Monday, April 30, 2007

'06 Haiwan "early spring" laotongzhi

Somehow, I forgot to finish this post several days ago.

I tried it once yesterday, but had a hard time taking notes of it. So, I'm trying it again, and maybe I'll be able to take better notes the second time.

4g in 80ml pot. Rinse, 15s, 15s, 15s, 20s, 30s, 45s, 60s.
Dry leaf aroma: campfire smoke.
wet leaf aroma: floral, and slightly smoky.
Floral, butter, some berry, wood, smoke. It tasted a lot cleaner taste than I expected. The aftertaste seems non-existant untill it a strong lingering floral aftertaste explodes a minute or two later.

This is the bad part of waiting several days to finish a post. I forgot some of the things I wanted to comment on. I mostly remember being relieved that it wasn't like the 7548 (since I did buy the whole beeng without trying it first).

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Second Best Teahouse continued

I have a few tea notes from the past couple days that I haven't posted, so I'll just post them all in one post before it get's out of control.

I'll start with the second best teahouse teas. Many thanks to Salsero who has sent out more teas to continue the Second Best Teahouse.

'06 Menghai 7432
4g in a 80ml pot. Rinse, 15s, 15s, 15s, 20s, 30s, 60s, 120s.
Dry leaf aroma: Smoke and fruit.
Wet Leaf aroma: Smoke, spice, cream, and a familiar aroma of some kind of candy. Gummi bears?
I didn't take as detailed notes as I thought I did. All I put down for taste was floral, hay, slight smoke, cream, and that candy smell even came out in the first infusion. I don't know why I didn't write this down, but I remember it leaving a strong aftertaste.

Overall, it was enjoyable.

'05 Six famous tea mountain organic tuocha.
4g in a 80ml pot. Rinse, 30s, 30s, 30s, 30s. I started with 30s because the leaves were very tightly compressed.
Dry leaf aroma: Smoke.
Wet leaf aroma: Spice and cream.
Edit: I tried it again using shorter times, and it came out much better.
. . . .

2000 Haiwan Guhua
I've been considering ordering a beeng of this for some time now, and thanks to Salsero, I can sample it first.
4g in a 80ml pot. Rinse, 15s, 15, 15s, 20s, 30s, 45s, 60s, 120s, and one long infusion.
Dry leaf aroma: camphor, and a light aged earthiness.
Wet leaf aroma: Stronger camphor, earthy, and spice.
Most of the infusions had camphor, leather, wood, earth, and spice. The first two also had a slight creaminess, and possibly ash in an ash tray type taste. As the tea progressed, the camphor became stronger and stronger untill it started becoming more of a mellow sweetness by the sixth infusion. It has been noted before that this tea is flat and lacks acidity, and I agree.

There is plenty of room for improvement, but it wasn't bad. It is still fairly young afterall.

'07 Mengyang Guoyan Yiwu zhengshan
This one wasn't part of the 2BTH.
4g in 80ml pot. Rinse, 15s, 15s, 15s, 20s, 30s, 45s, 60s, 120s.
Dry leaf aroma: Light smoke and maybe berry?
Wet leaf aroma: Light camphor and vegetal.
This one seemed to start out very green tea-ish. Vegetal, butter, and very little smoke. The aftertaste left was mostly a light (floral?) sweetness. As it progressed, camphor became noticeable in the aroma, but not so much in the taste. Berry and wood started also started coming out.

Very enjoyable, especially since it didn't have the harshness present in most young sheng. I think I will probably order a beeng to set aside to age.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Puerh!

'05 Menghai Golden needle white lotus

I brewed it two ways, the first way with 5g in a 100ml pot, and after a 10s rinse, I brewed it for 20s, 20s, 15s, 20s, 20, 30s, 45s, 90s. The second way, I used only 3.3g in the same pot, and brewed it starting with 30s, and then increase it a lot after a few infusions. The first way created a good amount of astringency, and the tea didn't really stand out from any other shu. Using less leaf, the tea came out a little weak, but more things became more noticeable this way. Camphor was more obvious, along with some other flavors I have a hard time describing. Malt, chocolate, and wood come to mind when drinking it, but that's probably not the best way to describe it.

Most enjoyable for a shu.

'06 Haiwan 7548

I have tried the '98 7548 from Jing before, and liked it, so I decided to order a young one, and hopefully have it age into something similar to the 7 year old tea (at the time I tried it). From what other people have said, I was expecting an unpleasant cigarette smoke aroma in the tea, but when unwrapping the tea, I was wondering if it was a lightly fired shuixian. It has a fairly strong ripe fruit aroma.

I used 4g in a 80ml pot. Rinse, 15s, 15s, 15s, 15s.
In a preheated pot, some smoke comes out to balance the fruit aroma, but the smoke is fairly light. The tea has a more obvious smoke and hay taste, but ripe fruit is still there. The smokiness fades away very fast. By the third infusion, smoke is very faint, and is mostly just floral and ripe fruit. It left a fairly strong ripe fruit and floral aftertaste.

After that point, I was unable to finish the tea because I had to leave, but I think I got a good idea of the tea from those four infusions. From smelling the beeng for the first time, the ripe fruit smell seemed very odd, and I expected it to go away, but it's apparently part of the tea. Since that flavor doesn't seem common in unoxidized leaves, I did a more thorough inspection of the not-so spent leaves for oxidation. Many of the leaves did have red marks, and few of them were completely red. I doubt those red areas are from "fermentation" because it's only a year old. So is this oolong puerh? Will oolong puerh age into anything good? It seems to have what it takes to be ageable, but I'm not sure if oxidized leaves will age well.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

'06 Menghai "Spring of Menghai"

Many thanks to Salsero for this tea.

I have had this tea sitting in my puerh humidor for some time now, and I think it's about time I tried it.

5g in a 75ml pot, rinse, 15s, 15s, 15s, 20s, 30s, 45s, 60s.
The leaves right off the cake don't have much smell, but when placed in the heated pot, it releases an earthy smell. I smelled the pot before the leaves went in, and it didn't have any tea smell, so it's not from the pot. I also tried made this tea with leaves loose in the wrapper in a gaiwan, and i had the same aroma. I have had the tea in a humidor at 70% for a few weeks, but can it actually accelerate it enough to create that smell?

Rinsing the leaves brings out a different aroma, but didn't really tell much about the actual tea. The tea turned out to be very floral, and slightly fruity. It started developing some woody notes, peach (like dancong) and some butter. It leaves a good aftertaste.

Very nice now, but I look forward to what this will change into.

I have an update about the '01 yinhao tuocha. I wet stored it for a while to see if it will change at all, and it went stale today. Either I did something wrong, or it's not puerh.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

'01 Kunming Blue Label

Many thanks to Bill (Ancient Tea Horse Road) for this sample.

I tried this tea two ways: Gongfu, and a slightly modified "professional tea tasting" method. For gongfu, I used 6g of leaf in a 90ml pot and after a rinse, I brewed it for 20s, 30s, 30s, 15s, 30s, 40s, 60s, 120s. For the modified tasting method, I used 2g of loose leaf in a 150ml gaiwan.After a flash rinse, I brewed it for 5 minutes, uncovered.

Out of the package, the leaves have a cool minty aroma with a barely noticeable smoke smell. Once placed in the heated vessel, an aged "earthy" aroma comes out, along with a strong smoke aroma. For the first gongfu infusion, the earthiness came out, but disapeared after that. For the second method, the earthiness was noticeable, but not as strong. For both methods, one thing remained the same: smoke. There was a strong cigarette and campfire smoke flavor throughout. The is also some woody and leathery flavors. When the tea, leaves, or cup cooled down, the mintiness aroma would come out.

It wasn't bad, althought the smokiness really threw me off. The original aroma of mint suggested that the tea would taste minty, but it was smoke that came out. Maybe in a few more years.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Tuocha, tuocha, and tuocha

'04 6FTM "Silver tips" tuocha
I wanted to make some more puerh, but I don't want to break any off the cakes I have aging, so I decided to finish the rest of this sample. My previous thoughts of this tea was that it would be a "drink it now" tea, so I'm going to try brewing it a little weaker than last time to try to get a more enjoyable tea.

I used 7g of leaf in a gaiwan, and after a quick rinse, I brewed it for 30s, 30s, 45s, 60s, 120s.

I noticed an aroma in the dry leaves I didn't notice last time. A very pleasant minty aroma. I don't think it's camphor or menthol. Something more like a light wintergreen?

1: The leaves in the heated gaiwan give off a slightly aged aroma, and the rinse brings that aroma out more. The tea has a slightly smoky aroma with the same minty aroma the dry leaves have. The tea is very smooth, mellow, and not very complex. It has a slightly smoky taste, and some camphor. I would have originally thought that this was still very young, but the smell of the leaves made me look for an aged flavor in the tea, which is barely noticeable. As the empty cup cools, it has that minty aroma.

2: Some complexity came out, and it now leaves a lingering floral aftertaste. Still has some smoky notes which smell like cigarette smoke in the aroma, but the taste is more of just campfire smoke. As the tea cools down, the minty aroma comes out.
3: The aroma is a stronger minty and smoky smell. More bitterness came out, but is followed by an equally strong sweetness. I think this is the first time noticing "qi."
4: The aroma is the same as last. More bitterness than flavor in this infusion. Considering that the leaves are very chopped up, it's not surprise that it's dying.
5: The mintiness dominates the aroma. Very strong bitterness.

It's better than I remember. I don't think it has enough in it to be stored long term, but a couple years of storage might improve the flavor.

After trying this tea, I decided to try the '01 yinhao tuocha again. It's one of the first puerhs I got, and one that I never wanted to try again until now. When I first tried it, I noticed a strong bitterness even when brewed fairly weak (compared to how I brew it now) and I mostly remember cigarette smoke. If smoke changes into camphor, then maybe this one had enough time for that to happen.

I used 7g of leaf in a gaiwan and after a rinse, I brewed it for 15s, 15s, end.
There are a lot of leaves covered in white hairs. After brewing, the leaves expanded to be barely any bigger than teabag fannings. I know, I know, I need to take pictures. Maybe someday I will be able to.

1: Aroma: lapsang puerh. Very strong smoky smell. Not cigarette smoke like I remember. The very chopped up leaves created a good amount of bitterness. The taste of this tea reminds me of stale green tea. Mostly stale green tea, and smoke.
2: I'm going to stop it here. Very bitter, and is just a smoky, stale, bitter green tea.

Terrible. It tastes more like a 6 year old green tea with a strong smokiness rather than puerh. No wonder why they were only about 3 dollars.

I guess while I'm trying tuochas, I'll try the last one in my collection: '05 teji Nanjian tuocha. This is the first raw puerh I've ever tried, and because I liked it so much when I first tried it, I bought 5 more. I broke two of them into loose tea to see how loose compares to compressed. This review is leaves from a compressed tuo.

I used 7g of leaf in a gaiwan, and after a rinse, I brewed it for 30s, 15s, 30s, 45s, end.
The aroma of the dry leaf is smoky, woody, and perhaps some berry?
1: The aroma is smoky, and woody. The taste is the same as the aroma. I'm no longer doubting that I smelled berry in the dry leaves, because berry comes out in the aftertaste.
2: Very interesting, but bitter. Starts woody, smoky, vegetal, and some other things I can't describe, and then ends with a sweet, berry flavor.
3: More bitterness than flavor, but a smokiness comes out in the aftertaste.
4: Bitterness decreased, and so did flavor.

Maybe it might be more enjoyable in a couple years. This is another one that I don't think will be able to be stored long term, but might still improve a bit.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Bai Hao and Wu Ling

Today hasn't been the best day to drink tea because I've been getting my room ready to be painted, but I now have a chance to try another tea. This is another tea thanks to Salsero.

'05 Bai Hao from Dragon Teahouse
I used 8g of leaf in a gaiwan, and after a rinse, I brewed it for 30s, 30s, 60s, 120s.

The leaves after the rinse smell like a combination of red tea, and that purple oolong. Thankfully, it doesn't taste like the purple oolong. It's like a red tea with kind of a grainy and woody taste. it leaves kind of a malty and grainy aftertaste. The following infusions where pretty much the same.

Not bad. It has a kind of flavor I would describe as "refreshing." It may be blasphemous to say this, but I think it would make an excellent iced tea.

'06 Summer Formosa Wu Ling from teafromtaiwan.com
I had a little more free time than I thought, so I'll try another tea. This next one is a light oolong which isn't exactly my favorite kind of tea, but after smelling the leaves, I couldn't wait to try it. Before, I mostly noticed a grainy and buttery aroma in the leaves, but now, I notice gingerbread in the aroma.

Now, how to brew it? Since it's a light oolong, it should either be brewed with cooler water and normal times, or boiling water, and shorter times. Using Boiling water makes a couple good infusions, but then makes it hard to brew the tea without cooking the leaves. And I just have no clue what temperature to use if I use cooler water. Hmmmmmmmmm.

I'll take my chances with cooler water. I heated the water untill the bubbles got large, and just started getting rapid. I decided I would pull out the thermometer to find out how hot the water is just for the purpose of blogging about the tea. It was almost exactly 85C.

I used 7g of leaf in a gaiwan, and after a very quick rinse, I brewed it for 30s, 30s, 45s, 60s, 120s, and one long infusion.

1: Putting the leaves in a heated gaiwan brought out a stronger, green tea like scent, with gingerbread and butter. Then after a rinse, a stronger vegetal aroma came out. The tea itself smells very green tea like, with gingerbread. It tastes like a green tea with gingerbread, and shortbread.
2: The aroma of the tea is mostly a green tea like scent. It tastes very similar to green anji from Adagio. Buttery and vegetal. Gingerbread is very faint in the light aftertaste.
3: Gingerbread has returned in the aroma. The tea tastes the same as last infusion, with an added minty type bitterness.
4: It's starting to lose the smooth sweetness, but gingerbread came back in the flavor.
5: A light grainy flavor. A flavor I have found to be common as lightly oxidized teas start dying. Although, some gingerbread is still present.
6: Light, minty astringency.

Surprisingly good. It's not the kind of tea that blows you away with complexity, it just has a very simple, but pleasant flavor. Light oolongs aren't exactly my favorite kind of tea, but this one seems to be an exception. Maybe it has to do with the gingerbread flavor. This is the first tea that I noticed a gingerbread taste in.

/me waits for Salsero to read his and laugh at me for saying that I actually enjoyed a tea that was secretly scented.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Shu day

(This was supposed to be posted yesterday)
First day of spring break, and it's a winter wonderland outside... Sigh.

Earlier, I decided to get my shu pot ready so that I could use it to try a sample Bill (Ancient Tea Horse Road) sent (thank you so much, Bill). I have had this pot for a while, but never used because the handle broke a day or two after I got it, and because I rarely make shu anyway. I fixed the handle with super glue, and started seasoning it, but I'm not sure if it's ready for use or not. The first tea I made in it was Menghai Caravan tribute tuocha. The result was surprising. I have never been the biggest fan of shu, but it came out surprisingly good.

Now that I know that the pot is ready for use, I brewed some of the '03 7581 Kunming brick.

I used 7g of leaf in a 100ml pot, and after a slightly long rinse, I brewed it for 15s, 15s, 30s, 45s, 60s, and one really long infusion.
1: Kinda light, and kinda pondy?
2: Woody, and almost fruity? Is it possible that there is almost a ripe fruit flavor?
3: Earthy and pondy.
4: Some spiciness, and still woody.
5: lightened up into a light pondy taste.
6: Still dark, but not much flavor.

I noticed something interesting about the dry leaf of both shus. The 7581 still had some moisture left, and the Menghai was very dry. And when comparing the taste of two teas, the menghai was astringent, and the 7581 wasn't.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Song Zhong Dancong

With all the new teas I've been getting lately, I forgot just how many teas I have left that I need to use up. I even have some oolong samples from my First order from Jing tea shop. So, I need to start finishing them up.

First, I think it's time to actually try the song zhong dancong from Teaspring, and post tasting notes. I tried it once, but I couldn't tell if it was a light or dark dancong. The dry leaves appear very dark for a dancong, but I don't remember it being like a darker dancong.

I'm trying something that is possibly stupid. I'm going to brew this similar to how I brew yancha. I used 9g in a 120ml pot, and brewed it for 30s, 30s, 60s, 250s. Hopefully I won't die from tannin overdose.

1:WOW. This is exactly what I aim for when brewing dancong, but have never gotten it anywhere near how this infusion came out. It has a very thick mouthfeel, and a surprisingly low level of bitterness. The flavor is a creamy peachiness. It tastes like a milan dancong, but it lacks any kind of an aftertaste. It's mostly a mintiness that is felt in the back of the throat.

2: Already lightened up a bit. 15 more seconds would probably help. Although, it still manages to leave a stronger aftertaste than the first infusion.

3: Flavor lightened again, and is slightly more bitter. This one leaves a fairly strong menthol like aftertaste.

4: I decided to up the brewing time a lot. This one had more flavor, but was still kinda light. It left the same menthol aftertaste.

I'm really surprised that 30 seconds worked as well as it did. I didn't have as much luck with the following infusions as I did with the first infusion, but using more time should fix that.

As for the tea, I'm still trying to figure out if it's light or dark. There is no doubt that it's been roasted, but has it also been oxidized? It tasted like milan dancong, but left a menthol like aftertaste which is something I only noticed in light dancong. So, my guess is it's a light dancong with a stronger roast.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Lao Tong Zhi and Lao Cong Shuixian

Again, I'm trying these teas thanks to Salsero. The first is a laocong shuixian from Dragon Teahouse. I tried this tea yesterday, but being the procrastinator I am, I didn't post it until now. For this tea, I tried getting serious about the ratio of crushed to whole leaves. I separated the two, and created about 20% of crushed leaves.

I used 12g of leaves in a pot, and added the crushed leaves to the middle. After a rinse, I brewed it for 30s, 30s, 90s.

This tea only got one and a half good infusions. I think that the crushed leaves caused that. I need to try the tea again without crushed leaves to get a better idea of the tea, but for now, this is just a tasting note of the one strong infusion.

The flavor of the tea is pretty much just a sweet ripe fruit flavor with a light roasty flavor. The aftertaste goes from a slightly stronger toasty flavor, to an even stronger version of the initial taste.

After trying this tea, I think I now know what it means to have a monotone aftertaste. After I first tried the dahongpao from YSLLC, I was told that it had a monotone aftertaste (I think it was Kibi who said that). I was new to oolongs at the time, so I had no clue what that meant. All I knew is that the aftertaste was unlike anything I've experienced before. This tea is just like that one. Lightly fired, and leaves a strong aftertaste that is just a stronger version of the initial taste. It might not be a very interesting tea, but it's at least an enjoyable one. :) I will post new tasting notes when I try it again.


After summoning the courage, I decided to try the '06 Haiwan Lao Tong Zhi beeng. This tea seems to have a reputation as having an excellent aging potential. So, 7g will be good for learning what to look for, and hopefully the rest of the beeng will be good for aging.

I used 7g of leaf in a gaiwan, and after a rinse, I brewed it for: 15s, 15s, 30s, 60s, 120s.
I wrote descriptions about each infusion, but after each infusion, I found it harder and harder to describe the tea. So, I decided to just summarize it.

The dry leaves have a strong smoky aroma, and that strong smokiness is present in each infusion. After the second infusion, it became a cigar smoke taste. It also had the usual floral, and vegetal taste, and even had some fruitiness in the first infusion. There were also other flavors that started coming out in the later infusions, but I fail to describe them. This tea also left a very intersting aftertaste. The first two left a mellow sweetness, and the later infusions left a strong aftertaste with so many changing flavors.

So this is what an age able tea should taste like. It's not as bitter and harsh as I was expecting. The first infusion was actually kinda sweet, but progressively got stronger and harsher. Overall, I have no doubts about the aging potential, and I'm really curious how this one will age.

And soon enough, I'll have the answer to the lack of humidity. I ordered an analog hygrometer, and a gel humidifier. All I need to do is build a box out of wood to store it in, and I'll have a puerh humidor. :)