Sunday, May 31, 2015

Dragonwell Long Jing 2014

Green tea
Dobra Tea

I'm trying this way out of season, but I don't mind! That's what I get for hoarding tea. This is a 2014 Dragonwell Long Jing from the bargain bin at Dobra Tea from much earlier this year. If you ever go by the or store, you can get nice bags of tea for as low as $5!

The dry leaves have a sweet marine smell. The first infusion at the recommended 1 minute brings out a stone fruit smell. The liquor is very light. The taste is like a floral white tea.

After a second infusion at 2 minutes, the marine smell and stronger green tea taste comes through. This is a lovely tea to drink in the gaiwan, and I think I'll also use it as a cold brew on hot days. I love to see how such a dark leaf can translate to a light liquor.

Do go in to Dobra Tea. It's a beautiful and low-key tea house on historic Murray Ave in Pittsburgh. They have new "beer" tea which I have yet to try!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Pure Ceylon Leaf Tea

Black tea
Taylors of Harrogate

Area of origin: Sri Lanka.

This is a brisk, English breakfast-type tea with a lot of flavor. It is described as a rosy tea, so I was pleased to see a reddish brown liquor. Some of the pieces are fine so I expected dust in my tea, but it holds together well. It almost looks like used coffee grounds.

It's a touch sweet, but with astringency too. I like it with a lot of milk. Or for fun, I mix it with some cinnamon chips and maybe an Assam for a cinnamon breakfast.

"A delicate and aromatic tea."

Leaves vary in size.

"A fine quality crop with a delicate flavour and rosy colour."

Inner pouch for freshness. I bought it right when it expired but... it's still very good.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Lanxi Mao Feng green tea

Green tea
Gently Stirred

Area of Origin: Lanxi City, Zhejiang Province, China.

I will remember this as my traveling tea. This Mao Feng went to California in a glass jar with a little tea ball. It's a green tea, but it has the light floral aspect I love in an oolong!

The dry leaf is a rich dark grayish green, so I expected a marine smell from it. But it presents a rich sweet smell that is almost on the floral side of grassy. The leaves look twisted. In a recent Facebook post, Nicole Martin of Tea for Me Please says oolongs didn't always look the way they do now. Maybe this green tea has similar processing to the pre-1990s oolongs?

The cup has a grassy smell and yellow-green color. Lingering, round aftertaste.

Mao Feng green tea is only plucked "within a specific forty-five day period that culminates with the Qingming Festival, also known as the Pure Brightness Festival or Tomb-sweeping Day that falls on either the 4th or 5th of April, depending on the lunisolar calendar" (read more here).

I wonder, does that make the tea taste differently each year? Or, since the climate indicates calendar months, is this the perfect tea picking time ever? I will have to try multiple harvests to find out.

I'm enthralled by Tomb-Sweeping Day. I freelanced for a company in China for some time, who emailed to say offices would be closed for the holiday, so I felt part of it, from far away. The tomb-sweeping seems to be a springtime ritual, like a spiritually renewing spring cleaning.

While traveling I simply used a tea ball, and a mug brew, for two infusions at 2 minutes each. I shared it with my father using a small pot to boil water (a couple days later I bought him an actual kettle) and various mugs to use as share cups or temporary vessels to cool down the water.

I'm skeptical of tasting new green teas in anything but a gaiwan, but it worked out fine! Since then, I've also used the gaiwan for three infusions. I actually prefer the oversized tea ball, or mug brew, best.

A beautiful tea! I have another from Gently Stirred to try. Before then, though, I'll bring you a sturdy Ceylon loose tea from a box.

This tea was provided by Gently Stirred.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

June Jasmine green tea (#66)

Green tea blend
Nepali Tea Traders

Ingredients: Green tea, jasmine flowers.

I've been in a jasmine phase lately. Through my jasmine travels I've learned that I prefer more water to tea than I would normally use--so, I probably won't use my small gaiwan. For that reason, I used my porcelain teapot to brew this sample.

Surprisingly, the dry tea has a marine smell. My first infusion tasted very light, almost like a white tea. Unlike other teas that are scented with jasmine oil to enhance the flower, the jasmine isn't too noticeable in this cup.

I suppose I'll have to lessen the water to get a stronger flavor. My second infusion with a little less water than before tastes more like a straightforward green tea with something extra about it you can't quite put your finger on.

So, if you haven't tried jasmine in tea and you'd like to, I would say to start with a scented tea instead for the full jasmine effect. This one was great to try because it has just the flower (not oil) for an added touch, which doesn't overwhelm the green tea. It's perfect for a hot summer evening--like tonight, at around 90 degrees outside! What happened to spring?

Through the end of this year, Nepali Tea Traders is donating the greater of (1) all profits and (2) 20% of sales through their Nepali Tea Restoration Fund after the Nepal earthquake. Let's buy tea for a great cause!

This sample was provided by Nepali Tea Traders.

Next I will review a Japanese green tea from Gently Stirred in the UK.