A deep and abiding love of Oriental Beauty

A deep and abiding love of Oriental Beauty

A not wholly unpleasant Puerh session with Yunnan Sourcing's 2011 "Hui Run" ripe Puerh cake of Bu Lang Mountain.

Prepping for my Puerh session
I have not had a Puerh I have been able to stand and a couple have been downright unpleasant. I was expecting more of the same tonight, but for the first time I had an 'OK' time of it.
I didn't like it, that would be going too far, but as the photos show, full chai hai, full cup, empty chai hai, empty cup. I did that three times.
My stomach feels a little crampy. Interesting. I think what got me through it was I was immediately transported to a very happy time. I was thirteen and at my three week sleep-away Jewish Summer Camp up in the Saratoga Mountains of Northern California. It was night, and cold and we were all sitting around a fire-pit. I felt sexual tension, a first kiss either just around the corner or initiated earlier in the day. Oh my word, I remembered his name right now when I burped Puerh. Neil Diamond. This is all true. What weird and wonderful places the various tastes of teas have taken me so far! And it is not beyond my notice that my dreams since letting tea transport me have become much richer, more full of archetypes and mythical creations. I have even begun to read Jung!

Drink tea. You will be better for the experiences, even if you can't stand the taste. It still has something to show you, somewhere to take you, if only you will move beyond your taste-buds and push past the discomfort of something that is not sweet and pleasant upon the tongue. I'm inspired to keep at it, not to seek a perfect moment, but to continue having new moments with tea as a key in my hand to some very odd doors I had not even known were capable of opening.

From Yunnan Sourcing

We are excited to offer this premium ripe pu-erh cake made entirely from Spring 2011 Bu Lang mountain material. First flush material was collected from several Bu Lang villages and fermented for 46 days. After fermentation was completed, the tea was dried and graded. We blended the various grades to create a balance recipe comprising of tippy golden buds and heavier grade 1,3, and 5 leaves. The term “Hui Run” refers to the sweet, slippery and soothing feeling that lingers in the mouth and throat even after the tea drinking session has ended.
357 grams per cake (7 cakes per bamboo leaf tong)
November 15th, 2011 compression date!

Liquid Proust Teas.Clearly a class act out of Columbus, Ohio.

In today's post I received a generous sample of Liquid Proust tea offerings, nicely packaged, clearly and cleverly numbered along with a thoughtful and helpful letter with information basics on each tea.
This is the work of Andrew Richardson, the owner of Liquid Proust Tea Company which can be found on Etsy under LiquidProustTeas.

I have yet to try these but was so impressed by the presentation, the obvious care and passion in this little envelope that I thought I would introduce you to the company prior to sampling product.
Somehow I have a feeling neither his efforts nor mine will be in vain.

End of Summer iced milk-tea creation. I am calling it the Chilled Oriental Beauty Delight.

Overbrew that Oolong and it's a bit strong? Have more Oriental Beauty than you can drink? Here's what you do!

1.Cinnamon ( a nice fresh Saigon is my favorite!)
2.Maple syrup ( high grade organic please!)
3.Blue Agave sweetener if desired
4.Almond milk (I prefer unsweetened vanilla.) Also a splash of mocha mix non-dairy creamer is good if you want it thicker

Pour the still warm Oriental Beauty or other Oolong of your choice into a large glass over ice, add non-sweetened almond milk or dairy item of your choice, in the amount that best suits you. I like mine milky looking and thick.

Add maple-syrup to taste, the highest grade the better please, don't cheat yourselves by using that Mrs. Butterworth's nonsensical crap, Ok? Do we understand each-other? I am not here to enable you to consume nonsense. 
I use a protein-drink shaker bottle and really agitate it to fully mix the ingredients.
Sprinkle in some cinnamon if it pleases you.

I also add a small drop of blue agave sweetener if I am in the mood to make it even sweeter. I have also been known, (see a prior post) to use some chocolate syrup. Shhhhhhhh.
Don't judge. It IS Oriental Beauty after all, and deserves more respect but on the other hand, wasting OB, not stretching the imagination and finding other ways to enjoy it later in the day after the hot session is complete? Well, that is just untenable, is it not?
Yours in Tea,

Once again, a nod to 2015 Spring Concubine Oolong from Dong Ding Mountain!

If you can find a tea with more red fruit hints and a more buttery mouth-feel well then..... you know a lot more than I do which of course wouldn't be hard since I just started tea recently and have no idea what those descriptors actually mean. But Dudes? What I do know is this is a delicious tea. Get it. Be it. Be the tea you want to see!

I find a tea my husband actually likes!

Tea Master's Concubine Oolong.

For me this is similar to Oriental Beauty, but my husband did not like the OB I offered him. I suspect this was because I had used my very new Yixing pot for the cup he tasted. He felt it had a metallic taste. This could also be because the tea water was too hot. I tried again with the gaiwan but the water from my new Bonavita  was just under boil and the results were pretty much the same. 
In any case, the Concubine was not scoffed at, though he did decline a second cup. The tea I brewed is also a  summer Oolong bitten by tea jassids and with a high oxidation, but less than OB. It was smooth and fruity and like OB, I found I enjoy subsequent steeps at a lower temperature, as low as 170 Fahrenheit. I will not apologize for this! Nothing compares so far to Oriental Beauty summer 2014 from Floating Leaves Tea Company but this Concubine and a couple of Dong Dings are coming close.

More thoughts on this to come as I will be re-ordering this soon!

'Superfine Alishan mountain high mountain oolong' from Teavivre

There are a lot of teas harvested at Alishan Mountain, and I found this to be one of the good ones, a good starter tea for someone like me.
I used my large gaiwan which is about 148 ml and I used the whole sample which was supposed to be 7grams but weighed out at 6.32grams.

I initially used water at 190, and as I proceeded and lowered temps I liked it even more.
I burped and it was the most pleasant burp I've ever had!

The harvest time: for this sample states April 20, 2015
the below info is from TEAVIVRE's website:
  • Fresh Leaves: one bud with three leaves
  • Dry Tea: twisted into large full particles, round shape, glossy and dark green
  • Tea Liquid: greenish yellow, clean and bright
  • Aroma: elegant floral aroma and light milk fragrance.
  • Flavor: pure and mild, tastes smooth and round in the month. The tea has a light fragrance of gardenia and milk, feels smooth going down to the throat, with long-lasting sweet aftertaste.
  • Leaf: leaves are soft and tender in complete shape with obvious buds.
  • Infusing: can be infused for over 8 steeps with long time for each steep.
I think perhaps I would have found this sample more to my liking in my smaller gaiwan, and wish I had enough to try it that way, but all 6 grams went into the 148ml.
I also would have liked to try it in my new, ( and first) Yixing pot which I just bought from Teavivre and LOVE, but again I don't have enough tea!

I will move on from the computer now, back to my tea-table for steeps 3-6!

Really good tea and well worth my time!

My own take on Lu Tong's poem Seven Bowls of Tea 七碗诗 卢仝(唐. 790~835)

The first bowl awakens my lips and throat.
The second bowl takes away my loneliness.
The third bowl makes me know I could write five thousand words of wisdom with ease,
while the fourth bowl makes all my transgressions evaporate.
The fifth bowl cleanses my physical body
while the sixth bowl tends to my spirit.
The seventh bowl I cannot finish,
for I am sated and tea-drunk and float upwards towards the heavens
on the slightest breeze.

“Lu Tong brewing tea” by Qian Xuan

Tracked down the source of the 'Bug-Bitten Honey-Aroma Oolong' and it's organic! Bonus! I bow in gratitude to TAIWAN SOURCING.

Before brewing
( Photo property of Yunnan Sourcing. Hope they don't mind.)

Our "Honey Aroma" oolong tea gets its name from the fact that the leaves are bitten by grasshopper-like tiny bugs that stimulate the defense mechanism of the tea plant.  Resulting in a characteristic honey aroma and flavor in the final product.  
Our fresh Taiwanese oolong is a sweet treat.  Steep this tea many times to appreciate the smooth development from soft and inviting to sweet and rich.
Certified Organic by MOA International and HKOCC (Hong Kong Organic Certification Centre)!

Harvest:  Summer 2015 / 夏 二零一五
Varietal:  Four Seasons Spring / 四季春
Elevation:  450 M
Region:  Ming Jian / 名間
Oxidation Level:  25%
Roast Level: 3
Aging Potential: Medium
Certified Organic
After brewing.
(Again, photo property of Taiwan Sourcing and hope they don't mind, again.)

Bug-bitten honey-aroma Oolong on a 100 degree day in California. Perfect!

A perfect afternoon tea. 
Honestly, find me a rival for the afternoon-tea slot and I will eat my hat.

Wish I could remember who I bought this from, but alas, I moved the tea, once opened, into a mason jar and forgot to note the source.

Will want more of this, so those of you who can tell me good companies to try from, do let me know.

Brewed in small gaiwan, 5.25 grams of leaf. A quick warm up of dry leaves, one brief rinse, and all infusions at 185 Fahrenheit. A lovely way to begin the second half of a terrific Friday afternoon!
Look at that sweet light honey color, the clear broth, the lovely leaves expanding in languid happiness....

Green Tieguanyin Kyuso style!

All I need is a tea bowl!
After my initial Tieguanyin session this morning failed to wow me, (see below post) I decided to brew it up like a Japanese tea, using my Takaname kyuso and I like it very much this way! Drinking it out of a tea bowl instead of a small cup, the flavors are expanding gently, the leaves seem to love the extra space inside the kyuso in which to unfurl. Terribly unorthodox? I wouldn't know nor care. The tea is the thing, the experience, personalizing it, making it work for me.

That's what keeps me coming back. What are your thoughts I wonder?

Tie Guan Yin modern green style Superior Grade from Life In Teacup company

Rabbit enjoyed having his boat filled with the initial tea rinse water
I am not sure how I feel about this tea so far. It is most certainly the most verdant, most green of the teas I have tried since moving away from Japanese and into Chinese and Taiwanese teas.
It opened very fast, yet the first brew, after an initial quick rinse was very light. I actually enjoyed that a lot, very hot water with a slight tinge of grass. Since this was my morning tea I was glad I started off light. My second and third steeps are gradually more flavorful, but I am unused to this astringency in the teas I have been sampling. It makes me wonder if this isn't a good tea to eat with dinner? I think it might well be. Very reminiscent of Chinese teas I have had in the past when eating at a Chinese restaurant. Wonder if I am right about that? It has a strong mineral taste that lingers more than I am comfortable with. Next I will adjust brewing parameters and try it the way I bet I will like it more, at a lower temperature of course! Will continue to steep another two or three times at about 175, see how that goes. As always look forward to my guides emails to enrich this already abundant tea adventure I am on. More research to follow!

Wen Shen Bao Zhong

The enchanted newbie, (me) asks, "What is this Wen Shen Bao Zhong Oolong? It's green, right? Green tea? It looks green. I think it is a green tea. But I like it, so that can't be right! Whatever am I drinking? Can an Oolong be green?"

The search for answers begins.

The Fragrant Leaf, from whom I purchased this tea tells me two things. One this is expensive tea, at least to me with a 10 ounce bag costing $75.00. the other thing they tell me is:

The name "Bao Zhong" comes from the Chinese term meaning "wrapped". It dates back to the time when tea farmers used to wrap their tea in paper during the drying process. Produced in the verdant hills of northern Taiwan's Pinglin area, Bao Zhong tea is a twisted-leaf, "green-style" oolong with aromas of flowers and melon and a taste that is light and sweet. Our Bao Zhong tea is hand crafted by Wang Cheng Yi, a fifth generation tea farmer. 
Harvest: May 2015
Oxidation Level: 10%

What they don't tell me is how addictive it is, how it must be addicting, for this is so good I am on my seventh steeping of five ounces in my gaiwan. And we are not done yet, not by a long shot!
Ok, what else can I learn without bothering my compatriots at the Facebook page, 'Tea Folk' or one of my new-found tea-buddies?

Here I find:

We highly recommend brewing Wen Shan Bao Zhong Oolong in the gongfu style, using a small teapot or gaiwan, to appreciate the wonderful aromatics and the unique flavors that unfurl over many steepings. Add tea leaves to fill the teapot about one-third full and rinse the leaves briefly with hot water. Pour the rinse water out and then refill the pot with hot water and let the tea steep approximately 45 seconds to 1 minute. Increase the steeping time by 10-15 seconds for each subsequent brew. Most oolong teas can be re-steeped at least 6 times in this manner.

I followed this steeping time and had a wonderful 

brew. I used water 190f and it was not bitter at all, a gentle astringency perhaps, but far less than my sensitive newbie palette generally objects to.

From Steepster I learn:

Wen Shan refers to the name of a growing region in Northern Taiwan. Wen Shan Bao Zhong leaves are slightly twisted rather than rolled as in other Oolongs. The name Bao Zhong refers to a method of packaging that started about 160 years ago in which tea farmers packaged their tea in 250 gram elongated square packages. A mark was then placed on this tea that said Bao Zhong, or wrapping type. When the Bao Zhong method came to Taiwan Wen Shan in northern Taiwan produced the best quality Bao Zhong. As a result, Wen Shan Bao Zhong became a commonly used term. This tea is oxidized 15%-30% with a wonderful fresh floral fruit fragrance. Wen Shan Bao Zhong is most famous for its aroma, which is sure to open your eyes any time of the day or early evening. May also serve as a light desert.

I dont know about the dessert part, I find Oriental Beauty far more delicate and sweet, but it is very, very pleasurable and most certainly is waking me up.

My first two serious and very utilitarian Yixing pots.

Xi Shi Yixing purple clay pot bought from TEAVIVRE.....

Beautiful Shape Yixing Purple Clay (Zi Sha) Teapot for Brewing Teas in Gongfu Way

  • Material: Original Purple Clay from Huang Long Shan (黄龙山), Yixing
  • Origin: Yixing (宜兴), Jiangsu, China
  • Craft: Handmade
  • Capacity: 140ml (4.7oz)
Purple clay: The purple clay (Zi Sha) has the characteristics of fast heat transmission and good heat preservation. Teapots made by this material are specifically designed to retain the aroma and flavors of the tea. It is better to use a certain Zi Sha Teapot only for one kind of tea.
This clay is porous when fired and is ideal for the making of teapots. Over time, the clay absorbs the flavors from the tea and releases them later. The teapots have become popular in China since the North Song Dynasty and were traded to many countries.


Xi Shi Yixing Zi Sha Teapot with element shape, natural beauty as Xi Shi (西施 the name of one of the four great beauties of ancient China) is a classic style which is the first choice for Zi Sha Teapot lovers. 

Elegant and fluent line, the proportion coordination, all show the beauty of the full state. 

The body of teapot like the pure full round face of a beautiful girl. The spout like beauty cherry mouth of a girl, gentle and graceful. It is not only beautiful, but also practical.
The pearl on the lid just symbolizes the tuinga of the noble person in Chinese ancient times.The handle of the teapot like a woman’s elegant bun which naturally reveal woman’s lovely figure.The inside and bottom of the teapot is carefully crafted. Tea liquor flowing easy and smooth.Excellent air tightness
Press the tiny hole on the lid, downward the spout and no water will leak.Pour water full of the teapot and press the spout, downward the lid it will still tightly stick with teapot.A common Chinese saying goes “In the eyes of a lover, Xi Shi appears”. This phrase means that everyone thinks his/her own partner is as beautiful as Xi Shi, regardless of how they may appear to other people. It is believable that every tea lover and Yixing Clay (Zi Sha) teapot lover will has his “Xi Shi” in his heart.'

Reviews on this pot are fabulous and it has been called the best pot you will ever find for $55. It should be here soon, and I have now found a few tea-guides to help me figure out how to best make use of this baby. And it IS like a baby....... 

This is from 'Confessions of an Yixing addict' over at Verdant Tea:

"It is your baby yixing to care for from day one.  Anyone remember nanopets?  They became so big in grade school that they were banned from the campus.  Of course, the tragedy was epic – everyone’s nanopets “passed on” due to lack of food and attention during the school day.  Yixing is demanding and rewarding in the same way.  A baby yixing teapot is still full of potential.  What career path will you choose for it?  Oolong? Pu’er? Black tea?  Once you choose a career, the pot needs to be trained in the ways of the ways of the world.  A responsible parent carefully seasons the pot, and feels reward and satisfaction from their baby growing into a real pot."

And then i decided i needed this, thanks to some good guidance from a friend:

Golden Zhu Ni "Dragon Egg" created by Wang Jian Ying * 110ml

Clay Material is Golden Zhu Ni from Wei Zhao Village in Yixing county.  After firing at 1125C, the clay can contract as much as 25%, making the failure rate from firing quite high.  The density of the finished product is quite high, but it's porous enough to allow for gradual seasoning.  Seasoning over time will bring luster to the outer surface of the pot and bring out the best qualities of the tea to which the pot is dedicated.
When tapped, the pot made from Golden Zhu Ni has a solid ring to it, pleasant to the ear.
This kind of clay material is especially appropriate for medium to light roast oolongs as well as raw and ripe pu-erh.
Golden Zhu Ni clay is from Wei Zhao Village in Yixing county. After firing at 1125C, the clay can contract as much as 25%, making the failure rate from firing quite high.  The density of the finished product is quite high, but it's porous enough to allow for gradual seasoning.  Seasoning over time will bring luster to the outer surface of the pot and bring out the best qualities of the tea to which the pot is dedicated.

When tapped, the pot made from Golden Zhu Ni has a solid ring to it, pleasant to the ear.

This kind of clay material is especially appropriate for medium to light roast oolongs as well as raw and ripe pu-erh.

[Product Name] "Long Dan" (Dragon Egg) teapot

[Capacity] 110ml

[Bottom Inscription] "Jianying Zhi Tao" (entirely handmade by Jianying, Golden Zhu Ni clay)

Handmade and kiln roasted at the perfect temperature. It has a fine gloss and a delightful delicate color. Breathes well and is easy to cultivate through brewing tea. It will only increase in beauty as it ages. This teapot has a dignified and traditional shape.  Its handle and spout are well-proportioned. This is a product of exquisite craft – simple and refined. It has a tight-fitting lid and a smooth flow of liquid. Practical and useful, this is a product of the highest value.

About the creator: Wang Jianying is a nationally certified practitioner of fine arts and a member of Yixing pottery association.  A fourth generation descendant of the famed Fan Dasheng, she is a Fan Family Teapot Company master craftsworker. She has been fascinated with the craft of zisha since childhood. In 1986, she began working with zisha pottery under the tutelage of her mother Fan Yuehong, quickly developing a substantial skillset. In recent years she has benefited from the careful guidance of the current head of the Fan Family Teapot Company, Fan Weiqun, and her pottery making skills have become increasingly mature. Her products have received numerous awards and have appeared in Chinese and international books and other publications.  They are widely sought out by collectors.

From Tea Masters I try 2013 Concubine Oolong

My first few steepings of this tea were not very remarkable, but I am blaming that on my less than clean palette and will try again later! From Tea Masters Blog we read:

From Tea Masters

The scents of red, exotic and ripe fruits coat the mouth and seem to never leave. The cold scent is all honey.The most amazing about this tea is its natural, mellow mouthfeel. Even after 6 minutes, there’s no uncomfortable bitterness or astringency. This tea tastes sweet and smooth. And, despite the strong flavors, the mouth remains clean and bright. It feels like a sunny afternoon in these tea fields. A taste of nature.

It is a pretty oolong and opens up nicely. I look forward to my next session!Please
note my wonderful new Bonavita kettle in the background, which pours so gorgeously! 

A roasted Oolong from Laoshan

I was recently told by a tea acquaintance that Laoshan is 'not a good area for tea and that this tea can't be very good.' 
I beg to differ! I found this to be a really nice, mild, creamy and milk chocolate tasting tea. There was more sediment than I am used to but not much of a deterrent to me.
I don't know that with all the teas I have yet to try I would buy this again right away but I know I want to explore a lot more roasted oolongs!

From Verdant Tea comes the following information on this offering from Mr. He's tea farm...

This tea is the He Family's answer to the challenge that oolong is only for southern China. Despite Laoshan Village only having fifty years of tea cultivation and oolong being the most technically demanding kind of tea in the world to produce, Mr. He comes through brilliantly. It takes his entire family an entire day to process a single five pound batch of this tea. The careful kneading and rolling brings out a beautiful, pure expression of the minerality of the soil and the water.

Bug-Bitten Honey Aroma Oolong Summer 2015

Just opened this and have had a wonderful initial session of three steepings not counting the rinse. I am pretty sure this is from Yunnan Sourcing but I am not finding it on their site. I am finding the same tea but winter and it is unavailable. Hmmmm. Have to find out so I can get more because this isn't going to last long!

Really smooth, warm, buttery, and yes, I feel I can taste honey in the back of my throat, it feels like summer, summer somewhere I have never been yet long to visit.

Look at the tight little knots before the first steep. The leaves are growing as I pause my session to write this, heading back now for pours 4 through ?

Above photos prior to water, heavy, tight little knots.
Totally wonderful tea to be drinking on a cool Californian day with the wind-chimes tinkling, the wild parrots calling to one another and the breezes moving through my bungalow.

The Dude Abides in this tea for sure!

New tea and Cha Hai from Yunnan Sourcing.

Bought a very serviceable clear glass Cha Hai from YS for $4.00 which just arrived and Scott was kind enough to include a sample of these little Puerh nuggets. Do I dare to continue the experiments that have, thus far, been the only teas to make me literally yell out 'ARRGGHHH!' making my family fear I had stepped on a Tarantula? I think so, but am waiting for instructions from the Tea Folk group on Facebook and from Scott himself. Got to set these little balls of Puerh up for success with the right parameters and preparation!

Here is the description from YS website...

2013 Yunnan Sourcing Premium Ripe Pu-erh Tea Mini Tuo
Our Ripe Pu-erh tea mini tuo cha are made from whole leaf premium Yong De area pu-erh tea. Each mini tuo is roughly 5 grams and is individually wrapped. The tea was fermented in 2013 from spring 2013 material from Yong De county of Lincang and then pressed at the end of 2013 and aged until now.
The brewed tea is strong and thick in the mouth, the aroma is camphor and earth with hints of rose, and the tea soup is a deep burgundy and brown color. The tea used is whole leaf (grades 1, 3 5 and 7) not chopped or tea dust like many tuo. It's the same quality we use to press cakes but decided to make some mini tuo for the added convenience of carrying and brewing on the go that so many people desire.
Roughly 5 grams each (200 mini tuo per kilogram)
2013 material"

And here they are on my tea table...

Just a few steeps into a truly lovely morning Dong Ding session.

What is that that smells so good? It seems to be coming from near me, that can't be me. Even freshly showered, my hair tidily laundered, no way I am creating that added tinge in the air of pure Chi. Damn if it isn't the steeping Dong Ding!
Started as soon as I began my two part method of waking up the leaves, first by putting them into a preheated but empty small gaiwan and shaking them a bit, then followed by a quick rinse at 178 degrees. That was all it took to get that fragrance flowing into the room.
The Los Angles heat has passed and the afternoon is breezy, my Indian sari curtains blowing up and around my head, the wild parrots making a helluva wonderful cacophony of sound in the backyard in my avocado tree, a perfect time to be alive. Right here and now.
Here is the tea just barely starting to awaken,
 and then as the leaves began to unfurl, it was so pretty I had to take the gaiwan outside for a couple photos of that.

Silly? Maybe, but I take my pleasures where I find them.
We all should.

A shameful but delicious concoction.

Not my usual style, nor a style I intend to duplicate, at least not with any frequency. However, I made a rather delicious tea drink.
I received a fairly large amount of Floating Leaves Oriental Beauty 2015 and made a far too strong brew for myself during an experiment.
So I put it over ice, added honey, some almond milk, some Saigon cinnamon and, well, I am sad to say some chocolate syrup. And I mean like Hershey's type syrup, not some fancy coffee-house Italiana stuff, this was actually Trader Joe's 'Organic Midnight Moo'. And wow, what a delicious drink! I put it in a shaker with ice and drank it all day.
I won't use Oriental Beauty, my favorite tea so far, in such a disrespectful manner....too often but it is nice to know if I over-brew I can play around instead of dumping it out! Too bad I cannot say the same for all the Puerhs I have tried this past month!

Wonderful BAO ZHONG!

A great twisted Oolong tea, one of my most favorites so far. This is Wen Shan Bao Zhong.
Wen Shan I believe is the location it came from. It's lightly oxidized, almost looks like a green tea, very beautiful leaves, bruised, a little purple. I brewed 5 grams of tea in a 140 ml gaiwan. One rinse, and then I had six steepings at a low temperature, in this case ranging from 178 all the way down to 140!
THIS is the way I like my Oolongs, this low tempt steep is unorthodox but yields a floral, mild pleasant experience every steeping.
This tea was acquired from The Fragrant Leaf, and ordered online.
Thin and light, it starts out vegetal and ends floral.
Absolutely wonderful tea, I could drink this all day. Last steep was 2 minutes, because I was writing this and forgot about it, and even at 140 degrees is was lovely! Whatever you hear, do NOT hit this with really hot water, don't waste this treasure by boiling it.
Every sip yields new flavors, its magical.

What's a Gaiwan and why do I love them?

A gaiwan is one of the most ancient and effective tea steeping vessels ever created. The body, called the 'wan', means bowl, and evolved from a simple bowl used originally to hold powdered tea. The large body of the 'wan' allows the leaves to expand and steep properly to release its full potential of aromas and flavors. The lid, called 'gai', means to cover, and the ancient Chinese consider this to be equivalent of the heavens covering us. The lid is essential to holding the steam inside the bowl to steep the tea properly. The lid can also be tilted back gently to act as a strainer and allow the liquid of the tea to pour without the tea leaves. Finally, the saucer, called the 'die', is to hold the bowl without burning one's hands, and was originally developed for someone to serve the bowl of tea with two hands as a gesture of politeness. The large body of the 'wan' allows the leaves to expand and steep properly to release its full potential of aromas and flavors. Gaiwans come in many shapes and sizes, some for serving, some for drinking directly. Most are made of non-porous glazed porcelain or bone china, to effectively steep any type of tea without taking on any aroma. The fluted edge of the bowl is useful as a rim to grasp the bowl and pour with. These bowls are designed to be handle-less so that the temperature can be gauged.
You can brew anything in a gaiwan. Careful you don't burn your fingers though. If a tea requires very hot to boiling water, I use something else!

Laoshan Green Oolong

I like this tea a lot, but at a LOW temperature, 165 seems perfect.
Steeped six times before I grew bored, still had good flavor.
This is the tail end of the samples Verdant Tea sent me.

My last Puerh session and my first White Jasmine session...first of many!

Just spent an hour with this Puerh.
Experimented with amounts of tea, temperatures, steep time, water to tea ration and I must conclude that I really dislike Puerhs! 
That being admitted to, I sure did fall in love with Verdant's' Yunnan White Jasmine' when I needed something to cleanse my palette!
Believe it or not, this is also a first for me, I generally stay away from 'scented teas' but this sample,
(one of the 'Five teas for $ 5 bucks' offer from Verdant) is really up my alley! Does that make me a tea philistine?
If so, so be it!

Uh Oh.

I think I have just discovered what 'tea drunk' feels like...

The Fragrant Leaf sent me this....

I ordered a Wild Amber Oolong but this came instead.

Wen Shan Bao Zhong Oolong! A mistake highly in my favor both in value and I would wager in taste as well.
A really nice tea. Tasted totally different when I brewed it in my Gaiwan than when I brewed it in my new Yixing pot. Much preferred the gaiwan.

Here is the description from the vendor:

The name "Bao Zhong" comes from the Chinese term meaning "wrapped". It dates back to the time when tea farmers used to wrap their tea in paper during the drying process. Produced in the verdant hills of northern Taiwan's Pinglin area, Bao Zhong tea is a twisted-leaf, "green-style" oolong with aromas of flowers and melon and a taste that is light and sweet. Our Bao Zhong tea is hand crafted by Wang Cheng Yi, a fifth generation tea farmer. 
Harvest: May 2015
Oxidation Level: 10%

I love that this company tells me the oxidation levels of their teas, it will really help me learn my oolongs.
Crazy tea monkey liked it too...

First Tieguanyin, part of a 5 teas for $5 sample set by Verdant Tea company

Do we use the word 'shake' in the tea community, I wonder? This reminds me of when I would buy a nickle bag of some homegrown weed and would get the 'shake', those sifty, loose tiny bits, the trash in other words. Maybe that's how this tea is done, or perhaps I got the end of a bag.
In any case, reminds me of 'shake' which I haven't thought about in 30 years, ( the last time I partook of the weed!).
Brewed the generous sample of almost 6 grams with water at about 180 in a 5 ounce gaiwan which is quickly becoming my vessel and brewing parameters of choice when brewing new teas. If the water is close to boiling I tend not to like the tea at all.

Taste was very unremarkable but not unpleasant, color was pale. I bet I am not getting the best possible first impression here, am I?

On to the next sample!

Hope I can depend on Verdant Tea in the future to impress me more than this initial offering.

UPDATE on the damaged Tieguan and a nice email from Verdant Tea...
Hi Hannah,

Thank you so much for getting in touch with us, and for trying out our "5 for 5". I am very sorry to hear about the Tieguanyin! I took a look at the pictures, and you are correct, it looks like you received a lot of broken leaf in your sample. While we do our best to never send out the tea dust and broken leaf the occurs from the tea settling during transit, mistakes sometimes happen. I will gladly refund you the $5 you paid for the sample pack. You will see this reflected in your bank account within the next few business days.

Many thanks again for your business and support! I am so happy to hear that you enjoyed the Yunnan White Jasmine! I hope you enjoy the other samples as well! As the issue with the Tieguanyin was due to breakage, and not specific to this harvest, you should not encounter this problem again! Feel free to choose it as your free sample when you purchase more Yunnan White Jasmine, if you'd like.

Best Wishes,

Tea Haikus by Hannah Gerber

dearest kyusu
i will be back for you soon
please don't forget me.

yuzamashi mine
sit patiently with your friend
winter will come soon.

there are flowers here
honey and warm afternoons
sunshine in my mouth.

the tea tray is wet
porcelain tasting cups shine
waiting for more tea.

i may never see
yunnan in the summertime
scott will be my eyes.

The new koi Yixing pot seems to do well with the Dong Ding.