122 Tasting Notes

85
drank Sencha with Matcha by Hishiwa
122 tasting notes

I have had this a few times, but this steep is significantly good enough to warrant a full review.
The initial sip is very green, but washes over your mouth with a slight sweetness and a slight seaweed flavor. This is not a terribly spinachy or umami sencha. The brothy feel is less from the savory elements and more from the addition of matcha, which is serving as a thickening agent. If you really look, you can find a bit of bitterness at the back of the sip, but it is so slight that it makes the tea juicy instead of astringent.
I really enjoy drinking this. It is an obviously green tea that does not have a super dominant flavor profile, as something like a dragonwell would. It comes off as fresh and green and slightly sweet, in addition to comforting and warming. I love these feelings, so I enjoy this tea, though I would say it is particularly special.

Flavors: Green, Seaweed, Sweet

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

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89

This is my first Shui Xian, and I was unsure of how to brew it. I split my sample in half so that I could western one half and gong fu the other. This is the western style review.
I picked this to drink by way of the random sample dive, and the second I opened this package, there was the most intriguing menthol/mineral scent, with the caramel sweet notes from a yunnan black. I couldn’t get my nose out of the package!
I brewed it for 2:30, but I snuck sips at 10 seconds, 1 minute, and 2 minutes. The shortest steep tasted like thinned out rock oolong; at 1 minute, it graduated to thinned out yunnan black tea; at two minutes sweetness and vanilla creme suddenly appeared, and that roasted flavor was beginning to show more strongly; I feared to over brew it and end up with a cup of roasty yuck, so I pulled the leaves at 2:30 which is just a little over-roasty, but also cooling, vanilla and smooothly flavored.
Frankly, it reminds me of everything people raved about with Big Red Robe from Verdant Tea, but that I couldn’t find in that tea. BRR was too harsh and smokey and so mineral it was almost salty to me. This is caramel instead of smoke, vanilla instead of salt, floral instead of mineral, and it has a cooling sensation as it washes over my mouth as well.
This does have the mineral and toasty flavors of BRR but is so much more refined, creamy, sweet, and complex to me. I honestly thought I didn’t care for rock oolongs, believing that anything heavily roasted would put me off, but this is quite fabulous!
Thanks to Liquid Proust for organizing this sample for me. It is just as tasty as everything else I have had from this tea farm!

Flavors: Cream, Floral, Mineral, Roasted, Smooth, Vanilla, Wood

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 2 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML
TeaBrat

I recall that Arbor Teas has a very good shui xian

Equusfell

Thanks for the recommendation! I guess if it’s floral and doesn’t give me a stomach ache, I’m all for darker teas!

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74

The dry leaf smells like that orange, tacky, peanut-shaped marshmallow-type, cheapo candy… Circus Peanuts! Yeah! Like a too sweet vitamin C chewable tablet and with a slight nutty wash to it.
The flavor is vaguely sweet, but mostly it tastes like a true hazelnut. Dust-flavored skin and all. The vague sweetness may in fact be coming from the mandarin flavor, but I will never know. It is about as orange flavored as generic Orange Pekoe, which is to say, a brighter flavored black tea.
Regardless, it reminds me of my beloved orange blossom earl grey from Twinings, and for that, I will gladly drink down the rest of my sample. Thanks, MissB!

Flavors: Hazelnut

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

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93

I had this tea once before, western style, and I think I may prefer it that way. There was an overwhelming coolness that washed over my mouth and a sweet nectary floral flavor pushing through the cool charcoal presence of the roasting. For once, a darker oolong that doesn’t taste like smoke!
Filled the bottom of my gaiwan with leaves. Infusion times: 20s, 15s, 25s, 30s, 40s, 1m, 2m, 5m
First: It tastes like very little at first, but a slight cooling sensation is still detectable. A slight nectar builds on the tongue. The charcoal is very light this steep.
Second: I may have to stop following the directions. He always seems to suggest a shorter second steep, I think in an attempt to capture the first steep. But the second steep is usually the one that knocks my socks off. This is maybe sweeter, but also lighter than the first steep.
Third: Cooling stronger, charcoal more assertive. More caramel sweetness in aroma and taste. Slight touch of ‘leafyness’.
Fourth: Sweeter, more floral smell. Greener flavor. Cooling sensation intense. This steep is most like the western style steeps. This steep is my favorite, even though it is slightly missing the nectars from the first few steeps.
Fifth: Sweetness is back, and so is the charcoal. The aroma is incredible, but the florals don’t translate as well to the liquid. Still, quite good.
Sixth: Minerals, and cooling, and fine baker’s sugar! Loving this finish! Almost vanilla like scent in the aroma cup.
Seventh: Losing most everything but that cooling sensation. Kinda greener too, but even though there’s not much else, I still thoroughly enjoy it.
Eigth: Five minutes is a long steep for a gaiwan! It was HOT! Slight cooling, mostly a flavor of a spent tieguanyin to be honest! Still this tea and I went on a long journey, and it sure took a while to go over the hill.
Overall, I like it. I think about that cooling sensation for about a week after I drink it, and I supposed that’s the mark of a tea that was good enough to stick with you! I have teas that I like a lot more, but this one deserves my high rating none-the-less.

Flavors: Menthol, Nectar, Powdered sugar

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 4 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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78

If you made a creamsicle out of a “tropical fruit” flavor, and then melted it into generic Chinese green tea, the resulting liquid would well-represent this tea.
I finally figured out that a 1 minute steep time rids this tea of its bitterness. Though it still smells strongly of skittles, the skittles flavor is cut generously with vanilla and perhaps a slight grapefruit or pomello peel zest. Overall this tea is very sweet, creamy and fruity, with just a touch of brightness.
This may be my new tea that I bring out for non-tea drinking guests. The flavor and aroma are so strong and obviously candy-like that the tea is hard to find in this blend. But that is OK.

Flavors: Grapefruit, Green Melons, Tropical, Vanilla

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 5 OZ / 147 ML

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81

Picked this for a gentle tea to share with my fiance while rewatching The Two Towers.
Steep 1, 20 sec: Menthol sensation all over my mouth, slight prickly feeling from the trichomes I believe. Light sweetness and even lighter florals, but dominantly the flavor of fresh hay, before it has been baled.
Steep 2, 15 sec: Lighter in flavor and texture.
Steep 3, 30 sec: Much sweeter, with a sugar-in-the-raw sweetness.
Steep 4, 45 sec: More mineral sweetness, dominant hay and perhaps slight sage flavor in the aftertaste.
Steep 5, 1:30: Darker than previous steeps. Faint sugar, almost like aspartame, with a slight “boiled tree leaves” backbone. The same menthol-like sensation has accompanied each steep.
Yum, but I like my silver needle accented with jasmine more, I think. It is rare that an unflavored white tea is chosen by me. This was a generous sample, and I’m glad I got to try it, but I think I prefer Bai Mu Dan or Yabao.

Flavors: Hay, Sugarcane

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 0 min, 15 sec 3 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
LuckyMe

I agree, silver needles taste a lot better scented with jasmine.

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82

I first tried to brew this at two minutes, but it tasted like nothing. Plunged it back in for another minute and I finally getting light notes of malt and sugar in the raw. Still, it is flash-steeped green tea level of lightness! Put it back in for another minute and the ball is finally expanded fully, the liquid is a darker amber, and the smell is delicious! It is like sugared, generic black tea. The taste is still on the light side. I always think of black teas as smacking me in the face with flavor, and this one has the lightness of my favored oolongs.
I personally love how sweet it is, with very little of the bruskness that makes my tummy ache in most black teas brewed this long. An enjoyable cuppa, thanks MissB!

Flavors: Malt, Sugar

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec 3 g 6 OZ / 177 ML

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77
drank Jasmine Pearl by 3 Leaf Tea
122 tasting notes

The aroma of these pearls is intensely sweet with a heady jasmine scent. It’s like jasmine cotton candy!
The aroma is still decent in the brewed tea, which is a deep straw color. The flavor is unfortunately quite light, for the first steep. The pearls are just looking a little ragged, not really unfurled. The jasmine flavor is present but light. Still the tea is decently silky and lightly perfumed as well as lightly sweet. I am enjoying my cup, but I am a floral lover, and I’m finding myself wishing that the flavor was knocked up a notch. I will be doing a more steeps!
Seconds steep (add 30 seconds) is more jasmine-y and deeper in flavor overall. I thik the base tea is starting to come through.
Third steep (add 1 min): The jasmine flavor is much stronger, and now there’s a cooling evergreen sensation to the steeped liquid.
Fourth steep (+1 min): Little more than a pleasant vague jasmine scent and that silky, pine-y feeling on the tongue.

Pretty darned good, but I wish it had a little more flavor from both the jasmine and the base tea, though I really enjoyed the evergreen aspect, it reminded me of yabao for some reason.

Flavors: Jasmine, Pine

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

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83

I usually gong fu my oolongs, as of late, but some truly do shine brighter when brewed Western style. I chose to follow the directions on the sample package I received from 3 Leaf, which gave the steeping directions in Western style.
The dry leaf, small balls of emerald green, didn’t smell like much, as often green oolongs are wont to. Maybe a slight sweetness. Brewing, the steam reminded me of Teavivre’s unflavored milk oolong in that it smells like a slightly sweet, green spring day, which at this point is almost a ‘generic high mountain oolong’ smell to me (can you tell that I’ve left off drinking low quality tea? LOL). The leaves unfurled into mostly whole leaves, some looking a bit ragged and a few in pieces.
The liquid is a straw yellow, smooth, and lightly floral. This is not a knock-your-socks-off lilac, like Verdant’s Spring TGY, but it has that light essence of high mountain wildflower-like floral, with a light minerality like a cool snow melt mountain stream. A light sweetness and minerality lingers on the tongue.
To me, the tea is not as floral as many high mountain oolongs, not buttery like a TGY, and not cloyingly sweet like many milk oolongs. This tea would be labelled a high mountain green oolong in a blind taste test, and it very much embodies it’s name.
This is a good every day drinker, when you’re feeling like green oolong but don’t want to be knocked around by powerful flavors. This instead is a good, peaceful drinker.

EDIT: I got a second steep out of this that was much sweeter and a bit buttery; brewed for 4 minutes.

*Note: this tea was provided as a free sample for review from 3 Leaf Tea.

Flavors: Floral, Mineral

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

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Bio

I started drinking something other than Sleepytime in my first year of grad school, 2011. Enabled by a few decent local tea shops in a big city, I amassed a small cupboard of teas that I now find harsh and bad (haha, I’m getting in too deep!). With my move back to the US and subsequent geographic isolation from tea shops, I recently discovered the world of online tea vendors.
My cupboard is slowly growing but still small. Regardless I am interested in swaps, if you find something in my collection that you would like to try, ask away! I just can’t guarantee yet that I have a lot of it!
I’m very into Jade oolongs and anything that has a floral character (especially jasmine, rose, violet, and lychee scented things!). Most green teas, excepting the extremely bitter, are good in my book, and again I seek sweeter, fresher, greener types, though nutty/savory teas have their place (as long as they don’t tip over into salty!). I then to shy away from smokey or overly roasted teas and for this reason and the fact that I am not a fan of chocolate, everyone’s favorite blacks and wuyi oolongs tend to fall flat for me. White teas are alright but I don’t tend to reach for them unless they are floral scented. I rarely drink herbals, chamomile and I do not get along, but a basic vanilla rooibos, or some flavored green rooibos’ can be interesting.
In general, it could be said that I tend toward floral and sweet oolong, sheng (as well as moonlight whites and yabaos), matcha, and green teas.

As of now my rating system follows the school grading scale in terms of how well the tea performs and how well I like it (100-90 A, 89-80 B, etc.). Anything above 90 will eventually end up in my cupboard, though it’s fine to keep a B student around for daily drinkers!

Location

Athens, Ohio

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