4 Tasting Notes
1st infusion, 5s: The liquor was a delicate, yellow-clear shade. The scent, so much more vibrant than any jasmine I have had—it wafted out even as I had just begun cutting the packaging open. Bubble gum? Yes, indeed! But none of the artificiality of bubble gum flavoring, just pure florals and vanilla. Depth, perfume, fragrant oils, clean.
2nd infusion, 5s: Gathering richness, slightly less light, some middle notes rounding it out. Honey-caramelized banana? Again, yes, but lighter, more fragrant, floral, honeydew melon.
3rd infusion, 5s: There is so much here that I don’t have the vocabulary to describe. The floral strength is fading—delicate now, instead of intense. The tingling sensation of the description has begun to appear.
4th infusion, 8s: The jasmine is much subdued and part of the chorus now. Light tasting, though the aroma is still rich, if not overpowering.
5th infusion, 15s: Incense now, in the aroma—frankincense. The liquor is mild but enjoyable, a slight astringency giving body.
6th infusion, 30s: Gentle, soft flavor, with body and a bit of pine when aerated. Warm and comforting, a sense of sweetness, with flavors now married—nothing standing out over anything else. Warm vanilla-sugar.
7th infusion, 60s: Aroma of fragrant spices, an Eastern market. Flavor delicate, but spicy. Seven infusions in and it begins to remind me of the first jasmine teas I ever tried.
8th infusion, 2m: It is done now. Not much flavor left, but still a pleasant tingling spice.
I left the cup unfinished while I cleaned up, then drank what remained in one swallow. Still lovely, the flavor more noticeable for having taken a short break from it. An incredible jasmine tea. As I have become increasingly enamoured with straight teas, I thought I would no longer enjoy a scented tea—just a covering for poor quality. This is clearly untrue. This is a jasmine tea to love.
3.2g • 90ml Gaiwan • 175°F • 8 Steepings
Flavors: banana, Honeydew, Jasmine, Spices, Spicy, Sugar, Vanilla
Throughout numerous steepings, this tea’s flavors shifted in a harmony of dark, earthy sweetness, and baked notes, cereal, and sweet potato. On the first steeping (10s), it had a robust richness: dark chocolate, cooked ripe fruits, malt syrup. The liquor had the kind of silky mouth-feel I have only experienced with certain green and oolong teas. The infusion smelled of unsweetened cocoa, cereal, and had a tart note that was not represented in the liquor.
On the second infusion (15s) the sweetness was more subdued, and the baked, cereal notes became stronger. This trend continued through additional steepings. The sweetness never left the liquor, but the richer, dark notes of sweetness became brighter. The tartness I had noted in the infusion never really asserted itself in the liquor, though aeration did bring it out—a sort of sharp caramel, citric quality vaguely similar to the aroma of demerara sugar.
The liquor from the first two or three infusions was complex, with too many nuances for me to describe. Later steepings were simpler, less dark and rich, though always playing on a balance of grain and earthy sweetness. I was able to enjoy 6 steepings before the liquor became insipid and unpleasant, which is significantly fewer than recommended by Verdant Tea, but I also started with longer steeping times. On my next attempt, I will follow their recommendations more closely.
This is a wonderful tea. The first infusion was incredibly rich and easily stands out from other Chinese black teas, such as the Golden Monkey and Bailin Gongfu, that I have been enjoying lately. I definitely look forward to trying this again.
4.2g tea (half the sample) • 90ml Gaiwan • 212°F • 6 steepings (10s, +5)
Flavors: Baked Bread, Cocoa, Coffee, Dark Chocolate, Graham Cracker, Grain, Malt, Stewed Fruits, Sweet Potatoes
This tea brewed an amber colored liquor and immediately gave off a strong punch of apricots, trailed by a musky honey scent. The first taste—still too hot—yielded an indistinct malt-floral taste. Later after allowing to cool further, the liquor still seemed mild and subdued, and so with a third sip, I vigorously aerated it in my mouth and was hit with a powerful sense of syrupy ripe fruit and sweetened flowers, which, after swallowing, gave way to a dry, slightly sour tang. It, too, was pleasant.
The tea seems to do best at room temperature. At the tail end of my cup, after it had gone completely cold, the aroma seemed more developed and open, and all the different things I had tasted had finally married into a balanced harmony.
Between this and the Singbulli First Flush I tasted last night, the Puttabong definitely comes in second. But these two teas are far and away superior to most of my previous experiences with tea.
Flavors: Apricot, Floral, Honey
This was a very light brew with a bright golden color, and it smelled immediately of mint and other subtle floral and green fragrances. The sense of mint carried into the taste and mouthfeel, and it was never earthy or grassy. Later in the cup, I noticed a bit of the scent of asparagus. It was a really soft, beautiful tea with a gradually building astringency that made the cup very refreshing. The overall sense was an elegant balance of many subtle flavors and aromas that I was never able to tease apart. I loved this tea, and found it fared well through three steepings.
Flavors: Asparagus, Floral, Mint, Sweet