403 Tasting Notes

92

This is just what I wanted this afternoon. It tastes like nothing more than sun-warmed veggies, fresh out of the garden: warm, sweet, green, rich. Green beans, or sugar snap peas, or maybe even tomato. A little taste of sunshine on a cold day :)

To think I used to find green teas always too weak and/or bitter!

~2tsp/8oz, 6 steeps

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 0 min, 45 sec

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89
drank Red Jade by Eco-Cha Artisan Teas
403 tasting notes

I had actually forgotten that I signed up for Steepster select until I got the email that it had shipped! Must’ve been a black Friday or holiday sale? I went for the darkest, most warming tea first, because it’s really really cold today.

I used one full sample bag (there are two of each tea, and the bags are not resealable; I’ll measure the quantity when I get home) for 8oz water. They suggested boiling water, so I heated my mug over the kettle to avoid the temperature drop from pouring into a cold vessel.

First impressions: dry leaf is big, dark, and twisted, like a wuyi oolong, but they list this as a red/black tea. Liquor: very red! Smells like… an assam? Yes, an assam. With all the rich honey notes, but also a hint that the taste might be more tannic. Taste: oddly muted, definitely a little bitter on the front, then mellows out into something more chewy, like a dark wheat bread. I’m not getting any of the cinnamon or clove spices – will have to see if they come out on later steeps.

So far, I’m not too impressed. I will try the other sample of this gongfu style, it seems like it might benefit from shorter, more intense steeps. This manages to be mild and muddled at the same time. It smells delicious though! Maybe milk and sugar? I try not to do that to good teas, but I also don’t drink a lot of black teas completely straight.

Edit: I like the second steep better. I’m getting more of the subtle spice notes now. I think the first steep was just too much leaf/time/temp and got muddy. I ended up steeping this 4 times, steeps 2 and 3 were the best, though the first steep was also improved by a dash of milk and sugar. Fans of Assam and Darjeeling might appreciate this more than I did.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec
Eco-Cha 一口茶

Hi teabird – thanks for the notes, it’s great for us to hear everyone’s experience of our tea! Glad to hear you enjoyed the second steep a little more.

Good catch on the Assam aromas, Taiwan Red Jade is a hybrid of the wild tea plant that naturally occurs in mountain forests of Taiwan and the Assam tea plant that was imported by the Japanese during their occupation here. Good nose!

With this tea, brewing is everything, and gong fu or gaiwan is definitely the way to go. To get those subtle aromatic and flavor qualities that we describe this tea as having, the timing of the brew is most important. It’s very easy to overbrew so the basic rule of thumb is quick brews. In addition to pouring off the tea before it gets too strong experiment with the right amount of leaves for you.

Also, slightly less than boiling temperature water should be used for single mug brewings.

For Gong Fu brewing, the first steeping can be done with boiling temperature water, but only steep for 20-30 seconds and pour off the first brew. Starting with the second brew, slightly less than boiling temperature water should be used, as you increase each successive brew by 10-20 seconds.

Thanks again for your notes and it would be great to hear what you think of a gong fu brew if you’ve got any left.

Have a great day!

teabird

Thanks for the feedback! I brewed the other packet gonfu style and was very pleased with the results :)

Eco-Cha 一口茶

Our pleasure, glad to hear you enjoyed the gongfu brew!

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82

I’ve been missing blends now that they have their own monthly club and the “classic” tends to be all pure teas, so I decided to join the “Blend” club for a month or two. I was a little taken aback by this month’s theme – Tulsi is not one of favorites, though I don’t dislike it either. But, I really like this one. Especially on later steeps it tastes like marshmallows! Something about the sarsaparilla in combination with a well-suited oolong? I don’t know, but it’s awesome. I usually get a little annoyed with the way flavors taper off on later steeps but this is one where the balance just gets better. I’m on steep 4 or 5, with 2tsp(roughly 5g)/8oz water

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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92

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Preparation
3 min, 0 sec

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

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drank Chance Combinations by Custom
403 tasting notes

I found myself distinctly in the mood for shu pu’er today, which doesn’t happen often, so makes for a very good reason to drink it. I wanted the earthy grounding flavor, the complexity, and the sense of well-being that usually follows drinking it; I wasn’t feeling too picky beyond that. Browsing the pu-erh shelf of my tea cupboard, I found a forgotten tin of cheap loose shu: perfect. I was also craving something spicy and warming, so this would be just right to mix with an herbal chai blend (Adagio’s Thai Chai in this case, which was sent along as a random freebie with my latest Etsy order).

It is everything I wanted: rich, dark, warming, mood-lifting… just the thing for a cold and cloudy day at home.

I used 1 tsp pu’er and .5 tsp chai in my 3.5oz glass pot, steeped just a few seconds until the color was right. 3 steeps so far, many more to come I’m sure

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec

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90

Several of my favorites came back into stock at Verdant this summer and this was one that I’ve missed! It’s warm and gentle and strong… like starting the day with a hug <3

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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drank Pineapple Sencha by Den's Tea
403 tasting notes

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Some notes on ratings:

I’d have separate rating scales for tea types if that were possible (probably Black, Flavored Black, Darjeeling/Dark Oolong, White/Green/Light Oolong, and Herbal) because the flavors and quality markers are just too different. A flavored black rated 100 isn’t better than every oolong I’ve ever drunk, just delicious for a flavored black.

Ratings are a combination of my enjoyment and the perceived quality – I do often demote teas a few points for artificial flavorings, small quantity of steeps supported, or weakness of flavor (requiring extra leaf).

I pay less attention to the number than the order of my ratings; I don’t necessarily keep a stock of everything rated 80+, but if two breakfast blends are rated 82 and 84 I consistently enjoy the 84 more.

And in case it’s not obvious? I am not an expert. I don’t even know what I like until I taste it sometimes, but I’m ok with that :) I like learning to like new teas, as well as enjoying the comfort of familiar ones.

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