OK, almost 40 mins for that last one, lets try again! … Well, then again, it turns out that this was not a good one to try to rush through!

Backlogging, and based almost entirely on my notes

Experience buying from Harney and Sons http://steepster.com/places/2779-harney-and-sons-online-millerton-new-york

Age of leaf: Lot # 11203: puts ”production” at end of June of 2011 (although according to their website, all their Japanese tea is from previous years harvest). I brewed it about three weeks after receiving it.

Appearance and aroma of dry leaf: They say enough for 3-4 cups, but, although I don’t know how to measure this tea, as it is incredibly dense (lots of small, chopped bits), for many reasons I believe this was enough for a full pot of 6-7 cups (at least by my standards), so I believe this was at least a half an ounce, if not more. Very small cut pieces (as advertised), color and smell similar to Harney and Son’s Gyokuro, but not as dark, and not as sweet smelling.

Brewing guidelines: Glass Bodum pot, with metal infuser/plunger; stevia added.
Please see my profile if you are interested in my reasons why I steep the way I do
……….1st: 155; 1.5’…. Very strong grassy flavor (mostly like spinach).
……….2nd: 160; 1’…….More cloudy, more astringent, and not as sweet, but still lots of flavor.
……….3rd: 147; 45"…..Sweeter, and best taste yet!
……….4th: 152; 2.5’….Very dark and cloudy, good flavor.
……….5th: 162; ???’…Not as cloudy, and still flavor!

Color and aroma of tea liquor: bright lime green color (similar to Gyokuro); like any other quality Japanese tea, some of the smallest bits make it through the holes in my Bodum press to henceforth sit on the bottom of my pot (I guess they don’t like being held captive?). The nerve!

Flavor of tea liquor: I enjoyed it, but my wife did not like it’s spinach-like flavor. (Note: it became sweeter and more astringent when cooled).

Appearance of wet leaf: Like just about every quality Japanese tea I have had so far, it looked a lot like cut grass (I have cleaned many lawnmower and this looks a lot like the grass clippings! Upon second inspection, it is a lighter green color than the cut grass I remember). There are a few large pieces of stems mixed in with the “clippings.”

Value: For a sample, great, considering what I got for $2 (it is roughly $10/oz otherwise).

Overall: Per my notes, this was an adventure in brewing and tasting (probably the most fun time steeping a green tea I have ever had)! This tea stood up amazingly well to different times and temperatures all the while maintaining flavor throughout (with little astringency); having more experience with Japanese greens since then, this is very surprising, as my understanding is that you are lucky to get three good steepings out of one. I noted that I felt unusually calm and centered on the day I drank this (Because of lots of theanine? Who knows …). I even ate some of these leaves, and although I am not a fan of cooked spinach, I liked it! The more I read over my notes, and think back on my experience with this tea, the more I think I will have to revisit this tea sometime in the near future! Thank you Harney and Sons, Japan and the green tea industry over there for allowing me to experience this tea!

155 °F / 68 °C 1 min, 30 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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