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Recent Tasting Notes
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.
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.
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!
I drank this grandpa style as my last tea of the night last night. The leaves grew big big big and filled up the whole cup (one of my favorite things about oolongs). The aroma was slightly roasty and gently floral. Flavor was a nice balanced floral, not to strong for someone like me who isn’t the biggest floral fan, but still evident enough to notice right off. There was also a smooth vegetal, almost grassy like note mid sip, and then the end was all fleshy nuts, like how I imagine chestnuts taste. Almost chewy, and lingered nice and long. The cup lasted several top off before I hit the sack, staying tasty the whole time. It’s always a nice surprise to find a more floral oolong that I actually enjoy!
This tasted so much lighter than most Chinese green teas I’m used to. I had to toss in a little extra leaf than I usually do to get a decent amount of flavor.
That said, this is really good tea. It’s buttery and light, has the vegetal notes of spinach and green bean I’ve come to expect from Chinese green teas. It’s a touch sweet. More than anything it just tastes really clean and clear and has a nice feeling in the mouth, a slightly cooling feeling, a bit of the “hui gan” sensation.
Surprisingly the second infusion of this is more enjoyable than the first. I haven’t had that experience often with green teas. The second has a more foresty kind of taste with notes of pine, reminding me a little bit of Ya Bao. The vegetal notes are more muted now.
This is a very enjoyable and fresh tea, a little on the light side even for a green tea. Nothing tastes roasted about it, so I think the “roast” in the name may be simply referring to the kill-green process used as opposed to pan-firing, and not a heavily roasted tea like you’d expect from something like a roasted oolong.
Flavors: Green Beans, Pine, Spinach, Vegetal
i have a confession to make. Jin jun mei is terri’s tea. It’s one of the few places where our tastes diverge as she loves a good jin jun mei, while i haven’t yet found one that knocked my socks off. This one, is so far, one of the ones i’ve enjoyed the most. Terri gave me a package of this one to try and it’s really nice. Lots of sweetness here to enjoy. It still won’t win me over completely but i’m glad to have tried it. Now to find others that i like :)
I usually like most oolongs, but…this one.
The taste was like a grassy, roasted peanut. I don’t know how else to describe it. xD Usually that kind of combo wouldn’t be that bad-at least it would be drinkable. But I ended up pouring that one. :S
I don’t know-it just didn’t work for me I guess.
Glad I got to try it though-props to Mandy for helping me explore oolongs more, even if I find some I don’t like. xD
Flavors: Grass, Peanut, Roasted
This is a delightful tea!
The dry leaf smells like almost nothing, with a faint hint of the air, maybe the morning after the lawn is mowed.
I warmed the leaf in the yixing, then lifted the lid, stuck my nose in there, & breathed slowly. The aroma is kind of sweet & tangy. I want to say Beefsteak Tomato.
The early steeps were mellow & sweet, with a slightly bitter after taste.
After a few steeps it took on a creamy vanilla mouth & slight orange taste, reminding me of the 50/50 dreamsickle ice cream bars.
Then it morphed into a fruity apricot & cream dessert, sweet & a little tangy, with a building tongue tingle & a good head vibe.
I’m still enjoying it. It’s still apricot cream, but maybe a little spring wood taste…
Da Hong Pao is always such a pleasure for me. This may only be the third or fourth one I’ve had. I am immediately greeted by aromas of roast, cinnamon, cream, sugar, and cannabis. There’s a hint of pepper in the scent of the wet leaves. Might sound like I’m baking up some “magic snickerdoodles”, but I assure you this is far more magicaler. ;P
The flavor of the brew is stronger than the aroma. There’s a healthy dose of tanginess and tannin up front with undertones of mushroom and damp forest wood but the flavor falls off into a sweet roasty creme brulee kind of flavor thing that lingers in your mouth for a long time. It gets sweeter as it cools. The scent in the empty cup is very much like cinnamon with hints of creamy vanilla pudding.
The second infusion is more complex, less tangy, more dark and hearty. The tones of mushroom are more evident, and there’s an autumn spice kind of thing going on that reminds me of chrysanthemum. That roasted taste really sticks to the walls of your mouth, but man is it good. It finishes clean, certainly not dirty. The third infusion is more mellow yet and the flavors are creamy, roast, soft, with nice spice notes still reminding me of chrysanthemum. This is pretty good stuff. Not mind-blowing Da Hong Pao, but a good one!
Flavors: Char, Cinnamon, Creamy, Roasted
I don’t like smoke in tea. So this scared me a bit. The dry leaf smelled like roasted peanut skins, which is much better than smoke.
1.5 teaspoon, 6oz water, boiling, 2 second rinse, and then 30,60 second steeps.
The first two steep are very mellow, a little roasted peanuts, a little floral, no smoke. Very delicate. Wanting to get more oomf out of it, I decided to bump up the steep time. Even after a two minute steep, it still mostly tastes like warm water, with maybe a couple of roasted peanuts sitting in the water. Better than super smokey, but not impressive. A three minute steep yeilds a slight smokey end of sip and aftertaste. I would have preferred more roast, not more smoke.
Overall, just not enough going on for me.
I’ve got a test, a quiz, and two assignments due today, so I heated up a lean pocket for a quick and easy lunch. Nuke it for two minutes, and when I take it out of the microwave, the sleeve melted two penny sized holes into my plate. How did that even happen? I’ve never seen a plate melt from two minutes in the microwave.
Anyway, so this tea intimidated me. The dry leaf smelled a bit smokey and bitter and astringent, all think I don’t like in tea. The wet leaf, though, smelled like savory dark green vegetables, and I started to relax a bit.
1teaspoon, 8oz water, 170F, 1 minute steeps. 180F 2 minute steep.
The first steep is actually quite mild and gentle. No one flavor really stands out, just a vague sweet vegetal flavor. Second steep is much like the first, maybe a hint of green bean?
The third steep I bumped up the time and the temp to try to get more flavor out of it. But it didn’t seem to help, because this cup was as uneventful as the previous two. I’m not impressed, and even though I expected not to like it, the reason I don’t is because of the lack of flavor instead of flavors I don’t like.
3g, 4oz water, boiling, rinse and then 20,20,30,45,60 second steeps.
I started with a quick wake up rinse, poured hot water on and then immediately poured off. After allowing the leaves to rest for a minute, I smelled them. Light roasted peanuts. Yum.
First steep is pale yellow. The aroma is vaguely roasty, buttery, and fresh green. The flavor is like fresh edamame drizzled with just a touch of butter. Second steep picks up some of that floral taste that a lot of green oolongs have. I’m not usually a fan of floral, but today I’m enjoying it. I’m getting honeysuckle (which I don’t mind in tea) and I want to say orchid (which is ok depending on my mood). I’m also still getting the edamame and maybe some Lima beans. I think it’s the interesting mix of the floral and the buttery sort of nutty legumes that makes this oolong so enjoyable to me.
Third steep is less pale and more medium gold. The floral notes take on an almost heady intensity, but never losing the buttery edamame note. Forth steep I forgot to time, but I think it was an about 45 second steep. Color is a bright sunshine yellow. The floral has mellow out a bit this steep. Now it’s almost creamy, and a touch of mineral swirling in with the floral aftertaste. And of course the edamame and Lima bean.
I probably should have went longer with the 5th steep. It’s creamy, a little buttery, a little beany, and a little floral, but overall, much weaker than the last. I might do an extra long steep to pull out the last of the flavor, but I think these leaves are pretty much spent.
So as you probably know from my endless rambling, I am going to Pennsylvania in a little less than a month. Me being me, I have started packing, or at the very least planning what I am bringing, three months is a long time so I have to make sure I have enough tea and crafty stuff. I decided to ship my origami paper rather than try to tote it along during travel, the box weighed a whopping 17.6 lbs, that is a lot of paper! The real problem will be tea, I am pretty sure I am going to just fill my duffel bag full of the stuff, because I drink a ton of tea.
Today’s tea comes from the high mountains of Taiwan by way of Life in Teacup! Taiwan Cui Yu Green Jade High Mountain Oolong is a modern style green oolong from Nantou and was harvested in the winter of 2013. Since this is a nice shiny green oolong the color of jade and spring time, I decided to bring out my yixing teapot seasoned for green oolongs (yes I have three different kinds of oolong yixing teapots, I am silly like that) since I have not given it much love lately. I find myself craving green oolongs in the late winter and early spring, they match my desire for green things since that time of year where I currently live is rather drab and brown. The aroma of the tightly curled leaves is sweet and green, a mixture of green stems, orchids, and yeasty fresh baking bread. As I pull the leaves away from my nose I also get a hint of spicebush and cane sugar.
The steeped leaves smell like a bouquet of spring flowers, with strong notes of honeysuckle, hyacinth, and orchid. There are also notes of fresh stems and a touch of freshly baking bread. The liquid once it is out of my teapot is very sweet, notes of cane sugar, yeasty sweet bread, honeysuckles, and orchids waft out of my cup, it smells delicious!
For the first light steeping my mouth is greeted with a very delicate taste and a buttery mouthfeel. There are notes of fresh green stems, butter, and deliciously sweet flower nectar, it reminds me of eating honeysuckle nectar while still tasting the plant it came from.
No surprises, but I am going in for a second steeping! The aroma is even more floral, reaching headiness in its level of floral. There are still notes of green stems and baking bread, but those are faint in comparison. The taste is still fairly mild, buttery mouthfeel mixed with green notes that border on vegetal. The mid to end taste of the tea is floral and sweet with a slightly mineral note at the finish. It is very soothing.
For the third steep the aroma is very floral, notes of hyacinth and honeysuckle with a hint of stems, it is much milder than before. The taste starts off creamy, almost buttery with a hint of stems, this transitions to gentle floral sweetness and a touch of fresh vegetation. This tea is very much so what you expect when you drink a green oolong, nothing stood out as fantastic, but it was still quite delicious.
I drank this during my break at work this morning. Used hot water from the coffee machine and steeped about a minute-a minute and a half. It was sweet, with lots of honey notes, maybe some sweet potato, a light malt, and a touch of caramel. Went well with my lunch, which was chicken curry and rice with some garbanzo bean stew. Definitely one I’ll look into repurchasing when the store opens back up.
So, I work at a hospital and they do this coding system for the nutrional value of the foods: green is safe foods, yellow are foods to eat only sometimes, and reds are danger foods that you should try to avoid. But what makes no sense to me, is that the chicken curry and the tofu curry, as well as things like eggs, are all red foods. But white bread, plain bagels, and the rice are all green foods? Really sounds wrong to me.
Oh man, gaming night last night was awesome, but when is it not? Ben got the rule book for Dystopian Wars, an awesome 10mm miniature game that we are picking up along side Dropzone Commander. We are still going to play DZC, but the local community is pretty small and waiting for our units to arrive from the distributor in England is a giant pain…seriously, the local Shaltari player has been waiting two months for his units. Dystopian Wars is huge here, so we will be able to actually play it, yours truly will be picking up Indian Raj with Britania support while I pretend to be Sir Richard Burton.
Today’s tea of choice is Life in Teacup’s 1500m (4500 ft.) Frosty Spring Yunnan Roast Green, arbor tree, First Day Harvest as you can tell from the very descriptive name, this green tea is harvested on March 9th 2014, I am assuming it is still frosty in the evenings there since the name has me thinking that. The aroma of this Yunnan green tea is a blend of toasted and fresh green, there are notes of pepper, toasted sesame seeds, green stems, fresh okra, and a tiny hint of kale. I have noticed that a few of the teas I have sniffed recently have the note of okra, which I find awesome, what with being Southern and eating a ton of okra as a kid.
Once I give the leaves a nice little steeping in the gaiwan the leaves have the aroma of spinach, okra (more cooked than fresh off the stem this time) lima beans and a touch of toast, these leaves smell like my favorite vegetables. The liquid has a mild mixture of sharply vegetal and gently sweet toastiness.
The first steep starts out deliciously savory with notes of sauteed mushrooms bordering on smokiness. This transitions to toasted sesame, giving a bit of sweetness to the steep, there are also hints of okra and a finish of green beans. The mouth feel is quite smooth and this tea is overall rather rich on its first steeping, I really enjoy when green teas have a sauteed mushroom ‘meatiness’ to them.
For the second steeping the aroma is a mix of toasted sesame and kale, specifically cooked kale rather than fresh, meaning some of the edge is taken off of it. This time around the taste does not have its ‘meatiness’ to it, the tea starts out with a touch of toast and cooked okra and then finishes with mild green beans and a touch of pepper. It was especially mild this steep which was a bit of a surprise after such a robust start.
I’ve been drinking both the Dry Stored & Humid Stored versions of this same tea all afternoon, side by side in matching cups & matching gaiwans.
Aroma: kind of cream of wheat like, however the humid stored version makes my nose itch & has a root cellar bite to it.
The immediately noticeable difference is the color. Although I used the same quantity (by weight) of both teas, the humid stored version is immediately darker in color, a deep chocolate, while the dry stored is more of a dark amber.
Flavorwise, the humid stored is actually sweeter with an immediate menthol-like sensation & that ‘old roots’ kind of taste. The Dry has a cleaner taste, more like a hayloft.
That’s all I’ve got for now…
Sil is Here!!!
We’re having tea! Of course we are!
This is a sample of 2 different versions of the same tea, which I got from Life in Teacup.
One is dry stored & the other is wet stored. We’re drinking them side by side. I have the dry stored in my mixing & the wet stored in an earthen gaiwan. Each tea has it’s own pitcher that holds 2 steeps, so we’re doing 2 steeps of each tea in each round, combining those 2 steeps in their respective pitchers, & sipping them side by side. Is that too complicated?
I’m not gonna be overly eloquent.
The dry stored version is my preference of the 2, at least initially. It has a bit of a metallic sensation on the end of the tongue at first, which I feel later translated into more of a camphor quality. The wet stored initially had the taste & aroma of a root cellar, & cedar. And dirt.
We’re on the 3rd round. (which is technically the 5 & 6 round of each).
Now the dry is becoming sweeter, the wet has a very strong tongue tingle.
Anything I say from henceforth might sound like utter nonsense, because I’ve got a hell of a tea buzz going on now!
Terri and I are drinking these two teas together to compare the difference between the same tea wet stored and dry stored.
this is so not going to be technical and all purty like because let’s be honest, we’re hanging out in terri’s office, drinking tea together and chatting. Who wants to waste time focusing on finding the right words to describe the tea..it’s about the TIME TOGETHER!!!!!!
Dry store – initial stuff, sort of a typical puerh…nothing exception here, but it’s not bad.
Wet Store – smells like….“old” it very much tastes the way that old castles smell like in europe when you go underground with that musty, earthy sort of smell. it tastes and smells like that.
round two (3/4)
edge has come off of the wet storage, but it’s still not what i want it to be. better though…better
Dry storage – seems a little smoother…the tea is a little less distinct? ie. it’s sort of easing back and the flavours are becoming a little more muted.
dry – there’ a sweetness developing here, though the tea is still mild for me…
wet storage – this is growing on me. I think i’d probably really like this at about the 8th steep, but im’ not sure i want to have it and get to that point lol
So I haven’t been on much because I started a new job this week, and it’s kicking my butt and robbing me off my time. I leave the house at 6am and get home at 4pm, and by that point, I’m exhausted, and pass out. Next thing I know it’s 7-8-9 o’clock and I’m wide awake. I usually don’t fall back asleep until after 2am, just to wake up in 3 hours and do it again.
On top of that, this Friday is my busiest school day of the semester. I have 3 exams, 2 quizzes, and 3 homework assignment all due, and I haven’t started on any of it because I’m so tired.
So I woke up at 9:30 from a 4.5 hour nap, and wanted a relaxing tea to encourage my body to go back to sleep at a reasonable time. So even though I’ve been off of green tea lately, I reached for this.
The dry leaf smells sweet and vegetal, like spinach, and a bit nutty. The wet leaf also has a bit of an asparagus smell.
The taste is light and nutty and sweet slightly vegetal. Green tea is one of the only teas I don’t sweeten. And this is no exception, delicious, delicate and soothing with no need to add anything.
I don’t know if I’m finally wanting green teas again, but this really hit the spot tonight. If only I didn’t have to be up in 4 hours.
Day two without a working tea kettle, still mostly sane…how did I function without one? Only a few more days until things go back to normal, though watching Espeon’s frantic running around, normal is a stretch. Luckily my cold thing seems to have been very short lived, I joked to my mom that I was so angry that I was getting sick that my rage burned the virus out of my body. Who needs positive thinking when you have Hulk level anger? I am a very silly person.
Today’s tea has the distinct honor of being a tea I have never heard of Jiang Xian Ti Kui from Life In Teacup! You guys know me, I love to do lots of research on tea, so when I run into one I am not familiar with it is super exciting. This green tea is Life In Teacup’s “Green Tea of the Year” an awesome project to bring rarely seen Chinese green teas to a wider audience. I really suggest giving the website a look to see the beautiful photos of the plantation where this tea grows in Anhui Province. The aroma of the dry leaf is very fresh smelling, blending notes of roasted sesame and peanuts with green bean and spinach. There is a tiny hint of sauteed mushrooms at the finish, giving the tea a hint of savory.
Steeping time! The aroma of the now soggy leaves is still very fresh, I am really enjoying the freshness of the aroma, very evocative of nature. It starts out with fresh vegetation, green veggies, and green beans. At the finish there are notes of sharp freshly broken stems and peanuts. The first steep’s liquid is a tasty smelling mix of sauteed vegetables and sesame seeds, this fades to a gentle floral note, like spring flowers being carried in on a warm breeze.
The first steep’s mouthfeel is quite smooth, it was the first thing I noticed, after my initial enjoyment of the mouthfeel I noticed the freshness of the taste, it seems to be a theme with this tea. There are starting notes of green beans and sesame seeds, this build to a honey sweetness that gets stronger until it is almost cookie like in its sweetness.
The aroma of the second steep is nutty and green, like verdant nature and sesame seeds. There is a hint of broken stems giving it a touch of sharpness, along with a tiny hint of bamboo. The taste of this steep is still very sweet, almost a touch fruity, this transitions into nutty sesame seeds and green beans with a sweet finish of sugar cane and bamboo.
For the third steep is mostly green, with notes of sauteed spinach and a green beans. There is also a hint of saltiness which I find intriguing. This time around the taste is less sweet, in fact other than a bit of honey sweetness at the front there is no sweetness. The taste is mostly sauteed spinach, green bean, and sesame seeds, there is a slight kale bitter green at the finish. I really enjoyed how this tea balanced its sweetness and its green notes, plus it is a tea I have never heard of which makes it extra awesome. I recommend giving it a try, it is both very tasty and it is ‘out of the norm’ so you will get hipster points (if you are into that) and you will expand your tea knowledge.
Flavors: Bamboo, Green, Green Beans, Stems, Sugarcane