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Recent Tasting Notes
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
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
I’ve made a bad habit of stopping off at a local Coffee & Tea cafe by my job (there are two locations, each within a 6 mile radius from either my job or home) during the day when I’m awaiting to return to work.
Lately, I’ve been drinking their teas without complaint, so, I decided to ask the barista for something “tasty” and dessert-like. She pointed out the “Banana Bloom Tisane” which was supposed to be “like banana pie with lavender.” That’s false. It turned into a lavender nightmare, and there are cloves and cinnamon chunks within the tea. I like it, but since there is no banana flavor to it, I’m giving this the low rating.
P.S. It looked like lentil soup.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Clove, Lavender
LP had sent me a small bundle of Sheng pu-erh a while back, but I’ve been slowly trying them, and getting the most out of the samples. Today, I tried “The Ram” which he had sent. I must say that this tea was a great one to have on a cold and rainy day, here in Ohio.
This was refreshing. It was mellow throughout the entire session. The more I brewed, though, the more of a hay (grassy?) flavor came out of it. It was smooth and delicate. There was a hint of fruit (unbeknownst to me) which added to the sweetness of the tea. I was truly impressed with this brew, and had enjoyed the total 15 steeps!
I haven’t had time to write lately. However, even with this review, I’ll be brief.
Today, after a long exhausting weekend/beginning of the week, I wanted something loaded with caffeine and delightful. Unfortunately, I hadn’t had the time to brew a thermos of tea, so I parted ways with water. When work was over, I decided to try out a new coffee shop that a friend had told me about, which had “delightful Matcha lattes.” When I was talking to the barista about wanting a nice Matcha latte, she suggested that I’d try “The Hulk” because “it’s a great for nerds like me,” she said, while assuming that I, too, was a fellow nerd—she was right.
Anyway, the tea was meh (yeah, I said “meh”). There wasn’t much in there with the 16 ounces of 2% milk. I literally watched her put a tablespoon of tea in with the milk, added vanilla, and haphazardly stirred the minimal amount of Matcha into the cup. I asked her if she could add more, but considering that it was $2.50 for an extra scoop, I let it go. It wasn’t great. It wasn’t a bad cup of milk, either. However, I’ll stick with getting up at 4:45 A.M. to make tea from now on….
I’ve been frequently going to Muggzwigs Coffee and Tea Co. lately near my house. They have had a tendency to focus too much on the coffee aspect of their business; however, due to the popularity of tea in this area now, they are improving their skill at making cups of tea.
When I was at school a few years back, they often over steeped or burned the tea by putting boiling water into the pot—no matter the type of tea being used—so I avoided drinking tea there for a while. Recently, a friend had told me that they had improved on making tea, so I gave it a go.
The result was fulfilling.
Anyway, since this new and inexpensive experience, I thought I’d make my way over there after work last night for a cup of tea. Out front, they had the daily special: The Golden Smoky Latte. The description of the tea was, “Lapsang Souchong with frothed milk & honey.”That sounded perfect.
I was in the mood for something sweet, unique, and tea (plus, Lapsang just sounded like a great tea to have). However, when the barista was putting the cup together, I saw him grinding coffee beans…Considering that I was the only one placing an order, I thought this to be strange. When he began to add the coffee to the Lapsang that was steamed with the milk, I asked him what the hell he was doing. He told me that it was a “Lapsang with coffee, frothed milk, whipped cream, honey, vanilla syrup, and nuts…” I explained to him that the description mentioned Lapsang and honey—nothing else—but he decided to explain that the specials just highlight the “main components” of the daily specials, rather than list everything else.
Despite that, I purchased the cup & a Peanut Butter Morsi, and called it a day. The cup was unimpressive. It was loaded with so much sweetener and coffee, that the Lapsang was covered completely. I’ve decided that when or if I return, that I’ll avoid any “special-teas” and stick with the tea itself. Because the truth is, coffee-tea drinks are horribly sweet and unbalanced…and full of lies.
My wife and I went to a local Thai restaurant where they had a Thai Tea made from Orange Pekoe. It was very sweet and loaded with cream; although, it was surprisingly refreshing and had a nice kick to it. It’ll definitely be something to have rarely due to the incredibly high sugar content. I’m glad I took a cup without ice home because it helped me get through the first half of the morning with the students.
I tried the first sample that LP had sent me. I must say that he loaded me up! For that, I’m utterly grateful!
I had this tea session this morning before heading outside on this lovely afternoon. So, I sat at table with my wife, as she had coffee, and took an hour to go at it. The sample that I had was a 11 Mao Cha; which was quite lovely.
The aroma after the first rinse was intriguing. I wrote, “Vegetal, honey, smoke (????).”
First steep: The flavor was vegetal, slightly smoky (slightly in the aftertaste), and grassy (?). The mouthfeel is a bit drying, and works itself into the throat.
Second steep: Aroma has a nice floral, “fresh leaf,” slightly smoky, and honey smell.
Flavor: Rich and soft; floral and sweet. A slight astringent aftertaste, which is left in the mouthfeel. The overall tea doesn’t have much astringency, but it’s minor in the mouthfeel. I like the dryness. Mostly sweet, though.
Third and Fourth steep: Aroma has a stronger honey, cooked leaf (?), grassy, and Spring quality to it.
Final note on the tea: Mao Cha is the tea to have when Winter ends and Spring begins. It is fresh, slightly astringent in a very positive way, and leaves a unique dry mouthfeel. Mao Cha is the type of tea that could grow into a “very pleasant Shu…Like individuals, with age, we grow (supposedly) wiser. Tea just does that with flavor.”
As you can tell, I was tired and tea drunk, so my notes came off a bit eccentric. I enjoyed the session, and my wife told me that she enjoyed hearing my thoughts on the tea. Thank you, Liquid Proust for this sample! I now understand pu-erh in a way that haven’t before; which is satisfying to know that there’s always more to learn with tea.
I got about 13 steeps out of this, but gave up on the note taking after steep # 4.
Flavors: Honey, Smoke, Vegetal
I received a mystery sample! All I know for sure about it is that it’s by Yuuki-cha. My best guess from the appearance was that it was a green tea, so I steeped accordingly. I think I guessed right. The brew is quite dark, but definitely not dark enough for a black tea. To me this tastes like hojicha, though the dry leaves didn’t look anything like the hojicha I’ve tried before. It may also be some sort of oolong I haven’t encountered before, but hojicha is my best guess.
Drank a puerh I got from Liquid Proust tonight – not from one of the group buys. It was labeled “2011 Cha QZ – YS” (Also could’ve said 45 instead of YS lol). Neither he nor I could figure out what it actually was. Oh well. Used 4.8g in a 60mL gaiwan, so I was worried about bitterness, but it wasn’t bad. Seemed like a pretty gentle tea, possibly Yiwu. I got lighter floral sweetness with some soft fruity notes mixed in as well. It was pretty good tea, but I have no idea what tea it actually was lol.
Flavors: Floral, Fruity, Hay, Sweet
Possible spoilers for Liquid Proust Mystery Group Buy ahead
Today I tried the tea labeled #2 from LP’s Mystery Group buy. It was pretty good as far as shou is concerned. I’m finding that I can enjoy ripe puerh, but I sort of have to force myself to drink it, so I think I’ll be focusing more on sheng, oolong, and other stuff as I continue on my tea journey.
Anywho, this one had a slight wet aroma, but nothing bad. The leaves were quite small, appeared to be like gongting grade to my inexperienced eye. A such, the tea got going quickly and died out pretty quickly as well. I did two brief rinses (probably would have been ok with one), then steeps of 10s, 7s, 10s, 15s, 25s, 45s, 60s, 3m(ish). Taste was sweet and woody. Got a small sourish notes in the first couple steeps, followed with a sweet, slightly chocolatey aftertaste which stayed in my mouth. First 4 steeps were that nice jet-black shou color, and lightened up along with the flavor, and more notably the texture, from then. Last steeps were still good, just less thickness and sweetness, more of a clean woody taste.
Not sure which of the three this might be. Like I said previously, I think that #1 is the fake 2015 cake, because it just tasted so wet to me. Right now I’m going to say this was the 2010 GNWL, because #3 had a bit more of an aged, camphor thing going on. Thankfully I have enough to do another session with both #3 and #2, so maybe I’ll get a bit of a better idea.
Flavors: Chocolate, Creamy, Sweet, Wood
Possible Spoilers for Liquid Proust’s Mystery Group Buy
I drank the first of my mystery teas – the one labeled #3. Not a big shou fan, but I think this one was pretty good. Leaves had a woody camphor aroma, but I didn’t get camphor too much in the flavor. A bit of mouth cooling during the first couple steeps, but not too much. Later it started developing a nice earthy sweetness. I also kind of got some vanilla notes, and one of the mid-steeps gave me a coffee vibe for some reason. It was decently thick, but also died out rather quickly.
I think I can safely say this isn’t the 2015 fake GNWL, not because I know what a real one tastes like, but because this doesn’t taste wet enough to have been piled just last year. Not sure which of the other two it could be yet though.
Flavors: Camphor, Sweet, Thick, Vanilla, Wood