368 Tasting Notes
I’m cheating, I really have nothing new to say about this tea, but I just received my box from Verdant which includes GOLDEN FLEECE. When I saw the lengthy, lamenting review that all the original leaf was sold out I was kind of crushed and annoyed. Why write such a review for a tea no one can ever have? I know it wasn’t the intent to rub our noses in it, but my ego wanted to take it that way. So, imagine my shock when David did a YouTube tutorial on how to steep this tea! Are they really this cruel I wondered?
So I went and checked the site and lo and behold, they have it in stock! Of course, I immediately ordered some, and now it has arrived.
But I already was steeping my yunnan gold when the box arrived, so a proper tasting will have to wait.
I felt the same way with the first batch. I found the tea two hours after it had sold out, and was just a little bit crushed. Mine just came in the mail today, but I didn’t get it until 5 because of my internship. I eagerly await your review, since I will not be able to really drink, carefully taste, and review anything until Friday.
In a recent video with a sheng pu-erh, David of Verdant Teas recommended using less leaf with a sheng than one would use with other teas. This surprised me. Most everyone, especially the hard core yixing people, are all about cramming as much leaf into the pot as they can.
So, I decided to try this leaf again using about half of what I’d been using in the past.
I am now wishing I had my order from Verdant back so I could steep the Farmer’s Coop sheng this way instead of how I did.
Steeped this way, most people wouldn’t find, at least this particular, sheng tea all that unusual. Most of the notes here are similar to lighter black teas, oolongs or Darjeeling type teas. Almost all the wooly, wild, sharp notes I tend to associate with sheng are gone.
I’m sad that I’m still the only one drinking this tea (apparently).
This truly is a fantastic set of leaves.
If you have any interest in Darjeeling and have never had a first flush, try this one.
After a weekend of excessively rich meals (Teala’s seafood enchiladas, Backstreet Cafe’s lamb chops, Hugo’s Mexican brunch…) with the in-laws I feel in desperate need to get back to basics. This calls for many cups of pu-erh.
As much as I know about, appreciate in, and enjoy partaking of fine foods, I have to say that as I age, I find myself more interested in knowing about them and talking about them and less interested in actually eating them. Indulging leaves me feeling at the same time soft and stiff.
Many cups of shu will get me back to feeling firm and limber in a day or two.
Spent the weekend in Austin for an academic conference, sleeping on a horrible hotel bed and despite a solid night’s sleep last night I still feel like steam rolled scrapple.
And so, I need my best tea.
I remember scrapple when I lived in Philly in the 1960’s as a Vista Volunteer! Odd food item! Would not like to feel like rolled scrapple! U R Funny!
I grew up in Jersey just across the river from Philly and had no idea scrapple was an unusual, regional food item until moving away from the area in the early 1990’s to go to college.
Basically, it is all the scraps which are unfit to go into sausage (!!!) ground into a mush with enormous amounts of sage and other herbs which is then typically griddle fried and eaten as a breakfast meat.
Not as odd a regional food as [pig] brain sandwiches which are popular in the Ohio River Valley — St. Louis, southern IL and IN.
Yuk! Although…being that I learned to cook soul food from the 60’s onward since my family through my marriage became interracial, I was introduced to some foods I had never seen or cooked before. I never learned to enjoy pig feet and made the mistake of cooking chitlin’s on a very hot day in Kileen Texas in 1970 which is the last time I cooked them! Everything else has been good to go. Make a mean gumbo and winner sweet potato pie! I actually liked the corn meal used in the scrapple…just not the mystery meat way back when.
I’m actually a huge advocate of “snout to tail” butchery and believe very strongly that if our culture is going to continue to eat meat, we have to go back to the not too distant past when nothing went to waste and some of the weirder bits were actually delicacies and prized selections, not “waste”. So, I’m quite proud that the Mid-Atlantic has kept this scrapple tradition alive.
Now, obviously, not everyone has to be willing to eat everything in order to justify eating meat. I seriously doubt I’ll ever have a taste for head cheese or pig’s feet.
But it is amazing how much of a dent we could put into industrial agriculture if we just stopped wasting so much food. I highly recommend the book “The Compassionate Carnivore” to anyone who recognizes the problem but does not believe that vegetarianism (or veganism) is the solution.
I am steeping this in the gaiwan today, in contrast to the first tasting which was pyrex heresy style. There was some bitter astringency in the 3rd and 4th steeps that may have been strictly a result of my mood infecting the cup. I have so many first world problems right now I feel like a state senator.
But I’m up to something like 7 or 8 steeps now and the cups are soft, almost sweet.
My only complaint is that because there are so many broken leaf bits present, it isn’t at all realistic to get a clean pour without a screen — which seems a bit fussy when using a gaiwan.
I suppose normal week follows Bright Week doesn’t it! There will always be bits! Praying for strength to stand on! Christos Anesti!
Jim: The most I’ve steeped a Darjeeling is twice. If I do more steeps, what would you recommend time wise & temp. I’m not really sure why I’ve never tried storter steeps with Darj’s before.
I’ve been doing this leaf primarily gongfu style in the gaiwan. Essentially boiling water (although just off a boil is probably fine, too) and no more than a few seconds for the first six or seven steeps. Basically, not until the water fails to turn the anticipated color the instant you pour it should you actually think in terms of “waiting” to strain and pour.
This is the approach I use more or less with all teas (except for variations in water temp). Essentially instant steeps until such time as it is clear you need to wait to get a result. Depending on the tea this takes anywhere from 3 to 12 steeps to occur.
I guess the reason I’ve never tried it with Darj’s is because I don’t want to miss out on the fruitiness, or the layers of favors. At least I thought I would miss that, so I never tried it. I will give it a try with some Goomtee I have open now. Thanks!
As long as you’re doing gongfu correctly, with lots of leaf, you should be gaining flavors (not all at once, over the course of the steeps) not giving things up.
Yes, I always add extra leaf when preparing tea Gongfu style. Since I’ve never done this with Darjeelings, how much would you recommend? I use a glass tea press and an 8 oz cup.
That’s going to be a lot of leaf. A 100 ml gaiwan is 3.5 ounces, and a 150 ml gaiwan is 5 ounces. I put 3-5 grams of leaf in a 100 ml gaiwan, depending on the leaf, so you’re looking at 6-12 grams for an 8oz cup.
But, you’ll get many quarts of tea from those leaves going 8oz at a time.
It has been too long since I’ve had a fresh off the shipment first flush Darjeeling.
Much. Too. Long.
The dry leaf here smells like fruit and flowers. Like a springtime picnic with fruit salad and warm sun out in the garden.
The wet leaf on the other hand is like a Summertime garden in full riot. Overwhelming aromas of fully ripe fruits and vegetables and the deep greens of the plants themselves competing with ornamental flowers as well as the flowers of fruit not yet formed. You know you are on the brink of a heady cup, here.
The steeped liqueur is the color of light amber, like honey in a sunbeam.
On the tongue the riot is somewhat calmed, but this is still bold stuff. There is a rapid onset of astringency which dries the tongue and mouth and prevents any long lingering unpleasantness — which can be a problem with some sweet teas.
This is what first flush madness is all about. I fully expect this leaf to be completely different after a month in the tin. I fully expect the second flush from the same garden to be completely different. In fact, I need to be sure to order it when it comes out just to compare them.
As Upton teas go, this isn’t a cheap one. But if you have an affinity for “the champagne of teas”, be sure to get in on this year’s first flush. They are fantastic.
(random aside, I’m starting a blog about non-tea related serious things. you can find the URL in my profile if you’re interested in reading it.)