242 Tasting Notes
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.
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 :)
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…
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 :)
In a moment of weakness I purchased the A&D triple pack, which I’m finally getting around to trying this weekend. I threw a teaspoon in my gaiwan and used near boiling water to steep the tea for 15-20 seconds. The foretaste is a bit strange and is dominated by the smoky flavor of the tea, but then the taste transforms into a smooth and mildly sweet flavor before trailing off into a lightly mineral aftertaste. The problem with this tea is that I find myself comparing it against Zheng Shan Xaio Zhong, which is hardly fair because this tea is above average. That, and nothing smoked is really in the same galaxy as Zheng Shan Xaio Zhong. Oh well, it will still be interesting to see how the tea develops.
Second cup was made with the same parameters as the first, but the taste is much different. The tea isn’t quite as sweet, allowing the smokey flavor to assert itself a bit more.Another change is that the texture of the tea has gone from a bit creamy to a nice solid mineral-ish sensation. Both of these changes actually improve the flavor of the tea, and I can’t wait to see what the next development will be.
It’s been a while since I last drank this tea, and I re-discovered it while digging through my stash to find something different. Anyways, I decided to brew it with my gaiwan, just as an experiment, so I threw some leaves in it, and used some approximately 140 degree water to steep the leaves for about 15 seconds. I know, that really short of a Japanese green, but bear with me, it was an experiment. The tea is a very pale green, but the flavor profile is much bolder. The tea is initially very sweet, and it’s hard to taste much else, but as time goes on a pleasant grass flavor emerges. While fairly standard for a Japanese green, it is still very pleasant and adds a lot to the experience. Finally, the tea has a smooth mineral aftertaste. It’s not like a Wuyi Oolong, but that’s the best way to describe it. As the tea cools, the sweetness becomes more pronounced and the grass flavor diminishes a bit, but it’s hard to actually let the tea sit that long. All in all, it’s very pleasant, and I’d say that the tea actually benefited a bit from this brewing method.