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Recent Tasting Notes
Today’s batch of Norbu Margaret’s Hope Autumn Flush Darjeeling was not quite as good as the last one, but I blame the infuser. I used a glass contraption which allowed some of the smaller leaves to slip through, so they sat there in the bottom of the pot (and glass), adding just a touch of bitterness.
Darjeeling is so sensitive to brewing parameters, in my experience. I wonder whether the darjeeling detractors are aware of this? One little mistake can turn an excellent tea into a borderline unpleasant experience!
To be honest, I have never really thought of darjeeling as black tea. It’s too temperamental and cannot really be consumed with cream. My Platonic Form of black tea remains Assam, but I am beginning to explore the China black teas, having learned that “China black” is not a dirty word, though the rampant use of inferior China blacks as the base for flavored teas has led countless people to believe that—myself included, until only recently.
Back to this darjeeling. I need to take a picture of the dried leaves (purchased from Norbu). This tea is so beautiful, with spindly leaves of all different shades.
I suppose that one reason why I am enjoying hot teas so much this summer is because I bought an air conditioner—for the first time in my life! I now live in a remodeled attic which becomes dangerously hot, so AC has become necessary.
What a positive effect on my tea life, however! This delicious glass of hot darjeeling transported me again to the grassy hinterlands of India!
This darjeeling from Norbu is delicious. I bought a big bag of it on sale under the assumption that, though it came from the autumn flush of 2012, it would still be much better than most darjeelings I’ve ever tried. And I was right! Yes, it’s from the autumn flush of 2012, but the vast majority of darjeelings offer no information whatsoever about the flush, so I figured that they are probably post-autumn swept from the floor more than two years ago.
The liquor is amber, and the flavor both smooth and grassy. I used 4 grams in 17 ounces of just-boiled water and steeped for about 3 minutes. No bitterness whatsoever. I’m sure that I’ll drink this entire bag, even though it contains more than half a pound!
Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe
I learned about the ftgfop nomenclature from Upton Tea Imports, by the way, where I first was introduced to the levels and levels of tea connoisseurship in the world way beyond crude categories such as “darjeeling” or even “Margaret’s Hope Darjeeling!” At one point, I was very into darjeelings but then I moved on to greens. Perhaps it’s time to spend some more time with this fine category of tea once again!
(Blazing New Rating #66)
I’m getting near the bottom of this 50 gram packet of Norbu Long Jing—always a good lunchtime choice. I’ve been reading the Harney & Sons Guide to Tea, and each time that I brew a type of tea covered, I read the two pages on the topic. The book is quite good for the tea-obsessed, without being overly abstruse.
Today I learned about Long Jing that the authentic tea (not the knock-offs, of which there are apparently many) is produced in Xi Hu district near Hangzhou, a city with a population of about 1 million and which boasts more than 700 teahouses!
Road trip, anyone?
I’d thought that I must have oversteeped my big pot of Norbu Xi Hu Long Jing, as the liquor was darker than usual and more yellow—almost gold—as well. Gazing out the window, I lost track of time while watching the Salvation Army guys load my donations onto the truck. I cringed as they threw bags containing English-style tea pots into the back. I certainly hope that none of them were crushed!
So today was a turning point. I am now officially into the tetsubin scene and out of the porcelain English-style scene. I was hemming and hawing about whether I could give them away, but then I did, and fortunately the big truck arrived before I could suffer donor’s remorse and remove the teapots from my front porch. I have given a huge volume of possessions away over the course of the past couple of months because I lost about two-thirds of my space when I moved, and I desperately need air space to be able to breath!
I used English teapots for a decent chunk of my life—supplemented by glass Bodum filter presses (intended for coffee). Of late, I’ve been using only the tetsubin because they not only keep the brewed tea drinkable longer (without reheating), but are also ideal for instantly cooling boiling water to green tea infusion temperature! In fact, they are so good at temperature reduction that I have taken the variable temperature kettle off my wish list!
Now back to today’s first POD (pot of the day). It turned out that I did not oversteep the Norbu Long Jing, as it was delicious. I drank two glasses right after my first meal of the day, a hunk of walnut bread (which I picked up at a farmer’s market yesterday) toasted and smeared with butter. Yum!
second infusion (after dinner): also very smooth and flavorful!
Today’s lunchtime green was Norbu Xi Hu Long Jing Spring Harvest 2013. Good, as usual!
I drank two Bodum glasses of the pale greenish yellow liquor after a plate of sauteed kaleidoscopic swiss chard (yellow, red, and green!) with eggs over easy and freshly baked rye/wheat bread with butter. Yum!
Today’s lunchtime pot is Norbu Xi Hu Long Jing from the 2013 spring harvest. I brewed this somewhat stronger—not longer, but with more leaves—and am finding the slightly darker (but still pale) yellow liquor quite succulent. Looking forward to the second infusion of these still quite fragrant leaves!
second infusion: I drank this after dinner this evening. Mighty fine indeed! Brighter yellow, still with a palpable Long Jingy taste.
I have been slowly developing a concept of Long Jing—or Dragon Well!— China green tea through sampling various harvests. This one, from Norbu, is better than some but not as good as my favorite—from Teavivre. It is slightly less succulent, but still quite likeable. I have no idea why I said in an earlier tasting note that this tea reminded me of sencha. It really bears very little resemblance whatsoever. Of course, it is closer to sencha than it is to Earl Grey! ;-) Perhaps it was the very pale greenish tint of the yellow liquor which evoked memories of sencha? Whatever the case, I now believe that this tea tastes like … drum roll … Long Jing! The texture is silky and smooth.
I used rather cool water today, and will be reinfusing the spent leaves in the not-too-distant future…
I was very careful in my preparations for this Long Jing steep-off, using 2 teaspoons in a small tetsubin and water just a little over 80C. I steeped for somewhere between two and three minutes. The results for Norbu Xi Hu Long Jing Spring Harvest 2013 were good, and this tea trounced the competition, Tealux Dragonwell Long Jing.
The liquor is pale greenish yellow, and the flavor has a clean, ever-so-slightly vegetal taste. The texture is silken, almost buttery. A very nice cup!
Lovely, light, and limpid lunch drink reminiscent of sencha. I made it a bit stronger this time and steeped at low temperature for only a couple of minutes.
second infusion: Same light barely greenish-yellow color. Same clean taste.
third infusion: I oversteeped this round, so the color was more golden than green. It tasted okay, but like a different tea—more like a “nameless” green…
I made a pot of this Norbu Xi Hu Long Jing Spring Harvest 2013 after lunch today. The liquor was pale greenish yellow and the flavor slightly vegetable, though I wasn’t really sure which vegetable it was reminding me of.
Smooth and refreshing.
second infusion: same color; same taste. The vegetable in question may be lima beans…
third infusion: same color; very faint taste.