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Recent Tasting Notes
This is the 2014 harvest. Similar to the previous Black Tea from Shan Valley that I’ve tried, this has a very fine CTC chop. It resembles a finely ground coffee. But it’s been my experience with these Shan Valley teas that the small chop shouldn’t dissuade you from trying the tea because they are quite splendid!
This smells earthy, with notes of leather and fruit and even the slightest hint of flower.
It brews dark – almost like a cup of black coffee. It’s a rich, robust, vigorous cup of tea – this will definitely get your engine charging! It takes well to milk and honey if you like to add those to your black tea.
Flavorful! Deep, rich flavor. Notes of earth and leather, although these two notes are more subtle than the fragrance would lead you to believe. A malty note that would rival the maltiest assam! Deep molasses-y/caramel-y flavor that is indulgent.
This year’s harvest seems to have less cacao notes as well as fewer roasted flavors, but that’s more than made up for with the malt, delicious molasses and caramel notes.
As I continue to sip, fruit notes begin to develop and I picked up on currant, grape and plum. I’m also tasting a baked bread sort of flavor that’s lovely.
Here’s my full-length review: http://sororiteasisters.com/2014/10/04/shan-black-tea-2014-from-shan-valley/
T&C TTB Round 2
This may have suffered from being in the TTB, I don’t know. Initial thoughts on smelling the liquor is pu-erh. Being CTC it was pretty much an insta-steep. As soon as I got the water in the cup I took out the infuser basket. It was okay. I didn’t get much of anything like others have noted. It was just similar to some not very good pu-erhs (the reason I haven’t expanded much into them). Dusty, odd and drying.
I will get caught up, I will get caught up, I will get caught up. (Tapping heels three times.) I’ll get there, my pretties.
This is an AWESOME tea. I have been very impressed with the teas from Shan Valley. Compared to last year’s first flush green, this tea seems to be a little more forward in flavor. It has more sweetness, and more vibrancy.
Mild steamed veggie taste, bright citrus-y note, a hint of creaminess. This is good iced too.
Here’s my full-length review: http://sororiteasisters.com/2014/08/12/2014-shan-first-flush-green-tea-from-shan-valley/
An interesting tea that tastes different when served hot versus served cold.
When hot, it’s a fresh, exhilarating, rich, brothy type of tea. Smoky. Not overly vegetal, in fact I found the vegetal note to be a bit subtle which I found surprising given it’s a green. Buttery and creamy. Like browned butter. Distant notes of fruit and flower.
As it cools, the creaminess tastes less like browned butter and more like fresh cream. The smokiness seems to leave the cup as it cools. The fruit becomes more prominent in the cooled cup – a bit like fruit and cream. Nice.
Here’s my full-length review: http://sororiteasisters.com/2014/07/16/kokang-green-tea-from-shan-valley/
This was pretty good. I really like my green teas to be bitterness free, so I steeped it at a pretty cool temp. Doing this yielded a really sweet cup, which I like, that was a bit mineral-y but also a hair fruity. More a deep fruitiness, like fig, than a fresh fruitiness like peach. Probably one of my favorites from this company so far, actually.
The dry leaf LOOKS like a black tea (or at least a well oxidized Oolong) but it definitely smells like a green tea with its vegetal aroma. The brewed tea is darker than most green teas tend to be.
Although the aroma of the dry leaf led me to think that I’d be drinking a strongly vegetative tea, the vegetal notes are actually quite a bit softer than I expected them to be. I do taste some vegetation here but I taste the other flavors more prominently: Lovely floral notes, notes of fruit and a buttery overtone.
A well-rounded tea with a nice, brothy texture. It’s a very satisfying drink.
Here’s my full-length review: http://sororiteasisters.com/2014/07/07/pyin-green-tea-2014-from-shan-valley/
Thank you to carol who for this sample tea. I am sorry it took me so long to get around to trying it.
I decided to steep this at 175 F for 3 minutes. I was a bit nervous as the tea is a fine CTC and sometimes they can be very robust but the lower steeping temp. probably helps. This tea has a lot of interesting flavors in the cup. There is a bit of smoke, spicy flavor and some apricot fruitiness as well. I can drink this plain, which is good! I get a hint of tobacco flavor too but it doesn’t seem bitter. Overall, a very interesting tea which makes me want to try more things from Shan Valley. Thanks again — Carol!
This sample came from KiwiDelight. I don’t have a lot of experience with CTC teas, and to be honest, they intimidate me a bit… This one is dark chocolate brown in color and has that coffee grounds look. Dry scent is super mild but I can smell a hint of apricot. I steeped the teaspoon of leaf for 2 minutes in 10 ounces of 200 degree water (I was worried about it being too strong).
The liquor has a surprisingly fruity aroma (apricots) with malt and a touch of mineral. This actually came out a bit weak, which surprised me. The most prominent notes are apricot and malt, and there is a bit of a mineral taste. I realize I used too much water with this one, but I much prefer that to it coming out a bitter mess. Pretty tasty. :)
Flavors: Apricot, Malt, Mineral, Smoke
A very finely chopped CTC, so finely chopped that it almost resembles a fine ground coffee. But as I say in my full length review of this tea – http://sororiteasisters.com/2014/06/22/kyaukme-black-tea-2014-from-shan-valley/ – don’t let the fine cut of the tea dissuade you. A finer chop just means that you should adjust the brewing parameters a little bit (and it also means that you’re probably going to be experiencing a very bold flavor tea – a good kick in the pants!)
The aroma also reminds me of coffee. The earthiness of coffee as well as the roasted notes of coffee. A good, strong tea with a rich and satisfying flavor. Robust with notes of fruit (I tasted raisins and plums) and a nice molasses-y type of sweetness.
A really good cup of tea – an excellent choice for that first cup of the day.
This green tea struck me as interesting because if it hadn’t been labeled I probably would not have known it was a green tea just by looking at it. It looks more like a raw loose Puer or some other dark tea. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it tastes more like a raw Puer than a green tea. It’s rather on the dark and earthy side for a green tea. The notes are very nutty, with green bean and a bit of black pepper. This doesn’t have the brighter vegetal notes of most green teas and I was almost expecting a roasted flavor to accompany it, but it didn’t exactly. This tea is not suited to my tastes in green tea. I am sure others will find it more interesting.
Flavors: Earth, Green Beans, Nutty, Pepper
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Flavors: Malt, Molasses
I’ve been trying to scrounge up some more black teas for my sipdown drawers since I’ve mainly been cold brewing oolongs lately. Anyway, this is one that I had forgotten about, so I stuck a tablespoon into my water bottle and into the fridge for maybe around 7 hours. Anyway, I should have guessed from seeing that it is a CTC that it would be strong, but it still caught me off guard a bit with the heavy smokiness. I can tell that there are some other flavors there in the background, but I’m too distracted by the smokiness to be able to really tease them apart. If you couldn’t tell already, I think it was too smoky for my own taste, but I will definitely try steeping this one hot to see if anything changes.
Happy Firework Day everyone, I am currently fidgeting with my rather finicky tripod in hopes that it will be in prime working order for the fireworks I will be watching tonight. I hope all my fellow celebrators of the Fourth of July (or Firework Day as I have called it since I was a wee thing) have excellent firework displays (I am so sorry people on the East Coast getting swamped by Hurricane Arthur, bad timing that one) and I hope everyone else is having a lovely summer evening (or winter if you are from the most southern of hemispheres.)
Today is the last of Shan Valley’s 2014 Collection, Shan Black Tea-CTC, a first flush black tea whose processing is a local tradition in Shan Valley, Myanmar. Similar to yesterday’s Kyaukme Black Tea, this one is also a CTC (or Crush Tear Curl) but is more uneven, reputedly giving it more of a balanced flavor. The aroma of the little leaves is a blend of sweetness and richness. There are notes of roasted peanuts, molasses, malt, and a touch of fruity at the end. It was a faint fruitiness, but it smelled like a blend of plums and cherries.
The aroma of the now much soggier tea is much fruitier, the plum and cherry notes are at the forefront with a finish of rich molasses and roasted peanuts. The liquid is a nice strong blend of molasses and malt with a finish of roasted peanuts. It seems the aroma of the fruit stayed with the wet leaves.
Tasting time! The taste of this black tea is initially brisk, with notes of malt and oak wood. This fades to mildly sweet with notes of honey and roasted peanuts. The finish is a touch of molasses with a honey aftertaste. It is not a particularly complex tea, but it is a solid black tea.
For photos (fireworks) and blog: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2014/07/shan-valley-shan-black-tea-ctc-tea.html
I have decided to join in the festivities and have a sale in my Storenvy shop. It seems like every business that I get emails from is having a Fourth of July sale, and I thought it was a good idea. For all that I have spent years selling my creations, I am still pretty bad at promoting and marketing, especially now that it is not my focus. So thank you all those awesome companies who gave me the idea!
Today we are having another visit to Shan Valley, this time we are going to the black teas, specifically Kyaukme Black Tea-CTC. This first flush black tea comes Kyaukme Northern Shan State in Myanmar. The CTC (Crush Tear Curl) refers to the type of processing, long story short, the tea passed through a series of rollers lined with sharp little teeth that crush, tear, and curl the tea into neat little uniform balls. This tea smells really good! There are strong notes of malt, molasses, peanuts, honey and a touch of cherries at the finish. It is so rich and intense, this is a tea I would describe as heavy and bold, not so much light and brisk, it is not a ‘wake you up’ aroma, but more of a ‘sensual lounge in a comfy chair’ aroma.
Into the basket and hot water the little balls of tea go! This tea can probably take boiling temp, but since the website stated that temperature is to your taste and my taste is a little lower than boiling, I went with 200 degree water. I do not think this is always the case, but I find with CTC teas that boiling water can bring out unpleasant levels of bitterness, just a personal preference thing. The aroma if the wet leaves has a bit of that ‘wake you up’ briskness now, there are strong notes of malt and dried cherries with a bit of honey at the finish. The liquid retains the richness of the dry leaves, with notes of sweet cherries, roasted peanuts, molasses, and a finish of woodiness.
The taste is an interesting blend of brisk and bold. At first there is an initial zing that wakes you up, and then you can melt into your comfy arm chair. Starting with a bit of oak wood and malt at the opening, this very quickly fades to roasted peanuts, a touch of honey, stewed cherries and a touch of stewed plums (a general stone fruit kinda taste) with a finish of cocoa that lingers. Usually with CTCs I take them with cream and sugar (in fact I found that if you brew Shan Valley’s Black Tea from their 2013 Collection really long and hot, it makes a great base for Ostfriesen tea!) this one, I think is quite perfect straight.
Flavors: Cherry, Malt, Molasses, Peanut
I was looking at the weather today (because I am obsessed with staring at radars and watching weather systems…such a nerd) when I noticed a little news article about Hurricane Arthur will be the first hurricane to hit (in theory) on July 4th. This article also mention Tropical Storm Alberto which swamped the South in 1994. Ah, I remember it well, the creek (that always flooded a little during heavy rains) turned into a massive deluge that washed away my toy dinosaurs. I was sad that my dinosaurs went extinct, but now it makes me giggle a bit. I wonder if anyone ever found them up stream?
Today’s tea is another one of Shan Valley’s 2014 Collection, Pyin Green Tea. This green tea comes from Pyin Long, Northern Shan, Myanmar and is a first flush. The leaves are large and fairly dark, reminding me of the color of Serpentine. The aroma is very rich, a savory blend of salty vegetable broth, sauteed mushrooms, and a buttery finish. There is pretty much no sweetness in this aroma, just rich savory goodness.
After the leaves get their nice bath in my (progressively more damaged) gaiwan, the intensely savory aroma of the wet leaves happily wafts towards my nose. There are strong notes of sauteed mushrooms, vegetable broth, kelp, and a slight hint of smokiness at the finish. The liquid, on the other hand, is intensely sweet, with strong notes of marshmallow, flower nectar, and a tiny hint of nutmeg. I have really been amused by how the Shan Valley greens smell so savory as the leaf and so sweet as the liquid.
The first steep is subtle and complex. It starts out with sweet notes of marshmallow, this transitions into bamboo leaves, which in turn becomes savory vegetal at the end. My favorite part (other than notes of bamboo and marshmallow, how fun was that?) was the aftertaste. It was an unexpected rich smoked salmon, this tea is reminding me of a reverse Gobstopper, starting with dessert and ending with dinner.
Like the first steep, the aroma of the second steep is richly sweet. Strong notes of honey, marshmallow, and caramel with just the faintest hint of vegetal at the finish.. The taste has a start of vegetal broth, butter, and a touch of a salty twinge. This fades to bamboo leaves again, that almost act as a palate refresher in the middle. For the finish we have a bit of sauteed mushrooms and smoked salmon.
The third steep’s aroma is no longer sweet, instead we have sauteed veggies, mushrooms and smoked salmon. It is like the aroma finally caught up with the taste. Speaking of taste, this one starts out buttery and a touch like salted veggies (it reminds me a bit of soup.) This fades to sauteed mushrooms and a smoky, meaty taste. Very umami and rich! The more I taste different teas, the more enamored I become of these green teas that taste savory, the taste is unusual and really enjoyable.
Flavors: Butter, Smoke, Umami, Vegetal
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Good news everyone, my insomnia broke sometime after 2am last night and I slept until 2 in the afternoon. I am still pretty pooped, but I no longer feel like a zombie. Though I did spend the majority of the day yesterday convinced it was Friday, and then I kept thinking today was Monday. All this sleep disturbance seems to have confused my perception of time, it is still 2010, right?
Now that silliness is out of my system, it is time to visit Shan Valley again, this time to taste their Kokang Green Tea. Grown in the Kokang Region of Myanmar, which is close to the popular tea growing region of Yunnan, China. This Green is the highest quality tea available to the public, that has me intrigued. The aroma is quite umami (or savory if you are unfamiliar with the term) with strong notes of smoked mushrooms and vegetable broth. There is also an underlying sweetness with notes of honey and yeast. The aroma is interesting, it very much reminded me of mushrooms cooked over a grill, which I greatly enjoyed.
Upon brewing this tea in my gaiwan (like I do) the grilled mushroom aroma is replaced with a slightly smoky, very vegetal, aroma. There are notes of green beans, asparagus, and butter in the wet leaves. The liquid did a complete turn around from the wet leaves, with strong notes of caramel, honey, marshmallows, and a delicate hint of papaya at the end.
The first steep is fairly light and delicate, with notes of spice, smoke, and straw. These notes are present throughout the entire sipping experience, but there are also notes of caramel at the midtaste and a bit of asparagus at the finish. I am very curious to try the second steep and see if the delicate notes become stronger.
The aroma of the second steel is a blend of sweet caramel and asparagus, not gonna lie, that sounds like a delicious idea for a food dish, especially if it tastes like it smells. The taste of this steep starts out sweet with notes of caramel and papaya, this fades to vegetal with noes of asparagus and green beans. The finish is like butter and is just as smooth. I liked this tea, it had interesting notes in both aroma and flavor.
Flavors: Caramel, Honey, Mushrooms, Smoke, Vegetal
Ok, this post might end up being more whimsical than usual. Why, you might ask, because over the course of the week I have gotten maybe fifteen hours sleep, total. The worst was the last two nights where I got maybe an hour of sleep, turns out my new sleep medicine did the exact opposite of make me sleep. No fear, I pick up new(ish, I had them before, they work wonders on pain and insomnia) ones tomorrow. I look forward to some nice long sleep.
But enough about sleep and medicine, that is boring, let us talk tea! Specifically Shan Valley’s Shan First Flush Green Tea. You are probably thinking ’didn’t you review this in the early spring?’ Well yes and no, this fancy tea from Myanmar is from Shan Valley’s 2014 Collection, so nice new tea. The aroma of these fairly large leaves is an interesting blend of vegetal and sweet. There are notes of lettuce, asparagus, spinach, honey, and fresh cherry. The vegetal is much stronger than the sweet, which is more of a finishing aroma.
I decided to go the gaiwan route with this tea, because I love my gaiwan. Once the leaves have been steeped and the tea poured off, I notice a slight hint of citrus among a very intensely vegetal aroma. There are notes of roasted veggies, lettuce, asparagus, artichoke, and spinach. I am really diggin’ how green this tea smells. The liquid’s aroma is totally different! There are notes of honey, citrus, sweet sticky rice, and cherry. I have a salad and dessert with these aromas.
The first steep is quite subtle and vegetal. It starts out like citrus and fresh vegetation, this transitions into the real vegetal treat. With notes of green beans, lettuce, spinach, and asparagus, I feel as though I had my dose of vegetables for the day. The aftertaste is a bit like sticky rice and toasted vegetables.
The second steep’s aroma is like the previous, deliciously sweet with notes of honey and sticky rice, but this time it has a bit of the vegetal at the finish. This steep is fun! There are distinct notes of lotus leaves, honey, sticky rice, citrus, lettuce, and spinach. It starts out sweet and then builds into the rice taste in the middle and finished with a leafy and citrus note. Last year’s first flush was ok, I enjoyed it. This year’s hit the spot for me, I loved how richly vegetal the flavors were and how contrasting the aromas were.
Flavors: Green Beans, Honey, Lettuce, Rice, Spinach
After scanning through some of the tasting notes of this tea, I see that this one wasn’t as big a hit with others. I personally liked this one. Of the four teas from Tea Valley, I think that this one represents the daily “go to” type of tea with more of a “green tea” taste … you know … the classic green tea taste: vegetal that falls somewhere between grassy and buttered beans, leaning just a little more toward the grassy than the vegetables. Very subtle nutty notes – not quite as roasted or nutty as the Mountain Roasted Green Tea from Tea Valley, but, still … this is nice.
Here’s my full-length review: http://sororiteasisters.com/2014/04/10/valley-green-tea-shan-valley/
Thanks to Carol Who for sending me this sample. This tea is chopped up so fine, it nearly resembles coffee grounds. I treated it like I would treat ’Grampa’s anytime tea’ or ‘Crimson Horizon’, both Kenyan teas (I think) from Butiki. Although this tea is not from Kenya, but rather from Myanmar, it still reminds me of those african teas, both in it’s finely chopped appearance, & in the resulting cup, with was robustly bold & tart! It also packs a pretty good punch, & although it isn’t something I plan to stock, it was what I needed today.
I was looking forward to my first pot of Shan Valley Green after my positive experience with their First Flush Green. The leaves of Green are similarly dark and petrified, but they are somewhat larger and thicker than the First Flush. I also noticed that the dried leaves smell much less smoky. The color of the thick, crisp, compact, gnarled knots is the same slate grey/blue veering teal as in the First Flush. Very nice.
Interestingly enough, however, the brewed liquor is very similar in taste to my memory (from yesterday!) of the First Flush tea. The color is basically the same—perhaps a tad bit darker but still gold veering brown with small amounts of white particulate matter floating about. The same vegetal quality is dominant and, again, the leaves do not fully unfurl during the first infusion.
I don’t really know what to say about the drastically low ratings which this tea has received from a couple of reviewers. True, this is not a Japanese green, but on the other hand nor is it a grocery store lint-filled filterbag green. This is a single origin, high-quality full-leaf “terroir” tea, if you will, with a distinct personality and appeal. I like it!
Looking forward to the second infusion… especially since with the First Flush, the flavor becomes richer and smoother in subsequent infusions.