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Recent Tasting Notes
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.
The leaves give a champagne colored drink. The scent is somewhat fruity; sweet lime. Taste is light and quick. Fresh with some spinach. Very refreshing, possibly with quite a lot of caffeine (three cups were enough to give me an OD). Second steeping is rounder with a bit of grass coming through.
Second oolong to try out. I’m beginning to enjoy these lazy mornings.
This one feels already different from Tit Kon Yum I tried yesterday, from the visual presentation to the scent itself. The leaves look very delicate and fragile when they’re curled up in tiny shapes resembling a pearl (but still not falling to the pearl tea category). They open up very nicely when rinsed a little and watching tea unfurl is a good way of knowing one has a slow morning. Or just spacing out badly.
The scent itself before brewing is more floral than with the other one, more related to the green teas I’ve enjoyed. Even the leaves are way greener than in Tit Kon Yum. Would associate the scent to peony, perhaps, or chrysanthemum, if not directly then by pure smell impuls. A very delicate-looking yet big and astonishing flower comes to mind. It also appears as if the scent would’ve been tinged with something, something soft, to take the pointiest edge away from the sweetness. Refreshing, I give it that.
When brewing I really don’t know what to expect. Since the first one was so delicious it seems I’ve managed to subconsciously heighten my standards already for this.
First try: there’s something wrong. Minuscule bit of bitterness bites through. Alright, if you need a challenge…maybe waking up fully would do the trick…
Second try: Reminding myself that it has combined both Japanese and Chinese methods of preparing the tea. Best result would be Sencha Kura vol. 2 with the determination of a steel monk accompanied by a Tibetan spaniel with an ego of a Siberian tiger. Let’s prepare for the worst then…
Sweet yet sophisticated, tad flat aftertaste. The floral palette vanished and was replaced with fruity tinge, like pure fruit flesh from an almost overly ripe plum or similar kind. Not tangy but toned down to earthy, like the difference between a bit too raw prunes compared to the almost squishy ones. Very soft, and one could feel there’s something covering up the strongest sweetness. Like velvet or silk in the mouth on your taste buds. Very nice light yellowish, golden tint in the liquid. Slightly more airy and lighter than the previous oolong, very thin aftertaste. Scent when brewed is actually slightly stronger than the actual taste. Not as delicious as the other one, but still giving its’ best.
As the cup turns cold the taste changes into more refreshing, but the floral aspect comes back and pushes the plum away, leaving the tasting itself happen during the first seconds on the tongue, then vanishing the flavour almost completely. Wonder how this would turn out when enjoyed with a glass of twelve-year-old Japanese Hibiki whisky…
I have it bad.
Greenish scent. Very pure and refreshing. Hint of sweet. Lingers. Somehow very full scent, didn’t know what to expect really. Takes over the sense of smell. Reminds of sencha on some level, maybe the hint of green does it.
This is my first experiment with oolong beside another type which I bought at the same time just to see what they’re all about and if there are differences between them. Visually they are like day and night, as this specimen has very rough, big leaves and solid character the Wu Cha Oolong has very delicate and more greenish leaves, very thin and sophisticated. This one reminds me of some dry rush by the sea, and on closer look they start to resemble cliffs or worn wood. Beautiful in the sense of aesthetics.
Now for the steep after rinsing (made the morning feel more special, I have time to actually prepare a tea! I could weep.).
The scent takes on more layers, and sweet smoke lingers through, more weight on the sweetness. Smells very strongly, with a hint of dried fruit, maybe fig or dates..something slightly rough yet moist comes to mind.
Then the sip…
It indeed is very harmonic. Very sweet also, with added feeling of thin layer of milky character. Very flowing and pliant on tongue, leaves a pleasant feeling without being too short in its’ aftertaste. Would almost go with floral tinge and it does bring in mind the previous encounter with Sencha Kura; the same type of earthy tone, perhaps the dew on the ground but not during spring but early autumn. As a landscape would say a misty pond at the marshes…or maybe even the gray, worn duckboards through the field of rushes when one’s surrounded by absolute silence.
Silence. That’s the sound of this tea. No thoughts, no noise. Just being still and silent. Breathing.
The cup itself looks very delicate with the promised yellow color, and makes one agree with the golden tint in it. Not too bright, just enough to resemble the falling leaves and the humid autumn weather we have here at the moment. Well collected ensemble of senses and associations.
As I let the cup turn cold while writing and take the final sip..oh my.
Found myself falling for oolong. Fancy that.
Very full. Tickling. Definitely a tiny hint of smoke in there. Slightly…pointy but nice. Small trace of subtle sweetness, maybe a fruit..perhaps lychee? Reminds of that at least-
I went and purchased this interesting case with few others and have been pushing, pulling and threatening my schedules to get myself some time to drink. my. tea. in. peace. thank. you! Instead of hastily gulping down the average joe’s Lady Gray of Twinings (very good while working, doesn’t get in the way with its’ taste, very trustworthy) while running to the classes, meetings, the gallery where yours truly found herself working as an intern at the moment and playing dodge ball with the pleasant thing called life in general.
No need to emphazise the happiness when the calendar said I don’t have to wake up at seven thirty this morning but could actually sit down, watch the rainy morning and finally, f i n a l l y, would be able to actually enjoy a fine cup of tea without doing homage to Felix Baumgartner (nice jump though).
So. After reading Angrboda’s interesting post about keemun some time ago and how wonderful that tea seems to be, morning’s first cup is with that.
As described the scent above, this tea somehow tickles its’ way to my nose. Can’t say whether it’s because of the slight pointy layer of aroma or the subtle sweetness or the both combined. Still, enjoying the scent very much, it seems to be very good tea for rainy mornings and promises to slow down the time a bit.
The scent while steeping turns more round and full, and the smoke pushes through. The thin layer of something sweet remains, but mostly it’s all about full smoky scent.
Sneaky. The sweetness is the first to taste, refined through smokiness, almost as if tasting smoked sweet fruit, maybe even smoked fish. Very full yet delicate, aftertaste a tad bit thin and short but all in all tasty treat. Hm. Time runs forward as always but personally seemed to reach the point where one just stops caring about it. Good tea.
And then going for a slightly longer steep, just to see what will happen…
The sweet flavour gains more strength but still keeps itself in balance with others, fills the mouth quite nicely and lingers a little bit longer than with the first steep. Making me drowsy.
Both with assam and darjeeling there seems to be a small twist in my cup. They both can turn very bitter when they choose to, and very rapidly. Good that I never back off from a challenge.
This assam calls for some patience. The scent of the leaves is quite sophisticated and it gives an impression that this one likes to be drank in the mornings. Even a hint of sweetness pushes through after breathing it in a few times. Othervise very obvious scent of strong black tea.
After brewing the scent transforms into more sharp and tangy form. The sweet aroma is there but somehow more narrow and thin. Very pointy.
It seems to awaken something at least.
The ‘fight-or-flight’ response, that is.
The flavor is indeed strong, but in a slightly disturbing way. Having troubles to put my finger on it when it harasses my tongue severely at the same time. Feeling almost molested. Even the aftertaste disappoints, very thin, short, fast and bitter. Something one wants off from the tongue and then opting not to swallow the second time. Not the best position in the -
As surprising as it is, the whole situation takes 180 after adding whole milk as an attempt to salvage the situation for all the teas holy. Suddenly all the bitterness is gone, the promised spices dare to announce themselves as small trace of something sugar-y and cardemum-y linger around and – where did that nutty flavor appear all of a sudden? It gets thick and full and long and swallowable and I really need to stop writing innuendos now.
Sliver of bitterness bites through the milk though.
It bit the wrong tea drinker.
“Thanks but I’ll pass.”
“It smells like cowshed…mm, no.”
“You really want me to taste something you just described with a word ‘manure’?”
Seems like it’s ridiculously easy to get misunderstood when it comes to describing a taste and then equally hard to persuade people to taste it after smelling it. More for me then.
Pu’erh was something that bugged me ever since I ordered it in a small restaurant when we visited with our class in St. Petersburg. While others were trying to locate the second head I seemed to have suddenly grown without my knowledge I enjoyed my pot and the fact that this tea is divine with blinis with some smetana and honey. Then it promptly slipped my mind when I tried to remember it afterwards, leaving only the trace of taste that I tried to hunt down occasionally. Nagging taste memory, one could say.
But it’s worth nagging, though. The scent of the leaves is very subtle and earthy, and one can sense the full, round character this one has. And yes, it reminds me of those summers spent in the countryside adventuring in whole bunch of different animalsheds, but hey. Nostalgia is a good thing to experience once in a while. Besides cows smell pretty much a whole lot better than some humans I’ve met, or even yours truly after a rough night.
Putting that aside…
The color of the tea after steeping is magnificiently dark and rich, well suited for the chilly autumn season we have here at the moment. Crisp, sunny day with almost every tree wearing something else than green for a change and then a steaming cup of pu’erh. Ah, the simple joys. The scent turns more soft and somehow acquires even a thin layer of smokiness. The cow turns into a worn piece of wood which has once been part of a wall for a cowshed a decade ago. Faint, but not there, so to speak. It gives more way to the earth itself. The after taste is very rich and lingers thickly on tongue after swallowing, putting all the other things aside and making one focus only on the tea.
When accompanied by a delicious smoky single malt all is well.
One more factor to make the autumn look even more beautiful.