I spent the day at Zilker Park today. The weather was beautiful and the plants seem to be waking from the long, cold winter. A unique atmosphere there today as in the Japanese Water Gardens there were Mariachi Bands playing but somehow it still seems to work together. Note the sign under the shrub, Camellia Japonica.
March 26, 2009
From Shan Shui Tea,s This Shanlinxi Oolong,s price? $57.00 for 150 gm bag. A Spring harvest green Oolong. Brian the owner of Shan Shui stated that this tea is deceptive in that the first couple of infusions give little indication of how the latter brews open up and evolve into something quite unexpected. The dry leaf nuggets are uniform in size and tightly rolled. A nice healthy green color with yellow highlights. The aroma is pretty fresh and pungent. First thing I notice is the strong spicy smell along with honey and that veggie richness that I love in green Oolongs. I have to say that right after ordering this tea I was kinda thinking, why did you do that? After all, the new spring tea,s are just around the corner and I should have waited and spent my money on fresh tea. But after trying this tea I have to admit that this tea tastes pretty darned fresh to me and in a blind tasting I,m not sure I could tell the difference. The aroma in the infused leaf is pungent with the smell of honey and spice. To me it smells like a mix of sweet anise and cassia with the veggie thing in the background. This tea,s flavors and aromas play well together. None of them trying to bully the others out of the way. The tea,s flavor releases quickly so I cut the infusion time just a little short. For the most part the leaf sets are whole and intact. The third pot is when the tea reveals it,s true character, nicely balanced and delicious. A lot of the time the veggie flavor disappears after a few brews but with this tea it holds it,s ground for a while. In fact it never really disappears altogether, grows fainter in the later brews but holds in there until the last pot. Which for me would be the 5th or 6th infusion. I know some people would push it even further but I like my tea pungent and rich, not thin and bland. The only fault (for me) with this tea is that it,s medium light body leaves me wanting something a little more ummm........sticky, you know the kind of Oolongs that leave your teacups stuck to the table if left unwashed. The balance of flavors as well as it,s tenacity is what makes this Oolong one worth buying again. It,s something just a little different than the predictable flavors I expect from green Oolongs.
March 25, 2009
Right as I was finishing up writing the last post a massive hail storm hit. Broke out all the windows, tore up things all over the place. My desk being right in front of the windows hardest hit was completely trashed. All the paper work I had on the desk ruined or out the broken windows. But we are O.K. Not the first time and wont be the last. While all this was going on all I could hear was glass breaking everywhere. It all happened very quickly, by the time I got all the dogs in and everything secure it was over and the damage done.
March 24, 2009
From Shan Shui Teas, I got this tea along with a couple others from Shan Shui yesterday. With an oxidation level around 70% it,s in a category all it,s own. One of the unique things about Baihao is the fact that the teas flavor and aroma is dependant on the spring aphids (insects) attacking the tea bushes and as a way of defending itself the plant creates enzymes to try to discourage the aphids from eating the tea leaves. Without this interaction we wouldn't have Baihao Oolong. Pesky little critters!
The aroma of the dry leaf is pungent and very complex. The most noticeable aroma here is of stone fruit. Peaches and apricots. Also a very rich malty smell and the aroma of roses makes me want to stick my nose down into the bag. The smell of the infused leaf follows right along with the dry leaf but of course a lot more pungent.
The tea,s flavor is mouth watering! Again, stone fruit, malt, and something that tastes kinda like chocolate. This tea is so sweet and combined with it,s medium body it could serve as a light after dinner dessert. There is so much complexity in this Baihao that I already know it,s one of those tea,s that every time you drink it it,s almost like drinking a different tea. Meaning that I notice flavors and smells that I hadn't noticed the last time.
All of the Baihao Oolongs Ive had in the past were good but in some ways so similar to Darjeeling that I might as well have bought a Darjeeling. Not this one, I cant exaggerate the level of complexity in this tea. Stunning! This Baihao is in a completely different league than the others Ive had.
This tea doesn't reveal it,s true depth of flavor, aroma and color until the third pot. The first couple of pots just a teaser for whats to come in later infusions.
Durability is excellent, easily 8 to 10 pots.
Brewing Baihao is not all that different from most other Oolongs.
Recommended brewing guidelines are as follows. Fill the teapot 1/2 to 2/3 way full of leaf. Use water around 185 to 195 degrees.
1st infusion, 1 min.
2nd infusion, 30 to 45 sec.
3rd infusion, 1 min. 20 sec.
4th infusion, 2 min.
5th infusion, 2 min. 30 sec.
Having said that I usually use hotter water and longer infusion times because I like my tea a little more robust. That means I,ll get fewer infusions but that's O.K. with me.
At $75.00 for a 200 gm. foil bag this tea is not cheap. But considering how many infusions you get out of it then it,s really quite affordable. An exellent tea that,s worth every penny, Ive never had another one anywhere close to the level of complexity and durability that this tea has.
P.S. I had to re-write this review with new pics so everybody who already commented (asking where I got this tea from) your comments were deleted along with the original post. Sorry, but if you want to comment again that would be fine.
March 12, 2009
I picked up a couple ounces of this Long Jing while at The Steeping Room today. What is The Steeping Room? A local tea shop that sells high quality teas and tea ware. (Ive talked about them before) I was there replenishing my Houjicha supply and I always get something I wasn't planning on buying when I go there. The price? Very reasonable at $5.00 an oz. Ive been craving a good cup of Long Jing lately but wanted to wait until this years teas were on the market but I scored a couple oz. of this anyways. The dry leaf looks good and smells really fresh despite the tea being a year old now. I always look for the little brown spots on the leaf which to me is an indication of pan roasting (the traditional method) The leaf is very thin, flat and light weight. While this isnt the best Long Jing Ive ever had it,s still very good and worth the money. Ive always heard that even though you can find tea labeled as Dragon Well just about anywhere, few people in the west have actually had the real thing. Seven Cups is the company I go to for "the real thing" But it costs ya dearly. The Long Jing they have is about $420.00 a lb. And that's the sale price. So, back to what I bought. I used 5 gms of leaf, 180 degree water and a 2 minute infusion time for the first pot and Ive got myself a good cup of Long Jing at a pretty good price. I only re steep the leaves one time, a third pot is kinda boring. For some teas like Long Jing I sorta feel like I have an obligation to use traditional brewing equipment, hence the Gaiwan. I,m not that into em, I make a mess every time I do. The market is flooded with imitation Dragon Well Tea but I have to admit some of these wannabe,s really are pretty good. The real thing is very rich tasting, nutty, veggie and sublime. The tea I,m blogging about here I wouldn't consider the real thing but something that,s pretty close and a good quality imitation.
Labels: China Green Tea
March 7, 2009
From Upton,s Formosa Spring Dragon Oolong. This is an excellent example of a "good value" tea. A 500 gm bag,s price is $46.80. The price alone doesn't make it a good value but the tea,s quality along with the price makes this one of the best Ive found in a long time. Very similar to the Four Seasons Like Spring Oolong from JTEA international. (Ive done a review on that one before) But this Oolong beats the pants off of the Four Seasons. The aroma from the bag is pungent and fresh with a lot of depth. The little tea nuggets are tightly rolled and very uniform in size with beautiful shades of greens and yellows. I,m pretty sure this is the same cultivar as the Four Seasons Oolong. The origin of which being Tie Guan Yin and in this Spring Dragon it shows. Normally I,m not that fond of Tie Guan Yin,s but this is a variation on that tea and it,s a perfect balance of sweetness, very subtle spice and a wonderful Lilac aroma. The brewed tea has a nice body, slightly syrupy and sticky. And a deep golden yellow color that's as clear as a bell. At this price I would expect machine harvesting but the opened leaf appears to be mostly whole leaf sets. Durability is pretty good, about four good pots before it goes dull and lifeless. I,m not sure if Upton,s still has this one in stock but it,s a definite I,ll buy again tea. The Zhu Ni Yixing in the pictures capacity is about eight oz. so I used ten gms of leaf, 185 degree water with infusion time starting at 2 min. second infusion 2&1/2 min. This tea being on the green side I like to use cooler water than usual so as not to destroy the aroma. A really good, fresh, flavorful Oolong at a price that doesnt make me wince.