401 Tasting Notes
Thank you Bonnie for this sample!
A few months ago, I received many generous samples from Bonnie and have only reviewed a few of them, sorry about that…
I was honored to try my first tea from her beloved teashop, Happy Lucky’s, she also included a nice cardboard disk from them that gives you all their brewing instructions and addresses.
She had promised she would send a Lapsang Souchong that she thought I might appreciate, as I had expressed the fact that they kind of scared me, just like pu’erh did…
First and foremost: the smell! Ahhh… sweet fire camp hickory, charcoal broil mixed with floral fragrance from the pretty dried jasmine flower buds and juicy bite from the orange rinds .. People at your teashop are genius for thinking of putting these together…as they say, opposites attracts!
Not to think that this is in any shape or form a jasmine tea cause it’s not! The Jasmine is obviously overpowered by the smoke and it is to be expected, but it’s role here is simply to tone it down an completely blend and vanish to create a perfect balance with it’s sweet flowery perfume.
I’ve had only one souchong previous to this one, and it was so harsh and bitter, I thought I would never have it again!
This is showing me all the possibilities, and I’ll be willing to try more of them… I have to say that as breakfast tea, it’s magnificent!
The best part is that I have enough for a few more cups!
Happy to be back! (Once more, I’ve had to unplug from Steepster for awhile… (My dad was sick again, so I’ve spent most of my time with him at the hospital)
It’s ok, not beign the most active member here, I still greatly enjoy following poeple and their reviews. Even if I have to disappear from time to time, I always come back!
So I’ve had «regular tea» for the last few weeks, not having enough time to indulge in «special tea» such as this one. Tonight is special…I have a date with myself! I’am alone in the backyard, it’s nightfall, and I can hear the owl’s chant, whooo, whooo, very close by…The woods are in my backyard, so I get lots of wild life sounds, and from time to time, wild life visitors. I love all my visitors, they sometimes just pass by, or they stay for a couple of days. Today, we had a red fox sniffing around. It stayed a few hours under the bird feeders, hoping for a snack.It’s been raining a lot, there’s a wonderful vegetation and earthy smell out here tonight, so fresh and warm at the same time.
I have brought the cast iron kettle outside to keep my water hot, along with the gaiwan. I will write this review the old fashion way by the candle light, in my tea notebook. Not kidding, a real paper notebook, with a real pen, with real ink. I realized lately that I barely ever «write» anymore, using the electronic devices all the time. I’ve missed that feeling… See, in French, (my first language) I write a lot! It’s a habit and a necessity for me. I write everything and nothing. I think in one day, I probably write more than I speak! To write on paper just feels like reading a real book after reading a thousand digital ones! It feels right again…
Back to the tea. I’m following Verdant’s instructions. A few seconds only for big flavor. I will not pretend I can review this tea the way others have. Although I can always identify some of the notes, the experience for me is more about the way it makes me feel than about the actual taste. I don’t care much if I can’t get the « cinnamon» or the «avocado». And I’m not saying that in a pejorative way, au contraire, I do admire people for being able to do that so well in their reviews and I thoroughly enjoy reading them, but it’s just not my main concern when I try to describe my tastings. However, I think it’s fun when I find exactly what has been described, I guess sometimes it’s just more obvious than others…
Anyways, I get so many different notes in one sip of this tea, it would take a lifetime for me to identify them all!
The first infusion was a burst of sweetness, yum! Chocolate and honey for sure… it’s so warming, it surprised me in such a pleasant way.
As the other infusions evolved, it got closer to oolong than black tea for me. I find roasted nut along with ripe fruits and light spiciness. Even after many infusions It’s very intense and slightly astringent.
I can’t write anymore than that, sorry… I’m too chocked up by the pure bliss it is giving me, and the night is just too beautiful not to get my full attention…The perfect tea for the perfect moment… I will type that on Steepster later when I get back in…
Thank you for that, Verdant…
Love getting tips from Steepster people!
I like to try different methods and decide afterward if it’s for me or not. After reading Charles T. Draper’s review on having this cold brewed, I had to try it!
( can’t believe I can actually relate to a real life «Draper» guy other than Mad Men Don Draper! What can I say, just can’t get enough of that show!)
Ok back to tea, I’ve been experiencing a lot lately with cold brewing, AmyHo had told me the reason she makes her iced tea this way is mostly cause it’s easy…hey, I like easy too!
Charles had recommended brewing it for 3 days…ummm, It got me thinking that patience not being one of my strongest attribute, it would be a tad too long for me so I had to try it after 1 day… it was OK, but I got some kind of metallic after taste along with bitterness that I wasn’t fond of.
So I waited…NOT patiently! but it was well worth the wait! This stuff is really good, and I can appreciate all the different nuances a lot more. For me, the crisp cold temperature amplified the nuttiness I usually get from the hot brew. Strangely, the bitterness was gone and replaced by some refreshing citrus notes that I thought complemented very well that nuttiness and oolong’s natural creaminess. I was very sad to see my jar empty and made another one right away! Now, I want to try more oolongs and greens this way, I have couple of jars waiting in the fridge!
To TEAVIVRE, I must say I have yet to try one of your tea that I don’t like, they never let me down!
(My 2nd review of this )
This time, I come prepared to «match II» of TheTeaFairy V/S Matcha Matsu!
I brought to the table the proper ammo, fool me once, never twice (hopefully):
- variable temp kettle: check!
- extra large bowl: check! (the golf green kitchen counter experiment has been done before, see previous review)
- No witness zone: check! (confidence level not on high, did lose big chunk-o-pride in round 1)
So we meet again… inoffensive looking green powder, but oh so lethal if not handled with care!
Matcha, here’s the deal: If you don’t want to end up exclusively in my morning smoothies, you better show some cooperation… I paid some big bucks for you, time to show some love and let me drink some decent liquor!!!
I must stay focused, take a deep breath… start whisking, gently this time. No frantic motion. I’m master of my matcha. Oops, a little slip creates some green juice escape…it’s ok, don’t panic! No one said it had to be perfect, I will happily settle for bearable.
Alright now, stop!
Let’s see what we have… looks like matcha, nice froth going on, opaque but not muddy… hum, is there hope for me?
Shall I dare taste it? Can’t help a vivid memory from resurrecting, how bitter was my last cup of this? Oh, trust me, VERY! It almost made a hole in my stomach! This time I followed tips from fellow Steepster and used a lot less powder.
Well this is a different tea now, It’s actually drinkable! Can’t say I’m in love with it, but I see myself having it again.
Hard for me to compare since this is the only Matcha I ever bought…if I compare to the ones I’ve had at the sushi bar, I come to the conclusion they eighter use higher grade Matcha or some kind of sweetener cause I don’t find that sweetness in mine. It’s very grassy, and still a tad bitter, but not in a harmful way this time!
For obvious lack of experience with matcha, once again I will not rate this until I have tried couple more, it wouldn’t be fair.
But I’m glad I gave it a proper shot!
It’s about 80 outside, I’m by the pool listening to Bob Marley «could you be loved?» ( how appropriate!) Yes you could, you Luscious Watermelon!
I’m having it more than iced, I’m having it slushed! Got a recipe from David’s Tea newsletter and decided today was perfect to try it… Used a strong infusion and poured in my Vitamix with ice cubes. In replacement of the agave recommended, I added real watermelon already diced and frozen. Blended a few seconds, a dash of lime juice and I was good to go!
I know, it’s not «real» tea, but still comes from an infusion right? and who cares it’s so damn good and refreshing!
BONNIE, I CAN’T THANK YOU ENOUGH FOR THIS GENEOUS SAMPLE!
Hello Steepster poeple,
So I’ve been a deserter for a while… To sum it up, 2012 hasn’t been very kind to me so far. Worst, it hasn’t been kind to close ones… family.
As many people, I have 2 families: the blood related and the close friends. I have only a handful in the close friend category, and those are much more than a Facebook page in my life.
My close friends are family to me as I am to them… it makes it that much more difficult when such a friend gets kicked out of life forever…
I had no idea when I first joined Steepster how much it would mean to me. Despite the fact that I have a zillion other interests in life, I never felt the need to join a forum or blog. I’m not one to open up to strangers and here I am, few months later rambling about one of the most intimate tragedy of my life… That’s what I love about this community, when I read everyone’s reviews, I see so much more than that… people are genuine and care for each other, and the common ground happens to be TEA. Why is it different than other stuff? My take is, tea is somewhat spiritual, it is linked to lots of different cultures, and therefore, brings people together in a gentle and sharing manner… I think tea is a lifestyle as oppose to a liking. Some teas will give me spiritual moments just like music and art…and just like music and art, some will give me plain and simple pleasure or pure fun! Of course, this Verdant tea falls in the spiritual category and it elevates me today…
Bonnie, I don’t know you that well, but at this moment, I love you! Thanks for sharing this wonderful tea with me, you make me feel special today. You may not be a «family friend», but you are definitely in a new category I’ve created for myself, a real Steepster friend!
Now the review:
As I’m climbing the «Tea ladder» in the most humble way, I have purchased a Gongfu tea set in order to fully appreciate higher quality teas such as this one. Nice elegant white porcelain, no frufrus, don’t want to be a tea snob! Proper equipment will just help make things right…
So this is my first Gongfu brew ever. As I’ve seen in Tea Master David Ducker’s videos, I’m using 1gr. of tea per ounce of water and I rinsed for 1 sec. Then:
1rst steep 3 sec.:
Ok I get it now, this brewing method does make a difference…hello flavor!!! Beautiful amber cognac color, sweet chocolate honey roasted almond taste, I do get them flavors! Each sip renders a gift, creating a swirl of happy in my mouth, happy dance!
Blame my inexperience, I increased the steeping time way too much, should have noticed from the color intensity that pretty much doubled. It probably affected the taste, but not in a bad way, I get the same flavors just in a more bold and malty way. Still very sweet and chocolaty.
The intensity is still big and I now understand how this brewing method can render 15 steeps! I also get a tad of spice. I think the spiciness will escalate in the next infusion.
Because my palate is not as developed yet as it should be for this kind of tea, I find it hard sometimes to clearly identify the different notes. It’s like having a word on the tip of your tongue, your mind knows it, but you just can’t say it! Knowing what essence I should be looking for helps me in my tastings. I know I’m supposed to get some cinnamon at one point, and I get it. I notice the sweetness slowly being replaced by a more mineral taste. Wow, it’s like I’m having a totally different tea now, loving this!
I will continue my drinking this afternoon, this is an uplifting experience so far…I’m very pleased.
Verdant posted that the new supply of this tea will be available early July, so I will wait patiently :-)
THANK YOU SO MUCH BONNIE FOR THIS SAMPLE!
I am returning to Steepster today with the promise of a restful warm and sunny day… I’m writing this review in my backyard and the only sounds surrounding me are those of the frogs in the pond, the birds and the wind…nearly p-e-r-f-e-c-t-i-o-n on earth, exactly what I need!
This day off is well overdue… I’ve been taking care of lots of people but myself lately… Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining, a time will come when I’ll be the one needing the care… But it does feel good to rest a little. My dad came out of the hospital after 5 weeks, and things are finally looking better for him :)
I’ve received many samples from Bonnie over a week ago and not trying them to this day was a torture! Out of respect, I wanted to keep them for a relaxed day like today to really appreciate them :)
I knew I would love this one… The dry tea looks like a VAN GOGH bouquet, so pretty and yellow! And the aroma is to die for, sweet and intoxicating!
The flavored teas I enjoy the most are of this type, very natural feel in the flavoring. The melon taste is clean and subtle, but it’s really there. I also appreciate the fact that the Bai Mu Dan is not overshadowed by the other flavors, I can still identify it and it makes this blend very delicate.
I can only imagine what this would taste like iced!
I’ve been kind of depressed lately, so I’ve kept to myself not wanting to be a burden to anybody ( there are much bigger problems surrounding me at the moment )
But today is a happy day and this tea really made my morning bright and sunny, I am glad I can share this with the Steepster community :)
I can feel the firecracker in me coming back to life!
This afternoon is dedicated to all the reviews I’ve missed, so lots of reading in perspective!
Ooh-la-la, this tea,
Treasure of scented pearls, the caviar of tea…
Open the jar…
Close my eyes…inhale…
In another era, from the luxuriant gardens of Forbidden City,
a world where I have never set foot, but that I recognize from the many books I have flirted with …
Am I having this tea as the Emperor’s favorite concubine? No! As the Empress of Imperial China herself!!! (Why settle for less?)
Well, I know that the Emperor’s entourage probably never drank jasmine pearls, as I think floral teas were not the most prized ones, but I still like to imagine they would!
The texture of this tea is just like its shape: surprisingly round, full and velvety on the palate.
NO TRACE of astringency, even after several minutes of infusion (I accidentally steeped it for 5 min. the first time)
2nd and 3rd steep: still that velvety roundness.
The floral note of jasmine is both rich and fresh, but absolutely not overpowering, the sap of green tea is very present in the background.
Contrary to other jasmine teas I have tried, the floral note doesn’t linger and leave a perfumed imprint in the mouth.
Conclusion: This tea is noble, of exceptional quality and commands respect for the history and craftsmanship it bears.
(And I should mention, TEAVIVRE, you are offering it at an exceptional low price, I thank you for that!)
Happy Easter/Passover, Steepster Comrades!!
Yesterday, Easter brunch was at my house. Mother, brother, sister, Stepfather, they’re all coffee addicts in the morning… Only Mr. Right supports me in my tea drinking.
So as usual, I made a gigantic pot of coffee. But as a true advocate of the tea cause, I also made a large pot of Assam Banaspaty. Can a girl be blamed for trying to convert a few people from time to time?
I ask my Stepfather: «Want to try some Assam Banaspaty ? His reply: «Assam who? They make dictator tea now? » (Thinks he’s being funny) «Not SADAM, ASSAM!!! It’s an excellent black Indian tea. » (Love my stepdad, but he takes pleasure of hiding the fact that he’s an educated man sometimes.)
«Tea is for little girls my darling, real men don’t associate with tea» says he, egg yolk dripping from his chin, now how manly is that??
Don’t I love a challenge!!«If you try it, I’ll make extra pancakes just for you. » «Bring it on, then!» (Men are weak this way)
I pour the tea in a new cup, don’t want any coffee contamination. «Sooo??? »
« I’ve tasted worst things, but it’s got nothing on coffee! »
Translation: « I’m not saying I would stop drinking coffee for it, but to my surprise, I really enjoy it, way better than expected!) Happy me, he likes it!!!
So the brunch went on, and so did his tea drinking. Not only did he finish his cup, but he poured another one! Said he did it only to honor me and my pancakes…What a gentleman!
This tea is just the perfect homey breakfast tea. It has everything you need to support a good meal. The taste is fantastic, just the right amount of everything you want out of a plain black tea. Very malty, and not bitter unless you steep it too long.
It definitely has a place in my cupboard, oops just ran out!