306 Tasting Notes
Thank you Mtchyg for this sample! I’m going to brew this Gongfu style. The scent of the dry leaves in a warm gaiwan is really lovely; it does have a very prominent note of dill, but it is the aroma of fresh dill. I imagine this is from the snow chrysanthemums. If you smell the fronds of a dill plant without cutting it, it has this faint and nice dill aroma that this tea reminds me of. The tea also smells mildly floral as well, in a way difficult to describe. It also kind of smells like candy Valentine’s Day hearts. The wet leaves after the first infusion have a much more lush and complex aroma. Still smelling dill and flowers, but also now golden raisins, a bit of anise, pine wood and dry prairie grass.
The first infusion is a very bold golden color that I have not seen before in a Moonlight White tea, and I’m guessing much of it comes from these bright golden-orange snow chrysanthemums that are pressed into the cake.
I should have expected as much, but the first infusion still surprised me with its strong dill flavor. It’s also mildly sweet and a touch floral. There are hints of cinnamon in the liquid aroma. As the tea cools I am tasting more of a subtle malty black tea flavor that I am used to tasting in a moonlight white, as well as a bit of woody, hay-like white tea flavor.
Oh wow, the second infusion, which I only infused for about 5 seconds, is a deep amber-orange color already. These flowers surely contribute a great deal of color to the tea. i am going to add a bit of water, as I think I may have used too much tea. This flavor is peculiar. More of the tea flavor is coming through now, and less of the dill-like flavor of the flowers. Again, the taste of the tea is like a malty, slightly bitter black tea cut with white tea.
Third infusion, I’m tasting equal parts of the tea and flowers. It’s a bit tart now, and the texture is slightly dry in the finish.
On the fourth infusion, the flavor has mellowed out a lot, and is more sweet and rounded, blending the flavors all together very well.
This is a unique tea, and while the Moonlight White base is detectable, I think it is secondary to the taste of the flowers mostly. I’m a bit of a Moonlight White fanatic, and I would say this tea is probably not a Moonlight White fanatic’s tea, since the tea flavor itself doesn’t really shine too much. It is somewhat muddled amidst the flavor of the flowers. This tea would be great for people who like to try something unique though, or anyone who loves the flavor of dill, and I can’t deny how beautiful that pressed cake is.
Flavors: Bitter, Dill, Flowers, Hay, Malt, Pine, Sweet, Wood
Another sample that came with my Bana order (thank you Linda!), the dry aroma of these leaves in a prewarmed gaiwan is of freshly cut wood, muddy forest floor, and flowers. Wet, they smell like trees, flowers, and surf, a summer storm in a cup.
The first infusion is really light. It’s vegetal with wildflowers and a woody, slightly peppery finish.
Moving right along, the second infusion is round with flavors of grass, wood, and a nectar-like sweetness. Orange flowers come to mind, which has become a rather common mental association for me with many raw Puer teas.
On the third infusion, there’s a good amount of sweetness and the flavor is more rich. I can definitely taste this tea’s age, starting to develop some very nice rounded, sweet aged notes, but still with a good amount of the peppery spice and woodiness of its youth. Subtle flavors of goji or wolfberry emerge.
Fourth infusion, I’m starting to sweat. Is that the tea or just me? Woo! The flavor is quite strong, and a pretty even blend of the sharp woody taste and the sweet nectar-like mildly floral taste.
Fifth infusion brings out more sweetness. The flavor is quite full and rich. Overall, I think round is the best word to describe this Puer. It has a good balance of contrasting elements. I personally find it to have a bit of a punch, but some more hardcore Puer drinkers may find it on the easy side. The description from Bana is accurate that it has a good huigan and yun.
Flavors: Flowers, Goji, Nectar, Pepper, Sweet, Wood
The dry aroma of these leaves is rather woody and also smells somewhat like clay. That was unexpected. The wet aroma is very fragrant, perfurmed and fruity. I can’t put my finger on what type of fruit aroma it reminds me of. Maybe lychee or grapes. Maybe even peach.
The first infusion is a pale cream color. The flavor is astonishing… I’m reminded of Thai Tea, the popular black tea that is infused with vanilla and heavy cream and often served cold. I would say it has all of those qualities, but in a much lighter way. It tastes and feels very creamy in the mouth. The scent of the brewed tea is radiating notes of cinnamon, almost smells like a cinnamon roll.
The second infusion is a luminous yellow, like a low moon in the sky. In the flavor, there’s some white grape coming through now, along with the cream and spice notes from before. This rather young Moonlight White tea tastes much like you’d expect young white tea to taste. It has that dewy, green edge to it that a few years aging will slowly take away. Truth be told, I generally prefer this quality over older white teas. There’s something very lifelike, vibrant, and wholesome about it to me. I live in the city where I am unfortunately very detached from nature, so the life in young tea often helps to make me feel a bit more free and unbound. Feels like a natural getaway. I know there’s some debate over whether Moonlight White is white tea or Puer, but generally I believe it is white tea unless pressed into a cake, because it shares the processing method of other white teas unless pressed.
Goodness, the whole room smells like this tea. I left for a moment and was greeted generously by it when I came back. I’ve given the third infusion a stronger brew. The taste is now very generous with a medium yellow liquor. Up front, I get a very mouth-filling cane sugar sweetness, lots of cream flavor. It still tastes vaguely fruity to me; I think white grapes might be the best descriptor I can give, though if someone said peach I could see some of that in there too. This tea just has a really generous aroma, flavor, and sweetness. I wolfed down (lioned down?) this infusion, not purposely.
The fourth infusion continues much in the same way as the third, but the fruit-like flavor is waning and there is more of a creamy malty flavor replacing it. The fifth infusion has not diminished in flavor at all, and is similar to the fourth but with a bit more black tea like flavor in the finish.
This tea is a keeper for me. I’ll update the review if anything interesting creeps out in the late infusions, but for now I’m off to just enjoy this tea.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Cream, Grapes, Peach, Sugarcane, Tea, Vanilla
Got this sent to me by Linda Louie as a sample with a recent Bana order. Thank you Linda. Most of Bana’s teas are Puer tea from Yunnan so it will be interesting to try this white tea from Fujian from them.
The leaves of this tea are very, very furry and plump. Cute! The dry aroma of the white tea leaves in a preheated gaiwan is rather sweet, with a berry-like fruitiness, along with the usual white tea notes of fallen leaves and a bit of earthy forest smell. The aroma of the wet leaves after a first quick infusion made me say “wow!” It’s hard to describe. It has a tangy/tart kind of fruity smell that I can’t describe much better than that and a bit of a dewy smell that reminds me of cucumber. Along with this you get some more foresty or even hay-like scents of tall grass.
The liquor of the first infusion is pale yellow. This tea tastes beautiful and sweet, lightly floral. Peony aroma is what White Peony tea is named after, and this is the first time I’ve had a white tea that really smelled like peonies to me more than other things, though it’s a really subtle floral scent, a lot like the kind you also get from carnations or orchids. This tea is not a White Peony, but I imagine it is from the same dabai dahao cultivars used for those. It has a really delicate sweetness that I enjoy, close to sugar cane in flavor or even cotton candy, though let me emphasize it is light, unlike a mouth full of cotton candy.
Oh what a surprise in the second infusion. I did not expect to be met with such delicious spice overtones. Nutmeg and cinnamon come to mind, while the background is still somewhat floral and a bit green tasting. Have you ever eaten an orchid? They taste like a spicy cucumber. It reminds me of that a bit.
Third infusion, the wet aroma is incredible. Reminds me of all the cut flowers in a flower shop. The flavor is similar but a little more muddled than before and harder to pick out individual notes. Still rather delicate and enjoyable.
By the fourth infusion I feel the flavors have shifted to be a bit more earthy, leafy, hay-like, not as delicate or sweet. There’s a light aroma of muscatel on the wet leaves. I haven’t really mentioned the mouthfeel of this tea yet. I think it has a nice rather thick presence despite its light flavor.
The fifth infusion still has a good flavor with more sweetness returning to it and less of the earthy flavors. The sixth infusion brought out even more sweetness. Seventh did as well. I have noticed that good white teas seem to move in sort of a sideways S pattern if you were to graph their flavor over Gongfu infusions. The first few get better, then they lower in sweetness and complexity for a few, then they get better again after a few. I love the sweetness you can coax out of late infusions of a white tea, and this one works well for that.
This was overall one of the best white teas I’ve had from Fujian province, and as the first white tea from there to really convince me there’s a peony element to the aroma and taste, I think that it deserves some kudos.
Flavors: Cucumber, Flowers, Forest Floor, Grass, Sugarcane
I’m currently bowl steeping this, but I had the pleasure of a gongfu session with this tea on Lunar New Year a couple nights ago with some friends. I will do my best to sum up my thoughts on how it tastes both styles.
Really the biggest difference is that the continuous steep brings out a much stronger flavor. The taste of the gongfu infusions was not remarkably different from one to the next. Also, the tangerine taste comes through much more strongly with the long infusion than with the gongfu infusions, which may be a consideration for how you wish to brew it. I am brewing this with pieces of the tangerine rind in it as well, and I recommend you do it this way to get the full effect of this tea’s character.
Really the tangerine comes through strongest in the aroma, where it really smells like a fresh tangerine peel, despite being aged and oxidized until it’s entirely dark brown. In the flavor it comes through mildly and a bit tart with the gongfu infusions, more as a backdrop to the very forward flavor of the shou, which predominantly tastes like cedar and earth. When bowl steeping this, the tangerine flavor is much more tart and involved, and the first few sips of this tea had an almost meaty flavor that reminded me of smoked salmon with a squeeze of lemon. This Puer lacks sweetness, though I don’t find that it suffers from this. I think this could be good with sugar in it for people who like sweet tea. I tend to just drink things straight these days.
This is not a tea I will likely buy again, as I find it lacks the complexity and nuance of unflavored higher quality shou Puer, but this was a curio and a fun experiment to try for the first time, and I thought it fitting to serve to some friends as a part of a tea spread for Lunar New Year, since small citruses are a very common symbol of the holiday.
Flavors: Cedar, Citrus, Earth, Meat, Smoke, Tart
These purple buds remind me somewhat of Ya Bao in their appearance, though they are smaller and less downy and plush, much more dry and crispy, and of course a deep reddish purple color. After sitting them in a preheated gongfu style teapot they smell quite strongly of mesquite smoke. The first infusion is a pale yellow and the liquor smells like wood, smoke, and black pepper. In fact, if you blindfolded me and had me smell this I might think I was smelling jerky.
The flavor of this tea is a lot more rich than I expected. I was expecting a mouthful of sawdust, to be honest, but this flavor is rather savory. It’s mostly a woody flavor but it has a strong umami component to it that I did not expect and there are the faintest hints of persimmon in the background.On the second infusion there is a slight sugary sweetness and the flavor is woody with a savory vegetable broth background to it. Unsurprisingly, the taste has many similarities with Ya Bao teas, though much more woody and savory compared to any Ya Bao I’ve had, as those tend to be woody but more light and sweet.
The third infusion is a more visible yellow now, and flavor-wise it is about the same as the second infusion. The fourth infusion is a little more sweet and mellow. This would be a really calming tea for people who like predominantly woody flavors. For me, this is not the type of tea I would drink other than when offered to me. The texture of it is juicy and quenching at first, but leaves a bit of a dry feeling in the mouth at the end of the sip.
Flavors: Pepper, Smoke, Sweet, Umami, Wood
This red tea says it is from old tea trees. I haven’t looked into how old yet, as I prepare to taste the tea with a neutral understanding of it, but already, “old” is an impression I’m getting from the dry aroma of the leaves in a warm gaiwan. It has some of the musty and leathery notes of aged or shu Puer. There’s a bit of cocoa and wood coming through too. It reminds me of the profile I have experienced in a lot of purple leaf teas. The leaves are very big, long, twisty. I filled my gaiwan pretty generously with them since they aren’t too dense. After an infusion, the wet leaves give off a damp loamy scent with some muscatel grape. What I taste from the first infusion was really surprising, initially very woody, then malty, then finishing somewhat bitter. This tea has some similarities in flavor with Shou. There is a vaguely raisin-like flavor in the mix, and mushroom. The lingering taste is not only bitter it is really savory/umami faintly echoing gyokuro.
My first infusion was nearly red and my second is more orange, as I brewed it a little more lightly. This time I’m getting a bit more of the muscatel flavor, still some mushrooms and wood underneath, a bit of earth. The aroma has notes of spices.
The third infusion is much more malty with spice notes in the flavor and a really woody finish. This is quite a unique tea. I get a grounding feeling from the very idea of it being from old trees, and from the very down-to-earth flavor profile, yet it is giving me a decent jolt of caffeine so i feel a bit uplifted. I feel like I’m being pulled in two directions at once. You can call this tea-drinking lion Stretch Pawstrong (drum, hi-hat, and dad-joke buzzer).
Fourth infusion is a little bit sweet and more grape, though still very prominent wood and earth notes. The early infusions had some pretty considerable bitterness in the finish, but that is a lot milder in the later ones.
This is a unique tea among red teas I’ve tried. I’m not really sure if it’s my thing, but I think it is refreshingly different.
Flavors: Bitter, Grapes, Loam, Mushrooms, Umami, Wood
The first aromas from the dry leaves in a warm gaiwan are of cocoa and apricot. After the first infusion, the wet leaves are much more fragrant with fruit aromas or white grape, nectarine, and lychee. The pale yellow first infusion is quite sugary and light with a flavor reminiscent of lychee, both fruity and floral.
On the next infusion I’m getting more white grape flavors, more of the flowers and lychee, and a lot of honey-like sweetness. More of the same flavors in infusion three. This tea has a very thick, velvety, quenching texture, and there isn’t a hint of bitterness present. The sweetness lingers on your tongue like honey. There are spice notes and autumn leaves in the aroma. I’m on the fourth infusion and the flavor has been pretty consistent so I think the most helpful words I can share are to compare this to other Oriental Beauty oolongs I’ve had. This one has really nothing I’d describe as an earthy flavor. It stays well on the floral, honey, and fruity side of things (descending in that order), while some others I’ve had add a layer of earthiness or woodiness beneath all that. This one should delight those who like their Oriental Beauty oolong sweeter, especially if you like floral tones.
Flavors: Floral, Grapes, Honey, Lychee
I mostly smell honey and fresh flowers from the dry aroma of this tea, a little bit of grass. The wet aroma of the leaves smells sweet and grassy with floral notes and hints of warm oats.
The taste of the first infusion is pretty complex. At first I get oats and cream and some evergreen. The finish evokes cinnamon and camphor.
On infusion two the tea liquor has a really nice floral scent, and in the second and third infusions it has that nice foresty, floral kind of familiar taste that you get with classics like Tie Guanyin. Hints of camphor in the finish.
The fourth infusion is similar. This is overall a pretty commonplace green oolong by my book. Good, reliable, not particularly special. Well priced in that regard.
Flavors: Camphor, Creamy, Floral, Grass, Oats, Pine
The dry aroma of the leaves is rich, creamy, and buttery with lush green notes of evergreen forest and flowers. The wet aroma is the same but more vibrant.
Brewing in a gaiwan, the first infusion tastes subtle, green, and buttery, though there’s a surprising tang in the finish. I’m moving ahead to the next infusion as this one turned out a bit too subtle to really analyze. The second infusion is again buttery, green, this time a lot more floral, and there’s a somewhat bitter finish. Third infusion quite similar.
Fourth infusion I’m getting more floral than anything, reminds me a bit of Jasmine.
I anticipated really enjoying this tea from the aroma, but there’s something missing. There is no sweetness to it at all, and not enough umami to balance the floral tones. The finish comes off rather dry, and at times bitter. I don’t detect a lot of complexity and overall i feel this tea is sour.
I went ahead and checked their description to see what I’m supposed to be getting here and I’m not getting any of the sweet berry tones (unless we’re talking pretty tart berries), I can see the safflower and crysanthemum references they made though. Definitely not getting sweetness or a caramel taste even by the fifth brew. I did find that it was subtler and more flavorful on the fifth brew though, with less tartness.
Of course, I don’t mean to speak badly of this tea. It’s just not one that leaves a great impression on my palate. I have this problem with certain varietals of green rolled oolong, particularly Alishan. This one reminds me of that. Others might like this more than I do.
Flavors: Butter, Floral, Green, Pine