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Recent Tasting Notes
My first tea of the day comes from Blodeuyn’s epic black tea sample swap. Another Taiwanese tea to make my mouth happy! The leaves of this one are quite thick and shorter than others, but still jet black in color. I saw several long stems mixed in with the leaves. Dry scent is very grainy with sweet cocoa and stonefruit scents. I steeped about 1.5 teaspoons of leaf for 3 minutes at 200 degrees.
Hm, unusual aroma for a Taiwanese tea (at least in my experience). It’s quite bready with sweet honey and just a touch of dried fruit. Wow, this definitely tastes different than all of the other Taiwanese blacks I’ve tried! It’s very bready and smooth, and so creamy. It literally tastes (and feels) like there has been cream added to it. It’s definitely a crusty bread with honey butter spread over it. No jam, surprisingly. I usually find a lot of fruitiness in these teas but it’s absent here. There’s a moment in the middle of the sip where this fleetingly tastes like a plain generic black tea, but it’s quickly swept away by an interesting green bean flavor. I think I’m getting just a touch of apricot in the aftertaste, there you are! This is definitely an interesting tea, and since I have enough for another cup, I’ll definitely try it following their directions next time! :)
Flavors: Apricot, Baked Bread, Butter, Cream, Green Beans, Honey, Malt
Well, there it goes. This was one of my favorite Pu-erhs, and now it’s gone. Not only did I finish my stash last night, but it is no longer on Red Blossom’s website. I can only assume that means it’s no longer with us. I’ll just have to see how many steepings I can get through. Last night’s leaves are still in my Death Star infuser, and they will stay there for as long as possible.
This was such a great tea. Strong Earthy flavors, nice dry, clean finish, just an all around great tea. I will miss it. Guess it’s time to reload my stock of Pu-erhs in hopes of finding another gem like this.
Flavors: Drying, Earth
This is a sad day. This is such an amazing, rich, sweet, incredibly wonderful tea, and after what I used for today’s steeping, I have enough left for maybe one more cup. And the Red Blossom Tea Company website says they are sold out, and have been for a while.
I may be coming to the end of the road for one of my favorite Pu-erh teas. I’ll have to enjoy this one slowly, and will certainly pull it out to 4 steepings.
The Red Blossom website also says this is a good one to collect and age on your own. I should have listened.
Oh well. All good things must come to an end. This was not my first Pu-erh, nor will it be my last. And in time, I will probably find something I like even more.
But this will always be the Pu-rh that educated me the most about the style, that made me love and appreciate just what a good Pu-erh really is.
Flavors: Creamy, Malt, Sweet
2nd steeping of yesterday’s leaves. I kept the steeping time the same, nice and low at 1:30. I still good a dark red, almost velvety color.
Aroma and taste are still right on. Not quite as big and bold as yesterday, but it still has that same sweet but super malty feel. No bitterness to be found.
Damn this is rich. I almost want to use words like “creamy” and “thick” and “velvety”.
OK, that last one may be a bit of a stretch, but you get the idea. This tea is big and bold, but smooth as all hell. It really is an amazing thing. It’s complexity is as deep as pretty much any tea I have had in the past, but you don’t have to steep it long to get there. I only let it go for 1:30, and I still get all the malty goodness I could possibly want with a strong sweet feel, and no bitterness to be found, all in a deep, dark, velvety reddish black colored liqueur.I really should have bought more of this, Red Blossom has been out of it the last several times I have checked their website. Oh well.
Time for the 2nd and 3rd steeping of the Nannuo Shan Shou Pu-erh 2001 harvest I bought the last time I was in the City and could drop in to the good folks at Red Blossom Tea Company in Chinatown.
I figured I should add a bit of steeping time, since yesterdays 1st run I kept it short at 1:00. So for the 2nd steeping I upped it to 1:30. Nope. Came out of bit on the bitter side. Just a tad. All the flavors were still there, the sweet, the malt, but the color and feel where much darker, much thicker, and the taste was more bitter than sweet and malty. May have ruined number 2.
So, for the 3rd steeping, I did not add more time, I kept it at 1:30. Yup, back to that great balance and taste. That being said, I don’t think these leaves will have a 4th steeping in them. I will probably still try, just to find out. But the color is much lighter today, more of a light orange/red, with none of the amber and black from the 1st and 2nd.
It’s still very good, but the aroma, taste, and mouthfeel are getting a bit mixed, it’s harder to tell the individual flavors apart. It’s still sweet, it’s still a bit malty, but the mysterious dark feel is gone, and the malt is hanging on by a thread.
Realistically, it tastes like a high quality Pu-erh from a store shelf. Like, the best you would get from a grocery store selection. Of course, this is the 3rd steeping. Just imagine how good it is on the 1st!
Damn this heat wave. Early October and it’s 97 degrees today. Not exactly hot-tea-with-breakfast weather, but oh well. I seem to straddle the line between tea elitist and tea junky. Either way I’m OK with it.
Up for today is the 1st steeping of the Nannuo Shan Shou Pu-erh 2001 harvest I bought the last time I was in the City and could drop in to the good folks at Red Blossom Tea Company in Chinatown.
This is a straight up, damn good, full flavor, big and bold Pu-erh. Nothing special, no added flavors or spices, none of that unneeded crap. Just straight up great leaves.
I felt like the first time I brewed this tea a few weeks ago I steeping it a bit too long, so first the first steeping, after the rinse, of course, I steeped this for the short end of the recommended time, only 1 minute. Perfect.
In that short steeping time it still came out a deep, dark, amber, reddish black color, with a strong, sweet aroma containing hints of malt and fruit.
The taste is simply incredible. It has so much delicate sweetness, while still kicking forth a big, dark, malty taste. Even the finish is dry and clean.
I do recommend the much shorter steeping time, there is so much flavor, anything over 1:30 would ruin the delicate balance between sweet and dark malt.
Flavors: Malt, Sweet
I missed reviewing the 3rd steeping of these leaves yesterday, as I was running late to work and barely had enough time to pour it from my tea press into my travel mug.
But no worries, I went for a 4th steeping today! Same leaves, day 4, 4th steeping. I upped the steeping time to 2:30, up from the recommended 2:00.
And yeah, these leaves are still kickin’. The aroma as the same as it was on day 1, big and bold, with a strong malt smell. The taste is still great, although the flavors have mixed a bit more and are harder to notice individually. The clean sweet malt taste is still there, but not as eye poppingly clean and crisp as before.
Still a damn good tea, even on the 4th steeping. 4 steeping in a 32 oz press is pretty damn good, in my opinion.
Flavors: Drying, Malt, Sweet
2nd steeping of the same leaves. I did not add steeping time, instead keeping that at 2:00. I probably could have gone up to 2:15 or even 2:30, but it still came out great.
Aroma: Brilliant. The first thing you notice is the big, malty, slightly chocolaty smell. There is a hint of dryness, but only slightly. You can tell right away, before it even hits your tongue, that it is bigger and more complex than that.
And then it hits your tongue. The balance between the dry, sweet, clean initial feel and the complex, rich, thick, almost creamy malt taste is amazing. That’s really all I can say. It’s a great, super solid, all around very well balanced Pu-erh. I might just stash some somewhere, or buy some more and leave it bagged, and let it age a few more years.
Oh, wait. The Red Blossom website says they are out of it. DAMN!
For the third steeping tomorrow, I will add a bit more time, maybe up it to 2:30. It can take it.
Time to get more familiar with the thing called Pu-Erh. Here is the jem I bought when I was in the city last weekend and stopped in to see the good folks at Red Blossom tea company. They recommended this on, and I can see why!
The aroma is so big and bold, with hints of smoky chocolate and malt. It smells dry, but still has that sense that there is so much more to it.
The very first taste is subtle and non-assuming, but 1/2 a second later all those flavors hit your pallet and soar. Slightly dry tasting and finishing, with a big malty middle.
This is one hell of a tea! Glad I stopped in and picked it up!
Finding this tea strangely… not as satisfying as I’d hoped, considering the cost, how much trouble I had getting it back to my place in Canada (from San Francisco’s Chinatown), and then how much the staffer raved about it.
It’s a standard puer, with a bit of a sweet, almost bitterly so aftertaste. It’s smooth and medium-bodied, with that je-ne-sais-quoi that makes it a puer… that earthiness, without being really smack-in-your-face about it.
Do I love it? Nope. Will I reach for it? Maybe. I doubt it. This was REALLY expensive tea, too, so… yeah. Going to try re-steeping it at least a few times to see if I enjoy it more.
Flavors: Earth, Sugarcane
Delicious! I will say that this has a very thick, buttery mouthfeel. The first time I drank it after coming home from San Francisco, I literally thought “wow, this is feels like butter in my mouth!” The taste itself is lightly floral and slightly creamy. I wish it wasn’t as expensive as it is, but it’s worth it. Very, very good :)
I’m very bad at describing teas, but I got this one not long ago at their store in San Francisco’s Chinatown. It’s so yummy! Very light with a nice mouthfeel, it reminds me of the very first ‘nice’ tea I tried, which was a Silver Needle. I don’t know if this is the correct terminology, but it has a nice earthy minerality to it. My second steepings sometimes have a bit of a lemon-y, citrus taste as well. Delicate. Delicious.
Flavors: Floral, Lemon, Mineral
This is the second tea I ordered from Red Blossom and I am excited to finally do a tasting and prepare my notes.
Dry leaf aroma: Sweet potato with a malty background.
Dry leaf appearance: http://instagram.com/p/rnyl0zlcCK/
Preparation: Brewed western style in a glass infuser cup (which I also purchased from Red Blossom – and love – I think it is a Bodum).
First steeping: 1 minutes 45 seconds at 200 degrees. The aroma stays true to the dry leaf – sweet potato and malt, with a slight suggestion of orange. The liquor is a beautiful amber brown which seems appropriate paired with the aromatic suggestions of malt and sweet potatoes (perhaps I am ready for autumn; this color and fragrance combination is lulling me into nostalgia this evening). The flavor is multifaceted and at first it is hard for me to separate the different layers. Foremost is a pleasant maltiness with a delicate sweet potato undertone and I find as I let the cup cool notes of brown sugar appear. I was a bit disappointed I did not detect any raisin or maple syrup in this steeping (as per their website tasting notes). However, when I smell my empty cup the aroma is a heady raisin. The aftertaste is a reminiscent of sweet potatoes, with a slight starchy mouth-feel.
Second steeping: 2 minutes 5 seconds at 200 degrees. A sweet potato and malty fragrance still prevails. I do not detect any scent of orange with this steeping but as the cup cools I pick up notes of raisin. For this infusion the brown sugar and raisin notes are shining through the base flavors of sweet potato and malt. The aftertaste is also sweeter, with a refined raisin finish.
Third steeping: 2 minutes 35 seconds at 200 degrees. The third brewing has a much weaker aroma; sweet potato and malt again. The flavor is much the same as the second steeping though not as strong. The aftertaste is malty raisin and the starchy mouth-feel is still present.
The fourth steeping was unremarkable though not unpleasant. I think three steepings is a good cutoff for me.
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Malt, Raisins, Sweet Potatoes
This tea intrigued me with its description so I am pleased to finally be able to taste it for myself and post notes.
Dry leaf aroma: Sweet and slightly malty with a mild trace of tobacco.
Preparation: I prepped the leaves with an initial 1 second rinse and then proceeded with my session western style (my gaiwan is on the way, so for now I am steeping western style).
First steeping: 2 minutes at 205 degrees. The aroma is basic, a moderate black tea scent with the ever-so-slight hint of something more intricate which I cannot describe accurately. The taste is much more complex and the initial mouth-feel is extremely creamy. I’ve not experienced a black tea quite this creamy before; very nice! Buried in the creaminess is a hint of honey and a very subtle aftertaste of baked bread and banana. At the end of this cup, after it had cooled quite a bit, I detected a citrusy aftertaste in addition to the bread and banana essences. Interestingly, the creamy mouth-feel lingered after each sip. Very unique.
Second steeping: 2 minutes at 205 degrees. I am detecting a subtle baked bread and banana scent along with the straightforward black tea fragrance. This steeping is not as creamy as the first but is still quite rich. The flavors are less complex but the brew still retains the initial profile of cream, honey, baked bread, and a trace of banana. While the cup is hot I am experiencing more of the citrus aftertaste.
I’d like to try another session using a gaiwan and multiple short steepings to experiment with influencing the flavor profile.
This is a tea that I will add to my permanent stock. Well worth the price and experience!
Flavors: Baked Bread, Banana, Citrus, Creamy, Honey
This was the 3rd and 4th steeping of the same leaves, and they really hold up. It’s not as crisp and clear as the 1st, and the individual flavors are more mixed, but they are all still there.
The aroma is the same for every steeping. Sweet, charcoal smoke with a hint od coffee and caramel. The taste has a little less pop, but it’s still very good.
Aaaaaaand, that was the last of these leaves. I think I’ll be ordering more soon, they ard worth it!
First day of Fall today, yeah? Good day for a Formosa Oolong. Steeping #2 for this Charcoal Roasted Tung Ting.
Same leaves as yesterday, I little more than normal since I didn’t want to leave a single teaspoon in the bottom of the jar. Although, now that I think about it, I probably should have saved it to try a little mixing and blending. Oh well. I’ll probably be buying more of this, so no worries.
Anyway: This is such a big, roasted tasty brew, I did not up the steeping time for the 2nd go, I kept it at 2:00. Here we go:
The aroma is exactly the same. Big and bold, very sweet charcoal roasted smell with hints of coffee and caramel. A bit of a dry feel.
The taste is much the same as yesterday. The roasted charcoal taste is not quite as heavy today, allowing the coffee and caramel colors to shine through more, and the whole flavor pallet is more balanced. It’s also not quite as sweet as the 1st steeping, and it has turned more towards the dry feel away from the sweet.
The natural Earthy tea flavor and feel is more apparent today as well. I think now that the roasted charcoal flavor has subsided some, those flavors are just more apparent.
Yup, this is a good one. I’ll be buying this again sometime soon, in hopes and dreams of sipping this while reading a book with rain pattering on the window and hockey on the TV.
Flavors: Caramel, Coffee, Earth, Roasted, Smoke
I had almost forgotten about this one. I’ve been rotating through my most recent Red Blossom Tea Company purchase, and I guess I skipped this one!
I had a little more remaining than the normal 2 heaping tablespoons for my 32 oz Bodum Assam tea press, so I just put it all in, not quite 3 tablespoons but probably close. I kept the steep time to the short end for a Formosa Oolong, and hot damn did it turn out good!
The aroma is nice and complex, with an initial burst of charcoal roasted goodness, followed quickly by sweet, caramel, almost coffee hints.
The taste is just as complex. The roasting process is definitely the first taste and feel, I can actually imagine Mr Chen controlling the longan fruit wood fire in order to get the perfect amount of roasted taste. Big, but not at all overwhelming, and certainly plenty of room for the sweet, caramel second tastes.
I’m sad that I used the rest of these leaves in this batch, I’ll definitely need to steep it 4 times to enjoy this incredible brew the next 4 days.
Flavors: Caramel, Coffee, Roasted, Sweet
3rd steeping. 1st steeping went too long, 2nd too short. Today’s was right around 3 minutes. Let’s see…
Aroma is great this morning. Nice and earthy, just a bit of bitter sweetness. Beautiful golden brown color. The taste… Yep. Spot on. Might be a bit overdone for some, but it’s right where I want it. Big and bold, bright and earthy. Just the right bitter to sweetness balance.
2nd steeping: Finally got the steep time right. 2 minutes. And to be honest, it could have used another 30 seconds to a minute. (But not the 5 or 6 minutes yesterdays got left at…)
Subtle but smooth aroma of earthy charcoal, and a nice rich, sweet taste. This is a damn good Oolong.