Top Roasted Tie Guan Yin – Tea Masters

December 22, 2008

Enough of the low-end stuff, let’s get back to the real deal. I can’t think of a better kick-start than Tea Masters’ Top Roasted Tie Guan Yin. It is from Shi Ping, Anxi, China and harvested Spring 2005… you absolutely cannot beat the amount, accuracy, and detail of info with Stephane’s teas. TGY is generally not in my normal rotation but the heavy roasting is what drew me to this one. I actually have been drinking and taking notes over some time with this one because it is a tough one to capture in words. One of my first thoughts was that this is the Energizer Bunny of tea, I have brewed over twelve steeps in a row and still not fully depleted this tea. It outlasts me even when I was determined to beat it. The heavy roasting is most likely to thank here as the leaves do not even begin to fully open until after 8-9 infusions.

Top Roasted TGY

Top Roasted TGY

As you can see it is a very dark fisted oolong mainly consisting of medium-sized leaf. It is so complex that words are going to fail this tea. The heavy roasting subdues most, if not all, floral notes and replaces it with charcoal, dark chocolate, raisin, snuff/tobacco, and a bit of burnt berry perhaps. The uniqueness is alluring and really draws you in to want to discover what lies ahead.

Top Roasted TGY Brew

Top Roasted TGY Brew

The first steep is my favorite, as odd as that may seem. I did the brewing in my Taiwanese tea tasting set. It brews to a pale goldenrod color with a purpleish/red tint that I find amazing. This is almost fully the roasting itself brewed here but I love it. It encapsulates all of the dry notes but in a much different balance than I would have imagined. It is muted with the charcoal/roasted flavors taking center stage but with a background of berry and more traditional TGY. From here the steeps slowly evolve into more and more golden color and a more standard TGY flavor but keeping the florals hidden until 6-7 steeps where they just begin to push through. It never gets weak even in the late rounds and as I stated before I have yet to take it to its final throes.

For myself this tea showed me a new side to TGY that I had never encountered before, and while it eventually gave way to the floral and greener notes which aren’t my favorite the run up to that point was nothing but sheer pleasure and due to the gradual nature of the transformation I warmed up to them. For a TGY fan I could not imagine a better journey unless you want the full floral/green flavors right from the start. Again I am amazed by Stephane’s teas and this was a true treat.

Advertisements

Yunnan Bo Nay – FooJoy

December 15, 2008

I know, I know, I’ve been covering a lot of low-quality stuff lately but for one reason or another it has been in my cup. I bought a box of FooJoy Bo Nay, Puer, today as part of a gift to a family member who likes Thai iced tea. I didn’t need the whole box for the gift so I sampled some. I steeped the basic teabag in boiling water for about 2 minutes. The aroma was very reminiscent of quality cooked puer, and amazingly the flavor was also very close! It isn’t as bold or strong and it isn’t overly complex but all of the basics are there and even a bit more. It has a lightly earthy base and some hints of camphor which is a sought-after characteristic of very good puer.

Yunnan Bo Nay

Yunnan Bo Nay

It is very enjoyable on its own and it makes a great Thai iced tea with the addition of some simple syrup and good shot of half and half. Quite possibly the best inexpensive puer you can buy so rather than buying those horrid little mini-tuo cha or even larger $1 Asian market tuos hoping to find a winner this is a sure thing.


Goji and Raspberry Green Tea

December 15, 2008

I’m not a big tisane fan, especially anything with hibiscus in it, but I decided to take a chance on this one that involved actual green tea. My guess is that it is from Republic of Tea’s loose catalog but I bought it from a nondescript glass jar for about five bucks for 1/8lb. Goji berries are kind of a raisin/cranberry mix and I like them which was the hook, the raspberry though worried me a bit because with the tart hibiscus I figured this would be a pucker inducing red brew. I poured in some hot water and was greeted by a pucker inducing red brew. How’d I guess. The mix contains large pieces of Goji and full dried raspberries as well as the damned hibiscus petals and some other tisane bits amongst the generic and low-quality green tea. I’m sure if it were just the goji berries and green tea base it would be better, possibly even with the raspberries still, but as is it is a tough mix. If you like tisanes/hibiscus then the rest of this mashup is actually pretty enjoyable and well balanced but otherwise steer clear.


Black Pearl – Lipton

December 9, 2008

Lipton? Yep, Lipton. I had been intrigued by their “premium” pyramid teabag line and just ran out of good black/red tea so I figured it was worth a shot. Winter has a way of changing the palate away from my beloved yellows and greens no matter how hard I fight it. Oolongs fill the void nicely but sometimes you just need a nice full-bodied cuppa. PG Tips is an old standby for me, but I wanted something a bit sharper than the rounded edges of PG Tips. I opened the square box and found a bunch of nylon pyramid bags half-filled with 1/16″-1/8″ pieces. Nothing overly impressive in look or initial smell. I brewed up a cup and found that it is very much improved over the average Lipton tea (which isn’t too hard to accomplish) , a bit less muted than PG Tips, and similar to loose Lipton sold in Indian groceries which is much less expensive and contains a ton more tea. I attempted to over brew it and it never turned bitter, I also was able to eek out a second light, but drinkable, cup. There is nothing wrong if you enjoy a standard cup of Lipton tea, and for those whose tea repertoire consists of nothing past the regular American Lipton tea bag this is well worth a shot and very drinkable but it will not wow a red/black tea fan.

Lipton Black Pearl