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300 Tasting Notes

drank Emerald Mao Feng by Teavana
300 tasting notes

Was looking at greens on Adagio and had a craving for something smokey, I thought of pulling out the Yunnan Emerald Buds but remembered the last time I burnt it and grabbed my tin of this instead. This was one of the last teas I picked up from the Heavenly Tea sale, we had bags of it arrive midway through the sale once most of the retired teas were sold. The large bags were labeled Huang Shan Mao Feng but we weighed it out and printed labels with Emerald. The supposed reason behind this is that one of the “gardens” we work with had an excess of this tea and asked if we wanted to include it in our sale.

So yes I would say its a lower quality version of HSMF though the leaves are whole they are smaller (usually a good thing) and greener, they are also less twisted and golden hued and taste less creamy and nutty. I don’t think they can hold up to being brewed 5-7 times like the Huang Shan (I’m only on three). However I do think this is sweeter and when I tried it in the store it seemed like a sweet smoke, but I don’t get than at home. What I do get is sweetened roasted nuts like they sell at fairs. There’s really no salinity and I can’t pin point a particular nut. There’s also some veg but its light, maybe sugar snap peas. Don’t feel like assigning it a number right now, its very drinkable (which is good as I probably have 6 oz to go through) but its nothing spectacular.

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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After the Nine Dragon this morning I had a desire for another black. I thought about the two from the prosperity set, but then glanced over at the two tins of this I picked up the Heavenly Sale. I had bought a tin for my husband for Father’s Day at 40% off and he liked it so I couldn’t pass up the 75% off after the holidays, however he told me he doesn’t drink it often enough. I may give the third bag to my brother-in-law when he runs out as I bought him one after Christmas, he loved it and bought a second, but you can bet I’m keeping the tins.

On to the tea, I’ve tried it before, but I don’t think I’ve had a full cup. I always had the impression that you could leave it at the bottom of the cup, but the directions are a bit unclear, yes it says you don’t need a strainer and that it steeps for 2 to 3 mins and you can reuse it but it doesn’t say keep adding water or remove, so I removed on the first steep and left it in on the second. The first was much better, richer, more chocolaty, a really good black tea. The second was more like Nine Dragon, more honey and dry. May try a third steep as I usually don’t like second steeps in general.

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

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Not a whole lot to say about this tea this morning. It’s my husband’s favorite and I brewed him a pitcher of it iced yesterday so this morning I’m just doing a third infusion on the leaves. Unsure if it will be too weak or strong as it is a later steep but has more leaves for the concentrate I made. Not getting very distinct notes of say honey or pepper but it has great body and a very nice mouthfeel. Will do a proper review with the first two infusions at a later point. Personally I prefer Black Dragon Pearls for its cocoa notes and Yuan Dynasty Golden Tips for honey, I think our Golden Monkey is over rated but would love to try others and more varieties of Yunnan and Fuijan blacks and introduce the husband to them as this is discontinued (but we have somewhere between one and a half to two pounds left). Mmm after letting it sit a bit to write, the honey has definitely come through but so has a bit of dryness so :shrug:

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 15 sec

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70
drank Gyokuro Matcha by Teavana
300 tasting notes

I was very surprised when I opened the bag inside the tin to find neon green powder coated tea leaves, though I had guessed it wasn’t just match when I felt the bag. This brews up the same neon green. Yeah… not nearly as smooth and sophisticated as Gyokuro Imperial and not as sweet and thick as Imperial Grade Matcha (the latter is ground from the former’s leaves, talking strictly Teavana here), so not the best of both worlds taste wise.

Sure its not horrible but it reminds me more of Gyokuro Genmaicha, in its toasty nuttiness (but not the nuttiness used to describe Chinese greens) and I’m not a fan of genmaicha. Not digging the chalky mouthfeel either. I turned the majority of the first steep into an iced tea with local blackberry honey as I was quite warm. Drinking the second infusion warm as the husband turned the air on when he got home.

I would not buy this if it was offered outside out the gift set, but it does make me look forward to ordering some DavidsTea’s Gyokuro Yamashiro when its back in.. wait it is in stock, but surely it must be last year’s harvest, right? It seems Mellow Monk’s Top Leaf has surpassed it in ratings so will have to order both, later…

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 0 min, 30 sec
TeaBrat

I had the exact same thoughts about this – did not feel the gyo needed any matcha

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74

Forgot to log this a few days ago but I wrote a note in my phone:
Silver white buds and large twisted black leaves like a roasted oolong and yes some olive if you look close enough, but the first thing I noticed was the beautiful contrast.  I don’t know what to make of this.  It smells like a light sweet rich bean.  Taste is sweet and something not cocoa but similar, something reminds me of coffee beans but it doesn’t taste anything like a cup of coffee granted I don’t drink coffee, maybe it’s just the roast, except it doesn’t tasted roasted.  Sweet front, a coolness, good mouthfeel and spice at then some dryness at the back.  I like it. (I did multiple steeps of this but didn’t take notes, I remember it maintaining some sweetness and picking up a bit of spice but I don’t think it got vegetal, I remember thinking this is a pretty good example of tasting the soil and weather of where the tea was grown. I do however remember wanting to be more impressed and will probably search for another Moonlight on here that is rated higher.

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So I brought this to work yesterday and brewed it side by side with Teavana’s only straight pu-erh (Nan Nuo Shan) which is limited to an expensive gift set that is currently sold out after being on sale. I let everyone smell the dried leaves of this and the other Verdant sample packs. They were impressed that they didn’t smell sickening sweet like Strawberry Slender. However when it came to tasting only one of my co-workers liked them. I should have used less tea, rinsed twice and done short steeps (but i couldnt connect to the website in the back room). I rinsed once and did a 3min steep and both the teas were bold, bitter, bitey and dry.

However this one had a nice smoke thing going on and I had to do a second infusion, this time only 30 sec and the results were much better. The smoke was still present and there was a nice creamy mouthfeel with just a hint of butter. I get the redwood and on my third and forth steep I got the licorice root and mint so yay! I do like this and have just enough for a second session. I probably won’t be repurchasing soon for the price but I would probably buy another sample for a tasting. Next weekend we’ll try the two other shengs and the silver buds Yabao.

Edit: drinking a fifth infusion this morning and I must say yumm!

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

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Glad I read the description of the grading before I started commenting, helps me understand why I am looking at darker, more broken leaves. So I’m drinking this the day after Upton’s Pai Mu Dan and to be fair I should have done a 2 and half min steep but I felt like short steeps. When I brewed it up and couldn’t pin point what I was tasting I decided to do a 30 sec steep of Pai Mu Dan and the differences became very clear. Pai Mu Dan is all honeydew on the first steep while Shou Mei is all veg and pine and herb, more sipping back and forth narrows it down to rosemary and sage. Second steeps mellow out both teas a bit but adds a bit of cocoa sweetness to the Shou Mei while the Pai Mu Dan got less sweet and the third steep of Shou Mei is more cocoa and spice while Pai Mu Dan is like over ripe melon. I enjoyed the later steeps of the Shou Mei more than the Pai Mu Dan, even though its supposed to be a lower grade tea. Tomorrow Moonlight, just found out its Yue Guang Bai :)

Revisiting this nearly a month later with longer steeps, which interestingly enough makes the herbaceous notes take a back seat to cocoa and nuttiness on the first steep. It does make sense as I am basically drinking all three of the shorter steeps in one, I find it very interesting.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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This is enjoyable. I steeped it for the recommended 3 mins as I have a massive headache and was not feeling the gongfu mojo. As such this review shall be brief and edited over time (I have enough for one or two more samples).

Smell is very familiar, reminding me of the white Darjeeling, but I can’t be sure. Leaves are very unfamiliar, I really only have experience with variations on silver needle so very spring green leaves amongst the buds was most welcome though there are also brown bits and scraggly bits and choppy bits. Smell of brewed leaves and liquor is familiar as well, sweet artichoke, that is probably not at all close to artichoke but it comes to mind. Taste is all nectar and grain though after reading the brief description melon and but certainly fit the bill.

There is something similar to Upton’s Downy White Pekoe Yin Zhen which I did go ahead and finish up western style the other day, that says not quite top quality. Maybe it’s in the floaty bits or the dull brown bits but it translates to the cup and while it’s not poor quality and still enjoyable, I’m not blown away. But I’m cranky right now and am going to withhold rating.

Drinking the last of this nearly a month later: first steep is definitely melon with some herb, second steep is totally green beans, I should know, I’m eating some for lunch ;)

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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94

I needed something special tonight, and was thirsty so instead of grabbing a glass of orange juice and a cup of rice pudding I grabbed this gem out of the sample drawer. I had opened it before to smell it and tempted to make in last week after Thai food and mango sticky rice, but I thought it was best to let this stand on its own.

The smell is spot on and do is the well I don’t want to say aftertaste as it changes just as you are swallowing. The first taste on the tongue is familiar and spa like and I’m thinking may be my water so I’ll try it next time with spring water, but this can be very easily overlooked as the second taste is the longest and most prominent. Love it! Will reinfuses but for now relaxing with this cup and enjoying the Doctor.

Edit: argh second steep is bitter due to the fine slits on the glass infuser straining ridiculously slow from tiny leaf particles. Will have to use a different strainer.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 45 sec

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So this is actually from today. Dried leaves smell quite earthy and are smaller, green/grey/browner than the downy white silver needle I’m used to.  Rinsed leaves very winey sour, muscatel but a 20 sec steep renders them less so.  The glass infuser has lots of particles in it that don’t want to settle and pour directly into my bone china cup and only settle once the first cup is drained.

A lot going on taste wise but all of it subtle.  First sip is sweet and that’s nice but it doesn’t last.  There’s a nuttiness and flouriness, like dough.  There is perfume snd some later sour notes that come through more in the second steep which is override very flat and blah which is not to say that it’s flavorless, just nothing bright or deep or exciting, but second steeps tend to be my least favorite.  Still even the first was dry, not what I would call refreshing.

Third infusion leaves smell Darjeeling cup smells sweet, tastes like spicy cardboard, black pepper.  I think I may try a fresh brew as I don’t see how this could get any better.  Might wait to get some spring water though.  Ugh. Must not rate.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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Bio

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.

Location

Baker Street, Berea, Ohio

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