Roasted Kukicha from New Mexico Tea Co.

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  New Mexico Tea Co.

Product Description:

Kukicha, or twig tea, is a Japanese blend of green tea made of stems, stalks, and twigs, and has a nutty, slightly creamy flavor.

Uniquely flavorful, kukicha is also one of the preferred teas of the macrobiotic diet. Kukicha can also be added to juice to make a children’s drink. Kukicha is a powerful antioxidant and is very low in caffeine, in fact the lowest in caffeine of all traditional teas.

Taster’s Review:

This is the last of the three teas that were included in November Steepster Select box.  As I mentioned before, the theme for this month was “Migration” and this tea represents the “scattered branches” left by the migrating birds.  Very clever, Steepster.  I find this month’s theme to be almost as enjoyable as the tea.

But that’s not said to take anything away from this month’s tea selections, which have all been extraordinarily good.  The Diyi Cornfields Shu from Verdant Tea was one of the most unusual and delicious Pu-erh teas I’ve ever tasted.  The Bai Mu Dan from Canton Tea proved to be one of the very best white teas and changed my beliefs about Bai Mu Dan!  And this Roasted Kukicha is also quite exceptional.

The aroma of the dry leaf is a very strong roasted flavor.  It’s really quite delightful and toasty.  The fragrance of the brewed tea is quite subdued in comparison.  The flavor is a much lighter roasty-toasty kind of flavor than the aroma of the dry leaf would lead me to think.

There is an amazing sweetness to this Kukicha that tastes a bit honeyed as well as caramel-like.  It has that sweet, cozy kind of taste that I have come to expect from a Kukicha.  The lighter roasted notes allow for some of the nuances of this Kukicha to shine through.  It has a beautiful creamy undertone, and a delicious nutty finish.  The aftertaste is sweet with the barest hint of smoke that softly lingers.

A very lovely Kukicha.  Calm, relaxing and delicious.

Bai Mu Dan from Canton Tea Co.

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  White

Where to Buy:  Canton Tea Co.

Product Description:

Other Names: Bai Mu Dan Tea, Pai Mu Dan Tea, White Pekoe Tea

White Peony undergoes very little processing. Made from just the unopened silvery buds and the small, top two leaves it is picked in spring and gently withered to yield a refreshing, easy-drinking tea, full of soft fruit flavours and melon notes with a lingering sweet aftertaste.

Taster’s Review:

This is the second tea that I’m tasting from the “Migration” themed Steepster Select Package.  At first, I kind of wondered why a Bai Mu Dan would be offered as part of a “Migration” theme … but after opening the pouch, I understood.  The leaves are crisp and dry, just like the fallen leaves that cover the ground this time of year.

The tea these beautiful, whole leaves produces is exquisite!  Definitely one of the very best Bai Mu Dan teas I’ve yet to taste.  It is surprisingly rich and flavorful.  Many White Peony/Bai Mu Dan teas that I’ve tried in the past tend to be somewhat pale in flavor – delicate – but, this is not a typical Bai Mu Dan!

It possesses a delightfully sweet flavor and as the description above suggests, I taste the melon notes!  That melon flavors intensify as the tea cools.  There is very little vegetative/grassy taste to this Bai Mu Dan.  Instead, I taste a crisp, clean, and sweet delicious flavor unlike any other Bai Mu Dan I’ve tasted in recent memory.  Sure, many of those white teas tasted good, maybe even great, but, this one stands out as exceptional.

Diyi Cornfields Shu from Verdant Tea

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Pu-erh

Where to Buy:  Verdant Tea

Product Description:

Year: 2008

Workshop: Diyi Workshop

Region: Xishuangbanna

Flavor: True to the smell, this tea really does taste like corn, but with an impressive complexity.  The spearmint comes through as a tingling sensation, more of a a minty texture than anything else.  Despite the sweet corn flavor, the tea is weightless on the palate and almost refreshing like an iced drink.

Taster’s Review:

This month’s Steepster Select Package theme is “Migration.”  My first thought when I saw the card insert in the package was “Migration?  What an odd theme.”  But I don’t mean odd in a bad way… I happen to think odd is a compliment.  I mean, why settle for ordinary when you can have something a little odd?

The card insert explains the theme like this:

Autumn brings bodies in motion – animals and people alike – savoring the final wisps of warmth.  Stroll through the park and you’ll find empty nests, scattered branches and crisp, fallen leaves, all proof of the impending frost.

Some take flight, migrating to warmer climates, but those more observant recognize Autumn is merely the beginning of many tea-soaked months.

Rather than fly away, we choose to nose-dive in wholeheartedly.  We bring you 3 teas inspired by everything the migrating birds left behind.

I really like this explanation and how it fits with the three teas chosen for this month.  This particular tea is the “empty nest”!

And I really am liking this tea!

If you are a frequent reader here, you may know that I am not as fond of pu-erh as I am other types of tea.  But I am gaining an appreciation for it with each new tasting.  This Shu (meaning “cooked” pu-erh) is full of surprises!

My first surprise was the aroma of the dry nest.  It is earthy, yes, but, the earthy notes are not as strong as I usually find with a Shu.  I can also smell notes of corn and even a hint of mint nestled in the mini tuo cha.  The brewed liquor has a stronger corn scent.  Earthy notes are still present, but, they are significantly softer than the dry leaf.

The second surprise is in my gaiwan.  Usually, when I steep these little nests, the tea remains in a little mass at the bottom of the gaiwan… but this pu-erh seems to be very loosely packed into the nest, as it fell apart.  And what it revealed to me was not only the deep brown and almost-black colored leaves, but also green leaves in there.

The flavor … is like WOW!  Corn!  I don’t think I’ve ever tasted a tea that has such a profound corn flavor as this.  It tastes like roasted corn to me … like when you go out to the fair … the roasted corn on the cob?  Yeah, that is what I’m tasting.  I LOVE roasted corn on the cob, and I have tried my hand at roasting my own corn on the cob but with very little success.  I can never seem to capture that same flavor of the fair.  But… interestingly enough, this tea has!

The sweetness is a corn-like sweetness, reminding me a bit of sweet corn cakes.  The mouthfeel is remarkably light and has a crispness to it.  It feels cleaner on the palate than any other pu-erh I’ve ever tasted.

This is a remarkable pu-erh.  I recommend this to all tea enthusiasts out there, especially to those who want to gain a stronger appreciation for pu-erh, and have had some unfortunate experiences with it in the past.  This pu-erh is unlike any other I’ve ever tried, and certainly one that you should try!