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Recent Tasting Notes
I have a problem. I love smoky teas. Simply love them. And this is a problem why? Because there are a lot of good smoky teas out there that I would enjoy having around… but I don’t think I really need 18 different lapsangs in my pantry. (Okay, realistically it’s more like five or six, but that’s still probably a wee bit excessive.) It’s just too hard to choose between all the good smokies out there to decide what truly needs to have a place in my pantry.
Take this tea, for instance. It’s tasty! The initial smell of the dry leaves was of bacon and campfire and was almost a bit rough/heavy smelling – I really thought this was going to be a bit heavy handed. But after steeping, the smell melded into a gently smoky tea that makes me think of crisp fall days with campfires burning in the distance. It’s not as sweet as some of the Bohea teas I’ve had lately but it isn’t tarry, heavy or thick like some not-quite-as-yummy Lapsangs I’ve had in the past (or those that require milk to smooth). Instead, it’s smooth, soft and I’m pretty sure I can taste actual tea under that smoke – shocking! There’s even a flash of something very fresh and almost vegetal green tasting – just a flash.
The second steep (4:00) isn’t quite as soft and tea-y than the first steep but it’s still quite tasty, reminding me of Golden Moon’s Lapsang Souchong, which really got me started on my smoky tea love. As it cools, the smoke taste smoothes back out and it almost starts to taste like I put a pinch or two of raw sugar in it. Really enjoyable.
So we get back to my problem. There are just too many good smoky teas out there that I want to give a good home – and this is one of them. I think when my GM Lapsang runs out, I’ll have to see how this one fits in that gently-smoky-and-light-textured smoky tea niche that the GM Lapsang has been filling lately. I think it will do very nicely.
This is a really lovely Oolong. The liquor infuses to a lovely amber color. The aroma is somewhat woodsy and vegetative to me. The flavor has a beautiful underlying sweetness to it, I can taste an apple-ish quality to the tea. It has a deep woodsy undertone to it. Some earthiness and just a hint of vegetative quality to the taste – the fragrance of the tea is more vegetative than the actual taste.
A very nice Oolong!
Went through a bunch of steepings on this, my last sample tuo cha. After a quick rinse with boiling water, the first infusion was strong enough to put hair on my chest – following ones were mellower and by infusion four and five, it was really sweet, woody, and earthy. A very enjoyable pu erh.
Trying this one for a second time, and I’ll be switching up the parameters a little, decreasing the steep time to see what flavors that brings out. I still find the tuo cha to have a very mild and slightly nutty aroma, and the liquor to be not as reddish as many other pu erhs.
An initial rinse, and then a one minute steeping time. Now rather than savory, the liquor is sweet, with a definite earthy flavor and something akin to chocolate in the background. Very different from the inital long steep I did last time. The second steep is at two minutes, and is still quite sweet. I’m also getting more of the savory at this stage, plus continuing earthiness. I think this would be a good tea to continue experimenting with – it seems to yield interestingly different results with varying parameters.
I chose this one as my final evaluation sample from Arbor Teas, as I’ve had good experiences with tuo chas in the past and wanted to see how this one measured up. I like that each piece is individually wrapped – it just appeals to the packaging nerd in me. The smell of the cake is mild, with a little bit of grain/cereal to it.
I gave it a quick rinse in hot water and then set it up for four minutes of steeping. The resulting liquor was dark and cloudy brown, and did not have the same level of reddishness to it I’d gotten used to seeing in pu-erhs. My first impression of the flavor was its full and savory character – similar in that way to the Camel’s Breath tuo cha from CTG, but dialed back just a bit.
This does not have the wonderful sweetness I got from Arbor Teas’ special grade pu-erh, but it does have lots of deep, stewy flavors. This might sound crazy, but I can actually imagine this iced next to a plate of ribs. Okay, that might actually be really nasty, but those are the kinds of flavors this one reminds me of. Looks like there’s plenty of strength left for multiple steeps, so I’m planning to give this another couple rounds later today.
My last bit of this sample pack too, and again a little more than my usual amount of leaf. This is a really nice example of the oolong style, hewing pretty much straight down the middle of the green/black tea divide. There’s a bit of green vegetal flavoring, and some black roastiness, along with the typical rich mouthfeel of a good oolong.
Had two infusions of this yesterday afternoon, but no time to log it until now. It’s probably just the fall season getting to me, but I swear they tasted roastier and more “fall-like” than previous tastings have. I am still getting some vegetal, spice, and fruit notes, but coated in a warm and slightly smoky cloak. This is definitely a tea that rewards deeper investigation!
Had the time to do a couple of steeps of this (2 minutes the first time and 3 the second)and enjoyed it very much both times. I’m still getting the general sweetness I experienced last time, plus a very nice balance between the vegetal and slightly roasty or malty flavors. As it cooled I picked out more of the sweet tones, and really appreciated the rich feel this tea has. Good one!
This is the second Arbor Teas sample in a row I’ve tried which has a noticeable natural sweetness to it. There aren’t many teas I’ve found this quality in (most notably CTG’s competition grade Tie Guan Yin), but when I do I find it really enjoyable.
This oolong does a great job of walking the line between green and black characteristics, showing vegetal notes along with some roastiness and tannins. It’s got a very rich mouth feel, with a great juicy quality to it. In addition to the typical tea flavors, I’m getting hints of fruit and spice, making it an interesting tea for sipping and trying to figure out. Really nice cup of tea. Didn’t have time to do multiple infusions this time, but will next time.
I don’t usually like Jasmine tea but this is exceptionally different. I tend to find jasmine teas bitter and disgusting which is definitely not the case for this one. This tea was actually tasted like jasmine, was not bitter at all and was very enjoyable.
I didn’t put any sugar in this cup but think that it would be a nice additive to the second cup (just for fun).
I would whole heartedly suggest drink this tea while studying. It really does “zen” you out! ;)
This is a lovely Yunnan. The taste is smooth and there is an underlying creamy, caramel-y sweetness that is very nicely played against the other notes in this tea. I am tasting notes of spice – almost peppery. Beautifully autumnal.
I’m off to write a review for this for the SororiTEA Sisters blog!
Finishing up the sample pack of this very fine pu-erh, so I’m using a little more leaf than normal in order to avoid a too-weak cup next time around. At this strength I’m getting more of a roasty flavor, as well as something akin to a dried dark cherry flavor, both of which are a good after-lunch complement. And though it may just be psychosomatic, it does feel like it is having a positive effect on my digestion!
Started my day with a couple pleasing steeps of this. It was sweet and earthy, and very forgiving on steep times – I did about 4 minutes the first time around and longer than that the next time, and neither cup was overly strong or bitter. I also like the subtle notes that are wrapped up in the earthiness; today I got a very subtle spice tone as well as some cherry jam-like flavors.
I had several steeps of this today and really enjoyed it. It gave me just enough of a caffeine hit to be noticeable, without getting wired, and the taste stayed interesting the whole time, evolving over the course of the steepings. It always maintained a pleasant level of natural sweetness underlying the earthiness, and was not as heavy as some pu-erhs I’ve had that can leave a bitter taste behind.
I’ve been drinking a fair bit of pu-erh lately, and this one still stands out. It has a sweeter, brighter flavor than most, without losing the earthy quality that draws me to this style of tea in the first place. There’s something almost fruity about it which I’m really enjoying, as well as a mildness which makes it easier for me to want multiple steeps. Nicely done.
Another evaluation sample from Arbor Teas. The dry leaf has the typical loose pu-erh look and feel: smallish curls of leaf, a somewhat dusky brownish/orange color, and earthy smell without being overpowering.
I gave it about six minutes to see how it would take a fairly long first steep, and it came out like a champ. Dark, opaque brownish red liquor and a smooth, almost malty aroma. The taste is wonderful – there’s a natural sweetness to it that I haven’t found in any other pu-erhs. It really tastes like I’d put some sugar in it. It has a very full flavor but it is not bitter – the earthiness is deep and very satisfying. One of the best pu-erhs I’ve tasted!
This tea is something I would add to my list of regular morning tea’s I would drink on my 45 minute commute to work. I’ve had to try it twice two different days to fully appreciate the taste of the tea. At first taste, the flavor of it is plain, not particularly strong, and with no extra flairs. It leaves behind a subtle smoky aftertaste behind. After drinking the tea for a while the full flavor of the tea is apparent, gentle and easy to drink. It makes a good tea to have on the run because it is easy to drink (I personally don’t like trying to quickly drink something that is super strong).
I feel like I shouldn’t be the first one to review this tea, because in a minute, I am going to come off sounding like an enormous newbie. This is my first real pu-erh, as the cheap bagged chrysanthemum blend by Asian Taste I tried earlier doesn’t count. (Even though it was very tasty.)
Upon first sniff, I was a little intimidated. Not to be offensive, but this tea smells exactly like fish food to my inexperienced senses. As it brewed, I was stunned at how dark it became. I had never seen tea so black before, almost like coffee. It had a dark ambery red tint to it as well. I was so intrigued at this point. And the liquor itself lost the fishy scent.
For a tea this dark, I would never have expected it to be so smooth! It’s not bitter or sharp at all, and hardly astringent. It just tastes like mellow, good black tea. I really like it. It has a sort of taste in it that I can’t identify… it’s a sort of “aged” flavor that’s hard to describe. There’s also something in this that sort of reminds me of pekoe. Anyway, I think it’s great! And the caffeine content makes it a lot of fun. Honey would compliment it well, I think. EDIT: I think I’ve tasted something like this before in a bottled Thai tea.
I’m fairly over-caffeinated right now after about 2L of tea today and not all that much food. But I’m having so much fun with my new teas that I’m just going to ignore the slight tremor in my hands because I really wanted to get to this tea today. Good thing I don’t need to go to sleep early tonight!
These leaves are (relatively) larger and not as uniform as CTG’s Keemun and Adagio’s Anhui Keemun. Any chance there is a correspondence between leaf size and tea quality?
The dry leaves smell very… starchy? Bready? Toasty? It’s very different from Adagio’s Anhui Keemun but is still attractive. Brewed up, it smells smoky and starchy. I’m oddly reminded of plantains. And something raw/green that reminds me of a Nilgiri.
The taste managed to surprise me. Based on the smell, I was expecting something a little rough and raw tasting. But it’s very sweet – a grain-type sweetness – and notes that alternately remind me of coffee and something almost floral/fresh. There is an overall dryness to the tea – it’s not very strong but it is solidly there and makes me think of a red wine aftertaste. As it cools, I get something that is more Nilgiri like, but more pleasant than any Nilgiri I’ve had.
It’s not what I was expecting with a Keemun but I did manage to drink it quickly. I can’t say I’d reach for this when in a Keemun mood, but I don’t think it’d be totally ignored in my pantry either.
ETA: Ah-ha! I just figured out what that green/raw-ish taste reminds me of – a green rooibos! Seriously, it does! (And green rooibos is the next tea up because I do not need any more caffeine today!)
The Final Sipdown: Day 15
Decupboarding Total: 30
I’m definitely going to have to pick some of this up when I made my Arbor Tea Earl Grey order. It’s nice and smooth and sweet and very forgiving – I meant to steep for about 35s but kind of forgot about it…. A minute and a half later and it was darker than normal, but still smooth and tasty. I think I can say I’m definitely a fan of the green pu-erhs. So good.