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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.

Monday, December 29, 2008

TeaCuppa Bai Ji Guan

So much for updating more often, Christmas was a long process consisting of relatives visiting and small cousins (children and teapots do not mix well). Alas, my tea drinking has gone through a bit of a dry spell. On top of that, I have some disheartening news. Apparently yixing teapots dedicated to Dan Cong should be as thin as possible, contradicting the thick and heavy theory I had embraced beforehand. Thus, my heavy and stout hei ni teapot dedicated to Dan Cong has been wasted. Luckily though, heavily roasted Dan Cong are an exception so it's not a complete waste.

So this week I decided to sample some Bai Ji Guan, a type of Wuyi tea. The name literally translate to White Cockscomb, and it has a very interesting history to the name. But first, what is cockscomb? Well, it's the little red thingy on top of the rooster's head. According to legend, the name was given by a monk in honor of a rooster who died defending his baby from an eagle. The monk was so touched that he buried the rooster there, and from that spot a tea bush grew. It's also a Si Da Ming Cong, or one of the four famous wuyi tea types.

This particular tea lived up to the expectations that I had, from what I knew/read about Bai Ji Guan before. The dry leaf has a semisweet chocolate aroma, with a little fruitiness. It's not too clear from the photo, but the leaves are yellowish, typical of Bai Ji Guan. There is a faint honey-like taste to the tea, with a slight toasted flavor, very reminiscent of the burnt rice you find at the bottom of Bibimbap. As the steepings continue I notice a lingering mellow fruitiness.There is a nice copper color to the tea, which I like very much. Overall, it's a very mild tea, with a nice finish.

I think compared to the other Wuyi I've tasted this one stands out the most for its sweet, toasted taste. I'm a little bummed at how expensive Bai Ji Guan is, which is also attributed to the fact that this tea isn't as big as the other Wuyi types. At Seven Cups the 2007 harvest goes for $38 for 25 grams. I don't know when I'll get the chance to sample that. Luckily the version at TeaCuppa was a much nicer bargain, and although people say that the TeaCuppa version is not that great, the price speaks for itself.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

TeaCuppa Dong Ding

So it's been about two weeks since my last post, and I've been really falling behind. First it was finals, and then I came home; so I haven't been too motivated to post. I was looking forward to shooting some photos of tea outside, but I'm afraid it's a bit too cold for me. So this is going to be a review of a tea I had about a month ago...enjoy!

TeaCuppa Dong Ding

The dry leaf was amazing. There was a clear vegetal aroma, but at the same time there were some slight roasted notes. What struck me most about this tea was its sweetness, which also showed up in the dry leaf. It was a fragrant honey-like sweetness, with a soothing flavor. The tea had a very clean and fresh finish. As I went into the fourth and fifth steeping, I detected a faint sourness/fruitiness that lingered in the aftertaste. Very tasty indeed.

Pondering Thoughts
I've only had one other Dong Ding to compare to, and the first one I had was slightly more roasted. I appreciated the floral sweetness that this tea has, and I think it serves as a nice contrast to other Taiwanese oolongs, like High Mountain Teas, which have more floraliness than anything else. No surprise though, I preferred the roasted Dong Ding I had before, where in addition to the floral sweetness that was a nice caramel flavor too.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

TeaCuppa Dan Cong Magnolia

Oh wow, I've been so behind on everything. I already have tasting notes for like four teas, I just haven't had the time to sit down an actually review them. So this particular tea has a wonderful aroma to it, which I detected immediately from the dry leaf. Along with a distinct floral aroma of magnolia, there were also hints of jasmine or honey suckle. A very delicious bouquet indeed. I used about 7.5 grams for my 130 ml yixing teapot. What struck me most about the leaves were how large they were

Tasting Notes:
Wow, there is a great sweetness to the tea liquor which is very subtle; however, there is also body, with slight astringency. The tea has a wonderful amber gold color, with great clarity. By the fourth steeping I detected a slight woodsy aroma. Despite continued steepings though, the sweetness is still lingering, continuing well into the sixth steeping. The tea was also rounded out with a sort of butteriness which I can't really seem to describe too well.

So, what did I think of this tea? I think I read somewhere, possibly on TeaChat, that this tea was not that great, but I sure liked it. It has that nice floral nature that I appreciate, along with some kick to the actual tea. I've only tried one another Dan Cong, which I bought from a local teashop. Compared to that, my experience with this has been much better. Of course, since Dan Cong is such a hard tea to brew my improving technique is probably the cause of why this particular Dan Cong tastes better. Hopefully I'll be able to update on a quicker basis, but I'm returning home soon which means I'll have tons of other teas to review and blog about