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Recent Tasting Notes
Unidentified Dr. Tea from Gray Line Bus Tours
I’m guessing this little paper pot is rather old, because when I stick my nose in there to smell the dry leaf, I get practically nothing.
Got this in a strange swap, and I was expecting it to be the crap of crap. I was pleasantly surprised. There were some chocolate notes in there, as well as that tangy, leathery shou flavor.
The brew was smooth, with no astringency or bitterness. I might, however, have gotten a slight headache from it.
Flavors: Chocolate, Leather, Tangy, Tannic
Whispering Pines is recalibrating its Black Bear mix. The new mix isn’t in the system.
I got a preview sample from mtchyg, who is a fancy person IN THE KNOW.
Without a listing, I have no idea what is in this.
This is a very dark, strong mix. It’s butch as hell. It smells like tobacco and leather, and tastes like beef jerky and/or bacon. Some kind of meat, probably smoked. Did an animal die to make this?
I feel like I’m going to grow chest hair from this.
If you’ll excuse me, there are log cabins I need to construct, black bears to ride, and wild boars I have to tame.
Flavors: Char, Leather, Meat, Roasted, Smoked, Tobacco
It’s been beastly hot these last few days.
I had some concentrated hibiscus already brewed and decided to put it with some sparkling club soda, vanilla bean ice cream and a splash of lavender Torani for sweetner.
Can’t wait to do it again.
Flavors: Creamy, Hibiscus, Vanilla
A contender from the mystery group buy, all it says is “A piece of the 200g Iceland sheng ball from Aliexpress.” Hm. Mysterious. Smells like strong sheng, why not give it a whirl?
Wasn’t sure of the age, so let’s go light on the water temp, about intense oolong temp, fast bubbles coming up in the pot (too lazy to take exact temp today). Hm, starts of kind of not doing much, although quite a mouth drying feel to it for not much flavor for the first two steeps. Gaiwan smells very camphorated and unpleasantly medicinal. Hm.
And then things took a steep downturn. WTF, even more astringent and the tea smells kinda… smokey and…. tobacco-y. But not in the good way. The gaiwan smells EXACTLY like an ashtray. EW. As the tea cools, it tastes less like cigarette butts and more like gross medicine with a burnt tobacco aroma and gross smoker’s breath on the aftertaste. Dumped it out after this, couldn’t keep going, need to wash out mouth with bleach, ASDFLKJASDLKFJASL,
Flavors: Astringent, Leather, Medicinal, Smoke, Tobacco
Trying a vaguely worded sample thrown in with some other tea today, says “Liu Family Traditional Tieguanyin” on the very nondescript black bag. It’s greener than I was expecting since I thought traditional roast was a little heavier on TGY, but has a roasty smell.
Tea itself brews up fruity with a bit of a musty iron tinge and some after tastes of mineral rockiness that is so strong in yancha. Nice roast taste to finish, and decent number of steeps at four-five, although it does start to get a bit dry towards the end of the leaf life. Overall, I enjoyed this, although it didn’t stick out enough to make me put on my detective hat and hunt down the origins of this mysterious Liu family, haha.
Flavors: Fruity, Roasted, Tart, Wet Rocks
I’m drinking a mix of equal parts DAVIDs TEA “Birthday cake” and “Alpine punch.” Very creamy and sweet. It tastes like black forest cake if it was made with white sponge cake instead of chocolate cake. I taste cherry, fruit, caramel, and all sorts of other delicious fruity flavours. I highly recommend this combo!
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Caramel, Cherry, Coconut, Fruit Punch, Fruity, Honey, Pineapple, Rooibos, Spices, Stewed Fruits, Sugar, Sweet, Toffee, White Chocolate, Yogurt
I drank a fine vanilla rooibos (I’m not sure what company) this morning made from a really REALLY nice rooibos. I need to ask them the brand and buy some, it was different than what I’ve had before. Very sweet like marzipan/almonds and less woody. I found it had a similar natural sweetness to the level of sweetness in peanut brittle. The vanilla was subtle, it would have been nice if it was stronger. I’d still say it was a 9/10 considering the rooibos quality.
Flavors: Almond, Caramel, Honey, Marzipan, Nectar, Rooibos, Sweet, Vanilla
Made an iced tea using 1 tsp DAVIDs TEA Birthday cake (rooibos) and 1 tsp Masala chai rooibos from Special Teas Inc, It is very, very good. It tastes like a spiced cookie or birthday ice cream sandwich. I taste butter cookie, baked goods, caramel, rooibos, sugar, chai spices such as cardamom and ginger, and some sweet vanilla notes at the end.
I drank some sort of fancy green tea from an artisian bakery named Crust yesterday. I’m not sure if they are original blends or if they buy their leaves from someone else, however it was very good. They have me about 5 tsp worth of leaves which then expanded to fill half my large cup (why so much?) but it did make a good tea despite the wastefulness of their brewing method. It was pretty good, maybe 6/10 because I’m not big on green teas but that was the only blend that sounded appealing to consume with a croissant. For those who enjoy grassy/leafy green teas, this might have been an 8.5/10.
Flavors: Grass, Green, Herbaceous, Sweet, Tannic, Tannin
Monday – Green Tea / Day 2 of Lion’s Tea Challenge
80 mL water + 25 mL hot milk + 1/2 tsp matcha power (writing is in Japanese, I don’t know they brand)
Ick! I forgot I do not like matcha by itself. Maybe I have not had a good matcha, because I like matcha icecream and frappachinos. Anyway. This is bitter and gross. It tastes like green tea and kelp :P Maybe I’ll use the rest to make homemade blended ice drinks, I can’t see myself drinking this again.
Flavors: Bitter, Green, Seaweed
I brewed cups of Jasmine Silver Needle White Tea (Teavana) and African Nectar Rooibos (Mighty Leaf) hot yesterday, but didn’t feel like steeping them again. I threw both teabags into a large cup of cold water and let it steep ~10 hours. The rooibos jasmine tea I’m now drinking is delicious. The rooibos makes it woody, sweet, and complex. The jasmine makes it a bit floral and distinctive. I will be making a jug of iced tea with this blend tonight.
Flavors: Flowers, Jasmine, Mineral, Orange Blossom, Rooibos, Sweet Potatoes, Wood
A Hong Kong-Roasted Three Stamp Shuixian purchased from @jayinhkg.
An evening tea session originally planned for earlier in the afternoon. Rich malt and chocolate aromatics and flavor notes. So super smooth and creamy with zero bitterness. This is some seriously good high quality Shui Xian. With a similar flavor profile, consistency and color of dark roasted coffee beans this is an expresso of teas. I rarely pair food with tea but tonight I paired this incredible tea with a delicious orange scone and it was a perfect match.
7g of dark chocolate colored leaf, 100ml Purion, 190F for 60s, 30s, 20s, 30s and climbing from there.
This could easily have been a temptation for a back to back session.
The dry leaf:
Dark Roast TGY, another incredible Taiwanese tea acquired from fellow Tea Chatter Ethan. Puffed brown rice, slight chamomile, light mineral, the perfect amount of roast. 5.5g of leaf, 120ml, 190F, 10s, 15s, 20s, 30s and upwards to well over 2m to get all the roasted goodness out of this amazing leaf.
The session: https://instagram.com/p/BFZpoMmBUqk/
Pesticide-free, high-quality Dongfang Meiren (Oriental Beauty) from Taiwan, via fellow Tea Chatter and awesome tea provider Ethan. Crisp white grape and apple, autumn spice, fig, white carnation bouquet, from golden yellow to deep orange to beautiful red, semi-sweet to brown sugar, mead meets Chardonnay, an exceptional tea.
5g, 120ml, varying temps, 10s start with 5-10s climbs for at least ten infusions up to one last 5m steep which was still pretty enjoyable. A good candidate for one last overnight infusion.
The leaf: https://instagram.com/p/BFXRRhVBUrI/
The session: https://instagram.com/p/BFXXl5phUoB/
The evolution of color: https://instagram.com/p/BFXcQofhUhU/
Black Tie Guan Yin, direct from Taiwan via a tea acquaintance who I am very grateful to for allowing me to acquire/purchase this incredible tea. Belgian chocolate aromatic dry leaf, sweet dried fruit and yam aromatics wet leaf, honey, spice, raisin flavor notes, subtle smokey autumn leaf finish with a touch of orange…nothing but love in this cup.
5g, 120ml @ 212F. 10s start with 5s increments for multiple infusions leading upwards to 3m.
The session: https://instagram.com/p/BFVUZcgBUqt/
This is for Verdant Tea’s “Thirty Year” Tieguanyin. Probably not worth making a separate database entry for this because it likely won’t be available again. I bought some of this when I purchased their bamboo strainers, which I highly recommend, and I needed to add only a few dollars more to get free shipping. Thus I tossed this into my cart.
This tea is tough to judge because it has been heavily re-roasted recently. In fact it tasted like it was re-roasted right before I got it. Noticed some nearly char black pieces, the roasting is rather uneven. I mainly tasted the roast throughout with a slight sour note. The tea looked green once the roasting soaked off. I don’t think this is 30 year old Tieguanyin but with Verdant’s track record of misleading marketing lately I wasn’t expecting this tea to be as old as advertised.
On the plus side, it does steep quite a long time. I got 8 steeps before getting bored with the tea and it could have easily gone a few more. I don’t remember what parameters I used but I did use quite a lot of the tea.
So over the last week I’ve been telling myself I need a thick-walled gaiwan for brewing high-temperature teas like shou. Basically the theory is that thick-walled gaiwans retain heat better on longer steeps, making later steeps more flavorful. Anyway, I don’t have the money to buy teaware at the moment so I decided to make my own.
May I introduce you to…the double-boiler gaiwan!
Yeah, so I happen to have two of the same gaiwan cups (the lid broke on my first one), and decided to try filling the lower one with boiling-ass water and steeping the top one with equally hot water. So does it work? Yes! Not only is the gaiwan sizzling hot to the touch, but the tea inside (2011 Hui Run from Yunnan Sourcing) is much richer and more intense in later infusions. Maybe I should switch my major to engineering…
I got back from my shift at the school letterpress covered with ink and bruises (fiddling around with stiff old iron machinery), and wanted something comforting. I’m now drinking some mysterious maocha from LiquidProust—used 3.5 grams in a 100ml gaiwan and it’s a very mild, sweet brew. Hints of apricot and a tiny bit of smoke, and a nice sweetness. I’m noticing I really love fruity flavors in my tea—especially raw and ripes. Gonna keep this going and see how it turns out.
Backlog from April 21st:
Pineapple Kona Pop / Raspberry Pineapple Luau
I mixed these two together this morning for something different, but it didn’t really create anything spectacular. In fact, it’s pretty tasteless. I’m sure it’s partly due to my teas being older, but it’s really just not good. There is a vague fruitiness but it mostly tastes dusty and bland. The color is a deep berry red which I’m assuming is from the hibiscus which I can also taste. Not impressed.
Flavors: Dust, Fruity, Hibiscus
I’m not sure if this sample that I received from Liquid Proust reads “2009” or “2007” Mengku. However, I wanted to have a cup of raw pu-erh for my post-Statistics final, so I grabbed the rest of this out of the cupboard.
Now, I like the astringency of a raw. The first two steeps offered none of that, rather, I had nice mineral, smoky, and wet moss flavors to it. However, after these two steeps, I started to taste the astringency that I prefer when drinking a Sheng. The smokiness of the tea disappeared rather quickly, but the mossy/mineral notes stayed with this tea…Until steep 6.
Somehow, unbeknownst to me, the smokiness returned. I like to remind you that I’m new to pu-erh tea (3-4 months now, but still moderately unfamiliar to understanding the flavor, etc.) Anyway, I think it went well with the bitterness of the tea. It gave it that sort of burnt leafy taste, which reminds me of old leaves burning in a large field in the country during the Fall months. It also reminds me of walking in the woods as the snow melts, and the leaves have that old wet smell to them. That is what I enjoy about a majority of Raw pu, and this one has no exception.
Side Note: I think I used too much leaf in general (10g for 150ml). That, and I used overly hot water because I was distracted and allowed it to boil…..Prior to, the bitterness was subtle and still sweet (the water was 170F during the first few steeps). Anyway, I still enjoyed this.
Well, today I’ve finally had a moment to sit and drink tea; to contemplate my life. The last couple of weeks of college are nearly complete (4 classes left until I complete my Education major, and then can continue onward for another year, to become a certified middle-grades History/English teacher!), my wife’s car is on the verge of falling apart, we’re waiting for our caseworker to get a hold of us to set a date for the home study, and we’re eager to have our children out of the terrible foster system—and into a loving home—where Mom & Dad will give them the best that we can give them….
Okay, that was sentimental….
Anyway, I’m currently drinking my third cup of Liquid Proust’s ‘A Dark Kitchen Sink.’ As of late, I’ve been wanting to eat everything candy and/or ice cream. However, I need to resist the temptation, and just pluck from the cupboard, these types of tea that I purposely have for these stressed induced situations. Fortunately, this was in there—and what a treat! If I were to close my eyes at this moment, I could say that you’ve watered ice cream down (particularly a Turtle sundae) by a whole lot, and reduced it to a simple drink; to which I’d say,
“My, oh my, what a fine treat! Is this hot watered down ice cream?”
Then I’d hear, “No you dope, it’s simply the best damn dessert tea that you’ve ever had.”
Alright, there’s a huge nutty flavor which comes from the whole pecans within the tea. There is definitely a nice black tea flavor after the third steep that jumps out a little (from the description, I’m assuming that’s from the Golden Pu-erh needles); which gives it the sweet cocoa note. The honey gives it a nice caramel note, too. I mean, I could list the ingredients that I try, but when I go about reviewing a tea that way, I get sidetracked, and then my review turns to mush.
I will just say that this is GREAT, remarkable, extraordinary, amazing, astonishing, astounding, sensational, stunning, incredible, and unbelievable! Buy it. Try it! Drink it! It’s liquid ice cream! What could be better?
P.S. Today’s tea soundtrack comes from the Japanese instrumental rock band, MONO, “Hymn to the Immortal Wind.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JbnhjsDI_ho
Flavors: Caramel, Chocolate, Cocoa, Honey, Pecan, Vanilla