1134 Tasting Notes
A vibrant range of tastes imparted by 3 different types of tulsi.
It’s tulsi. What more can I say? Less star anise-clove forward than I recall Trader Joe’s tulsi being, which I think was also a blend of 3 types. This feels lower toned, more grounding, but it doesn’t taste like earth.
Good for a morning where I had to talk myself down from calling out before forcing myself out of bed 20 minutes before work, heh. I said to myself, “derk, you can go home for the day at lunch”, but then now begins the post-Thanksgiving year-end scramble to complete projects. Work was actually a good way to separate mind from body today and I finished out the full day with relative ease. Maybe the tulsi helped.
Tastes like one of those cinnamon and peppermint flavored Starlight candies. Fennel noticeable after the swallow, along with licorice root. Pretty sweet. Cinnamon and peppermint together is a combination I tend to avoid. Not bad. Good peppermint. Don’t taste the chamomile. Why the need for mint and licorice flavors, though?
Flavors: Cinnamon, Fennel Seed, Licorice, Peppermint, Sweet
July 2020 harvest
This tea would be a delight for flavor-focused drinkers, new and seasoned alike. It has all the right malty-but-not-heavy, fruity and baking spice notes, along with a strong florality that melds with those notes so well that it may be imperceptible. While the tea itself doesn’t have a lot of flavor beyond tanginess, the aromatics absolutely coat every surface of the mouth and into nose. That’s where the beauty of this tea lies. I swallow and the vibrant, complex aroma just lingers forever, transforming wildly over the minutes.
I’ve drank this tea both western and gongfu and my experience says western doesn’t do this tea justice. It still has all the notes, however a bit muddled and it must be steeped with more leaf than you’d think based on the aroma of the dry leaf alone. Either method doesn’t seem to amplify the body of the tea, though. It is always medium-bodied. This tea can take boiling water. Wait until it cools for a bit like an Assam black tea to be able to fully taste what it has to offer.
The one thing that keeps me from repurchasing this tea is that I am, without fail, grumpy after drinking it; that or I drink it when I’m unaware that I’m in a foul mood and having a cup of tea brings brings it to light. Either way, I don’t think it complements my constitution. It is a fairly cooling tea, and the feel and flavor profile speak to me as an early fall brew when warm days can still surprise.
I’ve had the Camellia formosensis species processed as an oolong that was not much to my tastes. If this Wild ‘Shan Cha’ is of the same species, I’m inclined to say that black tea processing does the species a great favor.
Flavors: Bark, Black Currant, Blackberry, Butter, Caramel, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Drying, Floral, Fruity, Geranium, Ginger, Green Wood, Lemon, Malt, Maple Syrup, Menthol, Mineral, Muscatel, Pine, Plum, Rainforest, Squash, Strawberry, Tangy
Another Organic India tulsi blend that just does it for me. It’s a strange mix, honestly. I’d expect another ingredient to tie together the tulsi and hibiscus but it works well as is. The tulsi is much more prominent than the hibiscus, so I could see this working for hibiscus haters. A little tartness and fruit punch taste, nothing crazy.
The experience of drinking a tree, thriving as a part of its larger environment. From the clean air to crowns and fruits. From mosses and lichens and orchids to bark. From grasses and nuts strewn about to root crowns gathering nutrients for transport. It is not an isolated process. And neither are we. This tea grounds me to what supports my being. It is life’s teacher.
I had the 2019 harvest. Please read Jade’s note for this tea as well.
Highly oxidized for a white tea, this was reminiscent of a sun-dried black or aged white tea. This leaves me wondering if the majority of white teas sold as aged are in fact younger than claimed and processed in a similar manner to this tea. Regardless, this is still an enjoyable tea as a fan of the Ruby 18 cultivar.
Western cups had been my default method solely for the ease of a caffeine kick in the morning. I found the tea rather underwhelming prepared that way. Wanting to see what the tea was hiding, I prepared the remaining few sessions gongfu, which is what allowed this tea to shine.
The dry leaf had a subdued aroma of prunes and hay. Warming the leaf brought the prune forward while exhibiting undertones of custard and autumn leaf along with the hay. Wet leaf aroma definitely smelled like a sun-dried black with a stewed vegetables aroma. Nevermind that, it had no influence on the aroma or taste of the tea.
With the first cup, the aroma exhibited candy-like tangy and fruity notes along with hay. Notable were melon, lemon and black cherry. The main taste was similar to watermelon rind, later with with more of the autumn leaf character coming out along with blood orange. Black cherry and dried fruits highlighted the sharper notes while a cotton candy or honey-like sweetness softened those; eucalyptus and menthol rounded out the back. The finish shifted from cherry and cotton candy in the first few steeps into something generally tangy. The mouthfeel remained light to medium and as smooth as a tangy tea can allow. It was actually somewhat syrupy when brewed western style. The longevity of the leaf displays greater length with gongfu.
Overall, a pleasurable, highly oxidized Ruby 18 white that fares much better prepared gongfu. It is not a flavor-bomb like other Ruby 18 white, black and oolong I have tried. Having had several examples of this cultivar processed as white tea, I can say my preferences lean toward much lower oxidation.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Blood Orange, Candy, Cherry, Cotton Candy, Dried Fruit, Eucalyptus, Hay, Honey, Hot Hay, Melon, Menthol, Prune, Tangy, Watermelon
Dry leaf has a rich, deep green, bittersweet aroma of oshitahsi, fir, green apple and sweet scallops or seafood broth.
This gyokuro has needed some willingness to adapt on my end since I am not acquainted with brewing this style of green tea. A longer initial brew produced a tea that was too intense for my preferences. Being more delicate with timing, I was able to balance the power within these leaves.
The resulting tea has a moderate alkaline quality that when combined with the sweet and mellow umami, very much gives the impression of raw shellfish. The tea hits the tastebuds very rounded. The difficulty in this tea is to describe the way it moves. Maybe I shouldn’t bother describing it and just sit with it.
Haha, that only happens sometimes. It feels like a silky ball of flavor upfront that squishes down low and coats the tongue. Maybe the feel of silken tofu combined with with the feel of carrageenan. Sweet, velvety seafood with a side of oshitashi, a hint of banana. Subsequent infusions bring a more forward wheatgrass taste and bitterness that does not move across the tongue but only appears in the back. The coating quality of the tea is evident in the way the aftertaste slowly develops. It starts mild then becomes very prominently fruity, calling to mind the depth of nectarine jam.
Read personal ramblings below if you care:
Somebody in my Mandarin class has on occasion made a point of asking what I’m drinking. Tuesday, when I last had this tea, he sent me a private message wanting to know what kind of tea was in my tiny cup. He enjoys green tea but knows little about it, so he wants me to teach him. He said he can’t find anywhere locally to buy high quality, unflavored green teas or teapots, and he’s right. I believe there is a market here for such, since most companies sell flavored teas. I would love to open a Chinese-style tea house similar to Imperial Tea Court in San Francisco that would serve the tea-loving residents of Sonoma County who don’t want to make the drive down to the touristy area of the city to relax over a pot. Where do I get the capital for such an endeavor? Tea farming requires less upfront costs as its more of an organic process. Oh, I just realized I should speak with the owner of the Chinese imports store downtown!
Flavors: Banana, Bitter, Dark Bittersweet, Fir, Fish Broth, Green Apple, Jam, Nectarine, Savory, Spinach, Sweet, Sweet, Warm Grass, Thick, Umami