43 Tasting Notes
I’m sorry I didn’t have more of this tea. Pale in color, I’m basing this review off of a small amount I had left over from the initial sample I received and made no notes on. Yielding very small (for me) 3-4 oz cups with the 2 tsp of leaf I probably had remaining, I still got a satisfying cup. Light citrus notes with a mild tingling mouth feel. Did I leave the zipper from the packaging undone? Or did it just open easily when I went to smell the tea? I hope the latter. Wish I could double or even triple the amount of tea for this much water. This is an exercise in the subtle compared to the rich, thick Long Jing steepings I’ve grown accustomed to lately.
I go for a cooler water brew of about 1min, followed by braver extensions of time… 2, 3, 4 mins. At first I’d brewed using the cooled the water from preheating my infuser, then I skipped this step, letting the water having cooled in my kettle suffice.
I imagine some of my tea drinking friends might say this tastes like water, and with the aftertaste of grilled onions still on my palate from my dinner earlier, I’d tend to agree. But I know better, and allow my taste buds to listen, dialing me back in.
Most of my tea drinking for the last few months has been while very active at work. As such, though I try to prepare it somewhat carefully on the go, I think I’ve lost a bit of sensitivity. While preparing a tea like this is a meditation, a reminder.
I think next year I will invest, purchasing more, so that I can truly appreciate what this tea has to offer.
Brewed in my Finum, traditional green tea temps. Surprising viscosity is the first impression. Wonderful mouthfeel and light tender smokiness. Not a fan usually of anything smokey, on the contrary I’m into this. Lovely pale yellow/green color to the liquor. Sweet undertones that progressively reveal from steep to steep and linger on the palate, along with an intriguing tingle of astringency that carries through to the end. I extended brewing time for each infusion until later, with cooler water, I was letting it sit a good solid 2 mins. Got at least five 5oz cups with half my sample pack.
Another win from the 2013 Green Tea Sample Packs from Life In Teacup!
I don’t know if this is left over from 2011, or 2012, but it’s still a favorite black tea. Seems a shadow of its former self, though still satisfying. Maybe I’m wrong… Or maybe leaving it in its original packaging did it no favors. Regardless, it’s still lightyears from a loss.
I’m rarely in the mood for a black tea, but when I know I’ve got a hankering, I know I’ve got a hankering. Today was one of those days.
Honey, light, delicious. Reminds me of an unseasonably warm Fall day, pleasant and crisp with clear skies.
Lost count after 7 infusions, but still kept going. Started with short 10-15 sec steeps and went progressively longer, sucking the life from this tea. Lovely sunset-orang-red liquor that remains long after the flavors have waned.
Grrrr. I hate when I lose a carefully crafted tasting note….. Oh well.
First off, do yourself a favor and get the 2013 sample packs of green tea from Life In Teacup before they’re gone. I’m SO glad I did. It’s been a wonderful journey that will soon come to an end, as my box of tea is dwindling.
2nd, I almost dismissed this tea for a variety of reasons: 1) It looks like gunpowder, and I don’t tend to go for that type of tea, 2) some sites describe it as smokey due to being roasted over charcoal, not so much for me & 3) the small packet (the smallest of all the samples) doesn’t have a zip lock, so it feels like more of a commitment to open.
Those were all just dumb reasons. Don’t delay is all I gotta say.
I brewed this tea in my glass 8 oz infuser, using half the capacity to 1 tsp of tea. Boiling water was used to preheat the infuser, transferred to my Finum cup and then used for the 1st steep of about 1 min. I didn’t measure, but this usually brings water temps to about 170-175ºF.
What’s particularly magical about this tea is how it appears so mundane, and then unravels itself to become the loveliest pristine 2 leaf and bud sets you’ve ever seen, rivaling some of the more exquisite long jings I’ve had. It’s wonderful to watch in glass, dive and fall, uncurling with almost a life of its own. And that little tsp takes you a long way; 5 steeps as I write this.
These aren’t overwhelming flavors per se, but lovely, lasting clear tones. Here astringency is just that, astringency. Not to be confused with bitterness, but a real note that carries from steep to steep, framing a subtle, but undeniable sweetness, a refreshing light quality that doesn’t become dry. If you’ve ever had wine that is off, gone kinda mildly carbonated, and then been introduced to a wine (non-sparkling) where that light bubble is actually an asset, used to enhance and bring more complexity to the flavor profile, then you will understand what I mean by how the astringency here really serves this tea.
I increase steeping time as I move forward, using color and fullness of the leaves as a guide. Overall the liquor tends toward a pale yellow-green, a bit hard to discern in the waning natural light here near sunset. The latter steeps start to lose me a bit, and midway through I got the strangest kind of seafood sent, mildly fishy. Not sure what that’s about, but it wasn’t unpleasant, just weird.
I feel good about this tea late in the day, alert but not particularly lifted. I wonder about it’s theanine content. From the looks of the leaves, and their early spring harvest, it leads me to believe it would have a decent amount.
Many sites describe this tea as being stronger than most greens. Maybe I need to increase the amount of tea, but I didn’t find that to be the case. It appeared my 1 tsp was a good ratio of tea to water after everything was hydrated, so I think I got a good representation of what one should expect. I will try a tbsp next time instead maybe and see how that goes. As a matter of fact, I’m kinda excited about how that will turn out and am tempted to go all in now. But I think 6 4oz cups of tea at 7P is enough for this guy!
Subtle flavors that can be missed if not prepared mindfully. My first tasting, with half of the 10g sampler, I tried in my two part glass infuser. Found it a bit too large and went for my Finum on the 2nd tasting session (shown in the photo for the tea). I think this tea really lends itself to small servings and the 5oz Finum hot glass system is a good fit for the 5g of tea per session I used. Yield was roughly 4oz per infusion.
Before using the Finum I found it a struggle to really identify the subtle flavors. I got a hint strangely of black peppercorn and a more pronounced lemongrassy nose and taste. Otherwise it was very, very light. Then introducing the Finum, in addition to my previous observations, I caught a pleasant lively astringency and a sweet aftertaste that hung around refreshing my palate. Overall it was very clean and somewhat crystalline in character, if that makes sense.
Subsequent infusions, about 3-4 were enjoyable, but overall I found this a very light tea, not for those who prefer something more in your face. Did I mention I found this tea somewhat light?? Water temps were fairly high, again honoring Life In Teacup’s declaration on the top of their green tea page, “Unless otherwise specified, we strongly recommend water temperature Higher Than 180F (85C) for all our green teas.” I’m guessing my water was somewhere around 185F.
Color was a faded golden hue. Caffeine content was unremarkable. Maybe my tolerance is too high to tell these days? I wasn’t jacked, just present. Considering I was a bit tired going into this tasting, the effect was pleasant.
No longer available from LIT for 2013, this is nice green. Reminded me a lot of Verdant’s Laoshan Green. Vegetal with a profile that transforms from steep to steep. Initial creaminess with Laoshan-like green bean/snap pea flavors, followed by a steep after steep of progressive dryness, leaving me salivating to start the process all over again. A sweet undercurrent painted each sip and lingered long after my cup had been drained. There’s something quaint about the tea’s origin, and I can’t help but imagine a little old lady tending to this tea for all our benefit. This is a solid green that I enjoy.
Steep times varied, starting at about 30 secs, a bit shorter for the 2nd and then going progressively longer at about 15-20 sec increments. I kept the water at traditional green tea temps (contrary to LIT’s recommendations to go hotter), with some variation due to reheating and cooling of my kettle over the half hour or so that I enjoyed the 5-6 infusions. Not a single steep disappointed, and at no time did I feel this tea fragile or finicky.
Liquor was lovely light yellowish green, clean and refreshing. I imagine this would be satisfying iced, though that’s not usually my thing.
From a caffeine standpoint, I was neither under or overwhelmed. Nice mid-day experience.
…and here I am wrapping up this note thinking this latest 5th or 6th steep would be beat, steeping it a good solid 1.5-2 mins. Low and behold I’m surprised by a wonderfully complex cup, expecting it to be tapped out and weak. A little more astringent this time around, tingly on the tongue and somewhat explosive to taste. Huh, that little old lady’s got some surprises up her sleeve.
Teas are meant to be enjoyed, though I’m tempted to horde this, saving it for another day. But I think it would be better to honor it by drinking, savoring and sharing it without delay!
Expansive, juicy toasty, bright. This tea has mouth appeal.
On the Tea Trekker (TT) site they say, “There is virtually no detectable toastiness, but instead an elegant and fresh ‘green’ taste that is quite lovely. The aroma in the cup is less floral than that of the Shi Feng or Weng’jia Shan, which fits with its more toasty, slightly nutty nature.” Hmm, I find this confusing. So there’s “virtually no detectable toastiness,” but the aroma “is less floral… which fits with its more toasty, slightly nutty nature?”
I see pitfalls in reading a retailers description, falling prey to suggestion, but at the same time, once I’ve given a tea a good taste, I often am interested in seeing what descriptors others have used. With that said, now two teas in to TT’s 2013 Longjing spring offerings, so far this is my favorite of the bunch. It just whitewashes my mouth and then begins to explode with subtle and not so subtle colors and tones. A sweetness plays across my entire palate, like a light dusting of stevia inadvertently inhaled. Contrary, or not contrary to what TT says I get “toasty,” but not overtly so, particularly with fragrance. This is far from an over fired green. There’s a perky astringency and indeed nutty notes playing here.
I let this tea steep a little longer than usual, maybe a 1.5 to 2 mins the first time. Honestly, though I vacillate between being uber controlled to very intuitive and feel-based, this time I went with a combo. I monitored water temp with a my thermometer and got somewhere between 175 and 180ºF. The water temp changes as it’s transferred from vessel to vessel. For instance I find nearly boiling water drops significantly in temperature if I don’t preheat my tumbler and introduce it slowly in a long thin stream to the sides of the container. Starting with a small amount of water this way, swirling it first, I don’t seem to shock the leaves, and serve to wake them up AND preheat my tumbler.
I went with a longer steep, based on how the leaves reacted, the pace at which they began to descend. I’m fairly satisfied with just the first few leaves really becoming hydrated and committing to the fall, and will rarely wait for more than a quarter to drop.
The color is lovely, a pale subdued yellow. On my 2nd steep I notice some spice notes, and with Longjings I tend to associate it with cinnamon, but it’s not nearly that bold or autumnal. Astringency plays out a bit more, but I welcome it. I’m searching for vegetal, “green” aspects to this tea, and am just not getting them that strongly. Ah, silk… that’s a good way to express the tingling mouth feel, post sip. Not viscous or heavy, but still smooth and alive.
I just love the look of a Dafo, the uniform flat dry appearance and the way it steeps, dancing in the cup, unfurling it’s beautiful two leaves and a bud. This tea is teaching me. It’s teaching me that longjing is not longjing is longjing, is longjing. What an expansive world.
Again, I think this tea suffered every so slightly from Tea Trekker’s (TT) clear sample packaging, or maybe this Dafo is not quite as pristine as some others I’ve seen, but it still is lovely to look at. And again the photo posted here, from the Tea Trekker site, does it justice. That’s so appreciated. When pictures aren’t available I always take great effort to make sure I photograph them in a way that represents them well. Glad to see TT goes the distance.
I jumped into this tea hoping it might bring me around to Dafo. I hate that I like the visual aesthetic and ritual of Dafo, but don’t appreciate the taste equally. I hit it with my usual tumbler/decanting routine, linked in my profile. But after a couple of tries I’m not particularly excited about this tea.
I’ve come to two conclusions:
1. To really get this tea to a place where I find a strong enough flavor, I have to steep it in a more traditional sense, letting it go a good 2-3 mins, allowing 2/3 of the leaves to sink. Maybe it’s the denser leaves, or possibly less surface area is exposed with this. I don’t know.
2. This tea strangely reminds me of many of the white teas I’ve had. I really noticed it had a stronger affinity with their flavor profiles.
Overall I found it a bit dryer, with some hay qualities, while having a light sweet aftertaste.
I still can’t say I’m joining Team Dafo anytime soon, but it sure can be pretty.
Lovely on my 2nd and third attempts at this tea. Took more care with water temp, a little lower this time. This appeared to keep the astringency at bay and allowed it to be more of an asset. Lovely mouthfeel to the first steep; a kind of thickness— Umami? Forgot to write about that initially. Think it got overpowered previously. Still would consider this tea a tad finicky, demanding your full focused attention.
Also, I think it’s important to note that Tea Trekker photographs their teas well; colors are accurate and samples are representative. Other than it being ever so slightly beaten up from the sample packaging (which I don’t particularly like) what they show is what I got.
Part of a sample pack I put together of their 2013 Longjing offerings, including Shi Feng, Dafo Village, Meijiawu Village and Weng-jia Shan teas. I’m really trying to school myself as to the differences in Longjings and Tea Trekker offers a great opportunity to compare. At roughly $60 total for 14 grams of each tea, that comes out to about $2 a steeping session. Not too shabby I figure, but certainly not cheap.
The first tea I’m trying from Tea Trekker is this Shi Feng. After sampling Mrs. Li’s Shi Feng from Verdant Tea, a variety of offerings from Teavivre, and some local offerings at Wing Hop Fung and Ten Ren in Los Angeles, I’m starting to think I may be more of a fan of Shi Feng Longjing. Aesthetically I really appreciate the wonderful look of Da Fo, but prefer what I’ve found to be the bolder taste statement that Shi Feng appears to make.
I’m far from proficient at really understanding the differences between Longjings, but I’m learning through all this experimenting. So please excuse errors I make or observations that may be incorrect. And PLEASE, feel free to share your thoughts and any information you may have that can help me broaden my knowledge. I really like Longjing tea and enjoy the flavor profile, brewing process and overall effect it has.
My initial notes may be somewhat superficial as I settle in to this tea, and I anticipate adding additional notes or comments with further brewing sessions as character is revealed. Also, as I did with my Teavivire 2013 Longjing tasting notes, I expect any notes I write on the 2013 Tea Trekker offerings will read much like a continued dialogue. So if you are interested in this comparison of teas, I’d recommend looking at any notes I write on Tea Trekker’s 2013 Longjings.
Using about 4-5g tea, I brewed tall glass method in my 10oz dbl wall glass tumbler, decanting to my Finum, leaving enough of a root to keep the tea leaves covered. This is my standard approach and tends to yield consistent results for me. I steeped a total of 5 times, 1st about 1 min, 2nd about 30 secs, 3rd about another minute to minute and a half, and the fourth I let sit quite a while, alternating between drinking directly from the tumbler and decanting. I drained the tumbler forgoing the root. The 5th steep I reheated my water and just did what I could to extract at a higher temp any flavor that might be left.
Overall impressions were consistent with what I like about Shi Feng; bolder flavors, toasty, with some astringency, followed by wonderful dry mouthfeel with a lingering sweetness. The astringency was bit stronger than I prefer with its initial hit, but it also is what lended this tea the aftertaste that I really appreciated. So I’m a bit torn with that observation and wonder if it could be resolved by experimenting with combinations of different brewing times and quantity of leaf. Though, that’s what I would call a “less forgiving tea.” A tea that can take my inconsistencies, slight variations on timing and water temps, different brewing vessels depending on what I’ve got going on, is an attractive trait and something I seek out.
Overall this tea took me on a bit of a journey that changed from steep to steep and was equally rewarding, and also quite unique each time. I’d say the 5th steep was lost on me, a bit tapped out. Perhaps the heat of the water was too high, though it still had a lovely color and some astringency left over, otherwise it was left somewhat hollow. Surprisingly though I did find some sweet aftertaste notes still playing over my tongue even at this stage.
A lovely honey colored brew, I was satisfied with this tea. It did hit me initially with that “juicy” description that Tea Trekker talks about, but the stronger tannic astringency was competitive, and took me out of it a bit. They talk about “yeasty,” and I’ll have to think about that a bit. I use to be a baker at an organic bakery in Montclair, NJ back in the day. I’m trying to place that “yeasty” descriptor. Maybe it’s akin to the “chestnut” people often think of with Longjing. I get that here. Less forthright, but present. Again, I’m taken back to this astringency. I feel weak-sauce using that term over and over, but as I nurse the 5th steep it keeps reminding me of it, though rather weak now.
I look forward to giving this another try and will update this note accordingly! FYI- My time and temp reflects the first steep.
As a side note, I’m not a fan of Tea Trekkers packaging. They use what appear to be mylar baggies that are heat sealed at the end. Basically they look like clear versions of small paper sandwich bags. Though I appreciate being able to see the leaf, I don’t think these bags do a great job of protecting the leaf. The plastic being rather fragile, I question the seal that is made and I also found that it tore once opened, making it useless. Sure, you probably want to move your tea to another container for storage, but not all of us have that luxury, so reusable bags are helpful. Otherwise shipping was reasonable, quick and the samples were boxed well.