248 Tasting Notes
First of all, sorry that I haven’t updated in a while. First, there were two weeks of midterm exams (they went very well, but it was a stressful two weeks), followed by that week where all my professors said “Okay, since exams are done, that means we can give you tons of work!” Finally, this past week was messed up by post-tropical cyclone Sandy, and everything went to hell. Anyway, I needed something warm and comforting, and this tea was perfect for the job.
The first steeping is delightfully complex and creamy, with the buttery mouth-feel working in harmony with the subtle spice and floral flavors and the caramel undertones to create a tea that is pretty much perfect. I was just drinking my other aged tie guan yin the other day, and it truly pales in comparision to the complexity of this tea. The aftertaste is also beyond compare, as it tingles delightfully on the roof of my mouth with a mineralish/metalic feeling. It also lasts for a good three minutes, at which point I could no longer resist this tea, and all took another sip.
The second cup was very similar to the first, but the taste was more…refined, for lack of a better term. The mouth-feel was still creamy, but not as overtly as it was before, the the fruit ans spice flavors were a bit more subdued, but it was still a well-balanced and interesting cup of tea. Luckily, the aftertaste has not weakened at all, and it’s length has not been decreased, so I’m very pleased with how the tea developed. It will be intersting to see what it’s like once the leaves are fully open.
The third cup was steeped for 15 seconds. The mouthfeel is no longer buttery or creamy, yet still retains a smoothness that is a bit hard to place. The tea has also lost the floral flavorstha I saw earlier, and is becoming a much “warmer” tea becasue of it. The caramel flavor is still strong, but there is something that counteracts the sweetness as well. Not sure what it is yet, and I’ll certainly be looking to see what it turns into during my next cup. All in all, the development is still ongoing, and the results actually preserve the complexity of the tea.
Well, as you can see, I didn’t actually get arround to drinking that next cup, as some friends came over and I ended up in a serious card game with them, and before I knew it midnight was upon me. I couldn’t have more tea, or I wouldn’t fall asleep early enough. Sorry about that.
Music of the Day – Requiem by Verdi, conducted by Semyon Bychkov
This is a fantastic version, with very operatic soloists. Considereing that the piece is written by the master of Opera, it makes a lot of sense to perform it this way. It’s some really powerful music, and I hope that you guys enjoy it.
It’s been a while since I had this tea, so I figured that I could do a quick not about it. Today is actually a day for work, since I have several midterms this coming week, and I need to manage my remaining time this weekend carefully.
Anyway, the first cup was prepared with boiled water (I read an interesting guide on how to make tea the Russian way recently, and they made a great distinction between water that had at some point been boiled and “raw” water. It was really interesting, see link at the bottom.), and was let to steep for 15 seconds. The result was very pleasant, with that amazing juicy quality that I love so much. I don’t really “taste” sandalwood, but it’s certainly an importnat part of the aroma of the tea and one of its unique characterisics. Also, I just love how naturally sweet the tea is! I didn’t realize how much I missed this tea until I tried it, so I’ll probably try to drink it more often.
Right, I got really busy with the studying (there was a lot of material to review for Abstract Algebra…), so I didn’t actually take nots on the other steeps, other than I messed up a lot and oversteeped every single one of them. I’m actually impressed, that is extremely unusual for me. Regardless, it was very delicious, and remained sweet the entire time, and I actually remember tasting the snadlewood after one of the steeps. Sure, I’ve never licked sandalwood, but that was the best description of the taste that was present. All in all, it was a sucessful session, alveit high;y unusual.
Music of the Day – Rhapsody in Blue by Gershwin, conducted by Bernstein while playing the piano!
This is actually a playlist, since the piece was broken up into two videos. Regardless, Bernstein does a great job, and the piece really comes alive under his expert guidance.
Russian Tea – http://home.fazekas.hu/~nagydani/rth/Russian-tea-HOWTO-v2.html
An interesting guide to tea made in the traditinoal Russian manner. I’m going to have to experiment with this at some point…
David included this as an extra sample in my most recent order from Verdant, And I’ve been putting off trying it until I had a large chunk of time to do a proper tasting.
The first cup was prepare with a 15 second steep in near boiling water. The tea has a very unique taste, very smooth and sweet when compared to other puerhs that I’ve had. The flavor starts by tingling across the tongue, then it moves up the mouth to linger on the hard palate for a good two minutes. I’m having a hard time picking out flavors, but I really feel that there is soemthing a bit fruity in this flavor profile. It’s interesting, since I’m reminded of raisins, yet it’s a very “juicy” or thirst-quenching tea, which is a pretty weird contradiction. It’s actually starting to remind me of something a bit more floral, and I’m actually pretty confused, but in a good way. Regardless, it’s a very pleasant and refined tea, and I can’t wait to see how it develops. I will certainly be looking forward to how the flavors start to emerge as the leaves open up a bit more.
Second cup, 10 second steep. The leaves have started to really open up, so this was a good deal stronger than the first cup. There’s a nice spice flavor that helps add a great deal of depth to the taste, and the texture is approaching creamy. The spice are kind of mild, not like cardamon or ginger, and it’s the subtlty that makes it so interesting. It’s a very interesting development, especially given how much the flavor of the first cup has strengthened. The aftertaste is the same, except for the the spiciness also lingers, but not for the full length. All in all, there were some great developments.
cup #2, part 2 – Interestingly enough, the tea gets a lot sweeter as it cools. The spice made the transition well, so It actually tastes really, really interesting. This really is a tea with hidden depths.
I decided to break these up a bit more, since I’m drinking a lot of tea while reading Sidereus Numcius for a class. My observations about the middle steeps is that they were sweet with that interesting hint of spice that I mentioned before. The difference between the second steep and these is that they do not actually get sweeter as they cool off, and the other flavors start to come out. This actually makes me think of the Yiwu stone-pressed sheng, but the flavors aren’t as trong, and seem a bit more…refined (for lack of a better term). Very interesting, even though development seemed to slow down.
Music of the day – Isle of the Dead by Rachmaninoff, conducted by Evgeny Svetlanov
I like this piece, especially how it builds to the finale, and then trails off to the end.
This was a sample that came with a recent purchase, so I’m going to take a moment to give a big shout-out to David!
Alright, the first cup was preparrtd with gently-steaming water, and steeped for 15 seconds. The result is a very pleasant sweet tea, which tastes like the finest sweet peas. Unlike most white teas, which get their sweetness from therir floral flavors, this does it by refinig the Laoshan pea flavor. While I wouldn’t call the texture silky, it is a very smooth cup of tea, which is perfect for the lovely weather that I’m enjoying today. I can;t wait to see how the tea develops.
The second cup was prepared the same as the first, except it was only steeped for 10 seconds. It has lost a bit of the sweetness, but not enough to make it unpleasant. The texture has also changed, and is almost creamy, but not quite there. The aftertaste seems to climb up your mouth, and lingers for a good 90 seconds on the hard palate. Wow, that was a lot of interesting developments, can’t wait to see what comes next.
The taste of the third cup is pretty much the same as the second, except the bolder parts havce started to fade away, which is pretty much what I expected, since I rarely get more than four infusions out of a white tea. Oh well, I’ll just have to see what the next cup tastes like, and if it’s too weak I’ll stop.
Right, last cup, REALLY late, and I’m super tired now. This cup tasted adn selt much like an asamushi sencha, with a delicate grassiness and a smooth, almost creamy texture. The taste lingers pleasantly on the roof of the mouth, and stays there for about a minute. A very nice way to end an interesting session.
Music of the Day – Symphony No. 5 in D minor, Op. 47: IV. Allegro non troppo by Dimitri Shostakovich, conducted by Leonard Bernstein.
Pretty good quality, and Bernstein is a great conductor for pieces like this, with lots of energy and emotion.
IT HAS ARRIVED! Yesterday, my university mailroom sent a notice that this package had been processed…three minutes before they closed, and I was 10 minutes away. Regardless, I managed to reign in my not insignificant ammount of rage, and calmly waited until they opened this morning. After getting back to my dorm, I opend the bag, and was nearly overwhelemd by the strength of the aroma. The citrus and spice overwhelms everything, and I had to take a moment as I wasn’t quite prepared for such a strong aroma.
After I got over the initial smell, I put some in my brew basket, and fired up the electric heater to test the flavor. I followed the directions on the Verdatn Tea website, and used near-boiling water and let it sit for 2 minutes. The resulting tea smells like a fine cup of Tieguanyin, but with subtle fruit and spice notes that lurk beneath the surface. Contrary to the dry aroma, the taste of the tea is smooth and refined, the flavors of the orange peels and the goji berries working together in harmony to accent the tieguanyin, but not to smother it. The delicate green oolong taste still controls the foretaste, and it fades away while allowing the other flavors like orange, berry, and jasmine to take over during the trasnition to the aftertaste. This is certainly a tea with hidden depths, and I can’t wait to see how it develops.
Second cup, same preparation as the first. The frankincense has started to develop. I know it’s the frankincense, since it reminds me of my great grandmoster, who used to have it in her home, and who smelled like it after she came back from church. It’s really taking me back to my childhood, and is truly an interesting experience. Another interesting thing is that the orange flavor has subsided a bit, but the goji berry is still fairly strong. Teh jasmine seems to have subsided for now, but the saffron shines through during the aftertaste, which results in a pleasant and flavorful finish. After this cup, I can’t wait to see what else this tea has to offer.
Third cup, four minutes. The frankincense is really, really strong now in both the aroma and the flavor of the tea. There are still otehr flavors, mostly the orange peel and the saffron, lingereing yet not strong enough to really shine amidst the frankincense, but I’m not really complaining. This tea has undergone such interesting transformations, and I suspect that it will continue to do so for a long while yet.
Forth cup, two minutes. The tea is actually pretty cloudy. It’s like a fine Japanese green tea, but the color is wrong. I suspect that this is because the frankincense is really starting to disolve into the tea, since that is still the dominant aroma and flavor. Unfortunately, stuff has come up, and I can’t take the tea with me, so I have to cut this one short. I’ll try to get another cup or two in before I go to bed.
…Well, real life decided to crash with me tonight (figuratively, not literally), so I’m not going to be able to taste more of this tea today. Sorry about that…
Music of the Day – Prelude (oud) dir. Jordi Savall
This is from another album that I bought (I really, really, REALLY can’t resist historically-informed performances), which is another book/CD combo. It’s a lovely album, full of music with rich histories, and the book has lovely essays on the history of Jerusalem.
WEll, I finally got arround to trying my sample of this tea. It’s been sitting burried under a lot of other, larger bags, but that’s not a good excuse. The first infusion was prepared with my Finum brew basket and just steaming water, which was let to steep for three seconds. The result looks more like a white tea than a green tea, butthe taste quickly removes my doubts. The flavor is sweeter than any white tea that I’ve ever had, with just the lightest hint of grass. I also totally agree with David about the creaminess, which really stands out as you transition into the aftertaste, where it lingers for a good minute on the roof of the mouth. Truly and exceptional green tea.
Second cup, also 3 seconds. Teh result isn’t quite as sweet, and the flavor profile is a lot more complicated now, but I’m not sure what exactly I’m tasting. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a great cup of tea, it’s just that it’s in the middle of a transition, so I’ll reserve judgement until the next cup.
Third cup, same as the previous two. The flavors are settlying out, with an interesting nutty flavor that is vaguely similar to cashews being quite noticable. Again, I agree with David about this being similar to genmaicha, but ther edifferences are what makes this tea interesting. The nutty flavor is a bit less refined, and it’s sweeter than most genmai cha, and the grassiness is less prominent. Overall, it’s a vey interesting experience.
Fourth cup, preparedd with the same wter temperature, but steeped for 6 seconds. The tea is back to beaing subtly grassy and very sweet. The creaminess is also back, which is a wonderful surprise, and and interesting spicy flavor has begun to assert itself. This tea seems to have a lot more depth than I initially thought.
Music of the day – Existential Blues
A strange yet funny song from the Dr. Demento show, which a friend’s dad pointed me to earlier this week. I had a hard time listening the first time, since I was laughing so hard.
Second review of the day!
I actually prepared this astounding Tieguanyin in my new Finum brew basket, whic greatly simplified the process of making tea. This first infusion was steeped for 15 seconds in near-boiling water, which resulted in a rather weak infusion, since I didn’t wash the leaves first. This is pretty typical of Tieguanyins that I’ve tried before, so wasn’t discouraged. The flavor was very sweet, a bit like caramel, but since the leaves haven’t really started to open up the flavor is pretty muted. The texture of the tea is very smooth and creamy, which lingers on the tongue for a good three whole minutes, which is also amazing. My other aged Tieguanyin is similar, but this tea just takes everything to a whole new level.
Second cup, 10 second steep. The thing of note here is that the leaves have started to open up, so there falvors are much more intense, with caramel and something akin to chocolate dominating the palate. The texture of the tea is decidedly creamy now, and it lingers for at least three minutes now. I actually can’t resist taking another sip after three minutes, so that experiment is pretty much a bust now. Also, it should be noted that the caramel is actually stronger than the chocolate, resulting in a very sweet cup of tea.
Third cup, I actually lost track of time, so I don’t know how long this one steeped. Even though it’s provbably oversteeped, it’s still sweet and creamy, which is a pleasant surprise. The chocolate flavor is a bit stronger now, which is expected, so there’s no reason to mourn the loss of the caramel flavor, since I’m pretty sure it will be back. All in all, this cup wasn’t the best, but it’s still far better than my other one.
Fourth infusion, 30 seconds. This, this cup is pretty much perfection. Warm, sweet caramel flows through my mouth, leaving behind interesting flavors that are starting to emerge from beneath the chocolate. The delightful flavors dance across the tongue, then move up to the hard palate where they linger for three minutes, after which I can’t tkae it any longer and I have another sip. This, this is like the Platonic ideal of an aged tieguanyin.
Fifth infusion, 1 minute. This is where the flavor is really starting to get complex. There are a bunch of things muddled together, and it’s really hard to make out what everything is. The creaminess is fading, only peaking through at the very beginning of the aftertaste before it wades away into a pleasant tingly sensation on the hard palate. I think there is something a bit citusy present, but I can’t quite put my figer on it…
Sixth and seventh infusions were let to steep until I felt like they were done. They were both very complex, with subtle flavors that never really asserted themselves. There was a hint of citrus, a touch of spice, but other than that, I can’t really say. Regardless, this was an amazing tea, and I’m really glad that David actually sold it to us instead of keeping it to himself. I don’t know if I could have done that…
Music of the Day #2 – Mare Nostrum directed by Jordi Savall
I’m a sucker for good historically-informed perfromances, and this is by the same people as the previous album. This album actually focuses on the Mediteranean Sea, after which the album is titled (Mare Nostrum is the Latin name). The pieces on this album come from as early as Classical Antiquity and as late as 1690, and follow the themse of Mediteranean culture.
Alright, first time in almost two weeks that I actually had enough time to do a proper review. First of all, I actually tried this tea when I got it, but I had a paper to write and team mates to “motivate” so that the group wouldn’t fail a project (I refuse to do all the work, and actually had to bring the professor into the discussion to actually get them to work…).
As with all my green teas, I brewed this tea in my ceramic tumbler. I actually like to let my tea cool for a while before drinking, so the leaves had a few minutes to steep peacefully before I started to blow them out of my way. The first cup was delighfully clear and lightly grassy. It’s very sweet for a green tea, and it has an amazing smooth/creamy finish that is just perfect. It’s also amazing in that the smooth/creamy texture lingers for over two minutes on the hard palate, gently transitioning into a tingling creaminess (somehow, the smoothness dissapates). This is by far the best green tea I’ve ever had.
As the steepings ocntinued, the hashser edges of the grassiness quickly faded into a delightful sweet grass flavor. It’s like my beloved fukamushi sencha, but the texture of the tea is smoother. After about three cups, the creamy texture has faded, and it was relanced by a mineralish smoothness which lingers on the back of the tongue very delightfully. By number 5, vanilla was starting to peak out of the rest of the flavors, but it remained fairly weak for a quite some time.
The later steepings where characterized by a light vanilla flavor, a bit of sweet grass, and a general smooth, sweet taste. The amazing thing is that it never gets bitter, nor does the flavor ever really have anything unpleasant about it. It’s truly a finely-crafter tea, and I offer my humble thanks to both David and Mrs. Li for making this tea available to us.
Final experiment – How do the tea leaves taste? I remember somebody (I think it was Bonnie…) experimented and ate this tea after she was done, so I decided to give it a go. It was interesting, to say the least. The leaves didn’t have that much flavor, and they were very chewy, yet they wern’t unpleasant. It was fine, but I woun’t go out of my way to eat the leaves in the future.
Music of the Day – Dinastia Borja, directed by Jordi Savall.
This is a wonderful historically-informed performance, covereing music from the 11th century up to tail end of the renaissance, and from various cultures. THe common theme is the Borgia Family, and each peice can be related to them somehow. Also, the 3 cds come with a book in multiple languages, which explains both how the pieces relate to the Borgia family, tell their story, and provides the lyrics fo the music.
Here’s a sample: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vgU6-cz0RM0