98 Tasting Notes
This is also backlogging…from a couple of weeks ago.
My first Big Red Robe, and a free sample that Garret so kindly included in the box with my new yixing teapot. (It’s beautiful, by the way! I haven’t decided what to dedicate it to yet, but I’m thinking an oolong of some sort.) This is a perfect tea morning…
Anyway, I’m figuring out gongfu style, so I decided to try that too. Steeped 1.5 tsp in a little 4 oz ceramic cup that I just got from an artist friend, rinsed the leaves for about 10 sec, poured out the water, holding the leaves back with a fork (because I’m classy). I started the 1st steeping below with 30 sec, about 205 degree water, and added about 10 sec each steep.
1st steeping: I’m getting a mineral-y quality here…very smooth, with a hint of metallic texture.
2nd steeping: Mmm. Wow. This is sweet and smooth, and I taste something that I can only describe as caramel. This is delicious…can’t wait for the next steeping.
I’m not ready to rate it yet, but I’ll try it again to familiarize myself with it better so I can accurately rate it. Very nice!
I got an ounce of this when I placed my first Verdant order. I finally got around to trying it yesterday, and I had it with about 3 parts water to 1 part soymilk. It cooled off super quickly because of the soymilk, but I put it in my lovely travel mug and it still stayed fairly warm. I sipped it during breakfast with a dear friend from the summer yesterday—she had just gotten back into town, I was just about to leave. It was great to catch up. The chai tasted very nice, but I think I had drowned it out some with the soymilk, and I would have liked it to be hotter.
I had saved the leaves from my fantastic, amazing day spent with Autumn Laoshan Black the other day; I had gotten 15 delicious infusions from them and I finally had to go to bed! I figured it was a shame to compost them just because of that when they had so much more to give.
How does this connect? I put the not-yet-spent pure leaves together with the chai-spiced ones from yesterday and brewed it all gongfu style. I now can taste all the smooth, spicy intricacy of this delicious chai, coupled with the beautiful base of the Laoshan leaves (which are perfect for this kind of thing, by the way). It’s so complete on its own that I don’t think I’ll drink this with milk…
In just four short hours I’ll be DONE with my last paper and last bit of work for the whole semester! It’ll require some solid effort to finish this off, though, and something to reward me as I’m writing…and this is where the Laoshan Northern Black comes in.
I decided to steep this gongfu style, because I’m getting better at that now. After the ~5 sec rinse, I steeped it about 5 sec (with 2 teaspoons to 5 oz water).
Oh man. Oatmeal raisin toast. It’s been too long since I last had some of this! It’s so creamy and smooth. I almost feel like I put some creamer in here, but…I…didn’t. I am consistently amazed at the stunning smoothness of the black teas I’ve gotten from Verdant.
I think I’ll be able to finish this paper in no time. Bring it on.
UPDATE: I’m on the fourth steeping now, and I’m getting this fantastic sweet, light but full cocoa-y note that’s filling my mouth. Also, I have to mention that when I’ve been steeping this, it’s been hard to come out of my hanging-my-face-over-the-cup reverie because the steeping aroma smells so much like cocoa, particularly like this fantastic cocoa mousse my dad always makes to serve with angelfood cake. Mmmm.
ANOTHER UPDATE: I’ve been drinking this allllll day. I’m on the eleventh steeping now, and it’s still soft, sweet, a little dark and raisiny, and perfect.
THE UPDATES, WILL THEY EVER CEASE? I made it to fifteen infusions. Then I had to go to bed. These leaves have lasted longer than I have.
So I mentioned at some point that I “diluted” this with an equal amount of pure rooibos to make its flavor less…like bourbon. It tasted great, but gosh, I had to eat something afterward to absorb the fumey feeling. So I did that and it’s PERFECT. Plus it’ll last longer.
Anyway…I just brewed a cup of half my new version of this and half Azteca Fire. I think the vanilla flavors really accentuate the cocoa well…mmmmm. Now I just need to finish this paper.
Interesting note—the scent of the dry leaf (and brewed liquor, to some extent) is similar to Yunnan Golden Buds by Verdant Tea. Interesting, especially since Nepal isn’t even close to Yunnan Province…
First sip—thick and honey-sweet. I actually said “wow” when I sipped this…
I’m getting a slightly green note and maybe a floral one at the very end of the sip. This is very delicious! It’s not particularly complex, but there’s enough complexity in my life right now with finals.
I’ll keep drinking this all day and see how it evolves. Very tasty.
Update: Got at least six quality infusions out of this, adding about 10 seconds every time. It’s very smooth and nice…like I said before, not too complex, but solidly delicious!
This arrived in the mail yesterday. I had had an unimpressive day of tea up until that point—I steeped some peach white too long, making the taste of peach gummi rings stick in my mouth; I then tried a 2010 shu pu’erh that I haven’t figured out exactly what works best for it yet. It wasn’t bad, just unremarkable, which I’m sure is because I’m still figuring it out. So I had some of my new Yunnan White Jasmine.
It smelled heavenly right away—sweet, floral, not overly so. The first steeping was fresh and pleasantly jasminey. I may not have been in a mood for jasmine white tea yesterday—I’m not sure, but I think I was looking for something roastier and darker. I enjoyed that steeping, though, and I decided to come back to the same leaves the next day with a fresh mind.
“Fresh mind” is putting it generously. I just finished a dialogue final paper for one of my classes, and I got to bed late (for me) last night and finished it this morning before handing it in. I’m kind of dragging this morning, a little spaced out, and generally tired-feeling, so a nice hot cup of tea (without caffeine!) is very welcome at this point.
So it’s the first steeping of the day, but it’s the second steep. Sweet goodness, the second steep. I feel like I’m strolling—maybe hovering a little bit—through a garden in early June, a garden full of cascading white blooms, with my mouth hanging open. This is sweet, smooth, creamy bliss. I’m sitting here half-awake with my hands wrapped around my mug and my chin stuck down into it, absorbing as much of this delicious warmth as I can.
If you’re just not in a jasmine mood the day you try this…do what I did and save the leaves for the next day. It’s more than worth it.
What is this that’s suddenly on my tongue? I’m not making it up—it’s sweet and slightly caramely. This might be the powdered sugar sensation that Geoffrey mentioned, although I’m sure no two people will get the exact same experience out of this…(for the paper I just finished I’ve been talking about Kant, so this connects in a surprisingly analogous way.) This tea is full of surprises.
If that was just the second steep…gosh, what will the next ones be like?
Got some of this for the first time since last year—I have been acquiring more and more true tea and didn’t have as much caffeine-free stuff on hand. Upon opening the bag, I am awash in the heady aroma of bourbon and rooibos. Mmm, it’s kind of like cookies with too much vanilla (we always add a little extra in my house). I brewed it for about 6 minutes, breathing in the fumes. Since it smells so bourbony I’m going to call it fumes, not aroma…it certainly feels that way.
First sips. In the first second or two, not much happens, but then BOOM—creamy, rich vanilla. It stays in your mouth for ages…in a grandfabulous way. The rooibos lends a toasty note. This vanilla tastes so authentic—like a mixture of pure vanilla bean and the best Mexican vanilla extract my family uses. I didn’t like this one as much when I got it the first time…for some reason. But my goodness, this will stick around from now on.
I steeped this a second time and put it in my travel mug just like the first one…then I headed to class. I spilled some nasty citrus-sage essential oil all over my laptop and other possessions last week, my travel mug included, and the top of the mug, which is plastic and not stainless steel like the rest of it, has absorbed that smell. I’ve been trying and trying to wash it out—dish soap, baking soda, Dr. Bronner’s soap—and the latter one, which I used this morning, has lent a distinct minty smell to the top of the mug.
I’m mentioning this because my second steeping, which, unlike the first one in the travel mug, actually came in contact with the lid, tasted completely like weird mint. I am almost 100% sure that this is no fault of the tea!
…mrenhh. I need to get a new lid.
Picked some up at TeaSource when I had first expressed a curiosity for dark tea. At something like $1.50 for four mini tuochas, who could refuse?
Brewing…should’ve known to put it in my brew basket. As soon as the water hit it, it started dissolving, sending cool bubbles up everywhere…pretty awesome to watch. I dumped off this steep after about 30 sec and salvaged the leaves, putting them in the basket. Here we go!
Steeped for probably 4 min, because the smell was so strong that I wanted to try it step by step. The aroma is of a fire, more specifically our cooking fires up in the Boundary Waters. Imagine this: it’s cold, misty, and gray, with the rain spitting down on you and your inadequate rain gear. You can feel all the twigs and pebbles sloshing around in the three inches of water that refuse to leave your boots. Your fingers are starting to do that thing where they get all pale and spotty from the cold, and you’re huddled up as close as you can get to your two new best friends while you try and try and try to build a decent fire. Someone went into the woods to find dry kindling, and the flame finally takes, while you watch, awestruck, like the first humans to ever see fire. Set the pot of lake water on…and soon we’ll have rice and beans. Feel the char and smoke envelop you as you get as close as you can to those life-giving flames, thanking them each moment for their existence.
Can you feel it?
That’s what this tastes like.