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?