Life In Teacup
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Recent Tasting Notes
I’ve been wringing my hands lately trying to get perspective on some 2013 Long Jing samples I’d gotten from another retailer. Not really being able to see a significant difference between them, I thought it would be helpful to compare them to a competitor. Who better than my first experience with Life in Teacup (LIT)?
I was excited to receive my LIT 2013 Long Jing pre-orders the other day and giddy to sample my first authentic Long Jing from Long Jing Village. Ginko, the manager, is an absolute pleasure to deal with and puts a lot of TLC into everything she does. Communication was excellent and shipping was fast. And here’s a testament to Ginko’s attention to detail — The free sample she sent to me? It was the only LIT tea that I happened to put on my Steepster shopping list! Now that’s either a coincidence, or someone did their homework!
As for the tea, I want to note that I tended towards hotter water and longer steep, based on instructions from the LIT web site.
My first impressions were that the dry leaf had a somewhat subdued aroma, but still a fresh character. Fairly unremarkable in its pre-steeped appearance, lighter green, tending towards yellow and lacking in luster, I was hoping for something a bit more uniform and symmetrical. I found what looked like a clove in the first spoonful that I scooped out. It turned out not to be, having nothing more than a slightly toasted flavor to it. Probably just a loose stem and from what I could tell not characteristic of the tea. But honestly, in this price range and from such a famous source, I expected to see a classic, textbook example of Long Jing. Of course in reading Ginko’s blog, LIT seems to support taste over aesthetic, which I can appreciate. Though I want to be clear, I in no way intend to represent their teas as unattractive. Let me clarify by siting a blog post from Ginko:
In summary, there was mention of creating a higher grade tea from an already high grade tea, by trimming and discarding leaf to create a more uniform perfect looking product. LIT appeared to support the view that one should leave good enough alone. The tea taste would not improve significantly, they preferred the raw esthetic, and finally cost would be driven up by the additional labor required to further “improve” the tea. So with that all said, I took the appearance of the dry leaf with a grain of salt.
As for the first steep, again I went hotter and brewed longer than I usually would based on LIT recommendation. The resulting liqueur was predominantly yellow, with a hint of green. I was surprised that it was a bit bitter, having an overall dry mouth feel. I caught a bit of the classic chestnut nose on the first few steeps, and mild toasty aroma when I first introduced about 3tsp (aprox 5g) to my moist, preheated empty glass infuser. I then went about my usual steps for preparing Long Jing:
Overall the experience was positive, though somewhat marred by the bitterness. What I found most compelling was the lasting sweet aftertaste that would bubble to the surface after my teacup had been emptied. I found myself enjoying the latter steeps, as the bitterness fell away and I was carried from cup to cup (6 in total) by this wonderful, subtly sweet character. The last few steeps I didn’t even decant, but drank directly from my brewing vessel.
I will experiment with this tea further at lower temperatures, more in line with my usually consistent Long Jing preparation methods. I have a feeling this will prevent the bitterness I experienced from overshadowing the elements I particularly liked about this tea. So in that sense, I wouldn’t call this tea “forgiving.”.
Overall I’m optimistic, but currently can not support LIT in their belief that this tea can tolerate “Higher Than 180F (85C)… [and] can handle boiling temperature well” without introducing these bitter notes that I don’t particularly care for. Mind you, my tumbler is 10oz, larger than what LTC references and my yield, leaving a root, is about 5-6oz per infusion.
I will refrain from providing a number rating until I’ve had a few more sittings with this tea.
UPDATE: The more I’m experiencing the 2013 spring Long Jings from different sources, the less I realize I know! I’ve since brewed this at my usual lower temps and was very pleased, finding it having a wonderfully complex flavor profile that evolved from steep to steep. Will be sure to post more detail when I can really focus and do this tea justice. But for now I can comfortably rate this tea.
Hi Everyone … I know it’s been a long time since I’ve posted, so over the next few days I’ll be backlogging some of the teas that I’ve been drinking, but not all of them.
This is really a remarkable Keemun, I’ve had it for a little while in my stash, but as the sample was sealed, it managed to hold up very well. It is a very rich, sweet, slightly smoky and even a little malty. A thick, really satisfying tea.
I think TeaEqualsBliss sent me this. Thank you :)
I like this one. Its not “mind blowing” but then I rarely have had a white tea blow my mind.
Its lovely though!
A full review will be on http://sororiteasisters.com/ on Feb 8th but here are a couple snippits:
2009 Shou Mei from Life in Teacup is a light, juicy, white tea that has a lovely buttered vegetal after taste and an almost earthy note in the sip.
There is also a light and lovely toasted marshmallow flavor that just touches your taste buds gently on the initial sip but does not stick around long.
This is a very forgiving tea! My first steep I spaced out preparing to write this review and over steeped it by far too much. I was certain I was going to have to dump the cup, but alas it tasted lovely!
I love the look of the dry leaf! Its so wild and natural looking! It appears as if someone scooped up fallen leaves from the forest floor!
Dry – Sweet, lightly earthy and refreshing.
Wet – Sweet, creamy, slightly earthy, dates, hints of wood, sweet spice, floral.
Liquor – Dark Orange/Burgundy Red.
Gong Fu in Yixing Gaiwan 4-5g/5oz
1st 35secs – Lightly earthy, thick, sweet, and spicy hint up front. As it washes down it is smooth and strong tasting with a slightly puckery, sweet finish with a somewhat floral-bitter note. The aftertaste is sweet with slightly floral/flower nectar hints. Time between steeps allow the sweetness to develop in the mouth.
2nd 15secs – (the piece opened) Sweet, smooth, lightly earthy, floral and slightly spicy up front. As it washes down it is stronger in taste and very briefly pungent floral note that slowly becomes sweeter. The aftertaste is a floral note that gradually gets sweeter and resembles flower nectar or wild flower honey.
3rd 25secs – Sweet, lightly earthy, floral, brothy and slight spice notes up front. As it washes down, it has a stronger present floral-bittersweet note with a tangy hint that becomes sweeter. The aftertaste is floral sweet, resembles flower nectar or wild flower honey once again. The aftertaste lingers in the mouth and has moved to the throat as well. It becomes sweeter with time and keeps coming back.
4th 35secs – Sweet, smooth, light earthiness, floral, brothy and slight spiciness. As it washes down, it is stronger floral-bittersweet tone with a hint of sweetness that becomes stronger and is very apparent in the mouth and throat. The aftertaste is sweet floral-nectar/honey that lingers.
I stopped taking notes here but I made several good steeps after. I really like this brick, it is amazing. A true example of what good aging can do to a brick. I had to stop taking notes. Not because I was having a hard time, but because I was having such a great time. The sweetness at the end reminds me of pulling the stem of the flower and taking that small drop of nectar. It can resemble wild flower honey, but somehow flower nectar (lightly/watery sweet not bitter, and somewhat perfumy note) seems a better fit. The liquor itself is very aromatic and pleasant, I would love to retry this tea in 5 years, maybe even 10. But I’m sure that if I buy only one it won’t make it to 10! I should have look at the price before falling in love! :P
Another little sample I’m using up. I’ve always found it interesting how teas can naturally take on flavour like sweet cream or lilac flowers without any flavouring being added at all.
The first steep at 1.5 minutes had the initial flavour of a typical green oolong – slightly sweet and floral but there’s also a fresh, fruit-like juiciness that doesn’t quite come across as a citrus tangyness but hints at something like it.
The second steep (2.5 mins) turned the liquor a bright yellow shade. It was less floral but there was more a citrus taste and the tea as a whole had a fuller body and more rounded flavour.
The third steep (3.5 mins) was a bit lighter in colour and flavour but the bergamot flavours seemed like they were a bit stronger.
I could go on longer but it’s late and I don’t need a bunch of caffeine in my system keeping me awake. This was a fun tea and an interesting deviation from a traditional green oolong.
I love jasmine! And this is absolutely lovely.
Life in Teacup has some of the very finest teas, and this one is no exception. The jasmine is strong, but, it is not artificial tasting. It tastes sweet, exotic and oh-so-wonderful. The green tea is light, vegetal and buttery. A lovely tea.
My full-length review of this tea will publish tomorrow on the SororiTea Sisters blog: http://sororiteasisters.com
Very dark leaves. They smell too yummy. Like fresh grass plus yummy hot roast chestnuts. Smells like winter. And funny enough today the cold weather has started here. This could easily be the best smelling tea leaves till now.
But lets see how it tastes :)
Tea is bright yellow. Smells similar to the leaves.
Mmmmm first impression is full roast taste. Smooth, nutty, roasty. It didn’t wow me but it’s quite a good one.
This is a fantastic green tea from Life in Teacup. That comes as no surprise, really, though, as I am always quite impressed with any tea that I try from this company. I can’t recall ever trying something I’ve disliked from them.
The description of this states that this is a roasted tea, and with the first few sips, I don’t really taste any distinct roasted flavor to this, but as I continue to sip, more toasty nutty flavors start to emerge. The first few sips are really quite refreshing, tasting fresh like spring and evoking thoughts of dewdrops on new spring leaves. Sweet and light and crisp. As I continue to sip, those fresh notes remain, but I begin to also notice the nutty notes, sweet and toasty, but without a real STRONG roasty-toasty taste. Just a sort of baked, toasty warmth that would emanate from something that is roasted.
2nd Infusion: some vegetative notes begin to emerge … still not overtly vegetal but more significant than in the first cup. I am also noting a distinct smoky tone to this cup … yes, I taste more of a roasty-toasty and even a slight smoky charcoal-y note now. Here is where the roasted note really comes in to focus.
I think with this tea, as much as I enjoyed the lightness of the first cup, this second cup is even better! Definitely worth the effort to brew this one a second time.
Preliminary (and perhaps only) review
I got this as a courtesy sample from Life in Teacup with one of my orders from them this spring (thank you Gingko!). I have lots going on tonight, and I wasn’t thinking at all of doing a review, but this tea was so good I told myself to set aside the perfectionist, and simply take about 10 minutes to write and post a short-if even terse-review (OK, I think it ended up taking about 25 minutes, but that’s not bad for me!).
I feel I am coming to know what to look for in a quality spring Chinese green tea having tried many dozens of them (not to include all of the flavor-added varieties) from almost as many different tea retailers. I am very particular about what I want to experience in the best Chinese spring green teas in that I expect them to be appealing in every way, most notably in appearance, aroma, and taste (a clear-colored tea liquor is good, as well). For example, I want the dry leaves to look and smell fresh, and I want them to look the way that that particular type is tea is supposed to look (if I happen to know what that is). I want it to be comprised mainly—if not entirely—of whole leaves and buds. I would like it to look beautiful while steeping in my glass teapot. I want the tea liquor to have a fresh and preferably mild, aroma. And finally I want it to taste fresh, without any odd or off flavors (preferably when at room temperature as well as when hot).
So, all that to say, this tea meets just about every one of the above criteria (the leaf just hung out on the bottom of my glass 14 OZ mini-teapot for the first two steepings, and I prefer that it hangs from the top so I can ‘see’ or appreciate the leaves in their fullness). The dry tea is comprised of tiny curls with a nice variance in light and dark green colored leaves, all of which are beautiful and remind me of Bi Lo Chun (a quality spring Chinese green). It smells fresh. The wet leaf looks whole, with a mixture of and light dark green colored leaves, and smells fresh. How re-fresh-ing! And, on taste, although I still struggle with the best way to describe the exact flavors, it seems to be vegetal, nutty, fresh. Nonetheless, it clearly has a flavor that I have come to expect in only the finest grades of Chinese spring green tea.
I also wanted to post this because after trying a number of green tea samples from Life in Teacup (some from her blog sale), it has become apparent to me that she truly knows quality Chinese tea, and it seems that she knows where to get it. I am grateful for what Gingko has to offer to us ‘tea enthusiasts’, and I am grateful for Steepster, as that is how I discovered Life in Teacup, Gingko, and her wonderful teas!
Leaves are dark green, they smell raster fresh grassy.
Tea is very light yellow. Also smells grassy.
Surprise, surprise, it tastes very grassy! It’s quite delicious. First sip seamed a bit watery but I changed my mind with the second one. It’s just as smooth as it should be. It only has a hint of nutty taste, mostly grassy tho. More green that oolongy.
Leaves a really nice aftertaste in my mouth. Mhm, I like this one…
I am pretty sure this is the same tea… Mine is labeled “An Xi Tie Guan Yin Oolong Traditional Green Roast”
I’m using the entire sample packet, which I believe is 7g? All good – my cup is about 7 oz!
1st, 200F, 7s: Yumm.. the wet leaves smell of apricots and peach candies. Very light sunshine brew..Yes! It reminds me of a complex veggie broth. With sweet spinach.
2nd, 10s: Leaf smells of sweet apricot reduction with almonds overtop steamed asparagus. Another cup of sunshine too (which is great because we’re supposed to get 150mm of rain tonight…hello fall. I get it. You’re officially here!) This definitely has a TGY smell, but the taste is slightly different. It’s a sweeter version. The veggie flavours have disappeared and were replaced by complex floral notes with lilac highlights. These floral notes are balanced by what reminds me of a challah… sweet delicious bread, slightly buttered.
3rd, 15s: Leaves still smell like an apricot immersed in TGY =) mmmm this steep is like buttercream frosting. It’s even thick and rich on the tongue. Slight vanilla leaf notes.. caramelly too. Scrumptious!
4th, 25s: Smells really buttery, and the taste is silky. And sweet like thick vanilla honey. Yummy
I did enjoy this tea, but I have had been more astounded with other TGY’s
Revisiting this tea this afternoon. A nice tea with which to unwind. My full-length review of this beauty can be viewed here: http://sororiteasisters.com/2011/10/23/2009-shou-mei-from-life-in-teacup/
Taking on another sample from the depths of my cupboard. This one has a wonderful sweet, honey-like scent, particularly the dry leaves. However I found the flavour to be a bit disappointing. Perhaps I just need to steep it longer, but it strikes me as bland and weak, especially compared to other Keemuns I’ve tried liked Adagio’s Anhui Keemun and Granville Island Tea Co’s Keemun Grade 1. There are some honey notes tacked on to the end of each sip but it’s altogether too light and weak.
Oh jeez. So yummy. I forgot how yummy you are.
Sipping from a large starbucks mug featuring my new bombilla and these leaves scattered throughout. It’s a perfect system.
Sweet creamy caramel mixed with some deep leafy green flavours. Really really good.
My second addition of water (when cup was 1/3 full).. reveals a very sweet buttery caramel brew.. thats salty. It’s like a salted caramel. Except no chocolate but I’m not complaining in the slightest. I think this is going to be my new way of drinking oolongs on the go!
Oh wow… this one is GOOD! Sweet, light and crisp.
The vegetative tones are a little bit grassy … but not quite. They’re like steamed baby spinach, only grassier than that. Does that make sense? It isn’t quite grassy, but not quite spinach-y either… somewhere in between those two tastes… but the delivery is very delicate. It has a nice creamy texture and taste too, very smooth from beginning until a slight astringency at the end that is cleansing and refreshing.
A really nice tea, I like this one a lot!
Leaves smell very grassy green teeish, promising.
Mmmm the smell of tea is quite powerful and nice. Color is bright yellow.
Tastes sweet, very flavored, super smooth. Idk how I would describe the aroma. It has a bit of a nutty thing but also something almost a bit fruity and also flowery. Yeah, complex but yet so simple and delicious. Just yummy.
OK, lets see…
Leaves are of darkish green color.And it smells like it’s been drying in a warehouse for quite some time. Really dry.
Tea is gentle, bright and the flavor is quite delicious. Subtle and smooth, grassy and even more nutty.
As master Yoda would say: smooth and yummy this one is.
I drank the rest of my sample while I was camping. Shared a sip with my family and they all loved it! The cleanest, non-smokey LS that I have tasted. Very delicious malty notes and boy was it nice and sweet. I really enjoyed this as a black tea.. but if I was looking for a smokey tea, this would not be it. I’m getting more of this when my tea budget comes in =)