1990 Tasting Notes

85

Gong fu of the day. I’ve had this one once before but I think I mistakenly put the review under the organic version; I checked, and I have the non-organic. Whoops. Anyway I used one of the vacuum-packed sample pouches for my 6oz teapot; I measured, and it was a little over 1 Tbsp. I’m going to try this one a few short steeps to start and see how it goes. Side note: there are a lot more tiny tea bits in this pouch than I remember the last one having. Thankfully I have my ultra-fine strainer for my ru tea set, so no bits in my fairness pitcher.

After a quick rinse I did a 20 second steep, and it smelled and tasted delicious. Floral, sweet, a bit buttery, just overall delightfull. Really, basically everything I look for in a TGY, except for maybe I like a few more buttery/creamy notes, but that’s not a big thing. Second steep was also at 20 seconds, and the florals and sweetness have faded considerably from the aroma, while the vegetal greenness has become much stronger. The taste is pretty enjoyable; not as good as the first, but perhaps a bit better than my previous second steeps with other oolongs. Still some sweetness, still some florals, perhaps more butteriness, along with the increased vegetal notes. Third steep at 25 seconds is down to mediocrity. Maybe I do need to use way more leaf for my pot. I will certainly burn through my stash quickly that way!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C

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87
drank Passionate Rose by Tea Palace
1990 tasting notes

I was in a rosey mood this morning, so I went for this one out of my stash. I feel like I hoarding what is left of my plain rose black tea (not much) so that I don’t run out before I can buy more (it will be a while). I thought maybe I could find a nice rose congou in china, but I didn’t have any luck. This is a nice tea that will give me a hit of rose along with some tasty passionfruit.

I love how the combo of passionfruit and rose almost make lychee… fruity and floral! Lychee has such rose notes anyway. And I am also currently out of lychee black, so this is kind of satisifying that urge, but also kind of making me want more lychee black. :P Nevertheless this is super tasty on its own merits. I’m really loving the black tea base on this one today.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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82
drank Hand Picked Bao Zhong by Samovar
1990 tasting notes

This is my chosen gong fu tea of the day. I got this sample from Amy Oh… thanks! This is my first tea from Samovar, which is a tea company I’ve always wanted to try. I have enjoyed the bao zhongs I’ve had before, but I’ve never had one gong fu.

There isn’t much info about this tea online because it is not on Samovar’s websites, so I used approximate brewing parameters from Naivetea for their bao zhong. I also didn’t rinse this one. In the first steep, 30 seconds, I definitely smell buttery asparagus notes, which are really the main fragrance here. It is definitely sweet, fresh, spring asparagus like we’re getting now. The flavor, though is first sweet and fruity (one of Amy’s posts said there are supposed to be notes of mango in here, and I can see it), then followed by some spring vegetables. Really, really lovely.

Second steep (45 seconds) is much greener in color, and it smells more buttery. But the taste is kind of meh? Not exciting. Same with the third. Same thing as has been happening with most of the oolongs I try to steep gong fu. I dunno, I think maybe I am increasing my steep time too fast? Maybe I should stick with similar timed steeps for the first few at least? I mean, the third steep isn’t bad but it’s nothing to write home about. Why do I get great first steeps and then mediocre steeps for the rest of them in seemingly all the oolongs I try to steep gong fu? Especially when I’ve read so many times that people think the second steep is often the best. Not for me. Gotta figure this out.

A hotter, short fourth steep (boiling, 20 seconds) hints at the notes of the first steep, but they are weaker. An improvement over the second and third, though.

Rating this one on the delicious first steep, which was delightful. Thanks for sharing this with me, Amy!

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 0 min, 30 sec
ScottTeaMan

I really liked this one too. :))

TeaBrat

hmmm. whenever I gong fu a tea I tend to use a higher leaf to water ratio than I would otherwise, could this be part of the issue?

ScottTeaMan

I should be more precise when I steep goggfu style- sometime I use too much, sometimes not enuff. What I mean is that I tend to use less leaf than most people.

Dinosara

That may have been a problem with this tea (although it’s the same tea:ratio as Naivetea recommended), but with the other oolongs my pot has been bursting with oolong after steeping so I couldn’t add too much more! I’ll definitely be playing around with the parameters.

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91

This is the third tea I bought at Maliandao in Beijing, at the same tea shop where I picked up the Tan Yang Gongfu. I guess I am in kind of a jasminey mood so I am having a cup of this brewed western style instead of gong fu as I had it when I first tasted it in the shop.

When I was tasting jasmine teas there, this was the mid-grade between the basic jasmine and the jasmine pearls. The jasmine pearls were tasty, but not super special… they tasted like lots of other jasmine pearls I’ve tried. So even though I went there thinking I was going to buy some pearls to bring home, I ended up with some jasmine green instead. I think this could probably be properly called jasmine silver needle as there are a lot of silver needles, along with jasmine petals and parts, in the mix. I would normally steep this at 180°F since it is a green tea, but having just followed Teavivre’s instructions to brew their jasmine silver needle at 195°F and reading Life in Teacup’s plea this morning not to brew greens very cool, I decided to keep this one at 195°F as well.

The resulting cup is very yellow, and smells so much like a full-blossom honeysuckle bush. I often find similarities between jasmine and honeysuckle, and I love honeysuckle qualities in a jasmine tea. Here, they are present in spades. And the taste! Better than a non-pearl jasmine has a right to be, or at least better than most non-pearl jasmines I’ve tried. So sweet, like drinking honeysuckle nectar. It even has a smooth, thick mouthfeel that seems like it should be more than only tea in the cup. As it cools, the green tea comes through more a little strongly, making me think that for western style I could drop the steep time to only a minute. Still, this is a super delicious tea.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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84

Honestly I don’t have a lot to say about this one right now because I had it with lunch so some of the nuances were lost and I wasn’t really paying attention to it. It was delicious, however, and a 1 minute steep definitely suited it with no loss of flavor. A nice, simpler jasmine to have than pearls.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 1 min, 0 sec
ScottTeaMan

Do you like this better than pearls Dsara? I find the Yin Hao to be less fragrant & it doesn’t multi steep as well. but it is still areally good Jasmine tea.

Dinosara

No, I definitely prefer pearls when I want a really jasminey tea, which is usually what I want when I want jasmine tea. :) I do enjoy having a less pungent jasmine green with a meal, though, and I wouldn’t have pearls for that. I did bring back a non-pearl jasmine green from China that I love as much as pearls, but it’s an exception to most things I’ve tried.

tigress_al

Is it as sweet as their jasmine pearls?

Dinosara

No, not as sweet as pearls… this one nice but not on the level of pearls when it comes to sweetness. Teavivre’s pearls are really good, though.

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73

Today is a two-tea kind of morning. I got this sample a while ago from TeaEqualsBliss, but I had put off trying it. For one, I thought it was a kukicha (it was the “twig” in the name), but it turns out it is not. I have enough for a cup, so I’m hoping I get this steeping right. I looked up directions for green tea on Life in Teacup’s site and have a decent idea I think. I am steeping it in my 12oz glass mug filled halfway (so about 6oz), just leaves in the cup, no strainer, leaving them in. The directions say that when the leaves fall to the bottom the tea is ready to drink, but then again I also read that this tea sinks to the bottom right away, so I don’t know exactly when to try it. I suppose when it’s cool enough for me!

The liquor is slightly darkening and the leaves are opening. It smells nutty and vegetal, with some lovely sweet notes, and the flavors are similar. Except now some bitterness is creeping in as it sits here still steeping in the mug. I have just a little liquid left, so I’m going to resteep as suggested. This steep is less vegetables, more grassy, with some other note I can’t place. With a name that includes “Orchid” I would normally expect some florals, but there are none to speak of here.

This is a fairly nice green tea, but I do feel like I’m not getting everything I could out of it. Maybe another time I will encounter this varietal again.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C

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70
drank SoHo Blend by Harney & Sons
1990 tasting notes

Thanks to SimplyJenW for sending me this sample, which was a while ago but I’m just now getting around to it. I was definitely interested in this blend when it came out because I love chocolate, and I love coconut, and I often love them together. I tried this tea once before at the NY Coffee and Tea Festival, but it was actually horribly oversteeped and bitter. Now I get to try it under better circumstances!

The dry leaf is very pretty with all the pink flower buds in the mix, and it smells very chocolatey and coconutty. When steeped, it smells like a fairly classic chocolate/coconut blend. I’ve had a couple from different companies now, and they all have that melding of the two notes in the aroma. The difference between those blends and this one is the flavor. Wow, this is delicious! I guess I might have expected it because I love Harney’s coconut in the Royal Wedding blend. Sometimes chocolate/coconut teas can actually turn my stomach a bit for some reason (no idea why), but that is definitely not the case here. The flavor is sweet and oh-so-creamy. Chocolatey, coconutty, and balanced in such a way that neither flavor is dominent. I think the black base here is just adding to the body and richness because it doesn’t really stick out from the blend. Definitely enjoy this cup way more than the oversteeped sample I had at the CTF! Thanks again Jen!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec
ashmanra

This one is yummy! I gave a pound to my bestie for her birthday. We just happen to drink every time we get together. :D

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97

Going gong fu with this one this afternoon. Approximately following Verdant’s steeping directions, my little teapot is about 6oz, and I used a tablespoon of leaves which is about 5g. First steep (after a quick rinse) was about 10 seconds by the time all the liquid got poured out of the teapot. The liquor is very pale, barely changing the color of my light green ru teaware but it certainly smells good. Fresh and floral and buttery and very sweet. First steep is light, but very tasty. Damn, I love TGYs, and this is a beautiful one. So sweet, especially as it cools quickly in my tiny tea cup (probably one of my favorite things about gong fu brewing… I am always waiting for my tea to cool because I prefer it warm but not hot). Orchidy florals, but not perfumy in any way, and with wonderful honeysuckle/honey notes.

Second steeping, 15 seconds. The color has deepened considerably. This time the sweet buttery floral aromas are joined by a leafy greenness. This time I definitely pick up the saffron notes mentioned in the description. Still sweet, but more robust. The florals are a bit darker. Third steeping, 20 seconds, is very similar to the second. I really have to let this steep cool way down before I really enjoy it, because while hot it lacks the florals and sweetness and honey qualities. My subsequent (4th and 5th) steepings all added 10 seconds in time and were all very similar to these steepings, like the tea hit a note and just kept sticking there. Even a sixth steep which jumped to 90 seconds showed little variation. While the are all pretty tasty, they all seem a bit weak and none of them are as interesting and outstanding as that first, rapturous steep, which makes me think that maybe I need to use a tad more leaf to start, or keep my steeping times really short throughout the first steepings, or both.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C
Spoonvonstup

Oo.. you still have some of last spring left? I’ve got basically two sessions that saved through the winter. Now that the new stuff is in, I guess I don’t have a reason to hoard anymore. I will have to compare with your one-year-later experience!

Dinosara

Yup… just about another session left, I think, and then I’m out. I want to try the new stuff but I still have a fair amount of the autumn harvest to work though too!

DaisyChubb

You inspired me! I’m drinking autumn right now, but I think I favour the 2011 spring picking over the autumn :)

Dinosara

I need to try the autumn gong fu! I like them both so much.

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65
drank Thé au Tibet by Mariage Frères
1990 tasting notes

Trying this one again today since it’s been a long time since I’ve had it and I just tried a similar Thé des Moines by Le Palais des Thés. I think the main difference here is the addition of rose petals to this one, which I am certain that the LPdT blend does not have. I steeped this one the same way as the LPdT blend, which happens to be the recommended time and temp for this tea as well even though it’s a little hotter than I would normally brew a black/green blend.

Oh vanilla and jasmine, you are so not a combo that is good to me, and it’s not getting any better. It just smells… weird and unpleasant to me. I can’t place it. However! The flavor on this one is pretty nice, at least when it’s hot. It surprised me! There is a hint of sweetness, even, and the vanilla and jasmine tend to spend their time apart more, though there is some of that weirdness I dislike. But then, it’s cooling, and… bleh. Very similar to the LPdT blend. Better because it still seems smoother, but very very similar, and thus not my style.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec
TeaBrat

hmmm. don’t think I need to try this!

Dinosara

Yeah if you’ve tried the Le Palais des Thes version then you don’t really need to since they’re so similar!

TeaBrat

What would you suggest trying from Mariage Freres aside from Marco Polo?

Dinosara

Hmm, I don’t think I’m the best person to ask because I haven’t tried a ton but the ones I have tried I haven’t liked all that much. There is something about the base tea they use in some of their blends that I dislike but some others don’t even seem to taste (?)… it’s weird.

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70

Third and last Monk’s Blend tea of the morning. This one again smells just like the other two (Thé des Moines from Le Palais des Thés and Thé au Tibet by Mariage Freres), but it’s smoother even than the MF blend. Actually I think this has to do with some general weakness that seems to be in the brew. It’s not super powerfully flavored on any account, which works for me since I’m not in a rush to find the jasmine and vanilla flavors together. For me, this is the most pleasant of the three because it is more lightly flavored. I get a slight sweetness from the vanilla, I get a citrusy note from the bergamot, and a kind of herby jasmine but the notes are strong enough to conflict as much as with the other blends.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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Bio

I am tea obsessed, with the stash to match. I tend to really enjoy green oolongs, Chinese blacks, and flavored teas with high quality bases, especially florals, bergamot-based teas, and chocolate teas.

In my free time I am a birder, baker, and music/movie/tv addict.

Here are my rating categories, FYI:
100-90: Mind-blowingly good, just right for my palate, and teas that just take me to a happy place.
89-86: I really really like these teas and will keep most of them in the permanent collection, but they’re not quite as spectacular as the top category
85-80: Pretty tasty teas that I enjoy well enough, but definitely won’t rebuy when I run out.
79-70: Teas that I would probably drink again, but only if there were no preferrable options.
69-50: Teas that I don’t really enjoy all that much and wouldn’t drink another cup of.
49 and below: Mega yuck. This tea is just disgusting to me.
Unrated: Usually I feel unqualified to rate these teas because they are types of teas that I tend to not like in general. Sometimes user error or tea brewed under poor conditions.

Location

Ohio, US

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