348 Tasting Notes
After a fairly rough weekend at work, I collapsed on the bed at around 7:30PM last night. Which…unfortunately prompted my body to roust around 3AM, thinking it was well-rested. Instead of trying to force it back into submission, I chose instead to sip-speriment.
This is the first hand-rolled Darjeeling I’ve ever encountered. The leaves, frankly, resembled an oolong – only not as tightly ball-fisted. Because of this, I made the twilight decision to “gongfool” the sucker- gaiwan, three cups, and one-minute steeps each.
The results were subtle, sweet, floral- no over-arching spice flavor, to speak of. Very unlike any other Darjeeling first flush I’ve ever tried. At times, it was almost too subtle, but I blame that on the wacky approach I used. A three-minute steep later on turned up a bolder profile.
Flavors: Fruit Tree Flowers, Grapes, Honey
It’s been three years since I last revisited this white tea, but last week, I’ve been having it in spades. At first, it was to fill a notch in my “White Tea Week” series of blogs, but then it became my go-to evening picker-upper. Arguably the most expensive white tea out there, it has an extremely wonderful flavor of fruit, spice and wine that holds up to almost-boiling water. (In fact, that’s what the Sri Lankan estate recommended.)
I’m glad I had a second crack at this.
I’m not usually one for young, cooked pu-erhs. A lot of the time, they have this fishy, composted taste that I just don’t find appealing. Aged about five years or more, they take on more earthy characteristics. This was…something completely different. A cooked pu-erh without a fishy taste. It was woodsy, minty, and strangely herbaceous – reminding me of echinacea and cinnamon bark for some reason. A smoky underpinning also kept me sipping.
A peculiar and taste-worthy pu-erh.
I’ve kinda been living on this all week. But I hadn’t had it prior to a work shift. Luckily, I was up early enough to gongfu the heck out of this as a pre-funk for the work day ahead. I was on a bourbon barrel-aged tea drunk high all morning. Even broke out into song. At least five times.
Don’t judge me.
If you want to know the origin story of this tea, well, I was a witness!: http://steepstories.com/2014/01/07/bourbon-barrel-pu-erh-origin-story/
Since I’ve spent the better part of the weekend knee-deep in flu plague, I’ve been on a white tea kick. However, this Monday morning, I wanted to go for something a little more pu-erh-y. I split the difference and went for this “white bud pu-erh”. I use quotations on that because I’m still unsure what the difference between a white bud pu-erh and an aged white tea are? Neither really go through a wet-piling, and sometimes aged white teas (and young white teas) are compressed into cakes. So, how does one classify that?
That aside, the taste confused the issue further. It resembled – beat for beat – a young, Yunnan-grown Silver Needle. Citrus and herbal notes and all. Toward the finish, it had some of the winy properties of a sheng pu-erh, only rougher – given its young age.
I guess I’ll leave my philosophical question aside and just answer with, “NOM!”.
It’s two days after Christmas, and this arrived with all the fanfare of an opening mailbox door. I noticed the label on the package, and immediately ducked inside. I’d been waiting to try this tea the moment I first heard about it. Heck, I was there during the initial brainstorming session. Over beer!
I’ve notched off a few barrel-scented teas, and this one is the strongest yet. The earthiness of the pu-erh is there, but it’s a runner-up to the rich, strong, smoked fruit notes of the bourbon barrel scenting. Wood, peat, gasoline, earth, and fireball sweetness all took turns pummeling my tongue. And that was just with gongfu-style.
Yesterday, I made a trip out to Smith HQ with my mother. Usually, I end up with a pot of Darjeeling, and she goes for the Lord Bergamot. This time we did TWO pots of Morning Light – a Douglas Fir tips-‘n-rosemary-laden black tea blend out for the holidays. I’ve had fir tipped teas before, and had an earlier variation of this a year prior.
This years was better by a longshot. The rosemary adds a spicy tickle to the woodsy mintiness already in play. Very relaxing and tasty.
We went through two pots of the stuff in about an hour.
Let me state for the record that I don’t normally go for peppermint. I don’t hate it per se; I just don’t care for it. For me, the mint taste is a bit too pungent and harsh. That and it gives me crazy heartburn.
So, when I received this alongside some of the other AdventureTea wares, I dismissed it as yet another peppermint. That changed when curiosity got the better of me, and I opened the bag. Now, I know candy canes are made from peppermint, but I’d never run into a peppermint leaf that smelled exactly like candy canes.
Today, I shared a pot with my mother. I’ll be struck by lightning if I don’t admit that it’s the single most perfect mint herbal I’ve ever come across. I’ve never considered mint a perfect taste, but this Northern Canadian stuff hits all the right marks – clean, refreshing, (obviously) minty, sweet and relaxing.
The perfect Christmas herbal.
Down to my last vestiges of this. I’ve had this tea for almost a year now; I’m surprised I held onto it this long. It was the first aged oolong I ever tried. Can’t say I recognize any remnants of its Oriental Beauty heritage…but it’s still quite fantastic in its own right. The Taiwanese measure tea by the overall sensation, not just taste. And with this one, I can see why.
At first, on initial taste, the aged nature of it is a little oft-putting. But done with short steeps over a period of minutes, it lends something unique and wonderfully medicinal. Oh, and I happen to like the taste of “ancient Buddhist calm”. I can dig it.
I’m at the start of the busiest day at work I’ve had in awhile, and I needed a li’l happy juice calm. Already on my second mug.
Just got this in the mail today. On Black Friday, no less. Oh wait, I just said it was Black Friday one post ago. Oh well, moving on.
Seems to be a Taiwanese sorta day. First a Taiwanese black tea, now a white. Nary an oolong on the tongue. How strange.
This is a very floral and leafy white tea. Brings me back to thoughts of a wild Chinese white, only lighter-bodied and more – I dunno – layered? It almost reminds me of white teas produced in the U.S.
And, yes, that’s tall praise.