302 Tasting Notes

80
drank Sencha "Uji" by Lupicia
302 tasting notes

The fact that I haven’t been Steepstering shouldn’t lead you to believe there hasn’t been any tea activity. There were moments of supreme tea bliss in California in the fall, where I managed to visit no fewer than three Lupicia stores in the Bay Area… with predictable subsequent stash-killing results.

It did help me forward with poor neglected Project Green, to some degree, which will hopefully see more action in 2015. This is one of the California teas, chosen especially as a Project Green participant.

It’s a first flush sencha (Does that automatically make it a shincha? Or is that an additional category within the first flush senchas?) from Uji, a city right outside of Kyoto. Things I knew about Uji that made me pick this one up: parts of the Tale of Genji play out there. High-quality green tea is made in Uji. The world’s oldest tea shop (Tsuen Tea) is located in Uji. It seemed like a good start, right?

I obviously realize the ridiculousness inherent in picking something like this up from Lupicia, rather than just ordering it online from a(n even more) local company that carries Uji-produced teas, but it’s convenient, which is a major bonus in these times of carpenter/painter/electrician-propelled chaos.

Obviously, I could keep talking about other things, but you’d know it’s because I’m just trying to avoid exposing my painfully inadequate green-tea-tasting skill to the world, so let’s just do this.

In the bag, this is all long, skinny needles of dark green. Dry, it smells very sweet, but with a baked note to it as well – light and elegant, though, like the most delicate of green tea-infused sponge cakes.

In the pot (for I made a whole pot of this, as has become my habit, and I will soon be out) some of the sweetness evaporates nose wise, and it comes off more as a light, mellow cloud of…light brown. My synesthesia screws me over here, because I don’t have better words than this very plain cross-sensory experience of colour. The liquid is a yellowish green, though, and the flavor is all green, all the way.

What’s so terrifying about green tea – and I know I’ve said this before – is that it is its own flavor. It tastes of green tea. In addition to that, I can speak of notes of hay or grass or sweetness, but no full-fledged mango is ever going to spring up and punch me in the face. No childhood memories will be evoked, because the first time I tried green tea (and I grimaced, and I complained, and I vowed never again) I’d already taken and discarded more lovers that I have fingers on my hands.

And that makes this very scientific, rather than emotional. And science, in its turn, is obviously terrifying, because it suggests unnegotiable truth. Two of the most intimidating words! Unnegotiable. Truth.

On the tonguetip, it’s vegetal. No salty weedness, but boiled grass – the good boiled grass, too; the top-shelf boiled grass. The main body of the flavor hits mid-tongue; mid-swallow. There is surprising complexity, and it’s a light, late spring, early summer type of flavor. The aftertaste is heavy on the grass, but it’s more of a full-on meadow than just the sweetgrass, so the complexity lasts throughout the sip.

All in all, a complex, mellow, smooth sencha that makes me want to explore more Uji teas.

Preparation
160 °F / 71 °C 1 min, 30 sec 4 g 25 OZ / 750 ML
Cameron B.

I’m curious about ‘shincha’ versus ‘first flush’ as well!

Anna

I think shincha might be a specific, ultra-super-extraordinary first flush variety that has not been treated in any way?

But I am way out of my depth here, as you know, haha.

Cameron B.

According to my cursory Googling, they are the same thing. Also, the first flush is called “ichibancha” in Japan. :D

Anna

It seems like, in Japan, everything is called something a) adorable and b) impossible for me to remember.

OMGsrsly

Science is always negotiable. Form a hypothesis and test it until you have a theory. Theories can always change. ;)

Anna

I WAS JUST BAITING YOU AND I WON

OMGsrsly

PS. I like your song in the side bar.

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80
drank Momo Oolong Super Grade by Lupicia
302 tasting notes

So my tea stash is temporarily relegated to a bookshelf (not even a #fancy one) and it’s a new year (Happy New Year, everyone!) and the site’s been driving me mad with its slothlike maneuverings so I haven’t been here in forever and this is my 301st tasting note.

I weighed out 3 grams on the little scale (sorry, it’s allegedly a DIET SCALE, because God knows if you want to know more specifically how much something weighs, you’re clearly DIETING) I picked up at Sur La Table in Los Altos last fall, and with which I must say I am super pleased.

The only downside is that people make fun of me when I use it. A typical scenario:

Anna: (puts tea on scale)
Friend #1: HAHAHA OMG.
Anna: What?!
Friend #1: You’re using a SCALE.
Anna: Yes, but that’s how it’s DONE!
Friend #2: YOUR FACE ANNA. YOUR FACE WHEN YOU READ THE SCALE.
Friend #1 & #2: (howling with laughter)
Anna: (proceeds to make tea with great dignity and poise)

This tea is a little old, but not much worse for wear. Lupicia teas get a little dusty and lose some of the juicy springiness of the leaf, but overall, they age really well. This is still peachy and light and highly drinkable.

I made a pot for myself, but my electrician was cursing in the other room – something about an LED strip not behaving – so he got the last of the coffee.

I will drink this, and then I will go feign respectability in the outside world. Wish me luck.

Preparation
Boiling 1 min, 30 sec 3 g 25 OZ / 750 ML
Veronica

Happy New Year to you! Glad you’re back. :)

Cameron B.

Hah! I love your scale story… ^^ Dignity and poise!

OMGsrsly

What face do you make when you use the scale? What is scale-face? :D Happy new year!

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85

No notes yet. Add one?

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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95
drank Bravissimo! by Lupicia
302 tasting notes

No notes yet. Add one?

Preparation
Boiling 1 min, 30 sec

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100
drank Cookie by Lupicia
302 tasting notes

Hi baby,

On most days it’s enough just knowing you’re out there – doing what you do, smelling like you smell, tasting like you taste. On most days.

But on some days, I miss you so much it’s unbearable. Sometimes I’m soothed reading old notes and remembering minutes spent together.

On occasion, though, not even dwelling on mnemonic minutiae is enough. Some days, the insight that you’re a finite resource plagues me. The knowledge that there will eventually be an end to you haunts me. Some days, I just have to taste you again.

This is one of those days.

Love,

Anna

Veronica

Love it. :)

OMGsrsly

Aww! Tea love. :)

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85
drank White Temple tea by A C Perch's
302 tasting notes

And another cold-steeped pitcher of this gone. Mostly posting this to say I steeped it for maybe 12 hours, rather than the usual 24, and that the longer steep definitely works better for drawing out the flavours. I use fairly little leaf, though, so I’m sure you can up that to balance it better.

Still so hot I haven’t even managed to have a cup of real tea today. It didn’t really rain that much yesterday, and now they’re saying it’s going to rain for SEVEN days straight starting tomorrow. Everyone else is all, ‘Boo!’, and I’m all, ‘TEA TIME!!!’

I love rain.

Preparation
Iced 8 min or more
sundaysipping

One of the best things ever is being home on a rainy day and getting to relax with a pot of tea.

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80
drank Paradise Green by Lupicia
302 tasting notes

It’s allegedly 96F/36C and I’m drinking hot, reliably floral tea. The effort of flash-chilling this would probably outweigh the negatives of getting even warmer through tea, though.

But I love this weather – humidity’s at roughly 60% and the formerly scorching sun has retreated behind the clouds. It’s supposed to rain for four days straight starting tonight, but it’s not stifling at all; Rome will be washed clean, not thundered at.

Sometimes that’s all a city needs to feel brand new.

Preparation
Boiling 1 min, 30 sec
Sil

mmmmm rain. love it.

Anna

How do the hairs feel about it, though?

Sil

love. it. they don’t care what anyone thinks about how insanely frizzy they get

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75

I don’t really feel like drinking anything citrusy right now, but my all oolong all the time agenda must not be abandoned, so I decided to revisit this. I completely agree with everything I said in my last tasting note for this – that it’s delicately flavoured compared to other Lupicia oolongs of the same kind, but also that it’s well-balanced and all-around tasty.

I will, however, give myself permission to adjust the rating down five points, because I don’t really see myself picking this up again in the near future. It’s excellent, but I’m still ambivalent about citrus and I already have a selection of oolongs I’ll be happy to stock permanently. This just doesn’t have the complexity of personality that would make me want to keep it around forever. Finally, I’m not sure how exciting it would be iced, and I really appreciate that versatility.

Preparation
Boiling 1 min, 30 sec

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80
drank Jardin Sauvage by Lupicia
302 tasting notes

I’m pretty sure I haven’t written a note for this yet, because it’s so confusing. I tried it cold when I was in the US in the fall and it was so ragingly delicious I just had to get it. And then I tried it hot and it was just vile, which made me lose my momentum a little. I sent some samples out to ask tea frens how they felt about it and cteresa has written a couple of helpful reviews; here is one of them: http://steepster.com/cteresa/posts/233978

One of the main reasons I’ve postponed this review, is that it’s so hard for me to pinpoint the flavours. I definitely get a citrus, but sweet, like a really ripe orange. Then there’s an additional layer of sweetness – the supposed mango, I assume, but it’s not entirely mango-like for me. Then again, I’m at a loss figuring out what it really is, and I’m beginning to regret starting this tasting note.

Finally, there’s a beautiful aftertaste of really good ice tea, a very natural flavour that lets you taste both the tea (strangely, as this is a green rooibos and shouldn’t taste like that at all) and the added fruit. There’s even a hint of smooth vanilla that rounds the whole thing off ever so nicely.

To sum it up, I really, really love this iced, but it’s near undrinkable for me hot. I have no idea how to rate that – I mean, I will go through this tin like it’s nothing, but it’s against my principles to highly rate one-trick teas. Aaaah!

I will ponder. Consider this rating temporary.

[From my Lupicia spree at Westfield Valley Fair in Santa Clara, October 2013.]

Preparation
Iced 8 min or more
TheTeaFairy

Oh, sorry it doesn’t want to show you what it’s capable of when hot…What can I say, I love it both ways!!

cteresa

I don´t know why but got peach from this. I admit I am totally wrong, but the mango and something else just made me think of peach crazily. This was really lovely iced, and something about the fruits and green rooibos really worked. So much that when I just chanced upon something similar to this (green rooibos but with peach) I grabbed it and think will do it a lot this summer.

Anna

Oooh, have you reviewed that one yet?

cteresa

got to catch up, maybe tomorrow – I added it to the database though, which is a start.

It´s a cheaper version, and the peach is a little bit artificial, but it´s still nice and the 100 grams I got is not going to last the whole summer in my house!

Anna

I look forward to reading!

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80
drank Momo Oolong Super Grade by Lupicia
302 tasting notes

I have to say I’m very confused about my former tasting notes regarding this tea. They’re like ghost notes – only half-materialized; stuck in the past. Why did I brew this at 79C, does it say that on the bag? I’m too lazy to go look right now. Probably, but that has to be Lupicia’s only oolong exception. And why didn’t I ever write a longer first tasting note?

This tea just sort of snuck in there and because I love the Momoko (green) and the oolongs, it just seemed reasonable I would love this equally, so I never really bothered figuring it out. However, after living a Lupicia oolong orgy fantasy for the past week or so, it’s impossible to appreciate this one as much. It’s a lovely tea, fruity and well-balanced, but it lacks personality, complexity and intensity.

Sorry, Momo – I still love you, only five points less than before.

Preparation
Boiling 1 min, 30 sec

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Bio

I’m going to try all the teas.

Then I will choose a lucky few perfect specimens, and we will live happily together in my tea cupboard.

Forever.

  • * *

2015

This will be a year of in-betweenness and logistics. Where to put the teas. How to arrange the teas. Which teas to replenish – which ones to say goodbye to.

Still doing Project Green.
Still doing Project Jasmine.
Still doing Project Peach.

Dr. Tea is the name, I’m ahead of my game
still, steeping my leafs, still f*ck with the temps
still not loving Assam (uh-huh)
still rock my Bosch kettle with its high-pitched shriek
still got love for the greens, repping Lupicia
still the cup steams, still doing my thang
since I left, ain’t too much changed, still

(With apologies to Mr. Young.)

2014

This year, all bets are off. I am going to drink both peppermint and chamomile and possibly suffer a little. But it’s okay – it’s for science.

I’m doing Project Jasmine, Project Peach and Project Unflavoured Green.

In terms of flavoured teas, Lupicia and Mariage Frères have become my massive favourites, and I have learned that Dammann Frères/Fauchon/Hédiard and Butiki aren’t really for me.

The O Dor, Adagio and Comptoir des thés et des épices are all on this year’s I’d like to get to know you better list.

2013

Getting back into tea drinking last fall, I was all about rooibos. This past spring has been all green tea, all the time, with some white additions over the summer. Currently attempting a slow, autumnal graduation to black teas. Oolongs are always appropriate.

The constant for me, flavour wise, is the strong presence of fruity and floral notes. Vanilla is lush, as long as it’s not artificial. Peach, berries, mango. Cornflower, rose, lavender.

No peppermint.

No chamomile.

No cinnamon.

Ever.

  • * *

My ratings don’t reflect the ‘What does this tea do for me?’ standard, but rather my own ‘What would I do for this tea?’ scale.

100-90
My absolute favourites. Teas I would travel for – or, in any case, pay exuberant postage for, because they simply have to be in my cupboard. Generally multi-faceted teas with complex scents and flavours. Teas with personality. Tricky teas.

89-80
Teas I wouldn’t hesitate to buy again if and when I came across them. Tea purchases I would surreptitiously weave into a travel itinerary (Oh! A Lupicia store! Here?! My word!).

79-70
Teas I enjoyed, but don’t necessarily need to make any kind of effort to buy again.

69-0
Varying degrees of disinterest and contempt.

Location

Rome, Italy

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