90 Tasting Notes
Dry, the White Peony Master Grade Bai Mu Dan gives us sweet trees right off the bat. Maybe it’s the Christmas season getting to us (whatever happened to Thanksgiving?), but you can almost detect a hint of pine.
And then you steep it.
This tea explodes out of the cup. The fragrance is incredible as soon as the hot water hits, suffusing the air with flowers tightly enclosed within their pre-spring buds. Wow. From the eggshell-pale liquor, you get… Full review here: http://snooteablog.com/2013/11/26/snooty-tea-review-yezi-tea-round-1/
Hello, Dragon Well Master Grade Long Jing. Unlike the white, this green tea has a subtle aroma out of the bag. There’s something cool and clean about it, that would almost fool you into believing it’s as light as a Sencha or Gyokuro. Is that a promise a sweetness? Say it ain’t so! Dragonwell may be one of the most common types of green tea, but already there is nothing common about this fella. In the cup, we get that promised sweetness indeed, a freshwater dragon who brings on the rain.
It comes out even paler than the White Peony, surprisingly; the liquor we’ve got here is a shade you’d sooner find while hunting pearls–or marathoning Say Yes To The Dress. But hoo boy, this flavor. Your cup holds… Full review here: http://snooteablog.com/2013/11/26/snooty-tea-review-yezi-tea-round-1/
The dry smell packed with Keemum Congfu is a whoa of saltiness. This is one of those teas that actually makes you think of meat–charred, but deliciously so. All that smoke produces the effect of the well-done-est burger you’ve ever had in your life. In the cup, it quiets down a bunch, like you’re getting the roasted veggies that came along as a side dish: caramelized carrots and sweet ‘tater fries.
Once you sip that first infusion, however, it becomes clear that this isn’t a stand-in for Five Guys. The deep amber liquor contains a smooth mouthfeel that could be rather conspiratorial–a mischievous wink and a nudge from… Full review here: http://snooteablog.com/2013/11/09/snooty-tea-review-joseph-wesley-black-tea-round-2/
For our Dian Hong Congfu, the dry leaves greet you with a smell of sulfurous dried peaches, the ones you bought last summer and left forgotten in the back of your pantry until now. They’re still edible, but you might not want to serve them to anyone else–just in case. Once steeped, the hot water resusci-tea-tes the fruity scent and your peaches get a bit more lively. Happy zombie peaches.
The first infusion is a sweet golden cup to go along with your newly revived fruit basket. It hardly needs sweetener or milk, because that peach just… Full review here: http://snooteablog.com/2013/11/09/snooty-tea-review-joseph-wesley-black-tea-round-2/
The dry smell of Bai Lin Congfu is heavy on the dust. Strangely though, it’s a clean sort of dust–the kind you’d find at a well-run bakery. In the cup, this quiets down a lot, bringing you more of the saccharine fruit notes to come.
Our first infusion, all dressed up in a amber-red liquor, brings us Honey Nut Cheerios. This is all well and good, unless… Full review here: http://snooteablog.com/2013/11/09/snooty-tea-review-joseph-wesley-black-tea-round-2/
Joseph Wesley’s Lapsang Souchon blows heavy smoke in your face upon first whiff of the dry leaves. Not quite as heavy as if you’re standing next to Grandpa Joe and his massive Cuban cigar; this is when he’s stepped out to the bathroom and left his jacket behind, which you put on so that, just for a moment, you can feel like the Old Spice guy.
And yet, once in the cup, this baby comes out as light as you please–we go from Old Spice to Posh Spice, all grown up and nestled in the arms of David Beckham. The liquor is tarnished gold, like a pale ale, and the aroma gives you nothing but… Full review here: http://snooteablog.com/2013/11/05/snooty-tea-review-joseph-wesley-black-tea-round-1/
The Classic Chinese doesn’t just smell “classic” when dry. Book fiends will get lost with their noses in it, with the leaves’ aroma of ancient dark halls filled with heavy scrolls; a library from the dawn of storytime. This quiets noticeably in the cup as it transitions into the warm, rich notes we get from our Chinese blacks.
Unlike finicky Darjeelings, go against your first ins-tea-nct and let this one steep for a little longer, and be sure the water is max temperature. A languid 5 minutes will do the both of you good, as you’re rewarded with… Full review here: http://snooteablog.com/2013/11/05/snooty-tea-review-joseph-wesley-black-tea-round-1/
Taiwan Osmanthus Oolong Tea (Flavored) has the dry scent of, as you can expect, osmanthus. Holy bells. That is some flower power right there. It’s like sticking your nose into the center of a Peachy Ring; after one whiff, you want to brush the sugar off your nostrils. The steeped aroma is much more savory, with the peach hanging subtly overhead.
Our first infusion yields that odd tongue-sensation that you get when two divisions of the flavor spectrum are sandwiched together, in a space that just too close for comfort. Sweet and Savory are crammed into a tiny elevator, forced to squeeze up against each other, and neither one is happy about the situation–which leaves the drinker… Full review here: http://snooteablog.com/2013/10/15/snooty-tea-review-teavivre-round-3/
Another “Superfine” tea, Superfine Taiwan Ali Shan Oolong Tea, hides its fragrance very well when dry. It’s like sniffing a clean table; you get nothing. Once steeped, you get some nice orangey flowers warming up your day, the delicately edible kind like marigolds and sunflowers. In fact, more than the petal part of the sunflower is the scent of sunflower seed. (If you’ve never had sunflower seed butter, go put it on your toast. Now.)
With the first infusion, its liquor the color of a watery Post-it, the sip is full of those sunflower seeds. But not just any seed… Full review here: http://snooteablog.com/2013/10/15/snooty-tea-review-teavivre-round-3/
The last of our “Superfine”s, the dry Superfine Taiwan Quing Xiang Dong Ding Oolong Tea keeps to itself, smell-wise. You get hints of possibili-teas; some petals, some mineral salt, some herbyness in the sage-y vein, but otherwise nada. In the cup, this steeps to an interesting effect: someone’s been cooking veggies all day–zucchini, celery, and bok choy–but then decided to blast the room with Febreeze and the veggies came out on top.
Definitely the greenest of our oolongs so far in the first infusion, when you get down to the sip-’sperience. Meadow-green, hot-sun-on-wet-grass green, Fifty Shades of Green. With a similarly faint yellow liquor as the Taiwan High Mountain Oolong Tea, this stuff is tailor-made for… Full review here: http://snooteablog.com/2013/10/15/snooty-tea-review-teavivre-round-3/