Backlogging and based on my long term memory and some on my notes

Experience buying from SpecialTeas

I bought two pounds of this during SpecialTeas’ going-out-of-business sale at the beginning of 2011 for 75 % off (I think it was around $24 for the two pounds). This is a very ‘leafy’ tea, so the bag was humongous, as you might imagine was needed for 32 ounces of fluffy white tea. It was basically a flavor-added bai mu dan white tea. The leaf when taking it out of its bag was so dry I thought something was not quite right (I believe that’s called, bake-y) and I’ve never seen that quality in a tea before or since. Still, I don’t think it was stale or ‘bad’, maybe just a bit over-baked when it was processed?

I tried brewing this starting at lots of different temperature ranges: starting points ranged from 160F all the way to 200F (increasing the temperature about 5F each steeping for a total of five steepings, as at the time that was what I was told to expect out of a white tea). It seemed starting at somewhere between 165 and 190 was best, otherwise it came out flat (little to no flavor). I used my standard white tea brewing times (start at 2 min, then add 1 min for each addn’l steeping).

The liquor had a very light strawberry color. I don’t really remember much about the aroma, other than it was mild, and a little unusual (this was my first exposure to white tea, so it was probably the standard sweet hay aroma). Finally, we come to the flavor; ah the flavor. At first we liked it. I don’t exactly know what happened, but after drinking it off-and-on for a couple of months (maybe less) it didn’t taste as good. It was like, there was something ‘off’ about it, and I started to think the flavors didn’t really belong together. I don’t think the change was due to the tea itself; I think it was our drinking preferences that had changed it was as if it lost its appeal to us, somehow.

After that I tried brewing it up every now and then (I could still drink it, although just barely), and every time I tried slipping it by my wife this is basically what happened: “What is it?” “Uh, a white tea.” She would then give me a suspicious look, and I would either smile, or walk away before our eyes would meet. Upon returning, “How did you like it?” “I didn’t. < pause > Is this one of those teas I don’t like?” It didn’t take long for her to ask me, as I handed her any tea, “Is this one I like?” Smart woman. : /

I gave some of it away, but we still have quite a bit of it (I estimate at least a half pound, or 1/4 of what we had originally, and maybe even more). One positive thing that sticks out in my mind about it: it was a somewhat colorful looking tea, with little blue corn-flower petal and red cranberries mixed in with the white tea tea-leaves. I am currently storing what we have left of it on the top shelf way in the back of our cabinet; and there it sits until I figure out what to do with it. We have talked about adding it to her bath water (similar to Missy’s idea of the foot bath), but we haven’t tried that yet.

Overall I’m disappointed that we stopped liking it. Yet, as with any interesting tea, I’m glad we at least tried it, as it was our first white tea. Since it was my first white tea, I’m leaving off the rating, as I don;t know what to expect at the time. I have tried other bai mu dan’s since, and although I like them, it seems my wife does not. So, maybe she simply doesn’t like the flavor of the base tea, and it wasn’t the flavoring. If I ever get around to swapping I would be more than be happy to give this away to as many that are interested (I just got two separate shipments of samples today—woo, hoo!—and although I was hoping to look into swapping this summer, I don’t see that happening for some time yet). As a final note since it has an odd name (for a dorky English speaker), I used to call it ‘Casablanca’. Can’t beat the classic with Bergman and Bogart, now can you?

170 °F / 76 °C 2 min, 0 sec

I saw your older post regarding cassis white tea and noted you were not in love with the tea and would be willing to trade/give away. I know it is a long shot but do you still have this tea? Thanks!

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I saw your older post regarding cassis white tea and noted you were not in love with the tea and would be willing to trade/give away. I know it is a long shot but do you still have this tea? Thanks!

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(Updated 6-3-2014)

After about three years I changed my avatar from the picture of a green teacup with steam rising (one I created using Paint) to this dragon gaiwan. This is one of my favorite gaiwans, although I haven’t brewed any tea in it as of yet.

You can call me, Joe.

What, How and Why I steep:

I typically expect, and shoot for, at least three flavorful steepings out of (just about) any tea I brew up.

I generally start at the times and temps below ( = minute(s), " = second(s) ), then add 5F and 30" for each successive steeping:
Chinese Green - 175F, 1’ ;
Japanese Green - 160F, 1’add 15F, then decrease by 15";
White - 160F, 2’;
Oolong - This varies;
Indian Black/Chinese Red and Herbals - a little off the boil, 2’; why do I start with such low temps & short steep times? So as to ‘spread out’ the flavor over multiple steepings. I have found this to work with every tea I have tried so far. Also, I am not looking for intense flavor in that first cup (i.e. Western style), I would prefer to taste it—and savor—it over many steepings.
Pu-erh - Beginning in 2014, I finally chose to dive into pu-erh! Standard parameters when I brew ripened pu-erh in my 150 ml gaiwan (I also own an 11 oz Yixing):
First I do a 15" rinse with near boiling water. Then for each successive steeping I add Stevia.
……….1st: Near boiling, 0.5’
……….2nd: Boiling , 1’
……….3rd: Boiling , 1.5’
etc. Until there is no flavor, or I ran out of time and energy.

I hope to ‘streamline’ my reviews going forward, so, hopefully, they are a little less technical and dry (and perhaps even stilted), and a little more organic and experiential (and hopefully, flowing); this somewhat new approach to reviews is a kind of metaphor for where my life is headed right now, and is one reason why I write reviews: as a kind of time-capsule of where I was in my life at that time.

Tea Rating scale:

1 – 29: There is no reason to even think about drinking this stuff again.
30-49: I may drink it if someone else brewed it up, but I would not bother brewing it up myself let alone bother buying any.
50 – 59: I like something about it, and I may brew it up if I already have some, but I would not buy any more of it.
60 – 69: I like a few things about it, and I may buy it if the price is right.
70 – 79: This is a tea I enjoy and would drink fairly regularly as long as it is reasonably priced.
80 – 89: A tea I will drink as often as I can, and will likely try to buy some when I run out (as long as it’s affordable).
90 – 99: This has everything I look for in the best of teas: beauty in appearance, a delightful aroma, and most importantly, depth and yummy-ness in its flavor.
100: Perfect.

My primary interest is in artisan loose-leaf Chinese green, red and ripe pu-erh tea, although I enjoy a white and an oolong tea every now and then as well. Here and there I brew a few of the other true teas and an occasional herbal.

Since I choose to live on a very limited income (‘Voluntary Simplicity’), I have to be very conscience about how much I pay for tea. In reading their Tea Enthusiast’s books, Mary Lou and Robert J. Heiss sold me on the wonders of artisan teas. Thankfully I have found that there is affordable, artisan tea out there; it’s just like anything else that has true value: it takes hard work, dedication and at least a little persistence to find it.

I came to tea out of a desire to find something to help calm and focus my mind as naturally as possible. My mind is very active, so to speak, and at times I find it very difficult to focus and keep myself centered. For years now I have been practicing Yoga daily along with others things to help me to stay relaxed and present, but I found I wanted a little something extra to help me start the day; the theanine in green tea seems to help me in this.

I have been enjoying loose-leaf tea since November of 2010.

I enjoy connecting with others about tea.

I drink Stevia with just about all of my tea (no sugar or artificial sweeteners).

I drink a pot of green tea every day in the AM (usually steeped three times over the course of the day), sharing it with my wife.

Each tea in my cupboard is carefully and colorfully labeled in a tin or in a jar that used to hold something else (I love to reuse things!) .

I have three teapots: a glass Bodum – I don’t use the metal infuser/press anymore (greens), a 16 oz glass Victorian (to brew greens and whites, and to use as a pot to decant other teas into), and an 11 oz Yixing (ripe Pu-erh only). (New in 2014) I also one a number of gaiwans ranging in volume from from 125 ml to 250ml.

I tend to be direct, straightforward and honest when I post anything to the discussion boards. I take the approach that everything I say is stated with the implied disclaimer: In My Humble Opinion (i.e. IMHO). I may occasionally emphasize this point, where appropriate. I view your comments in the same way. You are in no way obligated to read what I have posted. And I am in no way similarly obligated to you.

Sitting with my cup of tea I greet the day in anticipation of new discoveries along the way.


Midwest, USA

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