Life In Teacup
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Recent Tasting Notes
Hmm. I used the brew-in-mug method here again, with cooler water, and this tea began and ended very strong, although it was smoother in the middle. Oddly, the leaves never floated at all, but only unrolled slowly at the bottom of the mug. I was liking it in the middle, for the second steep and around the edges into the first and third steeps, but there’s a bitter aftertaste lingering from the third steep.
Still, many thanks to Gingko for letting me try it! (I feel more than a little embarrassed to have forgot to actually, y’know, sample this for several weeks! All the excitement of the very first tea of the year — and then I let it go to the end of March.)
Amount: 2 tsp
Water: 12 ounces
Steep Time: no idea
Dry Leaf Smell: grassy
Steeped Tea Smell: grassy
Flavor: sweet, watery, vegetal, but smooth
Aftertaste: bitter, vegetal that lingers
Liquor: transparent with a green tint
I got this as part of a sample set from Life in Teacup.
Tried following directions (http://www.lifeinteacup.com/brewing-tea) and waited until most leaves sank. I used boiling water that had sat for a bit.
I really guess I am not too much of a green person :(
Post-Steep Additives: none
My god, it’s full of
When I ripped open the little sample foil packet, I couldn’t smell much of anything, but when I gave the leaves a rinse and set the pot back on the counter, I turned around going, “Wait, why does it smell like flowers in here? Is that coming from outside…but it’s not spring flowers…it’s more like orchids…wait just a moment!” And yes, it was the tea leaves.
So I poured myself a fifteen-second steep in my teeny-tiny pot and promptly burned my tongue trying to discover if it tasted like flowers. One glass of cold water and a cautious two-minute wait later, I can tell you this: it doesn’t taste like flowers. It tastes like candied flowers. It tastes like someone dipped orchid petals in sugar. It tastes like spun sugar in a field of orchids. I didn’t know tea could do this.
Fifteen-second steep number two: still full of flowers! It’s getting a little bit rounder, but this is still the sweetest airy-fairy-flowery tea I’ve ever tasted. I can’t believe there’s caffeine in this.
Twenty-second steep number three: the flowers may have come down to earth now, but this tea is still best described as “flowers flowers flowers flowers flowers flowers flowers!”
I was one of those fortunate to get a free sample of this through Ginkgo’s generosity. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t have a great deal of green tea experience which is one of the reasons I wanted to give this a try. In fact, it’s my first loose leaf green. I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t let that bias what I said here, but I didn’t have to worry. I think it is wonderful!
The dry leaves are, overall, a deep green color with variations in the individual leaves ranging from slightly brownish to bright, silvery flecks. They’re a medium length and generally straight, or with a tiny bit of curl. There’s a gently vegetal smell about them; I’m going to say asparagus, so Jacqueline probably wouldn’t go for it. ;-)
The liquor is tinged with light green, but otherwise almost clear. It smells much like the dry leaves, but rounder. The taste is quite sweet and vegetal, with something of a nutty undercurrent. It has a buttery feel to it, as though it is melting in my mouth. Very smooth and reminiscent of spring without being grassy, great for a day like today. I’m not getting smokiness, but I wouldn’t mind if I did.
The leaves unfurl prettily, and carry their smell with them post-steeping. The second steep worked reasonably well, too, though I can see that significantly lengthening steeping time could yield some bitterness. I went 90 seconds on the resteep and there was just a tad of bitterness in the aftertaste, but it was just enough to make things interesting rather than unpleasant.
This is going on my shopping list. I can see myself becoming fond of greens! I should add that I didn’t read the notes on how to prepare this until after I’d made it but that obviously didn’t hamper my enjoyment. I just wonder how different it would have been had I heeded them.
Interesting! I dropped some leaves in my mug and poured down-a-bit-from-boiling water in, then spent several minutes going “ooh” as the leaves gracefully unrolled and arrowed down through the water. The water started darkening almost right away and was a pinkish sort of gold by the time most of the leaves were off the top of the mug and I could start sipping.
The first steep of this was really strong. Not bitter, but certainly harsh. I wasn’t enamored, but I figured I might as well keep going (if nothing else, the excuse to get up and walk away from the project documentation I’m writing for long enough to heat the water was a draw!).
By the second steep, all of the leaves were down on the base of the mug, but many of them were just barely touching down, like they were dancing around down there. To my surprise, this steep was very different, smoother and with a lingering sweet aftertaste to each sip. For the third steep, it’s sweet almost all the way through, with a lingering astringency and juiciness.
My Life in a Teacup samples are here! I grabbed this one 1st because it’s so unique. I love bamboo shoots, but I rarely eat them so I can’t really remember what they taste like… So I’m kinda winging my description.
The sample is 6.86g. YAY for getting a large sample, but not yay that the bag isn’t resealable.
2.25g of leaf/6oz water ~200 degrees F.
Wow! what an interesting tea. The leaves look very needley like silver needle, but are much more sharp on the ends. Once I add the water, this is one of the most gorgeous non blooming/rolled teas to watch steep. The leaves start floating on top of the water, but then some of them slowly begin to drift down in a verticle position. The liquor is a wonderful golden color.
The aroma is incredibly sweet- not fruity or floral sweet, but almost honey-esk. This is the 1st time I’ve had a tea that smells like honey.
The flavor is also really sweet and honey-esk… but there’s also just a hint of something else… I just don’t know how to describe it… is it bitterness? Astringency? If it is, it’s not a bad thing. If it wasn’t there, this’d be too sweet.
It’s a very sweet tea so it’s not something I’d drink all day every day, but I will be ordering it again. Thank you, Gingko!
When I requested a sample of Life in Teacup’s first picked green tea of this year, I told Gingko (LiT’s manager) to surprise me on the two other free samples he offered with the green tea. The teas on LiT are more “serious” looking than any teas I’ve had so far, it was late at night, and I love surprises. This jasmine green tea is one of the surprise samples I received (and you’ll just have to wait until I review the other one to know what it is). I should add, since this my first tea from LiT, that Gingo responded to my email quickly and I was emailed when the teas were shipped. A+ for customer service to LiT.
So, I’ve never had a jasmine tea before. I wasn’t sure I’d like a jasmine tea, or any floral tea for that matter. I worried I’d have to write a “I don’t like this” tealog for tea samples I was kindly given. Turns out I didn’t have to worry, not only did I like this jasmine green, I really liked it. I didn’t expect to like teas with smokey notes (A&D’s Yunnan and Jackee), but I did. I do have to brew them on the mild side so I don’t know if I’d like a truly smoky tea. So far, I’ve liked all new tea types I’ve tried, despite any prior expectations. Good, right? Maybe. I can only store and drink so much tea.
The tea sample packets came with no steeping instructions so I had to look on LiT’s website for them. They are also on Steepster. I did find them a bit vague. My leaves did not float mostly, only a dozen or so with most at the bottom, so I had to guess at steeping time a bit. Luckily, I seemed to have guessed pretty close to right.
I opened my sample packet and looked and smelled. The leaves were small dark, dark spring green curls. There were very few jasmine petals in my sample, but I think such is the luck of samples. The smell was all flower. I’d call it gardenia since I’ve never smelled a jasmine flower. The wet leaves lightened in color a bit and smelled like gardenia’s on a hot summer day after a rain shower. The tea had the same smell and was a warm, bright tan.
I tasted. Flower! Just what I’d expect a flower to taste like if I were to decide to eat one for some bizarre reason. I like flower taste? Really? Weird, but I do! The green tea is light with absolutely no bitterness.
I oh-so-rarely steep a second time as soon as I’ve finished my first cup, but I did. In the middle of writing this tasting note, in fact. Same steeping parameters as the first cup. Lighter in color and only slightly lighter in flavor.
I wish I’d made this tea during the day so I could have resteeped it as much as I could or until I tired of it. (Oddly, after tofu coconut curry leftovers for dinner tonight, I wanted to try this tea. It sounded like it would go with Chinese/Thai foods. As it grew later, I wasn’t even sure I would make tea tonight but I kept thinking about trying this.) Although, I might do a third steep even this late at night. Luckily, I should have two more tries out of this sample to enjoy. This tea makes me eager to try my other samples from LiT soon.
This is an interesting tea. When I requested my sample, I thought it would have bergamot added to it, but after I did some reading, I realized that this tea has a citrusy flavor and aroma on its own. It doesn’t have that kind of Earl Grey slap in the face bergamot that I love so much, so don’t compare it to an Earl Grey. It has a citrusy aroma and a green refreshing taste. It’s a grassy kind of flavor. It reminds me of picking citrus on an unseasonably warm day in February. You’re not eating the fruit, but you know it’s there.
I’m having a little trouble explaining this tea, but I’m enjoying my sample a lot.
This is a very bright, fresh tea. There is definitely a vegetable kind of flavor, and it has a very fresh green odor. Drinking it made me feel I was doing something very good for myself. There was no trace of bitterness at all. It had a very smooth feel to the tongue. I’m very, very glad that I got to try such a wonderful tea! It made me hope that I’ll use up the teas I have quickly so I have room to order some of this tea.
It’s very good, and I’m looking forward to reading some of the other reviews. Thanks Gingko!
making my last 2.2g at work
12 ounces hot spigot water tempered with a bit of cold fountain water (aiming on 170)
5 min steep
tea smell: vegetal, refreshing (springy?) sweet
tea taste: vegetal, sweet, refreshing, not minty like it was last night, I blame the root beer float
it’s more a medium bodied drink than the light it was last night
aftertaste: bitter on the roof of my moth as opposed to tongue
i sorta liked the mint tang-i miss it
still a refreshing green tea, but it now has that bitter after tang i do NOT like
maybe some honey? sugar?
I got this as a sample and I am really glad that I did. I wanted tea today, but I am feeling a bit too lazy to do any typical brewing…hey, my spring break starts today, I can be a bit lazy! I decided to brew this in a mug – I always thought the leaves were supposed to float to the bottom…huh….10 minutes in and the leaves are just floating away….
Okay, I think that perhaps the water wasn’t hot enough. Luckily my cup wasn’t filled very full so I added hotter water. Alright, some leaves are sinking. 5 more minutes – about 1/2 the leaves are still floating. I am going to assume this is because the water still isn’t really hot enough. I’m drinking it with a spoon to push the leaves away. When the cup was 1/3 full, I added water to try for a second infusion. These leaves are resilient little things, there is no taking them down.
Okay, on to the actual tea. It is a greener oolong than I believe I enjoy. The scent is awesome, if you know me, you know I love bergamot and this tea smells just like it. I wanted to like this tea, I really did. I tried two infusions and it does have a bergamot like taste. But it is just too “green” for me. I like green tea, but not when it has a vegetable taste and this does, however slightly, but its there. I just can’t get past it. sigh This tea has great potential, but it just isn’t for me. I guess it is to be expected that I would come across a few teas that I don’t like, but lately I have liked about everything so this is a bit disappointing.
I’m rating it right in the middle because it is a quality tea – the leaves are huge once they unfurl (one is as long as my thumb), the smell is great, and I believe this tea could go for a bunch of infusions as most of the leaves are not unfurled yet. Just isn’t for me.
I feel funny to say so, but it just came into my mind – this feels like a second date! :D
In my last puerh order, the supplier gave me a bunch of tea samples. I knew they were little baits, and the supplier expect me to fall in love with some of them. Overall I am not a super fan of puerh, and this very fact makes me feel safe. Many puerh fans I know are craaazy! They tend to stock up hundreds of, even thousands of bings and tuos at home, enough for many people to drink for 100 years. Why? Because collecting puerh is a long-term commitment. They say, you’ve go to make sure you have good, aged puerh when you are 80 years old! I am not going to stuff my house with puerh. My soul mate is oolong :D
So, last time I tried several samples from the supplier. I liked, but was not terribly crazy about most of them. This one, Guan Zi Zai 2006 Meng Ku Bing Dao, tasted quite special though. It is still young for a sheng puerh, but quite mild. No smokiness, astringency or bitterness. It has a plum aroma typical of good sheng, and leaves a rock sugar kind of sweet aftertaste in your mouth. It makes you want to wave your tongue under the palate after each sip, so that the light plum aroma circulates and rises to the nose. I enjoyed this tea very much when I tried it the first time. Since shipping from China is not always easy, and there was the super long Chinese new year holiday in China last month, I had to wait for a long time before I could get more of this tea. During the waiting, I kind of missed it! Then, finally I got more of it, several big compressed tea cakes!
Today when I started to prepare this tea, I was both excited and nervous. I believe many tea drinkers occasionally feel this way. If you like a tea that’s new to you, then before the second brewing session, you would keep wondering, was it really so good or was it just my illusion? Will it still be so good this coming time? Ha, will you then feel as if going to a second date :-p
Now I am having this tea for the second time, and am delighted this tea is still great enjoyment for me! Still plum-fragrant and rock-sugary! What’s more, this time I am holding the whole cake, not a small sample. The tea cake is not hard to break at all. With a simple puerh knife, I managed to take off its beautiful, big leaves intact, even better than the sample I got last time! It comes in a nice paper wrap, with beautiful ancient style drawing. Guan Zi Zai tea factory is not only famous for their tea, but also for their classic package style. Some puerh drinkers comment that when you buy their tea, you are paying for both the tea and the wrapping. But paying extra for pretty wrapping is totally fine for me.
I am very much in love with this tea now. I will try to keep a level head and taste it for several more times, before deciding whether to make a long term commitment by stocking up some!
As I am logging this tea now, I put it under the company name Guan Zi Zai, which is the manufacturer. But possibly in future I would switch its company category to Life In Teacup.
Additives: none, MilitiaJim: Honey
Water: 2 zarafina cups filtered water
Tool: Zarafina Green-Loose-Medium
Dry Leaf Smell: very light bad to get very close to smell it, vegetal and sweet
Steeped Tea Smell:
AmazonV: again a very light smell, vegetal, light, sweet, minty
AmazonV: delicate, light, sweet, minty, refreshing
MilitiaJim: earthy like an unwashed potato, maybe dirty cinnamon
Aftertaste: minty, refreshing, tingly
Liquor: pale yellow-green
So Bobbie and MilitiaJim gave me their teas to finish as they did not like this tea at all. I was surprised I liked this tea and found it refreshing as I am not a green tea person.
I did find it earthier with the clover honey. Not in a bad way though.
I think this tea came though best without additives.
Post-Steep Additives: none
Resteep: Zarafina, 2 c, Green-Loose-Medium
pretty much the same as the first steep, less tingly though
The smell of the dry tea is very interesting….slightly smoky (guess that is the roast part of the name) and sweet. I admit that I didn’t read the brewing instructions before diving in, so I may have slightly oversteeped. However, I really like this tea. It definately has the taste quality of a green, but not at all bitter. The initial sip is the roasted part which is so familiar, but I can’t place it. Maybe roasted vegetables…. This tea is good without milk or sweetener, but at the same time is strange. In a good way.
After drinking more of this tea, I realize this just isn’t my cup. I believe I will be passing this on or may retry this on a different day using a shorter steep time. I enjoyed the chance to try this – the more you try, the more you understand what you really like. I’m lowering the previous rating to reflect that this just isn’t for me. It is good, but not what I’m looking for.
Today I brewed my homemade teabag, for the first time! The little baggie came in last week, and I tried its sealing effect by putting a small bunch of Sweet Summer Oolong tea grains (weighed later and turned out to be about 1.5g) in the bag and sealing it with a hot pad sealer. The bag works out perfectly. I thought, it could be a convenient to steep! Convenience, sometimes, is appreciated!
Today I came home tired and hungry. After a big meal, I was full and tired, and terribly needed some oolong. Too lazy to do anything, I started brewing my test drive teabag in a mug with half thermo of lukewarm water from yesterday. The water was probably only 150F. After several minutes, the first infusion of the tea was sweet, with a tiny bid of the honey flavor that features this tea. Then I realized boiling water couldn’t be omitted, boiled some water and steep this small teabag again. This time the tea totally came into life. The tiny tea grains soon expand and make the teabag look like a small green pillow. The liquor is light golden with a green hint. The tea is not as strong as my regular dose, but is mild, sweet, slightly peppery, and gives a honey feeling at the throat. This small bag of 1.5g tea lasts for a few flavorful infusions. And I am going to keep brewing it for several more infusions tonight, so to make my evening well-hydrated and low caffeine!
I chose Sweet Summer Oolong to test drive the teabag idea because I always think it’s a very easy-going tea. Throw it in water any way you’d like. It won’t be ruined. Today’s tea demonstrates that when it comes to tea, it’s ok to be lazy, just don’t be too lazy to make boiling water!
Amount: a bit under 1 tsp
Water: 6 ounces / 8 ounces boiling filtered water let cool to 175 then steeped in cup with mesh basket
Steep Time: a little over 2 minutes
Dry Leaf Smell: AmazonV: Nothing / MilitiaJim: Faint green tea
Steeped Tea Smell: green tea (slightly vegetal)
Flavor: green tea (slightly vegetal)
Liquor: translucent green (MilitiaJim: de-neon-ed mountain dew)
This was a sample from Life in Teacup
I was very pleased that this tea is not bitter! I tend to over heat or steep greens and get bitter tea. This is a nice mellow green tea and I am enjoying it. I wouldn’t mind getting it again, although I know I am more a black tea / red tea person than green.
Post-Steep Additives: honey = sweetened green tea
Oh, this is amazing! It’s all smoky and sweet and complicated, and it’s light without being at all weak, if that makes sense. It smelled wonderful as soon as I ripped open the shiny vacuum-sealed sample packet, and it just kept getting better. I’m going back for a third steep now with my hopes very high….
Today, I tried for the first time ever brewing a dan cong in a mug. It took a lot of courage. My routine way of brewing dan cong is with a small gaiwan or teapot, 3-4 oz. of boiling water, vessel almost fully packed with dry leaves, 5-10 seconds short infusions – everything different from mug brewing.
Today, I used about 20 long strip leaves of my Hign Mountain Zhi Lan (orchid) Dan Cong to cover 2/3 of the bottom of my glass mug, and brew the tea with boiling water. This amount of tea is tiny compared with my usual dose. The infusion time (a few minutes) is super long compared with my usual dan cong routine. I wasn’t sure at all if this would work, but it’s always fun to try something new!
The outcome was a nice surprise. Tea leaves “danced” for a couple of minutes and then all sank to the bottom of the mug. Initially the liquor was a very light honey brown color. The first a few sips were rather light flavor. I guess I could have waited for longer to allow more infusion, and I could have used more leaves. By the time when I nearly finished the first infusion, the liquor started to yield very rich and interesting flavor. The flavor immediately made me think of lychee and sweet, juicy peach. The aroma rose all the way to nasal cavity and the sweet aftertaste lingered in the mouth.
The second and the third infusions were the best, fruity and sweet. After that, the fruity aroma became weaker, but still long lasting. I re-infused the same leaves in the mug again and again, for 10+ infusions. By the end, the flavor was much weaker, but never seemed to be exhausted. Some tea leaves were still half curled, not completely spent yet. That’s what’s great about high mountain dan cong – after a dozen infusions, some of their leaves still look very new. Another prominent feature of dan cong is the lingering sweet aftertaste. By the end, I couldn’t tell if the flavor was from the tea liquor, or from the sweet aftertaste in my mouth which resulted from previous infusion.
The main reasons I had rarely thought of mug brewing dan cong are, first I thought long infusion might cause bitterness; and secondly I thought diluted liquor would fail to bring out the unique fragrance of dan cong. But it turned out the diluted liquor just eliminated the possibility of bitterness. I wonder if it’s because some contents in the tea are fragrant and even sweet when diluted, but are bitter when highly concentrated. Besides, dan cong’s aggressive aroma can hardly be overshadowed by anything, not even when the tea is brewed in a diluted way. Overall, it was a very pleasant experience! For people who have heavy flavor on dan cong, probably mug brewing will be a little bland to them. But I guess if one likes green tea, s/he will find mug-brewed dan cong very flavorful.
Also I have to say, even when brewed in a relatively diluted level, dan cong is still very strong. I guess these 20 something dan cong leaves will keep me up long after the midnight tonight
This is a very assertive tea! Right up front, this tea says, Hello there, you’re drinking some mighty fine tea, aren’t you?
I gave this tea a rinse and then steeped it at my standard cooled-for-greens temperature (I don’t have a thermometer, so this is all approximate) for twenty seconds, because I’d read the directions from Life In Teacup (near boiling, twenty seconds) and then failed to fully follow them. I was nervous about the short steep time until I smelled the leaves steeping: they smelled extremely strong! The first steep was a very light yellow-green and it tasted a little light as well, probably because I’d used the cooler water, but it was definitely tasty. I was a little worried because it was a tad rough-feeling in spite of the lightness, so I went back and checked the directions, which is when I noticed my temperature mistake! Second steep was hotter water for another twenty seconds and the color was a noticeably darker yellow. This time the tea was smoother and had an exciting sort of peppery taste. Third steep like the second, and the tea is less peppery and more fruity. It still has that strong, dramatic tea taste over everything!