I know it’s poor form to have one’s initial taste of a pricey, long-awaited leaf alongside a bowl of smelly, peppery tuna salad, but the steaming cup imparted a glorious incense to my fishy repast. It was alchemical bliss to the palate, and besides, I was hungry.

The only other bohea I’ve experienced was about a year ago, from Teas Etc. This marvel, I think, surpasses that. The dry tea consists of tiny, even-sized black twists. Be careful with the leaf amount. It is denser than you might think. I used a scant 1.5 tsp in a 12oz mug to get two steeps. If you have the right mug, the large size teeli/bodum mesh-and-plastic steeping basket will reach all the way from the bottom to the top edge, giving the leaf lots of room to boogie … and good leaves deserve this.

The liquor possesses more flavor than is announced by its pale amber hue. The smoke merely accents its depth and complexity. It has an herbal freshness like lightly roasted roots rather than a green flush. While lapsang souchong can shove some extremely distracting smoke up your nose, this bohea wraps its toasty wood mist gently around the notes of the excellent tea. No wonder the bohea is more costly.

Afterward, I put the wet leaf on a little white porcelain saucer and dripped water on it until it was suspended in liquid. This is the best way I’ve found for getting a really good look at steeped leaf. Lo and behold, this leaf has been chopped or broken into quite evenly-sized bits. Was this machine-harvested or was it broken during finishing? I cannot tell. In any case, the fineness of this bohea does not depend on preserving the whole leaf. Rather, it is the quality of growth, the selectiveness of picking, and the skill of processing which makes such a good thing.

4 min, 6min at 205F.

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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Note: I’m open to offers to swap tea samples. If you can’t message me, just comment on one of my tea notes, and I’ll respond.

I am fascinated and deeply impressed by the artistry and skill which coaxes such an array of qualities from one species of leaf. In 2009, I founded San Antonio Tea & Herb Enthusiasts. In 2014, a move to Southern California creates both upheaval and new horizons. The best part is that now I live quite close to my son and his family.

For intimate tastings with a small gathering, I’m practicing Asian-style tea service along the lines of Chinese gongfu cha. It is a joy to share good tea!

The most recent sign of my conversion to the deeply-steeped side: I’ve turned three large file boxes into “tea humidors” for aging pu-erh cakes and bricks at 65% humidity. Remote sensors within the “pumidors” relay the temperature and humidity readings to a base station on my desk. It satisfies my scientist aspect and keeps tea pretty well, too.


Southern California, USA



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