A Thirst for Tea

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Recent Tasting Notes

91

Prepared in a glass gaiwan, this is all spicy pastoral. Animalic muskiness that’s not contained within a barnyard, rolling dry pastures, parchment, sun-warmed earth and a soft savory quality reminiscent of tempered hing (which smells like sweated onions to me) and fresh mushrooms or garbanzo bean soak liquid.. These all present within a silky, unctuous mouthfeel that gives way to mouthwatering quartz-like minerality before finishing with an astringency that is most noticeable after the first few infusions.

There are delicate white rose and maybe geranium florals; fruity nuances such as apricot and papaya and tiny sparkles of muscatel; a quiet caramel note; white pepper, orange blossom, sugared lemon, rose leaf and wintergreen aromatics that elevate this tea from one that could be overly rustic into a tea that is rather refined. I’m sure there’s more.

The feeling is drying-warming, also masculine in a way that only a white tea could be. I wish I had more to play with — Nepali teas, while often exceedingly beautiful, can require some attention to avoid astringency.

Quite the difference between western steeping and gongfu. Western presents still with those spicy warm straw and earth tones, sweeter and even a little chewy honey-malt, not animalic or savory, while the fruit is more pronounced, sitting in the midtones and reaching higher into the olfactories. A distinct watermelon note comes out on the backend.

Flavors: Apricot, Astringent, Beans, Caramel, Drying, Dust, Earth, Floral, Geranium, Honey, Hot Hay, Lemon, Malt, Mineral, Muscatel, Mushrooms, Musk, Oily, Onion, Orange Blossom, Papaya, Paper, Peppercorn, Rose, Savory, Silky, Soft, Spices, Spicy, Spring Water, Straw, Sugar, Watermelon, White Grapes, Wintergreen

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

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72

Fulfilling Mastress Alita’s Monthly Sipdown Challenge, April 2022 edition, with
A Raisin-y Tea

When I bought from A Thirst for Tea in January?, I wanted to try a variety of tea types spanning their price range. This black tea from Assam is among the cheapest teas on the site at $2.95 for 25g, while the Snow Orchid Dancong Oolong I noted yesterday is $26.00 for the same grammage.

As gmathis sometimes puts it, this is a ‘bog standard’ black in the Assam world. It’s pretty bright, robust and brisk yet smooth with darkwoody-malty taste and notes of raisin and dried sour cherry that waft out of the mid/high tones and into the nose. Sometimes I get some bitterness, but this otherwise makes consistent, highly caffeinated cups both from the sub-boiling water dispenser at work and from actual boiling at home. I can steep it for 3 minutes or the recommended 5-7 minutes and it usually comes out with minimal difference in character.

Informally recommended for the price, consistent brew and the get up and go.

Flavors: Bitter, Brisk, Cherry, Dark Wood, Malt, Raisins, Smooth, Tangy

Preparation
3 g 10 OZ / 300 ML
gmathis

This sounds like it fits my other favorite adjective … ungoofable.

derk

Essentially yes. The bitterness is more noticeable at work, probably because, ya know, work.

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85

As part of Mastress Alita’s Monthly Sipdown Challenge, April 2022, I present to thee “A Tea Paired to the Weather.”

This dancong oolong is the memory of spring snowmelt, with the crisp air still perfumed by the fanfare of yesterday’s blooming jasmine and lilies and other flowers now reduced by last night’s cold snap. A bit of soggy earth underfoot, wading through a stand of fanned-out horsetails.

Damp yet drying, cool and airy yet somehow richly floral, slightly alkaline with a silica-mineral backbone. A bit viscous and oily at first, thinning into an astringency that develops at a manageable pace. Good ripe peach aftertaste presents soon after swallow and fades as the flowers return from the throat.

A low-oxidized oolong still with this intensity despite being over 6 years old suggests to me that it has been well stored by the proprietor. This level of florality isn’t my favorite. (Neither is the price tag.) I like more of an active fruity taste, rather than in the aftertaste, to provide balance. It’s been a nice tea to sip on spring Saturday mornings before the sun provides its warm salutations.

Flavors: Alkaline, Astringent, Cream, Floral, Grass, Grassy, Jasmine, Lilac, Lily, Mineral, Oily, Peach, Sugar, Vanilla, Viscous, Wet Earth

gmathis

A description like that makes me want to sit next to you and wait for the sun to shine :)

Leafhopper

Sounds like a good one! :)

derk

It’s nice but I would be afraid to send you a sample since it’s 6 years old and green. Did I send to you?

Leafhopper

I don’t think so. It seems to have held up well for a six-year-old tea.

derk

Best as bowl tea on a quiet morning.

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87

Makes a fantastic, rosy coldbrew. It got a little bitter in a floral kind of way. The flavor was still pronounced and refreshing.

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87

I gambled, and put it into my gong fu 2 go tumbler western. I let it sit for about 3-4 minutes using 3-4 ish grams, maybe less, and I was happy that it’s a fruity floral style kind of white tea. I got honeysuckle, rose, grape, muscat, butter, and melon. The other two rebrews had a hint of astringency that was welcomed, like a really great lighter sheng. I kept coming back to it after the first two brews. The later steeps do become a little bit more astringent, but floral and fruity still.

Looking at the notes on the website, they put vanilla and muscatel, which I kinda see, moreso muscatel than vanilla. There’s a little bit more luscious fruit on my palette leaning a little towards apricot or peach, but they’re not prevalent enough for me to commit them in the database. The vanilla is the floral I’m having a hard time figuring out. Geranium, maybe? It was pretty close to rose for me personally. Oh well, I’m excited to see what other people think. The company was right in that this tea definitely suits a Taiwanese Tea lovers palette. I think this tea and Azure are my favorites so far from derk.

Thank you for the incredible white tea! I honestly don’t know what I’d rate it. Definitely higher than an 85, but easily approaching the 90s. I think so many kinds of people would enjoy this one, snob and newbie alike.

Flavors: Astringent, Floral, Geranium, Honey, Honeydew, Honeysuckle, Muscatel, Pear, Sweet, White Grapes

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An aromatic, zesty, brisk cup of tea good for a mid-morning cup.

The dry leaf has those musky, spicy and floral notes I associate with Nepali teas, along with dark chocolate, prune and some crispy autumn leaves.

Steeped for several minutes with my baseline 3g:300mL and with hot water from the dispenser at work, the tea is rather geranium floral with a peppery, woody zip. Youthful comes to mind.

Steeped longer, say 5-6 minutes, with the same ratio and at home where I can appreciate the tea more, I notice the aroma: it’s spicy like the taste but with mellowed notes of cherries, dark chocolate, orange blossom and hazelnut.

I expected the brisk quality to become even more pronounced but it ended up filling in quite a bit. The taste mostly reminds me of the dark tannins of rosewood and straw, smoothed over with rich tobacco, dark chocolate and a touch of malt. A cherry candy note never gets too high and a tangy gooseberry tone keeps it from going full-on woody or tobacco.

Nepali teas remain to be a favorite of mine, not often drank but when the mood strikes I hope to have one around. Like this tea, the blacks from Nepal seem to embrace characteristics of both neighboring Darjeeling and Assam to the east.

Thanks for the sample, A Thirst for Tea :)

Flavors: Brisk, Candy, Cherry, Dark Chocolate, Dry Leaves, Floral, Geranium, Gooseberry, Hazelnut, Malt, Musk, Orange Blossom, Pepper, Prune, Rosewood, Spicy, Straw, Tangy, Tannin, Woody

Martin Bednář

I shall send you a sample of Ilam Pathiwara to find out what do you think about it.

derk

I’d love to try it, Martin.

Martin Bednář

A sample is packed for you among a few others. Tomorrow it will be posted.

derk

Aw, thanks!

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Did I really just backspace myself out of another tea-crazed and long-winded note? Dang it, derk, you dolt.

Something akin to the original note:

A good while ago (who knows when, my sense of time is all screwed up these past few years) I fell in love with a black tea that Leafhopper extracted from the depths of her “Tea Museum”: https://steepster.com/teas/what-cha/56348-malawi-bvumbwe-handmade-treasure-black-tea That tea just lit me up in all the right ways.

I searched high and low for this Handmade Treasure from Satemwa, the Malawi tea estate that in the western reaches of the internet is famed for its white teas. I ended up finding Handmade Treasure last year?? at A Thirst for Tea’s online store but didn’t order because for some reason I had the sense that the business was no longer operational. Possibly because, looking at the site now, the aesthetics feel more rooted in an older generation than the soft, round and minimalist yet somehow noisy sites of most current vendors. Anyway, I could’ve had this tea in my own tea closet back when I originally found it but I am a reticent dolt who rarely communicates with tea vendors.

Under the influence of supposedly toxic Brazilian pink peppercorns (totally up for debate if you ask me; I’m severely allergic to poison oak which, like this plant, is also under the same familial umbrella as cashews and mangoes to which I exhibit no allergic response) while visiting my mother in Florida a few weeks ago, I finally took a gamble and ordered from A Thirst for Tea.

This self-professed tea addict Frankee, whose business flies under the radar, clearly wants curious sippers to appreciate the world of loose-leaf teas. The website offers a lot of information on many of the teas, including some rather long descriptions, backgrounds on the tea farms or style of tea and detailed preparation notes. For each tea I ordered, a full 8.5″×11″ print-out accompanied it. Every tea came in a high quality, thick roll-top bag. I do wish harvest seasons were offered on all the teas. I did put my faith in her judgement to not sell stale teas considering she’s an ITMA Certified Tea Master (again this could’ve been a non-issue if I had simply asked). Oh, and she wrote a full paragraph in the lost communication form of cursive, expressing thanks and adding a description of the sample Nepal black included in the box.

Anyway, this low-oxidized black tea is a near facsimile to the 2014 shared by Leafhopper. I even wonder if it’s the same harvest and kept well stored for nearly 8 years. So far I’m 2 for 2 with this company, one being this beloved black tea and the other a brand new experience with a type of green tea I had not yet tried before.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 g 10 OZ / 300 ML
Leafhopper

I’m delighted that you found this tea again!

gmathis

I have got to check out this vendor!

DrowningMySorrows

Ooh, I’ve visited A Thirst For Tea when trying to hunt down photos of some of my teaware that I’ve been too lazy to photograph myself but I don’t think I’ve looked at their teas! The list of tea places I want to order from is already out of control so I might as well add one more.

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97

First time with Anji Bai Cha green tea and first time with Frankee Muller’s educational A Thirst for Tea, which is based in Oriental, NC. I’ll get more into how I stumbled upon this business in another note. I still need to email her and ask permission to use her pictures and descriptions.

[3.5g, 150mL glass gaiwan, 160F upped to 175F, first steep of 30s]

Dry leaf in the bag smells like cannabis and melon; in hand it’s sweet and dry like dark cocoa powder and roasted nuts. When warmed, the leaf smells very intense like a Japanese green with a sweet and flowery chocolate undertone.

The first infusion is light, sweet and very clean with a touch of cream that further develops in the aftertaste. Delicate. Oily with a layered astringency, cool breaths. I smell the wet leaf in the gaiwan and am greeted with the smell of roasted nuts that is common with pan-fired Chinese greens, orchid and dense notes of kelp and cooked asparagus.

With the second infusion, the aroma is light and flowery. The tea in my cup is very clear, little tea hairs floating throughout. The color reminds me of spring, a light yellow like filtered sunshine with a pinkish silvery tint. The taste is very similar to the first infusion, smooth, and reminds me of fresh bamboo. I notice the aftertaste, lightly fruity with the melon and cannabis of the dry leaf. The tea is drying now and reinforces the notion of bamboo, it’s drying like a bamboo basket might taste. Salty feel.

The third infusion is fruitier on the sip, a notion of apricot appears and the melon becomes more pronounced. Tongue-numbing, mouth closed, I sit with the tea. The aftertaste here is beautiful and silky, a refreshing, fruity breeze of lemon, melon and silica. I smell the bottom of the cup for the first time and breathe deep the scent of cherry blossoms. The aftertaste lingers so long.

Fourth infusion develops a delicate creamy and nutty taste. Fifth, lord, the aftertaste! It’s so coating — ghee and melon something — cotton candy? I haven’t put anything else in my mouth since I took the last sip over an hour ago. The wet leaf in my gaiwan shows a high quality picking.

Overall, this is a very structured, nuanced yet delicate green tea with strength in all facets. The aroma is understated but it fits the experience beautifully.

Flavors: Apricot, Asparagus, Bamboo, Butter, Cannabis, Chocolate, Citrusy, Cotton Candy, Cream, Creamy, Drying, Fruity, Lemon, Melon, Mineral, Nutty, Oily, Orchid, Roasted Nuts, Sakura, Salty, Seaweed, Silky, Soft, Sweet, Tangy

derk

A heads up for anybody considering this tea or maybe trying it from another vendor for the first time: it’s most definitely a gongfu tea, a beautiful one. I did a few western steeps yesterday and it basically tasted like hot water with a roasted nut nose.

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