Spent the whole day outside in the cold yesterday, participating in the Christmas Bird Count. Want something warm and comforting to eat and drink to warm me bones… Very lightly smoked Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong and homemade stew with old vine Zin making up half the broth? Yes please.

Sorry ’bout the skeletal nature of the post – I want to finish the tea so I can eat my stew.

Brewed in a very heavy, glazed ceramic gaiwan.
Used 5g per 150ml boiling water for first three infusions: 2min, 2.5min, 3min.
Used 125ml for fourth and fifth infusions: 4min-95C, 5.5min-85C.
No rinse of leaves employed. Stopped at fifth, could’ve pushed a sixth at maybe a 7 min steep with boiling water.

Fragrance — cocoa and oak wood with a faint hint of pine charcoal
Wet Leaf Aroma — more natural cocoa powder, turned acacia wood after rinsing/washing with hot water.

1st infusion — deep brownish orange liquor. Baked wheat bread, prune, pile of raked leaves (Japanese Maple), slight Cyprus resin in aftertaste, Juniper berry + Lychee lingering fruit to lightly charred (and chard + rhubarb vegetal note) aftertaste.
2nd — Same as 1st, more rhubarb spice, bit more resin and body, woody sweetness. Bit of prune in mid-to-aftertaste. Faintly mineral. Hint of baked apples in nose.
3rd — Less tacky, more savory, grape leaves enter picture. Woody, more of the longan note versus lychee/prune.
4th — Slightly underdone chocolate chip oatmeal cookies out of the oven! Light, but decent body, somewhat crisp, and soothing. Eggy.
5th — Orange, transparent liquor. Orange oil in aroma and flavor. Dry and crisp. Meh-okay body, but not a lot of flavor. Good expression of WuYi mineral quality in aftertaste. Would still buy a cheaper tea that tastes like this as something to drink absentmindedly while watching a movie or sommat.

Overall Impression — in all aspects halfway between Golden Monkey and a golden Keemun. Tacky and smooth. Oak wood prevails throughout. Yummilicious.

Time for stew!

Boiling 2 min, 0 sec

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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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