290 Tasting Notes
I’ve broken out this tea for today’s session. It seems to suit the mood. The atmosphere here is relaxed. The town is filling up with tourists arrived on the ferry from France this morning; I waved to them as they sailed past my window while I was eating breakfast but they did not wave back. Still, even with the tourists, it did not feel too busy as I went for my morning constitutional. What with the sun being out, the pleasure boats in the harbour, and the peace and quiet, it’s definitely a day for a relaxing cup of tea and a great view … well, at least for now. I have editing to do later, so it will not be all relaxing in the sun, but sufficient unto the day, eh?
The 2010 Xing Hai seems to be developing nicely. The dry leaf has that warm hay and horse aroma that I so love in a sheng. The liquor is pale yellow. It continues the warm hay aroma but adds notes of honey and heavy pollen. It tastes warm, and sweet. There’s notes of molasses, a slight astringency, a lovely gentle smokiness, and, to finish off, a peppery, sweet aftertaste that lingers for quite some time. As is usual for me when I encounter a tea with good qi, I am feeling it in my legs first. They are relaxed to the point where I am not sure if I can stand up on them. There is a lovely energy to the tea that leaves me content and happy with my place in the world, and not even worried about the work that awaits me later. This moment is enough.
Flavors: Astringent, Honey, Molasses, Pepper, Smoke, Sweet
I just got my first order from Canton Tea Co in about two years. It’s nice having a regular income again! So, anyway, I bought more Anji Bai Cha because I had not had any since last I reviewed it here. I could not wait to try it again, so I ripped open the packet at work and set to. Conditions here are sub-optimal, but no matter, I needed this fix. And, you know what? It was worth it.
The dry leaf is grassy and warm like new-mown hay. The liquor is pale with a citrussy, apple aroma. And it tastes divine. So light and refreshing. There is a hint of umami lifted by a smooth sweetness and that apple that was in the aroma is also in the taste of the liquor. The aftertaste just sparkled on my tongue like a delicate champagne with a slightly spicy finish. The chi of this tea left me feeling so relaxed, almost to the point of being tea-drunk after just one cup.
Very few teas leave me this excited. This tea is awesome and is right there at the top among my favourite teas.
Flavors: Apple, Citrusy, Nutty, Sweet, Sweet, Warm Grass, Umami
Thank you both. Yes, I’m back and need to catch up on writing about berserker-stuff. It’s good to be appreciated, Whiteantlers. :)
Roughage, my ancestry is Scandinavian and there is so little I have found (serious writing/films) in casual search, so yes, you are appreciated. Few things I love more than humor and good writing. :)
Scandinavian ancestry is the coolest! :)
It’s not so much film-oriented, but this is my current project: www.worldtreeproject.org
It’s due to be formally launched in November, but will be growing over the summer. Maybe there will be bits on there that are of interest. In the meantime, I have a stack of DVDs that I need to make time to watch and write about. Shame I have some editing to do first. So much to do, so little time. I should probably stop surfing randomly and start doing. Hmmm …
Oh boy! Thanks for the link, Roughage. After my years of formal education, the last 3 decades have been very much autodidactic, so this will be a supreme treat to read.
Enjoy the site. We’ll be soliciting contributions from the public from about 15th April, so hopefully there will be a lot more for you to lose yourself in soon.
The YouTube on berserkers was a delight. I love history presented that way. My sister is in academia as well (different subject matter) and so many of you are real unsung heroes in the outside world. Cheers from a fan! :)
I really like that video too. My friend did a good job of summarising my thesis in twelve minutes in an intelligible manner, although some of those that commented on it really seem to have missed the point just the same. I guess there’s a research article in that too! :) Anyway, thank you for appreciating it. Knowing that someone out there has taken something positive away from my work is the biggest boost I can get.
I hated history all through school, and as a dyslexic with ADD (before people knew what those things were and Ritalin-ed the creativity out of kids), I spent a lot of time in history class looking out the window or doodling. In my junior year, a teacher put me on the spot, asking me if the class was boring me. I’m a cheeky dyke so I said YES! He asked why and I said it was all memorized dates, place names and things irrelevant to my life. I wanted to know what people wore, ate, drank, where they walked, who they punched, what their horse looked like. The video I watched satisfied all of that and what I have read of your writing does, too. Kudos to you for making so much of the “Distant Mirror” accessible and enjoyable.I raise my tea cup to you.
I hated history in school too. It was, as you write, all kings and queens and names and dates, and nothing about the real people. I ditched it and did German instead. It was only when I studied it as part of my university education that it became interesting, because suddenly it was more like CSI: about the facts, the evidence and the interpretation, and there were ordinary people I could relate to in it. That’s when I learnt to love history. It’s also why I went off to be an archaeologist for 20 years. Digging through ordinary people’s rubbish and poo really gives you a sense of the past that school history books do not! Anyway, I’m rambling on too much. I raise my cup back at you. Thank you.
I bought a sample of this last time I ordered from Teavivre (which was far too long ago, by the way). Finally got around to trying it yesterday at work, now that I have set up a tea station by my desk. New job, new office, new tea station; it’s almost like a new start! :)
So, the dry leaf was woody with a light citrus component. You can tell it’s shu pu with your eyes closed. There was one honking great huge piece of citrus peel in there with the leaf, like about half a tangerine’s worth! The steeped tea smelt earthy with a hint of citrus. I have a pu with grapefruit that I unconsciously expected it to be like, but this one is way more subtle than the grapefruit pu. The liquor was dark, earthy and woody with the tangerine notes coming through to make it a light refreshing drink. It made a nice change from the usual run of teas that I have been making in the office.
Flavors: Citrus, Earth, Orange, Orange Zest, Wood
Can’t believe I’ve not reviewed this tea before. I’m drinking it grandpa style at the moment due to lack of tea-making facilities in my new place of work. It’s strong, smoky, peaty and with a hefty kick. It’s like the Laphraoig of teas. Definitely one for the whisky drinkers.
Flavors: Peat, Smoke, Whiskey
It’s a decent whisky is Laphraoig. Even if you think you don’t know much about whisky, you are doing well there. Definite resemblance between it and the FT4.
But only to those with an undeveloped palate! :P I do like my whiskies to have very high polyphenol levels though. And the best bit is that they are apparently good for you because they rapidly increase antioxidant levels in the blood and eliminate free radicals, although at a slight cost of reduced processing of the alcohol, potentially resulting in longer hangovers. Thus, taken in moderation well-aged malt whiskies are good for you. The research apparently shows that cheap, non-aged whiskies have the reverse effect, so you now have a good reason for buying only expensive whisky. :)
Sounds good. I was brought up drinking malt whisky, especially the Islay malts, so I am well used to that TCP taste. Wish I could afford the really good ones. :)
I love Islays. When I was 13 I had an unfortunate incident involving a surprise mixture of Old Granddad and Tabasco with my friends blocking this sink. It took until my mid 20’s but a glass of Lagavulin was love at first sip, and an instant recovery from my childhood trauma. I can hack other whiskys these days, but the single malts are the only ones that I can really get in to. Good to hear that they’re healthy for me too!
Heh, yes, Lagavulin is a favourite of mine, as is Caol Ila. I just can’t stomach cheap whiskies at all, although Famous Grouse is acceptable. It’s the high content of Highland Park in it that makes it drinkable. The health news about whiskies is particularly heartening, and the fact that Islay malts are the highest in polyphenols also makes them the healthiest. Win, win, if you ask me. :)
Bowmore is my favorite, and a value. Always seems to be the quality of something 50% higher in price. The Legend was in the high $20 (US) range, and was more than passable, Their 18 yr is amazing and under $100 last time I checked. Bowmore Darkest (before they changed it to “Darkest 15”) was the best value I’ve ever found. It tasted like dark chocolate smores slow roasted above burning peat bog! But they stopped making it a few years back. Not Islay, but I’ve always found Glenmorangie to be a great value, too.
As for cheap Whiskies, I can only stomach Old Crow, but that’s a story for another day… involving music festivals and associated debauchery!
Ha! I’m glad I didn’t miss this. I love Lagavulin 16, I love the sweet notes and savory notes under the smoke and that slight medicinal wood that lingers. Try Springbank 12 6in bourbon and 6in peated cask. and Longrow the red.
I’m not familiar with Longrow, JC. One for me to look out for. The Sprinbank is a decent whisky but not one I have had often.
Tea and Cheese Lover: Bowmore, yes. Love it. Glenmorangie is what I used to drink as a student when I could not afford anything better. It’s not a favourite of mine, but it is certainly better than Glenfiddich which is what those that do not know my tastes often buy me, probably because it is cheap.
ha. All this talk about whisky – btw this is the best g&t gin I have ever tried (with fevertree tonic) http://www.thedrinksreport.com/media/news/2014/15449-540×335.jpg
other gins have different flavours but this one has energy, perfect for g&t
What better tea could you want to go with the grand finale of The Princess Bride? Well, I don’t know but this is pretty darn good for it. It’s a thick dark soup with a strong woody smell. The liquor tastes woody and leathery with a hint of camphor and old books. The aftertaste is sweet and peppery on the edges of my tongue, although it also made my tongue go slightly numb along with my legs. “Hello, tea drunk.” This was a good choice for this evening’s tea and movies session and I look forward to finishing it off tomorrow.
Thank you TwoDog for this sample.
Flavors: Camphor, Leather, Pepper, Wet Wood
No, I never noticed any beetroot taste at all. I abhor beetroot and would have noticed something as disgusting as The Devil’s Vegetable (as it is know by me in our house). I got no vegetal notes at all. It was all antiquey things like wet wood and old books.
Yes, beets. The devil’s own food. Just thinking about it makes me gag. Well, maybe not but it’s the only food in the world that I have found I really dislike.
Beets or beetroot:
This is the first tea that I sampled as part of this evening’s tea and movies session. I chose it because it promised to match the early part of the film in texture and mood. I was right. Oddly enough, this is one of the very few teas where the description matches my experience of it. The cha qi is gentle. The leaves are large and mainly whole. The aroma and taste is of a heavily pollen-laden garden on a warm summer evening, floral and slightly grassy. The aftertaste brings with it a light cooling sensation and a slight salivation. I’m half a dozen steeps in and it is still going strong. I only had a sample to try but I shall certainly add it to my wish list now. It’s really good to drink even now. No idea how it will age though.
Flavors: Floral, Grass
Indeed, and currently drinking a 1990s Hong Kong style sheng puerh for the grand finale of the Princess Bride. :)
I think it’s worth it. I’ve noticed that the YS 2014 teas that I have tried seem to carry this heady, warm pollen feel to them.
Hmm, it’s the feeling of walking in a garden on a warm evening with lots of heavily scented flowers around, where you can practically taste the aroma of the flowers. Does that make sense? At its core it’s a heavy, thick floral taste but I associate it with tropical gardens that I have been in.
This tea has been sitting in storage for a while now awaiting the day when I was in the right mood to try it. I had no idea what to expect from the snow chrysanthemums either, so it was a leap into the dark.
The brick is highly compressed. The dry leaf has an earthy, cedar wood aroma. It looks great with the orange of the chrysanthemum flowers in it. Most attractive. The wet leaf is primarily earthy and the liquor brews up thick and dark. My first cup was more wtf than anything else. I got an immediate hit of Dr Pepper and tea tree oil with a cooling minty aftertaste. I steeled myself for the second cup and was glad I did. The flavour had moderated itself a bit. There’s still vanilla and tea tree there, but the underlying earthiness of the puerh is more present with a pleasing cedar flavour and chilli pepper notes. I think this tea may be an acquired taste or one for when the mood hits, but five cups in and I am quite pleased with it. Once you get that initial vanilla and tea tree hit out of the way, there is quite a bit of depth to the tea and plenty to enjoy. It’s still a bit ‘interesting’ though.
Flavors: Cedar, Spicy, Vanilla
Wouldn’t be surprised if this tea doesn’t settle down in another 5 years or so and become something a lot less all over the place. Some leaf just needs time and nothing else will fix it.
You could be right, Jim. The underlying shu seems solid, so I think the rest of it is a result of the addition of chrysanthemums. Perhaps they need more time to blend with the shu.
Now that I know what to expect, I think I can give the tea a fairer hearing next time.
Any recommendations on a good source for learning more about puerh? Production areas, major producers, etc. I like both shu and sheng, one of my favorites was Mengku Palace Ripened Golden Buds Puerh and I have a moonlight five year old that I love.
Sorry about the slow reply, ashmanra. I agree about TeaDB. I’ve also learnt a lot by following The Half Dipper blog (http://half-dipper.blogspot.co.uk/) and MarshalN’s blog (http://www.marshaln.com/) plus dipping into blogs and sites they link to.
@Ashmanra check this out.
@roughage ive tried chrysanthemum before. but what does the snow variety taste like? i hear they sell the snow version on its own.
I’m not sure what the chrysanthemum on its own tastes like, but I suspect that the strong medicinal vanilla flavour was a product of the chrysanth because after a few steeps the tea tasted more like a typical shu.
Another first for me. I picked a bing of this up back when there was a discount on Mengku product and I am quite pleased that I did. The dry leaf has a strong honey and tobacco aroma. The liquor is strong even with a short steep and has a bitter edge to it that is not unpleasant, with an underlying caramel flavour. It has certainly woken me up now and that is no bad thing.
Flavors: Bitter, Caramel, Honey, Tobacco
I continues with this one today and it has not been anywhere near as powerful. I only really got about ten steeps out of it before it was sweet brown water, so strong starter, but definitely a sprinter and not a distance runner.
There are some sprinters that deliver, I find that for work they are the best option since you may not have the luxury of all 11+ steeps :P. I brought some 2014 Qing Mei Shan with me, that’s been the highlight of my day. Beautifully foggy and rainy day here at DC.
Fog and rain? My favourite! :)
I agree. I think this tea would work as it currently is for times when you don’t have the luxury of gong fu style brewing (or faux gong fu in my case). I’m going to try it brewed western style, and try to keep enough to sample it over a few years. Good job I adhere to the dictum that a tong is an order and a beeng is a sample. :)
I like snow days, but foggy days and rainy days can be pretty good too. All you need is a roaring fire, a good armchair, your tea and a good book. Indeed, were any random Mongol general to ask me “What is best in life?” I would cite these things and add the company of my cats to the list.
I love snow, but here at DC we only get slush and ice lol. Fog to me adds that almost mysterious ambiance that makes me zone out while I drink tea. I usually edit pictures during this time.
Yay! I’m first!! And I’m really enjoying it. :)
The dry leaf has a warm horse and mild tobacco aroma. The bing is loosely packed with a mix of olive green leaves and silvery, fuzzy tips. It produces a dark amber liquor with no great depth yet, but with a pleasant astringency, and lightly honeyed finish. There is a hint of camphor in there and something vegetal. The aftertaste is sweet and spicy. Where this tea really scores is in the fact that I cannot feel my legs now and my arms are a bit floppy too. After two steeps I could feel the tea drunk coming on, and at four I am almost ready to start telling everyone how they are my best mates. The force is strong in this tea.
Flavors: Astringent, Camphor, Honey, Spicy, Tobacco