Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Thermos brewing

First published by TChing:

It's not exactly one of my things, but I tried out thermos brewing not so long ago, which is exactly what it sounds like.  It was only a couple of trial runs, so anyone who uses this approach regularly would be a better reference.  But I can pass on a results summary, and how it goes in theory.

The main benefit seems obvious enough; you get to take tea with you without carefully preparing the right infusion strength first, or waiting on that preparation time.

trying the results at an ice skating session

The idea is straightforward enough:  throw a bit of dry tea in a thermos, and hot water, and get around to drinking it later.  Of course the proportion and type has to be adjusted for that to provide drinkable results; most black or green tea would be awful made that way, and sheng pu'er even worse.  I suppose the types that work best for grandpa style might do well.  That's another approach example without controlled brewing time, even though that's mainly used for green tea in China, per my understanding (with more on that approach and results across different types in this post).

Shu pu'er:  the main type brought up related to this brewing approach, because it works well at a broad range of infusion strengths, even very strong (concentrated).

I used this type the second time I made it, with results a good bit better than the first, when I tried it with a somewhat aged Moonlight White.  Both times I probably didn't optimize proportion, using too much tea.

It stands to reason that if you use any more than a conventional Western brewing proportion (something like 2 grams per cup, or 250 ml), and then let the tea "brew out," or completely infuse, at that same proportion it would be too strong.  I don't weigh out tea amounts, but I used less than the first time.  Since I like shu brewed relatively strong it was pleasant, even though I probably used about that proportion I said was conventional for a Western brewing approach (maybe even 5 grams for a 500 ml thermos--essentially too much).

a remote-location online outing (photo credit Suzana Syiem)

Moonlight white:  dialed in to the right proportion this might have worked better.  I guessed out an amount, probably about the same as I would've used for Western brewing, which made for a bad guess.  It was too strong, coming up on astringent, even though Moonlight White tends to be a very soft, approachable, smooth type of tea (not astringent).  Part of the reason I wanted to use that type, versus shu, was because I didn't want the thermos to retain the taste of shu, and Moonlight White seemed more neutral to me.

Again, I wouldn't expect all tea types to work out well this way.  Very soft and flavorful Chinese black tea versions might be ok, Dian Hong and such.  Dialed in for proportion a relatively mild Ceylon might be fine.  Since versions of Silver Needle / silver tips tend to be mild those might work, again if the proportion is set right.  A mild enough green tea could be ok, like Taiping Houkui.

Based on my results I won't use this process often, but as with using a tea bottle "grandpa style" it does work as a convenient way to brew tea on the go.

Taiping Houkui, a mild and pleasant tasting Chinese green tea

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Monsoon Thai coconut and mango-sticky rice black teas

I made it to a new Bangkok (Asok) branch of Monsoon Tea shops I'd been meaning to visit just prior to the pandemic.  The chain is based out of Chiang Mai.  They sell flavored teas, with particular focus on "forest friendly" naturally grown versions, using old tea tree plant material from old forest areas.

I've met Kenneth a couple of times, the owner; he's nice, as the staff were very pleasant and helpful.  I'll leave the rest of the background as linking to parts of that tea experience.  The shop is nice, a bit off the main Asok area, where Terminal 21 is located, not so far from one of the main Bangkok red light areas, but definitely not close to it.  That part of town has a lot of Japanese influence; the Fuji grocery store not far from there, but really beside Phrom Pong station, is great, worth checking out.

For background this tea matches a coconut black tea from them I reviewed long ago (Christmas 2015; the time just flies), and I've tried a Dhara white and Choaphrya River fruit flavored oolong since, all of which were great.  In turning up those links I was reminded that oolong was from an Assamica plant type; interesting.  That would match up with the old-plant local-source theme.

that tea had reminded me of Christmas, and it was Christmas time, so it really worked

trying an oolong there; the quality was good, the style just wasn't a preference match for me

Thai coconut black tea review:

In looking at the brewed tea it's not uniformly oxidized or mostly oxidized, as black tea often is.  There's no need to be concerned the tea won't be good based only on appearance, because brewing it and trying it tells that story.  Inconsistent oxidation or lower levels of oxidation could work out really well, if the inputs just happen to work out that way.  Or maybe not.  But only the brewed results tell that story, not leaf appearance.

Upon trying it I wouldn't say that the tea is good.  The balance is unusual when I first taste it, and given in what sense I can't imagine that could shift.  It's interesting, and novel, but slightly sour, and that flavor aspect stands out most.  The version I had tried years back was a conventional black tea, relatively fully oxidized, with a very positive and balanced contribution from the coconut flavor.  It was like coconut in a Mounds bar, really sweet with a slight toasted edge.  The coconut flavor is hard to pick up in this, although it is there.

I'll often not review teas I don't like, and this is right around that threshold.  It's interesting, and pleasant in a sense, it's just not really "good tea," with a lot of room for improvement.  The input of the leaf not being fully oxidized, or at least mostly so, probably isn't helping this tea.

That brings me to the second reason I would review a tea, if it wasn't to talk about what I like about it, for the novelty in style being interesting.  This is novel on a few levels, for being a flavored tea, for being from Thailand, as a follow-up to one of the best flavored tea versions I've ever tried.  And for considering how varying levels of oxidation in black teas works out, which turns out to be overshadowed in this version by a different concern.  I'm probably judging this more negatively because it's not nearly as good as that earlier version, or at least related to how I remember it. 

Next relationship to a vendor comes into play.  I really like Kenneth (the owner), and want to support his business, and Thai tea development in general, and the "forest friendly" theme.  I don't blindly buy in but I accept there's something completely valid there, especially as a long-term direction that food production really needs to go in.  A long term transition like sustainable food production needs to start with initial steps, and there would be positive and negative parts to the early development, aspects or forms that work better than others. 

Back to this tea, sourness isn't normal; that's typically seen as a processing flaw, that a tea stayed too moist after the final drying stage, and picked up that flavor later on, after it was finished.  This being partly oxidized could pair with that, but of course white or green teas are also left unoxidized when dried, and need to complete a drying cycle to be stored properly.  Finished moisture content and oxidation level don't necessarily link together.

All the same there is promise in this tea's character; some parts work.  To the extent I can pick it up the coconut is positive, again a very pleasant flavor addition version.  It's a shame it's not an addition to a better tea version, that this picked up the sourness that it did. 

When first brewing it I had considered that results might be more positive if I used less tea and moved away from my normal Western practice of brewing three infusions, versus two longer ones.  I'm guessing but I'm probably using 5 or 6 grams of tea to produce just over 250 ml (one cup) of brewed tea, infused for about 3 minutes.  I'm not using completely hot water since the thick ceramic cup took away a lot of the initial heat, and the water was a little off full boiling point to begin with.  For some what all that means is clear, and it would be hard to break it down fully if not, how proportion, water temperature, and timing tend to map together.

I'm using a hybrid approach, really; true Western brewing would back that off to 2 1/2 to 3 grams infused for 4 to 5 minutes, using a second longer round (so maybe 4 at first, then 5).  For a flavored tea the concern is that the first round "rinses off" the flavor; obvious enough, right?  For this coconut being too strong isn't the issue, it's that sourness.  It's conceivable that the coconut flavor input wasn't right, that it "went off" slightly for some reason, and it's that I'm tasting, not a flaw in the processed tea leaves.  But it probably just wasn't dry enough.

I tried an oolong version at the shop that I didn't like as well, something atypical, which I think was their highest end version (selling for the most, something with "forest" in the title, maybe).  It wasn't flawed tea; that was a style issue, about personal preference, not matching any range I like.   That was selling for such a high per-gram price that I would've had harder feelings about buying a significant quantity of that, where this coconut tea was pretty reasonable, something like 280 baht per 50 grams, or $9 for that much tea.  That's still a lot for a flavored tea, about double a more typical outlet price.  That's another part I wanted to address here, how sources and types affect pricing levels.

You can't compare the pricing with a market standard when there are no other options for the type.  These teas are unique; there are no alternatives out there like them.  That's just as well for this coconut black tea, and the oolong that I didn't like, but the Chaophrya Blend tropical flavored oolong I just reviewed was really novel and positive, as were those other two.

Cost also relates to supporting a local physical shop.  Pricing is usually higher in brick and mortar shops versus online outlets; their overhead is higher.  And I'm fine with that.  If you don't support your local tea shop it won't be there for you later (in general; if enough people don't).  It feels a little unnatural buying tea for twice as much as I could spend through a separate outlet, if there are equivalent options out there, but in some cases I'll do just that.  When a tea type isn't available elsewhere that's just what that type happens to cost.

For local Bangkok Chinatown shops all that doesn't apply; their overhead is low, because they're out there in Chinatown, where rents are low.  They cover their overhead through volume sales, not tea enthusiasts dropping buy to pick up 200 grams.  I just visited my favorite shop right after making these notes and bought 400 grams of tea (4 tuochas of 2012 Xiaguan sheng puer) and 3 small porcelain gaiwans for a bit less than these 200 grams of flavored teas.  It's much better and more interesting tea, per my preference, and it cost less than half as much.  Getting there towards completely aged Xiaguan sheng wouldn't be for everyone though; it tastes a bit like tobacco, a little on the earthy side, quite intense in an unusual sense.

with Kittichai at Jip Eu, from a few days ago

my wife was my driver that day so she finally met those shop owners (she's on the left)

I'm still suggesting that Monsoon teas are worth trying; diverse experience is a big part of what makes drinking tea so interesting, and these teas (the others) are unlike any other types I've tried, positive in novel ways.  If spending 1600 baht ($45--what I paid for 200 grams) throws off your tea budget then if you live in Bangkok go to Chinatown instead.  Just be careful there, because teas are even less consistent if you just visit random shops.  Even in my favorite shop, Jip Eu, quality level, styles, and relative value varies a lot.

Monsoon sets pricing lower as you buy in larger volume amounts.  Of course if you don't like a tea that's a bad thing, "getting through" half a kilo of one.  Tasting teas in the shop would be the easy way to avoid that.

The second round is much better; sourness is much diminished.  This is quite pleasant.  Maybe the coconut oil had "went off" somehow; that would explain how the rinsing function improved it.  For drinking this as a sequence of Gongfu style rounds it might have worked well, throwing out the first two infusions and then enjoying the rest.  It's a bit faded in character, and coconut barely comes through, but the balance is still pleasant.

Intensity being faded makes it hard to review.  It tastes like good black tea and coconut; that's it.  It's not as strong as the Mounds / Bounty bar effect in the one I tried years ago, but it contributes in a positive way.  There's a trace of sourness but after finishing half that first cup, and throwing away the rest, it seems to not even be present in comparison, at this level. 

Now I'm closer to recommending this tea, but I'd stop short of that.  The concept works, and the execution has positive merits, but that one flaw makes it not worth it.  Drank as this round it's entirely positive, for what you do experience, but not very intense.

Mango and sticky rice black tea

definitely fully oxidized, going by dry leaf appearance

Blogger didn't save the notes I made for this so I'll finally achieve a short review version, related to re-producing the notes from memory.  I liked the tea.  The type is a reference to an herb tasting a little like sticky rice, with more on that effect and input related to a Laos white tea version here.

It wasn't bright in character as one might expect from the name and description.  The mango aspect seemed more like dried mango, or really as close to dried apricot, which is close enough.  Sticky rice effect is contributed by an herb that really does taste a bit like sticky rice, and that part worked.  I would have expected this to be brighter, sweeter, and more intense like the Chao Phyra oolong version I reviewed not so long ago was.  Of course light oolong is a different thing than a black tea; those are going to be warmer in tone, expressing a less "bright" flavor range.

That description reconstruction:

-seemingly good black tea; no flaws, no pronounced astringency, decent complexity.

-the second infusion gave up a bit of intensity but both were quite pleasant, and a third was still good too, just dropping out quite a bit of intensity.

-anyone looking to re-create the effect of a mango and sticky rice desert wouldn't experience that, but the balance and complexity are good.  Sweetness wasn't as notable as it could've been, and it didn't seem like they tried to add the coconut sauce flavor aspect part.  The bright citrus note in the one type of mango used to make the sticky rice desert wasn't in this version either.

-flavor range was good and the balance worked well, but both intensity and complexity could've been better.  Some plain black teas I've tried in the past have seemed to surpass this across a lot of that range.  Mixing the tea and two other flavor inputs probably made it seems a bit non-distinct, compared to a really good black tea where all the flavor is a natural input.

This might have worked really, really well with a touch of coconut, based on a flavorful and fruity version of white tea.  But that's asking a lot, getting all that to balance.

Next steps:

I have a plain black tea and oolong I bought yet to try; I'll see how those work out.  Given that I didn't like either of these as much as that earlier flavored oolong (Chao Phrya blend) eventually I might stop back to buy some of that.  I keep giving tea to our "family monk" and I think he would really like it.

Kenneth will be presenting at an online conference, the Nomad Tea Festival, a theme the pandemic helped originate (or at least expand on, but I don't remember those turning up in the exact same form before).   That's at 1:30 - 2 AM local Australia time on July 26 (seemingly with scheduling set to make sense in the US instead; just make sure you get the date right if you plan to watch it, since it's often "tomorrow" already here). 

That's at 10:30-11 at night here; I'll be out of town for the weekend but still might catch it.  I suppose there's a decent chance they will make the videos available later if you miss it.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Taking up yoga (2); good basics videos

Kapil, my instructor there

I'm posting this mostly to include the references in the second part of the title, sharing some good, short instructional yoga videos my local studio made (Yog Aria), for the pandemic period practice, when they were closed.   All of Thailand was closed.

That pandemic is essentially over here in Thailand, but in other places people really should keep social contact limited.  Here we just had two new corona virus cases from two people visiting from overseas, potentially relating to unknown cases that have yet to turn up.  I suppose it's good that maintaining the isolation of the country is a major problem, with serious side-effects, but corona virus exposure risk really isn't, at this point.

In this post I mentioned how odd it was taking up a sport that I'm bad at.  I did a little stretching over the three month quarantine break here, mostly a modified version of the sun salutation cycle, but I'm right back to experiencing that gap in proficiency again, for the last three weekends in a row.  That rest time involved recovering from a knee injury, which is mostly better now but seemingly essentially permanent.

Kalani is helping by instructing me a little on the side, once based on a "yoga for kids" video and once on her own.  It's crazy how flexible she is, and how good her balance is.  She did classes in ballet and hip-hop dance, so it's no surprise.

a recent image of my little guru, doing a serious model pose

yoga on the go, as part of posing for pictures

About yoga practice styles and Yog Aria

I'm not the best person to have developed opinion on how practice and instruction varies, but I want to share my impression anyway.  I did yoga on my own as preparation for snowboarding a very long time ago.  That was really before yoga became as common as it now is, back in the early 90s (right, I'm getting old).  That's definitely not intended as any sort of baseline, because I had no idea what I was doing, using a basic guide to do a limited number of basic poses.  I would hold those for an indefinite time, until my body relaxed into that position.  The classes I now take involve a relatively opposite approach.

It's more like a work-out, a fast paced run-through of linked sequences of poses.  Kapil described that as a modern interpretation of traditional yoga, incorporating some degree of conditioning with other balance and flexibility aspects.  It works; I come out of those one hour sessions kind of beaten up.

I think my own current physical gap is flexibility related, not conditioning, but it works for both, forcing me to stretch in ways I barely can, or sometimes can't.  I suppose there could be more emphasis on the balance aspect in what I've experienced, but that's not really one of my own main concerns.  My balance is ok, strength and cardio conditioning are pretty good, but flexibility is horrible.  That's office work for you, the result of sitting at a desk for a dozen years, gradually changing my posture to resemble a question mark.

Related to my practice, it would go better if I put more time in between once-a-week Saturday or Sunday sessions, but my days are pretty full.  Sparing a second weekend hour is also problematic; lots of things come up with the kids, and it's appropriate to make those a priority.  Even tea reviewing keeps getting bumped.

I was just trying to figure out which to go to on the weekend; three of those look good

Of course they do have different classes, with different levels of difficulty, emphasis on stretching versus work-out, or following traditional themes versus other developed scope.  The last class I did was "twisting;" that was rough.  At least I'm more comfortable being able to do some but not all of the positions now.  It's a stretch to say I've made much progress but at least the activity is more familiar, and I'm probably slightly more flexible.

It seems a little unfair that all those 100 pound Thai women have almost no muscle mass to stretch.  In thinking that context through muscle mass serves no purpose beyond aesthetics, until you want to pick up something heavy, or I guess to run, in the case of lower-body.

they don't have yoga for kids but they did do a promotional session once, and do private classes

Others would know how all of this maps onto other forms of practice better.  To some extent I'm not really shopping around for the best fit or a certain style.  That studio is near our house, the expense is reasonable, and I like the instructor, Kapil.  He seems competent and genuine, and the practice seems fine to me.  It would be nice if I had a more normal picture of him, not doing a crazy pose with an inspirational saying, but I never snap any shots while there.

Kapil (credit their FB page)

The subject of his title might come to mind; is he a yoga instructor (how I frame that, as a teacher), or instead a guru or master?  It relates to a divide in use of such terms related to tea, discussed in this post.  I can see why people might like those romantic images, and feel an attraction towards defining a role that extends beyond that of teacher.  I just don't.

Someone who doesn't do yoga might wonder, just how strange is the subculture, and how much does that aspect play a role?  I've attended a seminar session at a local health and wellness group that was more about that kind of thing, where it looked like you should get a tattoo and wear some Indian clothes to fit in, and should eat some turmeric afterwards.  No one seems to be a member of that sub-culture in this studio, just normal, upper-middle-class local people.  Mind you I have nothing against New Age inspired modern culture; I was into more of that myself awhile back, and Buddhism is a personal interest, along with tea.

tea group themes definitely go there; it's a decent fit

Yoga is partly about keeping up with wearing trendy yoga clothes, but even that they don't overdo in this place.  I suppose it's because I live in an older, traditional part of Bangkok, near a moderate size university, in Dusit. 

It could potentially be difficult to access for local foreigners, since Ari is the closest foreigner oriented neighborhood, but that's 15 minutes drive away, or longer if traffic is bad.  It's not so far from a river ferry pier, Thewet, but lots of people don't use those.  They should; it's by far the coolest way to get around the city, and it costs about 50 cents.  It's just that most of newer housing options are near sky-train and subway stations, and not the river.

the pier at Chinatown

it's like a bus, but you can stand towards the back if you would rather

Reference videos:

I had intended to use these for more practice during the pandemic, but my knee needed rest, and I worked from home instead of taking a break from working, so I kept busy.  There are others linked to on their Facebook page, but these get the point across:

Sun salutation

Core strength

20 minutes basic practice

Yoga for better sleep

Vital Vinyasa (part 1 of 2)

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Sheng Olympiad 2016 Huang Chen Hao Lao Man E

I'm reviewing the third of a Liquid Proust (vendor) "Sheng Olympiad" set sample, with two more to go.

I'll look up his description (Andrew Richardson's, that vendor) during the final edit, but will go into this with only expectations related to the source area and age.  Lao Man E region versions are known for characteristic bitterness.  Both bitterness and astringency can fade and transition over time, with the pace depending on storage conditions, so I'd expect character to have mellowed some over 4 years.  At this point it almost goes without saying that different sheng versions are most positive after different storage time periods, or interesting in different ways, so this being 4 years old doesn't necessarily mean any one thing.

The leaf looks pretty good, on the whole side.  It's browner than some typically are; no further observation related to that.

~16 2016 LaoManE from Huang Chen Hao: this has been in my top five for some time. Between the slight Malaysian storage, taste, and visual leaf I was quite please... but the real kicker about this is the qi. I consistently feel come alive within me when I drink it. Truly a special treat.

I don't really "get" cha qi so that part won't work, but I could still appreciate it on other levels.

It's interesting hearing about "slight Malaysian" storage, especially since I already wrote the notes.  I'd assume that means Malaysian stored, but interpreted as not as wet-stored as can be a common theme from there.  The character seemed to match up with that.


First infusion:  I let this go a little long (about 15 seconds) to avoid the round where I say "I'll know better next round."  That is a nice way to experience a sheng, to let the first round be just an initial glimpse, but time is a bit short due to us travelling later this morning.  And the chaos level in the house is at upper-medium, even less ideal.

This is nice.  Bitterness does stand out as a main part of the experience but not a blast that overtakes the rest.  Some pleasant warm flavor aspects join that, towards spice, with the feel standing out just as much, a rich fullness.  There's one characteristic feel that this matches that I won't be able to do justice to describing.  "Structured" is completely wrong, but saying "full and rich" sounds more like oolong thickness to me.  It's like the way a butterscotch candy has a feel to it, a thickness, along with that characteristic flavor.

I could do with this bitterness being a little more subdued and balanced but for this being a Lao Man E it's quite moderate and integrated; younger versions tend to express a real blast of bitterness.  The rest of this post will probably keep going on about other supporting aspects, since the complexity of this is good, and the sweetness and other flavor range isn't really caught by saying "towards spice."

Second infusion:  This round I brewed for around 10 seconds, versus a more conventional 6 to 8, that I use along with a typical high proportion (typical for me), due to messing around instead of that being intentional.  Next round I'll keep it moderate and describe how that changes things.

The complexity of this is really positive.  Feel has a lot going on, and flavor extends to lots of layers beyond the bitterness, which is a bit softer and warmer in tone than it would be in any younger version.  This tea is in a decent place.  It would be interesting to try it in another 10 years since it seems to have great potential to go to a really interesting and pleasant place later. 

That spice range seems to cover both a relatively neutral root spice effect and a hint towards a more warm aromatic bark spice.  Bitterness is right in between throwing off the balance of that other effect and complementing it.  Feel stands out a lot.  Brewing this light should make it easier to sort out flavor, and to experience this at more of an optimum.

Third infusion:  slightly more pleasant, but then it was nice brewed a little stronger than I like too.  Bitterness doesn't fade in proportion drinking it this way; if anything it might stand out a little more.  I like bitter sheng, to some degree, where 4 years ago this would just taste like taking an aspirin to me.  It sort of still does, but I guess I would enjoy the taste of aspirin more now too.  Especially if it had a nice body and some spice tones to go along with that.  I'll get around to a more complete aspect-list description version next round.

Fourth infusion:  this is leveling off a bit, falling into a more uniform balance.  That thick smoothness stays as pronounced as ever but bitterness fades a little.  Then again the warm spice tone seems a little more muted too, so that might just relate to using fast infusions the last two rounds.  I like the balance, where this is.  I've got another sheng version that's pretty close to this, I just forget which one, I think one of those 2015 or 2016 sheng versions that I bought from Chawang Shop.

I can't really guess at what storage input was for this, given I don't know the starting point character, and it's only four years old [although the description did say "slight Malaysian"].  It probably wasn't really dry; this seems to have had time to change some, and Kunming storage (where Chawang Shop is based) is good for preserving the original nature of teas, of stopping them from changing much.  Then again it could be that; what do I know. 

I'd have expected Bangkok storage, the hot and really humid range, to have caused even more change, even without knowing the starting point.  It's great for moving things along a bit for fermentation level but perhaps not ideal for some teas for storage over 10 years, leading to less than ideal character.  Of course that would depend on the tea; for something that needs a lot of transition, like a Xiaguan tuocha, hot and humid conditions may be great, but for more subtle sheng that need to evolve and transition less dramatically maybe not so much.

Fifth infusion:  maybe the best round so far, but then maybe I've just let screwing up infusion times drop for a round.  The bitterness is balanced, integrated.  That warm spice tone range seems to merge with a warm underlying mineral range now, something I've described as towards iron bar or natural artesian spring in the past (two different things, but they overlap).  The part that works best is how well the different components balance each other; it will be hard for that to come across in a list-style description.  Even that feel is part of that, and the aftertaste experience adds to it, an extra dimension coming after. 

Complexity is hard to describe too, how bitterness, warm tones, some cured wood, even pleasant and rich floral range all merge in this.  It's better tea than I often drink, probably not on a quality level I've never experienced, but it doesn't suffer from the limitations I usually experience due to buying relatively inexpensive tea versions.

Sixth infusion:  this house has went quiet due to my wife and son running one last errand before our trip but I'll still need to wrap this up.  It must have another half dozen very positive infusions to go, with all of those telling a transition cycle story, but it's not a story I'll get around to telling.

It's interesting how this is a bit neutral in flavor tone in one sense and very complex in another.  More aged tea versions tend to land on that type of character sometimes, more so than a four year old tea version.  Really bitterness is still present, just very moderate compared to the first three or four infusions, and there's a lot going on still, but intensity seemed to have dropped way off in comparison with how this was.  It's interesting how benchmarks or expectations can slide like that, how a really good tea isn't that great if you drank an even better one just before, or it could seem amazing if you'd been on plain teas for awhile.  The same applies for novelty, and so on.

Aromatic wood tone along the line of cedar is picking up in proportion.  Maybe this would be better if the bark spice range had increased instead of the root spice (which is much closer to that wood tone, an overlapping effect), but to me it's still quite pleasant.  A mild floral range and good balancing sweetness gives it a full effect related to flavor, and feel range more than carries its weight, a very positive aspect range in this tea.

Seventh infusion:  more of the same.  I'll let this drop and try to enjoy rushing through another half dozen rounds, versus rambling on or trying to pick apart minor changes.

This tea was very pleasant, quite well balanced, complex, interesting in style, and obviously positive for quality level.  Over the next two years or so this would retain a similar positive nature, but it may well really shine with another decade of transition letting those changes run their course.  I suppose I'll never know.  It was really nice to experience as it is now, the general idea behind sheng tasting sets.

I don't have much for conclusions so I'll skip even adding a section for that.  It seemed relatively far along for fermentation for being four years old, but not so extreme that it was necessarily wet-stored, so pretty much as described.

That trip I mentioned delayed for a day, for a strange reason.  I was cleaning the cat litter boxes before the trip and accidentally set one of them loose while doing it, outside running around, probably not to return until later in the day.  At least I'm doing some extra down-time as a result, while my wife takes the kids to clear some errands.  I could use the day for recovery from re-starting running a few weeks ago, and yoga in the past week. 

I've been considering breaking form and writing here about yoga.  It's interesting trying a sports-oriented activity (maybe yoga isn't really a sport) that you aren't good at, not normally how such things tend to go.  Then again restarting running after a very long time off was a bit rough too (not this recent time; I just took a couple months off to let my knee heal up).  And people look silly when they first start lifting weights, and so on.  I guess it's just normal.

first day of school this past week

showing off a new hair length