Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Golden Tea Leaf: Forever Spring Oolong, A Tea Review

How is everyone's week so far? Mine is off to a good start, as I finally got to go swimming yesterday and I am trying to see if I can squeeze in a swim today. The lake has finally cleared up and the beach which is a couple blocks from my current place of residence keeps all the lake weeds out of the swimming zone. It was delightful, the water was nice and cool (I hate swimming in warm water, it just feels gross) and the air was a nice 80F, it was between thunderstorms so the sky was gorgeous, truly a wonderful experience...especially with this trio of girls that were practicing pro-wrestling moves and pretending to be John Cena. I did run into one slight problems, I have this thing where if my ears get at all cold I get a splitting headache, during the winter I just wear my earmuffs but I don't know how to keep my ears warm if I go underwater, Ben suggested a bathysphere but I am not sure that is the best call.

Before I skitter off to go swimming I need to write about a tea I have been enjoying lately, Golden Tea Leaf's Forever Spring Oolong, the new 2018 harvest. This is one of those teas with a few names: Si Ji Chun and Four Seasons, it is famous because you can get several harvests off of it and they all have a very consistent feel. It is one of those everyday kinda Oolongs, you can gongfu it, coldsteep it, grandpa it...it is one of those teas that doesn't punish you of your attention span is elsewhere. The aroma of these leaves is very green and very floral, blending notes of orchid and honeysuckle with fresh grass and bellpepper. It smells of summer days where everything is in full bloom and green!

I gongfu'd this tea this time, I have cold steeped it and definitely recommend doing that if you like cold steeped oolongs! The mouthfeel is light with an edge of thickness, it is very refreshing with its floaty texture. The taste is great, very sweet notes of honeysuckle, apples, orchids, and green notes of fresh vegetation and a touch of peppers. It has a wonderfully sweet aftertaste that lingers for a while, which means I like to take time between sips to let that aftertaste really kick in. It lasts for several steeps with a building green note that fades back off to sweet floral being dominant towards the end of the session. Overall I really love how forgiving this tea is, I can let it steep long or short and I still get a delicious cup, the only thing that changes is the texture and level of greenness to the taste. It really is a tea for all seasons.

Sent for review

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Golden Tips Tea: A Pair of Darjeeling First Flush Black Teas

There is nothing quite like the feeling of having a freshly buzzed mohawk, the feeling of a cool breeze where usually there is just hair. It is refreshing, especially when you have been dealing with what seems to be a never ending nasty headache. Clearly I had too much hair and needed to let my scalp breathe, maybe with a cool new haircut my head will finally stop hurting...eventually. And sadly that is really all I have been doing since last week's blog, nursing a headache, it has been rather boring but at least the tea and weather has been nice.

Spring Sonata

Today I am looking at a pair of Golden Tips Tea's 2018 Spring First Flush Black Darjeeling Teas, starting with Spring Sonata. Like most of Golden Tips Teas there is not a ton of information to be gathered from the website, so we are going into this one with just sensory feedback. The leaves are both very pretty and very aromatic, big fluffy things with a mottled green, red, and brown color scheme. Notes of almonds, grapes, mangoes, and tomato leaves with floral and honey undertones. Steeping the tea, the taste is sweet and a touch green, with notes of tomato leaves and nasturtium flowers with almonds and white grapes. The finish is a long lingering honey thickness that just sticks around, honestly its lingering aftertaste reminds me a bit of a dancong oolong which I found quite fascinating. It goes for several very sweet steeps.

Spring Harmony

Spring Harmony has much smaller chopped up leaves and a much greener aroma, with notes of green chilies, bell pepper, nasturtium, and just a touch of muscatel sweetness. Steeping this bad boy up left me with a very light tea, gentle notes of bell pepper and grapes with a light mouthfeel. I pushed this tea for a few more steeps to see if I could get more out of it and later steeps did have a stronger taste, but what is there is very light. Notes of honey and peppery nasturtiums with undertones of grapes and bell peppers, very refreshing and light with an aftertaste of lettuce. These two teas were like night and day, and I enjoyed their contrast when tasting them side by side.

Teas sent for review

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Teasenz: 2016 Zi Juan Purple Tea Cake - Sheng Purple Tea, A Tea Review

I am currently cleaning up my mess of Magic The Gathering cards, they are a giant unsorted disaster after the move and I am finally tackling them. Between long winded sort sessions I decided to take a break and write this blog, because frankly if I had to sort cards anymore I might have started screaming. My one big complaint with having that collecting is the endless upkeep.

Today I am taking a look at a tea type I don't drink much of, a sheng puerh, specifically 2016 Zi Juan Purple Tea Cake - Sheng Purple Tea from Teasenz. I don't drink sheng much because for some reason it gives me killer gut-rot (yes I have tried many types, ages, and storage style, before you ask...because everyone always asks, it just does not agree with me) so take that into consideration. I cannot really give a long description of this tea's longevity because I had to call it quits at steep four.

However I can say I love this cake, it is a perfect example of a quality purple tea, with rich darkly purple leaves that smell of grape skin, apricot, and asparagus with undertones of fresh hay and honey. I always find purple tea, no matter how it is processed, always has a slightly fruity aroma and this one is no exception, plus it is just beautiful to look at. After an initial rinse and steep the aroma is very sweet honey and hay with underlying fruit and green notes.

The mouthfeel was an exciting combination of thick and dry, starting off with a bit of a dry slightly unripe apricot taste and feel and then flowing to the back of the mouth with a honey sweet thickness that lingers in the back of my throat for a while. There are also notes of fresh hay and a crispy lettuce green taste as well.

The later of the steeps starts to bring in that bitterness, like the bitterness of a red wine or underripe plum, very fruity rather than green in its bitterness. Sadly when the bitterness starts is when I have to stop, I have this theory that it might be tannin related since I have a harder time (lately, it is a new and terrible development) with very heavily tannic black teas. I can tell this tea has a lot of life left in it, I've noticed that purple shengs tend to just go on forever before they fade out. I did like what I could taste though, and if my stomach would have let me I could have kept this train running! And now...back to sorting magic cards!

Tea sent for review

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Golden Tea Leaf: Ali Mountain Oolong, A Tea Review

New blog schedule alert! I have decided to blog once a week on Tuesdays now, might be permanent, might change as I try to find the perfect balance of blogging to time. Thank you all as I try to figure things out through trial and error, as someone who likes schedules being followed I can understand any annoyance.

Now that the bureaucracy is finished, onward to tea! Looking at Golden Tea Leaf's Ali Mountain Oolong one of my favorite mountains from one of my favorite places to get Taiwanese oolongs. This is the 2018 harvest, delightfully fresh and super aromatic, definitely one of those teas I need to sniff while sitting down because you just get hit with a wave of delightful green oolong goodness. The aroma is a blend of sweetness and green, with notes of honeysuckle, fresh vegetation, pineapples, daffodils, and a sweet cream and sugarcane finish.

Brewing the leaves up (photos is obviously after a ton of steeps) the aroma is a blend of fresh alpine air and a touch of distant pine, also with notes of pineapple, lychee, daffodils, and honeysuckles. It is very sweet with a crisp green quality that keeps it from being cloying and gives it a very refreshing quality.

Man this is sweet! The first couple steeps are very sweet with a very pleasant subtleness, sweet but again not too cloying, with strong notes of hyacinth and honeysuckle, lychee and papaya, and a lingering aftertaste of pineapple and flower nectar. It has a pleasant thickness that does a wonderful job of coating the mouth with that sweet flavor.

This tea goes through a lot of steeps too, I legit lost count but it is certainly more than a dozen and I am still sipping it as it finally finishes out with subtle sweetness. The later steeps before it starts to fade bring in the green alpine notes of fresh mountain air in summer, it tastes immensely clean and humid, it is honestly kinda hard to describe it other than just being really high up in the mountains. Along side that refreshing taste is the long lingering notes of pineapples and flowers, specifically hyacinth and orange blossoms (it is a bouquet in my mouth) and the fruity and floral notes just linger for so long in the aftertaste.

I really enjoyed this tea's longevity and how it never got bitter or funky if I...accidentally...wandered out of the room and steeped it for too long. It is delightful and I will drinking a bunch of this one!

Tea sent for review

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Teavivre: Nonpareil Te Gong Huang Shan Mao Feng Green Tea, Same Tea Two Ways

I have a serious case of the grumpies today, woke up in a hellish funk and I am pretty sure it is because for the last couple days the construction site has been in full on beeping mode for HOURS. I am not sure what it is, but something is beeping, loudly...loud enough to creep in my construction grade earplugs, and wake me up earlier than I would like. At least tomorrow is a holiday so I should have a nice sleeping in.

Today I decided to look at Teavivre's Nonpareil Te Gong Huang Shan Mao Feng Green Tea both as a hot tea and as a cold steep, because it is summer and I occasionally want cold tea. A brief note on the dry leaves before I get to the two different steeps, they are very fresh and delicious! The aroma is sweet and green, with notes of water chestnut, honeysuckles, and a finish of fresh asparagus and green beans. I find it combines the vegetal green and sweet green really well!

One thing I really like about Teavivre's green tea is it can take the heat, they are quality so that is not a huge surprise, but it is nice to be able to flash steep the tea at 195F and not getting a bitter death pile. It is sweet, like sugarcane, honeysuckles, water chestnuts, and a sesame seed finish. Later steeps bring in the green with snap peas, green beans, and lettuce, combining with the sweet earlier steep notes for a very well balanced tea. Also it goes for many steeps, usually I find green teas putter out early but with the whole hot water and flash steeps it goes for a nice solid eight steeps.

Some days, it is hot, and while green tea is delightfully cooling, sometimes you really want the extra enjoyment of fridge cold. I find green tea cold steeps wonderfully in general and when you have a quality tea it makes it even better! The taste is so refreshing, unlike the hot tea, cold tea is greener with notes of asparagus, bell peppers, green beans, and a slightly sweet chestnut finish that lingers well into the aftertaste. Either cold or hot this tea is delicious and I am sad I have already torn through my sample!

I won a sample of this tea in their spring tea giveaway