Life In Teacup

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Recent Tasting Notes

60

This is an inexpensive shou that Life in Teacup is selling at $1/15 g. sample in order to introduce pu’erh to the public. Toward that end, the name is appropriate and kind of cool and made me interested in trying it.

The tea itself is…not that exciting. It’s similar to other inexpensive shous I’ve tried that are advertised as “easy to drink” teas for new pu’erh drinkers. It smells and tastes overwhelmingly like hay, making me feel like I’m on a hayride or in a horse barn. This doesn’t appeal to me. I think whenever I get through the pu’erh samples I currently have on hand, I’ll go for slightly better quality than I have so far. Increasing each steep by 15 seconds, you get tons of hay tea infusions, which is… Bleh. The complexity I’m told pu’erh brings to the tea world is conspicuously absent. I guess it’s true that it’s easy to drink in the sense that it’s mild and doesn’t have any particularly offensive flavors. Just not exciting.

Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate the sample from Life in Teacup. They’re a cool company to order samples from. I think I just bought this one sample for $1.00 and and paid shipping, and they shipped me 3 oolong tea samples (which were really what I wanted in the order). I would not recommend or buy this. I’m thinking my strategy of starting out on communist tea is a bit misguided — next time I shop for pu’erh, I’ll go for middle-range prices and higher quality.

I don’t know that I’d say I recommend it per se. It’s certainly worth the dollar charge that got me all the other free samples. I wouldn’t advocate buying more than the sample size though.

Flavors: Hay

kristinalee

Before anyone says it, the “communist tea” thing was a joke.

mrmopar

Think Menghai, HaiWan, Yunnan Sourcing, Mandala, White2Tea and Crimson Lotus. They all have good shou.

kristinalee

I’ll keep these in mind.

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91

Sipdown no. 191. A sample, and the last Life in Teacup oolong sample. (Sniff.)

At least they went out with a bang. The leaves smelled grassy green in the packet but did some amazing things after steeping. I steeped this in the gaiwan starting with 15 seconds and increasing in 5 second increments.

1. Pale yellow tea with a milky, floral scent. Flavor is light, more floral/grassy than vegetal, something that initially presents with a slightly bitter edge but quickly smooths into a sort of green nutty flavor like chestnuts.

The cup smells very fragrant, a distinctive floral smell. I’m guessing this is why it is called osmanthus.

2. Same color, similar aroma but deeper. Flavor is fascinating. Starts as green floral and ends as green nuts. Along the way it morphs into various things too fleeting to pin down and describe. Really wonderful and, dare I say, fun.

By the end of the second steep, the leaves have almost tripled in volume.

3. Greener color. Nectar in the aroma! Nuttiness is forefront in the flavor now with floral afterwards, but the nuttiness returns in the aftertaste, light and raw and reminds me of Brazil nuts.

4. Greener again, nectar has become milder. Flavor similar to 3.

5. Similar to 4 but the nuttiness is now milder and the floral aroma/flavor is much more noticeable.

Aftertaste is sweet and fresh for a while after drinking.

Just delicious.

Flavors: Chestnut, Floral, Green, Milk, Nectar, Nutty, Osmanthus

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80

Sipdown no. 190. since I’ve started counting sipdowns. A sample.

Ten more sipdowns to 200. Sadly, I will not have even made a noticeable dent in my tea stash after hitting 200. I’m wondering at what point I’ll actually see it start to look smaller? Just for fun, I think I’ll try to make a prediction when I actually do hit 200.

Though I haven’t made much of an overall dent, I am getting to the end of the Life In Teacup samples. I have one more oolong sample from them (I think) after this and a few pu erh samples. I have mixed feelings, of course. These oolong samples have been lovely, and part of me is sorry to see them go. On the other hand, I got to enjoy them, finally. And it’s not like it’s the end, either. I did buy some oolong from Life In Teacup and have most of that left in my stash as well.

But anyway, this tea. I looked up what the competition grading meant and found this:

http://gingkobay.blogspot.com/2010/05/competition-grades-of-taiwan-oolong.html

Apparently, this won fourth place in an oolong competition.

I’m also slightly confused because I’ve had a Dong Ding from Life In Teacup which I thought was terrific and a Cui Yu, which I also liked. Not sure what makes this both?

I put this through my usual five steeps starting at 15 seconds and adding five seconds per steep. The tea comes in tightly rolled dark green balls that smelled foresty to me. It steeps to a clear pale yellow-light green.

I’m not usually at a loss for descriptive terms, but I’m having something of a tough time describing the aroma and taste of this one. It’s certainly not a dark roasty toasty oolong though it has a hint of roastiness. Nor does it seem to be a purely green oolong. I mostly get a sort of raw nuttiness in the aroma and flavor with some floral notes around the edges and a hint of milkiness. It’s extremely mild and smooth.

Very enjoyable, albeit somewhat hard to define. I wonder whether if I’d used hotter water I would have got more of the amazingness out of it that I got out of the Dong Ding of a couple of days ago?

Flavors: Floral, Milk, Nutty, Roasted

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90

Sipdown no. 186. A sample.

I had a different experience of this than some other notes reflect, but I steeped in the gaiwan for short infusions starting at 15 seconds and adding increments of five seconds for a total of five infusions.

I also used water a bit hotter than I usually do for oolongs, mostly because something happened to the outlet where my zojirushi was plugged in and I had to reboil the water. I didn’t have the patience to wait for the water to cool, so I used it as it was on its way down from boiling.

The result was that my experience of this was more like a green oolong than a roasted one, but it was at the same time a bit unusual for a green. The aroma had a sort of a milky floral scent at first but mellowed over subsequent steeps into something that smelled fresh and nutty — but not roasted nutty. More like green (unroasted) almonds. By the third steep, the floral notes were quite lovely. I thought of lilacs, though I’m not sure that’s actually what I smelled, and by the fourth and fifth steeps, I got a whiff of fresh, raw, sweet, warm root vegetable, carrot maybe. A little less pronounced in the fifth steep. Perhaps more like turnip or parsnip. The wet leaf smelled like sweet potatoes to me.

Really tasty and wonderful, but I wonder whether cooler water would have yielded the same flavors. Oh well, I am not likely to find out soon as I’m on lock down. All I can say is this was excellent tonight.

Flavors: Almond, Carrot, Floral, Green, Milk, Sweet Potatoes

OMGsrsly

That sounds really neat. My kettle only holds at 208F or 140F, so when I do multiple steeps they’re always at 208. What temperatures does yours do?

__Morgana__

I can get the zojirushi to 212 (boiling) but it doesn’t stay there. It goes down to 208, then 195, 175 and 140. For boiling I usually just use a kettle on the stove, or the highest Breville setting. For stuff that requires finer gradations I tend to use the Breville, but for oolongs I usually just use the zo at 195.

OMGsrsly

I should say, my off-brand zojirushi, not kettle. :) That’s pretty cool though. More temperatures is definitely an argument for getting a new one at some point.

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92

Sipdown no. 181. Another Life In Teacup oolong sample.

This one is pretty special. Unfortunately I’m not seeing it on the Life In Teacup site now. The dry leaves are dark brown and delicate looking, and they smell like your basic roasty highly oxidized oolong, including the sharp darjeeling-y note.

Steeped, they produce a clear, amber colored liquor, with a roasty, nutty (mostly hazelnut, I think, but also suggesting almond), stonefruit (peach, maybe?) aroma.

The flavor is, however, pleasantly unexpected. It’s not the usual roasty dark oolong flavor. It’s remarkably smooth and soft tasting, with an unusual sweetness to it, but not overly sweet.

I am not sure have had a Bai Hao before, but I am now a fan. This is one of the better, if not the best, Taiwan dark oolongs I’ve had.

I steeped this in the gaiwan at 195F for short steeps after rinsing, starting at 15 seconds and adding 5 second increments.

The first two steeps had the lovely sweet, rounded softness to them.

The third and fourth were a bit less sweet and more hazel-nutty tasting but still very smooth.

By the fifth, the softness was still there but there was also a little sharpening around the edges beginning, which I think heralded the leaves being about to reach their limit.

I went ahead and did one more steep after that, by which this was still flavorful but starting to taste more ordinary, for lack of a better word.

Still probably the best Taiwan oolong I’ve tasted to this point, as its rating reflects.

Flavors: Almond, Hazelnut, Smooth, Stonefruits

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C

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82

Sipdown no. 175. A sample.

I am really enjoying the oolong samples from Life in Teacup. I’ve been wanting to try them, but I wanted to be sure I had the time to really do them justice and I’ve been fortunate to be able to spend some time with them recently.

The dry leaves are dark green and tightly rolled. They have a scent that reminded me of asparagus, fluctuating with a grassy, hay-like aroma.

Indeed, “fluctuates” is a word that describes this tea pretty accurately. I steeped this in the gaiwan at 195F for six steeps, starting at 15 seconds and increasing in 5 second increments, and I found that it moved back and forth in both aroma and flavor between floral and buttery, though with respect to the flavor the butter didn’t come out until the later steeps.

In the earlier steeps, 1, 2, and 3, the flavor was brighter and more “green,” vegetal and strongly floral, even though the aroma had a sort of buttery, milky aspect to it. The buttery flavor didn’t really come out until the last couple of steeps. Even then it wasn’t as strong and creamy as some tieguanyins, but it was still very tasty.

I liked it a little better than the green jade I had yesterday, but a lot of this has to do with mood. If I was looking for something with a brighter, more green tea like flavor, I’d choose the jade. Something more green oolongy, I’d choose this.

Flavors: Asparagus, Butter, Floral, Milk

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80

Sipdown no. 172. A sample.

Wow, what a pleasant little tea. I didn’t really know what to expect from it, and it was a nice surprise.

The leaves are rolled and green, and they smell fresh and a little grassy in the packet. I steeped them in short infusions in the gaiwan at 195F, starting with 15 seconds after rinsing first.

1. Pale yellow liquor. Vegetal fragrance, a little like spinach or maybe bok choy. Pleasant vegetal flavor, a bit like a Chinese green tea.

2. A bit darker yellow this time. Fragrance is similar to no. 1 with something floral around the edges. Deeper flavor, somewhere between spinach and freshly mown grass. Very smooth and fresh tasting.

3. Liquor color is hanging tough at the same pale yellow. More pronounced floral note this time. I’m still getting a green tea flavor, a bright flavor rather than a buttery one. But I’m wondering if this is trying to morph into something like a tieguanyin in later steeps.

4. A little paler yellow with a greenish tinge. Aroma is less bright, more mellow, heading toward something reminiscent of diary. Flavor still bright and fresh. I don’t think this is going to head any more toward a tieguanyin than it already has, which isn’t much. Leaves have pretty much completely unfurled at this stage and they’re a sort of olive color.

5. Looks yellower this time. The flavor is starting to fade a bit, a bit less bright, a bit more mellow without reaching buttery.

Very enjoyable. I could definitely drink this again.

Flavors: Bok Choy, Floral, Grass, Green, Spinach

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73

Sipdown no. 169. Another sample I’ve been considering for a while and finally decided to try.

This is a visually fun tea, particularly when prepared as suggested at the LIT site and as described in other folks’ notes, where you cover the bottom of your mug with tea, pour in water, and then wait for the leaves to fall to the bottom leaving the jasmine flowers floating on the surface. It looks a lot like the picture, though my tea’s liquor ended up being a darker, more golden yellow. It was fun to watch, but I confess that when I went to drink the tea, after the first few sips I poured it through an infuser basket because the petals kept sticking to my lips and I found that disconcerting. YMMV.

I really love jasmine as a tea flavor, and this is a nice jasmine green. The jasmine is strong — pretty intense, actually — on the dry leaf, in the aroma, and particularly in the taste. But it tastes very natural (unlike some jasmine greens I’ve tried where the jasmine tastes sort of sprayed on). I can definitely discern the tea underneath but not enough to be able to separate it from the jasmine and describe its character as a green. Mine was just a tad on the bitter side, but I think that was because I usually only steep greens for 1.5 minutes max. That’s what I intended to do here, but because I futzed around a bit with the petals sticking to my lips before I decided to strain them out, I left the tea steeping a bit too long for my taste. In other words, I don’t think it is necessarily the tea’s fault.

If I had more of this, I’d try it again and see if I could improve my results. But since I don’t and I’m unlikely to be in the market for any green tea soon, I have to rate this based on this single experience. And I would have liked to be able to taste the tea a bit more and the jasmine a bit less. That said, I like it well enough that I’d definitely give it another shot given the opportunity.

Flavors: Butter, Green, Jasmine

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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80

Sipdown no. 168. This sample has been staring at me for a while, and I’ve been staring back. One of us was bound to blink eventually. It’s a rather aged sample, but it has been stored in a cool, dry, dark place, vacuum sealed and never opened until today, so while it may not be a prime example I feel pretty confident it’s at least a choice one.

I am an oolong fan, and as much as I love the roasty toasty ones, if I had to be stranded on a desert island with one, I’d probably pick a tie guan yin. I just really enjoy the lightness and butteryness and the green floral notes. In terms of white wines, I tend to gravitate toward Chardonnays, and the Chardonnays I like best are the buttery ones rather than the crisp green apple ones, though sometimes those hit the spot as well. I have an association in my mind between green oolongs and Chardonnays, obviously. But anyway.

My sample also didn’t have the word Yongchun in it, but I’m sure this is from Life In Teacup. Gingko has been extremely generous with her samples so I have had a lot of them over the years, and I recognize the label on this one as having the same fonts as others from LIT. Even though mine came in a green package rather than a red one as someone else mentioned.

I am also something of an Earl Grey fan, though I don’t love overpowering bergamot. I like just enough to give the tea that characteristic Earl Grey flavor without having the citrus forward. I was a bit worried that this would have too much citrus for me, but fortunately that wasn’t the case.

Other commentators have observed that they didn’t really taste the Bergamot. If I didn’t know it was there, I might not have tasted it either. I smelled something citrusy in the dry leaf, which was green and rolled and otherwise smelled buttery.

I steeped this for short infusions in the gaiwan, starting at 15 seconds and adding 5 seconds to each infusion through a total of five.

1. Pale yellow green, buttery, oolong aroma. Tasty vegetal flavor with a crispness that may be the bergamot.

2. Similar color, a bit more yellow. Floral notes come out more in the aroma. More floral notes in the taste, and the same crsipness as well as something citrusy, but very subtle.

3. True yellow in color and a bit darker. Floral, sweet flavor with a hint of sugar. More mellow citrus flavor, but amazingly still a crisp edge.

4. No color change, less sugar, more milky/buttery aroma. Bright floral taste. Don’t really taste the citrus except in the finish.

5. Very similar to 4.

The aftertaste is where the citrus really came out for me. As I sit here typing this probably fifteen minutes after drinking, I can taste a sort of orange zest aftertaste.

All told, this was a pleasant surprise. I think I’d been avoiding it out of fear that the bergamot would be too strong, but didn’t have to worry. The main effect of the bergamot, to my mind, was to brighten and crispen the taste some. It’s like the crisp Chardonnay vs. the buttery one. Each has its place.

Couldn’t find this on the LIT site now, but if it comes back and you have a chance to try it, you should.

Flavors: Butter, Citrus, Floral, Milk, Vegetal

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec

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65

Oolong tea with slight hint of raspberry. More smell then taste.

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A nice middle aged tea. A little mushroom with dark fruit. Very sturdy, yielding infusion after infusion of deep amber broth. Just a touch of astringency rounds out the flavor. A very reasonably priced older pu.

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I think some of you sheng heads might really enjoy this tea from Life in Teacup. It is a nicely aged 2008, and brews up a dark orange thick soup. It’s got a little smoke, some fruit, and slight mushroom tones. A little astringency rounds out the flavor nicely. Definitely worth a sample, it’s $70 a cake at present, which seems like a very fair price given the quality.

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89

Hey, there is snow! Yay! I love the snow, it is not a lot, but this winter has just been lousy in the snow department, clearly I should take that one guy who is selling blocks of snow up on his offer. Or not because really, that is kinda dumb. I once had a friend in Australia who wanted me to mail him snow and Oreos, I still find that immensely funny. This was back in the day when saying to your school friends that you have friends from all over the world thanks to the internet got you laughed at, or at the very least not believed, also funny to me! I love the internet, it has allowed shy little ol’ me to talk to tons of people while still being in my comfort zone, go social media!

Continuing Dark Tea week, this one is a quirky Shou (or Shu, ah, dialect) from Life in Teacup, specifically Guevera Shu. Reading Ginkgo’s (the proprietor of Life in Teacup) blog about this tea I was able to learn that he got this massive block of Shu from Taobao because he thought the wrapper was cool, and lets be honest, it is pretty neat. With a large image of Che Guevera, bullet holes and casings and the name AK-47 in bold letters, this puerh is totally metal. Gleaning a bit more info from the blog, the tea is supposedly from Bulang Mountain and an abandoned tea plantation (there seem to be a lot of those that get poached for puerh) and made from larger leaves, in theory this will be a good educational Shu, a way to introduce people to the fine art of ripe puerh without dealing with those really rank ones. So, how does this one smell, that is the important question! Pretty good actually, it is rich and earthy with the expected notes of loam (erring on the side of pine forest loam this time) clean soil, and some mineral notes as well. As a fun little surprise the finishing note is molasses, giving a bit of sweetness at the end.

Time to heat up the way back machine, because this was before the elephant pot was in my collection! Don’t get me wrong, I still love brewing puerh in my gaiwan(s) but using my pot just feels good, plus it helps make it super seasoned, really it is getting so dark! Anyway, rinsing and brewing time, the leaves are really earthy and pretty incredibly sweet, lots of pine sap, wet wood, molasses, and a bit like molasses cookies, which is a little odd but it smells really good. The liquid is sweet loam and molasses, there is also a tiny, tiny hint of camphor giving the warm liquid a tiny bit of a cooling effect.

Woo! This is a delightfully smooth tea on the first steep, no bite at all, just slightly sweet loamy goodness that has a slightly thick mouthfeel. There are also notes of molasses and a touch of cooling, it is neat it starts off warming and then goes to cooling. It is nothing like sheng puerh’s cooling that fills up your mouth, nose, and all the way into the lungs, it is more like taking a breath on a slightly warm day after drinking something warm.

Next up is steep two, the aroma is creamy sweet, blending molasses and pine sap, forest loam and clean soil. Not sure why pine sap comes off as creamy, but to me and my nose, we see creamy (well that went rather synesthesia-ish) The second steep starts off fairly earthy and loamy, there is a total lack of sweet, almost to the point of being savory and like mushroom soil. This changes pretty rapidly to sweet molasses and pine needles, but it does have a more dry affect this time instead of being smooth. It also has a warming, relaxing feeling that imparts a heaviness.

So, the aroma of the third steep has a new player, the notes of molasses, pine sap, and forest loam are still present, but there is also a note of malt at the finish. The taste for the third steep is very similar, the notes are much the same, starting out loamy and earthy, no savory this time, just rich earthiness. After that we get sweet molasses and pine needles. There is no mouth drying, just smooth earthiness that makes my feel very warm and relaxed. This really would be a good introductory Shu, so I certainly agree there!

For blog and photos (Cthulhu helped me with this one) http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2015/02/life-in-teacup-guevera-shu-tea-review.html

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89

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78

This is an interesting tea, at least in my small base of experience. Just getting around to adding notes now, but it was one of the first I had, along with the nannuo bama. Crisp lemon-like flavors, a bit grassy, rather astringent. The huigan is slow to start, but when it does it’s very pleasant and strong. Qi is gentle, calming, not too intense. The leaves don’t endure as long as some — by the end of mug 2 it was beginning to falter, and I didn’t chase it further in any of my sessions.
5g, cheap chao zhou gaiwan from jing tea shop, boiling water as usual.

Flavors: Astringent, Citrus, Grass

Preparation
Boiling 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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76

Starts out a little bitter, but clears up at around 3 infusions in my gaiwan. From there, it’s a pleasant, woody, spicy brew until it loses strength (after about two large mugs’ worth, normally). Hay and dried dark fruits are also present. One of the first puerhs I’ve had in what will hopefully be a long and pleasant journey. Nice qi, very active and energetic, but still calming.

Flavors: Dried Fruit, Drying, Hay, Spices, Wood

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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77

The first infusion is slightly bitter, as well as smoky and grassy. I don’t like very strong grassy or smoky flavors in my tea, and the two characteristics together are not that pleasant to me. I read in others’ tasting notes that the smoke and grass flavors mellow in later infusions, so I’m trying that as well. The unfurled leaves are large and quite lovely. I can tell this is a high quality tea even if the flavors aren’t particularly enjoyable to me. I like darker roasts, but I much prefer a nutty and malty flavor with no smokiness at all. In the first infusion… I drank this too slowly. It’s cooling to almost room temperature, and as it cools the flavor seems slightly mellower but still not quite something I’m very excited about. I’m very glad I sampled before buying in bulk because I don’t like this nearly as much as other medium/dark roast oolongs I’ve tried. HOnestly, the smoke and grass together combine the two characteristics I most dislike in both black and green teas.

Later infusions: Hm… I agree that the smoke and grass flavors become a lot more subdued in later infusions. The smoke gives way to a more nutty and woody flavor. I do like this better, but the aftertaste is still a bit like ashes.

I’m also realizing that I need my tea to have at least some natural sweetness, and this has none.

I know this is a good tea, but I would only recommend it if these are flavors you really enjoy. For someone with tastes similar to mine, I definitely wouldn’t recommend.

Later afternoon: I tried this again. Wow, it’s amazing how much better it is with savory foods in the afternoon. I have changed my mind — I would try this again. This will teach me to keep ignoring time of day recommendations for types of tea. With savory food, i don’t mind this degree of smokiness at all.

Flavors: Ash, Dark Wood, Grass, Nutty, Oak wood, Roast nuts, Roasted, Roasted Barley, Smoke, Toasted

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80

The tree has achieved awesome status! Yes, it is that time of year where we drag a dead fir tree into the house, cover it in lights and ornaments, and happily stare at it while being pleased at our work. This year’s tree has no theme other than absolute chaos! Lots of colors and almost all the ornaments are origami creations I have made. I am hoping to make some more ornaments, but alas I have not felt inspired to fold much.

Since it is a day of coniferous joy, I decided that the perfect tea to review is one that has been languishing in my notebook since late summer just waiting for the perfect opportunity. Life in Teacup’s 2009 Guan Zi Zai Xiao Man Shu is a Shu (or Shou, Ripe) Pu Erh from Yunnan (of course) produced by the Guan Zi Zai factory. Other than where it is from, what type of Pu it is and what year it is from, that is all I know about this tea. Sometimes I feel like studying the world of Pu Erh is like studying the entire world of tea, it is amazingly complex and at times very hard to navigate. I believe I will be a novice for all eternity at times! So, why is this the tea that gets reviewed on a day when I have been dealing with a sticky fir tree? Because the aroma is so evocative of a coniferous forest that for a moment I can transport myself to the forest I used to romp in as a teenager. It was a mixed forest, but since this was the South, a large portion of the forest was pine, so I am very familiar with the at times almost intoxicating aroma of pine loam, wet pine wood, resin, needles, and sap. That is what the aroma of this tea evokes, it is like a hot, wet, rainy day in a pine forest where all those smells waft out of the earth and the trees around you.

After the tea’s rinsing and first short steep, the aroma of the soggy leaves is sweet and resinous, much like pine sap and a hint of molasses. There are also notes of wet wood and loam, and a tony hint of anise. The liquid also has that hint of anise, how fascinating! There are also the expected notes of wet pine wood, loam, and a touch of sweet sap.

The first steep is rather delicate and sweet, with a slightly sharp and tingly mouthfeel, almost like the sensation of eating pine sap (yes I have done it and I am a weirdo.) There are flavor notes of wet pine, rich molasses, a bit of loam, and a finish of anise. That anise is quite unexpected and fun!

Second steep time, the aroma takes on a creamy anise and loam tone, it is both sweet and earthy, mixing pine and wet earth. It has a heaviness to it, like I am sinking into the soil on a rainy day. The taste for this steep is as expected quite a bit more intense than last. It starts out a tiny bit bitter, much like wet wood can have a bitterness to it, not an off-putting bitterness. Around the middle of the sip the taste turns to sweetness and richness, like molasses and loam. At the finish there is a touch of the fermented mushroom soil taste that goes really well with the forest floor taste.

The aroma of the third steep is very sweet, a mix of sweet, resinous, pine loam and very sweet molasses bordering on raw sugar. This is a detoxing Pu! Something about this tea has a great heating affect causing me to feel warm and sweaty, gross I know, but I get really lucky and sometimes Pu Erhs just feel like they are cleaning out any gross things from my body, I feel better after drinking them. The taste is heavy, like deep loam and a touch of peat, this transfers to sweet molasses and a touch of anise again. The finish is pine sap and a touch of a cooling sensation at the finish. So, a perfectly piney tea for a tree decorating day.

For blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2014/12/life-in-teacup-2009-guan-zi-zai-xiao.html

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70

Think that this is my last sample of tea from Mandy. Took over a month to finish the birthday package she so generously sent me!
From what I’ve tried of teas from this company, I’ve not really been a huge fan. They all seem kinda too light and unflavorful to me-almost like they’re all just old. :/
This one was one of the better teas I’ve tried from this place. But even so, it still didn’t have a lot of flavor. It was roasty with a touch of floral, which is always appreciated.
Just wish it had been stronger all around. Would have been so much better.
But always happy to try another oolong.
Thanks for the sample, Mandy! (:

Flavors: Floral, Roasted

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85

Today has been a day of tea, I am a wee bit tea drunk at the moment, and I am pretty sure my mom is too. We have been gongfu-ing several different teas that I wanted her to try from my private stash while listening to music and cleaning around the house. You know how it is post travel, no matter how organized and neat the house is when you get home, as soon as you bring in the luggage it ceases to be. It is always a great feeling to have everything in its proper place.

For the chosen tea on this most pleasant of Tuesdays, I am having a look at Life in Teacup’s Tie Guan Yin Traditional Charcoal Roast. So fun story with my relationship with TGY, when I first started drinking it many years ago, I preferred the charcoal roast over its more green variety…then I fell in love with the green variety for about a year…and now I am back to preferring the roasted one again! It is enjoyable to see how desire for certain tastes change over time, sometimes it changes over the seasons and sometimes it changes over longer times, it is a journey. The aroma is quite delicious smelling, it blends baking bread and charcoal with an underlying heady aroma of orchids. The blending of flowers and roast makes for a very interesting aroma, the yeasty notes of baking bread add a level of sweetness to it as well. I always find roasted oolongs that retain their floral notes to be fascinating.

The aroma of the leaves after the first steep is surprisingly floral, very strong heady presence of orchids with a hint of honeysuckle. There are also notes of baking bread and a tiny bit of char and mineral, much like burnt sticks and a freshwater spring. The aroma of the liquid is fairly mild, with notes of buttery baking bread and orchids, there is a finish of fresh vegetation. Surprisingly no empyreumatic notes in the liquid.

The first steeping is very sweet, very strong notes of honey drizzled yeasty bread. The bread notes transition into heady orchids and honeysuckle nectar. Sipping this tea is like eating freshly baked bread while sitting in an orchid filled conservatory. Remind me to add that to my ‘to do’ list.

On the second steep, the aroma has more of a roasted tea aroma, there are notes of toasted sesame seeds, yeasty bread, and a touch of nutmeg. The taste is very sweet, just like the first steep, but this time it is the sweetness of honey on toast! This transitions to heady orchids and a bit of charcoal with a sweet, flower nectar finish that lingers.

For the third steep, well you can certainly tell this is a charcoal roasted tea, because the char notes are strong. There are also notes of baking bread and honey, the previous notes of flowers have faded. I found all the roasty toasty notes! The taste of this steep is rich with charcoal and toast notes, the mouthfeel is dry, and there is a hint of leaf pile at the midtaste. For the finishing note there is rich raw honey and a hint of toasted sesame. As charcoal roasted teas go, this one is pretty mild, one I would recommend for someone who only wants a little of that char taste in their teas.

For blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2014/10/life-in-teacup-tie-guan-yin-traditional.html

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Another Hei Cha, this one from Life in Teacup.
The main flavor here is a wood taste, some maltiness, & it reminds me somewhat of a ripe pu-erh, especially after a couple steeps when a minty kind of sensation in my throat developed.

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Orange peel, sandalwood, must, must, must, bitter, dry, orange peel.
Wet-stored treasure that is dry through and through. Very potent cha-qi, all head and not heat. Astringency, after all these years. Paul Simon would be please. Added time with each infusion.
Characteristically gorgeous brew colour: limpid, inviting, brassy red. Lingering taste of orange peel’s bitterness.
Tastes like a grown-up’s tea. Thanks for the sample JC.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 6 OZ / 177 ML

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Hello everyone, how are all of you today? I am doing well, quite sleepy after a day of shopping with my mom. We visited some of my favorite thrift stores and found some adorable tea things and then had a giant pile of sushi and dango. For now I am relaxing before we have a friend visit for hot wings and gaming! I will have to put some thought into which tea goes well with hot wings other than Southern Style Sweet Iced Tea, perhaps a chai will do the trick.

Today’s tea is Life in Teacup’s Wuyi Jin Jun Mei, a delicately curly tea from the Wuyi Mountains in Fujian, China. Its name, beautiful golden eyebrows, is a perfect description because the leaves are covered in a golden fuzzy down, though I am not sure about the eyebrows, to me they look like little tails off of some adorable creature. The aroma of these fun little leaves is very sweet and rich, there are starting notes of cocoa, yams, and roasted peanuts which transition to a delicate note of flower nectar and sweet raw honey. I have to be careful when sniffing Jin Jun Mei because I could spend all day with my nose in the leaves inhaling their rich aroma.

As expected, when you place the leaves in a gaiwan and give it a good steeping, the aroma of the wet leaves becomes even more intense. The cocoa notes become more like actual chocolate with honey and molasses and a tiny touch of distant flowers. The liquid is a blend of chocolate, molasses, and honey with a finishing hint of roses. That little touch of roses at the finish adds a hint of the exotic.

The first steep is so sweet! It is like a rich dessert with notes of chocolate, caramel, cocoa butter, and creaminess. It lingers with those notes for a moment before moving to stewed plums and molasses at the finish with a slight aftertaste of roasted peanuts. Since it is the first steep it starts a bit mild, I anticipate some serious richness in the later steeps.

It is no surprise that I was practically bouncing while waiting for the second steep, Jin Jun Mei hits all the right notes for me, blending the delicate and sweet perfectly. The aroma of this steep is very sweet, with notes of chocolate, caramelized sugar, and a nice bit of raw honey at the finish. Tasting the tea is a real pleasure, like the first steep it is super sweet, but it has increased in richness. It is creamy and sweet with a very smooth mouthfeel with notes of creamy chocolate and honey, this transitions to stewed plums and a pinch of flower nectar. The aftertaste is roasted peanuts again, but there is also a bit of cocoa.

For the third steep, the aroma has a more subtle sweetness, like stewed plums and cocoa with a hint of honey for the finish again. The taste is still rich and quite sweet, with more of a molasses taste more so than chocolate and sugar. The chocolate note is still there, but instead of being sweet like biting into a bar of chocolate, it is rich like cocoa, and not as sweet. As I am enjoying the more reserved sweetness, out of no where, the aftertaste explodes with raw honey sweetness and flower nectar that lingers for quite a while. That was a fun finish! Jin Jun Mei never disappointing…and I certainly hope it stays that way!

For blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2014/10/life-in-teacup-wuyi-jin-jun-mei-tea.html

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