699 Tasting Notes
The beau and I had 4 or 5 steeps of this last night after a great supper of homemade pad thai. We are anxiously awaiting the opening of a new Thai restaurant in the town near us, but so far no dice. So we took things into our own hands!
This was a great choice afterward for our night tea. This is a habit I picked up from a great friend and her husband of 25 years. They are kindred spirits even if we are 20 years apart in age. For their whole marriage, her husband has prepared coffee for them to take to bed and enjoy before going to sleep. Both of them like whatever is left cold in the morning, and it creates a nighttime ritual for just the two of them, perfect for the parents of four great kids.
After commenting on how brilliant that is, my husband started making night tea for us, usually my choice of tea, as we have no problems sleeping after tea. Or while drinking it. He usually finishes his, and I get halfway through mine, but I love it. We don’t have kids yet, but it is still nice to carve out a ritual for us in the midst of busy lives. Due to my propensity to fall asleep as soon as I am in bed, we usually enjoy this in the living room but it works for me. We also read bedtime stories to each other since I’m just a really big kid. We’re almost done the Philip Pullman collection of Grimm’s Fairy Tales and I am looking forward to reading the Tales of Trenzalore next. Except whenever hubby reads, I fall asleep. He puts up with a lot. :)
SO! We used half the pack, which I got in the Mandala Shu sampler of a few months back. This is the second one I’ve actually managed to try. Probably should have used all 7 g but I wanted two goes at it, and my cups are small. Gave it a rinse, which was very pale and didn’t open it up very much and then drank the first real steep at 30 seconds (boiling water). It was earthy, with a smoky note. I was reminded of a campfire in the rain, it wasn’t overpowering, but very nice. Through all the steeps, that smoke note remained, and was present with some earthiness, some leather, maybe some mushroom flavours. I increased the time with each steep and the leaves really let go of each other with each steep.
This tea had no bitterness or astringency at all which was really nice. As I got further on, I got more sweetness but it was never a really sweet tea. It was rich and nice, very pleasant but a bit mild because I didn’t use enough leaf, I imagine. I was trying this to see if I should get a cake of it in the mandala order I am considering since they’re having a sale, and I think for an easy drinking, every-day, no-thought-required shu this is fantastic. We both really want a few cakes of shu that we can just have western or gongfu, with no fuss. I want one at work, at home, and the beau wants one at work too. For now, finances and common sense dictate we settle down a bit but if I do this order, I will definitely add a cake of this. Really nice easy drinking shu – if you’re afraid of it, try this.
Flavors: Campfire, Leather, Mushrooms, Smoke, Wet Earth
I have got to get myself a good inexpensive cake of shu for at work. And home. When I get tired of the same black teas, I tend to refresh my palate with a cuppa shu. However my options are extremely limited to mostly samples and oftentimes things I have not yet reviewed so I don’t want to take them to work where I don’t focus on them. Then I forget what I thought and how to steep and don’t know what to order. I still have three samples from Mandala to try, but I need to have time at home with hubby so we can both get our impressions and decide which (if any) is worth stocking.
I went through the stash Monday night and brought in some samples that I had dupes of so I have options at work. While doing that, I unearthed the remains of this sample which was provided to me for free several years ago. I didn’t really see much from this company but the three samples I had were good quality but a bit pricey, if I remember correctly.
This makes a really nice cup that I don’t have to focus on but can still enjoy. No bitterness, not too dark or roasty which I don’t like. There is a full flavour which reminds me of wood and rain and clean barns. It’s not fishy or dirty, but is earthy and warm. Delish!
So I still have a couple of these and had brought one to work at one point in case of pu-erh emergency. I decided to make this in my perfect tea mug with a western gongfu hybrid. After my attempt to brew the Chenpi Ripe Tangering pu-erh Western style the other day, I thought I’d better try a rinse. I got the water to a boil then did a ten second rinse. It smelled very earthy and dark (and a little fishy) after this so I did another ten second rinse. Still smells earthy, dark and strong but not offensive. The tuo pretty much collapsed at this point and my infuser is fall of very finely ground leaves, like coffee grinds (I see I had that experience with this the first time as well).
After all this, I gave it a 30 second steep which yields an aroma of earth, barn and mushrooms. Maybe damp hay. Not offensive, just strong. Like a farm, but not unpleasant. I swear! It’s not that it smells like manure, but it does smell like a wooden structure that’s lived in by animals. I think people with a rural sensibility might understand that. Or I’m crazy. :)
So indtead of writing the rest of this note, I accidentally talked with a co-worker for a while. Whoops. Impressions from the past are: it wasn’t very strong in flavour, despite the depth of colour and aroma. I was probably a little skimpy on time given the two rinses BUT leaving it like this kept it fairly fresh and allowed me to sip along mindlessly which was actually perfect in the circumstance. No strong notes really came to the fore, so my assessment of this now (with more pu under my belt) is that it is good for a casual puerh when I want something rich but am not in the mood for black tea. It’s a beginner puerh, which makes sense given that it’s a mini tuocha with tiny leaves. I’m gonna go make more now…
Sample 4 outof 5 from Teavivre. Thanks! I am spending the day at home catching up on life. Between my two jobs, I have had only a few days off this month and I am rarely home to enjoy them. Evenings are equally busy with visiting family and so on. Today is the last official day of summer and after a massive torrential rain overnight I am enjoying some sun and warm temperatures. It’s just after noon and I’ve already made two loaves of bread and a batch of english muffins which will be gratefully enjoyed throughout the week when I have no time to make dough.
So, here I sit with a cup of this. I was pleasantly surprised to see massive chunks of tangerine peel in with the puerh. I used half the sample in my perfect tea mug for a few minutes with water that (apparently) cooled to 96 before pouring. The result is a deep brown like a stout or dark ale. The aroma is musty and barnlike, but not in the usual pleasant way. It’s overpowering. Shoot. I haven’t made puerh Western style in a while…shoulda done some sort of a rinse first. I’m going try drinking this but if it’s too strong, I can always pour it out and try again with a re-steep. D’oh.
Huh. This has a totally different taste profile than the aroma suggests. I get smoke. No barn or hay. Maybe something musty if that ties into the smoke. It’s strong with a sense of bitterness like a coffee edge but not unpleasant. This is a very potent mug. VERY strong. I am tempted to add a bit of milk to dilute it because I’m not super interesting in drinking it as is. Which sucks, because this is my fault and this is my first tea of the day. I will not rate this currently because I need to try again under better circumstances.
All I can say for sure right now is that it is very bold and strong with a smoky edge. No sweetness. Whew.
Flavors: Musty, Smoke, Wood
Third of five recent Teavivre samples, and I am saving the unusual ones for last. The beau and I recently drank the regular Silver Needle and I am interested to see if I get nuch difference in the organic. I am going Western again and following the instructions with 75 degree water and the full pouch in the teapot. Around four minutes steeping a light yellow liquor with some serious melon and cucumber aromas.
First sips come in light, a bit melony and sweet. I recently ate some seasoned crackers and the remains of those are overpowering the tea. This is a very light tea, not one that holds up well to this particular pairing. I think this should be enjoyed on its own so you can get the full sense of light sweet hay and honeydew/cucumber flavours. No bitterness or astringency at all, I like this more than the regular Silver Needle from last week. This stands out more and has a bit of a floral note that I appreciate. I think I still preferred the white peony but this hits the spot right now.
I can’t rule out steeping parameters as a factor in my results but this stand on its own much better than it’s non-organic counterpart. A very nice light white that is easy to sip exactly as is.
EDIT: second steep at boiling for a minute is really nice. Similar flavours but even more bold. Nice to sip while I sit in the sun before going to work at the library. We were up later than usual checking out the Northern lights. Amazing!
Flavors: Cucumber, Floral, Hay, Honeydew, Melon
This is quite possibly my first “Random Steepings” entry. Tada! The beau and I had Chinese food “in town” tonight and I was curious about the tea. The waitress said there was a loose leaf oolong and we asked for a pot of that. It came loose but was brewing up really dark so we investigated. Turned out, this is definitely shu puerh. She had no more info about it but we told her a bit about puerh and how she might like to brew it if she wants to try it again. It was actually really nice and held up to Western steeping really well. This encouraged me to try more of our pu Western style. Yay!
Also excuse the (many?) Typos. I’m on my phone and Steepster won’t let me see what I am typing so I am just hoping it turns out legible…now it’s letting me. Grr. That was pretty bad. I think I got most of them.
First thoughts: Wow, those are big! The leaves are uniformly whole, about 1.5 inches long.
I got some of this in my recent package of samples from Teavivre and now that Steepster seems less broken, I’m finally reviewing it. I don’t often drink white tea but when I do I tend to enjoy it. I steeped this for about two minutes in 75 degree water per the instructions on the sample. I used the whole packet to make a pot for the beau and I since he is a big fan of white teas.
At two minutes western style, this is light tea. Very light. Maybe too light. I poured the tea back into the pot for another minute steeping – and made a mess. Whoops. Then I forgot it, and it went two more minutes. So, a four minute steep it is. The water was only 75 when poured though, so I’m not worried about over-steeping.
Now, we have a lot more flavour. It is still a light-tea but full-bodied and sweet with some notes of hay and melon or cucumber. No bitterness, astringency or dryness. Light but yummy. Sort of unassuming. Another tea that I like when I drink but don’t always think to go for. The beau proclaims it “really good.” He gets a bit of jasmine (which is likely floral in general). He had a sip of scotch before trying it though, so his impressions are now confused.
I don’t think we will have any problem enjoying these samples and I am interested to compare it to the Organic Silver Needle we also received. I think I will try a second steep of this later at higher temps as well to see what we get.
It’s been a little while since I’ve had the white peony, but so far I would say I liked that a little better. It had a little more oomph for me and stood out a bit more. I think it also had different brewing parameters though which can really change the outcome.
Flavors: Cucumber, Melon, Sweet
This is a bit of a revelation. I still have half a pound of this from my hasty mega-purchase a few years ago. I constantly give it away, but it reproduces like gremlins.
Knowing its tendency to become a bit bitter and dry, I steeped it quick (about 2.5 minutes) and added a small splash of milk and a bit of honey. This brings it back to sweet, creamy, vanilla. Not my favourite and I definitely regret buying so much but this will make it really easy to drink some more at work. No re-steeping, dear heaven.
Flavors: Cream, Vanilla
Sooo, I am finally trying this – the first of my Mandala sampler. This is my first Mandala experience, but not my first puerh. I already know I prefer Shu, so this is a great opportunity. Dry, the leaf smells sweet and reminds me (as usual) of sweet hay, damp earth, wood and sweet clean animals.
I followed the instructions provided with the teas which suggested the whole serving for one session or half that for a lighter brew (or in my case for a small quantity of liquid). I gave a 15 second rinse with boiling water, then 30 second steep with boiling again. The result is not bitter or astringent, though it isn’t as sweet as expected. It has a bit of dryness and some general earthiness but not a lot else. It’s definitely earthy and mushroom-y. The beau gets a fishy smell but I don’t. He says “it’s really strong. It’s not bad though.”
2: 45 seconds, boiling. The leaves are still pretty clumped up, and the liquor is quite dark with an earthy, mushroom aroma. The flavour matches the first, but maybe a bit less dry. Strong, rich, earthy.
3: 1 minutes, boiling. Might as well mention that due to my lack of a sharing pitcher, I am brewing in my small gaiwan, and pouring into the larger one then pouring into our cups with a dribble at the end for my teapet. It’s a messy but equitable system. This steep smells very strong. Like an earthy greenhouse or barn. As always, this isn’t negative. Still no bitterness, but a bit dry. No sweetness, which I had in other shu. I think this is maybe the result of the small leaf?It’s bold, fo shu! (See what I did there?) The beau says the fish is gone (I never got that!) and that it is more earthy. “Best steep so far.”
4: 1 minute 15 seconds, boiling. I can’t imagine how strong this would be with the full sample. I definitely made the right choice for my brewing setup to split this in two. I was looking at other notes and saw some comparisons to coffee which seem accurate but it isn’t unpleasant and bitter like coffee. More an explanation of the depth and richness. This steep gets some sweetness finally. I like it. Much the same, but better. The beau says “now this tastes like a typical pu-erh, the strong taste is gone.” We agree on that for once.
5: 1 minutes 30 seconds, boiling. Whoa sweetness. Something fruity. Appley? This is different. I like it. Best so far. Reading other notes again – man, did my experience contradict EVERYONE else? Oh well!
6: 1 minute 45 seconds, boiling. The problem with this steeping method is that the gaiwan burns my fingers with boiling water, but the water is cool enough to drink by the time it is poured in my cup. I could go through a lot of steeps very quickly if it weren’t for the need to get water boiling again regularly. Taste is similar to 5. Sweet, lighter, a sense of apple or maybe apple peel. I don’t know why I say that, it isn’t strong enough to really explain, but it comes to mind anyway.
From here on, I’m going to just steep and enjoy without reporting. This can get exhausting. I need a bigger sample so I can try it gongfu, and Western-ish as well. For now, this was nice and different from other shu I have tried. I don’t think I need a cake of it, as it doesn’t hit my hot spots (currently). Really nice to experience though. Great education!
Flavors: Apple Skins, Earth