1127 Tasting Notes
The experience of drinking a tree, thriving as a part of its larger environment. From the clean air to crowns and fruits. From mosses and lichens and orchids to bark. From grasses and nuts strewn about to root crowns gathering nutrients for transport. It is not an isolated process. And neither are we. This tea grounds me to what supports my being. It is life’s teacher.
I had the 2019 harvest. Please read Jade’s note for this tea as well.
Highly oxidized for a white tea, this was reminiscent of a sun-dried black or aged white tea. This leaves me wondering if the majority of white teas sold as aged are in fact younger than claimed and processed in a similar manner to this tea. Regardless, this is still an enjoyable tea as a fan of the Ruby 18 cultivar.
Western cups had been my default method solely for the ease of a caffeine kick in the morning. I found the tea rather underwhelming prepared that way. Wanting to see what the tea was hiding, I prepared the remaining few sessions gongfu, which is what allowed this tea to shine.
The dry leaf had a subdued aroma of prunes and hay. Warming the leaf brought the prune forward while exhibiting undertones of custard and autumn leaf along with the hay. Wet leaf aroma definitely smelled like a sun-dried black with a stewed vegetables aroma. Nevermind that, it had no influence on the aroma or taste of the tea.
With the first cup, the aroma exhibited candy-like tangy and fruity notes along with hay. Notable were melon, lemon and black cherry. The main taste was similar to watermelon rind, later with with more of the autumn leaf character coming out along with blood orange. Black cherry and dried fruits highlighted the sharper notes while a cotton candy or honey-like sweetness softened those; eucalyptus and menthol rounded out the back. The finish shifted from cherry and cotton candy in the first few steeps into something generally tangy. The mouthfeel remained light to medium and as smooth as a tangy tea can allow. It was actually somewhat syrupy when brewed western style. The longevity of the leaf displays greater length with gongfu.
Overall, a pleasurable, highly oxidized Ruby 18 white that fares much better prepared gongfu. It is not a flavor-bomb like other Ruby 18 white, black and oolong I have tried. Having had several examples of this cultivar processed as white tea, I can say my preferences lean toward much lower oxidation.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Blood Orange, Candy, Cherry, Cotton Candy, Dried Fruit, Eucalyptus, Hay, Honey, Hot Hay, Melon, Menthol, Prune, Tangy, Watermelon
Dry leaf has a rich, deep green, bittersweet aroma of oshitahsi, fir, green apple and sweet scallops or seafood broth.
This gyokuro has needed some willingness to adapt on my end since I am not acquainted with brewing this style of green tea. A longer initial brew produced a tea that was too intense for my preferences. Being more delicate with timing, I was able to balance the power within these leaves.
The resulting tea has a moderate alkaline quality that when combined with the sweet and mellow umami, very much gives the impression of raw shellfish. The tea hits the tastebuds very rounded. The difficulty in this tea is to describe the way it moves. Maybe I shouldn’t bother describing it and just sit with it.
Haha, that only happens sometimes. It feels like a silky ball of flavor upfront that squishes down low and coats the tongue. Maybe the feel of silken tofu combined with with the feel of carrageenan. Sweet, velvety seafood with a side of oshitashi, a hint of banana. Subsequent infusions bring a more forward wheatgrass taste and bitterness that does not move across the tongue but only appears in the back. The coating quality of the tea is evident in the way the aftertaste slowly develops. It starts mild then becomes very prominently fruity, calling to mind the depth of nectarine jam.
Read personal ramblings below if you care:
Somebody in my Mandarin class has on occasion made a point of asking what I’m drinking. Tuesday, when I last had this tea, he sent me a private message wanting to know what kind of tea was in my tiny cup. He enjoys green tea but knows little about it, so he wants me to teach him. He said he can’t find anywhere locally to buy high quality, unflavored green teas or teapots, and he’s right. I believe there is a market here for such, since most companies sell flavored teas. I would love to open a Chinese-style tea house similar to Imperial Tea Court in San Francisco that would serve the tea-loving residents of Sonoma County who don’t want to make the drive down to the touristy area of the city to relax over a pot. Where do I get the capital for such an endeavor? Tea farming requires less upfront costs as its more of an organic process. Oh, I just realized I should speak with the owner of the Chinese imports store downtown!
Flavors: Banana, Bitter, Dark Bittersweet, Fir, Fish Broth, Green Apple, Jam, Nectarine, Savory, Spinach, Sweet, Sweet, Warm Grass, Thick, Umami
Final tea from a 3-cultivar sampler from 2018? Again, this is not a 2019 tea like the Tie Luo Han I logged from this sampler.
Lots of aromatics contained within the leaf. Dry, I could smell a distinct charcoal note, dry woodiness, sweetness like brown sugar, peanut shells, hints of osmanthus and floral blueberry. The warmed and rinsed leaf smelled very strongly of red cherry, red wine, dried fruits in general, berry syrup verging medicinal. The fruity character was sharp, not as full and round as what I’ve tasted in Bei Dou cultivar. Oh, and there was gardenia, which I don’t recall experiencing in any other yancha (though maybe Bai Ji Guan?).
This tea had a prominent tangy-mineral-astringent taste and a very dry and warm character that reminded of the few Rou Gui I’ve had. All the aromas of the leaf fleeted through the main tea taste, along with tobacco, blackberry and butter lettuce, which made for a complex, engaging experience. Dry aftertaste of vanilla custard and some residual flat bitterness in the back of the mouth. I did drink the rinse which tasted of cocoa and red wine.
The overall feeling of this tea was quite robust, energetic, active and dry-warming, qualities which would make a good mid-winter’s evening elixir.
Ban Tian Yao was a cultivar I had not tried before. After this session, I can see myself purchasing it again.
Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Blackberry, Blueberry, Brown Sugar, Charcoal, Cherry, Cocoa, Custard, Dried Fruit, Drying, Gardenias, Lettuce, Medicinal, Mineral, Osmanthus, Peanut, Red Wine, Roasted, Tangy, Tobacco, Vanilla, Wood
A reusable cotton teabag was included with this organic powdered tea and spice blend. I used the teabag only once because I found it hindered extraction and made a weaker cup.
What I’ve been doing since then is using a tablespoon of powder in a cup of water on the stove, boiled for a bit, add a big glug of milk and simmer for a few minutes. Straining through one of those micro-strainers, I still get a puddle of goop at mug’s bottom. If I’m not paying attention, it can be an interesting surprise. Sometimes I drink the spice goop.
Black tea is the first ingredient listed but it seems like turmeric is in highest proportion. Given that I use a tablespoon of powder, I’d expect a heck of a caffeine buzz. Moderate. I really don’t think there’s much black tea in this but it does brew quite a bit browner than turmeric’s earthy orange color. The spices are very fresh and powerful, what I like in a masala chai. It’s a true rooty warmer of a tea. The taste, while powerfully ginger and turmeric, seems very well balanced. Cinnamon and clove are forward in the aroma and cardamom and black pepper in the finish.
My work father brought this back from Hawaii and I haven’t seen it at the store here in California. Oribe’s other teas look interesting and they even sell an organic Hawaiian sencha at $10 for 2oz. Considering Hawaiian-grown tea isn’t easily found and is generally pricey, that could be a good deal. They also offer mamaki which I’ve never seen for sale on the mainland.
Cheap buy from Sprouts. $1.99 marked down from $10.99.
gmathis did a great job with describing it — “a cross between grass and roasted coffee.” https://steepster.com/gmathis/posts/424040
It’s light, smooth and sweet. Kind of like yerba maté but not whatever it is that defines yerba maté in my mind. The taste of high alkaloid content?
Tons of energy, not uncomfortable at all. I find myself thinking fast but not clearly. So this would be cool for making art or working outside but not while sitting at a desk doing work that requires a lot of juggling and attention to detail. Plus side – work day flies by.
Another oolong from the 3-bag sampler bought maybe in 2018.
Dry leaf smelled very sweet with something vanilla or caramel-like without the dairy tone. the smell of woody-cacao and charcoal backed that up, as well as a dill undertone. Despite being a very sweet scent, it was not much concentrated. Watery?
Warmed leaf had a big aroma of dark chocolate cake and thistle, cooked raspberry.
The taste was fine but nothing special to me. Delicate sweetness, blackberry, hint of mango. Kind of a creamy tropical fruit aftertaste like cherimoya. Cooling huigan. With the third infusion, it became thicker in body than the first two steeps. I picked up on notes of chyrsanthemum and a bright butterscotch. Swallowed tangy and mineral, some tongue tingling. By the fifth infusion, the tea became very mineral.
Overall, I wasn’t too impressed with this Shui Jin Gui. It had some alluring tastes but they always remained watery, lacking the intensity of character that is common in Wuyi oolong. Also with the tea changing gears into full-on minerality instead of releasing flavors in a slow fade, I was jarred out of what could have been a mellow experience. Clunky. Not a tea I’d care to drink again, but I will still keep my eye out for another Shui Jin Gui.
Flavors: Blackberry, Butterscotch, Cacao, Caramel, Charcoal, Chrysanthemum, Dark Chocolate, Dill, Herbaceous, Mango, Mineral, Mint, Tangy, Tropical, Vanilla, Wood
This came to my cupboard from White Antlers’ Swedish Death Purge. The handwriting on the bag is clearly mrmopar, though. Thank you both!
I didn’t catch the dry leaf, but once warmed, it smells like an unsweetened root beer with other notes of geosmin, walnut, mushroom, tobacco and ancient wet leather hanging in a barn.
The body was kind of light but very oily and smooth. I was unable to get dark-sludgy pour from this tea. Not a whole lot of excitement going on flavor- or structure-wise. Lots of peppery tobacco and geosmin, some dark wood. Easy drinker and not overwhelming with caffeine effects like so many Menghai area shou pu’er can be. I dig it. Depending on the price, it might be a worthwhile purchase for my tastes.
Flavors: Barnyard, Black Pepper, Dark Wood, Leather, Mushrooms, Petrichor, Root Beer, Smooth, Tobacco, Walnut
A name that lives up to the taste dominance. Woof. That’s licorice! But the spices do a good job in the background and the orange peel — it’s almost juicy under that strange licorice root sweetness.
I’ve not yet visited Petaluma Coffee & Tea Co. Maybe one day. I hesitate because COFFEE but hey, they might make some good tea blends. Thanks to my coworker Sean for the birthday gift! This bag will be gone by the end of winter.
Glob, that’s sweet.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Clove, Licorice, Orange, Orange Zest, Sweet