167 Tasting Notes
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.
I’ve been drinking Shengs for a while now, but other than a couple selections from Verdant tea, most of my purchases have been moderately priced cakes and samples; they’ve been enjoyable but I felt it was time to really explore the upper echelons of raw pu-erhs and from what I learned, Tea Urchin was the place to go. I bought four samples and Eugene generously threw in a fifth and suggested I start with the manzhuan. This is a young tea and I bought these samples with an eye to getting a cake and aging it.
The first couple of steeps were sweet and complex with that lovely eucalyptus taste and a fruity base. Successive steeps became quite bitter (as I expected) but still very rich and tasty. Quality Shengs also generate heat and energy in the throat and chest and this one was no exception. I was buoyed along during the day on a steady tea high.
With this sheng—and, I’m sure, with my other more expensive samples—I feel like I’m crossing the borderland from tea to precious elixir.