Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Dao Tea's Jungjak

Things are changing all the time here.

It's finally gotten cool here, reaching the mid-thirties at night.  We have to wear hats and coats if we go out shopping during the evening, but otherwise it isn't too bad.
I took this sometime around October.

Korean green tea is completely new to me - and it is a gift from a dear friend who overheard me talking about getting around to trying it.  Here's a summary of it's description:  It's made in Hwagae Village in South Korea by a gentleman called Kim Shin Ho.  Dao tea, while I like the products they offer, I am not too fond of their descriptions of their teas.  It's a touch flowery and whimsical, where I think it would be better off more straightforward and solemn.  I also don't necessarily agree with the concept of "Tea Master".  My argument is simple: gradation in terms of simply doing one thing, such as making tea or playing guitar, cannot be measured in years or by how much tea one has made or how many years of practice one has had.  Therefore, mastery will not apply to all who practice the craft, because each one's experience is different.  The idea of mastery seems to imply a finite end to skill building, whereas in other places, one's skill will continually grow as long as they live.
One of the last roses of the year.

The Jungjak uses small grey-green leaves, with a good number of buds appearing after the first infusion.

The aromas present throughout the infusions was distinctively herbal, with vegetal and spice notes fading in and out through the four infusions.
Dao's Jungjak

The feeling of this tea was more or less what I would call a mixture between the Chinese and Japanese Styles.  Some umami in the first and second cups, with the light sweetness and mouthfeel of a Chinese green and the (sometimes) vegetal nature of a Japanese green.  In regards to qi, I felt very little.  Attempts to brew this tea with a heavier hand resulted in a rather potent bitterness, so I figured that I had this stuff dialed in better the first time around.

I like it, but I get the impression that there is better stuff out there.  I'll keep my radar out for Sejak and Ujeon grades this coming spring.  Once again, thank you for reading.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

More Sencha and a whole lot of change

Things are changing for the better here in the Old South.  Leaves have fallen, the temperatures are no longer melting the soles of our shoes, and the author's life may be forever changed due to some recent events which I may or may not explain later.  The future has never looked so bright, so let's celebrate with an enjoyable sencha.

Hakoniwado's Yame Fukamushi Sencha has been one of the first enjoyable sencha's of the year for me.  I've tried about 12 others, but most of them just didn't have the depth that I prefer.  This sencha has that depth, along with a pleasant mouth feel and an energy that is truly intoxicating.  I will be the first to tell when I don't know something -  I don't know the term the Japanese use to describe the feeling a tea gives.  I doubt that it's the word qi, but one never knows.

I discovered this tea in the OTTI #11 on TeaChat, though I can't disclose which number it is in the group.

Small, Thin Leaves
I tend not to set up my photos to make them more appealing.  It goes back to something I learned when I was just getting involved in tea.  Tea is a humble thing, with very humble beginnings.  It's picked from a Camellia, which grows from soil, a conglomerate of all things that have decomposed over the years.  We brew the leaves in hot water, drink the liquid, savor it, and our bodies eventually take nutrients from it and convert the rest to waste.

That's not very pretty, is it?  Well, I ask you, who said it had to be?

I love this tea, and if you feel like it, try it yourself.  Brewed properly, it's a humble wonder to behold.

Describing the flavour would most likely be a moot point.

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Return of Autumn

The leaves are changing, it's 40-odd degrees out, and I'm using extra blankets at night to keep myself warm. It's an excellent time for a sencha.  Tonight, I'm looking over O-cha's Kabusecha.  This was one tea out of five that was presented in the 11th OTTI (Official Tea Tasting Initiative) from TeaChat.  Thanks to everyone who made this possible!

Fresh out of the sample bag, this stuff was quite dark green, and it had a roasted, grassy aroma rather than the fresh, bright aroma found in other similar tea.  While I have my ideas about what this may mean in terms of flavor, I will not share them here - as aroma and appearance do not always indicate kind of flavor will be present.

This kabusecha was medium-steamed and of the yabukita varietal.  The leaf itself is mostly shiny and somewhat thin and small.  

For the first infusion, I used 160 degree water for about one minute, and noted a thick tea liquor with a rather   intense umami and greenness.  The sweetness lasted for a long time after the 'gulp' - over 30 seconds of time went by before I started focusing on the retro-olfactory senses and the aftertaste.  The vegetal nature of this tea was overpowered by the umami and sweetness, and an hint of 'ocean' crept its way up midpalate before fading away.

Once the initial intensity of the first infusion had gone away, the tea became roasty and had a genmaicha sweetness to it, rather than just a pure sencha flavor to it.  Fern leaves, fresh salad greens (think Romaine lettuce) and more briny ocean-like flavor.  No surprises here, but I am enjoying the complexity.

Cup three continued the calmness of the last cup, but this time, the flavor made its way into new territory.  I experience what I can only describe as eggs with tabasco sauce.  I sat dumbfounded for a moment, asked the other members of the tasting about what they were thinking, then went right back into it.  As the unusual flavor faded, a distant planty sweetness slowly made it's way to the forefront.

Cup four showed a bright, sugary sweetness, light plantiness, and a fleeting hint of roast.  The mouthfeel had become thinner, but the flavor remained enjoyable for such simplicity.  The aftertaste was a spot-on reminder of fresh-picked sugar snaps.

The flavor ended at cup five, where it was just a light green liquid with a hint of sweetness.  All in all, I enjoyed this tea for it's complexity throughout the session, and the calming simplicity as it's end.  Farewell, kabusecha, you were quite educational.

Chopin drifts off during a tea session


Monday, May 30, 2011

2010 American Hao 1005

This blend of shu pu-erh leaves comes from menghai and lincang, Jim adds that " To enhance its depth, multiple grade, whole leaf raw materials were mixed." So that means that there are raw pu-erh leaves mixed in too?  We'll see!  This tea is rather newly pressed, and when I recieved the sample, the wo dui aroma was still very strong.  I let it sit out for about a month, then broke the 7 gram chunk into two 3.5 gram pieces.  (in case you didn't know, 3.5 grams is my starting point for almost all chinese teas that I brew gongfu style.)  I put my chunk into my 100 ml gaiwan. 

10s, 5s, 6s, 8s, 20s

The first infusion was pretty typical, but one thing that I didn't realize is that the qualities shown in this first cup would continue until the tea's flavor went away.  It started off bitter, which faded into a plummy-sweet and tart flavor, which was enjoyable, but it lacked any dark woody flavors.  The mouthfeel was rough and the body was thin, which may have been due to me using only 3.5 grams.  However, I obtained more of the 1005 and used 6 grams, only to find it had the same qualities.

The second and third cups showed the nature of freshly opened leaf.  A bitter oak flavor was very apparent on the palate, but it managed to fade and reveal more plum flavors.  The body was still thin and the mouthfeel was still rough.  So far it isn't too complex, but it is somewhat interesting. 

Cups four and five showed some improvement in body and mouthfeel as well as flavor: notes of cherry juice and plums riding on a dark oaky flavor with a light caramel undertone.  Unfortunately, all the cups after cup five were flavorless, so I simply noted that the session really ended at cup five. The spent leaves showed no trace of raw pu-erh leaves, so I wonder what Jim meant in his description?

Overall, this was an average affair.  Flavor, as most of us know, is one aspect of tea.  body, mouthfeel, qi, longevity, complexity, and aroma could be other categories by which we judge it.  This stuff had good flavors, but little of everything else.  As always, I'm thankful for having the opportunity to try it and will look forward to trying more teas from this vendor.

See you next month!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

2010 Fall Yunnan "Purple Beauty"

We have a dilemma, albeit a small one.  Norbu teas has this stuff listed under green, oolong, and
 pu-erh, so classifying it may be a little bit difficult.  So to save ourselves any argument, I'm just
going to call it 'tea'.

It is written in the tea description that this tea comes from plantation bushes, which is fine, given the wholeness of the leaf.  The dark purple color is interesting, and the aroma hints at dark fruits simliar to plums or black cherries, along with a generic sweetness.

3.5 grams in a 100 ml gaiwan.
Rinse at 8s.  Infusions: 20s, 12s, 12s, 15s, 45s, 1m 15s, 2m.

The first infusion had a thick body, smooth mouthfeel, and leathery, plummy flavors.  The sweetness
 present was very dark, in a sense.  Think of it as opposed to bright sugariness, and that's what you'll
 have.  The aftertaste hinted at grain, but faded quickly.  Overall, a simple yet enjoyable first cup.

It's apparent to me now that the first cup was simply playing nice with me.  The second and third cups
of tea were stronger, showing much more depth and complexity, along with some bitterness.  The flavors
dominating this cup were dark fruit skins and mild, yet dark herbs.  The color of the tea liquor was
interesting as well, being a consistent yellow-brown throughout the session.  The mouthfeel was quite rough.

Cups four and five changed a good deal.  The liquor had completely lost it's aroma, and the complexity was
 replaced with simplicity (which is ok).  The tea now had flavors of a mild sweetness and bitterness, and
 the mouthfeel had become rougher than before.  There was a minute, fleeting herbal flavor as well.

Cups six and seven were simple:  mushrooms and bitterness. 

Overall this tea was just okay. Given that it seems to be more like a pu-erh than any other tea, I personally believe that age would improve this tea.  Remember, trying this tea or any new tea is worth the experience.

See ya.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Why Being a Tea Snob is Bad


I haven't been around much this month due to the home business, so please excuse my absence.

Today, various forms of technology have come together in ways that some of us may have never thought possible.  It's not suprising that some tea drinkers about to embark on a purchase to be overwhelmed by the sheer variety that is available - the choices are practically endless.

After a few major purchases, perhaps the drinker would feel more confident in their choices and might continue trying new teas.  However, all of us (myself included) can attain some serious pride, which can ultimately wind up as snobbery.  As a guy who just really wants to enjoy and drink good tea with my family and friends, I'm Begging You:

Let's stop the affliction of snobbyness before it leaves the general populace with the wrong idea.  In other words, maybe people other than us (tea hobbyists and bloggers) are reading this.  I mean, we all started a blog for a reason, right?  Knowledge, like tea, should be shared happily - not forced and made to be fact by one's own opinion and pride.

Just think about it for a little while - are we sending out the right message to others?



Saturday, April 30, 2011

Norbu 2010 Winter Harvest Charcoal Roasted Dong Ding

To me, Taiwanese Oolongs are a relatively new thing.  My first experience with them was only a few months ago in the wintertime when I was enjoying lots and lots of shu pu.  This one is another winter harvest and roasted, too, so I think I know what I'm getting myself into.

This is what I'm getting myself into.

According to the description on Norbu Teas, this tea was oxidized around 20% and the roasting was at 40%.  I'm not sure how one measures the roasted-ness of tea, but I would have called this a very light roast.  When I opened the sample bag, the aroma was mild and sweet, with what I would call "mountain air smell" if I was in a pinch.  The leaves seemed normal size, shape and color for what one would expect for a tea like this - some of the leaves were dark green, some were light green.  They're also made from the Jin Xuan varietal, which means I can expect a pleasant sweetness in this stuff.

I brewed it gongfu style, using 4 grams of tea in my 100 Ml. Gaiwan.

Even though I couldn't detect the roast in the aroma of the dry leaf, it made itself known in the liquor.  Five out of the six infusions had a slight roast flavor to them, and every cup had a pleasant Tie Guan Yin like floral character.     At first, the mouthfeel was thicker, with more buttery flavors and feelings sliding around the palate, but not really adding too much depth to the tea.  Later infusions really increased in complexity and one infusion even had an aroma of warm milk!
The plastic wrap on the floor is because I'm a klutz.  Oy!

The third cup was really the most complex and offered up the best of all of the teas qualities.  It was relatively thick, with a great smooth mouthfeel.  Floral notes and spices mixed with stonefruit and the mellow sweetness of an English Walnut.  The aftertaste was floral and lasted for entire minutes inside the mouth and throat.  Despite all that, it was still just okay.

Overall, I enjoyed this tea, but it lacked depth.  It may have been that the roast was lighter than I prefer, or maybe that I didn't add enough leaf to the gaiwan.  Either way, It was slightly above average and may be a nicer version of an everyday tea, due to it's lack of longevity and how rough the mouthfeel became during most of the cups.  Nonetheless, if I could give advice on what teas to try, I would still say "Try every tea that you can get your hands on."  Later.
Good Leaves!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

2010 Yunnan Sourcing Yi Wu Zheng Shan

I'm actually not very well versed with Yi Wu area teas, which is why I picked this one.  It is low priced too, so I didn't feel bad about buying a sample.

The leaves are large with dark green hints, as well as a few leaf buds thrown in.  The leaves have a small, light sweetness to them along with the aroma of vanilla and light clove.  Scott explains on his website that these leaves come from established gardens, which explains the low price.

Of all the Spring 2010 Pu-erh's from Yunnan Sourcing, this one was the smoothest.  The mouthfeel and body were definitely better than average, but not super-oily like a few maocha that I've sampled in the past.  I felt relaxed and warm while I drank it; the pores in my skin opened up slowly, which means decent qi is abound in this stuff.

There was only one problem: The tea was weak, flavor wise.  While it had pleasant vegetal notes and good spice and grain flavors, they never really got very strong.  In fact, brewing it stronger made the flavor seem more distant.  I would get more sour notes, like that of bitter cabbage greens but without the rough feeling in the mouth.

Overall, it's okay stuff. Not as strong as I would like, but I've figured that I should get a cake just to see how it ages.  By 2020, I will be in my mid-thirties, and this tea will be about ready to drink.  Good flavors, good mouthfeel, just not very strong.  Let's see what she does!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Beginning of the Southern Heat

The heat is back.

The Southern Heat, as I call it, is that swelteringly humid blast furnace that rises with the sun, and may or may not end with a thunderstorm.  It is humid, and the wind scarcely blows unless one is near one of our major lakes or further north.  This is the heat that helps car engines blow up and starts fires, it is the heat that harms the weak, elderly, and unsuspecting.  It is that kind of heat.
Even indoors, through walls and intense Air Conditioning, the essence of the heat still pours through, leaving us behind with nausea or headaches from the excessive ozone being produced.  It's a wonder that most of us bother to put up with it.

Coming back indoors, we have tea.  Lots of it - an entire wall full of wuyi yancha, anxi oolong, green tea, and various and sundry pu-erhs.  Today was a sample from Pu-erh shop: the Meiguo Hao 0907.

Blended from Nannuo and Bulang leaves, the greenish young leaves emit a youthful aroma, with plenty of brightness.

I empty 4 grams of tea into a 100ml gaiwan, and brew as follows: 10s, 4s, 7s, 8s, 10s

The first infusion had hints of leaf from older bushes or trees, with a soft and creamy mouthfeel and medium light herbal-grassy notes.  It had some instances of a pu-erh like flavor, but for the most part it resembled a green tea.  The finish was mild and spicy, and it finishes rough from the plantation leaf, which I had expected.

Cups two and three were the strong cups, where the flavor really came through.  Herbal notes were still present, but they were muted, as if someone was able to mix the smoothness of vanilla ice cream in with it without actually adding vanilla.  Bitterness was present in both cups, with a sourness appearing in the third cup.  Both teas finished with a rough mouthfeel, but both also had a pleasant pineapple-mango flavor in the aftertaste.  Little did I know that this tea was already on it's way out!

Cups four and five were much like a young menghai sheng cake in it's later infusions.  Notes of mushrooms, hay, and a gentle leather would fade in and out with bitter undertones remaining constant with each sip.  By cup five, there was no sweetness to speak of, just a little spice and some blandless with an extremely watery body and rough mouthfeel. 

Overall, this tea was just average.  It has some decently strong flavors and an okay mouthfeel at times, but I feel that it's nothing too special.  Thanks for reading, and stay 'tuned' as I will have more posts following during the next week.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

1970's Liu Bao

Well, this is different.
This is liu bao.  I’ve had it before, but nowhere near this old.  This small amount comes as a gift from Kenny.  Thank you!

The leaves are dark, smallish, and broken with a tiny aroma hinting at sweetness and camphor.  I try my best to note the differences between this one and a few other liu bao samples I have at hand, one of them being a newer one also from Kenny.  In comparison with other teas, I’m inexperienced with this type and fail to smell any difference in the dry leaf.
The Leaves

I used 4.4 grams of leaf in a 100 milliliter Gaiwan for this session.

The first infusion opened up strong - bitterness and a dark chocolate flavor along with a note similar to cooked pu-erh.  The mouthfeel is extremely smooth, while the body is average.  This is the first infusion, so I understand that the leaves haven’t really awakened yet.

The following two infusions showed what the tea was like when it really opened up.  The body in cup two was thicker, and the smoothness remained the same.  The sweet flavors had increased somewhat, showing themselves to be similar to caramel and toffee.  Mellow would probably be the best way to describe that.  Also, a pleasant forest-floor type dampness appeared, which was followed by the first hints of camphor.

To me, the third infusion was where the flavors, body, mouthfeel and qi of this tea peaked. The smoothness of the liquor was actually distracting from the other facets of the tea at first - think of a really fine chocolate pie from a nice restaurant.  Got it?  That’s the kind of smoothness I experienced.  The qi was dominant around my head and chest, with a warm, pulsing sort of feeling.  It was calming, but not sleep inducing like i’ve felt in various other teas.  Cup four was practically identical.
The First Cup

The fifth infusion was where the body began to thin.  A small, light sweetness and a more subtle earth/ damp forest floor flavor would fade in and out, various facets of the flavors making themselves known as I swirled the tea around in my mouth.  The mouthfeel was still smooth, and the qi just kept on coming.

The last two infusions were pretty interesting.  I figured that brewing it longer (about two minutes each) might make a decent, yet somewhat weak cup.  The first cup was actually rather flavorful, with a moderate, bright sweetness and a hint of red plum.  The following cup was very weak, with a simple brown ‘leafy flavor’ and a light soapy note.

Overall - if you can find this stuff, at least try it.  I mean to say, try it if it fits into your budget.  It’s quite fine, with a pleasant qi, smooth body, and a mellow palette of flavors.  There’s nothing quite like experience.

The 1990's(maybe) Yiwu of Songpin Hao

The last time I had visited pu-erh shop, they had two 90’s cakes that looked quite appealing.  The first cake being the Dingxing cake, and the second cake was this one, the Songpin Hao.  I know practically nothing about this cake, and no offense to Jim, but the description wasn’t too helpful.  I have a feeling that he can only go on what his vendor told him.

The leaves on this sample are small to medium sized with a mild, musty, and sweet aroma.  There aren’t too many buds, and that could mean any number of things.

I brewed this tea gongfu style using 3.6 grams of leaf in a 100 milliliter Gaiwan.  I tried to be reasonable, as I didn’t know if this tea would be strong or weak.  There was a rinse, of course. I do that with every pu-erh and any other aged tea I may be brewing.

The First infusion was dark and medicinal with a smooth mouthfeel and a clean finish in the mouth.  The body is thick and swirling, while a mild wet-store flavor mixes with dusty leather in midpalate.  And right off the bat, I’m liking it.  What else will this stuff give me?

The second cup started off differently.  That mild, wet stored flavor from the first cup was still hanging around in the second one - no surprise there.  A new combination of old cedar and raw tobacco buzzed inside my mouth, as if it were trying to change into something else.  As a reminder to me of it’s not too distant youth, a slight bitterness appeared right in the back of the throat.  I read that some think that is where the bitterness should be, and others who say differently.  All I know to write here to you is to decide what you like.

Cup three was identical to cup two.  Exactly identical.  Wow.

Cups four and five were where changes started to really occur.  The stronger wet-stored flavors had dissipated, along with the old cedar notes.  Now, there was a mild sweetness and a nice earthy flavor with just a hint of dampness.

The last two cups faded into blandness, with a rough feeling finally appearing on the seventh cup.  I have no idea if this stuff is truly old tree or not, I just know that I found it rather enjoyable.  And at 46 bucks a cake, it’s quite a deal.  Take care, readers.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Norbu’s 2010 Autumn Ban Po Lao Zhai Mao Cha

I have been eyeing Greg’s newest maocha for a while now, particularly the Pasha shan and Nannuo shan harvested last autumn.  The Ban Po Lao Zhai is from Nannuo shan, with large, full leaves that have a hint of olive in the aroma.  Even dry, the leaves look well defined, with good veins.


This tea was brewed in a 100ml gaiwan with 3.5 grams of leaf - from what I might call a standard amount.  1 gram per 30 ml, and the half gram from the remaining 10 ml, since I don’t want to measure in thirds of a gram.
rinse, 15s, 4s, 6s, 10s, 12s

The first cup was richly flavored, with pleasant notes of leather, fruit, and smoke.  There is practically no astringency in this cup, which is understandable.  I won’t claim that it’s from old tree/ ancient arbor/ the oldest tea tree in the universe...I don’t do that kind of thing, especially when I myself wasn’t even there at the picking and processing.

Cup two had woken up the leaf fully, and it was really showing off at this point.  The mouthfeel was smooth and the body was thick, with notes of leather, basil, and a light smoky note.  After a few seconds in the mouth, the liquor did develop a light astringency, but nothing close to the power of those young menghai cakes.  The aftertaste was pleasant and long lasting, with notes of mixed herbs and sweetness.
A solid yellow liquor from cup four.

Cups three and four were similar in how they had changed, with a slight bitterness that was creeping around in the throat along with sweetness, camphor, and mushroom.  This signaled to me that the tea was running out of juice, and pretty quickly, too!

 Cup five had gently faded into notes of grain and general blandness with the essences of leather and mushroom.  A nice ending, in my opinion - I’m sure most of you out there know what it’s like to try and finish off a plantation grade pu-erh with the roughness and sourness that one sometimes will find.
The spent leaves were large and looked healthy.

Overall, this is a rather enjoyable tea, with good flavors all around, a thick body and smooth mouthfeel in all the cups minus the last one.  There were no off flavors or strange feelings from the tea either.  In fact, I felt clear headed and bright after drinking it.  I think if this tea is stored well it will be quite good in ten years or so.  I’ll see you then and tell you how it is!

Monday, February 28, 2011

1997 Menghai 8582

This enticing stuff was part of OTTI, number 9, for 90's sheng.  I'm fortunate to have had the opportunity to try this, and i'm really thankful for it. This sample was from Brandon of Teachat.  Thank you!

I did two quick rinses of this tea due to the wet storage, and it didn't actually reduce the wet taste or aroma, but it was effective in making me feel a little safer.

The Leaf

I used 3.5 grams of leaf in a 100ml gaiwan: 10s, 11s, 9s, 12s, 10s, 45s, 1 minute, 5 seconds.

The first cup started out as I've known most wet stored sheng to taste: damp.  It didn't taste bad at all, with a nice spicy sweetness and a cleaner, more focused flavor than i've come across in other semi-aged sheng.  One major difference here is that the qi was noticeable to me almost immediately.

Cups two and three were much stronger, for whatever reason (I'm no expert here, and I doubt any of us are, really). The flavors were a touch sweeter, the body was thicker, the mouthfeel now somewhat smooth with a tiny hint of roughness coming through. Dampness in these two cups were rather overwhelming at first, but calmed down after a minute sitting in the cup.  The aftertastes were mildly damp and spicy.

Cups four and five had changed drastically - which didn't surprise me.  Some wet stored pu-erh will drop off in flavor or change suddenly, at least that's what i've tasted over here in the Old South.  A little dampness accompanied by acidity, spiciness, as in coriander, and a decent woodyness.  The mouthfeel was smooth at first, but changed into a rough, harsh liquor, while the body was solidly in the middle.
Cup Four

Cups six and seven were strictly downhill.  The body of the liquor had thinned, the flavors muted.  While it didn't have the longevity or depth of a tea with less humidity in the storage, it still had very enjoyable flavors and an ok qi.

If you can find something like this, give it a shot.  Whether you love it or despise it, it's still a learning experience - and given that we will always be students of tea, I figure an extra few lessons would be a welcome thing for all of us.

2007 Yong De Ecological Old Tree Pu-erh

I rarely get to taste shu pu-erh.  I've had maybe six or seven in my tea drinking career, but never gave them much thought.  After following what others had set as good before me, I became tired of it and pretty much ignored it all together.  This shu pu-erh was different enough (and good enough) to warrant a blog post.

First of all, this stuff had depth - which is something i've yet to come across in shu pu.  Secondly, I doubt it's claims of being old tree.  The leaves were medium sized at best, and nobody would spend time and use up precious natural resources from an old tree to make a cooked pu-erh.  It would be like making grape juice from an ancient french wine and then dousing it with sugar and added colours to make it more palatable.

I used two quick rinses on this stuff, as the compression on my sample was rather tight.

I used 3.2 grams of leaf in a 100ml gaiwan: 10s, 15s, 15s, 30s, 45s, 1Min & 15s.

The first cup was brewed too hard, but still enjoyable, with notes of  wood, spice, and a light earthy flavor that seemed slightly muddy and unfocused.  Letting the liquor cool further provided a little bit more sweetness, but still not that much overall.  I moved on to the next cup.

Cup two was sweeter now, with a more balanced flavor profile including the flavors of date fruits and a silky smooth mouthfeel, which was radically different than what I was feeling in other shu pu, such as the 2009 Menghai Hongyun, which was fading rather quickly in comparison as the tasting went on.

The third and fourth cup were quite similar: dark woodyness and sweetness along with some dampness.  The body had thinned slightly but the silky smooth mouthfeel was still present.  At this point, I began to feel warm and calm, something that I'd only experienced in high-end pu-erh's and oolongs, and maybe a green tea or two.

Cups five and six were beginning to fade, with an aroma reminiscent of a young sheng that had been brewed for a while: think floral, sweet, and light.  There weren't any earthy or dark, woody aromas to speak of here.
The flavor was still shu-pu, however.  Plenty of light wood notes along with a medium body and super smooth mouthfeel.  The sweetness faded rather gently, but was still noticeable enough to keep it interesting.

Overall, this was pretty good for shu pu.  I'd recommend it if you like depth that goes beyond that of what is offered in the Menghai cakes. Also, this tea was offered as a sample from Mosshorn!  Thanks!

See you next time!

The Green Poet

Monday, February 21, 2011

O-cha's Oku Yutaka Sencha

After being terribly busy for about a month, the dust has settled and my blog can begin again.  I love starting back up with a fresh mind, fresh spirit, and so on.

Today’s tea is more sencha.  A fellow teachatter, Mosshorn, sent me a sample of this in mid january, along with a good number of other different teas.

This isn’t quite deep steamed, nor is it purely medium steamed; it’s both!  Yes, long leaves and small dusty bits are in good proportion with this one.  Let’s see what we get.

I used a little over 3 grams of leaf in my Banko Kyusu, brewing only one 3 ounce cup at a time.  8, flash, 5, 3, 17.

The first cup, brewed at a relatively cool 140 degrees, came out more like a light steamed tea, with a light, vegetal sweetness and plenty of that fruit flavor and a sensation that reminds me of what some might call Qi.  Plenty of sugar snap peas and a light melon flavor too.

Cup two was still leaning more towards the light steamed side of sencha, but now with a  thicker body and solid umami that leaned toward the deep-steamed teas.  Plentiful herbal notes and what I could only describe as “bold plantiness”.  If I ever go into politics, I’m confident I can win, especially with bland, pedestrian descriptions such as the one above.  Green Poet for Guv’nor!

By the third cup, the flavors had moved into more familiar territory:  Cucumbers, Melons and Melon Rinds, along with a nice, low sweetness.  Cooler cups had a fleeting essence of peppermint along with a slight bitterness creeping around in my throat.

Cups four and five were mild, sweet, and lettuce-flavored, along with the ghosts of previous infusions. 

Overall, the Oku Yutaka had some pleasant flavors but lacked the smoothness I expect from a decent sencha.  Other brews with this stuff using different parameters gave very similar results.  Definitely give it a sample before committing, as with all teas.

Thanks for reading guys and gals.  See ya here, same green tea time, same green tea place.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Norbu Tea 2010 Spring Yunnan Mao Feng Green Tea

In my short career/hobby of tea drinking, I can definitely say that I've learned one thing:

Price is not a determinant of quality.

With this in mind, I found some inexpensive greens on Norbu and I figure that I would give them a shot.  4 bucks for 50 grams?  Sign me up!

The leaves were pretty, and had an aroma not unlike tropical fruit and walnuts mixed with ascorbic acid(Vitamin C).

Lots and Lots of buds.

The first cup was close to what I associate as 'Green Tea'.  Sweetness and light, bright flavors that seemed to be overcome by muscatel flavors as well as a flavor that reminds me of the smell of the birdhouse at my local zoo.

"But wait, crazy tea reviewer!" You exclaim.  "Green tea with muscatel flavors?"

Yes, my sane tea blog readers.  This tea tastes very similar to a First Flush Darjeeling.  Every infusion had that flavor, with others fading in and out.

The second through fourth cups gradually faded from light honeysuckle, Muscatel and steamed vegetables into a bitter, rough liquor with a sweet flavor that I can only describe as bizarre.  Imagine a strawberry sitting on top of raw spinach leaves, doused with black pepper.

It only looks innocent.

Cup five continued down that strange path, now with a distinct spicy flavor akin to nutmeg - raw nutmeg, ground up and dumped into one's mouth.  Needless to say, I quit after this point, simply baffled.  Inspection of the leaf showed slight oxidation on almost every leaf.


Different sessions with this tea gave similar results, despite using different parameters each time.  Personally, this isn't my favorite tea in the world.  I'm sure there is someone out there who loves this stuff - more power to them!

Next time I'll be back with more blabbing about green tea.  Thanks for reading!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The New Name

Hello there.

I'm going to be referred to as The Green Poet on this blog from now on.  More tea blogs will of course follow.


-The Green Poet

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

2008 Menghai Dayi "Autumn Aroma"

Menghai Dayi is that sort of company where most of us sink our teeth in when we’re learning about sheng pu, or maybe even shu pu.  For me learning about sheng pu meant plenty of young menghai samples.  And while I know better now of the effects on the GI, at least I have a decent working knowledge of quite a few menghai cakes.

Larger leaves than the usual menghai blend

This sample was acquired from JK teas, of which many sheng-pu samples can be acquired for pretty cheap.  I don’t remember how much the sample cost, but at that time, I didn’t care.  I just wanted to try another raw sheng from menghai.

The second cup

5.2 g | 185 | rinse 7 seconds | 5s, 3s, 4s, 4s, 5s, 5s, 7s

While this tea seemed promising with it’s big-ish leaves and sweetish aroma, the first few cups brought forth a moderate smokiness that seemed to prevent other flavors from appearing.  While the bitterness was expected, the harsh mouthfeel and powerful drying effect on my tongue weren’t exactly good attributes.

The most interesting cup of the bunch was the third infusion, where I noted flavors that I hadn’t experienced in a pu-erh before: …”tomato ketchup, smoke, herbs like oregano”.  Smoky tomato sauce pu-erh?  Whats next - Clamato infused leaves?

Cups four through seven were practically not needed, but recorded simply for the experience.  Typical menghai mushroom and sweetness, now paired with smoke, powerful roughness, and  acidity.

Overall, I can’t recommend this.  In my inexperience, I’ve had plenty of teas just like this one, some better than others, some not.  The smoke flavor present seemed to negate any flavor that may have been there before.  I noted a good bit of redness in the leaves,  which could mean oxidation , but I’m no expert at this - I’m a student, as we all are.

A little redness in the leaf.

I’ve kept this sample of this to taste it again in 2015.  Save your money, buy something that hasn’t been monkeyed with.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Yuuki-Cha's 2010 Spring Kanayamidori Sencha

I was brought into the world of Sencha with teas quite similar to this one.

I keep all the bags "Just in case"

The leaves are the largest I have ever seen on a light steamed sencha, or any sencha for that matter.  The aroma, as I recall it, is an intense bright sweetness with hints of flowers and no toastiness to speak of.  If there’s one thing that I actually don’t like in a sencha, it’s the acrid roasty flavor that is seen in some of the inexpensive stuff, and some of the nicer stuff too.  To me, toastiness belongs in Genmaicha and some Taiwanese Oolong.

Long, Aromatic Leaf

140 | 3 grams | 60s, 5s, 8s, 11s, 15s, 35s

I won’t make excuses here.  My brewing on this one was horrid.  Not enough leaf, the temperature was too low, and the infusion times were lengthened to compensate.  Even though the infusions actually came out okay, I resolved myself to never brew tea when I wasn’t feeling well and/or wasn’t thinking clearly due to fatigue.

The first infusion actually turned out fine, with a warm, buttery and sweet combination of flavors accented with a touch of vegetal bitterness in the throat.  I usually swirl the first few sips around in my mouth for 30 seconds or so to get the best flavour from it.  The liquor was smooth, which to me is an indication of good quality.

The second cup had a nice, brothy liquor with fruity accents, much akin to tropical fruit like mango or pineapple.  Along with the hit of fructose(for those of you not familiar, that is fruit sugar), a little bitterness in the back of the palate balanced things out.  The same flavors continued through cup four until cup five, where it dropped off suddenly, turning into pale, sweet green water.

I placed the liquor in my cha hai for better colour

Overall, this tea was just fine.  Later sessions with this tea really brought out immense depth of flavor and a rather powerful sleep inducing theanine rush.  Also, the one-cup at a time rule, which means only brewing enough tea to fill up one of my yunomi - seems to help as well.  If you’re an asamushi fan as I am, give this one a try.