93 Tasting Notes

93

Mouthwatering, savory muted vegetal wash with a faintly smoky, sweet sea lettuce aftertaste. The aroma is a delicate yet captivating blend of orchid, grassy knoll at the peak of growth, iris, fresh cornbread, lightly steamed cauliflower, watermelon skin, and coconut husk. Light flavor, but shifting in profile – undeniably green with fresh hay-like qualities but floral and sweet. There’s a non-fruity fruit characteristic I liken to the feeling of stir frying squash and breathing in the surrounding steam… sort of a vaporous “ripeness” you get while exhaling some oolongs. Great body is also more comparable to oolongs than greens. Refreshing and sumptuous, this tea sort of makes you forget hunger and can supplant an afternoon meal, though it somehow accompanies food well without being lost (feels like a waste of a fine tea to drink it alongside something that will change its flavor, though).

Very forgiving to brew. I typically will infuse 4g per 165ml for 2-3 minutes in 75-80 degree C water, but can brew continuously with 3g per 500ml at 70-75 degrees C and be constantly refreshed for over 15 minutes as you drink from the infusing liquor.

Expect something smokier/meatier than a green tea when drinking this and do not be surprised that the aftertaste is more substantial than the flavor.

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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82

Used 5g in 155ml water in a covered glazed ceramic gaiwan with a single quick rinse. First infusion 1 minute with 85 degree C water followed by a 2 minute 30 second infusion with the same water slightly cooled.

Dry fragrance very similar to dried apricots. Toasty, sweet, fruity (the apricots, but also longan, lychee, kumquat, currant, and dried pomello rind), cinnamon, pink peppercorns, whole cardamom, and cedar wood. Wet aroma of the leaves more damp wood, wet granite, pear, and plum sauce. Liquor is a clear, reddish copper color and carries a heady aroma of the spices and longan/kumquat fruity notes.

Only real difference in infusions is increased body and headiness of aroma in longer brew. Slick, smooth, full mouthfeel. Long lingering cupric aftertaste with ripe fruit medley. Mineral, sweet crispness lends mouthwatering effect. Slight astringency in the very back of the throat. In tasting, it is vaporous with the aromas blending easily to the flavor and to the nose and afteraroma – practically seamless transition but lighter up front and richer toward end. Taken as a draught, there is more of a plum skin, copper metal sweetness, ripe pear underlying perfume, and overall juiciness you don’t quite get in sipping/slurping.

When brewed longer, this has a striking similarity to brandy or heavier scotch in color, aroma, and body.

Rich and sumptuous while remaining clean, this tea balances the line between oolongs and reds very well and would happily satisfy folks of either preference. Despite its weight, I would never consider besmirching this tea with additions – it is really pointless and adding anything more than the smallest bit of sugar or honey would tear it to shreds.

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

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100

Prepared 10g in a seasoned 200ml duan ni squat shi piao style Yixing teapot. Rinsed twice to open up and remove small amount of broken down tea dust (rinses immediately poured off – about 10 second contact time). I progressed each infusion by about 5 seconds, starting at 15 seconds and finishing at 2 minutes and 45 seconds on the 28th infusion. Heated enough water for three infusions each with a downshift of 10 degrees C at most. Climbed from 80 degrees to just before a boil for the 13th infusion onward.

Leaves are clearly broken down and fairly oily – pretty luster. Coppery deep brown color with hints of silver and far-muted green tinted brown. A couple golden stripes here and there. While there are a lot of intact leaves, there is also heavier presence of twig and what looks like much older leaves mixed in than most of the new puerhs I get. In a warmed pot, the dry fragrance is a dry but cool oak woodland leaf litter mustiness with a faint mineral and black pepper spicy tinge. Hint of ripe red grape skins in there and crisp sweetness. Wet aroma musty and heady with just a hint of an aged port aroma… maybe a bit of clove and brandy. Liquor color is a gorgeous clear deep red with gold tint to the margins. Liquor aroma transmits mostly sweet mineral aromas with that crisp, toasty dried oak leaf and bark aroma as a base. Reminds me of the smell of canoeing down a clean stretch of creek on a cooler summer day with the smell of river rocks, willows, driftwood, sand and just a bit of algae mixing in a warming, relaxing medley.

All infusions shared a base of sweet toasted malt, slight tanginess of mineral clay and tannic dried leaves, incredible smooth and thick mouthfeel, and sweet woodsy lingering yet clean-feeling aftertaste with an evaporative orchid-floral effect. First six infusions were markedly different in prime attribute expression. 1st – mineral clay; 2nd – smooth cabernet sauvignon (ripe red fruit); 3rd – old vine zinfendel (peppery and plum); 4th – sweet toasted grains and dry eucalyptus wood; 5th – home baked wheat bread just out of the oven drizzled with honey (camphor afteraroma); 6th – hummus on toasted grain cracker with a touch of ripe plum and pear and very thin slice of 1-2 year old creamy cheddar cheese. Fruits gave way to a bit of moist leaf litter and bark aromas in later infusions, but the floral and sweet, toasty afteraroma and taste kept going. While the telltale water chestnut crispness started advancing through the 18th-28th infusions, I gave up long before the tea did. Dunno how many infusions I could’ve gotten out of this guy… The next morning I re-rinsed and brewed two pots with the old leaves 4-5 minutes with near-boiling water and it still tasted sweet, clean and mouthwatering but most of the unique flavor characteristics were gone.

Used this as the representative of an aged sheng puerh for my Ten Famous Teas of China tasting, and I feel bad for the folks who had to leave before we started brewing this beauty.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 0 min, 30 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.

Location

Santa Rosa, California, United States

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