10 Tasting Notes
This will be quick, since I didn’t particularly care for this tea and only steeped it twice. I used 7 g of tea in a 200 ml glass teapot.
The dry leaves smell like fruit roll-ups (I’m not kidding). The dry leaves are a darkish green, and they’re rolled up. They unfurl to reveal high-quality full leaves. I steeped it at 190-195 for 1’ and then 1:45.
The tea flavor itself is acceptable but not particularly impressive. It improves dramatically on the second steep, becoming more buttery. There’s an overlaid floral-fruity flavor which is somewhat pleasant but not very well-integrated with the oolong flavors. This is a problem that many jasmine teas have, and this tea shares it. The scent of the osmanthus is very perfume-like, and it is a pleasant smell, but it is not all that pleasant in a drink, in my opinion. (And please note that I love floral-smelling teas such as light Tie Guan Yins.)
I won’t be ordering a full-size batch of this tea.
I wanted to write a note for this tea because I was very impressed by it, and I’m shocked that it has such a low rating (76 at the time of writing). This is an excellent example of a Taiwan High Mountain Oolong.
The leaves are nicely dark and green with minimal oxidation, and they produce a light golden liquid. The leaves smell much like green tea leaves, which makes sense given the very minimal oxidation.
I brewed them gongfu style, 7g leaves with 7 oz of water, starting at 50s and working up. I’d start with 1 min next time or use slightly less water or more leaves. I used temperatures between 185 and 195 F.
Anyway, the flavor was excellent – vegetal notes are very present but not in your face or like you’re drinking asparagus juice. (The slight oxidation smoothes out the vegetality.) They’re complemented by a little bit of florality – there’s not enough oxidation to maximize florality. There’s a nice subtle sweetness. There’s also a buttery-milky flavor and a light-to-moderate mouthfeel. This tea has much of what I like in green tea without any overbearing vegetality, plus the smooth, complex buttery flavors of oolongs.
The second steep was really impressive – more buttery and milky with a wonderfully long finish and some notes of artificial popcorn butter (trust me, they were pleasant!) The third steep was somewhat weaker, but there were still complex herbaceous (kale-like) notes with good sweetness. The final steep was quite weak but still pleasant.
As you can tell, I really enjoyed this sample, and I’ll be ordering some despite it being a bit expensive (but still more than fair relative to other high-quality high mountain oolongs).
The dry leaves of this tea are nicely green, showing low oxidation. They’re quite heavily broken considering the supposed “FTGFOP1” rating. They smell quite good – plenty of floral notes.
They produce a golden liquor right in between what I’d expect of green and black. The color is probably comparable to a medium oolong.
The flavor is ultimately somewhat disappointing. There is little body, and there are not adequate floral notes to compensate for this issue. The aromatics in general are quite muted and unimpressive. On the plus side, there are no defective tastes, but if someone were to serve me this tea and tell me that it’s a decaf, I would believe that person. Keep in mind this is somewhat old 2012 crop Darjeeling, so it is probably slightly stale.
The leaves of this tea are black with golden tips. They expand to reveal pretty-decent quality leaves, although I’m honestly not very impressed given the supposed FTGFOP1 rating.
The liquor is a red-gold color. I was quite surprised to see how orange it was. The color is somewhat in between what I’d expect from an Assam and a Darjeeling. (This would turn out to be the case in terms of flavor, as well.)
The leaves have a fresh, malty, complex scent, but the scent becomes a bit simpler and heartier in the liquor.
The tea has mild to moderate body and mild to moderate astringency. The astringency is less than I would expect for an Assam.
The flavor profile on the first steep is primarily malty with some soy-like flavors. It’s relatively hearty, but there’s also a difficult-to-capture complexity.
For the second steep, I reduced the volume of water to 6 ounces from 8 and steeped for four minutes. I was very surprised. I much preferred this steep. It has a much more Darjeeling-like taste. There’s still some maltiness and body, but now it’s more floral and slightly sweet.
This is a thoroughly decent tea, but I don’t think it quite captures the strengths of an Assam (ie strength) or of a Darjeeling (floral complexity). I suspect the flavor is similar to a second-flush Darjeeling, although my experience with Darjeelings is primarily first-flush since I prefer light, vegetal, floral, fruity teas with minimal astringency. For the price, I wouldn’t buy this tea again, but it’s not bad at all.
The dry leaves are green-white finely rolled balls; they unfold somewhat but not completely when brewed to reveal high-quality full leaves.
It produces a golden-white liquor that honestly reminds me more of white than green tea.
The leaves and liquor share a fresh vegetal scent with strong floral/jasmine notes.
Astringency is extremely muted.
The dominant flavors are jasmine (surprise) and a fruity taste. I’d say it’s melon of some sort. There’s also a pleasant, mellow vegetal taste that I could say is snap peas or something like that. Unfortunately, to some degree the jasmine overpowers the vegetal notes. I do not have much experience with jasmine greens, so I do not know if this is a flaw of this tea or of jasmine greens in general.
I did a second steep, for 3 minutes instead of two. I noticed more of the melon-like flavor. It’s almost a green apple flavor on this steep. The jasmine’s definitely still there. I could say there’s something almost soapy about this tea. I wouldn’t call it that, but it’s bordering on that. I believe the potential issue is that the jasmine flavor is very strong and to some extent overpowering the green tea base. This is not to say it’s not a good tea – I like it a lot – but I would like the jasmine to be a bit milder.
Since Teance is close by, I’ve stopped in there store to drink gong-fu style tea at their tea bar a number of times. The quality of the teas is always very good, but I’ve refrained from buying any due to their steep prices. Then I found this tea in a local store for literally around half of its price in-store. So I bought it. I am thoroughly happy with it, although it’s not mind-blowing. Its most distinctive feature is its sweetness, which is really quite pronounced.
The leaves of this tea are a mediocre grade – small to mid-sized and often broken.
They have a weak vegetal scent, plus citrus of course.
Astringency and bitterness are minimal. If there is any astringency or bitterness, it’s nicely controlled by the citrus.
This tea’s flavors are well-balanced, but they just aren’t that great. The green tea itself is fine – weakly vegetal and smooth. And the citrus helps pick up for the inadequacies of the tea itself. It holds up pretty well chilled.
For a decaf, this is quite decent, and I’m slowly working my way through my bag. I won’t order more, but I don’t particularly regret the purchase.
I’ve had this a number of times, so I’ll be compiling my experiences into a note.
The leaves, if you can call them that, are small and crumpled. They unfold to reveal low-grade tea. The leaves smell malty and bland.
Astringency and bitterness are well-controlled in this tea.
I’m normally all for complex descriptions using traditionally wine-based language, but this tea really doesn’t lend itself to that. The flavor is decently strong, fortunately, but it is extremely boring. There’s just some maltiness and what I’d describe as “tea” flavor. It reminds me of a bagged decaf, but stronger.
Since I have 4 oz of this, I’ve taken to mixing it with other teas. Mixed with Harney’s Vanilla Comorro or Decaf Paris, it helps to mellow out the, in my opinion, slightly overdone flavorings of those teas. That said, those are both far superior to this tea, the Vanilla Comorro especially.
Edit: I’ve been using this for cold-brew tea, and it works quite well. It’s smooth and orange-scented with some sweetness.
I had some of this in the morning and am working from memory, so I might come back and update this when I drink it again.
The leaves looked pretty good – not very broken, brownish-greenish.
Astringency was minimal and the tea is nice and round and mellow. The mouthfeel is moderate.
There’s definitely some of that typical floral flavor I expect from a Darjeeling. There are also more mellow malty notes. I presume the more mellow, robust notes are coming from the second flush leaves. There’s a hint of this brothy taste that I notice in some Chinese blacks and Japanese greens that I don’t care for. It really bothers my girlfriend, but it’s not the end of the world in my view. Overall, I prefer a first flush Darjeeling, but this is good too.
This tea has mostly black leaves, with some orange tips. They’ve grayed a bit and are generally “imperfect” looking but not “bad” per-se. They may be not the freshest or just be harmed by the decaffeination process. They have a vaguely floral scent that is not as pronounced as some higher-grade Darjeelings. They are fortunately free of any chemical scent.
They produce a medium red-gold shade liquor with similar scent to the leaves.
Astringency is nicely controlled, and the mouthfeel is very light.
The flavor is quite sweet, mildly floral, and with hints of maltiness and vegetal notes. There’s unfortunately a vaguely earthy-stale flavor in the background, but it’s minimal and not as pronounced as most decafs’. The flavor of this tea overall is slightly muted compared to a non-decaf Darjeeling, but not dramatically so.
A second steep was weaker and more vegetal than the first.
I was actually very pleasantly surprised by this. I’d almost given up on decaf teas and decided to stick with tisanes for decaf. But this tea actually has very decent quality leaves and a very drinkable (though not perfect!) flavor. This is a really decent tea – much better than most low-grade loose black teas, although not quite as good as a premium non-decaf Darjeeling. But I’d be genuinely happy to drink this whenever, and I will be ordering a bag of it soon.
This tea’s leaves are a variety of green and brown shades – definitely a lighter Darjeeling, edging into Oolong levels of oxidation. They’re nice and large and unfold upon steeping.
The liquor is a golden color, and both it and the leaves have a floral, slightly fruity (white grape) smell.
Astringency is muted but present. Note that I steeped at 190, as I typically do for Darjeelings, so it may be more pronounced at a higher steep temperature.
The mouthfeel is very light.
The flavor is primarily floral, almost jasmine, with notes of white grape and some vegetal hints(perhaps string beans). It’s reasonably sweet, but not overwhelmingly so. The floral and sweet notes are not as pronounced as the best first flush Darjeelings, and it tastes very slightly stale (it’s close to a year old, since it’s from the 2012 harvest).
The second steep hold up relatively well, although more malty and earthy notes start to show up, and the sweet, floral notes are diminished.
I enjoyed this tea quite a bit and would definitely consider buying a bag of it, although I’ll likely wait until the 2013 harvest. I’d recommend as a very well-priced first flush Darjeeling.