Life In Teacup
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Recent Tasting Notes
One day, I’ll be caught up … no matter what Sil says!
I love Li Shan and Ali Shan Oolong teas – they are my favorite types of Oolong tea (although there are a couple of other ones that come close.)
This is sweet, creamy and LUSH. Very smooth – no sharpness, very little astringency, and absolutely not bitter. The astringency is so barely there that if you’re just casually sipping, you won’t notice it … it’s only when I’m really focused on the nuances of this cup that I detect the slight hint of astringency.
I got 10 infusions out of this tea – and it was well worth that effort! Delicious!
Dry – Sweet, fruity, refreshing reminiscent of a white peony.
Wet – Sweet, tart-floral notes, sweet corn, fruit and smells more like an Oolong when wet.
1st 10secs Sweet, green (like a fresh white peony/high mountain green) and slightly nutty up front. As it goes down, it has a more apparent floral note with very light bitter/tartness that gives a good mouth feel. The aftertaste is sweet nutty with an Anxi Oolong taste at the end.
2nd 15secs Sweet, Anxi oolong floral notes with a buttery-creamy hint and some of the green from before up front. As it goes down, it is nutty with the bitter-tartness of the floral notes and a more apparent mouth feel. The aftertaste is bittersweet floral that resembles an Anxi oolong with more sweetness.
3rd 20secs Sweet, green Anxi floral-notes with a slightly buttery-creamy and nutty taste up front. As it washes down it is more floral with slight tart-bitterness. The notes are a bit more apparent in this steep. The aftertaste is sweet, nutty and resembles an Anxi Oolong.
This is an OK tea. I liked that it had traits that reminded me of teas other than Oolongs, like the freshness of smelling a white peony and some ‘greener’ notes in between the more obvious Oolong traits. It is sweeter than most Anxi Oolongs, but with the same bittersweet finish. It is a good tea but is not something I would revisit unless I happened to have it already. It held up well until the 5th steep when it started showing some astringency, possibly because it isn’t very uniform but still a good tea.
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Dry - Sweet, refreshing, fruity-floral, nutty, baked greens.
Wet - Roasted oats, sweet, refreshing, vegetal yet floral-fruity and somewhat creamy.
Liquor - Pale Green – very fragrant nutty, floral and sweet.
Quick Notes Before the review
– I drank this tea twice before writing these notes. I initially made notes but found that even though there were minor differences; on ‘paper’ it resembled the Shi Fen Long Jing’s notes. I knew there were differences. But I couldn’t properly describe them from memory. I did a side by side tasting between the two and made the notes. I used smell to determine the times for each steep but I’ll give a rounding of the time for each steep.
1st – 25 secs Delicate fruity-floral with some tartness and slightly creamy thickness that was also delicate and smooth. As it washed down nutty vegetal notes dominate its body. Once is left the mouth, The floral-fruity notes become more apparent and enjoyable with refreshing finish.
2nd – 20 secs Still a delicate initial taste but this time the tea give more apparent nuttiness with stronger floral-fruity tartness that slowly smooths and becomes thicker and smoother, almost buttery. As it washes down, the tea becomes vegetal-nutty and even though it is smooth is not full bodied, medium would be a better description giving its more refreshing and juicy finish.
3rd – 20 secs A more floral-fruity start with evident juicy tartness and a nutty finish up front. As it covers the tongue, it is more floral without parting its vegetal and nutty traits. As it washes down, it is somewhat sweeter and crisp that leaves a pleasant floral and refreshing sensation.
4th – 35 secs Taking a bit of a turn it starts up sweeter and floral-fruity that becomes slightly cleaner bu wear some faint floral tartness. As it washes down, it still has hints of vegetal nuttiness but seem to fade, overpowered by a sweeter and juicier freshness at the end.
I was able to get 5-7 (sometimes 8) good steeps out of this one, anything past that point had astringency that I avoid in all greens. Since I tried this one side by side with the Pre-QingMing Shi Feng Long Jing I was able to spot side by side differences and of course when you have a direct comparison everything is more evident.
The main differences between the two are: Shi Feng is on the ‘savory’ side I would go with Umami for a better description a bit more broth like; while Da Fo, is vegetal but has more dominant sweetness. Also, Shi Feng seems to have a more filling broth/soup sensation to it, even when it has very refreshing features; Da Fo, has a very similar first steep apart from the sweetness but rapidly becomes more refreshing and even cleaner in taste (not tasteless, rather juicy). Finally, esthetics. Shi Feng has a coarser look to it, which I believe gives it its more apparent taste; Da Fo is a lot more consistent and ‘pretty’ looking but its flavor is not as apparent but it is more lasting through the steeps. I prefer Da Fo, not because of its looks but for the price you get a really amazing tea.
Dry - Nutty, sweet, roasty and cool/refreshing.
Wet - Very nutty vegetal, toasted nut hints, fruity tartness, some floral notes.
Liquor - Very light, yellow with a green hue.
Quick notes I did several Steeps and I didn’t really time the steeps. I mostly used the smell as a guide to determine when I wanted to try it. The times I specified are round ups to what I thought I did, but I did follow Ginko’s recommendations about time but also did some on my own to get that trial and error sweet spot.
1st – 20 secs Roasted nut hints reminiscent of rice scented tea, vegetal, like yellow squash with a full body that stays in the tongue. The nutty and vegetal notes stay in the mouth and becomes refreshing and very pleasant.
2nd – 25 secs Sweeter with a more apparent fruity/floral tanginess and even more refreshing somewhat minty. The taste is nutty vegetal again resembles yellow squash and still wears the nutty rice taste. It is very refreshing yet filling.
3rd – 35 secs Sweeter and ‘juicier’ rather than full bodied with the tart fruity/floral notes being more evident that previously. The taste is more floral and complex but maintains some vegetal and nutty notes in the background. Still somewhat filling but mostly refreshing.
- A very good tea indeed. I’m glad I pre-ordered this one from Gingko, the price was a bit better in the pre-order offer. I really loved it but want to make sure I clarify that even though the tea has pleasant sweetness, I find it to be more in the umami side of teas. Not necessarily savory, when I think about savory green tea, the taste of vegetal broth comes to mind.
This tea was very delicate and very well balanced the whole time. I can make around 4-6 good steeps with the tea, after that I start getting some astringency in the mouth, the taste is still pleasant but I avoid astringency in most greens; Japanese tea being the exception to the rule for me.
Brewed in my Finum, traditional green tea temps. Surprising viscosity is the first impression. Wonderful mouthfeel and light tender smokiness. Not a fan usually of anything smokey, on the contrary I’m into this. Lovely pale yellow/green color to the liquor. Sweet undertones that progressively reveal from steep to steep and linger on the palate, along with an intriguing tingle of astringency that carries through to the end. I extended brewing time for each infusion until later, with cooler water, I was letting it sit a good solid 2 mins. Got at least five 5oz cups with half my sample pack.
Another win from the 2013 Green Tea Sample Packs from Life In Teacup!
Grrrr. I hate when I lose a carefully crafted tasting note….. Oh well.
First off, do yourself a favor and get the 2013 sample packs of green tea from Life In Teacup before they’re gone. I’m SO glad I did. It’s been a wonderful journey that will soon come to an end, as my box of tea is dwindling.
2nd, I almost dismissed this tea for a variety of reasons: 1) It looks like gunpowder, and I don’t tend to go for that type of tea, 2) some sites describe it as smokey due to being roasted over charcoal, not so much for me & 3) the small packet (the smallest of all the samples) doesn’t have a zip lock, so it feels like more of a commitment to open.
Those were all just dumb reasons. Don’t delay is all I gotta say.
I brewed this tea in my glass 8 oz infuser, using half the capacity to 1 tsp of tea. Boiling water was used to preheat the infuser, transferred to my Finum cup and then used for the 1st steep of about 1 min. I didn’t measure, but this usually brings water temps to about 170-175ºF.
What’s particularly magical about this tea is how it appears so mundane, and then unravels itself to become the loveliest pristine 2 leaf and bud sets you’ve ever seen, rivaling some of the more exquisite long jings I’ve had. It’s wonderful to watch in glass, dive and fall, uncurling with almost a life of its own. And that little tsp takes you a long way; 5 steeps as I write this.
These aren’t overwhelming flavors per se, but lovely, lasting clear tones. Here astringency is just that, astringency. Not to be confused with bitterness, but a real note that carries from steep to steep, framing a subtle, but undeniable sweetness, a refreshing light quality that doesn’t become dry. If you’ve ever had wine that is off, gone kinda mildly carbonated, and then been introduced to a wine (non-sparkling) where that light bubble is actually an asset, used to enhance and bring more complexity to the flavor profile, then you will understand what I mean by how the astringency here really serves this tea.
I increase steeping time as I move forward, using color and fullness of the leaves as a guide. Overall the liquor tends toward a pale yellow-green, a bit hard to discern in the waning natural light here near sunset. The latter steeps start to lose me a bit, and midway through I got the strangest kind of seafood sent, mildly fishy. Not sure what that’s about, but it wasn’t unpleasant, just weird.
I feel good about this tea late in the day, alert but not particularly lifted. I wonder about it’s theanine content. From the looks of the leaves, and their early spring harvest, it leads me to believe it would have a decent amount.
Many sites describe this tea as being stronger than most greens. Maybe I need to increase the amount of tea, but I didn’t find that to be the case. It appeared my 1 tsp was a good ratio of tea to water after everything was hydrated, so I think I got a good representation of what one should expect. I will try a tbsp next time instead maybe and see how that goes. As a matter of fact, I’m kinda excited about how that will turn out and am tempted to go all in now. But I think 6 4oz cups of tea at 7P is enough for this guy!
Experience buying from Life in Teacup http://steepster.com/places/2861-life-in-a-teacup-online-easthampton-massachusetts
I bought an ounce of this from Life in Teacup in the spring of 2012 and brewed it up days later on 6/22/2012.
Nothing stands out about the appearance of the leaf: to me the dry leaf looks like Chun Mee, and while brewing it (no in-depth analysis yet) I can see that the wet leaf has a number of torn pieces in it; still it’s relatively uniform-looking with an army green color and a number of whole leaves (looking at it while sitting in my strainer/sieve after I did the third). The aroma while steeping on the third was kind of sour (I did the third steeping pretty short after ‘sniffing’ a sour aroma), and not really very pleasant (at least to me it’s wasn’t).
Still, after having three steepings of this tea this morning, my wife and I both like the flavor of it: no smokiness, no astringency or bittterness, with a mild but good, vegetal flavor (and solid flavor even on the third). Tentatively speaking (based on this initial steeping session), this one is a possible re-buy the next time I buy tea from Life in Teacup (at $4 / OZ).
I hope to update this (and assign a numerical rating) the next time I do another steepings session on it.
My first thought when sipping this tea was “My god, this is the best tea I’ve tasted this spring!” After finishing the first cup, the rest of the tea in my chahai had turned undrinkable. So, kinda hard start.
Leaves are beautiful, wet and dry. I’ve been missing those tight, sharp needles! Aroma is dry, sweet. Leaves are dancing nicely in the pot ( I use small, gongfu-style glasspots)
Taste is complex, yet remarkably balanced. Sweetness, some sourness as well. Usually when tea tastes sour it tastes sour in a way I don’t like it, but this time it works for me. There is also the dry nut-like taste, which is tied to the sourness. Taste is quite wide. I am assuming I used too much leaves (I felt like using more than I usually do) and while that resulted in a great first sip, the taste quickly transformed, and got more bitterness.
I am not very experienced in yellow teas. There is something very similar in the body of this tea and Huo Shan Huang Ya I have, I’m assuming that’s the “yellow” taste. Tasting blind I would have assumed this was green.
My understanding of Shou Mei is very limited. For a long time, I saw it as one of the least expensive tea in white tea genre, and a restaurant tea. A few months ago, I tried a 2005 white peony that was really interesting. This year, when my supplier sent me the new harvest Bai Hao Silver Needle, he said, “Now it’s time to taste last year’s silver needle again – you may find it even better than when it was new.” I will do it soon. But all these made me want to try some old Shou Mei.
So I got this 2009 Shou Mei. In the past, I always brewed Shou Mei the same way as I do with other white tea – small amount of tea, long steep. This time, I decided to use a “hybrid” method between the old brewing and gongfu brewing. I used leaves that filled about 1/5 -1/4 of the gaiwan, and brewed it for 1 minute for each of the first 3 infusions.
My overall impression is, this is the best Shou Mei I’ve ever had. The tea is floral, smooth, sweet, with a little hint of spiciness. Overall I feel it’s not picky at all. Shorter infusion or longer infusion will change the intensity of the flavor and number of infusions the tea can yield, but will not cause problems – as long as very hot water is used and the tea is not under-steeped. My tea started to get weaker in the 4th infusion, but still went a long way after that. I don’t know what will happen if higher leaf/water ratio is used. But I guess if the leaves fill half of the gaiwan, and infusion is controlled to be within 20-30 seconds, the tea will be great and will yield more infusions.
The tea tastes somewhat like Bai Hao Oolong (Oriental Beauty). People who love Oriental Beauty may consider letting their Shou Mei stay around for a couple of years. After all, Shou Mei is so much cheaper than Oriental Beauty!
So, if you have some old silver needle or white peony left in a corner of your tea cabinet (don’t we all have accidentally forgotten teas!), take it out, taste it and let us know what you think of it!
I am very excited about this tea. You don’t bump into a 1996 Xia Guan tuo every year! Besides, this is a product made for Taiwan market, which usually means the leaf materials are more strictly selected. This specific one is said to be made with leaves from 300 year old arbor trees. I don’t have a way to confirm this information. But I can tell the leaves are of very high quality, a quality that’s almost never seen from any Xia Guan product today. Above all, what makes me most excited about this tea is, it’s a sheng that has stayed in purely dry storage in Yunnan in all these years. 16 year old sheng from purely dry storage is extremely rare, because 16 years ago, most people who stored puerh were in Taiwan or Hong Kong, and the storage conditions were much more humid (even without artificial humidification, which was very often used) than Kunming, Yunnan. The dry storage rend started merely 10-15 years ago.
So, you can imagine I was really excited to put my hands on this tea :D
The leaves are beautiful. On my way prying the tea, I still dug out a cotton thread… so far, no stones or straws yet…
The liquor is bright red/orange. The texture of the liquor is smooth and soupy. The front taste is somewhat like shu puerh, minus all post-fermentation taste of shu. What’s most wonderful is its aftertaste, which is like a weak resonance of a typical sheng, bright aromatic, even a little floral, and very sweet. This lingering aftertaste made me elongate the interval between sips and cups, and taste the tea very, very slowly. In between the front taste and aftertaste, I think I’ve tasted something milky and buttery. It’s usually not a feature I find in puerh, either sheng or shu. So possibly it’s just my illusion. But also possibly that’s what the tea mean to be, since I’ve tasted milky flavor from Hei Cha products, which went through post-fermentation as puerh does.
I’ve seen a lot of discussions on dry storage, Hong Kong storage and wet storage. But currently the missing link is dry-stored old sheng – there aren’t many of them. Most Chinese tea drinkers I know don’t like the taste of Hong Kong storage (but in Hong Kong and Guangdong there must be a lot of people loving it). But they don’t have much dry-stored old sheng in hands either. There are a lot of debates about dry storage and Hong Kong storage, because people have to hesitate and struggle between the two options. (Probably also because many people have an urge to feel their rightness. Otherwise why can’t we say all options are good as long as they work for some people.) I believe in future 5-10 years, there will be more dry-stored old sheng available in the market. Once the direct comparison is available to most people, there is no need to debate. You can just choose what you like and store your tea accordingly. Or that’s what I wish. In puerh, people will always find endless subjects to debate on :-p
This tea is phenomenal … steeps up a beautiful light beige and smells so nice you just want to keep your nose in the cup to soak up the honeysuckle fumes (I see that none of the other reviews make this scent comparison, but it was that sweet and floral). Flavor, on the other hand is mild and gently sweet. One teaspoon’s worth did three separate steeps without losing much character.
First of all, this is absolutely beautiful dry. Springy pink potpourri.
Second of all, this does not taste like perfume, which I feared might be the case. It steeps up a gorgeous light champagne color and is just subtly, lightly sweet. The rose tinge is at the back of each sip; it doesn’t lead the way.
When I added this to the database, I clicked pu-erh as the variety because it’s listed on the “Pu-erh and Yunnan White” page, but please correct me if I’m wrong—I still have lots to learn!
Anyway, this is a lot different than I expected from a tea that comes in a sheng—a cake, right? It steeps up a nice golden brown, and does not have a potting-soil taste at all. Has a green tea taste without the spinach. It’s sweeter, even a little floral in the background and dances around on your tongue before and after you swallow.
(Actually, I don’t know that any of the descriptive copy in the previous paragraph are doing it justice, but it’s really, really nice!) Second steep and it’s still going strong. Thanks, Gingko, for the opportunity to experience this one!
Previous descriptions of this one have pretty much summed it up: olive green in color, a little leaf crunch, nicely sweet but it definitely has the green tea thing going for it. Not one I’d consume by the pound (which, left to myself, I can easily do with a Whitman’s Sampler), but definitely a nice little one-square treat to accompany a genteel cuppa.
You can’t imagine how excited I was when finding this Green Chocolate. Finally there is a snack/candy/dessert with high quality, REAL tea as a dominant ingredient. The other dominant ingredient is another one of my favorite – chocolate, with REAL cocoa butter! What’s more, it’s 100% organic. How much greener can it be :D From my first taste of this chocolate to the time I stocked it up for my store, it took less than a week. No matter how their sales record would be, I know I could eat them all even by myself – but of course I am doing my best to battle against obsessive-eating :-p
I feel it will be adored by people who love matcha and white chocolate. The green tea powder used for this chocolate is not at matcha grade, but has a flavor very close to matcha. There are some tiny, tiny bits of green tea leaves too. They are so tiny that they won’t stay between your teeth. But they contribute to the lingering taste of green tea which lasts in the mouth for quite a while.
The Green Chocolate is not similar to the bittersweet dark chocolate type. So dark chocolate lovers may feel it’s not “chocolaty” enough. But if one loves both chocolate and green tea, she may find Green Chocolate a small paradise.
Also for folks who love green tea ice-cream, very likely they will find greater passion in the Green Chocolate. My favorite green tea ice-cream is one made in California and often found in Asian groceries (I can’t recall the brand name but always recognize its box). When I can’t find it, I would go for Trader Joe’s green tea ice-cream. I prefer the other two to the Haagen-Dasz green tea ice-cream, but still like the latter one. There is also a very nice green tea ice-cream made by a new, small ice-cream company in Berkshire County of Massachusetts. But their distribution region so far is still quite small and it’s hard to get it. I’ve also had some green tea ice-cream with large bits of green tea leaves, which I don’t prefer. But usually the taste is quite good too, and just the large bits of tea leaves can be annoying. There is a Baskin-Robinns in Toronto that used to have this kind of green tea ice-cream every Thursday. Inspite of the leaf bits, the ice-cream was quite decent. And I think it’s a nice gesture for them to have a green tea ice-cream day every week. If you are not sure whether you will like Green Chocolate, try some green tea ice-cream first. If you like green tea ice-cream, chances are Green Chocolate will be an upgraded treat for you, less sweetened and with traditionally half-shaded-grown green tea in its most original “tea conditions”.
Typical Japanese green tea has more caffeine than most other teas. For people who are sensitive to caffeine, Green Kiss shouldn’t be taken after 8pm (I tried it and got too caffeinated to sleep till after mid-night). Normally you wouldn’t expect a chocolate to have this much caffeine. But sometimes when I have to get up and go out in early morning, when there is snow storm outside, there is car to dig out of snow and there is a full day of work ahead (all of these happened too much recently!), a small piece of Green Kiss can make me cry out of joy and feel suddenly more energetic.
Among all the tea categories, puerh Shu is probably the one that I like the least. I occasionally enjoy shu, but had never felt the “magic” as I would find in some other teas. After trying some older shu that everybody else adores but I feel at the most neutral, I’ve kind of settled with the few inexpensive products that I can get along with, and I haven’t been trying a lot of new products recently. Generally my take of shu as a “restaurant tea”, “milk tea” and “tonic drink” may have largely held me back from exploring it as a gourmet tea.
Now here is another shu that’s supposed to be “really, really good”, according to some friends. I wondered if it would taste good to me.
This brick is in a paper box without any information about the production date, which is not uncommon for puerh products before 2005. I got the production date from the supplier, whom I 100% trust. But in general, I believe for products like this one, people should always taste a sample before buying a whole brick or cake. Inside the layer is a thin layer of paper wrap, which I had to tear into pieces to get the brick out. The brick is made with Grade 8 leaves, which are larger and older leaves with some stems. Although it was the first time I had pried off flakes of leaves from the brick, I already got a small stone slightly larger than peanut size, which of course is nothing extraordinary for a puerh brick. :-p
I used a 150ml purple clay teapot for this tea. Although the teapot is indeed suitable for Shu, the real reason I used it is that I thought the teapot was already “soiled” by other shu products I had before. So you know my general attitude toward Shu. :-p I used tea leaves of the size of a oreo cookie and had the first several infusions as short as possible (approximately 10 seconds).
Now I want to say this is my favorite Shu so far. But please notice that this conclusion is from someone who doesn’t have much experience with lots of good and expensive Shu (many of them are so rare and legendary that I can’t manage to have them). One the other hand, I would recommend this tea to people who like black tea and dark oolong but don’t like Shu, because this may be the “likeable” Shu.
I like this tea first of all because it doesn’t have a hint of over-fermented (Wo Dui) taste. Nor does it have the un-offensive but rather hollow taste I often find from a Shu. Secondly, I was glad to have got some kicks from this tea. (To me, “kicks” means prominent aftertaste, especially a taste rising to nasal cavity and back of the throat.) Besides it has all the nice characters of a shu and yields many soupy and sweet infusions.
This is why I really love this tea. Would I call it a gourmet tea? Yes and no. Yes because it tastes great and it’s rare. No because look at those leaves! It’s typical of a puerh brick to have coarse leaves. After all, originally puerh brick is supposed to be enjoyed by nomads and boiled on campfire. Its charm is not elegance but unruliness. For us modern geeks, nomad life is an intriguing fantasy. Next time after my lamb chop meal, I am going to enjoy this tea and dream of the life on the prairie! :D