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Recent Tasting Notes
Next up I take a look at Yellow Sprouting ‘Huoshan Huang Ya’ what I consider to be the most classic of the Yellow Teas, it is a really good entry point because it is similar enough to a green that it acts as a good stepping stone, granted this could be because it was one of the first yellows I had, and it is one of the easier ones to get. The aroma of this tea is definitely on the green spectrum with notes of asparagus, cabbage, bell pepper, and a bit of crisp raw broccoli at the finish. It has a sharpness from the pepper notes, and well, a peppery note in general, like someone sprinkled a bit of pepper melange on cooking veggies, yum. What is it with me and food today?
So here is where it gets really fun, the steeped leaves smell like cooked cabbage and savory asparagus, a hint of the sharp pepper remains, but it is mostly savory veggies. Until you sniff the liquid, and it is surprisingly sweet, like freshly squeezed sugar cane juice and blooming peonies, toss in a touch of raw cabbage and you have this tea’s aroma. I always get amused when the leaves and liquid smell so different.
Tasting this tea is pleasantly light, it has a gentleness to its taste and mouthfeel. The taste starts mellow cooked cabbage and pepper, then moves to a more rich asparagus and starts to pick up a nutty sesame seed note. At the end it flips from savory to sweet with gentle chestnut and honey notes and a lingering aftertaste of pepper but without the heat of the pepper of course. I got a couple more mugs out of the leaves, it always stayed really mellow, getting sweeter with later steeps. This is a solid yellow tea, it did not blow me away as much as the Junshan Yinzhen, but that tea was something else!
Today I am taking a look at the two Yellow teas from the Quantitea 12 Loose Leaf Tea Flight, and let me tell you this, bravo to them for including Yellow teas, they are one of my favorite types of tea and they frequently get neglected. The first one I am looking at is the Silver Needles of Gentleman Mountain ‘Junshan Yinzhen’, a delightfully fuzzy tea from Hunan, I have had this tea where it is covered in downy trichomes and also where it is just needles with very little fuzz, and knowing my love of fuzzy teas it is no surprise I am partial to the ones covered in down. Giving these needles a sniff I detect vegetal notes of okra, bok choy, peas, corn and I swear I am not making this up…cornbread. It honestly smells a bit like gumbo but minus the tomatoes and this makes me so hungry. The starchy undertones of corn and cornbread give the tea a sweetness that compliments the more green notes.
This is the first time I have ever brewed a Yellow tea western style, I always use a gaiwan, so this will be a learning experience for me. The aroma of the plumped up soggy needles is green and sweet, with starchy notes of corn and bread with okra and sweet peas, there is also an undertone of very distant smoke, like someone grilled the okra before tossing them in the gumbo…man I really need to go get some food. The aroma of the liquid is gentle with notes of okra and corn with yeasty bread (more like bread than cornbread this time) and an underlying tomato leaf green note adding a crisp quality.
Ok, that is really quite yummy. It is still reminding me of gumbo with those strong okra and corn notes, as a person who might be addicted to okra in its many forms I can safely say this note pleases me immensely. The midtaste is bready and sweet, reminding me of a combo of cornbread and sweet yeasty farm bread, towards the finish there is a hint of pepper and a lingering okra note. I steeped this one for a few more cups, trying to wring every bit of flavor out, my only complaint is that I want more. I loved this tea in a mug and I really want to see how it performs in my gaiwan, or a yixing, clearly I need a yellow tea only yixing now.
The next tea I looked at was the White Peony (Bai Mudan) another White Tea from Fujian, that has the needles along with the fluffier first leaf. This is the first standard BMD I have had in a while and it excites me, like silver needle this tea can take a beating and give you wonderful tea in return. The aroma is a blend of melon, cucumber, lettuce, pollen, and a touch of hay and distant sweetgrass. It is less sweet than the silver needle but smells very fresh and crisp.
Into the basket of steep the leaves go, and when they are removed they still retain their crispness! Notes of melon and cucumber, lettuce, and a touch of wildflowers. There is also a very distant hint of apricot at the finish, but it is light. The liquid is much sweeter, notes of sweetgrass, broken fresh hay, pollen, wildflowers, melon, apricots, and a cooling hint of cucumber. Not as honey sweet as the silver needle, but still quite sweet.
Another tea whose liquid looks like liquid gold, specifically the gold of sunbeams at sunset. The taste of Bai Mudan always reminds me a bit of summer, where silver needle is spring. It starts with pollen and wildflowers and quickly moves to a triple crispness of lettuce, melon, and cucumber. The finish is gently sweet apricot and sweetgrass with a touch of hay in the aftertaste. It lasts for several steepings and gets greener with later steeps, really showcasing the lettuce and cucumber notes. On a whim I took the last steeping of this tea and more or less cold steeped it for about an hour (I used 120 degree water rather than cold, so it was only a sorta cold steeping) and found that it was immensely cooling and crisp, which is good because the day I did that was a bit warm for early April.
For blog, photos, and other ramblings: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2016/04/quantitea-silver-needle-bai-hao-yinzhen.html
Today’s blog is about the two white teas included in the Quantitea 12 Loose Leaf Starter Tea Set, starting with the Silver Needle (Bai Hao Yinzhen) a beautiful fuzzy bud tea from Fujian. I love Silver Needle steeped grandpa style, and really steeping things western style is similar to grandpa style, so it is no surprise that this tea works really well in this fashion. The aroma of the silvery needles is a blend of pollen, cucumbers, sweet honey and apricot, with a touch of lettuce and wildflowers at the finish. It is delicate and light while being very distinct.
Into the steeping basket the tea goes for a nice steeping, the aroma of the not so fuzzy leaves is sweet stuff, like honey drenched cucumber and melon with applies, apricots and a crisp lettuce finish. The liquid is light and sweet, with notes of honey and apples and a touch of lettuce. I am really liking the apple notes, not something I run into too often.
It looks like liquid gold, I never get tired of looking at silver needle, so pretty! The taste is wonderfully light and sweet, I love how you can put silver needle through its paces and it never gets bitter, the only time I have had one get bitter was due to overleafing, but water temperature and time is so easy to play with. It starts with notes of honey and pollen with a wildflower edge to it, then it moves to apples and apricot, and the finish is crisp lettuce and a cooling note of cucumber. It is very refreshing and takes multiple steeps, later steeps being sweeter and less green.
For blog, photos, and other random rambling: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2016/04/quantitea-silver-needle-bai-hao-yinzhen.html
Next up is Golden Monkey, or Jin Huo Cha as it is also known, this is a hong cha from Fujian and is also a favorite…and yes, I know at this point you are probably laughing at me since I have an overwhelming obsession with the red teas. The aroma of the curled leaves is strong in the sweet potato department, combine that with molasses and brown sugar and it smells like candied yams with a delicate distant flower note that seems to pop up in these Fujian reds, like distant orchids.
Steeping time, and the tea keeps up the starchy persona with strong notes of sweet potatoes and molasses, with a bit of burned sugar and a distant hint of peanuts. It smells sweet but not too terribly malty, this is more mild than the previous tea but sweeter in aroma. The liquid is sooo sweet, strong notes of sweet potato and peanuts, it is like a peanut crusted baked sweet potato pie with lots of molasses and brown sugar…and it is making me hungry.
This mug of red happiness is very sweet, and holds up to multiple steepings which is win. It starts malty and yammy (it is a word now) and moves to peanuts and molasses and the finish is a honey sweet lingering with a distant flowery quality that is light on the first steep but on the second steep the flowery note shows up in the midtaste and lingers into the aftertaste. It is a mellow red tea, one that I think is more suited to the evening or afternoon than morning, a tea for enjoying when you are more awake to enjoy it.
Today was a day of Dinosaurs, though hilariously not in Ark. I want dinosaur tea pets, specifically a few sea creatures (technically they are mostly reptiles, but shh) and many theropods, my most adored creatures. Problem is, they are either really big and not tea table sized (though it will fit just fine on my desk) or they are grossly old fashioned (few things offend me as much as a vertical Rex) and I will just spend my time glaring daggers at them for being wrong. Mostly my quest was not successful, I found some small friends, but they were a synapsid (hello Dimetrodon) and a pair of sea reptiles, though finding an Elasmosaurus was awesome. Ben found a Palaeoscincus he liked so that kinda counts, but no epic dinos for me…yet. Next up will be to paint my new small friends so they are more fun, because a solid gray derpy Elasmosaurus is just sad.
Today is a double feature from Quantitea, looking at the two red teas from their ‘Starter Set’ flight I got a chance to experience recently. I brewed them using their glass mug and basket that came as part of the flight, giving my gaiwan a bit of a rest and retracing my roots to my early tea drinking days. The first one I am looking at is Hong Jin Luo or Red Golden Spiral, a Dianhong (so a hong cha from Yunnan) with some of the prettiest little leaves, seriously I adore the fuzzy little gold spirals. The aroma of the leaves is malty and sweet, with strong notes of molasses and sweet potatoes with cocoa and roasted peanuts. It is a classic smelling Dianhong, both rich and sweet.
After my steeping and the uncurling of the leaves, the aroma takes on a richer malty and nutty quality, really bringing out the peanut notes that I favor in this style tea. They always remind me of my beloved boiled peanuts but without the copious amounts of brine usually associated with that snack. The liquid is a wonderfully sweet blend of molasses and starchy yams with a honey undertone.
With big mug in tow, I slurped it up while playing Ark, that is my favorite part of this system, I love gongfu, it is my favorite way of enjoying tea, but not always do my hobbies blend perfectly and a mug is required. I was able to get a couple steeps from the leaves, so points for longevity there, the first steeping was rich and sweet, strong woody and molasses notes at the front, middle notes of chocolate and yams, and a nutty finish of peanuts and malt. The second steep focused more heavily on the starchy yam notes and malt, with a brown sugar note that vaguely reminded me of my favorite way to eat sweet potatoes. I had extra of this tea so later gongfu’d it and it is safe to say it is equally delicious that way as well!