35 Tasting Notes
Haven’t posted anything on here in a while. The summer’s been a little rough, what with my depression poking its head back up and starting on new meds etc. Anyway, things have been getting better, mostly, and I’ve been having these long sun-dappled sheng sessions in the backyard. Most people would give me weird looks if I explained how much just enjoying tea can give life back its color, especially on the worst days. But I’m guessing you guys on here can relate :)
So yeah, about the tea itself—I drank this for a couple hours after work. Started off very sweet, like a honey sweetness. This moved into more musty sour-sweet territory, with a hint of bitterness. I didn’t get any of the apricot notes I had before—might be a difference in water temperature? Anyway, it was still lovely. For the last steep (probably number 18? 20?) I let the tea steep for 30 minutes with warm water, and ended up with a super-thick, sweet brew. It was like thin syrup consistency, with a tiny bit of a bitter kick. I’ve never really had tea this thick before—didn’t think it was possible. I love having these new discoveries, especially on a summer afternoon
This is the first hei cha I’ve ever tried, so I was bracing myself for a weird, weird experience. First sip, and as expected, the tea totally tastes like wood. Not like pine or anything, but more like biting into a chunk of drift wood. Little musty, and spicy—imagine someone grinding pepper onto a log and you’re pretty close. Didn’t notice much changing from strep to steep, just the same woody taste. Not bad at all, although I wouldn’t buy more.
I’ve been out of school for the past couple weeks, hanging around Boston and now Santa Monica. Since it finally feels like summer, time to move into summer teas!
So this is the first shincha I’ve ever had, and I’m loving it! The color is this brilliant nuclear green, with little flecks of tender leaf. I’ve had little to no success brewing this in a gaiwan—instead,the best method I’ve found is 2g of leaf in 8 oz water, and 1 minute steeps.
Flavor wise, this tea tastes like eating buttered grass, it’s so smooth and sweet. Different sort of grassy than white tea, which tastes like tender grassroots. This is more like full grown, vegetal grass. Delicious!
Also, the other day I tried eating the steeped leaves with a little soy sauce, as per o-cha’s directions. It was surprisingly good! Sort of like spinach with sauce. I just got a few weird looks from my family…they don’t know what they’re missing.
So over the last week I’ve been telling myself I need a thick-walled gaiwan for brewing high-temperature teas like shou. Basically the theory is that thick-walled gaiwans retain heat better on longer steeps, making later steeps more flavorful. Anyway, I don’t have the money to buy teaware at the moment so I decided to make my own.
May I introduce you to…the double-boiler gaiwan!
Yeah, so I happen to have two of the same gaiwan cups (the lid broke on my first one), and decided to try filling the lower one with boiling-ass water and steeping the top one with equally hot water. So does it work? Yes! Not only is the gaiwan sizzling hot to the touch, but the tea inside (2011 Hui Run from Yunnan Sourcing) is much richer and more intense in later infusions. Maybe I should switch my major to engineering…
First off, this tea is beautiful! Dry leaf is tender and fluffy, with little golden hairs and spirals of black. Seriously gorgeous leaf. I could brewed this one, and it came out a lovely pale amber.
Flavor-wise, this tea is very nice. It’s got those classic bread notes but not as much chocolate as I was hoping. It’s got a sort of weird savory or salty aftertaste to it, that I couldn’t place for the longest time. Then I realized: it tastes exactly like goldfish crackers!
All in all, a solid tea, especially cold.
I shared this little sample with my girlfriend on a misty Ohio day—finals week is in full swing, and it really makes me appreciate the little down time I have.
I think I’m starting to move away from black teas—they tend to have a sort of bitterness that I don’t really like. It’s not like the sweet bitterness of a shou (or even sheng), but a more tangy, astringent bitterness. This isn’t a bad tea by any stretch, but I’m not nearly as into black tea as I used to be.
Anyway, as far as flavor, I tasted classic bready notes in the first infusions, with later infusions tasting more like bitter honey. I’m also getting some mineral notes. Body is not super thick, but it’s nice and mellow. My girlfriend kept getting notes of soy sauce, which was interesting, and it brought her back to her mom’s cooking. She started craving broccoli and tofu—crazy that tea can do something like that.
Anyway, this is a good tea, if not a blow-your-socks-off tea.
This is my first DHP, so take this with a grain of salt.
This tea is all right. I ordered a sample of it from a promotion the company was having, and was excited to see the package in my mailbox today. I steeped up the tea with 190 degree water, and sipped.
The first steep was good—intense roast on the front end and then fruitiness on the back. However, steeps 2-6 all just tasted like roasted leaves, without nice fruit flavor. I think this might be a freshly-roasted tea…? It’s just so dominated by this roast flavor, which is surprising because the leaves are pretty green. Ah well.
Later steeps are definitely better. The roast dies down a bit and the fruit and flowers come out a little. Still, I can’t help but think that for $40/100g, this tea is not worth the money. Would probably be better if I left it alone for a couple months and let the roast die down.