|Chicago Tea Garden|
So because of her diligence, I can essentially mail it in today. Or cut and paste. Thanks Sue. First of all, here's the inside of Chicago Tea Garden:
Here's what she had to say:
First let me say my expectation was that Tony (Gebely) would be a much older guy, but he's probably younger than I am. He was very welcoming to my friend and me and to the other group of five ladies that attended (they were together). His shop is small but cute and his table was set up so there were essentially two groups; one on either side of the center where he worked. The people were all tea novices and there were no mr-know-it-alls in the group, so everyone was comfortable and friendly.
Tony worked on a tea table and had us use a snifter cup for each tea. He gave us basic tea information as he went along and was quite knowledgeable. He told us what plant tea comes from (Camellia sinensis) and told us that everything that does not come from this plant is NOT tea (I didn't know that).
He briefly described the leaf and anything significant about it each time we started a new tea (ie, white tea smells very floral because it's withered a long time, oolong leaves are bruised and have 15 processing steps, black is fully oxidized, etc). Overall, it was a very pleasant experience. My friend and I had a very good time and learned a lot....well, relatively speaking, of course.
Below are the 7 teas we tasted.
Name: Wu yu
Notes: used a gaiwan to serve
1st steeping @ 175F; tasted a bit like dusty spinach to me.
2nd steeping @175; a little less dusty tasting but I still didn't love it.
Name: Silver Needle
Notes: kinda furry, used a gaiwan to serve
1st steeping @ 175F; light and feathery, not a strong flavor but enough of a flavor to keep me interested. This one was my favorite of the whole bunch.
Name: Tie Guan Yin (Iron Goddess of Mercy)
Notes: rolled into little balls, used unglazed clay pots to serve
1st steeping @ 190F for 45 seconds; smelled a bit like a root vegetable; I could barely taste it.
2nd steeping @190F for 45 seconds;; felt "meh" about it.
Name: Mi Xiang (honey orchid flavor)
Notes: rolled long ways, used unglazed clay pots to serve
1st steeping @ 190 for 45 seconds; darker in color, tasted a bit earthy
2nd steeping @190 for 45 seconds; more flavorful. I definitely like the second steeping better than the first.
Name: Golden Bi Luo (tiny snails)
Notes: hand rolled into snail shapes, used a gaiwan to serve
1st steeping @195F (instructed not to steep longer than a minute or the tea would be bitter); smelled ricey to me but Tony said "malty vanilla finish".
2nd steeping @ 195F ; sweeter and smoother taste, a nice strong flavor. I liked the second steeping better.
Name: Chrysanthemum Toucha
Notes: bird nest shaped; Tony said it makes a good cold brew, used a gaiwan to serve
1st steeping @ 208C for 45 sec to 1 min; Very dark. Tasted like a forest floor. A comment was made from one of the other attendants that it was like "licking the bark of a tree". I did not care for this tea at all. He made another one that was even darker and more disgusting but I didn't write down it's name.
Name: Yue Guang Bai (moonlight)
Notes: Hmm. curiously I didn't make one single note about this one except it's name and type. I don't know why.
1st and 2nd steeping @ 175F for 1 minute
Really nice descriptions for a tea novice, don't you think? I think Sue did an excellent job. Although she's still a coffee drinker with a healthy curiosity about tea, I wonder how long it might take us to lure her over to the leaf-side. Thank you again my Cubs-loving, bicycling, outsdoorsy friend.
|Tony Gebely and our staff tea reviewer|