194 Tasting Notes
this is a bold tea. Funky on the nose: wet dog’s hair. And there is a lot going on taste-wise: metallic, sour, rust, autumn leaf pile. But there is also some pear, apricot and spiciness.
The young shou was mixed with some old material and the blending was a success. This tea reminds me of a big-boned puppy: rough, awkward, over the top with the ebullience but unquestionably charming and promising to turn into an impressive big dog in the future.
Which is to a nice way to say that it needs to age. Still, it has a lot of character – as is typical with the white2tea blends.
Flavors: Apricot, Autumn Leaf Pile, Fishy, Metallic, Pear, Sour, Spicy, Sweet
One of the few non-puehr reds that White2tea started offering in the last couple of years. I have never been disappointed with their pu so decided to try their reds as well.
The dry leaves are large and wiry: their texture almost compels you to touch them and play with. The dry leaf aroma is not very intense but pleasant: malt and dried stone fruit.
The Western-style brew that I prepared was quite satisfying. Dark honey, dried apricots, bananas and dried plums dominated, but there was enough of a malt/cocoa backbone to prevent it veering into the excessive fruity cloyness.
The aftertaste is quite malty, but not in a jarring way that is too common for many Assams.
This is not a complex tea, but it is well-balanced and smooth. This dianhong kept growing on me as I went through my pot and then made it again the next day. A good choice for the every-day tea.
Flavors: Apricot, banana, Cocoa, Honey, Malt, Plums, Stonefruits
A very balanced blend. The woodiness of honeybush is well complemented by the sweet-and-sour taste of raspberries and blueberries, with cinnamon providing a gentle background. And the dried raspberries are cute.
It requires an extended time for steeping and high leaf-to-water ratio and results in a warming, cosy drink.
Flavors: Blueberry, Cinnamon, Raspberry, Wood
Non-smoked Lapsangs are one of my favorite kinds of tea, so I had big expectations for this one .
This tea is very similar to China Fujian Basic ‘Jin Jun Mei’ from What-Cha. It’s less remarkably dry, but distinguishes itself by having a wider flavor palette, with malty and chocolaty notes providing a background for the baked bread and sweet potatoes.
However, the overall taste is quite muted and generic. Also, it does not resteep well. There was nothing in this tea that would stick in my memory and drive me back to it. Any other Lapsang that I tried was decidedly more interesting.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Chocolate, Drying, Malt, Sweet Potatoes
I actually liked this tea. It has an interesting – full of spices- aroma – and a robust, well-balanced taste. Green tea and jasmine give it an intense, vibrant character, and apricot/, orange and cardamon round it out with their sweetness. Also, a pronounced juicy and spicy aftertaste that lingers cheerfully.
All flavorings are fresh and clean but not overpowering. A nice blend with some character.
Flavors: Cardamon, Jasmine, Orange Zest, Peach
I continue my little personal exploration of Japanese black teas. This is the aged tea (2016 harvest) from the northern coast of Japan, from Matsue – which is not far from Hiroshima. As is common for Japanese blacks, this tea is quite chopped up into small pieces.
The dry leaf has a strong umami smell of vegetable broth, with the secondary notes of seaweed and soy sauce. The tea, which I prepared in the Western style, is pale of color. The dominant notes are of the same boiled vegetables: cabbage, carrots. Also present are seaweed, tartness, and the unavoidable tongue-puckering Assamica maltiness.
The vegetable taste lingers quite a bit and coats your mouth. Unfortunately, the Assamica tartness readily lingers as well, and since the tea is so finely chopped-up it is really easy to overbrew it.
Overall, the taste is not by any means complex, but somewhat unusual and pleasant – especially if you are into soups and boiled vegetables. It would be interesting to see how this tea would come out if the leaves were preserved intact. I honestly do not understand that insatiable desire of Japanese tea makers to pulverize any cha that comes their way.
Flavors: Carrot, Malt, Seaweed, Soy sauce, Tart, Vegetable Broth
This is a reliable Assam with the distinct aroma and taste. The dry leaf aroma was not much to write home about: some maltiness and dry stone fruit. The tea that I prepared in the Western style, though, had a quite distinct fragrance that is hard to describe: wet leather, figs, golden tips… but something else that eluded me.
The taste was pleasant, with the dreaded Assamica maltiness being quite restrained and not overpowering other flavors present: baked bread, apricot, chocolate, plums, honey. This tea was not that far from some dianhongs I had tried. The expected malty aftertaste rounded out the impression.
To be honest, there was nothing in it to wow and excite, but also absolutely nothing offputting and disappointing. Plus some character. This tea is a good choice for a breakfast tea that does not clobber you, but rather offers an opportunity to explore its personality while simultaneously giving you a jolt of energy.
Flavors: Apricot, Baked Bread, Chocolate, Fig, Leather, Malt, Plums
I bought 50g off the original 1 kg brick. The pressed tea crumbles easily and is getting infused fast. Not much of a smell besides some vague decay.
The taste is dark and gloomy: decayed wood, old leaves, cocoa, muted dark chocolate, some undetermined expired spices. A barely perceptible touch of the honeyed sweetness mercifully enlivens this somber affair. Finally, this tea has a powerful and lasting aftertaste of stale dark chocolate and last-year leaves – for those who are into this kind of things.
This is decidedly not my kind of tea. Drinking it on on a cold, clammy November morning is coming uncomfortably close to the monastic mortification of the flesh and spirit.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Cocoa, Dark Chocolate, Decayed wood, Spices
This is a fu made by a well-known Yi Qing Yuan factory. The golden flowers are clearly visible, which is while not essential is still visually pleasing.
This tea is not tightly compressed and can be broken off by hand easily. However, it does require some time to absorb the water and get going and its taste improves with subsequent steepings ( I had it Western), which you can get quite a few out of it.
The liquor is pale and the tea itself has a typical fu taste of a very light decay, metallic sourness, minerals, light berries, figs, tobacco and gentle melon-like sweetness. It produces a very long pleasantly sweet-and-sour aftertaste. The flavors are nicely balanced and complimentary. I enjoyed drinking this tea at different times and in different moods, i.e. the versatility is strong.
In summary, it is not a showy knock-out but a very reliable and solid performer for those of us who appreciate dark teas.
Flavors: Berry, Decayed wood, Fig, Melon, Metallic, Pleasantly Sour, Tobacco
This is a nice Darjeeling-type tea. It’s quite green. and aromatic – in fact, its aroma was the strongest point for me with intense meadow, hay and fruit fragrances. Prepared gongfu the taste was similarly intense, sweet and floral, with a typical Darjeeling profile. Muscatel was not too prominent, but flowers and stone fruit notes came out quite strong. Eastkyteaguy and Leafhopper identified individual flavors well enough, so I will not go in there.
The disappointing parts in my experience is that the complexity of taste fades quickly – I could not get many quality steepings. Oh, and also it was quite horrible Western style: just a bland undifferentiated sweetness that turned me off enough that I could not finish my cup (which is rare for me). It probably requires a very high leaf-to-water ratio to shine.