Chicago Tea Garden

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Recent Tasting Notes

It has been a few weeks since I’ve done more than dip a toe into the Steepster pool. It’s been kinda rough – first a week-long visit to the in-laws, which really was nice… well, until I came down with the stomach flu. So battled that and after a week, I finally start feeling better and my kitty (who was 20 and I got when she was just a few months old) passed away. So yeah. Rough month lately.

For a while I wasn’t really branching out beyond CTG’s Keemun and Adagio’s Yunnan Golden Curls because I just couldn’t deal with thinking about new tea. But now things are better (which my computer corrected to butterfish???) now and I finally no longer feel like I’m wandering around in a fog. So it is time to start having a little tea fun.

I’m not really a big dancong fan, but I’m trying to develop an appreciate for the not-so-green oolongs. Thus, I got a little sample of this one.

It’s lovely. Creamy and sweet on the front end, fruity and honeyed on the back. The smell and taste bring to mind pouchong and milk oolongs, which is big mark in the plus column for me. Of the few dancongs I’ve had, I don’t think it’s going too far to say that this is probably the best one I’ve had. The others have seem too mild and delicate and soft. Pretty, yes. But faint, no matter how much leaf I used. This one has a good, noticeable taste that I don’t feel I need to concentrate hard just to taste. And the taste? Well, I’ve already mentioned it is lovely. It brings to mind tropical beaches and lush jungle and farmers markets (the peachy aspect, you know).

But it has helped me realize something: I don’t think I will ever love dancongs. The flavor? DELIGHTFUL! I made several oohs and ahhs while drinking this. But I think this type of tea just consistently has a bit of a drying aspect to it and that’s just not what I tend to go for in teas, especially ones that have such delightfully decadent front ends. I don’t think it is drying enough to be considered astringent, but it is drying enough to make me smack my lips together a bit after each sip to reline my mouth with saliva (which does bring out a lovely aftertaste in my mouth – very stone fruity and sweet – but still). And I just tend to go more for cuddly teas than refreshing ones.

That being said, I think for those more inclined to want refreshing or bright aspects to their tea, this one is pretty stellar.

(Oh, and PS – not giving this one a numerical rating because I can’t quite figure where it would fit – the dryness of the tea just makes me unenthusiastic about it but the flavor is deserving of massive enthusiasm. So yeah, torn.)

JacquelineM

I’m sorry to hear about your kitty. I remember talking about her and litter boxes for elder cats with you.

TeaBrat

I’m sorry too and I hope things are looking up for you!

Auggy

JacquelineM and Amy oh – Thanks. Things are getting better but yep, she has been a constant in my life since I was 13 so it’s up and down….

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I got my sample in, so here’s my notes and thoughts. The initial smell is a mix between okra still on the branch and super glue. I’m not going to lie, the smell of the leaves and first steep made me want to vomit. The initial taste also made me want to vomit (sorry… I know), but I also don’t like “green foods”. Because of the reviews, I couldn’t give it up… I wanted to see where it’d take me. The first steep was gross, and I hated every moment of it, so I’ll just skip to the second steep (third including the wash) for the review. So from here on, I’m going to forget everything else about the tea and pretend it’s my first sip ;)…

The following is a composite break-down of one sip

Initial: Very thin… crisp. This is far from bold in every way. Don’t take this the wrong way- it’s still VERY flavorful. I would say that if I had to name any faults in the initial taste it’d be that it’s TOO fresh (is this actually possible!?)… but it may be that it’s just not oxidized to my preference.

Apex: I feel the apex is a bit anticlimactic. Did I say anticlimactic? I think I meant that the “Initial” taste was so “in your face” that it can only go down-hill. There is a buttery taste that parabolas itself into the picture. It’s a welcome addition to the flavor.

Lingering Taste: The oddest thing happens right here. The flavors seem to split up. The low-notes are a very obvious oolong that’s VERY pleasant. The high-notes are something I’d compare to a wad of grass and is repulsive. With these combined tastes you have this weird effect of a pretty descent and unusual linger. One part of me really does want to say it taste bad, but with the good? I just can’t. It’s like walking on a very very scary trail on a stormy day… surrounded by bare shaking trees with the wind howling and random animal sounds in the distance…….. but then out of nowhere a beam of light breaks through the clouds and lights up the most beautiful flower you’ve ever seen- for this split moment you forget about everything else…. it’s so beautiful and you want that moment to last forever. Yeah it’s a lot like that lol.

Final Exhale: Right back to square one. Sweet green okra smell and taste. It’s a nonchalant reminder of the loves and hates that I just experienced.

I can’t deny that this is the most unusual tea that I’ve ever tasted. It’s epic in a literal sense, and I can’t say that I enjoy it or hate it or anything. It’s almost an experience really… like reading a story. I wish I could say that I hate it so I’d never have to taste some of it’s notes again, but I also want to say that I love it more than any other tea because of the wonderful notes it showed me. I don’t feel like I should rate it based on everything I’ve tasted… if I did it’d be about half way because I’d want to rate it a 100 and a 1 at the same time lol. Take that how you want. I do think that being a supertaster has drastically affected my thoughts on the sweeter greener high-notes, so if you like green foods and teas, then I’d definitely recommend this tea in a heartbeat.

Outside of flavor and aroma, I feel I should comment on the quality. These leaves are TOP-NOTCH. They opened up at least 500% of the initial size with no loose stems or dust. I made this tea in my 4oz yixing and had absolutely no rogue dust or particles- I think that says a lot.

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

Wonks, I love reading truly honest reviews. Thanks for this one. I really admire your writing style too. Very well thought out.

Wonks

Thanks Sunny. I’m actually terrible at writing, so I think that I over-compensate in these notes lol.

ScottTeaMan

Tea loos very high quality & delicious! Great review.

Tony Gebely

thanks for this bad-ass post on my tea Wonks!

Wonks

No problem Tony! I have high expectations from your company now so I can’t wait to order some more varieties from you ;).

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I just couldn’t get my sample tuocha to work for me. I rinsed the leaves and then played with infusion times for three infusions but it was either very light and dull or bitter. The jasmine was nice and I think this might have potential, so I’m glad I have more to try with. I think I need to try working on my pu-erh appreciation, though. This felt odd and briney when it hit my mouth for the first time. My interest is peaked again, though, and I have a few different pu-erhs to try out.

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Of all the delicate, champagne-y colored oolongs I’ve tried, this is by far the sweetest. Has a really nice, pale steeped color and feels smooth in your mouth. (And if I say it tastes like sweet satin sheets K S had better not laugh at me.)

Definitely too light for anything but a quiet afternoon, but perfect in a silent Sunday afternoon house. (Sort of. My head is still echoing from a morning full of 10-year-olds at church. Today’s deep philosophical question: What would happen if Lady Gaga came to our church and what would she wear?)

K S

Fighting the urge… not gonna do it… :P

So did the kids think Lady Gaga would feel welcome? She likes tea. Tetley I think maybe PG Tips… More of a cotton polyester blend.. Hahahaha. I tried I really did.

Bonnie

dressed as a nun in a mini skirt covered with crucifixes and chains

gmathis

Somebody recently posted that she specifies PG Tips in her contract riders.

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When I took my first sniff, I got so much sweet-vanilla-cream scent I was afraid something else had scented it. (It was in a little zip-lock sample; my storage facilities at Shabby House aren’t the greatest.)

I think this tea has some of the biggest leaves, steeped, I’ve ever seen. And the creamy-sweet wasn’t an accident … that’s just the nature of this stuff. Still pretty astringent (cream and pucker are an odd combination, eh?) but really, really good! I have to apologize because my care packages have gotten a little mixed…OK, a lot jumbled…but my thanks to the kind donor! (Doulton, I think!)

ashmanra

I got some of this in a silver pouch from Quiltguppy, but I am saving until I can have a virtual tea party via Skype with Sandy since she was just in NZ for six months and went to the plantation for tea. It has been very hard to hold off drinking it.

gmathis

May willpower prevail!

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I broke the orange open and steeped 1 tsp of leaves with a bit of peel for 30 sec in about 6 oz boiling water. I forgot to rinse it, and it smelled a bit too funky to drink so I discarded that steep, and went straight to steep #2 (also 30 sec.) Much better! There’s a slightly funky scent overtop, but mostly it’s just earthy with a hint of, well, decomposing hay? Maybe I should just call that “malty”…?

It’s drinkable, but not my favorite thing ever. I was hoping for a bit more orange scent or flavor. Next time I will add more peel and see where that gets me. I’m tempted to add a bit of honey to see what it bring out, but I’m sure there are some pu-erh purists that will jump all over me…

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 30 sec
Janefan

decided against the honey (for now) but paired it with a biscuit & orange marmalade instead. Not bad. I think I prefer this tea as an accompaniment rather than a solo act.

Janefan

3rd stepp – 45 sec. Added a tiny bit of vanilla honey. I think this brought out the orange a bit (or could it be lingering on my taste buds from the marmalade?) and added a slight floral note. I like it better than the 2nd steep, but it does seem a bit more drying (tannic?). Not sure how that could be but there you have it.

Geoffrey Norman

Ooooh, man. I so want this.

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drank Bi Luo Chun by Chicago Tea Garden
1101 tasting notes

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drank Bi Luo Chun by Chicago Tea Garden
1101 tasting notes

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drank Bi Luo Chun by Chicago Tea Garden
1101 tasting notes

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drank Bi Luo Chun by Chicago Tea Garden
1101 tasting notes

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drank Bi Luo Chun by Chicago Tea Garden
1101 tasting notes

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drank Bi Luo Chun by Chicago Tea Garden
1101 tasting notes

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drank Bi Luo Chun by Chicago Tea Garden
1101 tasting notes

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drank Bi Luo Chun by Chicago Tea Garden
1101 tasting notes

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drank Bi Luo Chun by Chicago Tea Garden
1101 tasting notes

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trying this tea for the first time. I’m fairly new to Pu-erh so i wasn’t sure how long to brew it. Ended up washing the leaves, then brewing it for as long as it took to stop by 14 month old from eating food out of the cat’s dish. resulting brew was slightly smokey, and has the leathery taste I’ve been encountering with the few Pu-erh’s I’ve had. similar to tobacco, or a chinese herb shop. a very subtle hint of sweetness. Didn’t notice the chrysanthemum at all.

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Thank you to Paul for sending me one of these cakes to try. I have actually had it for some time now, and I apologize to Paul for not trying it sooner – it wasn’t because I didn’t appreciate it, because I do! I must admit though, I was intimidated to try it. I generally get that way with most Pu-erh. But… none more than one called “Camel’s Breath”

Very brine-y, earthy aroma and that does translate into the flavor, although I am finding that the flavor is considerably more mild than the aroma – at least it is after a very short steep. It is mellow and sweet, with a very smooth character. A somewhat savory note in the distance. Almost like it beckons me to add a grain of salt or two to bring that out… A very intriguing tea to say the least.

Before I rate it and write a longer review for SororiTea Sisters, though, I will put it through a few more infusions and see what comes of it.

Thanks again Paul! Let this be a lesson (for me, if for nobody else) – don’t let the name of a tea influence you from experiencing it.

LiberTEAS

2nd infusion: Sweeter this time… a little stronger this time (less mellow) but still very smooth. Quite nice.

LiberTEAS

3rd infusion: I like how the flavor develops with this cup. It is still a mild tasting pu-erh, although it progressively becomes a little stronger – both in its sweet and savory qualities.

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I had this after my almost daily cup of coffee. Yes, coffee just one cup though. Nevertheless, as for teas this one started my day. I was lucky to first sample this goodie at Tony’s Tea Tasting at the Chicago Tea Garden and since I enjoyed it I picked some of it up on my way out along with others in his delicious tea arsenal.

I found this one to be bold and smooth, a little smokey and toasty. It was a delicious cup, especially in the morning.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 1 min, 0 sec
JacquelineM

I have a cup of coffee in the morning too – on the weekends sometimes two! I don’t feel like I have to choose :)

Tabby

This is sorta off-topic, but I saw your sales post on Tea Trade and I am SO getting some. I’ll probably do two orders because I couldn’t pick just five. :D

RachanaC (Rachel)-iHeartTeas

Sweet, Tabby! If you want to get it today I can ship it out tomorrow. :-)

RachanaC (Rachel)-iHeartTeas

I agree JacquelineM. I too enjoy a great cup of coffee. Nothing wrong with that. :-)

Tabby

Sure, I’ll PM you. :)

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