Sunday, February 22, 2015

Mountain Organic Indonesian green tea from Tea at Sea

“I say let the world go to hell, but I should always have my tea.” 
- Fvodor Dostoyevsky, Notes from Underground

The time has come to open another sample package and try a tea I've never had before.  Today I broke into the free sampler from Tea at Sea, a Mountain Organic Indonesian green tea.

The sample came to me in the beautiful packaging with a tiny sail boat included.  Now, that's something different.  I adore Tea at Sea presentation.  It's creative and very pretty.

The dry tea had delicate vegetal scent and the leaves themselves were rolled up in balls similar to oolong tea.

I placed an entire sample package into my teapot and rinsed with 85°C water and then I let it sit for about a minute to let the leaves unfurl a little and release some of the flavour.  I then steeped in 8 ounces of 85°C water for about a minute.

The resulting liquid had delicate yellow colour with a little tinge of green.  The aroma surprised me a bit because the tea smelled more like oolong, with the hint of flowery notes, than the green tea.  The vegetal notes which I enjoy in the scent of the green tea were absent here which was a bit of a disappointment.  I love my green tea with strong grassy smell but I do realize that not every green tea comes with it nor that it should. Some people love green tea but dislike the spinachy scent and this tea would be perfect for them.  In addition, I'm sure every oolong lover would love this tea as well.

Taste wise the tea was great.  The vegetal notes which were absent in the aroma made an appearance as a flavour.  The tea was smooth and buttery with spinachy and seeweed like notes.  In addition it left a tingle in the back of my throat with the ever so slight astringency which I really enjoy.  

All in all, it was my pleasure to spend a Sunday with this yummy tea.  Upon reflection I can't help but think that this was a rare cross between typical green and oolong tea.  Some happy middle perhaps. 

Thank you Tea at Sea. 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Sunday Afternoon with Golden Turtle from Mandala Tea

"A cup of tea is a cup of peace."
~Soshitsu Sen XV, quoted by Kenneth S. Cohen

A cup of peace it is indeed.

Outside is cold today.  Very, very cold.  Brutally cold actually.  Sitting here with a hot cup of tea is peace, comfort and pure delight.

Today I'm having Golden Turtle oolong tea from Mandala Tea.  It comes from a sample sent to me a while ago and I thought it's time to try it out.

The tea leaves are rolled into beautiful dark green balls and smell lovely of vegetables and flowers.

My sample was 7 grams in weight and I used it all up and steeped it in 8 ounces of 85°C water for 1.5 minutes.  The resulting liquid was of beautiful golden colour and had magnificent flowery aroma, just like a good oolong should.

The taste didn't disappoint either.  The tea was smooth and full of body with flowery and vegetal notes. I could feel ever so slight astringency at the back of my tongue, just enough to let me know that I am in fact drinking a tea.  I absolutely love that sensation.

All in all, this was a great oolong tea.  Definitely something to enjoy over and over.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

2012 Wild Monk Sheng Pu'erh from Mandala Tea

Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves — slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future. 
~Thich Nat Hahn

Sheng Pu'erh tea is definitely one of my favourites.  Whether young or aged, sheng is a tea with a lot of character and staying power.

Remember the tea I wrote about last week?  It was 2005 Fengqing Zhuan Cha.  It lasted me for 3 days and many, many wonderful steeps.  I'll be ordering a brick of that probably today or tomorrow.

Today I'm drinking another sheng, this time a younger one.  It's 2012 Wild Monk Sheng Pu'erh from Mandala Tea.  I purchased couple of cakes last year with a hope to age at least one of them.  So far I'm almost done with one of the cakes and hopefully I can master enough restraint to leave the other cake to age in peace.  Sheng pu'erh tea is like a good wine.  The older it gets the better the taste.

The dry leaf has a delicate aroma, a little vegetal and smoky.  To steep a cup, I carefully broke off couple of pieces from the cake, trying to keep the leaves as much in tact as possible.

Before I steeped this tea for drinking, I rinsed the leaves with 90-95°C water and let them sit for one minute which causes the tea to wake up and release more flavour. Following that I steeped the tea for 10 seconds for my first 8 oz cup, one of many to come.  This tea has a lot of staying power and I get multiple steeps over couple of days or so, slightly increasing the steeping time with every cup.

4th steep of 2012 Wild Monk Sheng Pu'erh

The taste is delicious. It's earthy, smoky and sweet with a touch of fruitiness.  I can't say enough about smokiness of this tea, I just love it so much.  Currently I'm on the fourth steep which I allowed to sit for about a minute.  There is absolutely no bitterness to be found which can be an issue with younger shengs but I also think that Wild Monk seems to have less attitude than other young shengs that I've tried.

A cup of delicious goodness well worth the purchase.


Sunday, February 1, 2015

Sunday with 2005 Fengqing Zhuan Cha Raw Pu'erh from Teavivre

“I say let the world go to hell, but I should always have my tea.” 
- Fvodor Dostoyevsky, Notes from Underground

Today I've decided to try the sample that I've had in my collection for a while.  I only have one packet and have been waiting for a special occasion that never came.  Today, while the winter storm circles my neck of the woods and snow slowly descends, is the perfect time to curl up on the couch with a good book and a cup of delicious tea.

I've had raw pu'erh before but I've never tasted aged raw pu'erh.  I like both young sheng and a good shu, but what will aged sheng taste like?

I opened the package and took a whiff of aroma.  It was great.  Very aromatic, a little vegetal and woodsy at the same time.  The leaf was part loose, part in moderate chunks and of dark green/brown colour.

I steeped the entire sample package (10g) at 95°C in 8 ounces of water for 30 seconds.  The result was amazing.  The tea turned out golden brown in colour with aroma that made me think of wet forest after a good summer soaking.  

The taste knocked my socks off.  It was delicious.  I would say this tea was right smack in the middle between a good shu and a young sheng.  Sweet, woodsy notes were intertwined with a hint of flowers and mushrooms to give this tea an incredible depth and made me want more. There was a slight astringency at the back of my tongue, just enough to add to the complexity of the tea but not too much to make it bitter.

I'm currently on my second steep (50 sec) and it's just as good as the first if not better.  I could probably get away with shorter steep of 40 sec or so and there is still a lot of life left in the leaves for more steeps in the near future.  

I just checked on Teavivre website and this tea is still available.  I'm seriously considering purchasing a brick.  It's good, really good and I want more of this golden goodness.