244 Tasting Notes

84

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!

First Steep
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.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec

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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.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec

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First of all, thank you Teavivre for another round of samples. I don’t have that much experience with Taiwanese oolongs, so these samples will be a bit of a learning expereince for me.

First steep – Quick wash with hot water, followed by a 10 second steep. The result is pleasant, the color reminiscent of a fine Tieguanyin. My roommate commented that the aroma was really floral, but I’m a bit under the weather and can’t confirm that. The mouth-feel is buttery smooth, and the flavor of the tea is a nice subdued floral flavor. The really nice thing about this tea is that despite the brightness of the flavors it still retains a great deal of complexity, with some vegetable flavors sneaking in as the flavor develops. As the tea transitions to the aftertaste, it sweetens (again, much like a Tieguanyin) to round off the experience and end on a high note. This is definitely a tea to drink slowly and savor.

Second Steep – I lost track of time, I had sudden inspiration for my AI homework, and rushed out type it out before I forgot. As such, the tea was a bit over steeped, and was actually a bit unpleasant when hot. There was a lot of astringency because it was over steeped, but after the tea cooled down the sweet aftertaste was able to assert itself, making the tea a bit like a Gyrokuro. Other than that, it’s a bit more floral this time, but the flavors are …jumbled, for lack of a better term. Honestly, given how badly I botched the steep, it’s amazing that it turned out this well.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec
TeaVivre

Once tea is over steeped, the astringency comes out and affects the taste.

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100
drank Golden Fleece by Verdant Tea
244 tasting notes

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I ran into a review of this tea somewhere (not here on Steepster for once…) and though it sounded great. I ordered a cake from Misty Peak, but since Nicholas is an awesome dude, he sent me the cake AND a generously sized sample of the same stuff, so I wouldn’t have to break up the cake to taste the tea.

Anyway, the first steep was prepared as normal, generous leaf in a gaiwan, steeped for 15 seconds in near-boiling water. The resulting tea is really fantastic, with a delightful savory flavor that is very different from any young puerh I’ve ever had. There is none of the harshness that a lot of young sheng’s seem to have, and the tea tastes more like an oxidized tea. Finally, the aftertaste is very pleasant, but nothing too special, merely a normal puerh aftertaste. Regardless, his was a surprisingly good tea, especially when you consider it’s age, and I really can’t wait to see what else it has to offer.

The second steep was prepared with the same temperature water, but only a 7 second steep. The tea is a bit milder, but the big change is that the aftertaste remind me a lot of Verdant’s Mi Lan Xiang Dancong in that it’s really thirst-quenching. What a pleasant surprise, I wonder what else this tea has in store for me…

EDIT – Damng, my session got interryupted by a trek to the post office for a package, then dinner with friends, and now there’s no time left in the day. I’ll pick this up again tomorrow, it’s good enough to merit a few more cups :)

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec
Charles Thomas Draper

I bought a 2012 Autumn and the 2013 Spring. Highly recommended. And yes, Nicholas is an awesome dude….

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I felt like being adventurous today, so I picked a random puerh. While I’m no expert on sheng, I’ve had my fair share of cheap young sheng samples, and not many of them were palatable let alone good. Regardless, David over at Verdant says that this is a pretty good tea despite its age, so I figured I’d go for it.

I carefully broke off a nice portion of leaves, and brewed them up using my gaiwan and near-boiling water. The leaves were allowed to steep for 15 seconds for this first cup. The first thing that I noticed is that the aroma of the tea is actually fairly mild, lacking the harshness I associate with young sheng. Likewise, the tea flavor is a lot milder as well, which was a wonderful surprise. While there is the expected initial astringency, it is neither a strong as I expected nor a long-lasting. The tea actually sweetens after a few seconds, and then it gets really interesting. The tea is very crisp, with notes citrus and some spices mixing together to create a very complex yet relaxing flavor profile that lingers for over a minute on the hard palate. Finally, the tea has a very nice smooth feeling to round off the experience. It will be really interesting to see what later steeps reveal, after a lot of the tannins get washed out.

The second cup was brewed with the same parameters as the first, but only half the steep time. Surprisingly, the tea is only a touch milder than during the first steep. The stringency is less noticeable, but the complexity and the aftertaste are unaffected. Not much else to say other than it’s still rather pleasant. Maybe the next cup will be more revealing…

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec

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90

The past month has been busy. Between moving into an apartment, cooking for myself all the time now, and my school work I’ve been run a bit ragged. In fact, the only reason I’m writing this and not working on something is becuse I finished a HUGE assignment for my Artificial Intelligence class (written entirely in Lisp, a language I was learning as I went). Regardless, I have a free day, so I can actually write about the tea I’m drinking for a change!

First steep – I threw a generous amount of this in my gaiwan, and I steeped the leaves for a minute with near-boiling water. The result is a deep red tea with a very strongly of a Keemun with lovely wood notes. The flavor of the first cup was very typical of the Keemuns I’ve tried, surprisingly sweet and very clear for such a dark tea. The interesting thing about this tea is that while there’s definitely Keemun, there is something else blended in that I can’t identify. The aftertaste gives it away, with a mineral sensation and a bit of something else a bit more bitter. Regardless, it’s a very pleasant blend and is exactly what I needed to recover from a long night of programming.

Second and Third Steeps – The tea has mellowed remarkably, yet it still retinas the important qualities like the gently sweetness and the odd sensation during the aftertaste. That other sensation and the slight variations in the flavor profile are driving me a bit crazy due to its elusive familiarity, so I’m working my way through the other reviews to try to jog my memory.

Fourth Steep – The big development here is that anything remotely resembling bitterness or astringency is gone, except for an itty-bitty hint during the aftertaste that still defies classification. The main flavor present is similar to caramel, and the tea has this wonderful smoothness that transitions into a mineral feeling with a hint of something bitter/sour. Also, I agree with one of the other reviews of this tea, the other tea in this mix appears to be from the Himalayas, either northern India or Nepal. I’m personally going with Nepal, but it’s hard to be sure. It does remind me of that Jun Chiyabari I got early this year, but that was a long time ago and my recollection is a bit hazy. Whatever, I’m thinking too hard about this, the point is the blend is really great for really trying to think about the flavors, and it’s rather fun to try to guess the mystery part of the blend :)

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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Profile

Bio

I am a university student, studying Computer Science, who found that I really enjoy a nice cup of tea. I finally got into loose-leaf tea in August of 2011. I am currently in the process of expanding my horizons, and have found that I have a particular fondness for Oolongs in general, and Wuyi Yanchas in particular. The unique mineral taste is very appealing to me, as well as a nice Sencha. More recently, I’ve developed a taste for Sheng puerh, white tea, and black teas. The only things I’ve tried that I didn’t like was Shu puerh, but that might have been because it was quite young. Regardless, I’ve been slowly expanding my horizons, so if you have any recommendations, please feel free to send me a PM.

Just for the heck of it, my other interests include classical musics (Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Verdi, Debussy, Shostakovitch, Rachmaninoff, Liszt, and Wagner, to name a few composers). I also have a fondness for a bit more modern music, like The Beatles, all Jazz (by all, I really do mean all), Gorillaz (I love Demon Days), and a couple of Indie artists you will never run across unless you play a lot of semi obscure Indie games. Also, I love cats.

Location

Fairfax, VA

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