Life In Teacup

Recent Tasting Notes

88

Immediately comforting like spiced tropical punch at sunset. With a sly flamboyance that is endlessly sippable, this is my kind of tea.

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82

This is a robust and weathered tea with a juicy plum flavor and underlying wet stone firmness that stand up to the supreme roast. Deeper and stronger (and better) than any other Shui Xian I’ve had.

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50

…I get no bergamot here, not to smell and not to taste. Nothing citrus. Nothing but a generic sort of green-tea taste. Well, and some bitterness when I tried steeping it longer in case that brought out more flavor.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec

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91

Yes, I was right: very light and lovely! I can see why Gingko compared it to a green style Tie Guan Yin — it’s got that same flowery sweetness to it. This one seems a bit earthier, but definitely in the same family. It only lasted through a few steeps, but it was really great while it lasted!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec

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100

Happy May Day/Beltane to all! This has been a beyond marvelous day for me: I tried this tea with my new gaiwan and am loving it, and most importantly Doulton’s Shakespeare box came!!!!! I’m just so overwhelmed with tea joy at the moment. But I do need to review this tea before I move onto the amazing box-o-Shakespeare (and it truly is amazing).

Speaking of amazing: this tea is beyond amazing. I’m so glad that I purchased my new kettle and first gaiwan just for this tea. It’s worth it. I’m on infusion #8 and it’s still going strong. I wait until there’s only about 1/4 of liquid left in the cup and then add more water, stir with the lid, and then commence sipping.

Steep 1-3 were all consistent and good. I didn’t feel “FLOWERS!” like other notes I’ve seen, but more like “Spring Meadow” right before the flowers get boisterous. Each subsequent infusion started to do the wonderful “oolong morph” that I highly prize, and on steep #7 it turned into the best sweet floral oolong that I’ve ever had. I’ve mentioned how some oolongs will feel like their sweet yumminess infuses into my tongue? Not only is this tea doing that, but I can feel it all the way to my stomach and that’s a new and unique sensation that I’m loving. So far this is my favorite oolong hands down. I thought that I’d never give a 100 to any tea, but here it is. I will lose my mind if I ever run out of this tea. TG

ETA: It finally started to fade on steep #10.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C
__Morgana__

So glad you liked it, it really is a very special tea.

Rabs

Oh, I LOVE this tea. I’m introducing a coworker to loose leaf teas (I let her borrow my first kettle, teapot, and then made her a bunch of samples), and she really loved the few oolongs that she’s had so far. I must have her try some of this. And I think I’m in love with drinking from a gaiwan. :D

__Morgana__

I want to get a gaiwan but I keep being worried about lead in glazes from China. Maybe I’m being overly paranoid. I noticed someone has a glass one, can’t remember where I saw it now.

Rabs

I hadn’t thought about lead in the glazes. Hmmm…and that’s very worth thinking about. I googled “glass gaiwan” and saw quite a few from tea companies I recognize (from Republic of Tea to Teaspring). You’ll have to let me know if you go for it! :)

teaddict

Maybe I’m a fool for trusting the signs, but my teashop posts a very straightforward sign noting that many of the yixing pots and gaiwans and other ceramic teawares have lead-containing glazes used for exterior decoration.

I don’t worry about the exterior glazes, because liquids have to be in contact with the lead glaze for a good while to leach out significant amounts. I stick to simple interiors, and enjoy my teas.

The one glass gaiwan I tried was awkward because it had a little rim inside the body of the cup for the lid to rest on, which at first seemed like a great idea, but in practice made it very difficult to tilt the lid just a little to serve as a strainer when pouring tea. So I went back and bought several more of the porcelain gaiwans to have a matched set for tastings.

No worries.

Rabs

Thank you so very much for the info teaddict! I really think that most of my tea accessory budget will be going toward gaiwans for awhile :)

teaddict

Gaiwans should not take a large chunk of your budget, depending on how fancy and finished you want them to be.

This was $2.99 or $3.99 at my chinatown tea shop.

Of course, shopping online, not many merchants carry such basic inexpensive items. But still, if you don’t need frills for your starter set, you can do well for little $$.

S

Yay, I’m so glad to see more love for this tea! It is AMAZING, right? When I try to compare this to a, uhm, less enjoyed but more expensive TGY I recently had, my soul weeps.

Rabs

And what tea would that be Shanti? ;) Tee-hee! Seriously, I think I now know what you mean about your soul weeping and I haven’t had that more expensive tea, and now I don’t think I will.

Rabs

And teaddict: thanks for the info! I don’t think that I have any local options for finding gaiwans. I do all my tea-related shopping online, so it can get expensive – and I’m looking for gaiwan’s that are very aesthetically pleasing to me (and so far those haven’t been cheap). And currently almost all of my tea budget’s going toward tea :)

__Morgana__

Rabs, I’d encourage you not to give up on the Samovar Four Seasons. Just get a sample size so it’s not a huge investment and judge for yourself. (I’m not personally invested in it whether others like what I like so please don’t worry about offending me if you don’t. My skin is v. thick. ;-)) I thought it was very like the An Xi TGY in terms of flavors — lots of flowers, very buttery and creamy - except more robust, like the tea had grown up. I think you may like it and if not, there’s always this lovely little gem that you’ve already fallen in love with. :)

__Morgana__

Ugh. Why oh why does that line through thing happen. Never mind, I know why but I seriously thought I’d typed two hyphens there. Geez.

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83

A pastoral verdance and sprightly nectar meet in a tea that is sweet yet very refreshing and soft but not milky. Bery good.

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91

After 4 hours of sleep last night the thought of trying this tea got me out of bed. It’s my first Life in Teacup tea experience, and lordy-loo was it awesome! I selected this as one of my free samples with my first order.

I opened the cute little packet and was somewhat disappointed with the aroma: it wasn’t as intense as Adagio’s LS. I steeped, and then as I was pouring it into my cup I had the most fun whiff of an aroma: Bacon! Bacon! Bacon! I smell bacon! BACON!!!!! Other people have mentioned smelling bacon with other LSes, but I had never had that experience. I actually was a bit worried to try the tea. But when I smelled the cup I found the usual smokey-yuminess that to me is a LS. No more bacon.

The taste? Nom. Nom! Nom! NOM!!! This is the best LS I’ve had as of yet (I’ve only had 3 others so far). It’s got everything I’m looking for and more: smoky: check. sweet undercurrent: check. not hurting my throat: check. There is a tiny bit of roughness at the back of my throat, but it’s a fine amount. It’s just the best blend of smoky/sweet I’ve ever had. As it started to cool I actually gulped this tea. I had to slow myself down, and that’s never happened with any tea I’ve had. I also sprang from my chair when the timer went off for my second steep (just as great as the first! – only added one minute). You must understand. I am not a morning person. I shuffle around like a zombie impatiently waiting for my soul to reenter my body. Leaping up from a chair is almost unthinkable. And yet, I did. For this tea. TG

To continue my “comparing Lapsangs to cat noises” rating system: this is the purr of a lion. Just had another LS (Narien’s) that has taken this title and knocked my rating of this one a little down the scale. This tea is now like the black panther I saw at the Audubon Zoo that meowed at me when I spoke baby talk to it. This large cat capable of ripping my throat out meowed just like a house cat. It blew my mind.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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99

Puerh Sample set 1: Tea #2

The leaf is lighter, less dense than I anticipated with an ever so slightly fecal aroma, but not as dark as shu.

3g/3oz just below boiling water, 15 sec rinse and 20 sec 1st steep.

The rinse is light yellow in liquor and light and sweet in aroma. The flavor is that of the liquor w/ no peppery notes that are typical of Yunnan teas- a personal yay for me. :)

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec
Quixim

Could you please explain how a tea can be rated a 100 while also having a “Slightly fecal aroma”?

This is important.

Cofftea

Because it’s pu erh- it comes w/ the territory.

SoccerMom

I was wondering that too.?

Lainie Petersen

A bit of the barnyard is pretty much standard in pu’erh!

SoccerMom

Hmmm I always get fishy not barnyard.

cultureflip

Fecal aroma : )

cultureflip

Still smiling. I know what you mean the more I think about it.

S

Question—does it taste good, even when you can taste…feces? [I’m considering trying the Chocolate Puerh]

Cofftea

Shanti, I do NOT like fecal tea but the fecal taste is so extremely light (and in the 1st infusion only) that I really do enjoy this… and there so NO fecality in the chocolate pu erh. The chocolate pu erh is amazing all ways- neat, milk, creamer, coffee, etc. I much prefer sheng over shu, but even w/ shu I notice that the fecality is greatly reduced w/ shorter steeps. That’s why I still can’t fathom 5min shu steeps lol.

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I put the tasting notes on my blog and there are more photos:
http://gingkobay.blogspot.com/2010/04/meng-ding-snow-bud-xue-ya.html

Let me say first that I do love this tea very much. I will describe all the great features of this tea first, and then tell a little about my mixed feelings about this tea.

Mount Meng is one of the most famous tea mountain in China with probably the longest culture history. In ancient time, people believed “brewing Meng Ding (top of Mt. Meng) tea with water from the center of Yangzi River” is the highest level of tea enjoyment. The harvest standard of Snow Bud on top of Mt. Meng is, when there are only 5% of the tea bushes start budding. It takes about 80,000 tea leaf buds to make roughly 500g of the final tea product. A skillful tea harvest worker may well spend half a day to get just enough tea leaf buds to make 100g final tea product.

Dry tea leaves – they should actually be called tea buds!

I’ve just realized that I had been anal about NOT using a scale. Although I use a scale to weigh tea all the time for other people, I never knew the exact amount of tea I used in each cup! So today I thought I would just use a scale, at least once :-D It turned out I used 2.5g leaves. It’s about just right amount for me. So I think up to 3g tea in a mug will be ok. More than 3g will make the mug too crowded with tea leaves.

I used the middle-throw method (中投法)as described in the post about Long Jing.

I am obsessive about the view of tea leaves in water!

The taste: light vegetal, with sweet aftertaste. It feels clean and moist in mouth, and the tea radiates some cool feeling even in hot water.

This is first yellow tea we’ve ever carried. Yellow tea was developed from green tea technique. After the tea is heated (in this case, pan-fried) to have the enzymes killed), the tea is allowed further oxidation with optimal temperature and humidity. Therefore, oxidation in yellow tea is different from oxidation in black tea or oolong. In yellow tea, the oxidation is not catalyzed by the tea’s own enzymes, but triggered by outside environment factors such as temperature and humidity.

Here comes my mixed feelings.

Oxidation of this tea is very light. If we compare this tea and another Meng Ding Snow Bud I had last year, the differences are big, although both teas are great. The other tea has larger buds, and deeper oxidation, and therefore more typical sweet taste of a yellow tea.

Currently in China, Green Tea still dominates. A direct outcome is, many other teas are green-tea-ized. The most popular Tie Guan Yin is made to be very green. And many yellow tea products is made very green.

Recently I discussed with a friend who has dealt with yellow tea for many years. In his opinion, it’s not possible to make Meng Ding Snow Bud into typical yellow tea with deeper oxidation, because the buds are so young and tender. On the other hand, the other Meng Ding Snow Bud I had last year (which I loved very much), in his opinion, is more typical yellow tea, but should be called Meng Ding Yellow Bud (Huang Ya) instead of Snow Bud, because the buds are larger than the standards of Snow Bud. So here is the trade-off, you may choose the precious Snow Bud, but it can’t have the typical oxidation level of a yellow tea. On the other hand, the bonus is, if we forget about the yellow tea, and compare this tea with a green tea, the price of this tea is much more friendly than a first-harvest green tea with comparable youth and tenderness.

I hesitate to call this tea yellow tea, because, as you can see, from leaves to liquor, it’s all green! I hesitate to call it green tea either, because it does intend to be a yellow tea, and it does have some nice sweet aftertaste of yellow tea. I guess it’s not my own dilemma and it’s shared by many tea people.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 2 min, 30 sec
Stephanie

Very interesting and informative note!! :)

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33

I finished up the last of this a few minutes ago. Overall it is a decent black tea, but nothing that really stands out. It was good while it lasted.

Preparation
3 min, 0 sec

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46

Soft soil and a woodsy must. Maybe molasses at the end?

Shu.

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79

(superior grade)

Sweet and fresh, like a Darjeeing without the haute aire and sharp looks. What this tea trades in wit it makes up for in humor as the finish rolls softly downward and really lingers outdoing the relatively thin taste of the body.

A great tea for when you don’t know exactly what you want. One of those teas that won’t let you forget how good it is but doesn’t require you to really think about it all that much. I could buy a pound of this.

http://grammar.about.com/od/classicessays/a/brookswithumor.htm

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67

Easy tea for everyday drinking. Not too charred tasting yet just full enough to compliment some take-out Chinese food.

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91

Ooh, I am giving this tea nothing like proper attention but it is very sweet and lovely!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec

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85

Ah! A cup of real tea!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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75

This one is good. A bright puerh that opens with a golden raisin sweetness and a pleasant zing similar the taste from the skin of an unripe plum. There is a subtle yet distinct seaweed bass anchoring the taste providing an interestingly meaty aftertaste to go along with the delicious sweetness that lingers well after the cup is placed down.

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80

This tea is every flower.

I first brewed it and it was jasmine. Then it cooled and became the flowers and herbs from my one grandma’s garden. Then it cooled more and became all the flowers and bushes from my other grandma’s garden.

It is also a friendly tea – not bitter and astringency is light.

I do not consider myself a fan of flowery teas, but this is still one of the better oolongs I’ve had. It’s worth trying for anyone, but flower lovers have to have it. The little packages it came in are very convenient and cute.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 4 min, 0 sec
teabird

I was thinking of buying this already – your review makes me certain! I love flowery teas.

Stephanie

How poetic!! :)

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100

Pu Erh Sampler 1 (Sheng): Tea #1

Aaaahhh… I have sheng again! I just couldn’t resist when Gingko graciously offered to throw in a free pu erh knife w/ a pu erh purchase and decided to get this because it allowed me to try 4 different shengs at (what I think to be) a very inexpensive cost. I also got my order extremely fast. Just 1 1/2 hrs after I placed my order on Fri. it was shipped and I recieved my order on Monday! By far the fastest service I’ve gotten- especially considering the distance (MA to WI).

Preparation:
3g sheng rinsed in 3oz just below boiling water for 15sec, then discarded
1st steep 20 sec.

The aroma of the raw leaf (raw raw pu erh? lol) is complex and vegetal yet sweet. The rinse is darker than the only other pu erh I’ve had before.

The liquor of the 1st infusion is also darker than my 1st sheng experience. It is still not nearly as dark as a shu, but a lovely golden color.

The flavor is smooth and complex with notes of sweetness, nut, and pepper that makes Yunnan teas so distinguishable.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec
Cofftea

2nd infusion, 20sec: The liquor is just a bit lighter which is surprising and the peppery notes are gone (a yay for me) and are replaced by extra sweetness.

Cofftea

3rd infusion, 20sec: The liquor is a bit darker than the last, with gorgeous pinkish tones. The flavor is also stronger, but just as sweet.

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50

Smokey like a Lapsang and bitter, very bitter. Kind of like hot scotch. There is an aftertaste of sour prunes and dandelion that is not entirely unpleasant.

I am only now becoming acquainted with the world of puerh. A strange place . . .

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