Life In Teacup
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Recent Tasting Notes
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!
Today I continue my exploration on mug brewing, and use my lovely glass mug to brew this tea. I will post some mug brewing photos on my blog in several days.
This tea is one of my favorite varietal, partially because of its unique flavor, partially because it took me a long time to find it. It used to be a very popular tea in its producing region, as well as in southeastern Asia. But in recent years, it’s not commonly seen, when most efforts are put in cultivating and selling Tie Guan Yin, the “popular” varietal.
Overall, I do believe Tie Guan Yin has more prominent characteristics and can usually yield more infusions with rich flavor. But this tea is unique. It has very pleasant aroma and flavor of green fruits, a little bit of citrus taste, actually quite comparable to the aroma of bergamot (Fo Shou, or Buddha Hands).
This is the first time I’ve used a mug to brew this tea. I counted 15 grains of dry tea to put in the mug, and pour in newly boiled water. The green fruit fragrance comes out immediately. It is very pleasant, but also makes me somewhat worry what if all the fragrance escapes before I drink the tea. What’s great about gong fu brewing is, the teapot or gaiwan retain the fragrance to the maximum degree and doesn’t allow it to escape. In the glass mug, it takes the leaves around 2 minutes to expand and sink to the bottom. The first a few sips taste rather light. The flavor is not as strong as the fragrance suspending in the air. After a short while, when less water is left in the mug and the tea leaves further expand, flavor gets richer, with hints of green fruit and some metallic cool. The aftertaste is slightly grassy. The second and third infusions taste stronger than the first one. Sweet aftertaste appears from the second infusion and lasts till the end.
Overall, I think in mug infusion, the characteristic aroma of this tea is only weakly expressed, while in gong fu brewing, it can be better experienced. In mug brewing, the flavor is still very pleasant, and the tea tastes very close to green tea, but with more interesting fruity notes than what most green teas have. I guess this tea will be favored by some green tea lovers. I personally will choose gong fu brewing to get the most aroma from this tea. My usual dose in gong fu brewing is 5 grams tea in 2oz. gaiwan. In mug brewing, it will be only about 1-2 grams tea in 9oz. mug. The tea is more diluted in mug brewing. If someone likes green tea but doesn’t like prominent floral fragrance in tea, then mug brewing may be a better choice. And of course, mug brewing is always convenient and easy.
I have charcoal roast version of this tea too, and have a feeling that mug brewing may works better for charcoal roast oolong. Will try it next time!
Amount: 5.1g (it was too hard to spoon measure)
Water: 1 teapot (2c) full filtered boiling, then let sit to 165 degrees
Steep Time: a little over 2 minutes
Dry Leaf Smell: grassy
Steeped Tea Smell: grassy
Flavor: watery, vegetal, but smooth, maybe a little nutty?
Aftertaste: bitter, vegetal that lingers
Liquor: transparent with a green tint
I got this as part of a sample set from Life in Teacup.
I failed to follow directions and left the lid on (http://www.lifeinteacup.com/brewing-tea) the water was too cool, and perhaps I should have steeped a bit longer sigh. I am not even sure if i used too little to too many tea leaves.
Overall it was the weakness of the flavor and the bitter aftertaste that are turning me off. At first you sniff and there is the hint of grass. The you sip and you get smooth water…then grass/vegetal…and if you look hard enough this slight nut flavor comes out. Then you swallow, and you get this bitterness coating your tongue. The bitterness fades and you entire tongue seems to have a sheen of vegetation on it, it’s a fuzzy feeling.
Post-Steep Additives: none
My blog with images: http://amazonv.blogspot.com/2010/02/life-in-teacup-loose-leaf-green-tea-zhu.html
I have Oriental Beauty (Bai Hao Oolong) from 4 supplying sources, and this is absolutely my favorite. Compared with another two OB products I have, this one has slightly larger leaves, and the flavor leans more toward sweet, floral and honey, while the other two are warmer with deeper spicy aroma.
Most of the time, I would use a small teapot to “gong fu” this tea. When it comes to oolong, I have very greedy taste, always yearning for strong flavor and hot liquor. But in recent months, I’ve more and more tried out casually brewing loose leaves in a mug, cup or bowl. The reasons for doing this are, (1) I am curious which prestigious teas can still be fairly delicious when the drinker doesn’t have to follow strict brewing parameters; (2) As I’ve started trying to mesmerize people into drinking tea, I thought casual drinking might be less intimidating than orthodox brewing methods like “gong fu”; (3) I have to admit, I sometimes feel a bit guilty about spending so much time drinking tea. I would like to do more casual drinking as long as the flavor is not much sacrificed.
Today after a long day of working and hours of suffering from dry eyes and dryness inside out, finally it’s tea time! I wouldn’t want to have too much caffeine at this time, and I am too exhausted to use little teapot and little cup. So this time I simply brewed this tea in a mug. I laid the dry leaves to cover the bottom of my glass mug and pour in hot water. That’s it! It is very relaxing and very enjoyable. The tea is warm with fruity aroma. Each sip ends with a hint of honey flavor. The first 2 infusions are the most aromatic. Afterwards, the flavor fades a bit. But the honey like aftertaste resulting from previous infusions starts to linger in mouth and makes the later infusions taste sweeter. The tea starts to get weaker in the fifth infusion. Too lazy to start another tea session, I just keep re-steeping this tea. The tea becomes bland, but still bears a very light spicy flavor.
Compared with gong fu brewing, what’s nice with glass mug brewing is you can see the leaves (they are pretty) and the silver tips (Bai Hao, or white tiny fibers) of the leaves suspending in the liquor. The downside of mug brewing is, flavor can’t be as strong as gong fu brewing (since less tea is used), and not as consistent (however, when tea gets over strong, you can always adjust it by adding hot water). When a shock of very aromatic tea is the dominant need, gong fu probably is still the best.
I am not a big fan of puerh. But when it comes to health needs, puerh is what I think of the first. For a long time (maybe even up to today) in my mind is the tea in soy sauce color, without much taste, no offensive taste, that people drink during dim sum sessions but rarely else where. Later on I tried some sheng puerh, and (relatively) liked some of them. Shu puerh in my mind kind of stays where it was. But I turn to shu puerh when there are real needs. When I have a really big meal and need some tea to facilitate digestion, when I have a stomach upset but still want hot fluid, and when I need something to drink at night, I would go for shu puerh.
This tea from Meng Ku Rong Shi is one of the loose puerh that I relatively like. Still I think it’s not very flavorful (as most shu puerh without mold flavor). But it does have very smooth and soupy liquor texture, and the tea lasts for good several infusions. The tea leaves look very clean (cleanness of shu puerh is a big issue for me), and taste very clean (no mold or “wodui” flavor).
Friday morning I got a little stomach upset. I didn’t want to go shopping with the condition because I don’t want to miss my routine cappuccino and canoli in the nice farm store. So I postponed the shopping trip to the afternoon and had this puerh all morning. First it made me burp for a few times, which is a good sign (according to my mom) for one to be released from stomach pain. The hot, rice-soup like liquor was very soothing. I have to say, after 5 infusions or so, I felt much better. But I also have to say, when I took the first sip of my cappuccino with the first bite of canoli in the dear farm store, I felt entirely well. I know these things are supposed to upset the stomach when one already feels some stomachache. But oddly and mysteriously, they just instantly cured me :D
Rated … points, not for the vendor, but for the maker, who manually controlled every single step in the processing of this tea, who also wrote a book about more than 70 varietals of Wuyi Yan Cha. I considered myself very lucky to have got this tea, and feel inadequate about describing it.
It is always hard to describe a good Wuyi Yan Cha. In my experience, a good Wuyi is often intertwining of youth and advanced age. The best tea leaves are from trees of 20 years or older, newer leaves and larger leaves mixed to a ratio that serves for the optimal flavor profile. The newly roasted Wuyi bears “breaths of fire” and should be “rested” for at least a few months before being used. When it rests for a year or more, the “fire” has faded and the taste becomes milder and smoother. At this time, the tea is like a perspicacious, senior man, with essence of age and vitality of youth.
About this specific Wuyi tea – it was made in 2008 and has rested since then in sealed condition. The first a several infusions yields a lighter fruity taste before the typical warm Wuyi flavor reaches your throat. After each sip, there is slight sweetness and fruity aroma lingering around. Within a few infusions, sweet aftertaste appears. One may not even realize existence of this sweet aftertaste, unless taking some plain water and finding the water tastes slightly sweet. Whether or not being consciously realized by drinker, this sweet aftertaste helps add flavor to each next infusion.
I would typically have 12 infusions or more in each tea session (with less leaf used and longer infusions, one may do fewer infusions than this). At the end of the day, I would love to soak the spent leaves in cold water. Then it becomes my first cup of tea the next day.
No matter how many infusions are applied, eventually the spent leaves always look so alive and in shape. I believe it’s a quality from the aged tea tree, young spring leaves, artisan roasting and patient resting all together.
7g leaves in 4oz. water
(I apologize if these notes look wordy. I am taking a writing class and having myself trained into describing every detail with a lot of words…)
The dry tea has gentle yet distinctive floral fragrance, which, in traditional Chinese tea jargon, is specified as orchid fragrance (however I personally have no experience of fragrance from an orchid plant). In the first a few infusions, tea water is light yellow with some green hint. The aroma lingers around the upper palate up into nasal cavity. The aroma is a mixture of early spring flower and grass. Later infusions of this tea yield more intensive yellow color with golden hint. The flavor shifts from upper palate to closer to throat, generate a warm feeling.
This tea caught my attention in a few ways. First, this is a traditional, famous varietal that is rarely seen in market nowadays. It took me some time to find a good product of Bai Ya Qi Lan. Secondly, this tea is made from the same tea cultivar for Wuyi Qi Lan. However, by tasting, it’s almost impossible (100% impossible for me) to tell the two Qi Lan are from one same tea cultivar. In tea world, there are many tea cultivars that display distinctively different characters when grown in different area and processed with different methods. Again this tea demonstrates such diversity.
Comparison with other tea: People who favor green style Tie Guan Yin, Chinese green tea and Taiwan high mountain oolong may like this very well. People who favor Wuyi Qi Lan, it will be interesting to try this tea and compare, but don’t expect this tea to resemble Wuyi Qi Lan in any way :P
5g tea in 4oz. water. 30sec. steep time is for first 3 infusions.