78

Picked this up about a year ago and it has changed a bit, but not any more than difference in brewing parameters could account for. Still very “green” – basically Yunnan white tea with a bit more color and “ripe” quality to it. Funny how a partial kill-green and some hand rolling affects color more than the flavors (at least while still young). The leaves do look different, though – more breakdown has occurred and it’s getting close to needing a sifting.

Made the mistake like I always do and stuck my nose in the foil bag to take a whiff. Like taking a deep breath through my nose of the dusty underside of a bed. Not only has this broken down a little, but it was a pretty downy tea to start with, so all those little hairs and minuscule tea bits had me coughing and almost sneeze. Like any loose aged tea, it’s better to add the leaves to a warmed pot first and then take in the dry fragrance.

Used 4g with 215ml water in a duan ni clay squat shi piao style yixing teapot seasoned for sheng puerh (rarely brews anything over a decade old). Pour time is around 15 seconds – seems the leaves are blocking water flow a bit more than usual – so tack that onto brew times for full contact time. Single rinse. Infusions progressed: 30sec-86C, 40sec-86C, 50sec-84C, 60sec-86C, 70sec-84C, 80sec-83C.

While there are a few full leaf sets, most of the leaves are single and have some breakage to them. Similar to FOP grade, but not homogeneous in composition. Buds are really long. Dry fragrance in the warmed pot is cottony, somewhat toasty-sweet, with a tinge of honeysuckle and a vegetal fruit quality that’s very familiar to me but I can’t quite place. I want to say cooked zucchini or brussel’s sprouts, but that’s not really it. Wet aroma tweaks that note into an easier to place fresh, wet kelp aroma. “Ripe” quality sort of similar to an uncut pluot or longan non-fruit notes but with some pruned orchid aroma as well. Overall, wet aroma screams Yunnan white tea and this carries through to the liquor aroma but there’s a bit more of a dried marsh grass sweetness to it. Liquor is pale yellow at the shallow end and heavier yellow where the cup is deeper.

Aroma similar to a drying freshwater marsh. Sedges and rushes with some somewhat sweet cottonwood leaves or wild rosebush foliage notes as well. Wet leaf aroma characteristics carry through to the liquor better than I’m used to (much less woody, though). Flavor light and sorta floral, but bamboo and fallen leaves come to mind above anything else. Cottony mouthfeel, again like a white tea. A bit of astringency in second infusion highlights this. By third infusion, the body is up to full force – not as syrupy as aged or shu puerh, but still thick. Mouthwatering. Sort of a sticky rice and nori similarity. Kinda eggy, but not nearly as much as as Yin Zhen. By sixth infusion it’s tasting a whole heck of a lot like Genmai Cha but replace the grass notes with dried wetland grasses (think the smell of a woven basket but a little sweeter). Aftertaste subsides but the effect of leaving your mouth and breath slightly sweet lasts a bit more than half an hour.

Yummy. I wish I could buy more… Suppose I could break up a green cake to simulate the characteristics and aging speed, but this tea obviously had a lot of special care put into it to preserve its qualities in loose form.

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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Bio

Tea Geek.

My focus is on Chinese Wulongs and Pu’er but I’m all over the place. I tend to follow a seasonal progression of teas, following the freshness curve of greens through summer and rounding the cooler months out with toastier teas and Masala Chai.
With the exception of Masala Chai milk tea I’m a purist at heart. While I was originally snagged by Earl Grey with bergamot and make blends for gifts, I very rarely go for scented teas or herbals and can’t remember the last time I bought a tea that was blended. Pure tea is just more interesting to me than the product of mixing flavors. I do understand and appreciate their existence, though.

I upload some blends I make or special prep teas I nab under the company name “Green Raven Tea and Coffee” and the vast majority of these posts will be blends crafted to create flavors/characteristics not inherent in any one particular tea.
I’ve worked as a tea buyer for a smallish cafe and try to keep apprized of shifts in offerings even when not selecting for a business so I wind up sampling a ton of wholesale samples from a couple companies in particular but try to branch out to as many companies as I can find. Until Steepster integrates some form of comparative tasting feature, none of my cupping notes will make it onto my reviews unless wrapped up into something I feel compelled to drink multiple times on its own.



Since all the cool kids are doing it, here’s my big fat ratings scheme:

0-12…..Ugh, don’t wish on anyone
13-25….Bad, won’t touch again
26-37….Huh, not worth the effort
38-50….Meh, unremarkable
51-62….Okay, good tea
63-75….Tasty, really good tea
76-87….Yum, wonderful
88-100…Wow, really spectacular

There shouldn’t be many postings at all from me ranked 26-50 since unremarkable teas are unlikely to make me remark on ’em but to “earn” a score 37 or below I have to be disappointed to the point where others may ask for a refund or turn down offers even when free or offered as a gift (beyond stale).

I’ve got a ton of respect for anything rated 63 or higher.

For a tea to get 71 or more, it has to be pretty special and kinda blow my socks off.

The 90s are reserved for wonders that make me reevaluate my views of the world of tea as a whole.

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Santa Rosa, California, United States

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