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.