Life In Teacup
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Recent Tasting Notes
First Steep: Color is a bit like a glass of white wine. This is smooth and very bright. The primary flavor is floral, but it’s paired very nicely with a clean and fresh note. There is a very faint sweetness towards the end of the sip. Yummy!
Second Steep: Darker yellow with more of a buttery scent. It’s not overwhelmingly buttery, but it’s definitely present. Floral notes are heavier as well.
Third Steep: Buttery scent has disappeared and now it’s all about those floral smells! Smooth, but more astringent. I imagine a big, fluffy flower that unfolds with each sip.
Fourth Steep: I’m not getting a large difference from my last cup. It feels a little bit heavier on the tongue, but otherwise I am just tasting mellow floral notes.
This is a nice oolong tea to have when you aren’t craving something more specific. It’s enjoyable… I wouldn’t go out of my way for this tea, however. There are other oolongs that I like more, but this hit the spot this afternoon.
Experience buying from Life in Teacup http://steepster.com/places/2861-life-in-teacup-online-easthampton-massachusetts I just did a substantial update of the company review
Date of Purchase/Date of Steeping/Amount of Leaf/Frequency Drank: received late April, 2012, brewed up not long thereafter; four grams; this is my first time I have had this particular type of tea.
Appearance and Aroma of dry leaf: It looked like any other quality DaFo Long Jing (that I have seen pictures of, at least) in that it had the characteristic sword-like bud sets with uneven colored light-and-dark green hues counterpointed with tiny light brown splotches at the ends of the bud-sets; it had a fresh and strongly nutty aroma.
Brewing guidelines: Glass sixteen-oz tumbler (so I could see the leaves as they steep) with ceramic teacup saucer as lid, two cups H2O; stevia added; I then decanted the tea into a larger container using a strainer by pouring from the tumbler to our teacups.
…….….1st: 182F; 1’……..good, fresh flavor; leaves all on top
……….2nd: 180F; 1.5’….a little milder tasting, still good
……….3rd: 187F; 2’…….heavier feel in mouth, but still good
……….4th: 188F; 2.5’….milder, yet smooth; all leaves still on top
……….5th: 186F; 3’…… very mild flavor
Color of tea liquor: a very light yellow-green color which got darker on the later steepings.
Flavor of tea liquor: Delicate, pleasant, fresh, with a very small amount of astringency, (which was actually pleasant); more detail in Overall.
Appearance of wet leaf: very high quality leaf: all whole bud-sets (with what I understand to be the characteristic tiny end-buds); interesting thing is, the leaves did not open up as they normally do in buds sets after begins steeped; I have never seen this before.
Value: After inquiring about this tea, Gingko offered to give me a small sample of it; Thank you Gingko! Although it’s pricier than Tea Trekker’s (you have to buy more from them than from Life in Teacup), it’s cheaper than Seven Cup’s organic version, and the price of this one seems to be roughly what the going rate for this tea is at ~$15/OZ. UPDATE: I just checked both the Camellia Sinensis and Jing Tea Shop websites, and although they have no Dafo Long Jings, the three Long Jings each carries are about the same price (or more) than this Dafo from Life in Teacup.
Overall: For various reasons I am writing this over a month after actually tasting this tea (although most of this was already written a week after trying it), so this review is based partially on written notes and partially on memory.
I think I am getting a better handle on how fresh spring green teas compare with, for example, year-old green tea; after having had this 2012 fresh spring Dafo Long Jing from Life in Teacup and comparing it side-by-side to the taste of a 2011 harvested year-old Long Jing (one from Jing Tea shop of what I believe to be a considerably lower grade), I was able to make some distinctions. On the surface, taste-wise, I liked both of them, but for different reasons: the year-old Long Jing was heavier in my mouth (I think that’s called ‘body’?) and was flavorful, while the fresh Long Jing was much lighter, and although it was hard to describe the flavors (being somewhat unusual), they were interesting.
Describing experiences by using people/animals/objects that tend to intrigue me (for example things in nature, like birds) seems to be something that comes naturally to me, and as I am still learning what all of the technical words for describing taste are, the following is my way of describing the difference between a fresh and a year-old spring green tea (in this case, two different Long Jings). While drinking the fresh spring Long Jing: within the space where I held the Tea, I imagined a few small colorful birds, ones that differed ever-so-slightly in shape and color, flying effortlessly up, up, up, trilling out their pleasure of the day; while drinking the year-old Long Jing: I imagined a flock of larger birds, all similar in size, shape, and color, moving around with considerable effort at low altitudes within the space where I held the Tea, making familiar noises. It’s easy to take note of the larger birds (mallards perhaps?), and yet more difficult to get a glimpse of the swifter, more delicate ones (goldfinches and/or ruby-throated hummingbirds perhaps?)—but what a joy to watch them fly!
I hope to write more about the price of fresh Long Jings (and a few other things) when I write up the review about the Life in Teacup 2011 year-old version of this DaFo type of Long Jing (a sample of which I didn’t realize I had until after I brewed up and compared this tea with the year-old Jing Tea Shop Long Jing. Doooah!).
I have been studying and researching different aged puerhs to see the effect storage type has on the tea and through my experience any aged puerh tea that has white specks of puerh mold which is called aspergillus like this Tuo Cha does means that it is almost impossible for it to be dry stored. You see, a good quality wet stored puerh tea might have a very small amount of these white specks because of the humidity in the air during wet storage and they should not take up a large surface area of the cake or tuo cha for if they do it usually represents that it was stored not only wet but too wet. So basically since this Xia Guan Tuo Cha is almost completely covered with white aspergillus specks I would have to say that the claim of it being dry stored would have to be a fallacy as it is more likely EXTREMELY WET STORED. This is not just my opinion either as I had a sample of this tea with me when I went to visit one of the most well known Chinese tea authorities in the U.S. and when I brought it out to show it to him and the rest of the tea enthusiasts they refused to even put their nose up to the tuo cha to smell it for fear of breathing in the vast amount of mold on it. I am not saying this is the vendor’s fault as they were probably told this was dry stored but i just wanted to state what I have found through research and experience now that I understand puerh much better than I did when I first bought it.
It has been a while since I have had my scent up and running for tea reviewing. For this reason, I have been sticking to teas that I have previously drank and have plenty of (mainly lapsang souchong and various oolongs).
It is now time for an official cuppa this. Not in my traditional style though, as I started the tea experience last night with these leaves, and I am now on to my third steep.
Dry: Like sweet earthy wheat. Chestnuts pop into mind as well. Yummmm. Small little balls the color of 60%-70% cocoa chocolate. Aka.. not really milky chocolate color, but a bit.
Liquor: initial 2 steeps (30s): From what I remember (I will obviously do a better review next time), there is a nicely roasted/toasty flavour with a pleasingly sweet aftertaste. I would like to say it would match the sweetness of almost ripe bananas. Not overly sweet – but you still get a little drying effect. It does not taste like bananas, just the mechanism of sweetness is similar. Right down to the slight drying.
3rd steep (1 min): Still nicely toasted. Reminds me of sweet bread that has been browned. Maybe some brown sugar sprinkled on the top and a light spread of butter. I get sweet flashes at the back of my throat and tongue. It is not buttery as I would associate with a milk oolong, but it has a creamy aftertaste that reminds me of it. The tea is definitely drying..But not so much that I am grabbing for water. Maybe I will play with the steeping parameters more. None the less, great cup of tea to come back to =)
This is a showdown between the superior grade LS and this grade 2 from Life in Teacup. Let’s get started ‘cause my delicious smelling tea is getting colder by the word.
Dry: Smells of light sweet smokey fire. Nicely twisted dark chocolate leaves.
Liquor (1.5min): Smells and tastes like a camp fire. But sweet bacon and a little malty at the same time. Yum..
ok I just noticed the steep times of the other tasters and mine is wayyy lower. Next round I am trying a 4 minute steep. I’m nervous. Ohhh but it will be good. Here’s the thing – I touched the wet leaves and now my hands smell like salty bacon. Now I want salty smokey sweet bacon. I don’t ever crave meat products so this is weird.
5min: I got side-tracked looking at Life in Teacup Dan Cong. Looks like I will have to order some more tea soon. sips Whoa! New tea almost. Full bodied and with a gentle sparkle feeling around my tongue. Slight drying in the throat, but nothing too bothersome. When I try and think about the sweetness (which is mid-taste for me), visions of black currants pop up in my brain for some reason. Mmmm it’s like black currant syrup on non-crispy maple smoked bacon. I’m in love.
Thank you again Gingko… Life in Teacup has wonderful customer service and I really appreciate that!
I was so excited when my Life In Teacup order arrived a little while ago. So far I have tried their TGYs and jeez are they good! I waited to try the Superior Grade Vs. their grade 2 Lapsang Souchong. After a mixup, the grade 2 had been delayed. But thanks to their fantastic customer service – I quickly received the grade 2 for comparison (along with a few generous and lovely samples – thank you so much Gingko!)
Dry: Sweet and malty leaf. It has a very very subtle smoke hint, but not in your face by any means at all.
Liquor 1.5 min: Very malty and almost dark chocolate like. There is a clean and refreshing feeling at the end of the sip at the back of the throat/tongue. It’s nice and something new to me. Nice subtle roast to it, but not stand out smokey. Very different and mild LS.
5min: Smelling the cup – I detect no smokey notes. Just malty caramel sweetness. Interesting for an LS. Smooth caramel taste with a warm blanket feeling that is amazing. This is a good tea – but comparing to their grade 2 LS.. I honestly prefer the grade 2. I appreciate the refined taste of this tea with the subtle roast flavour and caramel sweetness, but I want some smoke. I want some intensity. This tea reminds me of a sophisticated afternoon high tea with one lady being a rebel and choosing the LS instead of an unaltered straight black (even though this tea tastes almost like a straight black..).
It is good but I am glad I only got a sample as I like more intense LS flavours I guess.
First Steep: I am really loving the overwhelming sweetness. It’s floral, but does have a marshmallow-like quality. There is something fluffy, plush and soft about the flavor. I think this is the sweetest oolong I’ve tasted so far. Really delicious!
Second Steep: More floral and less of that marshmallow sweetness. Yes, it’s still tasty and sweet, but the flavor is dancing much more around flowers than anything else.
I would continue, but it’s time for food! I will update later with my thoughts on future infusions of this tea. For now, I am very happy with this tea and would honestly drink cup after cup of that first steep.
Today is a two-tea kind of morning. I got this sample a while ago from TeaEqualsBliss, but I had put off trying it. For one, I thought it was a kukicha (it was the “twig” in the name), but it turns out it is not. I have enough for a cup, so I’m hoping I get this steeping right. I looked up directions for green tea on Life in Teacup’s site and have a decent idea I think. I am steeping it in my 12oz glass mug filled halfway (so about 6oz), just leaves in the cup, no strainer, leaving them in. The directions say that when the leaves fall to the bottom the tea is ready to drink, but then again I also read that this tea sinks to the bottom right away, so I don’t know exactly when to try it. I suppose when it’s cool enough for me!
The liquor is slightly darkening and the leaves are opening. It smells nutty and vegetal, with some lovely sweet notes, and the flavors are similar. Except now some bitterness is creeping in as it sits here still steeping in the mug. I have just a little liquid left, so I’m going to resteep as suggested. This steep is less vegetables, more grassy, with some other note I can’t place. With a name that includes “Orchid” I would normally expect some florals, but there are none to speak of here.
This is a fairly nice green tea, but I do feel like I’m not getting everything I could out of it. Maybe another time I will encounter this varietal again.
A lovely Oolong. I have tried the Fo Shou Superior Grade Oolong, which I also enjoyed. the charcoal notes were not particularly strong in the first couple of infusions, but, revealed themselves in later infusions. Nutty and sweet. Smoke note in the distance. The bergamot-like flavor was very faint in the first two infusions, but in the third and fourth infusions, it seemed to really brighten the cup. Not really a strong flavor, but just a hint of citrus-like flavor.
I am very excited to try this tea. And I must say – Life In Teacup has wonderful customer service!
Dry: Leaves are full and big – not little broken up chunks. (Yay!) The smell is sweet and lightly smokey. Yum.
Liquor: YUM. Toasty and creamy. Light amberish honey liquor. This is magnificent. Staple for sure. I have the perfect activity for this tea – a dark comfy bed with a movie and popcorn. I think I will go engage in such an activity. Maybe not a movie, but It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia instead. Oh jeez I’m in love with this tea. Very comforting and roasty.
Sorry for the short note. I will make a longer one later when I catch up on sleep.
Thanks to LiberTEAS for this sample, which I randomly picked from my box tonight.
Oh man, is this ever sweet and smooth! I’m reminded of autumn leaves and jumping in a leaf pile – some other tea I had recently reminded me of this as well. Oooh, so smooth! Aftertaste is just barely of oolong, but as I’m less familiar with darker oolongs, perhaps that’s what one gets when they move away from tieguanyins. The sweetness is delicious. Almost makes me think of raisin water, i.e. the water left after plumping up raisins for baking. It’s also kind of toasty; makes me think of genmaicha for some reason.
Ok. That was a massive jumble of random thoughts. Too lazy to organize (and still teas to try!)
This one’s pretty impressive! I definitely need to try more dark oolongs. I’m excited to see what the next infusions bring!
Thank you to TeaEqualsBliss for sending me some of this! I love it!
Then again, I’m not surprised… I’ve not been disappointed by anything I’ve tried from Life In Teacup… at least, not to my recollection. Gingko has a knack for getting the very best! And this is definitely one of the best Keemun teas I’ve tried… smoky, but not too smoky. Sweet, but not too sweet. I love the fruity notes in the background, which are accessible because the tea overall is not too heavy or overwhelming with its robust flavors. It is a strong, hearty tea but it also allows the nuances to shine through nicely.
Love! I absolutely adore Oolong teas, and Life In Teacup has become one of my favorite purveyors of Oolong teas (as well as other teas!) because their teas are always of utmost quality.
This is an amazing Oolong – Sweet, lightly floral, hints of toasty flavors in the distance. I definitely taste that marshmallow likeness to this, sweet and soft and yummy. A dryness toward the end of the sip, ending with a crispness that is almost mint-like. The floral notes remind me of orchid and osmanthus. Sweet and absolutely delicious. I love LOVE love this!
I just received this tea from Life In Teacup a few days ago, but cannot find it on their website.
When I read the label, I found the idea of a Red Tie Guan Yin to be somewhat surprising, as I’m so used to associating “Tie Guan Yin” with Oolong. But one glance at the leaves and I knew it was not a mistake, this IS a black tea. And what an amazingly good black tea it is.
SO SO SO SO SO GOOD! I love this. It reminds me quite a bit of Dawn (The Simple Leaf), it has that same deep chocolate-y note with a freshly baked cake kind of quality to it. Rich and incredibly satisfying. Caramel undertones. Sweet and smooth and delicious.
I’m off to write my rough draft review of this tea for the SororiTea Sisters!
3 cups today!
BTW…I have some upcoming giveaways over at one of my Blogs if any of you want to follow it/bookmark it!!!
It’s not tea but you will be able to ADD IT to your Tea if you wish :)
I quite liked this offering. It was sweet, but complex. For the price it’s an incredible bargain. – Brad – Sarah didn’t like.
This is an excellent tea. Not at all vegetal, but not dark or toasty either. Pretty much exactly what I like in an oolong. – brad.
Mine is a spring 2011 tea but it is SO wonderful. It is amazing the difference between a quality cup of tea and, well, others lol. My husband loved this and sat drinking with me and that is a rare occasion – for someone who rarely drinks tea and knows nothing about it he is a total tea snob! At least he knows a good cup though!
Buttery, slightly floral but not so much as I don’t usually care for floral teas, and vegetal but not overly so this is one I really adore!
Thanks Life in Teacup for the sample!
I fell in love with this oolong in Paris and have been pursuing it ever since. Very light floral notes yield to a body that fills the mouth with a very creamy bloom. This is the first Li Shan I have tasted that had notes of jasmine on the 2nd-4th steeps. What a treat! Now comes the wonderful news, this tea is usually found at $12-15/oz. Life in Teacup brings it to you for half the price. Plus, the second and third steep only improve.
I have been looking forward to brewing up and tasting the first new spring green of the year for some time now. And who better to provide it than Life in Teacup! I only had two spring green teas during April of 2011 (I also had a few during early June), so I still consider myself relatively new as to what to expect of them. I have been talking about my excitement with my wife (she saw me open the package from Life in Teacup earlier in the week), but I didn’t tell her that I would be brewing up the very first pot of this tea this morning. I sometimes don’t tell her what I’m brewing up so I get an unbiased opinion from her about the taste. For awhile there, after having a couple ‘smokier’ green teas (which she despises) her initial reaction to any green tea—especially one that has a reputation for being smokey, like Hunag Shan Mao Feng or any tea from the Yunnan province—that had a taste she was uncertain about,was, ‘I think it tastes smoky’. Needless to say, I would then give her the evil eye. : )
I like to experience the Tea with every sense possible: visually and aromatically—the appearance and aroma of the dry leaf, watching the leaves dance and co-mingle in their new watery home while I take in the aroma, smelling the wet leaves after the first steeping, then using the auditory senses—listening to the leaves jostling for position as I use a spoon to gently take them from their temporary home in the bag, or tin, or jar, and drop them into the clear glass pot with a tinkle, almost like a wind-chime, and listening to the water begin to stir in the kettle, signaling it’s time to pour the water, and then finally through taste—as the liquor rolls around in my mouth making my taste buds shiver with delight as the various flavors finally reveal themselves. The first time I steep a tea I pay a little more attention to all of these things. I guess it’s kind of a ritual. I invite my wife to participate as well, and fortunately she’s usually happy to join me.
This morning her one-word litany when encountering this spring green Tea with each of her senses was: interesting (said in that positive way as one draws out the initial ‘i’ sound when pronouncing it: in-tres-ting ); although my reactions were unspoken, all the while I was thinking the same thing (keeping my fingers crossed that she was going to find the same wonder that, so far, I have found in fresh spring greens). Our senses were telling us there was something about this tea that was different than all the other green teas we had been brewing up all winter.
When the time finally came to drink of the sweet nectar that was only moments ago locked within the curly leaves, we were rewarded with flavor that was clearly fresh and inviting. It was not flavor I would describe as strong, but rather a flavor profile that brought back memories of the spring teas I had tasted a year ago; it’s hard to describe—and I will hopefully improve as I continue to drink infusions of these wondrous Teas—but the sensation in the mouth is light and uplifting, full of zest, and I imagine it having a kind of sparkle to it. It’s like nothing I have ever had before. Still, quite honestly, I think it is somewhat of an acquired taste (my wife agrees). Not that the flavor is weird or bad in any way, it’s just delicate and subtle and can be easily unappreciated by one who doesn’t know what to look for or take the time to sit with it enough to really take it in (I am guessing this is also the case with fine wines).
And as far as staying power? This tea delivered three wonderfully flavorful steepings and still had discernible flavor on the forth and right up through the fifth. That is very impressive for a green tea at this price range ($18 / 5OZ = $3.60 / OZ). The wet leaf is about as good as it gets: all full leaf, few stems, and lots of bud sets and buds—all of an army green color. I plan to give more details later, but I wanted to sit down and write up what came up for me now rather than put notes on a note-card that would inevitably sit for weeks (or months) before I posted it. I highly recommend this tea for those that want to experience a fresh spring green tea at a very reasonable cost.
This yellow tea is quite unlike other yellow teas that I’ve tried. While most of the yellow teas that I’ve had in the past have been on the delicate side, this one is not what I’d call delicate. It has a more assertive flavor to it, but, it still has a very yellow tea kind of flavor to it.
sigh how I love yellow tea.
Preliminary review (updated on 6/9/2012)
There is clearly something different about this HSMF from all the others ones I have tried. Nothing about the appearance or the aroma of the dry leaf stood out. Yet, the appearance and aroma of the wet leaf and the taste of the tea liquor itself all signify that this is a quality tea; there are aromas and tastes that bare resemblance to a few other quality green teas I have tasted. I wonder if this is in part because it is semi-wild grown tea? Possibly the elevation contributes? (I just checked the elevation for the other HSMFs I tried, though, and this one is no higher than the others).
I am impressed with the quality of the pluck of this leaf, and I am really enjoying the aroma and the subtle flavors in my cup. I have found that a few of Life in Teacups’s green Teas seem to be light on flavor. That could be because there is something I am not doing right when steeping them (water not hot enough, not steeped long enough, or using too few leaves), but I am starting to believe it is more that the flavors these teas have to offer are more delicate and subtle than what I’m used to enjoying in green teas.
Next time I brew this one up, I plan to measure more carefully (I think I had too few leaves for four cups of water this time), and first try hotter water (I started at about 175F, I’ll shoot for at least 180F), and then secondly try a longer steep time (Initially I started at one minute, this time I’ll start at two). If making a singular change that doesn’t get me the results I want, I’ll try both hotter and longer (this made a difference in the flavor in Verdant Tea’s Early Summer green). Still, the entire experience with this tea—learning about Life in Teacup, and how they as a small shop buy direct and keep thing as simple as possible, my communicating with Gingko via e-mail, and how active she is on Steepster—makes drinking this tea much more meaningful than buying tea from a larger and more impersonal tea shop.
Upping the rating and a sipdown from yesterday! D-Lish! Had 3 cups-worth
This is screaming 2nd infusion so I will save it for after lunch. First infusion tho…mouth-watering, a little juicy, a slight hint of charcoal and nuttiness. This is special!