107 Tasting Notes
I had been saving my sample of Kabuse Sencha this past month until I had a nice calm evening to really sit quietly and enjoy the flavors of this wonderful tea. The aroma of the dry leaves is phenomenal and I decided to use the Wazuka, or Southern Kyoto steeping technique which Obubu Tea describes in their brochure and on their website. My small kyusu teapot was used for all, after being warmed first and 5 grams of tea added.
1st (concentrated) steeping: Only 3 oz or 80 ml of 160F/70C spring water, for 1.5 minutes. Brews up a “sencha espresso” that is very sweet, nicely vegetal and tastes like spring. Aroma and after taste have just a hint of a savory character.
2nd through 4th steeping: Full 6 oz or 180 ml of spring water gradually increasing the temperature and time with each steeping. The flavor and aroma become less sweet, and more vegetal with almost no detectable bitterness or astringency. Very nice balance, and truly enjoyable.
The leaves are so tender and hydrated after steeping, that they can easily be eaten. I used mine to make “green rice” for dinner. Simply added the leaves to some pre-cooked brown rice with just a touch of soy sauce and a few green chives on top.
Amazingly well balanced for a single estate Ceylon tea. Nice combination of light astringency and full, round, sturdy character. It is much like a very good British Breakfast blend, with a taste of sunshine and humidity. From the distinct aroma, to the very last sip, this tea asserts itself as a true Ceylon tea. A nice tea to pair with hearty foods, or good buttery shortbread.
I was really leery of tasting this tea after the box arrived covered in dust and a dead bug between the inner bag and outer box. But my love of osmanthus, and curiosity got the better of me. I brewed a small gaiwan, and enjoyed it so much that it was soon followed by a large pot to share with a friend. Light, beautiful and really pleasant. A nice balance between the tea and the flowers. Like drinking dewdrops of honeysuckle nectar. Truly one of the best teas I have tasted from Samovar.
And BTW, customer service at Samovar online was fantastic. They responded quickly to emails and wanted to make sure an experience like this didn’t happen again, sending me samples of some of their other teas. Very friendly and very professional.
I received a black tea sampler from Samovar, and this Earl Grey sample was first up. I have had several very good teas from Samovar, and love Earl Grey, so I had high expectations since so many reviewers had listed this as one of their favorites. Unfortunately, I have to wonder what happened to my sample? It was bitter, nasty and tasted like perfume. No taste from the tea at all… and just a smell of alcohol and rotten oranges. As several of my other boxes of tea came covered in dust, I wonder if this sat so long in the warehouse that it went bad… Such a disappointment. :(
An interesting experiment today. In anticipation of a new package of fresh dried osmanthus flowers, expected to arrive from China in the next week or so, used my last pinch in my morning cup of Laoshan Northern Green. I was not sure what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised that the beany-vegetal tones of the green mixed really well with the honeysuckle sweetness of the o-flowers! A really nice end of summer treat. Of course summer here in Miami will stretch into December, but technically still, summer is over.
This is a real classic Yunnan tea. Rich and savory flavor, with a slight cocoa powder finish. Earthy and spicy and soft, smooth, creamy mouthfeel and finish. Adagio has a variety of Yunnan teas, some that are higher rated and higher priced, but this is probably my favorite. It is beautiful to see the mixture of gold and black leaves, and the aroma of dry leaves, wet leaves and liquor are all quite nice. Just a touch of peppery flavor and it brews up well in a teapot, gaiwan or gong fu style. A really nice experience for newcomers to loose and/or Yunnan teas.
A very good Wuyi Mountain Oolong. This is the “Mama Bear” of the Wuyi Mountain Oolongs I tried from China Cha Dao. Not too smokey, not too sweet, but just right. Enough complexity to keep me interested through several steepings. It is distinctive in it’s aroma, and does not overwhelm you as some can. One note, this tea really depends on having good water that is not hard, best with bottled spring water (soft).
This new offering by Adagio Teas is very similar to their Jade Snail Tea and both appear to be varieties of Bi Luo Chun (Pi Luo Chun). This is a very delicate tea and is better if left to steep at a lower temperature, and for less duration that recommended by Adagio. Complex, crisp and a great pleasure to drink.
1st infusion: 1 tsp. for 6 ounces water, 170 F, 1.5 minutes.
Slightly sweet and fruity aroma and flavor. Nice gold/green color. Lingering toasty taste, probably from pan firing the leaves.
2nd infusion: 180 F, 1.5 minutes.
Sweetness continues with flavors ranging toward a spring oolong. Very slight grassiness in the background.
3rd infusion: 185 F, 2 minutes.
Color has become more gold than green. Definite taste of spring continues. very nice!
There is something so warm and pleasing about this Yunnan tea. All week, while I was battling migraine headaches and various aches, this was the tea I was craving. It has a great cha-qi (energy) that comes from these big leaves and golden buds. Sweet yet malty with a nice robust flavor and aroma that lingers on and on. This is definitely “comfort in a cup.”
Another interesting combination from Rishi Tea blending organic ginger and pu’erh tea. Not something I would normally look for, even though I enjoy good pu’erh tea and ginger tea as well (especially from fresh ginger). However, it was part of a sampler pack I had purchased and I thought I would give it a try.
Their brewing parameters of 5-6 minutes were a disaster on my first attempt, making a truly undrinkable brew—but when I shortened the time to 3 minutes, at 195 degrees F, it brews up to a really tasty concoction. Dark and earthy, predominantly ginger flavor but with a distinct pu’erh taste supporting. I was amazed to get three nice infusions this way with enough left over to try iced. Mmmm. You have to really like ginger to enjoy this (duh!) and try out the brewing parameters to find a taste that suits you. If the ginger is too prominent, try a second infusion where it tones down a bit.