23 Tasting Notes
I received this as a free sample with a recent white2tea order. Score! The ball opens up pretty easily with a long rinse followed by a rest in a closed gaiwan. It’s mildly sweet with a vegetal background. It’s not the usual sweet forward taste I’m used to with w2t productions, though. There’s something in there that I can’t place.
The liquor is creamy and thick and the middle steeps have a huang pian-like dark heaviness to them. It reminds me of some of Yunnan Sourcing’s Lincang productions in that there’s a nutty background to this tea.
Overall, I think this is a decent tea but it doesn’t fit the flavor profile I typically like.
The dry leaf smells like sweet milk chocolate and is made up mostly of fuzzy pale golden buds. In a warm gaiwan, the leaf smells intensely of chocolate and then fruits. Kind of a fruity trail mix sort of thing.
Starting with a 10 second steep, the tea is lightly sweet and the primary flavor is malt. I push the tea a little harder on the second steep and am rewarded with some of the chocolate I noticed in the dry leaf and decent thickness.
I’m met with some bitterness and astringency in later steeps but the overall profile remains much the same. This tea is fine but unfortunately I think it smells better than it tastes in the cup.
Flavors: Chocolate, Fruity, Malt
First impressions – toned down apricot sheng smell on both the dry and wet leaf. There are some large intact leaves on the top of the cake but the inside looks to be mostly chop. The gaiwan lid smells herbaceous in a way that reminds me of cannabis smoke.
Steep one is light but sweet and some of that herby smoke is present in the soup. Unsurprisingly, there’s some significant char in the bottom of my cup. There’s a pleasant bitterness and a lasting apricot aftertaste.
As I continue to steep this tea, the liquor moves to a deep orange color. It’s gaining some strength as well as astringency and I notice a hint of sourness on the sides of my tongue.
Nearing the 1 minute mark, this tea has remained pretty static. It’s nice and easy to drink but not very interesting or complex. Which, really, is totally fine for huang pian. It’s generally not meant to stand alone. It’s an interesting cake from an education standpoint, which is what this basics set set is all about.
I received a sample of this as part of the 2017 Sheng Olympiad. The dry leaf smells faintly of sweet apricot. With a quick rinse, the leaves smell like intensely sweet dried apricot. The first steep is extremely light but I can taste a background nuttiness.
Once this tea gets going, it’s apricot sweet and thick with a long lasting, mouth coating aftertaste. It’s mildly bitter and there’s some very light astringency on the tip of the tongue.
By the time my steeps are at about a minute long, the flavor profile has shifted to the vegetal side of things. It’s full-bodied but not as sweet as the initial infusions. With the leaves fully opened, I can tell that this is pretty high quality material. The leaves are large and mostly intact. They’ve got some real staying power as well. I haven’t been counting steeps but it’s more than what I usually get with teas at this price point (which is excellent at just over $.10/g).
The buds in this tea are fuzzy and plump. The dry smell in the bag isn’t too interesting – just smells like a typical white tea. In the warmed gaiwan, the leaves smell like soft fresh linen. With the first steep, I get a steamed edamame smell from the lid – just like Verdant’s 2016 Bai Mu Dan and Shou Mei. The liquor is nearly clear and has a light sweetness to it.
The second steep is much thicker and a bit stronger. This stuff lingers on the tongue. The flavor is springy and vegetal. It tastes like snapping the stem of some sort of thick fresh sweet spring grass in half and having a lick.
Four steeps in and I feel like this tea would probably do better with some more heat. Steeped at 195F, the gaiwan lid smells like a fresh sweet pastry. The softness of the liquor is a little bit diminished but it’s fuller bodied. I think I prefer this tea at about 180-185F.
This tea is solid but (this may be sacrilege) I think their Bai Mu Dan is a better tea and it’s less than half the price of this stuff. The first steep of the Bai Mu Dan tastes very similar to this tea, but the Bai Mu Dan evolves significantly over the course of the session. This tea retains that first steep flavor all the way through – nothing wrong with that but I think the Bai Mu Dan is a more interesting and fun to drink tea.
Flavors: Grass, Smooth, Sweet, Vegetal
I received a generous ~7.5g sample of this from Liquid Proust( :) ). It looks pretty compressed in the bag, and when I break it up I notice I’m going to be drinking from the beenghole! Or tuo hole? Yeah, I think it’s a tuo hole. The rinse is a dark amber and the gaiwan lid smells like damp earth. A bit mulchy, too. I think it’s going to take a while for the compression to open up.
First flash steep looks like a red tea already. The taste is sweet damp earth and the smell reminds me of leaf decomposition, but not in a bad way. Reminds me a bit of a shou puer without any of the funky qualities I dislike in shou. Continuing the flash steepings, the tea isn’t changing much if at all. Maybe it’s a bit thicker. It’s pretty pleasant and I can tell it’s going to last for plenty of steeps. Definitely not a complex tea, but it’s warming and feels good to drink. There is absolutely no astringency or bitterness left in these leaves. It’s medium bodied but satisfying.
Looking at the store page on Beautiful Taiwan Tea’s website, I see that this tuo is still available for $24.50/200g. This is not an amazing tea but that’s a nice price if you like this flavor profile enough to buy a whole cake.
Edit: I’m coming back to this review to note that I actually get some pretty significant feels from this tea. It’s very relaxing. I can feel the tea in my chest and face.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Sweet, Wet Earth
Aw man… Steepster deleted the first 2/3 of this review while it was “saving” it. Bummer. I’ll leave the end up I guess!
The later steeps are stronger but less complex and a bit drying. The sweetness at the sides of the mouth reminds me of buttered popcorn. Once you get past the ~1m30s mark, about 7 or 8 steeps for me, the liquor thickens up quite well. It’s got some legs as well – you can easily get 10-15 steeps out of 5g of this stuff. It’s not really my thing, but I did enjoy drinking this tea and may come back to it if I’m in an odd mood. Recommended for floral oolong lovers.
Flavors: Butter, Floral, Green, Popcorn, Roasted, Sweet
The appearance of this tea’s leaves is really nice. Small, twisted black and furry golden leaves with a sweet malty scent. In a warm gaiwan, the scent leans more towards savory malt with some spices.
The liquor is floral, sweet, and heavy in the mouth. There’s some honey/sweet potato sweetness and it’s surprisingly full-bodied and moderately thick. It’s bitter in a way that reminds me of good coffee. It’s there but it rounds out the flavor really well. There’s also some light astringency on the tip of the tongue but it doesn’t detract from the overall flavor too much.
After 5 or so steeps, the sweet flavors begin to fade and the malt takes over. It’s still nice, but I wish the sweet notes had stuck around a bit longer. The thickness has continued to improve, however.
Another steep or two (now with boiling water to wring out whatever flavor’s left) and I think that’s it for these leaves. This is a good tea but I think you can do better for the price elsewhere.
Flavors: Honey, Malt, Sweet Potatoes, Thick
Breaking off 7g for my ~80ml gaiwan was pretty easy with this cake. I managed to get mostly whole leaves. Dry leaf smells faintly apricot sweet and just a bit musty. In the warm gaiwan, it smells of lightly smoky, maybe grilled, apricot. After a rinse, the gaiwan lid smells of musty books and the wet leaves have a mulling spice aroma to them.
I typically prefer younger shengs but I do came back to this mini-cake quite often. It’s smooth and hits the spot when I don’t feel like drinking a more recent production.
The first steeps of this tea yield a pretty cloudy, amber ale colored brew. It’s immediately sweet with some mild bitterness and a hint of smoke. The apricot that the young teas in the sample set have is still present but the harsher characteristics of the tea have mostly aged out. The bitterness and smoke leave pretty quickly – it only takes a couple steeps before the smooth character of this tea reveals itself. There’s still some slight astringency but it’s accompanied by a decent salivation effect.
Into the later steeps, the tea continues to mellow out and the astringency fades in and out. Some sweet minerality makes an appearance in the last half of my steeps. It’s an easy to drink, tasty tea with pleasing semi-aged character throughout.
Flavors: Apricot, Mineral, Musty, Smoke, Spices, Sweet