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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Mandarins Tea Room Menghai Green Brick

MTR 80s Menghai Green Brick

I have been doing my best to remain open to every single tea I try, as usually only after I write of an entire category of teas do I find one that makes me stand back and reconsider the entire category. This is a sample I received with my last order from the Mandarins tea room, I think I got a few extra samples due to an inventory mix up with one of the teas I ordered. But I am really glad he included it though I am a bit sad for my bank account, I was just about ready to write off all Cooked Puerhs, and puerhs that include cooked among raw leaves such as this brick from the 80's.

But I do not know if it is the cold wet rainy weather out side that is making me enjoy this thoroughly warming earthy tea so much, but for my current mood it seems absolutely perfect. Its coming across as so incredibly smooth with a good bit of camphor and herbs adding the edge that draws you into the taste sensation completely.

So I am on Electric Hotplate take 3, after having the last electric hotplate I bought die on my after about a month, I was hesitant to buy another but my new one came across highly reviewed, especially among people who use it for tea. So I am back in the habit of using my Lins kettle. So I feel more comfortable digging into the few aged puerh samples I have and a young Puerh sample I got from the Official Teachat Tasting Initiative that I am highly eager to try as to my understanding it is not available for sale, but it is a Nannou from The Mandarins private collection.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Mandarins Tea Room 1st Grade Jin Jun Mai

MTR 1st Grade Jin Jun Mai
This tea came as a sample, included with my last order from The Mandarins Tea Room, which is now joining forces with The Tea Gallery. That partnership honestly has me wishing I was still close enough to NYC to visit somewhat easily.

I honestly am not sure if my nose is just broken, or somehow when brewing this tea granny/grandpa style it just seems to have a rather reduced scent. The dry leaves smelled amazing, and the tea while its aroma is not over whelming is a gentle comforting aroma, of chocolate and freshly baked bread. Its taste is equally reassuring and very comforting. I have a hard time describing this tea in any other fashion than comforting.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Yuuki-cha Kanayamidori


This concludes a tasting of many of Yuuki-cha's Asamushi Sencha's. I thought they were all rather good though one of them was a bit of an odd ball (The Oku Yutaka). Though I will say I just can not go through sencha like some people, though that could be in part due to the start of my interest in Korean Teas. Because before I got into them, I was actually having Sencha about 5-6 times a week, then after those, and when my schedule got busy again, it went down to about once or twice.

I honestly think that my view on asamushi sencha is to start with cooler steeps staring at 150-160 degrees fahrenheit and slightly longer infusions, while raising the temps slightly from then on. I feel it offers a better tasting infusion and extends the longevity of the leaf a bit more (as the steeps are not extended by that much, but the lower temps pull less out initially).

Kanaya Midori Color

My experiments with this tea tend to point to that as with cooler steeps it is more broth like and rather soothing, but when brewed with temps closer to 180 from the get go it gets the bitterness Asamushi can be known to have when brewed to hot.

Anyway like I said at the beginning I think yuuki-cha does a good job sourcing their asamushi's and I hope to try them again.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Nearly a Year Later, tasting 2007 Wuyi Star Da Hong Pao Brick

Nearly a year ago I first tasted this brick, and I honestly have not touched it since. While I have long since decided to give up on my little "aging" tests, as they are just not feasible as currently I see myself moving many times in the next 10 or more years, so the idea of having to move tea over and over again is rather daunting, especially since tea collections can grow rather fast if you are planning on aging stuff for many years.

So I must admit I was not expecting much upon opening up the package, it had let out an amazing smell, though perhaps a touch on the sour side? The brick was much easier to break up this time, but it may just have to do with me working on the opposite side of the brick than I did last time.

The aroma is still spicy with a hint of sourness to it, but the taste is actually not all that bad. While the color is incredibly dark, the taste is full of hints of chocolate and hints of coffee like tastes.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Sadness that is Stale Tea

I am sure we all have had the problem of stale tea, at some time or another. And we all have ways to deal with it, such as some people place a lot of small orders but rather regularly to avoid developing a backlog of tea. Others stick to teas that are less likely to go stale, or at least when they do it is a lot less noticeable.

While I do a little bit of both, most large orders I place, focus primarily on teas that are less likely to become stale. These being Roasted oolongs, Black Teas, and of course Puerh Tea. While I say less likely to become stale, I do not mean you can abuse them with storage, I mean sunlight is still an enemy to tea, and so are strong aroma's.

But I did have the unfortunate happening of having roughly 40 grams of a Korean Green going bad. But due to the large amount of work I've had to do recently, I have been brewing tea a lot more in the lazy fashion. But I do not want to use premium leaf for this, I realized lazy brewed stale tea can sometimes be an improvement over brewing the stale tea in my typical fashion, ( a bit higher leaf to water ratio). While I still view this as a bit of a waste of tea, it certainly is much less of a waste than not drinking the tea at all.

So it seems sometimes a stale tea can have a bit of a second chance, as a tea to be consumed when you are busy doing other things and

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Mandarins Tea Room Yixing Red

MTR Yixing Red
Well, I almost hate to review this tea as I believe I ordered the last of it available through this vendor. But as I feel this blog should also foster discussion about the tea featured in each post, which is in part why I have been shifting away from detailed tasting notes and offering thoughts about the tea instead.

So for this tea I am trying it two ways, as I have been urged by the proprietor, to try these black teas in a Gong fu type fashion, yet also "grandpa" style in a chawan.

But one thing that has become incredibly apparent, is I honestly did not like black teas. I have had several in the past that I have really liked, but I always got the feeling that a Black tea, is a tea that is rather in your face.

MTR Yixing Red Color

But I have started to taste certain teas that are incredibly mellow but still have the same flavor tones.

Such as brewing this Yixing red in a Gong fu type fashion about 4 grams to 60 ml, and shorter steeps starting about 15 seconds and going from there. Is giving infusions that are subtle, but forceful in its ability to draw attention strictly to it.

Though in a Chawan yields an even more laid back drink, but it almost should as it has a lot smaller leaf to water ratio.

MTR Yixing Red Chawan

Thursday, October 7, 2010

2010 Kim Shin Ho Sejak

2010 KSH Sejak
This I believe is the last tea I have yet to try from the tasting organized by Matt over atMattcha's blog. Also many thanks goes out to Pedro of Dao Tea, who provided the teas for this tasting.

This tea seems to be toying with my mind a little bit, while it has a wonderful outward appearance, the dry leaf aroma places me right around Christmas time. I know I have said this several ties but some of these Korean Green teas honestly smell a quite like a pine tree, and even more so this one has a nice layer of lavender right on top of that.

If I could use a quote to describe my first tastes with this tea, I might have to be "Talk softly and carry a big stick" which I believe is attributed to Teddy Roosevelt, but I was never really that into history. What I mean by that quote, is while it has a nice subtle aroma, and pleasing though ever so soft color, when it hits the palate it uses its big stick. Or rather shows you the big stick, as it is never painful or over powering, but from a tea that was so incredibly mellow previously to all of a sudden show so much power it is rather surprising.

That being said the taste was a bit more of a resinous taste, with a good bit of pine and herbs, but it really made me take note. While this tea seems to be providing more of a jump start than I usually get from any tea, call it qi or caffeine, but the rest of the day does not seem like that much of a challenge right now.

2010 KSH Sejak Color

Well the eventual has happened, the surplus of posts I had have finally run out, as was inevitable as every time I added a new one I was dating it less into the future than I did with the previous ones. That being said the every three days thing might start to fall apart though I am really going to try and keep it a reality.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Dao Tea 2010 Kim Jong Yeol Sejak

2010 KJY Sejak

Thank you once more, to Matt and Pedro of Dao tea for arranging this set of samples, and I am sure I will thank you at least once more as I still have the 2010 Kim Shin Ho Sejak to sample.

When smelling the dry leaf, I want to make a comparison that will not sound all that nice at all, but it actually really works. To me the dry leaf smells like a softer more rounded version of a little pine tree air freshener some people hang in their cars. Let me explain its slightly pine like, slightly minty, but its much nicer than those air fresheners as it smells completely natural and it toys with your senses instead of being an all out assault.

I may have cut the first infusion a little short, as while the tea has an amazing mouth feel, I feel it is lacking in the taste and aroma component, subtle hints of vegetation, with a hearty umami like quality to it. But right now its stuck in the area between incredibly smooth and mellow, and having a wealth of strong flavors.
2010 KJY Sejak Color
Later infusions offer a little more, but somehow I feel I was expecting too much of this tea, or perhaps it is just that the seasons are just completely off now that its not even 60 degrees Fahrenheit outside at noon today. But I will say I am feeling a good bit of chaqi from this tea.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Mandarins Tea Room 2nd Grade Jin Jun Mai

MTR Jin Jun Mai 2nd Grade

So people familiar with my blog spanning back a year or more, will know I am a major fan of Wuyi Yancha. Well this tea is from Wuyi, but its not an oolong, it is processed as a red tea, which leads to some of the excitement.

The rest of the excitement comes from the fact that it is offered at the Mandarins tea room, which as its owned by someone I would like to call a friend, who has played a rather helpful role in helping me develop into the world of Chinese Tea.

What makes this tea especially interesting, is the fact that it is one of these new styled red teas, which are made mainly of buds.

MTR Jin Jun Mai 2nd Grade Color
Hong cha, or red teas, I often find have two different overarching categories of scents, those that make me go oooo, and those that make me go ewww. This is definitely part of the former, with an intoxicating mix of malt and chocolate. The tea goes on to amaze me even more, the taste is incredibly mild, but the finish is a really nice and rich chocolate malt. But the mouth feel is so incredibly rich and creamy.

MTR Jin Jun Mai 2nd grade Chawan

So I happened to ask the owner after a successful but rather difficult battle with this tea the first time. That being the fact that this consists of so many tiny little buds, which makes it incredibly hard to brew in a gaiwan, and get the pour speed I am used to.

He told me to brew granny/grandpa style in a chawan, something that worked absolutely wonderfully, though of course start with cooler water about the right temp for green tea and increase temp for future infusions never drinking the last 1/3 of the liquid until you are on your last infusion.

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