Life In Teacup
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Recent Tasting Notes
Real nice black tea. Has some very pronounced creamy, thick, malty cocoa notes – even reminencent of a black Assam. Delicious in every sip and very warming to the body.
Having this one today. It reminds me a lot of Heritage Honey Oolong from Mountain Tea. That one is from Taiwan. This is Fujian. Very nice cup. I was expecting heavy smoke or roasted notes. Nope. It is fresh and fruity with hints of osmanthus, ginger, and cinnamon, all wrapped in nuts and orchids.
I resteeped the leaves from two days ago and this still seems very flavorful. The unfortunate thing is I was filling a candy dish with spice drops and of course I had to have one (or three), now the tea has little flavor. Mostly I taste the roastiness and smell some floral.
My dad always has these spice drops around because we both love them, especially the purple ones – they taste like black jelly beans. I hate the green ones and the white ones, they taste like toothpaste. For fun I poured the bag out and put back only the green and white ones. The rest went in the candy dish. I’ll take the bag to dad. He will find it pretty funny.
This is really an interesting oolong even if I didn’t get the marshmallow others mentioned. The dry leaf smells like you put your face in bunch of vines and inhaled. The taste of the liquor is green and by that I mean alive. It is kind of earthy. There is a light roasted element. It is only lightly floral to me in comparison to tiequanyin – those I often find to be geranium or latex like. Not this one. I have never been around orchids so I can’t compare but this is very pleasant in taste. The interesting thing to me is an almost pineapple taste. All of these aspects come together to make an amazing cup at only $3.99/oz.
I don’t have a picture or a seller description for this one.
The dry leaves a big and dark. They turn black after steeping. While steeping the roasty aroma pours out of the press. This appears to be a medium-heavy roasted Wuyi oolong. The taste is not what I expected.
Sure it has the heavy dark roasted flavor but it also has a prickly fruity/floral thing going on that is somewhere between mango and geranium.
Next I added sweetener to see how it would react. It did not cover or bring out any flavors. What it did was warm the flavors so the melded together. The roasty notes a less dominant early in the sip and explode later. The fruity/floral is now more developed into something resembling tieguanyin.
If you like the darker oolongs this was an interesting one.
Remember a few mornings days ago when I needed black tea and couldn’t read the labels? This is the tea I was looking for then in my zombie like state. As much as I needed it, I’m glad I didn’t find it until today so I could enjoy it with my mind and senses in operating order. I think I could almost give up Earl Grey for Fujian black tea and this is a very tasty example.
Wild Thing you make my heart sing. Fujian Jin Jun Mei do I need to say more? I found I prefer this with steeps around one minute. It can get a bit drying with long western steeps. Keep it short and this delivers the goods. Honey, caramel/cocoa, and lighter malt than I normally associate with this tea. Re-steeps well.
This is actually the 2013 version of this tea. It has Yunnan in the name so I immediately come up with an idea of what this should taste like. I’ll learn someday. The leaf is captivating. I’m glad no one was around to watch me playing with the leaf. Non-tea people already look at me with concern. Long and twisted with some heft to the appearance. For Chinese green tea the dry leaf is big. The taste is really hard to define. It isn’t weird. It’s just different. If I am using the term correctly it is umami. It is also quite subtle. The liquor itself has a kind of broth like quality – or at least this is what I’m perceiving.
Had this one a few days ago. Steeped it is almost colorless until it cools. The taste is similar to Haung Shan Moa Feng but far less assertive. This is a quiet but deep green tea. Life in Teacup believes they are the only vendors to offer this outside of China. That in itself peaks my curiosity.
I found this tea in my stash some time ago, and I feared that it would have been stale, but it wasn’t. The sample had been sealed well, so the flavor was intact. This is a really delicious tea.
A very delightfully floral and crisp tasting tea … something that enlivens the palate … great for afternoon sipping.
A very flavorful white tea … this is a tea that I’d recommend to someone who thinks they don’t like white tea because the flavor is too delicate. This tea might change their mind!
Sweet, earthy, and vegetative … with the vegetal notes tasting a bit more like hay than grass or vegetables. There is a vague spice note to this tea as well, which I really enjoyed. Not really “spicy” but just a gentle warmth.
There’s a warm nutty taste to this cup too. A soft texture to the tea, very light and easy to drink. No bitterness with a moderate astringency. A really enjoyable cuppa.
I’m sorry I didn’t have more of this tea. Pale in color, I’m basing this review off of a small amount I had left over from the initial sample I received and made no notes on. Yielding very small (for me) 3-4 oz cups with the 2 tsp of leaf I probably had remaining, I still got a satisfying cup. Light citrus notes with a mild tingling mouth feel. Did I leave the zipper from the packaging undone? Or did it just open easily when I went to smell the tea? I hope the latter. Wish I could double or even triple the amount of tea for this much water. This is an exercise in the subtle compared to the rich, thick Long Jing steepings I’ve grown accustomed to lately.
I go for a cooler water brew of about 1min, followed by braver extensions of time… 2, 3, 4 mins. At first I’d brewed using the cooled the water from preheating my infuser, then I skipped this step, letting the water having cooled in my kettle suffice.
I imagine some of my tea drinking friends might say this tastes like water, and with the aftertaste of grilled onions still on my palate from my dinner earlier, I’d tend to agree. But I know better, and allow my taste buds to listen, dialing me back in.
Most of my tea drinking for the last few months has been while very active at work. As such, though I try to prepare it somewhat carefully on the go, I think I’ve lost a bit of sensitivity. While preparing a tea like this is a meditation, a reminder.
I think next year I will invest, purchasing more, so that I can truly appreciate what this tea has to offer.
One day, I’ll be caught up … no matter what Sil says!
I love Li Shan and Ali Shan Oolong teas – they are my favorite types of Oolong tea (although there are a couple of other ones that come close.)
This is sweet, creamy and LUSH. Very smooth – no sharpness, very little astringency, and absolutely not bitter. The astringency is so barely there that if you’re just casually sipping, you won’t notice it … it’s only when I’m really focused on the nuances of this cup that I detect the slight hint of astringency.
I got 10 infusions out of this tea – and it was well worth that effort! Delicious!
Dry – Sweet, fruity, refreshing reminiscent of a white peony.
Wet – Sweet, tart-floral notes, sweet corn, fruit and smells more like an Oolong when wet.
1st 10secs Sweet, green (like a fresh white peony/high mountain green) and slightly nutty up front. As it goes down, it has a more apparent floral note with very light bitter/tartness that gives a good mouth feel. The aftertaste is sweet nutty with an Anxi Oolong taste at the end.
2nd 15secs Sweet, Anxi oolong floral notes with a buttery-creamy hint and some of the green from before up front. As it goes down, it is nutty with the bitter-tartness of the floral notes and a more apparent mouth feel. The aftertaste is bittersweet floral that resembles an Anxi oolong with more sweetness.
3rd 20secs Sweet, green Anxi floral-notes with a slightly buttery-creamy and nutty taste up front. As it washes down it is more floral with slight tart-bitterness. The notes are a bit more apparent in this steep. The aftertaste is sweet, nutty and resembles an Anxi Oolong.
This is an OK tea. I liked that it had traits that reminded me of teas other than Oolongs, like the freshness of smelling a white peony and some ‘greener’ notes in between the more obvious Oolong traits. It is sweeter than most Anxi Oolongs, but with the same bittersweet finish. It is a good tea but is not something I would revisit unless I happened to have it already. It held up well until the 5th steep when it started showing some astringency, possibly because it isn’t very uniform but still a good tea.
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Dry - Sweet, refreshing, fruity-floral, nutty, baked greens.
Wet - Roasted oats, sweet, refreshing, vegetal yet floral-fruity and somewhat creamy.
Liquor - Pale Green – very fragrant nutty, floral and sweet.
Quick Notes Before the review
– I drank this tea twice before writing these notes. I initially made notes but found that even though there were minor differences; on ‘paper’ it resembled the Shi Fen Long Jing’s notes. I knew there were differences. But I couldn’t properly describe them from memory. I did a side by side tasting between the two and made the notes. I used smell to determine the times for each steep but I’ll give a rounding of the time for each steep.
1st – 25 secs Delicate fruity-floral with some tartness and slightly creamy thickness that was also delicate and smooth. As it washed down nutty vegetal notes dominate its body. Once is left the mouth, The floral-fruity notes become more apparent and enjoyable with refreshing finish.
2nd – 20 secs Still a delicate initial taste but this time the tea give more apparent nuttiness with stronger floral-fruity tartness that slowly smooths and becomes thicker and smoother, almost buttery. As it washes down, the tea becomes vegetal-nutty and even though it is smooth is not full bodied, medium would be a better description giving its more refreshing and juicy finish.
3rd – 20 secs A more floral-fruity start with evident juicy tartness and a nutty finish up front. As it covers the tongue, it is more floral without parting its vegetal and nutty traits. As it washes down, it is somewhat sweeter and crisp that leaves a pleasant floral and refreshing sensation.
4th – 35 secs Taking a bit of a turn it starts up sweeter and floral-fruity that becomes slightly cleaner bu wear some faint floral tartness. As it washes down, it still has hints of vegetal nuttiness but seem to fade, overpowered by a sweeter and juicier freshness at the end.
I was able to get 5-7 (sometimes 8) good steeps out of this one, anything past that point had astringency that I avoid in all greens. Since I tried this one side by side with the Pre-QingMing Shi Feng Long Jing I was able to spot side by side differences and of course when you have a direct comparison everything is more evident.
The main differences between the two are: Shi Feng is on the ‘savory’ side I would go with Umami for a better description a bit more broth like; while Da Fo, is vegetal but has more dominant sweetness. Also, Shi Feng seems to have a more filling broth/soup sensation to it, even when it has very refreshing features; Da Fo, has a very similar first steep apart from the sweetness but rapidly becomes more refreshing and even cleaner in taste (not tasteless, rather juicy). Finally, esthetics. Shi Feng has a coarser look to it, which I believe gives it its more apparent taste; Da Fo is a lot more consistent and ‘pretty’ looking but its flavor is not as apparent but it is more lasting through the steeps. I prefer Da Fo, not because of its looks but for the price you get a really amazing tea.
Dry - Nutty, sweet, roasty and cool/refreshing.
Wet - Very nutty vegetal, toasted nut hints, fruity tartness, some floral notes.
Liquor - Very light, yellow with a green hue.
Quick notes I did several Steeps and I didn’t really time the steeps. I mostly used the smell as a guide to determine when I wanted to try it. The times I specified are round ups to what I thought I did, but I did follow Ginko’s recommendations about time but also did some on my own to get that trial and error sweet spot.
1st – 20 secs Roasted nut hints reminiscent of rice scented tea, vegetal, like yellow squash with a full body that stays in the tongue. The nutty and vegetal notes stay in the mouth and becomes refreshing and very pleasant.
2nd – 25 secs Sweeter with a more apparent fruity/floral tanginess and even more refreshing somewhat minty. The taste is nutty vegetal again resembles yellow squash and still wears the nutty rice taste. It is very refreshing yet filling.
3rd – 35 secs Sweeter and ‘juicier’ rather than full bodied with the tart fruity/floral notes being more evident that previously. The taste is more floral and complex but maintains some vegetal and nutty notes in the background. Still somewhat filling but mostly refreshing.
- A very good tea indeed. I’m glad I pre-ordered this one from Gingko, the price was a bit better in the pre-order offer. I really loved it but want to make sure I clarify that even though the tea has pleasant sweetness, I find it to be more in the umami side of teas. Not necessarily savory, when I think about savory green tea, the taste of vegetal broth comes to mind.
This tea was very delicate and very well balanced the whole time. I can make around 4-6 good steeps with the tea, after that I start getting some astringency in the mouth, the taste is still pleasant but I avoid astringency in most greens; Japanese tea being the exception to the rule for me.
Brewed in my Finum, traditional green tea temps. Surprising viscosity is the first impression. Wonderful mouthfeel and light tender smokiness. Not a fan usually of anything smokey, on the contrary I’m into this. Lovely pale yellow/green color to the liquor. Sweet undertones that progressively reveal from steep to steep and linger on the palate, along with an intriguing tingle of astringency that carries through to the end. I extended brewing time for each infusion until later, with cooler water, I was letting it sit a good solid 2 mins. Got at least five 5oz cups with half my sample pack.
Another win from the 2013 Green Tea Sample Packs from Life In Teacup!
Grrrr. I hate when I lose a carefully crafted tasting note….. Oh well.
First off, do yourself a favor and get the 2013 sample packs of green tea from Life In Teacup before they’re gone. I’m SO glad I did. It’s been a wonderful journey that will soon come to an end, as my box of tea is dwindling.
2nd, I almost dismissed this tea for a variety of reasons: 1) It looks like gunpowder, and I don’t tend to go for that type of tea, 2) some sites describe it as smokey due to being roasted over charcoal, not so much for me & 3) the small packet (the smallest of all the samples) doesn’t have a zip lock, so it feels like more of a commitment to open.
Those were all just dumb reasons. Don’t delay is all I gotta say.
I brewed this tea in my glass 8 oz infuser, using half the capacity to 1 tsp of tea. Boiling water was used to preheat the infuser, transferred to my Finum cup and then used for the 1st steep of about 1 min. I didn’t measure, but this usually brings water temps to about 170-175ºF.
What’s particularly magical about this tea is how it appears so mundane, and then unravels itself to become the loveliest pristine 2 leaf and bud sets you’ve ever seen, rivaling some of the more exquisite long jings I’ve had. It’s wonderful to watch in glass, dive and fall, uncurling with almost a life of its own. And that little tsp takes you a long way; 5 steeps as I write this.
These aren’t overwhelming flavors per se, but lovely, lasting clear tones. Here astringency is just that, astringency. Not to be confused with bitterness, but a real note that carries from steep to steep, framing a subtle, but undeniable sweetness, a refreshing light quality that doesn’t become dry. If you’ve ever had wine that is off, gone kinda mildly carbonated, and then been introduced to a wine (non-sparkling) where that light bubble is actually an asset, used to enhance and bring more complexity to the flavor profile, then you will understand what I mean by how the astringency here really serves this tea.
I increase steeping time as I move forward, using color and fullness of the leaves as a guide. Overall the liquor tends toward a pale yellow-green, a bit hard to discern in the waning natural light here near sunset. The latter steeps start to lose me a bit, and midway through I got the strangest kind of seafood sent, mildly fishy. Not sure what that’s about, but it wasn’t unpleasant, just weird.
I feel good about this tea late in the day, alert but not particularly lifted. I wonder about it’s theanine content. From the looks of the leaves, and their early spring harvest, it leads me to believe it would have a decent amount.
Many sites describe this tea as being stronger than most greens. Maybe I need to increase the amount of tea, but I didn’t find that to be the case. It appeared my 1 tsp was a good ratio of tea to water after everything was hydrated, so I think I got a good representation of what one should expect. I will try a tbsp next time instead maybe and see how that goes. As a matter of fact, I’m kinda excited about how that will turn out and am tempted to go all in now. But I think 6 4oz cups of tea at 7P is enough for this guy!
I received a generous sample of this tea from Life in a Teacup with an order. It’s the first yellow tea I have ever tried, and I absolutely love it. It’s very mild and a little sweet and tangy. There is a peachy hint to it which was just lovely. The leaves smell fantastic and are beautiful, very needle-like.
Subtle flavors that can be missed if not prepared mindfully. My first tasting, with half of the 10g sampler, I tried in my two part glass infuser. Found it a bit too large and went for my Finum on the 2nd tasting session (shown in the photo for the tea). I think this tea really lends itself to small servings and the 5oz Finum hot glass system is a good fit for the 5g of tea per session I used. Yield was roughly 4oz per infusion.
Before using the Finum I found it a struggle to really identify the subtle flavors. I got a hint strangely of black peppercorn and a more pronounced lemongrassy nose and taste. Otherwise it was very, very light. Then introducing the Finum, in addition to my previous observations, I caught a pleasant lively astringency and a sweet aftertaste that hung around refreshing my palate. Overall it was very clean and somewhat crystalline in character, if that makes sense.
Subsequent infusions, about 3-4 were enjoyable, but overall I found this a very light tea, not for those who prefer something more in your face. Did I mention I found this tea somewhat light?? Water temps were fairly high, again honoring Life In Teacup’s declaration on the top of their green tea page, “Unless otherwise specified, we strongly recommend water temperature Higher Than 180F (85C) for all our green teas.” I’m guessing my water was somewhere around 185F.
Color was a faded golden hue. Caffeine content was unremarkable. Maybe my tolerance is too high to tell these days? I wasn’t jacked, just present. Considering I was a bit tired going into this tasting, the effect was pleasant.
No longer available from LIT for 2013, this is nice green. Reminded me a lot of Verdant’s Laoshan Green. Vegetal with a profile that transforms from steep to steep. Initial creaminess with Laoshan-like green bean/snap pea flavors, followed by a steep after steep of progressive dryness, leaving me salivating to start the process all over again. A sweet undercurrent painted each sip and lingered long after my cup had been drained. There’s something quaint about the tea’s origin, and I can’t help but imagine a little old lady tending to this tea for all our benefit. This is a solid green that I enjoy.
Steep times varied, starting at about 30 secs, a bit shorter for the 2nd and then going progressively longer at about 15-20 sec increments. I kept the water at traditional green tea temps (contrary to LIT’s recommendations to go hotter), with some variation due to reheating and cooling of my kettle over the half hour or so that I enjoyed the 5-6 infusions. Not a single steep disappointed, and at no time did I feel this tea fragile or finicky.
Liquor was lovely light yellowish green, clean and refreshing. I imagine this would be satisfying iced, though that’s not usually my thing.
From a caffeine standpoint, I was neither under or overwhelmed. Nice mid-day experience.
…and here I am wrapping up this note thinking this latest 5th or 6th steep would be beat, steeping it a good solid 1.5-2 mins. Low and behold I’m surprised by a wonderfully complex cup, expecting it to be tapped out and weak. A little more astringent this time around, tingly on the tongue and somewhat explosive to taste. Huh, that little old lady’s got some surprises up her sleeve.
Teas are meant to be enjoyed, though I’m tempted to horde this, saving it for another day. But I think it would be better to honor it by drinking, savoring and sharing it without delay!
I love Life in Teacup. I can’t recall a time when I’ve been disappointed in a tea that I’ve had from them. I’m not saying it hasn’t happened, just saying that I can’t recall it … so either it hasn’t happened or it wasn’t a very memorable, “stand out” disappointment. Life In Teacup is always quality.
This is a lovely silver needle. The leaves are so fluffy and soft. The flavor is sweet, delicate and delightful. I taste sweet floral notes and hints of hay.
Here is my full-length review: http://sororiteasisters.com/2013/03/19/bai-hao-silver-needle-yin-zhen-from-life-in-teacup/
I’ve been wringing my hands lately trying to get perspective on some 2013 Long Jing samples I’d gotten from another retailer. Not really being able to see a significant difference between them, I thought it would be helpful to compare them to a competitor. Who better than my first experience with Life in Teacup (LIT)?
I was excited to receive my LIT 2013 Long Jing pre-orders the other day and giddy to sample my first authentic Long Jing from Long Jing Village. Ginko, the manager, is an absolute pleasure to deal with and puts a lot of TLC into everything she does. Communication was excellent and shipping was fast. And here’s a testament to Ginko’s attention to detail — The free sample she sent to me? It was the only LIT tea that I happened to put on my Steepster shopping list! Now that’s either a coincidence, or someone did their homework!
As for the tea, I want to note that I tended towards hotter water and longer steep, based on instructions from the LIT web site.
My first impressions were that the dry leaf had a somewhat subdued aroma, but still a fresh character. Fairly unremarkable in its pre-steeped appearance, lighter green, tending towards yellow and lacking in luster, I was hoping for something a bit more uniform and symmetrical. I found what looked like a clove in the first spoonful that I scooped out. It turned out not to be, having nothing more than a slightly toasted flavor to it. Probably just a loose stem and from what I could tell not characteristic of the tea. But honestly, in this price range and from such a famous source, I expected to see a classic, textbook example of Long Jing. Of course in reading Ginko’s blog, LIT seems to support taste over aesthetic, which I can appreciate. Though I want to be clear, I in no way intend to represent their teas as unattractive. Let me clarify by siting a blog post from Ginko:
In summary, there was mention of creating a higher grade tea from an already high grade tea, by trimming and discarding leaf to create a more uniform perfect looking product. LIT appeared to support the view that one should leave good enough alone. The tea taste would not improve significantly, they preferred the raw esthetic, and finally cost would be driven up by the additional labor required to further “improve” the tea. So with that all said, I took the appearance of the dry leaf with a grain of salt.
As for the first steep, again I went hotter and brewed longer than I usually would based on LIT recommendation. The resulting liqueur was predominantly yellow, with a hint of green. I was surprised that it was a bit bitter, having an overall dry mouth feel. I caught a bit of the classic chestnut nose on the first few steeps, and mild toasty aroma when I first introduced about 3tsp (aprox 5g) to my moist, preheated empty glass infuser. I then went about my usual steps for preparing Long Jing:
Overall the experience was positive, though somewhat marred by the bitterness. What I found most compelling was the lasting sweet aftertaste that would bubble to the surface after my teacup had been emptied. I found myself enjoying the latter steeps, as the bitterness fell away and I was carried from cup to cup (6 in total) by this wonderful, subtly sweet character. The last few steeps I didn’t even decant, but drank directly from my brewing vessel.
I will experiment with this tea further at lower temperatures, more in line with my usually consistent Long Jing preparation methods. I have a feeling this will prevent the bitterness I experienced from overshadowing the elements I particularly liked about this tea. So in that sense, I wouldn’t call this tea “forgiving.”.
Overall I’m optimistic, but currently can not support LIT in their belief that this tea can tolerate “Higher Than 180F (85C)… [and] can handle boiling temperature well” without introducing these bitter notes that I don’t particularly care for. Mind you, my tumbler is 10oz, larger than what LTC references and my yield, leaving a root, is about 5-6oz per infusion.
I will refrain from providing a number rating until I’ve had a few more sittings with this tea.
UPDATE: The more I’m experiencing the 2013 spring Long Jings from different sources, the less I realize I know! I’ve since brewed this at my usual lower temps and was very pleased, finding it having a wonderfully complex flavor profile that evolved from steep to steep. Will be sure to post more detail when I can really focus and do this tea justice. But for now I can comfortably rate this tea.