207 Tasting Notes
Comparing teas side-by-side is always fun. Today, pushing the ’09 Gong Tuo hard with an initial one minute steep, for an espresso-like brew, I was amused to see the weak last steeps of the 80s shu (http://steepster.com/teas/jas-etea/16232-80s-loose-menghai-79092-ripe) seem incredibly sweet when held up against, the more bitter, terse, and earthy ’09. Enlightening was that when brewing shu so aggressively, the faults of the tea come right to the surface, as it showed little sweetness or depth, instead giving a chalky coarseness and a watered-down earthen flavor, making the 80s tea seem so much more interesting. However, comparing young and aged shu in such a manner is probably not fair.
Full blog post: http://tea.theskua.com/?p=511
Purchased from Life in Teacup’s blog sale: http://gingkobay.blogspot.com/2011/05/blog-sale-some-rare-teas-and-new-green.html
A session this morning involved stuffing my lone yixing with a healthy quantity of leaves. It is obviously a very tippy tea, even from the onset, with copious single, white, furry buds. To me, it is nearly a hybrid puerh-white tea, finding a balance between sun-dried pu’er delight and floral, humid whiteness. This might explain the lack of bitterness and astringency. The tea carries a lot of tropical, juicy fruit smells and that faintly oxidized note you would find in silver needles.
What I really appreciate about this tea, in addition to the wonderful fruit character, is this tea’s consistent, blazing bright yellow color. There is nothing orange about this tea, until it reacts with air over a period of fifteen or twenty minutes. Clean production, with no over-processing nor softening to make it more approachable. Although, perhaps the leaf blending was an effort to do so. Not quite as pure as Essence of Tea’s cakes, but pleasantly yellow and bright.
Full blog post: http://tea.theskua.com/?p=519
Enjoyed this in two summer sessions today. This is a very clean, bright, fresh green. My tastes in Chinese greens run spinach and vegetable and this has got it, as opposed to more of the roasted, toasted chestnut flavors, which I tend to like less. It is light and the returning flavor is not really there. A solid price for a fresh, lively tea. One of those reasonable daily drinker type of green teas, if you’re a fan of the myriad of Chinese greens that exist.
For starters, I habitually, but unintentionally, brew this style of TGY too strong. I think it’s probably because I don’t drink this type of tea too much and hold it up to my practices with puerh and wuyi. As a result, the first few steeps are always a good bit too sour.
I read Gingko’s thoughts (http://gingkobay.blogspot.com/2010/05/concept-tea-1-special-edition-tie-guan.html) about this as a concept tea as a blend of tie guan yin and mao xie. I don’t think I have enough experience with the varietals to really understand the effect, but I do find this an enjoyable example of charcoal roasted ball-style oolong.
Lately, I’ve been focusing more and more on a tea’s texture, returning flavor, and feeling, as opposed to just flavor and aroma. I think great teas beat out many good teas by combining all of the elements in an emergent and transcendent way. This one doesn’t quite get there, as I think the aroma is pretty soft and the texture a little thin. Perhaps I haven’t noticed the internal energy of previous oolongs, but this one has a nice, soft, deep wave to it, with a considerable amount of warmth, which is helping me sweat on this first 80F+ day of summer. It also has a long, long pleasant returning herbal ginger taste that rings for an hour afterward.
I think this was my favorite of the three I tried last year and again this year, it is my favorite of the three. It’s got all the elements of puerh I like, big leaf purity, a bit of sun-dried fruit wildness, a wonderful returning flavor, good texture, and a solid afterglow. This tea doesn’t need me to attach copious sensory descriptors to it today, it just works (although, I do agree with buttery and nutty, per Hobbes). Unlike the Manmai, it’s not grassy nor flinty, and to me it has more overall depth than the Mansai.
This is the bingcha that’s been in my collection the longest and I’m frequently pulling it out, but little writing about it. There must be something enticing, the smokiness or the age, because despite the fact that critically, I think this tea is weak, purposefully softened, and not that good, I keep drinking it. It’s got some really weird leaves in it, in my opinion. Completely brown, oddly twisted, light leaves.
I had this side-by-side with the Manmai this morning. See that note about how it made me realize that aroma and flavor aren’t all there is to a tea. The flavor and texture in this tea were again overwhelming, but the energy is crisp, satisfying, glowing, and heavy. Mmmmm.
A re-visit to this and the Mansai made me realize how aroma and flavor are really not the only characters of a tea to consider. Texture is important, as is qi or energy, or simply how the tea makes you feel. This tea makes me feel amazing.
Flavor-wise, I’m still really focused on the flinty, grassy, greenness of the tea, and find the texture a little light, but this tea has powerful, golden, glowing energy to it, and that’s just something that’s hard to consistently find.
Updated blog post: http://tea.theskua.com/?p=498
Have been tucking into the 2010 harvest of this tea lately. My perspective on green tea aging has changed a little bit. I don’t think every green can handle time, but some of them manage to keep much of their character and evolve a little in pleasant ways. This one is drinking fine after a year. I eventually burn out on the charcoal, toasted chestnut, and mineral-forward elements of almost any Chinese green, but in the meantime, this provides a light, crisp, refreshing spring brew.
I’ve been drinking this regularly for the past few weeks to sate my craving for green. It’s done well, but in my estimation is far from exceptional matcha. Standard, workable, and without flaw, but does not excel. Whisks up a nice dark green frothy cup, with minimal bitterness, and some solid cucumber and melon tones.