Life In Teacup
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Recent Tasting Notes
So as you probably know from my endless rambling, I am going to Pennsylvania in a little less than a month. Me being me, I have started packing, or at the very least planning what I am bringing, three months is a long time so I have to make sure I have enough tea and crafty stuff. I decided to ship my origami paper rather than try to tote it along during travel, the box weighed a whopping 17.6 lbs, that is a lot of paper! The real problem will be tea, I am pretty sure I am going to just fill my duffel bag full of the stuff, because I drink a ton of tea.
Today’s tea comes from the high mountains of Taiwan by way of Life in Teacup! Taiwan Cui Yu Green Jade High Mountain Oolong is a modern style green oolong from Nantou and was harvested in the winter of 2013. Since this is a nice shiny green oolong the color of jade and spring time, I decided to bring out my yixing teapot seasoned for green oolongs (yes I have three different kinds of oolong yixing teapots, I am silly like that) since I have not given it much love lately. I find myself craving green oolongs in the late winter and early spring, they match my desire for green things since that time of year where I currently live is rather drab and brown. The aroma of the tightly curled leaves is sweet and green, a mixture of green stems, orchids, and yeasty fresh baking bread. As I pull the leaves away from my nose I also get a hint of spicebush and cane sugar.
The steeped leaves smell like a bouquet of spring flowers, with strong notes of honeysuckle, hyacinth, and orchid. There are also notes of fresh stems and a touch of freshly baking bread. The liquid once it is out of my teapot is very sweet, notes of cane sugar, yeasty sweet bread, honeysuckles, and orchids waft out of my cup, it smells delicious!
For the first light steeping my mouth is greeted with a very delicate taste and a buttery mouthfeel. There are notes of fresh green stems, butter, and deliciously sweet flower nectar, it reminds me of eating honeysuckle nectar while still tasting the plant it came from.
No surprises, but I am going in for a second steeping! The aroma is even more floral, reaching headiness in its level of floral. There are still notes of green stems and baking bread, but those are faint in comparison. The taste is still fairly mild, buttery mouthfeel mixed with green notes that border on vegetal. The mid to end taste of the tea is floral and sweet with a slightly mineral note at the finish. It is very soothing.
For the third steep the aroma is very floral, notes of hyacinth and honeysuckle with a hint of stems, it is much milder than before. The taste starts off creamy, almost buttery with a hint of stems, this transitions to gentle floral sweetness and a touch of fresh vegetation. This tea is very much so what you expect when you drink a green oolong, nothing stood out as fantastic, but it was still quite delicious.
I drank this during my break at work this morning. Used hot water from the coffee machine and steeped about a minute-a minute and a half. It was sweet, with lots of honey notes, maybe some sweet potato, a light malt, and a touch of caramel. Went well with my lunch, which was chicken curry and rice with some garbanzo bean stew. Definitely one I’ll look into repurchasing when the store opens back up.
So, I work at a hospital and they do this coding system for the nutrional value of the foods: green is safe foods, yellow are foods to eat only sometimes, and reds are danger foods that you should try to avoid. But what makes no sense to me, is that the chicken curry and the tofu curry, as well as things like eggs, are all red foods. But white bread, plain bagels, and the rice are all green foods? Really sounds wrong to me.
Oh man, gaming night last night was awesome, but when is it not? Ben got the rule book for Dystopian Wars, an awesome 10mm miniature game that we are picking up along side Dropzone Commander. We are still going to play DZC, but the local community is pretty small and waiting for our units to arrive from the distributor in England is a giant pain…seriously, the local Shaltari player has been waiting two months for his units. Dystopian Wars is huge here, so we will be able to actually play it, yours truly will be picking up Indian Raj with Britania support while I pretend to be Sir Richard Burton.
Today’s tea of choice is Life in Teacup’s 1500m (4500 ft.) Frosty Spring Yunnan Roast Green, arbor tree, First Day Harvest as you can tell from the very descriptive name, this green tea is harvested on March 9th 2014, I am assuming it is still frosty in the evenings there since the name has me thinking that. The aroma of this Yunnan green tea is a blend of toasted and fresh green, there are notes of pepper, toasted sesame seeds, green stems, fresh okra, and a tiny hint of kale. I have noticed that a few of the teas I have sniffed recently have the note of okra, which I find awesome, what with being Southern and eating a ton of okra as a kid.
Once I give the leaves a nice little steeping in the gaiwan the leaves have the aroma of spinach, okra (more cooked than fresh off the stem this time) lima beans and a touch of toast, these leaves smell like my favorite vegetables. The liquid has a mild mixture of sharply vegetal and gently sweet toastiness.
The first steep starts out deliciously savory with notes of sauteed mushrooms bordering on smokiness. This transitions to toasted sesame, giving a bit of sweetness to the steep, there are also hints of okra and a finish of green beans. The mouth feel is quite smooth and this tea is overall rather rich on its first steeping, I really enjoy when green teas have a sauteed mushroom ‘meatiness’ to them.
For the second steeping the aroma is a mix of toasted sesame and kale, specifically cooked kale rather than fresh, meaning some of the edge is taken off of it. This time around the taste does not have its ‘meatiness’ to it, the tea starts out with a touch of toast and cooked okra and then finishes with mild green beans and a touch of pepper. It was especially mild this steep which was a bit of a surprise after such a robust start.
Sil is Here!!!
We’re having tea! Of course we are!
This is a sample of 2 different versions of the same tea, which I got from Life in Teacup.
One is dry stored & the other is wet stored. We’re drinking them side by side. I have the dry stored in my mixing & the wet stored in an earthen gaiwan. Each tea has it’s own pitcher that holds 2 steeps, so we’re doing 2 steeps of each tea in each round, combining those 2 steeps in their respective pitchers, & sipping them side by side. Is that too complicated?
I’m not gonna be overly eloquent.
The dry stored version is my preference of the 2, at least initially. It has a bit of a metallic sensation on the end of the tongue at first, which I feel later translated into more of a camphor quality. The wet stored initially had the taste & aroma of a root cellar, & cedar. And dirt.
We’re on the 3rd round. (which is technically the 5 & 6 round of each).
Now the dry is becoming sweeter, the wet has a very strong tongue tingle.
Anything I say from henceforth might sound like utter nonsense, because I’ve got a hell of a tea buzz going on now!
Terri and I are drinking these two teas together to compare the difference between the same tea wet stored and dry stored.
this is so not going to be technical and all purty like because let’s be honest, we’re hanging out in terri’s office, drinking tea together and chatting. Who wants to waste time focusing on finding the right words to describe the tea..it’s about the TIME TOGETHER!!!!!!
Dry store – initial stuff, sort of a typical puerh…nothing exception here, but it’s not bad.
Wet Store – smells like….“old” it very much tastes the way that old castles smell like in europe when you go underground with that musty, earthy sort of smell. it tastes and smells like that.
round two (3/4)
edge has come off of the wet storage, but it’s still not what i want it to be. better though…better
Dry storage – seems a little smoother…the tea is a little less distinct? ie. it’s sort of easing back and the flavours are becoming a little more muted.
dry – there’ a sweetness developing here, though the tea is still mild for me…
wet storage – this is growing on me. I think i’d probably really like this at about the 8th steep, but im’ not sure i want to have it and get to that point lol
So I haven’t been on much because I started a new job this week, and it’s kicking my butt and robbing me off my time. I leave the house at 6am and get home at 4pm, and by that point, I’m exhausted, and pass out. Next thing I know it’s 7-8-9 o’clock and I’m wide awake. I usually don’t fall back asleep until after 2am, just to wake up in 3 hours and do it again.
On top of that, this Friday is my busiest school day of the semester. I have 3 exams, 2 quizzes, and 3 homework assignment all due, and I haven’t started on any of it because I’m so tired.
So I woke up at 9:30 from a 4.5 hour nap, and wanted a relaxing tea to encourage my body to go back to sleep at a reasonable time. So even though I’ve been off of green tea lately, I reached for this.
The dry leaf smells sweet and vegetal, like spinach, and a bit nutty. The wet leaf also has a bit of an asparagus smell.
The taste is light and nutty and sweet slightly vegetal. Green tea is one of the only teas I don’t sweeten. And this is no exception, delicious, delicate and soothing with no need to add anything.
I don’t know if I’m finally wanting green teas again, but this really hit the spot tonight. If only I didn’t have to be up in 4 hours.
Day two without a working tea kettle, still mostly sane…how did I function without one? Only a few more days until things go back to normal, though watching Espeon’s frantic running around, normal is a stretch. Luckily my cold thing seems to have been very short lived, I joked to my mom that I was so angry that I was getting sick that my rage burned the virus out of my body. Who needs positive thinking when you have Hulk level anger? I am a very silly person.
Today’s tea has the distinct honor of being a tea I have never heard of Jiang Xian Ti Kui from Life In Teacup! You guys know me, I love to do lots of research on tea, so when I run into one I am not familiar with it is super exciting. This green tea is Life In Teacup’s “Green Tea of the Year” an awesome project to bring rarely seen Chinese green teas to a wider audience. I really suggest giving the website a look to see the beautiful photos of the plantation where this tea grows in Anhui Province. The aroma of the dry leaf is very fresh smelling, blending notes of roasted sesame and peanuts with green bean and spinach. There is a tiny hint of sauteed mushrooms at the finish, giving the tea a hint of savory.
Steeping time! The aroma of the now soggy leaves is still very fresh, I am really enjoying the freshness of the aroma, very evocative of nature. It starts out with fresh vegetation, green veggies, and green beans. At the finish there are notes of sharp freshly broken stems and peanuts. The first steep’s liquid is a tasty smelling mix of sauteed vegetables and sesame seeds, this fades to a gentle floral note, like spring flowers being carried in on a warm breeze.
The first steep’s mouthfeel is quite smooth, it was the first thing I noticed, after my initial enjoyment of the mouthfeel I noticed the freshness of the taste, it seems to be a theme with this tea. There are starting notes of green beans and sesame seeds, this build to a honey sweetness that gets stronger until it is almost cookie like in its sweetness.
The aroma of the second steep is nutty and green, like verdant nature and sesame seeds. There is a hint of broken stems giving it a touch of sharpness, along with a tiny hint of bamboo. The taste of this steep is still very sweet, almost a touch fruity, this transitions into nutty sesame seeds and green beans with a sweet finish of sugar cane and bamboo.
For the third steep is mostly green, with notes of sauteed spinach and a green beans. There is also a hint of saltiness which I find intriguing. This time around the taste is less sweet, in fact other than a bit of honey sweetness at the front there is no sweetness. The taste is mostly sauteed spinach, green bean, and sesame seeds, there is a slight kale bitter green at the finish. I really enjoyed how this tea balanced its sweetness and its green notes, plus it is a tea I have never heard of which makes it extra awesome. I recommend giving it a try, it is both very tasty and it is ‘out of the norm’ so you will get hipster points (if you are into that) and you will expand your tea knowledge.
Flavors: Bamboo, Green, Green Beans, Stems, Sugarcane
I’ve been enjoying steepings of this one for the last couple of hours. I warmed the leaf in my hot mixing, & upon opening the lid, I was greeted with a sweet apricot-like aroma! Apricot & green-ness, smelled awesome to me!
This is very nice mellow sheng, sweet & kind of fruity, & rich in a way that I can’t quite describe.
Other teas I’ve drank today:
Tiger Assam – A & D
Yi Mei Ren – YS
Imperial Grade Jin Jun Mei from Tong Mu Guan Village – YS
Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong – Verdant
I feel tea starved, like I haven’t gotten enough, but I’m headed out to a gig, so that’s all I get for now!
OK, you smoke lovers, here is one for you. Got a sample of this from Life in Teacup. They don’t try to say it is a real ban zhang. I pulled this out at random from a box, and Lo and behold, it was another smokey tea like yesterday’s White Whale. It is very much in the same vein as that tea, maybe with a bit less smoke and a bit more wood and mushroom. Very sturdy and held up to a lot of infusions. I didn’t like it, but you smokies probably will!
This is a generous sample provided by Life in Teacup. Thanks!
Dry, this tea is in nugget form, in shades of jade, forest, & other appealing greens with a sweet Nectar of the Gods aroma of yellow spring flowers. When warmed, add butter to that.
I gave it a rinse & went with 20 second steepings, immediately it was sweet rain water, in a forest with lots of Orchids. Over the next couple of steeps the sweetness grew, as did the floral, sort of like an aromatherapy bubble bath, but not too soapy or anything like that.
Other impressions, as I continued down the steeping path:
Very fresh & spring-like, like fresh linens drying in the sun.
Beautiful iridescent green leaf
Fresh Green beans with their flowers
Long beans, also with their flowers
I haven’t been drinking my oolong teas much lately. No real reason, just too much tea & not enough time, I guess, LOL.
I’m having a hard time getting motivated this morning. I’m leaving town on Thurs, & even though I’ll only be gone 5 days, there is SO MUCH TO DO before I leave, & I’m feeling overwhelmed, which only makes it harder to get started because then I can’t decide what to do first. In fact, I was also feeling a little overwhelmed about what tea to start the day with, I have so many teas I still haven’t tried. Decisions…decisions…LOL. So I relaxed, took a few deep breaths, & opened to the universe…
And chose a gongfu session with this one! I can’t remember if this was a free sample (& if it is, thank you Gingko), or if I purchased it, but anyway, I have 10 G here, so I put 5G in my tiny 4oz teapot (the pretty white porcelain one I got from Garret, with the blue lotuses on it), & gave it my usual treatment of 5G + 4oz (rinse) X 15/35/45 sec/1min/2/3/4/ etc
The first cup immediately had good color & strong energy, going straight to the throat & third eye. The flavor was sweet wood, the mouth all a tingle…ahhh I needed this!
With the 2nd cup the flavor becomes rich of toast, cedar, malt, & forest, with a camphor sensation as if I were drinking a puerh…
I combined steeps 3 & 4 into one mug. There was a slightly sour edge to this one, like a sourdough rye bread. Chewy, dense, & sweetened, but not heavily, with a dark molasses, and I can almost taste orange peel, a little clove, & other spices. This is the deep woodwind & low string group: bassoons, bass clarinet, english horn, cello, bass, marimba, wood block, bamboo wind chime…
In the 5th steep a little bitterness, but its the kind that comes with a really dark chocolate. I’ve got a really good tea buzz going on now. I love the sensation of a really good cup, spreading out into my extremities…every breath…
Next cups: Definitely a more chewy, peppery savory tea now, spicy even. The bitterness is gone.
I’d like to close my eyes & meditate. I have a nice mindfulness thing going on, a good vibe in every cell, feeling much more peaceful. I might go with a few more cups of this, but for the final note the flavors of spice & such have mellowed, & it’s a sweet creamy elixir, reminiscent of Yabao.
The rest of this sample goes to Sil, so this is a sip down.
I’ve been busy all day. My grand daughter came to visit, we made raspberry chocolate chip almond flour muffins, we had tea, & for the most part, all of the teas I drank are teas I’ve reviewed numerous times, so I’m not writing anything about them.
Then there was this!
One of the oldest teas in my collection, & merely a sample (from Life in Teacup), I’ve pulled it out a few times, ready to give it a go, only to realize that it might be better to wait. This is a tea I really want to savor, to dedicate my full attention to. So this was how I spent my afternoon & evening.
The dry leaf is compact & brown, with no real aroma.
Warming it up in a hot yixing, it bloomed into a marine aroma, but not necessarily in a bad way. Basically, it smelled a lot like spiralina, & as I breathed it in, I also smelled Matcha…
I gave it a rinse & then started in with short steepings, with were immediately a beautiful orange amber color, & I only took a few sips before I was instantly transformed to a cosmic state of mind. The first cup or 2 tasted of aged clean straw & chalk, but with successive steeps there was a rapidly growing menthol quality, a vaporous sensation, wood, leather, & gratefully not a trace of anything undesirable.
I lost track of the number of cups I drank, but somewhere in the middle I passed through a tangy citrus/tangerine element for awhile, followed by a slightly bitter round which passed quickly, a briefly soapy taste, & then a pristine sweet spring. That’s where I’m at now, & I dare not drink any more tonight. Tomorrow I’ll probably give a rinse & see what else I can wring out of these leaves with some longer steeps. The color of the tea is still a beautiful bring amber orange. Absolutely gorgeous!
This tea is part of the Life in Teacup sample set #7, shu of 9 years & Above.
When I first sampled Puerh, it was Shu. Initially it was in blends, my favorite being the tea spot’s Bolder Breakfast. There was something about the earthy taste of it that really appealed to me, in the way that the aroma of damp earth appeals to most gardeners. I love the smell of the earth, of the compost pile in the spring, of both fresh & aged straw, of rain.
Even though the puerh was only part of those blends, it spoke of those things & I crave it.
Then I tried it alone. I don’t pretend to be any kind of expert, but I do enjoy sampling things. Some of the samples I’ve tried have reeked of ammonia or mushroom, or even fish. Others have been like sweet molasses. Other’s gave me a serious buzz! My favorite Shu are the ones that taste similar to this one. The aroma is sweet & rich, the early steepings are cream, cinnamon, & sweetness. A woody aromatic, like cedar, builds, leaving that ‘after aroma’ effect that I really like in the soft palate & sinuses. I’ve been through several steepings of this now, while watching “How to Tame Your Dragon” with my 25 year old son, so however many 4oz Yixings you can go through in a couple of hours. Currently the flavor is a very ‘clean’ forest floor, with a sweet aftertaste that reminds me of agave with a touch of Maple.
I’m sure I can get a few more rounds out of it!
First tea of the day, enjoyed while I was fixing breakfast. This comes is 5 G beautiful bright red packets, & I bought 5. The leaf is a mix of black with gold, & of course, I love these small leaf Fujian teas anyway, so I’m sure I’ll love this one!
5G + 8oz X 1min/2min/& 5min
I plan to sample this tea using all of the methods that I enjoy, & see which one suites it best. I really wanted to go with the gongfu session, but I have things to do, places to go, people to see, so that will be reserved for maybe next time.
This session was very nice, & without going into to too much detail, the resulting tea was delicious: Somewhat floral, with a lightly tangy & shiny sensation on the top of my tongue, sweet & juicy underneath.
Now I’m off to move some rocks with my sons.
I must have not been into it last night when I steeped it as this oolong did not steal my heart away. It was roasty? yes. Tieguanyinny? Yes. (Tieguanyinny is totally a word meaning vegetal tasting with a these-leaves-went-through-so-much-suffering-to-bring-you-light oolong flair). Did it resteep nice? Well, it did! So what was wrong with it? Absolutely nothing.
But it did fail to steal my heart away. I think I just wasn’t in the mood. I remember some unique, salted caramely and even weak-chocolate notes trying to communicate with me last night but I just waved them away. I need to try this again soon and then remember to write about it! I should be writing “revised” or “returning” tasting notes more often. I almost never do that!
I thought this tea had at least two listing. I picked one and went with it. Then realized it was in the wrong place. I’m not OCD but I fixed it anyway.
Scouring through my drawer today I stumbled upon this one. Apologies to Life In Teacup for misplacing it. It’s all good as today was the perfect day to sit with this lovely tea. The leaf pellets are very tiny and dark but really expand. The wet leaf is highly roasted in scent. The sip is medium to light roasted. I really like this one. It is sweet and tastes like roasted honey (can you do that?). I can definitely see why some called this nutty. After reading it, I totally agree. Seems thick like milk but has more glide. Not sure that makes sense either. This is light and refreshing and not the heavy chunk of roasting I normally associate with darker oolongs. I taste the Taiwan mountain oolong in the lingering aftertaste but it isn’t super floral or latex like some. This is just all around a nice cup for a rainy dreary day.
It was such a stormy day today! I believe the entire day was nothing but rain and storms, of course the plants loved all the nitrogen from the lightning. The tree buds seem to have become full leaves and everything is vibrantly verdant. Even though I was stuck in bed most the day I really enjoyed the weather and the smell of rain wafting through my window.
Today’s tea is Life In Teacup’s $1 tea sample for the month of April, 2006 Chang Tai “Seven Star-Alkaid” a Sheng Pu Erh made from Menghai leaves. I am still in the total noob stage when it comes to Sheng Pu Erh, since I have tried a grand total of five different ones, I not entirely sure how I feel about them as a whole yet, I certainly find them intriguing and want to try more! The aroma of this Pu Erh is really intriguing, blending sweet notes of anise, pine needles, hay and wet oak wood. It smells really clean and nature like, the sweetness is that of new growth and anise.
The rinsed and steeped leaves are very sweet, blending anise and pine resin, in fact there is a myrrh like resinous scent as well that blend really well with the anise aroma. There is a little bit of a wet pine wood and wet peat smell as well, I really enjoy the aroma of this Pu Erh’s wet leaves. The liquid’s aroma is a blend of sweet anise and wet wood, very light and unassuming.
First steeping sip time! The taste is very light and quite smooth in the mouth. The taste is one of sweet hay and honey that fades to a bit of peat. At the end of the taste there is a quick sourness that does that great salivary response I have come to associate with Sheng Pu Erh. Basically there is a sourness that causes you to salivate a lot, this in turn makes the remaining liquid in your mouth to taste very sweet. I believe that this sensation is called Hui Gan.
The liquid’s aroma for the second steep is much more pronounced (as expected) with stronger notes of anise and pine loam with a very faint hint of peat. The mouthfeel again is very smooth, and the taste is sweet with anise at first and fades to a rich peat taste. It has a very clean taste, which seems odd when you describe something that tastes like peat, but it tastes like clean peat and not moldy, rotten, peat.
The third steep really comes alive, the aroma of the liquid is more like the wet leaves, having notes of resin and anise with a strong peat presence. This steep has a bit of bitterness to it that fades to sourness and immediately explodes into sweetness. There is a taste of anise and cooling effect that makes this steeping very interesting. The finish is peat and earthy with a touch of old hay. I really enjoyed the complexity of this steep.
For the fourth steep’s aroma I notice that it is sweet with a bit of anise and straw, the aroma has a cooling effect on my nose which is very refreshing. The taste is sweet with an earthy backdrop. There are the notes of hay and anise, a bit of peat and a bit of loam.
The fifth and final steeping has a very warm aroma, like sun warmed hay and anise, it is much milder than the previous steep’s aroma. The taste is much milder as well, a bit of faint anise and warm hay, there is a bit of bitterness that explodes into sweetness that lingers. I really enjoyed this tea experience, certainly a good investment of a dollar!
I have WAY too many teas on my backlog list now, so I might start reviewing them first thing since opening my laptop, right?
This oolong was a little odd. Green pearl-shaped dry leaf gave a light, straw-colored infusion that tasted pretty vegetal and a little astringent (which was that odd part – I didn’t expect it to have such a bite). I also got some milder roasty notes there. I remembered it smelled slightly funky. I am pretty sure I resteeped it at least once but the resteep didn’t yield any new notes.
It was enjoyable but nothing that could enter my Oolong Hall of Fame. But then perhaps I was too distracted when I had it. I still have more of this, so I will definitely try it again.
EDIT because I found I typo
Dry – Wood and earth notes, some thin sweetness.
Wet – Wet wood notes, some faint sweetness, faded floral.
Liquor – Dark Amber
1st 7secs – Woody, damp floor, musky and some savory notes up front. As it goes down, it has some hints of sweetness but doesn’t quite delivers much, it feels thin and somewhat flat.
2nd 7secs – Cleaner woody, damp floor and some savory ‘mushroom’ notes up front; it feels cleaner but still not that pleasant. As it goes down, it has some more sweetness, but again it is flat although over some time there’s a faint floral note.
3rd 10secs – Same body up front and going down, the finish is slightly better, but still nothing I’d look for in a Nannuo cake.
This cake had to be stored in wetter conditions, it has lost much of the Nannuo character for its age and it feels rather flat, while I expected something sweeter, floral and thick with some age taste. It is a good tea if you like those wetter notes with out overly aggressive notes of really humid storage.
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Thanks to J.C. for this one, I hope I have added my tasting note under the correct tea…
I don’t always know what to do with white teas to make them shine, I feel like they sometimes end up tasting liked boiled straw. For this tea I ended up steeping it in a gaiwan for about 45 – 60 seconds with a water temp. less than boiling. This has produced a very gentle, sweet tea which has a light creamy quality. I am liking this one very much. Something about it is very relaxing. Maybe it’s time to check out some offerings from Life in Teacup? Thanks for sending this J.C.!