1696 Tasting Notes
I would have never made it as a world traveler. I could not survive the jet lag. Day light savings time only moves the clock one hour and it is kicking my butt. Sad thing is I no longer have to go to the office, so it shouldn’t matter. Today is a rainy, dreary, day with lots of fog. I just can’t get motivated. I am so behind on reviews, but my sleep deprived head hurts. Maybe tomorrow. Today I grabbed my favorite comfort tea. I even added sweetener which I almost never do any more. I over leafed on purpose and lowered the temp to 195 F (90 C) to compensate. The cup is dark, has some bite but not too much, and the bergamot is making me happy. I just may survive this day after all.
The third white tea from the Nannuoshan collection. Good white tea will age well and mature in flavor. You do not need to finish it off in a hurry if stored well. This one is from 2008. In the dry leaf I catch a complex blending of scents. This is leafy and deeply earthy. There is a touch of sour mixed with sweet. I also catch the fragrance of hay with floral overtones.
The leaf is very dark compared to their younger, Bai Mu Dan offering. It looks more mature with silver buds covered in fine downy hair. The leaves have only a slight hint of green. Mostly they are darker shades of brown, looking more like black tea at this point.
A 30 second steep in 195 F water results in a liquor that is clear with only a light tinting of yellow. The leaf remained mostly on the top of the water during the steep. After emptying the teapot, the leaves can be seen as chocolate brown and cinnamon.
The aroma is very suggestive of a black tea. Along with the leafy and peony floral notes, I detect a healthy dose of malt.
Tasting, there is a green leafy note up front, followed by a touch of ginger without the heat. After this, it turns a mellow mineral, followed by a mystery taste. It isn’t really potato. I am thinking maybe water chestnut, but not really. What is that familiar flavor?
Second cup, also at 30 seconds, had a plum aroma as I poured. The taste continues where the first cup left off with the addition of a peppery spice note up front. This cup also has a pleasant peony taste.
Cup three was steeped for 45 seconds. Weird, it is back to having a malty aroma with a much lighter plum note. This tastes much like the second, except the spicy note is much less pronounced. The plum that I caught in the aroma is also drifting in to the taste.
Sorry getting long winded. I’ll finish by saying this seems to pack a lot of cha qi. I feel warm and fuzzy, very mellow, yet very focused.
My second white tea from the Nannuoshan collection. The dry leaf aroma has sweet and slightly sour notes of fresh cut hay. My sample had very little settling so the leaf is mostly intact, long and straight. The leaf is light green to olive, while the buds are silvery and covered in fine downy hair.
A 30 second steep produces a very light yellow liquor. The tiny fuzzy hairs are seen throughout the mug. Once the tea cools for a moment the fuzz all settles to the bottom leaving an otherwise clear brew.
The wet leaf scent matches perfectly my memory of mom’s peony bushes that bloomed outside my bedroom window when I was a wee lad. I have honestly never caught this before in a white peony. So, much love.
Sipping I get a light melon/cucumber taste. There is some amount of floral notes that are more in the background. The longer I sip the more I pick up on the slightly sweet hay noted in the dry leaf aroma.
I veered off course with the second cup and steeped for 1 1/2 minutes instead of the recommended 45 seconds. The flavor is more intense but I learned I really prefer the shorter steep taste. The brew is a much darker golden color with a green tint. The flavor seems to match the first cup but as I mentioned is more intense. It is accompanied by a peppery spice note at the front of the sip. I catch fleeting glimpses of fruit. It seems to jump back out of range before I can fully lock in on it and identify exactly what type fruit.
I have enough for another session with this one. I intend to stick with the recommended time and temps.
I chose to review Nannuoshan’s white tea collection. This first one, Xue Ya, seems controversial. I’ve seen versions of Snow Buds listed by other companies as white, yellow, and green teas. This one from Yixing is long straight green leaf with silver haired buds. The dry leaf scent is slightly sweet, and equal parts grassy and oats.
The first steep was 30 seconds. The liquor has very little color, just a hint of yellow. The green wet leaf has an aroma suggesting stewed meat to me, Mmmmm. Along with it is a vine like aroma.
The taste is mildly sweet. It is sort of grassy, but the taste is bigger than that simple word. It has a bite that is bitter, but stay with me, the bitter is the crisp refreshing type that is pleasing to the palate.
The second cup at 45 seconds is very different. The good bitter of the first cup is moved to the aftertaste along with some grassiness. The sip itself has a strong umami presence with an almost metallic bite. My cup was empty before I realized, so obviously I enjoyed it.
The third cup at 60 seconds morphs once more. The aroma is quite vegetal, seeming more like a Chinese green tea. The taste is a combination of flavors. I get earthy/mushroom, mineral, umami, and grass. The aftertaste is cooling while tasting lightly sweet, and a good bitter grass.
I do like this one. To my tastes it seems more like a green tea than a white. I can see why the debate rages on.
Actually had this a few days ago. Just now posting. When I opened the sample I thought I was smelling a Peppermint Patty. I know there is no chocolate in it. I handed it to my wife who said the same thing. Can’t explain it, but I liked it. Tasting, this is first peppermint, but it doesn’t assault you. It quickly steps aside and a creamy sensation kicks in. Then I notice the apple like notes of chamomile. The flavors work together nicely. The rooibos I notice last. It adds a fullness to the cup without dominating. I found this to be a well balanced and enjoyable herbal. Typically this would be a good late night treat. I think I wouldn’t mind it most any time of day.
One of the greatest things about having a long running blog is you receive a lot of samples for review. One of the biggest reasons not to have a blog, if you’re thinking about it, is you receive a lot of samples. Seriously. I have a box full waiting for review (and more on the way). Unlike some of you I cannot drink 15 cups a day. I generally have three and they are usually all the same tea. The blog makes it tough to work in old favorites, but I love my blog so…
Today, at least for this first cup, I am neglecting the box and drinking what I’m craving. After this cup I have just enough for one more time with this one. Those of us who love it have not seemed to be able to find a suitable replacement.
Just enough smoke in the aroma to suggest bohea. The smoke note even expresses itself in the exhale and aftertaste. It has a traditional yunnan taste though lighter than many I’ve had. Sweet honey and caramel with a peppery spice at the beginning. I even feel I detect leather. It is one of those teas that the dry scent stays on your fingers and I have no desire to scrub it off.
Unfortunately, the label does not list the estate that produced this one. Sure going to miss it.
This one doesn’t seem to have gotten much love on Steepster. This is another my wife picked. I thought strawberries and cream – yummy. Then I read the ingredients. I have had one black currant tea before this. Granted it was bagged but it was Ahmad who I normally trust to give me a pleasant bagged experience. I did not like it. I seldom like hibiscus in anything.
Then I opened the lid and sniffed. Hey this may not be so bad. Yeah it is rooibos but it smells like vanilla and cherries, or blueberries, or maybe grape. I never could decide. Doesn’t matter as none of those things are actually listed as ingredients.
I steeped for 5 minutes in a Finum basket using boiling water. The brew is dark like coffee but as you tilt the cup it looks more purplish red. That amused me. The white chocolate forms some scum on the surface that doesn’t hurt anything except the aesthetics.
The first sip was pleasant but much lighter than I expected. I added sweetener and the change is spectacular. I’m just going to quote my blog post on this rather than coming up with something new:Once sweetened this came alive. The black currant and the hibiscus combine to give a taste that I can’t nail down but drifts between blueberry, cherry, and grape. I do taste just the slightest tartness but honestly it works here. This is creamy, probably from the white chocolate. I do taste the rooibos but it is not the main note. It adds to the overall mix with a touch of spicy sweetness.
I think I can best sum up my perception of this blend by telling you that I went into this review not expecting much from these ingredients. I thought, I’ll try to keep an open mind but will settle on just getting through it. I ended up gulping the last half of the cup down and can’t wait to have another. Surprisingly delicious.
OK, its me live again. This is one of those times when experimenting really paid off. You wouldn’t have a issue with adding a little salt to your supper, if it needed help bringing out the flavor, so don’t be afraid of a little sweetener when it is needed.
I see I never added a note for this one after posting my blog review. I think it is because Amanda ‘SoggyEnderman’ Wilson did such a great job explaining it.
Agreeing with everything she said, I’ll just add, I liked it but don’t ever see me craving it. It tastes like just what it is, a cup of seeds and spices. That is fine. It just isn’t for me.
However, let me point out this is one my wife chose. She was in the tin 3 times before I could get to it for a review. She loves herbals and picked this specifically for the coriander. I tried to get her to review it but she declined.
The Persimmon Tree uses all natural and organic ingredients and my wife loves it. That my friends is why there are a million different blends. Some you love some you don’t. Only about 999, 011 more left before I try them all! I made that number up. I really have no idea how many I’ve tried. Let’s just say a lot.
When I first started drinking green tea powder mixed with milk in the mornings, I would douse it with flavored syrups – vanilla and caramel to be exact. I was buying Cafe al Fresco brand from Walmart. They quit carrying it (though it seemed to sell well – figures). So I bought some Torani brand at twice the cost. It is one of the big name brands but I don’t like it. Later bought some off brand at Dollar Tree. Made it through the bottles but just no.
I gave up and just started doing without syrup. Know what? After a few days I discovered I really like this without additives except the milk and a little sweetener. The taste is mild and not bitter (though I have never tried it without milk). With toast and honey, it makes a good way to ease into my day.
In other exciting news – my youngest son ran down the stairs last night and asked if we smelled smoke. He opened the basement door and immediately we saw smoke. The blower on the furnace may have locked up. Pulled the breakers and we are waiting on a repairman. We tried to find a space heater in town. If we were wanting a bikini, they were readily available. Heaters, not so much. Makes sense, yesterday was the first time it has been above freezing in a month. We had a couple heaters already at home so they kept us toasty last night. My den is pretty cool today. Considering when I was a kid we had an outhouse and had to carry water up the hill from a spring – not going to complain. I remember so many school day mornings, grabbing my clothes and running to the kitchen where the oil heater located and getting dressed with chattering teeth. Feeling thankful today for hot water, plumbing, a well insulated home, and memories of when it wasn’t so easy.
I recently tried the autumn flush from the same estate. They are day and night different. I only thought I knew what Darjeeling looked and tasted like. This one dry has a hay, grass, and orange blossom aroma. The leaf appears more like a green or a white peony. Steeped the liquor is honey yellow with a slight green tint. It certainly has no traits at this point to suggest black tea.
The wet leaf is freshly green and mostly whole leaves. Due to settling there are some large broken pieces but nothing to suggest this is less than top quality.
The wet leaf does have some woodsy muscatel notes to confirm it just might be a black tea after all.
Copying from my blog post concerning the taste: The What-Cha description on the sample label nails this tea, “A brilliant sweet start with a spicy finish.” Attempting to expand on this a little – after the sweetness I catch the first notes of muscatel. It is a light grape leaf like flavor. It fades quickly into a moment of mineral. Just as quickly it moves right into that spicy finish with the leaf taste moving below the spice. The aftertaste lingers well in a sweet fruity note, as just a touch of cheek tingle moves in to further please the senses.
If you find Darjeeling interesting (or if you know almost nothing about them) I highly recommend getting a sample of this one and the autumnal flush to experience the wide range of this tea.