Imperial Tea CourtEdit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
Refreshed for an 8th-10th infusion.
Still has a great mix of aromas that continue to shift around. Smell of a warm willow-covered sandbar on a riverbend. Redwood rich spices… clove, cinnamon, and bits of roasted ginger and tannin. Earthenware fresh from a kiln. Bouquet of flowers. I’m getting definitive Cymbidium Orchid aroma. Astringency plays off mild acidity nicely – crisp and mouthwatering in the back lower corners of the mouth sort of near where my tonsils once were. Makes my breath sweet like fresh toasted seeded crackerbread. Bit of black plum pit juicy tang in aftertaste.
7g with 175ml water in a zi ni rong tian yixing teapot dedicated to Phoenix Oolongs. Single rinse with immediate pour – 10 second contact time. Multiple infusions in rapid succession using 85 degree C water. Takes 10 seconds to pour from the pot, so settled infusion is only 0-10 seconds for first seven brews.
Leaves twisted and fairly intact, though they don’t look too handsome. Toasty and floral dry fragrance mostly unnoticeable until placed in warmed pot. Wet aroma is like walking into a greenhouse. Not the heady meshed, buttery florals of Taiwan oolongs – here they are distinct, crisp flower and greenery aromatics of such a multitude that it is really difficult to parse them out. Definitely orchid, carnation, and lily. Also some hyacinth, tulip, African violet, and just a touch of star jasmine. Greenery aromatics of wetland grasses, oak trees, ferns, and duckweed. There’s also a good amount of wet lava rock, clove, allspice, and yellow peach in there. Base aroma is toasty and sweet with a warm adobe brick mineral accent. Liquor carries more of the toasty notes than florals. Color is clear light yellow.
First three infusions are smooth, crisp, clean, and lean toward toasty dried grasses and hops aromas and flavors. The florals are there, but are sort of a hushed persistent chatter in the background. For the fourth infusion the florals let go of their restraint and come forward full force. Carnation is the most present in the cup, but lily takes over for the nose and afteraroma. Roasted chestnut, toasted poppyseed and crispy noodle characteristics come through in the sixth and seventh infusions and warm cut willow and cattail herbaceous notes mix with gentle spiciness similar to grains of paradise mixed with paprika and roasted chipotle. Bewitching balance of sweet, spice, herbal-bitter, mineral, and nectarine-astringent. Aroma is shifting and complex but nose, afteraroma and sweet aftertaste more heady than the draught. By the seventh infusion I’m really reminded of the smell and taste of the air while hiking through freshwater marsh on a mildly warm late summer evening.
Tea has much more to offer, but I’m being lulled to sleep by its comforting melody of aromas and flavors. I’ll have to refresh these leaves in a couple hours.
Yum yum, tasty toasty aromatic inviting smooth sensualness…
4g with 150ml water in a young zi ni rong tian yixing teapot used for WuYi YanCha.
This is the last of my supply of this tea, so I used slightly lower strength and longer steep despite relatively large percentage of broken leaves. Dry fragrance like lightly caramelized sugar or muted cotton candy with almond and faint apricot. Wet aroma more spicy with clove and wet rock notes. Liquor pale yellow (like many green teas) and crystal clear.
Slick mouthfeel with moderate body and back of throat light astringency that climbs slowly to the tip of the tongue similar to mineral water effect. Mouthwatering and light hard candy sweetness. Mild but incredibly pervasive toasty note penetrates with warming effect throughout chest cavity and comes out with sweet exhalation. Candied walnuts, white peach and white nectarine. I can’t get over the way it makes my tongue taste sweet – it’s so long lasting for such a mellow infusion. Fleeting afteraroma of sedges and iris come in and out for over ten minutes after drinking.
When prepared stronger (7g with 140ml at 90 degrees C), the mineral note comes across as a gravel-like taste and aggressive back-of-throat astringency that just kind of sits back there like you swallowed something rough. More toasted oak and peach pit flavor supersedes the candy tastes but still sweet.
I recently wrote a review at my tea blog (http://teawritings.com/?p=127) of “teas that taste like tea.” This one came in a close second to the Assam Gold Rain from Teavana, which turned out to be my favorite.
I wrote “Delightfully delicious! A truly luxurious taste of TEA. The fuzzy golden tips have been rolled into rings that are pleasing to the eye, but as they unfurl in the cup the scent makes you think of everything that is soothing and wonderful about a hot cup of tea. The flavor is almost malty in its mellowness.”
This is a beautiful tea made for visual effect as the flower “blooms” in the water, hence you should make it in a glass pot. It took a long time steeping though for the flavor to become apparent. The flavor is mild, though, and even leaving the flower/leaves in the pot for 20 minutes it never turned bitter. The lychee aspect is mild and the green tea like a gentle artichoke/vegetal taste. Very very mild. I photographed the whole process of the flower opening if you want to see how long it took for the tea to brew: http://teawritings.com/?p=120
Monkey-Picked Tie Guan Yin has been Imperial Tea Court’s signature tea ever since we opened our doors 16 years ago. The tea that grew wild in the Wuyi Mountains was once so rare and difficult to harvest that it was said only monkeys could gather leaves from such inaccessible mountainsides. Therefore, South China tea merchants traditionally called their best tea “monkey-picked” to signify its rarity. A proprietor’s monkey-picked tea is like his calling card, representing his tea philosophy. No traditional tea merchant calls a tea monkey-picked lightly! Our Monkey-Picked Tie Guan Yin is nothing less than exceptional. Processed with traditional techniques, this tie guan yin was oxidized “three hong (red) to seven lu (green),” in other words, until 30% of the leaf is reddish brown and 70% remains green. We perform the final firing here in the US to ensure maximum aromatics and flavor. Fans of this great tea will be delighted with this year’s improved version, which features larger leaves packed with flavor, rich viscosity, a great balance of florals and firing, glossy bao guang (“treasured luster” – a sign of high leaf quality) and a rare and highly desireable reddish-orange liquor
As always with the delicate greens I try at work, this may be a touch too hot, but hey, what can you do? It still came out tasty, so I think it is OK.
The dry leaves smell deeply vegetal, like fresh cut grass. I want to eat them straight! There are a few stems. Wet, they unfold flat and loose some of that grass smell, instead sending out subtle edamame or asparagus scents. The liquor is a light yellow-green, leaning towards golden-yellow, and the cup send out just the barest hint of the asparagus scent.
The taste is strong considering the subtlety of the aromas. The thick, grassy flavors kick in early, giving way in the mid-tones to a more vegetal flavor. I can’t pinpoint what exactly, but suffice to say it is undoubtedly green. No bitterness, no acidity, but neither is it sweet. The aftertaste is somewhat edamame-ish, and very rich. It is a satisfying, savory treat. I would recommend this tea for all ranges of tea lovers, but especially those new to green tea.
This tea is surprisingly light flavored, in my book. I’ve brewed it over a range of suggested times, amounts, and temperatures now and have generally produced very ethereal and flighty tea. It’s got some extremely delicate juicy notes, but never gets particularly rich. The buds look intensely fresh, green and high quality. Bud-only teas from Imperial Court appear to be of the highest quality and freshness. I just wished they’d throw off a slightly more flavorful tea. This tea also seems to give out a touch early. Light on the aroma.
This has got to be the lightest tea I’ve ever drunk. The first time I brewed it, following the guidelines for the tea, I could hardly believe I was drinking tea. I get very little floral quality and just a nip of pungent grassy character. Turning up the heat and increasing the time added depth, but it also added astringency. I’m not sure I’ll be pursuing too many more yellow teas. The post-steeping buds were very beautiful and fresh-looking.