121 Tasting Notes
Treated myself to another round of this tea today. Just what I needed this morning – I missed breakfast and then had to wait 40 minutes for the bus (which should be every 10 minutes…), meaning I was late to my volunteering shift :(
Thankfully, a few cups of this and a couple of rounds of buttered toast later, all was well. This tea was a really perfect accompaniment for the toast, actually.
I’m also about half-way through my bag of the stuff… It’s still on sale, so maybe I’ll get some more before it goes/gets dear again…!
So, Puerh #2 on my list… After a pretty good start with the lovely Canton Loose Puerh, I thought I’d give this a go! It’s pretty chilly here today, so there was a definite appeal to an entire teapot of rich, dark-ish tea.
The little tuo, on unwrapping, didn’t smell terribly strong – it was certainly milder than the loose leaves of the other one I’ve tried. Still, there was no fishiness, a complaint I often read levelled against mini tuo cha, so that was a good sign.
After a quick rinse in my little cup (total volume ~100ml or so), I drained the cup and transferred the still largely intact tuo into my 600ml tea pot (I did, of course, give them a good smell beforehand – a lovely, quite sweet aroma. Kinda wet-forest-y, like some others have said, and also somewhat vanilla like. Lovely!) I filled to near the top and left it to steep, as suggested.
I gave it a try after 7 mins; it was lovely and smooth, with a pleasant sweetness, but still a little mild – I finished the cup that I’d poured and then just left it for a little longer. After ~10 mins, the liquor was nice and dark and delightful to drink – sweet, smooth and pretty full-bodied. I got plenty of sweet notes, along with (amazingly) the Black Pepper note that someone else mentioned – it’s true! That’s also what the aroma of the leaves kinda reminds me of. It was also somewhat creamy. There was no bitterness or astringency.
As I was only taking small cup fulls, the tea in the pot continued to brew – it just became really tasty and nice and strong, but the end. It left a lingering after-taste that was kind of sweet – almost like a roasted marshmallow sweetness!
Anyway, that’s two puerhs tried, now, and both have been delicious. I still won’t score this (not yet, anyway) as it is still a tea I’m not very familiar with. But I’d definitely recommend it. This tea, I imagine, would also be great to drink grandpa style – I resteeped my leaves, and they were totally fine (though obviously, with the nest fully opened, it got stronger faster) and still produced lovely tea. And the leaves, though quite short (presumably these mini-tuo were made up of the smaller bits of leaf, as I think is common), sat nicely at the bottom of the cup when they escaped, so there was no risk of me drinking them.
Flavors: Black Pepper, Forest Floor, Marshmallow, Vanilla
Very pleasingly, this tea also works delightfully well if you brew it ‘Grandpa style’ – I took the leaves from my earlier infusions and left them in the bottom of a travel-mug/tumbler and filled it with just-off-the-boil water. I then topped it up, throughout my shift at the hospice, and it held up really well – it brewed some really delicious, refreshing tea and never became bitter.
It helped keep me warm, too, on the bus there and back. It’s amazing how much colder it was tonight – it really did feel like November…!
I had a sneaking suspicion, when I received my fairly large order with Butiki, that this would come to be amongst my favourites of all. Aside from an existing predisposition toward white teas, I was convinced by the leaves; they smelled absolutely wonderful and I really just couldn’t wait to try.
I gave it a go this morning, as per Stacy’s brewing instructions, only on a slightly larger scale (as our house is full of 12 oz mugs, so…!).
I was not disappointed. The liqour was a lovely pale-golden colour and smelled so sweet and creamy. The drink was surprisingly full-bodied, creamy and sweet with exceptional smoothness on the palette. The second steep, for only a slightly longer time (4’) was equally delicious. It also has a delicious grape-like note, accompanied by a gentle, fruity astringency. The wet leaves, too, had a wonderful aroma.
For fans of white tea, I couldn’t recommend this strongly enough. For those who haven’t really tried it, this is certainly one I’d recommend (though I’d definitely recommend brewing as per Stacy’s instructions, to make sure that it’s a ‘strong enough’ cup, for those unused to the general mildness of these teas).
Flavors: Cream, Grapes, Honey, Sweet
I have a box of this, loose-leaf, and it really was the tea that turned me on to drinking leaf-tea.
I just love it. I’ve only had two other jasmine teas in my time, but this one is such an easy-brewing (and extremely forgiving), deliciously floral tea. It’s exactly what I want from a Jasmine Green.
It works well as a ‘mug’ tea with a basket (I tend to use a generous 1 – 1.5 tsp in ~300ml and brew it for two mins or so) or as a more refined, lots-of-short-steeps tea (again, I’ve used ~1 tsp in ~150ml and brewed for 30-45 s at a time). It does get very bitter if you oversteep, I should add, but this isn’t a problem I tend to encounter.
I love this as an everyday Jasmine tea. The jasmine is delicious and strong, without becoming cloying or excessive. And the green base that they use adds a really nice floral, fruity undertone that just rounds off this great, bargain tea.
Flavors: Flowers, Fruity, Jasmine
Treated myself to another Gong Fu session with this tea the other day – it really is just so good. I can imagine this is a tea that I’ll order again, before their stocks run out. It’s delicious, treacle-toffee sweetness, coupled with its creaminess and smoothness on the palette, just make this tea a real treat.
This was another of the teas that came in my first Canton delivery. I was super excited about it but, unfortunately, it’s not a tea for me.
It’s just so vegetal. Amazingly so. All I got, after 4 or 5 Gong Fu steeps in my Gaiwan, was asparagus and broccoli. It was almost unbelievable. There was quite a refreshing, and quite cooling, after-taste of cucumber, but it did little to bring me around.
I then tried it Western style, to see if I’d like it more this way, but I encountered much the same – it’s just so exceptionally savoury :O I’ve really never drank a tea that was this savoury.
I think I could probably get used to a tea like this. And, with certain meals (or just after them) I imagine it would be great.
On the bright side, the quality of the tea was readily apparent – the leaves were lovely and full and became a wonderfully deep, bright-green colour after the first steep (and the colour lasted through many more). The flavour, too, barely changed in its intensity through multiple steepings – this is a tea that just lasts and lasts and lasts.
Flavors: Asparagus, Broccoli
After an hour’s work, or so, this morning, I was beginning to flag… And my gaiwan, still holding the leaves from yesterday’s infusion, was just sitting so close to me… It seemed like fate :P
Either way (and pithy back-story aside), I quite fancied trying these leaves again. I was particularly curious to see if a 24 hour gap would leave them affected in any way.
I did four steeps in total (25", 45", 60" and 90") in my Gaiwan (which, I measured, does only hold 100ml liquid, if filled to around where the lid sits in the rim).
Pleasingly, all four steeps were delicious – no issues at at all! The tea still retained a lovely golden-brown-cum-mahogany colour and its delicious treacle fragrance (and, I realised on this second session, a lovely, mild leather-smell). On the palette it was still very sweet and smooth, with figgy/vanilla notes. It also left a clean, refreshing after-taste.
I also gave them another quick rinse before the steeps – I dunno if that’s a regular thing, but I worried that after 24 hours just sat out, damp, they may accumulate a few nasties/stale flavours. It didn’t seem to do any harm, anyway!
So, after 7 infusions, these lovely leaves were still going strong. Not wanting to waste them, but certainly having drunk enough for one session, I thought I may as well try a cold-brew – I’ve left it in the fridge, under ~500 ml water, and will check on it after ~4 hours. Maybe I’ll have a delicious afternoon drink from it. Or maybe I’ll chuck it because my first cold-brew was a disaster. Who knows :P
Well, my first Pu-Erh… To say I was on the apprehensive side would be a bit of an understatement! These teas attract so much attention (and money) that I was vary wary of jumping in head first, particularly given all of the emphasis on smoky, earthy flavours, which aren’t my usual cup…
But people strongly recommended this as a ‘new-to-Pu-Erh’ Pu-Erh, and the review on Canton’s site seemed encouraging. So, out of curiosity more than anything else, I ordered myself a 50 g pouch.
So, in my gaiwan (the box and site say 200 ml, but I’m not convinced it’s volume is that high…), I brewed up 4g (to be on the safe side). The leaves had a very heavy, dark smell that I, admittedly, wasn’t all too impressed by. The rinse, too, made me worry slightly – it came of a fairly non-interesting brown, with a deep, dark aroma. Still, I didn’t want to give up yet!
My first steep was for 10" only and I poured it into a small, porcelain jug. The colour was much more impressive – a beautiful, deep mahogany colour. The aroma of the tea wasn’t overly strong – a nice, “earthy” (!!), surprisingly sweet smell. The aroma of the leaves, however, was truly special – a strong, beautiful treacle-like (molasses, for the Americans) smell! It was incredible – the change from the rinse was huge! Encouraged, I poured out a little cup of the tea and gave it a smell (still nothing much, but still very pleasant). Then the taste…
… well, what a marvellous surprise! A really well-rounded, sweet, vanilla-and-cream like tea! It had a charmingly light body and was very easy on the palette. And it was delicious! I demolished my first cup and topped up my gaiwan for steep 2.
For the second steep, I did another 10" (the first steep was still rather strong, so I didn’t want to push it) and finished off the first steep in the mean time (still delicious)! This second steep was somewhat darker, but still a deep mahogany colour. The leaves still had their warming, sweet treacle aroma and the liquor had its light, delicious smoky-treacle-toffee smell. The tea was even sweeter, but still so tasty and pleasing on the palette.
I prepared one more steep from the same leaves (~12") (still much the same as the second steep, pleasingly) before getting too “full” (I had just finished my lunch, after all), with a view to maybe try these leaves for a steep or two more in a couple of hours.
All in all, consider me well impressed! All of my reservations proved (thankfully) unfounded and this really did produce a delicious cup of tea! I’d strongly recommend it to any fans of sweet, dark, strong black teas. As this was my first Pu-Erh, I have nothing to compare it against (hence no score – YET), but I can’t imagine anyone could be disappointed in this tea. It was really delicious.
Flavors: Cream, Molasses, Smoke, Toffee, Vanilla
I picked up one of the ‘big’ 200g packs of this tea from a Japanese restaurant-cum-gorcery-store in Manchester, as it was very cheap and looked like it would make a good ‘everyday tea’ – the leaves looked nice and green, if a little broken, through the packet so I thought I may as well give it a try!
The dried leaves had a surprisingly clean, almost fruity aroma – for me, this was a little nice than the smell some highly prized green teas. In my initial brew, I used 1.5 tsp in ~250 ml, with a steep of ~2’. In all honesty, I was quite disappointed with the resulting brew – the liquor looked super-cloudy and it was VERY bitter (for my tastes, anyway). One positive, though, was that even these initial, very astringent sips, left me with lovely fruity after-tastes, convincing me not to give up just yet…
So I through it out, feeling a little embarrassed (particularly after seeing some of the other reviews on here, and seeing the advice given), and rebrewed used the same leaves, this time for 1’30". This second steep was much better – the tea was a lovely golden colour, nice and clean, with a fresh, slightly marine aroma. The tea tasted wonderful too – those classic apricot notes were present, along with a little seaweed like after-taste. As it cooled, the tea became a little sweeter and the mild astringency fell away.
As the leaves were still lovely and aromatic, I thought I’d give them a third steep for 2’ – a good idea! The resultant liquor was a charming yellow-green and had a lovely, marine aroma. The tea still had the fruity, apricot notes that earlier brews had, but it was a milder cup (which suited me fine, now that I’d finished my breakfast!). It still had some seaweed notes, and that gentle astringency.
I would certainly recommend this Sencha as a budget, everyday tea – don’t be expecting the world’s finest, hand-picked, lovingly crafted green tea – this is not that. But for a fresh, flavoursome drink in the morning, I can think of far worse!
(I’ll probably try brewing this again tomorrow, or maybe even later today. I imagine I’ll try giving it a quick rinse first, to reduce some of the initial cloudiness, and I’ll definitely use less tea or a much shorter initial steep – maybe only 60" or so.)
Flavors: Apricot, Dried Fruit, Seaweed