Sipdown no. 3 of June 2019 (no. 75 of 2019 total, no. 563 grand total). A sample.

I am logging this here even though the sample packet says Vintage 2008, not 2011. According to the description, 2008 was this cake’s debut year, and it won the 2011 competition for aged — so I wonder whether the 2011 reference is in fact the “vintage” of this. But be that as it may.

I was going to try this a few weeks ago but I have been so busy at work that I have been really flattened on Saturdays and only slightly less flattened on Sundays. I just haven’t had it in me to do a real tasting in a while. I originally rinsed this with the intent of drinking it several weeks ago. Then I let the leaves dry out and started over today with a rinse at boiling and a 15 minute wait.

Then: gaiwan, 5/5/7/7/10/10/20/30/40/60

The tea has a sort of a dull gold color in the early steeps and becomes brighter with an apricot hue with later steeps.

The first thing I noticed about this one on the initial rinse was how very chocolatey it smelled. Not white chocolate so much as cocoa. That was what I tasted in the earliest steeps, too. Around steep three, a smoky note came out with a bit of a bitter downturn, but then it smoothed out and became more white chocolate and butter in the later steeps. And something distinctly arboreal that for lack of a better descriptor in the Steepster suggestions I am calling “wood.”

It’s not really wood, though, so much as leaves. But not dead leaves — living ones. Leaves and wood together equals trees.

I think the trick for me with pu erh is not to try to get through them like they’re a chore, but taste them as a treat every now and then when I have the time to put into them.

This one was quite enjoyable, but I have to attribute most of that enjoyment to absence making the heart grow fonder. If I drank this on the heels of another Bana sheng, I would probably not appreciate it as much.

Flavors: Butter, Chocolate, Cocoa, Smoke, White Chocolate, Wood

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I got obsessed with tea in 2010 for a while, then other things intruded, then I cycled back to it. I seem to be continuing that in for a while, out for a while cycle. I have a short attention span, but no shortage of tea.

I’m a mom, writer, gamer, lawyer, reader, runner, traveler, and enjoyer of life, literature, art, music, thought and kindness, in no particular order. I write fantasy and science fiction under the name J. J. Roth.

Personal biases: I drink tea without additives. If a tea needs milk or sugar to improve its flavor, its unlikely I’ll rate it high. The exception is chai, which I drink with milk/sugar or substitute. Rooibos and honeybush were my gateway drugs, but as my tastes developed they became less appealing — I still enjoy nicely done blends. I do not mix well with tulsi or yerba mate, and savory teas are more often a miss than a hit with me. I used to hate hibiscus, but I’ve turned that corner. Licorice, not so much.

Since I find others’ rating legends helpful, I added my own. But I don’t really find myself hating most things I try.

I try to rate teas in relation to others of the same type, for example, Earl Greys against other Earl Greys. But if a tea rates very high with me, it’s a stand out against all other teas I’ve tried.

95-100 A once in a lifetime experience; the best there is

90-94 Excellent; first rate; top notch; really terrific; will definitely buy more

80-89 Very good; will likely buy more

70-79 Good; would enjoy again, might buy again

60-69 Okay; wouldn’t pass up if offered, but likely won’t buy again

Below 60 Meh, so-so, iffy, or ick. The lower the number, the closer to ick.

I don’t swap. It’s nothing personal, it’s just that I have way more tea than any one person needs and am not lacking for new things to try. Also, I have way too much going on already in daily life and the additional commitment to get packages to people adds to my already high stress level. (Maybe it shouldn’t, but it does.)

That said, I enjoy reading folks’ notes, talking about what I drink, and getting to “know” people virtually here on Steepster so I can get ideas of other things I might want to try if I can ever again justify buying more tea. I also like keeping track of what I drink and what I thought about it.

My current process for tea note generation is described in my note on this tea: https://steepster.com/teas/mariage-freres/6990-the-des-impressionnistes


Bay Area, California



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