Life In Teacup
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Recent Tasting Notes
The rapturous tasting notes about this made me want to try it and, on the offchance I’d get lucky, I sifted through my last batch of Life in Teacup samples and voila! Lucky, lucky me. I am all for instant gratification. In this case it was so instant I placed my order right before writing this.
Let me add my own effusive praise to this lovely tea.
Yellow flecked, deep green, twisty, curvy leaves. Not the biggest I’ve seen in an oolong, not the smallest either. They really do have an amazing fragrance. I often have difficulty detecting floral notes even in teas that are scented. I think it was Shanti who said this smells like a garden and she’s absolutely right; it’s like sticking your nose into a gardenia. There may be other floral scents in there as well but I’m notoriously bad at placing floral scents. Lily of the valley maybe?
The brew is a light yellow with a tinge of green and smells like someone poured melted butter over the aforementioned flowers. The leaves unfurl to increase dramatically in size after multiple steeps.
And in honor of laurenpressley’s impending addition, let me tell you what the taste reminds me of.
There’s a little white flower called “baby’s breath,” which is often used as an accent in bouquets. It doesn’t have much of a scent on its own, so until I became a mother I thought the reference was to the milky white color of the flower. Because after all, babies drink milk.
Then my first son was born. And in those first few days of holding him and nursing him, I noticed an amazing thing. His breath smelled divine. Sweet, warm, milky, buttery. Pure. He took nothing into his body other than mother’s milk. There were no teeth yet, to collect what the mouthwash commercials refer to as “odor causing bacteria.” Just this sweet, lovely baby milky smell.
That’s what this tea tastes like. That, and flowers. What’s not to like?
I love smokies. I love the way they prickle on the tongue and the surprise of sweetness that shows up on the swallow. Sometimes a lot sometimes just a hint.
I love Tie Guan Yin. I love the almost floral freshness of them, the lovely green colour of the leaves and the lightheartedness of the flavour.
Smoky + Tie Guan Yin = ?
What could possibly go wrong here?
Well, I am about to find out, as Cait happened to be in possesion of some and very kindly offered to send me a sample of it when I expressed my curiosity.
The leaves have darkened so they look like an oolong from the darker end of the spectrum. They smell very oolong-y and grass-y, but not really smoky as such. It’s definitely not a ‘normal’ oolong smell, but it’s not really smoke either. It’s more like… a touch of smoke. The memory of smoke. If I search really hard in the aroma, I can find real smoke, but the grass-y oolong-y parts of the aroma are just so strong and insist on being in the foreground at all times.
Tea-making not being an exact science, I think I gave it a slightly longer steep here than what is strictly necessary, so that may account for the appearance. It looks a bit more reddish brown than the regular Tie Guan Yin. The aroma is very oolong-y but with a crisp sort of bite to it. Again, not really smoke. More like… toast. There’s something very fruity here too. Sweet apple-y. Interesting. I’ve never found that in a Tie Guan Yin before.
Oh my ceiling cat!
First sip made me really widen my eyes in wonder. This tea must have gold dust in it, that’s how good it is. It’s not smoky as we know our regular smokies. It doesn’t have that same bite, not at first. At first it’s more toasted than smoky and then the smoke shows up on the swallow. That’s so backwards!
This actually reminds me quite strongly of Genmaichas. There is the same sort of nutty toastedness in it. That apple from the aroma is a bit harder to find but if the tea isn’t too terribly hot, there’s a touch of it for a brief moment when it first hits the tongue.
I’ve got enough leaves for one more pot, but I’ll have to check the vendor because I can’t remember now if they were one of the places to have reasonable shipping to Europe or not. If they do, I will without a doubt need more of this.
Crisp, delicate high notes and a dainty floral ting ornament this tea. It is not unlike a mild and timid jasmine though the finish rolls downward into lush vegetation.
Akin to a fine brass bell, this one rings out clearly.
The dry leaves on this were intimidatingly black and twisty! And indeed, it is a very roast-y tea. It doesn’t have the sweet undertones of some other roasted oolongs that I’ve been trying lately, either, although there’s a lot of tea going on underneath the smoke.
Here’s a picture from the third steep, although the reflections off of the side of the teapot are keeping the twistiness of the tea from being clear:
(That’s my newest teacup in the photo as well, by the way. I had been feeling like I didn’t have enough drinkware to support my telecommuting tea habit and also like I wanted something better sized to my wee Samovar teapot, but I didn’t really have the budget for full-on-fancy teaware — and then I was wandering around the outskirts of the farmers’ market on Saturday and found someone selling a punchbowl and eighteen nice little punch cups for, y’know, flea market prices. So, uh, now I have three new glass teacups and a fifteen-cup backup stack in my storage cupboard.)
A pleasant blend of citrus tang and grassy sweetness comprises the body of this tea. There is a subtle nutty element that broadens the profile adding depth to a verdant finish. Purdy good.
This tea is magical. Really, truly, magical. I don’t know how else to describe it, but I love it.
I really didn’t know what to expect going into this. No tasting notes yet, no description, no steeping parameters even. it was just a free sample that I won by replying first to a thread. But, intrepid tea explorer that I am, I went in head first, and boy was I rewarded for my bravery.
I decided to start off with a 45 second steep. I used about a teaspoon and around 8 ounces each steep, and gradually increased the steep time as I went on, up to around 3 minutes by steep 6. I would have kept going as it was still strong and delicious, but I had to stop in order to get some sleep and pack, as I had a flight in the morning.
The first steep was like stepping into a garden at dawn; lush, dark greenness, a heavy mist in the air, and large white magnolia and gardenia flowers all around you. Steep 2 and onward were even more magical. Each cup was like gardenias, magnolias, and milk. There was the most delicious buttery component, like orchids and unsalted butter, and a hint of sweetness, like lactose or white bread, or maybe just from the flowers themselves. And something else, like the taste of “comfort”—the smell of warm skin, or your kitty’s fur, or your favorite fleece blanket—I don’t know how to put a name on it, but it was surely there.
The mouthfeel of the infusion was remarkable. Absolutely luscious…it was thick, and rich…just a “whole mouth experience.” Like something that you needed to bite into, but would give way easily to your teeth and tongue. Not that the tea was actually like gelatin or something, but it had an impression, if you will, of smooth thickness.
I wasn’t expecting to re-order anything from Life in Teacup when I first received my samples, but after trying this I know I’ll be placing another order soon.
When it comes to Tie Guan Yin, I usually prefer charcoal roast and traditional style. But this one impressed me from the beginning. It is only a Grade 2, which well explains the standards of this tea factory. Later it turned out I fell in love with many of their products.
Modern green style Tie Guan Yin is featured with lighter oxidation, greener dry leaves and more prominent floral/vegetal fragrance. It is closer to green tea than most other oolong products. My observation is, people who love green tea accept modern green style Tie Guan Yin very well. Many people who love Japanese green tea seem to find something they like in modern green style Tie Guan Yin.
Personally, I like modern green style to certain degree, usually appreciate the fragrance, but sometimes feel like to escape when the grassy flavor dominates. I even like grassy flavor when it’s not very strong. But when it gets overwhelming, I can’t take it anymore.
Today, for the first time, I tried brewing this tea in a mug. I was a little worried about the grassy flavor. Normally I use gongfu method to brew this tea, with only 20-30 seconds for each infusion. I wasn’t sure if a lot of grassy flavor would be extracted if the tea were left in a mug for many minutes.
I used about 20-25 grains of dry tea leaves, brewed in a glass mug. I paid price for my laziness. There was some lukewarm water from last night, and I just used it. It turned out too cold for brewing tea, probably only 60C or 140F. The first infusion was merely water taste. But then, starting from the second infusion, the flavor came out nicely. The tea didn’t taste grassy at all, probably because it’s not as strong as in gongfu style. When brewed in mug, the tea tastes very much like a fragrant green tea, with some sugary, metallic flavor that seems typical oolong characteristics.
Overall the flavor is on the light side, but should be strong enough for people who like green tea. Next time, I should definitely use hotter water!
While drinking this tea, I finished the first DRAMA in my life! No, I am not a writer, but merely a lousy student of ENG 200. I’ve been writing craps all this time, choppy, dull pieces that I wish my classmates never know who wrote them. But anyway, I could never imagine writing a DRAMA! Although I’ve been writing junk every day in the past two months, now writing a big chunk, complete piece of structured junk seems worth celebration with a cup of tea! :-D
I am not sure how to describe this tea. It has clear and prominent fragrance, but it’s hard to compare this fragrance with other food or drink. It brings a strong sweet aftertaste deep into the throat. Besides, I think the most exceptional character of Da Yu Long is that it has a somewhat buttery flavor, possibly due to the amino acid contents in the tea. Such buttery flavor usually is only found in high mountain oolong. Drinking this tea is like having a small heaven. In my eyes, a typical Da Yu Ling doesn’t have any flaws. Fragrance, flavor, liquor texture, even liquor color and leaf shape, it has got them all. In addition, it lasts for many infusions, and won’t get bitter in even very long infusions.
Although it’s not my most favorite tea, I do love this tea very much. Oddly, my favorite teas are not those without flaws. Sometimes I could taste a hint of smoky in a dark oolong but still love it. Sometimes I know a Dan Cong can’t survive long infusions, but will make it loveable by using super short infusions.
Da Yu Ling is usually expensive. And this tea, in my opinion, is expensive for people at my financial level. But last week, I just got this question regarding this tea from a store visitor, “Since you are selling it so cheap, how can I know it’s authentic?” In fact, I was more entertained than offended by this question. You’ve got to love the small dramas in tea business!
More pictures of this tea are here:
Oh, it is too hot out for more caffeine that this. Please please please let my building turn on the central air soon.
I am a meat lover. I love meat to such a degree that I already feel guilty about it and set aside two days a week as vegetarian days… But today is my carnivore day. I am not an active drinker of puerh. But I have to say it feels so good having puerh after a lamb chop dinner! No wonder puerh used to be exclusively enjoyed by nomad people.
When I broke off leaves from the tea cake, I got greedy and took too much. Forgetting that I would use my new 120ml teapot, I took enough leaves (maybe 5-6g) for my normal 150ml teapot. Then I used very short infusions, shorter than 15 sec. so that there was no waiting time before pouring in water and draining the teapot. My hubby, who only likes highly sweetened fake coffee and barely drinks tea, sometimes can enjoy sheng puerh, including this tea with great aftertaste. But this time, he was entirely freaked out by the tea I made. “Bitter and astringent!” he said. I am not good at dealing with bitterness or astringency. But oddly, now I am totally cherishing the bitter taste, which hit the tongue hard but is soon converted to a sweet aftertaste. Very strong tea though! I guess if I keep drinking this tea, the meat in my stomach will be digested sooner and I will need some dessert before going to bed!
Is it because I am so in love with this tea that I would even take its bitterness? I can take it at normal level and I can take it strong. Maybe next time, I will wrap its leaf debris in a teabag and try low concentration and long infusions.
Light and airy golden green oolong with a surprisingly rich homegrown vegetalsweetness. Low maintenance, down to earth, and easy to hang out with(as every good hippie should be).
As a tea seller, whether or not the business is successful, I’ve got to count my blessings for all the tea I’ve tasted in name of business. :-D
I didn’t set out to look for this tea but it was an accidental encounter. Then I took all this tea from the supplier who showed it to me. Hui Yuan Yan Cha Tea Factory is a highly reputable factory in Wuyi Region. It’s named after Hui Yuan Cliff, where it’s located and all its tea leaves are from. I didn’t have much experience about their tea, but heard of this factory for so many times. So it was absolutely an exciting moment when I saw this tea.
It is a high fire roasted Da Hong Pao, made in 2008. The dry leaves don’t look as pretty as some medium fire Yan Cha, since roasting will always crush some tea leaves. The leaves don’t smell of much fire, due to the one year of rest.
I filled a 50ml small gaiwan with probably 4-5g leaves. As usual, I gave the tea a super short warm-up infusion, and as usually, I drank the warm-up infusion (while it’s often called “wash water” by people and most people won’t drink it). It already bore strong flavor. So the next, I made the first a few infusions roughly 10 sec. each.
The liquor is in a bright red color and the color is quite consistent in the first 7-8 infusions. What’s great about a rested, high-fire Yan Cha like this one is, it hits your throat strong without letting your mouth feel the fire. The liquor has slightly thick texture and leaves a sweet aftertaste in my mouth from the first infusion. The flavor feels heavy on the back part of the tongue and the throat, but it gives a lighter note at the end. In Wuyi, people describe good Yan Cha as having “the character of a rock and the fragrance of flower”. It’s an amazingly proper description!
I am extremely happy with this tea. That being said, I don’t drink tea of this level every day. This is a relative expensive tea in our store. Most of the days I am happy with inexpensive teas. To me, part of the fun is tasting teas of different levels and comparing them back and forth.
Soft mocha sweetness and subtle spice open a rustic Wuyi which balances its smokiness and juiciness quite well.
oh hi i think i made my tea too strong this morning hi there is a lot of caffeine in here yes indeed there is mmm smoky sweet caffeine it is monday
Hmm. This tea smelled intriguingly nutty, but it tasted very weak. When I tried steeping it longer, it got distressingly bitter without getting any more flavorful. Probably I made it too weak — I’m still figuring out the best way to judge proportions. I will definitely try it again, because a tea which tasted the way this smelled would be fantastic.
(Backlogged from Saturday.)
Light mocha and muscatel sweetness and mild toasted almond character round out a thin base of warm vegetation.
What some may perceive as mundane and uncomely is, in this tea, revealed as inviting and understated. (Welcome home.)
My order from Life in Teacup just got here yesterday and overwhelmed me with the shiny foil-wrapped temptations waiting within! I feel like a really need to find some time to sit down and thoroughly taste everything. Today I don’t have that time, but I do have a whole fresh pile of this lovely tea which I already know I love. Mmm, smoky and delicious.
Has a slight earthy taste I have found common in Pu-Ur Teas. There is nice sweetness to taste as Gingko describes. Very warming taste.
You know, I’m starting to wonder if I didn’t do something wrong in storing this — I put it in a tin, but it’s a biggish tin for a small sample. This pot, like the previous one, is just not as flowery as the very first one. I mean, on any other tea I’d be calling this flowery, but here? Only barely.
Well, I’ve already ordered a bit more. I’ll have to see if I can treat the next batch better!
A tea shouldn’t be judged by its name, price, or outfit. That being said, I just can’t help being a visual tea drinker!
People say Guan Zi Zai puerh is often over-priced for its pretty wrap. Probably that’s true. But I just can’t help loving the pretty wraps of Guan Zi Zai. This is a relative plain design for Guan Zi Zai. But I love it as always! As for tea quality, I am not experienced enough to judge. But my heart often leans toward successful, small factories like Guan Zi Zai. Puerh market can’t be without the good old Xia Guan and Da Yi. But as in all other tea genres, the perpetual vitality is from small factories.
When it comes to tea leaves, again the visual sense kicks in. Many people said it, and I agree, that in puerh, pretty leaves are not that important. But probably because I grew up as a green tea drinker, I just can’t stop being judgmental on outlook of tea leaves.
This is not my favorite puerh, but I have to say, I started to admire it the first moment it was unwrapped. Look at those big leaves! It is generously made with nice big leaves from old tea tree, inside and out consistent (although it’s a common practice nowadays that better leaves are spread on the surface of a tea cake to make it look better).
The tea cake is quite easy to break. And I did it very carefully so that most leaves are uncrushed. Love the big leaves!
Ok! Puerh is not about pretty leaves. But I just can’t help admiring these beautiful, long leaves.
The taste is almost like some green tea with rich flavor, which may or may not be appreciated by people depending on what they are looking for. I like it very much, but suspect some seasoned puerh drinkers will think it’s not strong or aggressive enough. The flavor is very mellow, no astringency or bitterness (with 15-20 sec. for initial infusions). But again, some of my friends would say, “A tea (especially puerh) is not worth it if it’s neither bitter nor astringent!” It all depends on what you are looking for. The tea tastes rich, dark, vegetal, with immediate prominent sweet aftertaste.
Overall I think it’s a great beginners’ tea for people who want to try puerh but don’t want to handle the astringency or bitterness. It may also be appreciated by people who have a heavier taste on green tea. Besides, for a 5-year-old sheng, it’s one of the most drinkable. On the other hand, it may not have the “kick” demanded by seasoned puerh drinkers who are after a strong taste that hits you all the way into the throat. After all, puerh, by origin and basic characters, is a tea of nomads and warriors. This one, in my eyes, is more of a tea of literati.
Pasted from my blog. And there are additional pictures.
I tried this with short steeps, but the resulting tea was barely there (despite turning a beautiful deep golden color almost immediately). So I steeped the third time for two minutes, and what a change! This tea isn’t sweet, per se, but there’s a hint of burnt sugar around the edges; there’s still not a lot up front, but the back of it hits almost immediately with a savory grilled flavor that just keeps going.
This is wonderful stuff! The best Jasmine I’ve had. The second steep is absolutely exquisite!