1071 Tasting Notes
What’s so dangerous about this tea? :P The bell tolls loud and clear in apricot taste then fades away in dampened waves. Mellow. Nice.
Easy to break off a chunk or peel off layers of leaves that smell of apricot and tobacco and… pu’er. Rinsed leaves smelled pretty good: strong apricot and smokey green bean. The first steep was all thick apricot and it exploded into juicy ripe apricot up front in the second steep with a quick unfurling of the leaves. Bitterness presented mid-mouth and sour in the back with slight astringency all around. The third steep stayed thick with the addition of a light creamy taste.
Cha qi kicked in around the fourth steep. Muscles relaxed, especially in my shoulders, arms and face. Droopy the Dog. Aftertaste of apricot and light creaminess was most pronounced in fourth steep then moved to sour. From there, the tea presented itself in muted, cyclical peaks and valleys in taste, mouthfeel and energy, going from apricot to lightly floral to sour unripe pineapple and mineral and back until the end. Sour to lightly bitter and astringent to a persisting pleasant sour again. Thick to thin and back, with final steeps leaving the back of my tongue feeling plump and a nice fullness in the throat. Light relaxation to mild pep and back again over the course of the next 6 steeps. The caffeine is present but nothing I couldn’t fall asleep to, which is a perk for the caffeine-sensitive derk.
Aroma never caught me. Spent leaves are still very green with no hint yet of fermentation.
Nothing in particular stood out to me about this tea but I do have a fondness for bold pu’er. Its qualities seem to make it a good lazy-day drinker or de-stresser. In fact, I think it facilitated an ease of conversation that by nature of the subject could’ve turned out ugly.
I revisited this tea with the same brewing parameters as yesterday: grandpa style with 1tsp/10oz mug/175F/2 top-offs.
Paying closer attention to the dry leaf and noting Verdant’s description, the scent is mostly super sweet whipped cream (from the grocery, not homemade) cloaking a vegetal base. Initial steep was pretty grassy and lightly sweet in aroma and taste, notably sweetgrass with sweet edamame. First top-off produced stronger aroma and flavor, with the aroma gaining some chestnut and maintaining the taste of sweetgrass and edamame plus slight minerality. In the second-top off, the tea was rather unimpressive.
The off umami in the back of the mouth I experienced yesterday wasn’t present today. After reflection on yesterday’s weird taste, it reminded me of beef tongue which I don’t like. The mouthfeel doesn’t have much substance and is drying. I think this tea is too light in flavor to drink with breakfast but food in the belly is necessary. This one does give me some burps and gurgling on an empty stomach.
Overall, this tea just doesn’t hit the marks for me. The dry leaf smells amazing but for that, it lacks in strength of energy and liquor aroma, taste, mouthfeel and longevity. I think I’ll attempt the remaining teaspoon in a modest cold brew or maybe I’ll bump up the temperature, though I suspect that would just increase the drying mouthfeel. It’s out of stock now and I bought only one 5g sample for $1.xx, so I don’t know how the price compares to my favorite Laoshan green.
What’s with the headaches lately? I need a sleep-hard tea and this is one of the better ones I’ve had. It’s well-balanced in flavor when brewed 1tsp to 10oz. Light and sweet.
None of the herbs stand out which is nice and what I look for in nighttime blends. I bought this at the San Francisco Ferry Building which is total money pit. $15 for an herbal blend. I’d buy it again if it weren’t for SF storefront/tourist inflated pricing. I don’t know what I was thinking. I was probably drunk and dopey from spending $12 on a gongfu oolong session at the Imperial Tea Court. At least I have a nice tin when it’s gone. But yeah, it’s good and makes me sleep hard.
This certainly serves its purpose as a pick-me-up had in between classes. I stopped by the cafe and they filled my crappy 16oz thermos with an unknown temperature water they use for their own teas. The cut leaf makes this good for a teaball, but mine doesn’t fit through the opening of this particular crappy thermos. So I dumped in a heaping teaspoon of leaf and drank it over the course of 30 minutes. Not recommended as it gets a little bitter.
The very fragrant dry leaf, dark brown and cut with gold tips, smells of sweet dark cocoa powder. The liquor tastes like a thinned, good quality, sweet dark chocolate syrup with a little bit of red fruit jam mixed in. Some woodiness and maltiness. It was really tasty, especially when accompanied by yogurt pretzels and one of those tiny bananas (the only banana worth a damn) as a snack.
I brewed it western over the weekend, which was much better than this afternoon’s approach. 2tsp/8oz/205F/3 solid steeps. Very dark the first and second steep.
I’ll come back to this one soon with a little more detail.
Brewed this grandpa in a hurry this morning. School started and my reviews will probably be short until I get my schedule ironed out, books bought, etc. 16 credit hours and a job. Woo boy. I’ll come back to short reviews asap with second thoughts.
1 heaping tsp, 10oz mug, 175F, 2 top-offs. Initial thoughts: super sweet smelling dry leaf, liquor was unimpressive, more grassy than vegetal, light sweet thickness, some kind of umami in the back of the mouth that tastes off. Kind of like rancid coconut oil? rancid butter? liver? Maybe I’m crazy, maybe it was being in a rush.
Placed a large Verdant 5g sample order this week. Here’s my first pick of the pack, the Spring 2018 Laoshan Gan Zao Ye. It was my first time with jujube leaf, so I followed Verdant’s guideline for gongfu as closely as possible. 5g, 150mL glass gaiwan, 175F, initial steep of 8s + 4s each steep. No rinse, as the leaves are very delicate and I didn’t want to extract any flavors. Messy gaiwan session – strainer is necessary.
Dry leaf looks like a Laoshan green but finer with lots of thin stems present. It smells upfront like potato sticks snacks and deeper like a dark-roasted barley used for brewing stouts.
First steep, the wet leaf smells like russet potato skins and roasted broccoli. It produces a mostly clear orange-yellow liquor that smells like potato sticks, brownies, edamame and maybe a light sweet cream. The taste is very sweet but light and fruity, not as thick of a sweetness as chewing on fresh sugarcane. It’s almost like a very watered down vanilla sweetened oat milk mixed with those potato sticks.
Second steep turned cloudy and a darker yellow-orange-brown. The wet leaf smells more steamed broccoli than roasted, but both plus baked potato skins. The liquor smells like potato sticks with nectar and light cocoa, light red fruit and vanillin. Tastes lightly sour going in the mouth but the potato sticks take over followed by that sweetness and fruitiness. There is a persistent aftertaste of potato sticks, a lingering sweetness and very light drying quality. Bottom of the glass smells like cocoa and sugarcane.
Third steep retains the qualities of the second with a clearer cup and the addition of edamame in taste. Feels a tad thicker in the mouth. Lingering sweetness is building.
Fourth steep clears more and lightens in color to a golden yellow. I used my fingers to wipe the clinging leaves off the lid of the gaiwan and my fingers are a little sticky. Taste is much the same with the potato sticks turning more into baked potato skins.
Subsequent steeps get lighter in liquor color, aroma, taste and texture, though the lingering sweetness continues to build. I feel very warm and perhaps more relaxed, who knows. I ate some of these very delicate leaves. They chew like overcooked greens, feel fuzzy and a little gritty and taste like edamame. My tongue feels tingly on the sides now.
Color me surprised, this herbal tea is pleasant and is one of the best I’ve ever tasted. I think the qualities of the brew make it suitable for a good nightcap, especially in the cold months but I don’t think I could handle the persistent sweetness every night. It could fit into my herbal rotation a few nights per week. Seems like it would do well in a teaball western style but I like the slight change in flavors when brewed in a gaiwan. I look forward to ordering a bigger bag of this.
Flavors: Broccoli, Cocoa, Cream, Dark Chocolate, Nectar, Oats, Pleasantly Sour, Potato, Red Fruits, Roasted Barley, Soybean, Sugarcane, Vanilla
Meet one of my alter-egos, Poochie Gamora.
She’s a widow, living alone in the dank pine-paneled trailer of her deceased husband (21 years her senior, he died of lung cancer last year God bless his soul). A cougar now, at least she likes to think she is, but she’s showing signs of age. I’d call her a catch but she does the catching. She wears a long, thick-pile leopard print robe that she bought at Neiman Marcus in Houston, 1968. Permanently embedded in the plush is the scent of Chanel No. 5. Underneath is a silk camisole and garter belt, and in the top of her hose on her right leg she carries a small flask of peaty Laphroaig (she’s finishing off her deceased husband’s stockpile) of which she takes the occasional swig. On the coffee table, she has an open pack of Benson and Hedges menthols sitting next to a full ashtray and a pot of coffee she brewed this morning. It’s weak, can’t taste the coffee, but it’s bitter as hell. A crystal bowl contains a few Werther’s hard candies and apricot and strawberry bonbons, of which she ate one of each earlier. Stacked around the dank trailer are boxes containing decades-worth of newspapers and books, musty and yellowing in their age. It’s the end of a cool autumn Texas night and she’s lounging open-robed on her velour couch, with the taste of chipped ham and cream cheese still in her mouth. She’s fading in… and fading out.
This stuff is powerful, like somebody tried to take me down by punching me in the solar plexus and instead I stood there and beat my chest to assert my dominance. Got 10 steeps in over 4 hours: 10s rinse/5/7/10/12/15/20/25/30/45/1m. Had to stop but it has more to go. Short steeps in the beginning to balance the extreme bitterness and kind of sour astringency that would otherwise smack me in the face at my usual third steep of 15 seconds.
Dry leaf separates with ease and is a wild and chaotic mix of brown, gold and beige velvety leaves and needles. It shines like the flame on the Statue of Liberty. Smells like it’s developing some patina, too. Has some of that grandma’s floral perfume smell. Taste starts off thick with apricot, tobacco, floral, lemon and whisps of smoke. Moves to bitter up front, golden delicious apple, grass, light honey, mineral and sandalwood with some nice tingling side-tongue action and meat and leather in the back of the mouth. The energy hits fast and hard in my chest and kept me up until 5am. Just as I started to develop a taste for this and get the brewing where I wanted it, I find it’s sold out. Probably for the better, as I found the energy and caffeine to be a little overwhelming. Glad I got to try it.