7 Tasting Notes
I had a delightfully puzzling experience with steeping my Golden Snails sample in a gaiwan. Compared to my Oolong drinking friends I’m almost blind to bitterness or astringency, but I had a hard time preventing this tea from hitting too hard.
Got a tip that could help me tailor my steeping? Take a look at my technique and let me know!
Water: In house R/O
Kettle: Electric Cusine-art Tea w/ temp control
Gaiwan: 100 ml
Tea weight: ~7g
Temp: Tried 190, 200, and Boiling
Time: Flash Steep (pour it in, pour it out asap)
+1st steep @boiling: Super sweet, but balanced by a flash of green-tea-like astringency and some umami qualities (brothy?) Loved this steeping!
+Steepings 1-8 had a sweetness detectable by the tip of the tongue. Steeping 9 and 10 did not.
+Steepings 2-9 had an intense, lingering combo of black-tea bitterness and green tea astringency that distracted me. Temps 190 and 200 made little difference in fixing the problem.
+Discovery: the practiced sipping technique of a person suffering from too much attention to detail took the spotlight off the bitterness. Aerate enough and coat the tongue from tip to tail and the balance starts to come back.
Tried 5 grams instead of 7 and this made all the difference in the world. It has a tiny bit of astringency but in perfect balance with the rest of the tea. Got this idea from the TeaDB youtube channel. One of the guys will, instead of lowering temp, drop the leaf to water ratio.
This tea stands up well to longer steeps. My first trial was at 190 for 5 minutes, but that left it feeling a little understeeped so I bumped it up to 200 for 5.
The nose on the liquor reminds of an orange dreamsicle with a dash more vanilla. I was happy to find that tasting the liquor followed with about the same flavor but with a smooth underlying black tea base.
All-in-all a very robust flavored tea experience that my wife and I loved!
Flavors: Orange, Vanilla
I upped my leaf a bit: 1 tsp / 6 oz and dropped the temperature this time. It’s bolder (just right for me), but the profile has changed. It’s much more malty this time and the finish is without the peach note that I previously described.
Steeped this way it reminds of Zhi’s Ancient Forest but less peppery and slightly less complex (no roasted caramel). I had to go back and change my rating I was so happy.
Later I’m going up the temperature and see what else I can get out of it. :-)
For just a little more steep time, I’m getting a lot more sweetness with a bit more astringency. The nose is a replica of honey and the liqueur comes off with such malty sweetness you would think you put honey in your tea. Awesome!
The sweet and sour end note is coming off as hint of earthy orange. Blood orange maybe…
Actually, it’s almost a perfect mimic of orange blossom honey. Ahh!
(Same tea to leaf ratio and method as before).
I bought this wondering how it would compare to Zhi’s Ancient Forest and found it more different than similar.
The scent of the leaf reminds me of a shoe pu erh with a bit of smoke. Once steeped, the nose reveals the malty raisin everyone keeps pointing out. But sipping, I find the robust black nature (tannins, mild astringency, and peppery notes) competing strongly with the malty goodness. I have to let it sit on my tongue to get to the fruit.
This may be due to steeping technique. I did 3 tsp per 8 oz @ boiling for over 4 minutes. I may back down the temperature and time and see if I can get enough of the milder elements without so much astringency. Overall, a great tea but not really my taste. If it is going to have fruit, I tend to want brighter fruit notes (such a apricot) in my blacks. If it’s going to be earthy, I prefer chocolate overtones.
Living up to its name, this tastes like a classic black tea. (Given I grew up drinking unsweetened iced tea). But, it happily includes a few subtle notes of peach that intermingle with a slight vegetal/black finish.
I steeped it for 4 minutes w/ 1 tsp per 8 oz and found it quite smooth. Not many tannins and not much of an astringent kick. I think I need a longer steeping time and a bit more leaf to get that classic tea taste.
Zhi sells it at over $5/oz in a 2.5oz tin. I’m not a big fan of this price. If I pay $5 an ounce I expect to be giddy after cupping the tea. However, the Garden Tea Lounge in San Antonio is reselling it at bulk prices. You can can buy a vacuum sealed ounce there for $2.25. This is an excellent price that I will gladly pay for this quality of organic tea. (Though I do worry how sustainable selling it at this price is)!
I think I’ve found my iced tea for this summer.
I love this tea! It’s roasty and complex w/ just enough tannins and body to let you know it is a black while maintaining its smooth character.
You get a nice caramel nose off the leaves and from the liqueur itself. But, it isn’t just caramel, it’s a complex roasted (not burnt) caramel. The tea starts malty and ends with a pleasant note which I can only liken to a sweet and sour sauce; but in reality that description fails.
You must use at least 1 tsp / 6 oz (a standard cup is 8 oz) or your tea will be watery. Some people may prefer 4-5 minute steeping times.
My only complaint is a light peppery taste I get from the tip of my tongue when drinking this tea. I don’t think it’s a bad thing – I have had good teas with this characteristic – but I tend to dislike this sensation in anything from tea to beer.
If you are ever in Austin be sure to visit the shop. The owner is super friendly and will gladly share a cup and conversation.
1. Heated 24 oz water in tea kettle until bubbling but not boiling
2. Temp checked w/ kitchen thermo: 192 F
3. Dropped 4 tsp leaf inside kettle and covered
4. Filled tea pot with warm water from sink
5. @3 min emptied tea pot of water and filled with tea (used mesh basket to catch leaves)