177 Tasting Notes
I like chai teas on occasion, and was glad to get this cinnamon version to review. Thanks to Teakruthi for the sample. I steeped around 4 g of leaf in a 355 ml mug at 203F for 4, 6, and 10 minutes.
The dry aroma is of strong, woody cinnamon. In the first steep, the cinnamon is the star, and is strong but not too sweet. It’s the kind of cinnamon that gets put into baked goods, and it’s making me hungry! The black tea is malty, woody, and not astringent. The next two steeps continue the nice balance between cinnamon and black tea, and even brewed for ten minutes, the astringency is minimal.
This is a simple, well-executed cinnamon tea that I really enjoyed. It’s not particularly spicy and calling it a chai might be a stretch, but I guess it fulfills the same warm, cozy niche.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Malt, Wood
Thanks to Lochan Tea for including this sample in my order. I had previously tasted an autumn flush from this producer and thought it was quirky and quite good, so was eager to try their interpretation of a second flush. I steeped 4 g of leaf in a 355 ml mug at 195F for 5 and 8 minutes.
The dry aroma is of apricots, muscatel, smoke, and malt. The first steep has heady top notes of apricot, muscatel, and orange zest, balanced by malt, baked bread, tannins, subtle smoke, and wood. The apricot note is quite distinctive and is something I haven’t seen in a second flush Darjeeling. There’s some astringency and the aftertaste is smoky and a bit metallic. The second steep still has lingering apricot notes, but also tannin, wood, minerals, roasted almond, and grass.
While these smoked teas will never be daily drinkers for me, I liked this second flush’s interesting balance of fruity and heavy flavours. The apricot was especially nice. However, if you’re not frugal (a.k.a. cheap) like me, you should forego the second steep.
Flavors: Almond, Apricot, Baked Bread, Grass, Malt, Metallic, Mineral, Muscatel, Orange Zest, Smoke, Tannin, Wood
After reading the rave reviews of this tea, I picked up 25 grams of it this summer. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 7, 9, 12, 16, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.
The dry aroma of these huge, curly leaves is of blackberries, grapes, honey, and malt. The first steep is amazingly complex, with notes of grapes, plums, blackberries, strawberries, malt, honey, fruit leather, and baked bread. The second steep adds notes of cherry, brown sugar, and raisins. There’s no astringency and wow, this tea is good. The fruit explosion continues through the next few steeps, with lots of plum, cherry, grape, and blackberry flavours. By steep six, sweet potato, orange, baked bread, brown sugar, malt, and honey take over, with the fruit in the background. The final steeps have flavours of peanuts, sweet potatoes, malt, wood, and minerals.
Like everyone else who has reviewed this tea, I was incredibly impressed. It’s simultaneously mind-bogglingly complex and very accessible. There’s no astringency and the fruity flavours jump out at you. (Unlike Eastkyteaguy, I didn’t get any menthol.) This is definitely a special occasion tea that repays careful attention. What-Cha really knocked it out of the park with this one.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Blackberry, Brown Sugar, Cherry, Dried Fruit, Grapes, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Orange, Peanut, Plums, Raisins, Strawberry, Sweet Potatoes, Wood
Today I discovered that I have very few non-caffeinated teas in my stash. Even though this one is over three years old, I thought it would be nice on this cold, almost-winter evening. I steeped 2 teaspoons of leaf in a 355 ml mug at 200F for 4, 6, and 10 minutes.
The dry aroma, which reminds me of an After Eight mint, is the best part of this tea and is probably why I bought it in the first place. On opening the tin, I also get a whiff of alcohol, though this could be due to age. The mint is strong in the first steep, and is complemented by slightly oily dark chocolate. I noticed the texture issue when I first bought this tea, so it isn’t age related. The next couple steeps are quite similar and have a pronounced sweetness.
This isn’t a bad tea, but I won’t miss it when it’s gone.
Flavors: Alcohol, Dark Chocolate, Mint, Sweet
Hong Shui is an oolong type I have little experience with, especially when it’s slightly aged. (This version is from 2014.) Thanks to Tea Side for the sample. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot using boiling water for 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 50, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.
The dry aroma of these small, dark, uneven balls is of berries, wood, dark chocolate, and roast. The first steep has notes of chocolate, honey, and banana bread. The second steep adds notes of tart cranberry, blueberry, plum, spices, wood, and darker rye bread. The next steep offers lots of red berries, with a pronounced strawberry aroma, balanced by dark chocolate, wood, tobacco, and roast. The roast isn’t overpowering and there’s no astringency. The raspberry is particularly prominent in the fourth steep. The chocolate, bready, roasty flavours continue for the next few rounds, with the berries gradually fading. The last few steeps concentrate on chocolate, baked bread, malt, wood, and minerals.
This is a fantastic oolong that will make anyone with a sweet tooth very happy. It’s like a Laoshan Black combined with a Gui Fei. I foresee many more Hong Shui oolongs in my future!
Flavors: Baked Bread, Berries, Blueberry, Cranberry, Dark Chocolate, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Plums, Raspberry, Roasted, Spices, Strawberry, Tobacco, Wood
I received this as a mystery tea in my last What-Cha order and honestly wasn’t expecting much. Even though the description said it was “lightly roasted,” I’ve learned from experience that this can mean different things to different people. However, What-Cha was telling the truth and this tea is a nice balance between the roast and heady florals. I steeped 6 g of tea in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 20, 15, 20, 25, 30, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.
The dry aroma is of sugar cookies, honeysuckle, orchids, and other flowers. Yeah, this tastes like a floral sugar cookie: honeysuckle, orchid, butter, light roast, and kind of a sugarcane sweetness, with a bit of grass. The second steep has notes of cream and lilac and a drying mouthfeel. After the second steep, the wet leaves in the teapot have a wonderfully heady lilac aroma, which sadly never appears as strongly in the cup. The floral and grassy flavours become even more prominent in the third steep.
From the fourth steep onward, the roast starts taking over, though there’s still some florals. I get walnuts, roast, grass, honeysuckle, spinach, and veggies in the last few steeps.
Even though it peaked early, this tea was a pleasant surprise, and I’m about halfway through my 50 g bag. I definitely recommend it as a daily drinker.
Flavors: Butter, Cookie, Cream, Floral, Grass, Honeysuckle, Orchid, Roasted, Spinach, Sugarcane, Vegetal, Walnut
This is my last plain black tea from Teakruthi. (Thanks as always for the sample.) I loosely followed Eastkyteaguy’s parameters and steeped around 4.5 g in a 355 ml mug at 195F for 3, 5, and 7 minutes.
The dry aroma is of pine, prunes, malt, and something pleasantly sour. The first steep has notes of pine, prunes, roasted almond, malt, toast, honey, and (thanks to Eastkyteaguy’s review) orange zest. There’s a fuzzy, not unpleasant astringency. I also get a hint of green grapes as I’ve done in a lot of Ceylon black teas. The second steep has softer notes of roasted almonds, honey, toast, malt, wood, and tobacco, along with a coppery aftertaste. The third steep is much weaker, with notes of malt, tannin, wood, and minerals.
This is a pleasant, complex black tea that’s still a lot more mainstream than Teakruthi’s other black tea offerings. I think it would be a good starting point for exploring Ceylon black tea.
Flavors: Almond, Grapes, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Orange Zest, Pine, Pleasantly Sour, Tannin, Toast, Tobacco, Wood
This is my first ginseng oolong. I bought a 5 g sample from Tao Tea Leaf several years ago and finally decided to give it a go. I steeped the entire 5 g in a 120 ml teapot at boiling for 25, 20, 25, 30, 30, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds, followed by several uncounted steeps because this tea just wouldn’t quit.
The dry aroma of these compact, powder-coated pellets is of honey and syrupy sweetness. When I poured the boiling water for the first steep, the tea seemed to crackle and squeak, which was weird. The first few steeps are very light and have flavours of licorice sweetness, honey, and herbs. The texture seems syrupy, though that could just be an unconscious association with the flavours. The leaves start to open up around the fifth steep and show classic oolong flavours of grass and butter, though the ginseng still predominates. The ginseng powder also gets into my cup. As the session progresses, the buttery, vegetal oolong becomes more prominent. Even at the tenth steep, some of the balls haven’t opened and the flavour remains strong.
This tea had great longevity and I almost certainly could have coaxed a few more steeps out of it. However, not being a licorice fan, I eventually gave up, probably around steep 14. I found the sweetness to be kind of cloying (this from someone who likes bug-bitten teas) and didn’t get much from the oolong. I’m not rating this because I don’t have a quality benchmark for this kind of tea.
I always enjoy learning about new teas, even when I suspect they’re not for me, so I’ll call this part of my tea education and move on.
Flavors: Butter, Grass, Herbaceous, Honey, Licorice, Sweet, Vegetal
I’ve been super busy lately and haven’t had as much time as I’d like to do gongfu tea reviews, though I’ve had plenty of lazy gongfu sessions to sip down old teas. Western steeping seems to be a good compromise. Thanks to Teakruthi for the sample, and sorry for taking so long to get this review posted! I steeped around 4.5 g of leaf in a 355 ml mug at 190F for 4.5, 6, and 10 minutes.
Wow! These white tea leaves are huge! I’m a bit concerned that I didn’t get a proper balance between the white and black teas in the blend because the black tea collects at the bottom of the bag, but we’ll see. The first steep is a smooth combination of malt, honey, flowers, grass, and autumn leaf pile. There’s a lot of sweetness from the white tea and not much astringency from the black. The second steep is grassier, but still smooth and sweet; the flavour falls off in the third.
This tea lives up to its name and harmonizes the white and black teas nicely. I found it to be a pleasant evening cup and agree with Roswell Strange on the rating.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Floral, Grass, Honey, Malt, Sweet
I wrote a review of this tea two years ago, and I must have learned something between now and then because my current impressions are more nuanced. Could I actually be improving at this tasting thing? If so, it’s thanks to all of your detailed tasting notes! I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 194F for 7, 9, 12, 16, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.
The dry aroma of these fuzzy leaves is of chocolate, malt, roasted peanuts, and tomatoes. The first steep has notes of sweet potato, chocolate, roasted nuts, malt, baked bread, and tomatoes. The aftertaste emphasizes the chocolate and the tea is a little drying, maybe because I steeped it a couple seconds too long. The next few steeps emphasize the sweet potato, tomato, roasted almond/peanut, tannins, and bready notes; sadly, the chocolate fades into the aftertaste. Eastkyteaguy pointed out green beans and bananas, and while I’d never have come up with them on my own, they’re accurate. Later infusions have notes of malt, baked bread, wood, earth, and tannins.
While this isn’t my favourite Yunnan black tea, I’ll have no trouble finishing it. I’m upping the rating from my last review.
Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, banana, Chocolate, Earth, Green Beans, Malt, Peanut, Roast nuts, Sweet Potatoes, Tannin, Wood