38 Tasting Notes
I don’t like this tea so much. Because this is my first gyokuro, I’ll try not to be too judgmental. To start off positively: this tea yields a refreshing, clean and very green-tasting cup. Flavors present are mostly sweet and vegetal, like cooked spinach. I can imagine someone being very happy with this tea when it is the first ‘serious’ green tea they have tried. But then. I find nothing special to this tea. It isn’t complex, nor is it very aromatic. There is a very slight hint of nice umami present in the wet leaves after the first steeping, leaving you disappointed to notice hardly any in the tea itself. I have tasted senchas that were a lot better and more spectacular, at similar prices. What also annoys me a little is that there are many tiny leaf particles, making the tea a little hard to brew.
After all, this tea itself isn’t particularly bad. Still it it doesn’t feel all that ‘superior’ at all to me. It leaves me with an unpleasant feeling of being sold something that somehow can’t be the ‘real deal’, for a pretty real price though.
In summary: if this is really a superior gyokuro, I’ll stick with sencha in the future!
Flavors: Spinach, Sweet, Vegetal
Drinking my second cake of this lovely tea now. Until now I have enjoyed every cup of this. This black tea really has its own personality, with a very distinct smell that I associate to dried fruits such as raisins or apricots. A strong smell for a black tea. It does not easily become bitter, and the cup is nicely full-bodied. This isn’t a ‘fancy’ tea really, it isn’t complex or very refined, but it’s just very enjoyable, every time. And the cake shape makes it a lot of fun!
Flavors: Apricot, Fruity, Malt
The dry leaves of this tea are long and black, with a reddish shine over them. They remind me of one Taiwanese Hong Yun I bought in Taipei.
According to the vendor’s website, this Jin Xuan was produced in China by a Taiwanese company. So in that way, I can understand the similarities with that Hong Yun tea from Taiwan.
Upon infusing, I notice more similarity between the Taiwanese Hong Yun and this Jin Xuan. The wet leaves have that same remarkable aroma of cinnamon. There is also a dry flowery note, like lavender or maybe roses. A very nice smell for a black tea.
The reddish hue of the leaves is also visible in the tea liquor. The body is nicely full and malty. There is bit of thickness in the mouthfeel. The spicy and flowery notes from the wet leaves however, are only very subtly present in the liquor. That unless you make this tea strong, using relatively much leaves. No problem to do so, since this tea won’t quickly become astringent or bitter.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Flowers, Malt
Very soft and creamy tea. The dry leaves have little smell. From the wet leaves the first I notice is a sweet, red-fruity smell, almost like smelling a cup of lemonade. Then more savory notes follow; beany, roasted smells. In the mouth there is a very sweet vegetal aspect and a creamy, soft feel. With a somewhat stronger cup, upon swallowing there is a soft astringency. Not biting but more like a pleasant stroke on the tongue. The sweetness lingers nicely in the nose.
Flavors: Creamy, Green Beans, Roast nuts, Vegetal
First time I had a Oriental Beauty-kind of oolong, so I cannot really compare. But I love this tea. Most Oriental Beauty is produced in Taiwan, but this one is made in China apparently following the same style. This tea invokes so many comparisons to different kinds of other teas I know. When I smell it at first there is some of the sweet floweriness that makes me think of Chinese tieguanyin. Then after sipping there comes a spicyness in the nose that lingers long after the swallow, giving the association to a Darjeeling. I think you can call it muscatel-like. The mouthfeel is lush and velvety. There is an astringency that I personally like, every sip leaving a pleasant little ‘bite’ on the tongue. The body is malty and pretty bready. I taste some honey as well. A lot going on, still very balanced. Beautiful tea.
I steeped this one gongfu-style in my Yixing pot, but I bet it will do well western-style, because it feels more like a black tea than like a classical Chinese oolong.
Flavors: Astringent, Baked Bread, Creamy, Flowers, Honey, Malt, Muscatel, Sweet
Not so great in my opinion. I have drank far better shu pu-erh for a similar price. This one is strongly earthy with some sweetness. However for my taste it is too dry, too earthy and not sweet and soft/thick enough. The strong earthiness quite quickly becomes unpleasant when overbrewn, because the flavor profile offers too little softness and sweetness to balance it. For my taste at least.
But maybe this one just hasn’t aged enough, yet? I am considering to store it away, curious to see how it will be a couple of years from now.
Flavors: Astringent, Earth, Sweet
A nice Chinese black, especially for its price. Suits me well as an everyday tea, in addition to the more expensive teas I usually order from webshops (which really aren’t always better than this one).
Also interesting for beginning tea drinkers, due to its distinctive, recognizable flavour profile. It is fruity, in a very distinctly raisin- or grape-like way. A tea that is hard to overbrew, no bitterness and hardly any astringency. In fact I would have liked a little more astringency, since for my taste the sweetness and softness could use some ‘harder’ counterpart to really balance this tea out.
Long leaves that look great dry as well as wet.
Flavors: Fruity, Honey, Raisins, Sweet
This is a complex tasting black tea that tastes mostly sweet and fruity. At first I steeped it in near-boiling water and didn’t like it. It had a nasty, pronounced bitter that for me spoiled the rest of the taste. It went better when steeped around 80 C. A bit strange for a black. Although the taste profile is interesting and complex, for me it lacks the balance to make it a perfect tea (but that may be highly subjective). I like it though.