drank Fragrant Bud by Zen Tea
613 tasting notes

It’s my layman’s understanding that yellow tea is pretty hard to acquire at a reasonable price outside of China (or at has been least up until very recently), and I’m aware of the possibility of inferior or even counterfeit teas branded as such. Not at all implying that’s the case here, just noting in general as I really have no basis to judge what an authentic yellow tea “should” be like. (I have a couple more coming my way this month, so maybe I’ll get a better handle on what the general characteristics are based on common traits between the few I’ll be able to try.)

That said, I’m quite taken by how unique this appears. Dry it looks a little like long golden/tippy black leaves, there’s definitely a bit of oxidation, and the dry smell is quite extraordinary—it really is like a cross between all the basic tea types I’ve tried. There’s the toastiness of black tea and roasted oolongs, but also a fresh green mossiness more akin to greens and other types of oolongs, and that whole “delicately sweet floral perfume” aspect of Chinese whites and scented teas. Brewed in the cup this is surprisingly reddish brown but with gold undertones, reminds me of some of the peachiest and roastiest most classic/old-fashioned oolongs. The flavor is very mild and pretty smooth but as it cools a gentle darjeeling-ish woody astringency comes in that I really dig. As it cools further a fruity sweetness comes in. Good choice on an overcast damp mossy fall day like this as it evokes mossy forests and wet wood. Reminds me a bit of a class of oolongs, I forget which but I had some from Butiki a while back, where there are darjeeling qualities. Or perhaps it was the darjeeling that had oolong qualities, I forget. Whatever it is, I like it and it does come off as pretty unique.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 0 sec
Bonnie

With a name like ‘fragrant bud’ you’ll get raised eyebrows and interest everywhere except Washington State and Colorado.

ifjuly

Hahaha! I was just reading somewhere a couple days ago about a group in Denver or Boulder, some area around there I think, passing out free joints in an attempt to raise awareness about the marijuana tax plan they’re against. Surreal to me!

Bonnie

Yeah, this isn’t like California where I grew up and you’d probably see lots of people getting silly and toking up. I still haven’t seen it in public and I live down the street from Colorado State University! Nobody wants unreasonable taxation which would hurt the medical marijuana users and encourage illegal purchases from underground growers. Not good! What should happen is research, jobs and tourism to show how well the system can work. Much like our breweries…My town led the nation as the safest drivers in the United States! (Not bad for a beer town!)

ifjuly

I’m jealous. This summer was the first time I’ve ever been in Colorado—it’s a beautiful place full of lots of wonderful things to see and eat and drink and enjoy. And yeah, I like that the voting public there seems to really think through all possibilities and keep an open mind. Frontrunners and innovation for sure. So much better than reactionary fearmongering without facts, which is unfortunately what my current home state leads in. :b

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Bonnie

With a name like ‘fragrant bud’ you’ll get raised eyebrows and interest everywhere except Washington State and Colorado.

ifjuly

Hahaha! I was just reading somewhere a couple days ago about a group in Denver or Boulder, some area around there I think, passing out free joints in an attempt to raise awareness about the marijuana tax plan they’re against. Surreal to me!

Bonnie

Yeah, this isn’t like California where I grew up and you’d probably see lots of people getting silly and toking up. I still haven’t seen it in public and I live down the street from Colorado State University! Nobody wants unreasonable taxation which would hurt the medical marijuana users and encourage illegal purchases from underground growers. Not good! What should happen is research, jobs and tourism to show how well the system can work. Much like our breweries…My town led the nation as the safest drivers in the United States! (Not bad for a beer town!)

ifjuly

I’m jealous. This summer was the first time I’ve ever been in Colorado—it’s a beautiful place full of lots of wonderful things to see and eat and drink and enjoy. And yeah, I like that the voting public there seems to really think through all possibilities and keep an open mind. Frontrunners and innovation for sure. So much better than reactionary fearmongering without facts, which is unfortunately what my current home state leads in. :b

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“…you can never know everything about anything, especially something you love.”
-Julia Child on food and cooking, and I think it applies to tea as well!

note: i am currently taking a break from swapping/mail of any kind as money is rather tight. i apologize! i do love to swap but i can’t afford to right now. hopefully in a month things will change.

my cupboard includes any tea i’ve ever owned, including things i’ve sipped down, in order to facilitate swaps with people and keep a record—this way i don’t get redundant samples/order duplicates to try. if you are interested in swapping, i have a separate ever-updated list of teas i actually have on hand i can PM.

i like strong, rich blacks (including some choice old skool CTCs); juicy-fruity flavored green blends; buttery chinese greens; light floral oolongs; flavored oolongs (how sacrilegious!); earl greys; smoky blends; second flush muscatel darjeelings; verdant’s straight oolongs steeped in a gaiwan (mind altering!); anything from laoshan village it seems.

favorite notes include lavender, bergamot, violet, fennel, cardamom, melon, honey, sandalwood, smoke, nuts, roasty/toasty stuff, malt, wood, leather, creamy lemon, steamed rice, artichoke, garden-sweet snap veggies, earth/soil, forest and wet bark, and mushroom.

notes i generally can’t stand (at least in tea) include jasmine, rose (ok in small doses but i often find it overpowering and then everything just smells like musty old lady perfume), astringent apple (and general fruitiness really unless it’s with green tea), and chamomile (unless i’m congested or tired).

my current favorite tea vendors are butiki and harney and sons. i’ve also found some delicious teas and/or had good customer service experiences with the following companies: capital tea ltd., the devotea, verdant, mandala, golden moon, teavivre, lupicia, taiwan tea crafts, yezi tea, den’s tea, the tea merchant, norbu, fauchon paris, tao tea leaf, zen tea, fortnum and mason, townshend’s tea, joy’s teaspoon, new mexico tea company, persimmon tree, teajo teas, whispering pines, della terra, upton imports, mariage freres, samovar, justea, teabox, american tea room, steven smith, steap shoppe, utopia tea, and andrews and dunham damn fine tea. when i’m at the grocery store my “you could do worse” brands include stash, bigelow, tazo, taylors of harrogate, whittard of chelsea, and pg tips. and it’s a fact: you can’t make classic southern sweet tea without luzianne.

top picks, fall 2013

black:
verdant zhu rong yunnan black
verdant laoshan black
thepuriTea hong jing luo (no longer available :( )
thepuriTea red dragon pearl (no longer available :( )
mandala morning sun
golden moon honey orchid
verdant golden fleece
taiwan tea crafts red jade
yezi tea zheng shan xiao zhong “scotch” tea
capital tea borsapori estate assam tgfop1 (spl)
butiki khongea golden tippy assam
butiki giddahapar darjeeling extra special
upton imports fikkal estate
golden moon sinharaja
harney and sons new vithanakande
persimmon tree vintage black
teajo teas black manas
justea kenyan black
harney and sons kangaita op

morning blends:
butiki the black lotus
harney and sons queen catherine
harney and sons eight at the fort
harney and sons big red sun
harney and sons scottish morn
golden moon irish breakfast
harney and sons irish breakfast
utopia tea english breakfast
fortnum and mason breakfast blend (needs milk!)
andrews and dunham double knit blend
steven smith no. 25 morning light
butiki irish cream cheesecake

earl greys and scented afternoon blends:
teajo teas silky earl grey
harney and sons viennese earl grey
upton imports lavender earl grey
american tea room victoria
lupicia earl grey grand classic
harney and sons tower of london
tao tea leaf cream earl grey
zen tea earl grey cream
della terra earl grey creme
upton imports season’s pick earl grey creme vanilla
upton imports baker street afternoon blend
harney and sons russian country
della terra professor grey
verdant earl of anxi

flavored black:
herbal infusions moose tracks
american tea room brioche
steap shoppe cinnamon swirl bread
della terra oatmeal raisin cookie
butiki nutmeg cream
kusmi caramel
david’s tea brazillionaire
lupicia banane chocolat
butiki hello sweetie
fauchon paris raspberry macaron
butiki blueberry purple tea
herbal infusions marshmallow snowflake earl grey
herbal infusions creme brulee chai

pu erh:
mandala loose and luscious lincang 2007 shu/ripe pu erh
mandala special dark 2006 shu/ripe pu erh

oolong:
verdant shui jin gui wuyi oolong
verdant hand-picked early spring tieguanyin
butiki 2003 reserve four season oolong
harney and sons formosa oolong
tea merchant silk dragon
golden moon coconut pouchong
zen tea coconut oolong
american tea room coconut oolong
teavivre taiwan jin xuan milk oolong
butiki flowery pineapple oolong
butiki lychee oolong
lupicia momo oolong supergrade
butiki strawberry oolong
butiki pumpkin milkshake darjeeling oolong
52teas tiramisu oolong

green:
verdant laoshan bilochun green
verdant autumn harvest laoshan green
tao tea leaf hou kui
harney and sons tencha
harney and sons gyokuro
new mexico casablanca
butiki with open eyes
american tea room nirvana
joy’s teaspoon mahalo
den’s tea pineapple sencha
harney and sons tokyo
butiki potato pancakes and applesauce
butiki holiday eggnog and pralines
den’s tea organic genmaicha with matcha
golden moon hojicha

white:
butiki cantaloupe and cream
butiki champagne and rose cream

no caf:
harney and sons soba buckwheat
butiki birthday cake
della terra lemon chiffon
52teas strawberry pie honeybush
butiki mango lassi
joy’s teaspoon italian dream
butiki coconut cream pie rooibos
butiki peppermint patty
persimmon tree mint chocolate chip rooibos
art of tea velvet tea
fusion teas chocolate cake honeybush
american tea room choco-late
steven smith no. 40 bon bon
townshend’s tea dark forest chai
utopia tea decaffeinated earl grey cream

sleep aid/medicinal/therapeutic:
new mexico extra sleepy bear
stash white christmas
verdant ginger sage winter spa blend
samovar turmeric spice
butiki the killer’s vanilla guayusa

coldsteeped wonders:
whispering pines manistee moonrise
harney and sons fruits d’alsace
utopia tea berkshire apple and fig
culinary teas peaches and cream
butiki peach hoppiTea
butiki ruby pie
whispering pines gingerade

besides tea

born in seoul, raised in new england and upstate new york, went to college in pittsburgh, currently in memphis with an eye toward philadelphia, portland, or asheville eventually.

i like cats, most beverages really (i also like good freshly roasted coffee, craft beer, wine, whiskey and gin-based cocktails, and soda/soft drinks like agua fresca), art (mainly writing but also visual and music) and critical theory, feminism/genderqueer politics, historiography, statistics, children’s literature and librarianship, travel, and food/cooking. also have recently gotten into weightlifting (mark rippetoe and stumptuous!) and sprint training (HIIT, plyometrics) and i love it.

Location

Memphis, TN

Website

http://facebook.com/ifjuly

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