Whoamygosh this is amazing. It smells so good dry—the mint sets it apart, it isn’t strong or overpowering but just there enough to keep the earthiness in check. There’s the usual earthy, almost mushroomy aroma, but also a bit of chocolate (starts out like bittersweet chocolate, then at the end of the sip there’s a lingering sweetness), some leather, and even a bit of tobacco—if you know me you know these are all smells I adore. There is still what I’d call a faint fishiness initially but it’s much softer here and recedes almost immediately upon smelling the other things. Either that or I’m just getting used to it, ha. Anyway, I rinsed this time and made sure everything stayed hothot. Brews up deep dark. Steeped the aroma is very leathery while the flavor has that wonderful, odd mintiness that clears the air a bit of the more expected pu erh flavors. Makes me feel like I’m in an old private library full of leatherbound books and furniture, one with a window open next to a forest that just got rained on. Cleaned up but still full of all those mysterious things like soil and leather. I love how complex the interaction between that subtle but ever-present mint and everything else is—the mint both contrasts with everything but also somehow sharpens it all, makes the earthy elements more distinct. Wow. This is precisely the group of aromas I seek out when I buy little vials of rare, unusual perfume. The kind I buy so that sometimes, after dinner and before bedtime in the dark cold months, I can pop one open alone in my warmly lit bedroom and just take in the fragrance and be transported, writing in my perfume diary. A full-on experience. It’s dare I say it masculine, and clean, and well, sexy. Wow!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec
Stephanie

Yes, pu-erhs can be very masculine, but not in a bad way! I think the mint element is what I don’t find appealing about this one. I’ve tended to prefer pu-erhs without the minty vibe. shrug to each his own :)

ifjuly

I love “masculine” scents and flavors, so yeah, for sure. I can definitely see how the minty vibe could be unwelcome to some, but I think for me it’s a good transitional easing into pu erh’s full on earthy funkiness. Ha.

ifjuly

I think it would be kind of neat to do a cheesy sort of “yin and yang” tea tasting sometime with so-called feminine profiled teas—light, with roses or lavender and fruit, say—and masculine ones too, and then maybe ones I think bridge the gap.

Stephanie

I love that idea! I also love the range of flavored tea has to offer us :)

You could go feminine with a delicate straight white tea, or a light and fruity oolong. Wouldn’t even have to go the floral scented route necessarily :)

Stephanie

*flavors not flavored in that first sentence

ifjuly

Yes, white for sure! And maybe flowering even. I think Flowery Pineapple Oolong would be good, and/or Champagne Rose and Cream. American Tea Room’s Victoria. White Jasmine would be a no brainer except I don’t really like jasmine much…

So many teas, so little time, ha!

TheTeaFairy

This review was delightful to read :-)

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Comments

Stephanie

Yes, pu-erhs can be very masculine, but not in a bad way! I think the mint element is what I don’t find appealing about this one. I’ve tended to prefer pu-erhs without the minty vibe. shrug to each his own :)

ifjuly

I love “masculine” scents and flavors, so yeah, for sure. I can definitely see how the minty vibe could be unwelcome to some, but I think for me it’s a good transitional easing into pu erh’s full on earthy funkiness. Ha.

ifjuly

I think it would be kind of neat to do a cheesy sort of “yin and yang” tea tasting sometime with so-called feminine profiled teas—light, with roses or lavender and fruit, say—and masculine ones too, and then maybe ones I think bridge the gap.

Stephanie

I love that idea! I also love the range of flavored tea has to offer us :)

You could go feminine with a delicate straight white tea, or a light and fruity oolong. Wouldn’t even have to go the floral scented route necessarily :)

Stephanie

*flavors not flavored in that first sentence

ifjuly

Yes, white for sure! And maybe flowering even. I think Flowery Pineapple Oolong would be good, and/or Champagne Rose and Cream. American Tea Room’s Victoria. White Jasmine would be a no brainer except I don’t really like jasmine much…

So many teas, so little time, ha!

TheTeaFairy

This review was delightful to read :-)

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Bio

“…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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