I’m getting really bored reviewing for the GRE coming up in a week and a half.

I want to preface this review by stating that if you want bold flavors, this isn’t your tea. Very delicate, light flavors beyond the roast. This is the last of my 25g bag. 4g in 100mL jianshui gaiwan. I waltzed right through the first 21g enjoying the tea’s lightness and minerality but not really paying attention. So here I am, taking my time tonight.

WARNING self-indulgent, reminiscing tasting notes ahead. These will be few and far between since life is about to get bizzay.

Large, shiny, reddish brown nuggets.

Dry leaf: roast, dried blueberry, mission fig, caramel.

Warmed leaf: still edible burnt wheat toast with a bright red high note like a smear of raspberry jam, burnt sugar.

Ten second rinse, let sit for 10 minutes.

FIrst steep 10 seconds. Leaf: proper wheat toast, brown paper bag, raspberry.
Liquor: like chewing on a maple twig without the bark, raspberry, cream, tingling mineral tongue, viscous.

Second steep 15 seconds. Leaf: brown paper bag, raspberry, cream, vanilla. My left nostril got very personal with a random leaf plucked from the gaiwan and I could smell benzene. Really pleasant.
Liquor: smells like raspberry and cream, taste woody peach, creamy at the back of the mouth, mineral carries through, salivation starts.

Third steep 20 seconds. Same as second. I’m breathing out peaches and cream. Lingering taste.

Fourth steep 25 seconds. Leaf: heady, dark resin, black raspberry. Walk back to my desk and it smells like raspberries in here. I’m relaxed. Sighing feels good.

I used to live in this old house in Ohio. One of five houses that still had well water in a town of 13,000 people. I actually found that statistic once when I was concerned about having water during power outages. Funnily enough, I later moved to another of the five well-water houses in that town.

Anyway, that first house was old and had such a great energy. The lot next to us was vacant. An old foundation and light pole remained, choked with weeds and 20-year-old tree saplings. I checked town records for some info but came up empty.

Somebody long ago planted three different hedgerows to separate the two houses. One plant was some stupid shrub I had to trim every year because it encroached on the side of the gravel drive. Couldn’t remove it because we were renting. Another plant was trumpet vine. Dear god, talk about invasive and impossible to get rid of without pesticides. The third plant was black raspberry that had grown out of control as brambles usually do. The black raspberry brambles, in fact, rimmed the entirety of the vacant lot next to us. I suffered every summer diving into those thickets. Stained fingernails for days, thorns for weeks, jam for months. Haven’t come across black raspberries since.
Liquor: I forgot to sniff. Tastes, well, like black raspberries and cream :) Minerals fading but tongue still tingling.

Fifth steep 30 seconds. Leaf: wheat toast, brown sugar. Liquor smells like Cow Tails candy, tastes like fresh spring lawn grass with the minerals returning.

Sixth steep 45 seconds. My room smells yeasty now. Leaf: still wheat toast now with sugar plum prune, benzene.
Liquor: there’s that heady, dark resin again. Taste is fresh grass and mineral. Breathing out peach again. Noticing a light astringency at the back of the mouth.

I think I’ll leave it at that. My senses are spent. Rating later, maybe never.

Update: Finished the tea the next day after many more steeps. Ended on a definite kombu note. I love this tea. I tossed the package but I think it said gets better with age. It’s a cheap price to buy a good amount and try different aging techniques.

200 °F / 93 °C 4 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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Always up for a trade. I keep an updated cupboard. Check it out. Don’t be shy — message me if you want to try something! I send international :)

Most enjoyment:

Wuyi and Taiwanese oolong, sheng puerh, Yunnan and Wuyi blacks, GABA oolong. I also appreciate Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai, Darjeeling and Nepali teas, bagged tea and herbal teas/tisanes.

I take my teas without milks or sweeteners except sometimes chai and the rare London Fog, matcha latte and golden milk.

I’ll try anything once because it helps me learn. Not opposed to well placed herbs, flowers, fruity bits and flavorings, just nothing cloying. And no added sugars, sweeteners, candy or chocolate.

I abandoned both my preference reference and the recording of detailed steeping parameters in January 2020, favoring a focus on qualitative descriptions. At this point, I am still comfortable toggling the “Not/Recommended” button.

Preference reference:

100-90: A tea I can lose myself into. Something about it makes me slow down and appreciate not only the tea but all of life or a moment in time. If it’s a bagged or herbal tea, it’s of standout quality in comparison to similar items.
89-80: Fits my profile well enough to buy again. Some could be daily drinker teas.
79-70: Not a preferred tea. I might buy more or try a different harvest. Would gladly have a cup if offered.
69-60: Not necessarily a bad tea but one that I won’t buy again. Would have a cup if offered.
59-1: Lacking several elements, strangely clunky, possess off flavors/aroma/texture or something about it makes me not want to finish.
Unrated: Haven’t made up my mind or some other reason. If it’s puerh, I likely think it needs more age.


Sonoma County, California, USA

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