AHA! Finished this just in time for giving as gifts!

The photo representing the blend is from the batch I made up December 2009, and I’m debating whether I ought to update the picture or just create a new entry for a new year since it’s so different. The 2010-11 incarnation is jam-packed with a LOT more gold leaves. Remember all those Golden Monkey, Keemun, and Lapsangish teas I’ve been going through? Yeah, it was me trying to find a right fit for this guy. Some folks do last minute shopping, I wind up doing last-second tea blending and coffee roasting.

Final test was a hard one to muster the courage for. You see, I generally get heartburn or indigestion from even a slight Lapsang influence… I think it’s mostly caused by something psychological, not physiological. Anywho, my final test for this blend is to make sure I can brew it with 3g in 150ml boiling water for ten to fifteen minutes and easily drink it down, yet there being a bit of astringency for the kind of people who like to put things in their tea.
Smoky, astringent, potent dark tea pushed to it’s limits and guzzled, rather than slurped without a testing sip and potential for churning my stomach while already ill and facing down an overloaded family meal??? fun…? =S

Low and behold, it was a success! Huge sigh of relief! Now I can sink into my chair and enjoy the rest of the cup.
Barbecue, pine and oak woodsmoke, walnut, and coconut husk. Wine notes of Cab. Sauvignon, Muscat, old vine Zin, and Syrah. Definite tannin structure here. Heady aroma more akin to smoked ham than burning pine. Light spice notes of black pepper, cinnamon, chipotle pepper, and nutmeg. A touch of baked pear tackiness.

This year I’m making room in this blend for larger leaved Yunnan and Fujian reds – sticking to small leaf bits for body maintenance and holding myself to a high Sri Lanka and Nilgiri percentage for clarity in iced tea as in previous years is not worth sacrificing the nice meaty, savory qualities I’ve been able to get out of this. I may or may not follow suit in following years and there’s still some room for improvement, but I’m calling it and tossing this out there as my Prototype 1 for the 2010-11 batch.

What a relief.

Boiling 8 min or more

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Tea Geek.

My focus is on Chinese Wulongs and Pu’er but I’m all over the place. I tend to follow a seasonal progression of teas, following the freshness curve of greens through summer and rounding the cooler months out with toastier teas and Masala Chai.
With the exception of Masala Chai milk tea I’m a purist at heart. While I was originally snagged by Earl Grey with bergamot and make blends for gifts, I very rarely go for scented teas or herbals and can’t remember the last time I bought a tea that was blended. Pure tea is just more interesting to me than the product of mixing flavors. I do understand and appreciate their existence, though.

I upload some blends I make or special prep teas I nab under the company name “Green Raven Tea and Coffee” and the vast majority of these posts will be blends crafted to create flavors/characteristics not inherent in any one particular tea.
I’ve worked as a tea buyer for a smallish cafe and try to keep apprized of shifts in offerings even when not selecting for a business so I wind up sampling a ton of wholesale samples from a couple companies in particular but try to branch out to as many companies as I can find. Until Steepster integrates some form of comparative tasting feature, none of my cupping notes will make it onto my reviews unless wrapped up into something I feel compelled to drink multiple times on its own.

Since all the cool kids are doing it, here’s my big fat ratings scheme:

0-12…..Ugh, don’t wish on anyone
13-25….Bad, won’t touch again
26-37….Huh, not worth the effort
38-50….Meh, unremarkable
51-62….Okay, good tea
63-75….Tasty, really good tea
76-87….Yum, wonderful
88-100…Wow, really spectacular

There shouldn’t be many postings at all from me ranked 26-50 since unremarkable teas are unlikely to make me remark on ’em but to “earn” a score 37 or below I have to be disappointed to the point where others may ask for a refund or turn down offers even when free or offered as a gift (beyond stale).

I’ve got a ton of respect for anything rated 63 or higher.

For a tea to get 71 or more, it has to be pretty special and kinda blow my socks off.

The 90s are reserved for wonders that make me reevaluate my views of the world of tea as a whole.


Santa Rosa, California, United States

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