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Recent Tasting Notes
It’s been a while since I have had this one by itself. I’ve been using it s a base to blend with fresh mint, or my super smoky Lapsang Souchong. Or both. Because yum.
But today, even though it is rainy and dreary out and that usually puts me in the mood for something thick and in my face, I decided to have a go with this one.
I did want it a bit bolder than the nice summer tea, hot or sun. So I added more leaves. A bunch more. I went from my normal 3 tablespoons to 4 heaping tablespoons. I kept the steep time where Red Blossom Tea Company recommends, right at 2:00 for my 32 ounce Bodum Assam teapot.
All of the regular Shou Mei tastes are there. Woodsy, nutty, earthy aroma and flavor. There is no bitterness and very little tannins present. But there was something extra there today. Something almost, well, Autumny. The woodsy flavor, my favorite aspect of this tea, had a bit of extra flavor. Closing my eyes I could almost picture myself walking through my grandparents walnut orchard in the winter. The fruits and nuts are gone, and that strong, pungent, but somehow soothing wet wood scent wafted through the air. It’s not the same flavor, this tea does not taste like walnut wood, but it has that feel. That special orchard in the Winter feel that you really can’t explain without demonstrating.
If you ever get the opportunity to walk through an orchard in the Winter when the sun pops out after a rainstorm, take it. There is not much like in this world.
The taste is the same. That woodsy flavor has really been released and let loose to run in the open. It’s not overwhelming, by any means, but it has been given permission to show off just a bit.
I’m glad I discovered this, with slightly less leaves this is a great Summer brew, either hot or sun tea. But add more leaves, and it takes on a new life, totally fitting for a cold, wet, rainy Autumn morning.
Flavors: Earth, Nuts, Nutty, Walnut, Wet Earth, Wet Wood, Wood
Sitting here bloated and guilty from overeating yesterday, it’s time for some tea.I’m still trying to dial in a blend of Organic Shou Mei with a touch of Lapsang Souchong and fresh dried mint leaves. This will be there third time I have tried this blend, and I think I am getting pretty close.
In the past, I have used too much Lapsang, giving it too much of that smoky flavor, hiding the white tea goodness of the Shou Mei, or too much mint, making it bity.
I think I got it pretty close this time. 3 heaping tablespoons of the Shou Mei mixed with about ½ of a teaspoon of Lapsang Souchong, and only 2 dried mint leaves in a 32 ounce Bodum Assam.
That mix gives plenty of smoke flavor from the Lapsang, plenty of mint flavor from the mint leaves, but neither hide the light, delicate, woodsy and nutty flavor of the Shou Mei.
I’m learning, and having fun discovering new blends and then trying to perfect them.
Time for a new blend! Sort of…
Today’s blend is an Organic Shou Mei white tea and a Lapsang Souchong black tea, both from Red Blossom Tea Company, and some freshly dried mint leaves from Nob Hill Grocery Store.
First, let me say two things:
1. I have tried the Shou Mei/Lapsang blend before and liked it a lot. The super smokey feel and taste of the Lapsang works really well with the simple, solid, woodsy flavor of the Shou Mei. For my 32 ounce Bodum Assam I found that 3 tablespoons of Shou Mei to 1 teaspoon of Lapsang is a good mix, but you have to add a bit more Lapsang for additional steepings.
2. The mint leaves were an experiment a couple weeks ago. I went to the local grocery store and bought the only fresh mint leaves they had and dried them hanging in my room. In the future I would go to a farmer’s market or natural food store like Sprouts or Whole Foods and get a more specific mint leaf. After I research, of course.
Now, on to todays blend. First, the mix:
32 ounce Bodum Assam teapot
3 tablespoons Organic Shou Mei
1 teaspoon Lapsang Souchong
4 dried mint leaves
Quick rinse, about 15 seconds
Pulled the water off the stove at first boil
2 minute steeping time (recommended by Red Blossom for Organic Shou Mei base)
Here we go!
I could tell when I poured the water over the leaves this would be a good one. The first whiff I got from it made me smile. The Shou Mei base is a great, solid, white tea base for a blend like this due to it’s light, gentle, fragile taste with strong hints of wood, nuts, and Earth. Mix a bit of that uber campfire smoke taste of the Lapsang Souchong, and the two blend very well.
Now add the mint. Here is where I didn’t know what would happen. I don’t notice much of the mint in the aroma, the Lapsang pretty much owns the nose. But when I taste it, there it is. The mint is right there, present and accounted for. It works really well with the base Shou Mei and the smoky Lapsang, adding just a bit more depth and flavor.
Basically, I get a lightish, woodsy tea with a strong feel of smoked mint. Very interesting.
I would certainly try this again, but maybe with slightly less Lapsang, maybe ¾ of a teaspoon instead of a whole one, and 3 mint leaves instead of 4.
But yeah, today’s blend is a damn good one! I can already picture myself sipping this while reading on a cool, rainy Winter’s day.
The continued steepings of a blend of Organic Shou Mei white tea and Lapsang Souchong black tea, both from Red Blossom Tea Company. This review is for the 2nd and 3rd steepings.
2 tablepoons Shou Mei
1 teaspoon (at the most) Lapsang Souchong
1st steeping 45 seconds
2nd steeping 55 seconds
3rd steeping 1 minute
4th steeping (?) 1 minute
195(ish, when bubbles first showed)
The 2nd steeping is not quite as good as the first. These two teas have very different lives through multiple steepings, and with much more of the Shou Mei white tea leaves than Lapsang Souchong black, the 2nd and 3rd steepings are pretty much all Shou Mei. The campfire smoke aroma and taste of the Lapsang is much more subtle in the 2nd, so much so that if I didn’t know it was there I would not notice. And the 3rd steeping it is gone altogether.
So, long story short, I really like this blend. I think I got the mix right, and the steeping time and temp was right on. However, for the 2nd and 3rd (and beyond) steepings, I will add a pinch more Lapsang to keep it going.
Short and sweet today. This tea makes one hell of a great sun tea. It’s literally everything I think of in a sun tea. Delicate, gentle, just a bit sweet with a hint of nuts, grass, earth and wood. A perfect sun tea!
I did use a bit less leaves today, only about 2 tablespoons in my larger tea ball. Seemed to do the trick.
This review is for the 2nd and 3rd steeping of a blend of this Shou Mei white tea and Red Blossom’s Lapsang Souchong black tea.
Yesterdays 2nd steeping was wonderful, even better than the first. The 1st steeping, in my opinion, had too much Lapsang taste, too much campfire smoke. I wanted more balance. The 2nd steeping took care of that. The campfire smoke was much more subdued, and the white tea background was able to pop through.
Now on to today’s 3rd steeping. I upped the steep time to 1:15 from 1:00, everything else is the same. Just under 3 tablespoons of Shou Mei white with 1 teaspoon of Lapsang Souchong black.
The color is still golden straw, just a tad darker, closer to a green tea color. Almost looks like a filtered hefeweizen, for those beer fans out there.
The aroma also reminds me of the fruity, almost banana-y beer. The 1st steeping aroma was all campfire, but now the balance is much better, the white tea is actually more in front, and the thick, malty smoke of the Lapsang is secondary. Still has that same dry, clean finish.
Taste and mouthfeel are exactly the same as yesterday’s 2nd steeping, it hasn’t lost any of it’s power, strength, or balance. I still have a strong sense of malty campfire smoke from the Lapsang, but the Shou Mei is much more present. It has an almost bitter, dry aftertaste, but still crisp and clean. 3rd steeping and it’s still kicking nice and strong.
The next time I do this blend, I might try rinsing them separately, and giving the Lapsang some extra time to possibly clean off some of that extra campfire.
Home made blends! My first time taking this step, and I started with the two most opposite teas on my shelf. This Shou Mei white tea, and my uber smoky, campfire-esque Lapsang Souchong. Let’s see how this goes:
I used mostly Shou Mei leaves, about 2.5 (maybe close to 3) tablespoons of it to only one teaspoon of the much more potent Lapsang Souchong. I figured that might give me a decent balance, especially with the short 1 minute steep time of the white Shou Mei, instead of the 2 minute + time of the black Lapsang Souchong.
Now to dig in:
The aroma right off the bat is dominated by the smoky, campfire Lapsang. It’s not as in you face as when I brew the Lapsang alone, and it does have that light, almost airy smell of the Shou Mei.
First sip is all Lapsang. It is a nice flavor though, it’s s much more subdued and light compared to a cup full of Lapsang leaves. The first taste is all Lapsang, and it dominates the pallet, but I can certainly taste and feel the lightness of the Shou Mei, followed by that woody, earthy, nutty taste. I would like to have a bit more of that in the balance, so next time I will probably cut down the Lapsang leaves to 1/2 or even 1/4 teaspoon. It’s that potent.
I think, in the end, what I have done is actually make a REALLY good Lapsang Souchong by giving it a light white tea base. I’ll certainly be mixing these again.
I gave it another go at creating a sun tea using these leaves. Here ya go:
I used 2 tea balls, one that held, 1/2 full, about 3 tablespoons, the other 1/2 full held 2 tablespoon, into my 2.5 quart jug, and left it sitting in full sunlight for about 8-10 hours.
That ratio seemed to work pretty well. I got a nice, dark colored tea, with all the flavor I can expect from this tea brewed the traditional way with hot water. The fresh Earthy, nutty, woodsy aroma and flavor were all there, present and accounted for.
I prefer the longer brewing time to really pull all the flavor out, and I don’t mind a bit of bitterness getting into the mix. Shortening the steeping-in-the-sun time down to 4-6 hours might lighten up the flavor a bit, maybe I’ll try that next time.
Long story short, this basic white tea makes one hell of a great sun tea!
Experimented with using this for sun tea again. The last time I used a tea ball that was nowhere near big enough, and I still can’t find my old ginormous one. So, this time I used more leaves and just let them loose in the water. I decided to use more than I thought necessary, so I used 6 heaping tablespoons in my 2.5 quart jug.
It came out damn near perfection. This white tea makes one hell of a sun tea. Nice and light in flavor and feel, but still enough presence for flavor fans like myself.
And, of course, right when I brought it inside, I found the old ginormous tea ball. Next time!
At it again with this one. This has become a staple the last few months, but it was time to try something a little different with it. So, I upped the amount of leaves used in my Bodum Assam 32 oz tea press from 3 tablespoons (heaping, of course) to 4 and a pinch extra. I rinsed them before steeping, and let it steep for (ish) 2 minutes.
The result was a bigger, bolder white tea full of flavor. The nutty woodsy flavor jumps out much quicker, but it keeps that delicate, tranquil feel and dry, clean finish.
I was never very experienced with white teas before this one, I’m glad I bought extra to do some experimenting. I think I’m close to figuring it out!
Flavors: Earth, Nuts, Wood
Want to know what happens to a tasty, light white tea when you forget about it and let it steep for somewhere’s about 6-8 minutes? Well, I’ll tell you.
It still has that light, earthy aroma, but it’s more in your face bitter and bitey. The taste is also very similar to a properly steeped white tea, but with an added bite that feels like it could cut through teeth.
That being said, it is still very good. I do like a big, bold, bitey, bitter cup of tea now and then. And I do like to oversteep my white and green tea from time to time. Glad to know this one can take it and still come out with all the qualities it should have.
Crisp, clean, light aroma leads to a crisp, clean, nutty taste. Super bright, almost shiny in feel, while still bringing out that earthy, woodsy taste. So good!
I experimented this morning, using a little more leaves than I normally do, and only letting it steep for 1.5 minutes. I wanted to get the full flavor of this tea, and I think I really got it this time.
Flavors: Earth, Nutty, Wood
This review is specifically for a batch of sun tea I made with this tea.
I used a loose leaf tea pod into about 4 quarts of water. I’m going to have to adjust that next time, probably to use two tea pods. It still had that earthy, nutty, woodsy aroma and taste, but it just wasn’t a prominent as I like. This tea might also be to subtle and light to make a good sun tea.
I used it because I had a lot of it and wanted to just try. It’s still good, just not as bold as I like my sun teas.
1st steeping on the 2nd time through. Subtle earthy, nutty aroma. Nice, bright, woody taste. I let it steep a little longer this time, it went about 3-4 minutes. It got a bit more bitter, but nothing overwhelming or brew-ruining. It’s just a bit more bold. Great simple white tea!
Thank you to Joe at Happy Lucky’s Tea House for this taste!
Today I went for my regular Sunday Tea. Almost immediately after perching myself on a high barstool, a special bag of tea was whipped out from behind the bar by my grinning tea professional, Joe.
“Here it is, the 1982 Wenshan Baozhong I told you about,” said Joe.
“Heh, chimed in Eric, none of us were born when this was produced.”
(Which made me groan!)
“Really? Thanks!” I said, pretty excited to try a tea that old!
Instead of me bringing a tea for my friends to try, they had a special tea to share with me! An Oolong 30 years old from Taiwan!
Joe made sure that I was presented with the tea in a formal way for viewing at every stage of the process.
First, I looked at the long dark twisty leaves, some with a little green on the edges. I smelled them but they had little fragrance since they were so very old and dry, but they were lovely.
Next the tea was brewed in a Gaiwan and then poured into cups and the leaves placed in front of me so that I could smell the aroma. Whiskey, apple, tobacco, honey.
The fragrance of the wet leaves was unbelievable. Everything about the leaves was a symphony of shifting melodies.
The flavor was so delicate that as soon as I decided on one flavor it was gone and another took it’s place. Again another one was also elusive and gone. The flavor’s were moving around like sheets of silk on a breeze.
Plum, light colored jujube, honeysuckle, apricot, yellow delicious apple, yellow raisin, and always back to a mystery flavor or flavors that I could not figure out at all.
My friends had as much of a laugh at my delight in drinking this special tea as I have when I bring one to them.
This is what hospitality is truly all about!
Thank you Joe! http://flic.kr/p/d8Zvvs (Here’s Joe!)