322 Tasting Notes
I had a full session of steepings with this tea yesterday, and I’m beginning another of them now.
The sweet, chocolate of the dry leaf is a shock and pleasant surprise every time I open the tin.
Even more surprising is how this sweet leaf instantly transforms into a musty, loamy, verdant forest floor as soon as it hydrates. My yixing right now smells like Dogtown Wood (outside Gloucester) Massachusetts in early November.
No surprise then that the cup itself mystically fuses the two. Porcini ravioli followed by cannoli with chocolate shavings. A walk through wet Autumnal leaves with a mug of cocoa. Debussy on a cloudy day.
I feel like I have finally made it “to the big time”. I’m drinking 20 year aged shu from a proper yixing.
The dry leaf smells of cocoa and applewood smoke and old leather.
The wet leaf smells of cavern water.
The liqueur is a roller coaster ride of sweetness, camphor, cave walls and bonfire. The mouthfeel is relentless and lingers for minutes after each sip.
The dry leaf here smells of cherries and chocolate (not cacao or cocoa, but chocolate).
The wet leaf smells of roasted potato skins and corn husks.
The cup is… thick and buttery with flavors of flan and oak.
The more of these teas I drink, the less I want to drink anything else.
(Gaiwan to gaiwan technique, generous leaf, instantaneous steep times)
Second steeping: This one’s a bit thin on flavor, probably because the leaf got cold while I was having my Mini serviced and throwing 21 links of disc golf. And yet, the mouth feel is enormous.
Third steeping: This is more like it. Deep umber color. In a funny way, this is (perhaps not unexpectedly) the exact opposite of the pre-chingming da hong pao I was getting from Upton just a few months ago. That was light and floral, this is dark and earthy. Quite literally. This tastes like wet granite and venison hard tack.
This is a cold weather tea. By which I don’t mean Winter in Houston. Perhaps I will pack this into an unlaquered bamboo canister for more aging and save it either to gift to a Northern friend or for the next time I visit my parents.
Aged da hong pao?!?!
Had to try this.
The dry leaf smells like dehydrated apples.
The wet leaf is all wuyi oolong roasted notes.
(Steeping notes: gaiwan to gaiwan instantaneous steepings, generous leaf, off the boil water.)
First steep: I just woke up, and have to rush out the door, but couldn’t wait any longer, after staring at this box all yesterday afternoon (but having already begun that session with the last of the quhao which lasted all day). I confess I can’t actually taste much of anything at the moment. But that’s my body, not this tea. So I’ll edit this note with later steepings… later. For now I can say that this is not simply da hong pao. There’s a bitterness, a dryness, a mineral quality you don’t find in this season’s leaf.
More later when my mouth and sinuses are awake.
I am still anxiously awaiting a shipment from the exotic land of French Canada (Camellia Sinensis order including some things I’ve never heard of, let alone tried) and have been pounding the new yixing with Upton’s Wang pu-erh pretty thoroughly, so I wanted to take a break, re-group, and clean house a bit.
So, I am brewing up the last of this in my pyrex and straining into the hand made glazed pot which I bought from the very nice octogenarian woman at the Japanese-American Cultural Festival of Houston two years ago.
I need to find out more about this tea so that I can investigate higher quality options, if they exist. This is a very fine tea, but because Path of Tea is serving a retail population they have to be much more careful to balance price point with quality than, say, Upton, CS, TeaG, or Verdant does. What I mean is that this tea is good enough that it makes me want to find the finest varient of it I can get my hands on.
A friend has said that the wet leaf smells like oatmeal. I get cacao, myself.
The cup has, as I think I’ve said before, the sweetness of Yunnan golden without the fruit.
I had a bit of this around from a few weeks ago (I’d bought it to make iced tea for a day in the park) and I need to come up for a bit of air from my endless days of yixing bliss, so I decided to polish this off with a nice big cozy pot.
This is a tea I associate with cold, New England days, so I can’t say as I ever crave it here in Houston. But, the citrus oil is fantastic iced and produces a brew which doesn’t need sweetening to be thirst quenching on a hot day. Bright and crisp and that’s all you need.
Brewed hot, this produces a dark, brooding cup. Still with that strong citrus edge, but a bit astringent and cloudy, too.
A good change of pace from cup after cup of yunnan golden and sweet shu pu-erh.
And so it begins.
A dear friend gifted me one of these http://camellia-sinensis.com/teapot/fiche/Mr.+Chen+teapot+CH-5 and it arrived on Wednesday afternoon. I used the last of my Upton Tea Celestial Tribute shou pu-erh to season the pot using the method that David Duckler enumerated here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0wzsBNHO6C4
My car had a series of unexpected problems over the past two weeks, only a small fraction of which was covered by insurance, and so my plans to order lots of unusual and exotic teas is on hold until my checkbook can recover from the trauma. Meanwhile, my usual order from Upton of black dragon, yunnan gold rare grade and wang pu-erh will have to keep me sustained.
The great news, of course, is that this means I have a shou seasoned yixing and I have shou tea leaves!
I have to say, this brand new pot should be greedy, stealing most of the flavor of this first steep (after a rinse), and yet, the flavor and mouth feel of this cup are as full and lovely as they ever are.
Does anyone know if any real development actually still goes on with the Steepster code base? It seems to me they need to separate actual tasting notes from our daily drinking logs. We’ve made this into a very social space, and a kind of “tea journal” but all that information ends up cluttering up the pages for the actual teas and makes it hard to find new teas to try when you have to read through all the bits about someone’s day.
I want us to keep the social aspect, but I think the site would be a lot richer if there was a static area for tasting notes, and review which you could update or leave alone, and then a tea diary that was tied to your profile, but not the tea pages. Hmmm…