306 Tasting Notes
This puts the TEA in complexiTEA. (rimshot)
Honestly, this tea made me feel like a novice trying to decipher its complex offerings of layered flavors and aromas. For a while I wasn’t sure how to describe them, but some reflection and time with the tea made it clearer, and the later infusions brought out hidden qualities that were present in the earlier infusions but I couldn’t quite put my thumb on before.
This is my first time with a Red Robe. I had high expectations since it is a rather well-known and prestigious tea. I can say my expectations were well met.
The aroma has consistent notes of cinnamon, and for the first several infusions was very woodsy with notes of amber and hay. The amber notes are especially evident when smelling the wet leaves. As for the flavor, it really evolved a lot from one steeping to the next. The common denominator was the sweet cinnamon taste. In earlier steepings it was very woodsy with flavors of sunflower seeds. Later steepings mellowed out and revealed nutmeg and sandalwood. The sweetness accompanying this tea throughout started out like molasses but gradually got lighter with each steeping, moving to an unmistakable caramel note, then becoming more like honey by the fourth or fifth infusion.
These notes all come together to make a really complex cup that is very warming and very “red”. It’s a wonderful and unique tea. Not exactly my tastes, as I tend to be lured by more bright and fresh tasting teas and this one is definitely deep and bold. I couldn’t see myself drinking it often, but I would definitely like to revisit it every once in a while.
As for preparation, I used 2.5g of leaf per 100ml of water, 194F/90C, steeping for 1’30 and adding 0’30 each time.
EDIT: I have finally gotten around to drinking the other packet of this and I am doing this the more traditional Gongfu way for Wuyi oolong, which I’ve learned is to use more leaf and less time, so I’m infusing 4g in 100ml of water for about 10 seconds followed by flash infusions. I can say this definitely yields a much lighter result. Sweet, but with a seriously thick mouthfeel and still plenty of flavor. I would recommend this method over the previous one I used.
Let me start by imparting this wisdom: If you are going to try to prepare this the traditional way for New Year’s with umeboshi and kombu in it, you will definitely be getting some aroma from the kombu and a good bit of salty vinegar flavor from the umeboshi. I could not taste the tea much when I prepared a cup this way, so in short, if you want to do the ritual for fun, go for it. If you want to really appreciate the tea, don’t add anything!
Alright, onto the real review. The first thing that really struck me about this sencha was the incredibly creamy aroma of the dry leaves once added to a warm gaiwan. The aroma of the tea itself is vegetal with hints of ocean. Through the first three steepings of this tea the flavor was pretty consistent, with the first taste being that of cream, then transitioning into the more hearty brothy flavor, very vegetal with hints of seaweed. Finally, it finishes with a mineral or ocean note. On the third and fourth steepings, however, there was a sweetness that emerged in the middle note which was very pleasant.
I brewed in a glass gaiwan using 2g of leaf per 100ml of water, 176F/80C with the following steep times: 1’00, 0’30, 0’40, 1’00. Just a tip: It’s really fun to watch this tea brew in glass! Very green and very pretty!
Overall, this tea was pleasant. It’s cloudy spring green liquor seems to glow and really enhances the “Spring” vibe of this tea. As for flavor, it was not outstanding or terribly unique as a green tea, but on the other side of that coin it has a reliable flavor, making it easy to enjoy.
Shan Lin Xi means “Pine Forest Stream”, named for the region this tea is grown. I learned this after doing a little research online. Not surprisingly, I already had this image in my mind, as the aroma and taste of this tea evokes thoughts of pine trees damp with mountain rain.
The aroma seems to me an infusion of pine and rose. On the first couple steepings, the flavor starts with sweet rose and pine notes then gradates to a malty taste, then finally it finishes in a very peculiar aftertaste that is slightly astringent and I’d even say a little salty. It really lingers on your tongue. By third steeping the flavor has deepened away from the heady floral notes and down to a more fruity pear-like taste. The transition to the more malty taste is less pronounced and overall the flavor is more mellow, less astringent, and the aftertaste has become a bit tangy.
This tea is incredibly calming and definitely brings to mind thoughts of the outdoors, so for that alone this tea has value to me. It’s like a fine incense that transports you out of the confines of your dwelling and into the open air of nature. I am very impressed by the changing flavor and the complexity and highly recommend this Wulong. My only regret is that I didn’t think to use my aroma cup sets that are typically used to enjoy Taiwanese Wulong. Luckily Steepster Select sends two samples.
As for brewing, I decided to ignore the recommended brewing strategy on the sample and brewed it the way I brew most rolled green Wulongs, so I brewed this in a porcelain gaiwan for just 1’00, adding 0’30 for each additional infusion. I used 4.5g of leaf per 100ml of water and 194F/90C water.
This is only my second experience with Long Jing, also known as Dragon Well tea. My first was unfortunate and was very bitter no matter how I brewed it (Republic of Tea). However, this magnificent tea from Steepster was exactly what I expect from one of China’s 10 famous teas.
The mouthfeel of this tea is thick, juicy and wet. It has a very lush, full flavor, green and vegetal with notes of earth, quite savory. There’s a top note of lemon. The finish is smooth, slightly sweet, and lacking in astringency. Upon a second infusion the tea is more mellow, more sweet, and nutty tones of almond come through.
White tea was my favorite type for years, but green teas like this one have recently won my favor and I find myself just craving them more and more. I’m glad that with Steepster Select I was able to add another tea to my repertoire and enjoy a very famous and well known tea the way it is meant to be enjoyed (minus yixing pot, anyways).
As for brewing, I eschewed the suggested 180F for a bit softer 176F/80C. I steeped it in a porcelain gaiwan with the lid propped open for the suggested 2’ 30, adding 0 ’15 for repeated infusions and using 1.75g of leaf per 100ml of water.
I’ll admit it has taken me some time to fully appreciate Butterfly Pea flower tea. I was initially drawn to the gorgeous natural blue color these flowers produce. While the scent of the dry flowers is intoxicating and sweet like dried apple chips, the flavor is less than remarkable.
But if you spend some time with this tisane you’ll find that it has a mysterious power to draw you back in for another cup, another sip. It is mild and calming, easy to drink at night, and it is full of anthocyanins, a powerful antioxidant.
Depending on how you brew this tea you can get a beautiful cerulean liquor or a very deep indigo with shimmers of purple, and certainly its color holds a great deal of this drink’s allure. Simply looking at a cup of this as you enjoy it is very, very relaxing. Adding a few drops of lime juice is not only a nice flavor addition, but causes the tisane to undergo a reaction that turns it red-violet. Drinking it over ice will give you an interesting blue-violet gradient, though it tends to mute the flavor.
I’ve found that I prefer to brew Butterfly Pea on the light side where the liquor is cerulean. For this, use one dried flower for each ounce (or 30 ml) of water. For a stronger taste and to get the deep indigo color, add one extra flower for each 6 ounces or so. That’s usually all it takes.
As for the flavor, contrary to its sweet dried-apple aroma, the taste is woody and earthy, almost smoky even, but pretty mellow. It has some umami flavors that are similar to tomato.
My favorite brew of Butterfly Pea Tea follows this formula: Brew 1 flower per ounce (30 ml) for 2 minutes with water just removed from boiling. Add 30 seconds for additional infusions.
If you’ve never heard of this tea before or haven’t tried it, it is certainly worth a try. It’s inexpensive and very healthy, and you can find it organic from several dealers online. Tip: try brewing it in glass. It’s beautiful to watch the color infuse.
This wild green tea is surreal. The flavor is just so unlike anything else I’ve tasted and no matter how familiar with it I become, I feel like I’m experiencing this tea anew every time I come back to it. I’m always pleasantly surprised all over again.
In a few words I would say this tea reminds me very much of a broth. The buttery texture is generous. It’s quite herbaceous and vegetal with lots of umami and there are grassy tones underscored with a rich sweetness and hints of roasted seaweed. All the flavors come together to create a very complex taste that is well-balanced and multi-faceted. There is a top note of lemon that adds a fresh, bright quality to this tea.
At the time I am writing this review, this is my absolute number one tea, the favorite I keep coming back to. I had a little trouble initially getting the brewing formula right to get the most out of it, but after I figured out what worked best for me, I have had a perfect cup every time. It is wonderfully soothing and it overtakes my senses in such a welcome way. I get so excited about it whenever I first taste a new cup that I joke that this tea is my catnip. Purr, purr, purr.
Best brewing method I’ve found (I’ve tried so, so many with this tea) is 2g per 100ml water at 176F/80C for 45 seconds, then add 15 seconds each time.
Flavors: Butter, Grass, Lemon Zest, Seaweed