97 Tasting Notes
So I finally ordered from Upton Tea Imports, mostly a batch of samples priced from $1 to $1.50. Their shipping is very inexpensive, and Alex Z at RateTea.net has given good marks for many of their teas. This one intrigued me, and is the first I tried.
The aroma of both the dry and wet leaves is amazingly more like a very green oolong. The flavor is also like a fall oolong, with hints of smoke, sweet grass, and a light fruity aftertaste. Yet this is a green, and carries a bit of astringency and freshness as well. A very pleasant tea, and one I look forward to spending more time sipping.
Once again started my day with this fascinating green tea. It brews so perfectly in my Koryo (Korean) celadon infuser cup, warming my hands and warming my soul. I went back to review my previous tasting notes on this one and it continues to amaze me that it fuses some of the best qualities of Dragonwell/Longjing with the Gyokuro and Laoshan green flavors and aromas. I had a second steep an hour after the first, putting me in a good mindset to make it through another day! :)
When this arrived in my December box o’ teas from Verdant, I was really smiling. I love ginger, I love Thai food, and the blend of ingredients sounded just fantastic. I didn’t have a chance to try it right away, but after a day of sniffles and sore throat thought this would be the “cat’s whiskers.” And it certainly was! Energizing, warm and cozy — and I haven’t even had a chance to try it blended with tea.
A quick side note. Growing up in Miami, we had lots of ginger growing all around. It was brought from Asia to the Caribbean and is a mainstay in the cuisine and drinks. My friends from Jamaica and Trinidad always had homemade ginger beer and ginger ale. Galangal, which makes up a large portion of this blend, tastes similar to ginger, but has a more pronounced peppery flavor, and less of the ginger “heat” or “bite.”
The fennel, saffron and burdock were ingredients I had never tried with ginger or galangal, and they add so much to the brew. In fact, they add an aroma that is not unlike Thai Pandan tea…hmmm, could this have influenced the naming of this blend?
This week I have had this blend hot, cold, and room temperature — mostly without sweetener, but once with just a little honey (yum). I have not found a way in which I did not enjoy it! In fact, I used a bit of the leftover tea to flavor some steamed rice and callaloo stew. I am sure it is going to pair nicely with black tea or pu’er too.
Every year I get a special gift around the holidays, passed on to me by a friend or family member, and best known as the common cold. Ugh! It messes with my ability to appreciate the taste and aroma of my beloved teas, and makes me quite grumpy. This year, I have found two teas that not only make me feel better, but woke up my taste buds again and make me feel alive again… Verdant teas Thai Ginger Fire, and this wonderful Laoshan Village Chai.
The base to this brew is a great tea in it’s own right, and the pairing with these spices is truly artful. I have never heard of saffron or burdock in chai, and it gives extra special layers of flavor and aroma. I have been brewing this using an infuser in a glass tea mug, and didn’t add anything the first time around. I kept inhaling the steam, and sipping the tea, and could feel the good energy seeping into my body. By the second steep, breathing easier and sore throat soothed, I added a touch of really dark local honey. Nice! :)
I will eventually try this with some soy or almond milk, but for now I am just absorbing the flavors and aroma — enjoying this fabulous blend.
Oh My… I’ve been spending the past hour brewing multiple infusions of a little sample bag that was included with my first order from Mandala Tea. It said simply, “Milk Oolong” so I really had no idea what joy was in store. I had not read anything about it, had simply eyed the nice dark green rolled leaves, smelled the aroma of sweet grass, and thought I would use my little 100 ml glass oolong pot to do a quick tasting.
1st steep: quick 5 second rinse of the leaves, followed by 205 F water for 25 seconds. Nice Green/Gold infusion. Aroma is pure melted butter, with just a hint of coconut. Wow! Not super sweet, but just a pleasing creamy feeling in my mouth. And an aftertaste of passion fruit?
Ok, I am fascinated. I go for a second steep, thinking this is just a really nice Taiwan style oolong.
2nd steep: 205 F for 40 seconds. Big change! The color is now pure gold, no green. Aroma: butter, coconut and a hint more of floral tones. The flavor is even more intense. There is still that buttery creaminess, but the coconut is even more prominent, and I definitely taste tropical fruits at the sides of my mouth.
I am so impressed, I go to Mandala tea’s website to see what it is I am drinking. Sure enough, this is one great quality tea, and the flavor profiles match pretty close to what I was tasting. I start looking for the other flavors described in the next few steepings, and I have to say I am really pleased. This one is definitely going on my shopping list!
I have never had a White Peony Tea from Yunnan province, only from Fujian, so I was very interested in trying this version from Mandala Tea. Bai Mu Dan has a ratio of two leaves to one bud and so is more full-bodied than Silver Needle; and this particular batch has a wonderful depth of flavor and some unexpected pleasantness, but I get ahead of myself.
It has been very warm here, typical for December in Miami and I needed something light to brighten my spirits. I brewed this up in my glass gaiwan so that I could enjoy the beauty of the leaves and pale color of the brew. Approximately 5 grams or 1 heaping teaspoon in a 150ml (5 ounce) gaiwan.
1st steep: Spring water at 170 F for 90 seconds. (slightly longer than recommended) Very pale color, slight aroma of oak, wonderful light flavor that seems to be a combination of hazelnut, oak and vanilla. Subtle, complex and very refreshing!
2nd steep: Spring water at 170 F for 90 seconds.
Slightly more intense color and aroma. Flavors have deepened and lean more toward the woodiness, but with a surprising sweetness and flavor of dried apricot. You really get the terrior of Spring in Yunnan.
3rd steep: Surprise! Most White teas can’t yield much from a third steeping, but these leaves just keep on giving. This time I did 2 minutes with 185 F water, and the brew was really nice. Smooth, slightly sweet and still nice flavor. Just to try, I steeped the leaves one more time with a pinch of dried osmanthus flowers. Still nice!
One of the nicest things about this Bai Mu Dan is that it doesn’t have the slightly bitter bamboo flavor that so many of the others have. A really nice treat!
If you enjoy green tea, then this is a very good “sheng” or “raw” pu-erh tea to introduce you to the complexity to be found in this type of tea. It is wonderfully aromatic, astringent, slightly bitter, and very complex. The flavors in the initial steepings are a combination of freshly turned soil, fresh hay, with light camphorous aspects and only a hint of floral notes in the background.
After 3 short steepings of approximately 30 to 45 seconds each, the next few take on aspects with more sweetness and hints of dried fruit. What a nice journey! :)
I ordered a 25 gram sample through Yunnan Sourcing’s new US website (http://www.yunnansourcing.us), along with two other organic sheng pu-erhs so I will be sharing further notes when I try this tea head to head with the others over the next week.
Yesterday afternoon I had a really pleasant time exploring the nuances of this Osmanthus Oolong from Mandala Tea. I know that I have professed my love of all things Osmanthus in other postings, and was looking forward to trying this version from Mandala. It certainly did not disappoint, and I look forward to brewing this in different fashions over the next few weeks.
I brewed using the parameters recommended, gong fu style but in my little 100ml glass oolong pot, so that I could observe the leaves and concentrate the flavors. The dry aroma gives only a faint hint of floral scent, both of oolong and osmanthus. The pale infusion brings out a stronger aroma, and the flavor is quite distinctive. Complex, yet subtle and light. The sweetness of Anxi oolong tempered by the dry champagne tones of osmanthus in the background.
In subsequent steepings, my little pot becomes quite full of the expanded leaves, which are quite beautiful to see. The full leaves show the light oxidation, which release their flavor quickly and show the care with which they were grown, harvested and processed. It truly is an interesting journey reminiscent of walks in a sunny garden. Does the subtle osmanthus flavor come from just the tea leaves alone, or do they somehow infuse the flavor? A very interesting and enjoyable tea!
I was a little fuzzy headed this morning after a night of tossing and turning, so instead of having my morning green tea I thought I would start the day with a kick. Breakfast Tea sounded like what I needed, but my tin of Scottish Blend was empty. Hmm, good opportunity to try the Verdant Tea Imperial Breakfast for the first time.
The aroma of the dry leaves, fresh from the bag, are truly intoxicating. Mostly Laoshan Northern Black, with a touch of the big leaves of Yunnan and a bare hint of oolong. After 4 minutes of steeping, the color of the tea is not very dark, but the aroma is amazing and I can’t wait any longer.
The first taste is the wonderful fruity cocoa flavor of the Northern Black and an aftertaste of the golden Yunnan. Smooooth! The pu’erh and oolong are playing a game of tag on the back of my tongue bringing a full body and woodsy roundness. My mind is searching for some kind of jolt that usually comes with Breakfast Blends, but instead there is just the slow, steady unfolding of warm flavors. Very nice! It is like awakening from a deep slumber from the sounds of the forest or pleasant music instead of the jarring sound of an alarm clock.
I did my meditation, prepared for the day, and now am enjoying another cup of this beautiful tea. The second steeping brings forth new adventures from the blend of teas. I think this is so much more than just for breakfast… I can drink this all day long. :)