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Recent Tasting Notes
Finishing off this delicious sample I got from Norbu a while back. Every sip has such interesting flavors… evergreen, a hint of smoke, cherries, sweet malt. I had the 2011 spring version which is no longer available but they still have the 2012 version on their site. Very tempting!
I needed some caffeine as the sis, niece and I plopped down to watch American Hustle. No idea why I felt a white tea was necessary for this viewing, but I’m glad I went with it. First off, it’s a resilient white tea. There was even a steep that I forgot about for an hour, and the brew still turned out good.
Second, the taste: Holy whoah.
I’ve had wild and semi-wild white teas before, but this was the best of the lot. It was fruity, herbal, and just altogether robustly awesome. I can’t think of anything more fitting or flowery to say other than that. The perfect nightcap tea.
Now, if only I could find a way to go to sleep.
It’s been ages since I’ve has a few moments for my beloved Steepster, and even longer since I’ve spent time with what is probably my favorite tea.
This is still a fruity, malty, interesting delight, and it is a perfect pick me up for this very rainy and rather cold night.
Flavors: Apricot, Malt, Stonefruits
Okay, so I fell off the wagon on buying tea. But my Mom wanted some of their Pudina Darjeeling Chai and when I got there to check the prices, the Darjeelings were ON SALE! It was practically a moral imperative to order something.
And I’m very glad I did. This is a super good Autumnal Darj. Beautiful dry and steeped, delicious scent. Very, very low astringency, subtly sweet and musky. That said, I did err on the side of Darjeeling common sense and didn’t steep very long just in case. :)
I do however, have 250 grams of it since that was the smallest amount as this is on clearance. So… I can and will share. Or, until the supply is gone, it is 60% off at Norbu and you can get your own 250 grams. :)
Sipdown no. 103 of the year 2014.
After reading some of the notes, I’m going to try using less water this time for the same amount of tea and see what that does. I don’t want to go hotter with the water or longer with the steep, because teaddict warned against this as a way to encourage bitterness.
Less water most definitely makes a difference. The flavor is stronger, and I’m getting an almost Darjeeling-like note, a small amount of grapey sharpness to liven up the overall smoothness. It’s not at all like a silver needle as I’d said in my first tasting note. It has none of the dewy, nectary notes I associate with silver needle. Instead, I’m getting more buttery flavor that has a little of something almost like asparagus.
I wish I had more so I could keep fine tuning. I’m putting it on the shopping list for after I come out of lockdown, if ever.
After a fairly rough weekend at work, I collapsed on the bed at around 7:30PM last night. Which…unfortunately prompted my body to roust around 3AM, thinking it was well-rested. Instead of trying to force it back into submission, I chose instead to sip-speriment.
This is the first hand-rolled Darjeeling I’ve ever encountered. The leaves, frankly, resembled an oolong – only not as tightly ball-fisted. Because of this, I made the twilight decision to “gongfool” the sucker- gaiwan, three cups, and one-minute steeps each.
The results were subtle, sweet, floral- no over-arching spice flavor, to speak of. Very unlike any other Darjeeling first flush I’ve ever tried. At times, it was almost too subtle, but I blame that on the wacky approach I used. A three-minute steep later on turned up a bolder profile.
Flavors: Fruit Tree Flowers, Grapes, Honey
I decided to try this one tonight since it’s been staring at me whenever I rummage through my sample bin.
After reading the few notes, I decided to do a super short rinse (maybe 5 seconds?) then a shorter steep. I’ll resteep this later.
After wetting them, I definitely get a cedar smell out of the buds. Not cedar chips, but crushed cedar green “leaf” part. It’s quite gentle. The steeped tea is barely greenish. But it tastes so nice.
It’s a little sweet, thick, a tiny bit green, with a hint of cedar. I like this one. Verdant’s is really piney, which is interesting, but I think I like this one better.
(1.5 tsp 12 oz)
A couple of weekends ago I waded through my tea and pulled out some samples to put into the “to be drunk soon” sample pile. This was one of them.
My first thought was that the leaves are just really, really gorgeous. They have a lot of color variation from medium-dark green to silvery white, and they are, as the description says, for the most part long and twisty.
The sample was in a sealed packet, but the plastic made it difficult for me to distinguish an aroma from the dry leaves. I find that to be the case with all plastic packets, not just the one this was in.
The liquor is a very pale greenish yellow, and the steeped tea’s aroma is faint and a little like sweet grass or maybe clover, slightly floral.
The taste is very light and mellow, not as vegetal as the only other mao feng I’ve had. I almost wonder whether the sample is suffering from age or whether my taste buds haven’t yet adjusted back from the lapsang souchong I had before this (I did attempt to clear my palate, but I might not have done a sufficient job of it). It’s tasting almost like a white tea to me, like a shade or two more intense than a silver needle. But with the same “fresh water” taste. The other notes on this found it to have a more robust flavor, so I suspect user error.
I am going to refrain from rating for now and try it again on a rested palate.
Okay. Again with this one tonight after dinner. I would say definitely spearmint but surprisingly decent despite that. I upped the temp but kept the steep time the same. The tea itself is still pretty light, but still good. The mint is stronger but the tea isn’t bitter yet or dry.
I’ll try the final bit I have left as recommended. :)
This is interesting. Definitely a Darjeeling, definitely mint. Possibly spearmint… which is not usually anything I like. But this is not a bad after dinner cup. It’s very light and you can definitely taste mint but not in an herbal way, there is tea here, too. I would not pick this out as a 2nd flush, but that could either be to hesitant steeping or due to the fact that my palate just can’t pick out the differences unless I have them side by side. I wasn’t really confident in the boiling for a 5 minute steep instructions so I went with less than boiling for about 3 minutes. Luckily, ifjuly sent along enough of this that I can try another cup or two and play with it a bit!
Brewed this western style, using a Finum basket. Gave it 3-4 minutes, and it needs that time to open up.
The leaves are long, long, long and blacker than a moonless night. They take time to open up, and patience is required for them to release their exquisite flavors.
This is very gently smoked tea, that tastes like a very, very good Keemun – it has some of the malt/bread flavor to it, with a gentle smokiness that does not feel artificial, but gives it depth and body. There is something of the sweetness of sugar to it, and I did not experience any astringency when drinking it. A great intro to smoked teas,and a wonderful companion for a cold winter’s night, in a large steaming mug, with your hands wrapped around it for warmth.
Norbu did it again!
Flavors: Baked Bread
Ok, so now for a proper tasting note, because this tea is worth it. This is from my latest order from Norbu Tea, part of what I bought during their 25% off Chinese New Year sale (on until the 31st of January. Go buy some great tea now! I’ll wait patiently until you are done).
One of the reasons that I love Norbu is that they have all these unique and interesting teas that you can’t find anywhere else, and this is one of them. This is an aged oolong that is practically my age, and yet doesn’t have any funky, fishy, musty smell or taste. It is very dark, and has a roasted note to the first steepings, but from the third steep on it takes on a Tie Guan Yin taste, with flowery, slightly perfume-y notes, and some fruitiness that remains with this tea from the start. I used very short steepings, as this tea came out bold during the quick wash, so I was afraid of over brewing it. The leaves unfurl, and they nearly filled my little Yixing teapot (Yunnan Sourcing Green Dragon Egg – wonderful teapot!) by the fifth and sixth steepings. This tea can go on for ages, and you are likely to tire of it before it runs out of juice. There are some cocoa notes to the tea, particularly in the first steepings, and there’s a nice sweetness to it, yet also a complexity beyond what you normally get even from a very good oolong. A tea to remember, and to slowly and methodically savor.
P.S. I’m not a fan of flowery oolongs, so I’m knocking off a few points due to my personal preferences. If you are at all a Tie Guan Yin person or an oolong person in general, you need to try this tea.