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Thank you very much to Fong Mong Tea for the generous samples that arrived yesterday. I have been wanting to try more Taiwanese teas for awhile. In fact it was an Oriental Beauty that opened my eyes to the greater tea world and led me to Steepster, so it seems appropriate that I start with this. These leaves are a bit more varied than the other version of this tea I’ve tried. While the silver buds are slender and twisty, the bronze leaves are broader and while most are long and whole, there are some smaller and broken bits mixed in.

The smell is so lovely and familiar, yet hard to pinpoint. My mouth is greeted by a similar welcoming warmth, like embracing an old friend. This is woodsy, a soft fragrant wood, with a dusting of… powdered sugar? Yes, mmm. Later in this cup is the most subtle hint of fruit, like licking a grapevine.

Second infusion: hello flavor! There is a fleeting sweetness like cocoa powder, but it is gone in an instant. Oh, this is quite muscatel, but I so prefer it to Darjeeling. Mmm grape leaves now.

Third infusion: more herbaceous, like Shou Mei. And the next five infusions are pretty consistent with this, even though I increased the steep time by 15 secs up to 2 mins. I brewed this session in a makeshift gaiwan (curvy mug with a lid that I only used the bottom 4-5oz of) with 3 grams of leaf starting at 5 secs.

Today I brewed the other half of my sample, starting at 3 mins and increasing by a min for a total of four sessions. This tea definitely does better with more time and higher temperatures, but still never gets very strong or buttery and still reminds me more of Darjeeling and Shu Mei. Not quite what I was looking for, but lovely all the same, thank you! I may eventually order the Top Grade.

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Druid, artist, poet, mum, lover of tea, ritual and myth. I grew up on Celestial Seasons herbals but fell in love with straight loose leaf tea working at my local Teavana for a year. I am grateful for the introduction and the experience, but have moved on.

I see tea as an experience for the senses, I like to imagine tasting the land and the weather as well as the effect of sun, air, fire and the human hand. I have a soft spot for shu pu’er, yabao, scented oolongs, wuyi oolongs, taiwanese tea as well as smooth naturally sweet blacks, creamy greens and surprisingly complex whites.

I began ordering lots of samples from Upton to educate myself on different varieties of tea we didn’t have at work and have fallen head over heels for the unique offerings from Verdant Tea. I am learning things I like: buttery mouthfeel, surprising sweet or spice notes, woodiness, mineral notes, depth and complexity and things I don’t: astringency, dry and sour notes.

I collect tea tins and am in danger of collecting pots, though I am trying to restrain the urge due to current lack of space. I brew mostly in a glass infuser mug or a tea maker, only using cast-iron for company now (still need to get a gaiwan) and tend not to sweeten my teas unless they are British or fruity and iced, which is not often.

As far as ratings, I lack a definite system and haven’t been assigning numbers lately, wanting to spend multiple sessions with a tea first. I usually only log a tea once, unless it is a new harvest or I have significantly different observations, but will go back and edit or comment if I find something interesting or new.

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Baker Street, Berea, Ohio

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