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!


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Golden Monkey Tea : "The Emperor's Finest"

    Tea generally is very much a pleasure as should be a beverage with as much quality as one might expect in fine foods. My quest to find a tea of the highest calibre has stumbled on to this lovely little beauty (thanks to Teavivre!) that I acquired a small but manageable sample of this Golden Monkey tea directly sourced from Fuding, China. A bit of a long ways, took about a good four weeks before arriving at my doorstep to much of my anticipation for a Golden Monkey than settle for a twenty dollar investment at an expensive-upselling  establishment in nearby mall! I never had Golden Monkey tea from Teavivre before but subsisted instead for a twenty dollar per two ounce tea that goes tannic too quickly, becomes way too stringent and hardly brews multiple infusions.
        A disappointment but not unexpected! Teavivre's Golden Monkey however is entirely composed of  tippy young leaves that are whole or cut with golden tips that yields a crisp, chocolaty, and earthy flavor ( to much of my liking to Yunnan teas).  The first cup was brewed with the usual two-hundred and eight degree water that imparted on an sweet but earthy aroma on the leaves (reminiscent of Assam tea), an amber almost golden color.
                                    Beautiful is it? A light amber hue with the grace of dancing leaves then....

                         a transition to a warm, flavorful and nurturing liquid that does wonders after a bad day

           At five minutes into the brew, the color changed into a deep amber color with an aroma of sweet, earthy layered flavor that really gives the tea character( or characters) one might find unsuspecting in this Golden Monkey.  A kick of Spiciness that adds flair to appeal to complement a savory tea that does wonders to a drinker's palate, while the liquor itself was a bit astringent but not bitter, smooth on the palate, with hints of cocoa, layered earthy and foilage characteristics, slightly sweet and  irony notes that reminds one of drinking Yunnan grown teas. Bottomline: Age and relative youth one will expect from this tea, pu-erh likeness with an Assam and unique characteristics normally not found in common black teas.


             The leaves also shares the best characteristics of a great tea, here we see a mixture of cut and whole leaves that preserves much of the flavor it has though a whole leaf would bring a much brighter character. The best part of it all, the leaves even brewed in multiple successions still hold resilience and strength at a fingers touch unlike other tea leaves that would have fell apart with rough handling. The combination of young leaves that owes a bit of strength, it imparts the best flavor and quality one might expect from such a tea that is well renowned by dignitaries, emperors, and noblemen.

    Versitility: 65; Not really meant to be blended at all, flavored, or tampered with by any means due to much of the flavor being earthy and the lack of complementing flavors that goes well with soil! Its for the most part "already flavored"...well naturally that really has no need for additives, however a blend with different teas in the earthy department should be recommended but expect a deeper Pu-Erh like qualities.
Golden Monkey for the most part is a great tea all around for anyone as long they love a medium, earthy, and smooth tea.
    Tastes: 90; this monkey is terribly exquisite and enjoyable with as much depth of Pu-Erh, qualities of standard Assam tea in maltiness and a starchy flavor akin to sweet potatoes. Its really a great compromise between the two teas, it gives the tea almost an aged quality with a sweet savory character that bests complements any meal, and can go well "cuppa style" albeit screening natural flavors.

    Palate: Aged to perfection thanks to its earthy qualities moderated with sweet notes of starchiness. Its accented with cocoa like properties that gives a drinker a smooth, fulfilling and very comforting taste, highly smooth at the palate, full and rich midway to a finishing cocoa velvety finish.

    Drinker Friendliness: 7.5; this tea can be highly welcoming to most drinker's beginning to savor loose leaf teas, and connoisseurs alike! It has much of the best properties of Assam that most people has come to love at the same time introduces a rich earthy yet moderated and mellow flavor that can be quite favorable to most people without thinking its mud water! Its also a nice introduction into Yunnan grown teas and maybe into Pu-Erh teas that if one were to love soily and rich teas, Pu-erh would be a natural choice afterwords.

                                                                   Final Word
      Golden Monkey is far more that a potential but a great tea with alot to give for, rightly priced for expert cultivation and harvest, with as much young flavorful leaves, and highly renowned by any whom with a tastes for the different. While this tea won't be hitting the average store shelf, it has qualities with most peoples experiences in black tea to love drinking this tea plain as its naturally sweet and flavorful enough. Golden Monkey, truly golden but not a monkey!