Thursday, February 28, 2013

Master Han's Wild Picked Yunnan: Symbol of Culture and Tea!


    There never been anything as inspiring and equally surprising than one painstakingly handmade from those of a craftsmen! Timeless beauty and precision that no machine could ever achieve  no mass marketing could ever promoted, nor even the captains of industry who time and time again turn products into nameless and ordinary objects could ever turn Mr.Han's mind! Like every crafts person in the world, such as that of Natela 's Georgian Old Gentleman that signify devotion to a dying trade, Mr.Han has outdone those whoose multi-billion dollar farms that produces mockeries of a drink  and earning status among the few brave souls who dare defy profit barons in this world. Who ever said the age of craftsmanship is finished? Certainly not I or the many who loves a simple but special beverage!
           Wonderfully beautiful and best of all natural! There are no time tables for quotas, no schedules to determine a harvest or seasons to pluck a bush naked. Its the natural charms and beauty of a crop that beckons one to pluck at ample amounts, love for a beverage and culture that centers between sentiments and tradition of social gatherings and appreciation of nature. Even the very leaves that makes each cup is determined by the tea tree alone not coaxed into producing tasty tea yet a grandmother's love and care to
know what's best for anyone at a dinner table! As much surprising as it is unexpected  it has the most complex aromas and flavors so indicative of Yunnan. Its far more than earthy, the aromas of the dried leaves is reminiscent of linen, smoked wood, hints of liquor and the usual earthy aroma. In contrast the wet leave smell has a stronger smell of linens spray, hints of citrus with liquor notes that come at the back end of the palate.                                      

          Infusing this tea also brings a sense of youth and age. My first infusion at 195 degrees had  fruitiness and crisp linen taste imparts a sweet and clean taste while the Keemun plumy/ smokiness adds an aged appeal that goes well with its earthy character. It fits quite well with this tea being plucked from a wild tea tree, its varying complexities almost interwines inexorably  with each flavor complementing without conflict.

The second infusion at 40 seconds over time had a prominent starchy character. Its much like boiled plantains or boiled rice when entering the palate, with hints of linen that accent the flavor giving it an sharp strong note midway at the palate. At the last, a fruity finish complements the plant like taste that reminds the dear drinker of undying youth in all people while still being matured. The third infusion at 60 seconds has stronger starchiness that one normally associates with roasted tubers, bananas, or rice, its accented with a fuller fruity plum note that gives the real depth of age much like pu-erh.
            At the last, an empty cup, a happy individual, and another day such teas would still be around to be savored. What is there in the world that offers so much yet can be as simple as leaves? There are lots! Markets today seem to be morbidly obese men that are bursting with products with so much offer and not just at the local level but international.   Foods once exotic and not defiled (yes I said it!) by native tastes are becoming shadows of previous forms, turning into something so painful as Doritos Tacos!  This really strikes a point, Is there anything any different? But in a whole other level is the food any different or even special? Sure, we love something special sometimes, buy a little something that touches the heart, pay those who are willing to give out their best and praise them. But lets face it, people like Mr.Hang is facing stiff competition these days. Micky D's, Starbucks, and Wal-Mart is too good of a genie with promises of quick and fast satisfaction lifestyle at a cost. All the while, people like Mr.Hang still plucking leaves, meticulously processing  perfection from imperfection  tasting the teas at his village! Could a machine or even a slew of company "experts"  and an eye for profit can replace the quality that is of heart and hands? Quality and wholesomeness? Pride and Devotion? A culture and symbol that is world renowned and beloved? Certainly a product like this says a lot but importantly meaningful for the mind and the tangible.
           Versatility:1.0; while a tea with a great potential to be blended, its own properties that are complex and noteworthy is all what is needed to be enjoyed in its own rights. This tea could be enjoyed hot or cold, cold being quite fruity and hot having most of the subtle notes apparent.

           Taste: 9.0; beyond great!  Complex and mellow with fruity undertones, very surprising notes of linen, hints of plum, olive oil, and even a brandy. Really there is something to pick up on depending on the taster's imagination.

           Disposition: Mellow and a slight astringent with flavors that would lighten up the most cynical of naysayers! Though it maybe unsual to those unacquainted with some tastes, it provided a meaningful experiences that would open worlds of flavors.

           Palate: Mellow, Complex, slightly astringent, smooth.

                                                 Drink on Tea Lovers! Cheers!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Tea Connoissuer or Tea Snob: There is a Big Difference!

     Coming off from many forums, places of warm kindred spirits all conspired against Snobbery! Worst yet, they associate it with Connoisseurs. I myself is a type of a connoisseurs of tea in a way ( who wouldn't!), I have grown for a taste of a shrub that is deliberately grown for enjoyment and not just stimulation! I do encourage arts of tea making, having to toil in fields plucking young leaves, artfully withering it, and tasting it for the appreciation of beauty! This is a connoisseur's opinion of tea, the sheer appreciation of crafts, the enjoyment of many flavors, a labor of love, and commitment of the few (and fewer) tea artisans wanting still some space for tradition that is rapidly disappearing in the face of industry. The snob...oh the snob is in all for  societal status! Brandishing a bag of  "tea", wonderfully wrapped in the most discerning of packaging, yet possessing them a mockery of a tea! They go about to their equals  symbolizing how far they have come to afford luxuries, that garners pride and reverence while their subordinates writhes in envy and jealousy. Snobs care not for qualities inherent in tea, they don't have opinions as (most possibly) they see themselves higher than tea, nor do they care for its promotion, consumption, and continued survival of a craft! The moment another symbol comes around that matches their perceived superiority, they abandoned that bag of tea for a Lambo or a Leer Jet.  Shallowness guaranteed but for the connoisseur who loves and take tea into their hearts is a matter of unbridled passion for such a simple drink. Its not caffeine, its not just for flavors, its for something that snobs do lack in : Meaning! It is meaning that drives us connoisseurs to love tea for it history that has impacted cultures to come around and be harmonious, enjoy life slowly and the flavors so rich as time  be made through its liquid . This is the main difference between us connoisseurs and Snobs, the two maybe similar but different in many ways...never can it be so similar.

Wonderful Humanity with Tea!

    In a world so increasingly stressful, where life almost occurs at a blink of an eye you can at least suspect in this new century of ours  covets  music and food at least is held to a highest regard to salve ones dreadful days of sleepless nights, rising petrol prices, and corruption? There the last blow was struck right into the guts of many, the heart was ripped out just when it healed, and the spirit that was honesty, hard work, reverence, and duty abandoned for profit and surplus! Now I can't be too hateful of a system that has provided a wealth of products to people of various circumstances at cheap and economical prices! I mean I can't simply pass by gas at three dollars and a quarter nor a flat screen at 300 dollars ! But this consumerism of which I have so much decried in my other posts as reinforcing  greed, unconscious consumerism to the exploitation of people and environmental damage, but most of all the we hold dear! Quality!
    That's right!  I say products now are more mediocre than ever! When people cant get enough of musical high, when musicians just cant keep up with storied symphonies and lyrics, where musical talent in vocals and instruments counts less to profits then sentimentality what you get is Popular Music (or what I call Prolefeed)! Then when that's not enough to exploit on, companies want to ride that gravy train on to oblivion before hopping off they go on to food! That there is not just a natural extension of capitalism itself , by no means a venture to fill stomachs and satisfy minds but to produce more crap foods, laden with chemicals, fats, sugars, dyes and the whole periodic table for profit. 
    To those who say that "such evils are necessary to a world so tried in finite resources and growing populations that quality in some means has to be sacrificed " I say its an excuse not a necessity!  The human mind is smart enough to realize what is really bad to what is needed, simply equivocating the two will condition what is inherently wrong  (i.e. mediocrity) in people. The same way how people in America has so grown fond of coffee yet seem to hate tea due to companies poor efforts of varieties and quality. The same could be said of music where each style has fused into a popular medium or high demands caused by extreme greed of music demands  "junk food"   music that comes and goes year by year or even days! The depravity even goes on with music and tea, that companies tries to sell their idealized and "popular" products on the public as a truth rather a twist! The marketing goes on to sell their "truthful" mockeries of music and tea, to stocks selves and  be emptied so often in mega marts, while the artisans of both struggle to even survive where even handcrafted music or leaves becomes strange and arcane. This not only breeds a mentality among people to consume past their needs yet brings them to the nihilism or the death of uniqueness in the world! The only healthy feeling that breeds character in this world.
    It is only after people had their fill of tasteless music and maybe tea, they look around their homes cluttered with dime a dozen ornaments, unused appliances, collection of I-Pods, and rotting food that could have feed Africa! These people who devoted their lives into material possession  now suddenly fill empty in their hearts...nil. Its the worst feeling (besides the debts) when all that a person could ever had is bought or eaten, as if it has been experienced already. The reality to this is as empty as their wallets! They have traded and confused uniqueness for materials without any sort of meaning, any attachments, history to describe themselves through these objects but nothing more than having the most than the Jones family. 
     It is not surprisingly they view anything  as mundane practicality or frugality ( now delivered from excesses), musics to keep their high which is nothing more, food is nothing more but sustenance and sensations, and even life is a plain routine to be repeated over and over! What then do the companies react to this whom are partly to blame? They once again adopt to "consumer standards" and this time around there is no need for uniqueness its costs too much, more fillers, more cheaper additions and solutions, mass produce it and profit over their highs! If there is any true evil out there, they are the few man and women who themselves lost humanity, will do anything to get profits even if it degrades people down to addicts...evil enough to mistake any (if at all) honest businesses for profit and social service as evil! This is where artisans come to die, where something handmade with a history behind their crafts, meanings to explain their intricacies, colors, rhythms, sensations, and beauty all disappears to be mundane.
      As products become more available to the masses, products do adapt to their consumer demands whether stimulated by corporate interests or cultural attitudes. This phenomenon is of course the most natural of market exchanges but  damaging a certain products intended on delivering an idea (say for instance tea and music) becomes mired in profit and conformity to  consumers. Products like tea becomes popular in a certain region, but given that certain region  has an affinity for sugary, milky, and "flavorful" additives with a propensity for high caffeine won't settle for a good tea in loose form with an "odd" smoky flavor to it?! No and Yes! There are certain minorities who love such smoky teas in loose form but not enough to sway a majority who will have producers making tea to suit another taste. Now I know there are people saying out there "...well tea can change in ways unintended or intended but has to be accepted because its a part of the market system." , I say they may be partially right, tea is a commodity which is a product sold and made specified by its consumers who influences it.  Yet that same concept has allowed products like tea to be confused over adulterated and bagged substances by companies that have given over to the demands of consumer appeal thereby producing a tea fit for appeal. Throw in the usual company practices of frugality, shortcuts and mass production will yield a product that resembles nothing of its original form and intentions. No wonder tea got a bad rap! Its companies like Unilever, misguided and ill informed consumers so bought on to an idea but never appreciates originality  has sunk the crafts of tea and music to a low!  Its at least worth knowing the proper direction and promotion of a product won't hurts consumers, the crafts, and  culture.
    As much as have discussed, the relations between companies and society has allot to do with the many problems and mediocrity! Yet, there is a deeper problem within us...its been a silent partner in crime that seems to plague society yet we can't be  aware off. Human Nature. Its human nature that gets me excited to write posts everyday! Its human nature that gets people like me to drink tea with enthusiasm and reflect! Its human nature to get people to explore and love the world...yet while our conscience is busy with stimuli, reacting  properly its impulsive and unhinged unconscious brother gets the best of us! All those deep dark thoughts, prejudices, arcane instincts, and impulsiveness to action acts before the conscious and melds in with it at the act. Nobody notices it yet to those with keen minds who meticulously reasons will find that we people living in this modern world as still humble yet blundering oafs making a mess of a history!
    One day we find health to be more appealing, associating with good habits and food, yet scornful of the bellied and portly, yet thousands feasts in fatty foods, drinks that are sugary, foods overwhelmingly salty, big and bold flavors. We humans have the intelligence to know that such foods will drive us to becomes those we so mercilessly loath, yet that little devil of the unconscious with really primitive instincts besides vanity is the hunger drive for food (mainly fats and salts) that stirs us into hypocrisy! Here we are saying to drink healthy green tea, asking for great tea...though the Teavana stores and Starbucks sells those sugary flavored teas where people drown themselves in! A more unsettling but amusing tale to this is how people find a compromise between  indulgence and health, they find tea to be healthy and popular but then load it up with sugars and flavors  to feel secure while still encouraging bad health habits. We are all guilty of this! I'm certainly am, yet its no excuse to let loose those instincts to reinforce attitudes to an industry that will profit in anything, and let ourselves be controlled by instincts that has no understanding of health or regard to its environment Certainly products should not be cater to our instinctual needs too often that evolves into to a junky product . There is a reason why humanity got  far in society, we began to think and saw through primitive ambitions to create society and culture...why not practice awareness?
     If instincts and the unconscious has allot to do with our woes, its our nature to correlate and generalize a group, objects, or beliefs regardless of specifics to differ. Here we see people relating obese people with laziness and self-abuse, we regard the disabled as incompetent and burdensome, the "oddballs" as the shunned and scorned, or foreigners as blasphemes, vile interlopers deserved of suspicion and contradictions to a way of life. These petty, merciless, and extremely arrogant and ignorant blanket thought processes not only defies reason but overlooks reality of objects, groups, or beliefs that's been branded with stigma. There are of course lazy piles eating their way to oblivion, yet there are those who are genetically damned to keep girt no matter how much exercise is exerted. The odd balls of society may hold scorn and banishment due to group survival conformity...yet ours is an age where individual survival depends on skills alone in the urban landscape, mere quirks are uniqueness not hindrances now! I could go on with each stigma and guilty association but the lessons learned here is that stigmas don't hold anymore value and reality form whence its commonplace. These are dark traditions that holds same of people who think of tea as bland, bagged and nasty, yet mistaken to the fact there are a world of varieties and possibilities that stigmas don't recognize. Critical thinking is where stigmas and knowledge that finally puts a dampener on stigmas.
      The future of society and its storied cultures with its wonderful products have changed humanity  for the better, but the matter of utilization and minds at work needs modernizing. Consumers who are deeply driven by instincts alone with a fraction of conscience working, always seeking a fix and primordial needs yet wanting to exercise caution and intellect constantly work counter-intuitively for a better lifestyle. We look for escapes, ways to bend rules, and ultimately get manipulated and exploited! Companies naturally wants to cater to every needs of society for some profit, yet some companies goes a length to create a cycle of needs for people through cultural and psychology. These are those nefarious companies that goes about and seeks to standardized people into buying their products, believing in their spiel, and providing their "fixes"! This is the very nature of society today, the matters of freedom and individuality is at stake but mostly dear to our hearts is enjoying the simplest things in life, the many uniqueness, and varieties is fast disappearing for the bottom-line, profit, and conformity. If these companies in the near future destroys what declining cultures we have  be it: Tea or Musical crafts is twisted into their needs and becomes a mere sensation to be sold and die off month by month,to be mass-produced, similar, cheap and there really anything left worth of beauty and uniqueness? This is a question I posed to any reader of this blog to reflect and wonder what impacts and message you are giving off to society? What it means to the companies and their stake? Is it helping the crafts? Society or livelihood? Buying, selling, consuming is not at all simple but a complex system of which I hope it will change for the better.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Georgian Old Gentleman: A Pearl Amid Reds

   I received a decent 200 grams of this wonder awhile back (maybe a year) from Nothing But Tea from England.  This tea was wonderfully homegrown by Natasha, a villager of Luri who learned  her skills in tea making in the Soviet era and refined her crafts in China. A job well done indeed that it does not take for a machine, many hands, and marketing to produced tea than a full devotion, talents, and love for tea!Like Natasha, Georgia has been producing black tea for more than a century starting back in the late Nineteen century when tea seeds from China were actually smuggled from China. In the Soviet era, the height of the tea production reached its zenith that are actually the cream of Soviet products that rivaled Western contemporaries! 

       Here we see Natasha's  own  homemade tea, composed mainly of fuller and whole leaves, mainly black with a brownish tinge, with a healthy sprinkling of golden tips. The aroma of these leaves imparts a semi grassy-floral scent, it has characteristics of slight smokiness akin to a Keemun . The tea is promising, though the colors might be too exciting, the smell already hints and promises of what can be described as a cross of a flowery tea and a familiar black tea in the Keemun sorts. If the scent and texture of the leaves has not given enough promise the actual brew will!

  it is! Georgian Old Gentleman of the first brew at one minute with 190 degree plus water! Its really much like drinking gold, the scent can be described of Keemun and Darjeeling (without the muscatel scent). The taste however matches that of Darjeeling with its  floral and grassy character ( much to a taste of a meadow), has a slight malty and starchiness associated with Assam, and slight smokiness of Keemun. A nice combination of all three teas with some uniqueness such as notes of berries and fruity that are quite prominent in the first brew.

         I started with a lower water temperature this around in the second brew at 2 minutes at  a lower water temperature of 180 degrees was quite fruity, with as much berries and grassy notes, hints of Assam and Keemun still prominent though it dulls out. An orange blossom  taste can also be found mid way in the palate, the resultant brew is smooth, non tannin, and non astringent. Same colour but different taste. A lower temperature can bring out most of the flavors out but still quite watery, a higher temperature in this can have more Keemun and Assam qualities dulling its floral and fruity character.


         Into the third brew however became dull and watery, the fruitiness mainly in the berry department and the Assam flavors came out much more. It now has a slightly astringent, slightly tannin but non bitter taste. Still has a golden color but much less aromatic than the first and second brew. Substantially much more grassy than ever and still quite malty .

        Here is the end result of over a hundred years of experience, the finest crafts made from Natasha who shares a heritage of Soviet and Chinese tea making along with her wonderful skills who makes the finest tea of all of Georgia! Herein lies more young leaves. mostly young but not the very tips of a newly emerging plant, it accounts for the most of the fruity and crisp liquor. I really enjoyed the tea well. but the flavors become a bit too watery and mute, all in all a great tea .

          Versatility: 6.0:  nice to be blended but otherwise enjoyed naturally! There not a whole lot of boldness which any flavorings might be too prominent when it has additions. It is often recommended to accent this tea with lite fruity flavor that wont be empowering, I found that an addition of mint can be quite pleasant.

          Taste: 85: Its quite a tea to have or at least have samples of! One can easily get an Assam, Darjeeling, or even Oolong traits out of this tea which gives a fresh yet aged and semi savory sensation.  Starchy, yet subtly fruity, fresh and crisp, to a mellow smoky, almost woody  with hints of orange blossoms. 

         Palate: slightly fruity, non astringent and bitter, non tannic, mellow and medium bodied smoky, with a prominent starchy profile.

         Drinker Friendliness : 7.5: a tea definitely to have around friends, and to be appreciated not only of its aspects but being made in Georgia, by a skilled craftswomen in a small village that was previously a tea growing region in Soviet times. Its quite a conversation piece on the topic of Georgia itself, and who knows what other gems to be found that was made in soviet times. Surely this tea is a much favored relic many would enjoy!

                                                          FINAL WORD
         Out of the many teas made by small and big companies, this by far is an exception! Who says that its only companies that has an ability to make darn good teas?! Certainly not me...nor any one who knows full well that has been enjoying tea or better yet;growing those darn plants! Its a shame though that this tea and the Georgian tea boom has been overshadowed by larger tea producers...yet just with this tea can give a world a taste of a Soviet legacy, a Georgian legacy full of expertise that would rival any tea producing giant if only it could get back up! By any means people,to those reading this blog I recommend this tea to anyone and do help yourselves to the finest Georgian tea and to those struggling to keep indie teas alive and prospering!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Fujian Ti Kuan Yin: Adagio's Finest

       Whenever  there's a tea that touches my heart I never have forgotten its sensuality and grandness! I first this baby a month back when I ordered sample, this particular one was quite expensive for a mere three ounces yet there was more to offer than quantity! These tiny rolls of leaves might look small and powerless, but inside every one of these leaves have the heart of a lion with as much bounty as Eden! These leaves brewed at just under boiling at 208 degrees opens up into medium sized leaves , with one roll could contain about 4 to 6 leaves alone  to be brewed four or more times! Brewing these leaves have a great aroma close to foilage  with a  sinewy-woodsy  smell, its quite natural and fits these majestically crafted leaves that acre curled and rolled with good care.

     Wonderfully crafted indeed! These leaves are not quite as young but flavorful enough to be used constantly, and keep resilience in the hottest of water and roughest of handling. While the leaves might be whole than any teas I have seen lately, there are bits and pieces of leaves from the processing that underwent  with not stems in sight! This results in a wonderful greenish-yellow liquid with an aroma close to a Sin-Cha at its hottest temperature off the kettle, upon cooling however will have a liquid smelling of boiled vegetables, tasting of a grainy woodsy flavor with a strong vegetal profile with hints of ginger.        

           I have to say, this tea is quite the title. Masters! Not a speck of dust, residue but pure liquid and the essence of the leaves grown, processed into something special worthy of acclaim. The flavor of time, smoothness of life, and the comfort of love is very much like oolong, this tea is very a part of this notion which is no wonder that oolongs such of this is revered throughout the centuries!

      Versatility: 5.5; not really a tea to be blended that is meant to be enjoyed for its natural flavor! Flavoring this tea is an upset to much of the dismay of those who really intended to have this tea enjoyed in its own rights. This tea is purely enjoyed warm (especially), hot but having this cuppa cold can be quite vegetal.

      Taste: 90; a really tasty treat with a passion for vegetables, natural flavors, and any purists at heart who loves tea plain as it was grown for!

      Palate: smooth and velvety at the palate, with vegetables, woody and rich leafy taste that has a character that can accompany most savory meals. The tea can be tannic and slightly astringent past the fourth brew, but still "alive" with much of the flavors not too muted.

     Drinker Friendliness:  6.0;To those unacquainted with savory but light teas, or those who despise vegetal flavors immensely, and to hose who love the traditional strong black teas, this maybe too weak or unusual.  Rarely, oolongs due upset but has the most welcoming demeanor of all teas, this particular one may be a bit to rich for the casual tea drinkers but a treat all the less.

                                                        FINAL WORD
    A tea fit for those in love with teas in the richer and full tasting tea, with a bit of pocket change in their hands but no less a substantial investments. Indeed, its quite a heavy purchase at so little quantities, but every so often with much more excuses than other sources (aka Teavana) to pay for tea produced by the best tea masters. A tea worthy of every claim and the title of master!

Jasmine White Needles

        There is probably nothing more heavenly than a cup of of white, even better to have a cup of Jasmine White Needles! Oh so flowery, crisp, light and amazingly balanced between natural and added flavors that serves to complement its nutty and hay  profile. Unlike many other blends I came across from ( teavana) stores, this blend provided by Teavivre is wonderfully fresh from fujian, with a gentle jasmine smell mingled with the hay-ish aroma that is not overwhelming nor too strong (a feature among chemical additions). The fresh raw leaves are small, with tiny minute hairs , more green than silvery but still considered to be White Needle.   

           Brewing this baby is not at all too temperamental nor mute but brewed with hot water just a minute off boiling produces an immense aroma of Jasmine with a grassy notes. One can feel a sense of striding in a meadow or a garden of Jasmine trees at night! After three to three in a half minutes of waiting, a wonderful 
light golden color results into a beauty worthy of such a color! A work of art if you ask me!

          I can't think of ever drinking this tea and then forgetting its flavor! Just by the color itself an the smell is already an open invitation to promises of heaven and beauty. The flowery jasmine character mingled with the natural and pleasant tasting grassy notes of white needles, with hints of nuttiness assure one's expectations of purity and nature. There is really nothing more needed to complement this tea than a nice quiet corner, comfy seats and wonderful weather. 

          Versatility: 7.0; a tea that has many possibilities and then some! It can be greatly blended very well with other teas that can complements its floweriness, enjoyed well either hot or cold, served with sugar(though it would drown out its truest flavors). Many will come to love this tea well,  its pleasant in flavor, relatively youthful, crisp and light, without "off-putting " flavors (thats if one would count on flowers). 
          Taste:  80; its a great tea, few frill nor whistles, and can be quite flowery and grassy  at the first brew, mute and astringent with faint jasmine taste in the third or more brew. One can say its much like eating flowers, drinking ambrosia...not surprise about that:)

          Palate: smooth, light, flowery and woody at the first steep, woody, tannin, deeply sinewy( plant-wise), with a moderate jasmine tastes. Mute, faint flowery, tannic, astringent and watery towards the later steeps past the third brew.

          Drinker Friendliness: well I say this tea can be enjoyed by all (including those who think this type of tea is just watery to those who are almost off-put by every exotic flavor)! 

                                                          FINAL WORD 
        Just absolutely wonderful and highly rewarding to drink to the favor of the heavens! Purity, simplicity, natural flavors and efforts of many peoples who creates the best simple drinks around. What else is to be said!


Monday, July 16, 2012

Yunnan Noir: A bliss with every sip!

    Yunnan. The birth place of tea, the oldest and most prestigious crops grown over the span of generations, with a storied flavor as time itself . If at all the tea trees of Yunnan can talk, they would say their life's passion for a beverage is their calling as would many of its farmers would claim so! Yunnan Noir by farmer Zha Luo, proudly supplied by Adagio teas under their "Roots Campaign" is no different and rivals any
tea growers but the most masterful of tea artisans.  
        Just look at this beauty right here! Curled meticulously  during the drying process of tea leaves just when these leaves are about to lose much of its previous size and mass, the end result looks like tiny balls with as much leaves packed in this condensed form (see later pictures). The tea itself is surprisingly fresh, with aromas wafting from the bag, I can get a sense I stumbled into a spice market selling cloves, peppers, allspice, cinnamon, etc, with cocoa and honey being the distinct notes out of the spiciness. There is also an earthy aspect to the tea that is considered to be the trademark of Pu-Erh or Yunnan teas in general, but its not the deep earthy Pu-Erh aroma but a light layered flavored that has a slight metallic, and clay like aroma reminiscent of a pottery works. 

      The  brew was just as good as the aroma! It has a lovely deep amber color from an initial light amber color, a similar aroma liken to its raw leaf form with an earthy profile with a slight irony notes, a smell of honey, and boiled bananas or cassava. The flavor is very the same with much of earthiness in the first brew and lingers off in the second and multiples brews, the immense earthiness sometimes has a brisk sensation on the palate but normally its smooth that has sweetness with starchiness that finishes with a chocolaty flavor.  

           The end result of thousands of years of craftsmanship, devotion, and care for some simple beverage!
Beautiful is it not?! There is no room for clippings, by-products, and fragrances but downy, tippy young leaves that are curled and dried to perfection! Much of the tea has much of these young leaves per teaspoon and not one bit are broken or torn (apart from my reckless handling of the wet leaves). The mark of quality that testifies for this tea is the amazing resilience of these leaves, and the amount of brews it can give out before becoming mute, tannin, and astringent! A decent buy from Adagio, great prices with an eye for quality and acknowledgment to those hard at work to bring this all to home. 

           Versatility: 6.5; this tea can be blended well with other like teas that are earthy, a bit starchy, sweet, and layered or that complements these characters without conflicting the taste (i.e. soft spices or savory additions). It can drunk either hot or cold but one would find having a cold version mute and much closer to drinking mud water than tea itself, those in the know in culinary experiences have in common knowledge that heat is comfort and brings in flavors, cold refreshes but blankets flavors. The tea itself is welcoming and lovely flavored enough that tea novices will enjoy familiar and deeper flavors of tea .

            Tastes: 95: Overall, a tea to be remembered and cherished with as much depth and character of any story told ages pasts! Earthy flavors and accompanying spicy and sweet flavors with starchy tones have imparts a tea fit for all occasions, meals and time that best complements food very well. Even the most finicky of foodies who scoff at the notion of earthy delights will be converted into liking them, just with an amount of balance this tea has qualities that brings people to explore more tastes...maybe into Pu-Erh if one were to take those steps.

            Palate: It goes smooth on the palate with initial tangy but sweet, non astringent, and non tannin sensation that transitions into a savory and earthy flavor that soothes and nurtures the palate. Accompanying spice and some starchy elements comes into play towards at the back end of the palate resulting into another transition of smooth,velvety cocoa flavor.

            Drinker Friendliness: 7.5: a very appealing to most people in or outside the loose leaf craze, and enough to be enjoyed plain and maybe blended or given additives (though it would be unneeded) to further "enhance" its natural tastes. Its just as good as drinking cocoa with as much power as coffee, its not surprisingly that it can get popular but for one who detest earthy flavors, or thrown off by strange and unfamiliar (not really) tastes in their tea...its very much like downing Lapsang or Pu-Erh to those finicky people. All in all an excellent drink to share with everyone!
                                                               FINAL WORD
             Much thanks to Adagio but much more to Mrs.Luo who continues to produce the very best of her teas, who cares enough to curl and tend these leaves for the best products in an increasing industrialized world that belittles artisans like Mrs.Luo.  Getting up early everyday, tending, sorting, grading, processing, etc is no easy feat for a few hundreds like Mrs. Luo, the hard earned labors turns into something special not for a mere exchange of currency but a symbol of the pinnacle of the mastery of her work, a symbol of culture, and her toils into one simple beverage! I hope all the best for her and those like her continuing this trade in a world were humans and effort is no longer required, and for those who love tea or wanting a new experience this tea is it! Enjoy this drink for anyone out there willing to love this tea as much as those who loved producing it!