349 Tasting Notes

It has been too long since I’ve had a fresh off the shipment first flush Darjeeling.
Much. Too. Long.

The dry leaf here smells like fruit and flowers. Like a springtime picnic with fruit salad and warm sun out in the garden.

The wet leaf on the other hand is like a Summertime garden in full riot. Overwhelming aromas of fully ripe fruits and vegetables and the deep greens of the plants themselves competing with ornamental flowers as well as the flowers of fruit not yet formed. You know you are on the brink of a heady cup, here.

The steeped liqueur is the color of light amber, like honey in a sunbeam.

On the tongue the riot is somewhat calmed, but this is still bold stuff. There is a rapid onset of astringency which dries the tongue and mouth and prevents any long lingering unpleasantness — which can be a problem with some sweet teas.

This is what first flush madness is all about. I fully expect this leaf to be completely different after a month in the tin. I fully expect the second flush from the same garden to be completely different. In fact, I need to be sure to order it when it comes out just to compare them.

As Upton teas go, this isn’t a cheap one. But if you have an affinity for “the champagne of teas”, be sure to get in on this year’s first flush. They are fantastic.

(random aside, I’m starting a blog about non-tea related serious things. you can find the URL in my profile if you’re interested in reading it.)

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec
gmathis

I peeked at the blog. You have some very thoughtfully written pieces! Well done.

Charles Thomas Draper

Great review. I enjoy your unbiased opinions. No yikes here

Jim Marks

Heh. I just found that review completely overwhelming to read.

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100

Mostly I am posting that I am drinking this tea to give everyone a head’s up that Upton Teas has announced their first flush Darjeeling offerings this morning, so you may want to jump on that if you want in on that action.

I still love my own blend of tea. Go figure.

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec

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91

Cold steeped over night in the French press (to keep the buds in the water) in the fridge.

The result is much more profound than the hot steepings have been. There is a long, mouth sticking sweetness here that lingers long past swallow.

I’m not necessarily convinced that this isn’t an awfully long way to go for a cup of tea, especially one that isn’t hot. But the result is very tasty.

Preparation
Iced 8 min or more
Bonnie

Ok…so Jim, what does it taste like? Just a bit curious?

Jim Marks

Ah… see previous notes for those details.

Bonnie

Sorry Jim..didn’t catch that!

Jim Marks

No problem!

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I’m on something like my 16th steep of this batch of leaves.

I really have to wonder what was going on with this (and other sheng) tea back over the winter when I keep getting such sharp, wooly, camphorous steeps.

Cup after cup this tea has been kind and sweet and I’m still on

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec
Bonnie

Count yourself fortunate! This is a good choice this week…puerh takes the appitite away. Blessed Chanting my friend! The Feast of Feasts approaches!

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Anyone else find that frequent shu consumption has a heinous effect on the color of one’s teeth in spite of vigorous and frequent brushing? Anyone found a solution? I’ve been indulging in dozen steep binges of this stuff for three days and my blood stream feels fantastic and my teeth look like a nightmare clown.

Bonnie

Baking soda brushing. This works on my stainless steepers when there is a lingering odor also from Lapsang Souchong ultra smoky tea. I see you are a Chanter! Blessings for the upcoming Holy Week and Pascha! My brother is a Deacon in California (Antiochian) and I attend a Greek Orthodox Church in Loveland, CO (St. Spyridon).

ashmanra

Indeed, Bonnie! I mix baking soda with a tiny bit of salt. Sometimes I add a drop of peppermint oil.

Jim Marks

Bonnie ~ Blessed Lent! I have an icon of St. Spyridon in my corner. He prays for the health of my ears (long story).

I’ll try the baking sode. I’d given up on a number of baking soda toothpastes, but I suspect that is because they are all hype.

ashmanra

And thanks for the reminder, Jim! I have been needing to brighten up the pearly whites myself and just haven’t walked into the kitchen to get the baking soda at brushing time! I will make a point of it today! I need to add a little salt for the extra scrubbing power. It has been a while since I have done this! I mix everything in a tiny cup and keep it by the sink for a few days.

Jim Marks

We only have kosher salt in the house. I can’t see that going well.

Bonnie

Don’t scratch your teeth! You need a paste on your teeth and try to leave it for a minute then rinse and repeat. There are toothpastes for smokers that might work too.

Charles Thomas Draper

LOL. No. Keep brushing

Jim Marks

My dentist actually makes fun of me because they think I’m hiding a smoking habit by claiming I drink a lot of tea.

Bonnie

Give your dentist Pu-erh! Dentists should know that tea is actually good for your teeth. Helps prevent decay unless you load up with cream and sugar! I suppose a rinse after drinking the tea would be a good idea but I hate losing the taste that should stay for awhile. This is getting gross! Like my friends son putting a fish he caught in his sock drawer and forgetting about it. OOwwww!

Jim Marks

I’ve heard that green tea is good for teeth. Is this true of all tea?

At the end of the day I don’t care about having sparkling white teeth (I never have cavities), but shu pu-erh seems to make them especially discolored and it would be nice to address it simply.

I’ll pick up an extra box of baking soda and try it.

ashmanra

I have indeed read that tea in general is good for your teeth, and our dentist recommends it. Apparently the naturally occurring fluoride is very good for teeth. So though the teeth may stain, they are less likely to get cavities. My two kids who love black tea have never had a cavity even though they put sugar in…more sugar than I care for them to have and I fuss about it! The two older kids did not used to drink tea and they DID have cavities! I don’t do any of the tooth bleaching, just brush and go to the dentist, but I have noticed lately a stain on one tooth and it is probably from puerh as you mentioned. The tea is well worth it! :) I just read an article from Wake Med that said green and white tea is best for helping prevent cancer and black tea is best for protecting the heart and arteries, so I guess we should drink any of it we like!

Bonnie

The only thing you must watch out for is if you take blood pressure medication, green tea lowers your blood pressure and you should not drink lots of green tea. I heard this from the Pharmacist!!!! Blood pressure can go too low!!! Warning!!!!!

Jim Marks

I try to rotate my way through all the different varieties. Having a wife who studies Japan keeps me well stocked in green tea at any rate.

The only time I ever add anything to tea is I put a bit of lemon into black teas with strong astringency — but only if they aren’t particularly high quality tea.

Joshua Smith

This page from Wikipedia is a pretty good introduction to the pros and cons of drinking tea: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_effects_of_tea

Jim Marks

Most of the health risks seem to stem from drinking lousy, mass produced tea. Kind of like the health risks for red meat stem predominantly from eating “factory farmed” animals etc. etc.

It would be nice if the gubbamint would stop fluorinating our water given that all toothpaste now contains it and we’re find it in more and more of the things we consume in or with food.

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87

DJ Booth threw this in as a bonus sample in our swap (Black Dragon for Wild Yunnan Black).

I went with a two minute steep as I’ve found that even my beloved black dragon doesn’t hold up so well to gongfu style short steeps (they quickly become sharp and acerbic).

I like the particular smoke flavor this tea has, but the tea itself is a bit thin. That may simply be because I only have a small amount to work with and I ought to have gone with a smaller mug, I dunno.

Certainly a marvelous lapsang. Not bacon-y or pork rind-y as some of them can be and not all smoke either. I think with a steady supply I could dial in parameters to make this provide an excellent cup, but I’ll stick with my black dragon, I think :-)

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 0 sec
The DJBooth

Yeah this was my first Lapsang and love it.

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79
drank Wild Black Yunnan by DAVIDsTEA
349 tasting notes

Innnnnteresting.

I got a small sample of this leaf from DJ Booth (thanks!) in exchange for some Black Dragon (I hope you like it!) and I’m glad for the chance to try it.

The dry leaf has almost no aroma at all.

The wet leaf has a strong earthy smell, but more like a wuyi oolong than a pu-erh. That odd kind of pong that some oolong get. I’ve mentioned it on other notes on other teas.

Oddly, the cup itself is not entirely unlike Yunnan golden, just a bit more umph and a bit less fruit. In fact, it tastes almost exactly like what you’d get if you blended wuyi oolong leaf with Yunnan golden.

I’m not 100% sure the combination works for my tastes. But this is great leaf and I’m looking forward to cycling through all the steepings for more insights. I find first steep is rarely typical.

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec

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74

I received a sample of this with a recent order and I have to say I am a bit shocked at the other two reviews of it.

The leaf itself reminds me of dragon well tea, which shouldn’t surprise me too much, I suppose, since the flavor of dragon well has always reminded me of [Japanese] sencha, even if the leaves look nothing alike. I think this tea now closes the loop. Japanese sencha looks nothing like dragon well because of differences in processing more than differences in leaf.

No, this isn’t the best green tea I’ve ever had. But then, this is just a sencha, not a gyukuro or any of the other rare grades of Japanese shaded tea. We forget that sencha is not a grade, but a category, intended primarily to distinguish cut leaf tea from matcha powder in Japan.

And at $4.20 for 125 grams, it isn’t like Upton is making any unfair claims about this leaf, either. Their cheapest Japanese senchas (currently available) cost twice as much. Their best sencha costs ten times as much.

So let’s review this tea for what it is. Entry level Chinese green tea.

I’m brewing this in the gaiwan, gonfu style, and getting very pleasant cups. Grassy, yet bright, with only a touch of bitterness. I’m into my third steeping and the liqueur is not yet at all weak.

There’s nothing wrong with this tea except the expectations you bring to it.

Preparation
160 °F / 71 °C 0 min, 15 sec
K S

I like your approach – review it for what it is.

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This tea continues to rise in my esteem. As it has aged a few months it has mellowed considerably. The first steep is still quite sharp, but that’s to be expected, I think. But after the leaves are fully hydrated and opened the resulting steeps are almost sweet.

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec

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91

Blessed Lent!

Wild arbor, gongfu madness style: should be a white knuckled ride, you’d think. But as it turns out, combining 7 steepings (all under 10 seconds) produces what I’d almost describe as a “blended scotch” type result. All the hard edges and thin spots are evened out and the result is a very full, if a bit uninteresting, cup.

Uninteresting. That’s an unfair word. This is still phenomenal tea. But I’ve learned lately that with sheng, half the joy of drinking is to see where the personality of yourself, the tea and the moment in which you are drinking it are going to combine to produce a unique experience. That’s not going to happen with this approach.

That being said, I’m actually a bit glad for the gentle results because today marks the difficult beginning of a long journey and I am pleased to be easing into it with this tea.

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec
Bonnie

But a great journey!

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