Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Lao Tai Di Qing Xin

This tea came along as a sample with my initial order from Greg.

Nantou, Fall, 2010...
I have no complaints. I hold a special place on my palate for Taiwanese teas. I am a sucker, to say the least.

The dry leaf smells of autumn; dry leaves and dry wood. The roast smells like it is at a good level. The tea smells rich.
It is mildly peachy, but reminds me of the way an old book smells when the pages are flipped.

The aroma of the liquor fills the room with hints of woody caramel and cocoa.
It is strongly aromatic, which is surprising for a tea such as this.
So far, it brings to mind similar qualities that would be in a good yancha.
It also smells older than it is. Aged oolong is another favorite of mine.

The taste is not too sweet, but still very fruity: stone fruit and raisin.
A light roast compliments this flavor and balances out the tea nicely.

Almond flavors dominate the latter infusions of this tea, with light hints of vanilla tagging along.

My tea intuition (if there is such a thing) is screaming at me to buy this tea in bulk and age it. I do not even know if it will age well, but this was one of the first thoughts that entered my head.
It may be of value to buy a yixing storage vessel and a bit more of this fine tea.

Wonderful...absolutely wonderful.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Xi Hu Long Jing

Fresh (well, relatively) Long Jing.
I have not had a good Dragonwell in quite some time.
Browsing through the selection at Norbu Tea while shopping for the Shade-Grown TGY, this tea caught my eye.

It is a good summer tea.

The dry leaves look stunning, boldly displaying their green color, while yet maintaining a humble demeanor.
The aromas coming off the leaves are of pine nuts, roasted greens, and fresh cut wood.

I prefer my dragonwells to be a bit on the more roasted side, but this tea has a good balance of both a roast, and a vegetal smell.

I brewed this tea in a manner similar to how Gingko prepares all her green teas; glass cup.
This method is a bit unfamiliar to me, but it turned out to be simple, and effective at producing good results time and time again.

This tea is clean.
Roasted corn and a mild sweetness fill my mouth upon entrance of the liquor.
There is a perfect balance of astringency and sweetness. It is a satisfying drink.

The aftertaste is cooling, fresh and vegetal, and is very crisp in texture.

The leaves are gorgeous brewed as well. The quality is apparent, and I am not in the least bit disappointed.

This tea gave me the opportunity to slow down, relax, and unwind my nerves, which happened to be quite frustrated at the time...
Simple, difficult to mess up, good quality, decent price...
All good signs.
Thank you Greg!


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Shade-Grown Tie Guan Yin

A mention of this tea on Twitter from Greg at Norbu Teas perked my interest right away.
It is unconventional, not highly accessible, and it was the first time I had heard of such a tea.

Growing tea in shade is very common in Japan, and gives the vibrant green color all so familiar to those who drink matcha, gyokuro, or sencha.

So basically take your average, nuclear green (so affectionately named by some bloggers) , Anxi TGY, and make it even more green. At this point, it might be referred to as radioactive green.

But all sarcasm aside, this tea is truly unique.

Some might consider this a grassy tea, but the aroma displays more characteristics than just that.
The dry leaf smells highly floral, fresh, and has a distinct minty evergreen trait to it.

The aroma coming off of the liquor smells much sweeter, and less like vegetation.
Honey scents mix with lemongrass, and collide with the same evergreen characteristic that was evident in the dry leaf.
The higher concentration of amino acids and chlorophyll really do bring out quite different attributes than a standard TGY.

A sweet, rich, evergreen tasting liquid is the final product of the leaves.
It is well rounded, just floral enough, and has very low astringency. This comes as a bit of a surprise to me, seeing as Japanese teas can have quite high levels of astringency, and this tea does, in some ways, bear resemblance to a sencha or bancha. I suppose the difference would be that this TGY was not steamed.

Another interesting quality of this tea is that it is very "wet." It does not dry out the mouth, but rather it induces the production of saliva.

After the fourth and final infusion was finished, a very vegetal aftertaste presented itself, conjuring up tastes most closely resembling spinach. It was a clean finish, however.

This tea is very crisp. It is not smooth and creamy in texture, but has sharp, distinct flavors.

The tea is lacking in endurance, although I did not use quite so much dry leaf as I should have (just a personal preference). It lasts long enough for a pleasing session, though!

I would buy this tea again, and I would recommend it for anyone looking for something a little off the beaten path.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Second Chance for Zealong Pure

As should be noted, the first batch of Zealong Pure that I tasted and wrote about was a 2010 tea. Obviously, this would have adverse effects on a tea which relies on freshness to bring out the true taste.

I took an offer from a representative of the company to try a batch of the 2011 tea.

My expectations of the tea were not better, or worse. I wanted to see this tea through a different lens.

What should be noted first is the appearance of the dry leaf: much brighter green, and a much better texture. The tea was not dried out and crunchy, but waxy and smooth.

The aroma of the dry leaf was actually quite similar to the first batch, except exponentially more pronounced. The tea still carried carried with it the smell of a high mountain spring: clean and crisp. There was also a slight hint of honeydew and lime, which reminded me of an alishan oolong I was sipping on in my office earlier this day.

This is where the notes stop...

When I am confronted with a tea which truly captivates me, I am reluctant to write my observations. It dilutes the experience of the session.

This was not the same tea as I previously tasted a few weeks ago.
This was a brand new and delightful display of a quality tea, and I am happy to have had the opportunity to revisit this tea which I so casually dismissed the first time around.

Do I still think the tea is worth the price though...?
When I finish the rest of this tea, I will let you know. If I miss it, it is worth the price. If I don't miss it, it isn't.

To the Zealong company, you have my utmost respect.


Monday, July 11, 2011

Long time no see...

Yes, I did attend the World Tea Expo again this year. I must say, it was fantastic and more successful than last year's (at least for me).

I have also been traveling the domestic world, as I have new-found flight benefits with Southwest.
So, if any of you would want to meet up for a weekend of tea, do please email me, because it wouldn't be a problem for me to fly out to meet people.

I obtained an almost obscene amount of teas to taste and reflect upon, so do be looking for those notes in the upcoming weeks.
Also, there will be posts about highlights of the Expo, whether that be a company or an event or simply just someone I met.

Sir William of the Leaf will be back in full force starting tomorrow.
Thank you for your outstanding patience, dear readers. It is highly appreciated.