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Recent Tasting Notes
Another glass of palate-cleansing Margaret’s Hope Darjeeling Autumn Flush 2012 FTGFOP1.
Today’s random and tangentially relevant observation is that people’s tastes are definitely molded in part by availability. The more I drink this tea, the more I reach for it! This was my tenth batch, so about seventy more to go.
Apologies for the neglect of my Norbu Margaret’s Hope Darjeeling Autumn Flush 2012 FTGFOP1 blog. I hate to admit it, but I’ve been frequenting Starbucks this week. No worries: I’m back on the tea track!
I stayed up late last night Googling responses to Obama’s imminent (“at a time of our choosing”) preemptive war on Syria—er, against the strongest enemies of President Assad. What???? I wanted to know if anyone else noticed that Obama has morphed completely and utterly into George W. Bush, having now waged multiple wars without the approval of the UN Security Council. Oh wait, I do believe that The Hawk Obomba has exceeded Bush on this front, having waged undeclared drone wars on several different countries simultaneously.
The funniest thing that happened to me last night was that I accidentally pulled up Obama’s Syria speech of September 11, 2013 (a year ago) first. So I was listening to him say how he had to deliver some missiles to Syria against Assad. About half way through, I realized that I was watching the wrong year’s speech! So this year’s speech is all about ISIL, the new boogey man du jour—a cross between Hitler and Al Qaeda, it seems!!!! In drumming up support for his new undeclared war, Obama omitted mention of the facts that Assad and ISIL are arch enemies, and so are Iran and ISIL (for some reason Obama does not call them ISIS—perhaps embarrassed about last year’s failed war effort?)! In fact, it appears that Iranian boots are already on the ground in Syria. This means that we have a true Coalition of the Incoherent: Obama, Iran, and Assad!
I always thought that the U.S. government’s most fundamental principle was “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”. That’s why they’ve propped up—and handsomely paid—far-right military dictators and thuggish war lords all over the globe. In this case, “No Boots” Obama is planning to arm only “appropriately vetted moderate rebels” to take down both the “unvetted radical rebels” and, apparently, Assad! In the meantime, scores of civilians are bound to die in the crossfire of what can only be termed a bona fide Quagmire with a capital ‘Q’!
Needless to say, Obama, like Bush before him, fell for the provocation strategy to draw the U.S. military back into conflict. Two journalists were beheaded, yes. I dare ask most sincerely: is beheading any more barbaric than blowing human beings apart with a Hellfire missile, spraying blood and scattering body parts far and wide?
This is the kind of nonsense that creates conspiracy theorists out of mild-mannered skeptics. Big time.
I need another cup of tea.
Here I am once again, back at my private “Margaret’s Hope Darjeeling Autumn Flush 2012 FTGFOP1 from Norbu” blog.
Today’s glass was lovely, as always! I am definitely using this tea as a palate cleanser between green and new darjeelings…
Interestingly, a thread in the forum poses the question whether any Steepsters drink darjeeling. My hypothesis is that because darjeeling is so very easy to ruin by overheating or oversteeping, many people had early negative experiences and assumed (as many neophytes about green tea do as well…) that all darjeeling is bitter and overwhelmingly grassy.
Properly steeped, it’s a wonderful tea!
This will be entry #6 of my new blog, “Sherapop’s random ramblings about Norbu-sourced Margaret’s Hope Darjeeling Autumn Flush 2012 FTGFOP1,” wherein various and sundry other topics are also treated, depending upon her mood.
The tea is good. Yes, in theory it’s old. It was harvested in the autumn of 2012—that’s nearly two years ago. I believe that most teas bear an expiration date which ends two years after harvest. Maybe for grocery store tea it’s three years?
Anyway, today’s observation is that well-stored tea need not go stale. This one smells so delicious every time I open the (huge) bag. I’m wondering whether I should divide it up into smaller lots so that I don’t open all of it every day, now that I’ve begun a new blog within a blog…
It’s kind of cool that the profile of this tea pretty much belongs to me, since no one else owns it, and the stock has been depleted, so no one else is going to own it either! I suppose that I could share my 250g bag…
For now, I’m just enjoying the nutty and rich flavor of an autumn flush darjeeling. It brews up a perfect golden amber color and tastes very smooth, provided that one does not overleaf or overheat. For many teas, it is better to err toward the side of excess leaves—certainly that seems to be the case for straight black and oolong teas—but for darjeeling I find the opposite to be the case. Do not overleaf, and above all: do not oversteep or overheat!
I have so much of this tea that I’m thinking about using it as a palate cleanser between my midday green and my imminent tasting adventures through the vast universe of Golden Tips tea. That was my plan today, but it ended up being so hot, and then while admiring the dried leaves of this tea I accidentally spilled a bunch and it went everywhere: on my bed, under my bed, next to my bed, on the shelving next to my bed, … it seemed to take forever to find all of the errant leaves. I wasn’t sure whether insects would be attracted to tea, so I figured that I’d better clean up the mess rather than experiment and see, as nothing is more horrifying to me than the prospect of insects crawling over my body in the middle of the night. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that if I were an insect, I’d totally crawl out of the woodwork to munch on some of these fragrant nutty-scented leaves!
So I cleaned up the mess, and then I moved on to iced tea.
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.