Imperial Tea Court
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Recent Tasting Notes
I forgot to log the first steep, so this is for the second steep.
I have never tried a bi luo chun green before, and the flavor is fascinating. It’s not like any green I’ve tried before. There’s a bit of the pan-roasted flavor I expect in a chinese green, along with a lot of fruit that my (unsophisticated) palate can’t quite place. In addition it has a buttery/oil flavor.
I’m fascinated by this flavor. I haven’t decided if I love it yet, but it’s definitely complex.
Wow, so delicious. I was lucky to get some fantastic teas for my birthday, and this was one of them. The aroma from this tea, both in the bag and after steeping, is rich, floral, and sweet. It has that incredible mouth feel where it seems like your mouth is watering after you take a sip. I am so excited to do a 2nd steeping on this tea and I’m positive I’ll be very sad when I run out!
I’m really surprised there wasn’t a Long Jing entry for Imperial Tea Court on Steepster. Every year ITC features around five different incarnations of Long Jing plus LJ style tea from elsewhere sometimes from the same cultivars and they are frequently the first to bring fresh examples of this tea into California after the early harvest. Definitely doesn’t mean it’s the best, but they have good, fresh offerings for Long Jing lovers… I suppose the price tag some of them carry is enough to keep people off buying much of ‘em. This year’s early harvest produced a very small quantity and not really as good of quality as the prices would suggest (way better than last year, I feel, but nothing compared to a couple years ago). ITC featured two early harvest Long Jings this spring – the Imperial and Lotus Heart. The latter was only sold online for a brief period and wasn’t available at their physical locations unless you were part of a pre-order. I bought this alongside all the Ming Qian Long Jings offered by Red Blossom as well so it was better for my bank account that it wasn’t available anyway.
Last night I did a tasting for a few friends centered wholly upon this group of teas. Six fresh examples, six from last year stored well (eh, maybe not so well in the case of the stuff I got from Vital Leaf, which had some funky aromatics going on when I picked it up from them), three from two years ago that I’d intentionally exposed to poor conditions, and then this one featured in the fresh lineup as well as brewed five other ways side-by-side.
I prepared this as the representative of one of the more traditional versions in the tasting, so it got the special spectrum treatment even though it wasn’t the favorite of the night nor the one I had very much of.
Here’s the parameter run-down:
1) 3g/100mL for 2min in 80C
2) 1.5g/100mL for 3min in 70C
3) 1.5g/100mL for 4min in 70C
4) 1.5g/100mL for 1min in 85C
5) 1.5g/100mL for 2min in 85C
6) 0.44g/235mL for 7min in 65C
The favored order between the four of us tasting all wound up being the same or just off by one. 2-1-4-6-3-5, though #1 was most distinct in separable distinctive pleasant character and #6 drew the most surprise and acclaim.
Across the board, this had a moderate body and long-lasting crisp and sweet aftertaste with a base flavor similar to stir-fried snow peas. The really dilute preparation had a faint level of intensity but blew everything else away in terms of sweetness, which was really deceptive when the color of the water really hadn’t changed at all. The highest concentration was my personal favorite due to range of character exhibiting many floral hints and varied nut flavors/aromas but #6 is the one I wound up downing the whole remainder of the cup once everyone was done tasting.
This year’s slightly later spring harvest Long Jings are tasting a tad better to me then the Ming Qian counterparts, but they are still pretty darned good and this one, in particular, is highly versatile though light overall.
Held a tasting for some friends last night centered upon Long Jing, and this was one of the more interesting entries to the mix. I bought this right when it arrived in April 2010 and had it as part of a public tasting of fresh green teas then took what little remained and set it aside with the express intent of featuring the effects of staling in a later tasting. I left this really nice tea in an open pouch and moved it around over the course of the past two years to purposely expose it to air, humidity, heat (and hot/cold flux), and light. In the end I think I may have done a little too good of a job since I highlighted staling but prevented the development of off flavors that arise when stored with access to the aforementioned conditions in a sealed container… Made for a more pleasant experience during the tasting, I guess.
This still tasted surprisingly good, if incredibly lacking in flavor. Pretty flat, but the tactile impression remained true to well stored past-crop tea and the taste elements were not diminished tremendously. Light, moderate bodied water with a hint of nutty sweetness. Brewed at 1.5g per 100mL for 2min using 75C water was a great contrast to fresh crop brewed at really dilute conditions for a long period. Both came out at the same relative intensity but this felt as though the life had been sucked out of it whilst the fresh was wondrously sweet and crisp.
I think it’s a great testimony to a tea when you can intentionally try to screw it up yet it still tastes good. Definitely wouldn’t want to pay full price for any kind of past-crop green, but I’d say this would be almost worth it in the first 1.5 years if properly stored.
Well, that was freakin’ awesome.
I’m a major fan of Jasmine Silver Needle tea since trying Adagio’s a while back and Imperial Tea Court’s version is an epic contender. It’s a really floral and tasty aroma, and I made it in my brand new gaiwan, also from Imperial Tea Court in San Francisco.
The directions suggested re-steeping for longer periods of time and I tried that, it worked pretty well. But the first 2 steepings were definitely strongest and most flavourful – it lasted maybe for only 4 or 5 steepings (still, not bad!) I used only about 3/4 of a teaspoon for a 4oz gaiwan, so maybe I should use a little more next time. Anyway, this was amazing and tasty and epic and I loved it. Well done!
This was a lot tastier and less astringent than Lupicia’s Jasmine Special Grade, though I think that one is actually a green jasmine. This was very well balanced, great subtle undertones but strong floral, jasmine punch at the beginning. Just awesome.
I am going back to this one again this morning since I haven’t had it for a while. It isn’t nearly as good as the Mengku gifting raw I had yesterday, but is still a nice raw pu-erh. It seems a bit more mellow & sweet than I remember it. I don’t know if the tea has changed that much in a few months, more likely I have changed. hee hee!
4g/100mL 85C water with three back-to-back 30sec infusions following a rinse. More oomph with a 2min infusion, but it doesn’t really improve it to brew it longer in this case.
Very mild – lost most of the high florals it once had but this has always been a soft Wuyi Yancha anyway. Very difficult to distinguish discrete aromatic or flavor characteristics but tasty nonetheless. There’s a wet cinnamon characteristic in the dry fragrance, wet leaf aroma, and in the flavor but absent in the liquor aroma.
Round mouthfeel – good body and a light mouthwatering effect. Barely a touch of astringency… reminiscent of Huang Guanyin or a medium roast & oxidation Tie Guanyin or Rou Gui, but minus any kind of bite in terms of either acidity or astringency – carries that light hay-clay-milk-cassia-pluot mixture of flavors but in a far smoother package. The hay-like character is actually more akin to the smell of an untouched kiwi in the wet leaf and like muted yellow plum in the flavor.
This is the last of this tea that I had laying about and, though it is good, it never much prompted me to write about it (largely since it’s hard to pick flavors apart in it). It’s really lost a goodly amount of the high notes it used to present in the dry fragrance but that’s all it’s really lost since 2009. This is surprising, considering how mild it’s always been, but I guess it follows suit with most Wuyi Yancha in steadfastness over time.
Easy drinking fare, just not terribly exciting. I’m leaving the rating where it was ‘cause I shouldn’t ding a tea for sitting around for three years.
Honestly, I’m just reviewing this tonight because this happened to be the first oolong from Imperial Tea Court I could find whilst rummaging through my bin of miscellaneous 10g and less bags and tins. Okay, I passed a few up until I hit a cliff oolong ‘cause I was in the mood… ITC specifically not because I’m adamant to plug the company (only really feel that way for Tillerman Tea, since it’s my favorite alongside Jing Teashop), but for the occasion of an upcoming event.
The San Francisco International Tea Festival is this upcoming Saturday at Imperial Tea Court’s Ferry Building location. Dunno how the heck an event is to be squeezed into that relatively small space, but hey – it’s a NorCal festival about tea so I just need to shut up and be happy. Here’s a cozy little link for all to share and gush over:
I bought two tickets but will probably be going alone, so if anyone happens to read this and is in the region and interested, I’ve got an extra seat reserved for the taking. Anyone around San Francisco and want to go?
Again I am backlogging – This was a very nice pu-erh tea I had at lunch today. I believe this is the one that was 30 years old and I drank out of the gaiwan. Very dark, smoky rich flavor. I think I am getting tea fatigue right now. I like puerhs but I do not think they are worth the overly inflated price or all the hype. Perhaps I will change my mind someday. This was a great tea with our lunch of vegetarian spicy noodles and buns.
Definitely this was an impulse buy at the Imperial Tea Court where I went to have some superior yellow gold oolong but that’s another story…
Here’s my first green pu-erh tea cake! Am I fully addicted to tea? I almost got a brick too but decided to save that for next time.
I steeped this in boiled water for around 3 minutes but I also noticed the website says 180F so I’ll need to modify this in the future.
I don’t know if I can really describe this with my regular words. It smells a tiny bit like an orange pekoe which has me kind of intrigued. It’s a bit sandalwoody and a bit fruity with a hint of smoke but not overwhelmingly so. I am picking up a lot of tannins here. My tastebuds are tingling with excitement and curiosity. It has a slight effervescent quality. It is definitely a green tea but not like any other green tea I’ve tried before. Mysterious.
I did manage to steep this 3 times before I gave up and decided I’ve had too much caffeine for the day already. By the third infusion it is definitely getting a lot lighter but I suspect if I had used less hot water from the very beginning this would not be the case.
I believe this is only my second green pu-erh, they are growing on me a bit. They are a little gentler than the black pu-erhs but not as sweet and light as the white ones. I did notice ITC had a 2010 green cake for $20 so I am wondering if I should go back and purchase that one and lock it in a vault for 10 years. :)
I am definitely happy with this purchase and it will be great to see how this evolves, I expect it will get better with a few years of aging but I like it pretty well now… I wonder if I can wait long enough for it to age before I drink it all!
Drinking this in the “Wu Yi” style with a bunch of tea leaves stacked up (3 tbsp dry!) in a gaiwan makes a smooth, somewhat herbal, very slightly fruity, and malty cup that gives way to an overall sweetness. Unlike some Taiwanese oolongs, this is more of a relaxing tea.