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Recent Tasting Notes
Thanks to Angel for sending me a new set of samples of the 2014 Long Jing greens. This Organic Superfine version is consistent with the 2013 harvest. I found the profile immediately familiar and near identical to my impressions from the previous year.
Though I think this is a good Long Jing, it is ultimately not remarkable enough for me to order quantity. In my limited sampling, unlike last year, I prefer the Organic to the Premium. The Organic tolerated resteeping better and had less of a tendency to go bitter. It does retain a strange peppery note that I remembered from last year, but don’t think I wrote about.
Part 3 of 3 of my Teavivre 2013 Long Jing Smackdown. Spring samples courtesy of the generous Angel over at Teavivire. I cross reference the 3 types of Long Jing teas I received in their respective tasting notes, so if you’re really curious you might want to check them out for a more full account.
Part 1 – “Organic Nonpareil Ming Qian Dragon Well Long Jing Green Tea”
Part 2 – “Premium Dragon Well Green Tea”
Both can be found in my Tea Log — http://steepster.com/markballou
Here, with this Organic Long Jing (my previous goto Long Jing for 2012), it got more interesting for me. Again as I’ve mentioned in my Ming Qian tasting note, I didn’t find these teas significantly different. I really wrung my hands over the samples. At one point I had to bust out some competitor’s Long Jing for a kind of baseline. But what finally stood out the most, and what separated this Organic Long Jing from the two others I’d sampled from Teavivre, was an overall bolder smell and taste. OK, that’s pretty base… I tried to put my finger on it when I did my side by side comparison. I’d come to the conclusion these 3 teas were so closely matched that I had to brew them all in one sitting to really feel them out.
Here’s what I can say about this organic version. Have you ever tasted the difference between organic poultry or meat? In my experience I find the flavor to be a bit gamier. Funny enough that’s the best way I can describe this tea. Not that it was literally gamy, but its profile was bolder and broader, more pronounced and very specifically it yielded later infusions that were stronger and more flavorful. Do I like that? Yes, I do. Do I like that enough to pay the extra and forgo the Premium? That’s a good question.
I think, though I find the Organic more complex, the way I tend to drink Long Jing (on the go), some of the benefits might be lost to me. If I were going to save this for sitting, sharing and really experiencing, I’d say it’s worth it. With that said, I may just buy a bit to keep on the side for friends, while sticking with the Premium as my primary bread and butter. Of course, since I was sent the samples, Teavivre is now offering a basic 2013 non-organic Dragon Well Long Jing. So, it’s possible that might be a good solution for an everyday Long Jing… I hadn’t particularly cared for it in 2012, but 2013 is turning out to be a good year across the board.
Hmmm. Seems like the tail end of their harvest or something. Been ordering this all through 2012, but now into early 2013 I’m finding the tea less aesthetically pleasing. Bought about a 1/2 lb and found there’s more broken leaf, less uniform shape, etc.
Same great taste, less visual appeal.
This is by far one of my favorite Dragon Well teas out there. I’m not a huge fan of Teavivre’s shipping performance. Free samples came within about 10 days, but my resulting large order of this tea took over a month. Though Teavivre was communicative, I didn’t find their explanations reasonable. But with that said, I’d be tempted to run the gauntlet again and order more. It’s that good. I’ll update this review when I have the time, but it just offers a wonderful complexity, yields more infusions and tastes awesome. Though I like VerdantTea’s Mrs. Li’s Shi Feng Dragonwell Green Tea, and want to support that company, I’d say this is superior.
Thank you Angel and Teavivre for yet another generous sample.
This tea is quite nutty in both aroma and taste. The nuttiness is evident in the first steeping whereas the second steeping brings on a smokier flavor. For the third steeping, I got distracted emailing our real estate agent, and left the leaves in for too long so there was some definite bitterness. I’m sure that this was completely “user error” as my other brews had no bitterness – silly me! This is quite a lovely green tea, but it’s not a must-have for my cupboard. As far as pure green tea goes, it seems as though my preference leans towards Japanese green tea (probably out of familiarity).
My Teavivre samples will likely have a much better chance at winning my heart with their non-green teas (so far their organic silver needle white tea is a definite champ with my taste buds). Perhaps I will give the jasmine sample a try tomorrow. While sorting through my untried teas, I sniff at that jasmine packet like a bloodhound on a hot trail. So hopefully tomorrow will be the morning that I grab that pack out of my bag of goodies while I’m practicing my half-asleep morning tea making ritual…I’m rooting for it!
I had three steeps of this tea yesterday, but I have been wondering if I could pull out a fourth steep out of this tea. So, I decided to try it with my tea leaves from last night.
I steeped these leaves for an hour until the liquid is a nice amber color like I just brewed a lighter tea. The smell is still wonderful. A light dusty smell that is combined with the scent of fresh rainfall. The tea is still warm even though it has been steeping for the past hour. My french press keeps the tea nice and warm.
The flavor is slightly different from the other steeps. It is still silky smooth and I am getting a creamy mouthfeel that is just divine. It isn’t as dark as the other steeps and is slightly more astringent.
I am glad that I managed to wrangle a fourth steep out of this tea. I’m not sure if I would brew it up often, but I am happy I have the option.
So, I tried doing a short rinse (10-15 seconds) on the leaves tonight before making the first steep. That made the first steep much more flavorful. If I don’t have all three steeps of this tonight, I might have the last in the morning. It is better than the one cup of hot chocolate I have been having before bed though. I discovered that hot chocolate keeps me up if I have it too late.
Have I mentioned how much I love this tea? This is my third (and probably final) steeping of this tea and it is lovely. I am still experimenting on how best to brew this so that I can get that similar flavor out of each steeping. I think I need to give the leaves a quick rinse first. Like 10-15 seconds. Then do my 5 minute steep then the 7 minute steep and then end with either a 13-15 minute steep.
This steep was an 11 minute steep and the flavor is still mellow and slightly creamy and dark, but not as rich as the second steep. So 13-15 minutes on the last steep should make it sing! ♥ I feel like I am an oddball with the long steep times on this one, but if that is how I like it then I am not complaining at all. It also makes me think that when I finally am able to get a gaiwan, I should try brewing this tea in it. I know that this will be coming back in my tea cabinet when I get the funds.
On a non-tea related note, I have an interview tomorrow afternoon. It is for a seasonal position, but just having a job right now would really help. So, send me luck!
As much as I liked that jasmine earlier, drinking it made me cold because it was cold. So I decided to have this one too.
This time I put in the leaf and steeped it for five minutes on the first run. I think I will need to start doing a 10 or 15 second rinse on my leaves since. This tastes nice with the hint of cream starting to come out. I have a feeling that the more this develops, the more it will be like that one time I hit it on the head.
I really like this one with a longer steeping time though. I also need to learn to let my tea cool down so I can drink it without burning my tongue. The flavor develops better when it is drinkable temperature as well.
I couldn’t bring myself to dump the rest of the leaves out just yet. I read in a tasting note that somebody had left the leaves steep for too long, but this tea developed a rich, creamy taste. Since I steeped it for three minutes last time, I’m steeping it extra long at 6 minutes this time just to see what this tea will do.
So far, the liquid is this goregous dark mahogany color. Well, maybe a couple shades lighter, but it is this wonderful color. It smells like the earth you dig up when you are out planting flowers in the garden at the beginning of summer. It just screams summer to me.
I really should have let this steep longer. It is just hinting at a nice cream mouthfeel. I love the richer, bolder flavor this brought out. It was nice before, but it now has another deep note to it. sip I want to say almost a cocoa sip but not quite. There is something there that I can’t place but it is dark.
Woah! Aftertaste is hitting the sides of my tongue when I type up my notes. Smooth and pure butter sip no, cream, sip no, heavy cream almost bordering on butter but darker.
♥ I love this! The flavor I am getting out of this right now is just amazing! ♥
It is so mellow but rich and bold at the same time. The heavy cream that is almost butter but not quite lingering taste on the edges of the tongue. I feel like royalty.
Thank you Teavivre for letting me try this amazing pu-erh. I never really liked the pu-erh and always had to tone it down with milk, but this is truly amazing.
Edit: It has now been about three hours and that wonderful creamy taste is still lingering on my tongue. Too bad I have to go to bed soon or else I would have another cup…or five.
I did end up having this again for breakfast. It is good, but there is nothing to keep me reaching back for it time and time again. It is mellow and slightly earthy, but that is about it. A good pu-erh.
I keep reading the other tasting notes and I’m wondering how I can modify what I am doing to bring more goodness out of this tea. I will have to experiment to see if I can get the tea to jump out at me and make me love it more.
So, I actually put in the correct amount of leaf this time: 3 teaspoons instead of 1.5/2 teaspoons. Right away, I can tell a difference. It brewed up a lot darker in two minutes than it did the last time. The smell is rich, damp earth. I had a big dinner today so I am hoping that this will help settle my stomach. It is close to bedtime so I think I will probably only steep this one time tonight. If it is as good as it was last time, I will probably save the leaves to have with breakfast.
It tastes…smooth. There isn’t anything overwhelmingly amazing about it so far. I mean, it doesn’t taste like dirt and fish so that is a good thing. It is smooth and you can tell it is earthy.
I mean, I like it. It is mellow. The first steep is very mellow and smooth. I can feel my stomach settling down from our overly-sweet dinner (all we had was homemade apple crisp and homemade ice cream; it was delicious and rich).
I’ll end up drinking the rest of my cup tonight and I will probably steep more tomorrow to see if it develops. Then I can see if I really like the tea or not.
Edit: I think it is growing on me. The more I drink my mug, the more of it I want. Good sign!
I brewed a second steep last night with my fiancee and a friend. It was after we had a big dinner, so I figured it was a good tea to have to help us digest. I had it brewed for three minutes this time and it had a stronger flavor. It was still very mild and my friend that tried it said that it didn’t have that strong of a flavor. This makes me hopeful that it will still be nice and mild while still retaining that earthy flavor that I do love from the pu-erh teas.
I forgot to log my tea notes yesterday. I finally broke into the pu-erh that Teavivre sent to me. I forgot to check how much leaf to put into my french press, so I only put about 2 teaspoons worth.
The first steep was a very light color. So light that my dad noticed and asked if it was too weak. I just told him it was a different sort of tea and I only brewed it for two minutes, so I didn’t question the light color. The flavor was slightly earthy, but not as strong as some of the other pu-erhs I have tried. It was very pleasant and mellow. I think I would have to try a little bit more leaf to make up my mind about it though.
Thanks to Angel and Teavivre for this sample!
I have mixed feelings about this one. I really love the flavor spectrum, and this is a lovely desert tea: nice and chocolaty, touches of caramel, a good helping of spices, and hints of honey and malt. Butttt, I’ve tried this tea three separate times gong fu style, using different steeping times, amounts of leaves, and temperatures of water. Every time I get an unpleasant sour and salty texture and taste, especially in the first steeps. After about the fourth, this dies down a great deal, but I can still detect it. It’s not terrible enough for me to discard a steep, but it’s noticeable enough to distract from the yumminess this tea possesses. I will say, however, that my first issues were treating it as a traditional black tea and using near-boiling water. The third time I tasted this one, I treated it more like a dark oolong with much better results. Still, this coppery taste lingered. However, I’ve added milk and sugar to some of the later steeps the last time I brewed it and it came out very chai-like and was quite pleasant. I think I’ll switch over to brewing this one Western style now.
Outside of the flavor world, the dry leaves are a delight to smell. The aroma is like sticking your face into a container of Hershey’s cocoa powder, along with hints of hazelnut and spices. The wet leaves gave off scents of mocha, roasted nuts, honey, and coffee grounds. It was very rich and dark, but didn’t knock your head back—it was smooth and unaggressive.
The mouthfeel felt a bit chalky to me during some steeps. However, for the most part it was soft and smooth, especially when the water used is cooler. The aroma of the liquor doesn’t have much to it. It gets caramely some steeps, others it just smells like average black tea.
Flavor-wise, it is really quite similar to Verdant’s Zhu Rong from August of this year as far as flavors go. This one has a bit more chocolate and the addition of caramel, the Zhu Rong had a lot more spices. During mid-steeps of both teas (around 6 and 7) I would have to depend on mouthfeel (Zhu Rong was smoother) and aroma (Zhu Rong’s liquor’s aroma was more pronounced) to differentiate between the two if drunk side-by-side. I may consider this in the future… Actually, looking back at the raw notes I took while drinking both of these, steeps 6 and 7 look nearly identical, while the rest quite different. Hmmm, something to investigate further…
Thank you Angel and Teavivre for this generous sample
I enjoyed the first steep of this tea the best. It was a tad softer and had a more elegant appeal. The 2nd and 3rd brew brought on a stronger and more bitter taste, which I didn’t mind, but didn’t love either. Subsequent steepings were mellower but maintained the depth of flavor with considerably less bitterness.
I must admit, my palette is a little biased towards Japanese green teas as that is just what I am more familiar with. But having said that, perhaps by time I finish all the generous samples of green tea from Angel and Teavivre, I might acquire a new-found love for the Chinese green tea. As for the number of times I steeped these leaves – I’m on number 5 and the leaves are still going strong.
I like white tea, but don’t always drink it because of the cost. However, I got a sample from Teavivre and decided to break it open. This tea is so pleasant. I’ve always thought of white tea as very light (almost watery), but maybe I just wasn’t using enough leaf. This tea is rich with so many different notes. I’m getting the melon and butter, as others have mentioned.
Very enjoyable today.