Life In Teacup

Recent Tasting Notes

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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100

Yeppers — this was my tea of the day. I had a wonderful (if not whirlwind) Thanksgiving in Kansas City where there was a distinct lack of tea. The short turnaround made it not worth bringing all my tea-making items with me. So, these truly are the first cups I’ve had in ::mumble-mumble:: days. I checked Life In Teacup last week and they said that this tea is out of stock and should be back in by the end of November (and then they go on their haitus) – so I really need to keep an eye on their site. I don’t know why, but I had been treating this tea like something crazy-sacred instead of just enjoying it. I’m over it now, but realizing how much faster I go through the packets! TG

Oh, and yeah — I sorta broke my “no new tea until I drink some of my cupboard down” and ordered the Fortnum set from Williams-Sonoma (backordered until the end of next month!). So that gives me a month to do some sip-downs. Heh. And yeah, if you happened to notice — I’ll be breaking my “no new tea” rule for this tea as well. Double-heh.

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100

Oh, my favoritest favorite tea — even with the sub-par brewing abilities at work, your nomminess shines through! I shall be steeping these leaves until the library closes tonight. ::contented sigh::

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100

I’m just gonna sorta sneak in here with my tail between my legs. I’ve finally returned to the land of tea last week when I came down with a nasty head cold. Since then I’ve been drinking this almost non-stop (still as awesome as ever). And with drinking this I naturally thought of Steepster and that I’d kinda fallen off the face of the earth here. And I really feel bad with how I’d been planning to send out gift bags of tea and utterly failed at that after people had shared their mailing addresses with me (so very, very sorry!). Every-once-in-a-while I’d think of that plan and just wanna crawl into a hole and die because of my lack of follow-through :(

Onto happier notes — I am really very happy with how much better this site is running! Six months ago — the last time I posted (eek!) this site ran like molasses for me, taking almost a minute for each page to load. I stop by this evening and holy-molie is it fast! And my stuck “Notices” have finally cleared up! So, huzzah to the Steepster overlords!

So, I’m going to try and post at least once-a-week here. Things are still hectic in my life, but I’m finally getting into a rhythm. And I think my return to tea is a nice indicator of that. However, I won’t be reviewing much new. I am determined to get through lots of my teas in my cupboard before I order any more. Uh, except for the Fortnum teas I just discovered at Williams-Sonoma. Yeah, I’m gonna have to try those. But nothing beyond that. I hope!

I have missed you all and hope that everyone is doing well!

LiberTEAS

Great to see you back! I missed you!

ashmanra

Wish my stuck notices would get unstuck. Welcome back!

ScottTeaMan

Welcome back!

Angrboda

Don’t sneak. :) It’s good to have you around again. And yes they did something to the site speed. It’s still not perfect, but it’s a whole lot better.

Rabs

Thank you all so much! I know that I’m an utter goober, but that doesn’t excuse my lameness. I just need to re-prioritize some aspects of my life — and tea/Steepster should be higher up on that list :)

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100

I decided that I needed a yummy zen-like tea to get me through the day. Ah yes, this one hits the spot. I really noticed the butteriness of this one starting with the second steep — it almost felt like I’d applied lip balm (bizarre, but true). This tea just makes me happy from the aroma to the taste to the warm fuzzies it imparts. I lost count of the infusions, but there were many. TG

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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100

“Back to basics” day 3. Shockingly, the thought of a black tea this morning had me cringing — and that’s unusual since I’ve gained a love and appreciation for them. I was leaning more toward oolongs when I realized that I hadn’t had my favoritest favorite oolong in awhile. I quickly (well, for mornings it was quick) got out my precious underused yixing pot and a packet of this tea.

I’m only on the first and weakest steep and already I’m reminded why I love this one so much: yummy green freshness that’s gonna evolve into even yummier green floral freshness. This one’s gonna be steeped like crazy today. TG

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 0 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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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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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

Preparation
150 °F / 65 °C 3 min, 0 sec
I ♥ NewYorkCiTEA

Congrats on finishing your drama!

Pamela Dean

Ginkgo, congratulations on your success!

Gingko (manager of Life in Teacup)

Thanks guys! I am not sure if my writing was a complete success :-p I was happy it was an online class so that all the peer readings were anonymous. Otherwise I would worry my classmates would hate me :-p

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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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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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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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75

The infused leaves have a slight sweet smell while the brew leans more towards a black tea taste rather than green. Pleasant and not bitter but as I dont drink black tea I would give a pass on this as a daily drink.

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90

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.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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90

This was one of the other samples I got with the earliest green tea. I’d wanted to try a version of this ever since I read about it, as I found the descriptions in books of how it smells and tastes fascinating.

I’m hesitant to rate it yet because I have some other Lapsang samples and this is my first experience of one. But it’s pretty awesome stuff.

The dry leaves give off a whiff of charcoal when the package opens. They’re very, very dark — a dark chocolate color, almost black. The liquor is a deep, brandy-like color that makes you want to put on a smoking jacket and light up a cigar.

The aroma is deep and woody and rich. It’s like cooking on a campfire: smoky, piney, almost bacony. The taste is very much like the aroma. There is a smoky, spicy sweetness to it that makes you want to wrap yourself in a blanket in front of a fireplace in a ski lodge somewhere, staring into the flames and becoming hypnotized by them while you sip on this.

I think I’m joining the smoky fan club.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec
SoccerMom

Loved your description it made me smile especially this part>. I’ve never actually thought about wanting to " to put on a smoking jacket and light up a cigar."

~lauren.

I’m one of the latest (and most inexperienced) member of the smoky fan club, too!

Angrboda

I do believe we have a convert here…
Smoky Fan Club? I like it!

__Morgana__

It’s so funny, the smoking jacket was actually the second image that came to mind. It was so much easier to describe quickly than the first, which involved heavy, wooden furniture with red-leather upholstered chairs and paintings of waterfowl in flight on the walls. Lol.

Doulton

I, too, am a Smoky Fan. Morgana, your descriptions sounds like the quintessential English gentleman’s club—were there no smoky clubs for the women? At least Angrboda has founded one here!

SoccerMom

Doulton you put it so eloquently when all I could think of was Hugh Hefner!

__Morgana__

Hah! I wasn’t thinking of Hugh. ;-)

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