Imperial Tea Court

Recent Tasting Notes

97

5th steep – so bizarre that I still can’t decide if I love it. My partner, on the other hand, can’t get enough.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 45 sec

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97

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.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 15 sec

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99

I have a confession: I totally dumped out my cup of Rishi pu’erh and made a cup of this instead. Oh oolong, how I love thee.
Shall I compare tea to a summer’s day?
It art more tasty and more delicate
Rough steeps do shake the darling buds of bay
And a cup’s lease hath all too short a fate

(thanks Bill Shakespeare)

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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99

Yummmmm.

Edit: I should add that I am writing a paper on Freud and this tea is the only thing keeping me sane.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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99

General note to describe the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th steeping: still an amazing oolong. The 2nd steeping made my partner say “I didn’t know tea could taste this good”.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 30 sec

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99

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!

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 0 sec
Helena

happy birthday!

Claire

Thank you! :)

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74

The lychee scent and flavor really shines through in this tea without being overpowering. It has a nice delicate sweetness. Yum!

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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72

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.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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68

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.

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 2 min, 0 sec
Thomas Smith

For the record – the Shi Feng Long Jing from Tea Spring treated to the same aggressive storage treatment resulted in an infusion that tasted like play dough.

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90

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.

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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58

This year i am going to try more raw puerhs, i like this one its very nice not very bitter like i was expecting, some raw pus ive had have been bitter to me, i rinsed for 10 secs let rest for 3 mins and steeped for 30 secs, thank you Amy for this one :)

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

glad you liked it ok, I hope you like the tuo cha as well :)

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92

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.

Spoonvonstup

I feel like pu’ers are always best when you can sit down and drink them with friends. They become so excited when you share the experience directly with others.

TeaBrat

I sometimes drink them with my boyfriend but he would rather have earl grey. :-)

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94

Backlogging – we had this at a tea tasting at lunch today and both loved it. Very rich, smooth, malty and sweet. Sadly I cannot really write descriptively about teas hours after I have had them. I do know I was tempted to buy it.

ScottTeaMan

I’ll have to try some samples from ITC. Also, last time I checked, they had some really cool Yixing Gaiwans. They may be easier to season than Yixing teapots. so, how do you like your “little elf” teapot? :))

TeaBrat

I like it – for oolong tea only

Jim Marks

The more tea I drink, the more Yunnan golds are becoming my benchmark for all “darker” teas (black, oolong, &c.)

Hopefully, over time I can invest in a suite of yixing and will eventually have one just for Yunnans which I am sure will improve them all the more.

Is a yixing gaiwan really all that much smaller than a 100-150ml tea pot?

TeaBrat

Jim, they are probably about the same size. I would like to go back and get some of that yunnan gold. It was quite delicious I must say. Definitely not cheap though at $14/oz

ScottTeaMan

Imperial Tea Court Ming Gaiwans are 8 oz, 236.59 ml- the gaiwans I was referring to. They can be that small. The biggest gaiwan I’ve seen is a porecelain 10 oz-approx 300ml.

Jim Marks

So that’s actually bigger than a lot of yixing tea pots. Were you suggesting they’d be easier to season simply because their geometry is simpler? I’m looking to start investing in yixing “soon” and was thinking of also getting at least one gaiwan, but this may simplify everything.

ScottTeaMan

Yes, the Gaiwans are smaller, generally speaking. I haven’t seen one beyond 12 oz. Yixings can be small too, but I have seen Yixing teapots up to 25 oz.. Personally, I like my Yixing Gaiwans at 7-8 oz (207-237ml)-and my teapots between 6-10 oz ( 177-296ml).

ScottTeaMan

Jim, I didnt see you in my message compose section, so here is some info I discussed with Amy, about Yixing seasoning of teapots & gaiwans.:

SEASONING YIXING TEAPOTS
Inbox
Sent
ScottTeaMan wrote 5 days ago
AMY:

Here are a couple links on seasoning your Yixing teapot:

http://www.gongfugirl.com/seasoning-a-new-yixing-teapot/

http://teamasters.blogspot.com/2005/05/various-techniques-to-prepare-new.html

Hope this helps. Enjoy! :))

Scott

delete
Amy oh wrote 5 days ago

hmm. that is interesting. did you use the complicated method or the simple method?
ScottTeaMan wrote 5 days ago

I believe I used the simple method. I personally think You can clean the pot successfully w/out boiling water….say just below boiling:

(from website below)

Teamaster Teaparker does not recommend the other methods where you boil the teapot. He thinks this may clog the pores in the clay. But such pores are essential to the ‘breathing’ function of the teapot. Without the pores, you may just as well drink from a glazed gaiwan/gaibei.

I was always leary of boiling the pot, I mean come on….FOR 30 MINUTES!! YIKES!!

Personally I didn’t do that. The Key is to sterilize and wash away impuruties. I didn’t boil my Yixing. You can do what you want, I’m just saying, I didn’t do that.

Jim, I hope this helps! :))

ScottTeaMan

I just didn’t want to risk damaging my teapot. I’ve read you are suppossed to fill Yixing 2/3 full with tea, but I think it is too much. That’s just my preference. I also don’t have all the equipment for true Gongfu tea preperation. They have plenty of vids on YOUTUBE if you’re interested. :))

I hope this helps.

Jim Marks

Yeah, I know how seasoning works. Which, since it involves 100% sinking the pot into tea, I wasn’t clear why one object would be easier/harder than another to season. Obviously, the pot continues to season over time, and perhaps the intricate shape of a pot poses challenges not found in a gaiwan. The question really had nothing to do with how seasoning works, which I understand, but was more about clarification as to why seasoning object A would be easier/harder than object B. Not something to get into on someone else’s tea note and this has already gone way too far.

TeaBrat

yeah, get a room people!!!

ScottTeaMan

I just meant typically smaller gaiwans are a little easier to handle, and thus seasoning may be easier. The seasoning info was only meant to help you, and I should’ve PM you, but your name wasn’t on my list.

Sorry Amy.

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89

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!

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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89

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!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec
Charles Thomas Draper

Mysterious. Very

Spoonvonstup

By green pu’er cake does it mean sheng / raw / uncooked?

TeaBrat

Yes – it seems like the brown ones are all shu but I could be wrong

Spoonvonstup

Ok, that makes sense. Brown is usually shu, but all shengs will eventually turn brown over a few decades or so. Shu was originally “invented” in order to mimic what happens to traditionally aged shengs, without having to wait so long. As a result, many folks find shu pu’er easier to drink, especially since sheng (like this one, it seems) are often fill of astringency for the first four to ten years.
Glad to see you getting into all this! It’s a slippery slope, my friend. I mean, just look at what’s happening to Mr. Geoffrey and Dan Congs! Hope you can fid some bricks to put away. It’s fun to just try them and check up once or twice a year to see how they’re changing.

For reference, the Artisan Revival you tried a little while ago is also a sheng / green pu’er- it’s just not so green anymore. The Xingyangs, on the other hand, were shu.

TeaBrat

Thanks for the info – yeah it does seem like kind of a slippery slope…. expensive tea! lol

Charles Thomas Draper

Well said Spoon….

ScottTeaMan

When you have a tea vault to store tea, you know you’re addicted! I didn’t say it was a problem now did I? :))

ScottTeaMan

I love Dan Congs….now there’s a tea…well I probably wouldn’t sell an organ…but one really never knows for sure! :))

TeaBrat

I don’t know if I’ve ever had a Dan Cong, I see Seven Cups has some at 25% off for their end of year sale. Might need to get one. :P

ScottTeaMan

I’ll send you some. I have some new …in a box…in the basement….that will be another tea I send you, along with brewing instructions. Now I’m storing tea in the basement.

ScottTeaMan

Amy, do u want me to send you some?

ScottTeaMan

My first Dan Cong came from Tea Spring. Totally deicious…they have some really great teas and reasonable shipping.

http://www.teaspring.com/Feng-Huang-Dan-Cong.asp

The DC I have now is from Upton Tea, but it’s sold out now.

ScottTeaMan

You are so lucky …ITC is right in SF…….LUCKY DOG!

TeaBrat

There are a lot of nice places in San Francisco For Chinese tea…

Thomas Edward(Toad)

Amy,Thank you for sending me some of this one, i liked it :)

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75

Another cup today, using a 6oz thin-walled porcelain gaiwan I drink about 2 liters. 1 1/2 tbsp of rolled leaves will fill the entire cup! Otherwise, the qi of the oolong is subtle, probably because the tea is of a cheaper quality.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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75

A tea that I have had much experience with. 2tbsp, brewed in gaiwan, I gave away the first steep to a coworker. Decant into a separate gaiwan for cooling and consumption. A nice tea that unfolds into a somewhat sweet liquor that is somewhat fruity.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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75

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.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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60

Mango black and Real Housewives NY. Nice way to end the day after checking my finances…..

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60

Oh my the fragrance is intoxicating! As good as, or better than, Mango Tango.

Oh hot hot hot! Hot! And… bitter? No, strange first sip. It tastes fine. Nothing really special about it though

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96

Sweet before sweetening. Not tart not bitter. It’s just right! I’m sitting here sipping this piping hot cuppa and watching phoebe and wonderland. It makes me want to dress up in a red velvet jacket and a paisley scarf with black skinny jeans and knee high boots.

Do I really need to explain myself?

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