76 Tasting Notes
“Best enjoyed by August 2011” Um, oops.
It’s not that I haven’t had this tea in over a year, it’s that I apparently suck at FIFO’ing my tea; I’ve been using the fresher packets with no knowledge that this one existed. But I dug it out while doing tea inventory and kind of felt bad for neglecting it.
So today I find out what, uh, “aged Genmaicha” tastes like. It’s not bad. Just kind of flat and not a whole lot of flavor. It’s still got the nice toastiness I love from the brown rice, but that really dominates over everything else. I guess the rice doesn’t lose its flavor as quickly as the actual tea.
Japanese greens are wonderful, but they seem to go stale so much more quickly than other teas (the processing method, I believe) so I try not to keep a lot of them on hand at once. Too bad it’s not really economical to order one packet of tea at a time with shipping costs and all.
It’s kind of a shame; this is one of my favorite Japanese green teas when it hasn’t been lost in a dark corner for years. I am sorry, tea, I will try to be a bit more vigilant about drinking you before you go stale >:
So a friend of mine recently bought a new house, and as a housewarming gift I gifted her some assorted teas. Some of the teas in the assortment were flowering, and she sent me a picture of one of the blossoms floating in her clear glass mug. It was so pretty, and I realized I hadn’t had flowering teas in a long, long time. So today at the store I picked up a “petite bouquet” box of Numi’s flowering tea. This was the one I grabbed out of the box at random.
I don’t feel like it’s very fair to judge a tea like this by its flavor; I certainly don’t pick up flowering teas off grocery store shelves because I’m looking for a high-quality, fresh-picked tea experience (come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve actually bought tea off store shelves in at least two years). I’m seeking more of a visual experience here; maybe a nostalgic one, even.
The taste is pleasant though. It’s not complex, it’s not especially interesting, it doesn’t bring any flowery descriptors to mind, but it is a light, gentle flavor that nicely accompanies the experience of watching the leaves unfold.
When dry, you can easily see the little white flower in the center, but as the tea “blooms” into a round, sizable pompom of green-ness ,the tiny flower almost gets lost in the bundle. I guess flowers don’t expand as much when wet as tea leaves do.
I resteeped this many times, just adding more hot water to my little 8oz mug when I drank it down, until no flavor was left. Again, the flavor was nothing special, but held up pretty well through the steepings, probably around three or four. By the end, I was suitably relaxed.
Overall, very nice. I should make a note to keep a few of these around for days when I’m just need some relaxing eye-candy.
Man, I haven’t bothered writing about tea in so long. Sometimes it just feels better to just drink and enjoy it though, rather than think too hard about how to best describe it.
I actually gaiwan-brewed this; it’s actually been a long time now since I’ve broken out the old IngenuiITEA to western-brew anything in. Funny how my preferred teas and brewing methods change throughout the years. Six months ago I wouldn’t have dreamed of sipping a black tea like this without the addition of milk. But today, I’m enjoying the soft chocolate and spice notes alongside a piece of buttery apple pie from the local bakery…just wonderful.
Oh man. I may be in love.
This is one of those times when I like a tea so much I don’t want to write about it, I just want to sip and savor it. Maybe later I will give more detail but I just wanted to record somewhere how much I like this, in case I forget to come back to it.
I know, worst review ever, right?
After two previous experiences with rotten, fishy-smelling shu, this one is a welcome change. I’ve been re-steeping and sipping on this for more or less twelve hours, and it’s pretty much just mildly tea-flavored water at this point, but it is so so soothing, and has been good company to cut through all these jelly-covered breads I’ve been nibbling all day.
See, I went to a farmer’s market the other day and met this really nice guy selling homemade jellies. He treated me to samples— several heaping spoonfuls of the freshest and most flavorful jellies my tongue has ever enjoyed, and I left with four jars. Now I am spreading it on anything and everything, and sometimes the fruity-sweetness gets to be a bit much. But luckily, I have this this tea, dark and and savory and a perfect balance to the syrupy-sweetness.
I am going to seriously gain ten pounds. Off of jelly. And it will be totally worth it.
I may have spoken too soon last time when I mentioned that I was feeling a tendency towards shu pu’er, because they last couple of teas I tried were both shu, and they were hardly worth writing about. But I’ve also been doing a lot of homework on pu’er over the last several days, trying to learn all I can about it, and seems that “terrible” shu is relatively common.
From what I’ve read, shu/shou/cooked pu’er was developed in an attempt to mimic aged sheng. So it goes through a sort of speed-fermentation process to achieve this. Sometimes this goes over well, and the resulting product is ready to drink. But there’s also a chance that the fermentation goes off, and the result tastes like bad fish. Sometimes the “bad fish” shu will benefit from aging in the sense that it will sort of “air out” and the weird “off” flavors will mellow, but just how much shu pu’er benefits from aging after that is highly debated.
Really, a lot of aspects of pu’er seem to be highly debated or at least conflicting. I can already tell that reading about it is only going to get me so far… that’s why I just dropped $60 on a handful of assorted samples from puerhshop.com. Most of them are sheng, since I am honestly a little leery about shu since my last two encounters with it have ranged from “meh” to “ew,” but I realize that those off-flavors are not present in every shu, and there are certainly ones out there that I adore.
But the more research I’ve been doing, the more I’ve been intrigued by sheng. It seems that sheng holds a lot more possibility for variety than shu, and while there are certainly times when I just crave shu’s dark earthiness, I am intrigued by what’s out there in the sheng-world.
But enough rambling now, this tea. I didn’t even know I had it, and I must have gotten it in a swap or something because I’ve never ordered directly from EoT. I had a little sample amount of it stashed in an old Adagio sample tin.
This stuff actually reminds me of a white tea or maybe a green tea; rather clean and clear and crisp. A bit dry, and very easily turns harshly astringent if brewed a bit too long. I’ve read that dryness/astringency are characteristics of young sheng that subside with age, so maybe that would change with time? I suppose I won’t ever know since I only have this tiny sample size, but being such a novice to all this, I can’t help but speculate. With short steeps though, this is really a nice relaxing afternoon tea.
Looking at the leaves I’m noticing a lot of stem, like maybe 1/4 to 1/3 of the mix is stem. I’m not sure if that’s normal in a tea like this or not, but it’s an interesting note. The leaves are fairly broken, and there are a few buds mixed in with more mature leaves. The assorted shapes remind me a bit of looking into a bowl of chex mix. The color of the leaf is very nice, a sort of olive green mostly, but a few leaves are tinged with a lovely rusty reddish-brown.
Just another chronicle in my journey to understand pu’er!
So the last (and first) time I tried a milk oolong, I was put off by its “so-strong-it-must-be-artificial” milky flavor. I was still curious to try other milk oolongs, but finding one that wasn’t artificially flavored I could tell was going to be difficult, as the definition of a “milk oolong” does not seem to be set in stone. So when I noticed Teavivre had both a flavored and unflavored milk oolong, I figured hey, there’s no way the unflavored version could be flavored! I know, that sounds silly, doesn’t it.
This really is interesting, and definitely not artificial in the subtle flavor. I can honestly say it’s like nothing I’ve had before. It does have a very creamy, heavy feel to it, and is just slightly floral without being perfumey. It also has another flavor, one I can’t quite identify, but it reminds me of….a nice hotel room (I swear I have the strangest “flavor notes” ever…).
It’s good, but to be honest I probably should have picked a different tea tonight— I’m just really not feeling oolong-y. Gladly Teavivre is generous enough in their sample sizes that I have enough to try this again on another night (or three) when I can appreciate it a bit more.
Some note in the far far back of this tea reminds me of…Christmas. It kind of fades in and out and I keep losing and trying to find it again. But I think I’ve nailed it… worcestershire sauce. That must sound really strange, but the only time we ever made worcestershire-laden chex mix was during Christmas in my household; that’s what I’m reminded of.
I’m starting to understand why people might spend huge amounts of money on fancy yixing pots. Aside from the whole seasoning and making tea better over time thing, I hear they retain heat wonderfully, and with this tea, as well as the last pu’er I tried, I realized that my favorite flavors are best teased out on the first steeping immediately after the water is reboiled.
It’s funny, because I generally prefer to brew most teas at a lower than suggested temp. A lot of this is probably because I spent an extensive amount of my tea-life drinking Japanese greens, which are so easily destroyed by too-hot water. That, and I have an higher-than-normal aversion to astringency/dryness, which hotter water tends to bring out in most teas. But as I’m trying more sorts of pu’er, I’m learning how wonderful higher temps can be in pulling out those shy, complex flavors.
Right now my water setup isn’t exactly ideal— my water is boiled in my fancy electric water heater in the bathroom, then goes from that into a preheated thermos which I take to the desk for my tea session. Meaning the first pour is maybe just under 200 degrees (the best steeping in the case of this tea), and as the thermos sits there losing heat, the water gets progressively cooler until it’s empty and I have to go refill it with freshly boiled water again. I can’t exactly haul my water heater out to my desk… and I’d just rather not have tea sessions in my bathroom. I look forward to the day that I have a kitchen to cook (and make tea) in.
I have a confession to make though, I specifically brewed up a sheng today because I’ve noticed that the last several shengs I’ve tried have been very effective in eliciting a tea-high euphoria, and I have been under so much stress that I guess I wanted something a little more than a standard relaxing session. I wasn’t disappointed, but I wasn’t floored either— the euphoria is pretty manageable. I think it’s more effective on an empty stomach.
I may be a bit of an addict. Over the past several days my gaiwan and little fish cup haven’t left my desk; I only dump out old leaves to replace them with new ones. Meh. I need to clean out my tea inventory anyway; that way I’ll feel less guilty when I go to order new tea!
There’s something heavier, more substantial to this TGY than I’m used to— After reading the description, I think maybe I’ve just never had good autumn TGY. Buttery and creamy is an accurate way to describe this. I actually didn’t find it especially floral, I mean, no more than usual for a TGY. But I tend to prefer grassy to floral anyway.
It’s not raining today, but it’s the kind of day I like to put on some storm-sound mp3s and just relax with a fine tea, perhaps while idly browsing some tea-themed forums or blogs. It’s a lovely way to spend an afternoon before having to go in to work for a late closing shift.