Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Land of Enchantment - Home

It is good to be back home.

I left twelve degree weather and four inches of snow and arrived to seventy degrees and a magnificent sun staring me in the face.

New Mexico is a land full of wonders. It is my home.

The vibrant blue sky welcomes me.
There will be no White Christmas for me.

It is good to be back.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Yellow Stone Phoenix

This is the second tea in my odyssey of Bird Pick samples.

Like all DanCongs, this tea is from the Guangdong province in China.
Usually these teas are named after a specific scent (honey orchid, osmanthus, etc..), but I am not sure what a "Yellow Stone" scent is.

The dry leaf has a powerful fruity aroma, displaying currents, lemon zest and strawberries, the latter being the most powerful. Usually DanCongs remind me of peaches and apricots, but this tea stands out from the rest, just like its name.

In the dry leaf, strawberry is the most powerful scent.
The liquor follows suit;
although in the liquor aroma, the strawberry aroma is intensified even greater.

It is so strong in fact, that I cannot pull out any other dimensions.
This tea is serious about its strawberries.

Again, the rising star in the taste is the ever powerful strawberry, leaping forth as the victor of the most profound taste.
Honey, out of no where, becomes the runner-up. The sweetness of the tea is ever-present but not overwhelming, as I find to be the case in some other DanCongs.
Another difference in this phoenix is that the taste is dominated by fruity aspects and refuses to show any floral qualities.

A balancing astringency comes with each infusion of this tea, and after it has subsided, honey and wheat become the two lingering tastes.

This is a wonderful tea, and as you can see from the infusing leaves, the quality is quite apparent. There are many different oxidation levels and I think that it is the blending of those differences that creates the unique characteristics of this tea.
Even though my descriptions may have made this sound like fairly complex tea, it really is not. The flavors are very up front and honest. I did not have to dig to hard to sense the qualities of this tea.

Once again, thank you to the fine folks at Bird Pick for this experience.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Supreme Gong Fu Black

Bird Pick Tea & Herb contacted me recently and kindly sent samples of some of their unflavored and unscented teas.
The only downside of the teas right off the bat was that there were no specified regions of origin and no year / season of harvest. I do not let details like that deter me from the tea though.

I drink tea for what it is.

This tea is their "GongFu Black."
By look and smell of the dry leaf I am presuming that it is a keemun, or at least from Anhui province.

The dry leaf smells of chocolate, cherry, maple wood and earth.
There are a few scattered golden buds here and there among the multitude of small, wiry, black leaves. I enjoy a black tea with a good amount of buds, as I like the fruity sweetness that they impart into the flavor.

The aroma wafting off of the liquor is very fruity, with the essence of cherry and honey.
Maple floats up as well. This tea is quite sweet.
I can tell that it is rich, and it smells fresh.

As I sip my cup, the full flavor shows;
deep, rich cherry with a mild astringency.

It still presents that special something that keemun teas all have in common. It is distinct, but nothing that I can describe in words.

The finish on all the infusions is distinctly grape. Not Welch's Concord grape, but closer to a wine grape.
Wood and maple are also long lasting flavors.
The tea is very clean and cleanses the palate.

The tea lasts quite a long time and it deserves the title of a GongFu.
I push the tea to 7 infusions. That is impressive for a black tea.

Bird Pick has a good start in my book!
I thank the company for their generosity.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

2006 Haiwan "Purple Leaf"

I cannot recall where I purchased this specific bing, as it was a while ago. Although I did happen upon the same tea being sold at Norbu Tea.

I will not go into the science of the meaning of purple leaves. Look it up on Google if so interested.

This tea is from the Haiwan factory in Xishuangbanna. This tea has many memories for me, as it was my first sheng pu'erh cake that I purchased. Learning how to brew this tea was trial and error for quite a while as I tried to find my bearings.

The dry leaf smells of tobacco, chocolate and some form of foliage. I cannot put my finger on what vegetal smell arises from the leaf.

The aroma of the liquor is exquisite. There are scents of roasted nuts, savory qualities and a sort of "well-seasoned" smell.

In the taste there is watercress up front.
When I let the liquor sit on the palate for a while, a brothy quality shows.
There is a distinct meaty, protein taste. The closest description I can conjure up is a thick slice of smoked bacon.
It is not a bad quality, just intriguing.
I have never tasted bacon in a tea.

When I think of tea, pork usually is not on my list of descriptors.

The endurance of the hog related qualities is unshakable. It lasts for quite some time!
Astringent, smoky notes appear in the latter infusions of this meaty tea.

It is a very warming tea, as I start sweating within the first few cups.

The more I drink the tea, the more I come to appreciate it and enjoy it.

Rummaging through the wet leaves, I spot a few surprises.
The above picture is of two infused tea buds. I have never found buds in a tea before.

Always search your leaves. Sometimes it tells you more about the tea than anything.