170 Tasting Notes

40

Backlogging, and based partly on memory.

Experience buying from Art of Tea http://steepster.com/places/3023-art-of-tea-online-santa-cruz-california

Date of Purchase/Amount of Leaf/Date of Steeping: Bought eight ounces of this tea in late 2011 during their Black Friday sale in 2011. I steeped this tea a few times since I bought it (once today: 6/11/2012).

Appearance and Aroma of dry leaf: Looks and smells like Chun Mee green tea.

Brewing guidelines: I think I initially experimented some with the time and temperature on this one, but in general I used my standard green tea brewing guidelines.

Color of tea liquor: cloudy orange.

Flavor of tea liquor: Somewhat vegetal, strongly smoky, and astringent tasting after the second steeping (and some on the first if not brewed properly); it’s like any Chun Mee I’ve had, and I have found that I don’t particularly like the smoky flavor of them; in my experience, along with gunpowder, Chun Mee tends to be the lowest grade of a green tea that one can get.

Appearance and Aroma of wet leaf: Like any Chun Mee I’ve seen.

Value: I got this during one of their sales for 30% with free shipping: for eight OZ it was a little over $8. Still, it was not worth it to me at this price, which averages @ $1 / OZ.

Overall: I am disappointed with this tea. I took a chance on it and it didn’t pan out (in the larger scheme of things, that’s OK, because overall I still consider myself fortunate considering the risks I have taken when it comes to buying various green teas before drinking them first). Art of Tea doesn’t call it Chun Mee, but it looks, smells and tastes like any Chun Mee I’ve ever had (I’ve tried at least two, if not three, before this one). I don’t think I would have bought this had I known it was a Chun Mee style/type green tea.

After brewing it up a few times initially it has been sitting in my cupboard all winter and spring, and I’ve been wondering how I could possibly put some use to it (I don’t like the taste of it on it’s own). Recently, I decided to get some use out of it by adding it to the second and third steepings of Teavana’s Yunnan Emerald Buds (which my wife and I both generally like), and twice I noticed a strong astringent taste which I did not get when brewing up the Yunnan Emerald Buds on their own. So, this morning I made a spontaneous decision: I composted the rest of this Yun Wu (probably about 5-6 OZ of it). This is THE FIRST TIME I have ever simply put unused tea into my compost bin (at least then the plants can get some use out of them). I’ve been using up lots of old, not-so-great tea off-and-on all year, and, quite honestly, I’m tired of ‘worrying’ about ‘wasting’ tea (I call it my ‘efficiency shadow’, as in, if I throw something out without using it, I judge it is wasteful, and for some reason I feel shame about it. ENOUGH!). I’m glad I am rid of it. Life is too short to drink sub-par tea, n’est pas (feel free to correct me if I’m mistaken about this, but I think that’s basically how you say, “is it not so?” in French)?

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 1 min, 0 sec
Bonnie

Shoot I didn’t realize this is on beach street?! My daughter is going there in a couple weeks, need to have her check it out! All my grandkids were born in SantaCruz!
Hope the other tea’s are better than this one!

SimpliciTEA

I also bought the the white tea sampler in the same order, and I judge they were of decent-to-good quality (I still have to write the review for those). They also sent me a very generous sample of another green tea that was better then this Yun Wu. So, I’m still mixed about their teas, but you or your daughter may have a totally different experience. I’m sure physically walking into their shop would be a much more rewarding experience than buying from them online. If your daughter decides to visit them, I hope she has some luck finding some great teas!

Missy

Tea bath for your feet! That’s what we do with tea we feel we can’t pass on or drink.

SimpliciTEA

Really? Interesting. What does it do for your feet?

Missy

At best make your feet smell nice. It’s just like a regular foot bath. I make the water as hot as I can stand it so it really just relaxing my foot muscles and gives me good starting point for exfoliation. If you have super sensitive feet it may tickle as the leaves are settling. I’m not sure if you can soak the goodies in tea through your skin but it still feels nice. Then you can compost the leaves after that!

teataku

Lol, interesting idea. Also, I believe the way you spell that French bit is “n’est-ce pas?” (pronounced “ness pah”). :)

SimpliciTEA

Missy: Thanks for more info. Doing that may least assuage my guilt a little.

teataku: I just checked, and according to Webster, you are correct:
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/n%27est-ce%20pas

Thanks!

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70

Backlogging, and based entirely on my memory (some recent)

Experience buying from Green Hill Tea: Positive.

Date of Purchase/Amount of Leaf/Frequency Drank: I bought four ounces of this sometime in the spring of 2011, and we drank it off and on for the last year or so.

Brewing guidelines: used my standard Indian-black tea steeping times and temperatures.

Flavor of tea liquor: good.

Value: I got this on auction on E-bay for what I remember to be a good price.

Overall: I simply want to log that we drank this tea, and although the most recent pot I made about week ago tasted not-so-good, most of the year we enjoyed drinking it.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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68

I found some other notes on this tea, so I am updating this review (6/12/2012)(Changes in bold)

Backlogging

Experience buying from Culinary Teas http://steepster.com/places/2981-culinary-teas-online-milford-indiana

I bought a one OZ sample of this in late November, 2011, having brewed it twice (most recently on 6/8/2012?).

Appearance and Aroma of dry leaf: It had a strong, sweet fruity aroma (definitely smell the apple) that smelled like tobacco, and also reminded me of a kind of bubble gum I would buy as a kid (or pop rocks); dry leaf was about the same as the rest of the flavor-added black teas from Culinary Teas: medium grade leaf.

Brewing guidelines: four TSP, four cups H2O; four-cup ceramic teapot, with ceramic basket; stevia added; my standard black tea steeping times and temperatures; three steepings; two separate sessions.

Flavor of tea liquor (based on the most recent session):
1st: OK, but A little bitter
2nd: OK flavor, but missing something.
3rd: not much flavor

Wet Leaf: Slight scent of tobacco and of something artificially sweet.

Tea liquor color: Wonderful, clear, caramel color.

Value: Culinary flavor-added tea’s are generally very reasonably priced; this one is $8.15 / 4 OZ, which puts it at about $2 / OZ (and even less with any discounts and/or if you buy it in larger quantities).

Overall: This was the forth of the batch of thirteen flavor-added teas from Culinary we finished off. To me the best thing about this tea was the aroma of the dry leaf. Overall, my wife especially felt that this tea was a “no go” (we are still looking for that one tea ….).

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 0 sec
Invader Zim

I like that you put the changes in bold. Makes it easier to see where changes were made, especially if it’s been a while sine the review was originally posted.

SimpliciTEA

Awesome! I’m glad it helped. I wasn’t sure if it was really necessary, but I thought I’d do it anyway. And now I’m glad I did!

Bonnie

Brandied apple and tobacco…sounds like a mixture for a Hookah!

SimpliciTEA

Really? Those Middle-Eastern pipes are intriguing …

Bonnie

Hee Hee I went to a hookah bar last Friday with my 18 year old granddaughter. They serve a huge pot of mint tea, and mint vanilla flavored stuff’ is what we chose for our big pipe. My granddaughter loved it. (I’d rather do that than sky dive!)

SimpliciTEA

Sounds great! I’m glad the two of you had a good time. flavored-added tobacco does sound interesting.

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73

Experience buying from Culinary Teas http://steepster.com/places/2981-culinary-teas-online-milford-indiana

I bought a one OZ sample of this in late November, 2011, having brewed it twice.

Appearance and Aroma of dry leaf: All standard, all good.

Brewing guidelines: four TSP, four cups H2O; four-cup ceramic teapot, with ceramic basket; stevia added; my standard Chinese red tea steeping times and temperatures; three steepings; two separate sessions.

Flavor of tea liquor (based on today’s session):
1st: ….Good
2nd: ….Good
3rd: …. < Later >

Value: I judge that most Culinary are generally very reasonably priced; this is currently $7.80 / 4 OZ, which puts it at a little under $2 / OZ (less with any discounts and/or if you buy it in larger quantities). Not a bad price, but I think Teavivre’s least expensive Yunnan edges this one out.

Overall: I bought a bunch of samples of teas at the end of last year; although I bought most for my wife, I got this one for me (although, now it turns out she likes Yunnans, woo, hoo!). I’m going to keep this short. This is a good Yunnan, and, yeah, although I’d prefer to buy from Teavivre, I’d buy this one if I am in need of an inexpensive Yunnan and we order from Culinary Teas.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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73

Experience buying from Culinary Teas http://steepster.com/places/2981-culinary-teas-online-milford-indiana

I bought a one-ounce sample of this in late November, 2011, having brewed it twice (most recently on 6/11/2012).

Appearance and Aroma of dry leaf: medium grade CTC leaf, with lots of goodies mixed in; pleasantly strong, but standard, ‘spicy chai’ aroma.

Brewing guidelines: four good-sized TSP, three cups H2O with about 1 cup unsweetened almond milk (heated) added to the teapot while steeping; loose in four-cup ceramic teapot; stevia added; my standard black tea steeping times and temperatures; ; two complete steeping sessions (months apart); three steepings each session.

Flavor of tea liquor (derived from the latest session):
1st: …..We both liked it.
2nd: ….Good.
3rd: ….< Later >

Aroma of tea liquor: standard ‘spicy Chai’ aroma.

Appearance and Aroma of wet leaf: < Later >

Value: Culinary flavor-added tea’s are generally very reasonably priced: this one is $8.15 / 4 OZ (on their website it’s listed under Chai and not under Flavored Tea ), which puts it at about $2 / OZ (and even less with any discounts and/or if you buy it in larger quantities).

Overall: Haven’t done the third steeping yet, but I still wanted to log this. This afternoon my wife requested a Chai, and so I complied, reaching for this tea (to continue with the foray into finishing off the flavor-added Culinary Tea Teas—this is our fifth of thirteen). Although it doesn’t stand out as any better than any other chai, and neither of us could taste any pumpkin (my wife loves pumpkin), we both liked it. So, since it’s not a ‘thumbs down’ we may choose to get some on our next order from Culinary Teas.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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69
drank Pecan Pie by Culinary Teas
170 tasting notes

Experience buying from Culinary Teas http://steepster.com/places/2981-culinary-teas-online-milford-indiana

I bought a one-ounce sample of this in late November, 2011, having brewed it twice (most recently on 6/8/2012).

Appearance and Aroma of dry leaf: about the same as the rest of the flavor-added black teas from Culinary Teas: medium grade CTC leaf, strong aroma, smelled good (chocolaty and fruity?).

Brewing guidelines: four good-sized TSP, four cups H2O; loose in four-cup ceramic teapot; stevia added; my standard black tea steeping times and temperatures; two complete steeping sessions (months apart); three steepings each session.

Flavor of tea liquor (derived from the latest session):
1st: definitely an unusual flavor, with notes of chocolate (more prominent when cooled), and not bitter
2nd: a little milder, but flavorful
3rd: still a bit of flavor

Color and aroma of tea liquor: It has a nice amber color; oddly enough (for a pecan pie flavored tea), the aroma has a chocolate note to it (my wife was the first to point that out).

Appearance and Aroma of wet leaf: Mid-grade CTC leaf, with a very small amount of flavoring bits; we both though that the aroma had something a little off-putting about it.

Value: Culinary flavor-added tea’s are generally very reasonably priced: this one is $8.15 / 4 OZ, which puts it at about $2 / OZ (and even less with any discounts and/or if you buy it in larger quantities).

Overall: This is the fourth of our flavor-added black teas we bought from Culinary that we finished off (nine more to go!). My wife and I both enjoy pecan pie (usually only at Thanksgiving), and we both like chocolate; yet this tea doesn’t really taste like pecan pie to us; it is better than the last few Culinary teas we’ve had, but still it’s nothing to write home about. Admittedly, I’m a little confused, as not long after we bought these thirteen flavor-added black teas from Culinary we had a chance to try them all (many months ago, now), and I remember that we really liked some of them (where are you, scrumptious teas?!). Oh well. We won’t be getting this one again. Maybe the next one.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 0 sec
Azzrian

I think it is just evolution – its a great place to start but once you begin to have the more “refined” teas its no where near as good.

SimpliciTEA

I’m not sure I understand what you’re saying here. Do you mean drinking flavor-added Teas is a great place to start? If so, I agree, it certainly can be. I started with pure green Teas myself, and I currently prefer any class of Tea that does not have any flavors added after the leaves are picked. Still, I do appreciate the flavor-added ones as well (especially as my wife seems to prefer them). There’s one flavor-added tea from Culinary I will eventually get to brewing up again, and if I remember correctly it tastes just like peppermint schnapps. That is impressive, natural or not. So, I’m still holding out for hope … : )

SimpliciTEA

I just looked in my wife’s personal stash of Culinary Tea teas (at least, I think of it as hers), and got the Brandy and Winter Peppermint Tea out, and smelled it. Oh yeah, peppermint schnapps. I’ve been skipping this one over whenever I go to pick one out because its not ‘winter ’ anymore, but maybe I’ll have to brew this one up next?

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88

Backlogging and based almost entirely on my notes

Experience buying from Verdant Tea http://steepster.com/places/2886-verdant-tea-online-minneapolis-minnesota

Date of Purchase/Amount of Leaf/Age of Leaf/Date of Steeping: I received a 15 grams sample of this from David in the fall of 2011; I believe it was harvested in the spring of that year; I steeped this on 12/10/2011.

Appearance and Aroma of dry leaf: All I remember here is that the appearance and aroma of the leaves reminded me of the best qualities of an expensive spring green tea I tried from a local Asian market months earlier.

Brewing guidelines: < no notes here, but I vaguely remember using most of the sample with six cups of H2O, and I probably steeped it loose in my glass six-cup Bodum, with stevia added >
……….1st: 165⁰F; 1’
……….2nd: 180⁰F; 1.5’ (“180F was intentional due to it being a sun-dried tea.”)
……….3rd: 185⁰F; 2’ (“Much later in the day.”)
……….4th: 188⁰F; 2.5’

Color and Aroma of tea liquor: Pale yellow color; < no notes on aroma >.

Flavor of tea liquor (by steeping):
1st:… mild, but good flavor;
2nd:.. a little more flavorful then the 1st (probably due to the higher temperature)
3rd:.. still good, but very mild
4th:… minor flavor

Appearance and Aroma of wet leaf: No notes here other than, “Leaves were on the top during all steepings.”

Blends well with: I tried blending the remaining amount of this sample with another green tea, but unfortunately it didn’t turn out well; my guess is that the other green tea had different brewing requirements. Needless to say, I make it a goal not to mix samples any more (I was bummed, as I really liked this tea)!

Value: This wonderful green tea is about as expensive as the other green teas Verdant Tea offers (as of 6/5/2012 it is on clearance, but I believe it is normally about $40 / 4 OZ); it’s too expensive for me at regular price, but I may decide to acquire some if I can get a ‘deal’ on it at some later date (i.e. during a sale) when the fresh stuff comes in, or possibly as part of a sampler pack.

Overall: It’s been over seven months since I brewed it up now, but I do remember thinking at that time that this was one of the best tasting green teas I had ever had. Although I have enjoyed tasting all of the green teas he carries, I think I liked this one the most. “It reminds me of a Teatrekker tea that tasted like artichokes. I like it!” Notes on 2nd steeping: “I think I should have done the first steeping hotter. Slight astringency (bite/dryness) here that was absent on the first steeping.” My understanding is that since sun-dried green teas are processed a little differently than the Chinese green tea processing methods normally used (basket or pan fired) it needs to be brewed a little differently. I think I would start at about 175F-180F the next time I brew this one up. I am hoping to be able to get my hands on some of this great Tea again sometime in the near future!

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

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80

Experience buying from Life in Teacup http://steepster.com/places/2861-life-in-teacup-online-easthampton-massachusetts I just did a substantial update of the company review

Date of Purchase/Date of Steeping/Amount of Leaf/Frequency Drank: received late April, 2012, brewed up not long thereafter; four grams; this is my first time I have had this particular type of tea.

Appearance and Aroma of dry leaf: It looked like any other quality DaFo Long Jing (that I have seen pictures of, at least) in that it had the characteristic sword-like bud sets with uneven colored light-and-dark green hues counterpointed with tiny light brown splotches at the ends of the bud-sets; it had a fresh and strongly nutty aroma.

Brewing guidelines: Glass sixteen-oz tumbler (so I could see the leaves as they steep) with ceramic teacup saucer as lid, two cups H2O; stevia added; I then decanted the tea into a larger container using a strainer by pouring from the tumbler to our teacups.
…….….1st: 182F; 1’……..good, fresh flavor; leaves all on top
……….2nd: 180F; 1.5’….a little milder tasting, still good
……….3rd: 187F; 2’…….heavier feel in mouth, but still good
……….4th: 188F; 2.5’….milder, yet smooth; all leaves still on top
……….5th: 186F; 3’…… very mild flavor

Color of tea liquor: a very light yellow-green color which got darker on the later steepings.

Flavor of tea liquor: Delicate, pleasant, fresh, with a very small amount of astringency, (which was actually pleasant); more detail in Overall.

Appearance of wet leaf: very high quality leaf: all whole bud-sets (with what I understand to be the characteristic tiny end-buds); interesting thing is, the leaves did not open up as they normally do in buds sets after begins steeped; I have never seen this before.

Value: After inquiring about this tea, Gingko offered to give me a small sample of it; Thank you Gingko! Although it’s pricier than Tea Trekker’s (you have to buy more from them than from Life in Teacup), it’s cheaper than Seven Cup’s organic version, and the price of this one seems to be roughly what the going rate for this tea is at ~$15/OZ. UPDATE: I just checked both the Camellia Sinensis and Jing Tea Shop websites, and although they have no Dafo Long Jings, the three Long Jings each carries are about the same price (or more) than this Dafo from Life in Teacup.

Overall: For various reasons I am writing this over a month after actually tasting this tea (although most of this was already written a week after trying it), so this review is based partially on written notes and partially on memory.

I think I am getting a better handle on how fresh spring green teas compare with, for example, year-old green tea; after having had this 2012 fresh spring Dafo Long Jing from Life in Teacup and comparing it side-by-side to the taste of a 2011 harvested year-old Long Jing (one from Jing Tea shop of what I believe to be a considerably lower grade), I was able to make some distinctions. On the surface, taste-wise, I liked both of them, but for different reasons: the year-old Long Jing was heavier in my mouth (I think that’s called ‘body’?) and was flavorful, while the fresh Long Jing was much lighter, and although it was hard to describe the flavors (being somewhat unusual), they were interesting.

Describing experiences by using people/animals/objects that tend to intrigue me (for example things in nature, like birds) seems to be something that comes naturally to me, and as I am still learning what all of the technical words for describing taste are, the following is my way of describing the difference between a fresh and a year-old spring green tea (in this case, two different Long Jings). While drinking the fresh spring Long Jing: within the space where I held the Tea, I imagined a few small colorful birds, ones that differed ever-so-slightly in shape and color, flying effortlessly up, up, up, trilling out their pleasure of the day; while drinking the year-old Long Jing: I imagined a flock of larger birds, all similar in size, shape, and color, moving around with considerable effort at low altitudes within the space where I held the Tea, making familiar noises. It’s easy to take note of the larger birds (mallards perhaps?), and yet more difficult to get a glimpse of the swifter, more delicate ones (goldfinches and/or ruby-throated hummingbirds perhaps?)—but what a joy to watch them fly!

I hope to write more about the price of fresh Long Jings (and a few other things) when I write up the review about the Life in Teacup 2011 year-old version of this DaFo type of Long Jing (a sample of which I didn’t realize I had until after I brewed up and compared this tea with the year-old Jing Tea Shop Long Jing. Doooah!).

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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Backlogging and based almost entirely on my notes

Small update (6/14/2012): Today I did a complete second steeping session with this tea (five steepings), which finishes the sample, and I got the same results.

Experience buying from Verdant Tea http://steepster.com/places/2886-verdant-tea-online-minneapolis-minnesota

Date of Purchase/Date of Steeping/Frequency Drank: David graciously included this sample with my last order at the end of 2011; brewed up March, 2012; presently, have done only one steeping session so far.

Appearance and Aroma of dry leaf: aroma reminded me of roasted, salted-in-the-shell peanuts! It was fresher than what I remember the Cha Dao Wuyi oolongs to smell like; these leaves had the appearance of what I believe most Wuyi oolongs look like: large leaves, twisted—some bent—with a uniform dark-brown color.

Brewing guidelines: what I am guessing was three very generous TBSP dry tea (I used my hand to measure it, as its hard to get the leaves on a spoon) for three cups H2O; < my notes don’t state it but I believe I used my six-cup glass Bodum, leaf free to roam >; stevia added;
……….1st: 200F; 45"……………….mild, roasted
……….2nd: near boiling; 1.5’………a little fruitier, less roasted
……….3rd: Nearer boiling; 2.25’…what I judged to be the best steeping (less roast, more fruit)
……….4th: boiling; 3’………………..mellow, smooth, mildly-toasted, good!
……….5th: spot-on boiling; 5’…….very mild flavor, but good (“Reminds me of a roasted chili pepper”)

Color and Aroma of tea liquor: light caramel color (with a few bubbles on top); mildly roasted aroma.

Appearance and Aroma of wet leaf: Quality leaf: mostly large, whole dark-green leaves with roasted edges; aroma was rich and malty.

Value: Currently $32 / 4 OZ; although to me this seems like a lot to pay for this tea, I don’t know the standard price of Wuyi oolongs, so it may be commensurate with the quality.

Overall: I’m not certain what that note of the 5th steeping means exactly (I know, a BIG downside to backlogging : } ), but I roasted some chili peppers years ago—having brought them back fresh from a trip to New Mexico—and they were simply delicious; evidently something about this tea reminded me of them. I’ve decided not to assign a numerical rating to my review because it seems as though, on the whole—having had a number of Wuyi oolongs—I don’t care for the heavily roasted flavor that seems to be indicative of the first two steepings. Although I liked some things about the last three steepings, the taste is not something I am looking for in a tea. I have faith that David carries only the best-of-the-best (or close enough to it), so I am guessing my not liking this tea is more about my personal preferences than the tea not being ‘good’. Who knows? Maybe somewhere down the road I will develop a liking for the more darkly roasted Wuyi Oolongs.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 45 sec
Tea_is_wisdom

I think you did an awesome job on this review. My personal feelings is if your going to review a tea and score it you have to do it according to what is the quality of the tea and does it hold true to it’s tea characteristic profile. I am glad your not grading a tea on well I didn’t like it because it’s not my taste in a tea. I think more reviewers need to understand quality of a tea and the tea’s profile that your drinking and knowing is it acting like it’s suppose to even if I don’t care for this type tea or is it just a low quality tea that is not holding true to it’s tea type and character. I am sorry for being long winded but hope you got what I was saying. I just think you did an amazing job and did it in the right way.

SimpliciTEA

I appreciate your kind words. : )

I think I got what you were saying; and you NEVER have to apologize to ME for being long-winded; I am almost continually ‘blowing wind’ all over the place. : }

“… if I don’t care for this type tea or is it just a low quality tea that is not holding true to it’s tea type and character.” Determining the difference between 1) I don’t care for this type tea, and 2) it’s a low quality tea that is not holding true to it’s tea type and character, is not necessarily easy. Just this afternoon I was talking to my wife about a veggie burger she had from Trader Joe’s; she didn’t like it; I though it was interesting, leaning toward good. I tried to get her to tell me why she didn’t like it, and I didn’t get a straight answer out of her.

Anyway, how do you know if you really ‘know’ (that’s looks strange, but it’s worded properly; I guess you could substitute the word ‘understand’ for the second ‘know’) what the teas true character is? Even that—being, the teas true character—is subjective.

I am toying with the idea of doing away with giving numerical ratings to any tea. But at least for now I plan to be more leery of assigning a numerical rating to a tea if I feel I don’t really know what to expect from. It’s a tricking business any way you look at it. What’s most important (as I see it) is that I am at least aware of the complications involved.

See, there I go again, blowin’ wind …..

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75

Backlogging and based entirely on my memory

Experience buying from Sanctuary T http://steepster.com/places/2940-sanctuary-t-online-new-york-new-york?visit=1642

Date of Purchase/Age of Leaf/Date of Steeping/Frequency Drank: Bought at the end of 2011; no harvest date provided on website; started drinking it almost daily from February 2011 to some time in April of 2011.

Appearance and Aroma of dry leaf: About the same of the other two Gyokuros I’ve tried: small, dark green leaves that look almost like leaf ‘shavings’; strongly vegetal.

Brewing guidelines: three full TSP dry tea for every six ounces of H2O (this stuff is really dense); glass Bodum pot with metal infuser/plunger; stevia added; my standard Japanese-green times and temperatures; three steepings (I usually brewed the third at 180F for 2 minutes which seemed to work out well, especially when I blended it with a Chinese green tea).

Color and Aroma of tea liquor: A somewhat cloudy bright green color; vegetal/grassy aroma.

Flavor of tea liquor: One of these days I’ll have to sit down and figure out how to describe the difference between ‘grassy’ and ‘vegetal’, but for now let me say that Japanese teas seem to have a flavor profile that differs from Chinese green teas in that they seem to be more grassy—a taste some don’t go for as it comes across a little bolder than Chinese greens do. Although I prefer the taste of Chinese greens, I did like this one: it had a flavor that was about as grassy and sweet as the other two Gyokuros I’ve had.

Appearance and Aroma of wet leaf: Standard ‘grass-clippings’ look, strong grassy/vegetal aroma.

Blends well with: This tea actually blended reasonably-well with a Chinese green on the third steeping.

Value: I bought eight OZ of this at 50% off (making it $25 / 8 OZ); at that price it was worth it to me; but at the regular price I’d much prefer to go with Den’s Tea or some other tea retailer that specializes in Japanese teas.

Overall: As Gyokuro is purported to have a high content of theanine in it, I started using H&S version of this tea as my work-morning green tea last year (2011). When I ran out of the H&S version, I began brewing up this one. It’s been over a month since I finished off the last of it, but overall it was about as good as the H&S version (the H&S version may have been slightly tastier). This tea is not worth it to me for the price, but still I’m glad I had a chance to experience SanctuaryT’s version of Gyokuro.

Preparation
160 °F / 71 °C 0 min, 45 sec

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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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