300 Tasting Notes
I have a tin and a half of this from the heavenly sale. I thought it might be nice to have a less vegetal green in the house for the husband, though I believe he has yet to try it. Of the greens I’ve been drinking these last two days it is certainly the least vegetal, it also feels the least sweet which. I know this is described as sweet and smokey and I’ve described it as such myself, but I’m not really getting that in this cup. Mostly I’m getting flowery and dry and something that is reminding me of Bai Mu Dan. Maybe it’s the pepper others have mentioned.
Earlier in the cup I was questioning why I liked it enough to buy a tin of it. I didn’t drink it that often at work when it was available. But later in the cup I found a dry sophistication that reminds me of Darjeeling (minus the sour bits) so I suppose that’s it, it made me feel sophisticated. I still have Tai Ping, Dragonwell and Huang Shan Mao Feng left to review of the Teavana Chinese greens, but that won’t be tonight. 50th tasting note, whoo!
Update 5/5/2012: I brewed this alongside Teavana’s Song Zhen Needle (another green from the Tea Prosperity gift set) and Emperor’s Cloud and Mists. This was the clear looser. I’m going to give the tea and everyone who liked it the benefit of the doubt and say the leaves are probably just too old as most of the good reviews were written a year ago. For Teavana’s only USDA certified organic tea, it tastes the least fresh and natural.
I would imagine that SimpliciTEA’s suspicion about this being a SpecialTea’s variety is quite right as it was the odd certified one and was retired this year. I will attempt cold brewing this and maybe upping the temp to 180 once but I’ve decided it’s not worthy to send to Angrboda as she is trying to be turned onto greens and I feel this could only turn someone off. Emerald Buds you are simply not worthy, which is unfortunate as I have so much of it.
However if there is anyone who did like this and would like to confirm or deny my suspicion that it’s an old batch, I’d be glad to send it off. The good news is that Clouds and Mists surprised me with lovely fruity notes today. Song Zhen was once again just meh, so that eliminates two out of 12 greens.
This is the only tea in the Tea Prosperity Collection that is currently available on Teavana’s wall and I have drank it at work countless times over the summer, though Gyokuro has become my go to green in the last six months. It’s lovely curly little leaves smell super sweet and a mix between veg and floral candy.
The first sip of this disappoints me, I feel it’s a tea that needs to sit to develop its sweetness and in subsequent steeps there is some slight smoke, otherwise it’s a tad astringent. Second cup smells more fragrant, floral, but I can’t pin point it. There’s something chalky here and now I know why I preferred this iced with Taracco Ruby Orange over the summer or hot with Silver Needle. After the third steep I think I’ll move on to the Yunnan Emerald Buds.
Update 5/5/2012: this tea really surprised me today with a wonderful fruity aroma in the brewed leaves and the first cup that I have decided reminds me of POM (pomegranate juice). Quite nice, sweet and vegetal with just a hint of fruit. Three steeps at 15-30 sec each.
The leaves are small, slender, silver and grey and smell very floral. Brewed leaves are golden green and vegetal. Starts off light, sweet and nutty. Gains a twinge of bitter and for a second I think it’s going to turn spicy, but instead deepens a bit in mouth feel and reveals some veg. There’s something a tad unorganic tasting here. Second steep is bitter so I cut the steep time, third is more veg but still bitter, down the drain and moving on ::shrug::
Incredibly deep emerald leaves that smell of candied flowers and rain yield a pale green cup with a sweet thick mouth feel. This is closer to Gyokuro than any Chinese greens I’ve tried and has a bit of chalkiness to it that calls to mind Matcha. However this feels darker, deeper and cooler. There is no warm butteryness to speak of, though there is certainly quite a bit of veg. Second steep was slightly bitter as it strained too slowly, but really wasn’t that bad. Third steep held up to veggie pizza and is really, really reminding me of matcha, odd.
After drinking three cups of kukicha/twig tea I decided to compare. Their kukicha is described as toasted while this is roasted and of course leaves rather than stems. There is a similar quality for sure, though it is less sweet, has a hint of bitterness and some underlying veg. I will withhold rating as I want to try lowering the water temp but for now this is something I wouldn’t repurchase, but I would seek loose leaf to try.
Was shopping at Giant Eagle this morning with the toddler, went down the tea aisle for some crackers (hazelnut nut thins) when I decided to glace at the tea. Twinings did have some tins of loose leaf but nothing excited me, I thought about getting some Irish Breakfast for the husband but passed. Their Prince of Wales and another brand’s Lapsang Souchong tempted me as well but they were both bagged.
Then there was another curved section with organic teas. Stash caught my eye and got me excited (as I’ve seen people log about it on here) but I didn’t like any of the choices. However this and Choice’s bancha made their way into my cart along with another brand’s coconut chai green tea (mainly because it had a nice tin).
So yes this is bagged, but its twigs and organic, so how important can whole leaf be in this case? The fannings are still smaller than I would have thought, but I’d have to order some loose leaf kukicha to compare. I disregarded their brewing instructions, boiling for 4-5 mins no thank you. If it hadn’t said it was twigs and leaves I might have gone for it. I brought the water to 180ish and steeps for about 2 mins (I watched and smelled and when it was brown and sweet I pulled the bag).
But this is actually quite delightful. Its roasty and nutty and sweet and I think the husband is actually going to love it, which is a miracle because although he loves Japanese culture (studied it in college) he doesn’t care for their food or green tea. There is something in both the smell and the taste that does remind me of coffee, but a really light coffee with some hazelnut soy creamer. Will also have to take this into work to share, but really I can see myself buying this again (convenience certainly plays a role in that).
I decided to revisit this tea at work on Sunday. My tastes have been evolving and I wanted to approach this from a new perspective and with shorter steeps. I wrote this off as too roasted and fragrant nine months and again two months ago during a tasting. I stuck to green oolongs until I discovered Oriental Beauty and even then preferred Teavana’s Emerald Dan Cong and Verdant’s Phoenix Mountain (both of which I need to try again soon). But the two 30 sec steeps I had the other day were roasty toasty deliciousness without being over powering. I can’t say I got peach or floral but I thoroughly enjoyed them and saved the leaves to take home in a cup, but someone pitched them. I have a serving at home saved for a tasting, but will likely revisit soon.
I need to resteep this a few more times before I come to any conclusions, but I’m all pu-erhed out for the night. Rinsed twice. First steep was nice and woodsy, bit nutty but with a nice mouthfeel. Next two were thick and a bit artichokey or as a co-work described it “asparagus cooked in bacon”, but I get the lime notes. Fourth had some bite but cooled down nice and left a minty freshness in my mouth.
Edit: continued infusion Sunday morning and really should have taken the leaves to work because I’m drinking again Monday morning. I did a quick rinse to wake the leaves up both mornings and I think that paid off well. Yesterday I got a delicious sweetness that at first I thought was cocoa (it definitely has developed some black tea notes when Saturday it felt kids oolong) and then it happened, the bubble gum. And it’s still in this seventh… Maybe eighth infusion this morning along with some pepper. It is most enjoyable, though I would pass up drinking steeps two and three in the future. I need to share this with more people so I can do smaller, quicker, and ultimately more steeps in a sitting. But now to enjoy this cup before work. Dread.
Dry leaf smells like horses (a good thing, I miss riding growing up) but oddly enough not so barny as the few other pu-erhs I’ve smelled. Leaves are loose, long and dull brown with a bit of variation. This is my second time trying it and opted for shorter steeps this time. May go with longer at a lower temp next time as this was still quite astringent but not very “full”. Had to add a few crystals of sugar to get through the second steep and tossed half of the third cup (and yes I did rinse). Will revisit more in-depth. But really I just wanted to say it smells like horses.
Necessity is the mother of invention. I went to make Baker Street Afternoon Blend for my husband and I and found we had less than a teaspoon left of it. I should have reached for the Keemun and added jut a pinch of Lapsang. Instead I reached for the Lapsang (half a teaspoon) and rounded it out with Nine Dragon for the husband. Too smokey for him though I thought it was lovely. On the second steep I decided to add some clove and cardamon from my Maharaja Chai Oolong tin, taking inspiration from Cara McGee’s Sherlock Blend on Adagio. Now this is delicious! Buttery smooth beginning with a strong middle and dry finish, smokey with a deep sweetness like tobacco and a hint of spice. Second steep (third for the tea but only second since adding the spice) tastes just like clove gum, but as such lacks in tea body. Rowan had some of the first infusion and said “hmm what’s it taste like mommy? hmm, tastes like tea” which is interesting as almost any straight white, green or oolong he says “tastes like raspberry”, clearly this was nowhere close to raspberry ;)