Imperial Tea CourtEdit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
UPDATE – 8/5/2016 – Determined that my steep times were WAY too long with this. Subsequent sessions are just as extended, but proceed from a quick wash, to a flash brew, to 10, 15, 20, and 30 second steeps…only gradually increasing the steep times into the minute+ range. The resulting brew is much more consistent, rounded, and pleasurable following this method, while still quite rich and even dark for the first several cups. Upping my rating a couple points as a consequence.
Recently discovered a small quantity of this tea carefully aging (read: abandoned) in the back of my cupboard where it has remained for somewhere between 7 and 10 years I think. As a “Hei Cha,” this is produced in a similar manner to raw pu-erh (fermented, but piled rather than pressed I suppose?) though I’m not familiar enough with either to speak to the similarities or differences in depth.
Placing a large quantity of leaves (which are nearly uniform in size and shape, but accompanied by what appear to be tiny, pale buds or stems?) into the ceramic strainer of my Korean-style strainer-cup I begin a long tasting session with near boiling water, finishing up with water at a full boil:
1st steep (3min): Aromas of damp stone, peat moss, well aged compost, and a dusty note that reminds me I forgot to do a 30 second wash. An abiding bitterness overwhelms the subtleties of flavor, so:
2nd steep (2min): Similar aromas, though a faint floral quality emerges as well. The flavor follows the nose closely, but adds in hints of seeds (watermelon, black sesame), peppercorn, and mowed/dried grasses. Lightly astringent, but smooth with an earthy and decidedly woody finish.
3rd steep (3 min): An additional sweetness emerges. The liquor also takes on a savory clarity, almost akin to a gelatin-filtered consommé.
4th steep (3 min 30sec): A bit lighter in color, the brew is still full flavored, though any rough edges have been smoothed out (though there is a faint herbal/root-like Chinese-medicinal quality that may not be to everyone’s taste) – this is probably the peak of the session.
5th steep (4 min), 6th steep (5min): Still in the sweet spot, these cups are nearly identical to the preceding, though they are perhaps more thirst-quenching in the finish.
7th steep (6min): The tea grows slightly paler and the flavor begins to drop off – this would still serve as a nice accompaniment to dim sum.
8th steep (8min): Continuing to fade, but gradually – if I’d started with shorter steep times, I could probably have extended this session beyond 3 hours if desired.
The appearance of the liquor is robust throughout – a clear, initially dark, rust color with amber highlights. The mouth-feel is appropriately thick while the finish is moderately drying. I can’t speak to the “energy” of the tea, but the effect of the caffeine is sufficiently present that I wouldn’t suggest drinking this in the evening.
While providing hours of evolving, meditative, energizing, hydrating enjoyment, this tea remains one-dimensional in the end. On the other hand, while not presently available from this vendor, I recall this was quite a value – and indeed, nearly a decade after I purchased this, I see Tea Spring stocks a similar Liu An for around $0.10/gram – recommend for the pu-erh drinker on a tight budget looking for a decent workaday cup.
I ordered a cup of this while I was at the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market in San Francisco. This tea was a wonderful green, I have nothing bad to say about it. It was flavorful and aromatic, giving way to that familiar vegetal scent and taste that green tea drinkers adore. It brewed a beautiful golden color, i’m not entirely sure what exactly is in the bag, but there was definitely a sencha flavor with it. Very smooth, very enjoyable, and highly recommended.
I got this in Imperial Tea shop in Ferry Bldg of San Francisco…don’t know the producer’s name. owner said it is mao jian type. The leaves are very green, slender, pretty, unlike typical brownish leaves. it has an aroma of refreshing grassy aroma. it tastes smooth, light, and refreshing…overall, quite light, after steeping twice, it tastes almost like water…So i guess low-caffeine. i feel very refreshed
I buy this once in a while as a treat, it’s a little spendy, but unique as a blend, and I love it for night time drinking. It has the tartness of hibiscus and the bright red hue for prosperity. It’s also sweet and without any caffeine it’s a calming cup for me in the evening.
Interesting. I would agree with the previous taster that this is a very ethereal tea; but I would contend that it is a rather flavorful one nonetheless. The tea over all had it a prevailing flavor of dried sour apples with teasing hints of floral notes, like the scent of far away orchids wafting on a summer breeze. A more practical description would be mild but pervasive sweetness with extremely mild astringency and light floral notes. As I brewed it the tea had a lighter-medium body. I steeped the tea six times, though it probably could have lasted a few more times; the only major change steeping to steeping was a slight reduction of floral notes each steeping. My steeping times were: 2m;2:30;3m;4m;5m;7m. I would highly recommend it as a light, but interesting tea.
This remains one of the most complete Chinese greens I’ve ever tasted. The dry leaf is richly sweet, almost chocolate-like. A first steep yields nutty umami from the wet leaf and a liquor that is extraordinarily sweet and fresh, with a lingering mouthfeel I can only describe as buttery. It’s like sipping springtime. Good for at least 5 steeps. Bravo, Imperial Tea.
I drank this one a couple of times in the last week, including once today, so I figured I should log it. I’ve kind of been meh on hot green teas of any kind lately, but this one is different. The base is nice, the rose is nice, they work well together. I should remember to drink this one more often.
I totally needed to adjust my countdown for my cupboard run-through, because I have skipped a few teas that are herbals for specific purposes (cold teas, woman teas), and I also skipped the matcha. So this tea should actually be #80 (and I edited my past notes to fit the numbering scheme).
I think this is in a particularly airtight tin because it smells so amazingly rosey still. And I am realizing that I have started a lot of these notes with variations on “this tea is still amazing.” Like I said before, 95% of my old teas are things I love and have hoarded. I think this is a little less sweet than it once was, or maybe I just overbrewed it slightly. I still love the rich rose and buttery dragonwell combo; I’m not huge on flavored greens these days, but florals seem to be an exception, especially when the base tea is as high quality as this one. Still amazed I happened across this one in a small shop in Berkeley, but very glad I did, as I haven’t seen hardly any high-quality rose dragonwells through other vendors.
I’ve been so bad about logging by teas! I haven’t even been all that busy. Ah well.
I had this one yesterday, and was of course reminded about how good it is. Most flavored greens have been sort of meh for me lately, but this one breaks the mold in two ways: it’s scented, and it’s a dragonwell. I’ve always loved dragonwells more than most other types of green tea, especially the senchas usually used for flavored green tea bases. This is a lovely, buttery dragonwell that is high quality in its own right. Secondly, I still love my floral scented green teas, such as this one. Really it is like being in a rose garden. So happy I happened across this one in Berkeley a year ago!
I have not made this tea since I came home with it from California, but today I wanted to try it. I mean, I just decided that I don’t like flavored greens all that much anymore, but this is different. For one, purely scented florals don’t count, really, as they are not “flavored” like so many fruity green teas are flavored. Secondly, I know this isn’t some crappy sencha base but rather a delicious dragonwell.
And delicious it was. This tea is like a revelation after drinking scores of mediocre flavored greens. The rose is so lovely, and almost fruity. I’ve never had rose go fruity on me before, but it’s funny because cteresa just commented this morning that rose can be fruity for her. Interesting! This is one of those teas I want to have forever and ever because it’s just so so good.
For my first real night in Berkeley I walked up to the Imperial Tea Court for tea and dinner. I had scoped out their tea menu before and new I wanted to order the gaiwan service of this tea. I also couldn’t resist ordering the Pork Dragonwell Dumplings… with dragonwell tea in them! Unfortunately the serene ambiance of the place when I came in has been ruined by a whiney little kid sitting at the table next to me.
When the waiter brought out my tea he brought out a gaiwan and pot of hot water, but no pitcher or other cup. He asked me if I had used this type of teacup before and I of course said yes, but I didn’t mention that I usually had another cup! I guess it was because this tea is a dragon well, but then I would have expected a tall glass for steeping I guess. Then I saw someone else actually sipping the tea through a crack using the lid to block leaves! Not sure if that is an actual “thing” or not but it worked.
Anyway, I did my best to blow aside the leaves and take sips, and the first steep of this tea was impossibly sweet and fragrant, like rose candy. This is a beautiful, beautiful rose tea. The dragonwell was light and buttery, and all around delicious. I knew I had to take some home with me, and that I did.
Also the dragonwell dumplings were delicious! Mostly porky, but with a burst of tea flavor.
I made this in my to go mug this morning before I took a philosophy midterm – I hardly felt like I tasted it until it was cold. Apparently my mind was actually focused on something besides tea.
As a lukewarm/cold tea, this was sweet with strong florals. Very honey flavored!
In one of life’s great strokes of irony, yesterday morning I tried to get a free flu shot, but the clinic ran out by the time I got out of class. Today I am definitely coming down with the flu.
I’m compensating for this by eating large quantities of dark chocolate and drinking delicious, floral-chocolate oolong. Is there anything better than a good oolong or green tea?
A couple nights ago my partner was feeling sickly, and to help him cheer up I said I loved him more than books. He smiled. Than I said I loved him more than tea. He smirked and said, “don’t go too far now”.
At any rate: oolong does a body (and mind) good, and even in my stuffy sicky state this still tastes fantastic.