211 Tasting Notes

62

This tea shows up on both the green tea and oolong rosters at Stash. That’s because it’s a pouchong (bao zhong), or Bay Jong, as Stash has chosen to Americanize the tea designation. More confusement ….. But anyway, back to the tea.

When I first tasted this tea, several months ago, I didn’t know all that fun stuff. Now, I don’t think that knowing it has changed my taste buds all that much. I do appreciate the pouchong concept more now, since I dislike the astringency and bitterness of green tea so much. Pouchong gives me a lot of green tea flavor possibilities without risking the unwanted elements. A triumph of tea mastery, in my estimation. Does the person who made this tea know it’s being sold as “Bay Jong?” I wonder what she’d say?

Drinking green tea or a really green oolong, I feel all healthful and proud of myself. With this tea, I can do that and like what I’m drinking. The lilac notes were terribly elusive this time. The aging of the tea probably is mostly responsible for the loss, but maybe a change of temperature on the 2nd steep would help. Anyone have a suggestion which way to go — cooler or hotter?

I’m still liking the cup. The artichoke and new-mown hay are still going on. I gave the 3rd steep 9 min at 200F. Result was strong enough, but drier and less interesting.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 5 min, 0 sec

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83

Dry tea, curled like a brown-’n-gold bi lo chun and an aroma like baking cookies or hot creamed corn, made me hungry. Liquor also smells like sweet pastry, but flavor is more earthy, mushroomy, with a little tobacco bite on the tongue, slight astringency. Next time I might try using less tea or making the first steep shorter — 1:30 might be just fine.

Yipes! Second steep just as strong. I should weigh the tea next time. Since it is curled up, it’s easy to use too much. Fragrance of 2nd brew is nice brown sugar and the liquor taste has less pungency than the first round. AND a passable 3rd steep — this is some powerful tea!

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec

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91

Absolutely wonderful keemun! Smooth, sweet, mildly floral, with the cocoa and wet earth notes in the vendor’s description. Both the first and second infusions were flavorful, and quite sweet enough on their own. A lovely cup of tea.

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec
Doug F

This is still one of the best Keemuns I’ve tried.

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84

The Leaf: The dry tea, beautiful curls of tiny tips, has a surprisingly fresh aroma. After enjoying 3 good steeps, a close look at the wet leaves revealed that a bud, or a bud and one small leaf, were picked to make the tea.

The Liquor: Round, malty flavor enlivened by subtle notes of black pepper. Smooth, full body with nuances of baked yams and damp wood. Clean finish with a delicate dryness. I added soy milk to the latter half of one cup, with a squirt of agave, and the tea flavor came through nicely, bringing it’s stimulating, spicy element along.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 15 sec
TeaEqualsBliss

I LOVE (and miss) Norbu (from my stash)

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52

Peach is a good flavoring for tea. The extracts seem to stay fairly true to the natural taste. Anyway, this is a good example, used on a dark oolong in a nice “silken” tea bag. It tastes like you’d imagine; nothing that special. I guess the reason for putting flavor on oolong is that the tea is nondescript, or simply to create more varieties of tea to offer. The peach flavor was good, a nice juicy peach, but it covered over the tea flavor enough that I couldn’t judge the tea itself, but it must have been okay. I didn’t feel the need to sweeten it up, either; no bitter or astringent tastes. It made a good second steep and probably would have done again. Pretty darn good for a tea bag! And I like the business practices of the company.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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87
drank Mauka Oolong by Tea Hawaii
211 tasting notes

The small, multicolored dry leaves are curly, but not rolled-up, and smell mossy and fresh. Leaf hairs in the golden brew testify to the youngness of the leaves. In it’s flavor, the base note is balsamic, overlaid by the green mossy-ness and notes of artichoke and red clover blossom. It is like a pouchong, lightly oxidized, but the floral tastes and aromas are more earthy, like the clover blossom, and less like the very sweet flowers we normally call to mind. Because I dabble in herbs, my concept of floral scent has been enlarged to include what I would call (in an aromatherapy context) a mid-note florality. If I sense a top note in this oolong, it is fleeting. This is a subtle tea, which takes some consideration to fully appreciate. I am curious about how this tea would turn out if steeped at lower temperatures, perhaps 190F. I’ll post about it here, if it gives a substantially different result.

And then there is the freshness, even in this oolong. I am sure I have never had camellia sinensis tea this fresh. Which means that it hasn’t had time to absorb the ambient aromas from months of travel, packed in various containers which are opened and closed all over the world. Some of what we taste in tea from China, for instance, is travel-acquired. We may have come to think of it as the taste of tea. Now, having tried three extremely fresh teas from Hawaii, I think perhaps not.

As to how my sister got these Hawaii-grown teas, which are not available anywhere online at this time, to send me for my birthday (thank you, Chrissy!): she reports that she went to teahawaii.com and emailed them, then mailed a check. I don’t know what she paid, but if you want to find out how fresh tea tastes (or perhaps how tea really tastes) it may be worth it.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec
Batrachoid

Thanks, I’ve been wondering how to order and if this would be a good oolong to give as a gift. Given your joy, I’d say it is. =)

Pamela Dean

I think that a person who has tasted a lot of pure leaf teas will be more likely to recognize the unique qualities of these Hawaii-grown teas. However, the scarcity of this leaf (because production quantities are quite limited) makes it a very special gift, and I think any oolong lover might enjoy this tea, whether or not they know where it comes from. Best wishes to you and to the giftee, as well!

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96
drank Forest White by Tea Hawaii
211 tasting notes

This stands apart from other white teas, and I think it’s the teamaster, Eva Lee, and the terroir, being Hawaii-grown and handmade. The voluminous tricolor leaves are bold and aromatic with rich floral notes — and so full of life! The third steep, at five minutes, is still a clear bright gold and very flavorful. A layer of greenness, like a fresh meadow, is there to support the florality. The umami I found in the black and oolong teas from Tea Hawaii is present in this white version, as well. What I describe as that satisfying, savory quality must be rooted in the freshness of the leaf. Those are the things which stood out, to me, as very notable and special about Tea Hawaii’s Forest White.

And @teasquared, yes, after the liquid cooled a bit, I did get definite roses, and perhaps the chardonnay, too. If I drank more wine, I’d know better. :)

And about that immaculate freshness ….. I am sure I have never had camellia sinensis tea this fresh. Which means that it hasn’t had time to absorb the ambient aromas from months of travel, packed in various containers which are opened and closed all over the world. Some of what we taste in tea from China, for instance, is travel-acquired. We may have come to think of it as the taste of tea. Now, having tried three extremely fresh teas from Hawaii, I think perhaps not.

As to how my sister got these Hawaii-grown teas, which are not available anywhere online at this time, to send me for my birthday (thank you, Chrissy!): she reports that she went to teahawaii.com and emailed them, then mailed a check. I don’t know what she paid, but if you want to find out how fresh tea tastes (or perhaps how tea really tastes) it may be worth it.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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92

This stands apart from other black teas, and I think it’s the terroir & teamaster, being Hawaii-grown and handmade. The first thing I notice about the dry tea is the marvelous fresh scent. These long, thick whole leaves with gold tips have the freshness of a green meadow in their aroma — and this is a black, substantially oxidized tea! The freshness carries over into the flavor of it’s “soup,” which is rich and sweet, with notes of biscuit, caramel and wood. And there’s lots of umami, the savory-meaty taste, in these Tea Hawaii teas, which (like the freshness) is true of all three representations of their teacraft that I’ve been so fortunate to receive (thanks to my sister). The leaves are perfect and full of life, truly artisan teas which have been carefully grown and hand-processed. Handmade tea, from the ground up. I’m becoming a bit of a connoisseur of the pure leaf, and it’s teas like this which make it rewarding.

And then there is the absolute freshness. I am sure I have never had camellia sinensis tea this fresh. Which means that it hasn’t had time to absorb the ambient aromas from months of travel, packed in various containers which are opened and closed all over the world. Some of what we taste in tea from China, for instance, is travel-acquired. We may have come to think of it as the taste of tea. Now, having tried three extremely fresh teas from Hawaii, I think perhaps not.

As to how my sister got these Hawaii-grown teas, which are not available anywhere online at this time, to send me for my birthday (thank you, Chrissy!): she reports that she went to teahawaii.com and emailed them, then mailed a check. I don’t know what she paid, but if you want to find out how fresh tea tastes (or perhaps how tea really tastes) it may be worth it.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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91
drank Hawaii-Grown Black by Samovar
211 tasting notes

I think I drank this tea under it’s name of “Makai Black” direct from the Tea Hawaii Company, owned by Eva Lee and her husband. I received it from my sister, who lives in Hawaii, and I’m waiting to hear the story of how she obtained it.
See my tasting notes under “Makai Black” by Tea Hawaii.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 30 sec

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67

Rich, malty, steeped 5 min without bitterness! Bright amber liquor with delicious aroma and very little astringency. Great by itself, and just as good with milk and sugar. I bought a pound. Some will be used in blends from Aeon Infusions. Second steep was okay, but maybe not if you have guests.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec
fcmonroe

What if you really don’t like your guests all the much?

Pamela Dean

@fcmonroe Well then, that’s another matter, isn’t it? ;)

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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.

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