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Recent Tasting Notes
The dry leaf aroma is sweet and floral. It’s also almost fruity. The brewed tea aroma is a floral green oolong. This is my kind of tea!
I got this sample from a co-worker/friend. I have no idea what company this is from as the red, vacuum sealed package is only covered in kanji. I tried translating 茗典茶藏 and determined it says: “tea for ceremony, tea to have.” Anyone come across this before?
The leaves fully unfurled after the second infusion for two minutes. It’s a shame I can’t identify the source because this is a great tea! The leaves have more stem attached then I’ve ever seen before, but the resulting tea is delicious! It’s probably an unflavored milk oolong. This second infusion is creamy! Mmm, yum! This is soooo good! It’s really hitting the spot. I’d rate it a 92.
Bagged houji-cha. Made at work with microwave boiled water (not having a hot water dispenser kind of sucks…)
This was good. First time having a roasted green tea and I was struck by how oaty it was. Reminded me a lot of oatmeal without actually tasting like cereal. This was interesting enough to warrant revisiting … perhaps with a loose leaf version.
Another random one that is so good. LP granted me some Wild Dian Hong from Berylleb, and man, it is pretty great. In terms of taste it is actually closer to a Loashan for me having weird berry notes, some almost like lychee. Definitively sweet in every steep, with more pronounced chocolate in steep 2 at fifty seconds, and caramel in steep four for me. So glad I have a decent amount of this. Got a little buzzed on steep 1. Thank you, Andrew!
Liquid Proust sent me another lovely sample, with lovely leaves. I brewed it six times gong fu, two of those brews being a cold ones overnight. Changing, gorgeous, and nearly divine. This is how I like my teas, oolongs in particular, which brings back my fondest memories. I kinda got tea drunk after this one, then felt a great sense of connection and peace. Yet that’s the qi, i.e. caffeine or whatever energy you like to call talking.
This tea has and shall become something special. That’s all I can say for now.
This is a random sheng from my W2T goodie bag. :) The wrapper it came in had no English clues for me, but did include the number “2008”, so I was wondering if it was another aged sheng, but this doesn’t taste very aged to me. None of that earthy/musty character at all. The wet leaves are mostly an olive green colour, some a bit mottled with light brown, and a few noticeably darker brown leaves mixed in. They are pleasantly aromatic and zingy – even many steeps in, I like sniffing the leaves in my gaiwan after pouring. The tea liquor brews up a light to medium gold colour, and it has a fairly bright, tangy flavour. I kept the bitterness at bay by sticking to 80-90deg water and ~20 second steeps many times in a row. There is a slight softening and complexity (compared to the 2015 shengs I’ve been drinking recently), and I remember getting some interesting muted floral notes about 5 or 6 steeps in, but other than that, not much beyond “hi I’m a sheng!!”. There is the sweet coating on the back of my throat, but not much sweetness in the actual sip. I’m getting a moderate amount of astringent drying on my inner cheeks. Having said that, I keep compulsively steeping and drinking this over and over, so apparently all the bitterness and astringency is no barrier to my enjoyment of this tea, lol. :) I’m actually finding it a bit energizing, which is a nice change of pace from all the teas that keep making me want to have a nap (secondary theory: the time of year is what’s making me want to have naps constantly). I’m so confused by all these bitter/astringent teas I keep drinking, when normally I love me some sweet, smooth, creamy teas (black, green, oolong, etc). Ahhhh, I think I’m being bitten by the puer bug, this is so, so unfortunate, lol.
A few months ago I did a tea swap with the lovely Oolong Owl, and knowing how much I love shu, she sent me quite a bit of it. I am still working through those countless little baggies of joy. Today I came across one labeled “2006 Special Dark Loose Shu Pu’er – Mandala Tea.” She further states on the label that it’s not for sale anywhere but that she thought I’d like it, and that’s it’s very strong – so quick steeps. She is correct on all counts! Absolutely love it; it’s probably one of the strongest loose leaf shu I have ever had. The wet leaf has such a uniquely pungent aroma – it’s not the sourness of fermentation or storage funk at all. It’s something totally different. Oh, it’s baked bread! Yeast bread! It’s like having yeast bread and coffee all in one cup. Yum!
Today I’m drinking the 3 Dahongpao teas from the Aug/Sept White2Tea club. I’m putting this here because I don’t want to do them separately. I will review the Qilan teas separately though.
Fresh DHP (4g)
Really interesting aroma. Tangy? Intensifies w/ wet leaf. Smells like candy actually.
The brew is much milder than I thought it would be. I’m kind of surprised at how much I like this tea. It’s really quite mellow. No astringency, lovely light sweet aftertaste. Not having had many (any?) DHP’s, I have no point of reference for this tea. Is there a light smokiness I’m detecting in later steeps? (I’m on #3 right now). Another reviewer said burnt sugar. Yes. I was thinking caramel, but not as sweet. So burnt sugar fits the bill. I’m not really overtaken by the roast on this one. I’ve had other wuyi oolongs that were much more in your face with the roast. Not so this one. Steep five is weak; tea is losing its oomph. Let six sit a bit longer and the tea liquor is dark but the flavor has definitely faded. Becoming more mineral/meh.
8 years aged DHP (~3g)
Oolong owl said the dry leaf aroma is “car tire.” Which is hilarious and spot on. Not pleasant at all. Wet leaf aroma is much nicer though. I don’t know, I’m not getting as much flavor out of this. Weird. Maybe it’s because I just ate? I probably should have waited a bit. I’ve had two steeps. I think I’ll put it aside for a bit and come back. Ok, I did come back about an hour later. Still not feeling it tbh. I mean, it’s ok, but just that. It’s the like the fresh with the flavor and intensity turned down from 9 to like, 4.
5 years aged DHP brick (~4g)
The brick itself has no discernible aroma, but the wet leaf smells fantastic. The burnt sugar aroma is very strong, very much like the fresh DHP actually but a bit more intense. The flavor is just so good, deep, rich, and roasty but sweet. My mouth is coated with a sweet mineral aftertaste. Mmmmm sweet rocks. I would buy this if I could; it is my favorite of the three. I will say the flavor drops off a bit for me after the first several steeps though.
One thing I have learned over the course of my tea journey, and specifically with these oolongs (including the Clover Patch, which I reviewed separately a few weeks ago) is that I am not one for subtlety when it comes to flavors. Most days I like a tea to announce its arrival with four-part harmonies and a horn section. I don’t know if my palate will become more “refined” in time, or if this is just the way I am. Anyway, I continue to completely enjoy the w2t club. Initially I thought it would just be something I’d do for a few months, now it’s already incorporated into 2016’s tea budget (which I’d already spent by July 2015, but whatever…)
Tea leaves: https://instagram.com/p/70W9e7GgMZ/?taken-by=curlygc
Clockwise from right: fresh (more defined, long, slender, beautiful. 8 Years aged: similar to fresh but more chopped up. Brick: chopped like shou. Chopped Shuey? (I’ll see myself out)
My wife is away on a business trip. It’s a Friday night, so while the cat is away, the mouse is going to play. And by play I mean sit on the sofa and drink tea all night. I am not on call, I did not bring work home, I have nowhere to go, no one to see, and I do not have to get up early tomorrow. It’s Introvert Tea Drinker’s Dream Friday.
I’m digging into a bag of “mystery ripe” from the White2Tea sale. Heaven and earth, it’s good. I will never know what this is and when it’s gone I will never have it again. I Accept this as I hover above my meditation cushion/sofa, full lotus, aglow with pu’eressence. I just made that word up. It’s like being scrumtrulescent with Pu. And I am. Ohmmmmmmmm
Today I am drinking some lovely tea labeled “mystery raw” that came in from the White2Tea sale. Before I even decided to drink this tea, I knew once again I was in for another tea lesson in attachment and suffering; If I end up loving this tea, no matter how much I love it I can never have anymore of it EVER after this small bit is gone. Now, if I were a more experienced pu drinker, I might be able to accurately guess what this is. I kind of think I might be in the ballpark. And because I have decided, a la Mary Catherine Gallagher, to express my feelings not with words (or a monologue or song), but rather through Memegenerator.net, here is what I’ve got so far:
So I think it’s an older sheng? You know why I’m saying that? Because it’s darker than 2015 shengs I’ve seen. Which may just go to prove just what my current level of understanding is when it comes to pu’er:
So, the flavor is sweet but also vaguely smokey, not bitter until the middle steeps, then it calms down again and there’s some camphor. It’s about 400 degrees in here but I think I can see my breath. My mouth is dryyyyyy. And yet, I’m also sweating. I think my whole head and my tongue is swollen. In a good way, like, a funky non-anaphalixis kind of way. But really, I can’t help but continue to ask…
My dad works at a tech company and when they have employees come in from Asian countries, they often bring gifts. One of the gifts was a tin on tea from this guy that has a small tea farm. From what my father said, it was a side hobby/project that the man had. My father isn’t a fan of tea, but graciously accepted the gift and passed it onto the biggest tea fanatic he knows. Lucky me! I can’t read any of the writing on the tin, so I don’t really know anything else about this tea.
It looks like a dragonwell, so I steeped it for two minutes at 175. It is very buttery, a little sweet and a very light grassy/hay taste. As the cup cools I get a little bit of a mineral like taste in the end of the sip, which could very well be my water source. This tea is so light and tasty!
BanZhang King Ripe (ha ha…) as the label reads from White2tea moving sale. As you all know by now laobanzhang or LBZ is the greatest of all puerh. All other puerh bows in its presence, which is how it got to be known as the king of puerh. First you might notice that this tea has no age, that’s cause LBZ trees are magical and can travel back and forth through time at will. No one knows exactly how old the tea is when being picked. This tea could be from a tree that doesn’t yet exist and has traveled back in time. Another possibility is that Paul, the owner of White2tea, a well known time lord and used his puerh powered tardis station to capture this mystical tea in some unknown dimension. Now that we all know a little more about LBZ its on to the tasting.
Before removing the wrapper one must make sure to put on welding goggles or very dark sunglasses to protect the eyes since the tea itself shines like the sun. Carefully removing the wrapper I pick up the cake and it fills me with powerful energy, it feels like electricity coursing through my veins. In fact I happened to be holding a light bulb in my other hand and it would light up whenever I was touching the LBZ. The tea seemed to know I was in the mood for a 10 gram session, a good sized chunk removed itself from the rest of the cake, floated in the air till it settled in my gaiwan and proceeded to separate itself into it’s individual leaves. LBZ doesn’t smell of anything in the traditional sense. Wisdom, enlightenment and intelligence are what my brain registers as I hover over my gaiwan and sniff.
I grab my kettle, pour some hot water over the tea, drain my gaiwan directly into my cup and stare into what looks like the infinite. Grabbing my cup I bring it slowly to my lips for the first sip of his majesty….Reality melts from around me, replaced by something that can not be described in any words I know. The effect is like loading the universe into a cannon, aiming at my brain and firing. Kubrick probably drank this right before writing the end of 2001. All sense of time and self are gone. I am a being of pure energy travelling the cosmos. Eventually I come to on the floor wearing nothing but my goggles, having a full grown beard and still holding my cup. The clock reads a minute later and the date is the same. Time for myself has obviously passed at a much different rate than the world around me….
Having now tried the King of all puerh I can see why it’s so sought after. It’s an experience like no other but not one to be taken lightly. I suggest all who wish to try it read this carefully and be prepared.
Having a 2014 Ma Hei mini tuo from I think the Tea Horse Family production.
I received this from a friend and I am still waiting on some more info on it.
I let this one open up overnight after rinsing it twice.
Impressions, I worked the tuo open and saw some decent leaf in there.
Brewing it, light yellow color. Brew itself, it starts a little soft like a Yiwu and then it kicks like a Lao Man E. Not bitter but the bit of mouth numbing effect to it.
Cooled it gives a touch more bitter but not enough to turn anyone off for such a young sheng.
Decided to follow the advice of a fellow steepsterite and mixed up a 50-50 mix of Salted Caramel and Peanut Butter Cup, and it was a fantastic idea! The blend was very heavy on the salted caramel tastes (which I’m glad had a decent amount of salt; I feared it wouldn’t be noticeable) with a light peanut/chocolate taste in the background. The two teas mix nicely. I’ll certainly finish off the last tsp. of my sample of Peanut Butter Cup like this.
Today was Happy Tea Mail Day !
I received a care package from Grill. Samples of 2 sheng. One is a mystery.
I love mystery teas.
Dry leaves are gorgeous, long, golden tips ,silvery and dark. Smelled a little like FF Darjeeling, somewhat floral and hay.
5g 75ml gaiwan 200F
rinse/ pause/ short steeps, almost flash
The brew is bright yellow with slight orange tint. Wet leaves smell a little smoky but it didnt translate into taste. its smooth, pleasantly bitter, and somewhat astringent (that didnt bother me at all)
By the 4th steep i was tea drunk and had a dumb smile on my face. I felt the energy concentrated on my eyes, i tried to open them wide haha . Also my face feels numb on a cheeks and around the mouth.
I have a feeling this tea has long legs and i will continue it tomorrow. For now, i need to make a dinner.
Thank you so much Grill for sharing this sheng with me. its excellent tea and quite an experience.
PS He promised me to tell what tea it is after i finish my sessions ;)
2 grams of Sir Thomas Lipton Earl Grey from Lipton, plus
1 gram of Origins Darjeeling Tea from Twinings
I have these two big tins of teas which I don’t like. I don’t find them any good, neither black nor for builder’s brew. But I don’t want to forget about them and leave them to waste. So I thought, why not blend them together and see how it comes out?
Glad that I experimented. The result was surprisingly nice. Not that they tasted wonderful together, but at least I didn’t have the urge to make a “meh” face like I did with them individually.
The bergamot flavor from the Lipton EG was still there, it was light and quiet, in the background. The Ceylon from Lipton and Darjeeling from Twinings blended together they produced this interesting sweetness that was quite pleasant. And then their astringent taste… how should I explaine… It was like, when tasting these two teas individually separately, they broadcasted their loneliness by producing astringent taste. Now that I married them two, they broadcasted their happiness by producing a sweet taste.
Oh geez, sorry I sound like a 5 yr old… I will just shut up and go drink more tea now.
It’s that time of year again for great tea value opportunities! …
TeaVivre’s 4th Anniversary Celebration!
I’m actually drinking a green tea called blue butterfly, but it’s not getting its own entry yet because I’m not sure if it just tastes like a combination of gentle fruits with bubblegum and dish soap, or if my bottle absorbed some of the flavour of the Fairy Liquid when I gave it a really thorough soak last night. UGH. :(
i tried steeping the following
least i can say i was not impressed..
i could barely taste the sheng even when i did a ration of ttl 5g 50/50 2.5g each
i guess one must mix like/like teas then.
So today’s blog is going to be something different, it will not just be me writing this time! Time for an introduction:
First, allow me to simultaneously introduce myself and disabuse you of any notion of my credibility: I am a tea barbarian. As you may have pieced together from Amanda’s fleeting references to me on this blog, my taste runs to strong Blacks in boiling water. I may not be so debased as to use cream or sugar (save with Indian-style teas), but my palate certainly lacks the subtleTEA (I made this pun just to further reduce your estimation of my character) you are accustomed to seeing in this blog.
Why, then, am I contributing my thoughts now? Upon seeing Amanda getting this assortment of exciting candies, I came to two simultaneous resolutions: if they were terrible, I should not allow the woman I love to suffer alone… and if they were good, I needed an excuse to muscle in on some of that candy.
As you will see, both resolutions were soundly fulfilled!
Matcha Caramels-Red Leaf Tea
These were just a little too sweet for my liking, the caramel is very sugary and the white chocolate very sweet, the Matcha taste is pretty mild, I think if it were stronger I would really like these because it would make the sweet not as intense. 2 out of 5
To the best of my knowledge, there is no direct Macha-less equivalent of these fancy little candies. But why would you need one? I’m a sucker for caramels in general, but the hard-ish coating and Matcha flavor take these to a whole new level. I gorged myself on these, clearing a bag in an hour – twice. Five out of five.
Matcha Crunch Bars
Why, how, WHY!?! Seriously, what went wrong? It starts out sweet, like really low quality nasty white chocolate and grassiness from the Matcha and then it gets really weird. Like soap and wax paper blended into a disgusting dance, but you know I have had worse, but that aftertaste just WILL NOT GO AWAY! It lingers forever, like eating Matcha flavored soap laced with sugar. -4 out of 5 (also giving these to a friend as a way of introducing them to Matcha candy aka getting rid of them is a good way to never have them eat anything you give them that is green again, oops)
Crunch bars may be my favorite chocolate bar, so I was most excited for these out of all the options. This was a terrible, terrible mistake. To their credit, unlike Aero, they did not hold back on Matcha flavor – even the crispy sections hold the taste strongly. On first taste, if you like traditional Matcha more than I do, you might think this is a really well done snack. Take my advice: start with small bites. Or, better yet, no bites at all. The flavor you get from these bars will not fade with time, so much as it will actually rot on your tongue, turning more bitter, and harder to ignore, by the second. After eating just one of them, I found myself unable to make it stop or enjoy other flavors for over an hour of constantly chugging water to clean it away. Buy this solely as a practical joke on a tea lover you particularly despise. Death out of five.
Matcha Kit Kat Bars
So ever wondered what white chocolate and a Matcha latte with a side of wafer cookies tasted like? It tastes like a Matcha Kit Kat! I really liked these, they might have been my favorite of the candies I tried, they tasted bright and green with just amount of sweetness to be enjoyable. I feel bad, I only gave Ben one at the end of the tasting because I just tore through the bag, definitely a 5 out of 5 for me!
Sure, I like Kit Kats, but after the Crunch bars, I’ll be honest: I was ready to give up on the whole exercise. Amanda’s prompting and these Kit Kats lured me back. They probably have the most even split on this list between candy sweetness and Matcha flavor (the caramels are sweeter, and all the others are much less so), for a really well-rounded and iconic experience. Four out of five.
Aero Matcha Bars
Oh man, I have not had a legit Aero bar in ages, so nostalgia! I love the texture, and that is really it. The chocolate coating is waxy and lame, just generic chocolate bar, the Matcha center tastes like vaguely Matcha themed chalk, it was not bad, but it was super boring. 3 out of 5
I’ve never had the non-Matcha version of this chocolate – apparently, it’s an English thing. It has a fairly standard exterior, but is all full of little waferey balls which crunch and fizz in your mouth. The good and bad news here is: those balls don’t hold much flavor. The outer chocolate was mild enough that I found Matcha Aeros to be a lot like just air – I don’t know whether this differs from what I’d think of normal Aeros. Two out of five.
Lotte Matcha Caramel
I grabbed these little chewy things on a whim because I love chewy candies and they were super cheap (unlike the others, except the RLT caramels, I still feel somewhat cheated) I loved LOVED the texture and really that was it. Ever have those waxy nickle nips, after the liquid gets slurped out you get the wax bottles and if you were like me you chewed on them for hours trying to extract every bit of sugar out. Same texture, different taste, like the person who developed these has heard of Matcha but never experienced it. It is super odd, a bit grassy, and also spicy with a definite pepper finish. I am still trying to decide if I liked them or not. 3 out of 5
I’ve never heard of these before, so I was curious about them. From the size and texture, I expected something like a Matcha Starburst, but the actual effect is less sweet than that – and also, less Matcha. Sure, you can taste the tea somewhat (moreso than in, say, the Aero), but mostly, it just tasted odd. Like toothpaste and pepper? Or perhaps like Anise and grass? It was in no way unpleasant, but I’m not sure I can think of much to recommend it. Two out of five.
What I learned from this experience? Matcha candies are overpriced and I should just stick to making them myself. Currently in my fridge is a pound of Matcha chocolates I made and nibble on whenever I get the craving! I do want to experiment with more random things with Matcha in them I find at the store!
Photos and all that good stuff: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2015/06/matcha-candy-adventure-with-guest.html
First time I’ve used this random steepings tag! This was a sipdown of an unidentified teabag sample I received from Mina in the Hapatite tea swap. It was labelled ‘black tea with fruits and spice’ and is in a little round, organic-looking (?) teabag. Other than that I have no info. I can’t say that I mind – I definitely wouldn’t be picking any more up! The scent is very cinnamon-y, and the main note is also overwhelming cinnamon. I think this has stevia in, as it’s very sweet with no additives, and there’s a lingering back note of orange. It is so so cloying and sweet, and almost undrinkable. Blech. Sorry Mina!
I would rate this tea around a 16.
I couldn’t find Yinzhu silver needle green in the database, so I decided to review it here.
This poor tea. I wonder if it was in the box too long, or was contaminated by the other tea’s, but it sadly did not taste very good. I found in my first couple of sips a vegetal flavour, but it was too faint. Unfortunately, the tea tasted a little stale and perhaps somewhat contaminated. I think if this were fresher, it would have tasted a lot better.
I was working in the garden yesterday, cleaning it up, and planted a couple of things even though it’s a bit too early to do that. It was really hot yesterday, so I’m really glad that I had a cold brew going on.
In the box was hibiscus from Sadaf (I couldn’t find this in the database and didn’t feel like putting it in). I’m not generally a fan of overly tart food and beverage items, so I surprised myself by cold brewing this up. With lots of rock sugar. And you know what? It was very tasty and refreshing after all that gardening. Another surprise tea that I will probably pick up.