686 Tasting Notes
I decided to have something special. Tea Ave sent a sample of this tea with my last order. It came in an opaque blue bag with tons of detail on it – growth altitude, roast level, cultivar, oxidation level, instructions for four different brewing methods, and flavor notes. I love this level of detail! Unfortunately, I missed the part where it’s a teabag and not loose leaf, so I prepped my gaiwan, pitcher, etc. before opening the packet and realizing my mistake. Not a great start, but I am not so easily deterred. I switched to a mug and ended up getting… maybe 6? good steeps out of it. I lost count at a certain point. The teabag itself is interesting. It’s a pyramid sachet but not made out of the same plastic-like material as most mass-produced pyramid sachets. This is more like a cottony paper. The leaf inside is of course proper full leaf. There’s plenty of room for it to expand, and it does. The flavor is exactly what I wanted. Sweet floral honey paired with something else that I can’t quite articulate. It’s thick and rich and savory-sweet and distinctive Apparently I’ve reviewed this before, but it was two years ago so I forgot. Back then, I described this flavor as whole wheat toast (gong fu) and camellia blossom (Western style). That’s close to what I tasted this time, but not quite it. I would be more frustrated by my inability to name this flavor but the tea is too yummy and soothing to let it stress me out.
The observance of Lincoln’s birthday seemed like a better time than most to finally finish reading Coates’s Between the World and Me. This is the tea I drank while doing so. I was not paying full attention to the tea but it seems to have lost some of the chewy mallow flavor that I disliked when the blend first came out. Now it’s more of a creamy lime. While I still find it a little odd, I do like it much better now than I did when it was fresh. This would probably be a good cold brew if the leaf can last until warm weather returns.
Flavors: Creamy, Lime
Sipdown! Thanks to Teavivre for the sample. My notes on this tea are chaotically scribbled all over the package but I’ll do my best to organize them into something coherent. I got 7 gong fu steeps out of this leaf. I used 180-185f temp for all of them, starting with a 20-second steep and ending with a 50-second steep. I overdid the third steep at about 60 seconds and it came out undrinkably bitter. Other than that, the flavor profile ranged from brothy seaweed to sweet water chestnut. Not bad!
Sipdown! I’m on a roll this weekend.
This blend is still wonderful. The floral notes are predominantly rose and jasmine. There’s a thick, subtle sweetness to it. There’s something holding the sweetness in check – a woody quality that maybe comes from the juniper? I can’t pinpoint it but it’s a nice balance to the sweetness.
Thanks to Stephanie for this sample! I brewed it up in my Den’s Tea kyusu. The instructions are for two steeps but I got a third steep out of the leaf by brewing at 180f for about 3 minutes. It’s a basic, grassy sencha. I may have let the leaf get too old. It’s tasty but doesn’t have a lot of the nuance that I’ve come to expect from Den’s Tea. Still, it’s got a decently thick mouthfeel and clean flavor.
Happy Lunar New Year! I’m celebrating by drinking only Chinese teas today. This sample from Teavivre is first on deck.
The dry leaf is seaweed green, long and wiry. One thing I give Teavivre credit for is that the pictures on their website are consistently a fair and accurate representation of how the leaf actually looks. The dry leaf smells of fresh cut grass and honey.
Steep 1: 185f, 30 seconds. The wet leaf looks like steamed spinach and smells like… kale? asparagus? The brew is a green-tinted gold and smells like fresh peas. The mouthfeel is medium-thick and slightly dry. The flavor is light, sweet, and vegetal. It’s basically springtime in a cup, which seems apropos for the Spring Festival!
Steep 2: 185f, 40 seconds. This steep smells more cooked, like steamed spinach (although that might be the visual influence of how the leaves look). It’s still a green-tinted gold, darker this time. The flavor is vegetal with a bitter note. Kale maybe?
Steep 3: 190f, 40 seconds. Basically the same as steep 2.
Steep 4: 185f, 65 seconds. There’s a faint hint of roastiness in the flavor this time. Like roasted greens or maybe grilled asparagus.
Steep 5: 185f, 2 minutes. I think this is the end of what this leaf has to give. The bitter note is stronger, making the brew taste like kale. Incidentally, I don’t like kale. Teavivre says this leaf gong fus for three steeps. I maybe did not need to get more ambitious than that. :-)
Flavors: Asparagus, Kale, Peas