368 Tasting Notes
I’ve been reading this crazy serious tea blog, recently, and I noticed that the author doesn’t steep in pots, he steeps in wide, open bowls. Well, I don’t have hand made, local clay, wire fire glazed tea bowls. But I do have huge, wide, Pyrex™ measuring “cups” that are at least very open and heat resistant. So I have been trying to make tea in those and see how that goes. If nothing else, the clean up is much easier than a tea pot ;-) I have, in the past, used my spherical Bodum™, with the plunger arrangement removed, for this purpose, but the glass is so thin I find there’s a lot of heat lost even in just a couple minutes, and if I’m doing a 15 minute pu-erh steeping, the water can be down to drinking temperature by the time the steep is done. The Pyrex™ is much heavier and should hold the heat better.
It could be completely psychosomatic, but this genmaicha seems to have “woken up” substantially from this steeping approach. I can taste a lot more of the deep green of the tea underneath the very strong roast of the rice which I have mentioned in the past that this variety has. Usually the roast completely overpowers the actual tea, but right now I think I can taste both about equally.
I have also done two steepings of the decaf Darjeeling from TG with this method and the results seemed much bolder, as well.
I noticed this morning that the leaves here, even in a very large open vessel, don’t all completely open in four minutes. But I know from past experience that more than 4 minutes gets bitter and impacts later steepings. This oolong may be a better candidate for rinsing than my pu-erh.
This oolong is a lot toastier than the TeaG one I have right now, which is a lot tippy-er. These leaves are all chocolate brown, whereas the Formosa Superior Choice has the whole spectrum of white, green, and shades of brown.
This tea makes me realize that, come next autumn, I will have taken a sufficiently long break from lapsangs, that I am going to want to put some real smoke back into my rotation. I may even go back to my old habit of creating my own tea blends. I used to do a 60/40 of pu-erh and lapsang, but I may try a 50/25/25 with pu-erh, this oolong and lapsang. If anyone cares, my lapsang of choice is Upton Tea’s “Black Dragon” which is a strong, imposing tea without being overwhelmingly “meaty” (doesn’t make people think of bacon while brewing).
By the way, I learned through a friend that Omni Tea is just re-selling Rishi Tea, so in the future I will probably buy direct from Rishi and hope that solves the shipping speed problem.
In trying to listen to fellow Steepsters, I prepared this today using a smaller pot, more leaf, rinsed the leaves for about 10 seconds, and then only steeped for one minute instead of my usual 15-30.
Certainly nothing wrong with the results, but nothing came out here that blew me away or made me feel like I’ve been misguided all along. I think these elaborate preparations may have value with real, true, aged, single garden type pu-erh, but I doubt very many of us are drinking such things very often.
I’m currently traveling, and away from my tea cabinet at home. This is always a trying time. Hotels often provide tea bags, but rarely ones worth drinking.
But, at the keynote last night we pocketed a few Mighty Leaf tea bags which we were happily gulping down while listening to a paper on why it is important for anthropologists to take the topic of religion seriously in Japan.
Tea bag tea, no matter how premium, is still tea bag tea. I don’t care what anyone else says, it just isn’t as good as loose tea. Heck, even loose tea, once placed into a tea bag, doesn’t steep as well.
But if I have to drink bagged tea, and right now I do, I’m glad we have Mighty Leaf.