5 Tasting Notes
I was lucky to receive some of this tea as a sample and enjoyed it so much I had to buy some! The tea broth is lovely and thick with a tasty malt overtone and low astringency in early infusions that is almost sweet. There is an aroma and flavor of cocoa, though not nearly as strong as in the Yi Mei Ren. There is also an aroma and flavor that reminds me of cassia, but it was faint in the first steeping. The cassia aroma and flavor intensifies with later, longer infusions, but doesn’t become at all overpowering. The malty taste recedes some after the 3rd or 4th infusion. This tea doesn’t lose flavor after several steepings and the tea broth continues to be a dark, clear red-brown. Later infusions become slightly astringent due to the length of infusion needed, but not unpleasantly so.
The caffeine content of this tea is moderate enough that I can actually enjoy many infusions and not get the headache caused by too much caffeine that I get with most other teas, which makes it a great every day tea. I hope Puerh Shop continues to carry this tea, because I really enjoy it!
Yes, this stuff really rates 100 for me as it’s the best spiced chai I’ve ever had, bar none. Cinnamon, clove, cardamom, black pepper, orange peel, galangal, ginger…and several other things as well as the black tea. This is most definitely not one of those wimpy, overly sweetened, so-called ‘chais’ you can pick up at any coffee stand. Brewed according to the directions, this stuff packs a powerful but outstandingly delicious wallop to the tastebuds! I like to sweeten mine with real maple syrup, if I’ve got it, or fireweed honey, though regular honey or raw sugar will do.
I used to love going to Mr Spot’s Chai House in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle and buying a cup of Morning Glory chai when I brought my empty one-gallon glass bottle back to get a full one. Sadly, Mr. Spot’s closed, but Morning Glory chai is still available on their website http://morningglorychai.com/ I occasionally buy a bag of their chai and have even sent half a dozen bags to an acquaintance of mine who wintered over at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station; she loved it and kept her chai as a special treat for herself and her friends.
Edited 13 January 2014: Okay, I recently followed Rushx9’s instructions and tried this tea again with water at 185F (at least, according to my thermometer) and did a really quick rinse, then about a 9 to 10 second steep. The tea was much better this time and it did have a nice, if very faint floral aroma and aftertaste of clover honey. VERY faint. The second and third steepings were actually better with a slightly stronger aroma and flavor that was quite pleasant, if still weak, but the tea started to pick up a bitterness on the 4th steeping (admittedly, I probably let it steep slightly too long). I’ll use up the rest of this bag of tea and not buy it again, as I prefer teas that allow me to close my eyes and lose myself in the aroma and flavor (I’ve been known to sit with my cup of tea and just breathe the steam to enjoy the scents of the tea long before I take the first sip).
Tried water at 165F, 180F and 190F on three separate occasions. Each time, I rinsed the tea for 10 seconds & poured out the first infusion, then added water again and steeped for 30 seconds. No matter what I did, this tea smelled of oil paints (linseed oil, perhaps?) and tasted like it smelled. Subsequent infusions weren’t much better, though I finally got a bit of honey-like flavor with a bit of light, sweet fruitiness when I used 195F water on about the third infusion.
This tea was so horrid that it must be something I’m doing wrong or my taste buds were completely out of whack the three days I tried it. Any suggestions for brewing this tea would be greatly appreciated!
Lovely, deep red/orange broth with a sensual, dark aroma of malt, fruit and raw cacao. Taste is also dark and sensual with a thick, dark, malty taste like a good stout beer but without any bitterness at all, as well as a light fruit and raw cacao flavor. The second infusion was not quite as thick but still very round and lush, the malty goodness was still there, as well as the taste of fruit and raw cacao nibs. The third steeping was left for close to two minutes and I was rewarded with an aroma and taste that was just as thick and lush as the first infusion but brighter and with even more raw cacao taste and aroma added to the fruit, though the malt overtones were much less foreward but still there. The fourth infusion was much lighter, even after steeping for three and a half minutes, but still just as delicious. A fifth infusion was weak, even after five minutes, so I let it steep until cold and it made a very nice cold tea.
This was actually the first ‘real’ tea (non-flavored) I’ve ever bought and I bought it via Amazon.com. I loved it so much that I went to Yunnan Sourcing’s site and bought more immediately.
Okay, I’ve gone from not really caring for this tea at all to really enjoying it now that it has aged some. I think I need to find a few more yixing jars so that I can lay in some sheng pu-erh for aging, since I certainly can’t afford the aged stuff.
Initial review: First infusion has a very strong mineral, grassy taste (think Timothy hay, if you’re familiar) with a very grassy scent. The second infusion is still mineral and grassy but it also has a floral scent and taste. Subsequent infusions lose the mineral taste, but continue to have as much of a taste and scent of Timothy hay as well as the floral scent and taste. The finish on this tea is slightly sweet, but I did not note any scent or taste of honey. In all honesty, I’ve had plain green tea from various large chain tea companies that was just as good at nothing approaching the price of this Spring 2009 Taste of Jinggu Mountain; to say that I’m disappointed with this purchase is an understatement. I would have been much happier spending the extra $20 to buy a 2003 Yiwu Puqing Hao Green Pu-erh Tea Cake from Puerhshop.com but I wanted to try other teas as well. I guess I’ll chalk this one up to ‘live and learn’ and do my best to buy a sample of a tea before I invest in an entire bing/tuo/brick.
A note on the tea cake itself: I know bings are supposed to be tightly packed to allow for storage but this particular bing was so tightly packed one could use it as a discus at a track meet! I was very careful when I tried to pry off a few pieces of this cake and used a pu-erh knife but there was just no separating it without breaking the leaves into tiny flakes in the process. I decided to go ahead and separate this cake and put the tea into a new yixing clay jar to allow it to get some air to age and wound up with as much powder and tiny flakes of leaves as I did small chunks of tea. I was completely unable to separate the center of the cake and will try to use a nail to break it up later; the darn thing could have been used by Wayne Gretzky for hockey practice it was so solid. I just hope a few years in a nice yixing jar will make this tea worth the trouble.