Backlogging (and, based almost entirely on my longer term memory)

Experience buying from Teavana http://steepster.com/places/2895-teavana-st-louis-missouri

Date of Purchase/Age of Leaf: Purchased at their 2010 end of year sale at a discount, and brewed up during much of 2011.

Appearance and aroma of dry leaf: At first it looked (and smelled) just like a green tea to me, but later I was able to tell a few differences: it’s lighter in color, and has a more fruity scent than a green tea. Although it looks nothing like Silver needles, or Bai Mu Dan, it is an attractive looking tea.

Brewing guidelines: six-cup ceramic teapot, tea in large, metal tea-ball; stevia added (parameters below are all from memory)
……….1st: 160; 2’
……….2nd: 165; 3’
……….3rd: 170; 4’
……….4th: 175; 5’
……….5th: 180; 6’

Color and aroma of tea liquor: a very light soft-pink color; pleasantly fruity aroma.

Flavor of tea liquor: pleasant: light and surprisingly fruity for an unflavored white tea.

Appearance and aroma of wet leaf: not very impressive looking (similar to Teavana’s Three Kingdoms Mao Feng): the leaf was pale and shriveled looking, and had lots of broken leaves, a number of bits and stems, and very few whole leaves or buds.

Blends well with: This blended very well with one of Teavana’s flavored white tea blends: Emerald Bamboo Forest.

Value: Expensive at regular price ($6/oz), but reasonable at 75% off, or $1.50/oz, which is what we paid for it.

Overall: I am not certain what kind of white tea this is (as it seems to be neither Silver needles nor or Bai Mu Dan), but it was tasty. Their description says it was grown amongst fruit trees (peach, I think), and the flavor certainly seems to demonstrate this. We often enjoyed this tea in the evening. I bought way too much of it last year, thinking at the time that white tea had high levels of theanine in it, as many green teas do, but this didn’t seem to be the case, at least not with this tea. Luckily, I was able to give lots of this tea away to a friend whom seems to appreciate it. One interesting thing to note: when I first bought this tea I was able to get three or four good steepings out of it. But, recently, the second steeping has an odd taste to it: not stale, but more like bitterness. So, I guess that’s what happens when this tea gets too old (even while carefully storing it, as I do all of my teas). That’s OK though, I enjoyed it while it was still fresh (and a lesson learned about not buying too much white tea!).

160 °F / 71 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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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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