I had this in April, and I officially call that month “Ye Sheng” Month – simply for the fact that I tried three different teas from that wonderfully odd varietal of tea leaf. This white tea is wildharvested from an abandoned government farm, and the leaves yield the most exquisite, lemony notes of any white I’ve ever had. Didn’t think Silver Needle could be trumped…but it was…and hard.
313 Tasting Notes
This was the third gin-infused/scented tea I’ve tried from Smith Teamaker’s in-house blender, Tony Tellin. The technique used was a different one; Mao Feng green tea was basted in gin for a period of time then re-dried. Or at least, that’s how I understood it. The result was a green tea with a very damp, deeply juniper berry scent. Taste-wise, it had more in common with a freshly-plucked, early spring Long Jing with a lemony/winy presence. Quite fantastic.
Full Write-Up Here: http://lazyliteratus.teatra.de/2011/05/04/mao-feng-gin/
This was hands down the most unique green tea I’ve come across in years. I’ve had aged pu-erhs, heard about aged oolongs (but never tried), and then comes this odd little beast. It has one of the most unique stories to tell. Heck, I found three Wikipedia articles on the stuff. Taste-wise, it definitely feels like an aged tea. Steeped four times, I had impressions of buttered veggies, vanilla, fruit, smoke, earth and mint. It’s not as winy as good sheng pu-erhs, but it’s still worth the unique experience.
This is a great tisane for a hot day. Mint rich from smell to sip and a smooth spicy lean to it as well. I’m not usually one for peppermint blends, but if they’re balanced out with other ingredients, I can put up with it. Didn’t think mint and spice could work so well together. Duly noted
Today, I ventured out to Smith HQ to try their Bai Hao Oolong. Why? I dunno, it was a craving. The last three (or so) I tried, I liked. And it was the one thing of Smith’s I didn’t remember having. One of the blenders also finally cleared up an confusion about Taiwanese/Chinese Bai Haos for me that I greatly appreciated. Taste-wise, it possessed a smooth front, no mineral/chalk consistency, and a subtle, yam-like sweetness to the body and finish. By golly, I liked this Bai Hao.
I got this in the mail the day prior to an early early morning shift. I only ended up sleeping two hours that night. So, before heading to work, I went for something stronger than tea. le gasp! Thankfully, this is close enough to tea to be justifiable. It possesses a wood-sweet front, a distinctly masala chai-ish middle, and a smooth/cooling finish. It reminded me of sweetened dandelion coffee, only lighter and spicier. A “coffee” I could easily drink again. (If only it had fennel, though. [le sigh])
A lot of faux-Earls can either be on the generous end of “Suck”, or the receiving end of “Superb”. This falls squarely in the latter category. From sniff to sip, bergamot is the frontrunner, as it should be with any Earl. However, it’s more citrus than dry, which compliments the nut-sweet rooibos base. (And it does show up somewhere in the palate.) An awesome evening “h-Earl-bal”.
There are a lot of fruit medley-type blends out there. Many skimp on the berry and up the hibiscus quotient to disguise this fact. The result is usually something overly tart. Fireberry is as the name implies – berry juice that’s been lit on fire. Quite refreshing, sweetens well, and probably ices well, too. Light years ahead of Tiesta’s other fruit tisane, Granny’s Garden.
As can be expected from a “tummy tea”, the two principle ingredients are peppermint and chamomile. A few other strong contenders such as fennel are also thrown in for good measure. I’m not usually the biggest peppermint supporter, but it was well balanced in this blend. There’s a medicinal bite at front, a nutty/creamy lean in the middle, and a satisfyingly floral finish. Great for sleepy tummy time.
It’s not the most nuanced Darjeeling on the market, nor is it the most sophisticated (I mean, it literally comes in a “tea fort”). But this Darjeeling is probably the strongest on the grapy note I’ve ever come across. It’s also light on the astringency, which gives it even more added points. Some of the floral profile give it a Ceylon feel. I liked it quite a bit.
Full Review: Pending on www.itsallabouttheleaf.com
This review sample had been on the backburner for some time because the vendor (a teashop out of New York) didn’t have a website. I changed my mind when I learned – from the owner – that it was a blend of linden flower, white tea, rose, lemongrass. That and it smelled all citrusy, floral, and…well…awesome. That impression also carried over to the taste. It was blended in such a balanced way that the floral element doesn’t dominate, nor does the lemongrass. You actually get a sense of the white tea base’s melon note on the finish. This was quite expertly crafted.
Probably the closest to perfect I’ve ever seen an Assam come. Not sure if I agree with the “soft citrus notes”, but it did have a fruit/floral lean that was uncharacteristic of Assams of yesterbrew. There was a tad bit of malt to the middle but not much, and the astringency was thankfully understated. It’s a shame that this stuff is such a rarity now, though.
Backlogging a bit.
Shang Tea’s specialty is white tea, and I was lucky to get their magnum opus in the sample pack I bought. I’d hoped it lived up to wildest expectations…and – boy – did it. This is one textured and nuanced Silver Needle, and I’ve had quite a few. Along with the usual mellow melon notes, nuttiness, grape line, is a smoothness echoing vanilla. Unusual but wonderful. It also holds up to three good infusions. Can’t recommend this enough.
Definitely not your usual, manly Earl by any stretch. However, it is a pleasant take on an old hat. I was quite surprised that vanilla, rose, and bergamot could work so well together. One never tried to overpower the other. That and rose didn’t make this taste like bathwater, which is a common complaint I have with petal-blended blacks sometimes. If I had any gripe it’s that the vanilla presence wasn’t strong enough. But then again, I’m spoiled on Cream Earl Greys. More of an afternoon black blend than a morning one but still worth a looksy.
Norbu gives this tea the nickname of “lemony pu-erh”, and for good reason. Of the four infusions I did with this, flavors ranged from lemongrass, to lemon verbena, to wild white tea. Citrusy, nutty, rice-like, and with a floral finish. It doesn’t quite surpass the majesty of Nan Nuo Shan shengs, but it’s just about become my second favorite. And for an ’05, the price was rather reasonable.
Yet another one from my white tea sampler from Shang. But this was “technically” not a white tea. I say that because it actually falls in the black tea category. Squarely. In appearance, it looked like a pre-QingMing Keemun Mao Feng. The liquor colored similar to a Golden Yunnan amber. Aroma and taste, however, were quite the oddity. This tasted like the description – a lightly fermented white tea, as if someone took a batch of Bai Mu Dan and steeped it for eight-to-ten minutes. (Without spinaching, of course.) There’s a bit of a nectarine texture to it, but minor compared to a Yunnan Gold. Still a mighty pleasant drink.
This is the third maocha I’ve tried from Norbu. I really liked one, found the other fair-go-good, and now it was on to an older one. Philosophically, I found it puzzling that they aged an unfinished pu-erh. Wouldn’t it make more sense just to turn it into a pu-erh and age it then? Eh, I’m nitpicking. The dry scent was off-putting, but the finished brew-up (Western-style but in a gaiwan) turned up an earthy, faintly fruity, and smoky cup. Like an oolong that’d been blended with a sheng. I still prefer younger maochas – like the Nan Nuo I had – but this was still a pleasure to sip.
I finally tried a tea from MIDDLE-EARTH thanks to QuiltGuppy! Wow, what a unique product. I also finally got to try out my new (well, old) gaiwan in the process. This yielded four successive steeps of varying degrees of excellence. Only the second steep was unfavorable. My favorite was the last because it took on a grape note like a Bai Mu Dan. Overall, a very nuanced oolong that had shades of vanilla cream, caramel, various fruits, and only a slight graphite finish. I would gladly walk into Mordor for this.
This was the third Asamushi-style sencha I tried from Norbu. I didn’t know much about the leaf cultivar going into it, but it possessed a wonderfully vanilla scent to the dry leaves. That same characteristic also translated to the liquor’s taste. I never call sencha creamy, but this definitely was on the foretaste with a strong fruit note. My heart still belongs to guricha and Fukamushi-style senchas, but this ranks well up there.
I was first a little turned off by the aroma of this. It reminded me of poor-grade bancha. I’m…not a fan of bancha. The medium-cut, mediam-green leaves smelled like roasted nuts. Luckily, this only partially translated to the taste thanks to a surprising buttery note. However, it’s just a shy skip above ordinary sencha.
Oolongs aren’t usually my thing, but Formosa oolongs have greeted me with quite a surprise. This is the second Bai Hao Oolong I’ve tried, although the first one I did was actually from China. Still confused about that. Anyway, it brewed up gold with a strong fruit presence that made it an absolute pleasure to imbibe. Not usually an oolong guy, but there are exceptions to the rule.
Tea #3 in my white tea sampler from Shang. This time it was a white that was blended with pao blossoms. I’m not quite sure what a pao is; the only information I turned up was that it was like grapefruit. Doesn’t taste like it, though. This white had the typical requisite grape and butter lean, but with a jasmine/mint profile due to the added botanicals. The overall effect was quite pleasant.
This is an unusual white tea blend. In dry form, it smelled like it was blended with jasmine, but when steeped for three minutes, it turns up a beautiful gold liquor. The flavor is…interesting. On the foretaste, it’s like any white tea with a melon/nutty delivery, but then settles on a very soapy/citrusy middle. It reminded me of Lemon Pledge mixed with honey, only…y’know…not poisonous. It also had hints of marshmallow leaf. I liked it quite a bit. Certainly unusual.
Any of you who’ve seen my other updates regarding Golden Needles, Gold Buds, or – hell – anything with the word “gold” in it will know where this is going. This was the most perfect of the perfect. Smooth and creamy, honey-like, malty, nectarine-rich, and basic Midas-touched excellence. If I have any gripe, it’s that I think I brewed it too light. Even with that personal snag, though, it turned out majestic. This was Christ-on-a-pogo-stick perfect.