240 Tasting Notes
Incredibly fresh bright fruity aromas leap off the leaves. They smell just like every in-season fresh fruit skin all at once…grapes, apples, pears, peaches, cherries. All wrapped up in that delightful woodsy and mossy musk. The leaves are large and tightly folded into both broad and twisted shapes. They all have a nice even green-brown sheen with a many edges of white fur.
This tea starts off with a fairly thin, relatively bland and textureless soup, despite the leaves appearing to go through agony early and quickly. The third and fourth steeps really start to pop with fresh apricot flesh, aspen boughs, and pleasant balancing bitterness. While the product description at Essence of Tea include “goopy” as a property, I find the texture never gets there – maybe I did not use enough leaf to elicit that character.
Evident that this is a “green” tea, it is also the youngest pu’er I have tried. It doesn’t have that raw, fresh gum-numbing youthfulness that others have, but instead, it reveals its roots as a green tea, feeling more like fresh bi lo chun than musky, wild, funky pu’er. Such youth might allow me to more readily detect the near-Jingmai essence from this tea, as I think that particular terroir has a fresh, juicy lychee or apricot sensation to it.
The most enjoyable sensation this tea provides is after it has been swallowed. Big cooling mintiness rises and a long lingering herbal licorice flavor spreads across the palate.
Not unexpected for a tea lacking the wisdom of a much older one and having opened its bright green leaves so early, it empties itself by steep seven or eight and collapses into dry minerals and bark. That being said, such vibrant, high-quality leaves will likely prove to be quite outstanding in many years time.
Full blog post: http://tea.theskua.com/?p=220
I think perhaps I overrated this tea initially. However, I’m still very fond of it and this style of moderately roasted oolongs. The gently opening teas begin with cocoa, burnt butter, and toasted walnuts, but generally yield more and more “green” character, with warmed bamboo, steeped mint, and black currant juice. The texture does get a little medicinal and dusty at times, but I still believe in this as a solid and delicious tea, with wonderful warming properties.
I found the compression and composition of the sample quite enjoyable. The leaves were relatively even in size, moderately long, pleasantly colored, and fresh-looking. It was nice to get a cake sample that wasn’t just the iron-fist tight and all-dust core of the beeng. The tea opened slowly and quietly. The dry leaf aroma was low and lightly sweet. The first two steeps were rather quiet, especially clean, and a little plain.
The fourth steep really shined. Lacking any coarseness and feeling smooth and velvety, this tea glided pleasingly across the palate. Bits of sweetness, distant stone-fruit, and some moss glowed in the finish. Confident dryness and back-of-the-throat bitterness rounded out the presentation. I longed for more earth, tree bark, lichen, and wet forest, but was happy with the balance, smoothness, and robustness of this tea’s texture. It was solid tea, but it wasn’t so exemplary that I would ignore my ethical concerns and buy tongs of Lao Ban Zhang tomorrow. There are other teas, with better provenance and less cost.
Finally, I’ll say that I didn’t find the chaqi particularly notable, in fact it seemed a little soft to me. I feel pleasant, calm, and peaceful, not electrically charged or overwhelmed.
Full blog post: http://tea.theskua.com/?p=207
I absolutely adore the appearance of this tea as dry leaf. The balled leaves look like small rough emeralds, with dazzling bright green edges and veins and dark black green leaves, all neatly curled and tucked into compact forms, true tea gems. It’s a vivid example and while I know that my brewing of the tea was not on par with Tim’s, I still found it delectable, full of warm floral-scented breath and a creamy, rich custard-like texture. In my own brewing, I found a delicious foible for morning brain fog and a light, airy blossom scent in the gaiwan and from the top of the cup.
Full blog post: http://tea.theskua.com/?p=197
In search of a sheng pu’er to drink at work this morning, I combed through my catalogue and decided to weed out some of my least favorite lingering samples. This was at the bottom and became today’s tea.
I had not remembered how small the leaves were, tiny. I unleashed the remainder of my sample on my larger gaiwan and have now worked through about seven steeps. It isn’t as bad as I remember. It’s not good or great, just not atrocious. Less cigarette butt, less sourness. Still, fairly orange, fairly plain, and fairly ho-hum. It’s got some enjoyable campfire and moss on the frontend of the aroma, but it doesn’t have much complexity to give in the flavor. And while I think I’ve done a better job of brewing this time around, I have no intentions of revisiting this example from Xiaguan.
Unlike the previous two Green Tea Lovers examples from Sri Lanka and Kenya, this tea does not outpour a majority of its aroma in the first steep. Instead, it takes some warming agony of the leaves to breathe. Once open, the aromas are delicate but full of warm dew, honeydew melon, steamed straw, and carrot juice. There are lots of savory herbal elements to the flavor, rosemary stalks and sweet mint. It has an impeccable body of natural sweetness balanced with dry, parched grasses. A long lingerer, this tea was giving solid infusions at the 7th steep. It could have continued on.
Full blog post: http://tea.theskua.com/?p=184
Immediately apparent was the consistency of the dry leaves, with a nice pale golden hue on delightfully fuzzy, even needles of great length, a bit sinuous. The warm gaiwan full of leaves gave a delightful fresh glow of jack fruit, almonds, palomino fino jerez and nips of banana. Again, the aroma was strongest in the first wet leaves, but it was very pleasurable. Flavors opened bright and strong with pulled white sugars, light green olive, and bits of cooked yellow plum. Mostly white sugar, though. Fresh and clean, extra-light and super-bright. A really thirst-quenching summer tea. It leaves me with a dry grass and hot savanna summer feeling.
Full blog post: http://tea.theskua.com/?p=176
The needles of this tea were incredibly varied. A large portion were broken significantly and the color spectrum ranged from punishingly pale to a deeply hued golden to a near black. This was even more evident in the cup after a few steeps. The variance in processing showed through in the flavor and texture of the tea. The brief glimmering moments of delight came in the first wetting of the leaves, as they breathed out some apricot, muscatel, and white fig jam. After that it was all down hill, with an over-oxidized, weak black tea, and papery character. No pale fruits, little straw, and vanishing to non-existent sweetness.
I am honestly excited that regions are exploring tea styles that they have not historically produced, but as this example shows, some refinement is needed in the production process before these style-newcomers can create tea in the style that comes even close to holding a candle to the traditional producers. I look forward to that day, it will be a new dawn of tea terroir.
Full blog post: http://tea.theskua.com/?p=167