Posts Tagged ‘Gaiwan’
Ingredients: Pu-erh tea
Vendor Suggested Preparation: Use the gongfu style. A small teapot (or small amount of water) with 3-4 g of tea and hot water: 95°C (203°F) infused for just 20 secs. Reinfuse at least 6 times.
The chance to try this tea is something very special. Unfortunately, despite how special it was, I am not honestly sure which of Canton Tea Co’ Pu’erhs this tea is. “Canton Beeng Cha” is all that the label says, and from my limited knowledge of Chinese, I know that a “Beeng” or bing is a round cake of pu’erh. “Cha” is merely “tea.” That being said, I can be sure that this is a pu’erh!
I begin this session of tea by bringing some water to a boil, after which I rise my gaiwan, small pot, and teacup to preheat them. It is pretty amazing how much of a difference preheating ones teaware can make on the taste of the tea that follows. Next, I measure out about one teaspoon of this tea into my gaiwan. I typically use more than this for gong fu brewing (quick and multiple infusions), which is what the directions on the label seem to imply, but for now we will merely follow along. I perform a quick rinse of the leaves with hot water to “open” them.
The dry leaves have a very vegetal aroma, suggesting a raw pu’erh. Yet there is an underlying smokiness and clear, fresh smell to them as well. The first 20 second infusion is performed. The wet leaves smell more malty now, yet still slightly vegetal. Much to my surprise, the tea brews a very pale green. This is very interesting, and not at all what I was expecting. This first infusion carries a very thin flavor. It is clear and fresh, with a smooth, vegetal aftertaste. As per the instructions, I go ahead and resteep the leaves, figuring that it will be different in the second infusion.
Mmm, this tea really kicks it in gear with the second infusion. The vegetal pu’erh flavor floods the taste buds. It is incredibly smooth and just slides over the tongue. I am truly impressed. I put it through several more steepings, and this tea just keeps on impressing. Normally, I prefer cooked pu’erhs to raw pu’erhs, but with a tea like this, I can hardly afford to be biased. I would give this tea an 87/100 on my personal enjoyment scale.
You can purchase the 2010 Xing Hai Raw Beeng Cha directly from the Canton Tea Co. website.
Tea Company: The Necessiteas (website)
Ingredients: Green rooibos, lemongrass, lemon peel, vanilla chips, natural flavors
Vendor Suggested Preparation: Use 1 tsp per 8 oz boiling water, steep 5 min
This tea helped me come to a decision on something. I don’t consider myself a tea purist at all. I happy drink tisanes and call them tea to my friends. I will throw sugar, splenda, or sweet and low into a cup and not think twice about it. I don’t use the purest of pure spring waters, or wash my teapots by hand, or insist that my oolong only is worth drinking when I drink it from a gaiwan or a special seasoned yixing pot. I try to drink good quality teas, and to treat them well to get good flavor, but I don’t fuss to much about it.
But this one has taken me a little too far.
I don’t like chips of stuff in my tea.
This tea smells amazing, as all of the Necessiteas’ blends do. It’s a whiff of lemony heaven. But when I first saw the blend, I thought there were chunks of carrot in there. Nope- they turned out to be vanilla chips. Vanilla chips? Like would go in cookies. Meh? That feels just wrong. But, for the sake of tea reviewing, I brewed up a cup.
The chips only partially melted, and left an oily residue on the surface of the cup. The brew still smelled amazingly lemon – one of the major ingredients is lemon grass. The flavor is nice, but there’s an oily mouthfeel that ruins it for me. The flavor is strongly lemongrass. The advertised vanilla notes don’t come through for me.
So for me, this tea would be a pass. I don’t want to drink it because of the way the chips affect the brew. And the flavor behind the oily mess isn’t enough to make me want to work around it. The lemongrass is nice, but not enough to make me want more of it. I’ll stick with their other flavors. And when I want lemon, I’ll go with Shanti Tea’s Lemonade.
You can purchase the Lemon Chiffon directly from the The Necessiteas website.
Ingredients: Puerh tea
Vendor Suggested Preparation: Use the gongfu style. A small teapot (or small amount of water) with 3-4 g of tea and hot water: 95°C (203°F) infused for just 20 secs. Reinfuse at least 6 times
Descriptions of this pu’erh say it is to be sweet and mellow. The dry cake is very spicy and sweet with a touch of smokiness. Flaking off several pieces of the larger cake into a gaiwan and prepared to rinse the leaves. The now-wet leaves carry less of a smoky smell than before. My first steeping is for thirty seconds. This infusion is sweet, spicy, and only carries the slightest of smoke-tinged aroma. My first taste is mellow, bold, and has only the slightest of rough edges. The slight smokiness does not in any way detract from the flavour. That same flavour is not overly vegetal. This cooked pu’erh really has mellowed in the twelve years since it was harvested.
The second 30-second infusion is no less smooth and mellow. This pu’erh has been a pure joy to drink so far. The second infusion tastes just like the first, except the aftertaste is a bit woodier. Not a rough woodiness, but the woody flavour is just a bit more intense.
As the infusions continue, the flavours do become more bold as the water puts the tea through its paces. This tea is faintly reminiscent of a lapsang souchong at times, because of the smokiness. After a total of six infusions, the steepings starts to weaken. I am a big fan of this tea and give it an 87/100 on my personal enjoyment scale.
You can purchase the 1999 Yi Wu Cooked Brick directly from the Canton Tea Co. website.
Tea Company: Tao Tea Leaf (website)
Ingredients: Pu-erh Tea
Vendor Suggested Preparation: not listed on website
The dry tuo cha smells of a smooth, cooked pu-er, but after rinsing this mini tuo in my gaiwan, the aromas of rice start to come out. Using just-boiled water, I prepare the first steeping. Light, golden-brown, the liquor is a bit cloudy and mingles a faint hint of rice with tea. The taste of this first steeping is not a flavourful as the aroma would suggest.
The second steeping gives off a darker brown infusion. This time it is hard to distinguish whether the tea is just very smooth or whether it lacks a lot of flavour. I suspect this is on account of the intense rice flavour, which seems to camouflage a lot of the pu-er nuances. Hopefully the rice flavours will give way soon and let the tea itself shine through.
Finally, with this third steeping, I am getting more of the flavour of the shou pu on which this tea is built. It is good, though perhaps not as amazing as I had hoped. I go ahead and put this tea through a couple more infusions. It is good, but I am left with the impression that it is lacking something. On my personal enjoyment scale, I would give it a 75/100.
You can purchase the Rice Shou Pu-erh directly from the Tao Tea Leaf website.
Ingredients: Puerh Tea
Vendor Suggested Preparation: Use a yixing (zisha) teapot or gaiwan. 3-5g of tea per 140ml boiling water: 95 degC (203 degF) Wash tea briefly then 10-15 seconds infusions.
Well, the notes on the website state that this tea will hit maturity in 2010 and peak in 2015. I have enough to try it now, and then hopefully remember to try this four years from now. The dry leaves smell creamy and smooth (I love the smell of cooked Pu’erh), and they have a bit of spice in the aroma. I notice a few stems in amongst the leaves, but the leaves are quite prettily twisted and twirled.
Rinsed, then steeped in a gaiwan for 30 seconds, the wet leaves smell even more creamy, still with a bit of spice, a bit like a nice brandy in a way. The liquor is a very bright and clear amber colour. For what it is worth, this tea looks great. I pour the first cup and sip…and sip…and sip. This tea is great. The flavour profile is not very bold, but it is delicious in its own simple way. There is even a strange hint of sweetness in the background.
The second and third infusions go by quickly as I thoroughly enjoy the simplistic wonder of this tea. I highly recommend it and give it an 87/100 on my personal enjoyment scale.
You can purchase the 2005 Xing Hai Cooked Loose Puerh directly from the Canton Tea Co. website.