Become A Flavor Explorer!

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debunix
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Tue Feb 25, 2020 9:37 am

Looking forward to my first shipment from @Tillerman for the explorer plus a couple of other things. With Norbu closed down, more opportunity to try other sources.
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Tillerman
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Wed Feb 26, 2020 8:34 am

Hi Fellow Tea Forum members. I have updated my original post to include the timelines for the "Flavor Explorer" tasting as well as suggesting some initial brewing procedures.



Why do our teas taste differently one from the other? What difference does elevation make? How does roasting alter the flavor of a tea. Do levels of oxidation really affect flavor? These are questions to which we all seek answers and Tillerman’s “Flavor Explorer” selection can help us get there.

We have selected six different teas: 3 gaoshan (high mountain) and 3 Dong Ding. The three gaoshan teas are all oxidized to about 20% and are not roasted. But each comes from a different elevation: the Alishan is grown at 1300 meters, the Cuifeng at 1800 meters and the Lishan at 2200 meters. Explore the differences in aromatics and mouth feel that these teas offer as you “climb the mountain.” Go back and forth among the teas. What can you discover?

Next, compare these unroasted teas to a Dong Ding that also is oxidized to roughly 20% but has been roasted. Notice the distinct character that roasting brings to the equation. Follow this with an examination of another Dong Ding that is roasted to the same level but has a much higher oxidation (about 33%.) Notice how this higher oxidation affects the complexity and balance of the tea.

Finally, taste a highly roasted Dong Ding. This tea is also oxidized to about 33% but has a much higher roast level. How do we perceive that both “on the nose” and “in the mouth.” For a little added fun, now go back and taste the first three teas. Are your impressions the same? Are the contrasts clear?

This offering includes .5 oz (14 g.) of each tea – 3 ounces in all. That’s easily enough for two full sessions with multiple infusions at each. Expand your horizons; become an intrepid flavor explorer! https://tillermantea.net/product/the-flavor-explorer/. Tea Forum members receive a special $3.00 discount on the regular price for this selection; simply enter the coupon code Tea Forum at checkout.

On March 10th at 9 a.m., PDT, noon EDT, we will be able to join together on this thread and discuss what these teas have taught us. In order for everyone to be able to taste the teas in time for the discussion, Tillerman must receive your orders by March 5th for US orders and March 1st for orders from all other countries.

As to brewing, I am a firm believer that there is no such thing as "brewing instructions." There are, however, suggestions on where to begin. These suggestions are for a gong fu style brewed tea.

Use a gaiwan or small yixing pot for brewing.

For all of the teas use about 6 grams of leaf for each 100ml of water.

Use boiling water to brew all of the teas.

For the 3 gaoshan teas try an initial brew of about 25 seconds. Cut this back to 20 seconds for the second brew and then adjust the time upward in 5 second intervals for subsequent infusions.

For the Dong Ding teas, use the same procedure but start at 35 seconds for the initial brew and then 30 seconds for the second infusion.

Adjust any times to suit your tastes.

I hope you will find this to be an interesting learning experience and I look forward to the discussions on March 10th. If, in the interim, you have any questions you may reach me at: david@tillermantea.net.
Last edited by pedant on Mon Mar 02, 2020 4:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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gld
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Wed Feb 26, 2020 2:06 pm

OK I'm in. I might be fly on the wall, we shall see. I re-ordered Alishan (Laoshi) Winter 2018 for further comparison, though it falls out of the parameters.
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Victoria
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Sat Feb 29, 2020 2:13 pm

Got my speedy shipment from Tillerman. For some reason I thought this was a blind tasting. I think I’ll tape over the labels for fun, to see if I can pick them out. Shouldn’t be too hard given how much roasted DongDing and High Mountain I drink daily :) 🍃
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nasalfrog
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Mon Mar 02, 2020 8:57 pm

I started climbing the mountain yesterday, taking notes as I go. I proceeded further today, and what a wonderful session it was! I did not want it to end, so I’ve got it steeping overnight in hopes of another cup in the morning.
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Victoria
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Fri Mar 06, 2020 8:51 pm

After a busy day with little tea and the look of rain approaching, I decided to start mid-way with #4, then down to #3. Yumm, both are excellent, rounding out the day with aromatic and warming lingering sensations.

Going with a blind tasting my notes are;
#4 is super tasty, thick smooth, like LiShan but different, more like a sweet floral and rich DongDing. Very good! I could have this rich sweet goodness everyday.
#3 has thick fresh buttery green dairy aroma on dry and wet leaf. Very good quality again. It has a typical LiShan thick buttery flavor profile and viscosity. Nice lingering aftertaste. I could lap it up all day long it’s so good. This oolong does not seem to have suffered from a dry winter harvest, it is aromatic and rich.

p.s. re-read above post regarding March 10th conversation. I’m assuming until then we share tasting notes, right? @Tillerman
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Tillerman
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Fri Mar 06, 2020 9:01 pm

Victoria wrote:
Fri Mar 06, 2020 8:51 pm
p.s. re-read above post regarding March 10th conversation. I’m assuming until then we share tasting notes, right? Tillerman
Yes, people can share notes now or wait until the 10th - whichever they prefer.
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debunix
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Mon Mar 09, 2020 2:56 pm

This morning I have had a wonderful session with Alishan oolong purchased from Tillerman tea, a little extra with the flavor explorer package. Warm, rich, sweet, floral, so lovely. It helps to decrease my post-Norbu anxiety about the ability to get tea like this.

And now moving into afternoon with some SeaDyke red label TKY, old faithful, and loving the play of golden tea-filtered light on the snowflake glaze of this Great Wheel studio cup from Shawn McGuire
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Victoria
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Mon Mar 09, 2020 3:14 pm

Sipping on #5 haha I know this one well since I have it almost daily, a medium roasted DongDing. Rich liquor, nice viscosity, sweet and warming sensation with every sip. I did notice #6 is a lower roasted DongDing, haven’t had that green a DD in a while. The dry leaf aroma was nice, with the liquor clearer than #5. I gave it more steeping time to extract flavor. Interesting to have a greener DongDing, I enjoyed that.
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Tillerman
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Mon Mar 09, 2020 3:33 pm

Good afternoon Flavor Explorers,

I look forward to meeting you all online tomorrow at 9:00 PDT (noon EDT) to share our notes and experiences with the Flavor Explorer package. Rather than comment on specific teas (although it is perfectly fine to do that) I like to hear your thoughts on the set of teas: did you find differences due to elevation, oxidation level and degree of roast?

I'll be set up with the flight of teas in front of me looking forward to your comments.

See you again tomorrow!

Cheers,

David
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pedant
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Mon Mar 09, 2020 3:57 pm

i'm very late to the party :oops:
but i just placed an order
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Tillerman
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Tue Mar 10, 2020 11:06 am

Good Morning Flavor Explorers,

I started off my early morning today with a wonderful Fruit Scented Rou Gui from @OldWaysTea. It was, delicious, light on roasting, very aromatic and long in the palate. If you are looking for interesting Wuyi teas, consider Old Ways Tea. The tea is produced by Mingjiao's family.

Now, down to the business at hand. I have the flight of Flavor Explorer teas in front of me and am eager to hear your comments. Did you detect the differences in elevation, oxidation level and roast?
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Tillerman
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Tue Mar 10, 2020 11:35 am

Remember, you need to e logged into your account to post.
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gld
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Thu Mar 19, 2020 5:03 pm

Sorry to not see more reportage!  I’ve had a good session with the gaoshan and started in on the Dong Ding.

I’ve tried the gaoshan with 1+ gram in a tiny gaiwan with various length steeps to get to know the teas and then with 4 gr in an 80 ml Jianshui teapot from Bitterleaf. It’s new so I like playing with it It does a lot of things right which makes me question my yixing quests. I don’t think I’ll make it a Taiwan teapot I drink more mainland oolong but it really serves the tea well (in both senses). I reserve the right to change my mind.

My notes are at home so I’ll just say that enjoyable as the floral aspect are (one might rightly assume that was most of the reason for drinking the tea) I like a bit more balance, say between floal and spice or vegital, so later infusions tend to give me more of what like. Interestingly, even the first of the three samples had something underneath that was elusive but very intriguing. Thought I only found it in the 1 gr session (for tea 1). I like both strong and weak sessions as you can tell. As intensely floral forward teas they will never be my favorites, but any time one has the chance to compare excellent solidly crafted teas is a real treat.

I hope to do more Dong Ding this weekend.  We are all shut-ins now so there is no excuse for not having a tea session!

 
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Victoria
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Sun Mar 29, 2020 5:18 pm

Hello everyone in this tasting, I hope you are all enjoying sampling Tillerman’s oolong from Alishan, LiShan, and Nantou. I could drink any one of them daily, all very good. What a crazy time we are in worldwide. Even so, I have been slowly sampling and comparing the oolong in the tasting set.

I managed to save spent leaves from my sessions during the week, so I could photograph them together to compare leaf size, levels of oxidation, and roast. What I didn’t take into account was, by waiting a few days to get all the spent leaves together, some of the leaves further oxidized and degraded. Lesson learned. Even so, looking at the leaves side by side is interesting.


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High Mountain, Qing Xin Wulong cultivar
#1 Alishan, 1300m, 22% oxidation, unroasted
#2 Cuifeng, 1800m, 21% oxidation, unroasted
#3 Lishan, 2200m, 20% oxidation, unroasted

Dong Ding, Qing Xin Wulong cultivar
#4 Chen Kuan-Lin, 700m, 25% oxidation, medium roast
#5 Chen Huan-Tang (Laoshi), 700m, 33% oxidation, medium charcoal roast
#6 Chen Kuan-Lin, 700m, 25% oxidation, high roast

The flavor profile differences between higher elevation unroasted Gaoshan, and lower elevation roasted DongDing are significant. Although, they all have in common viscosity and thickness in the mouth. Unroasted Gaoshan being more buttery, leaning towards floral, fruity, baked goods aroma. Roasted DongDing is wonderfully aromatic, rich and complex, full of malty sweet, spicy layering. The oxidation looks to be fairly consistent between the sample set at 20-33%, and the Qing Xin Wulong cultivar the same for all. So more important differences seem to be elevation, roast, and how the cultivar has adapted to each locations growing conditions and farming. Comparing the leaves size and shape indicates there is quite a variation between locations. Since I let my leaves sit for too long during the week, those differences look to be muted in the photo due to oxidation, although the different levels of roast are clear. Thank you @Tillerman for coordinating this tasting.
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