Friday, February 28, 2014

Teavivre, Fengqing Wild Tree Yesheng Raw Pu-erh Cake

Teavivre Description:
This raw pu-erh cake is grown and produced in Fengqing, Yunnan, which is the origin place of DianHong black tea. This Wild Tree Yesheng Raw Pu-erh Cake is harvest in spring of 2013. Between March to May, after harvesting the fresh leaves, tea workers will process them: fixation, rolling, drying, sifting, and then store the leaves in carton boxes.
As the workers use iron pan for fixation, and roll the tea with their hands, the leaves do not have good looks as machine-made leaves. Yet regarding on quality, this Wild Tree Yesheng Pu-erh Cake is a green food from nature, in the mists and clouds on high mountains. It is a tea worth being in your collection list.

Sample provided by Teavivre

My Review:
When I got up this morning I was thinking I needed to spend some time with a puerh. The Morning had other plans. It is now afternoon and I had decided I would just review whatever caught my eye. Turns out my eyes were in agreement, this is still to be a puerh day.

When I opened the sample I was stopped by the aroma. I checked the label. Yep, it is a puerh. This raw tea's scent is fresh like hay and green tea with a hint of citrus. Maybe the most inviting puerh aroma I have experienced.

The leaf has a lot of green mixed with the darker leaf. My sample also has some orange leaf in the mix that do not notice in the picture.

I used my press to steep this in my hybrid brewing style. It isn't eastern gaiwan brewing and it isn't western style either. I used a cup of boiling water and a one minute steep. The liquor is yellow gold in color and quite clear. The wet leaf has a scent that is kind of a cross between minty and anise with citrus and vegetal green plant notes.

In sipping I can tell this is still very young. It is not bright metallic like many sheng. Instead, it is dusty and musty tasting. It has an earthy taste like the smell of potatoes as you dig them out of the ground - not so much the potato itself but the earth and roots that surrounds it.  

I am looking forward to more cups from this session. I am also curious to see how this will change with time. It is already a good cup and as Teavivre says, in their description, worth being in your collection.

Visit the Teavivre website.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Verdant Tea, Golden Fleece

Verdant Tea Description:
This is the finest, most nuanced and intriguing Dian Hong we have ever encountered... This tea is not the assertive experience that some seek in a black tea.  It is not robust in the traditional sense.  Instead, this is a subtle experience that will appeal to lovers of fine oolong and pu’er.  The mouthfeel is perfectly smooth- not creamy, but silky.  The taste unfolds slowly, confident in itself.  The sweetness begins like that of vanilla ice cream, but quickly expands on the palate in the aftertaste with a gentle tingling similar to raw sugar.  An enveloping honey profile is also present.

The wild-picked buds yield an intriguingly well-integrated spice profile.  It is hard to pick it apart, but there are certainly cinnamon flavors, and the sweetness of ground clove and allspice.  The tea has a warming quality and a brightness that truly feels like sunlight.  In later steepings a satisfying thickness like incense and sweet morel mushrooms begins to develop and mix with the sparkling and sweet qualities.

My Review:
Dian Hong is always at or near the top of my favorite tea types. This one by Verdant Tea is another, like Laoshan Black, that has achieved near mythic status among my fellow tea drinking friends. Given Verdant's track record so far, and taking one look at this beautiful golden leaf, I have no doubt I will love it.

The leaf really is gorgeous to look at, the golden buds are covered in fine downy hair. The aroma dry does not give a lot of clues as to what is coming. It reminds me of a tall brown dried field.

I used two tsp of leaf in my press and boiling water. The steep time was around one minute. The brew starts out light orange brown in the cup and turns darker as it cools. I used the word brew instead of my usual liquor because the wet leaf sings malt. So intoxicating an aroma. I could sit here and sniff the leaf all day but I think I'll drink tea instead.

Wow! Good choice. This is fabulous. It is honey and brown sugar, along with the malt, giving it a bread like quality. Some Dian Hong has a sweet potato taste. This edges that direction but turns away. It is sweet, warm, and yes, silky. Just wow!

I see where Verdant is referring when mentioning a spice profile. Late in the sip and into the aftertaste it does suggest spices. I can't say I am sophisticated enough to pull out the particular spices they mention but that's OK as no matter what the notes are, they are welcome and amazing.

I don't join the mythic status crowd easily, but I really can find no flaw with this tea. Definitely a must try for Dian Hong lovers.

Visit the Verdant Tea website.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Persimmon Tree, Matcha Grade A

The Persimmon Tree Description:
True to its name, this Matcha is Grade A. The Tencha leaves have been handled with the utmost care and preparation to create this fine, powdered Matcha tea. Frothy and rich, the Matcha powder creates a sensuous, eye-opening mixture that powdered Matcha tea is famous for.
Preparation: 1/4 teaspoon per 6-8oz of water. Best enjoyed when frothed by fully whisking.

Sample provided by The Persimmon Tree

My Review:
I have a Starbucks Green Tea Frappuccino addiction. The problem is a Grande size (16 oz) has 380 calories. They are loaded with milk and sugar and whipped cream and tea - the 4 basic food groups right? They are not good for you on a regular basis but they are so good.

I know nothing about matcha beyond Starbucks claims to be using it in their Frappuccino but I have been experimenting trying to duplicate it at home in a slightly healthier version. What I am getting at is this will not really be a review of matcha so far as a review of how close it comes to the Starbucks version.

I could not find a source for the powder listed on The Persimmon Tree's website. It simply calls it tencha which leads me to believe it is from Japan. Teavivre sells a similar appearing powdered green tea that is Chinese sourced as such it is processed differently than Japanese matcha. In fairness they clearly state so on the website.

Be careful when you open the tin or bag of matcha. A little green cloud is pretty hard to avoid and it can make a real mess if you aren't prepared. This is an extremely fine powder.

Here is how I prepared this: I used 8 oz of cold 2% milk, 8 oz of shaved ice, 2 packets of Splenda, and about 1/2 tsp of matcha. I placed all the ingredients in a blender and mixed thoroughly.

So? Well, it isn't Starbucks but I really enjoyed it.

When I was thinking about preparing this one today I decided to change my expectations. I've done this before. Once upon a time I loved Earl Grey black tea but it did not like me, or rather my stomach did not tolerate it in the quantities I desired to drink. I decided to try Earl Grey green tea but before doing so I acknowledged it was not black tea and would never taste like black tea. I loved it for what it was - different, and so my stomach and Earl Grey green tea lived happily ever after. This is not Starbucks and it will taste different.

The way I prepared this today was rich and creamy. I had the sweetness level about right for my tastes and believe it or not my way is a lot less sweet than Starbucks. The only calories were basically just the 2% milk so it is a lot closer to healthy.

The matcha had a good flavor that did not irritate my stomach. If you are sensitive be careful how much powder you use - it goes a long way. I pretty much drank it straight down and was ready for more. I really do not have words to explain the difference between this and Starbucks. The best I can do is offer that to me this was a little more subdued and more brown tasting rather than bright and green. If someone can translate it better I would love to hear it.

You can find Matcha Grade A here.

About The Persimmon Tree:
(From their website) The Persimmon Tree® offers our customers some of the world's finest organic teas and botanicals. Not only are most of our fresh high quality teas from around the globe hand-blended and organically grown, some of our teas are also fair trade, ensuring fair working conditions, fair wages, and a better life for tea workers from countries across Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

At The Persimmon Tree®, our mission is simple: to enrich people's lives through the pleasure of tea.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Andrews & Dunham Damn Fine Tea, Caravan

Andrews & Dunham Description:
If even half of the stories are true, let it be a testament to the durability of rock musicians that Carävan lasted as long as they did. With a ticket paid in full by the charms of singer and guitarist Ian Black, Carävan rode the mind-numbing rhythms of Phil Steep (bass) and Gryph “Smoke” Upley (drums) down dark highways for four years. Black’s bizarre and tragic death in 1979 put the brakes on this trio’s wild ride. The surviving band members and their music have since been plagued by personal, legal and (by some accounts) supernatural misfortune to such an extent that the survival of their master recordings is a remarkable feat in itself. What remains today is a body of work that reveals a surprising sweetness, albeit richly draped in the fiery brimstone of Carävan’s legendary hard-rocking sound.

Carävan is a smoky blend of black teas. Steep in boiling water for four minutes — more if you can stand it. It is best enjoyed in an 11-ounce mug.

My Review:
You have to respect a company that makes up a legendary rock band to explain their tea blend.  At least it amused me.

Based on the metal motif and accompanying packaging, I was expecting a fire and brimstone, burn it to the ground, take no prisoners harsh smoky tea. Instead upon opening the bag I get a sweet smoke that hints at cinnamon and vanilla notes. The leaf is broken orange pekoe that ranges from light orange red to quite dark in color.

Using my typical French Press method, I placed my scoop of leaf in the bottom and poured fresh boiling water over it. I steeped 4 minutes with the lid in place. I almost never push the plunger down on the press unless there are leaves hanging on the sides. It wasn't necessary today. The only caution with a press method is to make sure all of the liquid is poured out. This is especially true if you resteep.

The devilish brew is dark and ominous - OK actually it is orangey brown and looks like tea. The scent is Smoke On The Water, sorry I tried to not go for the obvious, I just couldn't resist. The aroma is like pine smoke and slightly bbq. The taste is sweet, and yes smoky, but not overpowering. Late in the sip I actually catch the tea leaf itself. That seems to be a hard feat to pull off in a caravan type blend.

This is definitely one of the better smoky teas I have tried. Get that kettle out and turn it up!

Visit the Andrew & Dunham website.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Verdant Tea, Laoshan Black

Verdant Tea Description:
The wet leaf of this Autumn Harvest Laoshan Black has a beautifully addictive aroma of salted caramel and fresh baked brownies. The complexity of the aroma follows through beautifully in the early steepings with caramel chocolate candy flavor, a perfect balance of sweet, slaty and savory. Later infusions yield more dark juicy fruit flavors, especially raspberry. The famous Laoshan malty quality comes through in the aftertaste to complement the chocolate.

My Review:
This one came to me by way of a swap. I definitely got the better end of the trade. This particular offering from Verdant has reached near mythic legendary status with the Steepster crowd. That always makes me nervous. Can it live up to the hype? What if I don't like it? Ahhh, pressure! 

Opening the bag, the first thing I notice is the picture doesn't tell the story for once. It makes it appear to be big bulky leaf when the reality is it is thin wiry twists. That must be one tiny bowl. It is very dark in color. The dry aroma is mildly roasted. I wasn't expecting that.

I used 1 tsp of leaf with 8 oz of water heated to 208 F steeped for 3 minutes per my tea swap friends recommendation. Verdant says to use 4 g and steep for 30 seconds. The result is a light orange/amber cup. The length and bulk of the leaf has increased dramatically after brewing. The wet leaf aroma is baked brownies as mentioned in Verdant's description. Usually I don't get a vendor's notes. This one is spot on.

With my first sip I am drawn into another dimension where time stands still in the world around me and the cup begs me to linger, which I willingly desire to obey. It turns out this is really as good as all the hoopla and marching bands declared. Seriously good.

This is chocolate. It is roasted caramel drizzled with honey. The aftertaste is rich malt. 

I am reminded of a time a couple years ago when I received my first samples from Teavivre. One of those samples was Bailin Gongfu. Maybe memory fails me and these taste nothing alike but it was a turning point for me. I discovered there is so much more to black tea than the Assam and Ceylon teas I had experienced before this time. Laoshan black is one of those experience changing teas.

This is Verdant Tea's most popular tea and from what I can tell, for good reason.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Tea At Sea, Mountain Organic Indonesian Oolong

Tea At Sea Description:
Grown in the Halimun Mountains of Indonesia at 800m above Sea-Level, treated with natural spring water and fresh mountain air. The 35% oxidized tea leaves have a honey milk aroma, light creamy taste with a hint of marine. Wake up the tea leaves and discard the first infusion, then steep around 100°C and observe the leaves slowly unfolding to extract their natural flavour.

Discard the first infusion, then Steep 1.5 - 2 tsp around 100°C for 5-8 min.

Sample Provided by Tea At Sea

My Review:
Tea At Sea is a new to me company out of Canada. Recently they offered to let Steepster people try their tea in exchange for reviews. So I jumped right on the opportunity.

I received two samples in resealable packets, that is a really nice touch. There is 7g of tea in each colorful pouch - enough to make two cups. A tag is attached to the packet with a description and recommended steeping temperature. The time is not listed on the tag but is listed at 5-8 minutes on their website.

I used half the sample for this review. The green leaf is rolled into loose nuggets. It has a floral light oolong scent. I pretty much ignored the recommended steeping instructions and went with my standard of 185 F water steeping for about 2 1/2 minutes. My press was loaded with mostly unfolded leaf pieces. This really expanded nicely. I did not discard the first infusion as suggested as I rarely find this necessary.

The liquor is clear and green. There is a very fragrant floral aroma rising out of the press once the lid is removed. The wet leaf has a floral/marine aroma. The cup smells like flowers and honey. This is a very nice start.

The sip is buttery. It feels a bit thin but I blame myself as I used a little more water than intended. The taste is very nice being floral with a spicy note that reminds me a little of ginger. It also tastes of honey and has a lasting sweet, orchid, and spicy aftertaste.  The sweetness quickly changes to a dry sensation without really seeming astringent.

My favorite thing about this tea is that even though it is a lightly oxidized oolong the floral qualities do not overpower the taste buds as is the tendency of many oolongs. This is a very solid contender for an everyday oolong.

From their about Page:
Tea At Sea is a Loose Leaf Tea company with offices in Vancouver & Montreal. All of our teas are sourced directly from tea farmers around the world, we never work with wholesalers or agents. This way we maintain a very small selection of teas but can guarantee their quality and freshness.
Visit the Tea At Sea website.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Persimmon Tree, Honeysuckle

The Persimmon Tree Description:
The Honeysuckle pu-erh tea delivers a deep red infusion with a sweet woodsy, floral aroma. The finished brew is mild and earthy, with a lingering hint of honeysuckle. This honeysuckle tea can be steeped multiple times in a sitting without becoming bitter. This particular pu-erh is cooked and has been aged for about 4-6 years. 

Our teas are packaged in small, medium or large airtight interior seal tins. These tins are perfect for storage as it protect the teas from moisture and light, which preserves the freshness of the teas much longer.

Sample provided by The Persimmon Tree.

My Review:
Popping the lid off this latest sample I had almost no preconceived ideas. The Persimmon Tree offerings have always been very good quality and I have had one other of their puerhs (Immortal Nectar) that proved to be a work horse tea so I wasn't concerned. Honeysuckle though, that puts a very definite image in my head. It grows wild in the fence rows around here. In the summertime it fills the morning air with the most beautiful fragrance. A slow morning drive in the country with the windows down is always a treat.

The tin is very solid. The dry leaf looks like the picture. The dry leaf has a nice fresh leaf scent like a fruity black tea that I find unusual for puerh. There is an accompanying note that I interpret as light mint. I used 1 1/2 tsp in a Finum basket with 5 oz of nearly boiling (200F) water. The first cup I steeped for 30 seconds. The Persimmon Tree suggests 3-5 minutes. At 30 s it appeared quite dark - not inky just deep burgundy. The wet leaf had just a hint of an earthy puerh but was nothing to be concerned about if you are a first time taster of puerh.

The cup aroma is similar to the wet leaf. The Persimmon Tree calls this a sweet woodsy floral aroma but understand it is more like the sweet woodsy floral aroma of the damp forest floor. The sip was very mild. I have not had many puerhs that were any smoother. This is easily sippable. I still notice hints of the mint I caught in the dry leaf. The flavor is lightly earthy and verges on book leather but never quite reaches it. As the cup cooled I did notice the aftertaste became sweeter. I enjoyed the cup but must admit I never made the honeysuckle connection.

The second cup I steeped for 5 minutes as suggested to see how much difference it might make. Honestly not a lot. It has only a slight amount of scratchy bite but remains easy to drink. I liked the shorter steep a little more. I suggest 2 minutes as a starting point and adjust from there. This obviously holds up to resteeps. After two cups it shows no signs of letting up.

If you have stacks of puerh cakes aging away in your stash, this might not interest you except as an everyday loose leaf to share during casual conversations. For those who are curious to try puerh but have heard so many scary stories you are afraid - this is an excellent introduction with a pleasant taste and enough depth to grow with you for some time.  

You can find Honeysuckle here.

About The Persimmon Tree:
(From their website) The Persimmon Tree® offers our customers some of the world's finest organic teas and botanicals. Not only are most of our fresh high quality teas from around the globe hand-blended and organically grown, some of our teas are also fair trade, ensuring fair working conditions, fair wages, and a better life for tea workers from countries across Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

At The Persimmon Tree®, our mission is simple: to enrich people's lives through the pleasure of tea.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Tea At Sea, Mountain Organic Indonesian Black Tea

Tea At Sea Description:
Organic grown in the Halimun Mountains of Indonesia at 800m above Sea-Level. Treated with natural spring water and fresh mountain air. These fully oxidized tea leaves have a smoky aroma, rich smooth taste of rolled up buds. Steep at 100°C and watch how the leaves slowly unfold to extract their natural flavour. Enjoy!

Steep 1.5 – 2 tsp for 5-8 min or until the leaves are fully unfolded.

Sample provided by Tea At Sea

My Review:
Tea At Sea is a new to me company out of Canada. Recently they offered to let Steepster people try their tea in exchange for reviews. So I jumped right on the opportunity.

I received two samples in resealable packets, that is a really nice touch. There is 7g of tea in each colorful pouch - enough to make two cups. A tag is attached to the packet with a description and recommended steeping temperature. The time is not listed on the tag but is listed at 5-8 minutes on their website.

Removing the leaf reveals a dark brown leaf with bronze colored thread like streaks. Dry it is slightly fruity with a wood or bark type note. I used my press and boiling water. I only steeped 2 1/2 minutes as I always do the first time with black teas calling for longer brewing times. The tannins in assam type tea can cause me severe burning discomfort if I don't proceed cautiously.

The result is a light orange/brown liquor that is bright and clear. I am wondering if I should not have steeped longer. There is a light roasted hint to the wet leaf scent along with the dry notes and a hint of cinnamon.

The sip is light to medium bodied - again this may be due to my cautious brewing. It is nicely malty. I found it to be silky smooth and very pleasant with a wonderful fruity aftertaste. It did not cause any burning sensation from the tannins. I also did not notice any dryness from astringency. This takes sweetener well and from other reviews will also handle milk if you are so inclined. I very much enjoyed this tea.

One little nicety that Tea At Sea includes with each order is a cork sailboat like the one shown below. I have to be honest and admit this is the first thing I grabbed when opening the package. It was assembled in a moment and is now proudly displayed above my tea table. No it is not in a bottle. I have neither the patience or attention span - look a squirrel. This is my first Indonesian tea and my first cork sailboat. Thanks Tea At Sea!

From their about Page:
Tea At Sea is a Loose Leaf Tea company with offices in Vancouver & Montreal. All of our teas are sourced directly from tea farmers around the world, we never work with wholesalers or agents. This way we maintain a very small selection of teas but can guarantee their quality and freshness.

Visit the Tea At Sea website.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Simple Loose Leaf, Cherry Green

Simple Loose Leaf Description:
Young Hyson green tea infused with rich black cherry flavor creates a deliciously fruity green tea. Delicious hot or iced.

Young Hyson Chinese Green Tea, Dried Cherries, Safflower Petals, N/A Black Cherry Flavors

Sample provided by Simple Loose Leaf

My Review:
I received a 6 month membership from Simple Loose Leaf to review their teas. I have greatly enjoyed all of them so far and do recommend their tea and their monthly club. I also love the bags they use for the tea. The little vent on the back side helps remove the air so the tea stays fresher. It is a great idea.

I have never had a cherry tea before. I have loved peach teas for years. Recently I discovered that strawberry and tea go together really well despite my suspicions to the contrary. So maybe a fruity tea like cherry can be a good thing.

Opening the pouch, this is definitely cherry. The label says there are dried cherries in the mix but they must be chopped very fine as I don't see them. I don't know that they add anything to the flavor but I always enjoy the appearance of safflower petals.

Per the instructions I brewed this at 180 F for 2 1/2 minutes. The result is a green tinted, slightly cloudy cup. Simple Loose Leaf, on their website, recommends a few second rinse and dump before steeping to awaken the leaves. I did not do the rinse.

The taste is leaving me not sure what I think. I mean what is cherry tea supposed to taste like? Cherry pie? I wish. Maraschino cherries? Thankfully not as I don't like them. The label says black cherry. Yes, I get that but it is the black cherry taste I get in the summertime from a shaved ice drink. It is very sweet (not as sweet as shaved ice drinks but sweet). It is somewhere between candy and Kool-aid. Along with the cherry I can taste the hyson green tea. It is pleasant enough.

Given that I don't know what I should be expecting I cannot say if this is an accurate tasting cherry tea. I think it would be refreshing iced - or poured over shaved ice :) Maybe it is great and it is just not my thing. Based upon my previous experience with Simple Loose Leaf, I suspect this to be the situation.

Visit the Simple Loose Leaf website.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Verdant Tea, Imperial Breakfast Blend

Verdant Tea Description:
A fine breakfast tea should gently wake you up, acting as a transition and ritual to welcome the day.  Too many breakfast blends achieve this through caffeine alone, brewing up so intense that they are hard to palate.  We realized the best breakfast tea is going to give you more than caffeine.  Its flavor is going to be warm and sunny, the texture gentle but satisfying, the aftertaste refreshing.  The sensation of drinking the tea should make you want to start the day.

We achieve this by starting with Laoshan Black and Zhu Rong Yunnan Black.  This combination creates a satisfying body with a warm and bright flavor.  A touch of Wuyi Mountain Big Red Robe Oolong accents the warm fruity qualities, while Master Han’s 2002 Shu pu’er strengthens the base and a bit of Bai Mu Dan White tea provides a uniquely refreshing aftertaste.

This brews up beautifully hot or cold, and can be just the comforting cup in the morning or throughout the day.

My Review:
This is so interesting looking in the bag. Big white buds, golden twists, dark gnarly leaves. This is topped by the scent of the dry leaf upon opening. Oh my lands. This is dark honey coated burnt caramel goodness. It has been a long time since dry leaf has drawn me in so quickly. Just wow!

I used 2 tsp of leaf. It seemed like a lot but then look at the fluffy nature of the leaf. I let it soak for a moment in the bottom of my freshly rinsed press. Then I added boiling water and steeped for one brief minute.

The liquor is orange and clear. The wet leaf aroma is much like the dry with the added touch of seeming fresher and more alive. The scent of the cup reveals the caramel and a touch of the dark Wuyi. The Yunnan is the driving flavor here with the oolong filling in the bottom end. I really don't taste the puerh or white - or at least I can't single them out. As the cup cools I also catch light notes like cinnamon.

As is usually the case with me, the more the cup cooled the more I enjoyed it. Really hot, I thought (and usually do) the flavors were subdued and locked together. As it cools they separate and blossom. By the time this reached room temperature I decided it was an exceptional blend.

Visit the Verdant Tea website.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Persimmon Tree, Bao Zhong

The Persimmon Tree Description:
Our Bao Zhong tea's hand-picked, long, twisted pouchong leaves are slightly oxidized and brew a fresh and floral cup with delicate notes of lilac and pear. This jade-colored tea soothes with every sip and offers a clean, refreshing finish.

Sample provided by The Persimmon Tree

My Review:
Bao Zhong is also known as Pouchong. I only recall having this type tea once before in Golden Moon's amazing Coconut Pouchong. This will be my first time tasting Bao Zhong without added flavoring.

The leaf is darker than expected for a slightly oxidized oolong. The dry scent is light and very fresh. I used about 2 1/2 tsp of leaf with 12 oz of water heated to 195 F. This steeped for 3 minutes. The result is a jade colored liquor that slowly turns more honey colored in the cup. The wet leaf has clean light floral oolong aroma.

The sip - Ohh, this is very nice. It is wonderfully sweet. The first notes are very floral, almost rose like, but lilac may fit better. This is not extreme floral like some tieguanyin teas can become. This is light, flowing, and just has a pretty taste. I also catch melon, which is unexpected but good. This feels thick like milk. I am not catching much that reminds me of green tea, neither is it a strong oolong, though it does lean more that direction. Bao Zhong is kind of its own thing and it does it well.

I love most types of unflavored tea from white to puerh and most points in between. Oolongs however, are kind of hit or miss with me. I am not sure why. I see no pattern in the ones I do like. This one is in the extreme like column.

You can find Bao Zhong here.

About The Persimmon Tree:
(From their website) The Persimmon Tree® offers our customers some of the world's finest organic teas and botanicals. Not only are most of our fresh high quality teas from around the globe hand-blended and organically grown, some of our teas are also fair trade, ensuring fair working conditions, fair wages, and a better life for tea workers from countries across Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

At The Persimmon Tree®, our mission is simple: to enrich people's lives through the pleasure of tea.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Puerhshop, 2004 Old Youle Ripe Pu-erh Tea Brick

PuerhShop Description:
This brick was made of old arbor leaves from Youle mountain. Be prepared to be impressed by its mellow, smooth, sweet taste, and that beautiful wine color. The best tasting brick we got in 2010 - easily beat up what's the name: Dayi.

My Review:
A very generous sample of this was given to me by a friend. The leaf in the sample I got was loosely pressed. It came apart with little effort.

I used about 5g (a typical American tea bag holds 2g) and steeped it in my press with boiling water for 30 seconds. Unless there is something funky about the tea I never do a rinse and dump like a lot of people. Instead, I generally leave the leaf in the bottom of the press for a few moments before steeping, as the press is already warm and wet from rinsing. This in most cases is enough to awaken the leaves.

The wet leaf is very dark and musty/earthy in scent. Very much a ripe puerh aroma. The color of the liquor is light orange like sun tea. I at first thought I under steeped but later cups all came out this color. The last cup I prepared with a four minute steep, intentionally trying to turn this inky but it never happened. In my limited puerh experience, I found that interesting.

The tea tastes nothing like the scent. The Puerh Shop nails the description - mellow, smooth, sweet taste. Emphasis on the mellow. This is so easy to sip. For me the main flavor element is what I call horse tack. Sipping it reminds me of the smell of the leather in a horse barn. For me that is a very desirable flavor.

Visit the PuerhShop website.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Verdant Tea, Autumn Harvest Dragonwell Style Laoshan Green

Verdant Tea Description:
Steeped up, the beautiful fresh leaves dance in the cup, and release a rich, potent citrus sweetness. The texture is crisp like the mineral notes of Dragonwell, but moves quickly into grassy green bean flavor and mouth watering texture. This innovative tea from the He family is absolutely worth picking up to compare to traditional Shi Feng Dragonwell.

My Review:
I see this tea has been archived on Verdant's website. That means they have no plans to offer it again in the near future. I have it, so I am reviewing it anyway. I believe this to be from the autumn harvest of 2012.

This laoshan green has been flat pressed which alters the flavor profile from standard laoshan green. It really is one of the many amazing things about tea. How the master presses, rolls,or twists the leaf in processing really does affect the flavor in the cup.

I steeped this for 1 1/2 minutes in 175 F water in my clear glass press. The resulting liquor is sparkling clear and very light yellow/green tinted. It almost looks like white wine in the cup. The wet leaf has a spinach and potato aroma - hey, I just call them as I smell them.

The sip is crisp. It is also slightly bitter. It reminds me of dandelion greens but not nearly as bitter. Not meaning to mislead, this is exceptionally easy to sip. This really doesn't evoke images of dragonwell with me. It more closely reminds me of Tai Ping Hou Kui. Beyond this comparison, I think beans and nutty also fit the taste.

This was different. It disappeared quickly. I am not sure why this is no longer offered but I am glad I got to try it before it is gone forever.

Visit Verdant Tea online.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Andrews & Dunham, Red Tailed Hawk

Andrews & Dunham Description:
The shrill cry you hear when you see a bird of prey onscreen is almost always that of a Red-Tailed Hawk. It is this cry that, when heard while alone and in the wilderness, reminds you that you are indeed alone and in the wilderness. So brew up this blend of bright, delicious teas from the mountains of India and soar to new heights of flavor.

The Red-Tailed Hawk is a blend of bright, delicious teas from the mountains of India. We like to brew it for a little less than 3 minutes in boiling water for a smooth, fragrant cup. Brew it a little longer for more briskness.

My Review:
I don't exactly understand the connection between the American red-Tailed hawk, being alone in the wilderness and this tea, but I'm willing to go with it just the same.

The loose leaf is small pieces of chopped leaf of various shades of brown. I steeped this for 3 1/2 minutes in my press with just off boiling water. The brew is orange-red tea colored. The wet leaf smells incredible. It reminds me of tea from Nepal.

I was assuming since this tea is a blend from India that it would be a bitter assam type cup. That doesn't appear to be the case. This is very smooth. It is malty to be sure but no hints of cocoa as found in a lot of Chinese black teas. It is not fruity like the Nepal teas I have experienced. I find myself thinking it covers the middle ground between Assam and Nepal. The aftertaste is strong and brisk with some dryness. That could probably be reduced by lowering the steeping time.

I use to think I did not like jasmine tea until I discovered I really just did not like cheap bagged or poorly done jasmine. A good jasmine is amazing. In the same way, I thought I did not like tea from India unless it was flavored with something else. This tea proves once again I have just not had the good stuff.

My guess is I personally could not drink this on am empty stomach or very much of it at a time because it might lead to stomach burn. That did not happen with this cup but I still have to watch it. That warning aside, this is one of the very best tea blends from India I have tried.

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