29 Tasting Notes
A very lazy morning always requires tea and I wanted to do a tasting session with a new-to-me tea. However, I think I made a mistake with this morning’s selection.
Lao Cong Shui Xian tea from Old Ways Tea is NOT a morning tea. My very first cup hit me full in the face…..
This tea is like an old growth forest where the trees are ancient and the moss & lichen growing on them are just “old”. This is a Tea you enjoy in the late afternoon when you sit down to reflect on life and write down your memoirs. It’s that single cask whiskey that’s aged in that one barrel, forgotten about, then found a dozen decades later.
This is what I’d imagine mahogany to taste like — complex flavors but with a mellowness that doesn’t bog down the taste and keeps you from sinking too far into the complexity.
This tea will GROUND YOU. This tea will tell you about it’s long life as a tea tree starting with the present day as an ancient tree, then with each subsequent steep goes into the past about its mid life then its beginnings as a sapling then take you back full circle. Wow.
The cha Qi is slow moving. At first, almost imperceptible, then filling your head like a water fountain while keeping your feet rooted to the ground.
The dry leaf of this tea smells like dry roasted peanuts and wood.
The wet leaf has high notes of stone fruit & sweet grass.
The liquid smells of fresh air and leaves.
The broth itself is the taste of old forest/mahogany. It is thick and viscous on first sip and coats the tongue before sliding effortlessly down your throat. There’s no earthy taste in this tea; it’s all about the tree, wood, and forest.
By the second steep, I felt a warmth building in my chest with a quiet sense of calmness.
By the third steep, the cha Qi hit my head like tree branch on the head.
Subsequent steeps just built on top of that.
Everything just feels calm and collected. Despite it being early morning, I’m ready to take a nap. This is not a tea you drink on a daily basis. (I mean, you can, but it’s about $0.85 / gram) This is a tea you drink when you want something special, when you have time to savor it, and or when you want to experience it with friends.
STEEP INFO (Each pack is about 8 grams)
Tea: 5.06 grams of tea.
Water: 200F/150 ml.
Steep times (in seconds) :20,30,40,60,90,…
I cold brewed 2.85 grams in 350 ml of cold water. It’s just as good as the hot broth
Flavors: Roasted nuts, Sweet, warm grass, Wood
I bought a sampler set as I was curious and I just happened to like the name of it.
Dry leaf aroma from bag: It’s a lovely sent of roasted oolong with hit of herbal medicine. I really love this smell. It reminds me of my grandfather’s tea cabinet.
Leaf in warmed gaiwan: There’s a hint of sweetness — fruits & florals — with that smokey charcoal scent.
Wet leaves: High notes of sugar & fruit (peach?). Deeper notes of roasted charcoal. As the steeps increase, the high notes become more prominent.
Brew times: 60s, 75s, 90… I was able to do about 4-5 steeps before I felt the tea gave out. YMMV with brew times & water temps.
Water temps: 196 – 200 deg F
(Since this was a roasted WuYi oolong, I felt comfortable brewing it at a higher temp and longer steep time than a Dan Cong oolong.)
Color: It starts of a deep rich red amber, but decreases in color/intensity with each subsequent steep until it was about a mid-orange amber.
Tea broth: This is an extremely easy tea to drink. It starts off slightly sweet which counteracts the mild bitterness that follow on the tail end; it’s fairly balanced. It’s got a medium-body at the first steep and drops of with subsequent steeps (which I attribute to my longer steep times and extracting most of the flavors)
The flavors of this tea aren’t complex, but they are well balanced and gives you enough to enjoy the tea without feeling like it’s missing something (which I find often happens). There’s a mild tongue drying after drinking the tea, but it’s pleasant as it also causes a mild watering on the tongue. There’s also a very mild cha qi in the mouth & throat that is refreshing.
Honestly, it reminds me of my grandfather’s tea, so there’s a bit of nostalgia at play here.
I would NOT brew this Grandpa style as I think it might get very bitter over time.
Overall, I think this would make an excellent travel tea to have in your valise. It’s got enough flavor to be enjoyable but not so complex that you need to sit there and think about what you just drank. The small pre-sized packets are handy for traveling (although not convenient if you want loose leaf tea.)
The pack comes in 8 grams. I brewed up 5 grams and will be using 3 grams in a cold brew.
Flavors: Fruity, Roasted, Sweet
I’m finally getting around to trying this sampler I bought from Yunnan Sourcing. It wasn’t cheap but as I got about multiple steeps out of my session, I’ll call it even.
This is probably my top 3 TGYs I’ve ever had. It’s only 7 grams, and upon opening the tightly rolled tea balls have a smack-in-your-face aroma. When you brew it, the leaves open up like a pond lily, so plan accordingly.
I used 5 grams for a hot brew then 2 grams for a 350 ml cold brew. And I’m glad I only used 5 grams! The fully opened leaves were overflowing my 160 ml gaiwan after the first two steeps!
Flavors are a nicely balanced but complex set of flavors that border on the delicate — sweet grass & vegetal (asparagus/spinach), sweet butter/cream, and a touch of umami & minerality . No astringency at all.
First few steeps are sweet balancing out the umami / mineral finish. Later steeps, the balance shifts with the start of umami/mineral followed by a lesser sweetness of vegetal flavors. The liquid is crisp & clean, with a medium body /viscosity. Cha Qi is mild but very pleasant. It was a warm & humid day but this tea hit the spot.
Brew spec: 200 deg F at 30 sec, 60 sec, 90 etc. this tea can take the longer steep times and I will push the time out for later tastings. (The initial 30 seconds was not enough time to really let the leaves open and give enough flavor. )
I also did a cold brew on this tea with the 2grams with 350ml cold water . And it is absolutely wonderful!!
Out of the bottle, it looks like a white wine. It’s thick & viscous. The texture reminds me of the texture of Gewurztraminer — rich, silky, and with a hint of honeysuckle nectar
However, it’s flavor pulls no punches. There’s sweet grass/spinach, the predominant aroma & flavor of roses, with an aftertaste of umami/minerality. It’s balanced, it’s smooth, it’s incredibly decadent. This is the tea version of a dessert iced wine. I’d drink this by itself or pair it with grapes.
Flavors: Asparagus, Creamy, Grass, Sweet, Umami
SUMMARY: This is a very lovely well-balanced tea with a nectar-like viscocity. Despite the 80% oxidation, I brewed this at a lower temp, at a longer steep time, which really brought out the fruity flavors of this tea with hardly any astringency. After the first infusion, each steep was fairly consistent with the flavors until it started washing out. This would make a lovely cold brewed tea or brewed at a much lower temp for a longer steep time to bring out more of the fruit flavors.
HIGHLY recommended if you like your teas with a bit of fruit flavor.
I skipped the wash with this, and so glad i did.
First infusion: The tea broth is light yellow.
It’s flavors comprise of stone fruit with fruity sweetness. It’s got a very slighty plum-y flavor, but it feels like another fruit. Perhaps a hint of the longon nectar tea of which this is related? This liquid is viscous, smooth, with an extremely mild dryness on the tongue. It has a surprisngly internal cooling effect.
Second infusion: The second steep is an amber orange. It looks & tastes viscous. The sweet plum favors have really come out. The sweetness starts off sugary and morphs into a plum sweetness. The plum flavors persist even after I finish this infusion and while i brew my third.
Third infusion: This is plum nectar sweet, as advertised. There’s an extremley slight dryness in the mouth, followed by another plum aftertaste.
Fourth infusion: Bugger. I can’t remember how long I set the timer for on this infusion (2 or 3 minutes?). It still has the same plum nectar, but a slightly washed out version. I think I set the timer to 2 minutes.
5th Infusion: 3 minutes — The flavors are becoming slightly muted, and there’s only probably a few more steeps with this tea, but I’m still enjoying it!~
Tea amount: 5 grams
Times: 60s, 90s, 120s, ??, 180
Water: 190-194 deg F / 150ml
Flavors: Plums, Sugar
This is my first shou mei tasting so I have no basis for comparison.
I am only starting to expand my tastings into white teas.
Steep amounts: 5.4 grams tea / 150ml water @ ~185 deg F
Steep times: 15s, 30, 45, 60, 90, etc.
The cake seems lightly compressed, so it was easy to pry out the amount I need.
Color: The color starts a light yellow gold and goes to a deep amber red at the longer steeps.
Wet leaf: The wet leaves definitely have a strong vegetal undertone, which are coupled with mint (on the first steep), medicinal herbs (on #2), honey (#3), and earth (#4) with subsequent steeps.
Tea aroma: It was hard for me to really distinguish any separate smells from the liquid. There was a damp/musty scent coupled with medicinal herbs. It could have been me — allergy season is rife this time of year.
Tea broth: This tea reminds me of a honey lozenge (similar to a Manuka honey lozenge). The tea starts off very clean with a slight honey sweetness but there’s an underlying tone of herbal medicine (specifically reminds me of all the Chinese herb shops I went into as a kid with my family) and eucalyptus.
This tea starts off very clean and has a good mouth feel with a mild viscosity. The broth is very silky in feel. It never seems to get astringent or bitter, which is why I pushed out the brew times by 15 seconds on each steep. There’s a slight dryness in the throat after drinking it, and a very slight tingling on the tongue by steep #3. Overall, this is a very easy tea to drink. There’s a complexity and balance that I like in my teas.
Do I like it? I’m not wholly sure. The flavor profile is not one I might go for on a regular basis, but I would drink this tea. It warrants additional tastings for me to make a decision.
Flavors: Eucalyptus, Herbs, Honey, Musty, Wet Earth
This is my first time tasting purple tea, and I am very happy with the results. I brewed this Gong Fu (208 deg F at 15s, 30, 45…etc)
The wet tea leaves smell of honey & raisins or molasses & plums/pluots with an undertone of minerals.
The color is a beautiful orange amber that darkens with each subsequent steep until it begins to wash out.
The broth is very smooth but complex. It starts off sweet on the tongue intermingled with a slight undercurrent of sourness that is pleasantly balanced out by the sweet. There are mild earth & malty flavors that don’t overpower the tea. If anything, this is a very well-balanced tea.
There’s a cha qi tingling on the tongue that goes straight to my head and relaxes the body. It’s got a wonderful mouthfeel, but it’s not that viscous. It’s quite an easy tea to drink. Despite having a clean/short finish, there is a lingering aftertaste of nectarines/peaches on the tongue
I’d be more than happy to drink more of this tea on a near daily basis if I didn’t have many other wonderful teas to drink.
Flavors: Earth, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Pleasantly Sour, Plums, Raisins