Sunday Tea Hoots 20 – Moving in!

Success, permanent Seattle housing acquired! I’m officially here to stay.

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I am in the process of moving my things from my airbnb to my house. I moved the suitcase of pu’er first, I figured I would have little time for pu’er sessions during the move. So far all I have been drinking is 2016 black teas I got from Yunnan Sourcing in a travel tumbler and bumming around for water and wifi.

By the way, I enjoyed staying at my airbnb – my host has this mega tea pot that is likely more than half gallon/2 liters. This is tea pot is bigger than my head!

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I have some Oolong Owl posts scheduled, however after that I’ll be missing in action until I get internet service, the movers come, and I get things unpacked.

Marmalade Puerh from California Tea House – Tea Review

Right before I moved out of SoCal, there was a tea tasting event that I wasn’t able to make. A tea buddy of mine did make it, and mentioned trying this Marmalade Puerh from California Tea House. Just the name alone of this tea and I had to have it! I don’t know why, but I always buy puer blends, despite majority of them are terrible mostly because puer just doesn’t western brew well.

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Dry Leaf

Marmalade Puerh is HEAVY. The puerh used is heavy and the chunks in it are also heavy. This has got to be the most heaviest blend, beating nutty black teas. I will need to test by teaspoon (I don’t have a teaspoon, just a scale). The scent of this tea is strong, rind and zesty.

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Steeping Instructions

I admit, I tried steeping this a couple times with mixed results. I realized what I ran into was being thrown off the weight so I was over leafing. I did a lower amount of leaf and a short time and Marmalade Puerh came out perfect! Don’t over leaf or it’ll be really weird and sludgy tasting.

The optimal steeping of Marmalade Puerh = 6grams, 210F, 10oz water, 3 minutes. Do not rinse puer blends.

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Tasting of California Tea House’s Marmalade Puerh

Marmalade Puerh sips in a rich woodsy pu’er, broken up with a tangy orange rind and bit of zesty sweet lime. The aftertaste is sweet like candied orange and a hint of licorice. I normally hate licorice with a passion, but it is done pretty well here and light to add sweetness and a cooling sensation. This blend is pretty neat and as it cools, it tastes more like marmalade!

Iced

I mostly purchased this puer blend to be made into iced tea. I enjoy ripe puer iced so I thought a citrus sweet puer blend would do excellent. I still haven’t gotten the ratio quite right compared to hot. The flavor is quite refreshingly sweet citrus with an earthy background, with a lingering sweet orange aftertaste.

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Comments

California Tea House’s Marmalde Puerh is a fun blend for someone on the adventurous side of tea blends. I do think it is a finnicky steep for a western brewed tea. I am happy to of tried this blend and would be tempted to purchase more as I love how unique it tastes. This is one of the better puer blends, the best being Lupicia’s Chocolate Strawberry.

They do sell sample sizes, but I felt the sample size price was overpriced, at this time $6 for 0.5 oz or $17 for 4oz ($12 per oz vs $4.25 per oz), so they really want you to get the 4oz. Customer service wise, I had a website issue with my order, it took a few days for them to respond to my email, and after that it took them a week to ship my package. Hopefully they get their website and shipping kinks worked out.

Pique Tea Crystals – Tea Review

Pique Tea Crystals is an interesting new organic tea product – it is tea that has been brewed, then crystallized. Pique is packaged in individual servings, making for a convenient tea on the go, all you need is a vessel and water.

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Steeping Instructions

I followed the instructions, which was 1 packet, to 8oz/1cup/250ml of hot water. They didn’t specify water temperature so I figured I would just use these instant tea packets as if I was in the wild, so around 200F water.

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I already failed with instructions and with the first attempt I added the Pique Tea Crystals to a cup of hot water, which required stirring. I discovered with a later attempt if you add the crystals first, then add hot water, you don’t need to stir it! Super easy!

I also went off the grid, not using hot water for some of the flavors.

Tasting of Pique Tea Crystals

 

Sencha Green

Wat.. this is yellow! That is pretty weird. The scent is sugary, liked bottled iced tea. I wasn’t expecting sweet scented tea.

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Sencha has a grassy marine scent with a dark yellow gold colour. The taste isn’t sweet. What? the powder smelled like it was sweetened! The flavor is mellow, vegetal with a buttery marine bite to it, with a citrus finish. Slightly sweet finish, and overall a clean sip. It does lack a fresh taste I associate with sencha, however it is not overly grassy or bitter.

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I just realized that I did this tea at 200f, much higher temperature than a green tea should be made with, but there is no bitterness!

Sencha Green Iced

I mixed a packet with ice and cold water. I’m not using the greatest vessel here but it did the job after a lot of shaking. I first under watered, so the sencha tastes oddly sweet and powdery just like the scent. Once I had the ratio right it was much better. It was a tangy fresh grassy sencha that is refreshing and clean. I think this tea does much better iced than hot!

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Mint Sencha Green

Again, similar weird yellow colour with a sweet scent making me think I’m going to be drinking sweetened grocery store instant tea mix.

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The Mint Sencha is pretty similar to Pique’s Sencha offering…. but wait for it… mint flavored! The green is vegetal and buttery, with an oversteeped spearmint flavor adding some freshness. The mint is on the light side too. I think this one is the weakest of the line, which is surprising as the mint adds much needed freshness, but the spearmint tastes oversteeped and swampy.

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Moroccan Mint Iced tea

I dissolved 1 packet of Mint Sencha, 2 packets of sugar in a little hot water, then added cold water and lots of iced. Nope, couldn’t pull off Moroccan Mint tea as this does not have enough spearmint flavor. It isn’t minty or bitter enough for the sugar to smooth out the flavor, is is still kinda over boiled mint flavored.

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Earl Grey Black

The base of this one, as per the website, is a black tea from Idulgashinna Estate. The dry leaf made me gag, this was seriously Liptons iced tea mix with a bit of orange. Eww. The colour is an interesting chocolate brown.

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Taste wise here is pretty good. It is a low bergamot, more hint of citrus, earl grey with a brisk, non complex ceylon black tea. There is a bit of bitterness and dryness, but something that is classically associated with an Earl Grey. This one is quite clean tasting as well. I found as it cools it got a more sweet citrus flavor. Pique’s Earl Grey has a pretty classic Earl Grey, with a light bergamot level. I can see pairing this with milk and sugar would be ideal. (forgot to take a picture!)

Iced Latte

I discovered you really need to shake, blender, or dissolve in a little hot water first if you want to use Pique Tea Crystals cold. Adding the tea crystals to milk and stirring with a fork did not work at all.

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Taste wise the Earl Grey Latte is pretty good. It’s more bergamot, actually cutting through the soymilk. The black base combines well with the milk, without any bitter or dryness. It is a pretty lovely, easy to drink Earl Grey iced latte, and this tea certainly needed the milk to have it preform better. I enjoyed this one. I think this one would do great cold for stronger bergamot flavor.


Jasmine

I had to go look what was the tea base for Pique Tea’s Jasmine flavor – it is apparently a Zhejiang Province, China green tea that has been scented with jasmine petals, not the oil added type of jasmine tea. This one had a funky 70s brown shade with a sweet jasmine scent.

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The flavor is a sweet and tangy, with a light jasmine flavor. The jasmine flavor lingers end of sip with that peachy floral flavor. There is a light dryness to this one, but is not unpleasant. The flavor intensity is on the light side, however I wished I used less water, say 6 or 7oz, for a stronger flavor that I expect from a jasmine green.

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Jasmine Iced Sparkling
I always wanted to have sparkling tea and this product worked for it since it is concentrated. I dissolved a packet of jasmine in like 1/8 cup then topped up with sparkling water and ice. What I needed was seltzer water but I didn’t find one in a small bottle. So this water has a mineral flavor to it.

Sparkling, the tea made a lot of foam and looked like beer. The foam faded by the time I ran to take pic. The taste is pretty good. It’s not sweet, a vegetal green with a mineral and moderate level jasmine taste with a lingering bury jasmine aftertaste. It has a pretty sophisticated vibe to it.

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Comments

Pique Tea Crystals execute instant tea well – they are fast and easy to use, especially with hot water. They also do fine with cold water if you can shake it well or prep it with some hot water first. They don’t need specific water temperatures, tea brewing skills, timers, or brain power to use. The tea used is organic, fair trade, tested, and they have more information on tea origin on their site.

However with convenience of Pique Tea Crystals you lose flavor dimension. The tea lacks interest, complexity, not very strong jasmine/bergamot flavor and isn’t as fresh tasting as just brewing up some commonly found quality loose leaf. Out of the 4 flavors offered, I’d say the Jasmine and Earl Grey were the best, and the Sencha Green should only be made iced.

That said, if you want fast, instant gratification tea, you’ll likely enjoy Pique. They would be awesome for travel and busy people. Pique is a certainly better than bagged tea as there is even less effort involved in making a cup of tea, plus you get a pretty clean flavor.

If you are a loose leaf tea head, unless you are super busy person who needs their tea fix, you’ll pass on this product or insert strange tea drug references that I miraculously avoided doing during this entire article! Pat on the wing!

(tea provided for review)

Hooty Tea Travels – Seattle’s Vital Tea Leaf

Now that I’m in Seattle I have been visiting all the local tea shops. I wished I checked out more tea shops while in LA (like all 4 of them, geeze), but awesomely Seattle has a lot of tea shops!

For the first few weeks I was staying within walking distance to Pike Place Market. A block away from Pike Place Market is TWO Vital Tea Leaf shops, one north and one south. I went to the south one, close to the Target. Another day while in the International District, I saw they were opening yet another location in Seattle.

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Besides Seattle, Vital Tea Leaf have shop(s?) in San Francisco as well as an online store. They certainly have a bit of reddit/tea community hype due to a tea with a ridiculous name – Blue People Ginseng Oolong. It isn’t popular due to the weird name, but it’s apparently is a community favorite ginseng oolong.

Walking into Vital Tea Leaf they have signs up for Free Tea Tasting! Their tea tasting is a long series of tables as they do a lot of tastings for the people who pass by. While I was there, there was a food tasting group walking by as well. Strangely, they do their tea tastings with multiple plastic kamjove/gravity steeper style filters, dispensing into glass pitchers. They only took out a gaiwan when we did puer. That steeping method was likely the most convenient way to do tea tasting for a flock of tourists, but the visual was quite poor.

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Of course, I was served Blue People Oolong first, being told it was their best seller. I personally did not get the hype of this tea, it’s a ginseng oolong – try one and you know what I am talking about as they all have that gross sweet licorice taste. (I will not apologize for the snark, there’s only a few teas I cannot stand and ginseng oolong is one of them.)

I also tried pretty standard teas like a Genmaicha, Jasmine White, Rose herbal, and a Chinese black. They were gonna stop there, but I asked we get the full spectrum and try a shou puer. We tried a newer shou, then a couple people there were impressed, which lead to trying a 10 year shou to see if people can taste the difference. The 10 year shou was a wet storage basement taste and distinctly different, which was really fun to talk about with the other tasting customers who haven’t tried pu’er before.

I checked out their pu’er cakes and found this one that interested me –

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I was able to have them make it for me and it was good that I wanted some, but the price was very high and they wouldn’t let me buy smaller than half a cake. They were saying it was a Lao Ban Zhang, but it was also labelled as literally everything else so I had doubts (plus I’m not up to speed on what is real for LBZ).

Unfortunately, I would call Vital Tea Leaf more of a Chinese traditional medicine + tourist shop. They are used to dealing with customers who know very little about loose leaf tea, so I felt a bit awkward talking with the staff (they warned me twice about that sheng – “You sure you want to drink that, you know that is a raw puer right?”). The staff almost exclusively talked about health benefits of each tea, nothing about the taste or feel, just what the tea can magically cure you for, like what energizes, helps you lose weight (5-10 lbs in one month!), clear your skin, and ease digestion. As a side note, a tea buddy said he once went to a Vital Tea Leaf at a different location and there was much talk about one tea that gives smooth poops – I wish I heard that one in person, I would be unable to stop myself from laughing!

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Once the staff recognized I was a more experienced tea drinker and asked about what health benefits I’ve noticed and I ruined everything with, “I’ve noticed very little health benefits, I only drink tea because it tastes good.”

They had some nice teaware and lots of decorative pu’er cakes, but nothing had prices on them, only their tea had prices.

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That said, when you visit Seattle, chances are you will encounter at least one Vital Tea Leaf. I would check them out if you are already at Pike Place Market, don’t mind some bartering on teaware, or want some basic Chinese tea offerings (they did have that Genmaicha, which was odd), but I wouldn’t go out of your way for it if you want something unique. I think I will try them one more time to get a look closer at their teaware and hopefully avoid the health benefit spam, unless I get the smooth poops talk – I want to hear all about that so I can see if I can resist cracking up.

So far it seems there is a lot of competition in Seattle for tea shops – many that aren’t medicine focused or tourist flocked. More Hooty Tea Travel tea shop posts to come!

 

2016 Fade Sheng Puer from April 2016 White2Tea Club

For April 2016’s White2Tea Club we had a pretty cool offering of a whole pu’er brick! The brand new 2016 Fade Sheng Puer!

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The 2016 Fade Sheng Puer from 2015 Yiwu huangpian leaves that was pressed in March 2016. Apparently some of this material was in White2Tea’s Poundcake and Last Thoughts, so I’m expecting something sweet tasting!

My white2tea monthly tea subscription came the day before I moved to Seattle, excellent timing! What was also handy was the tea filter that was included, which is sold on Teaware.House.

Teaware.House Tea Filter

I have a pretty good stainless steel tea filter already, however I was impressed of the quality of this filter. First off, this is a fast tea filter – tea goes through it very quickly. This filter seems way more durable than my current ones since the filter part is solid stainless steel with fine holes drilled in, vs layers of thin mesh. Cleaning the Teaware.house filter is much easier and it has gone awhile without a deep cleaning. The mesh style tend to get gunky and gross looking fast, needing deep cleanings often.

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Mesh comparison – Left is my old tea strainer (I believe ebay/aliexpress DragonTeaHouse) and Right is Teaware.house

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The only con is this filter doesn’t catch fine particles of tea, so there is a little flecks of leaf debris. However the tea debris is too fine for you to notice while drinking.

The price on this filter is competitive, $4.99 for small, $5.99 for large. I will likely buy the large on my next Teaware.House order, you can never have too many filters!

White2Tea’s 2016 Fade Sheng Puer

The wrapper is super cool, love it!

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After careful wrapper surgery, the tea is quite big and leafy. I found it easy to flake off pieces, you likely can take this tea apart with a butter knife without much trouble.

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I steeped it with my usual young sheng method of 200F, 1 gram to 15ml, starting with a quick rinse.

2016 Fade steeps up a slight tint with a green grape scent.

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First, Second, and Third Infusion: Light, sweet green grapes, and somewhat buttery. It is quite crisp tasting with a little bit of silky texture. Delicate and subtle in flavor.

Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Infusion: The flavor is building up, by light layers. It is still delicate and lightly sweet. There are hints of green grape skin and a bit of a floral finish. Overall very smooth sipping. Once the fifth infusion hit, the flavor level was very nice.

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It is so far quite a cute tea, like it should be in a pretty shiny compact that I brush on to highlight my cheeks.

Eighth and Ninth Infusion: Starting on the longer steeps to get more flavor out. 5 and a 15 minute. The longer steeping also attracted a bit of a tart dryness, getting this tea to taste even more like green grape skin.

I pulled a fat leaf out of my finished gaiwan. I accidentally tore it up a bit to spread it across my hand but this leaf is fat!

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Comments

It is always super cool to get a whole cake or brick in a tea club, and a tea accessory is always welcome! The 2016 Fade Sheng Puer is inexpensive at this time, $24.95 for a 200 gram brick.

Like when I drank White2Tea’s 2015 Pin, I feel my review of 2016 Fade is a little too early. I think some would love Fade right now as it is light and delicate, perfect for someone who usually drinks soft white teas. For a younger sheng, this pu’er is quite nice as it isn’t smokey or crazy bitter, making for some easy daily drinking. However, since it was newly pressed, I’m curious how this tea will be with some age on it. That said, I’m setting an alert to revisit this tea in a few months or a year later.

Tencha Kuki Houjicha from Den’s Tea – Tea Review

I was buying some teapots off Den’s Tea and this Tencha Kuki Houjicha Green tea was impluse purchased.  Out of all the green teas, I like houjicha – it’s got that roasty richer flavor I like, plus easy brewing. This Houjicha sounded quite different as it is roasted tencha stems. (Tencha is the tea material to make Matcha).

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I haven’t ordered of Den’s Tea in years. They are a great SoCal Japanese tea seller, I’ve seen them a few times at local tea festivals and their teas sometimes at local stores when I was in California. If you are looking for Japanese teas, don’t want to wait for long shipping from Japan, be sure to check out Den’s Tea!

Dry Leaf

This is a pretty ugly tea of muted brown sticks with some thin bits of leaf. The scent is lightly roasty, like smelling toasted rice.

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Steeping Instructions

I steeped this tea with a 50z kyusu with 3 grams of tea. I did a water temperature of 205F (I was a little nervous using boiling, but that turned out to not matter) and steeped the tencha kuki houjicha for 2 minutes.

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Tasting of Tencha Kuki Houjicha Green Tea

Tencha Kuki Houjicha sips in light, developing a lightly roasty, barley and caramel corn flavor. It is very clean and a squeaky dry texture, like chewing  popcorn or noodle slurping through the teeth. After each sip there is little aftertaste, but I get a creamy lip feel. It is lighter in flavor than regular houjicha, but has a blend of corny and lots of sweetness. This is actually much sweeter than houjicha. As the tea cools, it gets even sweeter.

Second Infusion: I was supposed to steep it for 30 seconds, but it ended up being 2 minutes as I lost track of time. The flavor of the tench kuki Houjicha is even sweeter, and more corny less roasty. It’s lighter, but I think I could steep this aggressively as it’s not dry besides the squeaky texture. I could see this being great cold! not sure cold steeped.

Round 2

I decided to play harder with the steep. I doubled the leaf to 6 grams, boiling water, and I used a stainless steel in-mug infuser instead of a kyusu. The taste is MASSIVE difference! It’s rich, moderately roasty and baked bread taste that reminds me of unsalted pretzels with a light sweetness at the end. The flavor is more or less all roasty. The texture is also kinda squeaky dry, but same level of dryness as before. That said, I would categorize this tencha kuki houjicha as bombproof tea thermos candidate, as it can take high temperature and high leaf ratio.

Comments

Den’s Tea Tencha Kuki Houjicha Green tea is a green tea for people who don’t like grassy greens, or want something light and sweet. This is also a very flexible steeper if you wanted something that can take some brewing abuse.

I see people asking all the time for a non bitter grassy green. Besides fixing steeping methods (often people overcook their green tea with boiling water), one should also explore houjicha territory. Houjicha has such a different profile and you can steep it without care.

2015 Bulang Raw Mini Cake from Bana Tea Company – Tea Review

I purchased the 2015 Bulang Raw Mini Cake from Bana Tea Company when I was at the LA International Tea Festival. I remember tasting the 2015 Bulang Shou at the Festival, but I ended up buying both as the shou was so good, plus the price was affordable. This Bulang sheng is a spring harvest from 100 year old trees.

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Dry Leaf

The cake broke apart easily, so it is likely a stone/hand pressed cake.

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Steeping Instructions

I tried doing a younger sheng treatment, so 200F, but I ended up using a slightly higher leaf of 1 gram to 14ml. I didn’t want to waste any loose bits as I don’t have my frankensheng tin with me. The pu’er steeps up clear with a light tint and a creamy, steamed greens scent.

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Tasting of Bana Tea Company’s 2015 Bulang Raw Mini Cake

First, Second and Third Infusion: The bulang has a soft, creamy and sweet in flavor with a hint of grass, tulips, and slight char. The intensity is light and easy to drink. The aftertaste builds into a sweet floral. I think someone who hasn’t tried raw pu’er before would think this is an oolong due to the fragrance.

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Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth Infusion: The tea has shifted to savory with a light/moderate flavor – clean, grassy leaf with a pleasant bitterness. The finish has a lovely peachy floral taste. The bitterness is quite nice. The aftertaste builds with each steeping, and it takes over to a thick peachy floral taste.

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Tenth and Eleventh Infusion: I did long steeps here, 5 and 10 minute, as the last one was very light. The 2015 Bulang Raw Mini Cake’s flavor is light but the finish is a strong bitter grassy with a savory sharp floral aftertaste. There’s some dryness, hitting the back of the tongue. I tried a 12th steeping and didn’t get much flavor.

Seattle tea drinking!

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Comments

2015 Bulang Raw Mini Cake from Bana Tea Company is very friendly and easy to drink, only the final steepings were a bit rough. Overall, this little mini cake is a solid, ready to drink, every day drinker pu’er. The 2015 Bulang Raw Mini Cake would make a very good new sheng drinker tea and the price is right, right now $14 for 100 grams! The cake is small and easy to break, so you don’t need much effort to get drinking.

If ripes/shou pu’er is more your style, be sure to check out my review on Bana Tea Company’s 2015 Bulang Ripe Mini Cake!

Matcha Kit Kat tasting

When I was in Vancouver, the local Asian grocery store had a big display of Matcha Kit Kats and they were marked down quite cheap. I was pretty excited at cheap Matcha Kit Kats and bought a couple bags, however I regret I didn’t buy more to share. I’ve seen Matcha Kit Kats at my local Asian grocery store in California, but they were 3 times the price after money conversion!

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I quite like Kit Kats, especially the flavored ones like orange. My Dad in Canada seems to run into the flavored Kit Kats more than I do here in the US, so he often buys some to bring to me.

This package is the fun size style with a bunch of small individually wrapped chocolates.

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They look better than I thought they would – you can see the flecks of matcha in the top chocolate layer.

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Matcha Kit Kats have that standard crunchy wafer texture one associates with Kit Kats. The flavor is a white chocolate and matcha flavor. They are surprisingly not overly sweet or grassy, but just enough tea flavor to know you are nibbling on matcha. These Matcha Kit Kats are addictive to eat too!

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I hate these portion controlled, individually wrapped chocolates as the result is being surrounded with a bunch of empty wrappers, hahaha!

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Can’t find Matcha Kit Kats at your local Asian supermarket? I found some on Amazon, yay!

 

(Amazon affiliate link)

2011 Longrun Jasmine Puer – Tea Review

This was one the World Tea Expo 2015 finds and an impulse buy. When I bought this Jasmine Sheng I thought it was a shou and in that moment jasmine shou sounded cool. Then when I was checking up online I learned what I got was actually a sheng.

My 2011 Longrun Jasmine Puer is a 100 gram mini cake. It is Yunnan origin and that is all the information I can find on this tea.

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By the way, Longrun pu’er is available on Amazon.com. So far the Longrun pu’er I’ve gotten has been decent, so if you want tea off Amazon I’d be sure to check them out.

Dry Leaf

This cake was hard to break pieces off, it was pressed tightly. The Jasmine Sheng Puer has a delightful sweet floral scent that I would expect from a green or oolong.

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Steeping Instructions

I used 200F water, 1 gram to 15ml ratio. The leaf is pretty cut up, which lead to some much needed straining and the leaf slowing down the filter. That said, I think this tea is more optimal for a tea pot with a removable basket tea filter instead of a gaiwan or pouring right out of a tea pot.

Tasting of 2011 Longrun Jasmine Puer

First, Second and Third Infusion: Steeped up, the Jasmine Pu’er has a smokey peachy scent.

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The flavor is lightly smokey at first, with a blooming strong jasmine note at the end of sip. There is some metallic bitterness, but moreso due to the moderately strong floral flavor. The aftertaste is floral peachy jasmine with a dry mouth feel. Longrun Jasmine Puer gets more floral with each steep. The jasmine is powerful, but not artificial or chemically.

Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Infusion: The puer has gotten quite dry here,  my cheeks are sinking in and my gums are in protest. The texture is light and a bit smokey but floral aftertaste is high. I could literally breathe out fire of floral, which would be a useless magical power unless you did weddings. The tea is not sweet or buttery like a jasmine oolong can be. Jasmine in sheng puer is a metallic bitter, pungent face punch, and steamed greens taste with a texture of squeaky boiled spinach. This is surely a floral fire breathing power of malice.

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Seventh and Eighth Infusion: The Jasmine Puer is finally chilling out or I’ve settled into the bitterness. The flavor is watery light jasmine that charges up to cooked squeaky spinach notes. The dryness is high as I actively aware of all the spaces in between my front teeth.

Ninth Infusion: It’s dead, Owl. What I got was sweet water with a hint of jasmine. Rein of floral breath is over!

Comments

If you loooove jasmine teas and want something new, but also drink sheng pu’er, I’d give this 2011 Longrun Jasmine Puer a try. I think more fine tuning on the brewing might give you better results, say a lower temperature or trying it cold brewed. Compared to green and oolong jasmine teas, this jasmine puer gets you much more resteeps and strong jasmine taste. This puer SCREAMS gift potential too – besides the 100 gram mini cake, there is a 357 gram cake, and gift tin option.

A big con I ran into was storing this cake. First off, I really don’t know how well the jasmine scent will keep or age. Second, and the big problem was the tea is very scented, so I need to keep it away from my other shengs to avoid them all turning into jasmine shengs. I’ve been storing this pu’er in a plastic baggie, then later I gave it away as I found a tea buddy who loved it. See, this jasmine puer is a great gift!

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Sunday Tea Hoots 19 – I’m tired of using the same gaiwan

I’ve been in Seattle for 3 weeks, time is certainly flying by. I’ve been spending most of my time walking around town carrying groceries and running errands, I get 17k steps a day without even trying. On weekends we’ve been touring houses, put a few bids on things, lost some, but finally won something last week! Hopefully the process goes smoothly and we’ll move in a few weeks. That said, it looks like I’ll be bumming around corporate housing and then Airbnb until we can get in the house. Unfortunately, my stuff will stay in storage until we can move in the house, so I won’t see the rest of my tea and teaware until then.

Right now I’ve been rocking this for my tea making:

sunday tea hoots 19

and I’m hella sick of this gaiwan. HOW DO YOU ONE GAIWAN PEOPLE FUNCTION?!?!? I hate it! I mean, I love this gaiwan, the size is a cute 75ml and the narrow design pours great. However, I have noticed this gaiwan is starting to have some bad limitations I didn’t think I’d encounter.

It steeps shou pu’er and black (or any teas that need boiling water) badly. Out of habit, I tend to use one of my ruyao tea ware for dark teas so I can work on the staining. Ruyao is also pretty thick, so the heat retention is good. This tiny, thin, and tall gaiwan has so much heat loss that I need to leaf more or I get pretty watery tea on ratios that worked in other gaiwans. This cons is pretty bad as I’m dying for some good shou, but now I’m stuck steeping sheng and green oolong, which this gaiwan does a pretty good job at.

That said, it is very much so min/maxing of your teaware. I know many do theory crafting on yixing tea pots (clay, shape), and I have been tinkering with that. I was told gaiwans have it to some degree, but didn’t notice it until being forced to use the same freaking gaiwan for 3 weeks. I know tea cups play a role too in taste.

The gaiwan is too small for an all day gongfu session. For the longest time, I love small. Smaller the better for gaiwans and yixing for me. It is really hard to find pretty gaiwans smaller than 90ml, so 90-120ml are the most common sizes I have. A 65ml gaiwan is great for tasting sessions when I need to go through all the infusions in say 1-2 hours. However, if I wanted to park my owl butt on the computer, it’s not a good vessel to work all day at a shou pu’er. Sigh.

The pro is I can chug through 3 shengs, 15 infusions deep, in one day. What I would like to do is buy another 3 more of the same gaiwan, then I can side by side 4 teas at once – that would be a lot of fun and a size around 50-65ml would be perfect for that. The last time I side by side shengs, I used a 120ml gaiwan and the tea nearly killed me in tea drunk overload.

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Thankfully, I just gotta last up to 5 weeks with this gaiwan. I got travel tea tumblers still and two new kyusus (kyusui?) arrived for me to play with. I do now have an excuse to get another gaiwan to tide me over, but that’s more things I have to haul around temporary housing. First world tea problems, yo.

The take away? Try out various gaiwans – wide vs tall, thin vs thick walled and taste the difference. I’ve been chipping away at a gaiwan guide, but once I get all my teaware back, I can go full experimental mode.