cdh

eGullet Society staff emeritus
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About cdh

  • Birthday 09/29/1973

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  1. $60 in soda/month? Your friend goes through a gallon a day? 2L bottles are regularly $0.99, so to blow $60, that is 2 2L bottles daily for a month. Are you sure you're not exaggerating?
  2. Depends on your tea, and how you're making it. If I were doing this tea gongfu style, with 60-70ml of water rather than a 12 oz mug, I'd think about timing like that. I know and enjoy gunpowder brewed at western ratios and timings... so that is what I did. Perhaps the other 3.5g of tea will get the gongfu treatment to see how it is different.
  3. And talk of green tea brings us up to sample 7: Gunpowder tea. Leaves rolled up into little shiny pellets. Very smoky aroma. Slightly smokey flavor. Brewed 2.5g to 12 oz of water at 185ish. Long finish, sweet on the tongue. A hint of astringency, so that is telling me to vary the water temp down rather than up for the second infusion. The tea barely finished unrolling itself during an initial 3 minute steep.
  4. For me, the rule is that the greener the tea, the cooler the water is usually the way to go. The lightly oxidized oolongs generally taste better to me at 185-195F than at 212... I find boiling water brings out metallic notes I'm happy to do without. So for an oolong that smells like flowers rather than like woodlands, I start at 180 and move up. This particular milk oolong seems to break that rule... but I'm glad I figured it out before the sample was used up. Having a kettle that lets me dial in a temperature band and has a readout that tells me the temperature of the water does make playing with these teas much more rewarding.
  5. When they say milky, they really mean that it has a dairy nuance to the flavor and aroma. There apparently was a mutation in a tea bush in Taiwan that they discovered in the 1990s and cloned the hell out of because the mutation made this diary nuance that is interesting and commercially viable. Think about the smell in a cheesemaking operation as they're heating up the milk before they chuck in the rennet. Ask your tea guys for a sample of milk oolong and you'll get the idea.
  6. Revisiting what is left of sample 4 (the purple packet) today at higher temps and in a more gongfu style. Brewing 4g of this to about 150ml of water right off the boil reveals this must be the stuff called "milk oolong", because it has a real dairy/dulce de leche kind of overtone on top of the floral aromas now. This stuff was really wasted brewing at lower temperatures. It is fantastic brewed like this.
  7. SNAP is an agricultural subsidy program as much as it is a feeding people program. USA agricultural policy incentivizes and rewards massive overproduction of corn and soy, and the subsidies are there to help move engineered corn and soy byproducts in the market. You're not going to get restrictions on SNAP card users, when the other beneficiaries are counting on them to buy the HFCS laden stuff that you're characterizing as junk. If you want less junk in the system, move the incentives and subsidies away from rewarding farmers for growing so much stuff that gets turned into it.
  8. Sample 6: This is a black tea... Smells a bit woodsy (figure that for a description of dried leaves!) with hints of smoke. Leaves are wiry with some tips in there. Smells and tastes like a good Keemun... I wonder if it is.
  9. If I recall rightly, teatrader habitually throws random little samples in with orders... perhaps if you called them up and asked for a sampling assortment, they'd be amenable. Nothing on the website says that, but I'd not be surprised if they'd happily do it. This is bringing to mind their "assam with vanilla pieces" or something like that, which was my absolute favorite not-all-tea tea for a couple of years back in the 1990s. I think I was introduced to that by a sample thrown in with an order of something else from them.
  10. Hmmm... I'd say that ordering any of those Amazon things would be locking yourself into a long term relationship with that particular tea without getting to know it first. I can't think of any Canadian tea shops that do sample sizes... the one that came to mind, teatrader.com in Alberta, does not... but it shouldn't be too onerous to order from abroad... or is it? I have little idea what sorts of tariffs and trade restrictions Canada likes to impose on itself.
  11. Any and all are more than welcome to jump in and chat in this thread... it wasn't intended to be just me. Hijack away like you're all DB Coopers! As to getting more tea education, the best thing is to taste your way through as many teas as you can. The zillion subvarieties of the Camelia Sinensis plant produce an amazing range of flavors... perhaps even broader than all of the herbal concoctions out there that also call themselves "tea". A long time ago Adagio Tea did a "Tea Horizons" monthly tea club where they'd send 4 or 5 little samples of tea... they sent some really interesting and off the wall stuff. It was a fantastic way to broaden the palate and get an understanding of all the things tea can do. Since that isn't a thing anymore, I still would recommend sampling broadly, rather than buying quarter pounds of a few things. Adagio's ordering system still does sample sizes... though they're not nearly as good a deal as the old club used to be. Upton Tea is another spot with a very wide range of teas that also does sample sizes in the same size range as what I'm working through in this thread... enough to make 2 or 3 infusion sets. If you look in this forum, you'll spot other tea tasting threads where tea merchants like Norbu have been kind enough to spot a few of us samples in return for a good online discussion of the teas... They'd certainly be worth checking out. Amazon seems less fruitful, I'd say. Amazon seems to deal in mass marketed brands, and for tea, being an annual crop with variations like vintages of wine, there's usually not enough of anything particularly interesting to make it worth investing in serious branding. So what you're likely to find there is less likely to be interesting. This particular set of samples came from exploring the tea offerings on Aliexpress, the direct to consumer arm of Alibaba, the giant Chinese ecommerce entity that has been in the news (and from which I've also been ordering things like LED light strips and wi-fi connected electrical switches). The thought to look there came upon me when I heard somebody say the old aphorism "what does that have to do with the price of tea in China?" And it struck me that looking in China for tea was an eminently sensible thing to do and the internet made it possible... and so this thread came to be. As you'll have observed upthread, some teas keep on going and going... a really good oolong or a pu erh can make 2+ liters of tea from a 2-3 gram dose of leaf. That is usually a property of Chinese made teas, most notably greens and oolongs... Indian made teas are almost all black, and most black teas seem to be good for 1 or maybe 2 steepings most of the time. So when you go shopping for samples, 6-10 grams of tea is usually enough for you to get a sense of whether the particular tea and the style are to your liking. If you happen to live someplace with a real live tea shop, I heartily advise you to pay them a visit. I have very fond memories of going into Philadelphia in the late 1990s to visit the House of Tea and its character of a proprietor, Nathaniel Lit... he was polymath sort of guy... Architect, circus clown, pastry chef, married into some dynastic money... a guy with lots of great stories to tell, and somebody who'd say "You wanna smell something that will knock your socks off?"... and produce a great tin of some tea I'd never heard of before, the fragrance of which would be irresistible. And I'd end up leaving shocked at the idea that I'd just spent $15 or $20 per ounce for some tea... but they were worth it.
  12. Sample 5 is a pearl jasmine type tea. Pointing Google Translate at the packet made for some amusement... "green tea" "cloud flavor" "vicissitudes of years" came through... no real hints that it was jasmine. Google Translate seems like it would be a great Oracle of Delphi in this situation... mumbling barely comprehensible stuff that foreshadows upcoming events. I treated it like other display teas and brewed it in a 12 oz batch with water at 185F. Very nice brewed this way. Strong jasmine aroma, over a high quality green tea. Very nice mouthfeel and long long aftertaste. More of a middle-palate green flavor rather than the really sweet pearl jasmines that are out there. But still very pleasant.
  13. Bumping the water up to 200F at infusion 4 helped with the balance issues. Still a bit flabby, but better. Maybe 205 next infusion.
  14. Sample 4 is interesting. Fantastic floral aroma... someplace between peonies and gardenias. 2.4g in the gongfu apparatus emphasizes the aroma, but makes a "flabby" cup of tea. There is just no sharpness to offset or highlight the aroma. I wonder what I could do to make the tea display more balance... I've got enough leaves for 2 more tries...
  15. Yes, definitely a very fine deal. I am guessing that these samples are more for a Chinese domestic market than for export, since most of them have little to any non-Chinese writing on them. The quality level so far has been pretty high.