103 Tasting Notes

97

Rainy day in Miami. Hot and steamy outside, cool and comfortable inside. Time to brew up my sample of 2006 Artisan Revival Stone-Pressed Shang…

Beautiful leaves with a lovely aroma. First leaves I pull out are a bud and two leaves—open and full; a good sign. Gaiwan gets loaded up, leaves rinsed, then a three minute steep at about 200 degrees.

Clear golden amber liquor. Smooth, sweet, woodsy and a lingering earthiness. Hmm, and an extra aroma of what… flowers in a forest? This tea is good… seriously good. In fact, I turned off the TV to really focus on my second steep.

There is that aroma again. Alluring and sensual. Taste? Even better! Same smooth woodsy earthiness, with just a hint of dryness, like fresh hay. It looks as if I am going to write one of those over the top reviews… for a tea I just met. I would write more, but I think it is time to go back for a third steep. :)

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec
Nathaniel Gruber

Yeah, it is a really, really amazing tea…and that is why it is the top ranked tea on Steepster!

A three minute steep time! That is something that I’ve never tried with this particular tea, and now that you’ve mentioned it I am going to have to try that out.

David Duckler

Nathaniel, you will have to let me know how your three minute steep goes. The Xingyang family workshop recommended 2 minutes, even in a small Gaiwan or Yixing for their pu’er, so why not this one? It is a good test of quality.

When I got this in, the woman who provides it in China told me that she took some liberties with my order. I had ordered an incredible stone-pressed brick, and was skeptical of any other, but when I tried this, I felt like I must have been in trouble, because it was too good. It took my wife to stop me from putting this on in private pu’er storage. I very glad that she did! More bricks of this one are on their way right now from southern Yunnan to exotic Minnesota where we are based.

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85

The aroma of corn (or buttered popcorn, as another reviewer mentions) is almost overwhelming on the first steep of this puerh. I have to say that I much more enjoyed the multiple steeps that followed, where the taste of the tea could actually compete with the aroma!

It is earthy, light and a delight to experience. It was really appropriate on the Fourth of July, as there was no roasted corn on my table. There is a roasted corn drink that is made in Korea, and I wonder if it tastes anything like this? Definitely could not be as good as this wonderful tea…

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 2 min, 0 sec
Nathaniel Gruber

I totally agree that the aroma can be overwhelming at first. I think it is amazing that the flavor and aroma of corn is coming simply from a tea leaf! Such a unique tea…one which took me a very long time to really appreciate, and I’m still learning to appreciate it more all of the time.

David Duckler

This tea was too weird to resist! The first batch that I tried was so corny that I couldn’t bring it in, but this one seemed to be a great balance, and definitely a good illustration of how the flavor of a tea changes over multiple steepings. Tea is just THE coolest thing ever…

E Alexander Gerster

This IS one wild and crazy Tea! And it is done without mixing the tea with any novelty items or flavors. I had fun with this one, and will continue to have fun off the rest of my mini tuos. Thanks for keeping me smiling!

E Alexander Gerster

There is an herb in the southern Yunnan called Nuo Mi Xiang, or Nuo Mi Xiang Nen Ye, which is apparently used by the Dai people to cool down during the hot humid days. I think it is used in some puerh teas to give it a “glutinous rice” aroma — which to me smells more like popcorn. I wonder if it is used in this tea? There do appear to be more than two types of leaf in these — and they are still truly fascinating an delicious!

David Duckler

Very interesting. I will ask about it next time I talk to the grower. I know “nuomixiang” as “sticky rice aroma,” a common profile used to describe certain pu’ers. I didn’t know that there is a plant by its name as well. It does look like there is a lighter leaf involved. Whether it is a mix of two cultivars, or two different species, I will have to double check. I have seen actual rice in tuocha before, and rose petals. Thanks for the lead on this. I am glad you are enjoying it!

David Duckler

Alright, what I found out so far is that the leaves of the rice plant are picked and used for tea scenting. Sometimes a few leaves are left in after the scenting process. Scenting can also occur while the tea is still on the plant and growing, in the case of this pu’er, which absorbs the aroma of the corn that the farmers use to fertilize it, or Laoshan green which absorbs soybeans. It is possible that some rice leaf was added to bring out the natural corn aroma by giving it an earthy-grainy base.

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82

There are many cheap Darjeeling teas out there, but I doubt you will find one this good at this price. I picked up 10 ounces for less that $5 at my local Indian Grocery, and was pleasantly surprised. Good flavor and just the right hint of muscatel in the very pleasant aroma. The tea leaves are not the highest quality, but what a value for the price of a loose leaf Darjeeling.

A good tea to pair with an Indian meal. I should mention that you should never steep this tea for more than 3 minutes. The tin says steep for 5 to 7 minutes, but this will be a bitter brew that looses any of the delicate nuances. Maybe it is this way for their Russian clientele who use this more in a samovar — and thin the tea as needed.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 45 sec

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95

Yesterday I received my first shipment of tea from Verdant Tea, and I feel like the proverbial kid in a candy store! I quickly took a good look and smell of all the contents, and tried a pu’erh that I will review later. I saved this Laoshan Northern Green to start my day, and have to tell you that I absolutely love it. Beautiful aroma, rich and comforting.

If you like Chinese green teas like Huang Shan Mao Fen, LongJing, or Tai Ping Hou Kui — then you will probably enjoy this solid northern green as much as I do. This morning I tried it in three steepings, loading up my Korean infuser cup (from Rishi). Soft, rich, earthy, vegetal and a bit of mossy character coming out on the last steep. And if you seek out what true ‘cha qi’ is, you might just find it in this cup. :)

Thank you David for importing such a wonderful tea!

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 30 sec

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94

Talk about a nice oolong. I enjoy the sweet grass note from this autumn tea, where the faint floral fragrance is mostly like orchids. From the first steeping you can tell these are premium leaves, prepared with care. Through multiple infusions, you take a journey of tremendous gratitude. I was truly lucky to receive 50 grams of this tea as a gift, but now that it is gone… I guess it is time to check out Yunnan Sourcing’s website. :)

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 2 min, 30 sec

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54

I love a good mug of Ceylon black tea, and waited to try this out on a rainy day… but the “Sonata” was not what I had hoped for. Perhaps the tea-meister was having a bad day when he blended this batch. Brisk? Oh-yeah, and how! But perhaps the sample bag was old, or ?? Tried two infusions, then made the rest into a pretty good iced tea. If you are looking for Lipton in a loose tea format, then this might be the one for you.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 30 sec

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79

As a regular drinker of Maeda-en’s Genmai-cha, I was happily surprised by Adagio Tea’s version. The first thing you notice out of the bag is that it has a much sweeter aroma, and the sencha green is of a much deeper hue (higher grade sencha?). The first steep has an almost overwhelming aroma of roasted rice and popcorn, which subsides quickly so that you catch a bit more of the vegetal green. Nice!

Now the true test for me is the second steep, which I enjoy even more. True to form, the sencha flavor comes forward, and there is a freshness which I never find in the Maeda-en teas. There is a nice balance here, and I am beginning to think this will become the new staple in my cupboard… The Adagio Genmai Cha is about double the price of Maeda-en, but I think life is much more about quality than quantity, especially in tea!

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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71

Maeda-en Gold Genmai-cha has been a staple in my cupboard for most of my adult life, and is an all time favorite. I like it in the evening, when I am just winding down, and is one of my favorites to drink when eating light Asian foods. Veggie Sushi, brown rice and veggies or a simple mushroom soup go well with this tea. In fact, pouring this over a bowl of rice and veggies makes for one satisfying meal. Real comfort food.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 15 sec

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91

Having just opened my Black Tea Sampler from Rishi Teas, this was the first tasting out of the group. I am a big fan of Yunnan teas and brewed this with trepidation, a bit of taster’s skepticism – and a big dollop of hope. I was very pleased! Nice robust flavor, with that distinct malty aroma. No acidity and a wonderful caramel finish. This is a tea of exceptional quality and is organic and fair trade certified as well.

This tea is also gorgeous to look at and to smell coming fresh from the bag. Totally different scent when dry, reminding me of walking into a tobacco store (in a good way). I wonder if I can make up some kind of device to hang around my neck so I can sniff at this tea all day! :)

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 45 sec

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It is so sad that specialTeas.com was taken over by Teavana… now this blend (called Almond Biscotti Black) is more than double the price.

Winter Salo

It’s so sad when tea goes up without a good reason – I understand when certain tea is harder to get or make because of particular ingredients but when it’s that a company comes in or the same company just raises the price it can make an otherwise wonderful tea suddenly taste just a little less nice.

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Bio

I have been drinking tea for most of my life, and enjoy learning about Tea Culture from all around the world. I learned early about Russian and British traditions first, since my parents came from Europe, followed by the teas and culture of Ceylon/Sri Lanka and India. Since I have been a practicing Buddhist for the better part of 25 years, I have strong ties to Asia, and have slowly been learning about the teas from each part of the world I encounter. It is a wonderful and interesting journey.

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Raleigh, North Carolina, United States

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