99 Tasting Notes
I have piles of unread books around my house, but will that stop me from buying the new Collected Poems of Derek Walcott today? No. I have scores of albums I’ve downloaded and barely made it beyond track 1. Will that stop me from downloading the new War on Drugs or Future Islands this week? Absolutely not.
My over-stuffed tea cupboard has also suffered from this unbridled acquisitiveness. And it’s keeping me up at night as I pore over all of my teas that are nearing or over the one year mark. So I’ve made a promise to myself to only buy the absolute jewels of my annual tea drinking cycle until I drink down some of my stash: Shincha from Den’s Teas; a first flush darjeeling from Upton and Imperial Mojiang Yunnan tea from Yunnan Sourcing.
So to make room for my spring Darjeelings, I’m drinking a lot of this quality second flush from Sungma that has delicious honeysuckle sweetness,a citrusy vibe and a mild roasted flavor.
We’ve all had the experience of seeing a movie that was highly recommended and highly hyped—-American Hustle, for example—and left with a feeling of, I wouldn’t say disappointment, because the movie was enjoyable, but still, you wanted it to be better. After drinking Yezi’s Qing Pin and really liking it, I expected to be seduced by the Gao Shan. The first sips yielded dark chocolate, cherry and tobacco—pleasant but not transfixing. I agree with another reviewer that the cup got better as it cooled, producing a nice red-wine flavor entirely free from bitterness.
Overall, this is a very drinkable, high grade Chinese black, but I prefer the Qing Pin.
Black Beauty and this Mao Cha are quietly emerging as two of the teas I find myself instinctively reaching for. The Mao Cha reminds me of the smell of a freshly mowed field on a hot summer day—sweet and pungent with a lemony tang. Like a green Ceylon mixed with a newish raw pu-erh.
A delicious tea and everything you would want in a China black. Chocolatey and fruity with an interesting hint of licorice—smooth, refined with a lingering honey sweetness. It also provided great sustained energy. I’m loving this trend towards farm-sourced teas!
Maybe it’s because I’m an INFP on the Meyer’s-Briggs scale, but my choice of what tea to drink usually comes down to opening the cupboard, twirling the lazy Susan and waiting for something to jump out at me.
When I find myself reaching for the same tea over and over, I figure it should be a staple in my collection. Well, the Black Beauty qualifies. Unlike other people, I find this to be quite dry and clean in the mouth balanced by a nice burnt sugar taste and an almost chai-like spiciness. It’s definitely becoming one of my comfort teas—perfect for these bone-chilling New England days.
I have not been a Teavana customer, but I found myself with a couple of Starbucks gift cards courtesy of co-workers and decided to see what the coffee giant has done with the place. The Pittsburgh location (I spent the holidays there with my wife’s family)was glitzy and the selection weighted towards flavored teas. I always love a good golden monkey and thought I would give it a try (though it was overpriced).
Let’s just say that I was a bit underwhelmed. The tea was fairly weak and I really had to breathe in while drinking to grasp the flavor profile (cherry tobacco/red wine/nutmeg). A frustrating experience—like straining to run in a dream and flailing.