218 Tasting Notes

85
drank Guei Fei by Camellia Sinensis
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

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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92

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

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 5 min, 0 sec 4 g 12 OZ / 355 ML
White Antlers

This sounds lovely!

Leafhopper

It is! I was originally offered 100 g of this tea, but had to trim my order slightly since it was getting expensive. I kind of regret that now, though I’m sure they sent other good teas.

White Antlers

I will look forward to reading your tasting notes on the rest of your 2020 Lochans. : )

Leafhopper

There are a bunch of them! I hope the site continues to let me post reviews.

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drank Gaba Lu Cha by Sebz
218 tasting notes

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

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 120 ML
White Antlers

I find GABA teas a let down for any psychoactive effects, too.

Leafhopper

Yay! You can see my note!

White Antlers

I can, indeed. This is the first time I could access the site in 3 days. I have no Dashboard, though.

Mastress Alita

I only “see” it because I’m manually checking through people I’m Following. My Dashboard continues to be blank.

Leafhopper

Ugh. There are so many issues with Steepster right now.

mastressalitaclone

Now I can’t post replies anymore, so I had to make a new account JUST to post. The new thing now is that our Profiles are disappearing… I noticed mine gone (though I have a backup), and my friend Todd’s was gone, but I see yours is as well, Leafhopper. The “Bio” and “Website” fields are being replaced with “blank”

Leafhopper

You’re right, my profile is gone. I don’t even remember what I wrote, but I know there was something there. This is very discouraging.

Leafhopper

I just googled my Steepster tealog and copied the text of my profile from the cache. This could be a workaround for other users whose profiles are being deleted. I wouldn’t know how to make a backup of my 216 tasting notes, and there’s nowhere I could post them anyway.

Mastress Alita

See, I never post a tea review directly to the site. I wrote every single one to an external file on my computer first (Steepster.txt), and that .txt file I have set to backup in various places. So my tea reviews are well backed up. But it isn’t like there is an “alternative” to Steepster to move to, or I’d have left to there months ago…

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81

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

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 30 sec 6 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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76

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

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 12 OZ / 355 ML

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86

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

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 6 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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77

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

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 120 ML
CrowKettle

Oh, Leafhopper. Yours is the only note on my dashboard. It’s like the internet gods have picked you!

Also, I am intrigued by strawberry note tea.

Mastress Alita

Ya, earlier today the Dashboard was just completely missing… now it just seems to not be loading anything in the history that was prior to this note.

Leafhopper

Yes, I was surprised when this review showed up on my dashboard and assumed it wouldn’t appear on anyone else’s. Glad that notes are starting to be posted again. The strawberry flavour in the tea is kind of faint and mostly consists of sweetness.

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79

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

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 7 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
White Antlers

Eh! Drinking hot tea in August IS annoying! I was desperate this morning so I was forced to drink a hot cuppa, which was not the torture I thought it would be.

Leafhopper

We’ve had some days that were over 30C here in Ontario, but I tend not to cold brew because it requires more leaf and I don’t get as many resteeps. I guess I’d rather save money than have cold tea. I do, however, sometimes cold brew old teas I want to get rid of.

White Antlers

I generally will brew a big pot of hot tea at night as I am doing the dinner dishes, pour it into a jug and chill it overnight. That way I can get a few hot brews out of the leaves without having to cold brew-which I also think is a waste and does not taste as good as hot brew that’s chilled. It’s been consistently over 32.22C here (90s Fahrenheit) on the U.S. East coast with 98% humidity. We had tornadoes yesterday-and even they did not cool it off. I made sure to brew up tea after dinner so I can have a big, cold glass tomorrow at breakfast.

Leafhopper

Yikes, that’s hot! I’ve also made hot tea and then put it in the fridge. I’m not sure if it makes more tea than cold steeping; I might have to do a comparison. I actually haven’t made a big Western pot of tea in quite a while. I usually do gongfu sessions or steep it in a mug using a Finum infuser.

White Antlers

I am a tea barbarian. That is one reason why I don’t review. When I first tried pu erh, I would put a chunk in 2 cups of water in a Pyrex measuring cup then put that in the microwave for 2 minutes. I brew Western 95% of the time. To me, tea just tastes like tea. I so love these lyrical tasting notes folks write and wish I could get all that from my tea. So I get it vicariously here instead.

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93

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

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 120 ML
derk

Woof. Sounds good!

Leafhopper

It was. I’m developing a fondness for Hong Shui oolongs.

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85

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

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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Profile

Bio

Since I discovered Teavana’s Monkey Picked Oolong four years ago, I’ve been fascinated by loose-leaf tea. I’m glad to say that my oolong tastes have evolved, and that I now like nearly every tea that comes from Taiwan, oolong or not, particularly the bug-bitten varieties. I also find myself drinking Yunnan blacks and Darjeelings from time to time, as well as a few other curiosities.

However, while online reviews might make me feel like an expert, I know that I still have some work to do to actually pick up those flavours myself. I hope that by making me describe what I’m tasting, Steepster can improve my appreciation of teas I already enjoy and make me more open to new possibilities (maybe even puerh!).

Location

Toronto

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