Thursday, August 30, 2012

1999 Chen Guang-He Tang Yi Wu Horse & Dragon

The weather dropped to more of autumn temperatures this week. The response was drinking a few different pots of aged puerh. Found a sample of 1999 Chen Guang-He Tang YiWu Long Ma and brewed it up. A few weeks ago there was a review of this tea on Jakub's T blog where he pointed out that samples are still available from Houde. With something lingering on Houde for years at the same price one doesn't expect a mind-blowing puerh tea but just a pot that will chase away the cold. Let's boil the water and see what this tea has in store...

The dry leaves smell of faint, distant autumn leaves and cherry wood. They are placed in the warmed pot.

The first infusion offers a creamy, cherry wood taste that is fairly monotone with a flat sweetness. The mouthfeel is chalky in the mouth. There is a very subtle strawberry finish.

The second infusion delivers slight, sour-woody cherry wood notes with a slight finish of creamy-wood. Overall the tastes run through quite smoothly and without too much fuss. It has an almost unnoticeable strawberry-wood aftertaste which emerges minutes later.

The third infusion has that same initial taste with a interesting floral aftertaste now. It develops a soft, chalky mouthfeel.

In the fourth and fifth infusions the floral taste has even moved into the initial taste profile with a woody, slightly floral, creamy initial taste which skirts across the taste profile with a certain simplicity. The mouthfeel is soft, smooth, slippery, and chalky and is primarily kept to the tongue.

The taste of this tea is simple but has some interesting edges. In the sixth infusion there is a simple, subtle surgery-cinnamon aftertaste that arrives minutes after swallowing. In the seventh a woody-chicory-cherry wood taste starts to dominate with weak florals lingering in the aftertaste.

The eighth infusion delivers a simple woody taste with long lingering but faint sweet vague fruit aftertastes. The mouthfeel remains mainly on the tongue. A cooling sensation is left in front of the mouth and tongue. The qi of this tea is very mild and pleasantly relaxing with a diffuse, weak warming energy.

The next handful of infusions don't change that much from the eighth infusion except they become a touch drier in the mouth. Later the tea is put into a series of overnight infusions which yield deep-prune and high cherry-plum fruit tastes- a nice balance.

Friday, August 24, 2012

2012 Jukro Saejak Semi Wild Hwagae Valley Green Tea

Rarely do people try Jukro's green tea and not comment on how splendid it is. From the over-the-top packaging to the aroma of the dry leaves, Jukro teas tend to impress. Jukro is often seen as the industry standard for Hwagae Valley, Semi-wild, all hand produced teas. Afterall, their gardens occupy some of the oldest and most ideal locations for tea plants in Korea. Jukro's popularity has also increased domestically and internationally over the last few years. Partly due to a stronger push by Jukro to market their tea to foreign dealers and partly their stronger presence in international tea festivals world wide. Interestingly those who have been drinking Jukro over the last decade have noticed a slight decrease in the quality of their teas.

As noted in the comment section here their famous balhyocha was once 3 years fermented before release is now just fermented for 3 months. The result is a loss of depth. Their green teas have also lost just a slight bit of their vibrancy over the last few years. This of course may have to do with the less than ideal Spring whether they have been receiving on Jiri Mountain over the last few years. Compared to other dealers, this does not account for the full story. It should be noted that the loss of quality is very very slight, but worthy of noting nonetheless. With that said, Jukro teas still remain arguably the best Korean green tea on the market.

Jukro's green tea is roasted to perfection on the iron cauldron by hand. Jukro's greens are famous for their characteristic cool, deep, foresty quality. They represent a spectrum of Korean semi-wild Hwagae Valley green tea production with minimally produced, very subtle, fresh green tea such as the one produced by this single monk reviewed a few months ago at the other end.

Let's crack through the layers of packaging and experience this year's saejak from Jukro which was recently purchased from Good Green Tea...

The dry leaves present a wonderful dense aroma of minty-fresh, vibrant high notes which are the first to reach the nose. Deep roasted forest notes cover the bottom end seconds later. There is a pine wood and slight edges of potato, even a cool pungent note is present in this complicated bouquet. A floral notes seems to linger behind it all.

These leaves are added to a warm teapot and the first infusion is prepared with cooling water. It has woody-forest initial tastes with soft, slightly cereal, flavours developing on the tongue. The mouthfeel is soft and full even cooling the upper throat. The qi is refreshing and cools the body slightly.

The second infusion presents sweet-floral-forest initial tastes which turn into a deeper, roasty, wood taste in the mouth. It has a creamy cereal-floral aftertaste which lingers on the breath. The mouthfeel has a certain chalkiness to it. The qi is cooling and is felt in the stomach.

The third infusion the floral notes become more distinct in the sweet-floral-forest presentation. The forest notes also seem deeper with more of a pine wood edge that support the higher floral notes. It has a cool, pungent forest finish along with distinct florals and roasted tones. The cool sensation reaches down to the mid throat here. The chaqi continues to cool and relaxing.

In the fourth infusion there is more of a sweet-wood initial taste with this taste becoming more woody and less floral. It has a cool, cereal finish- this infusion giving out more cereal tastes that merge into the taste profile. The floral notes are relegated to faintly linger in the aftertaste.

The fifth infusion has more grainy-wood and forest depth to it. Mellow, slight floral edges are also in there as well. It continues to become more woody. The long foresty-floral aftertaste remains. The mouthfeel has developed a certain graininess and coarseness to it as well.

The sixth infusion delivers sweet, subtle, almost apple-grapefruit fruity tastes with a certain juiciness to it. It is still woody with floral notes still lingering. The relaxing and cooling qi pushes ones head into the clouds on this warm summer day.

The seventh and eighth infusions present a watery, woody-forest taste with the floral notes almost gone. The mouthfeel has a slightly sticky-grainy quality to it.


Monday, August 20, 2012

2012 Yellow Mountain Mao Feng

A tea friend and Korean tea drinker recently commented that there is no beating the depth and variety of Chinese green tea. He went on to say that even though he has tried many types of Chinese green tea there was still so many that he has not tried. A recent post by Gingko on her Life In Teacup blog reiterated this fact when she showed a map of all the types of green tea produced just in Hubei Province- over 20!

The tea that one will review today was sourced by a Korean teamaster who goes to Yellow Mountain each year. It was kindly gifted in an order from Good Green Tea a few months back.

The very wild leaves are convincingly all hand produced. They give off a very sweet, strong, juicy and fresh vibrant floral nose.

The first infusion is very light, floral-water taste with very soft sugary floral nose.

The second is pushed harder and gives off very frosty, clean notes with a sugary subtle floral taste. The mouthfeel is light and airy. It leaves a soft oat aftertaste.

The third is very frosty and sugary and presents a very clean pure taste. A soft fuzzy mossy aftertaste is left stimulating the mouth.

The fourth and fifth infusions have even more floral notes which are pushed out of the crisp sugary-lemonade-like tastes that stretches long into the aftertaste. The qi is profoundly relaxing and slows the mind down while sharpening the senses.

The sixth infusion gives us sweet florals and lingering, fresh subtle melon tastes that stretch. The seventh infusion has turned even more watery.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

2012 Kim Jong Yeol (Butea) Saejak Hwagae Valley Green Tea

Ordered this tea from Pedro's new o5tea tea shop. He has been working on getting his new tea shop up and running for a long while now. It includes both an online tea shop and brick and mortor tea shop in Vancouver. The brick and mortar tea shop opens it doors today. So thought it appropriate to feature a fine Korean tea from his new outfit.

This tea is a saejak from Kim Jong Yeol (Butea). Pedro has opted for his own sleek o5tea packaging over Butea's Korean packaging. Opening the bag reveals a rich, vibrant fruit bouquet of odours. Sweet passion fruits and watermelon can be pulled from the distinct barrage of sweet smells. These leaves are added to the teapot and water is added.

The first infusion reveals soft, slightly creamy tastes with a faint forest aftertaste. There is a subtle suggestion of vague sour fruit along with pleasant bland pine wood. The mouthfeel is soft and the qi feels somewhat heavy in the stomach.

The second infusion is prepared and a creamy and distinct wood initial taste is found with slight underpinnings of sweetness. This taste traverses to a forest finish. Sweet, floral odours linger in the far distance minutes later. A sour fruit taste develops in the mouth along with distant flowers. The mouthfeel is light with a slightly pasty edge and carries the aftertaste for a long time in the mouth.

In the third infusion creamy-sour-sweet forest initial tastes slowly stretch into an aftertaste of faint creamy passion fruit tastes. Minutes later a sour edge develops. It tastes almost acidic like grapefruit with a floral quality as well. The qi is mild and can be felt in the torso, stomach, and chest. The mouthfeel is full in the mouth, just slightly opening the top throat. The lingering aftertaste seems plastered to the faintly sticky mouthfeel.

The fourth infusion develops more of a juiciness in the initial taste along with soft creamy forest notes. The aftertaste has more of a woodiness to it and then a slightly flatter floral finish.

The fifth has the wood taste becoming more distinct now with less sweet taste in the initial taste but has just as much creamy floral notes as previous infusions. There is also a slight sour edge that has moved from the aftertaste into the initial taste. The aftertaste is a long extension of this forest taste with a glob of sweetness at the back of the mouth.

The sixth infusion is mainly woody in the initial taste with a creamy floral aftertaste which begins to flatten out. The seventh has bland floral wood notes with smooth edges.