Featured & New Tasting Notes
2016 Sheng Olympics
I can only be honest when I review tea and unfortunately this isn’t something I want to keep drinking. The other Laos tea I had the other day was wonderful, in fact I want to buy a cake; rather, I will. This tea though… not feeling it. The intimidate dryness after the sips is quite annoying since there isn’t a taste to associate with it. This tea lacks depth, taste, and anything inviting for me to drink it again. Hopefully the blue will be better, but I will try that tomorrow and continue with an oolong for the night.
2016 Sheng Olympics sampler. This tea is really, really good. It had little bitterness and an apricoty sweetness from the beginning. It was very smooth. The only thing I wonder about this tea is why they bothered to lie about it’s age. Even if in reality it is from 40 or 50 year old trees it is good enough to stand on it’s own. They weren’t using the age claim to charge a premium so why did they bother. This is certainly among the best young sheng I have ever drank. It is right up there at the top. I gave this tea fourteen steeps in a 60ml gaiwan. If I wasn’t at my caffeine limit I bet it would have gone twenty steeps. Again, I wonder why they didn’t just let this tea stand on it’s own.
I steeped this tea fourteen times in a 60ml gaiwan with 3.1g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, 30 sec, 45 sec, 1 min, 1.5 min, 2 min, 2.5 min and 3 min. Again if I wasn’t at my caffeine limit this tea would have easily gone twenty steeps. I seriously wonder why they felt the need to lie about it’s age. But there is little doubt in my mind that this is not from an 1800 year old tree. I think the thread on Transparency in the Tea Industry proved that.
Flavors: Apricot, Stonefruits, Sweet
Chocolate, hazelnut, and orange. Although DF teas seem to hold their flavour very well, at least considering I’ve had these for nearly a year, the flavours in this one don’t really pop. Despite this being my first tasting note, I have had this when it was a lot fresher, and if I recall, it wasn’t particularly flavourful then either. I’m not getting much other than the base. Perhaps a vague nuttiness that is blending in so well with the base that it could pass as a base note itself. Orange? Not much, and the chocolate is faint too.
For a chocolate orange nut blend, I prefer Velours Nacré, which has almond instead. I could be wrong, but I swear the orange and chocolate notes are stronger in it too. Also prefer Coquelicot Gourmand when we’re talking about ultra desserty DF teas. This only makes it easier for me to decide on what to get in the future.
I haven’t had this one in about 8 months according to my tasting notes. It is really inexpensive. I have been drinking mostly higher dollar stuff since last time. I was a little concerned I might not like this anymore. Not a problem. It is still really tasty as a latte. Nice light green tea taste with a nutmeg spice note. Doesn’t have the deep green color of expensive powder. For everyday, lightly sweetened, with frothed milk, use, it is still a good budget conscious choice.
So. At the tea festival, I bought three clear glass travel containers: two with glass interior and plastic exterior and one with double glass. When I was living in China, I had a fantastic clear plastic one that was a daily workhorse. I haven’t been able to find one like it here, so I keep buying and hoping.
My intention was to use them for continuous in-jar steepings and cold steeps, the latter being a novelty for me.
This tea was not a hit for me hot, so it seemed like a good candidate for cold experimentation. And it was. Score!
I used about one and a half or two spoons per 14 oz approximately and left it near a frosty window overnight.
It tastes good. Very close to candy floss, with all the imitation flavours that one can expect from that as well.
And now this tea is gone. I won’t be repurchasing it.
Flavors: Candy, Cotton Candy
2016 Sheng Olympics
This is by far the smoothest raw pu’erh I’ve ever had; you can say border tea or whatever, but Chawang already remarked towards that (https://www.instagram.com/p/BAV5oDdxYFX/)
I’ve only had this Laos tea as of today, buy I’ll remark on it briefly. This doesn’t provide a feel, rather it provides a smooth taste that doesn’t deviate between steeps. I’m unsure how long this can go on… I brewed it 14 times and it tasted the same at 14 as it did at 1. Much of that may do with how I broke it up completely after soaking the leaf, regardless it keeps its taste throughout very well. There isn’t a remarkable taste nor did it provide a feeling as I said, but for what it is… I really can’t see how anyone could deny the value of such a tea as this.
I can easily promise that after I finish all three of the Laos cakes, I will be buying one of them for sure; unsure if it will be this one, we shall see which ones comes out. I’m just amazed at how well this steeps and how light it is because I love light tasting tea that allows me to continue to sip it for hours.
GCTTB Another one that LP provided. I’ve been excited to try this one because i do enjoy black berry teas. The addition to sage in the blend made me even more curious. When this is hot, it’s mostly blackberry and delicious…as it cools, the sage gradually takes over. this is quite nice and i’m super glad to get to try it. thanks LP!
Bought this tea recently with an Amazon order. It has dark black leaves that smell intensely sweet. The tea is roasted in taste but only slightly. I added sugar to this tea so I’m not sure if it tastes without sugar as sweet as it smells but I think so. Overall this was an excellent value. I think I paid less than $9 for three and a half ounces in a nice tea tin. It will probably be one that I finish off rather than see go to waste. I buy too much tea and never get around to selling any so too much of it gets stale.
I steeped this tea one time in a 160z Teavana Glass Perfect Tea Maker with 3 tsp leaf and 190 degree water for three minutes after a 10 second rinse.
2016 Sheng Olympics
As part of the #2016ShengOlympics organized by LiquidProust, I decided to do a side-by-side tasting of all three Verdant “old tree” shengs. I figured with 50ml gaiwans it should not be overwhelming (I was not entirely correct; it’s still a lot of tea!)
Here’s the teas before the start of the session:
And here’s the aftermath showing the most intact and largest leaves I could find:
I took each tea through 11 steeps over several hours in round-robin fashion using 3.5 grams of leaf in each 50ml gaiwan with 205F (+/-2F) bottled spring water heated in a clay boiler. I let the tea guide my steep times, ending up with 10/10/10/15/20/30/40/60/90/120/300 seconds for each one.
All of the teas were quite mellow with mild aromatics and easy on my stomach. And the energy imparted was moderate; I never felt too wired.
300 Year Tree: Light yellow liquor. Aromas of pine in the first half of the session, turning tart and fruity in the latter half. Medium bodied, slightly oily mouthfeel. The flavor started fruity, turned to sweet-tart citrus with slight spice in later steeps. Some faint astringency in the beginning and again near the end when I pushed the steep times. Overall a decent mild young sheng.
1000 Year Tree: Medium yellow liquor. Aromas of pine in the first half, turning to old books, then spicy-tart near the end. Medium bodied, fairly oily mouthfeel and a soothing feeling coating the throat in most steeps. The flavor was primarily sweet-tart with slight spice and pine notes appearing at times, and citrus and herbs arising in the later half. Faintly astringent in the longer steeps. I liked this one just a little better than the 300 Year, mostly because of the feeling in my throat.
1800 Year Tree: Medium-dark yellow liquor (but not quite amber). Aromas were primarily tart, sweet, faint pine, woody, turning fruity sweet in the long steeps. Medium bodied, slightly oily mouthfeel. Flavors started as a sweet-tart balance with faint pine, citrus emerging in the mid-steeps, some herbal notes, ending with light sweetness and slight pepper. No astringency. This one edged out the other two in terms of flavor, but just barely. My notes repeatedly show “a mellow, smooth cup”.
Any one of these would be a good beginner’s sheng since they were all quite mild and well behaved. In truth I cannot pick a winner since they were all so similar. I had to really focus to pick out the differences. Also I did notice some slight camphor mid-session, but since that can carry over in the mouth from one tea to the next I could not attribute it to any one tea.
So what did I learn after drinking about a liter and a half of tea in one night?
(1) When I closed my eyes I felt I was swooping around the cosmos with “Rocket Man” playing in my head.
(2) Drinking this much tea leads to truly epic pee sessions. (Wife: “Did someone leave the water running?” Me: “Go back to sleep dear”).
(3) A few of my Steepster friends keep weird hours on Instagram as well.
(edited to add “2016 Sheng Olympics” at the top)
This is a queued tasting note.
Apparently the last time I had this tea was in November of 2014 which is… a long time ago.
At some point after finishing off the tin I had of this I developed the impression that this had been discontinued. The other day I was in DAVIDsTEA looking for something to get To Go because all my tea was packed up and I needed a tea fix desperately; I saw this on the shelf on got excited! I grabbed it iced; and I’m happy I did because after well over a year of not having this (and my tastes definitely changing over that time frame) it turns out that I DO still like it.
- VERY strong chocolate flavour
- Don’t remember it being so strong??
- Lovely raspberry truffle type finish though!
When I finish off Cocoa Canela I may get this instead of restocking that one; I like the idea of this being a less monotone flavour/one note tea. And I feel like my cupboard is sorely lacking a good raspberry “every day” tea at the moment.
Pique Tea Earl Grey comes in individual serving packets. There website says they use organic whole leaf teas to brew the tea, then they turn it into crystals. I’m open to trying about anything tea related. My fear was this would be similar to the Nestea I drank in my misspent youth. I promise you, this tastes nothing like that stuff.
I used 8 oz of 205F water. The crystals dissolved immediately without the need for a spoon. The color was a beautiful Burgundy. Just a light bergamot fragrance. The taste was far more citrusy than I expected. What impressed me most was I could tell they used a Ceylon base. It has that brisk bite of clean almost tart astringency that I crave in my Earl. How they managed this I have no idea.
While sipping the cup I hit upon an idea to test the limits of the crystals. I grabbed a bottle of water out of the fridge and added the contents of a packet. Replaced the lid and shook the bottle. After a few moments I had an icy cold bottle of Earl Grey. It was a 12oz bottle but really didn’t seem weak.
I look forward to trying their unflavored teas to see if they capture the taste correctly. For now, I’ll say this Earl Grey was extremely convenient especially for on the go drinking and I thought it tasty both hot and cold.
Up until now, cold brewing Golden Honey Dew has been off limits because I only have 50g and I’ve been hoarding it like mad. Between the terrible dollar exchange and the fact that I haven’t found any other Lupicia tea worthy of reordering, I don’t now when I’ll ever get more of this liquid gold.
But I did treat myself to a jug of cold brew after holding into this for 3/4 of a year, as it’s starting to lose a little bit of its beautiful aroma and flavour.
This does not disappoint. It’s like drinking a Melona bar. Genius blend!
After reading about the concept of insect feces as tea, it was only a matter of time until I drank it. This product is said to be a home made product from the early 1980’s via Chawang. A short excerpt:
“Local people put medicinal herbs and old tea leaves into a bamboo basket and let them natural fermentation to produce aroma to lure insects lay eggs, after some months larvae eat the leaves and leaving the droppings there. People take droppings out and dry them in the sun, then fry the droppings together with tea and honey in the iron pan for 20 minutes so that the final insect feces tea is ready for drinking.” (http://www.chawangshop.com/index.php/1980s-guangxi-chong-shi-cha-10g.html)
How could a tea addict not let these words brew curiosity within themselves of an unknown journey that this would provide? This is something that I knew I would approach with a lot of time dedicated to the thoughts of brewing it as well as tasting it.
The first steep had a flash wash just to wake it up; I wanted my antique poop to be more alive when I tasked it! The first session I stuck with the typical 10 second steep as I would with a liubao or raw puerh I have no idea what to do with. The first thing you notice is, this is poop; just from the look alone, there is no denying that I just put poop in my teapot. The first steep I decided to sniff it awhile while it cooled. There is a medicinal smell in there mixed with a bit of that ‘dirty’ smell that luibao tends to have. The first sip took me by surprise as I was expecting more of a dirt taste and dryness. Initially I tasted some wet hay that is in the drying process. The similarities of luibao and this tea are evident from the look, smell, and taste. What I like most about this is how smooth it is. Interestingly, it leaves an oil like texture on the back of the teeth once you sip it down. That feeling is enjoyable until I remembered that it’s basically poop lubricant that I’m running my tongue across to assess the feeling.
Upon finishing the first session, I decided that I needed to go on to the next. Surprisingly this resteep very well. The next steep has a lot of the same qualities that you find in a really dried out white tea. It’s quite nice to have mixed in with the luibao taste. The oil like feeling has gone away which is unfortunate now because the after taste is quite dry. Little pieces are finding its way in my cup as they may be dissolving and getting smaller. Now I’m drinking and eating poop that’s older than me; isn’t that a weird concept?
I went ahead to four total steeps with a total of 22’ish ounces brewed and drank. In regards to the price: At $8 for 10g, it seems high but you have to keep in mind that you won’t be using 4g for a session. I think the price is lower than it could be, it’s actually a great deal for the experience and age of what it is.
It will be interesting to see what this tastes like, as it has been living in its paper sample bag in a plastic container along with other Simpson & Vails, some of which are florals, in their paper sample bags.
The dry leaves are small and medium in the tippy and curly department. They smell a little perfumey, which scares me some.
The tea steeps dark, darker than I’ve seen in most yunnans. A clear, dark mahogany. The aroma is malty-deep, slightly sweet, with just a hint of pepper. The perfume smell doesn’t carry over into the aroma, fortunately.
The flavor is surprisingly mild given the dark color and smell, but flavorful. Gentle on the stomach. There’s just the smallest amount of perfume carry-over, but not enough to give the tea an altogether different flavor from what it is. It’s not the best yunnan I’ve had, solid, but not overly interesting. It sort of reminds me of the Numi Chinese Breakfast.
I suspect I’ll sip this one down easily and quickly, both because it’s a pleasant drink and because with all the other yunnans in my cupboard that I prefer to this one, I’d rather sip down this one as a distraction from focusing on the others.
Now for the life update. No need to read if you’re in this for the tea. ;-)
Sorry I’ve been rather scarce. I’m still getting a feel for the new routine. I’ve been doing coffee first thing in the morning for the extra alertness jolt with fast preparation time, taking tea with me in the Timolino, typically a green of some sort, and always one I’ve written about before and so far there hasn’t been much to add by way of notes.
There is tea at work, by the way. There’s a full Starbucks in one of the campus buildings, and a variety of bagged Numi teas in the kitchen on my floor. I also brought some tea to work. Essentially all the bags I have left. I haven’t actually steeped any yet though. I’ve been occupied with trying to learn everything there is to learn which makes the time fly and before I know it, the day is gone and I haven’t made any tea at work again.
On the home de-cluttering front: continued success! This morning I packed up five boxes for storage, mostly my old toys I’d saved from childhood for the kids that they’ve outgrown and the toys they have sentimental attachment to but don’t play with anymore. With that, the toy project is pretty much done except for the random things that continue to turn up in weird places. I can pretty much be assured to find at least one Lego in every drawer in the house if I look hard enough. ;-)
So to recap: toys are done, office is done. What’s left? Books and clothes, mostly.
Last weekend we took some books to the library to donate. They don’t put them in the library but they sell them for fundraising. There will probably be another box or two of these coming as I finish going through the kids’ books with them, but there aren’t too many left to go through. Then there will be are a few boxes of books to store—baby favorites that they don’t want to let go but don’t look at much anymore.
The book project was pretty amusing. Who knew we had five copies of Goodnight Moon, until we looked through everything?
I’m hoping to finish some of this packing up this weekend, but I’m not going to stress about it. As long as I continue to see progress, I think I can keep motivated to finish.
The one thing that has suffered in all of this is my writing. I have several stories I’ve workshopped and need to revise, and some stories that have been sent back from magazines that need to be resubmitted. Maybe I’ll be able to make an hour or two tomorrow to work on my Writers of the Future entry for this quarter. According to my readers it only needs some minor revision, so if I can get it revised, I can set it aside until next weekend, do a reread, and submit if I can’t think of anything else to do to it.
Flavors: Floral, Malt, Molasses, Pepper
This is one of my favorite, ‘take with me to the snow teas’, for drinking on early cold snowy mornings in bed with a book before waking up the husband and getting his butt out of bed for a day of snowboarding on the mountain. I don’t get pecan specifically from this tea but rather a generic general nuttiness which works well with the Caramel and chocolate notes. The addition of milk amps up the creaminess factor and I couldn’t honestly imagine drinking it without a generous splash. I may have to reconsider more of this tea if my stash runs out before the snow melts this season.
2016 Sheng Olympics
I couldn’t tell you why I took some of this to work with me… but I did. With that being said, I used a kamjove and water that was probably 90c from what I have been able to asses while brewing at work. My session, which lasted six hour , consisted of 10 second steeps. The amount of steeps that I ended up with was over 14 and I stopped counting after 10. I’ll be honest to say that I feel like there might be a possible write up in the future for me as I take a lot of pee brakes because of how much tea I drink at work.
This was one of the most looked forward teas for me because it has some time to sit and do it’s thing. What was really weird about this was the background taste of honey for the first six steeps. Unsure if any other raw puerh has ever had me taste a thick sweetness hidden inside it, but it was there. This tea for me is in the medium area for thickness and darkness. The taste is comprised of very smooth notes that stay on the lower area of the mouth and the roof of the mouth. There’s some roasted vegetable notes with a small hint of stone fruits because the sweetness mixed in there appears that way for me. Since I was at work, I am unsure if this provided any real feeling or not because I stay quite busy and never notice anything besides the ‘I have to pee’ feeling.
I will say that I was very pleased with this. I do have some more to try at home with better conditions and I think comparing it to the 2009 and 2015 will be quite interesting :)
Urgh. This is annoying me so much not being able to do tasting notes, I think i’m just going to review my cold.
This cold is an interesting one: initial steeps were very hot, ending in me sleeping only four hours last night which wasnt great. The body is medium sore, with the headfeel definitely strong enough to be in the ache category but not as strong as, say, a migraine. My nose is also blocked so im frequently having to bump this with sudafed.
The most amazing thing is the mouthy feeels & huiguan, I just cant taste anything! for three days! Oh how fun that has made drinking tea. They are on to a winner with that one.
medium to strong astringency
I steeped this in a 100ml gaiwan with boiling water
2016 Sheng Olympics sheng sampler from Liquid Proust. This is without doubt one of the best shengs I have ever drank. It had very little bitterness and a sweet taste from the start. I would have to use the word apricot to describe the sweetness, apricots and stonefruits definitely. I gave this ten steeps and may go back to two more if I reheat my Anta Pottery Clay Boiler again. I don’t know how much this one cost and I’ve never ordered from Tea Urchin but I definitely want one. I think I want to buy one and store it it my pumidor for the long term. However, since I also want to go in on the group order from Yanqqinghao with Emmet I may have to wait on this.
I steeped this tea ten times in a 100ml gaiwan with 6.3g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, 30 sec, 45 sec, and 1 min. The tea was not played out at ten steeps, I’m sure I could get a few more from it and may go back to it after I finish this review.
Flavors: Apricot, Stonefruits, Sweet
Ugh oh gods no there’s licorice root in this too? Bear With Me, you are a trouble maker. ;)
Huh. Actually, this mostly just tastes like rooibos. I didn’t steep it long, and I added honey, so maybe that… no, there’s the sweet licorice root grody aftertaste. Haha.
But it’s no completely terrible and I am SO COLD today, I will sit here cuddling my mug.
I’m kind of a cardamom freak. I’ve always wanted to try this tea so I ordered some from Amazon when I needed a few other things. This is by far the largest tin of tea I’ve ever had at 17.6 ounces! The tin is HUGE. I recall having an 8 oz. tin of Florence by Harney and Sons that seemed to last forever. I guess I’ll have this stuff for years. Let me know if anyone would like a sample ;)
Now on to the tea tasting notes. I steeped it this morning in my Adagio tea maker for 3 minutes. I didn’t see an cardamom pods or powder in here. I think this is cardamom flavored tea. I’m not sure if the flavoring comes from oil or what. Compared to the cardamom french toast I had from David’s Tea this is much milder. Less cardamom-y. Since I have so much of it I might throw in some cardamom pods or desiccated cardamom into the tin to bump up the flavor a bit.
As for the tea itself, it’s a dark, somewhat standard ceylon. I found it had quite a bit of heft compared to some other ceylons I’ve tried. It has that citrusy, sort of copper-y flavor that’s fairly unique to ceylons. I had a mug of this in the morning with soymilk added. I haven’t tried it with sugar yet, but I imagine that would be good with this particular flavor combo.
Overall I like this stuff but I wish I liked it a bit more, since I definitely have way too much of it. I guess it won’t go stale anytime soon, that’s the good thing about black tea.
A non-tea drinker asked to come to tea yesterday! I have found that people who don’t already drink tea seem to very open to puerh, and many get addicted to it. I can name three people who had puerh at my house and now have a large puerh collection, even though they didn’t drink tea before they came. And I serve other teas, but puerh gets the fans!
Anyway, after showing my guest some loose leaf puerh, flavored puerh, coin puerh, and beengs, I chose this one to serve. She really liked it and said it was her favorite of all the tea we drank. (We started with Teavivre Dian Hong – Golden Tip, then had their Anxi Tie Guan Yin) I made a lot of it in resteeps, then cold steeped the leaves overnight and had the cold puerh with my lunch today. Hubby came home from work and we had grilled cheese sandwiches and creamy broccoli soup with a little grated cheese on top.
I would say this is already better tasting than when I got it 14 months ago. I liked it then, but I think I like it even more now. It has not unseated my beloved and now out of stock Mengku Palace Ripened Golden Buds, though.
This has quite an earthy aroma, but she wasn’t frightened away by it. The taste is earthy, too – more farm-fresh soil than barn and horse.
On another note – I DESPERATELY WANT THOSE CHICKEN TEA PETS FOR SALE AT THE TEAHOUSE SHOP!!! I can not believe it. I have too much stuff, too much tea stuff, too many doodads, and don’t need any more kitsch, but they are so adorable! I never thought I would ever buy a tea pet. Yes, I will probably break down and buy them very soon.
Somehow my review for this didn’t post and I just noticed while updating my cupboard…
Anyways, this is clearly one exceptionally stored tea. Being that I am not a fan of OB, that is some strong words. This taste like a light version of the 90’s red mark sheng from W2T; not even a slight exaggeration. This is just a beautiful tea all around that provides some nice notes that I am unable to describe to anyone who hasn’t drank a 20’year sheng (which I can say this is like the 98 mark as well).
I don’t suggest many teas because I know how important money and spending is, but out of all the aged oolong I’ve had (beside the 89’ from Tea Urchin)…. I highly suggest buying some of this. You won’t find such a beautifully stored and aged OB that brews at such ease with such the flavor profile that this has.
I’d love to be proved wrong as I always love me some new tea :)
Jin Jun Mei… Need I say more?
OK, I will. Dry leaf scent is malt and brownies. The steeped leaf aroma is honey and molasses. The brew is a deep reddish brown. It tastes of honey and malt with hints of sweet potato. I notice a crisp briskness running through the sip but it stays out of the limelight. I also thought it neat that the more I sipped, the more I caught a citrus type fruitiness. This is a pretty solid example of the type.