119 Tasting Notes
What a beautiful tea this Dragonwell Style Laoshan Green! The dry leaves look identical to the very high quality dragonwell (or longjing 龍井茶) teas that I have had the pleasure of drinking. Flat, pan fired and distinctly complete — not broken or crumbled. Truly worthy of pondering the long journey these leaves have made to make it into my cup.
The aroma is the first surprise. Not nutty like the longjing, but that distinct smell of the other Laoshan greens, combining the butter bean aroma with the slight scent of the ocean mists. When described as being somewhat like a Japanese gyokuro, I had my doubts, since gyokuro teas are not only shaded before harvest, but also come from different varieties of cultivars. I should have known better, since David has such a wonderfully developed palate and honesty which I have never seen hyped. You see, I love gyokuro, but my budget leaves it to being enjoyed on only the rarest of occasions!
So I brewed this at a lower temperature (140F/60C) and for just 90 seconds, and what a wonderful complex flavor from this perfectly translucent light green infusion. Sweetness, light grassy flavor and a touch of umami, a surprisingly complex green that is hard to categorize, yet truly enjoyable. It shares the characters of several well known tastes (gyokuro, longjing and Laoshan green) and comes up with a whole new flavor/aroma profile. Second infusion, was slightly higher temp, and only for 45 seconds, yielding a new profile that is even sweeter and lighter. More infusions coming, but I could not resist writing this tea experience up and sharing on Steepster…
This summer, I have been enjoying the Laoshan Northern Green from Verdant Teas, and have taken a real shine to its sugar snap pea flavor and nice light aroma. When my supply was out, I perused both Steepster and the Verdant Tea’s website, where I found some great videos about the farm, and a great description of this Early Summer Laoshan Green. I was intrigued, placed an order, and quickly received my package, filled with teas I can’t wait to experience and enjoy.
I loaded up my medium size glass gaiwan with 4 grams of tea, and did a quick steep of 175F water for 30 seconds (the website says 3 seconds, which seemed too short to my eye). Wow, what an interesting aroma! Somewhat like boiled peanuts or butterbeans – and a hint of saltwater sea spray. And the taste was just about the same. Very solid, sweet and possessing that bit of umami flavor that I have not experienced outside of Japanese green teas. It was so very good, that I followed the initial steep with 4 more, and then started to get a bit of bitterness. I left the leaves in cold water overnight, which cold brewed me just a tad more.
Today I am sipping on this tea once again. I haven’t even started any of the other teas I ordered, other than taken a good healthful whiff of the Artisan Revival puerh tea that David so generously included with my order (read my Steepster review of that one, for another fantastic tea). The only problem with this tea experience (I say with great sarcasm), is that I can’t get the lyrics out of my head:
Some people are fat, some people are lean
But I want you to show me the person
Who doesn’t like butterbeans
Well, you can have your yams
You can have your collard greens
But if you want to please little ol’ me
You better fix butterbeans
Anyone old enough to recognize this snippet from “Butterbean” by the B-52’s?
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!