218 Tasting Notes
This is part of my huge 2018 haul from Camellia Sinensis. All of you know my fondness for bug-bitten teas, and based on my rave review of their Bai Hao, I thought I’d like their Guei Fei as well. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 25, 20, 25, 30, 30, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.
The dry aroma is of intense honey, flowers, and stewed fruit. The first steep has notes of honey, baked bread, flowers, sweet apple, and other stewed fruits. (Camellia Sinensis says “red fruits,” which I kind of agree with.) A tart berry note emerges in steep two. The tartness, stewed fruits, flowers, and, most of all, the honey characterize the next couple steeps. This is definitely a dessert tea. The honey and baked bread just keep getting stronger in the fifth and sixth rounds. Sadly, I don’t notice any cinnamon, which both Roswell Strange and the website point out. The flavours become slightly attenuated as the session ends, although the honey and red fruit are still present. The final steeps have a bit of astringency and are somewhat vegetal.
This is a sweet, luxurious Guei Fei that’s easy to drink. Though it lacks the complexity of the Bai Hao, this is kind of expected given the nature of this type of oolong. I’ve had a lot of bug-bitten oolongs recently and the flavours have become somewhat predictable, but this oolong executes them very well.
Flavors: Apple, Baked Bread, Berries, Floral, Honey, Red Fruits, Stewed Fruits, Tart, Vegetal
I just received a bunch of 2020 first and second flush Darjeelings from Lochan Tea, and, impatient as I am, I’ve already cut open one of the bags, even though I have some 2019 first flush on the go. Let me say that their foil vacuum-sealed bags are great for keeping tea fresh, but also sadly prevent me from trying all the teas at once, which I would totally do if I had enough empty tins. I steeped around 4 g in a 355 ml mug at 195F for 5 and 8 minutes.
I forgot how nice fresh Darjeeling is. The dry aroma of these fluffy, still slightly springy leaves is of flowers, autumn leaves, muscatel, chili, and stonefruit. The first steep has notes of herbs, chili, grass, honey, flowers, autumn leaves, muscatel, cream, and wood, with some stonefruit (apricot?) coming in on the aftertaste. This first flush is more savoury than sweet and has some pleasant astringency in the mouth. I wish Eastkyteaguy had access to this tea because there are flavours I can’t pin down that he’d probably get. The second steep has more wood and tannins, but still has the muscatel, spicy, grassy, and floral profile of the first steep.
This is an excellent way to begin my exploration of Lochan’s 2020 offerings. It reminds me a bit of the Guranse Spring Hand-Rolled Floral Black Tea from What-Cha I reviewed a few months ago. I gave the 2019 version of the Giddapahar Spring Wonder an 84. To my mind, the 2020 harvest is substantially better. There could be a number of reasons for this, including the AV2 cultivar, the possibility that I used more leaves, and the tea’s freshness. Regardless, I’m delighted I have 50 grams and look forward to trying the other teas I purchased.
Flavors: Apricot, Autumn Leaf Pile, Cream, Floral, Grass, Herbaceous, Honey, Muscatel, Spices, Stonefruits, Tannin, Wood
I believe I bought this tea in 2016. I’m drinking the last of it, having put it off for months because I suspected the session would be underwhelming. I really should have finished it years ago, and as such I’m not rating it, although even in its prime, I didn’t love it. I steeped the remaining 6 g in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 25, 20, 25, 30, 30, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.
Dry, the tea smells faintly of GABA funk and flowers. The first couple steeps have notes of malt, sourness, custard, wood, nuts, and faint flowers. The next couple steeps add pencil shavings, tannins, and grass. That GABA sourness persists in the aftertaste. The tea has a heavy, viscous body into the next few steeps. The flavours don’t evolve much over the session, although the grass, tannins, and sourness increase.
I’ve had a few GABA teas now and have come to the conclusion that I’m not too fond of them. I don’t notice any relaxation benefits, and they all have a sour note that I find off-putting. This was kind of a tuition tea for me, and while I don’t regret buying it, I’m also not sad to see it go.
Flavors: Custard, Floral, Grass, Heavy, Malt, Nuts, Pleasantly Sour, Tannin, Wood
This is the last sample from Tea Side I was given to review. Thanks for allowing me to try this Bai Hao, as it’s one of my favourite types of oolong. I’ve tasted Bai Hao from Taiwan, China, India, and Vietnam, and am glad to add Thailand to that list. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 30, 20, 30, 30, 45, 60, 75, 90, 120, 180, and 240 seconds.
The dry aroma is of autumn leaves, peach, and muscatel. The first steep has notes of apricot, peach, muscatel, stewed pear, autumn leaves, wood, and malt. The fruit intensifies in the second steep, and it indeed begins to taste like a honey black oolong, as Arby noted. The next couple steeps reveal sap and more honey, though also more malt and black tea-type flavours. There’s a tiny bit of citrus in the sixth steep, along with the pear, peach, and muscatel notes, but at this point, its transformation into a black tea is accelerating. By steep seven, it’s a malty, slightly fruity tea with some tannins, although it never loses its muscatel and stewed fruit notes completely.
While I found much to like about this Dongfang Meiren, it has more black tea notes than I’m used to in this type of oolong. Still, this is a minor complaint and it’s overall a pleasant tea. I imagine it would take well to Western or cold brewing.
Flavors: Apricot, Autumn Leaf Pile, Citrus, Honey, Malt, Muscatel, Peach, Pear, Sap, Stewed Fruits, Tannin, Wood
After my marathon gongfu session with Tillerman’s Shan Lin Xi, it was too late to have any more caffeine, so I chose this herbal. I don’t usually buy bagged tea, but keep some of this on hand since it’s simple and convenient. I steeped one bag (no idea how many grams) in a 355 ml mug at around boiling for 4, 6, and 10 minutes.
The flavour is predominantly vanilla and chamomile, with a bit of mint and possibly some sweetness from the blackberry leaves (though the vanilla is also sweet, so who knows?). The rose gets completely lost. The flavour doesn’t change over the three steeps and the tea is soothing and pleasant.
Sometimes you need something comforting and uncomplicated, and this tea fills the bill perfectly!
ETA: How can Steepster not have chamomile in its list of flavours?
Flavors: Honey, Mint, Sweet, Vanilla
Well, I finally caved and got six teas from Tillerman, just in time for no one to be able to read my notes. That figures. I was also certain there were some reviews of Shan Lin Xi oolongs from this company that I could use as points of reference, but I can’t find any, possibly due to all the Steepster glitches. As I’ve probably said before, Shan Lin Xi oolongs are among my favourites and this one was affordable, so into my cart it went. More or less according to the vendor’s instructions, I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at boiling for 30, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 60, 75, 90, 120, and 240 seconds, plus a few long steeps.
The dry aroma is of resin and sweet flowers. The first steep has heady notes of orchid, lilac, and sweet pea, plus slight resin, custard, grass, and butter. The second steep has herbs, spinach, lettuce, grass, custard sweetness, and flowers. This tea has gone vegetal really quickly, and I wonder if I oversteeped it. The body is still smooth and heavy, and maybe this is what is meant by “good grip?” The third steep gives off a waft of some sort of “mountain glade” air freshener, which is probably a combination of flowers and sweetness and is actually kind of appealing. The tea achieves a good balance of vegetal, floral, and resin in the next three or so rounds, and there’s a tiny bit of cooked pineapple in the liquor and at the bottom of the cup. The next couple steeps introduce more veggies, including spinach and kale, and a condensed milk sweetness. As expected, the final few steeps are more or less grassy and vegetal.
This tea fits my idea of what a Shan Lin Xi should be, though it has fewer fruity notes than its counterpart from Floating Leaves. (They’re both somewhat pricy U.S. companies made even less affordable by the exchange rate, so I naturally tend to compare them.) As the session progressed, my rating went up from an 80 to an 83 to an 86, which is a fair indication of its quality. Surprisingly, Tillerman’s steeping parameters worked, and I might start subjecting all my high mountain oolongs to boiling water now.
Flavors: Butter, Custard, Floral, Grass, Herbaceous, Kale, Lettuce, Milk, Orchid, Pineapple, Resin, Spinach, Sweet, Vegetal
I bought this tea in 2018 because it was recommended as being fruity. I was a bit skeptical since this is a Wuyi oolong, but I decided to go for it. (I believe a 15% off sale was involved.) I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 7, 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.
The dry aroma is of strawberries, grain, honey, and roast. The first steep has notes of honey, walnuts, grain, wood, roast, and flowers. There’s an indistinct fruity aftertaste. In the second steep, I get peach, raisin, and strawberry, along with more roasted nuts, honey, grain, and wood. The floral notes become more prominent in the next couple steeps, but honestly, this is still mainly about the wood, nuts, and roast. I don’t get any spice, as Roswell Strange did. The tea doesn’t change much over the session, fading to wood, minerals, nuts, honey, and roast near the end.
While this tea doesn’t really change my mind about Wuyi oolongs, it indeed has some fruity elements. I enjoyed how smooth and sweet it is and won’t have trouble finishing the bag.
Flavors: Floral, Grain, Honey, Mineral, Peach, Raisins, Roasted, Roasted nuts, Strawberry, Walnut, Wood
Yay! The Great Steepster Freeze of 2020 is finally over! I’m glad all my notes were actually saved and I don’t need to repost them.
I haven’t tried too many aged teas, so this is a learning experience. Thanks to Fong Mong for the sample. I didn’t know how to steep this tea, so I used my old parameters of all 7 g, 120 ml, 200F, and rounds of 25, 20, 25, 30, 30, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds, plus a few long steeps.
The dry aroma is of old wood, char, and roast. The first steep has notes of oak, sandalwood, chicory, minerals, and roast. The roast and minerals get stronger in steep two, and a honey element emerges. The flavours keep getting more intense as the session continues, and there’s definitely a bit of decayed wood in there, too. Generally, this is a smooth, woody tea with a sophisticated profile. The smoke and roast are more noticeable in later rounds, but this tea doesn’t evolve too much over the session.
While it’s not something I’d typically drink, I enjoyed this aged oolong for its exotic woodiness and smoothness. As khboyd said in a review, it reminds me of a Wuyi oolong. I’m sure it would have been even better in the fall or winter. I can’t wait for this unusually hot summer to end, not least because drinking hot tea in this heat is kind of annoying.
Flavors: Char, Decayed wood, Honey, Mineral, Oak wood, Roasted, Smoke, Smooth, Wood
This is the last of the six teas I bought from Cha Yi. It’s a darker Taiwanese oolong from spring 2020, which I grabbed near the beginning of June when this year’s teas were few and far between. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 25, 20, 25, 30, 30, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds, plus three or four uncounted infusions.
The dry aroma is of berry jam, honey, and cookies. The first steep has notes of stewed raspberry, blackberry, currant, other red fruits, plum, honey, and cookies. The second steep adds some malt and mild tannins, mimicking the bite in raspberries and other berries. The third to sixth steeps are a lovely combination of peach, plum, muscatel, honey, cookies, and berries and have a long, fruity aftertaste. Honey and roast become more prominent in the seventh steep, although there’s still lots of berries and muscatel. The final steeps have notes of berries, muscatel, malt, pastries, butter, roast, earth, and minerals.
This is a fruity, crowd-pleasing oolong with many of the flavours I like. Featuring the typical jammy, stonefruit notes of Hong Shui oolongs, this tea is really enjoyable and is well worth the price. It’s also incredibly persistent, lasting well beyond the number of steeps I had planned. Definitely consider getting it if you buy from this company.
Flavors: Berries, Black Currant, Blackberry, Butter, Cookie, Earth, Honey, Jam, Malt, Mineral, Muscatel, Pastries, Peach, Plums, Raspberry, Red Fruits, Roasted, Stewed Fruits, Tannin
I bought this back in 2018 based on the catalogue description. I have a well-known weakness for Mi Xiang black teas—and anything else with pronounced honey and fruity flavours. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.
The dry aroma is of honey, malt, stonefruit, and muscatel. The first steep has notes of honey, malt, cookies, wood, nectarine, blood orange, and muscatel. The second steep adds plums, apricots, brown sugar, and additional malt. The tea is a bit drying in the mouth. In the third to sixth steeps, the plum, apricot, and muscatel notes get stronger and the tea has a typical Mi Xiang profile. The final rounds feature honey, malt, wood, tannins, faint plum, earth, and minerals.
Compared to the Mi Xiang Hong Cha from Cha Yi that I drank a few days ago, this tea has more pastry notes and a wider variety of fruit, but the flavour peters out more quickly. This could be due to the fact that this tea is two years old now. Honestly, though, this is a minor fault and I’d be happy to drink either of these teas.
Flavors: Apricot, Blood orange, Brown Sugar, Cookie, Earth, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Muscatel, Plums, Stonefruits, Tannin, Wood