My name is Jim from Illinois and I've been reading the forum religiously for about a month now. I dove off the deep end into the world of tea at about the same time. Over at head-fi there is a thread named asian teapot-fi to which I have to give credit for igniting my fascination with tea and teaware.. if you havent been to that site I would advise you to stay away because there is a wallet related curse surrounding it
I must say just reading the forum for this short amout of time without being able to post I have dug through most of the existing postings that piqued my interest and feel I have come quite a ways of understanding tea for such a short time. Thank you to everyone for posting such great, honest info and to Adagio for providing this wonderful unbiased resource.
I'll try to break down my adventure so far while keeping it short for any that might be interested to read it.
My first tea/ware order came from rishi: 2 aluminum tins, a Qingshuini Dragon Egg Yixing, a Gaiwan (though at the time I wasn't really sure what it was, I just needed a teacup) and their green tea sampler.
Then later the same night I ordered a Koshin Tokoname kyusu from artistic nippon and the 3L Zojirushi from amazon.
My first real Tea: Initially before actually tasting I smelled all of the green tea samples I had, Jasmine Pearl, Orange Blossom, Emerald Lilly and Jade Cloud.. at that point before drinking them I would have ranked them something like
Orange>Jasmine>Emerald>Jade. So I decided to try the Orange blossom first in my kyusu.. the aroma was way overpowering and it really bothered me that it wasnt really "tea" but more of an herb blend.. it also really made a mess of my kyusu.
I ended up giving it to a friend on the spot and told him if he didnt like it he could just use it as potpourri
The rest of the green tea samples I didn't really mind but nothing really jumped out at me as being great.. at first I liked the jasmine pearl the most but the more I drank of them the more I shifted towards favoring the two more natural teas, currently im not sure if I will ever get around to finishing the last of my jasmine pearl.
About ten days went by until I placed an order at hou de for some A-Li-Shan "Winter Petals", Li-Shan "Tsui Feng", 07 Formosa "Fo Shou" (Budda's Hand) Oolongs, samples of 1997 & 1998 MengHai and 2001 Meng Ku Pu-Erh. I also bought some Fukamushi Sencha Supreme from o-cha, the blue/white/black Seigan Hagi chawan from zencha and the Deishi oni-hagi yunomi from AN.
The first one I tried was the winter petals oolong, I brewed it using Guang's method he posted on his blog.. basically Gong Fu style. I must say, for me it was really love at first sip. It had the sweetness I really liked and noticed in the two more natural rishi greens and only achieved in about one in 40 steeps.. but the oolong had it every time if I brewed it right along with several other very light and refreshing flavors, a very pleasing light flowery aroma and liquor color. Next I moved on to the Budda's hand oolong which I also really like, it has a very rich roasted flavor and aroma reminiscent of fine coffee without any of the bitterness.
Next up was the sincha.. the first time I smelled the dry leaves I was nearly sent reeling back from it's boldness, a very powerful buttery and grassy smell. I brewed a teaspoon for about 1 min at 175f in my kyusu and poured it into my chawan, the thickness of the resulting tea was a little off putting to me at first but I quickly got over it and drank it down. It tasted pretty good, hard for me to describe but it had a pretty strong flavor, a little astringent and kind of a sharp edge to it. I still havent really decided if I really like it or not.
A few days ago I finally worked up the courage to try the 2001 MengKu Pu-Erh brewed Gong-Fu style in my yixing, the smell of the raw cake kinda weirded me out a bit so I had held off for a while, it has a bit of a musty old damp wood smell. I was afraid the tea would have a similar flavor and aroma and my fears were confirmed upon tasting it.. I unhappily drank the second and half of the third infusions before dumping it, I guess Pu-Erh might not be my bag and I'm kind of relieved actually because of the cost involved in drinking quality aged Pu-Erh.
So yeah, that's my story so far.. It came out a bit longer then I wanted it to be, sorry.
Where do I signup for Team Taiwanese Oolong?