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I embarked on my tea journey when I studied abroad in China in 2008 and traveled around Taiwan that summer. I'm here to share my experiences and offer my own opinion, advice, and comments on tea.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

TeaCuppa 2005 Shui Xian

Oh boy, I've been busy as of late so I haven't been posting. I have been reviewing teas like crazy so I need to post more so I don't get too far ahead of myself. As I pressed the dry leaves up against my nose, a rich chocolate aroma, with some spiciness, wafts up into my nostrils. I'm already in love with this tea. I used about 7.5 grams in my 120 ml yixing teapot. I can tell from the dry leaf that this is going to be one bold tea.

The tea has a luxurious aroma, and since the tea is only slightly roasted so is not much of a charcoal flavor. The liquor has a dark amber color to it, which reminds me of autumn. There is a heavy fruity flavor, but specifically notes of plum. The fruitiness mellows out by the fourth steeping though, to be replaced with a mild roasted aroma. Despite the mellowed fruitiness though, it still lingers in the background.

This tea is $7.00 for 50 grams, so it makes for a decent everyday tea in my opinion. I'm in love with its potent fruitiness, which makes it a very full-bodied tea. The tea's overwhelming fruitiness may be a turnoff to some tea drinkers though, so just take that in mind.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Shan Shui 2008 Spring Superior Jinxuan

Jinxuan tea is made from a relatively new tea plant varietal, made popular during the 1990s. It is cultivated in the Nantou region of Taiwan. I used about 7.5 grams of leaf for a 120-130 ml gaiwan. The dry leaf was very green, which indicated that there was a very light roast to it.

Tasting Notes:
This particular variety is processed like High Mountain oolong, and it's is similar in color but, has a distinct aroma that blends well with its creamy flavor. The astringency is very nice, and it serves as a wonderful contrast to the creaminess. I could taste the veggie flavors of the tea leaf in the liquor. The tea has a very nice finish, with a kind of butteriness to it. That's the one thing that I like about this tea, is how creamy and smooth it is. There's also a subdued fruity aroma in the tea, that kinda hangs around in the background. It's not as pronounced as the fruitiness one finds in heavily roasted oolong.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Shan Shui 2006 Superior Cuiyu

I'm going to try a different approach to reviewing each tea, and I hope that this week's review will be a little more insightful. Now tea is like wine in many aspects, because even though all tea comes from the same plant, it's all different. Factors like the terroir, weather, harvesting period, etc. can lead to vastly different types of teas. So let's breakdown what Cuiyu is:


So where is Cuiyu harvested? It comes from Taiwan, but more specifically Nantou county, which is the only landlocked county in all of Taiwan. Here is the scenery of Hehuanshan (translates into "Joy Mountain"), one of the highest mountain ranges in Taiwan.

Tasting Notes:
Alright, so here's the actual tea review. I brewed this tea at about 7 grams for a roughly 120 ml gaiwan. I did a 10 second rinse, with steepings of about 15 seconds, adding an additional 10 seconds after the third steeping.So what does Cuiyu actually mean in English. Translated, it means "crisp jade," which is descriptive of the tea's bright front flavor. This characteristic distinguishes it from teas such as Sijichun, Wulong, and Jinxuan, which are processed similarly with about the same level of oxidation. It tastes like a green tea, with a crisp aroma which at the same time is very subtle. There's also a refreshing aftertaste that I enjoy very much.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Winter 2007 Shan Shui TGY/Winter 2007 Shan Shui Shui Xian

I've reviewed both of these teas before; however, the ones I tasted before were harvested in the spring. To save the trouble of repeating the same information I'm just going to sum up the key differences in the tea, and which ones I liked better. I preferred the winter version of these teas better, in that they packed a bigger punch in their flavor profile. If I had to theorize a reason why that is, it probably has to do with the season they were harvested in (well duh). More specifically though, the tea plants grow slower in the winter, so the individual leaves accumulate more flavor, where as the spring leaves grow a bit faster. To me, the spring teas tended to have a more flavorful bouquet of smells, while the winter teas had a better taste to them. This is just my theory though, so feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.

I hate to post without a photo, and putting up photos of the teas would be ridiculous, since I can't tell the difference in terms of tea liquor which one is which, except that the winter TGY seemed to be darker in color. So I'll leave you with a pretty photo of an orchid I found at DC's Eastern Market a few weeks ago.