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Recent Tasting Notes
Recently I placed a What-Cha order for myself, and one of the things I was looking for was a Houjicha to stock up since it’s one of my favourite kinds of green tea and while I currently have a Genmaicha stocked that I really like there’s a hole in my cupboard where a good Houjicha should be. This one comes from Australia, and personally I’ve never tried an Australian grown tea before though I was aware that they were produced. Australia is one of those regions that isn’t typically thought of as a tea growing region among people who aren’t more learned tea drinkers the same way people don’t realize tea is grown in places like Kenya or Hawaii and I’m very excited to get my first taste of an Australian tea, especially considering how affordable this blend was. It was an easy thing to gamble on.
I do think this was worth the gamble. While it’s not as straightforwardly roasty as I tend to prefer from a good Houjicha there are some very, very nice subtle nuanced flavour notes that more than makes up the different. For starters, there’s an interesting nutty notes that seems to make itself known in each part of the sip in a different way. With that first initial taste it’s light lightly toasted nuts, and then in the body it weaves in and out between the other flavours. In the aftertaste, you’re tasting the shadow of the nut flavour which once was.
There’s also some really nice sweeter notes like caramel and cocoa which gently stretch out across the surface of your tongue, creating this really nice, smooth body flavour. The finish is lightly smokey, and leaves you wanting to go back in for another sip so you can experience the flavour dynamics all over again. Overall it’s a very warming and welcoming cuppa.
I definitely think I’ll clear my purchase of this easily, and will probably go back for more after that. More than that, this only gets me even more excited to try more of what Australia has to offer!
What an interesting tea this is. I have to say I’m never disappointed with the products I select from What-Cha! Even when they aren’t teas I would select for another purchase they are always such high quality and always worth a try.
This is one of those teas which I wouldn’t consider for a large purchase, but that I’m very glad I had a chance to try. It has a very unique flavor. Smooth and mellow, a bit fruity and a little bit of liquor. No astringency at all. A bit light for my personal taste but I did enjoy my cup.
Flavors: Alcohol, Brandy, Fruity
Fish and I just made the best Chicken Soup! We decided to combine our different styles of soup and specialties, he sauteed the chicken and onion garlic blend, and cooked the beans, I was in charge of the root veggies (the store was out of ruttabagas, and sadly we ran out of carrots) the broth, spice blend, and the surprise. I call it a surprise because at the last minute I wanted dumplings (not dumplings really, but dumplin’s) but have never made them gluten free, so I winged it and they turned out awesome! Not to toot my own horn, but I seem to be really getting the hang of baking gluten free and adapting recipes, there is a lot of trial and error, but the ratio of edible to utterly gross baking creations is mostly edible. Man, this soup is good, I am on my third bowl!
It is Wednesday (I think, my sleep schedule has gotten weird, I ended up staying up 24 hours again and sleeping for a couple hours…hmmm) which means it is a What-Cha day! Making my way through my notebook and the adventure of trying to taste all their teas brings us to Yunnan Silver Needle White Tea. Good old Dian Yin Zhen, like Fujian silver needles, but with a distinctly Yunnan quality and smokiness. The aroma is not really sweet, it is a savory tea with notes of smoke, tomato leaves, lettuce, sauteed bok choy, and a touch of fresh tomato as well. At the finish there is a tiny touch of smoked peaches that adds a hint of sweetness, but only a hint.
I decided to do a psuedo-western bowl steeping kinda thing for this tea, brewing it in my green gaiwan for a long time (7 minutes if you are curious) because I kinda love the way silver needle really shows off with longer steeps. The aroma of the leaves is very savory, bok choy and tomato, smoke and mineral, cedar and a touch of peach at the finish. The liquid is lightly smoked peach (think a grilled peach) with a touch of tomato leaves and lettuce and a tiny finish of distant floral.
The tea is very smooth and smoky, it starts out with sauteed bok choy and hay with a touch of tomato leaf. This moves on to delicate cedar notes that start off mild and build to a sharp cooling sensation that feels like it goes all the way to the tips of my fingers, gotta love that distinct Yunnan cooling sensation. The finish is mild peach and honey sweetness that mixes with the cooling cedar for a very refreshing end.
I went for a second much longer steep, the aroma is much sweeter, less smoke and more peach. The taste can be summed up the same way, but with an extra boom of cedar and now camphor for a peachy resinous cooling tea with a slight smokiness to it. The finish is delicate honey and distant flowers. Yunnan silver needle is a unique tea, if you were expecting the more familiar taste profile of a Fujian silver needle, you will be a bit shocked, but pleasantly so, especially if you are a fan of Sheng Puerhs and Yabao.
I was pretty ill over the last 6 months. During this time I had this tea waiting to be reviewed but never got to it. Sorry What-Cha. So, I pull it out today, took pictures for the blog, but all the time I had decided this one was just for the love of tea. I just wanted to enjoy the look and the smell of the leaf. To watch the dance, and breath in the brewed aromas. To taste like it was my first cup. Lately I have forgotten how to just let the tea take me on a journey.
It is a good thing I went in with this attitude as this tea is no longer available and may never come back. Well poo. Not sure if I’ll go ahead with a blog post or not. Either way, I really enjoyed the trip.
The dry leaf is really dark for a green tea. It is lightly twisted and curled. It smells leafy and loamy with some tobacco notes, and an earthiness to it that made my mind briefly envision puerh.
I steeped in my clear glass teapot so I could watch the dance, and dance it did. Some leaf stubbornly clung to the surface while others white knuckled the bottom. It reminded me of school kids at a first dance – boys on one side and girls on the other. The brave leaf that did dance, swirled with abandon and glided about, occasionally tapping one of the clingers and dragging them to the dance floor. Thank you for the dance.
The wet leaf is large broken pieces that become green and revived. What really struck me as unexpected was the wet leaf scent. I can think of no other way of describing this. It is the aroma of a filtered cigarette. Not the nasty ash kind but the sweet and fragrant kind. I have never been a smoker, but there are certain brands that from a distance I enjoy the scent of in the open air – for a brief period. This is like the that.
The liquor is a beautiful mix of honey and orange in color. The taste is… oh yes this is green tea. It is sweet with a solid bite. Underneath is a subtle smoky note that is welcome. It is not like the wet leaf scent, and not like a camp fire. It is a roasted kind of smoky. This is also quite crisp. The aftertaste is sweet with a light fruitiness.
Glad I got to try this one.
Can’t believe I’m the first to review this one…
This is a very cool tea; and while I don’t know for sure that’s it’s unique to What-Cha I’ve personally never seen another oolong rolled like this. When I opened up my sealed package I was quite surprised too; the ‘nettles’/spears of tea are actually quite large and thick – maybe about the length of my pinky finger? And just slightly thicker across than the widest part of my finger. For my tasting, I used two of the nettles/spears since the suggested measurement was 1-2 pieces and I was using a mug just slightly bigger than 12 ounces.
The first infusion was very soft and delicate, like a very lightly oxidized oolong but with flavour notes traditionally found in white, oolong, and black teas – exactly like What-Cha describes in the tea description! The notes I observed throughout the cup were apricot, overripe peaches, hay, flowers, malt, and a dewy/rainwater like flavour. The emphasis was on the really supple stonefruit notes though. It also surprised me a little that the nettles stayed almost completely the same shape as they were before steeping – just slightly ‘swollen’ from steeping.
The second infusion was quite similar to the first – though the apricot, hay, and malt notes all got increasingly more prominent and I wasn’t tasting overripe peaches or the same ‘dew’ flavour anymore. The mouthfeel was initially soft, but it left a tingly feeling on my tongue like I’d eaten too much pineapple recently. All subsequent steeps followed the layout of this one up until the flavour started to really suffer. The nettles never really completely unwound, either.
This was a fascinating tea, and I really enjoyed it quite a bit! However, that said, the first infusion actually was my favourite. There was something really perfect about the taste of apricot and fresh rainwater. It’s hard to put it into words.
The uniqueness of this oolong (and some of the others I’ve recently tried) just makes it even harder for me to believe that people can completely rule out this tea type as one they’re interested in.
Sorry VariaTEA I mean, you seriously can’t find a niche you’re interested in? Oolong tea is just so diverse!
Flavors: Apricot, Flowers, Hay, Honey, Malt, Peach
Oh what a gloriously lazy day it is today, very cool and rainy, perfect for lounging in comfy clothes and reading. Or playing Minecraft. Or painting…one of these things I plan on doing this evening, possibly all three. So far my day has been filled with sleeping in (because with a day like this it is practically mandatory) and a combination of baking and cleaning the kitchen, hooray for productivity.
Today is the last of the What-Cha teas from my butterfly notebook, from here on out it is the Japanese block print notebook and the silver snake notebook…and whatever others I fill up in the future. Specifically the tea is Fujian Narcissus ‘Shui Xian’ Wuyi Rock Oolong Tea, one of my favorite of the Yancha or Rock Teas from Wuyi, the first one I ever tried is not surprisingly the one with the biggest place in my heart. The aroma of the curly leaves is a gentle char, with an accompaniment of richness! Strong notes of chocolate, cooked plums and cherries, cooked cream (not quite as sweet as creme brulee, but in that same vein) and a finish of loam. Over all of these notes is the char notes, it hangs over it like a foggy morning after a bonfire in autumn. Very comfy and nostalgic smelling.
Into the Yancha pot the tea goes for its awaited steeping, and well, it is almost too good for words! Sometimes Yancha just blows my mind and instead of perceiving aroma notes I just get explosions of color in my mind and melt into a state of bliss in my chair. I will try my best to give a description and not just a pile of maniacal giggles though! Notes of char, raw honey, cocoa, autumn leaves, and wet slate waft up out of my teapot, it is like a fuzzy warm robe for my nose (and this is not even a Da Hong Pao…that pun was painful, I am sorry y’all.) The liquid is creamy rich sweetness, raw honey and plums with chocolate and bonfire. Think both charcoal and burning leaf pile, it is lovely!
First steeping! Does this tea hold up to its powerful happy smell? You betcha! The mouthfeel is smooth and thick, bordering on soupy, the taste starts off with char and grilled plums and peaches, this moves on to a burst of dark chocolate and loam, the finish is wet slate and a touch of distant floral that lingers in the aftertaste.
Second steeping. Oh, I got lost in this tea, my notes are all sideways and there is no third steeping note, just the word yum. Real helpful me! The aroma is so rich and sweet, plums and chocolate, loam and fire, with a finish of honey and distant flowers. The mouthfeel is a little sharper with this steep, and the taste is delicious! Grilled plums and char, a touch of peaches and dried cherries as well, then moving to dark chocolate and pecans, with a finish of loam and slate. This tea had a lot of stuff going on, unlike most Shui Xian I have had, this one is lighter on the char and with more fruity and cocoa notes, I feel like I could taste the tea over the char! It is one of the best examples of Shui Xian I have had.
Ah, today is a good day, Minecraft TU 25 is finally out, meaning we who play on the console finally inch closer to the PC version. Pros and cons, yay for finally having stained glass, I was immensely excited for the building potential presented with all the colorful glasses, especially when combining them with stained clay (my weakness.) Sadly the hinted at new biomes, all the flowers, and bunnies were not added with this update which is causing a massive wave of disappointment with the console players. Hopefully the next update will bring them out, I am craving the Ice Spike biome something fierce! I am wondering if they decided to do a small updated in time for Minecon, if so, I am ok with lots of small updates rather than months between big ones.
In grand traditional fashion, it is Wednesday, so time for a What-Cha tea! Flipping through my notebook I notice I am starting to run out of tea notes, le gasp! Clearly a shopping trip will be in my future, conveniently looking at the website I just noticed a ton of new teas, which is awesome. Today’s tea is Georgia Old Gentleman Black Tea, from the Nasakirali Village in Georgia, handmade by Iuri, who I am assuming is the old gentleman this tea is named for. The aroma of the lovely dark curling leaves is sweet, with notes of tobacco and cherry wood, a lovely fruity tobacco reminding me of my dad’s pipe tobacco. Add in a touch of smoke, delicate honey sweetness, and a tiny hint of cocoa and you have a very pleasant smelling tea. Honestly the aroma is nostalgic, like the smell of a pipe being smoked in a library, it gives me the warm fuzzies.
After giving the leaves a steeping, the now quite plump leaves have become malty and brisk, with notes of oak and cherry wood, raisins, and a tiny hint of citrus peel. It is very livening, and just a little bit sweet. The liquid is very rich, I was surprised, expecting a brisk aroma, but it is intensely rich with notes of pipe tobacco, cherry wood, a creamy sweetness with a finish of malt and raisins.
So, this cup has a lot going on, it is very rich, starting out with raisins and pipe tobacco with just a gentle hint of smoke, This transitions to a midtaste of citrus and malt, giving it a slight brisk and sour taste, this fades to a creamy sweet finish of cocoa. Amusingly the aftertaste was brisk with a slight dryness and a lingering taste of citrus. I found this tea enjoyable, it has a nostalgic feel and a complex blend of notes, plus the briskness was a perfect amount for me, not too intense, just enough to liven up the senses.
Finally managed to get around tasting this magnificent tea, on a lazy, warm, late afternoon. Just the smell promised a treat, and a treat it was…
The taste was fruity but tender, with hay notes present during every infusion. Speaking of, with my Gong Fu powered Gaiwan I managed to get 10(!) whole infusions before losing that precious taste. Sweet!
Gaiwan 100 ml, 3,33g for 5/10/15/20… sec @ 82°C
Flavors: Fruity, Hay, Pear
So, this was supposed to be posted yesterday, but I was super busy, swamped even, with deciding what I am doing with my life. No really, yours truly might be going on an epic adventure pretty soon! No spoilers yet, because I do not have all the details and such, but I can safely say I am excited and a little scared. Unless something goes drastically wrong (like my computer explodes again) it won’t affect the blog long term, there might be a week or so where I don’t update, but I will be sure to let everyone know ahead of time.
Since I missed my What-Cha Wednesday review, this will be a rare What-Cha Thursday! Today it is time to revisit the country of Malawi with Malawi Bvumbwe Handmade Treasure Black Tea, I was really blow away by their Antler and Peony White Teas, so I am super excited to dive into the Satemwa Estate’s Handmade Treasure Black Tea. For a while I was rather apprehensive about trying new black teas from Africa, a few nasty run-ins with some particularly dirty tasting Kenyan black teas unfairly soured me on the whole continent for a while. Really, quite narrow minded of me, but they were really gross. Anyway, onto more pleasant things, like these lovely twisted dark leaves! The aroma is pretty rich, blending notes of an oak brandy cask with roasted peanuts and yams, and a touch of loam and spice. Something about the way this tea smells reminds me of home, not any homes that I have lived in, but a feel of ‘home’ yes people, this tea smells like a concept to me.
After steeping the leaves (they get rather huge post steeping) and giving them a good sniffing, I am pleasantly surprised by the fruity notes that have now shown up. It has the oak wood and slight earthiness of the dry leaves, but now with a blend of cherries and orange zest with a hint of cocoa, oh yeah, and a spice finish. A little like allspice and a little like nutmeg, with a faint sweetness to go with it. The liquid has a lot more of the spice notes, definitely allspice with pepper, and a tiny hint of nutmeg. There are also strong notes of cocoa and cherry, with just a delicate hint of orange zest and distant flowers.
The tea has a definite briskness to it, and is quite bright, the texture is light and it really livens up the mouth, kinda like liquid sunshine for a morning wake up, without being really overbearing. I am really picky about how brisk and astringent I like my black teas, and not just because they tend to give me a belly ache, I find when they are really intense they are just too overbearing, much like some people find mint too much or flowery teas. I like my black teas (more traditional western style ones, not the delicate Chinese reds) to have just a little bite to them. The taste is both robust and sweet, blending creamy notes of cocoa (bordering between milk and dark) and peanut butter, with earthy notes of sweet potatoes and woody notes of oak. The finish is a delicate mix of cherries and orange zest with a citrus aftertaste that lingers. I feel this tea has the potential to be a really iconic morning tea, proving once again that the Satemwa Tea Estate has some mad skills.
Got this as a 10g sample from What-Cha. This is the first pu’er I’ve ever tried that didn’t smell like tobacco and/or seaweed. It smells like wet grass. Just shy of 5g of tea, gongfu, 200 degrees, two short rinses. First steep 10 seconds. Deep amber liquor. Aroma is moving beyond wet grass into something else. Hay maybe. I taste grass, hay, kale, greens, and pepper. Well, at least I can now say I tried a pu’er that didn’t taste like cigars!
So I am brewing this tea in less than optimal conditions, at work, with hot water provided by my Keurig (192 degrees I think) and steeped grandpa for 3 minutes. The dry leaf smells of cocoa, which is quite pleasant. The liquor has a lovely amber color and the cocoa aroma is still there. After 3 minutes the flavor is weak, so I’m turning over my hourglass brewer for another 90 seconds. Much better. Very robust, sweet, smooth, chocolatey, and not a hint of bitterness. Lovely! Will have to try this gongfu style and see what the tea reveals.
2 tsp tea, 10 oz water, 200 degrees, 3 minutes. This is the first time I’ve ever tasted a darjeeling tea, and I am loving it. Sweet, not bitter, grapes (skins too), and red wine. Apparently it’s quite caffeinated, so I’ll be bouncing all over my house tonight and probably cursing myself as I lay in bed wide awake at midnight. I regret that I did this in the evening because I wonder what the second infusion will be like. I guess I’ll find out tomorrow as I think this tea will likely become part of my daily morning ritual for awhile.
Gongfu, 190, 4g tea, one rinse. 30 seconds. Dark brew, almost coffee-like. An aroma I cannot define. Oh wait, it’s honey I think. I do taste a little sweetness. I definitely taste the char. And the hint of cinnamon. Very robust. Peppery. I will have to try this grandpa style; it is probably quite strong that way. Second steep one minute. I can feel it in the back of my throat. I like this tea, but it’s something I have to be in the mood for.
a really pronounced cocoa taste leading into a bit of cinnamon, with a rich complexity, and a creamy texture. of course the tea had no astringency to speak of, along with a decent amount of sweetness. I hadn’t had much luck with rolled-ball style oolongs dark roasted oolongs as a favorite prior to this but I loved this tea.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Citrus Fruits, Cocoa, Wood
Today’s introductory paragraph shall be played by the ‘Hello my baby, hello my darlin’ hello my ragtime gallll’ Frog (or is it a Toad) from classic cartoons of yore. Basically as soon as you start paying attention to it, poof it is still, relaxed, and croaking contentedly. Basically I lack anything interesting to say and do not feel like complaining about my meds. So here, frog dance time!
It is time for my weekly coverage of a new tea from What-Cha, specifically Darjeeling Autumn Flush 2014 Gopaldhara Red Thunder Gold Black Tea, in honor of the steaming bowl of Jaipur Karhi I have sitting next to me, the most superior of canned curries, for those lazy days. This is a unique Darjeeling, not only is it plucked late in the year (hello Autumn Flush) it is grown at a high elevation, meaning it gets frosted over which causes the tea to wilt, starting the oxidation process while the leaves are still attached to the tea plant. This tea is only produced in limited quantities, this particular batch is more tippy than most, giving it more of that fuzzy gold that I adore. The aroma of these thunderous leaves (also apropos since we are under a perpetual flood and thunderstorm warning as of late) is soooo intense, would have knocked me off my feet I was not already sitting down. Very strong notes of roasted peanuts and acorn squash, then the intensity mellows out and notes of raisins, spicebush, black walnut shells, and lastly a delicate hint of sandalwood at the finish. This is a super aromatic tea, so be prepared!
Into ye old steeping apparatus the leaves go, and by steeping apparatus I mean lidless yixing teapot I use for later flush Darjeeling tea. Because why not? The aroma of the dark leaves is so sweet, strong notes of raisins and roasted peanuts with a distinctly floral and woody sandalwood finish. The liquid is heady without being floral (apparently that is a thing, or at least I perceive it so) strong sweet notes of yams, raisins, roasted peanuts and a finish of acorn squash. Yum.
Oh MAN this tea is freaking delicious! It is intensely rich and heavy, with a creamy mouth feel and a tiny hint of drying at the finish. The taste starts out as a not too sweet blend of loam, roasted peanuts, and squash, this transitions to a more sweet taste profile of squash blossoms (not something I run into often) raisins, and lily flowers. The finish is a malty blend of raisins and sandalwood, giving it a lingering aromatic aftertaste. Me thinks I am going to need this tea as a staple in my tea stash!
I am reviewing a new to me tea, two days in a row. Firing my specialist and going back to my primary care physician appears to have been a really smart move. But enough, on to the tea.
I read the other’s reviews. I normally don’t do that until after posting. When I opened the bag I caught roasted notes. When I brewed it, roasted. When I first sipped, yeah, roasted.
OK, teas with roasted notes are my least favorite types. I tend to avoid dark oolongs out of fear. So, I have noticed that even light roasting (like this tea) jumps out at me and it is all I taste. Reading what everyone else wrote was interesting to me as it is barely mentioned anywhere on the internet. I guess this is the point where I say, sparrow tongue, it isn’t you. It’s me. Then turn and slowly walk away. OR, I can put on the big boy pants and try again.
Ignoring that which shall not be mentioned, I taste the corn up front. Then I get a brief jolt from a metallic note that quickly glides into a grassy finish.
The second mug is completely different. Gone is that which shall not be mentioned. In its place is a seaweed component. Then the corn, followed once again by grassy. No bitterness. A little dryness.
While this is not going to make my personal favorites list, it is interesting and far more complex than the price would suggest.
Today was one of those adventure type days, the Trio (which is what I should totally start calling Ben, Fish, and myself) went to a bin store. If you are not in the know, Goodwill (and some other thrift stores) have an outlet store, where you pay for things by the pound (or really cheap per item) and all the things that do not sell in the store get sent there in big bins. I did most my shopping when I lived in Pennsylvania at one (lovingly called the 50 cent store, even though now they are 85 cents, but the name stuck) and you can spend a few hours sorting thoroughly through all the bins. Not the one we went to today, it was massive, plus they kept rotating bins, so I could never see it all. I got some awesome new clothes (still need more skirts and some silk PJs…mmm silk) a cat scratching post, Ben got new clothes, and an antique printing press drawer. I have wanted one for years, going to turn it into a table to show off my rocks!
I love What-Cha (I know, everyone knows that by now!) their teas have become favorites of mine, but really what makes me so hype about What-Cha is Alistair’s love of exposing tea drinker’s to uncommon tea regions! Today’s tea, Georgia Old Lady Black Tea, comes from one of those lesser known regions, the country of Georgia, handmade by Natela of Nagobilevi Village, yes this tea is all made by a little old lady in her home, which is kinda beautiful. The aroma of the large curly leaves is very sweet and surprisingly brisk! Blending orange marmalade, cocoa, a creamy sweetness and a delightful finish of yams.
Giving the leaves their much anticipated (by them or me, you be the judge) steeping in my much loved steeping apparatus, the aroma gets all up in your grill with the briskness! The wet leaves have strong notes of malt and brisk citrus and oak wood. There is a sweetness to it as well, like orange marmalade and a bit of yams at the finish. The liquid is creamy sweet blending cocoa and yam notes with a bit of malt and a sour yet sweet note of orange marmalade at the finish.
Ah, my mismatched tea gear kinda works, the saucer from my broken vintage cup, and the vintage cup with no saucer, they are now best friends. The taste starts out brisk, but not too much, just the right amount to wake up the mouth and invigorate the mind. There are notes of sweet cocoa and orange marmalade, it then moves on to yams and a touch of malt. This tea is not the most spectacular black tea I have ever sipped, it is certainly good, I enjoyed every drop, but it is not the most complex of cups. So, your mileage may vary, if you want a super complicated tea then this is probably not for you, but if you want a delicious tea that has a homey taste, then this one is perfect.
Holy mackerel the weather today has been awesome! I am pretty sure it stormed (and not just distant rumbles, full on house rattling storms, there might have been hail!) from 9am till 3pm. I did not get the full effect of the storms though, see I got up at 9 to the massive crack of thunders (and a terrified Espeon nesting in my hair) and decided to lay in bed and enjoy the storm for a bit…next thing I know it is 3 in the afternoon and Ben tells me the storm just ended. Well crap. Trying to flip my schedule to diurnal so I can be aware at the Midwest Tea Fest this weekend is turning out to be hard!
Today we are looking at a tea from What-Cha, slowly trying to finish all the ones in my Monarch notebook (aka tea notebook four) really I should have made a separate What-Cha notebook so finding which ones to review would be easier, oops. I love Oolongs, I love Darjeelings, so yeah, combining the two for Darjeeling 2nd Flush 2014 Goomtee Oolong Tea just sounds awesome. When Darjeeling experiments with processing techniques to make something other than the typical Darj Black Tea, it usually turns out to be a unique and delicious result, I have loved the Yellow and White Darjeelings I have had, so let us see how the Oolong compares. The aroma of the dark curling leaves (almost looks like a Yancha had a party with a first flush Darjeeling and this is the result) is pretty delicious, it blends notes of fresh muscatel, like scuppernongs and purple grapes. Add on delicate floral notes and a tiny bit of nuttiness at the midsniff, and the finish, well, it fades off into walnuts and lychee.
So, how to brew this tea, the perpetual conundrum! What the heck, I will do both! Starting out with the gaiwan for gongfu cha, the aroma of the actually quite colorful leaves is graceful, no really, it smells like a graceful flower in the breeze next to a scuppernong orchard. Underneath the almost heady sweetness is a delicate note of chestnut and pepper. The liquid is super sweet, blending honey and muscatel notes with honeysuckles and a finish of walnuts.
The first steep is incredibly delicate while having a well rounded mouthfeel, smooth and sweet like flower nectar and biting into a sun warmed scuppernong. This transitions to lychees and chestnut, the finish has notes of fresh vegetation and a lingering orange blossom.
For the second steep, the aroma is a blend of honey, flower nectar, and a bit of golden raisins. The taste is a bit intoxicating, blending muscatel notes of scuppernongs and golden raisins at the front. This moves to a slightly heady blend of flower, like wildflowers and honeysuckles with just a touch of nasturtium bite. The finish has a touch of briskness and malt, similar to a 2nd flush Darjeeling.
For a western style steeping, well, I think I might actually like it better than with the gaiwan! The mouthfeel is buttery the whole time, moving into just a tiny bit of briskness at the finish. The taste starts out with honey and lychees, then moves into scuppernongs and honeysuckles, and has a finish of juicy tangerines. Another fine example of an experiment turning out successful!
The first thing I notice is the unique appearance of the dry leaves – they’re huge and multicolored. I see white, green, and various shades of brown. Beautiful!
Fortunately, the flavor is just as lovely as the appearance. This tea tastes like warm, honey-filled, baked grapes. Whatever mellows and sweetens this tea masks the sometimes sharp Darjeeling back note.
Flavors: Grapes, Honey
Life Jack: Buy a samovar and use it as a daily hot-water dispenser for when you’re drinking tea that you’re not picky about water over. Or at least that’s my life plan. I’ll let you know how practical that ends up actually being.
Aroma: Honey with a touch of something vegetal.
Bright, almost brisk but very smooth. Mellows into honey-like sweetness, maybe darker. Raisin? I usually just say drop fruit. Each sip starts brisk, bright, followed by drop fruits and honey.
I’ve been drinking this for a while, but haven’t really gotten around to a proper review. Out of the Russian teas in the sample set I got, this one is definitely my favourite. I plan to reorder if I can, although What-Cha didn’t have the Russian teas separate last I checked (understandable, since they’re probably a bitch to get… damnit Russia).
Also back to the Tea Books again; been reading an independent published university study from the 60s on Tea Production, so expect there’ll be a post up on teatra.de about that. …Eventually.
I have such a love-hate relationship with packing, I really do. There is a part of me that dreads it (mostly because it never fails that I pack a thing up and then an hour later realize I need said thing again) and a large part of me that loves it. It is my favorite part of moving, the nostalgic feeling towards the place you are living as it slowly reverts back to the form you first saw it in, a bare house/apartment/room. Plus you can find a lot of things you just don’t need anymore stuffed in storage, in the back of a closet, and so forth, it is freeing. This will be the fifteenth or sixteenth time I have moved in my (almost) thirty years of life, I look forward to the adventure!
Now that I have my Das Uber 80s Pop Pandora station blaring on my speakers, it is time to put aside the boxes and have a look at What-Cha’s Fujian Golden Buds Tan Yang Gongfu Black Tea! I am kicking myself for not covering this one earlier since it seems Alistair is out of stock on the larger size, I hope that more comes in because I am going to want more. I love What-Cha (like you all couldn’t tell by this point) but trying to decide which teas to get at what order is an intense process! This tea is named for its appearance (Golden Buds) where it was grown (Tanyang Village in Fujian, China) and the artistry which created it (Gongfu) and of course the kind of tea (Black Tea!) The aroma of these delicate needles is something else, intense notes of sweet potatoes and acorn squash. There are also notes of roasted peanuts and lesser notes of raisins with a pinch of smoke. Quite the delicious smelling tea, but I have a serious weakness for black teas with sweet potato and roasted peanut notes.
Into my sexy tall gaiwan the leaves go, I mostly got this tea-set with its tall lines because it works for steeping needly teas, would be an utter fail with oolongs! Brewing the leaves makes the tea area I was stationed at smell super rich and delicious, I could practically taste the tea in the air above the gaiwan, I consider that a good sign! There are notes of sweet potatoes and also delicate sweet notes of flowers and fruit, hard to distinguish which ones since it is pretty light, but it is certainly there. The liquid is some good old fashioned sweet taters cooked in a fire, you know, even though they are wrapped super tight with foil, you still get a hint of smoke. Add in a distant hint of sweet stone fruit and you have yourself a yummy smelling tea.
I took the photos and tasting notes for this tea when I was visiting my mom for Christmas, so she got to try it with me, and seeing the pair of cups in the photos makes me homesick. Luckily for the internet and texting I can talk to her while I am typing this up, yay for technology! The first steep is nice and mellow, with a very well rounded mouthfeel, not too thick, but certainly has a presence. The taste starts off with a hint of malt and a rich sweet potato note, it is yamtastic! Actually the taste is more like yams since it is on the sweet side. The taste moves right along to roasted peanuts and a delightful aftertaste of stewed dark cherries.
Oh man, the aroma this steep is intense! It starts with sweet potatoes and roasted peanuts, and then adds in some definite cherry notes and a cocoa rich finish. The mouthfeel is bright this steep, has a bit of a zinginess with a slightly drying, tingly finish. The taste starts out with the smoked yams, there is a definite smokiness, but it is more distant fire or things cooked on a fire rather than char or eating fire (like Lapsang Souchong can be) the finish is a blend of peanuts and cocoa, like a richer version of a peanut-butter cup.
Third steeping is like a flashback to the first, a gentle smoked sweet potato and definitely cherries with a hint of cocoa at the finish. The mouthfeel has gone back to being well rounded, no more drying, just smooth and slightly thick. The taste is sweet potatoes and cocoa, with a touch of smoke at the finish. This last steep was a little meh, but it was still tasty, just greatly overshadowed by the previous steep. I did a fourth steeping which was mild and sweet, by the fifth steeping I could tell it was done so I traveled no further. As per usual I (almost) never meet a Chinese Black/Red tea I did not enjoy, and this was no exception!
Flavors: Cherry, Cocoa, Malt, Peanut, Smoke, Sweet Potatoes