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Recent Tasting Notes
Geek Steep S1E10 – Squirrel Girl
Firstly, a shout out to my friend and coworker Red Phoenix for kindly gifting me this tea sample!! This was the tea I drank during recording for the episode – and I actually made a teapot of it and shared it with Marika, so this was the first episode where we drank the same tea while recording!
I don’t always love yellow tea, but in my humble opinion the best yellow teas are the ones with toasty peanut and hazelnut notes and when I opened the bag of this tea that’s exactly what it smelled like! Really cozy, roasty and perfect. Also perfectly themed for the Geek of the Week, Squirrel Girl! Both Marika and I went the obvious route with our “main pairings” by choosing super nutty tea blends, but this was sort of a less obvious way of approaching that nutty taste – and I loved that we got to share the pot and enjoy it together!
Also to give some insight of how far out in advance some of our podcast episodes were recorded…
We drank this during September, and the reason we ended up sharing a pot of tea while recording (aside from it just being a nice thing to do) was because the September Sipdown prompt for the day was to share a pot of tea with someone!
Listen to us on Buzzsprout:
If you want to get caught up on the Geek of The Week for next Thursday, the spoiler for our explored fandom is at the bottom of our latest DB post!
I drank this over my lunch break today – it was the break up from a morning of bright citrus heavy tea blends and indecision surrounding what I wanted to be drinking. This tea is suuupppeerrr smoke forward with thick brothy liquor, and woody “umami bomb” flavours with just a hint of red fruit in the undertones. All day I’ve been in a fickle tea mood, just not sure what I was craving – but this hit the spot so perfectly.
Second tea session of the day! I opted for something VERY different from the one earlier this morning; some 2016 Tian Jian dark tea that I picked up at the Montreal Tea Festival last year!! This is medium bodied, but don’t mistake that to mean lacking in flavour. This tea steeps up quite savory/umami, with an overall profile that puts images like Applewood smoked bacon or BBQ sauce in my head, with an earthy undertone and brothy mouthfeel. However the start of the sip is quite crisp, and there is an underlying sweetness as well that reads as a mix of subtle sweeter woods, mild fruits, and a touch of maple. It’s excellent!
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1OkXFWkO6d0
Gongfu Sipdown (719)!
Picked this tea up from Zhen Tea at the Montreal Tea Festival – I was really intrigued by the tea description, and as most people are aware I certainly have a penchant for yiwu sheng. It was fairly pricey – $10CAD for 5g, but I guess that’s kind of reasonable given that it’s a sheng with sixteen years of age on it. I appreciate that the company was even offering sample/session size of it at all at the festival.
I’d normally have brewed this in my yixing pot, but 5g is too little for a session in that pot so I brewed it instead in an 80ml shiboridashi – even that was a little soft for me though…
This was a delicious tea though; very fragrant and sweet aroma. Plenty of ripe plum and penetrating florals. The taste started off very much like a salted plum with lingering sticky sweetness and a touch of smoke- that was the general flavour for the first three or so infusions. From there it was gradually getting more floral over time – but retaining that juicy plum note. Very, very mild and pleasant astringency; no bitterness.
Fourteen infusion session in total. Wow.
I’d definitely purchase this again is the opportunity arose…
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_K0t5x4_3w
This was one of the best teas I tasted at the Toronto Tea Festival, so I got a 5g sample (for a very steep 10 CAD) to try it out at home. I got a piece close to the middle of the cake, but it’s not overly compressed. The leaves look quite coarse.
It is clear that the tea is aging very slowly, I was told it has been stored in Beijing since production. The leaves look somewhat green and the liquor is dark yellow, it hasn’t even properly started turning orange yet. There is a slight hint of fruits in the aroma, which is sweet and reminiscent of some cakes.
The first infusion after rinse is still very light with no bitterness and only a touch of astringency. It has a really nice sweetness, nothing overpowering. There is also a vegetal and floral character to it and the aftertaste is surprisingly strong given how mild the taste was. Second one is so smooth and already thicker. The taste I would describe as sweet grass with a bit of herbal bitterness. I can also feel its effects, clearing and focusing my mind. I have to say though that I am by no means in a standard state of mind, having just returned from a 90km long bike ride (the first one this year – spring seems to be pushing the winter away, yay!).
Third steep is a proper one. It’s such a nice mix of sweet and bitter taste, buttery texture, and a long floral and numbing aftertaste. Fourth and fifth are strong, but not as distinctive. I tried various types of brews next. The lighter ones are tasty and easy to drink, while the stronger ones have a heavy, peaty moss note to them and a much more interesting mouthfeel, which numbing and drying without being very astringent.
All in all, a very nice example of a dry stored Yiwu tea. If it was 4 times cheaper, I would even consider buying it! :P
Flavors: Bitter, Cake, Floral, Herbs, Peat Moss, Stewed Fruits, Sweet, Sweet, Warm Grass, Vegetal
Brilliant. This is the type of Oolong I love. Truly. Bright and friendly. The kind that if it was a person, their smile would light up a room. Grassy sunshine in a cup.
The package says there are dandelion notes in here. Suddenly I have a new appreciation for the scraggly weeds. I had no idea what they tasted like, but if this odd floral note is it, I want to collect all the dandelions and find recipes they work in. People make dandelion salad, right?
Heck, there’s a good chance they’d be organic, if I get them before anyone sprays to kill’em. I mean, nobody wants to preserve them, and lack of pesticides is what makes up “organic”, for the most part, isn’t it?
Sorry for the ramble. I’m on the first steep so this review may expand shortly!
My only qualm is that this tea is quite expensive.
mmmmm this was a shared purchase from the toronto tea festival between Cavocorax and i. I’m only just now getting a chance to try it out, but i swore she had it before me. Seems like steepster ate her note or i’m imagining things. :)
I’ve been brewing this gonfu this afternoon….im’ not getting a citrus note…just a sweet mineral like note that turns almost cocoa-y…maybe? I think i need a few more steepings..haha more to come but i’m happy with this pick from zhen tea!
My mom requested a green oolong. I have surprisingly few of those in my cupboard, but saw this and immediately felt it was the right choice. The instructions on the packet say to use 9g (a whole cake, I’d guess? I didn’t weigh it) and brew at 100C for 60s. Annoyingly, no info on water volume, though I see now that there’s apparently “more info” on their website.
Anyways, I fake-gongfu-ed this, kind of, I think. Did a series of consecutive 1 min brews at about 95-100C in ~8oz. I feel like either I needed to have used more water, less leaf, or a shorter infusion, as it had that flavour that suggested brewing error as opposed to low tea quality. But, it was still fairly tasty, especially the first infusion. Floral (but not too much), and creamy. Reminded me of a pouchong.
I think I’ll brew up the last little cake in a teapot or something (I don’t feel that breaking it up to brew multiple smaller cups would be advisable).
Picked this adorable tea up at the Toronto Tea Festival – my only purchase there, in fact! (Go me!) I just couldn’t resist green oolong pressed into a little tiny square cake.
Anyhow, I found this tea to be pretty enjoyable. A bit frustrating to steep, because it was too large for my infuser, and the water didn’t cover it all, but the flavour was good. Smooth, creamy, fresh-tasting oolong, with some floral notes, but not a dominant flavour. Again, more detail to come in future notes when I have a life again.