98 Tasting Notes

51

This is the first time I’ve tried a yellow tea, and it’s funny, it’s exactly what I imagined it might be like—a cross between white and green tea. It has white tea’s mildness, its lightness, but there’s a slight grassiness (not in a bad way, and that’s a taste that usually puts me off.) I like it—a very refreshing tea somehow, although not I think destined to be a favorite.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 15 sec

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50

This was a more pleasant experience—preparing and drinking—then I had expected. I had heard all sorts of things about pu-erh and was rather intimidated when I received as a Christmas gift this cake of pressed tea inside a dried mandarin orange. I had never tasted pu-erh before, let alone prepared it, and expected it would be difficult just getting the tea out. It turned out to be easy. I sliced into the peel with a knife, and it turned out inside is just…tea—which I could pick out with my fingers.

I usually use an infuser—a rather roomy tea ball essentially but instructions I’d read said to make this loose in a pot. So that’s what I did. Also as instructed, I poured off the first steeping of 30 seconds (some sites say as little as 15 seconds for this step.) Some sites also say the next steeping should be only 30 seconds, but I went with the guide that suggested 3 minutes.

I expected something much darker, since I’m told pu-erh is the “real” black tea. (What we call “black” the Chinese call “red.”) But this is described as a green tea. Pu-erh is supposed to come in two varieties: ripened (shou) and raw (sheng) types. The Silk Road Tea site doesn’t specify which this is, but I assume since it’s green it’s the “raw” type?

My aunt and I quite liked it. I’ve heard all sorts of things about pu-erh. That it has for instance a “fishy” taste—which didn’t sound appealing. To me this one tasted like a really nice green tea, but without the grassy taste that puts me off. It’s somewhat oolong-ish to me. A bit of a woodsy note, and I think I can detect a bit of that mandarin orange, but so subtle is it I’m not sure it’s not my imagination. My aunt thought it a bit “flowery” but “very nice.” All in all a much more enjoyable tea than I expected.

(The second steeping at 3 minutes, 30 seconds was rather bitter.)

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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61

Having only gotten into fine loose leaf teas this year, I’ve avoided buying flavored teas while I’ve gotten acquainted, especially since I often share this with my aunt, and she prefers her tea unflavored. This tea was given me as a Christmas gift. It’s basically Earl Grey with vanilla. The Silk Road site says it’s a blend of Ceylon, Indian and China black teas with bergamot and vanilla. Maybe that’s why this tastes like dessert to me. A rich indulgence—I can really taste the vanilla and it really compliments this blend. I imagine this would partner well with milk, but I really don’t want to in any way hide the flavor. A real pleasure.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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46

The site doesn’t give a lot of information about the tea. Just that it comes from the Wuyi Mountains in Fujian Province. The leaves look curled up, reminiscent of tiegaunyin teas I’ve seen and it steeped up a dark yellow and tasted very much like Iron Goddess of Mercy. That’s an oolong I like, but not as much as Big Red Robe or Oriental Beauty especially given the mineral-y note to the tea.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 30 sec

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64

I’ve had Moroccan Tea before—and I’ve also had its base tea, Gunpowder China Green. I don’t care for Gunpowder tea—it’s too…flinty in taste for me. In general, I don’t care for unflavored Green tea at all—too vegetal, at least those I’ve tried. I do like Moroccan tea with its mix of gunpowder tea and spearmint. This one is a nice blend, with the mint very much there but not unduly dominant. It’s impossible at several months remove to really compare this with the other cup of this tea I had from Alice’s Tea Cup. Then though my impression was that while I wouldn’t turn down a cup, it wouldn’t be a tea I’d buy again. I find I like Moroccan tea more this time. I just had a second steeping and it was a lovely treat while recovering from a cold.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 15 sec

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29

The tin calls for 1 tsp per two cups of water “just before the boil” and steeping for 3 to 5 minutes. That just didn’t sound right to me, so poking around the net I decided to steep with water at around 176F—and I added about twice as much tea as called for. Despite that, this had the problem I’ve had with most white teas. It’s barely there. This is why I prefer (the more affordable) White Peony over the celebrated Silver Needle. As far as I’m concerned there is such a thing as too subtle. I think I can detect the muscatel taste of darjeeling here, but the taste is so faint I wonder if it’s my imagination. This isn’t as wimpy as Silver Needle or Snowbud, but I definitely prefer my tea stronger. It did strangely improve on a second steeping, with the flavor a bit more pronounced.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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63

Listed on the tin as ingredients are lemongrass, peppermint leaves—and seaweed. Given that last I didn’t think I’d like this at all. I haven’t liked the taste of seaweed when I’ve tried it, and the entire reason I haven’t liked the unflavored green teas I’ve had is because of a vegetal or seaweed like taste to them. However they blended this though, they did a wonderful job. Looking at the mix in the tin the lemongrass definitely predominates, and that citrusy/gingery taste is what’s most obvious in the brew, but the kick of peppermint is certainly there too. I can’t really detect the seaweed, though no doubt it makes its contribution. It’s light, soothing. I really liked this!

(Or rather I really loved the first steeping. I resteeped it for about 9 minutes and didn’t like the result at all—dumped half of it undrunk. On that second steeping I could really smell—and taste—the seaweed and it wasn’t to the good. Less of a minty taste and far more bitter, even with increasing the sweetener. Guess that this is a one-steeping tea.)

Preparation
Boiling 7 min, 15 sec

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58

Looking at how this steeped up I get why the Chinese call what we know as “black” teas “red.” Because that’s exactly how it looks—red. And I wouldn’t quite say it tastes that way, although there is a spiciness to it—more than what I remember of the other Ceylon Vithanakanda I tried. Otherwise, like that one, this makes me think of the most basic of basic teas. A Lipton or Tetley with substance and class. An ur-Black tea that could stand for the entire class. A very enjoyable tea, although lacking the kind of character that makes me want to order it again.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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75

Reminds me of the Hong Mao Feng I’d tried and very much liked. There’s this smooth almost chocolate note to it, together with a spicy bite to it. Not unduly earthy or smokey—a very enjoyable tea.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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92

My aunt was put off by the smell—she likened it to cat piss. I wouldn’t quite put it that way, but it is pungent—very smoky. It does taste a lot better than it smells though. A bit chocolate or caramel in taste, with the earthiness I’m beginning to realize is very characteristic of most China Black teas. I think I’m getting more used to that taste, but I think its absence is precisely why I tend to prefer Indian teas.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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