This is the 3rd pu-erh toucha I have tried over the last two days.

Age of leaf: May 2007.

Brewing guidelines:
Ceramic 4 cup teapot, no sweetener, 5 gram toucha, ~1 cup of water. I did a 5 second wash this time.
……….1st: Just under boiling, 2.5’
……….2nd: Boiling. 5’

Aroma of tea liquor: About the same as yesterdays touchas, but a little more, eh, ripe?

Flavor of tea liquor: definitely stronger than the other 2 touchas: like mulch, perhaps woodsy, and a little bitter.

Appearance of wet leaf: Like the SpecialTeas toucha, tiny little dark bits of tea.

Overall: The first steeping was not exactly to my liking. After reading one review on Teavivre’s website stating you need to keep the steeping times short, I thought maybe the 2.5 min. steeping time was the problem. Still, for comparison purposes, I decided to follow the advice of the ‘scientist’ in me and stick to using consistent parameters for comparison purposes and so did the second steeping time ~5 mins. Generally speaking, not much of a change from the first steeping.

There seemed to be lots of good reviews about the tea, and, although that doesn’t change my own personal experience with it, the reviews do indicate that I may have done something ‘wrong’ in brewing it. It may also be my tastes don’t match the reviewers’ tastes, but I doubt it. I have lots of respect for the quality of tea that Teavivre sells (having had at least 20 teas of theirs). So I will try brewing this one again sometime (I have three more ‘pieces’ of it) with the shorter steeping times: a wash, 20-30 seconds, adding 10 seconds for every steep after that. So, I’m leaving off the numeric rating for now.

I wish I knew if the SpecialTeas toucha was ripe or raw, but my guess is it is raw; if it is, I realize comparing a ripe toucha to a raw toucha is not the best comparison. Still, I like SpecialTeas toucha the best so far of the three.

What really strikes me most about this experience is what a difference adding a little sweetener did to the taste; on the second steeping after trying it without sweetener I added a touch of Stevia extract to it, and it seemed to smooth out the edges very nicely. I was astonished at the difference: it was barely drinkable without sweetener, and yet much more drinkable with it. I still hold to the philosophy, or general guideline, that it is best to try the tea first w/o sweetener; yet, this experience also emphasizes how easily sweetener can transform the taste.

On to the forth toucha.

Boiling 2 min, 30 sec

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(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.


Midwest, USA

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