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Preliminary review

I have been looking forward to brewing up and tasting the first new spring green of the year for some time now. And who better to provide it than Life in Teacup! I only had two spring green teas during April of 2011 (I also had a few during early June), so I still consider myself relatively new as to what to expect of them. I have been talking about my excitement with my wife (she saw me open the package from Life in Teacup earlier in the week), but I didn’t tell her that I would be brewing up the very first pot of this tea this morning. I sometimes don’t tell her what I’m brewing up so I get an unbiased opinion from her about the taste. For awhile there, after having a couple ‘smokier’ green teas (which she despises) her initial reaction to any green tea—especially one that has a reputation for being smokey, like Hunag Shan Mao Feng or any tea from the Yunnan province—that had a taste she was uncertain about,was, ‘I think it tastes smoky’. Needless to say, I would then give her the evil eye. : )

I like to experience the Tea with every sense possible: visually and aromatically—the appearance and aroma of the dry leaf, watching the leaves dance and co-mingle in their new watery home while I take in the aroma, smelling the wet leaves after the first steeping, then using the auditory senses—listening to the leaves jostling for position as I use a spoon to gently take them from their temporary home in the bag, or tin, or jar, and drop them into the clear glass pot with a tinkle, almost like a wind-chime, and listening to the water begin to stir in the kettle, signaling it’s time to pour the water, and then finally through taste—as the liquor rolls around in my mouth making my taste buds shiver with delight as the various flavors finally reveal themselves. The first time I steep a tea I pay a little more attention to all of these things. I guess it’s kind of a ritual. I invite my wife to participate as well, and fortunately she’s usually happy to join me.

This morning her one-word litany when encountering this spring green Tea with each of her senses was: interesting (said in that positive way as one draws out the initial ‘i’ sound when pronouncing it: in-tres-ting ); although my reactions were unspoken, all the while I was thinking the same thing (keeping my fingers crossed that she was going to find the same wonder that, so far, I have found in fresh spring greens). Our senses were telling us there was something about this tea that was different than all the other green teas we had been brewing up all winter.

When the time finally came to drink of the sweet nectar that was only moments ago locked within the curly leaves, we were rewarded with flavor that was clearly fresh and inviting. It was not flavor I would describe as strong, but rather a flavor profile that brought back memories of the spring teas I had tasted a year ago; it’s hard to describe—and I will hopefully improve as I continue to drink infusions of these wondrous Teas—but the sensation in the mouth is light and uplifting, full of zest, and I imagine it having a kind of sparkle to it. It’s like nothing I have ever had before. Still, quite honestly, I think it is somewhat of an acquired taste (my wife agrees). Not that the flavor is weird or bad in any way, it’s just delicate and subtle and can be easily unappreciated by one who doesn’t know what to look for or take the time to sit with it enough to really take it in (I am guessing this is also the case with fine wines).

And as far as staying power? This tea delivered three wonderfully flavorful steepings and still had discernible flavor on the forth and right up through the fifth. That is very impressive for a green tea at this price range ($18 / 5OZ = $3.60 / OZ). The wet leaf is about as good as it gets: all full leaf, few stems, and lots of bud sets and buds—all of an army green color. I plan to give more details later, but I wanted to sit down and write up what came up for me now rather than put notes on a note-card that would inevitably sit for weeks (or months) before I posted it. I highly recommend this tea for those that want to experience a fresh spring green tea at a very reasonable cost.

Preparation
165 °F / 73 °C 1 min, 0 sec
Indigobloom

this sounds delicous! sparkle tea :P
I wonder if it’d be a good candidate for Shinoba brewing

SimpliciTEA

It is delicious (if you like green teas, that is). I’ve had it twice, now (three times if I count blending it with one of LIT’s HSMF that I have) and it tasted even better the second time (it was great when blended, too), although I’m not sure why; it may be because I payed more attention the second time, allowing me to go deeper, in a sense, into it’s flavor profile.

I do plan to try this sometime in a smaller vessel (I bet it would taste better that way).

Bonnie

I love that you use all the senses. And the wind chimes.So right. If you fail to completely commit to the experience you miss so much. The review contained what I was wishing for.

SimpliciTEA

Thanks, Bonnie.

I tend to be more analytical (left-brain) than creative (right-brain), and I often don’t have the time (or the inclination) to write this in-depth of a review; but, admittedly, when I do have the time to take in the experience of the Tea with all of my senses, my creative side seems to really kick in, and sometimes very interesting stuff starts to come up. It can be a wonderful experience, and one of the reasons why I chase after quality Tea.

But to then take that experience and use it to write a good review there is the task (which takes a great deal of skill, I judge) of putting that almost-otherworldly experience into words that others can understand and relate to; that can be very daunting task in and of itself, for me at least.

With the other spring greens I have (and some I will be getting soon), I hope to be able to do as I have with this review. And you have spurred me on to do as such!

Bonnie

The more tea I drink the more I am drawn to that right brain expression. (Being left handed to begin with helps too) I encourage you to continue in this vein. I’ll be listening.

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Comments

Indigobloom

this sounds delicous! sparkle tea :P
I wonder if it’d be a good candidate for Shinoba brewing

SimpliciTEA

It is delicious (if you like green teas, that is). I’ve had it twice, now (three times if I count blending it with one of LIT’s HSMF that I have) and it tasted even better the second time (it was great when blended, too), although I’m not sure why; it may be because I payed more attention the second time, allowing me to go deeper, in a sense, into it’s flavor profile.

I do plan to try this sometime in a smaller vessel (I bet it would taste better that way).

Bonnie

I love that you use all the senses. And the wind chimes.So right. If you fail to completely commit to the experience you miss so much. The review contained what I was wishing for.

SimpliciTEA

Thanks, Bonnie.

I tend to be more analytical (left-brain) than creative (right-brain), and I often don’t have the time (or the inclination) to write this in-depth of a review; but, admittedly, when I do have the time to take in the experience of the Tea with all of my senses, my creative side seems to really kick in, and sometimes very interesting stuff starts to come up. It can be a wonderful experience, and one of the reasons why I chase after quality Tea.

But to then take that experience and use it to write a good review there is the task (which takes a great deal of skill, I judge) of putting that almost-otherworldly experience into words that others can understand and relate to; that can be very daunting task in and of itself, for me at least.

With the other spring greens I have (and some I will be getting soon), I hope to be able to do as I have with this review. And you have spurred me on to do as such!

Bonnie

The more tea I drink the more I am drawn to that right brain expression. (Being left handed to begin with helps too) I encourage you to continue in this vein. I’ll be listening.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

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Bio

(Updated 6-3-2014)

After about three years I changed my avatar from the picture of a green teacup with steam rising (one I created using Paint) to this dragon gaiwan. This is one of my favorite gaiwans, although I haven’t brewed any tea in it as of yet.

You can call me, Joe.

What, How and Why I steep:

I typically expect, and shoot for, at least three flavorful steepings out of (just about) any tea I brew up.

I generally start at the times and temps below ( = minute(s), " = second(s) ), then add 5F and 30" for each successive steeping:
Chinese Green - 175F, 1’ ;
Japanese Green - 160F, 1’add 15F, then decrease by 15";
White - 160F, 2’;
Oolong - This varies;
Indian Black/Chinese Red and Herbals - a little off the boil, 2’; why do I start with such low temps & short steep times? So as to ‘spread out’ the flavor over multiple steepings. I have found this to work with every tea I have tried so far. Also, I am not looking for intense flavor in that first cup (i.e. Western style), I would prefer to taste it—and savor—it over many steepings.
Pu-erh - Beginning in 2014, I finally chose to dive into pu-erh! Standard parameters when I brew ripened pu-erh in my 150 ml gaiwan (I also own an 11 oz Yixing):
First I do a 15" rinse with near boiling water. Then for each successive steeping I add Stevia.
……….1st: Near boiling, 0.5’
……….2nd: Boiling , 1’
……….3rd: Boiling , 1.5’
etc. Until there is no flavor, or I ran out of time and energy.

I hope to ‘streamline’ my reviews going forward, so, hopefully, they are a little less technical and dry (and perhaps even stilted), and a little more organic and experiential (and hopefully, flowing); this somewhat new approach to reviews is a kind of metaphor for where my life is headed right now, and is one reason why I write reviews: as a kind of time-capsule of where I was in my life at that time.

Tea Rating scale:

1 – 29: There is no reason to even think about drinking this stuff again.
30-49: I may drink it if someone else brewed it up, but I would not bother brewing it up myself let alone bother buying any.
50 – 59: I like something about it, and I may brew it up if I already have some, but I would not buy any more of it.
60 – 69: I like a few things about it, and I may buy it if the price is right.
70 – 79: This is a tea I enjoy and would drink fairly regularly as long as it is reasonably priced.
80 – 89: A tea I will drink as often as I can, and will likely try to buy some when I run out (as long as it’s affordable).
90 – 99: This has everything I look for in the best of teas: beauty in appearance, a delightful aroma, and most importantly, depth and yummy-ness in its flavor.
100: Perfect.

My primary interest is in artisan loose-leaf Chinese green, red and ripe pu-erh tea, although I enjoy a white and an oolong tea every now and then as well. Here and there I brew a few of the other true teas and an occasional herbal.

Since I choose to live on a very limited income (‘Voluntary Simplicity’), I have to be very conscience about how much I pay for tea. In reading their Tea Enthusiast’s books, Mary Lou and Robert J. Heiss sold me on the wonders of artisan teas. Thankfully I have found that there is affordable, artisan tea out there; it’s just like anything else that has true value: it takes hard work, dedication and at least a little persistence to find it.

I came to tea out of a desire to find something to help calm and focus my mind as naturally as possible. My mind is very active, so to speak, and at times I find it very difficult to focus and keep myself centered. For years now I have been practicing Yoga daily along with others things to help me to stay relaxed and present, but I found I wanted a little something extra to help me start the day; the theanine in green tea seems to help me in this.

I have been enjoying loose-leaf tea since November of 2010.

I enjoy connecting with others about tea.

I drink Stevia with just about all of my tea (no sugar or artificial sweeteners).

I drink a pot of green tea every day in the AM (usually steeped three times over the course of the day), sharing it with my wife.

Each tea in my cupboard is carefully and colorfully labeled in a tin or in a jar that used to hold something else (I love to reuse things!) .

I have three teapots: a glass Bodum – I don’t use the metal infuser/press anymore (greens), a 16 oz glass Victorian (to brew greens and whites, and to use as a pot to decant other teas into), and an 11 oz Yixing (ripe Pu-erh only). (New in 2014) I also one a number of gaiwans ranging in volume from from 125 ml to 250ml.

I tend to be direct, straightforward and honest when I post anything to the discussion boards. I take the approach that everything I say is stated with the implied disclaimer: In My Humble Opinion (i.e. IMHO). I may occasionally emphasize this point, where appropriate. I view your comments in the same way. You are in no way obligated to read what I have posted. And I am in no way similarly obligated to you.

Sitting with my cup of tea I greet the day in anticipation of new discoveries along the way.

Location

Midwest, USA

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