Tea Review

Kagoshima Kabuse Sencha

Upton TJ79. 2.2 grams steeped for 2 minutes at 180℉. Appearance: typical sensha green lancets, see photo. Dry tea scent of hay and citrus. Brewed tea scent is grassy, brothy. Taste: brothy, vegetal, with some mouth feel. Not astringent.

A fine upscale but affordable sencha. ‘Kabuse’ means that this tea was grown in semi-shade, rather than full shade like gyokuro. Recommended.
Tea Review

Early Spring ‘Yunnan Mao Jian’ Pure Bud Green Tea

Yunnan Sourcing. 2.2 grams steeped for 4 minutes at 180℉. Impression: Wiry silver-green strands, see photo. Dry tea scent of citrus, resin, stone fruit, trace camphor. Brewed tea scent is of warm cotton. Taste: delicate, savory, hints of bacon. Not astringent.

Mao Jian is one my favorite green teas; this is a pre-Ching Ming version of it. The faint taste of bacon reminds me of a wonderful pre-Ching Ming Pi Lo Chun I once had from Upton, but have been unable to find again.

Tea Review

Langharjan Estate TGOP1 Tippy

Upton TA73. 2.2 grams steeped for 5 minutes at 212℉. Impression: OP size dark and light bits, see photo. Dry tea scent spicy. Brewed tea scent of sweetness and warm cotton. Taste: murky and brackish, with malty notes. Moderately astringent.

An average Assam. This is one of a sample set of four estate Assams sold by Upton.

Tea Review

Seajuli Estate GFBOP

Upton TA29. 2.2 grams steeped for 4 minutes at 212℉. Impression: Dark and light BOP size bits, see photo. Dry tea scent spicy, malty, trace of citrus. Taste: slight malt, murky, woody. Not much mouth feel. Moderately astringent.

A satisfactory but undistinguished Assam. One of a sampler pack of four estate Assams.

Tea Review

Yunnan ‘Pure Bud Silver Strands’ First Flush Green Tea

Yunnan Sourcing. 2.2 grams steeped for 4 minutes at 180℉. Impression: wiry silver-gray whole leaf strands, see photo. Dry tea scent is sweet, musty, savory, meaty. Brewed tea scent is sweet and fishy. Taste: savory, fishy, with hints of cardboard. Not astringent.

Another pre-Ching Ming green tea, from a sampler of several sold by Yunnan Sourcing. Hated this on first tasting. I grew to like it a little better on further tastings, but it will never be a favorite. I don’t like the fishiness.
Tea Review

Early Spring Yunnan ‘Bao Hong’ Dragon Well

Yunnan Sourcing. 2.2 grams steeped for 3 minutes at 180℉. Impression: flattened leaves, typical of Lung Ching prep technique, see photo. Dry tea scent of baked biscuits. Brewed tea scent is brothy, fruity, slightly vegetal. Taste: very mild, nearly tasteless, hints of fruit and rubber or plastic. Not astringent.
Rating: ★
Not a successful tea. Pre-Ching Ming teas tend to be lighter and more subtle than later pickings, but this one is so light it barely exists. I tried a larger amount of leaves, still didn’t work.

Sandy Spring Friends School visit, April 2019

Last Thursday I had the pleasure of returning to my high school, Sandy Spring Friends School, meeting with several groups of middle-grade and high school students, talking about writing fiction, and taking questions.

For a cantankerous old hermit like me, it was quite an adventure. However, everyone treated me gently, and the experience was very enjoyable. I meant to take selfies with the students, but the moment never seemed quite right, and I thank Sharon Kathryn Yntema for providing this one, by someone else.

My thanks to Ariel Voorhees, Mimi Youmans, Kiki Vargas, Lisa Penkowsky, Sara Jameson and Lauren Mossman, who made this trip possible and held the fort together.