80

Experience buying from DeRen Tea http://steepster.com/places/2836-deren-tea-online-portola-california?visit=1354

Age of leaf: Advertised as early autumn 2011. Received samples late September. Brewed up a little over a week after I received it in mail.

Packaging: Samples: silver translucent bags with simple label.

Dry leaf: Smelled like a standard oolong, but with a powerful floral fragrance. Very long, thin, wiry looking leaves; dark, uneven coloring, with some green showing through.

Brewing guidelines: I decided to break with my traditional brewing techniques prompted by the brewing instructions for Dancongs on DeRen’s website. I also decided not to ‘wash’ it
………1st : 190, 30”
………2nd: 185, 45”
………3rd: 190, 60”
………4th : 195, 75”
………5th : 185, 90”
………6th : Boiling, 2’

Aroma: very floral.

Color of liquor: light copper.

Wet leaf: very floral aroma; light green color, tinged with brown on many of the edges. Whole, big, beautiful leaves!

Flavor: Ranged from very floral to a well-balanced and nuanced oolong flavor.

Value: Sample was provided by DeRen Tea (Thank you Aaron!). This particular tea on their website is more than I am willing to pay for any oolong, but I am guessing it is still competitively priced for a Semi-Wild Yulan Dancong, as the rest of their tea is.

Overall: This tea has changed the way I view oolongs. I consider myself fairly new to this class of semi-oxidized teas. After having had a number of flower-scented teas (green, black, and oolong), I am discovering that I don’t particularly like them; to me, the scent—-and especially the flavor—-does not ‘belong’ in tea. And so on the first steeping of this tea, I was a little put off by the overpowering floral taste and aroma. But I liked the second steeping more, as it was less floral. Then the third, ah, the third. This is what changed my relationship with oolongs. The floral flavor was there, but I guess more as a supporting cast member, because it was also sweeter, and the overall flavor was like something I have never tasted before. That third cup was probably the best cup of oolong tea I have ever had. I think some underlying perception about oolongs has lain dormant inside my consciousness for awhile, and has finally surfaced. Don’t judge a tea by it’s first, or even its second infusion: wait at least until your tried the third! But wait, my guess is there are other oolongs, and Pu-erhs, that get better even later! Wow! I really enjoyed watching the leaves slowly change after each steeping, such that they were finally fully unfurled on the forth. The later steepings were not as flavorful, but surprisingly, the sixth had more flavor than the fifth! What an adventure in steeping and tasting. In summary, this tea is amazing.

Spoonvonstup

Absolutely! any oolong or pu’er (especially these two) worth its salt will change over each and every steeping. Peak flavor varies with each tea, but it often arrives around steeping three for oolongs (and if the tea is good, there will be a lovely long flavor arc that follows). For pu’er, the peak can be anywhere from three to ten, just depending on the quality. The more fantastic the tea, the more “patient” it is.

This particular kind of steeping experience is definitely aided by brewing tea gong-fu style in a gaiwan or small pot. If you’re not already trying that out on your teas, I recommend it heartily! It has the side-benefit of making tea much less expensive, since it often turns one drinking session of tea into an hour or two of tasting entertainment, plus the gallon or so of liquid you can get out of good leaves this way.

Congratulations on your discovery- happy drinking! I sense great flavor journeys ahead of you..

SimpliciTEA

@ Spoonvonstup: I am grateful that there are others out there, like you, to share these kinds of experiences with. I do not have a gaiwan or small pot, but I hear you, that is something I would like to get sometime in the near future.

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Spoonvonstup

Absolutely! any oolong or pu’er (especially these two) worth its salt will change over each and every steeping. Peak flavor varies with each tea, but it often arrives around steeping three for oolongs (and if the tea is good, there will be a lovely long flavor arc that follows). For pu’er, the peak can be anywhere from three to ten, just depending on the quality. The more fantastic the tea, the more “patient” it is.

This particular kind of steeping experience is definitely aided by brewing tea gong-fu style in a gaiwan or small pot. If you’re not already trying that out on your teas, I recommend it heartily! It has the side-benefit of making tea much less expensive, since it often turns one drinking session of tea into an hour or two of tasting entertainment, plus the gallon or so of liquid you can get out of good leaves this way.

Congratulations on your discovery- happy drinking! I sense great flavor journeys ahead of you..

SimpliciTEA

@ Spoonvonstup: I am grateful that there are others out there, like you, to share these kinds of experiences with. I do not have a gaiwan or small pot, but I hear you, that is something I would like to get sometime in the near future.

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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.

Location

Midwest, USA

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