215 Tasting Notes
The dry leaf looks just as good as in the photo …. generously studded with golden tips. I used 2 tsp of this to 12 ounces of water, steeped 5 min, for a very effective wake-up potion. Long before any caffeine effect, the brisk, piquant flavor had focused my attention. If it weren’t for the full body and plenty of malty sweetness, the bitter kick would have been overwhelming. It was a perfect foil for buttery biscuits and sweet jam. Later, I made a second mug quite sweet and milky for sipping solo. This is a good example of distinctive “Assam black” qualities, and the price was reasonable enough that I can make some sample packets for my tea meetup group.
My first time with this particular tea, so I used a glass gaiwan, wanting to see and interact with it as much as possible. I especially loved the balsamic herbaceous notes arising through the malt of the first steep. Some muscatel emerged in the second brewing, making Zhi’s comparison to a second flush Darj seem right-on. Sweet aromas linger in the empty cup. The liquor is a sparkling rosy-amber and very pretty to behold, as well.
This is my second encounter with one of Indulgashinna Estate’s organic marvels … the first having been with the long, thin, pouchong-ish twists sold as “Blink Bonnie” or “Arjuna.” Sampling more of Sri Lanka’s better picks leads to the realization that the country has ample variety in terroir, altitude, environs and processing methods … so much more than formerly came to mind at the name ‘Ceylon.’
1.5 tsp/3oz water. Four steepings: 30s, 1m, 2m, 3m
I steeped this tasty tea four times, and every one was good. The flavor profile given by Verdant is quite apt. A tsp of tea in a 3 oz glass teapot. Never bitter or astringent, just a comforting goodness, as flavors evolve with each steep. Maybe the comfort comes from how dependable it feels. A bit of green bean taste … seems so nourishing. Left me with a fine mellow energy. Thanks, Verdant Tea.
I know it’s poor form to have one’s initial taste of a pricey, long-awaited leaf alongside a bowl of smelly, peppery tuna salad, but the steaming cup imparted a glorious incense to my fishy repast. It was alchemical bliss to the palate, and besides, I was hungry.
The only other bohea I’ve experienced was about a year ago, from Teas Etc. This marvel, I think, surpasses that. The dry tea consists of tiny, even-sized black twists. Be careful with the leaf amount. It is denser than you might think. I used a scant 1.5 tsp in a 12oz mug to get two steeps. If you have the right mug, the large size teeli/bodum mesh-and-plastic steeping basket will reach all the way from the bottom to the top edge, giving the leaf lots of room to boogie … and good leaves deserve this.
The liquor possesses more flavor than is announced by its pale amber hue. The smoke merely accents its depth and complexity. It has an herbal freshness like lightly roasted roots rather than a green flush. While lapsang souchong can shove some extremely distracting smoke up your nose, this bohea wraps its toasty wood mist gently around the notes of the excellent tea. No wonder the bohea is more costly.
Afterward, I put the wet leaf on a little white porcelain saucer and dripped water on it until it was suspended in liquid. This is the best way I’ve found for getting a really good look at steeped leaf. Lo and behold, this leaf has been chopped or broken into quite evenly-sized bits. Was this machine-harvested or was it broken during finishing? I cannot tell. In any case, the fineness of this bohea does not depend on preserving the whole leaf. Rather, it is the quality of growth, the selectiveness of picking, and the skill of processing which makes such a good thing.
4 min, 6min at 205F.
Cup is, as stated, a light copper color. I forgot about this description and over-steeped my first cup, thinking I’d used too little leaf. Aroma is sweet, with brief floral notes as the cup cools. Flavor reminds of mint, marjoram perhaps, with a bitter bite at the swallow … due to the oversteep, I think. Little astringency in the hot cup, but increased with cooling. This calls for a new cup, with better steeping parameters.
The package instructions say: 180F for 5-8 min ?! Surely this is too long to steep a green tea! On the contrary, I found that a 5 min steep gave a sweet and smooth cup. This is an exquisite, delicious green tea. Rich, fruity flavor. The leaves are so tender, I wanted to gobble them up afterwards.
Thanks to the Steepster TTB, I’m sampling this interesting tea today. TeaSpring sells this as a pricey loose-leaf puerh tea. My (other) Ya Bao leaves from Norbu Tea are sold as a moderately priced wild-type white tea. I think the leaf, as picked, is the same for both: the growing tips of a wild-type varietal (or wild arbor) of tea plant which were picked in the early Spring season. The difference is that these Ya Bao leaves from TeaSpring have been fermented in the manner of puerh mao cha. The mao cha are the “makings” of puerh tea … they’re piled up and allowed to age in a controlled amount of humidity. Later, this mao cha may be blended with other mao cha and made into a pressed cake of puerh, to be aged further in cake form.
This Ya Bao puerh is mao cha which has neither been blended with other tea types nor pressed into a cake. It is presented to us by TeaSpring as drinkable now, and I agree. The scent and flavor also differ from the unfermented Ya Bao from Norbu. They are a bit funkier, as you’d imagine, and the leaf has more brownish tones to it. The liquor is still quite light colored, but has earthier flavors, more wood, peat, nut, and pine. I couldn’t identify the vanilla noted by others, but there’s a slight sweetness. The wet leaves smell like sour wet cardboard, which seems to translate, oh-so-fortunately, into a lemony note in the liquid brew.
I followed TeaSpring’s steeping recommendations, right down to the purple clay pot, except my first steep was cooler than boiling. After that, I upped the temp. By the time I got to the 4th steep, at 5 min, I wasn’t getting much except the sourness, and gave up the effort. For flavor, the first steep was my favorite. But for cha qi (that subtle energy of the tea which can be labeled and measured as caffeine, theanine, and a host of other constituents of the leaf), the later brewing delivered a kick that I’ve come to identify with a distinct, hard-to-describe feeling in the throat. Like a young sheng (raw) puerh, these mao cha can be uniquely engaging.
I’m glad I got to try this. It was a good educational experience and likely a healthful drink, but not something I’d seek out again or keep on hand. I’ll send the small (about 2 servings) remainder of this along with the TTB from whence it came. For seekers of new and/or unique experiences (like myself), tea samples, swaps, or a TTB are a great way to go!
Big, fluffy leaf, so used 2 heaping tsp in 8oz water. Nutty, herbaceous, medium body, smooth, sweet aftertaste. 2nd steep, 2 min, not as sweet, more lemony, lighter body, slight asparagus vegetal aroma and flavor, dried grasses. Earthier, rounder flavors than white tea made entirely from buds. I enjoyed this a lot.
Pot of Many Uses! This is a unique design, and really does pour well, even one-handed! The glass is sturdy and the shape is pleasing to the eyes. Makes great tea in the roomy infuser, and works well for a bloom of flowering tea (without infuser). It’s large enough for a blooming tea to expand fully, while being small enough (and the right shape) for good viewing of the display. Without the infuser, the lid fits rather loosely, but it does its job and stays on when I pour with my thumb over its stem. A cork trivet comes with the purchase … nice for protecting surfaces and the underside of the glass pot. And one more thing … without the lid and infuser the pot becomes a giant “fair cup” for large-group gongfu adventures, when I want to mix more than one steeping together before pouring. I think I’m going to get a lot of use from this sweet little pot!