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Recent Tasting Notes
First snow! I have been waiting for this, it has to be white and snowy christmas not like in London (water and only water).
Anyway, now it’s time for flavoured tea. I bought this when my favourite Sweet Strawberry tea run out so I decided to try something else for a while.
This one has been flavoured with mango and pineapple oils, for decoration it has some flower petals and rose buds and green sencha for the base. It actually looks really tempting. It has strong fruity smell, but it is also kinda soapy which is quite unpleasant. I don’t really smell pineapple and mango just bunch of fruits that I can’t recognise.
Brewed tea is clear and has orange color. Now it smells kinda like pineapple. Not bad actually, fruity flavour and maybe I can detect that mango lingering around. Not the best but worth the price (5e/100g)
Flavors: Fruity, Pineapple
This is one of my favourite flavoured teas. Dry tea smells really sweet hayish-wheat and strawberry, I would love to rub this into my face. It also looks awsome with big strawberry pieces and flower petals.
Taste is sweet, but not too sweet, matchagenmaicha balances sweetness nicely with its roasted and wheaty flavour, taste of strawberry comes after all other.
Wet tea is mostly green tea leaves with flower and strawberry particles. Yellow-green colour.
Flavors: Hay, Strawberry, Sweet, Wheat
I was going to buy their another tea, but they didin’t have it in stock right now, next time then. So I bought this instead, I really like organic quality teas and this is semi wild tea too which I’ve always wanted to try.
Dry leaves are very dark, they almost look like black tea and smell somehow very chocolateish. Wet leaves have green-brown color with hint of yellow and smell quite grassy.
The tea itself is very fruity and floral. It’s not that sweet but not sour either. This pale yellow liquid has flavor like apricot flowers, I’ve never tasted apricot flowers but this tastes like I assume them to taste. Really interesting tea.
Flavors: Apricot, Floral, Sweet, Vegetal
Still doing my self-inflicted research in the world of assams and such, hence having a silent moment with this specimen in the early noon at the moment. Let’s see how accurate the description is with that recommendation.
In any case, this type is indeed strong and rich, especially after the demanded four minutes of steeping, and the bite hits the tongue quite sharply. Nothing a sliver of milk couldn’t remedy…
After adding milk, it gets very different, and gains a more mellow character to it. Pleasant company, I could say. Nothing fancy.
Adding a tiny bit of chai to it and – oh. Oh my. That takes it to a very charming level indeed.
Interesting little case.
Despite the nagging suspicion concerning the specimens that come from the vicinity of India/Ceylon/Nepal areas, as they always go a bit too tangy and unpleasant for me, this little sipdown from Ceylon has proven me wrong on the matter.
As the description for it goes, this cunning treat was, against all odds, a delightful companion for the mornings, especially in the current weather front that assaults Helsinki. Although, I have to admit, it did need some milk to take away the edge from the taste that threatened (or at least teased a wee bit) to turn bitter on my tongue, but as I dared to take a sip before milk I could still say that it was..pleasant. Not ecstatic, but pleasant and more than welcome to stay around a bit longer, even though it did make my tongue curl in itself as the more bitter tones washed over it in the aftertaste. The palate for the non-milk trial is always somewhat a challenge with these teas.
With the added milk, though, the taste took a turn into more sweet, nutty and somehow..ripe direction. Couldn’t detect distinctive fruit flavours, but then again, those notes are always somewhat dodgy with my cups, for reasons yet unknown.
Refreshing, that I can agree without a blink. Really. Made once a mistake to brew this in the evening, being a bit too tired to register the remnants of the first steep that were left in my pot and drank it absentmindedly while writing and reading before realizing the mishap way too late. Anyhow.
As a random sidenote, had a cup of Nepalese tea while having a family dinner in a Nepalese restaurant, and man that was a good cup. It was very spicy and very rich with the black base, which made me wonder if they had added some pepper and whatnot on their own in the cup. Nevertheless, it was an excellent way to finish an orgasmic good dinner.
So I’ve actually been proved wrong two times already with this odd-ball category of black teas. Maybe I’ll learn to manoeuvre my steeps and taste to the ideal level of approach with these specimens eventually. Learning is always fun.
Very deep, all in the scent, the flavour and the color.
Also, compared to the King of Pu’erh it does have a lot more earthy tones within both the scent and the flavour instead of the dominative scent reminding of the products of a healthy cow’s metabolism. Putting that minor note aside, this tea seems to be designed as an ideal companion for the early days of very wet and dark winter.
The flavour is very smooth and rich, and rolls nicely on the tongue, just like the name of the tea type itself, moreover the very, very dark and intense red brown liquid could even border the idea of coffee, even without steeping it too long. Except that this is just way better than the mentioned other warm drink.
Feel like purring over Pu’Erh.
I’m pretty sure I overdid the steeping time and the temperature might have been a tad too low. I don’t have a thermometer for teas yet. So make of this review what you will.
I’ve noticed that this tea has a very gentle, if almost bland, flowery and fruit like sweet scent but it comes out much better in taste. Not my favorite white tea, but an enjoyment nonetheless.
Ok, this is expensive tea. Almost 300€´s per kilogram. It has been handpicked only a month ago in Anxi, southern Fujian, China. It´s very exciting to think how fresh this tea really is.
I steep it at 85ºC for 2 minutes. I find myself being extra careful while handling these delicate and precious leaves. It´s a nice feeling.
Iron, metal. Rolling hills of knee high grass, It takes me up, I quite literally raise my head with the fumes. Very light yellow/green drink.There´s myriad nuances in the odour, too fine and fleeting to desribe in words. Like butterflies in dappled sunlight.
First sip:wow. First a vegetable round sweetness that changes to a rapid tingling bitterness on the tip of the tongue and frontal palate, just behind the upper front teeth. There is a great ocean somewhere nearby, although the surrounding hills don´t give a direct view of it. I´m a miner mining iron ore with old time pick-axes and shovels. The tea goes down the throat like liquid gold. There´s this big orchestra with traditional instruments playing the solid undertones, but the virtuoso solo violinist takes the whole into new soaring heights. I didn´t know tea could have this many levels and tones. Remarkable! A fresh breeze like someone opened the window.
I read it´s called “iron tieguanyin” and I really can see why, now. There´s this really special smell and taste, a tingy metal. Flint hitting steel. I feel it´s somehow heretic to say this: it´s almost like the smell of certain plastics. Very surprising but absolutely perfectly functional.
I find it a bit hard on my conscience to keep on purchasing expensive teas. I feel I really would have some more practical things that I should use that money on. But life is short. That´s one thing I´ve been thinking more and more about, and these teas really give me some comfort and meaning, so why not? I should try to find and settle on a couple of affordable basic teas as my “every day” drinks, though. I can´t drink Tie Guan Yin for breakfast every day.
Second steep. The open leaves have serrated edges and they are really dark green, is that the autumn flush´s trademark? A slightly greener liquid. The scent is more round, with a clear hint of orchids. It´s exactly the same scent as that of a zygopetalum- orchid that I have on my window. The leaves in the pot are dark green and they are opening up, they have a slight maltiness to them. The tea is like a walk in a sub-tropical garden. Humming birds and exotic fruit trees. An umami roundness rolls down the tongue. I feel very happy and peaceful. The long awaited guest has taken his overcoat off and is chatting with me in front of the fireplace, the formality is melting away.
Now I remember this smell: it´s the cow parsley that I slash down along the path as a kid.
Steep number three. The orchid is even stronger here. I´m feeling so blissful that I don´t see the point in describing the taste which is just perfectly harmonious and whole. I don´t know the particulars of Tie Guan Yin´s manufacturing process, or what makes it an wulong, but to me it´s like a perfect green tea.
Dark. Smoky. Strong. Rough. Bare and thorough. Makes the mind wander and the mouth to tell the world to take a hike for a moment. Enjoying it already.
With the leaves a very strong scent of smoke pushes through first, almost like lapsang but without the subtle sweetness the aforementioned one usually has. This one doesn’t do hints. It presents itself as it is. A smoky blend without a fuss. It does give away a trace of tree bark. And very dark and sour rye bread. Wearing only black from head to toe suddenly seems all the more appropriate for this specimen.
As it steeps it gives a very beautiful and rich colour scale of red, black and brown with a sliver of gray. Reminds me of the Keemun I had once, not to mention Lapsang. Or Pu’erh. The wet leaves give away a somehow muffled scent, something between wet wood and slightly burnt pie crust. Of all the choices it gives those. Clever one.
Now the sweetness announces itself as I take a sniff at the cup, it lingers there as a thin, shy underlayer beneath the smoke. Something fruity, maybe ripe plum, reaches out as well. The smoke steps aside in the aroma and gives the other scents the space they need, making the tea’s character more solid instead of being very onesided and thin.
Oh, the smoke hits first, but then the sweet untertone gains more weight and suddenly accompanies the smoke rather than stays on the background only complimenting it like small sweet characters usually do out of sheer kindness and just daring to hope that someone takes notice of them. This is a bold one. That’s appreciated.
The feeling on tongue is thick and heavy, but not overly so. It takes its’ place and makes itself noticed. Lingers nicely as well, turning into full aftertaste, albeit vanishing a little too quickly for my taste. Glad I made a pot of it.
And as it gets accompanied by a plum pie made yesterday and now tasting all the sweet and sour layers in it…bliss. Just right companion for it, the bite of a plum gets more dimensions with the gentle, round smoke and the turkish yoghurt with some honey gives an extra push towards the sweetness and still keeping the feeling in mouth airy.
As the cup chills a bit the flavour turns more soft and fresh, the tongue getting a sliver of bitterness but only enough to keep things interesting. Having a wonderful dialogue with this one.
Not bad company for waiting the winter which is still yet to come. Even the seasons are shy here.
I ended up buying this chai as I was hunting to duplicate a cup of chai I recently had in a Nepalese restaurant here in Helsinki. This sounded like the closest thing, but in the end it wasn´t the same.
Anyways, this tea is beautiful. I mean it looks awesome with all those spices and what not mixed with the tea itself. I get happy just by looking at it. The dry scent is quite strong and spicy, just as you would imagine. There´s something liquor-ish, like rum or something.
I brewed this with 50/50 milk/water, and lots of honey. I boiled the tea with the water. The taste takes me back to childhood. It´s the christmas past without tasting what is normally sold as “christmas-y”. Anise is a bit over-powering for me, it takes too much space from the other players. The idea comes to mind that maybe I should add a teaspoon of some a bit smokey black tea to the mix? The taste isn´t “oriental” really, it´s more like home baked cakes and cookies. I thought there would be snow covered mountain tops, but somehow I get an image of a German christmas party with too many bright led- lights. What´s wrong with me?
But don´t get me all wrong, it´s a nice chai by all means, it´s just not what I was looking for this particular time. A good winter drink. My 10- year old daughter loves it.
I´ve had a bag of this for a few weeks now. I have tried to find a way to prepare this that would make it meet the legendary reputation of this tea, but have not been succesful.
I guess I should mention that my batch is of “Grade III” of this tea, which is the lowest and cheapest offered by this vendor. Hopefully that explains the poor results, and I hope to try out a better Lung Ching in the near future. But now to the tea itself:
The dry leaves have an earthy, dark, pungent aroma. After steeping they yield a pale straw- colored liquid. The drink itself is much thinner and lighter in taste than the dry smell of the leaves. There´s an unpleasant metallic note, a slight hint of roastiness. Nothing much more. I´ve tried to compensate for the lack of taste by using more leaves and/or by longer steeps, but it just made it more pungent. Don´t like. I see no reason to finish what I have left of the bag. I´m disappointed by the poor quality.
Color: dark golden amber
Dry smell: Crushed fresh birch leaves, a distant fireplace.
I´m walking along an edge of a field in late September collecting twigs for a vihta. (A vihta is a bundle of small fresh leafy birch branches bound together that you use to whack yourself in the sauna with. It gets the circulation up and gives an awesome scent.) The smell of a distant fireplace burning finds me, a warm comforting feeling.
Moss. Freshness of a tiny forest spring. A little honey. Earthy. Has robustness without being heavy or harsh. Is there some imaginary dish made from oven-baked wood chips marinated in honey? Makes me think how much I need to spend more time in the nature, walk in forests. Comforting sweet scent, like a small gathering of good friends.
I tend to start sipping tea too early, I burn my tongue this time as well. In a couple of hours I´ll be on my way to have a new tattoo. It´s gonna be a picture of Ariadne from the Greek myth of the Minotaur. She was the princess who gave Theseus, the hero who went into the labyrinth to kill the beast, a ball of linen thread, by which he was able to find his way out after completing his gruesome task. Symbolically, off course, the maze is your own mind, and the Minotaur is just the reflection of everything you fear in yourself, the dark side, if you will. You must make the perilous journey down to the center of the labyrinth and conquer that shadow monster, it´s the only way to become whole, undivided. And after that you must still find your way out. In that part I hope Ariadne will help me.
There´s something royal to the taste of this tea; it´s not a peasant tea by any means. A masculine taste. A chinese courtyard in times long past, with someone roasting almonds on an open fire. Swords being sharpened. Large sacks of rice. There´s a war about to start. If I was made to march in to a battle with a spear in my hand I would like to drink this tea before that, it would give me the courage to die valiantly (which in reality is of course BS, there´s nothing courageous or valiant about war).
A very complex but balanced tea. Something that lingers in your mind even after the taste has disappeared from your mouth. My first oolong, BTW. I sit here very satisfied, not overly buzzing from energy, but quite concentrated and ready to take on the day.
OK, here goes my first ever pu´erh tea. I´ve read and heard probably too much about it in advance, my expectations are waiting for something mythical in proportions.
The liquid is black, like coffee. It smells of that barnyard everybody mentions, but there´s also dead rotting hay killed by the first frost, autumn leaves, bare fields. My 8- year old son takes a sniff and he says: “Sauna.” That´s it. An old finnish country sauna.
Taste is sharp and dry. Dry in the sense that there is absolutely no sweetness in it. In some strange way the taste IS the smell of this tea. They are identical; this tea has no other taste than it´s scent. Doesn´t make sense, but that´s how I feel. Very much like black coffee but without any after taste.
Now there it was, my pu´erh virginity. I´m not sure what happened or what I think of it, it all happened and was over so fast. I´m sure I´ll be getting back for more, but for now I´ll have to give it the yellow face.
“A high quality first green tea of the year from the famous tea area Shizuoka. The young and tender leaves have a fruity aroma. A very delicate and sweet sencha from Otsuka, the multiple prize winning company for best tea of Japan.”
Color of liquid: light yellowish green, with small particles of leaf dust swirling around. Beautiful.
I take a sip and close my eyes: grassy summer slopes with the sea visible from the hills, sun shining gently on top of everything, a warm slight breeze keeping the air fresh. I´m taking a nap beneath a giant lemon tree. There are no worries here. Soft but light. Umami.
I went to get some new teas today and battled my way through late- autumn Helsinki. The wind was so bitter I was sure my face would just fly off any minute. Somehow I made it back home and this tea was the first one I prepared of the batch of six I brought home with me. I´m happy I chose this nice Japanese wonder.
Sitting here after the first cup I feel acutely present in this moment. Being present is perhaps the only thing a human should strive for in this life. It is painfully difficult, though. Or maybe it´s more like that not being present in the moment is what is actually painful? Or running away from the pain that is present… I lost it.
Steep number 2: Only 20 seconds at 70 C. A lot darker mossy green and cloudy liquid. A conifer forest. Dash of citrus, a little spinach, not too much to make it vegetabley (?). The taste: now we are definitely in a moist shadowy forest, with moss covered logs and stones. Shiitake mushrooms. It´s that umami taste of sweetness without being sugary. A remarkable change between steepings. I´m starting to feel really pretty high with all the caffeine, L- theanine, antioxidants and what not.
A lot of the plants that are native to Japan also grow somewhat well here in Finland. I have a rare dwarf form of the Japanese rhododendron, for example, growing in my yard. Unfortunately the prettiest Japanese tree, the Acer palmatum, or Japanese maple is too tender to grow here. I´ve killed three of them being stubborn and just trying to plant them against what I know is inevitable. There´s something in Japanese plants that is very special; they look “Japanese” no matter where you grow them…
Steep no 3. 40 sec at 70 C. Gets more fruity and lemony. The flavors are mellowing out, comfortable and round. I´m a bit disappointed that the greatness stopped here, maybe a little bit short? But those first two cups were really special, so I won´t complain.