Experience buying from Tea Trekker http://steepster.com/places/2820-tea-trekker-online-northampton-massachusetts

Age of Leaf: Harvested spring 2010. Received spring 2011, brewed up summer/fall 2011.

Brewing Guidelines: I have brewed it four times so far: three times on its own, and once with another green tea (Specialteas Yunnan Silver Tips). I tried brewing it at both my standard green tea temperatures (170, 175, 180) and at my standard white tea temperatures (160, 165, 170). Each time was a full pot (six 8-ounce cups) in my glass Bodum with metal infuser/plunger. Stevia added.

Appearance and Aroma of Dry Leaf: Very large and fluffy (two TBS for each serving). In some ways it looks more like a mid-grade Bai Mu Dan white tea with its large multi-colored leaves—a mixture of whitish, light green, and dark green looking leaves. Smells somewhat like a black/red tea, thus it does not have that vegetal and sometimes sweet smell typical of a Chinese green tea.

Appearance and Aroma of Tea Liquor: amber colored, with a somewhat smoky aroma.

Appearance and Aroma of Wet leaf: The largest leaves of any green tea I have seen, yet. Even the buds are huge. A sight to see!

Blends well with: Specialteas Yunnan Silver Tips.

Flavor: The flavor profile is unusual for a green tea; in some ways it tastes similar to a black tea, especially on the later steepings. It is mildly smoky, and somewhat sweet, not astringent.

Value: Good. Sale price: $10 / 4 ounces. Normally: $14 / 4 ounces.

Overall: Since it undergoes light withering—warm air-dried—I am not sure it has the theanine content in a typical green tea (which is a big reason why I drink green tea).

I have had brewed up this tea at least four times so far (as of this writing). The first time I was a little disappointed in the flavor as I was expecting something like a more standard green tea flavor profile (using my standard green tea temperatures). The second time I recognized the similarities of the flavor to that of a black tea and opened myself up to the possibilities of a more complex flavor profile (again using my standard green tea temperatures). Now I have brewed it at least four times and I am really starting to like it (although, ironically, my wife is now decidedly against drinking it). Recently, I brewed it using my standard white tea temperatures, and it seemed to brew up a good tasting cup.

I have never experienced this kind of swing in how I experience a certain tea. Previously, I have been brewing it up and enjoying it on occasion. Now I that see this tea in a more favorable light I have been brewing it up more often. This change in how I experience a particular tea over time gives me hope that other teas I do not currently like may gift me with some hidden treasure at some later date!

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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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