168 Tasting Notes
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
When I stumbled on a bit of this very old tea in my stash, I thought it would be a perfect way to celebrate Thanksgiving. I steeped 1.5 teaspoons in a 355 ml mug at 200F for 4, 6, and 10 minutes.
Scooping this tea out of the bag, I notice that the years haven’t softened its clove and pumpkin spice aroma. The first steep tastes like a clove-heavy pumpkin pie, with pumpkin, caramel, molasses, cinnamon, and of course cloves. I can’t taste much of the black tea base. The tea isn’t overly sweet, although I get some sweetness in the aftertaste. I’d actually appreciate if the caramel/molasses flavour were less prominent, as there seems to be an off note connected to it, maybe because of its age. However, I guess that’s what gives it its resemblance to pumpkin pie. I’m sure this tea would be even better with milk, but I don’t usually drink it and don’t have any on hand. The second and third steeps were decent and still had lots of spice.
This tea was a nice change of pace, but I don’t have a strong desire to buy more.
Flavors: Caramel, Cinnamon, Clove, Molasses, Pumpkin, Spices
I bought a bunch of second flush Darjeelings from this company a while ago, plus a couple first flushes. But by the time I could dig in to them, I got two back-to-back colds. Finally, my sinuses have more or less returned to normal and I can start reviewing tea again (yay!). I steeped about 4 g of this fluffy leaf in a 355 ml mug at 195F for 5 and 8 minutes, respectively.
The first steep is really green, with notes of orange blossom, other flowers, citrus, herbs (thyme?), roasted almonds, cream, green pepper, and grass. The body is thick and there’s little astringency. The second steep is more vegetal and herbaceous.
This is a nice, complex, greener first flush that deserves the attention I can finally give it. The flavours are well integrated, although I tend to prefer more fruity offerings (hence the focus on second flushes).
Flavors: Almond, Citrus, Cream, Floral, Grass, Green Pepper, Herbaceous, Orange Blossom, Thyme, Vegetal
For the past couple weeks, I’ve had a miserable cold that wiped out my ability to smell or taste anything with any accuracy. The only upside was being able to sip down this tea, which I’ve had since 2015. (In a mistake that might haunt me to my grave, I placed an order with Tealirious the week that Butiki was having their closing sale. I’d just gotten into tea and didn’t know what I was doing.)
This tea is pretty, with lots of fluffy golden tips, but that’s almost the only good thing I can say about it. The first steep is a tannic kick in the teeth. When my palate recovers, I get notes of hay, barnyard, cardboard, faint sweet potato, caramel, earth, and malt. Lowering the leaf amount tempers the tannins and astringency a little, but leaves me with a bland but still drying cup. I tried gonfuing this tea to get rid of it faster, and it’s one of the only times I haven’t finished a session.
This tea might have been better with milk or sugar or as a cold brew with lots of flavouring, but plain, it’s pretty bad. It’s probably the worst tea I received from Tealirious, which had decent teas overall. Its awfulness can’t be attributed to its age, either, as I remember trying it when I bought it and immediately pushing it to the back of my cupboard in consternation. Glad to finally see it go.
Flavors: Astringent, Barnyard, Caramel, Cardboard, Drying, Earth, Hay, Malt, Sweet Potatoes, Tannin
This review is for the spring 2018 harvest. I bought this tea as a possible alternative to Yunnan Sourcing’s premium Tie Guan Yin. (I also bought their fancy TGY, which is a noticeable step down in quality.) I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 7, 10, 12, 16, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.
Dry, the tea smells like lilacs, orchids, cookies, and grass. The first steep has notes of grass, orchids, lilacs, other flowers, cream, cookies, and coriander. The taste is pleasant, but is grassier than regular TGY. The next three steeps have citrus and herbaceous notes, though again, the grass predominates. The profile is similar throughout the next few steeps until it fades into grass and veggies around the ninth infusion.
If I use a lot of leaf, this tea comes close to the premium Tie Guan Yin, but ultimately, it’s not as interesting or satisfying. I guess you really do get what you pay for, at least in this instance.
Flavors: Citrus, Cookie, Coriander, Cream, Floral, Grass, Herbaceous, Orchids, Vegetal
I like Teakruthi’s minimalist approach to their flavoured teas. Where many vendors would have a whole grocery list of ingredients, this company has only black tea and lemon. I steeped 2 teaspoons of leaf in a 355 ml mug at 190F for 4, 6, and 10 minutes.
When I opened the bag, a strong lemon scent wafted out, which made me worry that the tea would taste like drain cleaner. Fortunately, the first steep is mild, with a nice balance of natural lemon and malty, slightly drying black tea. Unlike the few other lemon teas I’ve had, the flavours don’t seem to be competing with each other as to which will be the stronger. Subsequent steeps retain this good balance, but are weaker in taste with a greater amount of dryness. There are also huge lemon pieces among the spent leaves.
This is a pleasant, unfussy brew that I enjoyed. I found that the lemon distracted me from paying attention to the base tea, but this just shows how well integrated it is. I probably won’t purchase it because I don’t tend to go for lemon teas, but I recommend it highly for those who do.
Flavors: Drying, Lemon, Malt
I was really excited to try an oolong from a region that’s not known for producing them. My tastes run to greener oolongs from China and Taiwan, and it’s nice to get some variety. Thanks to Teakruthi for the sample. I steeped around 5 grams of this tea in a 355 ml mug at 185F for 3, 4, and 6 minutes.
The first steep has notes of decayed autumn leaves, grass, metal, and flowers. I’m not sure if it’s due to the processing, but this tea seems unfinished, kind of like I’d imagine raw tea leaves (or any steeped plant) would taste. If anything, this tastes like a grassy green tea. The next two steeps are much the same.
While this oolong is definitely green, it has none of the flavours or nuances I look for in these teas. Based on this sample, I don’t think Sri Lanka is ready for prime time as an oolong producer, though it’s great that they’re exploring different tea types. Maybe like Nepal a few years ago, Sri Lanka needs some time to refine their oolong-making technique, or maybe this tea just isn’t for me.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Floral, Grass, Metallic, Plants
When I saw that this tea was from 135-year-old bushes, I couldn’t pass up the chance to try it. (I guess all you puerh drinkers are making me value old tea trees.) It’s from the Dimbula region of Sri Lanka, which makes it a high-grown tea. Thanks to Teakruthi for the sample.
I steeped slightly over 2 teaspoons of leaf in a 355 ml mug at 190F for 4.5 and 6 minutes. In a previous session, I used the same parameters and started steeping at 3.5 minutes, but the tea turned out too light to detect much flavour.
The aroma of the large twisted leaves is of malt and muscatel. The first steep is a nice combination of muscatel, wood, and malt with a grassy aftertaste. I also get floral and sappy notes, as well as a hint of smoke, though fortunately for me, this is easy to miss. The tea is very light and has almost no astringency. The second steep still has lots of flavour, with the malt and wood predominating.
This is an elegant, non-abrasive tea with some nice but understated flavours. Even though I used slightly more leaf than the instructions recommended, it was very light and I had trouble picking it apart. This seems to be the more laid-back cousin of Divine Highlands and would make for a nice afternoon tea.
Flavors: Floral, Grass, Malt, Muscatel, Sap, Smoke, Wood
Thanks to Teakruthi for the beautifully packaged free samples. I don’t have much experience with Sri Lankan teas, so I was eager to see what they’re all about. I personally picked this blend because the website description likened it to a first flush Darjeeling, a tea type of which I have some knowledge. I steeped 5 g of leaf in a 355 ml mug at 190F for 4, 6, and 10 minutes, respectively.
The leaves are small, fairly uniform green twists and have a dry aroma of wildflowers, fruit, and pine. The first steep is a lovely copper colour and indeed has the florals and faint muscatel of a first flush Darjeeling. I also get grape skins, green grapes, raisins, pine sap, eucalyptus, grass, tannins, and pleasant sourness. I remember as a kid cracking open the seed pods of the caragana tree in my yard, and the taste reminds me of how that smelled. The second and third steeps offer lighter renditions of these flavours.
I’ve tried this tea with less leaf and at lower temperatures, but anything that reduces the sappy sourness also reduces the Darjeeling-like fruit and florals. I’ve come to the conclusion that this tea should be enjoyed for the expression of the Sri Lankan highland terroir that it is and that comparisons to first flush Darjeeling can go only so far.
Flavors: Eucalyptus, Floral, Fruity, Grapes, Grass, Muscatel, Pine, Pleasantly Sour, Raisins, Sap, Tannin, Vegetal
This is the 2017 winter harvest. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 25, 20, 25, 30, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.
Dry, these big green nuggets smell like heady flowers, green apples, and custard. I get orchids, honeysuckle, green apple, sweet corn, cream, and grass in the first steep. (What is it with corn showing up in high mountain oolongs lately?) The tea is sweet, silky, and slightly metallic, and has a persistent aftertaste. The next couple steeps add notes of spinach, herbs, and a hint of green apple. (But it’s mainly still about the corn.) The corn dissipates by steep five and the florals by steep seven or so, leading to a grassy, vegetal, faintly sweet end to the session.
This is a pretty standard Lishan with a substantial body and some interesting notes near the beginning of the session. It fades pretty quickly, which is a problem with many teas of this type. I usually don’t pay more for organic teas, but I’ll have to see whether TTC’s organic Lishan is worth the extra money.
Flavors: Corn Husk, Cream, Floral, Grass, Green Apple, Herbaceous, Honeysuckle, Metallic, Orchid, Spinach, Vegetal