8 Tasting Notes

95

This is really a fun tea, especially as I introduce it to new tea drinkers or those that have never seen it before… Not only is it curly and “snail-looking”, but it’s also orange and has notes of malty chocolate. It’s a great way to introduce Yunnan blacks to those that LOVE Indian leaves.

So anyway, I really like the aesthetics and could go on and on about how it unravels and the leaves are consistent and the cup is a deep orange, instead of the heavily oxidized reddish color…. BUT, we’re here to drink tea, so lets talk flavor:

Yunnan teas are well known for their chocolatey, malty, mocha flavors… This leave is no different. I definitely got a lingering hint of honey and perhaps another sweet note, caramel and/or dried fruits. None of these are overpowering or dominant, so it’s nice to find balance here. I was able to steep several times (5-6 in a medium sized gaiwan) and noticed that a gradual shift to grains and less sweetness ensued.

Really a pleasure to sip overall and I think that it’s worth revisiting the fact that the appearance for new tea drinkers will blow minds! A beautiful takeaway from the famous green tea, Bi Luo Chun, of Jiangsu Province, for those that don’t know…

Flavors: Caramel, Chocolate, Malt, Plums, Raisins, Wheat

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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84

It’s a very bold leaf with lots of stimulating effects if you drink it long enough… I’m able to get several infusions as the twisted leaves unravel, which is unusual of course for a green tea. I really think that this could replace coffee for caffeine addicts, as it’s boldness is no joke.

The appearance almost looks like a Guangdong oolong, albeit a bit on the greener side… It’s flavor definitely nods to some Chinese greens: roasted, buttery, corn notes… For people that think that India only produces good black teas, think again… This is a great and unexpectedly delicious green tea with medium-higher astringency and again, an unbelievable ability to provide several infusions.

I came at this with too much time in the pot the first time, and perhaps a higher temperature than is necessary, and since have dialed back to find my personal sweet spot at about 175F and no more than 20-30 seconds per infusion. This allowed me to prolong my sipping session, as well as gradually introduce the caffeine into my body, which is not a problem for most of us, but something to rightly consider….

All in all, I LOVE that Hari Muskan has more flavor than some of the finer, lighter Chinese greens, and I love that India is producing some real quality these days as a distinct alternative to Chinese and Japanese greenery (NOT that I don’t love them, but who doesn’t love some variety).

My girlfriend claims that this ices well in a cold-brew style of preparation, but I haven’t ventured there – especially now that it’s chilling out in Chicago!

Flavors: Butter, Chestnut, Corn Husk, Grapefruit, Walnut

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 0 min, 30 sec 6 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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95

I should preface by saying that I am addicted to unfermented sheng puerh, so my palate is not only accustomed to the bold astringency and stimulative qualities of a fresh sheng, but it actually craves it… Not everyone is into shengs (but they should be!), but for fresh puerh loves, this Meng Hun has all of the raw characteristics of a tea that you will want to age, but you won’t be able to because it’s ‘that’ good right now…

I was taken back at the overall balance of flavor and bold aromas of this leaf… I received this with my monthly does of 100g cakes from Jalam teas. Jeff does a great job sourcing teas that otherwise might have never made it into our cups, so much credit to him for finding this one and opening my eyes (very wide).

It has a lot of the usual flavor notes of a good sheng: hay, straw, honey, corn, etc… You get a bit of each, but unlike many shengs which I enjoy, this one has a naturally sweet flavor that accentuates its very un-sweet notes. It’s really nice! Reminds me of cornbread sort of.. Is that weird?

So although I would LOVE to age this baby, and I’m sure that it would age quite well; sadly, it probably won’t survive the next month, let alone this weekend. Highly recommended, if you can get your hands on some…

Flavors: Corn Husk, Hay, Honey, Straw, Wet Earth

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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93

Attention Jasmine lovers!! If you crave the soothing flavor of jasmine blossom, you’re going to love this silver needle/jasmine combo… I’m not really a big scented tea drinker, but the unmistakable scent and flavor of jasmine is very nostalgic for me. It takes me back to my early tea discovering days in Hong Kong, when I would travel with a small pouch of ever-convenient jasmine pearls, soaking in the culture and exploring tea houses in search of something new…

The notable point that I would like to make about this tea is its lack of astringency, especially compared to the more common Jasmine Pearl green tea, which is often slightly bitter. When sipping the green variety, I often find myself wrestling with the dichotomy of the jasmine — which I love — with the bitterness of a base green tea — which I do not love… Some people enjoy the bite of astringency though, so that is just my personal opinion.

In this case, the jasmine comes through very clearly… Truthfully, it’s hard to even taste the silver needle white tea, which is a shame, but who cares!

I tried this before and found that shorter infusions are better for extending the infusion potential (# of times) of this leaf. Jasmine releases quite quickly, so 30sec – 1min for the first 2-3 infusions is fine, with longer infusions following that.

Flavors: Honey, Jasmine

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 1 min, 0 sec 5 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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92

A unique bouquet almost bursts with so many flavors, it’s difficult to narrow down exactly what is being tasted… The obvious notes include various types of honey — I taste buckwheat, tupelo, wildflower, but I’m quite certain that my honey palate is hardly delicate enough to make those claims, but anyway..

When I asked a grower why the process of producing Gui Fei went so deep into the summer, he answered quickly… “Oh, well of course, because we have to wait for the bug bite.” I thought that was hilarious. Wait what? The bug bite?? Was he joking? No. The “bug bite” he was referring to was the invasion of green leafhoppers, which alter the chemical composition of the leaf, and apparently impart its unique flavor profile.

Also, I usually give it a rinse and then jump in with 20-30 second infusions, noting that the 2nd and 3rd infusion result in a unusually thick liquor which is sweet and carries a fairly impressive hui gan… Later infusions, say 4-6 will bring more floral and spicy notes, but the sweet fruits lay off a bit.. Also, the leaves don’t seem to want to unfurl, so I’d add 15-30 seconds in subsequent infusions beyond the 3rd.

So all in all, its an oddly addicting oolong, and highly unique, so please try and let me know what type of tasting notes you are able to pull out, curious to hear!

Flavors: Butter, Caramel, Cinnamon, Honey, Nuts

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 30 sec 5 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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96

This particular Da Hong Pao — a legend among legendary Chinese teas — is definitely a lower roast that most others… which seems to deliver a bouquet of various fruits, hard to even say which (maybe apple, cherry, peach, apricot, stone fruits?)… It’s a very popular and easy drinker for newer tea drinkers. My parents and grandparents love it, you really can’ t go wrong!

Flavors: Apricot, Dates, Honey, Peach, Plums, Stewed Fruits, Stonefruits

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 30 sec 5 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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93

A fine transition for curious Puerh drinkers between the potency and raw vegetal notes of a sheng and the earthier, mellowed smooth notes of a decades-aged puerh leaf. I definitely recommend short infusions and many… I can get 10-12 without much loss of potency, frequently more.

Flavors: Earth, Leather, Pine, Seaweed, Stewed Fruits, Stonefruits, Sweet Potatoes, Wood

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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95

Honestly, can’t think of a bad thing to say about the digital Zojirushi water dispensers… I actually have a different model, the 5L size in the same color, and I have run 2 of them side by side at 175 and 205 degrees. It just makes it so incredibly easy to infuse tea whenever you want… Highly, highly recommended (although I do agree, these are NOT cheap!)

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Bio

Hi, I’m a passionate tea enthusiast with a special place for oolong and puerh. I’ve made several trips to Asia seeking the best and most interesting leaves and I’m always looking to connect with new tea folks…

Friends and family have urged and insisted that I stop bringing home small bags of leafy treasures and instead get more serious about awesome TEA.

Currently, I’m the proud owner of Tribute Tea Company, based out of Chicago. Check us out at www.tributeteacompany.com and please let me know what you think! I’m always adding and seeking new leaves and I would love to know who to link up with for a pot while traveling…

Location

Chicago, IL

Website

http://www.tributeteacompany.com

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