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Recent Tasting Notes
Steeped Gongfu yesterday, and actually a REALLY good and memorable session. I’ve had a few different Golden Monkey teas this year – it’s a tea type I like but don’t go out of my way to find. This was very stand out in terms of flavour though, and I think will end up being quite a memorable session.
Lovely, full bodied #blacktea w/ complex notes of leather, malt, dark cocoa. A slight smokey finish, and a very umami heavy miso high note at the peak of the session.
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ga3I5DTIA-E
GUYS!! IT’S HAPPENING!! MY FIRST GONGFU STEEPING SESSION!!! I finally have a gaiwan thanks to Roswell Strange and now I feel like I am on a new level of tea drinking. YAY! Or maybe not yay because I can see this inspiring spending. Look how cute all the teaware is though: https://www.instagram.com/p/B0SFC3_hOsa/?igshid=tonuknbumysd
Anyways, I chose this tea because a lot of the plain teas recommend weights for mls and this just said 2 pieces for 200 ml. So I ordered a scale for tomorrow and then popped 1 piece in my new 100 ml gaiwan.
Per the instructions, I rinsed the tea for 10-15 seconds, though probably longer because the gaiwan conducted much more heat than expected.
My first steep was for 1 min. Or 1.5 mins by the time I got it all into the cup, because again, hot. Then I came here to start my note and then I went to instagram and now I am drinking it. The tea tastes very similar to how I remember it tasting brewed Western style. Malty, though this is a bit more earthy, maybe a touch grassy even. I am new to this so sorry this will probably be terribly non descript. It’s also slightly metallic.
Do you guys put the lid on when you steep? Or just use it to strain the tea? The second steep was 30 s, though more like 50 s once it all made it into the cup. I tried a different pouring method and mostly got boiling tea on my finger. Also tea trays make much more sense to me now since a lot has ended up on my counter as well. This cup is smoother than the last. A hint of smoke. I wanna say the tiniest touch of vanilla right at the back of the sip? Maybe honey? I have no clue what I am doing here. Clearly.
Steep three is 90 s, well actually 98 s. I am getting better already! This one is sweeter but back to being a bit earthy…like honey coated wood…or leather. It’s syrupy but I get wisps of smoke.
Finally steep, per the package directions is 3 minutes. While it steeps, I’m just going to say I think I have to do a guided gongfu where someone tells me what to expect and then I can see if I have any real sense of what I may or may not be tasting. I know everyone is different but I think it would be fun. Ros, I am looking at you.
Okay, back to the tea…this was like 3 min and 18 s by the time it got into the teacup. This one is leathery. Much more leather than the last and I don’t know if there is actual smoke or I just associate smoke with leather flavor. It’s also got some raisin to it. That is what is contributing the sweet this cup as opposed to honey. And some malt is back as the tea is a bit thicker of a mouthfeel.
Alright. That was fun. Thank you Roswell Strange for making it happen. It’s super interesting how the flavor can change steep to steep. Plus, my family was also highly entertained since I basically pulled a kitchen chair up to my kitchen counter by the kettle and sat in the corner, facing the corner, steeping tea, and writing this note. I feel like more time and a better set up would make this more enjoyable. How do you guys usually go about gongfu brewing? Do you move your kettle somewhere comfortable to sit and relax? Do you put water in a pot and take that with you? Do you set up a kitchen chair in the corner of your kitchen? Give me all the advice, steepsterites!
Swap Sample Sipdown! (4 | 73)
Finishing off this sample from VariaTEA with a Western steep.
Nom, it’s super delicious this way as well. It’s all warm freshly baked bread spread with creamed cinnamon honey and plum preserves. Nicely malty and satisfying, with a rich and deep brown sugar sweetness. There’s a light floral hint in the aftertaste, alongside a lasting rich and sweet honey note.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Brown Sugar, Cinnamon, Creamy, Dried Fruit, Floral, Honey, Honeysuckle, Malt, Plums, Stonefruits, Sweet, Tart
VariaTEA was kind enough to send me a sample of this one, along with several other teabento blacks. I had a nice, relaxed session with it while watching The Office with my boyfriend.
I didn’t take detailed notes, as I didn’t expect the flavor to change much over time, which it didn’t. Honestly I’m not sure which types of red tea are most suitable for gongfu cha, but since I’m enjoying familiarizing myself with the ritual and exploring different steep times, I don’t really mind if the tea tastes similar throughout the steeps.
Anyway, this one was quite delicious. It has amazing brown sugar notes along with rich malt and deep dried fruit flavors. The rather small leaves are so flavorful! I found the sugary notes to be very sweet and decadent in the early steeps, and they became deeper, like dark burnt sugar, in the later ones. There was also a light musty hay flavor that began to crop up towards the end, and it reminded me a bit of white tea. The last steep had a lovely lasting sweet flavor, and I thought that was a perfect cup to end on.
Overall, very yummy. Smooth, malty, sweet, rich, and slightly fruity. Happily, I have a little bit left over, so I can try it as a Western-style cup next time!
5g – 110ml – 200°F – rinse/10/15/20/30/40/60/120/240s
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Burnt Sugar, Caramel, Dried Fruit, Hay, Malt, Musty, Plums, Raisins, Smooth, Sweet
Gongfu Sipdown (610)!
Not a bad session; but a short feeling one. I used the whole 8g sample in a 150ml gaiwan, seven infusions. Big initially flavour payoff in steeps 1-4; tons of chocolate/malt and a bit of smoke and raisin in the undertones. Sweet, but not in a “bright” way. The same sort of decadent sweetness as a good brownie. Really quick drop off in flavour though, as is the case with a lot of black tea steeped Gong Fu. Still; a pleasant afternoon session.
Dexter passed this unopened packet along to me in her surprise box of tea sample gifts. Thank you, Dexter! (Come back!)
Beautiful Ceylon veering in the direction of Darjeeling with those lovely rich caramel raisin notes. And citrus, of course.
It has been making a tired challenging day much better.
And thank you, teabento, for your generous and delicious samples!
Swap Sample Sipdown! (35)
This is one of several teabento samples that VariaTEA was kind enough to send me. Thank you! ❤
In my past tea life, dianhongs were some of my favorite teas, and especially the fuzzy golden ones. So this one is right up my alley! I love the animal associations with these teas, they’re so cute and this one is indeed golden as a lion’s mane. Plus the image of a lion with a curly mane is amusing to me… Perm gone wrong?
Yum, this is smooth and delicious. It has those lovely creamy, malty sweet potato and honeyed bread notes that I would expect from a golden dianhong. There are also some mellow earthy flavors that, for me, are a hallmark of Chinese black teas. On the lighter side, I taste fleeting notes of nectarine and fuzzy apricot, along with a clear and lingering sweetness.
Yummy, love it! I know I also have some unopened dianhong samples from TeaVivre, so it’ll be interesting to compare those with this experience and explore the style a little more.
Flavors: Apricot, Baked Bread, Brown Sugar, Creamy, Earth, Honey, Malt, Molasses, Smooth, Stonefruits, Sweet, Sweet Potatoes
This sample was graciously provided by TeaBento. This is the first time I’ve had unsmoked Lapsang, and I’m very much enjoying it! It’s a delicate black tea and reminds me of biscuits with honey. I’ve been happily sipping it while reading my book and it’s very soothing, with light honey and malty notes. A hint of earthiness rounds out the tea nicely.
I was in the mood for a different kind of iced tea, and pulled this out. I had meant to grab Laoshan Black, but made it over to the kettle before I realized my mistake, and was too lazy to fix it. However, I wasn’t disappointed, so it was worth it. I just brewed a normal cup of this and stuck it in the fridge to chill, and drank it with supper – it was lovely to have the refreshment of a cold beverage with the delicious light roasty chocolate aftertaste of this tea. Will probably repeat this, but only on an individual mug scale (I’m not sharing, at least not with a husband who wouldn’t appreciate it!)
Nom nom, another delicious travel mug tea. Strangely, the resteep is not great… but I did oversteep it to begin with, so perhaps most of the flavour was taken out (eek, does this mean the first infusion is going to be too strong?)
ETA: I swore I’d had this in a travel mug the other day and it was great. This time, it was not. It was not good at all, boring and flavourless. No idea what I did wrong; I dumped it (only because I had to go through security). Maybe it’s just not meant for a mug?
This is a great tea – not as chocolatey as a Laoshan black but a very malty, rich, flavourful black. Bonus, it stands up to multiple infusions as well, likely due to the leaf quality. Highly recommend this tea and the company (every tea I purchased from them was stellar, although I doubt I’ve reviewed any as the order was made while I wasn’t writing notes).
I tried this as a snickerdoodle latte because I very much enjoyed it as a nutella latte and the snickerdoodle latte was very sweet yesterday when made with the banana pudding tea. So I used this tea which maybe isn’t as sweet as my flavored blends and only used 1/2 the sugar suggested. Yet this is not awesome either. The cinnamon is latching onto something in the tea that is really undercutting the snickerdoodle sweetness and making it more of an earthy flavor. This makes the snickerdoodle latte less enjoyable and this tea less enjoyable so basically this was a no go.
An Earthy Chinese tea that tastes like a black tea. I guess I was hoping for a sweet/plum-like oolong with a bit of a roast. Maybe this is 90% oxidized, but I swear this tastes like the many golden tippy Yunnan blacks I’ve tasted. There is some sweetness, but mostly a leathery/Earthy flavour. I would have liked more sweetness or something floral/fruity.
Flavors: Earth, Leather, Mineral