348 Tasting Notes
Another Arya sample, this one a green tea. Date of picking: Nov 20, 2014. Grade FTGFOP1, Invoice DJ 132.
The dry leaves are greenish-brown, with a herbaceous and fall-leaf aroma. The liquor is sweet and vegetal with a lot of grassy and leafy notes. I’m still getting hints of that herb note but can’t quite identify it. I tend to associate green teas with spring, but this really does seem like an autumn tea, weirdly enough. Tasty, but not exceptional for me.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Grass, Herbaceous
This is the first flush SFTGFOP1 picked on Apr 3, 2015. 3g for 10oz of water, 90deg, for 3min.
First flush darjeelings are so unlike any other black tea out there. The dry leaf was a blend of green, grey and brown leaves, with an intensely floral aroma. The liquor is golden, also with a floral aroma. The flavour brings in more vegetal notes, like crisp cucumber and fresh peas. The overall impression is very airy and aromatic, light and fresh.
Flavors: Cucumber, Floral, Peas, Vegetal
Ok, I’m determined to get through a bunch of these Golden Tips samples this week. :) First up: Arya Ruby Darjeeling Organic Summer Black Tea (picked June 27, 2014, FTGFOP1). 3g in 10oz mug for 3min.
Leaves are mostly twisted and dark brown, with a few silver tips. It’s a fairly fluffy tea – 3g was almost 1tbsp. The aroma of the hot tea is really interesting, it’s kind of spicy and biscuity, not quite what I was expecting from a darjeeling! The flavour is complex and a bit hard to describe. There’s the “it tastes like tea” flavour that I usually get from Indian/Ceylon blacks. There’s a blend of fruity and floral notes. There’s a woody richness. It’s a bit sweet and quite smooth, with a bit of astringency building up as I get to the bottom of the mug. Very nice.
A random Verdant sample! (I have amassed quite a little collection of Verdant samples due to my multiple purchases over the past year). Put the whole 6g sample in the 100ml gaiwan, boiling water, two 10 second rinses, and so far a few steeps of about 10 seconds.
This is a nice sheng, with good balance of savoury, sweet, and bitter. The wet leaves are very aromatic, with a bit of smokiness that doesn’t translate too much to the liquor. Quite a bit of sweetness already building up in the back of my throat. Clean, fresh, zingy, with a bit of a mouth-coating quality and a bit drying in the cheeks. Lots of flavour, even with quite short steeps. I like it!
Thanks to Nicole for the sample! I put the whole 4.5g sample in my 100ml gaiwan. Water mostly in the 90-95deg range. Steeps starting at 10sec, adding a few each time, then some longer steeps (using the “ignore it for a while, and then go ‘oh yeah, tea!’ method”).
The dry leaves are gorgeous, black with lots of gold. The wet leaves have a really rich, earthy and spicy smell. The liquor is a bit less sweet than I was expecting, malty and earth/woody and a little bit fruity. Quite a few steeps in, I’m starting to get a bit of a drying sensation in the back of my throat, but otherwise it’s fairly smooth. It’s good but not something I feel the need to buy more of. :)
Wow, this one is really working for me tonight! Sweet and delicious. I put 4g in the 100ish ml gaiwan, started out with 95deg water and let it slowly cool with successive steeps. Quite quick steeps: 5, 8, 12, 15, 18, 22, 25 (ish) seconds. First steep was sweet with a vanilla creaminess. Then the next several were chocolatey, but with the same sweet creaminess, so like milk chocolate rather than the dark cacoa flavour you get with some teas. Then some toasted grain mixed in with the chocolate. Now I’m starting to get some fruity notes, but that cane sugar sweetness is still there as well. Yummmmmm. :)
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Chocolate, Plum, Toasted, Vanilla
I think I’ve tried this one before, but apparently didn’t log it. Anyway, 4g of tea in the 100ml gaiwan, 90 deg water. I did a quick… well, it was supposed to be a rinse, but I drank it. :) Very light, slightly sweet and mineral flavour, and then a surprising amount of chocolate in the aftertaste. First proper steep was about 10 seconds. Sweet, very smooth, no bitterness or astringency whatsoever. Kind of an airy, expansive mouthfeel. Cocoa and caramel in the aftertaste. The wet leaves smell earthy and sweet. Subsequent steepings continue to be sweet and smooth, with a slight minerality that evokes fresh mountain spring water. I tried a longer infusion just to see what happens if you push the leaves a little, and ended up with a darker amber-coloured liquor, and some more intensity of flavour (especially the mineral), but it remains a light and smooth tea with most of the action in the aftertaste. If you’re looking for a rich and malty black, this is not the tea for you, but for what it is, it’s lovely.
Flavors: Caramel, Chocolate, Cocoa, Mineral, Sweet
This is a random sheng from my W2T goodie bag. :) The wrapper it came in had no English clues for me, but did include the number “2008”, so I was wondering if it was another aged sheng, but this doesn’t taste very aged to me. None of that earthy/musty character at all. The wet leaves are mostly an olive green colour, some a bit mottled with light brown, and a few noticeably darker brown leaves mixed in. They are pleasantly aromatic and zingy – even many steeps in, I like sniffing the leaves in my gaiwan after pouring. The tea liquor brews up a light to medium gold colour, and it has a fairly bright, tangy flavour. I kept the bitterness at bay by sticking to 80-90deg water and ~20 second steeps many times in a row. There is a slight softening and complexity (compared to the 2015 shengs I’ve been drinking recently), and I remember getting some interesting muted floral notes about 5 or 6 steeps in, but other than that, not much beyond “hi I’m a sheng!!”. There is the sweet coating on the back of my throat, but not much sweetness in the actual sip. I’m getting a moderate amount of astringent drying on my inner cheeks. Having said that, I keep compulsively steeping and drinking this over and over, so apparently all the bitterness and astringency is no barrier to my enjoyment of this tea, lol. :) I’m actually finding it a bit energizing, which is a nice change of pace from all the teas that keep making me want to have a nap (secondary theory: the time of year is what’s making me want to have naps constantly). I’m so confused by all these bitter/astringent teas I keep drinking, when normally I love me some sweet, smooth, creamy teas (black, green, oolong, etc). Ahhhh, I think I’m being bitten by the puer bug, this is so, so unfortunate, lol.
This was yesterday’s tea, and I suck at doing reviews from memory. I do remember it having a really nice balance of sweet, bitter, and fruity, with some definite apricot notes, and some complexity of flavour. It didn’t change too much as I went through the steepings, just got a bit lighter and more mineral near the end.
I wish there were a way to try all these 2015 W2T samples head-to-head without drowning myself in tea, lol. I don’t think my palate is really good enough to detect any subtleties yet. I’m also being spoiled by the fact that W2T only sells good puer, so I’m probably completely taking for granted the fact that all these young shengs are perfectly drinkable right away.
Today’s tea! 5g in the 100ml gaiwan, 2 rinses (maybe 10-15sec each) and then steeps of 10, 10, 15, 15, 20, 20, etc… I started with boiling water but am experimenting with letting it cool down a bit since I’m finding this a bit punchy.
This is a really aromatic tea – you get a lot of interesting scents off the gaiwan lid: old books, tobacco, a bit of smoke. The slightly musty, old books flavour is fading as I progress through the steeps, leaving more sweetness, bitterness, maybe a bit of stewed dried fruit. It does have a slightly viscous quality, coating the mouth and throat, and leaving behind quite a bit of that dry astringent feeling. Lower temperature steeps are smoother and sweeter. It feels warm in the stomach, and it’s kind of making me feel both more alert and sleepy at the same time which makes no sense.
This is good, but I’m finding it to have a bit more bitterness/astringency than I really want. Not enough to make me stop drinking it, mind you. ;) I think next time I’ll either steep with cooler water, or much shorter steeping times, or both.