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344 Tasting Notes


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.

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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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/

190 °F / 87 °C 0 min, 45 sec

Very cool!

Geoffrey Norman

It was. And worth the wait.


My husband got me monk fudge once—seems like they were located in the NW as well—and it was (sorry!) heavenly. If the monk tea is of equal quality, that explains everything.

Geoffrey Norman

Monk fudge?! SHOW ME!


Been a while, but I think this is it:

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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.

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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.

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Holy crikey,

It’s been two weeks since I’ve chimed in on here. Where have I been (er…besides watching copious amounts of Youtube, and saying “OWWWWwwww!” after work)? Okay, maybe that answers that question.

Got this in the mail as part of the Canton Tea Club. I’d had it before, but it I didn’t quite remember what “exactly” I thought of it. After four steeps so far, I now know that I “wuvved” it. It was toasty and tart like a good Dan Cong should be. Further cementing this as my favorite style of Chinese oolong.

It also helped to alleviate my general feeling of “blah” that’d been prevalent for the better part of a week.

For more info, go here: http://www.cantonteaco.com/blog/2012/12/canton-tea-club-week-10-mi-lan-dan-cong/

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 30 sec

LOL nice to see ya around!

Geoffrey Norman

Still here, still kickin’.

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I thought I felt a cold coming on this morning. My natural instinct is to either hit the Greek Mountain or the white tea…hard. In this case, I still had plenty of Rwandan white and Kenyan white to work with. I couldn’t decide which to use. So, I went with both. A simple blend of 2 tsps. of each in a 32oz. teapot.

The results were rather surprising. The Kenyan white helped to mellow out the Rwandan some. I’ve found the latter was just shy of harsh sometimes – like Yue Guang Bai. This had a very mellow, grassy, and slightly floral lean. Overly pleasant.

Here’s hoping it helps combat the zombie plague.

175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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This week’s Canton Tea Club offering had participants trying to decide a victor between Li Shan and Ali Shan oolongs. For an indecisive Libran like me, this was going to be difficult. Why? They look, smell, and (from what I recalled) tasted the same!

So, I subjected both to a Western-style pinting to determine a victor. Ali Shan won by a hair, thanks to appeasing my sweet-tooth. However, the best results came when I combined the two. I was downing the mixture by the pot as a wrote this: http://steepstories.com/2012/11/27/throwing-in-the-towel-after-a-tea-fight/

While listening to M.C. Hammer.

No, really.

185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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A couple o’ weeks back, I found a canister that I usually kept Lapsang Souchong in. What I hadn’t realized was that there was also an opened bag of Risheehat Vintage Spring (2011 First Flush). At first, I lamented. I loved the Vintage Spring for its freshness, but now the bag smelled like smoke. Then I thought, “Eh, let’s brew it up.”

And I loved it.

I tried it again this morning, same result. Loved it. There was muscatel with a hint of smoke. I thought the accidental Lapsang scenting would supply more of a smoky palate, but it was understated – which I liked.

However, this prompted me to try a new approach. I took the Lapsang out of its bag, and put it in a do-it-yourself filter teabag. Then I put it in with the naked Darjeeling. They are both, now, occupying the same canister, and will for a couple of days or so. I’m trying a Jasmine green tea-ish approach to see if more smoke can affect the Darjeeling leaves.

Fingers crossed.

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here begins your tea creating career :)
Nice you liked it

Geoffrey Norman

Ha! Tea career…I wouldn’t be able to GIVE away my apothecarial wares.

The Purrfect Cup

You say that now…

Geoffrey Norman

This is true. I’m bad at predicting.

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Canton Tea Club Week…oh, heck, I’ve lost track.

The full story on this stuff can be found here: http://www.cantonteaco.com/blog/2012/11/canton-tea-club-week-7-hawaii-forest-white/

Jane Pettigrew waxes all Voltaire-like over the stuff – far better than I ever could.

I did, however, do a write-up of last year’s batch, which can be found here: http://steepstories.com/2011/09/09/missing-the-forest-for-the-teas/

But enough linkies, my take.

I’ve had a s**t day. (See, nowhere near as poetic as Pettigrew.)

Between work and last-minute dashes to pick up a far-flung paycheck, and another dash to a far-flung bank – followed by grocery shopping – I was exhausted. Top that off, and I still had a NaNoWriMo project to contend with when I got home. Oh yeah, and a screamingly hungry cat.

When I saw this in the mail, my beaten brow beamed. Half-hour later, I brewed 8oz. of it up – boiled to perfection. It differed from last year – less butter, more grape, and all-around tropical. I also prefer it to last year’s crop, which was already near perfect in my eyes.

As I write this, I’m currently on steep…uh…three? Four is currently brewing. Just the fuel this writery-type needed.

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Stacy over at Butiki Teas is on my mental wavelength.

She should probably have that checked.

Her flare for the unusual rivals even my own. And, boy, was this unusual. I mean that in all the best possible ways I can muster. While it technically shouldn’t be called a pu-erh in the traditional (read: Yunnan-produced) sense, it meets all the character criteria I care about. That being, it actually tastes good. Cocoa was at war with coffee, and chestnuts were the jury and arbiter…er…as far as flavor goes.

Whatever it’s called, I want more of it.

My full feature on it (and other tea/writing adventures) can be found here: http://steepstories.com/2012/11/12/writing-epiphanies-and-japanese-pu-erh/

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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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





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