32 Tasting Notes

95

Huh. Did I really taste all those things I wrote about in my last note? Or was I just unconsciously channeling things I read that other people wrote? It’s a constant fear when I write tasting notes, and I honestly don’t remember tasting so much. It’s been a while, and I just don’t recall the experience clearly enough to judge my last note as accurate or not.

That and…I didn’t get any of those flavours past steep two. I suspect maybe I need to use more leaf. Though I did use 5g in a 4oz Sado Nosaka kyusu (Hojo-ware I got back in Feb! Beautiful tea sheen developing and I’m such a proud teapot mama. BTW, remeasured it since the first few times I used it, so my previous note stating it’s 5oz? Erroneous.) So note to self – 5 grams is NOT enough to get me satisfactory flavour after steep 2.

I alternated between boiling water and 200F water, because…well, uncertainty. I second guess myself a lot until I “nail” it, and this is a tea with which I still dither. First steep? Beautiful maltiness with a whisper of chocolate and the toast-like flavour I associate with darker oolongs. Same with the second steep. And yes, I picked up the metallic texture, electrifying on the tongue and evoking burnt toast (not to a crisp, just browned to the point where it has the slightest edge of charcoal. I like my toast DARK sometimes).

But steep 3 and onwards? Not very much. Metallic texture and not a lot of flavour. I tried steeping longer and longer, losing count of what steep I was on after a while. 1 minute? 2 minute? Similar results. Switched to a 100ml gaiwan. Same thing.

The long and the short of it? I messed up. Not changing the rating, will try again soon.

Also note to self – stop reading what other people write before posting your own note, ‘kay smartkitty? Just in case, y’know?

ALSO. Anyone know if Hojo’s line of Sado Nosaka clay teapots develop similarly to zisha and zhuni clays? In terms of absorbing tea flavours, that is. The minerals in the clay already give the rock oolongs I use it for a smoother, sweeter taste. And don’t get me wrong, I love it. But I also love it when a good yixing starts giving back after absorbing tea flavours for a while and I don’t actually know if Sado Nosaka does that.

Preparation
Boiling
Spoonvonstup

If the vessel does absorb flavor, then that might also account for why steepings seemed to drop off for you. The vessel could be “stealing” the flavor! That happens to me a lot with new yixing, for example. For really greedy vessels, it might take some time before they stop stealing and start giving back.

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90

I finished off the last of my stash of this tea last night. Just coming off a rather bad stomach flu, so I decided to celebrate the end of my insanely boring bland diet of the past few days by making this.

I brewed it Jingshan style, which is by far my fave way of making greens. 7g of tea (in a brewing basket) to 12oz of water in a tall glass. Brewed five times, starting at 20 secs and increasing as I saw fit. I split the tea with my sister, who was at my place last evening, and saved a glass for sticking into the fridge.

Dry leaf smells deeply vegetal and crisp. Impossibly dark green and curled little leaves. Wet, the vegetal note expands into a buttery goodness that is just mouthwatering. My sister actually ate some of the wet leaves. “Tastes like the tea,” she offered. Well, not entirely specific, but it made us giggle.

And the flavour, oh the flavour. This is definitely a tea to brew correctly – oversteeped the taste is a little bit overwhelming on the vegetal notes, and the sweetness doesn’t come out to play.

But I was firing on all barrels last night. Vegetal, yes, but buttery and even nutty. I was reminded of biting into a salted (and perfectly buttered) corn on the cob. The tea itself isn’t salty, mind, just an image in my head. You’ve got the savoury vegetal notes at the forefront, buttery and delicious, fading into sweetness as the sip ends. I’m not sure I ever picked up on the cocoa, but that hardly detracts from the beauty of this tea. It’s more that I’m still training my tastebuds to find things. ;)

Not sure how I EVER confused the Laoshan Black with this, by the way – the liquor is a perfect clear and light jade. Everything about this tea is so green and beautiful!

One of those teas I need to keep in my stash at all times, I think. Though I may wait for the spring harvest to arrive before I reorder, and the anticipation is already killing me!

~

PS – I have to thank Krystaleyn for the word “savoury” for greens! Definitely apt.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 0 min, 30 sec
Kittenna

Haha, welcome :P Sometimes the right word actually comes to me!

Spoonvonstup

Glad you’re feeling better! I was drinking some of this at work on Friday, and I definitely ate my fair share of the leaves… (shifty eyes) They are quite good!

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82

(Note: I purchased the Spring 2012 varietal of this tea. The description was exactly the same, so I figured I’d post under this entry instead of making a new one.)

Whoa. This is FRESH. And these leaves just don’t stop delivering. I’m not sure I can offer anything constructive, except to say that as of steep 12, these leaves show no sign of slowing down.

Malty and sweet, absolutely beautiful. My only quibble is that they don’t seem to show much in terms of evolution, aside from the maltiness fading a bit as the steeps progress.

5g in a 5oz gaiwan, 5 sec steeps at max. I mishandled it quite a bit near the beginning, oversteeping for my taste. I’m not that good at gaiwaning, see, and the only reason I can manage it with greens and whites is the lower temperature. I burned my tiny little hands quite a bit while trying to get into the rhythm of the correct technique while making this. The result was that my first five or so steeps were overwhelmingly malty. I wonder if any of my yixings in my collection are good for black teas… Hmm.

Anyway. INTENSE tea. I drank until I was tea drunk and then I had some more. I am still vibrating with caffeine a few hours later. Not sure I should have had black tea so late in the evening. Glad I did nonetheless, this tea is gorgeous.

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec
SimpliciTEA

Wow, 12 steeping and going strong. Amazing!

smartkitty

I was surprised, too! I did have to increase steep times exponentially near the end, but I was very impressed by the staying power.

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86

I was very excited to try this tea. Doubly so, because I was going to debut my new sesame duanni teapot from Yunnan Sourcing to make this tea! No other sheng would do to break it in. It’s a bit on the large side for solo drinking (5ish oz with leaves in) but given how fantastic this tea was, it was hardly an issue drinking all the deliciousness over two days.

So 6g to 5oz at 212F, each steep around two seconds. Later steeps closer to 4 seconds. Made it to steep 8 on the first day, steep 17 on the second. I feel like the leaves had more to give even then. I gave the leaves a brief 5sec rinse at boiling before starting all of this.

The dry leaf smelled sheng-y to me. I’m a bit ashamed to say that I don’t know what else to make of that scent. Maybe with some experience I’ll have more to say about that. Wet, I picked up some tobacco smell from the leaves, which again, I tend to think of as “sheng-y”. There’s a whisper of mulled spices. It’s amazing how much the leaves expanded after the the rinse. From a compressed little clump, to endless, big leaves inside my pot. I love it.

My first impression, drinking the first few steeps, is how amazingly thick the tea is. It just coats your tongue and your throat, and it’s the most gorgeous mouthfeel ever. I was getting a tingling sensation over the tip of my tongue. I’m not certain I got the taste of mole, but there was a definite spiciness that reminded me of white pepper. Near the end of the flavour arc, I’m positive I tasted sesame seed candy. So sweet, so delightful!

By the middle steeps, starting around 6 or 7, the tingling had faded out, as had the sesame taste. At this point, my vocabulary fails me. The closest I can get to articulating the experience, is a dark and deeply nuanced older sibling to a chinese green tea. Astringent, darkly tangy, and then fading into an intense and never-ending aftertaste of grapefruit that reminds me intensely of the Sun Dried Jingshan’s aftertaste.

Then finally, in the last few steeps, a thick buttery sweetness. Definitely cinnamon-esque, though a lot more delicate. Maybe closer to a glass of almond milk with some cinnamon and nutmeg sprinkled across the top. So soothing, so energizing, so delicious. I’m so glad I have loads in my cupboard! I think this is the beginning of a beautiful (tea) friendship.

(PS – I suspect the rating will climb as my palate learns a bit more about puerh.)

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec
Spoonvonstup

How exciting! What a great note- you’re tasting a lot of cool things (white pepper, sesame seed, tingly, a kinship with Jing Shan). Imagine how much more the tea will give when your new pot isn’t stealing half the flavor for itself! Lucky little pot. If you haven’t already, you should take a picture of the pot now so that you can see how much it’ll have grown in a few months.

smartkitty

Thanks! I’ve definitely taken some pictures already, and I’m excited to see the changes over time. Well, and taste! :)

Spoonvonstup

How fun! Best pet rocks ever.

Kittenna

Spoonvonstup – I smiled so much when I saw your comment! :D

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93
drank Songyang White by Verdant Tea
32 tasting notes

I finally nailed this tea! But first, let me tell you about my nigh-tealess week.

It’s only just cooled down enough outside that my apartment isn’t an oven inside. I can do things around the home without feeling like I’m dying! Seriously, the past few days, the temperature inside my apartment reached the 90s almost daily. No amount of fans helped. The windows only open a couple of inches, so that didn’t help either. The Boy and I spent most of our evenings nearly immobile, moving only to feed the furbabies something cool. Needless to say, we didn’t go into the (significantly hotter) kitchen much. That included forgoing tea making for the most part. I did make a couple of tea slushies, but it was nothing too fancy. In fact, I was pretty sloppy with the steeps, because I just wanted to get back to vegetating in front of the two fans.

Needless to say, this 60F weather is a dream come true in comparison. It’s still a bit stuffily warm in the kitchen, but I can tolerate it enough now that I can make myself tea more often. I feel human again.

Now, this is the tea that I sadly mishandled last time I tried. I crowded the leaves and oversteeped it Western style. Even then, I could tell how much I’d like it if I got it right. And now I’ve gotten it perfect.

I took Mr. Duckler’s advice to try this Jingshan style, though leaving the leaves in a basket so I could stop the steeping a bit more easily.

1 tablespoon to a 12oz glass (one of those Pom Tea glasses they discontinued a while back). 175 degree water. First steep – about 15-20 secs; second steep – 20 secs; third steep – 30-35 secs; fourth steep – I eyeballed it until it was the right colour, about 3 minutes, sipping every so often to check the taste.

The result is a beautifully thick, vegetal, delicate, and extremely compelling tea. I’m not sure I have enough tasting experience to do it justice. It’s some sort of buttered vegetable, maybe green beans, that melts into a vegetal sweetness that’s delicate without being boring. A whisper of a green apple tart at the very end – tangy and buttery and sweet.

Beautiful and soothing, hot. Wonderful and refreshing, cold (I made enough to stick some in the fridge overnight!).

I’ll keep playing with this tea, next time I’ll try it in a gaiwan!

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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97
drank Laoshan Black by Verdant Tea
32 tasting notes

Steeped it hot and stuck it in the freezer, today. Drank it as a slushie. So good! Doesn’t even need sugar. Chocolatey, sweet, and awesome!

ssajami

Wow, that is a brilliant idea! I’ve got to try that, although not with Laoshan Black. I have so little of it, and it’s such an awesome tea that I’d be scared to experiment. However, maybe a chocolate or vanilla tea or something fruity.
Ha! Tea Slushie! I love it!

Ninavampi

Hugs!! Positive thoughts and wishing the best possible out come with the most hugs possible!

Ninavampi

Oops… Wrong post… But still send you hugs and possitvie thoughts!

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97
drank Laoshan Black by Verdant Tea
32 tasting notes

I finally caved and bought some with my last order, because the sample incident was going to haunt me until I tried this tea properly. And let me just say? It’s all I can do to stop myself glugging the heck out of this tea.

4 grams in a 4oz ceramic teapot. Very short infusions, only a few seconds each. Jumped up to 10 seconds by steep 5ish. Made it to 7 before I called it a night, but I will definitely continue when I wake up.

(Side note! Not very happy about the pour on my new little teapot. It was a cheapy buy, but I thought it might be handy for when I didn’t feel like getting burnt with my poor gaiwan skills. Well, note to self: expect a dribbly mess, and expect to count the long, slow pour into the steep time. That said, I discovered I like this tea on the longer side of steeping. So it’s not all bad! And it’s a cute, titchy little thing, and I like the way it holds the tea scent.)

Back to the tea! Tea liquor darker than last time, a nice burnt creme brulee colour. Tea leaves smell intensely of chocolate and malt after steeping. And the flavour is a full, delicious chocolate. The description suggests dark chocolate, but I say milk chocolate. I’m not much for dark chocolate, but I’m nuts about this tea. Really, really head over heels.

I have to admit something – I combined all the steeps and had it in two batches. I feel bad, but there’s always next time to do it properly, right? It’s impossibly hot in my apartment. Beautiful, outside. But my apartment building still has the heating on. I just didn’t feel like getting up multiple times. The gong fu gods surely scowl at me tonight.

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec

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84

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99

I’ve been drinking this tea Jingshan style all evening. 1.5 tablespoons to 6-ish ounces of water, 175F and refilling every once and again. Made it to five refills before I’ve decided to pack it in for the night. Could have probably gotten a couple more, too! Oh, I love this tea, and I love this brew style! I love the way it builds from very subtle to a very pronounced presence. Completely different experience from last time I brewed it!

This tea fills me with a sort of soothing energy. I could do anything, but not in a frenetic caffeine-crazed frenzy either. Calm, collected alertness, mental clarity. Gave my cat some catnip today, and watched her trip out every time she rubbed her face on that bit of carpet. Her highspeed hi jinks are a bit like my brain feels, only, again, without the frantic quality. I could get used to this.

Very sweet in the first few glasses, a bit drying. Love that punch of grapefruit at the end, delicious. Juicier as the steeps progress, and the sweetness does fade a bit, turning into a rounder flavour. Still grassy, still citrusy. I can definitely pick up on the basil from the description this time around. More basil-like than basil proper, but no less delicious. This would be lovely with Italian food!

Makes me wonder what this is like brewed iced. Probably the perfect summer drink! I’ve got 2oz and I’m already worried about when I’ll run out. Hopefully this is one of those teas that’ll be stocked every year, because goodness knows I’ll continue to buy it.

Nudged the rating up, because let’s face it – I’m addicted.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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97
drank Laoshan Black by Verdant Tea
32 tasting notes

This came in a little sample bag labeled as Autumn Picked Laoshan Green. I didn’t realize it was actually a black until much later. After reading some reviews on Steepster. The intervening time I just thought it was a very odd green tea.

My first impression was that the dry leaves were amazingly dark. I know the picture on the Verdant site shows some fairly dark leaves for the Laoshan Green, but even then I was surprised. It smelled buttery and malty and chocolatey and delicious. So far so normal, to me. The description did mention a chocolatey note!

Then the steeping. I…very obviously futzed it here. I thought it was a green. I steeped it as such. Western style in a small mug, 1 tsp to 6 oz for 2 minutes at 180F. And it steeped… caramel. “Huh,” I said to myself. “This looks, for all the world, like black tea.” And yet, I still didn’t catch on. The leaves smelled intensely like a Cadbury milk chocolate bar by this point. I really wanted to eat them.

At this point I started drinking the tea, burns and all. It was a bit light for my taste, but I attributed that to having run out of sample. I like a bit more than just a teaspoon, if I can help it. The tea itself was deliciously malty, with a distinct buttery, vegetal character that faded into a sort of deep caramel. I wanted it stronger! Sooo frustrating. Though, again, in retrospect, because I understeeped it.

So yeah, I started looking through the reviews for the Laoshan Green and noticed someone mentioned the liquor should be green. I decided to look at the spent leaves, and sure enough – not green in the least. I’m pretty embarrassed it took me so long to notice.

My rating is based on the way I steeped it, but I definitely want to try again properly. Next order I’ll get the Laoshan Sampler and give it a proper go.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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Bio

Bibliophile and language junkie. Now decidedly tea-crazed. Trying to convince The Boy that tea tastes like more than just hot water. Cat-lady and rat-lady in the making.

From San Juan, Puerto Rico. Adopted Bostonian. Current long-time Chicagoan. Up, up, up the ziggurat. Lickety-split!

I like an interesting tea, so I’m expanding my tea stash daily. As well as my teaware collection.

Location

Chicago

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