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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The benevolence of a friend

I got a Christmas gift of sorts today in the mail, and as such I decided to pull a lengthy brew till I can take no more tonight while watching movies in my room. The gift was a sample of a late 80's 8582. This is my first late 80's and the 8582 has always been one of my favorite recipes and I'm assured by the sender that the older versions are of far better quality than even those of the 90's let alone current offerings.

The dry leaf aroma is whats really peaking my interest, it smells fresh but at the same time earthy, it smells well aged without much in the way of wet storage and molding.

I have not been drinking puerh as long as some, not even drinking tea as long as many, but from all the aromas rising from the cup I just know its going to be a great time. Slight hint of the damp wood indicating its age, but the rest of the aroma is mostly fresh, besides a hint of mushroom. I'm getting Bamboo and hints of a fresh cut grass, but there are also hints of fruit, perhaps a mix of apple with certain melons, and just the lightest touch of camphor.

Day 1:
Its taste is rich like coffee, and has so many dimensions. The weirdest thing is I'm getting this flavor profile that reminds me of mint oreo cookies. This tea though tea somehow is rich and fulfilling like cookies and cream.

Into the third infusion I'm thinking this tea is redefining my whole view of aged puerh. I swear I'm getting a slightly berry flavor. After the second could rival any cup of coffee I have ever had in terms of boldness of flavor. But needless to say Chaqi is alive and well and I'm so relaxed I have to remind myself I am keeping notes on this tea. If I keep on progressing into relaxation at this rate I very well may be humming and singing to myself with mind for nothing but the tea.

Infusion six brings out a flavor I struggle to describe its fruity yet lingering on the sides of the tongue. But I must say I think if I didn't drink after the first infusion I would still be tasting the first infusion. But on the lingering finish comes out a hint of orange.

Around the 10th infusion it no longer looks like coffee though its still darker than just about any non puerh tea would normally brew. The most amazing this is as the infusions go on the tea naturally gets tamer so I'm doing longer infusions, which while they are not very powerful, have a mouth feel which is impeccable

Well I nearly had my Lins kettle full (took a heck of a long time to boil), and if I pour one more infusion it will run dry something I always try to avoid. so it is off, and will be resumed tomorrow. I'm doing an overnight steep, though after 15 or so infusions the longest infusion I've done yet was 5 minutes, meaning this tea probably has much much more to give.

In this tea lies truth,
emphatic reinforcer
of our inner mind.

-Adam Yusko

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


This is not a review, as it was experimenting with matcha from a source I refuse to mention on my blog. I think matcha might turn into a semi regular thing for me, as the buzz from this was amazing, though the taste was lack luster at best.

That being said I'm glad I got this tea, and I feel its a good thing to keep in mind. Practice with the teas you are less fond of, because if you can make them taste good, its easier to dial in the better teas to make them exceptional. But matcha is a tea I feel needs an exceptional amount of pratice as I think it has one of the most involved brewing procedures of any tea out there, and I'm not talking about the formal ceremony. The effort put in to produce the optimal frothy top is not like pouring from a yixing pot, and I'd say its much harder than pouring from a gaiwan. Though I do say if you burn yourself making matcha you are doing something horribly wrong, whereas its almost common place to have very hot fingers while pouring from a gaiwan.

That being said I think matcha needs to be tried by people, to decide if they like it or don't like it, but I highly encourage making yourself to fully appreciate the effort.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Aged Ti Kuan Yin (Red Foil)

I believe the year on this tea is 2001, and I was told it was a high temperature roast, and it was reroasted every two to three years. While I would not say the leaves look black like a Classic/Traditional/Charcoal roast, they are far from green, more of an olive tending towards the brownish side.

But the dry leaf aroma is actually quite welcoming lots of dried fruits, and a sweeter candied smell I assume coming from the roast. But upon rising the leaves the aroma of the roast becomes much more pronounced.

This tea came from Kung Fu Tea Arts on ebay.

The aroma is most interesting, a combination of the dry leaves and the leaves after the rinse, but all the while smelling very sweet.

The flavor is mild, but delicate, and sweet like a good fruit should be sweet, not like candy bar or sugar sweet. And with longer infusions the color has a hint of a ruby tinge to it, though the leaves now look basically black.

The aroma of the second infusion is much different a bit of a sour almost rubarb note came out, but the flavor is still delicate and tantalizing.

It changes ever so slightly over the next few infusions getting slightly more sour, and slightly less sweet, but still always interesting an never really over powering.

I do want to say that this tea is characteristic of aged tea in that its not giving up all that easily, I think the better parts of it are behind it, but its still got more to give after the 6th or 7th infusion. I did not count but I want to say this tea was the first tea I've had in a long time that lasted this many infusions that was not a puerh.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Kagoshima Standard Bancha

I sort of went out on a limb with this vendor. They are relatively new and found me on Twitter, but I decided I'll give them a shot as I've been on a Japanese Green kick lately. I must say their packaging was impeccable, and very attractive as photographed. Inside the green paper is a foil pouch containing the tea, I assume nitrogen flushed.

I decided to start with their standard Bancha as its price is very appealing on their site, and sometimes I feel you get a good idea of how a company views the tea they sell by what they select as their "low grade" offerings.

Kagoshima Bancha Leaves

The big downside to this tea was its color, at times it reminded me of a fukamushi (deep steamed) in the sense that it was a solid persistent color. But The real downside to the color is there was always a slight hint of brown in the brew, but I do not have enough experience with Bancha to know if it is normal.

But the Aroma of the tea was great, and the flavor somewhat complex. I thought long and hard on how I was going to write up the flavor, as it was a multitude of raw vegetables most prominent was radish. Which is where the contention came into play I'm not a fan of the bitter taste of radish and that was what often came out front in this tea. But while the bitter radish like flavor is not my favorite flavor it was not unpleasant, and I could see someone who really likes that flavor enjoy this tea immensely.

Kagoshima Bancha in Hagi

* Edit: When I first made this I made the mistake of treating it like Sencha. But by increasing the Water temperature and shortening the infusion time by about half the color issue is fixed. And the flavor is much more balanced, and more enjoyable for everyone. We are always learning with tea, especially when branching out to a new area.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Gyokuro Rimpo

This is another tea thrown in the swap with a friend of mine. I must say I've been quite impressed with gyokuro-s they truly are a great tea.

The aroma is buttery and vegetal, but there is something about the aroma that is just incredibly comforting. It perhaps has hints of certain spiced fruits (think apple cinnamon). But I love the taste of Gyokuro, its almost miso soup like, but incredibly thick and savory (definitely umami).

Gyokuro Rampo

I'm amazed a really long third infusion brought out this incredibly sweet aroma, and the taste is still holding in there with the umami just starting to fade.

All in all Gyokuro is quickly becomming my favorite Japanese Green tea, if not Tea in general.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Ippodo Obukcha

With a friend, as I was just starting to discover Japanese Greens, him and I did a swap, I sent him some aged puerh he has yet to try, and he sent me a goody box full of Japanese greens, just about all of which from Ippodo.

Sadly he didn't tell me till today he would like me to publish my notes on the teas he sent, and both Sencha's and 1 of the Gyokuro samples he sent are long gone. Though I will note that they were amazing, and the Gyokuro was simply amazing to say the least.

This tea is a Bancha genmaicha, but it has relatively few rice kernels compared to the amount of tea. Most of Ippodo's teas if not all are Asamushi, or lightly steamed.

The color of this tea is a slightly greenish yellow, but I couldn't get a good picture as its just washed out in the pink loquat glaze Biwa hagi.

The toasted grains are a nice touch, and add a little bit more substance to this tea, which is peaceful, but its amazing for the price. The tea has a slight hint at umami flavor, but nothing compared to Gyokuro.

This tea is just a pleasure to drink, and treat casually.

Happy Holidays

I want to wish everyone a happy holiday season, and hope there is always plenty of tea to be drunk. I do want to say that while it may seem that my blog is not getting updated often, it is because a policy I have where I do not review or really talk much about teas I have received as samples or as part of a swap on my blog. The exceptions are if its a free sample thrown in by a vendor, or if the person encourages me to blog about them.

So I've actually been drinking a fair bit of tea from swaps, and trying to finish off certain teas to trim my collection slightly.

But again I'm wishing everyone a happy holiday season, and apologize if the amount of posts slow slightly.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Menghai 8582 batch 801

So I received a box I've been hoping for for awhile today, it included some young puerh, as I realize I have yet to try some of these classic recipes at a younger age. Though I've been warned by many that the quality of many of the classic recipes was compromised during the puerh bubble. So with the 8582 first thing I notice is the leaves are already on the browner side, not rusty as in aged, but sorta that greyish brown, much different than the 2009 Nada cake. I'm wondering if a year can really make that much of a difference? Though this cake comes from Hong Kong, which is notorious for wet storage, so that could very easily explain why it looks slightly older than it possibly should (Mind you I am on the new side with puerh from many different years, so I am unsure what a cake should look like at any age).

Is color is on the more orange side, but it definitely smells fresh. Its aroma is like grass, pineapple and bananas. Its got a bit of a malty character but its quite strong, though compared to other young cakes the year might have helped a bit, and it could be the compromising of the recipes towards drink now. But it still has a bit of that banana like tropical feel to it that I picked up in the aroma.

Actually it bares its fangs in the second infusion, much more potent and stronger, with a distinct nutty aroma.

In the third infusion its almost like a bitter rose water, with a slightly candy like characteristic.

This is proving to be quite interesting.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Jing Tea Shop Fujian Yong Chun Fo Shou

I've put off trying this since I got the package because upon reading the name I was very hesitant. I have had a few Yong Chun Fo Shou's in the past, and they have never been great. They always seemed like they were an attempt at a Green Tie Guan Yin, but it lacked in certain areas, and nothing set them apart in a postive fashion. But as I have been thrilled with just about everything else I have tried from Jing Tea Shop, I'm reserving a bit of optimism for this tea.

The aroma gives a hint as to the taste. And this one is distinctly different than all the Green TGY's I've had so far, while it still has the same buttery sensation. This tea seems to give a hint at an animal fat sort of situation, as in its not just the dairy fat its meat fat also. Weird description but its what I'm picking up on as the key difference.

It opens up and gets much more Floral, and Fruity later on. This one is making me second guess my thoughts on Green Oolongs and definitely Yong Chun Fo Shou.

This tea, an image
of a Buddha's hand at peace,
passing on such bliss.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

New Site Launched.

So while I for most of the past year focused mainly on Chinese Teas and the teaware to go along with it, I had a strong attraction towards Hagi pieces. But sadly there is not a good source of Hagi information in English, at least not all in one place.

So this site is primarily to catalog my collection as it grows, and show of the beautiful Hagi pieces in a non studio environment which I feel makes them look rather sterile and not that impressive.

But secondly to hopefully share information I find out about Hagi with the English speaking world, and I do not claim to be an expert in any sense of the word.

So Here is a project that I hope all of you can enjoy.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Kung Fu Asian Art Tie Guan Yin

I had two of these packets thrown in with my first order from them. I talked with the owner as this was completely unlabeled, I could only venture to guess that it was some sort of balled oolong, so I was guessing a TGY. This one came in a Golden Foil individual packets, and I believe he said this was either the 09 Autumn Premium or the regular 09 Autumn, I am unsure which.

The dry leaves smell nice, and they do not look the most picturesque, they look about on par with most green TGY leaves I have seen so far.

The color is pleasing, and the tea overall seems incredibly delicate, which amazes me as usually the green TGY have a flavor that cuts through everything and is dominating, this is a subtle mix of many flavors, but perhaps too subtle?

But its buttery, and slightly fruity, but in a non sweet way.

If you push it (steep it extra long) on an early infusion its still drinkable but the non sweet fruity notes are replaced with strong vegetal notes, such as spinnach, and broccoli.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


The Subtle Change

I would like to announce that I have accepted a guest blogger position on the T Ching blog to start in January. So for those of you wh o already read that blog you will now see an occasional post from me, and for those of you that do not it has a wealth of information and has attracted the likes of people like James Norwood-Pratt to be a writer for them, so I feel honored to have my writings posted among such people.

When talking to a friend about another project I was thinking about undertaking, he offered me a chance to collaborate with him on a site of his which is sort of a hodgepodge of topics that are of interest to him, one of which is Tea. His site is: Whimsical Curmudgeon at which I have already posted a brief article, and will probably submit an article when it strikes my fancy.

Sadly I am going to be keeping you in the dark about a few other projects I am working on until they materialize into something a bit more real. One is nearing completion, but another is basically in a dreams phase right now, and even if it were to work out it probably wouldn't come to life for at least another year.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Porcelain Vs. Yixing a head to head.

With the last of my Jing tea shop Qi Lan, I am doing a head to head brewing compareing my decently seasoned Yixing pot to a neutral eggshell gaiwan.

Keeping in mind I'm probably a bit brainwashed as to the qualities each of these possesses. The most notable thing I have is the one in the yixing has so many more layers and so much more depth to it. If I'm to consider the porcelain as a clean slate and only that tea, then it strikes me that yes the yixing is seasoned, and while its producing better tasting tea, its in all honesty traits from many different teas, rolled up into one, and while the main character is the tea in the pot now, it gives off layers and depth from so many other teas.

That being said the porcelain seems to be lacking in the aroma, and slightly on the taste. But one thing thats just been baffling me is the mouth feel from the porcelain just seems so much better. its like a smooth velvet while in the yixing its like a standard pair of jeans. And actually the second infusion I like better in the porcelain as all the main flavor components are there except in the yixing the roasting is emphasized whereas in porcelain its noted but it is not the focus.

This just keeps on surprising me the further into the infusions I go the more I can tune into the differences and now they seem almost like night and day. And I'm not entirely sure which I like better as they are so different that they offer different things, and its quite surprising that the same leaves can make two cups of tea so different under the same conditions.

Friday, December 4, 2009

O-Cha Miyabi


This is an Uji sencha which is Medium steamed (chumushi). It comes from O-Cha and I highly recommend the Green Tea gift set, if you are looking to get into some good japanese greens. The best part about the gift set is it includes two wonderful tins which are double lidded and a nice size for the typical amount of a japanese Green you would like to have open at once. When it comes to teaware I've jumped off the deep end, I've fallen in love with hagi.

So as for this tea, its a little less sweet than that Oku Yutaka, and presents more of an pleasing vegetal taste. Its slightly astringent but I liken it to a Cooked Asparagus, cooked just to the point of being soft.

I actually have a hard time describing Japanese greens, as they tend to be completely contradictory with every sip, very powerful, yet very subdued, very vegetal, yet somehow all around pleasing, Maybe I'm showing my age but its like a very healthy dessert, its like having a salad after dinner, but somehow it has this quality that still convinces me I had something sweet.

The leaves are soaking
in a fresh batch of water.
Bliss, a cup of tea.

Green Tea - For Your Health
green tea

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Nadacha 1960's Wang Zi Loose leaf Puerh

This is a Revisit, with the original able to be found here. I should note that there is quite a bit different between these two brews. The other one was in a Zini yixing pot which was roughly 100 ml in size, this one is in a 60ml zhuni pot. But probably the biggest difference is the fact that I am using the Lins Kettle for this one.

A 15 second steep and the tea is black like coffee, only more so than most coffees I typically see. While the aroma is quite nice, and I don't know how to describe it but saying the aroma seems much more complete then you usually get with a tea, like an umami of the nose. And its taste is so full and there is so much flavor that its almost overwhelming.

Several infusions in and I still don't know how to describe the taste of these pitch black infusions, its just powerful, not shy about anything, and in a sense flawless.

Granted I'm on longer infusions now, but the infusions are still powerful and only slightly less jet black. But the aroma is slightly fruity, while the taste is starting to fade.

Sadly this does not have the staying power of that mythical tea that Hobbes had lasting 60+ infusions. I'm sad to say that this tea is fading after probably about 8, though its color isn't letting up much at all.

In the cup a night,
the age shows in precious drops
time in its glory.

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