I’ve been trying with this one…
I managed to get a really wonderful flavor from this the first time I tried it on Saturday night – particularly in the fourth infusion drunk from a gaiwan after the first three were poured for service with 30-60 second infusions. Really smooth, sweet, and a great balance of toasted wood and florals, light sour, and highish medium body. The roast is evident but not charry at all. Rather, it’s a nice sweet/sour balance that’s produced similar to the sort of balanced achieved when making caramel. Many of the qualities of this tea are similar to caramel, in fact… except for not having the taste. The pleasant lingering sour note (think the sour of milk or the aftertaste of fresh orange juice) and mouthwatering effect is really nice and a prolonged brew with cooler water following hotter short infusions seems to really build the sweetness (the pounded rice exterior of mochi and a tad similarity to honey barbecue sauce comes to mind).

Unfortunately, brewing since then in a more controlled manner has yielded less remarkable results. If early infusions are pushed too far by either time or especially heat, it produces an off-taste similar to the smell of water spinach or kale has been boiled in and all subsequent infusions are left lacking intrinsic value and somehow tainted with a bit of a dill taste. I’m getting good results with a double rinse (triple might be good) using 87C water and then waiting a bit and brewing around 80C or a little cooler to drink from.

I love the roasty, classic Tie Guan Yin fragrance and aroma of this. The age isn’t noticeable from the consumer standpoint, though it may be a large function of why it can taste so good at times. Best taste and widest range of flavors I’m getting is when this is made mild while using about 3g in 125-150ml water while not stirring.

Wine grapes and the smell of sunwarmed trees on a cool winter day really comes to mind off this. Buttery impression, too.
Definitely not your new-age light oxidation TGY. Has a sort of rugged or out-in-the-country air about it. Much of this comes from the dry fragrance and wet leaf aroma advertising an piled autumn leaves aroma and sort of a crisp, clean mountain air aroma off the liquor. It’s an aroma I really associate with broadleaf evergreen woody plants in autumn when hiking. a dried-grass toasty note prevails as well. So much of the aromas remind me of the smells of Sonoma County.

Taste tends to be light and sweetish. Much like a light sugar water… I imagine steeping a small chunk of sugar cane in water would taste similar. Doubly so if the cane was tossed in the oven for a little while before hand. Tastes of oak leaves, sedges, and a bit of hay. Telltale orchid, vanilla, and cream-like faint sour of roasted TGY. The acidity is actually a bit like citrus, though, which I don’t think I’ve picked up in a Tie Guan Yin before this one.

I’ll follow this up with another log focusing on specific flavors with a test on the triple-rinse notion.

190 °F / 87 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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Tea Geek.

My focus is on Chinese Wulongs and Pu’er but I’m all over the place. I tend to follow a seasonal progression of teas, following the freshness curve of greens through summer and rounding the cooler months out with toastier teas and Masala Chai.
With the exception of Masala Chai milk tea I’m a purist at heart. While I was originally snagged by Earl Grey with bergamot and make blends for gifts, I very rarely go for scented teas or herbals and can’t remember the last time I bought a tea that was blended. Pure tea is just more interesting to me than the product of mixing flavors. I do understand and appreciate their existence, though.

I upload some blends I make or special prep teas I nab under the company name “Green Raven Tea and Coffee” and the vast majority of these posts will be blends crafted to create flavors/characteristics not inherent in any one particular tea.
I’ve worked as a tea buyer for a smallish cafe and try to keep apprized of shifts in offerings even when not selecting for a business so I wind up sampling a ton of wholesale samples from a couple companies in particular but try to branch out to as many companies as I can find. Until Steepster integrates some form of comparative tasting feature, none of my cupping notes will make it onto my reviews unless wrapped up into something I feel compelled to drink multiple times on its own.

Since all the cool kids are doing it, here’s my big fat ratings scheme:

0-12…..Ugh, don’t wish on anyone
13-25….Bad, won’t touch again
26-37….Huh, not worth the effort
38-50….Meh, unremarkable
51-62….Okay, good tea
63-75….Tasty, really good tea
76-87….Yum, wonderful
88-100…Wow, really spectacular

There shouldn’t be many postings at all from me ranked 26-50 since unremarkable teas are unlikely to make me remark on ’em but to “earn” a score 37 or below I have to be disappointed to the point where others may ask for a refund or turn down offers even when free or offered as a gift (beyond stale).

I’ve got a ton of respect for anything rated 63 or higher.

For a tea to get 71 or more, it has to be pretty special and kinda blow my socks off.

The 90s are reserved for wonders that make me reevaluate my views of the world of tea as a whole.


Santa Rosa, California, United States

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