2006 Tasting Notes
Well, I’ve been reduced to boiling water in the microwave. With a Dammann sachet, which is crazy. Man can you tell the difference. Years ago, before I was actually “into” tea, I used to boil water in the microwave at work and steep my teabags in them. These days I’ve always wondered how I was able to stand such bitter, yucky tea, but now I realize that microwaved water totally neutralizes any tea you put in it. I brought a bunch of Dammann sachets with me but it’s totally not worth using them in this, because while there are still hints of how good they are, it’s basically a waste. Oh well, if only North American hotels all had electric kettles like Asian hotels!
Oh hai, Canadians, I’m in ur country, drinkin’ ur tea. Ok, so this isn’t really Canadian tea, but it was possibly the tea shop closest to the Calgary Airport, and since I was just flying in to drive out into the boonies, I needed a quick fix. I saw on the website that they had rose milk tea at the shop and decided I had to go. It took me a bit to find it because the tea shop was actually inside a huge asian grocery. But eventually, success!
This was a really tasty rose milk tea. Most of the time with these you can’t really taste the “tea” base but the important part to me was the rose, and that was of course in evidence. The boba were a little too soft, which was my main complaint. Otherwise, I loved it. Gotta find a way to make rose milk teas on my own. The ones I’ve had all seem to use a thick rose syrup/jelly type thing with rose petals in it for the flavoring.
On the road again. This morning I woke up far, far too early to go to an airport far too far away. I bougt a cup of hot water at a cafe but decided to forgo their lackluster teabag selection. I packed a variety of sachets for this trip, and fortunately its a short one. When I was getting them together I found that I had three more sachets of this one left… I thought I was either out or down to the last one. It’s been a long time since I’ve had this tea, and I miss it! So delicious.
Gong fu oolong of the day. I am following Naivetea’s instructions exactly for this one, including amount of leaf for my 6oz pot since they are explicit on that point.
No rinse, first steep 50 seconds. It certainly smells nice, floral and buttery and a bit vegetal. Geez, apparently I can’t take a sip today without inhaling tea along with it! I just did it twice in a row. Bah. Ok, finally got a good sip. It’s fresh and green, like fresh sweet sugar snap peas. There are a little florals, but they’re not really very present. No sweetness, really just a pleasant green flavor.
Second steep, 40 seconds. Honestly, this steep is kind of meh. Very underwhelming. At once low on flavor but what is there is strongly vegetal. It’s tempting to give up on it right now, but I remember what happened with the last Naivetea oolong I gong fu’d (I got great steeps toward the end). I’m afraid the third steep, back to 50 seconds, is the same way. Fourth steep, 60 seconds, weaker but otherwise same. I’m afraid there doesn’t really seem to be anything more coming out of these leaves. Fifth steep, 70 seconds, same.
I’m not really dropping my score on this one because I did like the western style steep of it back when I first tried it. But following the instructions they sent exactly? A big ol’ meh. Even the first steep wasn’t really that impressive. Oh well.
I have a recent new appreciation for unflavored black teas, especially Fujians, so I decided to revisit this one, which was a sizeable sample from JacquelineM a while ago. I still have enough in the tin for another cup after this one, even!
Mm, I definitely appreciate this one more than I did the first time I had it. I’ve really come to love those Fujian flavors. This one has lots of those caramel, honey, bready notes. I like this a lot. I tell you, I never thought I would get into unflavored black teas because they didn’t really appeal to me, but I am definitely enjoying them now. Of course, that usually means that suddenly I need to try all the different kinds, like when I first got into oolongs.
Ugh, computer problems. It is annoying that probably my whole day will be taken up trying to fix and repair things. I need a comforting tea, and preferably one that helps me bust my sample stash. This fits the bill, as I only have a little of it left after this cup. Probably only enough to throw in a cold-steep blend.
I recently discovered some local-ish black currant juice in my grocery store, which was very exciting as I love black currant but it’s not a common thing here in the states. So I guess it’s kind of a black curranty day since I’m having this tea after I had my black currant juice with breakfast. Mmm, there is something just so utterly comforting about black currant (and thus this tea) to me, which is funny because it’s not like it’s a flavor from my childhood. But it is delicious.
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!
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.
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!
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.