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Recent Tasting Notes
Had a baggie of this stashed in my desk drawer for a while. Figured now is as good a time as any to drink it!
The buds were originally nice and unbroken, but they got a bit broken up thanks to my careless transporting. Steeps out to a nice, very light gold with a spiced hay-like, somewhat grassy aroma. Super smooth texture, light herbal, grassy taste. A very faint hint of steamed veggies at the end that lingers as an aftertaste.
Second steep came out a deeper gold and much more spiced. It almost reminds me of some tisanes I used to drink. I also feel like I am almost getting some lemony notes out of this one.
Seems like I could get some more out of this one if I had time for another steep, but I’ve still got the rest of the tin to experiment with.
Flavors: Grass, Hay, Herbaceous, Smooth, Vegetal
Got to experiment with this tea and it turns out that this makes a pretty nice teapop.
I received a free sample sachet of this tea as part of an Adagio order a couple months back and I just got around to trying it a couple hours ago. To be honest, silver needles never excite me. I tend to find them bland and boring. This one did nothing to change my overall impression of this type of tea.
I utilized a three step Western infusion process to prepare this tea. I started off with a 3 minute steep in 8 ounces of 180 F water and followed it up with 5 minute and 7 minute steeps. The water temperature was suggested by Adagio. I stole the brewing process from Whispering Pines.
The first infusion produced a light ecru liquor with a very mild nose. I was just barely able to detect fleeting impressions of hay, straw, eucalyptus, and something resembling mild cinnamon. In the mouth, I got very subtle notes of straw, hay, grain, butter, cream, eucalyptus, and cinnamon. The second infusion was a little stronger, but not by much. The nose was fruitier and slightly spicier. In the mouth, I was once again able to pick up grain, straw, hay, cinnamon, cream, butter, and eucalyptus, though I also detected traces of apricot, cantaloupe, honeysuckle, and oatmeal. There was also a little minerality on the finish. The third infusion was mostly a wash. I found the nose to be pretty much nonexistent. In the mouth, I got mostly mineral notes underscored by impressions of apricot, cantaloupe, oatmeal, butter, straw, and hay.
Well, this one was a downer. I kind of knew it was going to be though. As stated above, this type of tea does not really do much for me. I was willing to give it a chance, but I could tell that this was a low quality silver needle. You see, a high quality silver needle will be comprised of full, slender leaf buds and will actually appear to be silver or white in appearance due to the presence of numerous downy hairs on each bud. This tea did not look like that. It was comprised of mostly light greenish, hairless leaf material. I did not see many full leaves, as most were broken into small pieces. Some of the leaves even appeared to have small ruddy or brownish spots. This was obviously not a silver needle even remotely on par with, say, those offered by vendors like Whispering Pines or even Tealyra. Judging from the weak, lifeless aroma and flavor displayed by this tea, as well as its lack of staying power, I am not sure I can even recommend this as a budget introductory silver needle, so I won’t. Instead, I will offer the following advice: if anyone reading this absolutely has to try a silver needle tea this year, just pony up for Whispering Pines’ silver needle instead.
Flavors: Apricot, Butter, Cantaloupe, Cinnamon, Cream, Eucalyptus, Grain, Hay, Honeysuckle, Mineral, Oats, Straw
This is another one that I portioned out ahead of time that’s been waiting to be consumed. Steeped with probably too much water, as it didn’t have as strong a flavor as I would have liked. The liquor was a light yellow green and did exude that sencha smell, but upon tasting the first steep, it is extremely light. Faint vegetal flavor, not much umami, actually getting a bit of nuttiness out of it, which isn’t bad, just unexepcted. But I don’t rule out the possibility that it absorbed that from another tea.
For the second steep I up the temperature to 80C, reduce the water by about half and do a quick infusion. I do get some more flavor out of it but not a ton. All in all, this is a fairly lackluster sencha in my opinion. I don’t see myself revisiting it again.
On this cold, windy, and wet autumn day, this burnt sienna colored tea provides a warmth that touches the lips and hits the soul. I’m a huge fan of Lapsang Souchong, and knew that when I purchased this blend, that I would not be disappointed. The smokey and spicy aroma of this tea is a delight to the senses. The peppercorn, cloves, and cinnamon really bring out the boldness in the Lapsang Souchong, while the Honeybush mixed with the fruitiness provided by the oranges and apples, really brings a nice balance to this festive tea. The last note that I picked up about this tea is the mild undertone of the hazelnut. It’s not overpowering or fake, and lingers for a bit in between sips. This is a tea I would buy over and over again.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Brown Sugar, Burnt Sugar, Campfire, Cloves, Earth, Fireplace, Orange Zest, Peppercorn, Red Apple, Roast nuts, Smoked, Spicy
Hmm…so I decided to not follow the brewing recommendations for this and I’m thinking that was a mistake. I did drink this one on previous occasion, but I don’t really recall how it tasted. It didn’t really stand out much in my mind, though. I brewed it with about 5 grams in around 90-100 ml of water and it mostly tastes like burnt rice. I can’t really taste the tea at all, but there is quite a lot of rice mixed into this, more than what I’m probably generally accustomed to with genmaicha. Tried another steep since the rice was not soggy, basically the same. I will make sure I steep according to their instructions the next time I try this.
Flavors: Burnt, Rice
I was first introduced to lapsang souchong when a friend let me taste a Twining’s tea bag some years ago. I haven’t really had it much since then, but I always liked the smoky taste.
Now that I’ve been researching more about tea, I’ve learned about Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong, but have yet to have a chance to try it and in either case, I enjoy a strong smoky flavor.
I’ve had this particular tea from Adagio once or twice made western style, this is my first time having it gongfu style.
90C, 4.5 g, 100ml, first infusion about 10 seconds.
Well, it smells like smoke. Straight up. The first infusion of this is smoky and sweet. It’s like drinking sweet smoke. Or barbecue aftertaste.
In the second infusion, more of the taste of the actual tea shines through. Barely there bitterness, a bit of sourness. Not really getting much sweetness in this steep, but a bit of a sweet scent is clinging to the cup. I also let this steep go a bit longer than I intended.
Forgot about my third infusion as well. Today is not my day. Smoky smell and taste remain. I feel like pine is more pronounced in this steep. I can probably get some more out of it, but it’s about lunchtime so I’ll finish up!
Flavors: Ash, Char, Pine, Smoke, Sweet
~4.5g in 100 ml water at 99C, initial steep ~20 seconds
So I almost lost this session’s tea as a result of dropping the gaiwan for no apparent reason. It just slipped out of my hand mid-pour. Some tea leaves fell out, but I got most of the liquid in my cup and a lot of the leaves stayed in the gaiwan, so I decided not to let it stop me.
The first steep is amber-colored, smooth with a charcoal flavor (like, fresh, cleansing charcoal, not barbecue bricks or something), has no astringency, and leaves a sweet honey-like scent clinging to the empty cup.
The second steep has an almost creamy scent, a bit more smokiness coming out in the flavor, is still very smooth going down and has maybe the slightest bit of astringency on the back of the tongue. A nice honey scent still clinging to the empty cup.
Third steep…Maybe the universe just didn’t want me to drink this tea. I got distracted by an interesting issue brought to my attention at work and oversteeped. By a lot. Ended up with a dark amber liquor, but the taste was still good and the mouth feel still smooth. I got so absorbed in what I was doing that I didn’t give sufficient attention to the tea. I will see if I can get any more infusions out of it.
Fourth steep. Yeah, it’s done. I did get a good amber color and a good charcoal scent, but the taste is starting to get watery and not much lingers to the empty cup anymore.
Flavors: Ash, Char
99C for 20 or so seconds on the first infusion
Light color, nutty scent, smooth without much astringency, a slight hint of sourness
Second infusion brings out more sourness, a fresh green bean flavor, the empty cup has a sweet, lingering scent.
In the following infusions, these attributes gradually lightened.
Flavors: Green, Toasty
Steeped uncovered in gaiwan. Medium-colored liquor.
The first time I drank this I didn’t mind it, but it’s not doing it for me this time. The leaves themselves smell burnt to me, and the first steep tastes artificial. There is nuttiness and a roasted taste there, it just doesn’t taste authentic to me.
The second steep is a little bit better, but not by much. I think it’s just not for me. I’ve got 8 grams left of this, but I don’t see myself drinking it.
Flavors: Artificial, Nutty, Roasted
This tea has the flavor of a very light sesame oil. The taste is extremely clear, but subtle. Amber colored liquor, fairly fragmented leaves.
Brewed gong fu style with about 3.5 grams of leaf in about 100 ml of water at 80C/176F. I found the texture to be quite smooth on the 2nd and 3rd infusions. Wasn’t able to get any more flavor out of the leaves after that. I could see this making a decent iced tea. Nothing to write home about, however.
This tea has an amazing, candy-like smell. If I were blindfolded and you told me I was sniffing a Junior Mint candy, I would probably have believed you. The rooibos, mint, and chamomile really work well in this blend and you can taste all three. There’s also a nice hint of vanilla. Mint is definitely the forward flavor here. Although I love all things mint, after a few sips it became too intense and medicinal.
All in all, a good easy sipping, night time herbal. Nice tea if you’re looking for something candy like without sugar.
Flavors: Chocolate, Mint, Vanilla