37 Tasting Notes

85
drank Houjicha by The Ikebana Shop
37 tasting notes

Wow, it’s been a couple months now since I’ve posted here, didn’t think it’d been that long. Usually at the end of the year I don’t buy any more tea and try to drink anything that’s been sitting unopened or about to go stale in my cupboard. Last week I found a sealed package of Kyoto houjicha that I had somehow buried and forgotten about! I purchased this maybe three years ago in Halifax, Canada of all places, thankfully it’s not stale yet. Anyway, that’s what today’s entry is about.

I used a new clay 140ml gaiwan with 7 grams of tea in 85°C water.
A quick wash was followed by a 10 second steep, working up to 1 minute brews.

I love aromatic teas, and this one doesn’t hold back. A pleasant char/roast scent hit me hard in the face before even sipping, followed by a subtle briny layer which I found was really unique. Definitely reminded me of being on an ocean pier or a beach bonfire. The flavour is just wonderful though, a typical umami roast is very forward in initial brews, but there are deeper undertones of wood, seaweed, and coffee to be coaxed out which just makes me very happy indeed. Wasn’t expecting such a complex flavour profile. The mouth feel is amazing too, the soup is thick and lubricating going down with a pleasant astringent aftertaste. I really like this tea, and will probably buy more as I only have 80 grams right now.

Flavors: Coffee, Roasted, Seaweed, Umami, Wood

Preparation
7 g 5 OZ / 140 ML

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84

Blah I feel like crap today, currently taking a break from work and just so thankful I’m allowed to have a proper tea station set up at my work bench. It really makes a huge difference on days like today. Creature comforts and such.

Anyway, I’ve broken into this 15 gram sample of oolong and I’m quite pleased they included it. I like it significantly better than the jade oolong I purchased. Although it’s a rather green “high mountain” oolong, it’s super mellow yet somehow rich, fruity, and sweet. Not at all brothy and umami like some of the other oolong in this order. The citrus notes are enjoyable, but they’re actually not the flavours that stand out the most to me. There’s something like vanilla or white chocolate coming through, and a gentle floral sweetness too. The liquor is thicker than the other oolongs from this order as well. Amazingly smooth mouth feel, with some light astringency after a few cups. A distinct floral and vegetal aftertaste is present. Really quite impressed with this to be honest. I’m going to order more when I restock for an every day tea.

Flavors: Citrus, Floral, Vanilla, Vegetal, White Chocolate

Preparation
7 g 6 OZ / 180 ML

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79

I’ve become entirely enamoured by oolongs. The range of flavours is outstanding. I love a good pu-erh too, but the majestic oolong has stolen my heart. Aside from flavour, I actually managed to brew the same gaiwan of Cape Jasmine two days in a row! Amazing.

I’m trying the third tea from that order today. Although this high mountain jade oolong was made in 2014, it has a very young appearance and overall tastes a bit closer to a green tea than a darker oolong (I suppose this is why it’s called “jade”?). It actually reminds me of another green tea I reviewed a few weeks back from Yunnan Sourcing, ironically called “Yunnan Jade Dragon” as well (although more brothy).

The flavour profile is a really nice balance of soup broth, spinach, cream, and gentle floral notes reminiscent of King of Duck Aroma, but nowhere near as in your face. I think I prefer the aroma better than the taste though.

In conclusion, I won’t be buying this again. I definitely prefer oolongs that are sweeter and more fermented, this is too green for me. It’s still a great tea, but I’m happy I only purchased 25 grams.

If anyone makes it this far down my review, please recommend me some of your favourite oolongs! Even if it’s a “green” oolong I will still try it, I’m sure many of them do not taste like this.

Flavors: Broth, Cream, Floral, Spinach, Umami

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 8 g 6 OZ / 180 ML
LuckyMe

I personally love green oolongs. Shibi oolong from TTC and Li Shan are a couple of my favorites. If you like something greenish but not too green, TTC has a light roasted competition Ali Shan that’s really nice. It’s fruitier and less grassy than other green oolongs

So Keta

Amazing, thanks for the recommendations! I’ll keep my eyes open for them. Fruitier sounds more up my alley. I really love milk oolong too, do you know of any that dance into that realm of flavour?

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90

Today I’m sipping on another Taiwan Sourcing oolong, blended with jasmine this time. Before I even brewed this tea I was taken aback by the epic bag appeal. The scent is otherworldly, it smells more like jasmine candy than tea!

For this session I used a 180ml gaiwan with 8 grams of tea in 90°C water.
A quick wash was followed by a 10 second steep, working up to 1 minute brews.

I’m a huge jasmine fan and pretty much instantly fell in love with this blend after the first brew. I think oolong is a much better base to use jasmine with than green tea, it makes the flavour more balanced and richer. Aside from the floral notes I’m also getting a bit of citrus and slightly roasted/nutty umami. The liquor is smooth and almost creamy, and yet again more thin than other oolongs I’ve had. It makes me salivate and there is very light astringency to the after taste (I find this pleasant though). I love everything about this and intend to keep it in my regular rotation.

It’s obvious this tea is clean and true with very high quality jasmine flowers. It’s night and day compared with jasmine scented teas. This is the first time I’ve ordered from Taiwan and I have to say I’m extremely impressed with the quality. I think its obvious they grow their teas with love and passion. I’m going to keep buying from there instead of China (excluding pu-erh, of course).

Flavors: Citrus, Jasmine, Nutty, Roasted, Umami

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86

A few weeks ago I placed my first order with Taiwan Sourcing and was nervous it would take months to get here as there is a country-wide postal strike currently ongoing in Canada. To my pleasant surprise it arrived yesterday and it couldn’t have come at a better time because I am running extremely low on tea. Praise the tea gods!!!

For this session I used a 180ml gaiwan using 10g, one initial 10 second wash followed by a 10 second brew, increasing by 10 to 20 seconds for each additional infusion.
- – -
Mmmmmmmmm. Mm. This is way more delicious than I thought it would be. I wanted to try some teas high in GABA for a few different health reasons and was expecting the value to be in the medicinal effects rather than the taste and experience. Clearly this tea provides both, and it’s absolutely glorious.

As described by TS themselves, this tea has a very strong sweet potato flavour. It actually tastes remarkably close to a classic holiday dish my family loves which is a sweet potato and marshmallow casserole (mashed potato on the bottom, baked marshmallows on top). After that first impression though the sweetness tastes less sugary and more of wildflower honey which makes sense given this is blended with osmanthus flowers. The liquor is a lovely shade of yellow, almost peach-like, and quite thin compared with some other oolongs I’ve tried. There is just absolutely no astringency, it’s smooth, and almost a bit cooling down the throat like mint in terms of sensation.

Later infusions of this tea bring out more savoury notes, still heavy on the sweet potato though. Remarkably there is a general pumpkin spice flavour towards the end, maybe cinammon and cloves or something. The overall taste is extremely clean with loads of depth and layers.

I can’t yet attest to the effects of the GABA as I imaging it takes a few days or weeks to build up in your system to have long lasting effects, but I will say this cuppa makes me incredibly relaxed, sociable, and feeling good. Highly recommend trying it!

Flavors: Cloves, Honey, Marshmallow, Osmanthus, Spices, Sweet Potatoes, Umami

Kittenna

“running extremely low on tea” – I realize this was months ago, but that is a problem I wish I had, so I could justify more orders! Hahahaha.

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94
drank Milky Oolong by House of Tea
37 tasting notes

To this day this is one of my favourite oolongs and teas full stop. It’s the first oolong I ever tried, and has single-handedly solidified my love of oolong processing, as well as high quality tea. I’m not sure if it’s actually soaked in milk or just has a natural cream flavour (will have to ask next time I pop by the tea shop this is from), although I suspect the latter.

I actually love making huge Western batches of this oolong in my large teapot, it handles long steep times very well with hardly any puckering astringency. I usually use 4 to 6 teaspoons with 90°C water, no idea how big my teapot is though. Steep time is anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes.

The soup always becomes thick and nutty like almond milk, but with an unbelievable toasty sweetness that I’ve rarely found in other oolongs. Usually roast/toast flavours dominate everything else. I think the sweetness and rich, complex flavour is what astounded me the first time I drank some. There was a moment of “What? Tea can taste this good without sugar or blended ingredients?” Needless to say my eyes had been opened wide from then on.

The flavour is very similar to freshly made candy coated nuts (like if you’ve ever driven past a nut processing factory). Lots of sugary notes like honey or sugarcane, toasted but not heavily roasted like a charcoal oolong, as I said very nutty, creamy like butter or whipping cream, and just an utter joy in every sip!

This tea makes me warm and fuzzy inside, perfect for rainy days or long winters.
I’ll upload a photo when I buy some more, I just used the last of what I had in stock.

Flavors: Cream, Honey, Roasted nuts, Sugarcane, Umami

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 5 min, 0 sec

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80

A co-worker received this from her mother and passed it along to me as she’s not a tea person (blasphemy!) Usually I detest when people try to buy or give me tea because 9/10 times I have better tasting ones at home, but I decided to give it a go because caramel nougat sounds like a great flavour and the blend is ostensibly organic.

I pretty much just brewed this Western style (96°C for 4 minutes) and was expecting a sweet desert tea like something from David’s Tea or another equally experimental company, but it completely took me by surprise and is way more savoury!

A caramel/malt flavour is definitely in your face, which I love, and I’m happy to report that it’s not much more sweet than a typical black tea. I can taste a bit of the hazelnut too which I assume is supposed to be the nougat part of the blend. Everything tastes balanced and is tied together by rather good black tea. Overall I’d say they did a great job emulating caramel nougat, and to be frank this is a pretty damn good blend. I probably won’t buy it, but I might order it at a cafe if I saw it somewhere.

Flavors: Caramel, Malt, Nuts, Sweet

Preparation
4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp
Tabby

I like Tea Forte a lot, but they are so overpriced.

So Keta

Yes I tend to agree, I just looked at their website.

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84
drank Sunset at Noon by NORD-T
37 tasting notes

This tea invokes a lot of nostalgia for me. I first discovered it during my last visit to Helsinki and quickly fell in love. I had taken the ferry out onto the Baltic Sea to visit the old sea fortress Suomenlinna where there was a quaint cafe stocked with all sorts of Finnish/Nordic goodies. Was very surprised to find high quality tea made so far north on the planet. The most magical aspect of this tea is that most of the ingredients this company uses (except the Camellia Sinensis and probably vanilla) were foraged in the Finnish wilderness! They also don’t use additives of any kind, including essential oils. So they are naturally organic, pesticide-free, and sustainably harvested. Excellent.

Although this is a black tea blend, NORD-T recommends brewing with 80°C water for about 4 minutes (Western style). I think this is a wise choice, although I tend to let my cup steep for another minute or two longer to bring out the spices and sometimes bring the temperature up a degree or two. The black tea flavour is much more prominent when you use 95°C water which honestly takes away from the experience of tasting mother nature in all her glory.

The flavour profile is pretty much as you’d expect, spicy and slightly sweet like a chai, but with less of a bite as there’s no ginger, and the spices used are more minimal. The vanilla ties it all together. This is noticeably different from any Indian chai that I’ve sipped. I will need to order more soon and will probably try some of their other tea blends too, many of which use more uniquely Finnish ingredients. I would give this tea a higher rating if the flavour wasn’t so similar to any other chai, but my god is it ever delicious.

Flavors: Cardamon, Cinnamon, Honey, Malt, Vanilla

derk

This tea sounds delightful, as do Finland and all the Nordic countries. I can’t wait to get out that way.

<3

So Keta

It truly is! I also have another one from them which I might review later called ‘Afloat With Folkboat’ which is strawberry, birch leaf, nettle, and liquorice root (100% foraged).

Finland is easily in my top 3 favourite countries, definitely do make the effort to get up there. Just bring a very full wallet, Helsinki is more expensive than London, UK and some places in Switzerland!

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92

It’s a cold, blustery day today and I just want to crawl back into bed, or like, an entire bathtub filled with delicious tea… Neither of those fantasies are about to happen so I’ll have to settle for some Mengku Spirit!

Not that that’s a consolation prize or anything, because this sheng is just lovely! It’s remarkably mellow for only being five years old. Sweet, mouth watering, with a slight lick of astringency, this pretty much hits all my favourite sensations with a tea. I feel so relaxed and almost giddy drinking this, like after you’ve eaten a huge meal at the holidays. Very gentle and warm qi. The compression on this cake is also excellent and easy to pull apart which I love.

The flavour profile is wonderful! Fruity and softly floral, vegetal, and ever-so-slightly earthy. I’m having trouble picking out particular flavours though. God I wish I had bought a ton more of this before the cakes sold out, going to snag as many samples as Scott has left online. I wonder if the 2014 Mengku Spirit is as tasty, will certainly have to try that.

I used 8 grams of tea in a 180ml gaiwan.
Brewed in 95°C water with one 20 second initial wash.
Managed to steep out 8 cups before the flavour dissipated.

Flavors: Earth, Floral, Fruity, Sweet, Vegetal

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84

Now this is some great shou! The citrus balances with the light earthiness of the tea perfectly. I definitely recommend brewing this with a good chunk of the the peel for added citrus flavour. Overall I’d say the taste is sweet, almost malty/caramel, and spicy like one of my favourite dark chocolates with orange zest and ginger, or even mulled wine.

I’m glad I bought a few because I can’t stop drinking it this week, each tangerine makes about three gong fu sessions in a small gaiwan which is pretty decent. Lost some marks for only making it through four good steeps before the flavour dropped off though. At the end of the day, I can’t complain considering I payed $20 for 250 grams of these delightful tangerines.

Brewed with boiling water in a 180ml gaiwan, roughly 8 grams of tea.
After two rinses, I brewed the first cup for 15 seconds, increasing by 5 or 10 seconds each additional brew. Four strong brews in total.

Flavors: Caramel, Chocolate, Citrus, Earth, Malt, Orange Zest, Smoke, Spices, Sweet

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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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