Life In Teacup
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Recent Tasting Notes
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. :)
I put the tasting notes on my blog and there are more photos:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
I put the tasting notes of this tea on my blog here with some more photos:
But I ended up writing super long paragraphs about tea-related thoughts. So here is a shorter version, sticking to the tea itself :-D
In my opinion, the greatest difference between semi-wild tea and regular tea is richer flavor. For green tea, early spring is the best season (and the only season for many products). The earlier the harvest, the more refreshing flavor a tea has. Then in later harvests, flavor becomes heavier, but meantime, some bitter, astringent side tastes may build up too. The semi-wild tea has the pure taste of early spring, but it has richer flavor than other teas harvested at the same time.
I always use a glass to brew Huang Shan Mao Feng. Can’t miss the view of tea dance! (Most of my photos are poorly taken. But probably from the photos you can tell how much I love this tea :-D)
I love it when the leaves all “stand up” in the water like many little trees.
When most leaves sink to the bottom, the tea is ready for drinking. If you gently blow the water surface, you can “drive” away the suspending leaves. Many people would prefer using a gaiwan, to avoid any fight with the leaves. When using a gaiwan, I believe it’s a good idea to leave the lid OFF most of the time.
I think I’ve got to get a glass gaiwan for green teas!
he tea has a light green bean / edema-me aroma. The first infusion doesn’t feel as strong as some other teas. But the first 3-4 infusions are very consistent in flavor, and the refreshing aroma doesn’t get weaker. As a thrifty-minded person, I re-infused this tea for many times. To other tea drinkers, I would recommend at least 5 infusions. This tea lasts more infusions than most other green teas I’ve seen.
To me, this is the most exciting time of Spring!
Second lap of the day. My earlier note gives the detail of my impression of this tea, and I won’t repeat the basics here, but I will note a couple of things for comparison’s sake with the Golden Moon version. First, even with the reduced amount of leaf available for this tasting (which made this somewhat difficult to steep as the amount of water in the cup barely covered the top of the leaves) the liquor is brandy-colored, deeper than the GM’s color. And there is much more smoke. Smoke through and through. Smoke, smoke and more smoke. And some pine resin as well. There’s also an interesting grabbing sensation on the first third of the tongue in the moments after swallowing. Camphor?
This is what I’d call full-bodied. It tastes like it can’t possibly be good for you, and it also seems like the sort of thing one could become addicted to quite easily. I may revisit the rating after trying the last in the lapsang sampling, but for now it’s getting high praise.
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.
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.)
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.