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Recent Tasting Notes
I am going to try to give a fair and balanced review of this tea. I enjoyed my cup, but I think my brewing technique could be improved. The leaves are very small, and do not lend themselves to a normal filter basket or tea ball. I really need to put them in a tea bag due to the amount of dust present. I think this is due to the processing technique. Once I let this dust settle to the bottom of my cup, I got a better taste.
Initial impressions: Strong, bitter, a little acrid, and very brisk! It definitely had the classic, dark breakfast tea taste. I think the acrid taste came from the little bits of leaves finding their way out of my filter. I didn’t enjoy it plain, but with just a little soy milk it was smooth and creamy and flavorful. The milk really brought out all of the good tastes in this tea and I could taste caramel and malt and all sorts of other good, full flavors. In summary, this is definitely strong, brisk and a good kick of caffeine. I’ll use a disposable paper filter next time to reduce the tea dust and maybe it will even be good plain. But with milk it was exactly what I look for in a strong breakfast tea. Well done, Shan Valley, and you cannot beat your prices!
Steep 2 – Just as strong as the first, and unfortunately, just as much dust making it bitter. It was a little less bitter the second time around, but still tasty with milk. You can definitely taste the tea through the milk for this one. I’ll bet it makes divine iced tea – probably perfect for Arnold Palmers since it is so strong.
I inherited a very interesting trait from the women in my family, the desire to redecorate and reorganize our living space every few weeks. I placed my new shelves in their home and moved the items that were going on said shelves onto said shelves, and then promptly decided that my entire Tea Lair and most of my bedroom need reorganizing. Maybe that is the real reason I love Minecraft so much, I can reshape my surroundings as often as I want without having to do all the work.
Time for a break from reorganzing for a bit of tea and writing! Today’s tea is the last of the samples from Shan Valley, Shan First Flush Green Tea, this tea is from the first harvest (usually in April, according to the description) and is considered a reserve tea, fancy. The aroma is very fresh and very vegetal, mixing the notes of vegetation, fresh lettuce, spinach, and a bit of kelp. It reminds me of a salad, specifically a salad being eaten al fresco in a lush garden. These leaves smell like nature and food.
The steeped leaves retain their vegetal tones but also gain a sharpness that reminds me of fresh kale, there is a spritz of citrus and slight hint of kelp. The more I sniff the wet leaves the more I am picking out, a bit of lettuce and a hint of smokiness, and a finish of teaberry. The teaberry finish gave me a surprise, I have not smelled that plant (and by extension ice cream flavor) in years, so serious points on the nostalgia chart. The liquid without the leaves is a blend of lettuce and kelp with a finish of copper.
The taste is sharp and vegetal, mixing the taste of lettuce and kelp with a bit of bitter green, like kale. There is a bit of a citrus taste as well and an aftertaste of smokiness. Out of curiosity I decided to brew some in my gaiwan, uncovered for one minute, just to see how much of a difference there is. The taste of the gaiwan brewed leaves is very similar, less of the kale taste and more kelp, there is a finish of smokiness and it leaves a slightly sage like herbal taste in the mouth. This is a tea for someone who loves the strong vegetal greens with a hint of ocean flavors, I like this one. I was not wowed or blown away by it, but I did certainly enjoy it.
Flavors: Kale, Seaweed
As I am typing this Midwestern weather is showing its chaotic flair! This early afternoon it was almost 80 degrees, sunny, and wonderfully pleasant. It was so nice I decided to go out wearing a short-sleeved dress, BIG mistake, pretty much as soon as I went out the sky clouded over and the wind started whipping. An hour or so later the temperature has dropped to 45 degrees and it is storming wildly. If the weather prediction is correct it will get below freezing and I will wake up to three inches of snow! The weather here is maddening but seldom ever dull.
Today’s tea comes from a more tropical location, Myanmar! Valley Green Tea by Shan Valley is a premium green tea harvested year round, according to the description. The aroma of these fairly large leaves is extremely kelpy, in fact I had to do a double take ‘am I really just smelling my nori by accident?’ are these leaves really just dried kelp? I can practically smell the sea air, maybe if I am lucky it will transport me to the seaside. Further nose investigation led me to find the aroma of cooked spinach under the strong ocean aroma.
As per the previous teas from Shan Valley, there were no steeping instruction, I steeped at 175 degrees for about two minutes. I found the aroma of the wet leaves were still very kelpy, but now I am picking up stronger notes of spinach and sweet fruitiness similar to cherries. I have to admit this aroma struck me as an odd combo. The liquid sans leaves smells strongly of seaweed and brackish water, it reminded me of being on the coast when the tide is leaving. I know a lot of people are not a huge fan of that smell, but it is one of my favorite.
I love the ocean, the smells, tastes, everything about it! I tend to go into this kinda of trance when I am at the ocean that usually involves me running off into the water (a problem when I was a child) and staying there until I am dragged out. It has made me wonder if I am part mermaid or something along those lines most my life! Having a tea that smells so strongly of the sea is extremely exciting, sadly the taste was not entirely to my liking. First is the initial kelp taste with a hint of slightly fishy, metallic note. It quickly fades to cooked spinach, which goes nicely with the ocean greens theme, but the finish is a mix of sweet cherries and seaweed. I think the sweetness at the end kinda ruined the experience for me, if it had been all kelp and vegetal I would have loved this tea immensely, but the cherry sweetness added too much of a clashing taste. I still say give it a taste if you are able, I mean how often can you say you are sipping a tea from Myanmar that tastes like the ocean and fruit?
Flavors: Metallic, Ocean Breeze, Seaweed, Stonefruits
This tea is tasty, but probably not for everyone. I did short steeps, and did about 4-5 of them. I did 30 seconds to start, and added 30 seconds subsequent times. This led to a very mild flavor, more muted than I normally prefer, but it did good things for this tea. The flavors here are very mineraly and metallic almost, which taste more like ocean breeze when the tea isn’t very strong. I imagine if brewed for a full few minutes right off the bat, this would taste more like licking a pole.
Flavors: Metallic, Mineral, Ocean Breeze
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I’m having a cup of this tea right now. I really love the toasty notes of this tea. It has a coffee-like flavor to it. It is one of those robust, wake-you-up sort of teas and I needed it this afternoon.
A lot of complexity too: sweet, caramel, smoke, nut, and earth. A really pleasant cuppa.
I do love roasty teas, but this one wasn’t too exciting. While steeping, Mountain Roasted green had a great roasty smell. Flavor wise, sweet vegetal yet savory, kinda like yams and squash with a mellow body. The roastyness is a little stronger than a light houjicha, but not as sharp – with the roastyness not as full bodied an interesting like a light roasted oxidized oolong.
Valley green tastes similar to Shan Valley’s First Flush green, but without the pizzaz. Also more astringent. Dry leaf is a vegetal artichoke scent, but steeped up is pretty mellow and flat, ending with a sharp vegetal astringency with a mix of nuttyness, floral and fruit (similar to First Flush). IMO, get the First Flush from Shan Valley.
Total miss for me – maybe I need to play with the steep times, temperature and water amount?
I found this CTC black to be really bold, robustly strong and woodsy. The woodsy vibe is sharp, like red rooibos, but a heavier dark wood rather than that red woodchip taste of rooibos. End of sip is a moderate amount of astringency with a bit of smoke. Reminds me of coffee, but the elements of coffee I don’t like and the woodyness.
I had some high hopes for this one as the other reviews have been good, but this was a total pour out for me. I’ll give this one another shot at a later time and adjust the rating.
A very nice, affordable first flush green! Hands down favorite out of the Shan Valley tea lineup! I found Shan First Flush to also have a unique earthy, forest floor, vegetal without being grassy flavor, with a good lingering aftertaste of nuts, floral and fruit. There is a light hint of astringency, just to keep the aftertaste going. Actually, I found this tea to be similar to a mid to late steeping of a green raw pu’er.
Full review on my blog, The Oolong Owl http://oolongowl.com/shan-first-flush-green-tea-shan-valley-oolong-owl-tea-review/
I am not having luck with the Shan Valley teas… I brewed at about 175 degrees so I thought it’d be ok. It really wasn’t bitter, just strong. It’s too bad that it was a strong taste because I didn’t like the taste… it was too much like I’m eating my lawn. I haven’t had a green tea with this taste, it’s totally not for me. I’ll definitely try again (in a while), never know maybe it was a fluke.
Joy! Celebration! Happiness! I am feeling better today, so much so that I left the bedroom and went back to my beloved tea lair. I am definitely on the recovery and I am so happy about it, I can even taste the nuanced layers in an oolong tea! I am not quite up to doing a tasting since my nose is still pretty stuffed, but I am so glad that I can taste things again that I don’t mind waiting. Luckily I have plenty of notes for just such an occasion.
Today’s tea is another of Shan Valley’s samples, the Black Tea to be precise! This CTC (crush tear curl, a method for processing Black Tea. For all the information you could want on this method of processing, I present this Wikipedia article for your knowledge hunting needs) is made from Black tea from Myanmar, as with the previous Shan Valley tea there are no steeping instructions so I winged it, steeping at 212 degrees for 3 minutes and 30 seconds. The aroma of the tea is quite rich and invigorating, blending strong sweet malty notes with rich nuttiness. It reminds me a bit of the aroma of a strongly nutty coffee, or even one of those fancy coffee tea blends that I have tried once or twice. There is a finishing aroma of roasted peanuts. The aroma of this tea certainly wakes up your nose.
The brewed tea leaves have a both earthy and malty aroma with a finishing sharpness. The sharpness reminds me of strong Kenyan CTC tea, there is a touch of sweetness at the finish. The liquid is bright and malty (and quite a lovely color) with a sweet creamy, almost fruity quality to the aroma.
Tasting time, I am sure this is going to give me a wakeup zing of caffeine, which is good since I was drinking this first thing in the morning. The first thing I notice is how smooth the tea is, it has a tiny bit of bitterness that gives it a bold quality and slight dryness. I have found that CTC teas are really hit or miss with me, actually a lot of them are a miss, usually I find them too abrasive, not necessarily too bitter, but too strong and lacking all subtlety. Usually these teas end up being drowned with cream and sugar because I don’t enjoy them straight. This tea, however, is on the end of the CTC spectrum that I enjoy! The taste is a blend of nuttiness, rich earthy notes, and a sweet finish of fruit. Out of curiosity I added a touch of cream and sugar and it was great, the perfect example of a breakfast tea. It retains its bold strength and rich nutty flavor, the cream adds a level of smoothness that compliments the already smooth tea, and the sugar highlights the fruity finish. If you are looking for a bold tea for breakfast, or want to make the switch from coffee to tea, I recommend this tea. I also recommend this tea for people who are making the transition from generic bagged black (think Lipton and its ilk) to a loose tea, who want a more transitional tea rather than jumping right in to the SFGTFOP Assam or Golden Yunnan type teas.
Flavors: Malt, Nuts
I’ve been finding a trend with Shan Valley’s green teas. They have been nice, but not great. This green tea was not bitter, which was very nice. However, the flavor was pretty weak and unmemorable. I’m finding it hard to describe this further because it was just a standard cup of weak-ish green tea. Perhaps next time I will add more leaf and see what happens.
I am writing this from under a mound of blankets and pair of cats, still too sick to get out of bed, but certainly better than I was Saturday. I think my fever has finally broken for good (YAY!!) which means that I will be on the slow mend, personally I am most excited about my sense of smell and taste to return to normal so I can actually enjoy the things I am consuming. The Flu is gross, I do not wish it on anyone, if I am lucky I will be back to semi-normalcy by the end of the week.
Today I am reviewing Mountain Roasted Green Tea by Shan Valley, they were awesome and sent me very generous samples of their teas for review, the samples arrived on Thursday so I was able to get two of them tasted before the sickness took over. My one complaint with Shan Valley is they do not have steeping instructions for any of their teas, so I had to do some experimenting with brewing. The aroma of the rather large dried leaves is both nutty and vegetal, mixing roasted peanuts and chestnuts with the aroma of spinach and a touch of kelp. There is a finish of smokiness.
Once the leaves are steeped the aroma becomes a mix of roasted nuts and cooked spinach, it is mostly roasted nuts and the vegetal quality is mild. The liquid without the leaves is pretty mild, not much of an aroma except faint vegetal and a hint of popcorn.
The first attempt I steeped the tea at 170 degrees for 2 minutes, I found the taste was uninspiring. It tasted faintly honey sweet, faintly vegetal, faintly roasted, and faintly smoky. Faint is the word to take away, clearly I need to try warmer water.
Take two! 180 degrees for 2:30 minutes, the first thing I notice is the aroma of the liquid is stronger, more vegetal and the popcorn aroma is also more prominent. The taste is a bit bitter, like kale, in fact the vegetal tastes in this tea are like a blend of cooked spinach and kale. There is of course a roasted taste to this tea, like roasted chestnuts and popcorn, it has a sweet finish and has a popcorn aftertaste.
Out of curiosity I decided to brew some of this tea in my gaiwan, uncovered, using 180 degree water for one minute. I am not sure how much of it is psychological (because I enjoy it so much) but brewing anything in my gaiwan seems to make them taste better. I found that the flavors were slightly altered, the popcorn roasted flavor was much stronger and the vegetal bitterness from earlier is just plain old vegetal. At the end there is a faint fruity sweetness that pops up and is quite nice. Even though this tea did not make me jump up and down in awe and in a lot of ways was just average, I still found myself brewing multiple cups throughout the day. It has a charming, homey, quality about it that soothed my aching head and sore throat, it was perfect because it was so simple, I didn’t have to think about it at all. The tea tasted good, not at all intense, and kept me hydrated. I can see myself reaching for this tea on days when my allergies or a cold make me crave a mild, unassuming tea.
This and the Shan Valley Mountain Roasted tea are like sisters, with the latter being the older, stronger sister, but whatever, they’ve still got the same genes. I like them both and it really just depends on my mood which I prefer, this (the slightly milder, mellower version) or t’other.
1st steeping of this was pretty nice. It’s not my favorite Green I’ve ever had, but it’s got a nice, woody, smokey taste, along with some strong vegetal notes. I don’t have much to say about this tea other than it’s nice, but maybe a second steeping will help with that.
This tea is very similar to the Valley Green which Shan Valley also offers. This tea keeps the hay like quality of its sibling, but ditches the fruity taste it had. This flavour is much more vegetal, similar to the taste you would get from zucchini, with the spicy afternotes you might expect from a phoenix dancong. As mentioned in my review of Valley Green, this tea is reminiscent of a young sheng, and I feel should be judged similarly to one.
Be careful when steeping this tea because it is prone to going bitter if oversteeped. 15 seconds seems good, 30 seconds is too much for this tea.
Overall, I found this tea more enjoyable than the Valley Green, whether it be it has a slightly less hay like taste, or that I am more so thinking of this tea as a puer.
Getting a bit of mineral flavor, which I think is an effect of the roasting. I agree with Sonofabrat there’s something oolong-ish about this tea; it’s on the darker side for a green tea and tastes quite robust, with the vegetal notes at a minimum. If I’m going to drink plain green, this is the style I like, so I am very happy with this sample. Shan Valley’s other green samples were quite good too, but I think they planned them with the idea that this one would be the strongest and most toasted, the first flush would be the greenest (as in most raw and most vegetal) and the valley tea would be the middle ground between the two.
I put off writing a tasting note on this because I thought I just made it wrong when I tried it the first time. The morning rush before going to work May not be the best time to try new teas… But, on my lazy Saturday morning the results were the same unfortunately. This tea for me has a little smokiness and was really strongly bitter. It tasted better with some creamer, but this isn’t something I’d buy more of.
Hubby had some of this a couple of days ago and raved that “this is what tea should taste like”. Mind you, he is generally a coffee drinker… black, no sugar, no cream.
I had a sip, but still suffering from a cold so not trusting my taste buds completely. I’ll give it a rating when I recover.
Deep, rich, bold tea flavor, but not bitter, even when Hubby steeped it a bit too long. I have a feeling this may be a re-order to keep around as a basic rich black tea for him.
Initial scent of brew: metal, earth, wet sticks, and a little smoke (incense?).
Smooth and slightly vegetal; not very grassy, and not strong like other greens I’ve had. I’m not picking up on the citrus that everyone talks about, but that’s ok. The vegetable flavor seems to be more muted than others, which I actually appreciate. Seems fairly standard, but that’s ok by me :)
This is a continuation of last night’s tea session. The third steeping and beyond were average tasting of a more mature green tea, although the roasted taste lightened with each steeping so by the sixth it was almost gone completely. The first two steepings were much too strong for me personally, but the tea mellowed out eventually the more you infuse it and that’s where it really shined. Whether I’ll have the patience to sit through those first two infusions again is another matter…
Initial scent of cup: earth, leather, roasted nuts
Wow. Never really experienced a tea quite like this. It’s different…robust and hearty. Definitely full-bodied. I never really knew what that meant but I think this is a cup that sums it up. Rich. Astringent towards the back of the mouth, but not bitter…another key note I’ve never experienced in a cup before! It packs a little bit of that astringent bite, but it doesn’t linger, which is nice. A great cup of tea to wake you up in the morning if you’re needing that caffeine kick, but not a tea I would like to drink all day long as I get more of a “get up and go” punch than a “kick back and relax” feel.
Again, great cup to wake you up, but not something you’d want to relax with.
EDIT: Takes sugar very well