120 Tasting Notes
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.
When it comes to green tea, I’m pretty much a meat and potatoes guy. Other than first-flush senchas, I don’t really search out anything too refined. I’m satisfied with a good basic tea on those occasions when I want something with less caffeine; still I favor robust greens, and I remember drinking this gunpowder and liking it.
Well, it’s even better than I remember it and quite a bargain (a little leaf goes a long way). I love the wood-fire smokiness and the thick broth. It really is the lapsang suchong of green teas. A perfect winter green.
I look forward to my infrequent work trips, mainly because I have the opportunity to visit tea shops and cafes, something I don’t have the luxury to do here in my culturally alive but tea bereft area. On a recent trip to DC, I stopped into Teaism and had a nice cup of Golden Monkey and then bought a tin of this Himalayan Gold from Capital Teas.
I have to say, I have quickly become enamored of this tea. Of course it has the same general profile as a darjeeling, but with a lingering sweetness—Oolong-like in its floweriness—that sets it apart from its more astringent cousin.
I only wish Capital had more unflavored teas to choose from; I would certainly purchase from them again.
My first foray into Mandala teas and I couldn’t be more pleased. This is a delicious, aromatic and refined tea that reminds me of an Old Tree Bohea. A mellow chai-like spiciness mingles with a honey-inflected sweetness to create a perfectly balanced cup. I can’t wait to try my Mao Cha and the two samples that were generously included with my order.
As the note says, a lucky find. The liquor is clean and smooth—not fishy at all—which allows the spearmint and mushroom flavor to shine through. A little bit of cherry rounds out the robust profile. A really excellent 10-year-old Shu for everyday drinking.