672 Tasting Notes
There are two kinds of wood you need for a good fire in a wood-stove, soft wood,like cedar to get the fire going, and hard wood, like oak for the fire to last a long time.
When I lived in the Sierra Mountain town of Paradise, one of the 6 girls that lived in my house was Susan. Her father was a tree feller. (That’s what you call them) Tree felling is a dangerous job, and when he wasn’t felling trees, he was drinking, so Susan stayed with me and her dad paid for her room and board with firewood. We had wood all Winter cut and stacked with bundled kindling. During power outages, we had heat! Cedar and Oak!
Compared with the 5000 foot altitude I live at now, 2000 feet doesn’t seem like much of a mountain, but where I live now is flat and dry. Paradise was mountain forest with tall pine and oak.
In the Fall and Winter, the smell of smoke from many wood fires was delicious wafting through the trees.
I absolutely LOVE the smell of a damp forest and wood smoke!
I LOVE the smell of the smoke early in the morning on a sunny, cold day holding a cup of hot tea in my hands, wrapped in a blanket while sitting on the back porch warm and happy.
Smoke means BBQ and 4th of July (the dumb little houses that smoke and do nothing else, remember them? And punks…those things that come with sparklers?).
So many people have memories of camping or hiking with friends when they drink a smoky tea. My grandkids call Lapsang Souchong ‘Memory Tea’.
This tea is NOT a Souchong! Souchong means: A tea made from the larger older leaves of the shoot. A lower grade of tea leaf.
This smoked tea is a high grade Oolong. Something Very Special!
I had a sampling of this tea before, so I took some of my tea to share with friends who I knew were NOT fond of roasted Oolongs but DID like traditional Lapsang Souchong. What would they think?
Joe prepared the tea according to the Verdant instructions, short 5 second steeps in a Gaiwan.
The flavor was lightly smoky, smooth and sweet. We had some trouble tasting further nuances in the tea with such short steeps so we decided to throw caution to the wind and do a 3 minute steep.
This was more like it we agreed! Longer Steep wins!
Sweet and silky smooth, but with whisper light smokiness.
The honey caramel Oolong base created a fat oozy syrup that coated the inside of my mouth…moving slowly from the back to the front.
I was toying with the idea of fruitiness but couldn’t put my finger on what it was. Maybe Fuji Persimmon. I don’t know, not sure.
I drank some more of this tea this morning, and took a picture. It was a time to reflect alone on wood fires and my life in Paradise. Time there with family and the 6 girls who came to me in High School and are now 40 year old women (including my daughter).
My parents, and grandmother are buried in that town.
You don’t have to be hit over the head with strong smokiness to have sweet memories, and this tea has given me all the gentle beauty I could desire.
I suppose that I’m like an old teapot that needs good tea to keep it well seasoned.
I’ve said this before, I hope this tea (or one like) it becomes available permanently.
Sip down as ya’ll say (my first time).
Received this from Roughage some months ago and it’s lived a fine life in my cupboard’s Roughage bin next to the mrmopar bin so they could have a nice visit.
The tea has lost a little umph over time. Good to see how that works really. Haven’t been able to tell with some tea’s, but this being all delicate and subtle…I could tell that the strength had waned a tad.
Still, the flavor was good.
I tasted the lingering citrus, seedless white grape with rich pound cake at the finish. It was a fine tea, just lighter.
Adding a bit of sugar to the tea helped bring out more flavor.
Some older tea’s are better in the bathtub then in a teacup they say, but not this one. It’s still good to drink.
Faded beauty? Yes, but a beauty none-the-less.
Thank you Wanya Tea for this sample!
The only small scale Kenyan tea’s I’ve tasted have come from Butiki, Ajiri and Wanja Tea’s.
Each have been different and delightful.
My friends who have spent some time in Kenya have winced and groaned describing the super, hyper-strong brewed tea. (I would have joined in with glee since the Ajiri Strong Tea tasted quite normal to me, but seems far too strong to many others.)
I haven’t reviewed tea on Steepster in DAYS! I’ve been making Asian Pickles (sweet and savory) and Vadouvan Indian Spice Blend (Curried onions and garlic which is slowly baked in a mixture of spices until almost dry. Stored in freezer bags I’ll have a good supply for adding to recipes!).
There is no way I could review tea with onion, garlic and vinegar scenting my house!
As a first tea after my cooking projects were completed, I chose this tea from Kenya, figuring that it was probably suitable for accompanying flavorful, spicy foods. (Kenyan Cuisine uses lot’s of curries!).
The flavor was bright and clean with fruit and citrus, a sweetness that was light and smooth. I didn’t taste any malt and there was no nasty astringency.
You could very well drink this tea plain (which you can’t say about many black tea’s) and I found that a little sweetening brought out the fruitiness in a way that I liked best. Adding milk seemed too heavy. The body of the tea was light and in my opinion, milk isn’t needed.
There was an aftertaste of black pepper pound cake. This made me think further of what the tea would taste good alongside. I imagined a Denver Omlette, Chips and Salsa, Curry or Spicy Sausages. It can handle flavor packed food without getting lost!
Although the tea isn’t heavy, it’s sturdy enough and holds it’s own.
One of those indispensable tea’s when you can’t decide what to serve with a meal.
Very enjoyable tea!
(Although I haven’t been rating tea’s, it’s my choice to do so now and then. Since this company has 2 tea’s…I chose to rate the tea.)
I imagine Stacy must have gone to sleep one Wintry night with the wind howling through the branches outside…full of dreams of fairies and liquor soaked plum pudding, a flaming spectacle at the end of a comforting meal.
Night-owl that she is, she would have jumped out of bed…run barefooted to her workshop to prepare a splendid tea, paying homage to that special pudding.
Has she succeeded in her magical efforts? Indeed she has!
My first thought was that I had Campbells Original Scot’s Shortbread in a cup, full of buttery sugary cookie. The richest kind! It was the Oolong Tea base that gave this buttery sweetness (along with some brown sugar).
Then there was more! An orange and vanilla taste, very clean citrus, made me want to take a dessert spoon and dig into my tea.
I added some cream…the way I would add real whipped cream to a pudding… and ugh… it was so, so good!
What would I serve to complete this as a dessert? Some dark chocolate, rum cake or perhaps some pecans and golden raisins.
Lovely tea treat!
Thank you JC for this generous Sample Sheng!
I took a look at the review by Amy Oh and JC before my own preparation this morning. Amy’s was a 20-30 second steep time and JC’s was short 2 seconds…increasing gradually like Ravel’s Bolero.
I ’m choosing to play a little between the lines.
After one rinse. I steeped an even amount of leaf to water in my Gaiwan (5 grams leaf to 5 oz water) for 12 seconds.
The flavor was savory like artichoke, just short of bitter and thick at the back of the throat.
As I moved back from the glass cup, I noticed a strong wild honey scent and put my nose back to the glass cup.
The scent wasn’t there.
When I went back again to the cup, the honey returned.
I held the cup and moved it around in front of me…the wafting aroma of wild honey magically perfuming the air. Tea magic. Look for this!
My second steep at 10 seconds was dry but had the same big flavor and umami finish.
I lowered the timing down further to 6 seconds and lowered the temperature to 170 degrees. Not so good of an experiment. The tea was too bitter, blech.
Back to boiling water I went, and a 20 second steep (which was where Amy Oh liked it).
Now the flavor was herb butter, savory and sweet. Delicious, rich Umami! Full and substantial with the lingering after the swallow that we wait for…and want for.
(Made me think of having a grilled steak with herb butter. Even the liquor looked like melted golden clarified butter!)
This Sheng is delicious!
Some young Shengs are harsh, too smoky, too one note.
This (don’t kill me JC) is like a good Gyokuro.
Thank you Mrmopar for this Puerh sample!
BTW, the new picture is me sniffing wet tea leaves, proof that I am an official tea geek and nerd!
Oh yeah, getting back into my puerh groove! Woman does not live by puerh alone(but I almost get away with it)!
We’re having a dip in temperature…snow flurries then back up to the 50’s and 60’s. A real Rocky Mountain Roller Coaster! Wheeee!
For breakfast today…a strong cuppa PU sounded fabulous! (If you take a look at mrmopar’s cupboard, you’ll see that he agrees with me!)
This particular puerh was great for bold drinking. I was thinking about how you could make a big pot, sit down with breakfast or the paper…even fill a thermos and head out the door. It’s such a big flavorful puerh, reminiscent of what I ‘Used to get’ at Pete’s Coffee way back when! My morning ‘kick in the butt’ cuppa!
Smooth, dark, stands up to additions and the resteeps aren’t weak.
After one rinse, I steeped 30 seconds which produced a DARK red-espresso-brown brew, smooth and full of energy. The taste was raspberry/choco/cedar/nut with a little tang. (None of those flavors distinctly strong). Muted flavors, smooth and sweet.
On later steepings the flavor wasn’t as strong.
At the 4th and 5th steep…I got lazy and put the two steeps together in an 8oz mug, sweetened it and added cream. Yeah! Good!
I kicked back and watched the news, slurped my mug of PU with a furry throw tucked up under mu chin, my feet propped on the bench coffee table. What a life!
This tea is one of those “Whatever you want me to be, I’ll be it for you baby!” puerh’s! (Too bad I never married man like that, oh well!)
OH MY GOODNESS
I prepared a cup of this sample from Stacy and it was amazing…so much so that I didn’t trust my own judgement alone.
I’ll tell you what it isn’t first. It’s NOT malty, yammy or chocolate. This black tea is unique. I’ve never tasted a black tea like this one before! I’ve had some outstanding black tea’s. They hit every mark that a great black tea should achieve and I’ve been happy (and I love my malty, chocolaty black tea’s).
Then Stacy sent this sample and it was different than the rest.
I had a little bit of tea left in the sample packet, enough for a
4oz. gaiwan at my Tea House, so I took the rest there Saturday Night.
I waited until everyone was gone except Preston, Joe, Sam and I.
Preston heated the gaiwan, put the long,wiry tea leaves into it and waited for them to warm up for scenting.
Then he lifted the top, put his nose down to smell the aroma, and said, “WAFFLES!”
Yep! Each of us sniffed the leaves and they smelled like the best Belgian WAFFLES ever! I couldn’t believe how delicious the aroma was.
The first steep was sweet, tasting like cotton candy or powdered sugar with an ice cream milkiness…thickening in the mouth in a delightful way. Such a dessert-like tea! Sweet and smooth.
The expression on Sam and Joe’s faces, and the “WOW, THIS IS FANTASTIC!”, (Said with gusto) isn’t something I hear from these young men.
I took a whiff of the wet leaves…coriander, honey maple syrup…interesting.
A second steep had a golden raisin flavor with muscat-honey syrup and butter. Thick in the back of the mouth and not cloying. I thought of sweet cornbread and honey-butter.
I didn’t have enough leaves to continue…and I want more. TEA!
We all want more. The raving (craving) about this tea carried over to today. Joe told Eric how amazing the flavor was.
By what magic Stacy acquired this tea, I have no idea, but let me tell you… when this becomes available on the Butiki Site, do all you can to get a hold of it before it’s gone!
It’s Golden Globe, Academy Award…you name it, this tea has it all.
Winner, Fabulous, Must Have in my Cabinet Forever!
I was talking to myself recently “Hey self, why don’t you ever drink flavored tea’s anymore? you’re getting to be out of touch and boring!”
(I’d probably be boring anyway, but to the point…)
It was true! I had slipped down the slope of tea mental-pause and was boring even to myself!
I love my Black Tea’s, Oolongs and Pu-er…but now and then I want DESSERT! (No umpteen steeps and no Gaiwan!)
So who do you call when the sweet tooth needs to be satisfied…
STACY at BUTIKI that’s who! (I know there are others you can call but honestly, if I have a choice on interesting (sometimes funny) flavors that are natural and ones I can count on, it’s Stacy!)…besides…she’s a hoot and nice!
If I melted down an Orange Creamsicle, and added a little chocolate it would taste like this. PLAIN AND SIMPLE!
(Hope ya’ll got that!)
I HATE tea that is so artificially flavored that it makes your tongue feel furry and the aftertaste goes sour…yuck! Gives me a migraine! Not Stacy’s tea’s and not this one!
It’s dreamy creamy…(not sour), orangy and fabulously good.
The chocolate is there but not the star. Creamsicle is the star!
Great Dessert Tea
One day, my timing was ‘just right’ when I went for tea at Happy Lucky’s. There was a line-up of tea’s and tasting going on from a new company in Denver (Nepali tea traders) and owner George was keen to carry some of their teas in the shop. But, which ones?
I took my seat at the bar and Andy placed what was left of 12 tasting sets in front of me for an opinion.
“Yes!”, I cheered internally! “I get to taste all this tea!”
I love Nepalese tea, and I picked 4 that I thought would be good for the shop to carry, which matched the tasters opinion.
Later, this Ruby Pu-er came in and when I tasted it, I said it should bump any of the other teas! An absolute must! Best of all the tea’s!
George was on the fence about it at first. Would a small town really respond well to a Pu-er like this one? (He only carried a handful of Pu-er’s in the shop) We talked about the new website which I knew would benefit from having a tea like this one and he agreed.(George is a smart man!)
Nepali Tea Traders donates all their profits to benefit the Nepali Youth Foundation and tea industry growth. (The owner’s parents worked in Nepal so there is a connection with a small area of tea farms)
Happy Luckys had a tasting at the shop which drew 45 people (a large crowd in our town), and the star of the show at that tasting and in the days to since has been this Nepal Ruby Pu-er Style Black Tea!
The flavor is warm and fruity. Cherries and brandied peaches, walnuts warmed in a skillet, wood and clover honey. All this might lead you to think of some dark and heavy tea but it’s not. The tea is light, almost like a wheat beer in color and smooth.
The second steep was sweet and buttery, a honey molasses stick of candy. No earthiness.
You’ll have to be careful not to over brew or the tea can become bitter. I added a little sugar (might add some honey next time) and the flavor was luxurious.
(If you like a little bitterness, it reminded me of some of the craft beers in town over at O’dells or New Belgium Breweries.)
Nepal is so close to Darjeeling that the tea can taste almost the same but fame has been out of reach for Nepal due to isolation and war.
Love, love, love this Pu-er style tea!
It is my understanding that this is the first Pu-er style black tea from Nepal
On rainy days up on Mine Hill, my brother (the other miners kids) and I would go into the big 1870’s Bar in what was left of a ghost town that no longer exists today.
This was once part of a thriving town built on Mercury mining called New Almaden. The mining operation was necessary for processing the Silver which made California rich.
For us, the bar was a good place to set up old liquor bottles and skate around them as though we had our own private skating rink.
Behind the building was a locked map house with maps of the mines on the mountain. (Grandpa Charlie was in charge of the maps and mining)
Past a row of what used to be shops and a Bank was a School.
The School was brick and plaster all crumbling apart.
The worse part were BEES! You had to sneak into the schoolhouse without disturbing those pesky bees or else…you’d better run for your life!
Why would I want to go into the School and chance getting stung you may ask?
Behind the wallpaper, were pictures! Old photographs and drawings!
Students from a century before had somehow stuck little memories of themselves where I could find them later. There were funny black and white pictures of girls in long dresses and hats and boys in knickers. I was young myself so this was all curious.
Grandpa Charlie made a swimming pool out of a wooden water tank on the side of the road to his house. He painted it bright blue.
It filled itself from a spring through a pipe he rigged up and overflowed onto hillside below where deer would gather at night to drink.
Mom would blow a whistle, and the kids from the Austins, Kafka’s and Martinez families would come running to have a swim and some Red Kool-Aid.
When it was hot and the dusty Pine, Oak, Manzanita, Bay, Arbutus, Nettles and Hay would fill our eyes and noses, but a dip in the ‘pool’ refreshed us and the day glistened with light.
Yabao makes me think of this time on the mountain. The scent and taste takes me to this place.
Today, I went through 15 steeps beginning with 4 seconds and ending at 32 seconds. I could have continued…the leaves were generous.
These ancient tree Yabao leaves were beautiful, long, rose-rust and green colored.
Wet, the aroma was like sea air, a saline spray…savory and alive.
I ’m not going to give a list of the entire 15 steep series of how the tea tasted.
In the beginning, the flavor was savory and sweet…like artichokes and chicken in butter, with the sweetness of floral olive oil on the finish.
Later the taste became cleaner, less savory but still sweet and mouth watering.
I was puzzled about the honey-aroma mentioned by Master Han until I stuck my nose into my glass cup after it was ‘empty’ and there it was! HONEY!
After 8 steeps the balance of sweetness to savory was even, and a pepper scent appeared. There wasn’t heat, but pepper and salty, savory taste with a buttery mouth-feel lasted all the way until the last steep.
The flavor lingers and reminds me of an extraordinary Sheng that has aged to the proper point and is ready. Everything that can be given by a tea is there. Full color, mouth-feel, smoothness, lingering flavor…everything.
The point is, that I am at a loss as to what to say.
I can tell you about how the tea makes me feel and where it takes me.
Yabao takes me into old dusty buildings, past fragrant bushes and herbs growing wild along the side of the road, into the School and bees buzzing, then cools me with a refreshing pool of spring water.
For a moment I’m in Second Grade.