Tastes, looks, and smells more like a white tea.
Chicago Tea Garden
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Smells like dirt. It tastes like a soggy forest floor; like shoveling dirt into your mouth and maybe a bit of damp moss too. Tastes like dirt. Some people would say “earthy” but that word is only for people who are afraid to say they like drinking dirt. This is exactly how I like my pu-erh – dirty.
I had a great few moments with this tea. I did not want to do a formal review as I was too busy enjoying it. I realized how much leaf I really needed to use in order to get a lot more out of the tea. For this reason I am raising the rating.
Honey thickness on the back of the tongue with orchid notes popping up mid-sip. Delightful. It went for about 18 steepings. Some shared. Some delightfully consumed and enjoyed alone. Thank you again Chicago Tea Garden. You were a lovely company and I am sad to see you go.
Before you read this review, you should know that I have only tried a few puerhs and I don’t feel fully qualified to give all the tasting complexities and details.
That being said, this puerh is AWESOME! I mean it smells and tastes like sticky rice. The whole experience is amazing. The taste is just perfect and every sip comes with the initial sticky rice flavor, followed by a very earthy and dirty puerh taste but in a good way, if that makes any sense.
It is hard to describe but I think this may be one of my favorite puerhs for a while and I see it being very hard to beat.
You must try this tea purely for the interesting flavor. But you better hurry! Chicago tea garden is closing and only have a few 500g bags of this left.
Fantastic! I was lucky enough to get a hold of this when Tony was closing up his shop. I am so glad I did! This has some serious flavor. My first cup was straight up pu-erh. But so far infusions two and three have had a hint of the orange flavoring from the bit of peel I added in while steeping. So good!
I wrote a longer post about it here: http://wifeywoman.teatra.de/2012/06/11/say-goodbye/ :)
A wonderfully roasted green oolong. The roasted flavor is light enough so that it never tastes ashy but instead slowly creeps up on you. You can taste both the light sweetness of the oolong mixing with the roasted flavor and they balance each other nicely. I really like CTG and I’m very sad that they are closing up shop. I am especially sad because I’m from chicago and I wanted to go to one of their tastings or classes on tea. Oh well maybe he will still do some in the future.
So I, like many, have received the recent newsletter about the closing sale of Chicago tea garden, something that saddened me a little. While I had only purchased two teas from them (this one and the Tie Guan Yin), I did see myself purchasing more from them in the future thanks to their amazing presentation (Tea info cards with free quality tins?). I was waiting on their 2012 teas to make my next round of purchases but seems that will never happen. So while I’ve had this for a while, I never bothered to write a note of it (like so many of my other teas, sigh I just have so many right now). So anyways here it is, before it quickly becomes irrelevant.
>Dry Leaf Appearance/Aroma
Small fuzzy golden curls, very uniform in shape. Like little golden nuggets. Aroma is that of a typical yunnan black, spicy and peppery but this one is milder and with maybe a touch of vanilla.
Following CTG’s intructions, boiling water, 1 min. 1 infusion.
Not as aromatic as other yunnans, but taste-wise it is mildly peppery, sweet, and with subtle hints of vanilla. I sometimes pick up a little fruitiness similar to that of a Keemum. It is smooth and has absolutely no bitterness.
>Wet Leaf Appearance
The tight curls unfurl into long thin needle buds, dark clay like in color.
As a fan of Yunnan blacks, I have enjoyed this tea a lot. It is milder in taste than others and notes of vanilla are more apparent in this one than the other I have. These subtle differences make it unique enough to differentiate it from other Yunnans. I will certainly miss it once I run out of it.
I figured I would have this tea again as it is a great comfort and it is cold today. Where’d the beautiful sun go? I don’t want any more rain.
This time drinking the tea, my water was fully boiling (for over 5 minutes… vs previous experience where it was just under boiling or beginning to boil). I find it now has a bitter edge to it that I am not very partial to.
My second steep (not including the rinse) will go back down to just below boiling. I will report back with more once my water is hot enough. I really need a variable temps kettle. This heating-the-water-by-tea-light is cute, but not very precise and takes a year and a half to come to a boil. I am very open to good kettle suggestions (with a reasonable cost as I am a student).
Edit 2 days later: This is crazy. I keep steeping the leaves at least 4 times per day, and they just keep getting better. This steep was the most buttery rice yet!
Aroma: Peat, cedar, jasmine.
Taste: Jasmine compliments pu-erh very well, it seems. It doesn’t mask the “barnyard” taste that some complain of with pu-erhs (including myself on occasion), but it’s more like it adds an earthy complexity and depth to the flavor of jasmine. Jasmine has a very clean taste, so I think that’s part of the reason that they balance each other well.
Texture: Both smooth and astringent.
Leaves: This tea comes in an tuocha. After a couple of steepings, the leaves detach and unfurl. They are olive in color and appear to be coarsely chopped.
Evaluation: This is my favorite pu-erh. I think that the amount of jasmine scent is right on–neither overpowering nor too subtle. The bronze-colored liquor is very nice.
Today I went to a little french cafe with my sister and had the most amazing Earl Grey chocolate mousse. An after breakfast treat that incorporated tea!
The leaves of the Golden Bi Luo are really neat- little snails for sure. They smell almost caramelly..
Liquor 1min: I used 2 tsp per 12 oz cup. This produced a nice rich amber color that smells caramelly vanilla smoke. The taste is great as well. Initially, I taste some carmel vanilla malt… which melts around my tongue… much like butter does. Except this is not so much butter as a cream melt. It’s so hard to describe it, but I like it. I like it a lot. I just got a whiff while going in for a sip and it reminded me of delicious beef broth. I don’t know why. The end of the sip definitely has a lingering aftertaste of smokiness.
I do have a love affair with LS’s and Russian Caravans.. so this really pulls at my heart strings.
Subsequent steeps: Delicious.. though I find the vanilla caramel fades rather quick and is replaced by an interesting tanginess that I rarely find. The malty flavour definitely picks up, as well as the smokey presence. Great. I think I liked the initial steeps though. Thank you very much Chicago Tea Garden for this lovely sample!
I forgot I even had this when I was digging around for new teas to try. I thought I had passed on all my golden teas to my brother. Oh, glorious morning! This tastes just like a Yunnan gold-tipped Dian Hong only with a lighter mouthfeel. It’s sweet, earthy, partially creamy, medium-malty…and quite the waker-upper.
Full Review: Pending on www.teaviews.com
This is a simple nice oolong with a wonderful roasted nut flavor at the end of every sip. It almost tastes like roasted corn at a summer picnic. It doesn’t have the sweetness or vegetal taste of lighter greener oolongs and is perfect when you want a little more bite to your oolong. I love trying teas from places other then china and india and this tea can definitely stand on its own when compared to chinese oolongs. After seeing lord of the rings I’m sure New Zealand has many perfect places to grow and process tea. Very nice.
First steeping is sweet and vegetal with a slight nutty taste. 2nd steeping has a lot more floral flavors and has a lot more crispness. Its a very reliable tie guan yin and has both the lightness of a green tea and the richness of an oolong. Its also in my shelf next to my bag of verdant tea tieguanyin, which couldn’t be more different. Both are fantastic teas but CTG is lighter while Verdant had a richer spicier taste. I love both and plan to buy both in the future when I run out.
This is unlike any pu-erh I have ever tasted. Very LIGHT and mellow. A nice rice flavor that is cleansing and enjoyable – especially with a homemade stir fry!
I did a quick 30 second rinse – then a 30 second steep which was a bit weak for me so on the next steep I did a good minute. This for me was perfect. The tea does have a stronger smell than flavor but it is so enjoyable to sit there allowing it to clear your sinus and sniffing the wonderful aroma! The flavor is light and yummy but not intense by any means. I do want to order some of this and a couple of other things from this tea company at some point in the near future.
This is sad. I was so looking forwards to this tea and had high hopes for it. But it’s giving me nothing.
Dry: Smells of caramel honey. Long luxe leaves. I like.
Liquor: After a rinse and three steeps.. I’m really not getting very much. I am being a stickler for temperature and amount of leaf, but I am still getting hardly anything. For my fourth steep, I cut my water in half (from 6oz to 3oz for 2 generous tsp of leaf) and upped the steep time to about 2 minutes to get Something.. Anything..
Nothing. My last few sips had some carmel to them, but generally nothing stands out to me. Perhaps my tongue is too untrained? Or perhaps it’s the tea (I have never encountered this before to be honest… sad.) I have enough of the sample left to attempt this again..Hopefully that round will give me something. Maybe I will go back to steeping my old toucha leaves. Thank you so much Tony for this sample from Chicago Tea Garden! I am glad I got to try it (my first Dancong and hopefully not last!)
Edit: Okay – fifth steep is the absolute best so far. I can taste creamy honey and a drying in the back of the throat that I get with honey. A touch of mayyyyybe dried apricots if I stretch it.
I was so very very excited to see this wonderful package arrive all thanks to Tony from Chicago Tea Garden. I am so thankful I got to try a very generous selection of their teas. Now that I have some time, I can really get into these teas and see what they have to offer. So far – impressed. Very impressed.
Dry: cute little pu-erh touchas that have a mild smell. Earthy and starchy.
Liquor: 30s Light yellow liquor that smells like buttery rice. It also tastes like buttery rice. Sticky buttery rice. Ooooh yUm!
35s: A darker yellow/toasted color. More intense in the buttery goodness – more of flavour than of feeling. Very very good. I like it. Thick and toasty almost. Buttery roasty toasty.
48s: Sweeter buttery rice. As though a rice wine vinegar and sugar mixture was added, but without the acidity. mmm goodness.
1min: Delicious. Much the same as 3rd steep.
1.15min: Whoa mouth butter. This covers my tongue in that butter sensation.. like a melting pat of butter on my tongue. Slow and warm creep with a touch of a salty sensation (like a tingle almost.. your taste buddies get excited and I picture them dancing for joy – creating the slight tingle/bright sparkle feeling). I think this may be my favourite so far. But that is hard to say as all the steeps were soo very delicious. I do think I will be able to get at least another 4 steeps out of this with strong flavour as it appears the pu-erh was just changing it up a bit for the fourth steep
In the end – absolutely wonderful comfort tea. I am drinking this on a hot sunny day today. Is that crazy? No.. it’s absolutely suiting in an odd way. Personally – I will drink this tea whenever I crave buttery sticky rice…. surprisingly often to be honest. Thank you again Tony for your generosity. I am so happy I got to try this!
Wow, this tastes amazing. I remembered the last time I had this that I liked it as well but I am on my fifth infusion using my new Crane Gaiwan pictured here… http://instagr.am/p/KSgR3RyqQ2/ and all I can say is that I truly believe that this Gaiwan has improved upon perfection. I can’t believe how well it is holding up. I love the sweet liquor I get and just how silky each sip tastes and feels. Truly a gorgeous oolong.
First Yunnan sample I picked out for the husband. Cute snails, he thought they were creepy. We brewed a small amount, 8 oz which is perfect for our two 4 oz cups. I did a quick rinse then a one minute steep with slightly below boiling water, which is lucky really as I didn’t have the steeping parameters but knew my husband didn’t like super short steeps but I didn’t want to risk a long one so I planned on doing three infusions at 1, 2 and 3 mins each.
I probably could have used more leaf but the first infusion came out smooth, light and with a hint of honey sweetness. Husband said it was nice, but there was nothing remarkable about it and he definitely didn’t get vanilla, I figured it would come through in a later infusion.
So I rebrewed and my husband and I had the same reaction, we wanted to scrape our tongues to get rid of the feeling on them. I wouldn’t call it bitter, but it was an odd kind of astringent, it felt cool and the taste was pretty mild. Now I don’t care much for second steeps on most teas and the husband doesn’t like rein fusing British blends because of this similar feeling it yields. So while he ordinarily chalks it up to the quality or just the nature of black teas, I promised the third infusion would be better.
Not so, it had a little bit of a buttery mouthfeel but it turned dry and was bland. I experimented with a short steep to see if the tea had anything left to give, but no. Me thinks I abused it and shall treat what is left of it more kindly. I’m excited for him to try Verdant’s Yunnan blacks, but we both realized tonight was not the night.
Tea of the afternoon. I tried this out in my new yixing pot and really should have known better to not try a new sample this way and that this particular yixing pot isn’t well suited to gongfu brewing. Too big, too bulky and it has a loose lid due to the strainer and that it is likely mass produced.
I bought the pot and it’s matching cups for their color and design (sage green with a dragon and phoenix) but it seemed a shame not to use them. I decided Dan Congs in general would be a safe bet to season it with, as I would likely always have one in the house, but like I said this pot is just not meant for it. So new oolong, I’m sorry, it’s not you it’s my pot. Luckily I still have half a sample left.
In all honesty the tea was still pretty good, not ruined by any means. The first few steeps were the best and they reminded me a bit of the oolongs I tried this weekend (my first Rou Gui and Tung Ting, both lovely, both brewed much better, because of proper tea ware at Essencha) in that there was a cassia note and some unami, but I also got pretty distinct orchid, honey and peach notes with mineral sweetness throughout. Must get gaiwan ASAP, followed by a tiny yixing pot or two.
Update sipdown: this smells so delicious, leaves a fantastic taste in my mouth once swallowed, but the taste before that? A bit disappointing, it’s green and slightly astringent and just doesn’t deliver on the promise of the smell which is so complex and roasted. Ah well.
I did take a camel ride in the middle east once but I’m not sure I could tell you what their breath smelled like. This tea with its shitake mushroom and peat smell might come pretty close. I did a 30 second first steep. First steep is light and soupy with a hint of caviar at the end. 2nd infusion 45 seconds and much darker, thicker and soupier with a sharper aftertaste.
This is my first “sheng” or “green” pu erh and it’s very nice. Light and minty (due to extra herb) this tea tastes exactly like sticky rice. The color and mouthfeel reminds me of green tea but the taste is completely different, there is a lot more bite. First steep was very light green and the tuocha did not fall completely apart, second steep however the entire thing melted and the tea color is a light amber. The second steeping is much richer with a hint of basil almost.
I salvaged the tea leaves after I excitedly spilled them all over the kitchen counter. I couldn’t wait to try this tea!
First Steep: I’m honestly not tasting too much with this one. It’s a little bit floral, but very light. Hopefully the flavor improves with each infusion!
Second Steep: Grassy and slightly sweet. The floral notes linger on the tongue at the end of the sip.
Third Steep: Flavors are a bit bolder this time. Still sweet and vegetal.
Overall, I feel like I need a bit more time with this tea to get a good grip on what I’m tasting. I will rate next time I have another cup.