1914 Tasting Notes
Nope. Shengs still not for me. I have to say, I do get a bit of crisp, fruity pear from this, although perhaps unripe pear there is no sweetness. Like perhaps an extremely dry white wine, except I like dry white wines. :P Slightly bitter and astringent, but the sharpness is followed by a remarkable smoothness. A tea of extremes, I guess. It’s like the woods in the spring, but not pine woods like many shengs I’ve had. Deciduous woods with the first buds coming out. An interesting tea.
Sipdown, 127. I have a huge pile of shengs to sipdown from the reserve club, but I decided to start out with this tea, which I discovered was also sipdownable.
Mmmm, fujian black tea. Lovely. I realized that I have only had this tea western style for some reason, but today it’s gongfu time. I drank my rinse because it was quite dark and I couldn’t just throw it away. It was sweet and malty, with notes of sweet potato and a hint of pepper. The second steep was much more robust, with quite a kick underneath that honeyed breadiness. I might have let it go a few seconds too long for my taste, but it’s still really good. The other day I was eating at a brewery and they were brewing a beer at the time, and there was an intense smell of the malty boiling mash. This kind of reminds me of that. Third steep was smoother and sweeter, back to a nice malty black tea. So glad to have gotten the opportunity to savor this tea.
I have been waiting to try this one in part because I’m not a huge chai person, and I wanted to have it at home (as opposed to work) where I have the ability to add milk and sugar, which is how I usually drink chai if I drink it.
Working from home today, so I am hoping to get through a number of sipdowns and such. Unfortunately, I have just realized that I just used the last of milk on cereal this morning, so no milk. Ah well.
I tried it plain first, and I was pleased that it wasn’t an overly spicy or clovey chai. I mean, it is clovey, but not crazy clovey like some chais. The spice blend seems balanced. But as I have found with the other African teas, there is a bit of astringency. I put in a little sugar to smooth that out, and it seems to have worked. I think this would be a really lovely chai if brewed in a traditional chai fashion, even if it’s not a super traditional chai. I have enough of my sample to try that when I do get some milk, so perhaps this weekend.
Thanks again to JusTea for this sample, and as a reminder their crowdfunding campaign is on now at http://www.justea.com
Wow there was about 15 minutes there where the Steepster discussion boards were totally overtaken by spam. But it’s gone now!
So I’ve had this tea for a little while now, and I got it in a swap with IrishBreakfastLass. Thanks! At first I didn’t try it because it wasn’t “seasonal”, but then I didn’t try it because it didn’t seem that awesome. Lots of CTC leaf, and a kind of lackluster scent of the dry leaf. But I figured I should get around to tasting it sooner or later.
Yeah, lackluster smell of the brewed tea, too. It smells like the kind of gross CTC tea that I hate, along with some cinnamon. It doesn’t taste gross, but it also doesn’t really taste good. Kind of like the Butiki Pumpkin Creme Brulee tea I had earlier this week, this one tastes like not much at all anymore. Maybe like musty cinnamon. I wonder if pumpkin flavoring disappears faster than others? There is maybe a bit more to this one, though, and I wonder if I could force some flavor out of it by brewing it super strong then adding milk and sugar. Well, it goes home, and if it still sucks, it will meet the trash can!
I don’t even know what to do with this tea. I tried it cold brewed—again—and this time it was drinkable, but not really good. I guess I can try swapping it; based on what I’ve tried from other companies and how other people have reacted to them, I would guess that this might be tasty to some people. It’s not dissimilar to 52teas Black Currant Bai Mu Dan or Earl Black… that’s the type of flavoring. Just not my thing.
Just kidding, I wasn’t done with Gande Tieguanyins yet. I forgot I had this one, which I brought back with me from Beijing. This is a somewhat older tea, but it’s been in vacuum sealed pouches all this time, so I think it should be fine.
Immediately this tea smells greener and leafier. This one has definite spinach notes in amongst the florals, which present but somehow more plant-like and less frilly. The texture is nice and smooth, but it doesn’t have as much of the straight up butter notes. It’s also one of the few I have that actually has slight fruity/apricot notes, and a real tang to it. It has a hint of sweetness, but it’s moderated by the tanginess and the vegetal notes. I love how these TGYs are all different in subtle ways, but I love them all.
This is the fourth and final Gande (green, unroasted, unaged) TGY that I have in my possession currently. There is actually a fair amount of this on sale right now on Verdant’s site, and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t thinking about ordering more.
It is a lovely TGY. Like the Early Spring Picking (also Master Zhang’s), this one has heavy lilac notes. But I would say that this one is thicker and creamier than the Early Spring Picking. SUPER sweet. Sweet cream butter, for sure. It is the sweetest TGY that I have right now. Which of course means I love it. I want more but my cup is empty.
And here’s the autumn picking. I had this a bit earlier this afternoon but I was working and didn’t get around to writing a note at the time.
So yeah, I have no idea at this point if I prefer spring or autumn TGYs, or what. At one point I thought I preferred autumn, then I convinced myself it was spring. But this was perhaps my favorite TGY of the day. It was darker, richer. Love the saffron notes from this one, which remind me how David will often accentuate those notes with added saffron in blends. More like brown butter than sweet cream. Yum. I think basically I have to give up and say that I love really good TGY, and enjoy exploring it every season.
So my desire to try my TGYs back to back was strong enough to brew this one up this afternoon. Might even bust into the Autumn Picking later, although the reserve club oolongs are at home.
There is a desire to hoard teas like this because they are so valuable and once they’re gone, they’re gone. But really, when you think about it, that’s not really the case. Yes, this particular tea will be gone, but there will be another picking next year, and exploring them year to year is a much better way to think about your teas. Anyway, that’s just my philosophical musings for the day.
I actually think I prefer the Early Picking TGY to this one, even though this is the higher grade tea. This one is slightly less floral in the immediate sip, although the florals are certainly present in the aftertaste. There is less creaminess to this one, more greenness. Slightly less buttery. Although all of those things are certainly present in this tea to an amazing amount, so that’s not to say that this is lacking in those qualities. Just that the Early Spring Picking has that much more of those qualities. I’m interested to keep sipping through some of these TGYs that I have, since I have quite a few!
Sipdooooown! 128. Now I only have one more GTC tea to get through. A triumph! I’ve been cold brewing this one, and it was tolerable, but not great. Fakey flavoring on mediocre tea base, no thanks. I think I can say that I have certainly learned my lesson about ordering indiscriminantly from tea companies just because I get a deal.