45 Tasting Notes
I believe a big part of this tea’s excellence comes from the terroir as well as the skill of the teamasters involved. Because another very similar tea (also sold by Tealyra) is called Black Beauty #8, which also comes from the Sun Moon Lake region. But Teapedia describes TTES #8 as “a assamica varietal from Jaipur (India, Assam)”. So a completely different cultivar, with very similar flavors. It is my second-favorite. The TTES is a formal research station, so their pedigree designations are authoritative.
So, yes, Brandy Oolong Ruby 18 is, in my estimation, outstanding. Please also find other tea notes listed for this tea under the company’s prior name, Tealux. This is also among the more expensive tea I’ve had, at $8/25g since I get only one pleasing steeping out of it, thus it rivals good pu’ers, on a per-cup basis. But it handily beats all of them in flavor and aroma! YMMV.
Flavors: Caramel, Malt, Raisins, Stonefruit, Sugarcane, Tea
The dry leaves had a faint wintergreen aroma, and I was so eager to get into this brew! I used a mere 1.5g in an 8-oz cup of boiling water for 2 min. Got a lovely gold-brown liquor, but with a very off-putting aroma! Only after I kept reminding myself that this was a wintergreen smell did it become more pleasant. And that same flavor dominated the entire session. The leaves were fairly well spent, and a second steeping of seven minutes produced a week tea with cardboard box flavor. I dumped it. Ultimately, I have decided the tea tastes more mediciney—think BenGay—and not something I care to drink for a while. On the upside, it might be perfect for times when sitting at home recovering from a cold. I would try adding some lemon, honey, and milk. Totally changing the flavor profile! We shall see… . For now, not well-appreciated. (But still much better than Rooibos.) At least it was an inexpensive experiment!
Postscript I’ve updated the Harney description by adding their “details” section, which is more comprehensive. Especially in that they’ve don’t say just “mint” but now explain it as a wintergreen flavor, which is technically more accurate. Some of the older reviews note not tasting the claimed mint, and this may be why.
An interesting blend; fairly astringent possibly because I used a big spoonful of leaf for the mug. But also flavorful with apricot notes coming through this morning. Seems to be doing the job of waking me up! Lingering malty assam flavor in the back of my mouth between sips, to stimulate both the senses and and the mind.
Postscript: Makes a superb iced-tea, sweet or unsweet!
Although it’s a CTC, don’t look down your nose at it. Quite delicious, very fast to brew (1 minute is enough). This is what I want tea to taste like when I just want it to taste like tea! Except when I want it to taste like keemun, or Earl Grey, or dragonwell, or cinnamon spice, etc….you get the idea! Okay, It’s just one song in the album— but it’s a good song!
Bought this “Halmari Full Leaf Assam” around Halloween 2020, so I guess it is from the 2019 harvest, which must be sold out since it’s been delisted from Harney’s site. I’ve brewed this 4 or 5 times, Western, and agree with tea-sipper’s review. Good strong malty-caramel Assam flavor on the top and back of my tongue, but WAY too astringent for my likes. It lingers pleasantly in the mouth after the briskness has subsided. Harney’s CTC Assam is far smoother and less than 1/3 the price. Still, I’ll be swilling it down on bleary-eyed, early mornings. If you love brisk and care not about cost, this might be the tea for you! Some day I’ll try cold-brewing this, and will also play around with using less leaf or shorter steeps.
I bought this in mid-2018 and while the harvest year was not provided by Tealyra, the manufacturers box was dated as 2016, so I’m assuming that is when the tea was made. The logo and name of Maosheng Tea Co. is also printed on the box.
While Tealyra classified and sold this in their pu’erh tea section, it isn’t clear to me that it is properly called pu’erh. Certainly it has been subjected to post-fermentation, as the yellow spores are visible once I pried open the huge brick (2.1 lbs!). I’ve posted a photo of the 4g portion that I steeped today. No appreciable change in the tea aroma or flavor in the past 3 years. I gong fu’ed the 4g in 6oz boiling tap water for about 8 steepings, after a brief rinse in boiling water. No change in aroma or flavor with successive steepings, either, except gradual weakening of the liquor to the point on cup #8 that it was no longer very palatable.
The tea does NOT taste like any other ripe pu’erh I’ve sipped, and it is devoid of any compost or fishy notes. Further, I cannot discern any characteristic Assam flavors, or even a “tea” flavor strong enough to reveal what leaves were used. However, this tea DOES have a very pungent and distinctive scent and taste, which might be a result of the golden flower fungus itself. Sort of a non-floral powdery impression, reminiscent of… something. Others have mentioned dry Chinese red dates, but since I’ve never tasted those, I can’t say. I didn’t like it when first I tried this tea, but now it seems more interesting and inoffensive. I must find a way to describe the aroma and flavor(s). The spent leaves were large pieces (2-3 cm) and dark brown. I’ll keep drinking this (there’s so darn much of it) and post more notes if I have any epiphanies or revelations. I won’t rate it because heck, I can’t even describe it adequately. Recommended for those who dabble or feel adventurous.
Tealyra has removed it from their site, so I have no official description to post that could lend clues to tasting or alternative sources. It only set me back $55 for the 960g brick, so no buyer’s remorse!
So I bought this in early 2021, but judging by the other reviews here, the tea has not changed much in five years. Except that the price has risen considerably! It starts off with a punch of smoke and astringent bitterness, but after five steeps or so, it mellowed out to a very enjoyable brew. Even at steep #10, the leaves were intact and dark green in shade. It seems this tea is aging very slowly, I’m not sure if I live long enough to drink it at its prime! So I will just enjoy it now. :-)
Ahhh, puer is an acquired taste! I bought this four years ago, broke up the cake and tried to brew it, with immediate buyers remorse. So I dumped it into a mason jar and threw it on the shelf and ignored it. Now, with much more experience (but far from any expertise) I have brewed this 22 yr old sheng again (gongfu) and find it quite nice! It still has some bite to it, and a little smokiness, but now I look forward to steeping some up every few months as we mature together. Even the badly over-steeped 7th cup wasn’t bitter, and #8 has
nutty notes with sawn lumber and leather tones. I stopped after 12 steepings, though the tea might have gone on a few more. Thank you Hilary (owner of the shop) for providing this experience to the denizens of your community—I’m loving it! You and your shop are appreciated. (Photos are of my actual tea cake in 2017)