248 Tasting Notes
Another very interesting sample from Tea Ave to help warm me up on a cold and icy day.
First thing I noticed when I set up was that opening the bag was a sensational experience, with a very intense fresh herbacious/grassy scent wafting up from the dry leaves. The only other teas I own that are like this are the freshest of Tie Guan Yin’s and the most traditional of Shinchas. Incidentally enough, they all are very lightly processed teas, so I guess that’s the key. Anyway, I put some in a pre-warmed gaiwan, boiled some water and let it cool off to about 95 degrees centigrade, and steeped it for about 7 seconds for the first infusion. Right off the bat there’s a very strong fresh herbacious aroma, which was expected but still pleasant. The tea produced is a very light honey color, with a slight green tint to it. The flavor profile of the tea is very smooth, with something between a silky and mineral mouthfeel that gradually trends towards more mineralish as the aftertaste continues. Flavors of grass, herbaciousness, and sweet hay dominate the profile, and the tea is very sweet like most lightly-processed teas. The tea is also very thirst-quenching, and will probably make for a good summer tea.
The second infusion was steeped for only 5 seconds, using 95 degree centigrade water. The resulting tea actually smells more floral this time, which is interesting since that’s something that tends to fad in other oolongs, not develop. The flavor profile actually tastes like I steeped it a bit to long, which is a bit odd. It’s lost the silkiness and has gained a tiny bit of astringency. I think that the best bet for this tea is to pour it immediately if the leaves are fully awoken, and I’ll try that for the next cup.
I performed the same steeping as the previous cup, but I poured as quickly as possible this time. The result was much better, with the smooth mouthfeel making a comeback and the absence of the astringency noted previously. The flavor is a bit more grassy now, but still very pleasant. The aftertaste is also less mineral now, and fades fairly quickly. I think this tea really didn’t like the treatment it got during the second steep, and is starting to fade now, so I’m stopping.
In the end, it’s a great tea, though probably not the ideal thing to drink during the winter. I’ll review this again in summer, and I’ll be a lot more careful with steep times.
Flavors: Floral, Grass, Hay, Herbaceous, Sweet
It’s been a very, very long time since I posted a review, mostly due to work and partially since my previous gaiwan didn’t survive my move. Now that I finally got a replacement, I can finally post a review about the samples that I recently got from Tea Ave.
The dry leaves remind me a lot of a Darjeeling, very colorful and with a delicate flora aroma that I’ve come to expect from high-mountain teas. I filled my gaiwan about half way, and steeped for 15 seconds with 190-180 degree water, then pour it directly into some of my small cups. The first steep resulted in a very nice medium colored tea, that was very aromatic. Much like the dry leaves, it smells very floral, but there’s also a fresh herbacious aroma like a fresh green Tie Guan Yin. The flavor of the tea is similar to a really top quality Tie Guan Yin, but it feels like it’s thicker. The mouthfeel is a very nice buttery sensation that lingers for a long time in the mouth. As the tea cools down, it starts to taste a bit like a White Peony and loses some of the complexity.
For the second steep, I used slightly cooler water for about seven seconds. The tea actually tastes a lot more complex now, with hints of leaves and spice present in the palate now. The spice isn’t like the saffron that you taste in a really high quality Tie Guan Yin, and is a bit less subtle yest still hard to describe. It still retains its butter mouthfeel, but it’s a bit reduced. The aftertaste also is more complex, with lingering hay, leaves, and spices that fades over about 2 minutes. The development is rather amazing, and I can’t wait to see how it continues to develop.
For the third steep, I let it sit for 10 seconds. The end result is that I got a surprisingly thick feeling tea that was actually sweeter than both of the previous infusions. The aroma is also stronger, and it has developed a honey flavor, and generally continues to grow stronger and sweeter. Unfortunately, something came up and the tea got cold, wo there’s nothing else to say about this.
Later steeps started to lose flavor and intensity, and generally started to taste like a Bai Mu Dan. A very good Bai Mu Dan, but still much less interesting than the original flavor. Still, it’s a very god tea for contemplative sipping. If you want something that will just give you a nice relaxing afternoon, this is a good tea to try out.
Flavors: Floral, Floral, Hay, Hay, Herbaceous, Herbaceous, Honey, Honey, Spices, Spices
This just arrived the other day as part of my Steepster select subscription, so I’m drinking it during a slow day at work. Since I can’t brew it with the recomended directions, I improvised, using an 8oz cup, a finum brew basket, and boiled tap water. I let the water sit for a good 10 minutes to cool off, I’m not a fan of the bitterness that overwhelms the flavor of Japanese-style greens when brewed too hot.
After steeping for 2-2.5 minutes, I decided to see what the aroma was like, and was pleasantly surprised. It actually smells sweetly herbaceous/grassy, and reminds me a bit of when I used to “help” (read – get in the way and slow down the process of) my grandfather make hay on his farm. The flavor is a bit more conventional, grassy and a bit stringent, aftertaste lingers on the hard palate for a good minute and a half. Seems like a good everyday tea, nothing that makes me want to hoard it away (like my golden fleece, that’s only for special occasions), but still better than your average Japanese-style green. I’ll write more after the next steep.
Well, the second steep was fairly bland and generic. Most japanese-style teas lose a lot of flavor quickly, but this went from “interesting” to “upper middle class”. Good, but not great, lost both the astringency and the sweetness, not much else to say.
Flavors: Astringent, Grass, Herbaceous, Sweet
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