Wednesday, September 15, 2010

An Ji Bai Cha green tea

An Ji Bai Cha green tea, grade AAA
purchased from Jing Tea Shop
Type: baked green tea from first spring pick 2010
Origin: An Ji Hu Zhou city, Zhe Jiang province

I think I found another favorite and special green tea. The aroma of this green tea (which, according to Jing Tea Shop's write-up, is a baked green tea or "Hong Qing Lu Cha") is all big greens with an added smell I couldn't quite place. I'm tempted to call it a non-smokey smoke aroma, but there is no smoke in this tea. Maybe it's the aroma from being baked? I don't know, but it gives the smell of greens a somewhat hard edge. Not unpleasant, just different. I was surprised to pour it and find that the color of the liquor is nearly colorless. I thought maybe I just hadn't steeped it long enough, but infusion after infusion showed this same near-colorless liquid. It was about as close to the color of pale moonlight as I've seen. Jing Tea Shop describes it as "pale white green". I'd have to agree. But for the lack of color in the liquor, the taste is surprisingly good. Very sweet all around (not sweet like candy, but sweet as in how the flavor impacts). There's also a hint of sweet (not acidic) citrus, as well. Very nice. Another great thing about this tea is how the aftertaste goes on for such a long long time, again very sweet, leaving a distinctly fresh (almost tingly after the first infusions) feel way down into the throat. Whereas Long Jing green teas are all about rich beany greens, this one is all about sweet and fresh. A winner :)

Monday, September 13, 2010

2008 Menghai "Peacock of Mengsong"

Menghai "Peacock of Mengsong" raw pu'erh
(label inside says "Yunnan Chi Tse Beeng Cha")
purchased from Yunnan Sourcing
Vintage 2008
Type: raw pu'erh
Origin: Menghai Tea Factory, Peacock series cakes are single estate teas, this one from Mengsong Mountain

I purchased this cake after reading another online review of it and thankfully it doesn't disappoint. The aroma of the leaves is perfectly sweet and fresh. Definitely one of the better-smelling pu'erhs I've had. The taste is smooth and mellow. Very pleasant and easy to drink. A tad bit of bitterness in the aftertaste of the stronger infusions (infusions #3 and 4, mostly), especially as the tea cooled, but not overpowering and what you would expect from a good tea. I'm not complaining! Overall a very pleasant and drinkable tea. I'm glad I picked up a whole cake of this one.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Wuyi Shui Xian oolong

Traditional Wuyi Shui Xian oolong
purchased from Jing Tea Shop
Vintage 2008
Type: AnXi (rock) oolong

Finally! An oolong I LIKE! And what's not to like about something that smells like dark roasted chocolate?? yummmmmm... This Wuyi Shui Xian is a bit aged -- from 2008 -- and is called "traditional", I think, because it's very well-roasted. Many popular modern oolongs are not roasted as much as they used to be. Or at least that's what I read somewhere. The taste of this tea is just as scrumptious as the aroma, with overtones of chocolate and a long sweet aftertaste that leaves a pleasant cooling sensation in the throat long after you've had your last sip. I could drink this tea all day and be a very happy camper! My cat certainly sensed my contentment, as you can see here --

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Jing Gu Yang Ta raw pu'erh

Jing Gu Yang Ta pu'erh, purchased from Yunnan Sourcing
2010 first spring pick
Type: raw/green, grades unknown
Production notes: picked by the Yang Ta cooperative in Jing Gu county, Simao prefecture

This tea was a free sample included with another order I placed with Yunnan Sourcing. I love it when tea sellers send little free samples like this. Especially a place like Yunnan Sourcing who sell well over a thousand teas. It's impossible to pick which ones to try. What a delight to open this package and find a good-sized chunk from the edge of a compressed cake. I had no problem separating large whole leaves with just my fingers. The Denong Wild I like so much from Bana Tea Company is much harder compressed and has been giving me lots of practice with the pu'erh knife as I try to separate out the leaves without ending up with a pile of crumbs.

This particular tea (the Jing Gu Yang Ta pu'erh) is apparently from a strain of the tea plant called Camellia Taliensis (as opposed to the usual Camellia Sinensis), according to Yunnan Sourcing's write-up. So I was interested to find out how it might taste different from the teas I'm used to. The aroma of the wetted leaves first made me think of hay in a horse barn. None of that fruity-flowery scent you often get with Camellia Sinensis leaves. Throughout my tasting session I smelled the leaves often and it settled into a very pleasant sweet hay smell (the horse barn part of the scent only appeared in the first wetting).

The color of the liquor was a beautiful pale lemon yellow. I used very hot (near boiling) water and steeped only for 10 seconds or so. Longer steepings proved to be a little more bitter than I like. But the shorter steeping produced a smooth light brew whose taste I would describe as both grassy and almost sweet. The scent of the liquid was pleasant as well, giving off a light sweet bean and fresh hay smell. The aftertaste was long and lingering and very nice. I'm tempted to say there's a bit of qi with this tea, as well -- a very quieting type of qi. A little bit of a cooling sensation to the throat, too. Not a lot, but just subtle. And once the leaves were fully reconstituted they were impressively large and juicy in appearance. The word "meaty" comes to mind. Overall, an enjoyable and somewhat different pu'erh tea experience.