1217 Tasting Notes
This was the very first box of tea I bought back around 2002 once I started venturing away from the unsweetened Lipton iced tea brewed by my friends. I used to keep a box at my grandma’s to drink while she’d teach me how to cook Greek dishes and pastries. I’ve gone through many boxes since then.
Honestly, it’s not bad. The jasmine is not overwhelming and the liquor is kind of tart like elderflower and a little biscuity. Kind of a golden brown cup. Good in a pinch as long as you have low temperature water, otherwise it’s Bitter City. Good cold-brewed 2 bags to a liter overnight. The best part about the tea is the quote on the back of the pouch: “…She had that brand of pragmatism that would find her the first brewing tea after Armageddon.” —Clive Barker, Weaver-World
It’s growing on me. Really good cold brew 5g to a liter overnight. The cool thickness soothes my parched morning throat. Continues to lubricate after finishing. Nutty, grassy, sweet and bitter. No hint of salt or seaweed to be found. 2.5g left to try another small gaiwan tasting. Bumped from 60 to 70.
Edit: In the spirit of a sipdown, I already brewed the remaining 2.5g as prepared earlier this week. This time I let it cool before drinking and it was much better. I think something about the mixture of hot liquid with intense umami green turned me off last time. Sitting well after eating a breakfast of leftover homemade stir fry. I let the third steep sit for too long but it turned out pleasantly bitter and floral. I enjoyed this flavor so I kept steeping the leaves. Glad I did. Bumping again to 74. My persistence and flexibility has produced good results.
Brewed western. Dry buds smell like a pungent tangerine. Liquor has the added scent of clarified butter. Cat does not like the smell. Tastes like, hm, definite tangerine or tangelo, mango chutney-ish, noticeable black pepper and ginger spice, kind of sweet, a pungent green herb (curry leaf?), a scintilla of citrus blossom (look at me using thesaurus.com like I’m in middle school), a cooling minty whisper. Aftertaste of those gummy, sugared orange slices that remind me of old people in my childhood. Kind of a thick mouthfeel, not thin at all like a lot of herbal teas. Tongue tingles. Many resteeps. Warming, calming. They grow north of Tibet, neat. Best caffeine-free I’ve ever had. Crazy. Awesome. Get some.
I’m pretty sure it’s officially summer in the city for the next 2 months. 10-day forecast shows no fog and all sunny days getting into the 70s next week. Good for drinking down my white teas and fruity and/or lighter-bodied greens as well as small amounts of other teas I have left to make room for what’s coming.
My lover left last night for his annual 2-week vacation in Vietnam. I went with him a few years ago and was kind of awestruck at how comfortable and easy-going it is there, at least as a Western tourist. We made friends with a local woman who was excited to come across a few English speakers she could practice with since the city we were staying in has a majority of Russian and Chinese tourists. It was incredible having her show us around. We accompanied her on a long bus and scooter ride to her family’s home in a small village on the water where we feasted on bowls of fresh fish noodle soup, some kind of bitter legume, sugarcane and mango leather. It was a spur of the moment trip to her family’s, so we didn’t have any tokens of appreciation to offer. I wish I could go back and give them a gift, but I’m stuck here trying to improve my lot in life. Anyway, his layover is in Guangdong, China, so I’m hoping he finds some tea at the airport to bring home. Somebody else he made good friends with in Vietnam has some tea connections, so I’ll at least be getting some new Vietnamese teas to try.
Oy. I’m highly caffeinated and rambling.
This is obviously a Chinese tea!
I tried brewing this in my thermos long ago, and like the silver needles dragon ball, it was undrinkable due to bitterness and astringency. Today I revisited the tea, using a 150mL glass gaiwan. I did an initial steep/rinse at 190F for 30s which was drinkable and followed up the next 3 steeps with 195F at 30s. I upped the temperature to 200F once the ball started opening up about halfway and brewed based on color instead of time. Got 11 steeps before calling it quits. Lots of needles and nice whole leaves, very little broken material. It’s very compact so I left the lid on in between steeps to steam it.
Given all that information, I didn’t actually take any detailed tasting notes. It started out light and flowery and sweet and once I upped the temperature to 200F, it turned into a ridiculously good beeswax and honey with a little astringency, a little bitterness, a little citric sourness, a viscous texture leading into a waxy mouth coating and a very strong aroma of beeswax. SOLID. I’ll be purchasing more for now and for aging. I enjoyed this much more than the silver needle dragon balls.
I’m gonna go ahead and throw a 100 on this, too. In addition to Girl Meets Gaiwan’s review, I’d like to add a little more. The saucer is a thicker porcelain than the gaiwan, with six stylistic indentations around the edge and has a divot that keeps the gaiwan in place. The underside of the lid rim is lightly textured, I suppose to keep the lid in place. The porcelain is thin and allows some light to move through, but it’s not so thin that I burn my fingers when using high temperature water. I consider this a very worthwhile purchase.
Oy, I found my new silver needle. Don’t worry, Feng Qing, I can accommodate you, too.
I had success yesterday with brewing the Kenya Steamed Purple Green Tea in a gaiwan. I chose today to brew these silver needles with the same method.
Gone gaiwan. 3g, 60mL, 195F, no rinse, 10s/12/15/20/25/30/35/45/1m/1m15/1m30. 11 infusions. I’m impressed. September 2017 harvest.
The dry leaf smells like some kind of fruit I haven’t yet tried. I know once I taste that fruit, I will go AHA! that’s the smell of the Kenya Silver Needle White Tea. The closest I can get with my current palate is a vibrant mix of white grape, pineapple, honeydew and fresh green hay. The needles are elegant – long and skinny – and attest to the taste of the tea. Unlike the steamed purple green, this tea had a pronounced evolution. I noticed my tasting notes are very similar to eastkyteaguy’s despite me using a higher temperature. That indicates to me this tea’s versatility and production of a consistent experience when brewing gong fu.
In the first steep, I picked up sugarcane, dry hay and phyllo dough. In the following steeps, the liquor became full and smooth. There was an addition of honeydew, cucumber, butter, white sweet corn, vanilla, cream, a muted ceylon cinnamon and faint malt wIth a persistent aftertaste of butter, white peach and sugarcane. Later steeps lightened in mouthfeel and the tastes moved into sweet lemon, mineral and phyllo dough. Toward the end, butter reappeared and eucalyptus, along with a slightness of its cooling properties, made a presence which I love in this style of tea. The bottom of the cup retained a strong scent of sugarcane throughout the session. There was a slight astringency brewed at this temperature but it did not take away from the experience. Afterwards, I noticed the feeling of a light layer of wax lining my mouth. I checked the scent of the wet leaf in between steeps and was surprised that it smelled very similar to YS Feng Qing silver needles with a note of cantaloupe that I did not pick up on in taste.
This is a tea elegant and somewhat delicate in flavor. It has an appreciable complexity and longevity. I look forward to trying this tea in my thermos at a lower temperature and also western style. These silver needles will have a permanent home in my drawer.
I finished up the 10g pouch of this yesterday since nobody took me up on my offer and it was beckoning me. I just dumped the remaining 5g of balls into my 20oz thermos with unknown temp water from the cafe (I should have asked them by now) and sipped on it for several hours. Never got bitter or astringent and was wonderfully full-bodied. It has a different flavor profile this way, mostly tasting and smelling of overripe strawberries and really good sweet fruitiness. The funkiness came out but it melded perfectly with the flavors. At the end, there was a faint cooling sensation in my mouth. The energy was never overwhelming. Probably could’ve gotten another 20oz out of the leaf but I didn’t have access to a hot water refill.
This tea jives with me and is versatile. Sticking with the 98.
I’ve tried brewing this tea 3 different ways: cold, western and gong fu. Dry leaf looks like a purple black tea and smells like tangy purple fruit – fruit snacks, chewable vitamins, grape flavor that’s not sickeningly sweet or has preservatives – spicy, earthy and dark green vegetal.
Cold brew: 4 tsp, 1L, overnight produces a very light purple-tinged liquid that tastes a little earthy and lightly purple-fruit. It’s refreshing.
Western: 2tsp, 8oz, various steep times starting at 60s. I’d say it’s good for 2 steeps. Immemorable, unnoteworthy. Lightly grassy and fruity.
Gong fu: This is where it’s at. 2.5g, 60mL gaiwan, 175F, no rinse, 10/15/20/25/30/40/50/60/75s. It’s a very consistent brew this way without much complexity. Very pretty light-colored liquor that’s a sparkling mix of lilac, peach and pink and green. Light scent wafts from the cup. The fruitiness of the dry leaf comes forward in the liquor which produces a light mouthfeel that gives a slight tongue-numbing astringency in later steeps. The taste is quite light with stonefruits, grape, tangy purple berry and floral and is most prominent when breathing out. There are also notes of grass that start light and turn darker as the steeps progress, ending on a spinach/seaweed note. Not much of an aftertaste. Reminds me a lot of a fruity, young sheng puer but not harsh on the stomach. I think eating a few small sweet champagne grapes would be complementary and enhance the fruitiness. The spent leaf smells very purple tangy.
I don’t know much yet about Kenyan teas or the growing conditions, but I think this tea has a lot of potential. Overall, it’s a very approachable green tea and I definitely recommend brewing it gong fu.
This was a two-fer session. Last night and tonight. I bought this why? idk. Probably because of the awesomely orange daylily flower and I ran out of shou. Comes as a scored brick. I think the chunk I snapped off was 8.5g but it might’ve been 9.5 I was a little leery of placing the whole chunk in a 100mL gaiwan but it turned out pretty well.
Gave it a 10s rinse at 205F then had 12 steeps: 7 at 20/10/12/14/16/18/20s last night and 5 tonight at 25s/30/45/1m/1m30.
Dry chunk smelled like blackstrap molasses and red miso. After the rinse, which was pretty light, I picked up on that lily, freshly tilled dark soil and molasses. The first steep produced a very thick and dark liquor, like used motor oil. It tasted of molasses, dark wood and taro (from Verdant’s notes but I totally got it) with some moist, dark soil. Subsequent steeps were kind of muddy but smooth and carried the same tastes. Those moved into a clearer liquor with notes of an alkaline taste, metal like both iron and steel, a faint orange spiciness and a very light bitterness. The final 5 steeps tonight were pretty light but still good. It was a good tea for the nighttime but it’s a sneaker. I started to feel the caffeine effects ramping up an hour into last night’s session and was awake later than I wanted to be. The lily flower is darker than in the pics but it really brightened up during the brew. They’re whole, large and very pretty flowers that float to the top of the brewing tea. I’m not sure how much they contribute to the flavor of the brew since I’ve never had anything daylily before. I’m only familiar with white and calla lilies.
Last night, I also tested out a new silver-lined cup I bought. I was using my 100mL clay gaiwan to brew and tested the difference between a clay cup and the silver-lined one, splitting the liquid between both cups. The silver one produced a noticeable effect, clearing up the muddy notes that I got in the second through seventh steeps. Finished the session tonight with the clay cup. The tasting notes are entirely based on the clay cup.
Overall, this a decent shou. Nothing spectacular, nothing offensive. Not fishy at all. This isn’t for those who enjoy sweet puer as it’s more of a savory tea. Not sure if the light muddiness will clear up with some short aging. I went in blind and was not disappointed, which was nice considering this vendor doesn’t specialize in puer. I can’t say I’d buy it again, but I am now willing to try the other flower-pressed shou bricks offered by Verdant.
Tea #3 from a teaswap with Mastress Alita. Thanks!
I prepared this as closely as possible to the guidelines given by Yunomi. Don’t have any Japanese teaware and I had a bad experience with some Japanese green tea last week, so I used 2.5g of leaf in a 60mL porcelain gaiwan for small steepings. I didn’t have a thermometer handy and the lowest temp setting on my kettle is 160F. The guildelines call for 140F, so I just let the hot water sit for a few minutes. Didn’t follow the guidelines for subsequent steeps which called for an increase in water temperature and volume.
First steep produced a very thick kind of slimy brew similar to the salted sakura leaf green tea I had last week. It was a little salty, mostly green umami with some grassiness behind that. It made my stomach turn a little, but not nearly as bad as the sakura tea. It reminded me of pickleweed, which is a plant I’m intimately familiar with that grows on the upland edges of the salt marshes in the San Francisco Bay. Pickleweed is known also known as sea bean and sold in higher end markets around here. Eaten as a vegetable by those who enjoy its taste.
Second steep was lighter, still kind of salty, less umami, more grass. Third steep was still lighter. I think I enjoyed the second and third steeps the most. I dug around the very pretty spent leaf in the gaiwan and noticed the leaves felt very slick. I wonder if this is a quality of Japanese greens.
So far, it seems that Japanese green teas that aren’t roasted or genmaicha don’t sit well in my stomach. This tea seems high quality given my limited knowledge, but something that seems to be an acquired taste for my palate. I’ll finish the rest of the sample but I won’t seek out more. Thanks again Mastress Alita :)