432 Tasting Notes
This tea order was not eco friendly…The boxes reserved for parcels at the stand where I get my mail delivered are always full (welcome holiday season!!!)
So I end up getting a notice card, drive 30 min. to go pick it up and therefore ditch I don’t know how much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Not proud of myself.
To my small town, I say this: please invest in more mailboxes, I want «greener» tea supplies!!!! (end of rant)
Zen Tea is not very present here on Steepster but it’s a company I like more and more. They don’t carry the biggest variety, but what they have is good at a very decent price. Plus they send 3 generous samples. I could have asked for my own sample choice, but decided, hey surprise me! I appreciate the fact that they have chosen samples according to the tastes expressed by my orders with them. I got some breakfast blend, earl grey and oolong. Now that shows attention to details, thank you very much for that!
I love Oolongs and I lost count of how many I have tried…It never cease to amaze me, how different they are from one another, in taste and in shape.
Tie guan yin will transport you to a rich and luxuriant garden, invading your senses with the mysterious and attractive floral scent of orchid, coating your mouth with silk and butter. She’s a Seductress.
Roasted aged oolong will take charge of your taste buds in a more assertive fashion, almost assaulting your ability to identify its notes. It’s a chameleon, transforming even before you can grasp its true essence. It’s roasty, it’s nutty, its sweet yet slightly bitter, it feels simultaneously cool and warm. He’s a Player.
There’s Baozhong Pouchong , looking so much different from the previous mentioned. Instead of little rolled nuggets, this beautiful tea is crafted in long twisted strands. Almost considered a green tea, the taste is very delicate, floral and sophisticated, and it’s one the most elegant looking of them all… He’s a polished Dandy.
So where I am going with all this you ask? Wiki-oolong or something?
I think, hey, I have seen oolong in any way, shape or form.
And then there’s this fragrant branch thing and I’m baffled. What is this?
I admit, I don’t know what to do with it, I’m intimidated… No one else has reviewed it, so I have to be the first to experiment here. How do I brew this, heck, how do I measure it? I decide I’m going to spend a lot of time with it cause it deserves a traditional Gongfu brew and I opt for the scale, 5g. For a 8oz Gaiwan. I have a feeling it will expend quite a lot.
First and foremost, it visually is stunning, looks like one of those intricate asian artsy tree paintings. It is obvious that the leaf is rolled while still attached to the little branch and I can’t help thinking how tedious this job must be…
I did not research it, so I have no clue what kind a benefit the branch portion will add to the brew.
First steep and the leaves are already unfurling. It’s light and fresh, the smell is a lot stronger than the taste, floral and woodsy bark aroma.
I get floral sweet notes, but in a lot more subtle way than with a tie guan yin.
I feel there’s a light citrus astringency in the background that is waiting to emerge in the later steeps, and that’s exactly how this tea evolves. At the fifth infusion, the floral notes are almost gone and I get that fresh citrus along with musky and more earthy bark vibe. That’s where the branch portion becomes game changer. They have tripled in size and the gaiwan feels overwhelmed now, not much room to breathe! The twigs are no longer wrinkled, having soaked all the water they needed. The leaves are perfectly shaped, not damaged at all, really a beautifully crafted tea
I will be able to sip on this for at least 4 or 5 more infusions I think.
This oolong is a showstopper and it knows it. It enjoys spreading its splendour before your eyes in all its glory. He’s a Peacock.
Writing about tea is an inexhaustible source of inspiration, isn’t is? Sorry for this way too long review!!!! My curiosity and amazement got carried away…
P.S. I wonder if these guys are on Steepster…I think they are the cutest, I love the way they review together :-)
Though I don’t drink as much flavoured tea as I used to, I still keep some variety around and I especially like to drink them during the Holidays.
This is a casual conversation between me and my brother on his last visit (M=me, B= bro)
M: Want something to drink? I’ll make some tea.
B: I’d prefer a beer.
M: I didn’t buy any, I’ll make you some beer tea.
M: Yes, I have a tea that tastes exactly like peach beer, pretttt-ty awww-some!
M: What, you don’t believe me?
B: Not even tempted. Do you have cola, rootbeer?
M: Hmmm…no. Sorry…but…dare I say it…I have rootbeer tea, does that count?
B: Sis, you need to see a doctor, really. I worry. It’s bad. Addictions need to be treated.
M: Well, before we rush to the emergency, sure you don’t want to give peachy beer a try?
B: Either that or tap?
M: Pretty much, yep…
B: Alright, but just to please YOU! Promise this never happened, I don’t want urban legends to start spreading, I have a reputation to preserve, I’m a beer guy and I don’t do peachy girly tea!
M: Oh, common, just quit it Macho Man, we all know you watch General Hospital every day. A little bit of tea won’t kill ya!
B: General Hospital is underrated.
M: Whatever… So? How do you like them now, peachy beer tea?
B: Honest? Tastes just like day after lukewarm flat beer that accidentally got mixed with peach baby food puree during the party. I. Don’t. Ever. Want. To. Drink. This. Again. Please?
(Sorry Stacy, that’s not MY opinion but HIS, remember?)
M: Ah!!!! So you admit it does taste like beer!!! Told you! Please admire and appreciate this as it should. Takes hours and hours of practice and immense knowledge and wisdom to create that kind of magic. Requires tea alchemist skills that only Stacy has acquired. Respect. Remember that, bro.
End of conversation. At this point, we lost it. We are cracking up, crying of laughter.
Me and my brother have always «played» together like this. As any healthy brother/sister relationship, we love to tease each other. His visit was a big surprise, I wasn’t expecting him. He didn’t say so, but I know he came to check on me, to make sure I’m ok. His presence chased away the darkness for a little while. He’s got my back, he always has and I love him so much for that. Family is everything folks…
Cheers bro, love ya!
P.S. To make things clear, I do love this tea!!!
This tea should win a trophy for creativity and originality. It manages to combine savoury and sweet…without tasting weird!
Such an unusual blend, yet it works so well! Potato and tea, who would have thought?
And you can really taste it, there are so many of those cute little white potato dices. They really bring a broth quality to this succulent green tea beverage. Don’t know why, but I think chicken noodles when I drink it, and I might try just that one day, add some shredded leftover chicken breast and cook some noodles in it, would be fabulous!
Love, love the cinnamon in it, so delicate and it really brings the savoury and sweet notes together. I had ordered 2oz of it last spring and I completely forgot about it. But it still tastes as fresh as brand new.
I drank it this morning while eating my weekly peanut butter toasts (I «indulge» in peanut butter once a week, and by «indulge» I mean I transform into a real glutton and eat almost half a jar on that morning, lol!) Do you know potato candies? They are made out of a soft rolled potato mixture with peanut butter layers. Well, I promise you, having peanut butter with this tea tastes almost exactly like those candies (minus the sugar load, naturally).
What a treat this is, possibly one of my favourite flavoured tea of all time!!!!
My inner girly girl needed her fix today, I’m watching one my favourite feel good movie, Pretty Woman!
I know, I know… It’s considered lame by the intellectual community, and you might think it’s old, superficial and unoriginal. But I don’t care, I love it! Hey, I totally endorse my lameness. Julia Robert’s wits and moods bring me joy, that’s all I have to say. ( Plus Richard Gere is easy on the eyes, that’s also noteworthy)
I’m at the classic scene when she goes back (with a hundred fancy shopping bags in her hands) to see that snob sales lady on Rodeo Drive. She hits her with that killer line «You work on commission right? Big mistake, big…HUGE!!!!» ( As I’m watching her, I can’t help wonderering how it would feel like to have this many bags filled with tea instead of clothes, what kind of fancy tea do they sell on Rodeo Drive??? lol)
It made me want to have a pretty and girly tea. A few months ago, I swapped some tea with lovely Ysaurella. She allowed me to try the famous French teas for the first time and I was so grateful for that. I tasted them all, but not showing up on Steepster very often, I ended up reviewing only a few of them. Luckily, I had enough for more than one serving of each, so it’s not too late.
I chose Pleine Lune cause it’s her favourite tea and the smell is just so beautiful.
I had written a little note on the pouch to steep longer next time, so I did. And it was better for me this time around.
It’s such a nice comforting tea. Surprisingly, it’s very mellow and smooth. I say surprisingly, cause when I read the description, I thought it was going to be spicy and bold, but it’s quite the opposite.
Although the almond essence is easily identifiable, it doesn’t take over the black base, which I’m assuming is ceylon here (it’s not specified). I hate when almond flavoured teas taste like this overpowering fake almond extract used in baking).
The background is slightly fruity and spicy. I wouldn’t qualify it as a dessert tea, cause it’s not overly sweet either, it just renders a subtle honey sweetness that feels very natural, which is a very good thing.
This is such a pretty and special blend, perfect companion to watch my movie.
I understand why Ysaurella likes it so much, it was an honour to have the chance to try it again and give it a decent review :-)
How lucky am I to still have a bit of this left?
Sweet snap pea, buttery spinach, creamy corn deliciousness! I get a faint vanilla bean note also. This green tea is one of a kind!
Don’t really know how it compares to the other harvests, I’ve been buying spring harvest for two years in a row. The first year, I thought next year, I’m gonna wait for the summer harvest. But then I get an email from Verdant announcing spring 2013 has arrived and I just can’t wait for the summer harvest cause I crave this tea right now!
Let’s see what happens with 2014 harvest :-)
This is the only yellow tea I’ve ever tried, so I can’t compare it with others.
It’s been a staple in my cupboard for over a year now, I reordered twice, so it’s not just a novelty liking, me do like this tea! But it’s hard to describe since I have no reference point.
I drink Sencha on a regular basis, one of my favorite green tea. Though I’m a firm believer that people should have their tea which ever way they like it, I just choose not to add anything, with the exception of a few flavoured teas. But if I was a cream and sugar lover, I’d say this tea tastes like Sencha with a big dash of both!
Of course, it’s only to illustrate how naturaly creamy and sugarcane sweet it is.
How would I know what creamy-sugary Sencha really tastes like, I hate cream… Yes, I’m that boring girl who drinks soy, almond and coconut milk, snacks on seeds and gets excited by leafy greens…please don’t resent me, I promise I can be decadent from time to time!It’s a beautiful tea, delicate yet very tasty, just not in an assertive way. Smooth, zero astringency, not floral, just slightly vegetal.
To me, it’s definitely closer to green than it is to white tea. But you know when people say they dislike green tea cause it can be bitter or too grassy? Then this is the one to try, I’m tagging it as «green tea friendly».
Non-tea related content:
It’s been 4 years in the making, but today, big puppy Doberman let me clip his nails. (usually requires 2 strong adults at the pet groomer!)
He is terrified of it, and therefore, almost impossible to control. I stopped trying when he was 6 months old cause it was becoming a dangerous task. Why did I wait so long to try again?
Last week, I bought a good clipper. Today, I took it out for the first time, thinking he would just freak out and that I should have spent that money on tea instead. But Dexter looked at it, recognized what it was for, got off the couch and just laid down at my feet. I clipped all his nails, as if it was the easiest thing to do.
With dogs, trust doesn’t happen over night, it has to be earned. Once you have it, you can experience one of the most powerful and unconditional love…just the way he totally abandoned himself to me today, under such a stressful situation, it says it all :-)
Love your puppies Steepster people!
Last week end was Canada’s Thanksgiving. I had a lot to be thankful for at the end of the day and this aged oolong was just another reason.
I’m a fan of roasted aged oolongs, and to me it is no surprise that my two favourites are from Butiki!
This tea is very dear to me, it makes me feel special. Taiwan seems to be the cradle of what I call my Gem tea collection, little treasures I just can’t live without!
The liquor is reminiscent of a citrine gemstone, a glowing sunny amber colour. I strongly recommend pouring in glass teaware to fully admire.
I love the fact that each time I drink this, it feels different from the time before, and I can detect new subtleties. That’s what this tea is all about, nuances. It has a very distinct texture, like a roundness in the mouth. Interesting cause I don’t think many teas have an actual texture. I wrote about Butiki’s 2003 Reserve Four Season Oolong that it felt like a silk ribbon in my mouth. It’s even truer for this aged oolong because of its buttery and creamy attributes.
Unlike other similar teas I have tried, the roasted aspect doesn’t overpower with a strong burnt aftertaste. Instead, it adds just the right amount of complexity. This tea offers so many different layers, I think it has a multiple personality disorder! But they all come together to create the perfect cup…many perfect cups that is, if you choose to brew it gongfu style.
It would be a shame to see Stacy’s info become reality… I sure hope the craft of aging oolong will continue for many years to come.
Warning: Please skip this part if you’re not interested in the «story». (I’ve been away for awhile, but for those who know me, you already know there’s often a story!)
Family came over on Sunday for Thanksgiving, and it was such a beautiful autumn day, we all decided to go to this wonderful hiking river park I’m so lucky to have very nearby. Fall in the Laurentians is breathtaking. We call this time a year «Le Festival des Couleurs» (colour festival), and people come from all over to feast their eyes on nature’s beauty.
My nephew and godchild Gabriel is only 3 years old. He can’t get enough of the outdoors. He’s going through a «fish» phase. When we go visit a new place, he always asks if there’s going to be fishes in the water.
He visited the park we were going to many times this summer. Knowing there are no fishes to be seen in that river, he never asks for them. But for some reason, this time he kept telling me we were going to see fishes. In order to avoid a big disappointment later on, I gently reminded him with all the adult wisdom I could give him that unfortunately, there were no fishes where we were going. His reply to that: «We’re going to see the fishes». Ah! That cute little dimpled smiley face of his!
As we were walking on the riverside, we saw a narrow path heading to the woods. We had never noticed it before and decided to go explore a little. It led us to a small pond with a footbridge built over to cross to the other side. Gabriel was so excited, he said even before we started crossing,
«Come auntie, let’s go find the fishes!» Well what do you know… I was dumbfounded to find swimming on the surface the largest trouts I have ever seen! From the bridge, we could see dozens of them, almost jumping out of the water, probably hoping to get food from us. There are no words to describe the glow I saw in my godchild’s eyes. Lesson learned, I thought. Even when the odds are not on your side, good things can happen if you truly believe they can.
Being sick all summer, I’ve been looking for answers I couldn’t find cause I kept digging at the same spot…it took a 3 year old to teach me otherwise.
It was Einstein who said that insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting different results. Gabriel reminded me that in order to find my own fish pond, I just had to take a different path. Best thanksgiving ever I’d say.
Not much to say really…
Is there a proper way to describe such tea? What if there isn’t? I think you must experience it to feel whatever it is suppose to make you feel.
It’s sweet gold and glitters for the soul. Every steep evolves and brings a new level of enjoyment.
I first tried it a while ago… I was at a different place in my life then, but it still brought me joy, just not in the same manner.
Today, this tea reminds me that I must be grateful for what I have now, and not regretful for what I’ve lost.
This is how powerful it is in all its purity. Tea can be fun and silly, and tea can be wisdom and clarity. You get to choose as you feel and as you please, that’s the beauty of it.
I love birds. I feed them and in return, they let me observe their beauty at very close range. I have over 40 different species coming and going. Sitting outside as I’m drinking this special tea, I see this strong and magnificent male woodpecker, pecking on the grain I provide for him. It’s the only sound I hear, along with the breeze caressing the trees.
It is so easy to forget how beautiful life is… These moments are free, and yet, they make you feel as rich as you could ever be…
Today, this tea is just perfection.
Sooo…Shengs are part of my tea no man’s land, having tried just a couple I have very few references when it comes to write a review… I always envy those of you who seem so taken by it (Charles, if you read this, you know I’m thinking of you!)
Following up on my resolution of drinking special teas at non special times, I reached for my special box tonight and fetched this one out.
I’m using 7g and a gaiwan.
Dry, it smells so strongly of spices and raisins, one would think it’s a flavoured blend!
I’m thinking, this will render a similar taste, but not at all! I wont describe each steep as I rarely do, but I’m on the 4th right now and I’m just in awe…
I can already tell this is not a tea that will appeal to everyone though. It has lots of bite and astringency. Loving these characteristics, it’s tailor made for my likings.
I visited an olive oil shop a few months ago in Montréal. They make you sample the oils the way you would for wine at a winery. You get to experience all the subtleties this fruit of the gods has to offer.
This Sheng reminds me of a peppery olive oil I bought.
First, the bite tickles your tongue and your mouth is filled with a nice fresh citrusy and woodsy feeling. Then emerges a round coating sensation that balances everything out.
Now, I know this is a young Sheng, and I have yet to experiment a lot more in order to make up my mind and see if Sheng is a new found passion, but I have this cute yixing pot I’ve been saving for I don’t know what. I have a feeling it will be dedicated to Sheng in a very near future…
Sorry for those seeking a more specific tasting note, but as this happens very often when I come across something new that blows my mind, I can’t give much more as a taste description. This is what I classify as a «feel tea», it gives me clarity and makes me see colours…
As I’m on a leave of absence from work for at least a month, I might start painting again. Haven’t done that in years, and I realize my creativity has been put to rest for way too long…
Thank you Verdant for that.
I’ve been drinking my best teas lately, the ones I usually keep for special occasions.
As I’m going through lots of changes in my life, I realize the way I drink tea is also changing. I no longer want to have over 150 teas to choose from in my cupboard. Don’t want to be a tea hoarder anymore. I want to fully appreciate and take time with what I choose to buy. I no longer want to be disappointed when I remember a certain tea and realize it’s not fresh anymore cause I forgot it was there for the last 12 months!
Doesn’t mean I wont experiment and try new stuff, I’m too curious about tea for that. But I’ve been selling myself short by having too much…Never thought I’d say that!
Now the tea.
Just as its name leads you to believe, this tea is special so I am not saving it, I am drinking the life out of it!
I know I went heavy on the leaf, but this first flush has a lot of character, and that’s a very good thing. Nice golden colour, and fruity aroma. It is packed with taste, mostly peaches and sweet apples at first.
I get a nice fresh citrus astringency that I’m very fond of.
As a blind test, I would have guessed second flush because it’s so fruity. Then, the flower-power hits me, and I am reminded that it is a FF. It’s like a mix, best of both worlds!
The second steep was just as tasty, but less sweet, a little more astringent.
I have several other Darjeelings to review from Butiki, as the Darjeeling sampler was part of my last order.
Sorry I’ve had to neglect Steepster and all its lovely people lately…
Funny how life can take you on a ride. Mine just took such a turn, I will be forever changed.
The last 3 weeks have been hell. I’ve had to isolate myself to cope with what was happening.
I have thrown myself into exercising. This past week, I pushed my body to its limit by doing intense workouts. I just discovered HIIT (high intensity interval training) I am now hooked.
I also biked for 12 long hours yesterday, cross country trails. Meaning, hills, hills and more hills.
My new motto: exorcise with exercise! Yes, my back, my tooshie and my legs are killing me! But physical pain helps put my mind to rest… So as long as my body is allowing it, I’ll keep pushing for a while.
Aside from doing crazy workouts, I’ve kept my sanity by drinking lots of tea as usual.
And now I will catch up by reading my dashboard, as I’m sure your reviews will cheer me up :-)