drank Anji Baicha by Harney & Sons
171 tasting notes

Backlogging (so based almost entirely on my notes from late summer 2011; I think I previously had something written electronically and stored about this tea but it was accidentally deleted. Bummer.)

Experience buying from Harney & Sons http://steepster.com/places/2779-harney-and-sons-online-millerton-new-york

Age of leaf: I don’t have it in my notes, but I remember that all of the samples from H&S I bought over the summer of 2011 had a relatively recent lot # on them.

Appearance and aroma of dry leaf: Amazing. Looks like pine needles; the aroma was both very unusual and yet familiar, definitely fresh and good: possibly like pine needles?

Brewing guidelines: Loose in glass Bodum pot, Stevia added.
……….1st: 170; 1.5’
……….2nd: 172; 1.75’
< I only see two steepings in my notes, but I am certain I did at least four steepings, as I almost always do the first time I steep a new green >

Color and aroma of tea liquor: Light green, (and I don’t have it in my notes, but I think it had an aroma I really liked).

Flavor of tea liquor: Note after second steeping, “still incredible flavor, fresh, spring, incredible”

Appearance and aroma of wet leaf: “looks fresh, smell eludes me: vegetal, but some other smell is beneath it, hiding from me!”

Value: VERY expensive ($20/oz), but definitely worth trying once as a sample (it was only $2, as all of their samples were, but now it’s either $3 or $4).

Overall: Based solely on memory, this was the most amazing green tea I have ever had. I have had nothing since to match it (although some of Verdant’s green teas come close). It was so amazing, when I originally sat down to write the review, sipping at it and taking in its amazing flavor, wrestling with how to describe it, I was moved to write this little piece (I had to really dig to find it, but thankfully I finally did. I think I made edits to a version of this that was lost. Again, bummer). I hope you will allow me to share it with you as a tribute to this incredible tea:
I imagine my wife and I, having wandered peacefully along a mountainous-forested path, discover ahead a clearing, and finally, a ridge. As we approach hand in hand we stop at the rim, and wonder at the beauty of the deeply forested mountain range that stretches away from us, quietly giving way in the distance to a hazy multicolored landscape as it meets the azure sky. Then, closing our eyes, we slowly and deeply take in the scent of pine, feeling the firm yet moist earth beneath our feet. And, upon hearing a beautiful song, we look out and into the windswept vista before us. Tiny movements catch our eye as we look skyward to witness the graceful song sparrow with her colorful mate, both spinning and weaving, freely trilling out their bliss at the wonder of the day as they soar up, up into the deep blue sky. And we, simple beings bereft of the gift of flight, allow ourselves to be transported with them, sharing in the simple joy of being alive.

170 °F / 76 °C 1 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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