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Recent Tasting Notes
Thank you to Adagio for sending this year’s production to me as part of a package of other Masters Tea samples – I steeped myself up a nice Western style cup this morning and I was really enamored by how melon-y it tasted. I know that honeydew is one of the tasting notes described by the company, but they truly got it spot on – the smell emenating from the cup was the same green melon sweetness of cutting into a fresh honeydew and the taste more in line with the slightly sharper rind of the same melon. This was complimented by notes of honeysuckle and fresh hay – just lovely and soft, and really appreciated on this Friday afternoon.
Yesterday I steeped up these absolutely gorgeous Huang Shan Mao Feng leaves grandpa style in my pretty new Pieces of Porcelain cup!! It’s the perfect size for me to bowl brew or steep grandpa style in & I foresee it getting some great use during work from home days!! Thank you again to Masters Tea for gifting the tea; I found it very light and fresh, which made for a perfect vegetal cuppa to sip on this hotter summer day!!
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0nxV3vuxM2k&ab_channel=BIRP%21BIRP%21
Adagio/Masters Tea reached out to me on IG last week to see if I would have an interest in trying a selection of their 2021 production straight teas, and of course I said yes! I am not really a big fan of green tea in general, but out of all the various spring tea in the assortment, it was this Long Jing that I felt immediately drawn to! I love nutty flavours in teas, and the aroma of buttery chestnuts coming from the dry leaf was off the charts!
Historically, I’ve found most Dragonwell on the spectrum of “unpleasant to unexciting” but I thought this one was pretty good. I mean, as I sipped on it Grandpa style throughout the afternoon, the taste of the liquor does not match the incredible chestnut aroma of the dry leaves. However, it was very smooth with a really pleasant mouthfeel and the taste had some more bean-y and creamy corn silk elements alongside a hint of that chestnut that caught my attention to much.
I shared the rest of this sample with coworkers who I knew would appreciate it more than me, but I’m glad I tried it!
This tea had the same fruity smell as the anxi wulong low fire, but way less flavor overall. It looks like this has gotten really good reviews, so it might just be me but I didn’t taste much but a mild fruityness. There’s a floral aroma too but everything is just way too toned down for me. Will try again later with more leaves.
Flavors: Floral, Fruity
Long time no tea! I’m trying this meng ding mao feng from Adagio Masters again today – using up the last bits of my sample. I steeped for way less time in way cooler water this time, and it’s helping me to appreciate the fruity-peachy-green-ness of the tea. It’s very very mild and probably way too weak for most people’s tastes, but I like it! I’ll remember to brew green tea this way while I’m getting used to the new flavors :)
Flavors: Fruity, Green, Peach
Another sample for Adagio Masters Teas. When I smelled the leaves for the first time, it initially reminded me of cream cheese danishes that the boy scouts would sell as a fundraiser. They were really good, but I was surprised to have tea leaves smell like it! As the tea steeped, I could tell this was going to be the kind of green tea that’s supposed to be really good but I think smells like creamed corn. And, it did smell like creamed corn. Imagining it as a “peach” smell did help though. It is very very fragrant and peach-y. The tea itself, to me, is sharply bitter. It reminds me of nail polish remover. I followed the steeping instructions, but maybe I would like it better steeped for less time or at a lower temperature? This seems like a fresh, quality tea but so far I am not a fan personally.
Flavors: Bitter, Peach, Sweet
Just got three samples from Masters by adagioteas in the mail. I’ve only opened this bag so far, and oh my gosh, it smells so good. It reminds me of strawberry-orange-banana smoothies I would get at lunch in highschool (in a really good way). Really fresh, fragrant and light. There’s also something really floral there. After brewing, the tea itself holds those similar smells (but fruity-ness is less prominent) and the taste is sooo clean and fresh. This is a real treat. I’m trying to think of what the “clean, fresh, green-ness” could taste like, and my first guess is just really good, fresh crisp lettuce, where it’s almost a little sweet.
Flavors: Floral, Fruity, Green, Sweet
I’ve been sipping on this throughout the morning and it’s super refreshing! The taste is surprisingly intense for a silver needle, and filled with fresh Spring/Summery notes of cucumber water, honey, and lemon peel. Honestly taking me back to warmer times this year – and IMO better tasting than when I last tried it as a hot tea.
Modified “grandpa style” in the park from this weekend – by which I mean brewed in a small, shallow teacup a few times – not the fanciest way to drink tea but it does the trick.
This is, I believe, the 2019 harvest of this tea – it was a Christmas present from a relative. For over a year old Bai Hao Yin Zhen, I thought this was pleasant. It felt fresh and flavourful enough to satisfy me, with fragrant honeysuckle notes and a flavour a little bit more cucumber-like…
This wasn’t the best brew method for evaluation, so future tasting notes to come with other preparation styles. However, for tea in the park it was good.
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tiXfzapc2Js
First Flush Darjeeling has become very tricky to acquire this year; however, I was lucky to acquire this early harvest Rohini! I’ve been working with a few purveyors to try and sneak in a some packages of tea, but they may not arrive until mid May or possibly June. This tea slipped through and proved to be an amazing start to the first flush Darjeelings. The leaves are everything you want in an early spring harvest. You’re immediately greeted with a fresh floral and toffee aroma. It’s a delicate but encompassing aroma that easily filled the tearoom. I brewed this in my wedgwood for a nice clear and clean brew. The cuppa is full with a syrupy sweetness and fruit blossom exhale. You can pick up a clarifying pine tone that works well with the sugared background. It’s a straightforward brew with pleasant tones and aftertastes. This is not an overly complex leaf, it does fade quite quickly after the first infusion; however, this is sold for a bargain at $8.50/oz! Honestly, I don’t think you’ll find a readily available first flush that matches up to this tea at that price. I’ll be stocking up ;)
Flavors: Floral, Fruit Tree Flowers, Grass, Honey, Pine, Powdered Sugar, Toffee
To me, the perfect morning cuppa is fresh green tea. This is some high quality Dragonwell that Adagio is now beginning to source through their new Sub-Comp. “Masters Tea”. The leaves are thin, vibrant green/yellow, and with a heady sweet aroma and dashes of tangy fruits like tangerines, pineapple, mango, and papaya. It’s quite a bouqet! I brewed this several different ways, but i recommend a glass teapot (6oz), a small handful of leaves (2.5g) and brewed at 185F with the lid off. The broth is an opaque yellow with silky chestnuts, mild vegetle tones, and sweet clean finish. It’s a great tea, and again its a perfect start to a day!
Flavors: Chestnut, Sweet, Tropical, Vegetal
Flavors: Butter, Lychee, Sweet, Warm Grass
Flavors: Chestnut, Floral
Yunnan ancient tea trees rarely cease to amaze and this offering is no exception. This sheng or ‘raw’ pu erh offers long, silvery buds and young leaves. The dry leaf aroma is of fruit and earth, while the infusion is medium-light amber. Very smooth with hints of honey, apricot, a soft sweet smoke. Layered and lingering.
Flavors: Apricot, Honey, Smoke
So this is my second fill of the Fujian Silver Needle tea; my first had been a sample that blew us away (us= my fiance and I). We had gotten the sale on the 3-oz tin not too long ago. It has a very light floral, subtle, complex flavor of very refreshing feel. Before we had been using 1 tablespoon per 20-oz cast-iron tetsubin; this is much better with 1.5 tablespoons for a slightly richer taste. Want to say almost cucumbery accent, though I know that’s not right. It’s a very unique taste, but by far, a most excellent, top-notch tea and our favoritest so far of the master teas (we’ll be trying other master teas shortly).
Flavors: Camphor, Cucumber, Floral, Honeydew, Smooth
Had a baggie of this stashed in my desk drawer for a while. Figured now is as good a time as any to drink it!
The buds were originally nice and unbroken, but they got a bit broken up thanks to my careless transporting. Steeps out to a nice, very light gold with a spiced hay-like, somewhat grassy aroma. Super smooth texture, light herbal, grassy taste. A very faint hint of steamed veggies at the end that lingers as an aftertaste.
Second steep came out a deeper gold and much more spiced. It almost reminds me of some tisanes I used to drink. I also feel like I am almost getting some lemony notes out of this one.
Seems like I could get some more out of this one if I had time for another steep, but I’ve still got the rest of the tin to experiment with.
Flavors: Grass, Hay, Herbaceous, Smooth, Vegetal
White tea is always tricky for me. I didn’t even attempt to approach it until after I had gotten a temperature-control kettle to more easily try different temps/steep times. At its best, silver needle is one of my favorite teas of all time. But again, it’s tricky. Finding and brewing silver needle “at its best” has been a confusing and frustrating journey.
I’ve had some pretty bad looking silver needle in the past that could occasionally be coaxed into some really great cups o’ tea, even if most of my attempts resulted in bitter astringent abominations. I’ve had really great looking silver needle that seemingly could only result in either bland water or a cup of sour vegetables.
So when I saw a major sale on Adagio’s “Master’s Collection” Silver Needle, I jumped on it. Sure, it’s still the most delicate tea in my rapidly-growing collection and I have ended up with some lackluster cups here and there (mostly while figuring out the best approach). But regardless of my missteps, this is a superb white tea. Every time I feel fancy enough to make a cup, I remember why I’ve gone through so much trouble to find a truly great silver needle.
First off, the tea is beautiful (as long as you look close enough, explained in a sec). Unbroken jade green buds covered in fine white hairs. When I first opened the tin, I actually thought that it was a bit too pale and maybe stale – then I looked a little closer and realized that it was so completely covered by the white hairs that I wasn’t even seeing the true color of the leaf buds! There were a handful of little green/brown leaf pieces throughout the tin, which is really my one complaint since this is supposed to be super premium AAA+++ grade and all that.
The dry tea itself smells incredibly fresh and herbal – like dumping your whole spice cabinet onto a freshly cut lawn. This is probably the best smelling tea I’ve encountered.
After a lot of trial and error, I’ve found that 160-165F seems to be the sweet spot for this tea. Even getting up to 167-170 or so has brought out some astringency for me. I start with 2.5 minutes and add 30 seconds for each subsequent steeping. Usually this gives me 3-4 great cups before getting bland. Occasionally subsequent steepings get way overdone just from that additional 30 seconds. Occasionally the re-steeping barely works and I have to put the leaves back in for some additional flavor. But this has given me the best results on average, which is all I can hope. I’m starting to suspect that white tea all has a mind of its own.
Now what about the drink!? I’ve been rambling on for a while, but this is the important part. Aside from the occasional (seemingly random) bad steeping, this is exactly what I look for in a white tea.
The brewed tea, like the dry material, is beautiful when you take the time to look. At first glance, it looks almost like nothing steeped at all. But once you take more than a glance, there’s a very slight yellow-gray tint to this “plain water”, maybe even a pink hue. Light seems to reflect more readily off of the surface. Upon even closer inspection, you suddenly realize that there is an army of little glistening flecks of light dancing throughout the brew – the same shimmering white hairs that made the buds so beautiful!
The tea is so smooth it’s almost like sipping very silky air. Occasionally I’ll get an edge of astringency, but that’s the exception rather than the rule. Again, it wouldn’t be a white tea if it wasn’t nearly impossible to “get it right” all the time.
The flavor is always a slightly different mix of the same tastes – sweet vegetables, rosemary, grass – like sipping a cup of springtime where the whether changes from day to day. It’s sweeter than any white tea I’ve had yet, but it’s a very understated sweetness that doesn’t at all get in the way of that herbal fresh white tea flavor. It’s incredibly refreshing and worth slurping to experience all of these tastes float in and out of focus.
This tea perfectly captures that unique essence that only white tea can provide. It can play tricks, it has its off days, but it is hands down the best silver needle I’ve ever tasted. If you have the patience for it, I strongly recommend.
Flavors: Floral, Grass, Herbaceous, Sweet, Vegetal