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17 Tasting Notes

94

Lubitsch and Guangdong Feng Huang Dan Cong Wudong Song Zhong: a mouthful one is not likely to forget!
I sip this rapturous oolong while watching pre-code Ernst Lubitsch musicals. The flavors in the cup seem to flirt, wink, intermingle like the characters on the screen. Innuendos of passion beneath a flowery dress. Always hinting at something all-together naughty and wild. But, ah, here is the mouthfeel, honeyed as if sung by Maurice Chevalier himself. With eyebrow raised. Irrepressible sweetness, notes of Turkish Delight, fresh apricot, tiger lilies, dancing girls, glitz, and clever wit.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 45 sec

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86

My tarot studies this week have brought me into the time and season of XIII, The Nameless Arcanum (that some call “death.”) Which is “returning.” And so, I return to the things of my true soul which call me home, while the rest is left to turn over, let go into the soft earth in my unconscious. Fittingly, I now return to sing tea praises here with my fellow teathren, and fittingly, I have recently let go of a 2 year relationship, which almost exactly accounts for the period of my absence!
What better tea to celebrate this turning cycle than the little red packet of Mystery Qi Hong type brought back from Yunnan by Payton and Ben, of Chaxi collective (http://chaxicollective.tumblr.com/)

So: The tea is nameless. The arcanum is nameless. To imbibe this great mystery is to abide in the perfect rest of not-knowing, or rather, knowing but not saying so. Flavor: vastly dark and rich, yet vivacious, hinting at new growth, a subtle playful budding forth.
Here’s to the depths that bring us back to the comfort of our teacups, those safely shallow (yet potently profound) scrying mirrors of our hearts.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 30 sec
Ben Youngbaer

The tea is hong cha made from Anji Bai Cha plant

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79

Whilst in my week-long maelstrom of creative endeavering (and procrastinating), I put a whole saucepan of water on the stove and left it to simmer with these sweet stems. I added a dollop of Wild Branch Botanicals’ Chaga in Maple Syrup, so healing and energizing that it feels like a big hug from a beautiful old tree, and tastes like hugs too! The combination sweetened my temper, turned the storm into a free dance of raindrops. Yes for comfort teas. And it’s macrobiotic, too.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 8 min or more

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91

On my Oregon adventure, I shared this tea as a special delicacy with my wonderful hosts and friends.
The emerald, graceful, silky infusions were like little keys, sip by sip turning the lock of the heart chakra open into acceptance of bliss. We smiled into our cups, and I felt the moss of the redwoods touch my lips…rain for days, spotted owls, elk antlers…
Deeply gentle, like the gestures of a fawn, but with the fortitude of the wild black bear.
Infusions after the first take only seconds: a breath of water, an exhale of flavor.
And the flavor will take you on your own journey into the soft green rain falling now within you.

Preparation
160 °F / 71 °C 0 min, 45 sec
Ben Youngbaer

This sounds lovely! can’t wait to share some tea with you when you come back!

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87

Well, I HAVE to be partial to the Forest Dragon…it’s my baby (my invention!), and has served as a particularly popular summer specialty at Dobra. Born only a few years ago on a torpid July day…this vegan blend of matcha, rice milk and magic (the ingredients are a secret!) make a lovely hot-weather friend…I happen to have a nice jar of dragon juice (a variation made with coconut milk and maple syrup) right in front of me….and with the fan on it almost seems like I’m in a mossy pine-laden glen touched by zephyrs and conversing with sage beasts…

Forest Dragons are complex drinks to make during a rush! Thank god(ess) for ice, shakers, and co-workers!

Ben Youngbaer

the forest dragon has always been one of my favs. thanks for sharing with us!

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85
drank Bai Hao by Dobra Tea
17 tasting notes

(see note on Bai Hao…darn alternative spellings, these are the same tea and I’m not steepstersavvy enough to combine these descriptions!)

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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81

As with Bai Hao and Chi-Tsu Bing Cha, this tea is characterized by a sweet, tannic and woody base with walnut-shell notes in aroma and flavor. Darjeeling is certainly the most tannic tea of this trio and a tea I often enjoy with coconut milk…without feeling guilty about it. It’s a classic—the basic Darjeeling, like say, the basic pair of blue jeans. They’re not bell-bottomed, scratched-up, flared-out, torn-down, or designer jeans, they’re just your basic pair of jeans you would wear to the park. It’s a lovely, standard tea…the quintessential flowery headnote with it’s broader declamation of “paradigm tea flavor.” This tea is an Aries tea. It comes into the world and says, “I am tea!” And for the Western tradition, it pretty much is.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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85
drank Pai Hao by Dobra Tea
17 tasting notes

Pai Hao, Bai Hao, “Oriental Beauty,” “White Hair”…So when Payton and I did a comparison of this tea with Darjeeling Himalaya and Chi-tsu Bing Cha (see other notes!), we recognized a core note of woodiness which we later modified to “walnut shell.”
Bai Hao deviates from this center in that it breathes an earthier, saltier flavor…which I have always considered the perfect likeness to a pile of crisp autumn leaves fermenting and baking in the orange October sun. Now that I have been eating seaweed granola for several months, I also detect an unmistakable flavor of seaweed in Bai Hao’s cup. Dulse, to be exact. Payton commented on a burnt sugar flavor, and now I’m thinking of (vegan) pumpkin pie along with that pile of leaves…I always crave this tea when the season shifts over to the vermilion days of fall.
HOWEVER…{I humbly implore the Vermont sun}…that won’t be for a while yet, right?
I’m liking summer. Thanks.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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91

I know I said I was going to write about Bai Hao and Darjeeling, but I’ve got to slip this one in there just for kicks…
This was a piece of Da Hong Pao brick that James brought back from China. I had been holding on to it (as I do with all my aged oolongs), hoarding it for a special occasion…Then I got over it and decided that the tea itself WAS the special occasion…

Nicotine. Dry sandy soil. Bitter, with only a suggestion of roundness. Both aroma and taste reminded me so strongly of tobacco—not smoked, but the dry leaves…although one could say there’s a hint of ash thrown in there. Feels earthy in quality and not so much head-y as heart-y…although I felt it in my 3rd chakra, too! An ancient hearth, charred bits of old sacred manuscripts…the royal secret safe.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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89

Been a long time, and although I have not shared the news, tea has never—for more than one day—relinquished its quotidian regime over my life!
The sips go by and they are each so sweet and fleeting—tasted and drained the cup—inspiration in the new bud—this year’s winning cultivar—teas from Myanmar, Laos, and Thailand—teas from China and beautiful stories—and at times going back again for Reiki-infused Tie Guan Yin…

Last week, we did a taste comparison of this tea along with Bai Hao (from Dobra), and Darjeeling Himalaya (from Dobra). My fellow devotea and I remarked that the central note in all three of these teas is that of a tannic woodiness. I presented the teas in a blind taste test, he was quite surprised to discover that each tea was a totally different type. They had identical colored infusions upon the second infusion…it was spooky.
More on Bai Hao and Darjeeling Himalaya to come, but Chi-Tsu Bing Cha was the one that stumped everyone at the tearoom. They all thought it was Darjeeling! In truth, I had made that discovery of their similarities only the day before and had been ruminating on this synchronicity with great wonder. The tannic, sweet and slightly floral waters taste like fresh and sunkissed hay, wheat in the wind, and golden needled woods nearby…
A warm tea, golden and light, with incredible similarities to the autumnal taste of Bai Hao and the dry, bold taste of Darjeeling.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec

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Profile

Bio

Tea combines the all sensual, earthly, sacred, social, philosophical, and artistic elements of this world. It is where culture meets nature gently, as in an offering to dance. It is part ritual, part impossible moment—“one meeting, one chance.”

I am a chaiwala because the tea experience is a way of sharing in a great reverence—for nature, for pleasure, for the present moment, for each other— a reverence that the busy world often forgets.

Location

Burlington, VT

Website

http://www.dobratea.com

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