368 Tasting Notes
I steeped this at a lower temperature, yesterday, in the gaiwan, and it finally woke up and produced the brews that I knew it could and the longevity that I knew it could.
Yes, I realize Upton’s instructions say to use a lower temperature, I’m just an idiot sometimes.
Finally broke down and tried this one Western style to see if it would produce more to get the tongue than I could get in the gaiwan with short steeps.
Steep times were 3min, 3min, 5min and 7min.
Results were much improved, for those of us who aren’t yet professional tasting experts.
Don’t be fooled, even with these long steeps, there is almost no color to the brew. Let your nose do all the work.
The aroma off the wet buds and from the pot of liqueur were fantastic. Dry sunny hay and caramel.
In the mouth these flavors continued and were intensified.
I rarely enjoy light, sweet teas. But this is quite good once you get it steeped in a manner that produces enough flavor to notice.
Just beware, a pot full of wet, open buds can look a bit like a big pile of bugs out of the corner of your eye.
So I said I wanted to try this Western style, and I have.
Sadly, it didn’t improve much. I expected far fewer steepings, but a stronger cup. It hasn’t really panned out that way.
I have to say I’m surprised that this tea seems to come off so flat. It isn’t that there’s anything wrong with the flavor, only that there never seems to be enough of it.
I think the last time I did this, I put the tasting note under the pu-erh because I forgot you could just add teas to the system, including vendor name.
So here it is, “my” tea.
I put a tablespoon of each into a 16oz Beehive and then did four steepings (3 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec) and strained them off into a very, very big tea pot.
I’m already on my third cup.
I seriously considered calling this blend “Pipe Smoke and Pub Leather” but I didn’t want people to think it was a real blend by a real tea company, so I made the name obvious.
But that’s what this tastes like. You get the earthy bass notes of the shu, the sharp smoke of the lapsang, and the gently humming sweetness of the Yunnan golden to keep it from getting off the rails.
Reminds me a lot of Balkan pipe shag, actually (latakia, parique and cavandish).
I guess the good news, given I’m not a huge fan of this leaf, is that I’m already out of it!
Apparently I didn’t order very much.
I could see this tea working very well with dim sum, being light and soft but having a sufficient contrast to cut through all the pork fat and sugar.
The RoTea sheng was nice, but completely failed to stir my chi in any way.
So I returned to the Wild Arbor. Nothing like it was last week. A very mild mannered tea, today. I must have used far too much leaf last time — or there was something in the air, in the water… something.
This is also failing to stir my chi. Maybe I’m just all blocked up, today.
After my experience with the Wild Arbor last week, it occurred to me that my concerns with this tea maybe were over blown. So, I unpacked it from the storage arrangement I’d created and decided to steep it again.
I’m into the second steeping now and I’m chuckling to myself that just a few weeks ago I thought this tea needed more age. This second steeping is downright soft for sheng — maybe I made some kind of error the last time I made it.
This is actually really good and has encouraged me to re-approach the Wild Arbor with less leaf and more respect.
The gloom continues. On the one hand, we need this hydration so desperately I dare not complain. On the other hand, aside from it being 70 degrees in February, this weather is reminding me of New England a bit too much.
I’m having company over later for tea, so I’m saving the complex leaves for later.
One thing I love about wuyi oolongs, and of course da hong pao is a premiere example of the breed, is that there is nothing unexpected or challenging about them without that collapsing into something mediocre.
Sometimes roast, age and the caramelization that comes with both is all you need to sustain you for a time. No flowers, no fruit, no wet stones, no sun bathed cabin wood, no moth balls, no deep stirrings in the dantien or yi.
Just a warm cup of soothing, excellent tea.