47 Tasting Notes

88

I just LOVE the weather right now in Canada. I’ve been spending my free time this Autumn foraging for edible fungi and crunching colourful fallen leaves (paired with some tea, obviously). Yesterday I brought my travel gongfu set and a thermos of water with me to enjoy this refreshing silver needle outside, the perfect liquid companion!

It’s been a while since I’ve sipped a good jasmine tea, and despite my love of these delicate flowers, a jasmine-white blend has somehow eluded my cupboards. Although I often prefer an oolong base, I must admit that the silver needle’s profile blends harmoniously with the hazy, heady perfume of jasmine flowers. Right from the first infusion I felt immediately more relaxed and lulled into what I can only describe as a waking-dream state. A masterful scenting process is apparent and truly pales in comparison to essential oil additives. The liquor has a delicate colour, but thick and lubricating with a rich and complex aftertaste of mixed fruits and jasmine petals. Lush lush lush.

Flavors: Fruity, Honey, Jasmine, Sweet, warm grass

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 8 g 5 OZ / 140 ML

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80
drank Cream Earl Grey by Tao Tea Leaf
47 tasting notes

Finally went through a truly immense stock of oolong and shoumei that was getting me through the summer months. On to something new and perhaps more seasonally appropriate. Up until now I don’t think I’ve tried any scented/blended teas from this store, but their pure loose leaf has been great so far.

The first thing I noticed about this cream earl grey is that the leaves are definitely a bit lower in quality and moderately broken, although it seems that’s usually the case with blends. Still, the dry aroma is enticing and I just loooove bergamot. Brewed this up Western style and am very content. It’s not sickly sweet or saturated with a chemically-strong fragrance like many other earl grey’s I’ve tried. Just some tasty Chinese black tea and a gentle, creamy bergamot flavour. This is how you balance a scented tea, it’s very well done.

Flavors: Bergamot, Cream

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec 4 g 8 OZ / 240 ML

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70

Is anyone else obsessed with Animal Crossing right now? I’ve been spending far too much time playing it, or maybe I just have too much free time on hands in general, ha. Had the day off work yesterday and basically just sat around playing and drinking tea.

This oolong was given to me as a sample and it’s interesting in the sense that before yesterday I had never tried such a starkly divided oolong. There’s an equal amount of heavy roast/char flavour and fruity floral flavour, almost as if someone mixed two separate oolongs. Nothing distinct really pops out at me except these two polar opposite flavour profiles. I’m not really a fan, it just seems confused, but I can see how others may enjoy this.

Flavors: Floral, Roasted

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 8 g 5 OZ / 140 ML
gmathis

Animal Crossing triggers all kinds of sentimental mommy memories for me! On my writing desk at home is a mini figurine of the little dog dude that sings to you in the coffee shop … forgot his name.

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95

Having a tough day today and needed the equivalent of comfort food in tea format, so I dipped into this Dan Cong that I was originally planning to save for the weekend. The only other honey orchid harvest I’ve tried was from Yunnan Sourcing (which was excellent), so I’m comparing this to that.

Great first impression! The wash was so aromatic and sweet tasting, definitely reminiscent of what I tried from YS. I think the liquor on this is a bit more orange in colour though, silky smooth, and consecutive infusions seem to lean more towards those kind of rich sweet cream and subdued umami notes that some Japanese greens can have. I’m also interestingly getting some taste of pears in the mix, like when they get slightly over ripe and are extra sweet and watery. Id say the variety I had from YS had a much brighter orchid note, while this is leaning more towards wildflower honey or whipped cream overall. It’s so so so good, very pleased indeed. I am just such a sucker for all these sweet floral oolongs. Also has a delightful aftertaste that just wont quit. Think I’ll have to buy a huge amount of this next time I order.

Flavors: Cream, Honey, Orchid, Pear, Umami

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 7 g 5 OZ / 140 ML

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80

I’m tapping out. Between the pandemic and the weather it’s just too much. This week’s heat wave will reach a whopping 36 Celsius and I have half the mind to make up a bed in the chest freezer and hibernate through it… Somehow I am still managing to drink hot tea today, but I’ll be making a big batch of cold brew iced tea after work.

I’ve chosen to dive into another loose leaf sheng that I purchased locally. Was frankly wary of the “ancient tree” advertising (rolling my eyes over here), but thankfully it’s not that expensive and surprised me with how enjoyable it actually is.

The wash and first infusion produced some lovely camphor and subdued sweet floral notes. Initially there is a bit of bitterness too, but as this is still somewhat young I think it’s actually quite pleasant (aged by my local shop since 2011). After a few pots these leaves really seem to give themselves fully with less bitterness and more of a rich smoky/meatiness that mixes pleasantly with that soft floral character. I also noticed an enjoyable spicy/peppercorn sensation on the sides of the tongue when I aerate via slurping. The liquor is juicy and thick, deep caramel in colour, leaving a lovely sweet aftertaste throughout the session. Despite the rich profile, I would say this is overall quite a light sheng!

This is now the second loose leaf pu-erh I’ve tried from this store and I really am satisfied. Both are quite good and I think the owner must have good sourcing sensibilities because I have never been impressed by uncompressed pu-erhs before. Would love to keep trying what else he has kicking around, I wish I could go into the shop and chat in person. Maybe one day soon (hopefully!)

Flavors: Bitter, Camphor, Flowers, Meat, Peppercorn, Smoke, Sweet

Preparation
Boiling 8 g 5 OZ / 140 ML

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75

I’m melting, melting I say! I am one of those weirdos who prefers colder climes and winter to the heat and humidity of summer. The season’s barely started and I’m already feeling swampy and sluggish. Bleh. Wistfully dreaming of the days when I could travel to cooler parts of the world.

At least I have some energising tea to keep me going. I’m dipping into this Golden Needle from my local shop today and it’s pretty good initially, but I think I do just prefer more mature buds when it comes to black teas. I find the younger Chinese black teas to release most of their essence in the first couple infusions leaving my wanting for more. Maybe Golden Needle is just better brewed Western style? Will have to give it a go. Anyway, the flavour profile is sort of a mix between earthy/mineral notes, malt, and honey, but the wet leaves aroma is way stronger than the flavour unfortunately. It actually reminds me of some sheng pu-erhs I’ve tried strangely. Lubricating mouth feel though and decent amount of caffeine I think. Ultimately this won’t be my go-to black tea in the future, but I’m still glad I tried it.

Flavors: Earth, Honey, Malt, Mineral

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 8 g 5 OZ / 140 ML

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70
drank Lychee Congou by Tao Tea Leaf
47 tasting notes

I’m really in the mood to create something today so I’ve decided to just dive into making a tea board/table to use at work. I have some pine and I think oak planks that I can use. Mind you, I have absolutely no wood working skills whatsoever, but there’s no time like the present to learn something new, right? If any of you reading this know where I can find some good DIY instructions for a tea board please link me!

The tea I’m concurrently drinking was one of the samples provided in my last purchase. I usually don’t opt for flavoured black teas, but this one is pretty decent. I am a sucker for lychee fruit too which helps. Not much I can really say about this tea other than it’s sweet and fruity. I like it better than some of the fruit blends and flavourings I’ve tried from other companies, and thankfully the lychee flavouring doesn’t taste chemical. The tea leaves are somewhat broken and unimpressive, so I’m thinking it’s just bottom of the bag leaves tossed with flavouring. Probably wouldn’t buy this as I still prefer a pure black tea, but if you like flavoured teas this is a good choice.

Flavors: Lychee

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 250 ML
Nattie

Good luck with your project! I have absolutely no idea where to begin with something like that, but it sounds great. Hoping to hear updates! (:

So Keta

Thankfully my father has carpentry tools I can use which should make things a bit easier. I’m probably just going to buy a cheap aluminium grill or hard mesh and set that on top of a basic wooden box. IDK, we’ll see. I’ll post a link to photos when I’m all done :)

mrmopar

If you have a framing or small square tool it will be much easier. Once you get the 4 sides done the rest with good measurements will be easy. Good luck and post pics when you get it done.

So Keta

So I managed to buy a piece of this yesterday which I will cut to size once I build the frame https://www.homedepot.com/p/M-D-Building-Products-36-in-x-36-in-Cloverleaf-Aluminum-Sheet-Silver-57166/202091746

Am attempting to cut and assemble the wood today, so wish me luck. Thankfully I do have a square tool!

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88

I went for a late walk last night around my neighbourhood and couldn’t believe how delicious the air smelled. There are many fragrant trees and bushes around, particularly lilacs! It was so lovely to discover as this is my first Spring/Summer that I’m living in this area. I caught myself daydreaming about it at work today too and thought it was only fitting that I dive into a sweet and floral tea.

Believe it or not, this is the first “Oriental Beauty” oolong I’ve tried. I’ve heard many good things about this cultivar over the years and can finally say that I understand the hype! This particular harvest is very well balanced and really hits all my favourite oolong notes. This is certainly a contender for new favourite oolong!

The liquor is a gorgeous rose tinted caramel kind of colour. Not the thickest, but incredibly smooth and lubricating. The flavour though!!!! Oh man, it’s so yummy. It’s got some honey and sugarcane going on, stone fruits like peach, nectarine, and apricot, and the perfect level of orchid-like floral note. Further infusions bring out more of a wet stone kind of flavour that I’ve more experienced in a Da Hong Pao. The only area that I would say it can improve on is in the number of pots I can brew before the flavour tapers off. I can get it up to about the minute mark before it just sharply drops. I guess that’s pretty good, but compared to the Silver Needle and Sheng I recently bought its life is shorter. Will definitely keep exploring this kind of oolong, I imagine other companies have great examples of it too.

Flavors: Apricot, Honey, Orchids, Peach, Sugarcane, Wet Rocks

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 8 g 5 OZ / 140 ML
Nattie

I’ve been drinking OB today too (: it’s a favourite of mine for cozy days curled up with a book.

So Keta

Excellent! Seems like a good day for it indeed. Which company sells your favourite one? Definitely want to try some from other shops.

Nattie

Sorry for being so totally unhelpful, but my favourite was from Butiki, so it’s long gone ): I’ve been trying to find a replacement ever since, and none have been quite as good. The one I have at the moment is from Bolland’s, a local tea house here in the UK.

If I find one that stands out I will let you know!

derk

Sounds good right now. That’s one style of tea I’m missing from my cupboard.

So Keta

@Nattie: no worries, that’s too bad that they closed. I’ll check out Bolland’s next time I visit the UK though. Although it seems like their storefront shop is closed now too??

@Derk: You seem to have a large collection though from what I gather, so I’m sure you have other great oolongs :)

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78

This morning has been beautiful and sunny, and I’ve decided to pair the day with an organic Silver Needle white that I’ve not actually tried before. As with yesterday’s sheng, this came from a local tea house in my city. Aside from knowing it’s good quality tea, it is also just a good feeling supporting a local business in these uncertain times. A part of me does want to order some pu-erh from China though, I wish I could get what I want locally. Oh well.

My first impression of this tea is that it is one of the more delicate Silver Needles I’ve drunk. The dry aroma threw me off at first, as it mostly just smelled of fresh hay or sweet grass, but not in a stale sort of way thankfully. It took a couple infusions to really wake this tea up, but once it did a very soft honey and peppercorn flavour arose. It’s not spicy like some peppery profiles though, just smooth and sweet. The leaves also turned from their eponymous silver hue to a lovely blue-ish mint green once the pekoe fuzz washed away. Beautiful to look at. Hints of sweet broth started to shine through around the fourth or fifth brewed pot as well, but nowhere near the intensity of some greener teas I’ve tried. Seems like a well balanced tea overall. I probably won’t buy it again though, as I do prefer a bit of a stronger flavour to my whites.

Flavors: Hay, Honey, Peppercorn, Sweet, Sweet, warm grass

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 8 g 6 OZ / 180 ML

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82

I’m so so SO happy to be drinking real tea again. I was given a disgustingly large amount of David’s Tea blends as a gift and have just recently finished that mountain of mediocrity. Sadly no one I knew wanted any of it either, so I was stuck drinking it for many months (I don’t like being wasteful). Anyway, an order I placed with my local Chinese tea shop arrived yesterday afternoon and I am now at peace with my stash once more!

Today I’m trying this loose leaf aged purple sheng. I bought this with caution as many loose leaf pu-erhs I’ve tried didn’t live up their compressed counterparts, but I can happily report that this is in fact quite a good pu-erh, especially given that it’s only been ageing since 2009. The leaves are quite dark brown and black with a soft bluish huge to them. Pretty to look at, and lovely to smell! The wet aroma in the pot is one of wood and smoke with a strange sort of raisin-nuttiness to it. Reminds me of pecan pie for some reason, although not sweet at all. The flavour though is something I truly was not expecting from such a young tea. The first pot had a deep smokiness to it like a burning campfire or nice aged whisky, followed by a tart tobacco/leathery aftertaste. The flavours almost entirely overpowered the bitterness to the extent that I hardly noticed any at first. I also found it to be quite lubricating and not really astringent as described by others. Consecutive infusions coaxed out more of an oatmeal and chocolate flavour while staying smooth and rich.

Perhaps this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea as the flavours are certainly bold, bitter, and not sweet, but I quite liked it. Great to drink on a rainy day like today, it pairs very well with lightning storms haha!

Flavors: Chocolate, Leather, Oats, Raisins, Smoke, Tobacco, Wood

Preparation
Boiling 8 g 5 OZ / 140 ML
derk

Welcome back :) The wild sheng taste and energy for me is often dark with an unrestrained zing and well, wild. We don’t have summer thunderstorms here but I can see tea like this one being apt for that occasion.

So Keta

Thank you! It’s good to have tea to write about again haha :) Dark and unrestrained is a great way to put it, it certainly was unapologetic in demanding my attention. I live around the Great Lakes in North America, so lake effect storms are common throughout the year. Will store this away for another rainy day.

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Bio

World traveller, musician, tea lover.

Tea scoring criteria:

85 to 100 | Exceptional and unique. These teas are an unequivocal delight with every sip. The way they make me feel and the journey they take me on is incomparable.

70 to 84 | Delicious teas that are worth the price, albeit more common in quality and flavour. Still very good teas.

60 to 69 | Somewhat palatable teas that fail to deliver an experience at a level that would make me drink or buy more.

Under 60 | Just no…

Location

Based in Toronto, Canada

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