242 Tasting Notes

Good afternoon everyone! I just got back from a week and a half in London and Ireland, and the seven-hour flight gave me a major craving for caffeine. Honestly, I had only four good cups of tea, and two of those were iced tea at Hard Rock Cafes (I went to both the original London location and the Dublin location on the trip). Anyway, this tea was exactly what I needed: Sweet, yet still very flavorful. The boldness of the malt flavor was a welcome break from the monotony of the cheap hotel bagged teas.

Spoonvonstup

Welcome back!

Bonnie

Welcome to tea land! Hope you had a good time though…want to know how it went when you’re rested!

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92

First of all, a big shout-out to Teavivre for the amazing free sample!

I was really busy packing for vacation, and didn’t have time to do my usual format for reviews, but there’s the highlight reel. The first infusion was steeped in 205 degree water for exactly one minute. The result was an amazing sweet tea, with very tasty licorice flavors dominating the palate. It was just about as sweet as the orchid Oolong from Verdant Tea that I had the other night. The infusions continue, decreasing in potency and sweetness until number five, where only a faint taste of barely-sweet licorice remained. Regardless, it was really, really good, and it was the perfect way to relax after the usual frenzy of packing. And, since my destination is England, all I have to say is jolly good!

EDIT: stupid typos…

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C
Bonnie

Have a blast…Cherio! Pip pip! Bon voyage!

Joshua Smith

Thanks again Bonnie! I’ll remember your bright and cheerful comments while braving the elements (The forecast predicts one day of sun during a 10 day trip…). Also, stay safe! Those fires are really scary to read about in the news.

Bonnie

Thank you! God has always been by my side!

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95

Wow, what a great way to start off my weekend: I was digging through my room, looking for my iPod, and I found this sample mixed in with some Classic Rock CDs. I don’t know how it got there, but I’m not going to question it…

Anyway, I’m re-tasting this tea after several months, and I have to say that the taste is much better than I remember. It is similar to my Art of Tea orchid Oolong, but creamier, which makes the whole experience so much better. The aftertaste is also a bit stronger, lingering for three minute (It lasts even longer than Tie Guan Yin! How does that happen?!?!?) on the roof of my mouth. Needless to say, I’m bumping up the rating, and I can’t wait to see how it develops.

Alright, second infusion same temperature, steeped fro three minutes. The tea has developed a pleasant sweetness, which reminds me of some sort of confection confection. I don’t know exactly which one, but I would guess it reminds me of one of the Japanese sweets I got from a friend. Anyway, the tea is so delicious, I actually regret only having a small sample left, as this is the perfect desert tea.

Third infusion, four minutes, 205 degree water. The tea lost a lot of sweetness, but it still reminds me of some sort of confection. the aftertaste still lingers for over a minute, and it still retains the creaminess that made it so appealing in the beginning. It’s still an exceptional tea, but I think it’s a bit past its prime now.

Forth infusion, five minutes. The tea has started to loose the creaminess, but luckily the sweetness did not degrade further. Overall, the strength of the taste didn’t change, which is the beauty of Oolongs: Their flavor lasts for a very long time, providing many cups of wonderful tea. I think I’ll probably get eight cups out of this, mostly because it’s a green Oolong, which tend to loose their taste a bit quickly then others.

Fifth cup, stopped keeping track of time, just going by color from now on. The creaminess lingers, but it’s mostly gone now. Interestingly enough, the tea retains its sweetness, as well as the lingering aftertaste.

Sixth cup, process the same as before. It’s starting to get a bit bland. It has lost all of the creaminess, it isn’t as sweet, and the aftertaste doesn’t linger very long. I’m gonna call it quits on this one. That being said, it lasted a long time, and it tasted great. I’ll miss this a lot when I finish off the sample.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C
Bonnie

Happy Saturday!

K S

I can just imagine back in the day trying to explain a bag of loose leaf mixed in with my classic rock CD’s to my mom. Of course it wasn’t classic then and it was vinyl. Go ask Alice…

Joshua Smith

@K S – That would be a bit weird. I actually keep my collection hidden, since I don’t think my parents would be happy to realize I have almost a whole kilogram of tea stashed under my bed…

In this case, I’m pretty sure I simply forgot to pack it up to take to college, and it just ended up getting shoved into my CD collection by chance.

@Bonnie – Happy Saturday to you too! Hopefully the weather is better for you, it’s 90 degrees here.

Bonnie

It is hot but we have dry heat and the nights are cool. I was just going to turn on my air conditioner to. Automatic but low.

Lynne-tea

That sounds absolutely delightful. And very funny hiding spot.. though I really do understand. I am starting to consider hiding my tea stash even more as currently it is in my room with five shelves littered with tea… A new hiding spot may just keep the ‘you have a problem’ comments at bay! Hmm.. perhaps one of my closets would be the best idea.

Joshua Smith

@Bonnie – Very nice. We’ve got 70% humidity, so it might only be 90, but it feels like…98-ish. Luckily, my family is going on vacation on tuesday to the British Isles, where we will be enjoying rain, rain, showers, and more rain!

@Lynne-tea – It’s better than my hiding spot at College, where it all ends up in a single drawer. My friends actually think I have a problem, but we mostly gotten over that after they tried some of my stash XD.

Bonnie

Ooooo have the most wonderful time right-o!

Joshua Smith

Indubitably.

Bonnie

That was so spiffy cute!

Joshua Smith

I just couldn’t resist. Unfortunately, we’ve just covered about half of my British vocabulary…

Oh well, I’ll make sure to pick up some more on the trip!

Bonnie

Bobby, Boot, Nappie, Pint.

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86

Ugh, such a stressful day at work…so glad that it’s over…

Anyway, back to the tea, I needed something without too much caffeine, and I have quite a bit of this still sitting around, so why not? I filled up my tea ball a bit more than half way, and let it steep for 45 seconds in 175 degree water. The tea had a wonderful calming flowery aroma, which was just what I needed to unwind. The taste was reminiscent of smooth and delicate flowers, also great for unwinding, and the aftertaste lingered pleasantly on the roof of my mouth for about 40 seconds.

Also, the music I was listening to was a little piece by David Popper I heard on the radio while driving home. It’s called Gnomentanz, or Dance of the Gnomes in English.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_H0n9j1y4A

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 0 min, 45 sec
Bonnie

Thanks for the music! Haven’t heard it in some time!

Spoonvonstup

Love all of your music recommendations, by the way!

Joshua Smith Delete

Thanks! I find that nice classical music mixes nicely with drinking tea. It’s just a great way to unwind after a long day. As for today, I was listening to Dvorak’s 9th, as conducted by Gustavo Dudamel:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eo1KHr-b-CA

Honestly, half the fun of this video is watching Dudamel really get into the music. If only the sound quality was a bit better, then it would be perfect…

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91

Another sample from Teavivre.

I let this steep for three minutes, enduring the enticing aroma until the tea was done. The end result is a very nice Tie Guan yin: Fruity, buttery, a hint of saffron. I don’t taste any grassiness, but the taste lingers for two whole minutes in the hard palate of my mouth, which definitely marks this as a really good quality Tie Guan yin. I can’t wait to see how it develops.

All right, after several false starts and a few interruptiuons, here is the second steeping for this Tie Guan Yin. It retained most of the flavor from the previous infusion, with the creaminess actually being a bit more prominent, along with nice development of the saffron flavor. A hint of grassiness might have developed, but it’s really faint, and I might be tasting it because I’m looking for it. Anyway, the aftertaste still lingers for a minute 45, which is pretty impressive. I’m liking this tea more and more.

Third infusion, still no grass. The taste has lost a bit of the creaminess it had, and is starting to get a bit weaker. It also only lingers for a minute now, but other than that, it’s still very good. I also want to note here that this tea is MUCH better if you drink it when it’s warmer. If it get’s cold, it isn’t as vibrant. Unfortunately, this is my last cup of the day, since I need to be able to get up for my internship tomorrow, but needless to say I’m going tosavor the rest of this cup.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C

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91

A big shout out to Teavivre for the free sample of this tea!

It’s been several years since I last had a Lapsang Souchong, and it’s actually better than I remember. I used about 5 grams, and steeped it in 205 degree water for about a minute (I was being a bit conservative). The first impression you get of the tea is aroma: It’s pleasantly smokey, but overwhelmingly so. The tea is also a lot sweeter than I remember, and was really the perfect way to start my morning.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C

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92

All right, first sample from the new batch from Teavivre. Thanks again, Angel!

This is also my first Dragonwell, so I’m a bit excited to finally get to try it out. I put about four grams of tea in my tea ball. The instructions said to use more, but that was also to make 8 oz. of tea, whereas my mug only holds 6. Anyway, I steeped the leaves for one minute in 175 degree water, and the results were great. It has a very smooth texture, like the aftertaste of a Wuyi Oolong, which seems to coat the tongue and hard palate. The tea also has a delightfully nutty flavor which reminds me a bit of Hojicha, but it’s not as strong and taste more refined. Definitely a great way to start off the weekend.

Alright, second infusion, same preparation as before. The only real difference is that it has lost a bit of the mineral smoothness, which, while disappointing, does not really affect the taste too much. It is, however, a bit unfortunate, because it seems that I won’t get all that many infusions out of this tea.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C
Jim Marks

dragon well is roasted very early during processing and that is what brings the oolong or hojicha type flavor along. I find that really excellent dragon well leaf is the closest chinese style green to the japanese style green — which is odd because the processing is so radically different, but the flavors end up a log more the same.

Joshua Smith

I agree completely. It’s not exactly the same, but it’s closer to Sencha than other Chinese greens, especially how it looks. It is certainly a very interesting experience.

unfeasible

That is exactly what I thought of this dragonwell too! Interesting how that happens.

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91

Over that past week and a half, this has become my standard morning tea. It’s been an interesting experience drinking it at work, mostly because the preparation is a bit different and the water is cleaner (We have machines that do crazyubermega filtering, and the result is hard to argue with.). I use a about 6-8 grams of tea, and put it in the bottom of an 8 oz. ceramic mug I got a while back, but just dug up in a cupboard. I let the leaves sit in there all day, and when I start to get low, I add more hot water. The result is a milder tea, where the linen taste is less prominent than when I brew it at home with my tea ball. It is also a bit sweeter, which kinda makes me wonder what is wrong with my tap water…

Anyway, I get a good 4-5 cups of tea this way, it tastes pretty good, and it lasts me for most of the work day. What more can I ask of it?

Jim Marks

Houston’s tap water is heinous. We have a huge under sink filtration system to deal with arsenic and other fairly serious problems. Sadly, I don’t think the filtration system gets the trace radioactive particles out of it ’0_o !

Joshua Smith

Oh dear, that could be a problem. When living with my parents during the summer, the water we get comes out of the Potomac River, and is, in fact, the last town that can get it’s water from the river due to federal regulations. I always find that a kind of scary thought. Luckily, the refrigerator in the kitchen has a very good filtration system. As to radioactive particles…now that I think about it, you are probably fine. Radioactive stuff is almost always large on the atomic scale, and your system probably catches it along with the other chemicals just by virtue of it being bigger than the chemicals that the filter targets.

Bonnie

I have really great water but even with wonderful water I buy spring water for fine tea tasting. Delicate tea’s, etc.

Jim Marks

The only reason I don’t buy water is that I drink so much tea that I think it would become unreasonable to keep it around in sufficient quantity.

But I may soon, God willing, end up working back in an office instead of from home, at which point keeping spring water at home for tea in the evening and on the weekends might not be a bad idea.

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90

Backlog. Also, really tired. This was my tea for the weekend, seeing as I didn’t have any rooibos to celebrate, and I also didn’t have any tea that could be considered “blue.” Regardless, it was very pleasant, nice and flowery, and great for quenching your thirst (It was annoyingly hot and murderously humid in Northern Virginia). I’m only half done with the sample I got from Teavivre, and I’m certainly glad that I have a lot more of it.

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

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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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