Monday, January 31, 2011

Goomtee SFTGFOP-1 Autumnal

I am somewhat of a sucker for Autumnal flush Darjeeling teas. I find it a novelty, in a sense, because for the most part I observe that only First and Second flush Darjeeling teas have die-hard fans and critics. My palate has strayed off the mainstream path and I have had the privilege to experience some very under appreciated teas.

This tea is direct from Darjeeling via DarjeelingTeaXpress.
Ordering from the source can have a tendency to empty a wallet at quite an alarming rate, but it is well worth it if one orders the right products.

SFTGFOP-1....What does that stand for, you ask?
Special Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe 1.

Supposedly this is the highest grade of black tea to be had. Do not be fooled though; the grade only denotes leaf size and the ratio of bud to leaf. It gives no insight into the flavor of the tea.

The dry leaf, as you can see, is stunning. This is a prime example of what I personally look for in a Darjeeling tea (second and autumnal flush only; first flush should be lighter in appearance).
Wafting up from the leaves are two different dimensions of olfactory pleasure.
Squash and cabbage aromas present the first glimpse.
Almond and vanilla notes follow.

Although a mix of mashed squash and shaved almonds atop a bed of cabbage, with vanilla bean garnish might not sound appetizing, let me tell you otherwise!

My nose was drawn to the steam rising ever so gently out of the teapot. I had to see what my palate was about to consume...

Strong scents of vanilla and almond were quite noticeable.
As I inhaled deeper my mind was brought back to one of the joys of autumn; dry leaves, piled into a mound, waiting for someone to jump in and let leaves fly.

The liquor was strongly nutty; almond.
Muscatel came forth out of the background.
A mild astringency bit my tongue and the sides of my mouth.
Vegetal tastes of green beans presented themselves thereafter.
Once exiting the confines of my palate, the tea left with me remnants of honey and nutmeg.

As the liquor cools, stronger vegetal notes appear.
I enjoy that even a tea that cannot be used for further steeping still changes.
That is one of the beauties of tea.

One of the reasons that I adore Autumnals so much is because they are foolproof. They are overly simple to steep and will turn out palatable, brewed in almost any fashion.

One of life's simple pleasures.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Silky Green (... Milk Oolong?)

I have been frightfully busy, and have an ever growing pile of teas to review. It is not exactly the best combination.
But either way, I will compose reviews when possible!
This is a part of my collection of samples from Bird Pick.
They say this is a "Silky Green Tea," from Taiwan.

I say it is a Milk Oolong tea, perhaps.

Creamy, sweet, buttermilk-y, and squash notes float up from the dry leaf. I do not have faith in this tea as far as it being an authentic milk oolong. I have had only one milk oolong I knew to be the real deal, so I judge milk oolongs off of that experience.

This tea was put to the test. I used a limited amount of leaf, brewed in a large pot with boiling water.
Extraction of every component in this tea was necessary for the rigorous test.

The aroma was not surprising;
milk, cream, and an aroma not unlike that of warm cooking oil. This liquor is going to be saturated with sweetness.

I was correct.
The texture is very oily, creamy and buttery. The sweetness is very prevalent and coats the mouth.
One thing that did surprise me was that I could still taste tea. Now, mind you, it was not green tea I tasted; it was oolong. The tea looks like it has been processed in the fashion of other oolongs, and there is oxidation on the edges of the leaves. I would think this is a fairly persuasive characteristic. Also, the liquor was absent of astringency, which is not uncommon for an oolong, but is very uncommon for a green tea made in fully boiling water.

Also, looking at the liquor as it was infusing, I noticed small white flecks mingling among the dancing leaves. It was not down, they were flecks.
My guess; partially soluble material, such as a flavoring or a powder.

With all these clues, I am still not sure whether this tea is an authentic milk oolong, or if it really is a green tea that has undergone different processing.
I enjoyed analyzing this tea.
Whether or not it is a true "Milk" oolong, I am not sure.

What do you all think?


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Castleton Autumnal FTGFOP-1

As a few of you know, I enjoy the autumnal flush teas from Darjeeling the most out of all the flushes.
I was able to order up some very fresh, 2010 autumnal flush Darjeelings for a very reasonable price from DarjeelingTeaXpress.
I came about this vendor, which is very new, by means of Lahikmajoe's blog. He talked up the teas quite nicely and it, being the time I enjoy autumnals, enticed me to purchase a few.

This is a Castleton Estate Autumnal Flush FTGFOP-1, made from China tea plants.

The dry leaf is delicate but still releases scents of squash, pumpkin, banana, muscatel and basil.
Squash is a common theme I have noticed with the autumn flush teas. To me, it is a kind of trademark.

The liquor is easy-going and absolutely fantastic.

Brown sugar sweetness;
butternut squash notes;
pine wood on the exit.

Citrus (referring to oranges, which have a much sweeter and lighter citric acid taste than do limes or lemons) and a cooling mint comprise the aftertaste.

The liquor is smooth, rich and full, but not overpowering. The liquid is quite light for the color.
It presents the palate with something simple to enjoy.

Texturally pleasing with a delicious flavor; my kind of tea.
It is comforting in the winter season.

A very mild astringency sets in only about 4 cups into the session.
The tea has clarity and a simplistic form.
Very straightforward and honest.

I admire this darjeeling for its savory qualities and its simplicity, which extends even to the brewing. It is not picky as far as parameters go.
It is one of those teas you can dump into a pot, pour hot water on, and leave to steep without really paying much careful attention, yet, it still turns out a pleasing cup.

From time to time, I enjoy something so very primitive.

Beauty is not all about complexity; sometimes, even the most beautiful things can be found in the simplest forms.


Sunday, January 9, 2011

Thank You

Thank you to all who support this blog.

I appreciate every view, every comment and every acknowledgment.

It has been a great experience and I do not plan on stopping any time soon.

Also, thank you to all the other bloggers, forum members and viewers out there who comprise the whole of the online tea community. Without everyone who is involved, it would be no where.

I humbly invite you to look at yet one other tea blog list on the web.
Thank you, once again.


Saturday, January 1, 2011

Supreme Organic Dragon Well

Happy New Year to each and every one of you dedicated (or first time) readers of this blog. I find that with the coming of the new year, more than likely, people construct resolutions. To all those of you who participated in this tradition, good luck to you. For all those who were uninterested or just a bit lackluster, I concur. The only thought I had was, “Find and drink better tea,” but I realized that action has been ongoing since I first fell into my passionate interest for the leaf. So be it.

This tea that the new year has been brought in with is an offering from Bird Pick. It has been sitting in my “To review” pile for a while. I had been too busy with holiday festivities, socialization, and relaxation to consume my ever growing collection and append the entire process in the written and captured fashion.

I have also been taking advantage of the opportunity to fulfill another of my hobbies while I have the chance.

In Indiana, there is no place close to what is in New Mexico. I can honestly say, I am a desert rat at heart.

This is a Supreme Organic Dragon Well green tea.

The dry leaf exhibits chestnuts (only they were not, at the time “roasting on an open fire”), fresh spinach and dry vegetation, of course referring to some form of dry, piled leaves, various twigs, and a bit of hay perhaps.

The water is cooled to the appropriate temperature and the brewing process begins.

The aroma of the liquor is heavily laden with sweet grass. Floral tones and pears are barely sensed.

Once upon the palate, green apples and grass begin the flavor profile. A very light roast finishes off the taste, and leaves behind a delicate astringency. Given time, though, the astringency becomes very powerful. Before my next batch is prepared, my mouth cannot even salivate.

This is one of the most sensitive Dragon Wells I have ever encountered. It is overly persnickety in every aspect. It took me a few tries to understand the correct method to brewing of this tea.

One of the characteristics I enjoy about this tea is that as the tea is brewed more and more, the flavor becomes sweeter. I have not had many teas that possess this quality, but I enjoy and appreciate it.

Thank you to Bird Pick, and again, a Happy New Year to all!