly!

gmathis

Ouch. Thinking about 8th grade just makes me wince.

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96

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.

Yeah, tragic.

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.

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Bio

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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Oregon

Website

http://www.lazyliteratus.com

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