10 Tasting Notes
I got a sample of this with my order from CTG. To be clear, this was absolutely fantastic! This oolong blew me away (and I am an oolong head) – one of the best I have had in a long, long time. This tea demands short (30 sec) steeps. multiple times, in a Xing teapot, and quiet time set aside for contemplation. WOW!
Review by Mike D: “This green tea is also known as “precious eyebrows” due to its descriptive leaf shape. The rolled leaf is delicate, and boasts shades of dark jade green. A slightly sweet smell to the very small, uniform leaf size, indicative of good finishing and quality tea…”
Read the full review at: http://www.itsallabouttheleaf.com/374/tea-review-teafrog-chun-mee-china-moon-palace/
If there is one single tea China is known for it is the green teas produced around the Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province. (Just south of Shanghai.) These teas from gardens in the Xi Hu (West Lake),Mi Jia Wu (Mi Family Valley), Long Jing (Dragon Well), and Shi Feng (Lion Peak) districts are what most westerners know as ‘green tea’. Today, cousins of these greens are grown in various parts of china, but the best are from this region.
This is the everyday tea of most Chinese households – it comes in many different grades from most common (cheap) to Imperial Tribute (extremely rare and expensive). It is consumed in great quantities by the masses, and is found in virtually every home and tea house.
This specific tea is a Special Grade Long Jing Ten Ren Teas (the less unbroken leaves the better the grade – this one has very little broken leaf.) It is equivalent to a better tea severed in a better tea house in China. It is a vivid spectrum of green and jade, and the leaf is long and uniform. Unsteeped it has a very earthy vegetative smell.
Brewed in my green xing, 2 Tsp (3g) of tea, infused in 6oz of water at 160F for 2 minutes. Bright light Jade in the cup, with a green vegetation nose. Taste of chestnuts, with a touch of astringency and a good mouth. The great thing about this green, and most greens is they can be re steeped multiple times – I use a little hotter water – 165f and add about 15-20 seconds, and got 4 more decent steeps. The aromas fade and the flavors as well with each, but it is still a nuanced cup. This is an all day every day good drinking tea – and if you are new to greens, I would recommend trying some.
This pleasant green ceylon comes from an estate thay is better known for rich ceylon blacks. Remember all teas come from the same two varietals of tea bush – the season of picking, the drying time and method, amount of fermentaion, etc etc create the teas we know as balck, greed, red, oolong, la la la… This Silvali Hill is a high grown, slightly rolled green with a distict twist or curl to the leaf. Light yellow in the cup, with a delicate sweet nose. Soft in the mouth, it has the astringecy of a green, but not bitter taste. In fact, it has a sweet pleasant flavor – not herby or grassy like most greens. Holds its flavor well as it cools. 1st steep 2 min at 176F 2tsp tea per 8oz water in My Miric. 2nd and third very nice with minimal loss of flavor.
Yet another of my recent finds from Whittard of Chelsea on my recent trip to London. This wonderful Assam from the reputed Harmuty garden is delightful. When I think of “tea time” I think assam. This is a special grade – gold tips, meaning it is a very small subset of the harvest that was processed to leave a hint of pale gold on the ends of the leaf. This usually results in a very aromatic tea, and this one does not dissapoint.
Bright copper red in the cup, with a heady malty/bready nose with hints of spice. Taste is malt with just a hint of sweetness and a nice dry after with a little bite of astringency, and a thin mouthfeel. 3 Min 12 oz boiling water on 3 tsp of tea. I like my assams with a touch of milk, this one is good black as well. Demands to be paired with a good scone or shortbreak cookies.
My every morning, right as rain, ain’t morning without a cuppa tea is Twinings UK packed English Breakfast, with a splash of milk. (Just like my standard generic cup of tea in the afternoon/evening is PG Tips with a touch of sugar). Moring isn’t about adventure, it is about routine, and normalness. Tea blends are made to predictable, and while most geeks focus on the varietals, the “regular bloke’s blend” is very satisfying.
But every now and then, you want something different. I usually go for a pure Keenum, or a high end packers “English/Irish/U.K. Brekkie”, or even a black current black. Usually for a morning or two, then back to my beloved Twinings UK packed. (Most tea blenders adjust their blends for different markets to meet local taste – they are all recognizable as the “name” profile, just different emphisis on the ratio of the component teas, or a different leaf cut (size of the tea leaves affects flavor).
The Tea spot has a reputation of putting out excellent quality, and at times very non traditional, full leaf blends. I usually have a tin or two of their teas in my rotation.
I recently picked up their Bolder Breakfast. It is a ridiculous blend of black tea (Assam and Ceylon, i think), Pu-erh, and a slight touch of dark cocca powder. It is fantastic, a very bold tea: robust black nose, with a hint of chocolate, dark as night in the cup, and a very rounded malty sweet taste leaving the impression ok the complexity of dark chocolate with a thin feel. Boiling @ 5 min, reg sized pot, with a touch of milk (and would consider a touch of sugar, depending on my mood). Again, not for every morning, but a excellent change of pace.
. My friend Vu, tea guru extraordinaire, hooked me up with a substancial supply of Tiwanese Formosa Fancy 1st Grade Ming Xiang Oolong.
Lately, I have been drinking my Oolongs in the eastern style: single measures in a clay Yingxing tea pot, less than boiling rinse and 1st infusion, boilng after, minute steeps, steep multiple times (3-10 times, depending on mood & leaf), 3-4 oz’s of water a serving, take all day to expirience, and contemplate the tea. This allows for a understanding of how the tea developes, and I find it ridiculously relaxing and calming.
When you invest in a traditional brewing vessles, you tend to go with the style of your favorite varietal or style. Yingxing tea pots and giwan style cups go best with multiple infusion/short infusion time/low volume teas – mostly oolongs, pur-eh and the like. You dedicate that vessle to the style, and never “clean” the inside of the vessle with the exception of a rinse of fresh hot water to pre heat – and allow them to build up this “funk” that actually enhance the flavor and aromatics of related varietals. My Yinxing is oolong, my good giawan is Pur-eh, and I have othre vessles that are general purpose. (A glass one that is mostly green teas, a ceramic/china for blacks, etc). If you only have one brewing vessle, try to rinse out the vessle more often with hot water, never soap, unless it is a glass pot. My point is go with what you have – until you feel you are ready for something else. No worries.
Anyway, the Ming Xiang is a rare 1st Quality (1FF for you geeks) that evolved in aroma flavor and taste over 6 infusions of 4oz 180-212f -1 minute each. The nose developed from flowery, light nose to a assertive oolong purfume, and then diminished. The color went from orange copper to red copper, and was bright and clear throughout. Good assertive flavor, flowery/spicy/exotic meaty flavor, with a brothy mouth feel and a thin, not unpleasant bitter after, to entice another sip. The best infusions were 3 & 4, and i could have maybe pushed a little further past 6. I look forward to getting to know this one better.
I have a hunch the Long Su I was having so much trouble figuring out may benefit from a strict application of the brewing style – so I hope to explore and update that in the coming days.
While I am a die hard Oolong guy, I must confess that in the depths of winter I look for very robust tastes, unlike the delicate oolong.
This mornings tea comes from the amazing folks at TeaGshwender – if you are here in Chicago, this is the best source for teas locally – and one of the best mail order sources as well. http://www.teamerchants.com is there link.
I brewed up in my Miracle (also available from TGsh) some of their Assam Mokalbari Garden 2nd Flush SFTGFOP1. 1.5 teaspoons per 8oz boiling water for 3 minutes. Burned Red/Orange in the cup, with an awesome malty nose. Complex taste – toffee, brown sugar, nuts, with a spicy after, and just enough astringency to make the next sip refreshing. Almost creamy mouthfeel.
I find myslef savoring and analyzing each sip. One of my freinds stated that after drinking this, there is no point in drinking other Assams, as they are just mere mortal knockoffs. I usually drink most blacks with a splash of milk to hold down the astringency – but this is one I can drink without, or with a touch of sugar, or practically any combo. Excellent, I highly recommend this one.
I will admit, while most consider Darjeeling the “champange” of teas, it has taken me a long time to appreciate them. Part of it was just my tastes lie elsewhere (Oolongs!!) and coninue to evolve, part of it may be the hype some darjs get never lives up.
So when I went tasting/shopping at Wittard of Chelsea a couple of weeks ago in London – I was suprised that I walked out with mostly darjs. This one is from the Tukdah estate, a 1st flush super grade, whole leaf masterwork. The loose teas itself looks more like a full green or an oolong, and has that sweet/vegetal smell of short fermented tea. 1st flush = 1st picking of the year, and these are the tenderest, most delicate buds and leaves – usually that need short fermenting, and moderate drying.
A bright yellow green in the cup, with a delicate perfumey/tangy nose common to darjeeling, but also a light grassy green hint. The taste is soft, tangy, brightness – floral in the warm spring morning way. After has just a hint of astringency, with a light mouth feel. This is why Darj heads wait for spring 1st flush – this is pure heaven in a cup, and begs your finest bone china, and cucumber sandwiches and a dear friend to drink it with.
4tsp tea (this is a very loose teas) in 16oz boiling water 4 mintues in my “good” teapot.
The folks at Rishi teas have done a great job of making affordable vareitals availible – in this case their “china breakfast” whole leaf. this is a Yunnan red – a style that gained huge popularity in the west in the early 1900’s and for a long time was the basis for English “brekkie” blends until cost/politics drove them to more heavy assam/ceylon blends with less “Red” & Keenum.
Red Yunnan is more fermented than golden yunnans, both from the same base trees that also make Pur-eh’s I think goldens are fired less and rless as well.
Brewed 4 min with boiling water in my Miracle – This is red copper in the the cup, the big malty nose of yunnan, and I associate with “brekkie”. Malt and dark chocolate taste, with a little sour after prevelent of most Yunnans. Full body mouth feel, very little astringency. I like it with a touch of milk in the morning. This is a good brekkie.
I am playing with blending a little of this with some keenum and some assam and ceylon to get a full leaf “North side” brekkie.
Just started out blending with my collection, and haven’t yet ventured into blending my straight blacks. I have mostley China and Ceylon blacks, with some preblended brands that include assam and darjeeling. Any favorite brands of blacks that hold up to black blending well without getting lost, or over-powering?