242 Tasting Notes
Now that my life is beginning to settle down after getting a job (still need a car and a more permanent apartment…), I actually have time for things like tea reviews again!
Got this tea through my recent Steepster select batch, so I brewed it at the office this morning. 8 oz. of near boiling water, steeped for 2 minutes to avoid the dangerous over-steeping that can cause puerh to be unpleasant. The foretaste is a very smooth herbaceous flavor which is very hard to place, and the smoothness is not quite silky, but not really mineral either. More generally, the tea is very sweet and has been properly aged to avoid the bitterness that can be prevalent in younger green puerhs. I am very interested in seeming how the tea develops as the tuocha really starts to break up.
Second steep prepared exactly the same as the first, but the resulting tea was significantly darker. The aroma is also more prevalent, and it turns out that it’s a nice earthy aroma that isn’t overwhelming like some young shu puerhs. The aftertaste/mouth-feel has also evolved to be a definite mineral-like flavor. The other interesting thing is hat it reminds me a lot of hojicha, which is really unique for a puerh in my experience. This has definitely turned out to be a well above-average tea, and I’m honestly looking forward to the next steep.
Flavors: Earth, Herbaceous, Mineral, Sweet, Wood
Another really old tea I found burried in my stash, this was actually something like my fourth tea purchase ever way back in the day when Verdant ran off Wordpress. Good time…
Anyway, the first cup was prepared in my gaiwan with 205 degree water for 20 seconds. The result is surprisingly bright, almost juicy yet at the same time buttery. The taste is dominated by some indistinct fruit (reminds me a bit of grapes, probably because of how juicy the flavor is), but with cedar occasionally showing through. This tea is also incredibly thirst-quenching, and is well suited for the wonderful weather we’re having in Virginia today, and I intend to savor every minute of it.
Flavors: Butter, Cedar
Wow, I didn’t know I still had this tea, let alone the 2 ounces still left in the sealed bag.
Anyway, I put a generous portion in my gaiwan, and steeped the leaves in near-boiling water for 18 seconds. The results is initially very mellow, a bit creamy but not overly so. The flavor intensifies to a kind of woody flavor with a bit of a mineral sensation that lingers on palate long after the tea is gone. Well, mineral might not be quite the right word to describe the sensation, but it’s not silky, or smooth, and there is a hint of stringency associated with it. It’s a bit like a Japanese green in that the astringency makes it more interesting than if it wasn’t present. Other flavors are present, but they are very subtle and kind of hard to describe. I also remember the tea being sweeter, but that’s probably just because this tea is getting rather old now. Regardless, it is well worth tasting this tea slowly to appreciate the complex flavors. Can’t wait to see how it develops.
Flavors: Cedar, Cream, Mineral, Wood
I can’t believe that I forgot about this tea, I’ve barely used any of it! Used a heaping teaspoon and a bit extra leaves in a gaiwan, steeped for 20 seconds with 190 degree water. As I was pouring the water over the leaves it started to fill the room with an amazing aroma that reminds me of when I used to go camping in Pennsylvania. The first sip of the tea starts with the a very mild, creamy smokiness that gradually transitions into raw sugar flavor. The mouth-feel also changes to the really fantastic mineral sensation that Wuyi teas are famous for, which was very pleasant. This is truly a rare find, and I can’t wait to see how it develops.
The second cup was preapred with 200 degree water and steeped for about 8 seconds. I was actually amazined, this time it tasted exactly like the subtle roast Zheng Shan Xaio Zhong I got from Verdant last year. That was an amazing tea, and for this to have ascended to that level put this the top 5 teas I’ve ever had. Wow. Anyway, the difference in taste is that this was a little darker, and there is more of the Wuyi flavor profile present. The tea is also sweeter and a bit less creamy, but everything fits together so well that talking about the individual flavors really doesn’t do the tea justice. I kinda wish I had another bag of this.
Flavors: Cream, Mineral, Pine
It’s been a really long time since I actually sat down to do a review, these recent semesters have been insanely busy. Anyway, I found this sample packet behind my monitor and figured that I should drink something other than my rapidly-depleting sheng puerh. I opened the packet and was immediately greeted with a pleasantly floral aroma. I steeped it for 20 seconds in a gaiwan with 200 degree water, which was a bit longer than intended but the result was still fantastic. The initial tasting was very sweet, the initial honey flavor giving way to a very smooth lilac flavor. It will definitely be interesting to see how the tea develops.
The second steep was prepared with 200-205 degree water steeped for 8 seconds. The first thing I noticed is that the initial flavor isn’t as sweet yet still very much a honey flavor. There is also a grassiness that I didn’t notice before, and even better the very subtle flavor of saffron appears, slowly coating the mouth in it’s unique flavor. The important lesson to learn here – Tie Guan Yin is to be consumed hot, otherwise the flavors are much less interesting.
Flavors: Grass, Honey
It’s been way too long since I had time for a proper tea tasting. After my last note, where I mentioned that a fried was seriously sick, I cough either the mother of all colds, a mild flu, or some combination of the two. I had terrible cold symptoms for over a week, and it only cleared up on the 29th. I couldn’t smell or taste tea properly because of the disease, and the decongestants and fever meds certainly didn’t help me stay awake.
Anyway, today is mostly free, so I’m going to try to work my way through this and maybe another of Angel’s samples today. Thanks again Angle!
I opened the tea and steeped it in my gaiwan for 15 seconds with near-boiling water. The aroma immediately started to fill the room, even though the gaiwan was still covered. It’s a bit overwhelming for me, I’m not used to tea smelling quite that strongly. Regardless, the taste and mouth-feel are both very pleasant. While the flavor of osmanthus is very prominent the vegetal base green oolong is still present to help balance the flavor out. Also, it’s amazingly sweet, much more so than I expect even from a green oolong. The mouth-feel is a nice balance between buttery and the classic high mountain smooth feeling, which works very well with the flavors of the tea to make the experience very relaxing. The whole experience is very delightful, especially after I got used to the aroma. IT wil be very interesting to see how the flavor develops and how long the Osmanthus flavor will remain prominent.
After Action Report
The next two steeps (Because it was really weak after three) were basically characterized by the osmanthus flavor predictably fading faster than the base oolong. By the third cup the flavor was very generic, but most green oolongs aren’t that great beyond 3 anyways, so I guess that can’t be held against it. It’s a very nice tea, it’s just not great.
Once again, shout-out to Teavivre for the tea!
First steep – 15 seconds in a Gaiwan using near boiling water. The aroma is pleasantly floral, doubly so since I have gotten over my brief cold. The initial flavor can have a touch of astringency fading quickly to a smoothness that is unique to high-mountain teas. I put this uniqueness down to the minimal roasting and oxidation used in these tea, which preserves the delicate flavors of the tea. The thing that really makes this tea stand out is how long the slightly-mineral aftertaste lasts. it was lingering for over a minute and half with my tea. That’s almost a record, and the other such tea was a big red robe, which is a much stronger tea. Truly remarkable. The other thing in the palate of the tea is a bit floral, which reminds me of some bushes near my grandmother’s house. I’m not sure what they are, but I’ll call her to see. All in all, this was a great cup of tea, and I’m looking forward to the next one.
Second steep – 5 seconds with near-boiling water. The result is much better, the floral flavors have really matured. Oolongs are almost always better on the second steep, peaking on the third, but improvement this pronounced is pretty rare. It’s like the first steep was a sketch, and the second was the painted final version: There are details and nuances that there not initially present. The aftertaste has also improved, becoming much sweeter. The end result is a much more balanced tea, with the right amount of sweetness to accentuate the other flavors.
Just when I think that I have a break, I find out my roommate is very sick with something that it is actually really serious. This has put a severe damper on my plans for the evening, ans so this will probably be the last note I have time for. Anyways, the third steep was prepared same as the second, and the results were actually a bit less satisfying than the second. It lost enough of the sweetness that the flavor wasn’t as perfect as before, which was a bit surprising. I think that the wash I gave it to begin with was actually detrimental to the flavor, so I probably won’t do that next time I taste the tea. It’s still an exceptional tea, but it lost the perfect balance between smoothness, floral flavors, and sweetness that made it exceptional. Anyway, I wish all of you the best, and hopefully the rest of your weekends will be more relaxed than mine.