Fruit-Flavored Tea

Just browsing around the tea-web and came across this from anotherteablog.blogspot.com.

Fruit Flavored Tea

Very entertaining, and true!



So I've been thinking a lot about water.

I think out of everything I've tried at home, the Brita probably makes the tastiest tea. The bottled water doesn't have enough minerals it seems, and is also expensive, and straight tap water is far too hard and will scale up my tea kettle in a week.

I'm probably fine with the Brita, but it's ugly and I don't like the fact that it's sitting in plastic. I did find this however:

Design Within Reach Water Pitcher

And as semi-impractical as it may be, I kind of really want one. It's $85 to start out, and $25 for the replacement charcoal and stones that you'd need to replace every 6 months, but it only holds 30oz, and should sit for an hour for perfect taste. We'll see.


2001 MenKu "Yuan Yieh Xian"

2001 MenKu "Yuan Yieh Xian" Meng Sa Mountain Iron Cake
from Hou De

I'm apparantly lazy with my tasting notes, so here's some observations and more pictures.

Dry leaf: Dark with silver/gold hairs on the buds

Rinse: Bamboo / Woodsy

Smells: like pu!

Taste: earthy, musky, deep mushroom taste (shitake)


2001 Yiwu Zhengshan

2001 Yiwu Zhengshan from Nada

Very smooth. Quite drinkable. Enjoyed it so much I didn't actually analyze it. So here's a picture.

As you can see I got my new cups in from Dragon Tea House. Love them!


2008 Nannuo

2008 Nannu 'Cha Chan Yi Wei' from Nada.

Very long leaves - army green - sinewy.

Dry Scent - apples, caramelized sugar

Lid smell - fruit, leaf smell - collard greens

Taste - brothy, green. lacking woodsy, bitter

Brewing correctly? Doesn't taste like a young pu, more just like a green tea.

Trying iced pu with discarded infusions (I can't drink everything by myself.)


1999 Da Du Gang

My first Hou De purchase I'm trying. 1999 Da Du Gang 'Yunnan Yuan Bao' Chi Tse Beeng. (I have no idea what any of that means except 1999 and Beeng.)

notes first...editing later

Dry leaf-dark forest green & brown; smells like leaves, wood, deeper than the last pu I tried

Liquor - pale caramel

Smell - leafy, woody

Taste - sweet, mushroom, floral

Later infusions - deeper taste, golden amber liquor


My tea from the UK arrived!

I am diving into the world of puerh head first and everyone is doing their best to help guide me. Kudos to the people at Tea Chat that have been very helpful and informative on giving me a place to start.

Nada was kind enough to send me "A journey through the ages of shengpu." The package just arrived and I can't wait to dig in. However, I have other things to do today so I'm going to have to wait.

Here's a list of what I received, and tasting notes will follow once I start brewing.

70's Loose Leaf Puerh
80's Wet Stored Tuocha
80's Bamboo Wrapped Tuocha (dry stored)
90's Tuocha
2001 Yiwu Zhengshan
2007 12 Gentleman Yiwu
2008 Nannuoshan 'Cha Chan Yi Wei'

Nada, please correct spellings if needed, reading handwriting on Chinese words is not easy. ^_^ Thank you so much again and I'll let you know how I like them!

Tea in NYC

Hill and I went to NYC on Wednesday to experience tea together outside of our "norm".

We started out going to Ito En at 69th and Madison. The selection of Japanese teas is far more extensive than what I'm used to. The man that helped us made a pot of Megami Sencha for us to try. It was more mild than Harney's Ichiban Sencha but sweeter and simply delicious. There are far too many to name and I have no idea what the differences in any of them are, but it would be fun to try a bunch if given the time. I asked what he drank the most and his answer was mostly greens and oolongs. His favorite oolong at the moment is Four Seasons Oolong. It smelled floral and buttery so I left with an ounce of that. I also bought an ounce of Vanilla Hojicha for two reasons: my boyfriend loves vanilla, and I've never seen flavored Hojicha before, it seemed rather interesting.

::Tasting note:: [The next day I brewed the Four Seasons Oolong. My gods it was wonderful. Sweet and buttery and floral all at the same time.]

Our second stop (after spending about an hour in Crate & Barrel) was to Takashimaya for lunch. It was nice, but not our style. The food was good, but the waiters seemed disinterested in the fact that we were there, and it was not a warm and loving atmosphere that we're used to being in.

Our last tea stop was to The Tea Gallery. I had visited a few weeks ago with Brigitte, but we wanted to share the experience with Hill. Dae was wonderful again, we tried different types of teas this time. Last time we were focused on oolongs and puerh, this time we tried Golden Buddha (a Wu-Yi Cliff tea), Queen's Red tea, and a Gyokuro from Uji.

The Golden Buddha (the Wu-Yi Cliff Oolong) was really delicious for reasons I can't explain. Hill is far better at describing tastes, I just enjoy them. Dae said that it should have a mineral taste because of where it's grown and made, and while I never quite grasped "mineral" I did notice the lack of the floral or fruity which is what I usually gauge my oolongs by.

The Queen's Red I didn't really enjoy at all. It was all buds, very similar to Assam Golden Tips, although Chinese instead of Indian. I think I prefer my red teas to be less sweet and honey and more oomph and body.

The Gyokuro was freaking delicious. The leaves were long and shiny, a dark emarald green. Dae brewed it in a shiboridashi, which is basically a Japanese Gaiwan. It's a shallow lidded bowl with the smallest suggestion of a spout.

(Image courtesy of www.thejapanesegreenteashop.com)

She brewed it with approximately 130 degree water, she wasn't using a thermometer, and although it was very cool by the time we drank it, it had a sweetness to it that we've never matched in our own Gyokuro brewing. It was lighter in color but thicker in body. It was heavenly.

So now I have another piece of teaware I must own.


Tasting "notes"

So I got all my tea, still waiting on the "wares" from China.

I don't do formal tastings really, so I'm not going to do formal tasting notes, at least not at the present.

The first of the teas I tried was The Tea Gallery's Iron Bodhisattva "Classic Roast." I guess Iron Bodhisattva is another name for Iron Goddess of Mercy aka. Tie Guan Yin. I had only had TGY that was still very green and not roasted at all, I was very interested to try it.

The initial taste was of Hojicha. I think I brewed it a little too long the first 3 or so infusions. It kept tasting very Very VERY roasted and almost burnt. I shortened my steep time a few breaths and that seemed to allow the teas floral undertones to start coming through. By the time I was getting to 10 infusions or so I was really enjoying the toasty floral notes, like someone roasting orchids or lilies (as strange as that sounds, it actually tastes very good). However around that time it started to get very drying as well. My friend Sammy joined me at the 7th infusion or so and really seemed to enjoy the tea. I could've kept brewing it into the teens or tweens of infusions, but I had to get home. What I was entirely surprised about was how BLACK the spent leaves were. They were on par with a shu puerh. Overall, very solid tea, however a little tricky to get right.

The next tea I tried was the 2005 Jinggu Arbor Tree Beeng from puerhshop.com.
This is the first sheng I've tried to brew myself. I tried to mimic what I saw Dae do at The Tea Gallery. I don't know what exactly I was expecting, but the fact that it had sort of the same flavor profile as the sheng we tried at the Gallery was surprising, and sort of comforting. It was a year older than the other tea, and I know they're two completely different things, but this one was far mellower than the other.

The beeng was a darker forest green with a lot of silver leaves within. It seemed fairly uniform with medium-sized leaves. The first infusion was overwhelmingly bamboo and woodsy. I kept stuffing my nose in the gaiwan to try and figure out what the smell reminded me of. It was actually very similar to the way the town has been smelling with all of the dry fall leaves all over. It reminded me of my walk to work.

I was also pleased at how light the brew was. Even though it was lacking the harsh astringency I was expecting, it was still not too heavy and dark. The taste was really lovely. The bamboo was still there, but it stepped aside to notes of fruit and honey. White grapes, cherries, and lychee were all there. After a while it started getting more astringent and drying. Also, my phone started ringing and I had 8 million things to attend to. When I stepped outside to take a call I took a picture of the spent leaves in the sunlight for a brighter look. Enjoy.


So I went shopping...

Things should be arriving starting this week, I'm so excited! Here's what I got:

From Dragon Tea House -
Goldfish Cups

From The Tea Gallery - 25g each Pheonix Oolong & Iron Bodhisattva (classic roast).

From Puerhshop - 2005 Jinggu Arbor Tree Beeng (to practice my brewing skills), strainer & tuocha pick.

From Hou De - Samples of each:
2001 MengKu "Yuan Yieh Xian" of MengSa, Thick-papered
2001 MengKu "Yuan Yieh Xian" of MengSa Mountain Thin-Papered
1999 Da Du Gan "Yunnan Yuan Bao Chi Tse"

From Yunnan Sourcing -

Yellow Yixing Pot - 100ml

Glass Gong fu Pot - 100ml

Now all I need is a tray and a fair pitcher from work and I can brew gong fu!


Raw Pu

I'm obsessed with pu-erh. Thankfully I don't have the funding for it to become a real problem yet, but there's potential there. I've had some cooked pu (which is enough) and while it's nice and smooth and earthy and comforting, it's a little boring and barnyard-y. In my travels online I've learned a lot more about pu-erh (and spent countless hours trying to learn more) and have developed a sense of awe of what that entire category of tea consists of.

The Basics (very basic):
Pu-erh is an aged tea. There are two types: Raw (Green) and Cooked. Ideally you have a Beeng (cake) of raw pu that has been aged for upwards of 30 years. You can purchase this pre-aged raw pu, however that gets pretty pricey. You can also purchase young raw pu that has only been aged a few years, however it's very harsh and still needs the time to mellow out. The idea behind cooked pu is that it is emulating what aged pu would be without the time and price.

To my knowledge, cooked pu is far inferior of a product as it does not have the complexity of the true aged raw, however it is very convenient. My current dilemma is that real aged pu is so expensive that I have not tried it although I wish to desperately. I am probably going to purchase some samples of some aged beengs, but now the issue is that my gong-fu technique I'm sure is not up to par. Basically I need an old Chinese man with a pu collection to befriend me.

I have had a chance to try some relatively young pu, and while Brigitte pretty much hated it, I think I enjoyed it. It was very harsh and astringent, but after the umpteenth infusion it mellowed a bit and you could start to see the smoothness and complexity it could gain after aging for another 25 years.

So if anyone has any lovely aged pu they'd like to educate me with, feel free. Otherwise I will try and do the same once I can get my hands on some.


The Tea Gallery Tasting

Brigitte and I went to The Tea Gallery and I just wanted to organize my tasting notes.

The first tea we tasted was Pheonix Oolong. This was a light roast oolong with very heavy peach/apricot/lychee undertones. During the tasting I thought it tasted very similar to Fenghuang Shuixian and after researching online found out that's exactly what it was.

Dae brewed everything in semi-formal gong-fu style. It was interesting to taste how the tea changed over each infusion. It started out very peach & floral, strong headnotes. As you started to really get to know the tea it became more earthy, nutty, what Dae called "peach pit." The initial taste became very tea-y, but the aftertaste you were left with was still that peach blossom. The other thing is you were left with an increasing dryness in your mouth.

After we had done about four or five infusions, Dae gave us the "rinse," the very first infusion used to wash the leaves. That was a really amazing thing to taste, after you made the journey through the changes and nuances you were brought back to the initial character of the tea. It felt surprisingly thick and sweet. It took away some of the dryness as well. The spring water afterward was also supremely sweet.

The second tea we tried was a Medium Roast Ti Guan Yin. It was not nearly as green and floral as the TGY we have at Harney's. It was more woodsy and similar to Da Hong Pao, but you still had the floral notes in the after taste. This tea progressed in much the same way as the Pheonix, just with different flavor profiles. Dae said, and I tend to agree, that you felt like your mouth was full of perfume, or the scent of a fragrant orchid.

The third and final tea we tasted was a Young Raw Pu Erh, 2006 YiWu Mountain Brick. It was wrapped in bamboo and that definitely was evident in the tea. I don't think Brigitte ever had raw puerh. I had it once and thought it was terrible. Since then I've learned a lot about puerh and have come to the decision that the puerh I tasted that first time probably wasn't brewed properly, as well as it being so young and new. Green puerh is meant to age at least 20-30 years. What cooked puerh is trying to do is emulate an aged puerh without having to wait that long or pay that much.

Having said that, when Dae said we were going to try a young, raw pu I had an idea of what to expect. It smelled like hay and bamboo, so it might have some of these elements while also being fairly bitter and harsh as it hasn't had the chance yet of aging and "mellowing."

I was still very shocked at how very bitter it actually was. It made my entire mough pucker in an attempt to create as much saliva as possible. I think Brigitte wasn't all to pleased. However, we like to think of ourselves as fairly knowledgeable and sophisticated tea connoisseurs, and with Dae's guidance I think we began to appreciate the tea for what it was, an infant, and see some of the potential behind it.

Dae brewed the puerh somewhere up into the teens I would think, we lost track. After a while it mellowed a bit, tamed and lost some of its powerful astringency. It became very woodsy, (camphor maybe?), and still retained some bamboo qualities.

Eventually we had to stop as Dae had another tasting to do. It's possible we brewed the puerh for an hour, and it probably could've kept going. Even as the flavors changed and mellowed, it didn't weaken at all.

And now begins my quest to drink puerh. Next step, get my hands on a sample of aged green pu to see what it is I'm supposed to be aiming toward.